An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Second Stage (Resumed).

D'atógadh an díospoireacht ar na leasuithe seo leanas:—
1. Go scriosfar gach focal i ndiaidh an fhocail "Go" agus go gcuirfear na focail seo ina n-ionad:—
ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille de bhrí go gcreideann sí i dtaobh díchur chóras na hIonadaíochta Cionúire
1. go gcuirfidh sin isteach ar chearta dlisteanacha mionluchtaí,
2. go bhfuil sé in aghaidh ár dtraidisiún daonlathach,
3. gur dóigh parlaimintí neamhionadaitheachta agus rialtas stróinéiseach a theacht dá dheasca.
4. go mbeidh sé níos deacra dá dheasca deireadh a chur leis an gCríochdheighilt,
5. nach bhfuil aon éileamh air ag an bpobal, agus
6. uime sin, leis an gcor atá faoi láthair ar an saol agus ar ár gcúrsaí eacnamaíochta, gur dochar agus nach sochar a dhéanfaidh sé do réiteach fadhbanna an náisiúin,
agus go molann sí ina ionad sin go ndéanfar, d'fhonn eolas a sholáthar don phobal, coimisiún saineolaithe a bhunú chun an córas toghcháin atá ann faoi láthair á scrúdú agus tuarascáil a thabhairt ina thaobh. —(An Teachta Seán Ua Coisdealbha.)
2. Go scriosfar gach focal i ndíaidh an fhocail "Go" agus go gcuirfear na focail seo ina n-ionad:
ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille de bhrí nach ndéanann sé foráil le haghaidh vótála de réir na hionadaíochta cionúire agus ar mhodh an aon-ghutha inaistrithe sna Dáilcheantair aon-chomhalta. —(An Teachta Ó Blathmhaic.)
Debate resumed on the following amendments:—
1. To delete all words after the word "That" and substitute therefor the words:—
Dáil Éireann, believing that the abolition of the system of P.R.
1. will interfere with the legitimate rights of minorities,
2. is contrary to our democratic traditions,
3. is likely to lead to unrepresentative parliaments and to arrogant government,
4. will make more difficult the ending of Partition,
5. has not been demanded by public opinion, and,
6. therefore, in present world conditions and in our economic circumstances will impair rather than assist the solution of our national problems,
refuses to give a Second Reading to the Bill; and recommends instead that for the purpose of informing public opinion an expert commission be established to examine and report on the present electoral system.—(Deputy J. A. Costello.)
2. To delete all words after the word "That" and substitute therefor the words:—
Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill as it does not make provision in the proposed single member constituencies for voting on the system of P.R. by means of the single transferable vote.—(Deputy Blowick.)

A few minutes before I moved the adjournment of the debate on Friday last, Deputy Sweetman asked me: "What about Switzerland?"

A few minutes—at least 40 minutes.

It will be recalled that in challenging the Taoiseach's assertion that those countries which have most successfully built up democratic institutions, are the countries in which there is a single non-transferable vote, the Leader of the Opposition wondered if Switzerland had been forgotten. As compared with this country, or Great Britain, I wonder what special merit as a democratic State does Deputy Costello think Switzerland has.

I could give one simple answer on it.

Is it because in Switzerland it is, I believe, illegal to be a member of the Society of Jesus? Is it because in Switzerland women are still——

——deemed to be unfit to vote in cantonal or in federal elections? Is it because in Switzerland the Government or the Federal Council is a bureaucracy, so that once a person has been elected to it, convention permits him to hold office for life?

On a point of order, is it in order for the Minister to criticise in such fashion the Government and the method of electing the Government in Switzerland——

It is the method of government, not the work.

——and to cast aspersions on the Government of Switzerland——

It is the method of government and not the work.

It is disgraceful.

Go and ban the Jesuits, if you want to. But, leaving all this aside, let us see what has been the effect of P.R. on the political life of Switzerland and in particular on the Federal Assembly. Members, I assume—I stand open to correction— are not conversant with all the details of the Swiss political system. I, at any rate, must go to a Swiss authority for information and I propose to appeal to a professor of the University of Geneva, Doctor William Rappard, who, after recounting the wide powers which are vested in the Federal Assembly of the Swiss Federation in his work entitledThe Government of Switzerland, asks:—

"Why is it then that the Swiss Parliament does not to-day seem to enjoy in the public estimation appreciably more prestige than in other countries?"

The Swiss franc does, though.

He continues:—

"The undoubted loss of popularity which the Federal Assembly has sustained... is sometimes attributed to the recent introduction of P.R. and sometimes to the earlier growth of direct democracy. P.R., it is argued, tends to multiply political Parties and to necessitate the formation of coalitions between them. Thus, it is claimed, in the federal as well as in the cantonal Parliaments, there has been a weakening of responsible leadership and an increase in political bargaining and compromising which has discredited the legislatures and correspondingly strengthened the hands of the executive."

I hope I have responded to his full satisfaction to the question which Deputy Sweetman asked me. In case he has not heard what I say, may I point out that this authority argues——

I heard it all.

——that, as a result of P.R.,——

——the Swiss have the strongest currency in Europe.

But surely the Deputy is aware that we are not discussing currency? We are discussing Parliament and methods of election.

And the conditions that flow from them.

The other questions are not at this moment relevant.

I know that the Minister is very anxious to run away from the other questions.

The Deputy is trying to lead him away from the garden path.

The quotation says that P.R. in Switzerland has occasioned a weakening of responsible leadership and an increase in political bargaining. I propose to leave it at that. More extraordinary still is the problem as to why, in the light of all that has occurred within recent months in France, and which is common knowledge, Deputy Costello should argue that the French difficulties were not due in great measure to the fact that their elections were conducted according to the principle of P.R.

When did they have P.R.?

Surely it is significant——

Come off the lecture and answer the question.

If the Deputy has not sufficient ordinary courtesy to listen to me, I suggest that he spend his time somewhere else.

Order! The Minister is entitled to speak without interruption.

P.R., which was embodied in the Constitution of the Fourth Republic, is not prescribed in the new French Constitution. Is that, in itself, not evidence that those who have been most closely associated with the management of French affairs have been taught by experience what a danger there is to the security and stability of the State in all such systems?

The support for this view is massive and compelling. The Constitution of the Fourth French Republic provided that elections to the Assembly would be carried out by P.R. Among those who were most strongly in favour of this provision, when it was being debated in 1946, was the leader of the Socialist Party, Leon Blum.

The very first election to the National Assembly under the 1946 Constitution produced a parliamentary dead-lock, and thereafter dead-lock followed dead-lock, and crisis followed crisis, and Coalition followed Coalition, until, like Cincinnatus, de Gaulle was brought back to save the Commonwealth.

Among the Coalitions was that headed by the Socialist——

I am sorry, Sir, I cannot go on. There is such obvious discourtesy on the other side of the House that it is quite impossible for me to maintain the train of thought.

That is a pity. There is no train of thought to maintain.

The Minister is entitled to speak. He ought not to be interrupted by conversation or ordinary interruption. If conversation can be heard over the House, then it is clearly interruption.

Would the Chair ever remind the Front Bench on the Government side of the House of that principle?

My remarks are for every Deputy in the House.

I hope they will be so construed.

May I just say that no discourtesy was intended? Deputy Sweetman asked me a question entirely relevant to the Minister's remarks.

That would scarcely make it orderly.

It is perfectly orderly to ask another Deputy a question.

The Minister for Health.

I was saying that Coalition followed Coalition. Among the Coalitions was that headed by the Socialist Ramadier. It was called the "Great Coalition" because it was based on the three major Parties in the Chamber.

This is what an informed and experienced observer has to say of it:—

"...France had long known Coalition Cabinets, but it has never before seen such flagrant civil war within a Government... France was treated to an example of coalition government at its worst. The Opposition, instead of attacking the Cabinet from the outside, was within the Cabinet itself."

In due time this "Great Coalition" fell apart, to be succeeded by others, all transitory, pretending to an authority which they did not possess and could not exercise. Perhaps an exception among them was the Government headed by Robert Schumann. In the mid-summer of 1948, however, he also was brought down and a successor to him was not found until Queuille took office in mid-autumn. Queuille managed to keep his Government together for a 12 month or a trifle longer. Then Bidault, the M.R.P. leader, took over from Queuille. A little later he, too, was overthrown and was succeeded by Pleven. Pleven was defeated by a combination of Deputies of the M.R.P., Bidault's own Party, with the Communists. It is extraordinary that all this should have happened during the very days when the Chinese were invading Korea, and the risks of a World War were extremely great. The Communists, in "ganging-up" against Plevin were, no doubt, following the general line of Communist Parties the world over. But the M.R.P. had no higher motive than to prevent Plevin from introducing a Bill to abolish P.R., for the latter had disclosed to a journalist that he proposed to ask the Chamber to amend the law so that, to quote his own words:—

"In place of P.R., a clumsy failure because it encourages multiple-Party paralysis, he proposed a ‘system majoritaire', which would build up a few strong Parties at the expense of the weakest."

What is the source of the quotation?

I am not able to give the exact source, but I will furnish it to the Deputy in due course. He can take it that it is authoritative.

Is it the Minister's intention to apply this Bill to France?

That interruption does not do justice even to the Deputy.

When will we hear something about the history of Ireland?

In all this, an extraordinary thing happened. Leon Blum had been one of the strongest advocates for the inclusion of P.R. in the Constitution of the Fourth Republic; now, as a result of all this confusion, he, who was a life-long Socialist, who had served in several French Governments and had been Prime Minister of France not only subsequent to 1946, but also prior to 1939, published a remarkable condemnation of P.R. In it he confessed that events had driven him to the conclusion that, as a system of election, preliminary to constituting a Government, it was a mirage and an illusion. He declared that to restore health and vitality to the French parliamentary system, it was imperative to abolish it and replace it by the system of straight voting combined with single-member constituencies. "Some," he said, "may think this solution too simple; but the great remedies which one must apply to political crises are always very simple and very commonplace." Finally, he declared:—

"P.R. is a system of a passion, a system of lottery, a system unsuited for giving a faithful, serious and ‘just' picture of the political structure of a country."

One might think that General De Gaulle and his friends would have some knowledge of the causes which led Frenchmen a few weeks ago to contemplate with comparative equanimity the establishment of a military Government. One might imagine that two former Prime Minister of France would know whether or not P.R. was responsible for the hazardous ineffectiveness of the French parliamentary system.

Yet the judgments of each and all of them are dismissed airily and contemptuously by the Fine Gael Leader, who has told us that the troubles of France in recent years are not related "in even the remotest fashion to P.R. and the electoral system."

As Deputies are aware no political procedure has been examined and analysed more closely than election by P.R. Among those who have written most recently on the subject is Professor J.L. McCracken of Magee College, Derry. In his recent work entitledRepresentative Government in Ireland, Professor McCracken writes:—

"One of the main criticisms directed against P.R. is that it tends to multiply the number of Parties and consequently to make for unstable Governments since no one Party has a secure majority. Two circumstances offset this tendency in Ireland; the Treaty issue dominated political life so completely for so long that the Parties, in the last resort, fell into two groups not widely different from the usual two-Party system not found where simple majority voting is practised; and in the second place the P.R. operating in Ireland is a local adaptation designed to produce a stable Government as well as a representative assembly."

I think the professor might have added a third reason.

When did the professor say that?

That book was published this year, a few weeks ago.

And quoted the Taoiseach, Deputy Eamon de Valera, on the subject of P.R., but the Minister will gloss over that.

I am glad to see the Deputy has been giving some study to the subject. It is a pity the fruits of it did not emerge in the course of his speech here.

The Minister must not have been listening.

I read it and thought it was a most extraordinary speech. I was going on to say that a third reason the professor might have referred to was the fact that we have amongst us a commanding statesman who has long dominated the Irish public scene but who, in the ordinary course of nature, must withdraw. And when he withdraws what a cockpit Irish politics will be if we are still cursed with P.R.

I like the word "cockpit."

I should mention again that Professor McCracken points out that one of the reasons why we have not experienced the evils and the disadvantages of P.R., is because it has been substantially amended. I hope Deputy Dillon will take note of that view because P.R. in its operation here, certainly since 1933, has been shaped and moulded by successive Fianna Fáil Governments and in such a way, as the professor points out, that we have succeeded in escaping the evils and misfortunes which it has brought upon other countries.

It is terrible to think, however, that the other factor which diminished the dangers of P.R. was the bitter aftermath left by the Treaty split and the civil war? I am sure all of us hope that our children will have done with all such bitterness, and that they will not be held together by it. We on this side hope so but we hope also that neither will they break up into factions and splintering groups. For, undoubtedly, the future of this country depends upon the ability of our people to find the Government of their choice in one or other of two great Parties. Parties which will not be poles apart from each other, but rather will be close to each other.

Because you want only one alternative in any well organised system. As I was saying, Parties which will tend always towards a common centre; Parties which in their words and policies will be responsible at all times, whether they happen to be the Government or the Opposition. It is only through such a system of two-Party representation that the essential unity of our people will be restored, and the political stability, which is so essential for material progress, be assured.

Unity and stability, however, will be hard to attain if we do not abolish P.R. with multi-membered constituencies as the basis of Dáil Eireann. In support of that view I should like to quote fromModern Political Constitutions by C.F. Strong. After remarking that “in theory P.R. has everything in its favour; in practice not so much”—an opinion which, I think, the Leader of the Opposition expressed in this debate—Strong has this to say about it:—

"The practical objections are many, some of little importance, some quite grave. While it secures minority representation, P.R. is calculated to encourage what somebody has called ‘minority thinking' and freak candidates, which may be positively inimical to the public interest... The enlargement of the electoral area is itself a danger, first, because it inevitably destroys personal contact between candidate or member and constituent.... The gravest objection of all is that P.R. is said to lead to government instability by tending to bring to the legislature a number of small groups, rather than two massed parties in opposition, thus necessitating fragile coalition governments which fall whenever one section of opinion in them is outraged...

Whether it is a good or bad thing that it should be so, it seems that P.R. must have, as its ‘unavoidable concomitants, parliamentary groups with a consequent coalition Cabinet, rather than great parties and a homogeneous Cabinet. And this is undoubtedly the reasons why it has not been adopted in Great Britain...'"

This judgment on P.R. is supported by another writer, A. Headlam-Morley, who in her book,The New Democratic Constitutions of Europe, challenges the only argument of any substance which the Opposition has put forward in this debate. She does so in the following passage:—

"One of the chief arguments in favour of P.R. has always been that it is impossible for Parliament to come to a decision in accordance with the will of the nation, unless all opinions are represented, unless Parliament as a whole can hear every point of view, and then, after full consideration and discussion, decide upon the line it will take. The function of Parliament is twofold,

Miss Headlam-Morley observes,

"to deliberate and to decide. Under the majority system it is maintained, deliberation is unprofitable, since one section of opinion is vastly over-represented and others may not be represented at all. In practice the list system of P.R., as a result of the power it gives to Party organisations, makes deliberation in Parliament even more unprofitable..."

The list system.

And there is no difference between the list system and the continental system we have evolved here.

They both depend upon giving effect to the principle of proportionality. The only thing about it is that the list system carries this system further than ours does. It is an easy and convenient way of achieving the large constituencies, for which Deputy Dillon was pleading in this House, when he was speaking against this Bill. It does not involve the complicated calculations which characterise the count under the Hare system—the hare-brained system as it might be better to call it.

Two massed Parties in opposition and two cocks in the cockpit.

The quotation continues:—

"This dependence upon Party is a general development of modern democracy; it exists independently of any particular electoral system; but there is no doubt that the list system of P.R. tends to strengthen the Party influence and push the personality of the individual candidate into the background."

Headlam-Morley then goes on to consider the basis and justification for political Parties, saying:—

"Another and perhaps more serious objection to P.R. is that it leads to the return of a large number of small Parties. It is not probable that any two individuals agree entirely on all political issues. It is impossible to represent all these separate opinions; the function of the political Party is to group together individuals holding similar opinions and to represent them by a common programme...

An electoral system which makes it impossible for a Party to secure representation unless it obtains a considerable number of votes or any actual majority in some constituencies will cause small Parties to seek alliance with large ones. A system which makes it possible for all Parties, however small, to obtain separate representation will lead to a multiplication of Parties... As long as each political Party represents a general connected theory of government the number of such Parties cannot be large. As soon as material interests are represented the number of possible divisions becomes almost unlimited..."

Ten Parties in the North of Ireland.

The last commentator on P.R. whom I shall quote is Maritain. On the vexed question of justice in representation he is quoted by Herman inBetween Democracy and Anarchy, and has this to say:—

"In order to eliminate every attempt to introduce the ‘Trojan horse' of P.R. into the democratic structure, let us note... Universal suffrage does not have the aim to represent simply atomic wills and opinions but to give form and expression, according to their respective importance, to the common currents of opinion and of will which exist in the nation. The political line of a democracy must frankly and decidedly be determined by the majority, while the Parties composing the minority play the part, also fundamental, of the critical element, in an opposition which is not destructive, but as much as possible constructive and cooperative."

Commenting on this passage, Herman remarks:—

"This argument of Maritain disposes, of course, also of the claim that P.R. is just. To assume that it is, means to assume that the common will does not exist, and that the expression of particular wills is the only purpose of the act of voting."

So much for P.R. What does the Government ask the people to substitute for it? The answer to that question is: The procedure which is simplest, most direct and easiest to understand; the procedure which has given stable and effective Governments to those States in which it operates. In short, the procedure of the straight vote, the straight vote which encourages and tends to assure the two-Party system of Government. Incidentally, it happens to be the electoral procedure which is followed by most of the great religious orders; and they are very wise in such matters.

Two massed Parties in opposition?

In relation to P.R. I have given the views of one Irishman. I shall now quote another, James Bryce, a Belfastman of great learning and political experience, the author ofModern Democracies. In this work of extraordinary range and political erudition, having described the place of the Party system in the United States he points out:—

"That Republic has thus escaped two unfortunate results which the group system has produced in countries living under the Parliamentary frame of government. One is the instability of Cabinets, the other the difficulty of carrying through controversial legislation. Where there are more than two Parties, it is probable that no one Party may hold a majority of the whole Chamber. The executive, being dependent on the support of a majority, is in such cases liable to be defeated by any combination of the minority Parties, and when power passes to the larger of these minorities, the new executive consisting of the chiefs of that Party, is exposed to a like peril as we had in France before de Gaulle, crisis after crisis, and Coalition after Coalition.

"This affects not only the tenure of office but the constituency and thoroughness of legislative measures, which have to be so framed as to obtain from members of the Opposition Parties a support sufficient to enable them to pass. The only to remedy lies in the making of bargains between the executive and the leaders of one at least of the Opposition Parties, thus creating a combination capable of keeping the executive in power and helping it to pass some of its Bills; but such combination becomes a matter of compromise, showing the faults incident to measures founded on no clear principle. Sometimes a minority Party can, as the price of its support, extort from the Party in power measures which the bulk of that Party dislikes, and which may not express the general will of the nation. For these evils... the sources lie in the nature of a representative system."

That passage may be supplemented by another from the study entitledThe Free State—which be it noted is in no way related to the late Saorstát Éireann—by D.W. Brogan, Professor of Political Science in the University of Cambridge, a man of immediate Irish extraction, who says:—

"What is the main object and the main justification of the two-Party system...? It is governmental. ‘The King's Government must be carried on,' said the Duke of Wellington. To translate this into realistic terms it is necessary that the English voters—and of course the Irish voters likewise—should be able to rely on there being always in existence a group of men adequately known to the public by past behaviour and current promise, more or less united in general political bias, some of them, at least, with past experience of the realisties of government. This group is the Opposition; the Administration, the Cabinet, is a group of the same kind and it means that the Government cannot play the dictatorial trick of putting the nation into the impossible position of having no alternative Government... ‘There are no necessary men' is a democratic slogan that can only be confidently asserted where the alternative to rule by the men in power is always ready. The first thing that is gained is the imposition of responsibility on both Parties. On the Government, there is imposed the responsibility of so running the State that the Opposition will not have its task of winning an election made farcically easy. On the Opposition there is imposed the responsibility of not making its own task of government impossible when it comes into power."

Outside this House it is generally agreed that the case for the abolition of P.R. has been supported by solid fact and authoritative opinion. Let those who oppose the Bill refute the facts and traverse the authorities, if they can. But let them answer reasoned argument only by reasoned argument. Let them discontinue their present tactics of responding to arguments with abuse.

If they are so hard-driven to make a case against the Bill that the only stratagem left to them is to try to revive the bitterness and strife of the civil war and the Blueshirt days, let them for the sake of the nation keep silent. Let Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Dillon remember that, as their leader warned them, "we are engaged here in a debate of the utmost gravity." Let there be, as the Taoiseach in opening this debate begged, "no political bitterness in our consideration of this matter." That is the spirit in which we put this Bill before the House. That is the spirit in which we have advocated this Bill and the spirit in which we are propose to discuss it in the country.

When the public first heard about this important measure, they showed very little interest in it. The general reaction to the Bill was one of apathy and a feeling of complete disinterest. That feeling, of course, if maintained, was likely to be of great advantage to the Government as far as their present efforts to amend the Constitution in relation to P.R. were concerned, because while the people did not think seriously of the issue, Fianna Fáil might have hoped to succeed in slipping the measure across the Irish people. However, the very fact that we have had such a long discussion in this House over recent weeks on the Bill has, to a great extent, awakened the thinking public to the perils to liberty involved in the proposal.

The Government have been very clever and plausible in their arguments. They seek to suggest that this is not at all a matter for discussion in this House, but is simply a matter that should be decided forthwith by the people, on the grounds that it is a simple straightforward system of election and that it will do away with minorities. That is the Government's case. The very fact that the Government take the line that they do not wish the matter to be discussed in this House but think it should be left to the people is proof that they are worried and perturbed that if the matter is fully thrashed out, the thinking public will undoubtedly fail to support them.

In recent weeks, I have had discussions down the country with people of all political Parties and the very first query on the lips of people in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and other organisations is: "Will he get away with it?" That query in itself is significant and shows the minds of the Irish people as far as the Taoiseach is concerned—"Will he get away with it?" Personally, I am quite satisfied that this matter should be decided by the people, and by the people alone, but the very fact that the people will decide it is no argument that the members of this House are not entitled to discuss the pros and cons of the system involved.

This House is a deliberative assembly and it is here that Deputies of all Parties should put forward their views on the existing system and on the system by which it is proposed to replace it and to give the arguments that will, in some measure, guide the people as to what they should do. Opinions as to what the functions of Deputies are, seem to differ in this House. I believe it is the function of a Deputy to act here as a messenger from the people to the assembly, and to give views, not of all the people, but of a broad section of the people. There are other Deputies who seem to think that the function of the Deputy is purely that of a messenger on behalf of his constituents—a messenger boy to Departments, or to the Ministers, to get some small favours on behalf of constituents.

That is a wrong interpretation of the functions of the members of this House. One of the things I can see quite likely to happen, if the present system is changed, is that you will have in this House a bunch of messenger boys who will be at the disposal of a particular Government and who will be marched rigidly through the division lobbies to put the rubber stamp on the legislation of that Government. The question of those Deputies speaking, or voting, according to their consciences will no longer arise. That is a matter that is beginning to disturb the public mind.

What is this measure? It is described as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. In reality, the proper title of this measure would be "The Fianna Fáil Ascendancy Bill, 1958." The word "Ascendancy" has a bad smell or taste—whichever epithet you like to apply—in this country, but there is not the slightest doubt in the public mind at the moment that the aim behind the Bill is to cement into Government for as many years as possible the Fianna Fáil Party as it will be without the leadership of the present Taoiseach.

I am quite prepared to discuss dispassionately the merits and demerits of P.R. as against the merits and demerits of the straight voting system on the basis that the discussion will be on whether or not the one system or the other has a direct bearing on the major problems that have beset the country for the last 36 years and which are likely to be faced or which must be faced in the future. If we could argue on that line, I think everybody in the House would be prepared to forget all talk about the civil war and such things, but evidently the terms of the Bill are such that the real fundamentals which we should be discussing are excluded from the discussion. The most we can do, with the permission of the Chair, is to make a passing reference to the major issues which should be discussed here if the question of P.R. is of such serious consequence and if it has proved a failure over the last 36 years.

If we could say, for instance, that P.R. had been responsible in those 36 years for driving 750,000 of our people from the country——

That would not be relevant to the Bill.

I gather that. If we were in order in discussing it on that basis, I have no doubt but that Deputies would probably be unanimous in agreeing that P.R. had little or no bearing on that problem. If the argument were put forward that the proposed new system would lead to dynamic government; that it would lead to the stemming of emigration, to the expansion of our agriculture and our industry; that it would lead to a general all-round improvement in social services and so forth, then we could discuss it on that basis. But the question does not arise as to whether the new system will lead to any of these desirable and necessary objectives. If it could be argued that the present system of P.R. was responsible for the fact that we are described internationally to-day as "a very backward country" and that we are begging in Paris at the moment to be so described if free trade is introduced, if we could attribute the position in which we are to-day to P.R., then we should indeed get rid of P.R.

Let us see the facts. Is this true? If it is true that all the major ills that have beset us for 36 years past are due to P.R. then I say: "Let us get rid of P.R." But no Government spokesman among those who have so far spoken has suggested that the things I have mentioned have arisen as a result of our system of election. Therefore, I see no point at this stage in trying to argue along the lines of whether a change in the electoral system will bring about a desirable improvement in production or emigration figures or a solution for unemployment. We must forget the major things in discussing this measure and confine ourselves to the arguments put forward by the Deputies who want the present system changed and the purpose for which they want it changed.

The onus in this case is on those Deputies who want the change to prove their case; the onus is not on those who are in agreement with the present system because no really fundamental arguments have been adduced up to the present to show that the present system is bad. If we are to follow Deputy MacEntee and others into the field of European politics, or over to America——

We would be more accurate than he was, in any case.

——then, I do not know what all the discussion was about at one stage on theSkibbereen Eagle. Seventy-five per cent. of the contribution of the Minister for Health was made up of quotations from European, British and American authorities on the evils of P.R. If ever there was a better example of the slave mind I have yet to meet it. It is the same slave mentality that tries to suggest that it was Lloyd George who imposed the present system of P.R. on the country because Fianna Fáil believe that the name of Lloyd George rings a bell in the minds of the Irish people. They hope to get away with changing the electoral system on such a flimsy excuse.

I have listened carefully to the various speakers, especially to those on the Fianna Fáil Benches. Believe it or not, quite a number of them spoke from the Fianna Fáil Benches and their arguments, instead of being in favour of the new system, are the best arguments put forward for the existing one. Let us take the Taoiseach first and then take the others briefly down along the line. I shall deal with them in detail later. The Taoiseach wishes to get rid of small Parties and minorities; the Tánaiste, Deputy Lemass, wishes to get rid of the Fine Gael Party; Deputy Corry, Deputy Carty and others want to get rid of slackers and to make the system simpler; and the Minister for Lands, Deputy Childers, is anxious about stability.

I shall take the Minister for Lands first, as his contribution to this debate is significant for those Deputies who represent rural Ireland. We all know that the Minister for Lands has his finger in every holding in Ireland. He has at his disposal the means for changing the system of land tenure, and so forth. Let us see what he has to say on this measure. As reported at column 1643 of the Dáil Debates for the 4th December last, he said, speaking on stability:—

"Stability in our economy is one of the most essential factors, in our view. If investors are thinking of investing money in a country, either in agriculture or in industry, they want to see a country with a specific set purpose. They want to see Governments with consistent policies consistently adopted."

I wonder if it is Deputy Childers' belief and policy that people from outside this country should be allowed to invest here in Irish land.

Surely that may not be discussed on this Bill?

I am only referring to the dangers that will be quite apparent if this measure is carried through. When a man like the Minister for Lands states that he is anxious to have a Government here with stability, that will entice people from abroad to invest in our land, to my mind that is a most dangerous invitation to issue as far as the land of the people of this country is concerned.

Deputies were not allowed to discuss the various policies of the various Governments that might follow.

I shall not go into it any further. I might be in order in giving a second quotation from the same Minister. It is one from the same Dáil Debate. I should like to know whether there is a mistake in the facts, or whether the Minister in prepared to stand over them. At column 1640, Deputy Childers, the Minister for Lands, is reported:—

"There is hardly a country in the world with our system of government that has not gained enormously in prosperity, where production has not increased and where poverty has not diminished. Nobody can point to any country, as I have said, where this system operates which has faltered disatrously or where there are problems which have not have been solved or at least some effort has not been made to solve them."

Is that not the best argument that can be used in favour of the present system? He says that there is hardly a country in the world with our system of government that has not gained enormously in prosperity, where production has not increased and where poverty has not diminished. What is the idea of the change?

Deputies, including the present Minister for Health, have put forward the plausible argument that the simple method of election is the best. I should like to deal with some simple signs regarding the simple system. Any Deputy who happens to be present when the votes are being counted has only to look at the boxes when the checking is taking place and he will see 1, 2, 3, 4, coming out of the boxes, as if out of a factory, for the four Fianna Fáil candidates, if there happen to be four in the constituency. If there are only three, the papers will come out marked 1, 2, 3, for the Fianna Fáil candidates all in a row. The people who voted for those candidates knew the system. They were able to stop at 3 or 4, depending on the number of Fianna Fáil candidates. Is it not a fact that Fianna Fáil trained those people into doing that? Is it not a fact that that system and that canvass arrangement adopted by Fianna Fáil was a slur on the system of P.R. enshrined in the Constitution? No sooner had they put it into the Constitution than they sent their henchmen around the country to get the people to vote only so far down the list as the Fianna Fáil candidates' names went.

That system, with the Fianna Fáil people, worked, as the Taoiseach said; it worked fairly well up to recent years. It was adequate. The people who were supporting Fianna Fáil stopped voting when they had given a vote to the last Fianna Fáil candidate. But in recent years in spite of the rigid discipline and authoritarian tactics of the Fianna Fáil Party, the humble Fianna Fáil supporter was no longer cowed and he began to give preferences outside the Fianna Fáil Party. He began in many places to give a preference to a Fine Gael man. When the Fianna Fáil voting experts saw this happening, they realised the danger to the Party.

As we know, they have experts all over this country, in every county. They have excellent men whose job it is to report back on how the people feel and as to the way they are likely to vote. The picture painted by the Fianna Fáil organisers to headquarters was that the old bitterness of the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil set up was breaking down and that the Fianna Fáil supporters in many instances were beginning to throw preferences to Fine Gael. Is that not true? That cannot be denied.

I deny it.

I have seen it happening in my own constituency. I have seen it happening in the recent by-election in Dublin, where it was the Fine Gael preferences that put in the Fianna Fáil man. The old Party system, the division that existed from 1922, has begun to break down. The Taoiseach does not want it to break down; he wants to keep that division there. I will say that, as far as I can judge, the Fine Gael Party all along the line has been consistent in that they have maintained that they were prepared to co-operate. Now, I was never a supporter or a member of the Fine Gael Party. I do not believe in their policies, economic or social; but I believe that on this issue they are showing a better spirit and a more national spirit than the other Party which arose here as a result of the civil war.

The cross voting in recent years has been significant and the argument put forward here by Fianna Fáil Deputies is that the people do not understand the system, that it is too involved. What kind of mentality have those Deputies? Do they think that the people are at the stage they were at 25 or 30 years ago, that they can be dragooned, as they were when sample ballot papers were dished out to every unfortunate individual and the names were all marked down for them, showing how they were to vote? That day has gone, and it is an insult to the Irish people to say that they do not understand the system of P.R. Of course, they understand it. The trouble is they understand it so well at the moment that they are beginning to widen the field and thereby harm the chances of the Fianna Fáil Party.

It is significant, as the Taoiseach himself said, that the old differences, which kept two major Parties here up to 1937-38, are breaking down. There was never a question then of going on a policy, economic or social; it was a question of going on the unfortunate history of the civil war. Up to 1937-38, the difference was that one Party shouted "Up Dev" and, in brackets, "Up the Republic," instead of having a policy. That worked successfully for many years, but within the past ten years, the people have been no longer deluded or codded by this business of putting up a personality and shouting: "Up the Republic" or "Up Dev". It does not carry weight any longer and they can no longer get seats on that basis. Consequently, when Fianna Fáil find their old war-cries are not proving successful, it is only natural they should try some other way of keeping the organisation going. Is it right for Fianna Fáil to try to raise once more the barriers which were beginning to break down in 1938 and were removed from 1948 onwards? Is it right that they should try to organise the people into two distinct camps which have their foundations on the shedding of blood in 1922? They will not get away with it this time.

Deputies have referred to the proposed system as "getting rid of slackers." I wonder are they serious? I will not deal with it in any detail, but it is a well-known fact that if you have one active Deputy in a constituency where there are five Deputies, the four others must toe the line. The one active Deputy is like a good seed amongst them; he will force the others into activity. If you put single seat constituencies into operation, you can have Deputies sitting there—just like many of them sit under the present system—having a good snooze. If the new system comes in, the whole House, with the exception of the Cabinet, can go to sleep.

What will we get instead of the slackers? Take a convention in X constituency, with Fianna Fáil the leading Party, the biggest organisation and with all the big money-bags behind it. What do you have? You have a queue-up of all the potential candidates. Nobody will be in this House under the new system but the wealthiest men in the constituencies— the wealthiest and most influential will be selected by the Parties. No man will be in this House if he thwarts the wishes of the Party bosses, or if he disagrees with the views of the Cabinet or a Party leader. No man can be a rebel as far as his Party is concerned and hope to hold his seat, although he may be voting according to his conscience and enacting the wishes of his constituents. No man who is not a lickspittle of the Party bosses will have a hope of success.

I may be saying hard things here as far as members of the House are concerned, but at the moment there are 78 Fianna Fáil Deputies. They are well-trained circus Deputies, fully at the disposal of the Cabinet, to be whipped in and out of the Division Lobby and to be at the beck and call of particular Ministers. We hear no word of disagreement amongst the 78; all are one; all have a single mind. It is a unique fantastic and frightening situation. It is a waste of time bringing them into a Lobby. They will vote regimented in a machine-like manner. What will happen if they get away with this proposal? Instead of 78, it is quite likely they will come back with 90 or 100 well-trained, circus Deputies, who will be at the disposal of the Cabinet on all issues and afraid to open their mouths in this House to criticise, unless an occasional Deputy is sent in as a red herring and told he can get in a few words.

Notice taken that 20 members were not present, House counted and 20 members being present,

If anybody thinks what I am saying is an exaggeration, he has only to refer to the Dáil Debates of last week when Deputy Gilbride said: "We are loyal in this Party; we are loyal to a leader"— and significantly—"and we are going to be loyal to the people who follow him." I have no objection to Fianna Fáil being loyal to a leader. That is their business, but when that loyalty helps, as it has in the past 20 years, to damage this country in no small measure, then it is time they changed their loyalty and made it loyalty to a policy or programme, rather than to an individual. We all know what loyalty meant in Germany, and Germany has been quoted in this debate often enough. As far as the Fascists and the Nazis were concerned, they were loyal to Hitler; there was not a murmur of disapproval when Hitler was there. Fianna Fáil evidently do not want any murmur of disapproval of their policies in this House, if they get away with this change.

It is not so long since all a candidate going forward in any constituency had to say was: "I stand four-square behind de Valera", and he was put in. If he had two heads on him, he was elected. That day has gone. To-day, the people are thinking, and the slogans that helped to build up that type of character and get him elected, no longer appeal to the present-day thinking public. "Up Dev" and "Up the Republic" no longer bring forth the young men and women to carry the standard of the Fianna Fáil Party.

We are told that the new system will be a simple system and will improve the situation from the point of view of Deputies: the Deputy will not have so much to do; he will have a smaller area; he can nurse the area better. Is that the function of a Deputy? Is it his function to "nurse" a little constituency? I remember in 1948 people coming to me in my constituency prior to my election to this House; they were afraid to come out publicly and support me. I was a young, raw recruit in political life at the time. These people told me: "If we are seen with you, we will never get another day's work on the road. If we are known to be supporters of yours, we will not get an acre of such-and-such a farm of land, when it is being divided."

Has this anything to do with the Bill?

It has a lot to do with it because it is my intention to show how, in the single seat constituency, this system cannot be shown up. I do not suggest for a moment that the majority of the Fianna Fáil Deputies were themselves doing these things; they were being done by their key-men all over the country. I am making a special reference to my own constituency. Those people told me —I do not know where they got the idea—that they would never get an acre of land, an old age pension, a housing grant, work on the roads, a bog drain done, if they did not support Fianna Fáil.

Deputies may say now it is nonsense.

It is the practice.

The Deputy mentioned old age pensions. That is one thing on which we can pinpoint him.

I am very glad Deputy Cunningham intervened because I do not like making statements without giving the proof. I have here a list of bog roads. It is a list published by the Special Employment Schemes Office only six weeks ago and it contains the bog development schemes in my county. This was given to every Deputy in the West of Ireland Here is theRoscommon Champion the week after carrying the statement: “The following schemes were recommended by Mr. Gerald Boland, T.D.; Senator Brian Lenihan, and Mr. Dan Dalton, N.T., Co.C.” Every scheme on that list appeared in that paper as if it were the responsibility of the Fianna Fáil Party. So much for the Roscommon Champion of 6th December, 1958.

The Deputy may not discuss these matters on this Bill.

Where is the list the Deputy wrote? Every Deputy recommends schemes.

Will Deputy Cunningham please refrain from interrupting? Deputy McQuillan may not discuss these matters. They are not germane to the issue before the House.

I am merely making a passing reference.

Every Deputy recommends schemes.

Will Deputy Cunningham please refrain from interrupting? Deputy McQuillan is making a great many passing references that are not relevant to the issue before the House. The Chair has allowed him a good deal of latitude. He should come to the Bill now.

My argument is that that type of thing can be exposed in a constituency in which P.R. is in operation. I, and the other Deputies in the constituency, can show that that type of thing is wrong, corrupt and inaccurate.

Did the Deputy not recommend any schemes?

If this becomes a single member constituency, I, or anybody else, will not be there to point out that these schemes would be done, irrespective of whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Clann na Talmhan or the National Progressive Democrats were in office.

That is a typical manoeuvre in 1958, carried out by the henchmen of the Fianna Fáil Party to suggest they are the people responsible for getting facilities for rural Ireland. What will they do if they succeed in getting rid of the present system of election, a system which permits other Deputies to expose their fraudulent suggestions? Would it not be grant to hand a Deputy a small, cosy, little constituency where, immediately he is elected on a minority vote, he can control, or appear to control, the employment situation, the work situation and everything else in that constituency? From where will the opposition come then? Who can rise up in that constituency, even if it has gone to hell, and get support? The unfortunate people will say: "It is not my job to do anything about it. I have to be nice to Deputy So-and-so, though I am not a supporter of his."

That brings me now to the question of constituencies. According to this measure, we will have 144 seats. This Bill is aimed at bringing the British system, into operation here. In the British system, the proportion of elected members to the population is nothing like what is proposed in this Bill. It is proposed that we shall have 144 Deputies under the straight vote. There will be one Deputy for something like every 20,000 people. That is not what is in operation in Britain.

That is not correct.

That is not what is in operation in Britain, and I want to tell the House why it was decided to have 144 seats. Over 140 seats will be created. Let the Deputy make no mistake about it; he knows that perfectly well. When the Taoiseach decided he would like to change the system, he brought in his advisers to discover what the reaction was likely to be. Amongst his Party followers in the beginning, the reaction was one of rebellion because the Taoiseach aimed at reducing the size of the House. He wished to change the system and simultaneously reduce the number of Deputies to 100, or thereabouts. As we all know, the general public believe there are too many Deputies. The Taoiseach's aim was to reduce the size of the House. "I will have then a smaller, more compact, more efficient House." The moment Fianna Fáil back benchers realised that the numbers would be reduced to 100, or thereabouts, rebellion broke out—oh, but quietly—and the only way in which the Taoiseach could get unanimous support from his Party was by guaranteeing to his sitting members there would be no reduction in the number of seats in the Dáil.

I do not know how true the suggestion is that the maps were out at a Party meeting, but it is hardly unreasonable to suggest that the maps of the constituencies did come out at that stage. I am sure some Fianna Fáil Deputy will enlighten us as to whether or not the maps were made available in order to calm the Fianna Fáil back benchers.

That is nonsense.

Everything is nonsense to Deputy Cunningham. It has been said that under the proposed system we will get a better type of public representative, the type of representative who will be able to put forward solutions or advance ideas as to how various problems should be tackled and so on. Is it seriously suggested that that will be the result of changing the present system? Is it not under the present system that one finds all the scope for admitting new trends in thought, fresh avenues of approach? Does the present system not allow all that? Did anybody in the last 25 years hear a constructive proposal from a back bencher of the Fianna Fáil Party in this House? The aim will be to send 78, 88 or 90 messenger boys into the House.

The Taoiseach, of course, is the most important contributor to this debate and he will conclude, I presume, for the Government. I would ask the Taoiseach does he understand what the word "co-operate" means? Does he believe that co-operation is possible in political life in Ireland? Does he himself, who has advocated co-operation amongst various sections of the community on economic matter and so forth, believe that that type of co-operation cannot be applied in political life? It would appear from his attitude for 36 years that he is against co-operation, that he is against Irishmen co-operating with one another.

Since 1922 this country has been divided into two main groups. That division was due to tragic circumstances. It is beyond contradiction that the two groups, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, are both right of the centre groups, both Right Wing groups on economic and social matters. It is the declared wish of the Taoiseach to have the present system removed and thereby ensure that only two Parties will be in the political field in future, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Deputy Lemass argues that the Fine Gael Party is surplus. The very fact that he argues that means that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael stand for the same thing economically and socially and that Labour is the Party that should be in opposition to Fianna Fáil, logically, from Deputy Lemass's point of view. Therefore, he says, while Fine Gael is surplus, let us get rid of Fine Gael. I wonder would it be as simple as all that? I wonder is it Fine Gael that will go?

Take the present system. I pointed out how the Fianna Fáil distribution of votes in recent years has begun to scatter into the Fine Gael ranks. Is it not a fact that when the present Taoiseach leaves the political field and when some of the Front Benchers of the Fine Gael Party do likewise, there will be very little between the two Parties on economic and social matters? Is it not a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as I have often said in this House? Would there be anything wrong, under the present system, in having Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as the next inter-Party Government?

There is no doubt that, after the next election, assuming that the Taoiseach does not carry his team, Fianna Fáil will be trimmed down to a reasonable size of 45 or 50. If Fine Gael hold 35 to 40 seats, where is the difference between the two Parties on economic and social matters? Then we shall have buried, once and for all, the civil war. Once we get that spirit of co-operation, the civil war feeling will go. This is not a pipe dream. This is something in which many people believe and I can say without fear of contradiction that I have been elected to this House on a number of occasions to advocate that line of policy. In the returns in my constituency in the last election, for example, when my surplus votes were counted, the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Parties were very anxious to see where they went. They were split almost evenly between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

There is a new thinking amongst the Irish people on this matter. In my opinion, the people will not tolerate at this stage, when the bitterness of the civil war is going, when the dividing line between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is gradually disappearing, another rift and the movement for unity destroyed.

The only way in which Fianna Fáil can hope to survive as a major Party and to hold on to office is through the removal of P.R. The best way of getting rid of the bitterness of the civil war and all that it has led to is through reunification of those men who parted on a symbol or a shadow in 1922.

The Taoiseach has said that P.R. worked all right until 1938. Then, he said, the war came and we had difficulties. We had an election, he said, in 1943 and another in 1944. He frightened the Irish people in 1944 in that all sorts of dangers would befall them if they did not return him in the second election. They elected him. He would not co-operate at that time. The Labour people and the Tories in Britain formed a National Government. They co-operated in Britain during the war years. There was an emergency there and there was an emergency here. During the emergency, the Taoiseach would not co-operate in the sense of forming a National Government although at that time members of the Opposition and of the Government were on the same platforms appealing for recruits for the Army.

Would it have been wrong for the Taoiseach in 1943 to have said: "I shall not have an election. We shall form a National Government with Fine Gael and forget our differences"? Would he do that? No—because he does not believe in co-operation. He believes that there is only one Party able to look after the welfare of this country and that there was only one man able to lead that Party for the last 30 years.

After the 1944 election Fianna Fáil were in office until 1948. In 1948-51 there was an experiment in Irish public life. It may not have been 100 per cent. successful. It was an experiment and it proved one thing to many people who up to that time felt that the country could not be run unless Mr. de Valera and Fianna Fáil were in office. It proved that the country could be run without them. It proved that co-operation could exist among other people in this country. I never made any apology to anybody for supporting an inter-Party Government in 1948. I had no objection to a member of the Fine Gael Party being Taoiseach although at that time Fianna Fáil's argument to our political Party, Clanna na Poblachta, was "Fine Gael is the Party that were responsible for 77 executions" and even though they tried to rip the Clann na Talmhan Party asunder.

In the Clann na Poblachta Party there were young men with views on economic and social matters. There was an older element in the Party who were mainly thinking on purely political lines. A clash came between the two sections. If you like, there was a lack of maturity in many members of the Clann na Poblachta Party and the Party to a great extent disintegrated. I do not propose to deal with that now. I merely want to point out that, in my opinion, they were right at the time to co-operate in the formation of a Government.

They were perfectly right. I have often thought of it. They wanted to dispel the spirit of the civil war. The Clann who were Republican at that time wanted to show that it did not matter about Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael were prepared to co-operate but the one Party which stood out and said there would be no co-operation of any kind was Fianna Fáil.

The Taoiseach never forgave the Irish people for putting him out in 1948. The shock he received in 1948 was nothing to the one he received in 1954. It can be argued that those two Governments lasted for a full period. My argument all along was that the inter-Party Government, as such, did not show enough difference between themselves and the previous Fianna Fáil Governments to be completely successful. Although there was a change in personnel and so on, there was very little change in policies. Of course, when things went hard in 1956, the people, who had supported the inter-Party Government up to then, decided they were fed up and abstained from voting at the last election, with the result that Fianna Fáil got back with an overall majority.

The present system will permit within a short period of years members of this House and people elsewhere an opportunity of sorting themselves out on the left, centre or right. If the people accept the new proposal, we will have Fianna Fáil with, in all probability, from 80 to 100 seats for a period of years, with Fine Gael as a very small Opposition Party. That would be a most unhealthy situation. There is no real justification whatever for it.

No reason on economic grounds has been put forward and nobody has suggested that 80 or 90 Deputies are necessary in order to put a sound economic and social policy into operation. If it were suggested, the argument is there immediately that, in spite of having 78 Deputies, Fianna Fáil have done sweet damn all.

I said that the system of P.R. opens the door to progressive ideas. It is the entry for people who are thinking on economic lines and on the changes that should take place in social legislation. It is also the door for those people who are described as minorities. If P.R. is removed, minorities will be prevented from expanding and getting the support of the general public for their policy.

Apart from P.R. being the entry for progressive ideas, it also allows for old ideas and their young disciples to take advantage of the political situation. We have at this moment— Deputies referred to this matter in some detail—a number of young men and a number of Deputies who have pretty old ideas about the solution of certain problems. We know where they got their ideas. They have been in Irish history for many years. We know that members of this House have similar ideas, particularly in relation to Partition.

We know that many of the young men who are in the Curragh internment camp have read and have been educated on the sayings and on the line of approach of older statesmen in this House. We know it is an impossibility to change the mentality of many of these young men to-day because they say they are doing only what men in Leinster House did 35 or 40 years ago.

Discussion of that matter is out of order on this Bill.

I do not intend to go any further, but the people in this House to-day who held those ideas in 1925, 1926 and 1927 can thank P.R. that they are the Government to-day. Most Deputies agree that the men who were elected in the Sinn Féin Party should take their seats in this House. How can they take their seats in this House, if this proposal goes through? Deputy Booth suggested the other night that they will not take their seats. How do we know that they will not take their seats? Let me quote:—

"If we were to take the advice which some people offer us to admit defeat and consent to take our places in the Twenty-Six County Parliament, what would happen is that we would add our strength to the strength of those who accepted the Treaty in pulling away the people from their national ideas."

The policy of those Parties does not arise on the Bill. The Deputy should relate his remarks to the Bill before the House. The Deputy is now discussing the policy of those Parties.

Hours were spent here discussing Switzerland, Germany and other countries. May I not refer to what the Taoiseach himself said?

The fact that references were made to these matters does not mean that they are germane to the Bill before the House.

The argument is put forward that the Deputies who were elected and who will not take their places in the House at the moment will not do so at any time. My suggestion is that there is no evidence available to us that in two or three years' time, under the present system, those Deputies may not take their seats. I am quoting to point out that on another occasion Deputies who are in this House said point blank that they would not take their seats here. I think I am entitled to quote the reasons they gave because the whole question arises here of the type of system by which we elect those people to the House. If P.R. is removed, there is no doubt in the world that the Sinn Féin element will have no opportunity of coming in here, whether or not they desire to come in. It would be a retrograde step, at this stage, to change the system and I give my reasons. We have no evidence whatever at our disposal to suggest that in two or three years' time Sinn Féin Deputies will not change their minds and take their places here, just as the Taoiseach and his Party changed their minds after two years.

A debate on the policy of the Sinn Féin Party does not arise on this Bill.

I am quoting the Fianna Fáil policy, with your permission—what Mr. de Valera, as he then was, said on August 16th, 1925.

It still has no relation to the Bill.

On a point of order, I respectfully submit that the Deputy is entitled to say that the abolition of P.R. will prevent people, who are in a position similar to that in which the members of the Government were, taking their seats, which has a bearing on the point.

It has a very tenuous bearing.

Of course, if we are to be rigidly ruled down along the line so far as procedure is concerned, I find it very difficult to put forward my views as to the reason why I think the present system should not be changed. The men on the Front Bench at the moment changed their minds about coming into this House inside of two years and it was the fact that P.R. was there when they changed their minds which allowed them to start sending in a dribble of Deputies. It was P.R. which allowed them to do so after that speech in 1925 I have referred to in which it was said:—

"If we were to take the advice which some people offer us to admit defeat and consent to take our places in the Twenty-Six County Parliament what would happen is that we would add our strength to the strength of those who accepted the Treaty in pulling away the people from their national ideas. Our business is to stand fast and firm, and fast and firm we will stand, even if we are reduced to the last man. We will not contribute to the route of the nation and if the nation tramples over us well and good; but we will not help the nation in the stampede.

We are on the straight road and on that road we are a mark for those who are struggling in the bogs, the morass and the by-ways."

Who said that?

That speech was made in Kerry on August 16th, 1925, by Mr. de Valera, as he then was, and reported in theKerry News on Monday, August 17th, 1925.

And since it has no relation to the Bill, I would now ask the Deputy to relate his remarks to the Bill.

Two years after that speech, they accepted this House and the Deputies came into this House.

The Deputy may be correct in what he is saying but it has no relation to the Bill.

It was through P.R. that those first Deputies came into the House, two years after that speech that they would not recognise the House. How can we at this stage suggest that no member of Sinn Féin, who say at the moment that they will not recognise it, in two years' time will do so?

We are not discussing the policy of Sinn Féin.

I am not discussing the policy of Sinn Féin. I am discussing the fact that we are likely to keep them out of the House by changing the system of election. The most important measure this Government can propose to the House is a measure changing the system of election. The Taoiseach says: "Do not delay this simple measure. Let it go to the simple people for a decision." He has become very democratic on this issue.

There were many other subjects referred to in the course of this debate which it might have been no harm to refer to the people. We had the question of the Seanad, another baby of the Taoiseach's, and the system of selection. He was asked to refer that to the people, but he had a look into his own heart and said: "It might not be wise to refer that to the people; I will refer it to a commission."

The intention behind this measure is to perpetuate the split of the civil war period. The immediate hope is that when the Taoiseach retires and nominates his successor, when his successor is appointed, Fianna Fáil will be riveted on the backs of the Irish people as the Government for another 15 or 20 years and there will be little or no opposition. If anybody challenges that belief and thinks that is not in the minds of Fianna Fáil, he has only to refer to the contributions made here by Deputy Davern and others, who pointed out that the Fianna Fáil Party represents all sections of the community, that Fianna Fáil represents all the people; the big farmer, the small farmer, the farm worker, the industrialist, the worker in the factory and the professional man. In other words, Fianna Fáil represents all. Fianna Fáil do not believe that there is any necessity for any other Party, but the Fianna Fáil leaders are too clever to make that statement. The poor unfortunate back benchers who got up to speak put their feet in it and those back benchers have admitted that that is what Fianna Fáil claim, that they represent all the people and what therefore is the good of an Opposition?

This is not Great Britain; this is not Germany; this is not Italy. We have listened here for weeks to discourses on the evils of P.R. in these countries. We were told by this little moth-eaten Deputy from Monaghan or Dublin, the Minister for Health——

The Deputy may not refer to a Minister in that fashion. He will withdraw the remark.

When I said "moth-eaten", I referred to the document he had. He produced a moth-eaten document in connection with the position in Italy, and the evils of P.R.

There are no flies on him.

It is a bit late now to attribute the lack of stability in Italy for the past 50 years to P.R. Deputies who take that line are making a dishonest contribution because the fundamental problems in Italy, the difference between the North and South of Italy, all the penury, poverty and misery and all the pressures arising amongst people who were oppressed for years, were responsible for that instability.

An argument was put forward here by the Opposition, pointing out that so far as the changes in France are concerned, it was easy to change a Government in France because the French Deputies did not have the responsibility of going to the country. If there were the responsibility of going to the country, they must have something worth while to go on and in such circumstances changes would not have taken place so often in France, and they might not be too happy now in France with what they have got. In addition, one of the greatest causes of instability in France is that they are trying, and have been trying, to cling on to an empire. Algeria has, to a great extent, been responsible for the problem in France.

Is it suggested that the Aran Islands constitute one of our problems here? We have argued on this Bill, as far as Fianna Fáil are concerned, as if we were one of the great nations of the world with all the problems which face these nations of rising nationalism amongst depressed groups, of falling empires, and so on. This is the yarn trotted out by the Fianna Fáil Party who, for many years, described themselves, in brackets, as "The Republican Party". They have sought to rouse the sympathies of the Irish people by rattling the bones of the dead——

That does not arise on the Bill.

——and saying that Lloyd George was responsible for imposing P.R. on our country. That is about their sole argument in favour of removing the system.

At the Árd-Fheis, the Taoiseach asked the people to take off their coats and to fight for this change. Of course, they are fighting for their existence as a Party, to hold themselves in a group. When he disappears, as he will—and I do not wish him any harm—I do not expect him to go up in smoke like a magician. Pride brought about the downfall of an archangel and also brought down his satellites along with him. Take care that similar pride on the part of a gentleman here does not do the same thing with his organisation.

The necessity for a measure such as that which we are now discussing must be measured by the public demand for it, either expressed or implied. Furthermore, the propriety of the introduction of such a measure at a time like this must be traced to the motive or motives of the sponsors, namely, the Government Party of the day, the Fianna Fáil Party. That Party, led by the Government bosses, is in the position of a plaintiff who goes into court to prove his case. Everybody understands the very simple proposition that no plaintiff can succeed unless he proves his case, at least on the balance of probabilities.

Having listened to the various speakers on the Government side of the House and having read what I was unable to listen to, I do not believe and I do not think there is anybody else, who believes that the Government advocates of the abolition of P.R. have proved their case or anything like it.

Quotation after quotation from various leading authorities by they on constitutional history, constitutional law, systems of government, or anything else, never prove anything because, out of any single textbook, one will always find something to contradict what has been stated already in the same textbook. The multiplicity of quotations is coming very near to deserving the rebuke of citing Scripture for one's purposes. I should like to tell the House what, in my opinion, is the kind of quotation which I think is useful. It is the quotation taken from the mouth of the man of many quotations to prove his case and to fling it back in the teeth, as I propose to do now, of the Minister for Health who regaled us this afternoon and one day last week.

Notice taken that 20 members were not present, House counted and 20 members being present.

I was dealing with the large number of sources from which the Minister for Health culled some very excellent pieces in order to prove his case and not alone to prove his case but to prove to anybody gullible enough to believe him his sincerity in the case he was trying to make. We had quotations from De Gasperi, Montesque, Alexander Hamilton, Von Papen, Professor McCracken, C.F. Strong, Maudie, Maritain, Bryce, a Belfastman, and Brogan—all showing the dangers of the system of P.R. and the last man quoted showing, in particular, how unjust it was. Let me add to that imposing retinue of quotations a quotation from theIrish Times of Wednesday, 16th May, 1951, when Deputy MacEntee, in the course of a general election, was reported as follows:—

"P.R. was not an issue in this election. That system could only be removed by the people who had voted to enshrine it in the Constitution. Under P.R., continued Mr. MacEntee, there was a chance that the various minorities in the community would be represented in the Dáil."

Is he content to stop there? No. He goes on:—

"Fianna Fáil wanted to see all such minorities represented."

Can we have any faith in this bouncing manifestation of quotations this afternoon culled from all over Europe, some from distinguished sources, others not so distinguished, when, facing him, ready to be cracked in his teeth, was his own statement, as late as 1951, saying Fianna Fáil wanted to see all such minorities represented? That quotation shows not alone what the view of the Minister for Health, Deputy MacEntee, was in 1951 but also the insincerity of his argument of this evening when he tried, through this House and through the Press, to instil what he thought was a good argument into the Irish public.

As I said, quotations are all right if they are able to prove your case and the sincerity of it, but the really good quotation is the one that can be made from the person who is now seeking to run away from it and not mention it.

In this session of quotations permit me to read from page 7 of a treatise entitled "The Working of P.R." by John H. Humphreys. There is a subheading: "P.R.—‘Simple to Understand and Easy to Carry Out.'"

"This method of voting—using figures to express choices—represents a big advance from the old practice of voting by making crosses. The illiterate signs his name by making a cross. If doubts are still entertained as to the ability of the electors of Great Britain to use the new system, their doubts should be set at rest by the views expressed by Irishmen familiar with its working. Mr. de Valera's paper,The Irish Press, one of the most popular of Irish dailies, contained on the day of the poll, 24th January, 1933, the following comments: The English Press correspondents sympathise with us in having to work so complicated a system as P.R. It is wasted sympathy, for the system is simple to understand and easy to carry out... It is based on an excellent idea—that we have a greater preference for some candidates than others... Under P.R. the voter not only has the pleasure of voting first for the candidate he likes most of all, but he also can vote for all the others in the order in which he likes them.”

I said at the outset that the introduction of this measure and the necessity for it would have to be judged in the first place by a public demand for such a change either expressed or implied, and if that public demand is not evident or apparent on examination, we must then seek after the motive or motives of the sponsors of such a change. I would have thought, as indeed I suspect many other people would have thought, that this would have come from some source where there would be constitional thinking done and where men or women might be directing their minds towards the necessity or desirability for electoral changes.

One might have thought that such a proposal might first of all have been mooted in some borough council, urban council, county council or in the General Council of County Councils. From none of those bodies came one solitary whisper of a demand for a change. One might have thought further that in any one of our constituent colleges of the National Univsity of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Maynooth, where there is a considerable amount of thinking done along social and political lines, some whisper of demand might have come from that source. One might have expected that from that centre of liberal thought, Deputy Booth's Dublin University, there might have come some whisper of demand for such an electoral change. One might have thought that from any one of the Churches, great or small, it would be hinted that an electoral change was necessary. Nowhere have I been able to find anything in the nature of a public demand, however inextensive, for this proposed change.

It is true that from 1948 to 1951 people he met here, there and everywhere said to him: "Why do you not get rid of this system?" Of course if anybody said it to him—and I am quite sure somebody did—they were not Fine Gael supporters. They were Fianna Fáil supporters who saw, in the then working of P.R., that P.R. did not mean Fianna Fáil sovereignty in perpetuity. It meant that the people could exercise their power in different ways from election to election. That brings me very forcibly to the motive for this measure and I do not think that either in this House or outside it have I ever asserted anything or made a statement with greater confidence than this, that the motive is simple, that the motive is to preserve the sovereignty of the Fianna Fáil Party in perpetuity in so far as a change in the electoral system can do it.

What wrong had P.R. and the working of it done to the Irish people? Where has it manifested itself as an evil in our electoral system? What is the complaint about it now after working so well all down the years? I can see only two complaints, and I am happy to say that the Taoiseach agrees with me because when Deputy Costello was speaking here on the 26th November on this subject he wanted to know what brought about the change of front on the part of the present Taoiseach in relation to P.R. from the very strong views he held about it in 1937. Deputy Dillon interjected and said: "1948". And with uncharacteristic precision and with uncharacteristic lack of equivocation, the Taoiseach answered as precisely as one could answer any such interjection with the word "precisely" itself. In other words, the very first manifestation of evil in the working of the P.R. system was the fact that the Government changed in 1948 and that Fianna Fáil came into opposition.

Let us go further to seek proof to establish that as a motive. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, as reported in Volume 171 of the Official Report, on 26th November, was asked the following question at column 1040, by Deputy McQuillan:—

"Is it the point of view of Fianna Fáil that such a situation will never arise again—namely that Fianna Fáil will never have the overall majority to give them a chance of removing P.R.?"

Note carefully Deputy Lemass's reply.

I am sorry, Sir. Note the reply of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Tánaiste, the deputy-leader of the Government. He stated:—

"I think it is unlikely to arise again. We will have to take cognisance of the probability that if the opportunity of considering this issue is not given to the people now they may never get it."

That, translated into ordinary parlance, means: "This is our last chance to establish ourselves in perpetuity."

Curiously enough the Taoiseach, as far back at 1937, said: "We understand P.R.; the people understand it; they know the working of it." In the course of this debate the Minister for Industry and Commerce says that the people do not understand P.R.; they do not know how it works.

May I ask him a very simple question? If the people do not understand P.R. how then can they be asked to choose between a system of direct voting, which is unknown to the vast majority of us now, and a system of P.R. which they do not understand? How can you choose between things if you do not know the nature of them, if you do not know their worth, and if you do not understand the system of their working? So much for the motive as expressed by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

In passing, and only in passing, might I just say that I hope, when the Minister for Education comes back from his present visit to Paris, he will realise that the P.R. system, as used in France in 1945 and 1946 only, was not the same system as was used here, and that using France as an example of the evils of P.R. is not a valid argument? I would prefer, on this question, to deal with the condition of affairs that obtains in our own country. As Deputy McQuillan very properly remarked in closing his speech, we are not Italy, we are not France or Germany; neither are we Britain or the United States of America. We are a country with a history and tradition of our own and into that history, unfortunate as it may have been in part, the system of P.R. is very well fitted. After all, it must be conceded by Fianna Fáil that if the system of P.R. had not been put into the Constitution of 1922 they would have found it extremely difficult to enter this House whenever they made their decision to do so. I think that will be conceded.

Why now do these people want to get rid of a system that has worked? The Minister for the Gaeltacht was the next person to come close to the mark in stating a motive when, as reported at column 2015 of Volume 171 of the Official Report for the 11th December, 1958, in reply of reference to a remark made by Deputy Declan Costello, he said:—

"We have had some extraordinary examples of that under coalition government here and if Deputy D. Costello wants to suggest that I, or the Party, should not use our experience with coalition government here as a reason for abolishing this system he completely misunderstands this Party's whole attitude to the system of P.R. One of our reasons, and in fact the reason that is freshest in our minds, is the disastrous effect brought about by this system in providing this country with coalition government and the results of coalition government."

First of all let it be stated, without fear of contradiction, that the average life of the two Coalition Governments was longer than the average life of any Fianna Fáil Government and, if disastrous results are meant to connote co-operation, the new spirit born in 1948, the various drives under the headings of agriculture, housing and hospitalisation, and all the other imposing lists of things that were being done for the first time after 16 wasted years, I make a present of the English language to the Minister for the Gaeltacht.

During the course of this debate one honest member emerged from the Fianna Fáil Benches, honest in part. I refer to Deputy Gilbride of Sligo-Leitrim who came in here, obviously deliberately, to tell us that the Sligo Corporation of that day, of 1918, were given the benefit, at their own expense, of a private Act to enable them to increase their rates levy, and so do good for their town and their people, on condition that they would incorporate P.R. as a provision in the Bill. I saw that Sligo Corporation Act before, in passing, but I looked at it again to-day and nowhere in the preamble to it, and nowhere in any provision of it, is it stated that P.R. was to be a condition of its acceptance by the British Parliament.

I think that Deputy Gilbride was certainly shooting the long bow when he wanted to ask us to believe that P.R. was imposed on the Sligo people by the British. The Sligo people accepted it themselves. The drafting of that Bill was done by a deceased colleague of mine at the Irish Bar, at the behest of the Sligo Corporation of the day. Nothing can be further from the truth than the vile suggestion, that is only matched by what the Minister for Defence calls the Lloyd George Treaty, that P.R. was imposed upon the Sligo people by the British Government gratuitously. It was asked for by them. It was suggested to their legal advisers, to the drafters of this Bill, but let me come to Deputy Gilbride's honest part. He takes Deputy Corish to task about twitting the Fianna Fáil Party and the Fianna Fáil back benchers as being too loyal to take part in the debate.

At column 1979, Volume 171, No. 14, Deputy Gilbride puts the motive as succinctly as anybody could put it when he says:—

"But we are loyal and we are proud of that loyalty. We are loyal to our leaders, loyal to our comrades and loyal to the people who sent us here."

Note the sectional strain—"loyal to our leaders; loyal to our comrades; loyal to the people who sent us here". There Deputy Gilbride asks us to believe that representation ends; that if Fianna Fáil voters send you to the House you represent Fianna Fáil alone. That is what he means. That is what he says and that, of course, is the practice.

He goes on to cement in our minds, for all time, the motive for this measure and at the same column continues:—

"Further, we are loyal to those who will come after us and it is because of that loyalty that we are not afraid to take a chance, knowing that we will leave them something that will give them security."

There is the cat straight out of the bag. What kind of security does he mean? Is it the security of 90 to 100 seats, in a depleted House, for the Fianna Fáil Party—a House wherein the Opposition will be so small for a time, at any rate, that no voice can be raised against the corruption and political malpractice, which we know to operate? This Government was sent in here in 1957 largely by default with what Deputy Brennan called "a policy to be trusted". Is it because after nearly two years of non-fulfilment of that policy that they feel they cannot go back to the people under the P.R. system and that there is some chance, while time is yet left to them, to rivet that security of which Deputy Gilbride so honestly speaks?

Why cannot this Government, with its majority—a very big majority, a very sound, solid majority—feel themselves sufficiently stable to do the things they promised to do, or does stability mean something else? I am afraid, from the whole theme of this debate, that stability and Fianna Fáil security are one and the same thing. We have had references to all the countries in Western Europe, some even behind the Iron Curtain, and the great democracies of Great Britain and America have been pointed out to us as places where the two-Party system, on the single non-transferable vote, affords the greatest amount of stability.

On that point may I quote from Mr. J.F.S. Ross in his bookParliamentary Representation, published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1948 Edition, where the summarises the results of the British electoral system over a period of 24 years, from 1918 to 1942. This is what he says:—

"Under the present single member majority system we have had in 24 years from December, 1918, to December, 1942, the different types of Government as follows:—coalition Government, 15 years, two months—"

the hateful coalitions had 15 years and two months out of 24 years, under the system that we are now being asked to accept from the Fianna Fáil Party because they hate coalitions.

"—minority Government, three years; straight majority Party Government, five years, 10 months."

Could any case be more adequately rebutted with those figures, than the case which is being made and which points to Great Britain as having the ideal system?

Could the Deputy give us any information about those coalitions? Were they wartime coalitions or peacetime coalitions?

From 1918 to 1942 includes the war or rather portion of the war only, three years of war. Mr. Ross continues:—

"We have had, therefore, less than six years of straight majority Party Government and over 18 years of what the critics (of P.R.) call ‘weak Government'—that is minority and coalition Government—in the last 24 years."

What were the coalitions?

It does not matter what they were. They were coalitions and coalitions are the things we are to dread here, from which we are to stay away on the basis, I suppose, that men of goodwill are not expected to put away their detailed differences and work on a common plan; that nobody in this country has the right to govern the country except the Fianna Fáil Party headed by the present Taoiseach. Remember that in the course of his various and many political cardiographs we find him beaming in his picture in some one of the controlled newspapers of theIrish Press, after a political victory, and saying: “The people are truly magnificent.” After a political defeat there is no picture and he says: “The people have no right to do wrong.”

In other words, if we are to analyse and relate these two statements—magnificent people when they give him a victory, and that when they defeat him they have no right to do wrong—then "wrong" must be defined in that context as anybody, anything, any policy, or group of persons that tends to impede the will of the Taoiseach.

Even coalitions have commended themselves on occasions to the Taoiseach but they only commend themselves when they are to be used by him as instruments of power for himself and his Party. The people are truly magnificent; the people have no right to do wrong. It is very easy to conduct one's line of political life when one is to be the arbitrator of one's own right and one's own wrong. It is not so easy to accept a standard such as that, the standard of expediency, that removes from all considerations the higher moral values of power and its attributes, whence it derives and the method of its application.

Power is something that should not be abused. It is not the prerogative of any one man on Party. Power, in the first analysis, is something that derives from the Almighty and is then distributed by the exercise of choice by the people. It is with a view to leaving them that exercise of choice that we take the national viewpoint and oppose this attempt to abolish P.R. and replace it with the British system.

What would happen here in the single member constituencies with only Fianna Fáil Deputies? In answer to that, I pose the question: apart from Deputy Doctor Browne who resigned a Ministry in one Coalition Government on a matter of principle, on which no doubt the opposing Parties had sincere views, how many other times under other Governments did Ministers resign? How many other times should they have resigned? I remember Fianna Fáil in its hey-day; I remember decent men, fathers of families, having to return home, having been refused work by the Fianna Fáil gang——

Incorrect.

It is correct.

And I remember when Deputy Calleary was an appointed officer under the Housing Acts in Mayo—whether he still is or not, I do not know—when he did sanction a grant or some such thing he said: "You can thank Pat So-and-so for that, the local Fianna Fáil County Councillor——"

That is incorrect. The Deputy did his best to get me down every time he could——

We cannot go into details of administration in these matters. Deputy Lindsay should avoid that.

I wonder would there be any chance of a charity sermon?

You are the right man to give it.

If my hypocrisy in the matter of charity sermons and special appearances were gone as far as Deputy Burke's I should enjoy quite wide popularity and much photography.

Only one Deputy is allowed to speak at a time according to the Rules of Order.

I hope I am speaking within the Rules of Order but when I am interrupted in this manner I hope I shall be forgiven if I stray to a level lower than that to which I am accustomed.

The Deputy has gone low enough goodness knows.

We have gone down to the Minister's level.

Why can this strong Government not implement what they want to implement with their strong majority now? If this referendum is successful will everybody be able to say: "Now, we shall get cracking; now, we shall send the husbands back to work; now, we shall stem the tide of emigration and reduce the unemployment figures. We shall restore the Local Authorities (Works) Act; we shall, in fact, bring everything to that wonderfully high level envisaged by Fianna Fáil speakers in the general election of 1957"? Or shall we go down to the level of sectional representation? "We are loyal to the people who sent us here," says Deputy Gilbride. Shall we come down to a situation that I can describe no better than in the words of Edwin O'Connor dealing with aspects of the great democracy of the U.S.A. in the book entitledThe Last Hurrah. He said on page 83:—

"The Ninth Ward Democratic Club—such was the homogeneous structure of this Ward that there was no Ninth Ward Republican Club."

All to themselves! It is for these reasons that I fear and that I ask the people also to fear, the possibly terrible consequences of the abolition of this system. Years and years will be required to raise the people again from under the heel of the Party which proposes to crush them.

This new scheme has been devised because the leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party no leaders find their willingness to deceive the public matched by their capacity to do it. I have no doubt that when we start telling the people all over the country of the workings of P.R., its evils or its good points, the Taoiseach will once again stride forth to advise us, to tell the people what to do and to ask them to have faith in him and in his Party. In the course of any excursion he proposes to make, I hereby extend to him a cordial invitation to the town of Belmullet. The people might not be so ready to accept the abolition of P.R. as they were to accept his firm promise to keep prices down in 1957.

P.R. is designed to give electors representation according to their views. It may be carried to the utmost degree as it has been in some countries, or it may be used moderately as we used it here. Where a Party under P.R. has, let us say, the support of 20 per cent. of the electorate, it is almost certain of a seat—with 25 per cent. it is certain. But in other places where P.R. was pushed to a very much greater extent, under the system, let us say, a Party with 1 per cent. of the votes of the people would be entitled to a seat or perhaps more than one seat.

Those who favour P.R., as it is worked here, are prepared to give representation to minorities so long as these are fairly respectable—I mean in size—but they are not consistent advocates of P.R. if they stop at that point. In fact, reading a number of the speeches made on the Bill, I am inclined to think anybody might say we were arguing for P.R. because it gives our own Parties a chance of representation in the House but we have no sympathy for any Party that might be smaller than that. If a Deputy is enthusiastically in favour of P.R. we take it he believes in it. We take it that he not only believes in the system as being the best in the public interest but also believes it is just and equitable both to the Parties and to the people. If we come to the question of justice we cannot put a boundary to it and therefore a Deputy who has been arguing for P.R. but is satisfied to leave it as it stands here, that is with the three or five-member constituency, can argue in favour of it only on grounds of expediency or of the public interest. He cannot claim that he is arguing for that system as a just and equitable system, because you cannot cut justice at a certain point and say: "Justice extends so far as I think it should extend in this particular case, but no further." There is no boundary to justice: other people must get justice as well as ourselves, if we are in favour of a system like that.

I have read the debate on this Bill up to the last day of the debate and I find that nobody has argued that P.R. should be applied to the very utmost. Therefore, I think I can take it that we can rule justice and equity out of it and discuss this question purely as a matter of expediency.

I do not want to go into a lot of quotations. I will take just one. In going through the debate, I read so many quotations that I got a bit tired of them and thought I would leave quotations out. However, I want to use the particular quotation I hold here in my hand, because members of the Party opposite accused us of being always in favour of P.R. It is true, of course, that we supported it—there is no doubt about that—and it is true that we put it into the Constitution in 1937; but I do not think that we were ever very enthusiastic about it, as far as I remember, anyway. Certainly, I was not so enthusiastic myself and I do not think any other member of the Party was. We defended it against the extravagant attacks of Deputy Dillon on certain occasions, but I do not think we can be accused of being actually enthusiastic for it.

I should like to give this quotation, to show what the Taoiseach thought 20 years ago. If anyone looks up theIrish Press of 3rd June, 1938, he will read there a speech made by the Taoiseach in Kilrush, County Clare. As a matter of fact, there is a very long discourse given in the course of that speech, on P.R. I want to give a few quotations from it. The Taoiseach talked of what might happen to the two big Parties which were there then when the big national questions had been decided and had disappeared. He said:—

"The Government will then try to bid for the support of small groups to give them their majority, so that you are going to have a position in which there will be a whole series of groups and you will get into the position in which you will have a Cabinet containing a number from this, that and the other section and there will be a constant reshuffling, as you have in France."

Later on, in the same speech, he said:—

"The more the national fight disappears, the more the sectional fight begins; and then you will have little groups trying to get representation in Parliament and in the Cabinet and you will have the type of Cabinet you have in France. I think that would be a bad thing for this country."

He says he always supported P.R., so much so that it was put in the Constitution, but was seriously concerned about the results which were likely to flow. He says:—

"If the situation continued as it is at the moment, or development of another kind took place in which they were going to have a lot of small groups seeking to be represented, certainly the present system of parliamentary government would have to go."

The report continued:—

"P.R. had a lot of things to be said for it. It prevented very big changes from one side to the other but he had come himself to the conclusion, watching it carefully, that if the developments which he saw likely were to take place—and if he was going out of politics to-morrow, he would say the same thing—this country would have to be very careful, if these developments took place, that they did not continue the system of P.R."

He winds up in this way and I should like to quote this, as I am sure it is not exactly the kind of Government which members of the Opposition would believe he would speak of:—

"If you are going to put in an alternative Government, at least put in a sufficiently strong Government to do the nation's work."

That is the reason we are bringing in this amendment to the Constitution, so that whatever Government is put in it will be strong enough to do the nation's work.

As I say, we were never too hot about P.R. For instance, we never got hysterical about it like some of the people opposite, who descended to describing those who may wish to vary or bring in an alternative system, as using political expediency. If we had the energy of Fine Gael for these quotations, I think we could go back and get many quotations like that which I have just read, over the past 20 or 25 years. Actually, the whole system of P.R. has been in doubt, at least, in our minds for some considerable time back.

Opposition speakers have said that no argument has been advanced in favour of this Bill. As a matter of fact, the previous speaker started off his speech by saying that we had made no case whatsoever for this Bill. I notice that this is always the first thing said by Fine Gael, that no case has been made for the proposition, whatever the proposition may be. I am quite sure that when Fine Gael are taking their young men into the Party, one of the first lessons they give each man is that he should start off always by saying that no case has been made, because that is calculated at any rate to demoralise the Party opposite. Of course, it also does a very much more useful thing, in that it relieves the speaker of the obligation of dealing with whatever arguments have been put up in favour of the proposition under discussion.

That is really what is happening in this debate. The Fine Gael men get up and say that no case has been made. They go on to talk about "the corruption of Fianna Fáil." They say that the reason this Bill is brought in is to put Fianna Fáil in power in perpetuity, to make the present Taoiseach a dictator. All these stock arguments are used in lieu of any serious argument which a Party in their position should be able to put up when opposing this Bill.

We have given the arguments very succinctly from this side. The arguments are obvious ones; they are so simple that anyone can understand them. In fact, they are so simple that they can be stated in a few words; and for that reason they are glossed over as if no arguments at all were given. The big argument that we have put up is, of course, that in the straight voting system, we are more likely to get a Dáil which will select a strong Government. That is our argument, and I think that every speaker who got up on this side at least gave that point as one of his arguments. I regard it as the kernel of this situation and the principal argument for the abolition of the P.R. system.

The principal purpose for which the Dáil is elected is to select a Government, a Government which will carry out the executive functions assigned to it under the Constitution. It goes, however, further than that. Even more important is the necessity to have a safe majority in the Dáil behind that Government, so that they can raise and spend money and implement policy in all the various Departments—Education, Health, Social Welfare, Agriculture, Industry and so on. Our object is to try to have a system of voting that will give a strong Government able to put their policy into effect. We all know a Government cannot do this, unless they have a safe majority in the Dáil. We know from experience here and in other countries that no Government can formulate a policy unless composed of a single Party. The single or straight vote is necessary in order to have a single Party elected which will give a secure majority to the Government. This need not necessarily be a Fianna Fáil Government. If the people want a Fianna Fáil Government, naturally they will get it. But we are bringing in this Bill to ensure, as far as it is possible to do so, that a Government will be elected with a safe majority to carry out their policy. Listening to the speeches here, one would imagine that the Dáil was merely a debating chamber. They want every small volume of opinion in the country represented here. The Dáil is not elected primarily as a debating chamber, but to get a Government with a safe majority to do the business of the country and carry out its policy. There is no use debating, if you do not do anything. There is no use in a Dáil that does not take decisions; and you cannot take decisions in the Dáil, unless there is a good majority behind the Government. That is the reason we are bringing in the Bill.

We believe that under the straight vote, we are more likely to have a strong Government, with a strong Party behind it, than we are under the present system. I do not believe the people in the country are interested in having their views voiced in the Dáil; what they are really interested in is having their wishes adopted by the Government. When a person votes for a certain candidate, he is really voting to see that the policy he has in mind will be implemented when that candidate goes to the Dáil.

Leaders of Parties may look on the Dáil as a debating platform. So it is, but, after all, platforms may also be found at the cross-roads, the market place, the chapel gates, and even in the columns of the daily newspapers. The Dáil should be looked upon as the place where the business of the country is to be done and not merely as a debating chamber. It is possible, for instance, that a candidate, may be elected on a very specific issue. He may be a very good speaker, he may be able to convince the people and get elected; but when he comes into the Dáil, he does not get very far on that narrow issue. A person might get elected, say, in a certain area, if he said that people should pay no more rates; but when he comes up here, he must vote for some side or other to become the Government. If he is conscientious, he must cast his vote on every issue turning up afterwards. Indeed, his vote on several issues might displease very much those who voted for him. He might take a line in the Dáil that would be abhorrent to some of the people who voted for him. No more notice is taken of the particular issue on which he was elected; it is looked upon as impracticable and nothing can be done about it. Therefore, that candidate is misrepresenting those who cast their votes for him.

I admit that if you have many Parties going for election, the elector is more likely to get a person nearer to his point of view than if you have only three or four Parties. That is all very fine. If the elector votes for a medium or small sized Party which joins a Coalition, he does not get 100 per cent. satisfaction. Many of the policies which induced him to support that candidate are never implemented by that Coalition and never can be. Therefore, he is very dissatisfied with the performance of his candidate. Under the straight vote system, there is not the same choice. The elector will have only two or three Parties, and none will please him 100 per cent., but at least he knows for what he is voting. He knows that one of the Parties will be a Government and he makes up his mind whether he prefers A or B. If his candidate is successful and a one Party Government formed, at least his policy should be implemented. Such a Government would not have the alibi a Coalition Party would have: "We would have done it but the other Parties would not agree." From the point of view of the elector, there is no doubt that the straight vote system is a fairer one. He has a choice between two or three Parties and he knows what he will get. Generally speaking, if his Party is successful, he gets his policy put into operation.

Under the single vote, one Party Government is more likely to emerge. We believe strongly that a one Party Government is more likely to get done the work for which it was elected. I am quite sure there is not a member of the Fine Gael Party who would not like to see a single Party Fine Gael Government in power rather than be part of a Coalition. I am quite sure also that the Labour Party, if they could reach the position of having a majority in the House, would much prefer to have a Labour Government than be confined to what they could do as part of a Coalition. Why then are we blamed by Fine Gael speakers and others because we believe that a single Party Fianna Fáil Government can do better than a coalition Government? Every Party thinks the same. In the exigency of circumstances, Fine Gael and Labour had to combine, but that does not alter the fact that a single Party Government can do better work and put its own policy into operation.

Reference was made to the bargaining that takes place in coalition Governments. I merely want to refer to that in order to bring out one point. It was said here by a Fine Gael speaker—I was listening to the particular speech—that the difficulties in France were not due to P.R. but to the fact that the Premier had not the power to dissolve Parliament when he thought it should be dissolved. That is quite true. Now, the Premier here, or the Taoiseach, as we call him, has that power and Taoiseach have used that power in the past. They have dissolved Parliament before the five years were up. That is an excellent power. It is a very important power to have in the Constitution. It must be remembered, too, that under a coalition Government, the Taoiseach exercised that power. He promised the other Parties to the Coalition that he would not dissolve the Dáil for at least 18 months, if they joined him in Government. That provides an excellent example of what can happen when Parties come together and make bargains with regard to the formation of a Government. Sometimes, when that happens, very undemocratic things are done. What is practised then is not the democracy about which we have heard so much in this debate.

Suppose there is a coalition Government and in that coalition Government a small Party of ten or 12 members is represented. Suppose that coalition Government want to do something for the good of the country and that small Party vetoes that policy, then it cannot be implemented. It is possible that even the Opposition would approve of that policy and would support it, but it cannot be put into effect because a small Party of ten vetoes it; ten members out of a Dáil consisting of 140 members can prevent something being done for the good of the country. How could anyone call that democracy? But that is what happens under coalition Governments. The small Party can veto all the time. Less than 10 per cent. of the Dáil, in other words, prevent something being done. We are told now that that is democracy. Democracy, I grant you, under a coalition Government.

The Constitution was approved in 1937. It carried in it P.R. We are accused of passing that Constitution with this provision in it. That is not to say that the people had an opportunity of giving their opinion on P.R. as a single issue at that time. P.R. was not a separate issue then, and it is important that the people should have an opportunity of voting on it now as a separate issue.

We have been asked why we have brought this in at this time. Indeed, the previous speaker rather laboured the point. He quoted a speaker from this side as saying that this might be the last opportunity we would have of doing this. I do not know whether or not it will be the last opportunity, but there are two or three aspects in this. When the Constitution was approved in 1937, there were far bigger issues in it than P.R. The really important issue was whether the people would vote for the new Constitution which was prepared in Dublin by an Irish Government and which was suited to an independent country, or whether they would retain the old Constitution, which was largely dictated from Westminster and which was prepared and fitted for a British Dominion. That was the important question. That was the question on which most people voted. Indeed, an antagonist of P.R. might well say then: "I do not approve of P.R., but the other issues are so very important I must approve the Constitution."

P.R. representation was in the Constitution of 1922. I was a candidate in that election. It was known as the Pact Election. When I arrived at the polling station, there was a copy of the Constitution in it. That was the system of giving the people an opportunity of seeing the Constitution. About 5 per cent. saw that Constitution before they voted and, of the 5 per cent., not 5 per cent. had time to read it. Subsequently, that Constitution was passed by the Dáil, but it was never ratified by the people. We cannot say, therefore, that the people had an opportunity then of voting on this issue of P.R. We believe the people should get that opportunity now. They can make their own decision. We shall do our best to persuade them to vote for the new system, but it is the people who will have the last word.

It has been stated that under the Constitution constituencies would have to be revised within the next 12 months, or before the end of next year, anyway. That is one reason why it was necessary to bring this measure in as soon as possible. We wanted to avoid a double task. That is why it was introduced at this stage.

We were accused of concealing our intentions from the electorate at the last general election. I do not think that is really of any importance. I do not know if we had made up our minds on this at the last general election. Certainly we had not made them up collectively, though individually we had made up our minds to do away with P.R. as soon as possible. There was no necessity to acquaint the people of our intentions at that time. We are giving the people an opportunity now of making up their minds.

Fine Gael decided to oppose this measure and, as Fine Gael so often do, having decided to oppose it, they tried to advance arguments as to why they were opposing it. Now, we must pay tribute to the very fine organisation in the Fine Gael offices. I know its propaganda is not too scrupulous but it is certainly first-class. There is no doubt about that. Its press-cutting machinery is extraordinary. I do not believe any Fianna Fáil supporter ever opened his mouth in the past 30 years but what he said has been taken down in the Fine Gael offices and used against him. They quote against you, irrespective of whether or not the quotation is in or out of context, irrespective of whether or not it is a complete paragraph or just a few isolated sentences out of a paragraph and, where it is a case of arguments for or against, they take the arguments against and leave the arguments for out of it. They must be congratulated on their very fine organisation.

Their arguments against this Bill are set out on the Order Paper in their amendment. The first argument is that the Bill will interfere with the legitimate rights of minorities. I do not think I need go back on that point because I have dealt with it as fully as I want to deal with it.

The point I again stress is: do we want a Dáil to do work or do we want a debating chamber? If we want a Dáil to do work, I believe we will get it from the straight vote system; if we want a debating chamber, we will get it from P.R.

The next point made is that the proposal will mean a departure from our democratic traditions. I am quite sure, that you cannot refer to the traditions of a nation as built up over a few years. They go back over a long period and certainly must go back more than 36 years. If they do, it is not relevant to P.R., but if, on the other hand, it is argued that national traditions may be less than 36 years old, then, of course, it does apply, but I think that is a ridiculous argument to put up. Let the people take a hand in building up our national traditions. They can decide whether they will make a national tradition of this or not.

Then we are told that we may have unrepresentative Parliaments. Again, it goes back to the same point: how far do we want Parliaments to be representative? Do we want to stay where we are, that is, that, if you have about 20 per cent. of the votes in a constituency, you are entitled to a seat but, if you have less than that, you are not entitled to a seat? Do we want to stay at that stage or do we want to go down to a constituency and say that if there is 3/4 per cent. of any particular viewpoint, a seat must be found for that viewpoint or do we go the other way and say: "Let it be a straight vote and let us have government above all things and let them find a platform elsewhere for these views"?

Then the fear is that we may be saddled with an arrogant Government. A majority Government is not necessarily an arrogant Government because if a Government is arrogant, it is very foolish. It is one thing that the people certainly will not stand for. A Government may be arrogant for a few years but the next time they go before the people, they will get their answer and I do not think any sensible Government will, therefore, be arrogant.

If you notice, people who are not very well balanced mentally are always talking about lunatics. In the same way, the former Taoiseach, Deputy J.A. Costello, used that word "arrogant" several times in his speech here. I do not think anything could be more arrogant than the Deputy's remark when he stood up. He said that he could have made a better case than the Taoiseach made for the passing of this Bill. I know that an advocate can make a good case one way or the other. It does not matter very much; as long as he is told on which side to go, he will make a good case. Even though he does, it is the height of arrogance for a man to claim that he believes in himself and that he could make a better case than his opponent.

The next argument he used for this "reasoned amendment" was that the Bill would make it more difficult to solve Partition. I cannot come across any justification for that. We have had about three weeks' talk now and I suppose Fine Gael got a fair share of that time, but I cannot see that they told us why they made that point in this "reasoned amendment". Of course, I can imagine the Fine Gael headquarters putting down their reasons and somebody saying: "It will do harm to the question of Partition", and they put that down immediately. Whether it was an argument or not it was a good thing to have it there, from their point of view; it might influence certain votes in the country if people thought it true that this would make the solving of Partition more difficult. Is it not a pity in a way that an opposition Party like Fine Gael should not be more responsible and not put down a statement like that, unless they believed it to be true and, if they believed it to be true, that they would not give the argument for it and let us know why they were saying it?

Apart from the "reasoned amendment", we have other objections to the Bill. At the beginning of the debate, some of the speakers on the other side accused us of depriving the religious minorities of representation. They dropped that accusation. They found it was not paying, as it were. At the beginning of the debate, that argument was used but has not been used so much since, particularly since Deputy Booth spoke. I do not want to add to or substract from anything Deputy Booth said because I would only spoil his speech. He dealt with that point and dealt with it very effectively.

By putting words in Deputy Costello's mouth that he did not use.

I have no doubt that when this Bill reaches the people, other arguments will be put forward, arguments that will appeal to the people better. We must not forget that when the last referendum was going before the people at the time of the Constitution, they were told that under that Constitution trade unionism would be suppressed and women would be deprived of their votes. That was said all over the country. The people who said it knew there was no foundation for it, but they did, I suppose, get some trade unionists to believe that that might be true and some women to believe that it might be true and, irrespective of the truth, the Parties opposite thought it might serve them to make these accusations.

Deputy Blowick also has an amendment. I want to say only a word or two about that because he does appear to come a good part of the way with us on this Bill. He does appear to agree with the single member constituency, but he objects to the straight vote; he thinks it should be a single transferable vote. If Deputy Blowick is logical, I take it he will vote for the Second Reading and raise his point again on Committee Stage.

I notice the Fine Gael speakers— even Deputy Lindsay to-day-have shown lamentable evidence of inferiority complex. It must be very distressing for Fine Gael to feel as they do. Some of them say that under the straight vote, Fianna Fáil would get 120 seats to 20 Opposition seats. Deputy Michael O'Higgins said that Fianna Fáil would be returned in several constituencies unopposed, that there would be no contest at all. There has been a general consensus of opinion among Fine Gael speakers up to this that Fianna Fáil would sweep the polls if this system were brought in. That is lamentable evidence of inferiority complex.

Would the Minister mind my asking him an innocent question? How can you be arrogant and have an inferiority complex at the same time?

Not all the same people, of course. You could have an inferiority complex and have an arrogant leader.

That puts an end to your argument.

I want to deal with this inferiority complex because it is a bad thing for Fine Gael. It leads to a very bad state of mind in the end. I want Fine Gael to be careful about it. There is a straight vote system in England, America, Canada, and in Australia at the present moment. There was a single transferable vote in Australia at one time, but that has gone. Let us take America, Great Britain and Canada. Does every one of those Fine Gael speakers believe in his heart that, under the straight vote system here, Fianna Fáil would be far and away stronger than any Party ever was in America, England or Canada, because that is actually what they are saying? I do not think they believe that. Of course, they say it, but the fact that Fine Gael say a thing does not mean that they believe it always.

If you were to ask a Fine Gael Deputy who has spoken already: "Do you think Fianna Fáil has bigger support in this country than any Party ever had, than the Democrats have in America or the Conservatives have in England or the Labour Party have in Canada?" I am quite sure they would say: "No, they have not nearly that support". All the same, they come in here and say that if that system is brought in, you will have a Dáil composed of 120 Fianna Fáil Deputies and 20 Opposition Deputies. You will have a Dáil, as Deputy Michael O'Higgins said, where many seats will not be worth fighting for and where Fianna Fáil will be returned unopposed. Either Fine Gael actually believe that Fianna Fáil are a powerful Party with overwhelming support in the country or they do not believe it and have said it in order to frighten the people.

I should like to say a few words about the commission. First of all, we were anxious to get a procedure for the fixing of the boundaries of the constituencies which would prevent a majority of the Dáil from gerrymandering, if such a thing were possible under our conditions. In the first place, the Bill gives a direction to the commission that administrative and geographical boundaries should be respected and, consistent with that, that the population in the various constituencies should be as nearly equal as possible. Having done that, we go on to see how we can have a commission that is not only fair but above reproach.

We recognise that members of the Dáil know more about this thing than most other people. They visit their constituencies; they know their constituencies; and if the constituencies are to be divided, they have a fair idea of the geographical character of the constituency, the administrative boundaries, the natural boundaries and so on. For that reason, the members of the Dáil should be represented.

If we had left it to the Dáil to decide, I am quite sure, when the time came, that the Government would be accused of having a majority on that commission, which is called a commission for convenience, to gerrymander the constituencies, if they wished. We did not want to be accused of that. We were trying to see if we could get representation for both the Government and the Opposition, whatever Government or whatever Opposition would be there, with a neutral chairman.

It was easy on the Government side because the Taoiseach is always there. There will be only one Taoiseach. There is no doubt about that. Therefore, you can say that the Taoiseach will nominate three. With regard to the Opposition, you are not sure how many Opposition Parties there may be at any particular time. There may be one, two or three Parties. We found it impossible to suggest a legal way of drafting clauses that would cover representation for the Opposition. That is why we put down that the Ceann Comhairle would arrange for the selection of three members from and representing the Opposition.

What does the Minister mean when he says "arrange for the selection?"

He might arrange a scheme under which it would be done or he might discuss it with the leaders of the Opposition Parties and see if they could not agree among themselves. In any case, he would arrange for it.

He will not be bound to consult the Opposition Parties.

This is the Constitution and a Bill will be brought in under this.

Another Bill?

I take it that a Bill will be brought in to implement this. It could be explained more fully in a Bill than it is here. All I can say is that we went to great pains, although none of us in the Government believed that gerrymandering could be done because things are too even in this country. We do not know exactly how you could arrange a constituency so that you might get one seat. If you do that, you may lose the other. You would not do much good by doing that.

If there is a better way of getting representation from the Dáil, we are quite prepared to consider any amendment that may be tabled. Any Deputy has the right to table an amendment, and if it is a better amendment, we will be delighted to accept it, so far as representation of the Dáil members is concerned. So far, I have not heard any other scheme that might be substituted for the one that is suggested. In order to get a fair commission, where you have three and three, you would want a neutral chairman. Then you would get an impartial body to lay out the constituencies.

There was some doubts as to whether we would say a judge or leave it open to anybody at all to be nominated. How is he to be nominated? If you simply say that the President nominates him, that means nominating him on the advice of the Government and that would be objected to. We, therefore say that the President will nominate him, after consultation with the Council of State. That is to make it clear that he consults not the Government, but the Council of State. He must take a judge. Again, if there is an objection to that, it can be considered, and if a better scheme is put forward, we shall be delighted to accept it.

There is no use saying they are political lickspittles. That does not do any good, coming from a man who is a colleague of those judges himself and who is a former Taoiseach. I am quite sure that no member of the Fine Gael Party has the slightest fear that such a judge would be partial, but that does not prevent them from saying it in order to try to give the impression that this was a partisan sort of solution suggested by us and that we wanted gerrymandering of the constituencies. If there is any other scheme which is reasonable, we are quite prepared to accept it. In fact, I ask the Opposition to name a judge who will be more to their liking and put him in. This captious criticism does not get us anywhere. If there is constructive criticism, we might get something done.

There was objection because the scheme could be changed by a two-thirds majority of the Dáil. If you stipulate that the change can be made by a simple majority, you might as well have no commission at all. There would be no point in setting up a commission. Deputies will, however, have to have some machinery whereby a good majority of the Dáil could make a change. Every Party, when they read the scheme, will be immediately struck by the fact that there is a defect in it. The two-thirds majority is a safeguard for a position of that kind.

It was said that Fianna Fáil might have a two-thirds majority and could do what they liked. If Fine Gael have fears of that kind, I do not see what one can do with a Party like Fianna Fáil because you cannot stop them. Objection was made that Fianna Fáil might have a two-thirds majority in 12 years' time. They have not a two-thirds majority now, but some Fine Gael speakers at least expressed the fear that the Fianna Fáil Party might have a two-thirds majority in 12 or 24 years' time. It is given a longer lease of life than I care to look forward to.

I want to conclude by saying that having read the debates, having read what both sides have to say I believe when this goes before the people, it will have reason on one side and abuse on the other, and I have not the slightest doubt that when the people read the debates and examine them, they will come down on the side of reason.

I should like to open my remarks on a note of interrogation. In our present system of society, in fact, in any society throughout the ages, groups of people or even individuals, whether the groups are large or small, whether the individuals be individuals in a society like ours or a society which existed many years before our nation was born, are usually actuated by some underlying motive when they embark on any project or any line of development.

It appears to me as a Deputy, and I am sure it appears to all Deputies except those whom I may call the silent Deputies of Fianna Fáil, who with their colleagues, voted so eloquently and so unanimously on a certain occasion in October, 1958, when the Taoiseach says he wants to do away with a system of voting, the approach of the rest of us in connection with this Bill is to look for the motive. The Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and members of the Cabinet and all the members of the Party are no doubt actuated by the highest possible motives. The Taoiseach was actuated by equally high motives in 1957 when he and the spokesmen of his Party assured the people of this country that if they once more saw the light, the economic problems would all be solved and every man who was idle and wanted a job would be rapidly put into employment. I have no doubt that on that occasion, as on another occasion in 1951, when they again put before the people an indication that things would be very nice if they were returned to office, when it came to applying that in practice——

That is another matter which does not arise on the Bill before the House.

——these promises were not given effect to. I do not propose to deal in detail with the fact that Fianna Fáil adopt a line of policy when not in Government and when in Government, adopt a completely different line. In examining this Bill from the point of view of motive, one thing has become crystal clear in the course of this debate. The main concern of the proposers of this Bill is to ensure so far as they can do so a system which they believe will result in strong Government. I did not notice on one single occasion any Fianna Fáil spokesman indicating in any way clearly whether there is any inherent virtue in a strong Government just because it is strong.

I would suggest that if one were to consider this problem purely from the point of view of strong government, without having regard to justice, without having a regard to responsibility to the nation as a whole, possibly the best form of government from that point of view might be a Government consisting solely of one individual, without a Cabinet and a number of subservient Deputies, but just one individual able to issue orders.

History, of course, has shown that this type of government, this type of autocracy, inevitably ends in chaos and disorder, so that when Fianna Fáil spokesmen outline as one of their main objects or main purposes in changing the method of election to this House the necessity of having a strong Government, I think then it is time for Deputies, and in due course for the citizens as a whole, to watch very carefully where they may be proceeding.

The contributions of Ministers and Fianna Fáil Deputies make it quite clear that while they may talk in general terms of the necessity of having a strong Government, basically what is in their mind is the desirability from their point of view of changing the present system of voting to ensure in the future the return of a Fianna Fáil majority to this House and consequently to ensure the maintenance in office of what they are pleased to term again a strong Government.

Many leading Ministers have contributed to this debate and one in particular, the Minister for the Gaeltacht, speaking last week, accused Deputies who spoke against the proposal of speaking because of their vested interests. If there is any reason for a Deputy who may be in opposition to the Government to oppose this measure because of his vested interest, how much more so, how many thousand times more so, could the same allegation be made of Fianna Fáil Ministers whose continuance in office in future may well depend on whether this Bill goes through the House and the referendum is approved by the people?

I shall gladly give the Minister for the Gaeltacht a present of a statement that I, a Labour Deputy for Dublin North-East, believe I have a vested interest. The vested interest I believe I have in this House is that I am a spokesman representing Labour, Labour policy and Labour programme for my constituency. I have no apologies to make to the Minister for that. I would say, speaking again of my colleagues in the Labour Party who represent not only the electors in their several constituencies but the only Party with a social philosophy in this House, that they have vested interests, too. One wonders whether the Minister for the Gaeltacht and his colleagues can make the same type of open confession.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, speaking very early in the debate, indicated, I think, that, in his view, Dáil Éireann might well consist of Deputies representing a Fianna Fáil Party and a revitalised Labour Party because he agreed that the representatives of that Party had a particular social philosophy which represented a clear and distinct section of the community. He then went on to say that the present main Opposition Party in his view would be surplus.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has been noted for many years for an ability to make statements like that. On an occasion when he feels it would be of value to separate various sections of the Opposition in this House he is only too willing to woo the Labour Deputies. He may even attempt to woo Labour opinion within a very short time of having assured the people in this country that, of course, there is no necessity for a Labour Party, that his Fianna Fáil Party is a Party which, with enveloping arms, embraces all sections of the community. Therefore, he might be credited with the statement that, from his point of view, there is surely no necessity for any other Party in the country but Fianna Fáil, that the basic and real differences that exist between sections of our community could well be dealt with in the privacy of the Fianna Fáil National Committee; that, on the one hand, when trade unionists are told: "You should not look for increased wage rates", we would not raise the matter in public and nobody would raise the matter in this House but it would be raised in a committee and the Minister for Industry and Commerce would say quietly: "Gentlemen, that is not the way to do things. Leave it to us and we will settle the problem."

When, on the other hand, the farmers or the industrialists, the bankers or the leaders of commerce, the other sections that go to make up the community, wish to express their views strongly they will be told: "Be good boys, now. Everything will work out all right. You are all in Fianna Fáil." So, when the Minister for Industry and Commerce goes out of his way in a debate on a measure such as this to invite the Labour Party to think in terms of becoming the largest Opposition Party within a short time, I feel compelled to look for his motive, particularly having regard to his record.

The Minister for Health gave this House a long lecture on the position in Italy in the years 1919 onwards and in Germany in the years immediately prior to the emergence of Adolf Hitler. He went to great lengths to explain to this House that all the troubles that beset these nations arose from the fact that, for a period, the system of P.R. —not even the same as we have here— was in operation. Of course, the Minister for Health in his contribution was, I think, paying Adolf Hitler and that particular group the doubtful compliment of imitation because in a certain period of international progress what was known as the tactic of the big lie was developed. It was the tactic of telling a lie, making sure it was a big lie, repeating it often enough and then the people would believe it.

Not even the Minister for Health believes that developments in Germany from the beginning of the century, through the first World War and subsequently to the rise of the archdictator, were caused in any way at all by the fact that, for a short period, the system of P.R. operated in that country. He does not believe it but he will say it in the hope that somebody here and there may believe what he says.

The Minister for Health does not believe that the troubles of Italy in 1919, following its defeat in the World War and following the abandonment of the monarchical system in that country, arose from such a simple thing as a system of election. The Fascists at that time were not concerned with systems of election and there is nobody more aware of that than the Minister for Health.

In his contribution to the debate, the Minister for Health failed to deal with the cases mentioned in this House of countries such as Sweden, Norway; Denmark, Belgium and others who have operated a system of P.R. for many years to the satisfaction of the citizens of the respective countries. He failed to cast any doubt on the accuracy of the statements made in that regard here, and picked two instances in an endeavour to build up and support a very bad case. He even had the effrontery to drag in the situation in France and to state clearly that P.R. was responsible for all the difficulties in that country. However, I do not propose to deal with the situation in those countries because we are dealing with the situation in our own country and we are looking for a motive for this measure before us.

Seeing that the Minister for Defence is here—he gave us a detailed exposition of the alleged working of P.R. from his point of view—I shall leave generalities and deal with the position in my own constituency, thus perhaps finding the motive behind Fianna Fáil's action in this respect. The answer is to be found, I think, in a few figures in a number of recent elections. They are significant because my own is one of the few constituencies that is a five-member constituencies and one of the remaining few constituencies in which the principles of P.R. can work properly. Without wearying the House I should like to quote some figures briefly.

In 1948 there was a general election at which 44,567 valid votes were cast and all of those were effective with the exception of 3,421. A number of Parties contested the election: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Clann na Poblachta, Labour, National Labour and Independents. Fianna Fáil polled 15,543 votes and were entitled to and got two seats out of the five. One Fine Gael, one Clann na Poblachta and one Independent Deputy were elected.

In the general election of 1951 there were 46,900 valid votes cast and with the exception of 4,000 all those votes contributed to the election of a Deputy. As Deputies may remember, Fianna Fáil polled an increased vote on that occasion, 20,000, and again, as the major Party concerned, they had two Deputies elected. Two Independent Deputies and one Fine Gael Deputy were also elected. We had a somewhat similar poll in the general election of 1954, 47,403 votes. Fianna Fáil polled 15,000 votes on this occasion and succeeded again in having two candidates elected out of the five, the other three being a Fine Gael Deputy, an Independent and, I am happy to relate, a Labour Party Deputy. In the general election of 1957 we had 41,000 voting, Fianna Fáil polling 16,776 and again gaining two seats.

In this case, two Fine Gael Deputies were returned and one Labour Deputy. That shows fairly clearly, to my mind, that Fianna Fáil did succeed in getting a larger vote on each of those four occasions than any other Party, but could not get sufficient votes to give them more than two seats, their proper proportion. Possibly anticipating that, if that pattern continued, with a very slight swing in the opinion of the electorate, Fianna Fáil could very quickly be in the same position they were in 1948 and 1954, they examined the situation.

We will give the Taoiseach and his Ministers credit for being realistic from their own point of view. Down the years, they appeared to me to have gradually—I do not know whether it was gradually or not— operated under the mental handicap that they could not visualise any Party other than Fianna Fáil forming the Government of this country, or any Taoiseach other than Eamon de Valera, as long as he was alive and available. So they are faced with a problem now. They have seen within the short period of ten years between 1948 and 1958 that the situation, as far as they are concerned, has swung unbalanced from one side to the other. Either they had a majority in the House or they had not, and it appears to me that they approached this problem from the point of view of what they could do to ensure, if possible, that they would continue to enjoy a majority in this House, and continue to be a Fianna Fáil Government.

It is very obvious that if they have any really deep faith in the ability and in the integrity of our Irish people, and being aware of the system upon which Dáil Éireann has been elected for many years, and the system upon which Governments have been elected they know that only if they retain substantial support in the country— more substantial support than they have been receiving within the past ten years—could they visualise a continuance of Fianna Fáil government, and they are good mathematicians. The system of P.R., as applied in the five-member constituency, ensures that those sections of our Irish people in such a constituency do have a choice of supporting either the Party or the individual of their choice.

On the figures I have given, it appears that Fianna Fáil were satisfied that the continuance of that system would deprive them of the chance of being returned as the largest Party. Therefore, they devised this idea of imitating the system of election which operates in Britain. At one time, it used to be the slogan here that we should burn everything English but their coal. Now, it appears that the slogan is that we must imitate everything that is done by England, whether it be following the lines taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or anything else. In this case, it appears to be that Fianna Fáil examined the system which operates in England, but examined it with a knowledge, a detailed and intimate knowledge, of the composition of our community and they arrived at this result that, if it were possible to apply a system of direct voting, in single member constituencies, it would be possible in some respect to change the trend which has been shown in the last few general elections.

Under the system of P.R. in the five-member constituency, no Party, whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or any other, could succeed in having five Deputies returned to this House, unless they got the clear support of four-fifths of the people in the area, or a little over four-fifths.

Five-sixths.

But if you divide a five-member constituency into five single constituencies, if there is an election and there are more than two candidates contesting any of the seats, it is quite possible that the candidate getting less than 40 per cent. of the votes will be returned as the Deputy for the area. That, of course, means that the system of voting is tending to produce a two-Party Parliament.

I do not think there should be any necessity to point again to what has occurred under the direct system of voting in the North of Ireland. Fianna Fáil spokesmen, including the Leader of the Party and Ministers of the Government, have spoken so often down the years on the situation in the North of Ireland that I should not like to refer to the subject matter covered by them, but it is at least true, I understand, that in one constituency in the North of Ireland the M.P. for the division has not seen it in 20 years. There has been no contest.

We know that in England in many constituencies there is the next best thing to having no contest because the majorities are so large that it is only for the sake of formality there is a contest. It is known quite well to the Taoiseach and his Ministers that once a general election takes place, and the, as is quite common, if there are frequent by-elections, the task of M.P.s, either prominent supporters of a particular Party, or useful to one of the Parties concerned, in many cases is a matter of playing "hunt the slipper." If they are in a marginal constituency they endeavour to find out where and when they can get into a constituency with a safe margin.

I would not accuse Fianna Fáil of thinking that they might play the same game themselves if the system were changed but it might be very useful to them. Certainly it is not and would not be conductive to healthy political interests. Fianna Fail say that in their view what this country needs is a strong Government, a Government that can make decisions and implement policy. The words of the Minister for Finance were. I think, "a Government which will implement policy" and later on he said "a Government which will formulate policy". It appears to me that we are being asked to approve a measure to change the electoral system so that one or two major Parties can go to the people without declaring what their policy is. The Party which gets a majority will then form a Government and will then formulate a policy.

It has been stated during this debate that the Taoiseach and his Ministers are anxious to have this measure carried through so that when an election takes place the people can be asked to vote whether they want candidates of a particular Party returned so that the policy of their Party can be implemented in the following five years. I hope that some Government spokesman will indicate, before this debate concludes, the year in which Fianna Fáil contested an election on the basis of a programme and a policy about which they let the people know. So far as my constituency was concerned in 1957 the policy was: "Let us get cracking. Vote Dev". The Taoiseach was not a candidate in Dublin North-East but that is what we got and that is what the people got in previous elections.

In election after election, Fianna Fáil have consistently refrained from indicating definitely what their programme and policy would be. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the Minister for Industry and Commerce — who, in 1956, was possibly so unwise, from the point of view of Fianna Fáil, as to announce some kind of a policy—Fianna Fáil leaders generally adopt the line that they are not expected to contest an election on the basis of a programme or a policy, that they are expected to contest the election and be returned to power on the basis that if they form a Government they will formulate a policy.

I shall conclude by asking whether, in 1958, the Taoiseach and his colleagues any longer believe in the right of the Irish people, and the various sections that make up the Irish people, to elect representatives to this House, to elect spokesmen so that the spokesmen may not only engage in legislation but may represent their various points of view because it appears that this Bill is a deliberate attempt to restrict that right. We in the Labour Party do not agree with many things that Fine Gael do, or with many things that Fianna Fáil do, and we disagree strongly with some of the expressions of Independents in this House and outside it, but we believe that the Irish people have the fundamental right to organise in associations, in political and non-political organisations, and endeavour to return their spokesmen to this Parliament.

We believe that that right extends to a section of the people even if they are only a minority. I do not think any Deputy ever heard me mention Sinn Féin in this House. My only regret is that the Deputies elected to represent Sinn Féin have not seen fit, or have not been able, to sit in this House. I do think it is of vital importance to the future well-being of the nation that every section of the community — and I do not mean a division by way of religion because there are many more divisions in this than religious divisions — should be represented here.

I see no reason whatever why members of any religion cannot be members of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil or the Labour Party, or members of Sinn Féin or Clann na Poblachta. I think it is abhorrent to suggest that, when we talk about minorities, we have any question of religious minorities in mind because there should be no such question. But there is question of the interests of the working class here and I, as a Labour Deputy, claim to represent those interests. It is important that the voice of the working class should be heard in the House even though I am not particular about whether the Labour Party ever was in an inter-Party Coalition or any other Government, I do not think the working class are best served or can be best served by a Party or Parties including so many supporters who are members and representatives of the classes of the community owning the bulk of the community's possessions.

Either we believe that the Irish people of whom we are so prone to boast are entitled to choose, not just black or white but among all the sections which desire to go before them. or we do not. If we do not believe that I am afraid we shall live to see the day when the Irish nation will be composed of helots and slaves and place-seekers.

Finally, may I say this? On the voting shown in Dublin North-East I can make one statement that no Minister can deny. The electorate in that constituency showed their ability to use their intelligence in casting their votes and I think they are capable and intelligent enough to operate the system of P.R. which has served the country so well in the past.

The debate has been notable, in the first instance, in that there never was a measure of such sweeping importance put before the Dáil by the responsible Minister with so little explanation or so little argument as in this case. The measure was thrown on the Table of the House by the Taoiseach with one of the shortest speeches on record, very much in the manner of throwing a bone to a dog: "I am not going to bother about it any more, because I have already taken the decision myself."

The debate has also been notable for the fact that the earlier speeches by other members of the Government started off by dealing with this matter from an Irish approach, on what had happened in Ireland or was likely to happen here. But, as the debate went on, more and more Ministers got up, and forgetting altogether that we were debating something that would be operative in Ireland, they took us all round Europe and other parts of the world on a variety of tours. The shift in the approach to the question by members of the Government as the debate went on, was significant. I do not propose to say very much about P.R. or any system of voting outside Ireland except in regard to one or two matters which have been raised already by other speakers.

First, I particularly want to take up the Minister for Health on his speech this afternoon. Towards his peroration he told us this Bill was being introduced because it would help us to make progress. Yet, in reply to a question by me he made it clear that he was not interested at all in what kind of progress had been made by Switzerland under P.R. You cannot have your cake and eat it, and if the Minister wants to discuss various countries of Europe and to utilise them as examples — which examples did not, in fact, hold water — for the presentation of the case in favour of straight voting, he must consider both sides of the picture.

As we know, Switzerland has a population which is far from homogeneous, with very big minorities of nationals of countries bordering it on every side. Nevertheless, it has achieved a homogeneity and unity which is an example for other countries. That has been done under the system of P.R. It has also achieved a position in material progress and economic stability, in stability of currency, production and wealth, that we here would be only too glad to achieve. That has been done under a system of P.R.

We have also had references to France by various Ministers but the answer was made perfectly clear from this side of the House by Deputy Sir Anthony Esmonde. Since the war, France has been torn, first of all, by an active substantial communist element which was determined to ensure, so far as it was able, that the parliamentary system in France would not work and, as anyone who knows or studies the position will agree, it was that, primarily, which prevented parliamentary government in France from operating properly since the war — that, and the other difference which there was between the French system of government and the system we know. The other difference is that in France Governments could fall without a general election following. When you have that position you get, as they got there, some irresponsible voting, but irresponsible voting arising, not from P.R., but because there was not the appropriate dissolution if a Government were beaten.

We have always had the other position here, and rightly so, and I hope no matter what system there may be in the future that position will always be maintained. In passing, may I flatly contradict something said by the Minister for Finance on that issue to-night? The Minister said that the Taoiseach in the inter-Party Government had given an undertaking, on the formation of one of the inter-Party Governments, that there would be no general election for 18 months if an inter-Party Government were formed. That is not true.

In fact, it is the first time I have ever heard it even alleged — but whether it is alleged now at this late hour by the Minister for Finance or not, I want to say flatly that it is untrue, that it has no foundation in fact and is purely a figment of the imagination of the Minister for Finance or of somebody who put it into his mind, unless, of course, the Minister misunderstood the Taoiseach, unless he was thinking of the arrangement that we heard trotted out in this House by Deputy de Valera as Taoiseach in 1951 when he gave, according to what was alleged here, an undertaking to members of the "busted flush" that he would not have an election for a considerable period, if only they would agree to support them on that occasion.

The only other reference I want to make to-night to countries other than our own is to the situation as it arose in Britain on two occasions. We are told all the time that the introduction of the single seat constituency and the single vote inevitably will mean a Government with a substantial majority and that one of the benefits that will arise inevitably must be a substantial majority for a Government to put through its work. A very small amount of research indicates that, across the water, that has not always been the case. For example, in their House of 624 in 1950, there was a majority of only six — less even than the small majority here from 1948 to 1950, when one considers the proportionate strength of the Houses. Again, in 1951, after the general election of that year, the result there was that one side had 321 seats against 303 — only 18 of a majority, again out of 624. That is a percentage which surely does not lend point to the argument and to the case purported to be made in respect of that as a reason why we should pass this measure.

I am against this Bill, against the people enacting this change in the Constitution, for several well-defined reasons, based on a consideration of our problems here. First of all, let me say clearly that I cannot find any evidence anywhere in the country, even among supporters of Fianna Fáil, that there is any widespread demand for this measure. I do not take the view that it is a Government's job to follow in the wake of public opinion. I disagree with that view because I think it is a Government's job to give a lead. But before a Government moves in that respect, there must be a necessity, either by reason of a demand from the people or because of the exigencies of the situation. If that does not happen, then it means that a Government are losing touch and losing contact with the people and are not doing the job they should do.

The Taoiseach himself was unable to suggest any evidence of people asking for the abolition of P.R. over a period of years — except that he alleged that when he went on his tour abroad, he had met Fine Gael people outside Ireland who had suggested to him that such a thing was desirable. I frankly do not believe it. I am not suggesting that the Taoiseach is a liar, or inventing it that people said that to him; but I am suggesting that he is wrong in thinking that they were anything but ardent supporters of Fianna Fáil and that their only anxiety in saying that to him was that they wanted to say something that would please him, that would satisfy his vanity and that would indicate to him that they were anxious to have him and the Fianna Fáil Party in Government. To those supporters of Fianna Fáil, of course, that was perfectly understandable.

Even apart from that, even supposing I am wrong in believing that, I think we should pay far more attention to our own people at home than to our people abroad. In saying that, I do not want in any way to denigrate or take from the help and assistance that our people abroad give to us here at home in various directions. It is an undoubted fact that in many countries we find Irishmen who have gone abroad and have lost touch with the situation as it is in Ireland at the moment. One can judge that, perhaps, by some of the literature which other members of the Dáil must receive, as I receive, from societies purporting to be Irish in America, as apart from the genuine Irish societies in America.

Certainly, so far as my contact about the country is concerned, I can say categorically that until the announcement was made by the Taoiseach just before the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis, no one, not even members of Fianna Fáil around the country, had been suggesting in any way, in private conversation or otherwise, that there was any necessity for such a Bill. Certainly, even since the Bill was introduced, even since the Bill was debated in this House, even as late as yesterday, I met — yesterday evening — two people whom I know to be strong supporters of Fianna Fáil and even they were unable to produce any reason why this Bill was introduced and they offered the comment that they could not understand any reason at all for it at the present time. I think it is clear that, so far as the people of the country are concerned as a whole, there has been no demand for it and those people in the country who are in favour of it are so in favour purely out of a misguided sense of loyalty to the Taoiseach himself.

So far as the situation is concerned here in Ireland, I cannot see any necessity for this Bill. Far from seeing any necessity for it, I think — as I will endeavour to show later on — it will do undoubted damage. The Taoiseach himself gave the show away partly when he spoke in reply to a query across the House and admitted that the only reason he was bringing this Bill in was what happened in 1948—"because Fianna Fáil were put out of power in 1948" would have been a better way of expressing it. Why were Fianna Fáil put out of power in 1948? Ask anybody that question and they will all tell you the same answer. They were put out of power in 1948 because in the years just preceeding, up to 1947, they had the overwhelming arrogance that they believed, and they wished everyone else to believe, that they and they alone had the monopoly of patriotism, the monopoly of nationality and the monopoly of ideas. It was because the people were fed up with that assumption by the Government of 1947, that no one else had any right to think on any problem, that the people turned on Fianna Fáil in that year and voted overwhelmingly against a renewal of their mandate.

The Taoiseach is very good at making arguments out of instances when it suits him. The Coalition of 1948, according to him, was a bad thing. I shall not go into the economic situation or economic progress to-night. Time would not allow it; another opportunity will arise for that and that opportunity will make it quite easy for me to show that, far from having any deleterious effect, the exact reverse was the case and that very substantial benefits indeed flowed from that change of Government. Let me keep to the political end. The Taoiseach has inveighed here and elsewhere and throughout the country against 1948 and 1954. He must think that we and the people have very short memories when he talks like that. What was wrong in 1948 and what was right in 1927 when Fianna Fáil wanted to have a coalition with the Farmers Party of that time?

That is not so that is untrue.

What was wrong in 1948 and what was right with the manner in which the Taoiseach achieved office in 1932, with the support of the then Labour Party? What was wrong in 1948 and what was right with the deliberate approach made by a Fianna Fáil Deputy to join Clann na Talmhan in 1948 and the approach made by a present Deputy to Deputy Everett of the then National Labour Party to join with Fianna Fáil in 1948? All that was to be right, but because those concerned agreed with the verdict of the people that in 1947 Fianna Fáil had tried to assume too much to itself and that there should be a change of Government, everything everybody else did was wrong in the eyes of the Taoiseach.

Apart from that, I object to this measure very strongly indeed because I think it will have a result the reverse of stability. In January, 1957, when there was some danger to our economic stability and when it was necessary, in spite of the efforts of the threeIrish Press newspapers, to bring people's minds back to reality, I went down to a part of the country and made a speech, from which I shall take liberty to quote a few paragraphs this evening. At that time, the Government of which I had the honour to be a member was in a very different situation from that of the present Government. At that time, these three newspapers were running a deliberate campaign, particularly in the front page of the Sunday Press, which could be described only as egging on certain unfortunate young men who were badly misled. It was at that time, when it was essential that we should concentrate on the solution of our economic problems, that I spoke on 19th January, 1957. I may appear presumptuous in quoting a speech I made myself, but I want to do so for the purpose of making my position crystal clear. I said then:—

"It is, therefore, all the more deplorable that at this time when a concentrated effort to remove our economic difficulties is required from all of us, people and Government alike, energy should be dissipated, effort distracted and time and thought diverted because of lawless, violent activities."

I went on to say:—

"If those who advocate force as a way of trying to end Partition have respect for democracy, let them put forward candidates in the next election."

I believe, no matter what any Government may be forced to do in the intermediate period, there is only one way in which we can end the difficulties of that sort with which we are faced. That way is by persuading all those who mistakenly believe that force is a solution of any of our problems, to ensure that they put democracy into practice by putting up candidates in a general election. That is the only way in which those difficulties can ultimately be solved and any of us who think there is any other hope of doing it are just living in a fool's paradise.

I have always made my position quite clear in condemning lawless violent activities; but I want to make it as easy as I can for those people who may have extreme views to come back to the path of democracy and to come into this Dáil, if they are able to get the people to support them in the ballot boxes. It is only by the ballot box that we will end that era — an era which, incidentally, was begun by the Taoiseach himself and ended by the Taoiseach, as far as he was concerned, when he came into this House. If they have followed his bad example in the first instance, I should like to see them follow his good example in the second. This Bill will make that virtually impossible. It will put an argument in the hands of people which may well upset our stability in a way disastrous to the country. I am prepared to do everything to ensure it will not be upset.

That is one of the major reasons I oppose this measure. I want to make it as easy as possible, consistent with the principles of democratic rights, to ensure that people will accept the authority of this House. The ballot box is the way in which our differences of opinion should be resolved, and no other. For no reason at all, the Taoiseach is deliberately slamming the door on that chance. For no reason at all, he is perpetuating problems, trials and difficulties that could be solved, given a will and given some opportunity as would arise under P.R., thus remedying that canker in the body politic. As I said at the time, those activities are disturbing our economic progress. But the Taoiseach, by the introduction of this measure at this time, is quite unnecessarily complicating and preventing the due and urgent consideration of our economic problems.

It is perhaps 18 months since the last general election. Nobody likes-being put out of office. You would not be an ordinary, human politician, no matter what it cost you, if you did. I want to say quite clearly that as far as the economic position is concerned, I would willingly be put out of office to have got from this Government, as there is in this White Paper, the acknowledgment that the policies we were putting into effect were the correct policies for the country. Every page of that shows signs of the way we steered; every page and principle is a contradiction of the things for which Fianna Fáil stood up to 1958. Thanks be to God for their conversion. If it were necessary, to achieve that conversion, that we should go out of office, then I would willingly accept it.

Let me go on to the effect this measure may have, if it is put through. Has anybody given consideration to what the constituencies will be like? I will not give detailed figures, but I went through all the results of the elections in 1954 and 1957. The Constitution provides that seats shall be arranged on the basis of one for not less than 20,000 or more than 30,000, taken on the average all round. On these figures, it seems, with the exception of a certain few seats where there has been an unusual transfer of population, that about 9,000 votes are likely to be the number that will be cast in any single seat constituency in a general election. If 9,000 votes are cast in any single seat constituency it means that inevitably 4,501 will win the seat and, indeed, if there are more than two candidates, the candidate with only 4,000 or 3,500 votes could very well win the seat.

I shall not argue as to the minority candidate succeeding. I make the Taoiseach a present of the argument that in this case the person who gets elected will actually get more than 50 per cent. of the votes. In fact, of course, that will not happen, as the Taoiseach very well knows. And that is one of the reasons for this measure. Remember, 4,500 votes. I think every Deputy will agree with me that it is a fair calculation to say that in each family there are about three votes on the average. It may be a little bit more in some constituencies. It may be a little bit less in others. I regard three as a fair average. That will mean that a Deputy will be sent into this House by, at best, 1,500 families.

What sort of Dáil will that provide? Can anyone believe that that will provide a better Dáil than we have now? Will it not be perfectly obvious, in the first place, that one effect of it must be to deprive the rural areas of any adequate representation in relation to their importance in our national and economic life? Will it not be perfectly clear that, in the smaller constituencies, the town will inevitably swamp the adjoining rural area? Will it not be perfectly certain that the Deputy who will come up from this single seat constituency, as a result of this method of election will be a townsman in that single seat constituency?

The effect of the passing of this measure—I do not believe it will be passed by the people, but we know very well that the Fianna Fáil Party will obey the dictate of the Taoiseach to-night and trot up the stairs to vote for it — inevitably will be that the townspeople will be able to outvote the country people in these small constituencies and our agriculture, on which we all depend for our economic salvation, will be squeezed out of representation? Rural Ireland will not get the representation it should get and the representation it deserves to get in this House.

I put it even further than that. I do not believe that in small constituencies like that, with a person chosen by as few as 1,500 families, we shall get into this House people with as broad an outlook on national problems of all sorts as we have at the present time. It is inevitable, with constituencies as small as that, capable of being swayed as easily as that, that there will arise in many parts of the country mountebanks, with small local parochial problems, and there will stem from that an entirely distorted picture here of the real problems of that area. I do not want to take any particular constituency. This can easily engender, in the minds of those listening to me now, personal problems which ought not to be discussed.

Is it not perfectly obvious that under the present system in even a three-seat constituency, in my own constituency and that of Deputy Dooley and Deputy Norton, if the people in Athy are putting up something that is not reasonable, in relation to the rest of the county, the organisations of the various Parties contesting an election can ensure that the election is contested not on one small, petty issue but on issues affecting the county and constituency as a whole? All that will go if this succeeds and we shall have in the various areas individuals cashing-in on small petty local parochial problems, and getting in this House, as a result of that, a climate which will make it very difficult for this House to function as a Parliament should function.

I do not believe it is right or proper for the Dáil to consist of messenger boys to do jobs at Departments here and there. I am positive that the prostitution of parliamentary representation indulged in by Fianna Fáil during the years, inducing people to believe that one could not get anything without going to the local representative, should not be accepted as an argument for the introduction of this Bill. That prostitution was not a true reflection of parliamentary function. It was not true at any time in the past. It is not true now. In 75 per cent. of the cases in which public representatives were approached by constituents, even if the public representative had never done anything, the constituents would have got their rights just the same as if a public representative had never made any representations on their behalf.

The Fianna Fáil Party organisation was founded on Fianna Fáil Deputies telling the people, irrespective of whether or not they had done anything, that they had brought matters to a successful conclusion: "We did that for you. Join our organisation now. If you do not join our organisation you have no hope of getting anything." If Fianna Fáil are charged, as they will be charged, with corrupting public life in that way, the fact is that the charge arises out of their own boasting, apart altogether from anything being wrong in relation to anything that was actually done.

I do not believe that in a Dáil elected in that way you will get the ministerial calibre that you should have. I do not believe that in a Dáil elected in that way you will get the argument that there should be on measures that come up for discussion in this House. I disagreein toto with the Minister for Finance. Apparently it is his idea that the only use for a Dáil is to elect a Government and that, when a Government has been elected, everything subsequently should be the safe, strong majority to enable the decisions of the Government to be rubber-stamped. While this is not a debating chamber proper, it is a chamber, and should be a chamber, in which argument should contrast with argument and, in that contrast, one should get ultimately worthwhile decisions and not merely decisions rubber-stamped by the safe majority to which the Minister for Finance referred.

I agree with neither of the two Ministers I have heard speak in relation to this proposed commission. I do not agree it is proper to get a judge to do a political job and this is a political job which is being assigned to him. I do not agree that it is proper to get whoever may be President to do a political job; it is a political job that is being assigned to him under the Schedule in this Bill. Incidentally, in that connection, may I again contradict the Tánaiste, who said that the President had to act under the advice of the Council of State? That is not true. The President, under this, is bound to listen to what the members of the council have to say to him and then he can say to them, "Run away now. Thank you very much. I am going to take exactly the opposite line."

I do not agree that it is proper that there should be no minority report, that the members of the Dáil and the public should not know what other solutions were proposed in relation to the distribution of constituencies. I assert categorically that one of the very best methods of ensuring that there would not be the gerrymandering of which I am afraid by Fianna Fáil is that everything done in relation to that should be shown up clearly in the light of day. That is the way in which they were brought to heel before and it is the way in which they would be brought to heel if they attempted a similar transaction again.

I do not believe that it is right that the activities of this commission should be put above the law, that they cannot be challenged no matter how mistakenly, wrongly, fraudulently even, they came to their decisions. I do not believe that the Ceann Comhairle should have put upon him what is essentially a political task as I have the example before me of the manner in which Fianna Fáil deliberately changed the Ceann Comhairle in 1932 because he had done his job when they were far too obstreperous.

This Bill will do no good for our economic stability. It will do nothing to achieve political stability. It will sow the seeds of distress and discontent amongst many sections of the people. Inevitably, it will split the people again. We do not want to split them. Instead, we should forget the divisions of 35 or 36 years ago.

The Bill will not give us a better Dáil. It will not give us a better Government. It will not give us better Ministers. On the contrary, it will mean that we are abandoning something that has served us reasonably well over the years for something that will yield a result which, I think quite honestly, many of the ordinary members of Fianna Fáil shudder to contemplate. They are not happy about this measure. I know that. I know, too, that many of the Fianna Fáil supporters down the country are not happy about this measure. I wish the Taoiseach many years in retirement but, at the eve of his political career, the Taoiseach would be doing a service to the nation if he withdrew the Bill.

Deputy Wycherley rose.

Deputy Wycherley knows, of course, that the House has decided that the Taoiseach will be called on to reply at 9 o'clock.

Yes. I have followed this debate very closely and I am yet to be convinced that there is any grave necessity for the proposed amendment of the Constitution at this particular time. The altering of the Constitution is a very serious matter and should be done only for very grave reasons indeed. I have failed to find a reason for the proposed amendment up to the present time.

I shall quote what Canon Luce said in 1938:—

"It would be a thousand pities if a party in a fit of impatience were to scrap this well-tested instrument of enlightened democracy, an instrument to which we all, irrespective of creed, class and party, owe far more than we sometimes realise, and which can do for our children what it has done for us.

P.R. has been a unifying force, and unity is strength. The other system antagonises majority and minority, accentuates the differences between them, and, therefore, weakens both. How, then, can some say that P.R. fails to give strong governance? A contented minority is a strength to the majority while a discontented minority and a bullying majority are a weakness to the whole body politic."

There have been many quotations in this debate but that is one of the most important which could be related to the debate because, since the introduction of P.R., nothing serious has happened in this country to justify the change now put before the House. The P.R. system has been successful in putting stable Governments into office in this country for the past 36 years. It is true that we had two Coalition Governments but we had them at a time, perhaps, when the people were anxious for the change and the people had the power in their hands to effect the change when they wanted it. I doubt if the people will have the same power in the future if the P.R. system is now abolished. The power will be taken from the people and given to pressure groups in one or other of the political Parties.

We all know the intrigue which goes on before and at Party conventions. Up to now, the political Parties have put up possibly two, three, or four candidates in a general election and the people had a choice of candidates even within the Party, which made the whole system very flexible and very likeable as far as the people were concerned. If the P.R. system is abolished there will be only one candidate put forward by the political Parties in each constituency. He may be very popular in a particular area. He should be able even to buy that popularity in the convention at which he will be elected and he will be put before the people as practically an elected member of Parliament without any recourse whatever to the views of the people. Ninety per cent. of the people of this country are not joined in any political Party and take no part whatsoever in the selection of Party candidates. Nevertheless, they exercise their vote intellgently, as they have done for the past 36 years, voting, No. 1, 2, 3, and so on, in the order of their choice, for the candidates they think will best represent their constituency.

That was a very desirable state of affairs. It is a system which gave good results. It is certainly a slur on the men who were elected here under that system to say that the results under P.R. were freak results or that the men who came into this House under that system were dead wood and were not doing their part as public men.

It would be a bad thing to have only two big Parties in this House. The Independent view could contribute largely to stability in this country and would have a very steadying effect on the legislation which could be introduced into this House. I know that some of my colleagues are with me in this and that more of them are against me but it shows the independence of the Independents. The time is not ripe, with our country divided in two, to put this Bill to the country to divide the people as they were divided 36 years ago.

It is the wrong time. If the Bill could be withdrawn at this stage or even if it could be put to, and carried by, a free vote of the House, it would have a far better effect going to the country than going to the country on the basis of the majority vote of one Party.

I had hoped that this Bill would be argued on its merits and that we would hear arguments from the Opposition, trying to show that multiple member constituencies with voting on the transferable vote system are superior in the national interest, to single member constituencies, with the non-transferable vote. Here and there in the speeches, an attempt was made to get down to bedrock and to argue on the merits, but if you take the Opposition speeches as a whole, they have been simply suggestions of bad faith or desires of various kinds on our part.

The people can judge for themselves. They can ask themselves which is the preferable system in the interests of the country. It is not as if we, by our majority here, were putting through a measure without an opportunity being given to the people to express their views on it. This measure, when it is passed through the Oireachtas, as I hope it will, will have to go before the people, and each elector will have the opportunity of saying "yes" or "no". Surely it is the essence of democracy that the individual voter in the community should have an opportunity of saying whether he wants this or whether he does not want it?

The pretence that this is put forward for various reasons, of course, is like the pretences we had whenever we introduced anything in the public interest. The Constitution was attacked all over the country. The attack was led by the present Leader of the Opposition, who then also used his powers of advocacy to try to divert the attention of people from the issues that were fundamentally at stake. He did not discuss whether the Constitution was a good Constitution in itself or whether a Constitution drawn up by the Irish people's representatives, which gave full freedom, was superior to a Constitution which admittedly had been imposed upon us in some of its major sections. That was the real issue for the people, but that was not the issue that was put by the Deputies on the opposite side, who tried the very self-same trick as they are trying now, that is, suggesting all sorts of things. The people were told that I at that time tried to put the Constitution through in order that I might become a dictator. The Constitution would rob women of the right to work outside the home, according to Deputy Costello. My sight was better then than it is now, and I could almost see him with his tongue in his cheek as he led the women on to the attack on the Constitution, suggesting that the Constitution would deprive them of work, put them back in the kitchen and would deprive every woman working in trade, factory or industry of her security. The very waitresses here in Leinster House were led to believe that they would be immediately dismissed, if the Constitution went through.

These were the ways in which the issues were put to the people when vital issues of tremendous importance to the people of this State were being put before them for decision. The same sort of thing is happening now and will happen when the campaign opens. You will have people on the other side trying to suggest that this will mean instability. One would imagine that if this went through, the ordinary voter could not vote as before and that anybody who wanted to go up as a candidate could not go up as before. The suggestion is that you cannot do these things. Of course, you can. There is no interference whatever with the voter. There is no interference with anybody going forward as a candidate who wants to go forward.

The system being suggested is the very self-same system as is in operation where democracy has been stable. It is the system which is in operation in countries that we know of, such as the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and so on. These are countries about which we know — of which we have some knowledge. We know their circumstances in general terms. What is suggested is that the same system be used here. The reason is that that system does lead to stability and unity in political matters, as against the other system which leads to division.

Let us take the first point. We have either single member constituencies or multiple-member constituencies. Which is the better? I heard Deputy Sweetman talk about a single member constituency as if it were an evil. In a single member constituency — it is a smaller constituency — the people will know those for whom they are voting, in the main, because, in the main, the people put forward will be known to the electorate, and the electors will be able to judge of the character of the candidate and of his likely ability as a public representative. The suggestion that they will be tied solely to local affairs is nonsense. They will undoubtedly know what the local conditions are. They will know what the local problems are. May I ask Deputies who are engaged in a loud conversation to be good enough to cease talking?

Taking a single member constituency, the individual candidates are put forward. Independents can be put forward; members of one Party or any other Party can be put forward; and if they have a majority in the area, they can be elected. It is suggested that people who come from local areas will not have any national interest. Why should that be? They are coming to a national assembly. If you take it area by area, you will be able to get as much national material in it as you will get in any other way. The people who would come up here to the national Parliament to decide national questions will know intimately how proposed legislation will affect their particular area and the interests in that area. Surely the whole purpose of representative assemblies is that the individual in these assemblies should be aware of how general legislation will affect his own particular section of the country.

I say that with the single member constituency, they will be able to do that better than the people in a multiple-member constituency, because they will know it better. It will be an area which they can travel over and therefore, from the point of view of service to the nation, of public representation, it seems to me that a small area, an area of reasonable size —and the area will be the size indicated by the number of population —in general, would give a better Assembly here.

I would say also, that we would get a better type of candidate with the small unit than the large. Notwithstanding the opinion held by Deputy Sweetman, who holds a contrary view, I believe we will. There is no reason why we should not get at least as good and maybe a better, candidate because he will know exactly what the problems are. He will be able to attend to his business with less expenditure of time and energy than if he had a large area to move over.

There are a number of disadvantages in the multiple—member constituency system: its size and the fact that the voters will not know the candidates who are put up from one end of the constituency to the other. They will not know the people so well, and they will not be able to judge so well of the individual who is put up.

Then there are the rivalries of various kinds that occur in multiple-member constituencies. They will not be there any longer. The rivalries that occur are very disedifying and tend to bring democratic representation into disrepute. I feel, therefore, that as between the multiple—member constituency and the single member constituency, if any person has simply to vote on that issue alone, he would vote for the single-member constituency and the smaller area.

The next thing is the question of P.R. It has been suggested—of course another one of these things, like the women being affected by the Constitution—that this is aimed at and will have the effect of disfranchising minorities. Suppose the reference was to the Protestant section of the people, the 7 per cent., let us say, of the population. It is quite obvious that, if they are fairly well distributed throughout the country, you would need a constituency of 13 or 14 members to ensure that, on their own vote alone, one of the minority would be elected.

Nobody will suggest that you should have a constituency of 13 or 14 members. Think of the size of the voting paper. How many voters would you get in a constituency of that kind who would vote 1, 2, 3, down to the end of the list of candidates? We know perfectly well it would not be done, and we know, as a matter of fact, it is not done even at the present time, although the constituencies are smaller because after 1, 2, 3, the voter who votes very quickly, very frequently does not go any further. I have had presented to me on a couple of occasions a very large ballot paper on which there were a large number of candidates. Although I had a fair idea of the people who were going up, I very soon came to the conclusion that I could not judge as between A and B in a long list of that size and so, then, to a large extent this idea of P.R. is illusory.

It is illusory, certainly, so far as the Protestant minority are concerned. Those Protestants who get elected, get elected either because they are in a particular area where they have a definite majority, or, if that is not so, they get elected because they are accepted as members of a political Party. If they were not accepted as members of a political Party, they would not have been elected at all, because their own votes would not have been sufficient to elect them. It is ridiculous, then, to suggest that this is a measure which will prevent the Protestant minority from getting a fair share of representation in the Dáil.

In the case of the single member constituency, the result is that the candidates do their utmost to try to get votes from the various sections. Therefore, they tend, so far as possible, towards moderation. They try to get a policy which will win support from those sections.

It was suggested also that this measure would drive people, who are not accepting the rule of law at the moment, farther away. No one is prevented from going up in these elections. Anybody who wants to go up in these elections — I mean the elections that will ensure after this is through — can go up as before. If such a candidate can secure a majority, he will be elected— if his policy is a policy accepted by the people.

If the Irish people want to accept the policy, or want to take over the policy, that has been suggested by those who say we should make war — because that is what it amounts to — these people can go and look for support for that policy and if they get it, if they get a majority, they can carry out that policy, if they want to.

On the suggestion that this State would not be as democratic if you had the single member constituency and the non-transferable vote, which I contest, remember that this, when it has been passed — and not otherwise — will be part of the Constitution enacted by the people — the fundamental law which every citizen is bound to respect and obey and should, where necessary, be made to obey, because if we have not the rule of law then we will have anarchy. You cannot have it both ways. You have either to accept the system and say that there is government of the people by the people as a whole, and not government by a group that arrogates authority to itself, or not. They are quite free. There is an open field for anybody who wants to go up and to put any policy before the people.

The object of elections is threefold. The first is to get a legislative assembly. If that were the only thing done in an election, then we could let the P.R. system, as it is at the moment, stand without too much worry. But the elections are for more than that. The elections are to get a government, and the elections are to decide on the national policy. I say that these two objects were defeated by the system that we have at the moment, or can be defeated. Even those who are in favour of the transferable vote and P.R. admit that it leads to a multiplicity of Parties. Nobody has denied that.

When Deputy Costello was opposing the Constitution, and opposing this method of the single transferable vote and P.R. in that way, he admitted that it led to a multiplicity of Parties. My difference with him at that time was that we had this system working: it had been working for a certain time. I felt he wanted to leave it free to P.R. of any kind and that, of course, would have left it wide open to all the manoeuvring which Deputy Costello is so fond of attributing, in intention, to us. I wanted to have it fixed in the Constitution, because the method of election is the basis upon which the whole of our political institutions, legislature, political life, and so on, are based.

If you are to have any Constitution, it surely should cover the method of election. At that time, P.R., so far, had not worked out too badly for the country. We wanted to have definitely in the Constitution what form it should take, and we put it in the Constitution, therefore, at the time, as it is at the moment, that is, the transferable vote and the multiple-member constituency. Deputy Costello wanted to have it open and flexible in order to let any other form as well as the transferable vote be adopted. I think it would be quite wrong to leave it open to successive Parties to manoeuvre in that way. However, he did admit that it led to a multiplicity of Parties. My suggestion was: let us take what we have, and there is a way in the Constitution by which the Constitution can be amended if experience should suggest that an amendment is desirable.

My attitude towards P.R. has been called into question. I remember back in 1919 when it was introduced here. It was an English measure. There is no use in talking about where it arose —it was an English measure and it was in that respect that we had to deal with it. As President of Sinn Féin at the time, I said we would take it. In our circumstances, although it was intended to harm us — looking at it, it seems just. Like many others, I was, to some extent, deceived by the mathematical appearance of justness. I took it on that particular basis. But, for an appearance of mathematical justice, are we now going to sacrifice political common sense?

In dealing with political matters there are approximations in practically everything. There is nothing refined, so to speak, about it. It is a rough and ready common-sense procedure, and there is no sense in carrying refinement too far in one direction when you cannot have it in other directions. We know that a voter does not vote in the same sort of way, for instance, for a panel of candidates as, let us say, a conclave of Cardinals would, over a period thinking over it, vote, say for the Pope. That is not the sort of thing we have in the ordinary voting. You get each individual voter trying to do his best at it but you have not that continuous procedure that you have in the case I have referred to.

There is no use in refining certain parts when in the other there are rough approximations. It reminds me of the student who, having got, let us say, two numbers, each accurate to four significant figures, multiplies them and then tells you that the result is accurate to eight significant figures. That is all useless. You have to consider what is the machine as a whole, what you are doing as a whole.

In this question as a whole, you are trying, first, to get your Legislature and, secondly, to get your policy. Now, with grouping of Parties that do not come together until after the election, the people have no opportunity whatever of passing judgment. If the Parties came together before the election and put a common policy before the people, I do not think anybody could find fault with that and I have never found any fault with it. The whole tendency of single member constituencies is to get Parties that may be different to come together and to present a common policy, so that people may have some idea of what the policy of the new Government will be, if there is to be a Government composed of a variety of Parties. At least they will then be able to know what the combined policy is.

To come together afterwards, when bargaining has taken place, when the people have no opportunity whatever of passing judgment upon it, is defeating one of the fundamental things there should be in democracy, defeating the right of the people to decide upon policy. You are also defeating the right of the people to get an idea of what their Government will be like.

Let us say that it is admitted that P.R. leads to a large number of Parties. If you have a large number of Parties you do not even know in advance what the grouping will be. The voter has no idea in advance of what the grouping is—and the grouping can change in the lifetime of a single Parliament if you have groups in a certain way.

There has been talk about the stability we have got. I believe you have largely got the stability you have got and that we have been saved from some of the worst effects of P.R. since the war mainly because Fianna Fáil took up a sound position. We refused to go into the market or to do anything of that kind. Even when we were a minority, we could have got support from others but we refused to look for that support. In 1948, we were elected with more representatives than all the other organised Parties put together. It would have been very much easier for us to bid for the support of other people than it was for Fine Gael to do it, but we deliberately kept out and said at the time we were not going to the market, that we wanted to be there as the bulwark of the nation—and we held that position.

It was suggested, as a matter of fact, that never again would any political Party get a majority. There was a possibility of that, I will admit, a great possibility. If Fianna Fáil did go into the market as the other Parties had done, then we were just back into the position in which other countries got involved where there was multiplicity of Parties because it is multiplicity of Parties that we are opposing.

We are asked why are we doing it now. I have explained more than once already why we are bringing in this measure at the present time. We are bringing it in during the lifetime of this Government because we have a sufficient majority to see that this question is put to the people. If we were not in that position, the people would never get a chance of deciding this important matter for themselves. We are doing this because we think it is in the national interest, and we are doing it now because at this period in the lifetime of our Government the question of the revision of constituencies arises. It would be ridiculous to proceed with that revision if we had the intention of putting this measure before the people later.

The single member constituency and the non-transferable vote will, in my opinion, give to this nation a stability which it will not get by any other means. The difficulty is that if this other system should get to the point at which no Party had a majority, then the question could never go to the people. The various Parties on the opposite side of the House are trying to prevent our putting this measure to the people. If the present system continued until such time as no Party could get a majority, you might have to wait a considerable period of years to rectify the position. In other countries they were not able to do it when it was necessary. We are seeing to it anyway, whatever the result, and I hope in the interests of the country the result will be to have the single member constituency and the non-transferable vote, as indicated in this Bill. The people will have the opportunity of deciding, and that is what the Opposition are trying to prevent. Once this Bill goes through or before that they can use all the arguments they like with the people, but their opposition here is an endeavour to prevent this measure from being passed so that the people can pass judgment on it.

The Leader of the Opposition in speaking on this question taunted me with making a poor case and said he would have made a better case were he in my position. I have no doubt whatever that he would. I am sure he was one of the leading lights who produced a famous advertisement appearing in the newspapers of June 4th, 1927. Before I deal with that I should like to refute the suggestion that we were entering a Coalition at that time. We did not suggest or propose anything of the kind. There was no Coalition, but we were prepared to support a Government just as the Labour Party supported us. There was no Coalition between the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil during the years in which Labour supported us.

It has been suggested that we have had stable conditions here as a result of P.R. We have had stable conditions here because on occasions when stability was threatened we went to the people. It has also been contended that we went too often to the people, that we had too many elections. When we got a majority we did not have to hold an election, but when we were being pressed by the support of minor Parties in the Dáil to do things which we did not think right in the national interest we went to the people and got a majority. It was by going to the people in 1933 after the 1932 election, in 1938 after the election of 1937 and in 1944 after the 1943 election that we were able to get stability, and when we got that stability there was no rushing to the people. Those Parliaments ran practically for the full course. There was a four-year period from 1933 to 1937. In 1937, when the Constitution was going through, it was desirable to have a general election and the referendum at the same time in order to save expense. There was a five-year period of office from 1938 to 1943. Before the 1948 election, we were defeated in some by-elections and there was a situation in which it was desirable again in the interests of the State to go to the people.

I wish now to revert to this famous advertisement. As I have said, I feel certain the Leader of the Opposition would have made a very much better case than I did because I do not know anybody who made a better case than he did against coalition government, and that is what P.R. and a multiplicity of Parties mean. If they mean anything they mean coalition government. I have here a photostat of the actual page in which this Cumann na nGaedheal advertisement appeared. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition had his part in drafting it, and I do not know any better case or a case made so succinctly against P.R. and Coalition Government. It says: "Your choice." Then it says: "Your fight in this election is a fight for government." The word "government" is underlined. In other words the electors were voting not merely for a legislature or on questions of local interest but for a Government. Then it goes on to say: "There are only three possible Governments." It enumerates them in three columns and says what each means. In one column you have a Republican Government. Of course they have that in inverted commas and proceed to say what that would mean. In the third column they tell us what a Cumann na nGaedheal Government would mean, but in the centre they have the Coalition Government and they tell the voters that is what they are voting for if they give their first vote to Independents, Farmers or Labour.

Then they go on to say what it means if they do that and what this type of Government means. It means: "(1) Bargaining for place and power between irresponsible minority groups." Is that true or is it not? Does Coalition Government mean bargaining for place and power between irresponsible minority groups? Everyone who was living in this country in 1948 knows perfectly well it does mean that, and if there is any doubt in anyone's mind as to whether it would mean that or not, they have only to turn their minds back to 1948 and ask themselves what happened in 1948.

As I said, ours was a Party that was returned with a number of representatives equal to or greater than all other Parties put together, but bargaining between the other Parties took place, they got some Independents to help them, and they came back and pretended they were elected as a Government by the Irish people. They were not elected as a Government by the Irish people. The people who voted for them voted in favour of certain people, and it was said that by doing so they had voted against Fianna Fáil. It is all very well to say that to vote for A is to vote against B. That bargaining did take place precisely as Deputy Costello, if he were standing here and arguing against Coalition Government, would argue. That is the argument he would use. It is a true argument. It is proved to be true, and no wonder then that he could say he would argue better here on this side than I could argue.

The next point in the advertisement is "A weak Government with no stated policy." Is it or is it not true that Coalition Governments do mean weak Government and no stated policy that has been put before the country? They mean weak Governments because they are dependent on the support of various groups that are being pressed from outside. We had Labour representatives outside saying that their Party were not working as a loyal team.

The second point is equally true, that it does mean weak Government, and no stated policy that the people can see beforehand, no stated policy that can be produced, as was proven when the Coalition Government was in office.

The third point in the advertisement was "Frequent changes of Government." That is the third thing here. Is it true or is it not true that Coalition Governments do lead to frequent changes of Government? They have done it elsewhere wherever there have been Coalitions. Here you had one Coalition smashed up before the end of their term because one of their groups, or two of their groups, were not prepared to hold on and the others were not prepared to go on. Therefore, that point is true also, and again I pay a compliment to the Leader of the Opposition that if he were here with that case before him he would certainly have been able to make a much better case than I, because he was responsible for that advertisement and at the time I did not believe that all the evils I have seen to flow since would have followed from that.

The next thing is the consequences of that—"Consequent depression in trade and industry." Is it not obvious if you have Governments that are weak and unstable, without stated policies, that nobody can know from day to day in what direction they are going, it will lead to depression in trade and industry? That also is true and this is the Cumann na nGaedheal advertisement.

The next point in that advertisement is: "No progress, but stability, security and credit in constant danger." Is it not true that you cannot make progress under such conditions? Is it not true that stability was in danger, that security was in danger and that credit was in danger? Yes, I will make a present of this to the Leader of the Opposition, bow to him and tell him he certainly made a better case than I was able to make, or would have been able to make in this matter.

It is suggested that we have suddenly taken up this attitude. Since 1938 I have been speaking against Coalitions. That is 20 years now. You can get speeches of mine going back over that period in which I said that if we were going to have here, from P.R. and the transferable vote, the consequences that appeared to flow in other countries from multiplicity of Parties, then that I would urge the Irish people to get rid of it, and that I thought the Irish people would be wise in getting rid of it. They say we did not talk about P.R. at the last election, but this advertisement was the basis of the one election address which I broadcast. That same advertisement, to my mind, is the best summary of the dangers pertinent to it and the damage done to countries by Coalition Government. I would like to know what the people on the other side of the House will say about this. We have been told some of our people are doubtful about this measure — maybe there are some— but I am as certain as I am here that a very large section of the Fine Gael Party think now as the Cumann na nGaedheal Party thought then.

I have to admit that since 1948 I have seen in this very much more than I saw in 1927, but I did see in 1938, and afterwards, what the dangers were and, on a number of occasions, I did say that the people would be wise in getting rid of this system. But the opportunity for giving the people the chance — when does that come? Even if we were convinced of it in 1944 when we had a majority, we were passing through a period in which it would be altogether inadvisable to attempt to do anything about it. In any case, the people had not had then the practical demonstration which they have had since 1948, and the people can judge what 1948 meant and decide whether I am right or whether the people on the other side are right. The people know what could happen, having seen 1948 to 1951. In the breaking up of 1951 they could see what happened. In the breaking up of 1951 and in the breaking up of the second Coalition, they could see what could happen and they know in that period what did happen. I am practically certain that it was opposition to Coalition Governments that gave us the majority we have to-day. That was the desire of the people: to end Coalition Governments.

Any Party that has any hope in itself, that has any policy that it thinks the people will accept, any policy for the good of the people, should be very glad to get rid of this system. It is only those who want Coalitions, who know they never can themselves get a majority those who want to try from within to sabotage, if you like, the whole system, who want P.R.

The Nazis went in saying that they would use the Liberal — the Weimar —Constitution to destroy the system. There are people who want to use the democratic system, when it gives them the opportunity to do it, to destroy democracy, and it is to defend democracy, to see that the people will not be deprived, by manoeuvring of that sort, of their rights to determine their Government, to determine their policy, that we are introducing this measure.

I recommend this measure to the Dáil and to the Seanad, and I recommend it to the people. The people will be the final judges, and I hope that when they come to vote on it, they will bear in mind the opportunity that is being given to them. It is an opportunity which can be given only when there is a Government with its own majority, and it cannot be given once the position is reached in which you have no Party strong enough to put it through.

Question —"That the words proposed to be deleted stand"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 58.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breen, Dan.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Clohessy, Patrick.
  • Collins, James J.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cotter, Edward.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Cummins, Patrick J.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Mick.
  • de Valera, Eamon.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Donegan, Batt.
  • Medlar, Martin.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Moloney, Daniel J.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • 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.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacCarthy, Seán.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Toole, James.
  • Russell, George E.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Burke, James.
  • Byrne, Tom.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Anthoney C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • 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, Michael P.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • 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.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies O'Sullivan and Crotty.
Question declared carried.
Amendments negatived.
Question —"That the Bill be now read a Second Time"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 58.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breen, Dan.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Closhessy, Patrick.
  • Collins, James J.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Griffin, James.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacCarthy, Seán.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cotter, Edward.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Cummins, Patrick J.
  • 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.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Medlar, Martin.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Moloney, Daniel J.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Toole, James.
  • Russell, George E.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Burke, James.
  • Byrne, Tom.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Anthony C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • 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, Michael P.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • 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.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies O'Sullivan and Crotty.
Question declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 7th January, 1959.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.20 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 7th January, 1959.