Referendum (Amendment) Bill, 1958—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The purpose of this Bill is twofold: first, to prescribe a new form of ballot paper for use at a constitutional referendum; and, secondly, to grant to persons employed by the local returning officers in connection with the poll at a referendum the same facilities in regard to voting as are granted to persons employed by returning officers at Dáil and local government elections.

I cannot hear the Minister.

Possibly the Deputy could, if the House quietened down a little.

Or if the Minister raised his voice.

Let the Minister for Health move the Bill.

On a point of order, we need amplification here for a long time.

I have no doubt of that.

It is too much of it we have.

The Minister for Local Government.

I shall commence again.

The purpose of this Bill is twofold —first, to prescribe a new form of ballot paper for use at a constitutional referendum and, secondly, to grant to persons employed by the local returning officers in connection with the poll at a referendum the same facilities in regard to voting as are granted to persons employed by returning officers at Dáil and local government elections.

Under the Referendum Act, 1942, the form of ballot paper to be used at a referendum contains a space in which the proposal which is the subject of the referendum is to be set out. The voter is asked to state whether he approves or disapproves of the proposal becoming law. The Act provides that in the case of a constitutional referendum the proposal must "be stated on the ballot paper in the same terms as nearly as may be as such proposal is stated in the Bill containing such proposal passed or deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas". I am advised that in order to comply with this provision it would be necessary to set out in the appropriate space in the ballot paper virtually the whole text of the Bill to amend the Constitution, in both official languages.

This would be quite impracticable in the case of a Constitutional Amendment Bill running to several pages, such as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958. It would, obviously, be unreasonable to expect a voter to read a long document of that kind in the polling booth. Copies of the Bill to amend the Constitution will be provided for inspection and purchase in post offices in accordance with the provisions of the Referendum Act, 1942, so that voters can study the terms of the proposed constitutional amendment before polling day.

The First Schedule to the Bill sets out the new form of ballot paper at a constitutional referendum. The proposal which is the subject of the referendum will be stated by citing by its Short Title the Bill to amend the Constitution and the voter will be asked to vote "Yes" or "No" to the question, "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?" The opportunity is being availed of to have a bilingual form of ballot paper. The ballot paper at the plebiscite held under the Plebiscite (Draft Constitution) Act, 1937, was bilingual.

The Second Schedule contains minor consequential amendments to the rules governing the form of notice of poll and the procedure for voting by physically incapacitated or illiterate voters.

There is provision in the law relating to Dáil and local government elections to enable persons employed by a returning officer to be authorised to vote at a polling station in their constituency other than the one assigned to them in the polling scheme if the circumstances of their employment are such as to prevent them from voting at that station. This means, in practice, that presiding officers and poll clerks can vote at the polling station at which they are employed. This facility was afforded on the occasion of the plebiscite on the Constitution in 1937. It is considered desirable that it should likewise be afforded in the case of a referendum, and Section 3 of this Bill provides accordingly.

I move the following amendment:—

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 proposes to deprive the voter of that knowledge of the issue on which he is asked to express an opinion, as would otherwise be set out on the ballot paper as required by Section 15 (4) of the Referendum Act, 1942.

Having regard to the manner in which the proposals for the amendment of the Constitution were brought before the House and are being hurried to the country, this amending Bill, which appears, according to the Minister's statement, to be very simple—perhaps in his view, it is entirely unobjectionable—is regarded by us with extreme suspicion.

The Act of 1942 was passed at a time when calm and objective consideration could be given, and doubtless was given, to the necessary details in connection with the holding of a referendum, be it constitutional or otherwise. We want to know why it is that this Bill now is so framed as to deprive the electorate going in to vote on the referendum and reading the ballot paper of at least a certain amount of information as to what they are voting on and to give them no information.

We must approach the consideration of this Bill on the basis that, under the existing law as contained in the Referendum Act of 1942, a considerable amount of information was set forth on the ballot paper. Under the proposal put forward by the Minister in this Bill, the electorate is to get no information—good, bad or indifferent. The proposal is to change the form of the ballot paper from what is required under the Referendum Act of 1942 to merely putting in the Short Title of the Bill. If Deputies will look at the Short Title of the Constitution Amendment Bill, the first thing that will strike them is that the Short Title is very much longer than the Long Title of the Bill, which is a rather absurd situation. All that the elector will be told on the ballot paper is that the proposal is "The Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1959".

There was an opportunity in 1946 to make this particular amendment, or some analogous one, had that been thought necessary. Presumably consideration had been given to it at the time when changes in the electoral law effected by the Electoral Act of 1946 were being considered to deal with difficulties that may have been apparent in the Referendum Act, 1942. No such change as is proposed in this Bill was thought desirable or necessary. Again, we were in a time of calm consideration when the passions and controversies that have arisen as a result of the Government's proposals for the proposed amendment of the Constitution did not exist.

Presumably the same calm consideration was given at that time as was given in 1942; but now, as a first act in the new year, this Bill is hurried into the Dáil and will be hurriedly pushed through on the lines characteristic of the entire of the proposals connected with the amendment of the Constitution, namely, hurry, withholding of information from the country, hypocritical suggestions that the people's will must be secured before they can get full information adequate to understand not merely what is contained in the Bill but the implications of its passing into law in the near future, not so much as in the near present.

As I say, the proposal was not thought necessary in 1946, but, of course, after the Referendum Amendment Act of 1946, there emerged the two reasons why this proposed Constitution Amendment Bill became operative in the Taoiseach's mind: he had been beaten twice, beaten in 1947 and again in 1954.

In the 1942 Act, there is a reasonable provision that the voter, when voting, should be told what he is voting on. Section 15, sub-section (4) of that Act provided that every ballot paper in a constitutional referendum should contain a statement of the subject of the referendum. Sub-section (5) proposed that that statement should consist in stating on the ballot paper the proposal in the same terms, as nearly as may be, as those in which such proposal is stated in the Bill containing such proposal passed by the Oireachtas. That Act required that the ballot paper on which the voter was casting his vote should contain a statement of the proposals of the Bill. I see no reason why there should not be an obligation on the Government to state on the ballot paper, as nearly as may be possible, a statement of the proposals contained in this Bill. It could be reduced to a pretty simple form that could be understood by the voters being asked to vote on this proposal, radical as indeed it is.

Instead of having this statement, apparently in the interests of simplicity, the voter is to be told nothing. Under the existing law, the voter had in front of him a statement giving him some information—in fact, considerable information—as to what he was voting on. Here he is to be told nothing. Deputies voting on this Bill must realise and understand the significance of that. Voters are to be told what is the Short Title of the Bill, and the Short Title of the Bill gives no information, good, bad or indifferent, except that it is the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1959.

When Deputies turn to consider other proposals in this Bill, they will see the absurdity of this and perhaps they will realise the sinister motives behind these proposals. Under the Act of 1942, where what are called incapacitated voters found themselves in a difficulty in their understanding of what they were asked to do, they were entitled to seek the assistance of the presiding officer. He had to give them certain information. He was bound to tell them what was on the ballot paper. In other words, he gave them the information which would enable them to understand what they were being asked to do and he then asked them did they approve or disapprove.

Under the present proposal, the procedure will be different. An incapacitated voter who does not understand what he is doing, asks the presiding officer to explain the matter to him. The presiding officer takes up the ballot paper and says nothing but: "This is the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1958. Do you approve of that?" That, briefly, is what is proposed in this Bill. An intelligent, even though illiterate voter, a blind or incapacitated voter is asked to do something he does not understand; he wants to understand it, and goes to the returning officer. That is what he is told.

Let me read the section as amended in order to bring out the absurdity and sinister nature of these proposals. Paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule of the Bill proposes that in the case of a constitutional referendum "in applying paragraph 3 of Rule 18 of those rules, the following sub-paragraph shall be substituted for subparagraph (c) of that paragraph." Let me read the existing law and compare it with what is proposed to be done.

Rule 18 deals with what are called in the marginal note "incapacitated voters," that is to say, blind persons, persons otherwise physically incapacitated or so illiterate as to be unable to vote without assistance. Such a person seeks guidance from the presiding officer, and the presiding officer is given directions in accordance with which he is to give such guidance. Under the 1942 Act, he is told to ask the voter: "Which do you wish to do —to vote in favour of the proposal or to vote against the proposal?" Then the presiding officer is to mark the ballot paper in accordance with the answer the voter gives to that question. Where the voter fails to understand the import of the question, the presiding officer shall read out to the voter the proposal as stated on the ballot paper and then ask the voter: "Do you approve or do you object to that proposal becoming law?", and in accordance with the answer, he is to mark the ballot paper.

Under the existing law, the presiding officer reads out what is on the ballot paper. In other words, he reads out a summary of what is the subject matter of the referendum and asks: "Do you want that put into law or not in the proposed amendment here?" The presiding officer asks the question: "Which do you wish to do—vote in favour of the proposal or against the proposal?" If the voter fails to understand the import of that, this is what it is proposed the presiding officer should do, in accordance with the amendment set out in the Second Schedule to the Bill, paragraph 2, subparagraph (2):—

"(c) where the voter fails to understand the import of the said question, the presiding officer shall read out to the voter the Short Title of the Bill to amend the Constitution as stated on the ballot paper and then ask the voter, ‘Do you approve of or do you object to that Bill becoming law?' and then mark the ballot paper in accordance with the answer of the voter;".

Assume—and it is a fair assumption— that the incapacitated or illiterate voter does not understand the question put. The incapacitated or illiterate voter will come up to the presiding officer and say that he or she does not understand. What happens? The presiding officer does nothing more than read to the voter the Short Title of the Bill to amend the Constitution and then asks the voter: "Do you approve of, or do you object to, that Bill becoming law?" Could any more absurd and more ridiculous proposal be put for consideration to an intelligent assembly, such as this Dáil is supposed to be?

Consider the two proposals. The form of the ballot paper is to be changed. Nothing will appear on the ballot paper except the Short Title of the Bill. Even there, there is the absurdity that the Short Title of the Bill is actually longer than the Long Title of the Bill. No information of any kind will be given. The incapacitated or illiterate voter who does not understand what he is to do will have solemnly read out to him by the presiding officer the Short Title of the Bill and he will then be asked, having heard that Short Title, does he approve of, or does he object to, that Bill becoming law?

There is another proposed amendment in the Bill now before the House in relation to the form of the ballot paper. In the Referendum Act of 1942, the form of the ballot paper is set out in the Second Schedule. I have dealt with the vital change proposed, in which no information will be given to the incapacitated or illiterate voter, instead of adequate information as was the practice hitherto. The Short Title of the Bill will be given instead of the substance of the Bill as was required by the Act of 1942. But there is another change in the form of the ballot paper. On the ballot paper under the 1942 Act, the following question appears at the top: "Do you approve or do you disapprove of the proposal in the first column becoming law?" There is an alternative set out there: "Do you approve or do you disapprove?" In the proposed new form, the words "Do you disapprove?" are left out.

Are we to be blamed if, because of these tendentious arrangements, we see something sinister in these proposals? On the proposed new form of ballot paper, the question is: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?" Could anything be more tendentious than that method of putting the question? Why are the words "or do you disapprove" left out in the proposed new form of the ballot paper? The House is entitled to be told by the Minister why that change has been made.

Is it not obvious that it is all akin to leading the voter to say: "Tá— Yes.""Do you approve of the proposal?""Tá—Yes." If the voter does not understand the import of the question, he or she gets no information from the returning officer, other than the Short Title of the Bill. Under the existing law, that information had to be given. Under the existing law, one was asked if one disapproved of the Bill. Here, all one is asked to do is to approve of the Bill. Why is it proposed to make these changes? We cannot come to any conclusion except that all this is in strict line with the policy pursued throughout by the Government in this matter.

The Government do not want the electors to form an intelligent view of the proposals put before them. In the Referendum Act of 1942, there is a provision whereby a copy of the Act must be hung in the post office and in certain other places. How on earth could even an ordinarily intelligent voter form the remotest opinion of what this Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill means by looking at it in a post office? Even those of us who are expert and experienced in reading Bills found it extremely difficult to follow this Bill when it first came before us, or to understand what its effect and purport were.

On the first page, at the left hand side, one finds that the Irish text is to he changed by the insertion of a number of matters set out in a Schedule and by the alteration of certain numbers. Then one finds that the English text is to be altered in somewhat similar fashion. The citation of the Act is provided for and the Title is given. Astonishingly enough, one then finds a Schedule in Irish at the end of the English version. On the second page, there is a whole heap of Irish. Likewise, on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth pages, there is nothing but Irish. Then one comes to a whole heap of English headed "Part II." It was difficult for us to find out the reason for all that.

Consider the position in which the ordinary, even the intelligent, voter will find himself. He will not have the remotest possibility of finding out what it is all about by looking at it in the post office. Is it not the duty of the Government to provide all of us with ample opportunity for understanding this? Is it not the duty of the Government to provide ample opportunity for informing the electorate and educating the electorate in what it is proposed to do in abolishing P.R. and substituting therefor the single member constituency? It looks very simple on the face of it. It is not so simple when it comes to the point of bringing the electorate to a full realisation of what the effect of all this might be in the future, when many of us will have passed from the scene. In the course of the Second Reading, the very serious effects which may ensue were pointed out.

All this is in accord with the line taken by the Government to rush this matter through. We have been brought back to deal with this Bill in the first week of the new year. The Dáil has been summoned at an unprecedentedly early date in the new year, not to deal with vital economic matters, but with the Referendum (Amendment) Bill, 1958, and the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958. Does that not show all the rush, the hurry and the effort to get this through before the people realise what the effect will be?

Added to that, there is the proposal in this Referendum Bill to deprive the electorate of the knowledge and the information to which they were entitled under the existing law, together with the entirely novel proposal whereby the presiding officer will inform the incapacitated or illiterate voter, who does not understand what is required, of the Short Title of the Bill. We are, I think, justified in assuming that all this is not really necessary, but is merely in accord with the Government's desire to rush this Bill through, thereby preventing the electorate from fully appreciating what they are being asked to do.

Cuiduím leis an leasú agus labhróidh mé níos déanaí.

We are to-day discussing this very important measure. The Leader of the Opposition has advanced reasons as to why we on this side of the House feel that it should not be passed. There are eight Deputies on the Government Benches. seven of whom appear to be awake. Not one of them is prepared to get up and say whether he approves or disapproves, agrees or disagrees with what the Leader of the Opposition has said. What has happened over the Christmas to the thundering forces who were behind the Taoiseach on the Second Reading of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill? Why are they not here to-day to defend this Bill? When Deputy Costello sat down, why was there not somebody on the other side of the House to get up and say what Deputy Costello said was right or wrong?

Nothing to answer.

Deputies

Nothing to say.

The Deputy and his Party will have a lot to answer for, when they meet the people. They will have lost their opportunity of answering. The opportunity is here, in this House. This is where they should answer. We say that the manner in which the Minister has framed this machinery to implement what the Government propose to do in seeking the people's authority to amend the Constitution is quite in line with their approach to the question of the purpose of the amendment of the Constitution.

We were presented with a Constitution—this year, we celebrate its coming of age—which we were told was perfect, which catered for every possible contingency. Later, as Deputy Costello has pointed out, in the calm deliberation of this House, the Government Party now in office set out the machinery under which a referendum was to be carried out if ever the occasion should arise. This is the first occasion on which that 1942 Act is being invoked. Without having the experience of a single referendum to show up any defects in their 1942 Act, they themselves strike their breasts and say: "Mea culpa.” Here is the Act that we put through the Dáil. Here is where we copperfastened every aspect of the conduct of a referendum. We now eat humble pie.” Before that Act functions, they ask the House to delete the very provisions they wrote into the 1942 Act. Could anything be more ridiculous?

If the people allow this Government to proceed with the third amendment of the Constitution, if they allow them to copperfasten for posterity provisions in relation to constituencies and so on, how can they have faith in the intention of the Government to stand over what they present to them, when the Government are not prepared to stand over what they wrote into a simple administrative Act in 1942? Is it not all one pattern of a Government that at one time felt we should have bicameral government and proceeded to wipe out the Seanad and then said: "We made a mistake. We would now prefer to have the Seanad back"?

It is you who made the mistake.

They change their minds and they say they are at liberty to change their minds. Then we have had the circumstances in which the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and so many others represented P.R. as being an ideal system of election for the Irish people—no better on the face of the globe.

The Deputy does not seem to be confining himself to the terms of the Bill before the House.

With respect, Sir, I am showing this vacillation to be part and parcel of the general vacillation of the Government in administration. They have chopped and changed with the Oireachtas down through the years. Now they are chopping and changing with the system of election. We are discussing to-day, Sir, with respect, another effort to chop and to change the very machinery under which a referendum is to be carried out. We ask: What has happened that they should now introduce in this measure proposals intended to prevent the people from understanding fully what they are doing when they go into the polling booth?

That is so. When Deputy Costello sat down, neither Deputy Loughman nor any Deputy sitting with him got up to say that he was wrong. No doubt, when they are whipped into the Lobby, they will exercise a certain opinion, but let them get up and support what their Minister is doing. Let them defend the Minister against the allegations we are making that the Minister in this Bill is deliberately concealing from the electorate the information which it is their right to have before they will be in a position to decide which is right and which is wrong.

It is obvious that the Deputy did not meet many of the people during the holidays.

We met plenty during the holidays. Apparently, the Government were desirous of preventing members of this House from meeting too many people during the holidays. That is one of the reasons we were brought back here. The Deputy and his colleagues would be far better employed to take the month of January and meet more people. They might learn what the people really think of their antics in this matter.

We feel that the people can have no faith in the Government which implements, in the cool atmosphere of this House, in non-election years, proposals to deal with a situation that may arise in the years to come and, on the very first occasion on which the people are asked to vote in a referendum, the people find the very machinery that was presented to them as the perfect machinery is being changed, whole sections of it being taken out and the Minister failing to implement what his Party, when previously in office, had written into the Statute Book. We have every reason, therefore, to be suspicious of the omissions from this Bill and the provisions contained in it.

Who, on the opposite side of the House, can say that it is right that the prosecuting counsel against P.R. should fail to make a case and should ask the electorate, who are the jury in this case, to decide, while keeping from them the case that the Government claim they have and failing to provide the elector in the polling booth with that clear exposition of what they are doing? There are very few measures of such radical importance that could come before this House or the electorate. The decision which will be taken relates to changing the system of election. In this important issue, the electorate are being denied the information that would help them to make up their minds one way or another. It is part and parcel of the whole drive to try to steamroll this measure through at all costs, before the truth is brought home to the electorate.

These are the reasons why we vigorously oppose the way in which the Minister is presenting this Bill, the way in which he is denying the electorate the full information they require. It is indicative of the Government's approach to the whole matter, the contempt with which they are treating a question which is so vitally important to the future of the country. The Minister will have a lot of explaining to do before he can satisfy the people that this is not part of a jigsaw—in which the Government are seeking to put something over on the electorate which they hope to get away with. We say that they will have a lot to do before they will succeed in perpetrating what they propose to do.

My contribution to this debate will be very brief because I think it is a waste of time for the House to be discussing this Bill, in particular, or this Bill as a facet of the fraudulent masquerade which it is sought to put over on the people in this combination of Bills, which have one purpose and one purpose only, that is, the sordid purpose of abolishing P.R. in the hope that Fianna Fáil as a minority Government can cling on to office after they have forfeited the confidence of the people at a general election.

The ballot paper which is to be used in the referendum is set out in this Bill and the Referendum Act, 1942 provides that, in the case of a referendum, the subject matter on which the referendum is held should be set out in detail as nearly as possible as the Bill to make the change contemplated in the reference to the referendum. The purpose of the referendum on this occasion is to abolish P.R. That is its primary purpose and that purpose is clearly imprinted on the Bill. Would one not imagine, therefore, that some inkling of the fact that the referendum was being held to abolish or retain P.R. would appear on the ballot paper? But there will not be the slightest reference to P.R. on the ballot paper. There will be no reference whatever to P.R. on the ballot paper, although the purpose of the referendum is to decide whether we are to abolish P.R. or retain P.R. Instead, the voter, not very familiar with the preparation and the procedural arrangements governing ballot papers, will be brought into the polling booth and if he has not bought a copy of the Constitution Amendment Act or gone to the post office to look up the well-thumbed copy to familiarise himself with what is taking place, will be asked by the presiding officer: Do you approve of the Third Amendment of the Constitution?

Would it not be easier to ask him: Do you approve of the abolition of P.R.? But he will not be asked anything about P.R. So far as the presiding officer is concerned he can put one question only: Do you approve of the Third Amendment of the Constitution? Why is the voter not being asked: Do you approve or not approve of the abolition of P.R.? There seems to be some occult purpose in not putting that question to the voter. Yet that is what this Bill provides for. The voter will not be told on polling day that all this masquerade called the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill is for one purpose only, that is, to abolish P.R. in the interest of the Fianna Fáil Party.

Perhaps some people on the Government Front Bench might tell us by what process of mental research they arrived at the conclusion that it would make for greater clarification, if the voter were told nothing about the abolition of P.R. P.R. is not mentioned once in the ballot paper. No effort whatever is made to simplify the issue for the voter by saying: Look, when all the talk is over, what you are doing to-day is you are voting either to abolish P.R. or retain it. The voter is not given one clue that his vote that day has any relation to P.R.

I suggest that all this is part and parcel of the dishonesty which surrounds this Bill and the Constitution Amendment Bill. I do not suppose it is any use pointing out to the Government and the silent and mute battalions behind them that what they are doing is dishonest and that it has all the hall-marks of political manipulation in the interests of the Party upon it because I think this Government want to steamroll it through the House. So far as the Opposition Parties in this House are concerned and so far as those who believe in democratic government are concerned, our only hope now is to appeal to the people throughout the country to hang on to their rights to retain the system of P.R. which they used for the benefit of the nation over the past 40 years.

For the past 40 years, people have voted on the single transferable vote. Every person, not over 60 years of age, has voted on no other system of election in this country but the single transferable vote. The only hope now is not to make futile appeals to this Government to see reason or recognise the basic principles of political Parties but, instead, to appeal to the people of the country to vote "No" at the next election, knowing that by voting "No," at the next election, they will retain the system of P.R.

This Government do not want the people to see the issues clearly. This Government are doing their best by the legislation and by the dishonest speeches made in support of it to confuse and befuddle the minds of the people. I still believe that the people who have experience of the system of voting for the past 40 years, who know and who can clearly see the results, will not be willing to part with the system of government which has been a check on the dominant one Party Government, but will retain instead not government by a minority, but good government by a broadly based Government, responsible to checks by the people and responsible in proportion to their voting strength in this House to the other Parties which constitute the Opposition here.

I cannot quite follow the reasoning of the Opposition in this matter. Unfortunately, I was not present to hear what Deputy Costello said but I did hear Deputy O'Sullivan and now Deputy Norton. It appears to me that we should try to confine ourselves a little more rigidly to the terms of the Bill.

Is that not criticism of the Chair?

It was not intended to be criticism of the Chair. The Chair has always been very considerate, not only to other Deputies, but to myself. The point at issue basically is whether the electorate will know what they are doing when they enter the polling booth. This whole campaign has been going on already for a period of months. I do not think that there can be any single voter in the country who does not know that there is a proposal on foot to amend the Constitution and to substitute a new electoral system.

Now, once that is known already, I think it can be clearly assumed that after further months of debate in this House and discussions outside this House, every person will know before the referendum is held, that he is being asked to vote on a referendum whether the Constitution is to be amended or not. Surely that is a very straight question?

Deputy Norton stated that the real point at issue was whether P.R. was to be abolished or not. I can agree with him to a certain extent, but at the same time he admits or ignores that there are a very large number of consequential provisions in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958. Let it be granted that all these additional provisions result from the alteration of the Constitution which brings in one member only for each constituency and the single non-transferable vote. After those two provisions are made in Part 2 of the Schedule to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, I think it could be just as easily contended that to say that this constitutional amendment was purely the abolition or retention of P.R. is quite wrong.

There is the whole question of the constituency commission and the provision for the deemed election of the Ceann Comhairle and so on. It would, to my mind, be quite wrong to say to a person who intends to vote: "This is purely a question of the single transferable vote or the single non-transferable vote." That ignores a number of other provisions.

Consequently, I feel that the alternative which was faced by the Government, was not that which Deputy Norton and other speakers have suggested, namely, whether to put the matter clearly or to cloud the issue. The problem surely, once you start trying to explain this Bill is: can you do anything less than put the Bill in the hands of every elector? The proposal is reasonable that you cannot really put the whole Bill in the hands of every elector in his own house, but you can readily make the Bill available in a public place, such as the post office, and he can buy one, if he wants one. Everyone will surely know the question at issue on the referendum is: "Do you want a change or do you want to maintain the present system?" Consequently, the form of the question on the ballot paper is: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution?" Surely every voter is immediately put on his guard: "Will I vote ‘yes' for an amendment to the Constitution or will I vote ‘no' for an amendment of the Constitution?" That, to my mind, could not be clearer and any further explanation might only serve to increase the confusion.

I do not agree that this shows any sign of hurried drafting—quite the reverse. There is every reason to believe this matter has been very carefully considered. The Minister has decided that the only alternative is to refer the public to the Bill as a whole by reference to its title and leave the responsibility on them to inquire into the exact provisions, or else put the entire Bill into the hands of each elector. I do not think it is reasonable to expect the Government to incur the expenditure of public moneys in that way because the issue is a very simple one and the electors will understand it. Can we not just confine ourselves to that question which is the main one giving concern to the Opposition: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution?"

I submit very definitely that that could not be clearer and I feel that, with the best will in the world, no alternative could be made to the suggestion which would improve it in any way.

Deputy Booth has brought out the real point which his Party is trying to put over on the people when he mentioned that, in his view, the interpretation of the ballot paper would be: do you want a change in the present system? That is quite wrong. What this ballot paper asks the people to do is to abolish the present system, not to change it. They are going around the country saying: "We need a change in the system. Will you vote for this Referendum Bill, which is designed to abolish the system?"

The system is well understood by the voters and has been operated by them in a very satisfactory way for the past 40 years. It is capable of any alteration which the Government wish to make, without abolishing it. The country at all times in the past 40 years has got, under the system, the type of Government for which it voted. That is why there is anxiety in the public mind at present regarding the proposal to abolish this system, regarding the action of the Government in using the majority, which they got to abolish unemployment and emigration——

The Deputy must confine himself to the terms of the Bill.

Yes, Sir. I am just referring to the fact that the Government are using——

The Deputy cannot drag unemployment or emigration, or even the merits of the Constitution into this debate.

I am just saying that the Government are using the majority which they have in this House in order to abolish the present system of voting and bring in a system which is foreign to this country.

The Deputy is ignoring my directions.

I did not mention unemployment——

The Deputy is continuing to argue that the Government are bringing in a measure which is contrary to the wishes of the people. That does not arise.

On a point of order, surely it is relevant to mention the purposes for which this Bill is being introduced.

This is a machinery measure.

Quite, and they are trying to machine it through the House.

The merits or demerits of the amendment to the Constitution do not arise on this Bill.

They are directly referred to in this Bill.

It does not arise on this Bill—its merits or demerits.

The people are asked to decide.

The merits or demerits of the particular measure to which the Deputy is referring will arise on another occasion.

Surely the amendment tabled by the Leader of the Opposition complains against the procedure adopted in this Bill because it does not give the people the information to which they are entitled, if they are to decide on the merits or the demerits.

I am not making that argument. I am trying to keep Deputy Rooney to the terms of the Referendum Bill.

And the amendment.

And the amendment.

I intend to discuss this Bill and to discuss what I believe will be its consequences. I presume I am entitled to follow that line. The Government are using their majority in this House to put through this Bill, and they are going to present a ballot paper to the general public which will not explain to them what the purpose of the referendum is. Very few people will understand that the Government, for their own purposes, have decided to amend the 1942 Act.

The 1942 Act set out in a very clear manner the way in which a referendum would be conducted, and specified also how the proposals should be explained to the voters going into the polling booths to cast their votes. That legislation was solemnly enacted here in 1942. Now it is thrown overboard as a matter of expediency so that the Government can adopt a more confusing type of ballot paper which will not be understood by the public in general, and is not to be explained to them. That is the main complaint. The people are entitled to be told what they are voting for when they are presented with a ballot paper.

Why all this silence on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party regarding that? Their purpose, of course, is to keep the people in a confused state of mind regarding the proposals to change the system of voting. We have a boasted Constitution which is being commemorated now by a stamp, and is being mutilated to suit the Fianna Fáil Party. It is obviously a slick trick to take from the people the power which they have in their hands at present. They have the power to express freely and clearly their own political opinions and their own wishes in relation to policy. Under the new system, with the aid of this ballot paper, we will have a Constitution under which 25 per cent of the people will have the ruling power over the remaining 75 per cent. It is almost certain to create amongst the people in general a spirit of vengeance and violence. We may be discussing legislation here to-day which will result, in not many years to come, in the arrival of a Castro in this country. The present system of voting has given Governments here——

I have asked the Deputy to confine himself to the terms of the measure before the House. Surely some of the things he said cannot be related in any way to the terms of the measure before the House.

I am discussing this ballot paper.

The inclusion of the words "ballot paper" in the sentence will not make the matter relevant.

I am putting the case that it is unfair for the Government to bring any resolution here which will result in having a ballot paper presented to all classes of people. We shall have people arriving at the booth without spectacles; we shall have people arriving at the booth who are illiterate; and we shall have people arriving at the booth who, for one reason or another, will not be in a position to understand the consequences of casting "Yes" or "No" on the ballot paper presented to them because they are not being given information on the ballot paper as to what it means.

Any document that is presented to a person to mark or sign is usually read and understood by the person before he or she does so. Will the proposed document be read and understood by the people who will vote? In the first place, there will be nothing on it for them to read except the question whether they approve of the third amendment of the Constitution. It is most important that the people should know what they are voting for and that no attempt should be made by this Government to hoodwink them, to deceive them or to confuse them. No attempt is being made by the Government to make the position clear to the public as regards what it will mean to them to vote "Yes" or what it will mean to them to vote "No".

The various pieces of legislation relating to this matter—the 1942 and 1946 Acts and now the 1958 Bill—are very difficult to understand even in this House. Now we will present the people with a ballot paper without even giving them an elementary explanation. Surely they are entitled to an elementary explanation of the purpose of asking them to vote "Yes" or "No"?

Deputy Booth quite rightly showed the purpose in the mind of Fianna Fáil, that is, to leave the people in the position of thinking that only a change is taking place, instead of having the present system abolished and a new system adopted. That is what will happen if the referendum is carried. We shall have a new system and not a change in the existing system.

I feel there is a great measure of fair play in the minds of the people in general and that, if a proper effort is not made on this ballot paper to show them what they are voting for, we may find ourselves in a position in which there will be a national revolt and violence amongst the people. If it comes to that, can we expect the people to be held down by the Army, the Guards, the public services, if they realise that an injustice has been done to them? It is obvious that no attempt would be made by those public services to perpetrate an injustice.

It is obvious that the proposed system is designed by the Government to give a complete monopoly of Irish politics to the Fianna Fáil Party and to deprive the majority of people of proportional and adequate representation in the Parliament. We shall have a situation here where a minority of the people, possibly 25 per cent. of the people, will be electing a Government with a very substantial majority. It is obvious that, if that should occur——

The Deputy is discussing another measure entirely, not this measure.

I am discussing the consequences of not understanding this Bill.

As I understand it, the Deputy is not.

I feel, in connection with the form of this ballot paper, that the voters should be asked in a very simple way: "Are you in favour of or against the proposed amendment of the Constitution?", instead of asking twice in a different way if they approve. You have, in respect of the word "Yes": "If you approve of the proposal, place the mark ‘X' in the square opposite the word ‘YES'." Again we see: "If you do not approve of the proposal, place the mark ‘X' opposite the word ‘NO'." There is no sign of a definite negative there which would point out to the people that they are to make a clear decision for or against.

The second suggestion: "If you do not approve of the proposal, place the mark ‘X' in the square opposite the word ‘NO'" is a very mild way of saying: "Well, we could not care less whether you put ‘X' opposite ‘NO' or not." But the first sentence is put very strongly to them: "If you approve of the proposal, place the mark ‘X' in the square opposite the word ‘YES'."

I feel that this Bill is capable of considerable amendment. I would ask the Government at this stage to play fair with the citizens because this Bill is being put before them and, if they should adopt it, the results of the vote that will be taken in this referendum may have their effect for many years to come in many different spheres of our national life. For that reason, the people should be treated fairly.

A ballot paper which would make the position clear to the people in no uncertain manner could be designed and should be designed. The people are being asked by a ballot paper of this type to take a leap into the dark. It could be a smokescreen for dictatorship. However, whatever it is, it is obvious that there are many people of all classes who could be confused by the ballot paper proposed here.

It is well known that electors who are not close to political activity take some time under the existing system to make up their minds before they reach a decision when they are going to the booth, but, at least, they have been doing that and making that decision for the past 40 years. It is unfair to bring in this system now and present them with a ballot paper they cannot properly understand. It is all very well for people who are close to political activity, ballot papers and all the rest, but they cannot expect all the people to understand what they are voting for. It is obvious the vast majority of the people will be kept in the dark.

The last part of this Referendum Bill sets out the words which a presiding officer may use when a person comes into the booth. The only words he is allowed to use are: "Do you approve of or do you object to that Bill becoming law?" It is fair enough for a voter to go to the presiding officer and ask him for an explanation of the questions on the ballot paper. Can you imagine a presiding officer explaining the consequences of "Yes" or "No" in this connection?

Any of us who have experience of the position in Dublin City and County know that long queues of people are outside all the polling booths, particularly from 7.30 p.m. until 9 o'clock. Would it be fair to expect the presiding officer to hold back that long queue of people in order to explain fairly to any voter the consequences of voting one way or the other and to explain to him also what the meagre wording on the ballot paper meant? There are other obvious defects in this Bill which could be amended at a later stage, but it is unfair for the Government to present us with a Bill of this kind, a Bill which will obviously have to be amended and which is, in its present form, designed to deceive the electorate.

I do not think there is anyone in the Opposition who believes that the amendment put down by Deputy John A. Costello and Deputy Mulcahy is genuine. The speakers on the Opposition side would fail to convince a completely impartial observer of the genuineness of their case.

Who is the impartial observer?

Is it not quite obvious to anyone listening to the Opposition speakers that they are flogging a dead horse? Let the people know that this amendment to the Referendum Bill is completely frivolous and merely inserted to try to stir up uneasiness and unrest among certain sections of the electorate. The Opposition know in their hearts that this Referendum Bill is quite a sensible measure, and if anyone spoke in its favour, it was Deputy Rooney.

Let us take the case of a person going to the polling booth. If he goes to the polling booth, it follows that he goes for some purpose. He is not a complete idiot or going there to back a horse or fill in a football pool coupon. He knows he is going to the polling booth to vote on a certain matter. We take it that when he arrives at the polling booth, he knows what the issue before him will be, whether it be that P.R. should be abolished or not. In simple language, the Bill is designed to make it far easier for the presiding officer to explain to a voter who might not understand the proposal what it means, and goodness knows, there will be very few of them who by the time they get to the booth will not understand the issue.

As already explained by the Minister in his introductory remarks, if the 1942 Act is allowed to stand without amendment and a voter conveys to the presiding officer that he does not understand the issue, the presiding officer will be forced to read out the whole of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, be it five or six pages, or whatever number of sections are contained in it. Deputy Rooney has referred to the queues outside the polling booths in Dublin City and County. Down in Kerry and Limerick, too, we have queues of people outside the booths from 7.30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Can you envisage the delay which would take place if the presiding officer had to read out the contents of that Bill to each voter? That is what would happen if the 1942 Act were allowed to stand as it is.

The position in relation to this proposal—and let the Opposition stop their bluffing—is that it should have flown through in 30 seconds because it is merely a measure to put the issue before the people in a very simple manner indeed.

This is not a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party. This is the Dáil.

Perhaps the Deputy will bear with me for a moment. The Leader of the Opposition, Deputy J. A. Costello, spoke of the time when the Referendum Bill of 1942 was before the House and he spoke of the calm, cool and collected atmosphere—a happy phrase of his—which obtained at that time. Anyone who took the trouble of reading, as I did, the debates which took place when the 1942 Bill was going through the House would have different ideas. Apropos of the calm, cool and collected atmosphere in 1942, Deputy Liam Cosgrave, for instance, made this contribution to that discussion at column 128, Volume 85, of the Official Debates of the 29th October, 1941:—

"We have here 32 pages of a Bill, introduced in a time of emergency and dealing with the procedure to be adopted at a referendum."

That certainly conflicts with the view of the Leader of the Opposition that the time when this Bill went through was a period of calm.

Was this young Liam?

I do not know whether it was young Liam or old Liam. It was Deputy Cosgrave.

The Deputy does not know what he is talking about. He does not know about any part of it from beginning to end.

It was Deputy Cosgrave, anyway. I quoted the date and the appropriate paragraph. Not one member of the Labour Party, including Deputy Corish, contributed to what they now consider to be a most important issue. They did not bother to intervene in the debate, good, bad or indifferent, and I presume that at that time they agreed with all the provisions of the then Bill.

We are agreed to keep them now.

Deputy O'Malley is in possession and other Deputies will have opportunities to make their own speeches.

The main point made by Professor O'Sullivan at that time, in 1942, was that simplicity should be the keynote of the Bill.

And "hear, hear" is right. Here in this Bill is where the simplicity exists.

That is the simplicity of Simon.

There are some members of the House who have come into the Chamber since I started to speak and I ask them the question I put previously. Which is simpler for a presiding officer: to read out a small statement to a voter or to read out five or six pages of this Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill of 1958? There is the whole kernel of the business.

How much easier would it be for a presiding officer if P.R. were left as it is, that is, if the position were allowed to remain as it was in 1937?

Deputy Murphy cannot make a statement at this stage. The Deputy must cease interrupting.

He is giving guidance; he is not interrupting.

There will be a very small poll in Clare. You will all be looking for oil in Clare.

We will get the oil, please God. As far as I am aware——

The Coalition, I suppose, will claim credit for discovering the oil.

We do not get credit.

Deputies might allow Deputy O'Malley to make his speech.

It could not be called a speech.

Another point made by a speaker for the Opposition was that there would be people taking part in the referendum who would not have a grasp of the issues. The Opposition seem to feel that publishing a copy of the proposals in post offices would not be sufficient in itself, and I should like to point out that the Minister for Finance, in his opening remarks on the Second Reading of this Bill, stated that any reasonable suggestions or amendments by the Opposition would be considered by the Government. In that connection, I have no doubt that the Minister for Local Government would be quite amenable to any reasonable suggestions put forward and, if the Opposition think that publishing the proposals in post offices is not sufficient, I am sure he would be willing to use his good offices with his colleague, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, to get time allotted on Radio Éireann to various speakers.

Do not mention Radio Éireann to that Minister. It is dangerous.

I will not stop, in the process, to discuss the pros and cons of the matter. Again, I am sure the Minister for Local Government would be prepared to consider taking space in the national Press—if it would satisfy the Opposition—to print advertisements setting out the proposals in toto. Would that satisfy the objection of the Opposition that the post office alone is not sufficient? Here am I, a member of the Government Party, suggesting this to my own Minister.

Extraordinary! Unique!

Well, out of the mouths of babes——

To listen to the speeches of the Opposition one would think that we were a race of semiilliterates, and that this is the first time the people have voted on such an issue. We had the referendum on the Constitution in 1937, and at that time the people were under no doubt as to what issue they were voting on. A rather extraordinary fact is that at that time, in 1937, there was also a general election.

Local elections.

I thought there was a general election.

The Deputy is right. It is the first time he has ever been right.

There was a general election at the same time as the Constitution referendum was held, and an extraordinary thing was that 100,000 more people, approximately, voted for the Constitution than voted for Fianna Fáil the same day. That shows you that the Irish voter is an extraordinarily intelligent voter.

And understands P.R.

Intelligent, because he did not vote for Fianna Fáil. That is quite true.

I often wonder if the Fine Gael summer school out at Malahide will ever put on its curriculum a section called logic—simple, pure logic. I bring that point to the notice of the House as a very interesting little aside. I believe I have covered every point except the one raised by Deputy Rooney about voters who fail to understand the import of the question, but again the Opposition, had they listened to the Minister's introductory remarks, would have heard him say:—

"The Second Schedule contains minor consequential amendments to the rules governing the form of notice of poll and the procedure for voting by physically incapacitated or illiterate voters."

That, I think, is another change which aims at simplifying the whole set-up. I do not know why the Minister does not pitch the whole Bill back at the Opposition.

The right thing to do.

The Government have gone out of their way in this measure to make things easier for the public. They have bent over backwards.

They even turned a somersault.

They will listen to constructive suggestions, as the Minister for Finance said, but certainly these frivolous objections of the Opposition should not be allowed to go unchallenged. Deputy O'Sullivan stated that not one member of the Fianna Fáil Party got up to support the Minister, after the Leader of the Opposition had spoken, but I looked upon it as such a simple and sensible measure that, like Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, there was nothing further to add, but at least the public know now that the conduct of the Opposition is simply designed to stir up unrest and misgivings, and I do not think they will be at all successful in that effort.

When the Fianna Fáil Ministers and Deputies were speaking here on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, their greatest claim, so far as I can recall, was that the issue would be put before the people. If the issue were to be before the people in the form this Bill suggests, I am afraid many of the people will not have an idea of the issue on which they are voting. One of the reasons which the Government have given for the proposal to abolish P.R. is that the people do not understand it. Many members of the Government and their supporters made the point that P.R. was too complicated. I think Deputy O'Malley was one of those who said that P.R. was so complicated that it should be scrapped.

Here now they are being asked to say "yes" or "no" to an amendment of the Constitution which one could not describe as simple. It is true to say that two or three of the proposals are in themselves simple and straightforward, but there are other issues which are not so simple; yet they are expected to vote on this issue, an issue which many of them have not seen in print. The Minister, in his introductory speech, anticipated, I am sure, some of the criticisms which might come from members of the Opposition Parties. He admitted frankly that many people had not seen the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, but said very blandly that if they had not seen it, they could buy it in the post office.

I do not know whether or not the Minister will appreciate this, but I am sure he will, as he is a man who comes from a rural area, or what sometimes is described as a depressed or undeveloped area. Can the Minister tell me how many of the people in Donegal will have the money, the 1/-, 1/6, the 2/- or the 2/6, or whatever the Act might cost, to go into the post office and say: "Please, sir, I want a copy of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill?"

They can read it for nothing.

How many will? Deputy O'Malley says that they can read it. Did he ever see a register of electors in the post office?

There is a difference.

It is a very bulky document. There are 7,000 voters in the town of Wexford. I should like to see the mess and the queues there would be in the three post offices in Wexford, with people clamouring to read this Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, as we assume it will be. I think it is fantastic that on such an important issue as this the Minister should say, on behalf of the Government, that if the people want to know what the referendum is about, they can buy a copy of the Act in the post office. Apart from the inconvenience, people are not going to pay l/-, or 1/6, or whatever the price is, merely to see this Act.

Deputy O'Malley says that the Minister could make arrangements to have the Bill—I think he meant the whole Bill—published in the daily newspapers. I do not know whether people realise it or not, but a very big proportion of the population, despite the boasts of the daily papers, do not read the daily papers. Their reading is confined to the weekly papers circulating in their own areas. Therefore it is not feasible—it is impossible—that they should see the Bill in the form in which it is presented to the members of the Dáil and Seanad. It is not possible for a big proportion to afford the money to buy it and not possible for them to see it in the post office; therefore in all fairness there should be a concise statement on the ballot paper as to the main issues involved.

There are three main issues involved. One is the abolition of P.R. and the change to the straight vote; the second is the single member constituency; and the third is a commission to determine the boundaries. I do not think that would take up a lot of paper. It would not be very expensive. As it is, if an illiterate voter does not understand the ballot paper and asks the presiding officer to explain, the presiding officer merely quotes the Long and Short Titles. Deputy O'Malley seems to be more concerned about the inconvenience which might be caused to presiding officers.

Deputies forget that tens of thousands who want to vote will not have the issue put clearly before them. We must, if we are to take the word of the spokesman of the Fianna Fáil Party, consider this a serious issue, this proposed change from P.R. to the straight vote. The Minister for Health spoke at length and cited the cases of half a dozen, or a dozen countries and told us that because they had the straight vote, they were enjoying and had enjoyed prosperity for decades. If we are to believe what the Minister for Health said, he means to suggest that if we change from P.R. to the straight vote, we are going to have an improvement in the general economy of the country.

Surely that does not arise on this Bill.

I am merely trying to stress the importance, as presented to us by the Fianna Fáil speakers, of this proposed change to the straight vote and if we are to have such important and drastic changes consequent on the change in the method of election it is important that the people should have the issue put clearly and concisely to them. Therefore, I suggest that the Minister should send a copy of the proposals contained in this Bill, described as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, to every voter. I do not think that would be an impossible task.

Good idea.

If the Minister likes, let him send a copy of the Bill to every single voter. In a general election, the candidates are entitled to have sent to every voter in their constituency a copy of their election address. That is sent free, without any charge by the post office. We merely address the election materials, dump them in bundles in the post office, check them in and they are distributed—we hope—to every voter in the constituency. I suggest that is what the Minister should do. So far as we are concerned, we do not oppose this Bill because it comes from the Fianna Fáil Party. We oppose it because it does not allow the issue in the referendum, that we are, we believe, to have this year, being put clearly before the people. It seems to me therefore that the issue will be represented to the country as being for or against "Dev".

It would be wrong if that were to be the issue. It would be wrong if the issue were to be so represented, but if a statement were sent to every single voter, and that could easily be done, the people would have a greater appreciation of the whole matter and would vote not according to Party but according to their beliefs. I suggest that the Minister should do that and not have this referendum develop into a dog-fight, as it undoubtedly will, if one side of the country is to say "Vote ‘no'" and the other to say "Vote ‘yes"'. Let the people know what is the issue and then I believe you will get a clear and honest opinion from the voters.

This Bill which has been introduced by the Minister for Local Government is ill-considered and ill-conceived and that is putting it mildly. I believe this is far more serious than Deputy O'Malley would have us believe. I do not want to attribute motives to the Minister or the Government, but if this Bill were introduced with the deliberate intention of depriving the people of the opportunity of knowing what they are being required to vote for in a constitutional referendum, then I would have no hesitation in condemning the Bill as an outrageous and audacious piece of political thimble-rigging.

Let us see what the Bill proposes to do. I am prepared to give the Minister, Deputy O'Malley and the other Deputies on that side of the House credit for having gone into this business without having considered it, not having gone into it deliberately in order to produce the results this Bill is likely to produce. At the moment we have legislation enacted dealing with the carrying out of referenda in this country. Machinery to operate in the case of any referendum, constitutional or otherwise, is set out in an Act passed through this House under the auspices of Fianna Fáil in 1942 and, as Deputy O'Sullivan has already pointed out, without ever giving that Act an opportunity of working, without ever seeing whether it would be effective or not, we have a Fianna Fáil Government, on what they believe to be the eve of a referendum to amend the Constitution, coming in with a Bill to alter the rules under which that referendum will be held.

As far as I am concerned—and I mean no disrespect whatever to the Chair when I say this—I do not see how any Deputy can give this matter proper consideration or represent, as he ought to represent, the constituents who sent him here, if he stands up and takes part in this discussion blinding himself to the fact that we are discussing the Bill at a time when we also have on the Order Paper a Fianna Fáil Government Bill to abolish P.R., to abolish the single transferable vote and the multi-seat constituencies which have operated here for the past 36 years.

It would be quite unreasonable to expect any Deputy to deal with this Bill seriously and, at the same time, blind himself to the fact that those proposals are before the House. I do not think the Minister or any Deputy behind him will challenge the statement that this Referendum Bill is brought in as part of the Government's proposals to amend the Constitution and the electoral system under which Parliament is elected. We must keep that fact at the back of our minds when discussing this Bill. Even if that were not so, if those two Bills were not being run one alongside the other through the House, the present Bill would be a bad one, but the fact of the matter is that both Bills are there and we cannot consider one without having regard to the other.

The first point of importance in this discussion is to remember that although Fianna Fáil themselves proposed to the House and had passed through the House the Referendum Act of 1942, now, without giving that Act an opportunity of working, they are bringing in a Bill to alter the Act very materially, to alter it in a way which may have very serious consequences for the voters. What are their proposals now? In 1942, Fianna Fáil had an Act passed which made it obligatory on any Government proposing an amendment of the Constitution to ensure that in the ballot paper put before the people when voting on such amendment, there should be an explanation as to what the whole thing was about—there should be something appearing on the ballot paper explaining to the voter the question involved.

If I may give an illustration, if this present referendum were introduced, there would be an obligation on the Fianna Fáil Government in connection with the proposed third amendment of the Constitution to place on the ballot paper an explanation telling voters what was involved in the proposal, telling them that the proposal was designed to do away with P.R., with the single transferable vote, with multi-seat constituencies and that it was also designed to set up a commission, against whose decision there would be no appeal, to this House, to the courts or to the country, dealing with the revision of constituencies.

There would be an obligation on Deputy O'Malley's Government to give that information to the people. Further than that, if anyone went to vote and were not clear as to what the proposal was, if for one reason or another he were unable to understand the proposal, if he were blind or illiterate, he had a right to go to the presiding officer and ask for an explanation under the 1942 Act. Under that Act, the presiding officer had to give that further explanation and had to tell him what it was about. Now the Fianna Fáil Government, on the eve of proposing a vital change in our electoral system, bring in side by side with that, a Bill to relieve them of the responsibility of explaining to the voters, by explanatory note or memorandum on the ballot paper, what the proposed change in the Constitution is.

Does Deputy O'Malley blame us for being suspicious? Deputy O'Malley dismisses the amendment put down by Deputies Costello and Mulcahy as "not genuine" and "frivolous". Has Deputy O'Malley even read the amendment? It reads:—

"To delete all the words after the word ‘That' and substitute therefor the words: ‘Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill..."'

Why?

"‘...as it proposes to deprive the voter of that knowledge of the issue on which he is asked to express an opinion, as would otherwise be set out on the ballot paper as required by Section 15 (4) of the Referendum Act, 1942."'

Is there any Fianna Fáil Deputy who will seriously suggest that a voter voting on a vital issue affecting the Constitution under which we live— voting on such a particularly fundamental issue as the electoral system under which our Parliament and Government are to be elected—should be deprived of that knowledge when he goes in to express his views by casting his vote in the referendum?

Deputy O'Malley dismisses that argument by asking if a person goes along to the polling booth at all, is he not going there for some purpose? Does he not know why he is going there? If he does not know why he is going there, he would not be going there at all. That is just cheap verbal fencing. If there were any force or effect in that argument, would Deputy O'Malley say why the Fianna Fáil Government took the trouble to bring the Act of 1942 before the House and get it passed by the House? If there were any force and effect in his argument, would he tell me why the Fianna Fáil Government are taking the trouble now of trying to jettison a vital portion of the Act of 1942, on the eve of the referendum to do away with our present electoral system and to replace it with the English electoral system?

The 1942 Act provided that that explanation would be given to the people on the ballot paper and that, if they were in any doubt about it for any reason—because of illiteracy or for some reason of physical disability— they would be entitled to ask the presiding officer and to get an explanation from the presiding officer.

That is not so.

Deputy O'Malley may make another speech at some stage if he wishes.

I just want to contradict the statement. He cannot ask for an explanation. The presiding officer has to read out the whole text of the Bill—as things stand now.

He is not allowed.

As things stand, until this Referendum Bill is passed.

That is not so.

I hope I will get Deputy O'Malley the reference before I am through. My understanding of the position, and I have not any serious doubt about it, is that under the 1942 Act there was an obligation to put on the ballot paper an explanation as to what was contained in the Bill. The reference is Section 15 of the Referendum Act, 1942. Sub-section (4) of that section reads:—

"Every ballot paper in respect of one referendum shall contain a statement of the proposal which is the subject of such referendum, and every ballot paper in respect of two or more referenda having the same polling day shall contain, in respect of each such referendum, a statement of the proposal which is the subject of such referendum."

Sub-section (5) of Section 15 reads:—

"At a constitutional referendum, the proposal which is the subject thereof shall be stated on the ballot paper in the same terms as nearly as may be as such proposal is stated in the Bill containing such proposal passed or deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas."

In the First Schedule to the Referendum Act of 1942, the rules of procedure to be adopted by presiding officers are laid down. I shall have these looked up and shall give the Deputy the reference later. One of these rules laid down what the presiding officer was to do in such an event. I think I shall be able to satisfy Deputy O'Malley that the 1942 Act required that the explanation which appeared on the ballot paper be given to the voter and that he would then be asked whether he approved or disapproved of the proposal.

That is the first change being made under this Bill. Instead of having printed on the ballot paper the information concerning the proposal on which the voter is asked to vote, the only thing to appear now will be the Short Title of the particular Bill to amend the Constitution—and, as I say, we are discussing this proposal in the atmosphere of the Fianna Fáil Government's introduction of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill which proposes the abolition of P.R., the abolition of the single transferable vote, the reduction of the constituencies to single-seat constituencies and the introduction of a commission dealing with the revision of constituencies.

Instead of giving that information, the Fianna Fáil Party, for some reason best known to themselves, say: "No, we are going to jettison our own Act of 1942, untried and untested though it may be, and we are going to introduce a Referendum Bill which will preclude by law the giving of any information to the voter, other than the mere fact that he is voting on a Bill to amend the Constitution." That is a drastic change. I hesitate to use strong words, but I can say that, if that proposal has been seriously considered by the Government, it is an outrageous and audacious one.

The particular rule to which I was referring, under the Referendum Act of 1942, is Rule 18 (3) (c), which says:

"where the voter fails to understand the import of the said question, the presiding officer shall read out to the voter the proposal as stated on the ballot paper and then ask the voter, "Do you approve of, or do you object to that proposal becoming law?"

In other words, there is an obligation on the presiding officer to give to the voter the explanation of the proposal which appears on the ballot paper and to ask the voter whether or not he approves of that becoming law.

What happens under the new set up envisaged by the Fianna Fáil Party? No information appears on the ballot paper. All that appears on the ballot paper is the Short Title of the particular Amendment of the Constitution Bill which may be under consideration; and that Short Title contains no information other than the fact that it is a Bill to amend the Constitution. It might be a Bill to abolish the Presidency. There may be people in Deputy O'Malley's constituency who feel that it would be a great idea to abolish the Presidency and save the country some money. That might be the proposal, for all the information given when the Short Title is the only thing given on the ballot paper.

Is there anything to explain to a voter whether the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill relates to abolishing the office of President or relates to abolishing the electoral system which we have been operating in this country for the past 36 years? What information is given? If no information is given, I assert that this is a case where such information should be given. I want to ask Deputies opposite—I want to ask the Minister for Health, who for the moment is in charge of these proceedings—why do Fianna Fáil not want the people to get that information when they go in to vote in the referendum? Why do they not want the people to know what is involved in the third amendment of the Constitution? Why do they object to carrying out their own legislation, passed by them 16 years ago?

Deputy O'Malley said that this Bill should have gone through the House in 30 seconds. It took 16 years for Deputy O'Malley's colleagues to find any fault with the Referendum Act of 1942. Why now, on the eve of their proposal to abolish the electoral system and replace it by the English system, do they feel it is necessary to amend this law?

As I understood the Minister for Local Government, he said something to the effect that as he was advised if he were to adhere to the Fianna Fáil Act of 1942, it would be necessary virtually to print the entire of any Bill to amend the Constitution on the ballot paper. I do not know what advice the Minister was given but I assume that that advice is sound and that the Minister felt that if there were no alteration in the law, he would have to accept that advice and that consequently the ballot paper would become cumbersome. Would it not be very easy to remedy that position without introducing the drastic amendment to clamp down on giving the people any information whatever? Would it not be quite easy to amend sub-section (5) of Section 15 of the Referendum Act, 1942, to provide that the sponsors of the referendum would be entitled to put a precis or summary of the Act and some short explanation of the proposals in the Bill on the ballot paper?

Would there be any objection to that? Would that not save the Minister for Local Government the embarrassment he thinks he would now face in printing the entire Bill on the ballot paper? Why is it necessary to go from one extreme to the other? Why is it necessary to move from the position in which, according to the Minister for Local Government, he is bound to give the people all information and print the entire Bill on the ballot paper, to the opposite extreme, where he gives the people no information other than the mere Title of the Bill?

The Title of the Bill, even for Dáil Deputies, does not give any information whatever. What information is it likely to give the ordinary citizen who has never listened to the proceedings in this Chamber? The Bill is entitled "The Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958." To a person who has not followed the discussions in this House, what information will that convey? To the illiterate person, the person who cannot read, who is not able to follow what is written in the newspapers or to go into a post office and read the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, what information or knowledge will it convey if the presiding officer says to him: "You are asked to say whether or not you approve of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958."

If that unfortunate man asks the presiding officer: "Well, what is the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, all about?" the presiding officer will have to say to him: "I am not allowed to tell you that. As far as I am concerned, I am not doing my job here, unless I ensure you vote with blinkers on, without knowing what is in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958."

That is the first and the most grievous objection to the proposals being put before us by the Government in this Bill. As Deputy Costello pointed out, there are other objections which require to be dealt with. One of these is in connection with the form of the question to be put on the ballot paper. If the Government endeavour to amend the Constitution or submit any other question to the people for decision in a referendum, under existing legislation, there is an obligation on them to have the alternative printed clearly on the ballot paper and to see to it that when the voter gets his ballot paper, the question to be put to him is: "Do you approve or do you disapprove of" the particular proposal which is the subject matter of the referendum?

Deputy O'Malley seems to feel that this whole discussion is frivolous. Will he tell me why his Cabinet has decided that on this occasion it is necessary to amend the law so that the question to be put to the people in the referendum the Government propose holding to amend the Constitution, to abolish P.R., to abolish the single transferable vote, to abolish multiple seat constituencies and to set up a commission to revise the constituencies, is merely the question: "Do you approve of the proposal?" and that the question will not be put to the people: "Do you approve or disapprove of the proposal?" Why is it necessary to bring in that alteration? Even if we accept all the arguments made by the Minister for Local Government and his supporters as to why they should be relieved of the bonus of explaining the proposal to the people on the ballot paper, is there any reason why that amendment deleting the words "or do you disapprove" should be incorporated in this Referendum Bill, 1958?

The third major factor I have already dealt with in passing and that is the fact that previously, under existing legislation, the voter who did not understand what was required of him or what he was voting on, when his questions had been answered by the presiding officer, at least got some type of explanation. There was an obligation on the presiding officer to give him the information set out in the ballot paper. Another change is proposed here. Under the Second Schedule of this Bill, the voter in that difficulty will not get the same information from the presiding officer.

It is provided in the Second Schedule that in those circumstances this procedure is to be followed:—

"(c) where the voter fails to understand the import of the said question, the presiding officer shall read out to the voter the Short Title of the Bill to amend the Constitution as stated on the ballot paper and then ask the voter, ‘Do you approve of or do you object to that Bill becoming law?' and then mark the ballot paper in accordance with the answer of the voter;".

We are dealing now with the voter who has not been able to understand the import of the replies he has received from the presiding officer. Possibly we are dealing with an illiterate voter who is unable to read and therefore cannot go into a post office and wade through a Bill to amend the Constitution, but the only information he will be entitled to get from the presiding officer is the Short Title of the Bill, which gives no information at all.

I take a very serious view of these changes which the Government are now asking the House to adopt. I do not know whether the Government seriously considered the possible effect of the measure they are asking the House to enact, but, now that these misgivings have been pointed out to them, now that the difficulties which this legislation is likely to create for voters have been pointed out, we are, I think, entitled to ask the Government to withdraw this Bill and to reconsider the position. We are entitled to ask them to stand on their own legislation of 1942 and if, having considered the matter, having heard the views of Deputies here regarding the misgivings they have, the Government refuse to do that, then all we can do is to invite the Minister for Local Government, in those circumstances, to take back this dirty little Bill to the Custom House and throw it in the wastepaper basket.

I would not have intervened in this debate were it not for the speech made by Deputy O'Sullivan in which he referred to the 1942 Act as the Fianna Fáil Act and suggested that it had been so carelessly drafted that, on the very first occasion upon which it was necessary to use it, we had to come here to amend it.

The 1942 Act was quite frankly regarded by both sides of the House as an experimental measure. The then Leader of the Opposition, Deputy W. T. Cosgrave, had this to say about it: I am quoting from Volume 85, column 128 of the Official Reports:—

"This is neither the time nor the place to pass judgment upon a referendum, but I might mention that it has not been a success in any country in which it has been employed and most countries have rejected it. It has a disturbing influence—that is nearly all we may say about it."

Of course, we do not agree with that. On the contrary, we think that the importance of the referendum has now transpired, even in the course of this debate when we were told that we must be at special pains to keep the people informed as to the issue which will be put before them.

I do not disagree with that point of view. It is, in fact, my own view. But there is a very practical difficulty which has been adverted to by the Leader of the Opposition, a very practical difficulty in view of the fact that the text of the Bill covers no less than 13 pages. There are probably over 1,000,000 voters and there would have to be something over 1,000,000 ballot papers, each containing 14 pages. From the physical point of view alone, that would constitute a very serious problem indeed. That has been recognised by Deputy Michael O'Higgins in the course of his speech. He realises that it would render the referendum farcical, were we to present each voter with a ballot paper containing anything up to 16 pages, asking the voter to mark that paper in the congested conditions which will certainly prevail in polling booths in our cities and towns. There is, therefore, a very practical difficulty to be dealt with here.

I take it that the Opposition are as anxious as we are, now that the proposal has been put before the Dáil, that the people should have the right to decide. I take it that every member of this House, irrespective of what side he sits, is equally anxious that the people should have an opportunity of deciding this issue, perhaps deciding it once and for all. I certainly do not believe, in the light of some of the speeches made here to-day, that the Opposition are anxious to preclude the people from giving a decision upon this issue and I take it, therefore, that the Opposition will be prepared to co-operate with us in trying to find a practical solution for this very difficult problem.

I referred to what the Leader of the Opposition said on the Second Stage of the Referendum Bill in 1941. I want to contrast that now with the tone in which Deputy O'Sullivan referred to that Bill. At column 128, Deputy Cosgrave said:—

"We have here 32 pages of a Bill, introduced in a time of emergency"—

He differed apparently from the present Leader of the Opposition as to the circumstances in which the Bill was introduced because he said it was introduced in a time of emergency—

"and dealing with the procedure to be adopted at a referendum. Presumably it is not a controversial measure."

I suggest that this ought not to be a controversial measure, either. It is a measure in relation to which, once we accept the principle that something must be done to make it a practical possibility to take the referendum, we should be concerned to see how the machinery will best operate. Deputy W.T. Cosgrave said:—

"...it is not a controversial measure and the steps to be taken to regulate how votes are to be cast, how they are to be counted and the provision for petitions against a measure ought not to be considered in any other manner than as an ordinary act of administration."

I am glad to say that was the spirit in which the then Opposition debated and considered the Referendum Act of 1942. They accepted the position that in relation to a machinery matter of this sort, when the principle had already been determined by the people, it was their duty just as much as it was the duty and obligation of the Government, to devise the best possible machinery that could be provided.

We are up against this difficulty to-day. We have had no experience of the taking of a referendum except for the referendum on the Constitution of 1937, the Constitution we have now all accepted. There the matter was to some extent simplified by reason of the fact that a very large number of copies of the Constitution were distributed privately, as Deputy Michael O'Higgins has said, by the sponsors of the Constitution, which happened to be the Government of the day. It was frankly recognised by speakers on both sides, not merely by myself, who happened to be the Minister in charge of the Bill, but also by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy W. T. Cosgrave, and by the late Deputy John Marcus O'Sullivan, that we had to face up to the fact that we were really making a trial draft of the law which would regulate the taking of a referendum. The extraordinary thing about it is that, though certain amendments had been put down to sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 15, there was no amendment put down to sub-section (5) of Section 15.

Sub-section (4).

Sub-section (5). It is sub-section (5) which is being amended.

Sub-section (4) is the one you are seeking to amend now.

No, I think not.

Sub-sections (4) and (5).

I am sorry; it is sub-section (5).

It is sub-section (5) which relates to a constitutional referendum. I am not in charge of this Bill and it might be quite possible that I might refer incorrectly by number to the particular provision in the Bill.

No, it is sub-section (5).

The amendments were put down to sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 15 and, after a very brief and reasonable discussion—let me say that I appreciated very greatly at the time the approach which the then Opposition adopted towards this measure—after a very brief and amicable discussion across the House, these amendments were withdrawn. Now, they were not withdrawn because it was held either by the Minister in charge of the Bill or by the Deputies that we had in the Bill a solution to the difficulty, but because it was quite clearly recognised that the approach to the whole problem had to be empirical; that we would pass the Bill in the form in which it then stood because there was not any other Act relating to the taking of a referendum; we would pass the Bill in the form in which it stood and deal with the practical difficulties as they happened to arise.

In fact, referring to one of these amendments, the amendment relating to the printing of two separate proposals in respect to which referenda were being taken upon one ballot paper——

That is sub-section (2) of the Bill, as it was then.

——in relation to that, having discussed the matter across the floor of the House with the late Deputy Professor O'Sullivan, I having rather deprecated the fact that the Minister might determine that particular question by regulation, Professor O'Sullivan said:—

"I do not see why the Minister should bind his hands."

I replied:—

"If it was found that this proposal did not work very satisfactorily it would be easy to bring in a one-clause Bill."

Deputy O'Sullivan deprecated that and said:—

"Is not that a very cumbersome method of dealing with it?"

I said:—

"If the Deputy is suggesting that we should take power by regulation to prescribe the form of the ballot paper subject to certain safe-guards——"

Deputy O'Sullivan said:—

"All right."

I said:—

"Very well. I will consider it and see what we can do about that. I will consider bringing in an amendment on those lines on Report Stage."

I am quoting. Sir, from column 1099, Volume 85 of the Official Report.

In consequence of that, amendments Nos. 2 and 3 were withdrawn, and on the section there was further discussion in which Professor O'Sullivan then raised the very issue that is now being raised, as to what we should do in relation to the manner in which the proposal for the referendum should appear upon the ballot paper and I said:—

"Normally the assumption underlying the section as it stands is that the proposal to amend the Constitution would relate to one specific provision in the Constitution. I do not think that it would be very easy to do anything except to refer the whole of the Bill in itself."

Professor O'Sullivan said:—

"Then it would have to go on the ballot paper?"

I said:—

"I am afraid so."

Professor O'Sullivan said:—

"I think so."

We were all very optimistic and hopeful at the time.

The Minister should not close up the volume without reading column 1102.

Certainly.

The Minister gave an assurance, if he recollects. We read this before the Minister.

Wait now. Professor O'Sullivan then went on to refer to the Trade Union Bill, where a referendum was demanded upon that. Professor O'Sullivan then said:—

"Suppose I am a person who is in a position to object to, say, the Trade Union Bill and suppose I can get sufficient backing for my objection."

Professor O'Sullivan went on to say:—

"The ballot paper then will be extraordinarily cumbersome."

What was he referring to? He was not referring to the sort of amendment to the Constitution which both sides of the House envisaged, at that time. He was referring to a legislative proposal which I think contained over 100 sections. I am talking from recollection. I have not refreshed myself on the Trade Union Act, but it contains over 100 sections and he put it to me——

Professor O'Sullivan asked in that debate that there should be succinct and accurate expression of the proposal on the paper. The Minister, in response, gave an assurance. Would the Minister like to read his assurance?

Let me see what my assurance was. We had better try to put this somewhat more coherently. Professor O'Sullivan asked me what would be the position of a person who got sufficient backing for a proposal to refer the Trade Union Bill, as it was then, to the people on a referendum and he said:—

"If the President makes up his mind that it is a fair statement of my reasons for objecting to what is in the Bill, he accepts it and sends it to the Taoiseach. That then goes on the ballot paper and it may occupy a couple of pages. It might be the best way, in my opinion, of bringing the matter before the elector. The ballot paper then will be extraordinarily cumbersome."

Even with two pages. What would it be with 16?

Because it will be 16 with this ballot paper.

If the whole Bill goes on. There are 14 pages in it.

No. Look at the last sentence of your speech in column 1102.

Wait now. I am coming to it.

On a point of order, may I point out in relation to Deputy O'Higgins's interruption and reference to Professor O'Sullivan's cross-examination, that what the Minister at that time referred to in columns 1101 and 1102 was an entirely different matter? Professor O'Sullivan was dealing with a petition.

We can read it. The Minister will read it for us. Why not let him do it?

I read it.

He did not read it very carefully. Column 1103: "I cited a Bill...." The only point in that interruption was to give the Minister a chance of reading it. He has had it now. It was a nice helpful method of giving the Minister a chance to read it.

Has the Minister read it?

If I may resume— first of all, let me say, with all due deference to Deputy O'Malley, it was not a case of cross-examination; it was a case of joint discussion in council as to how to deal with this particular problem and all that emerges is that we frankly were not able at that time, sitting in committee, to find a satisfactory solution. That is the only thing that comes out of that discussion. Deputy O'Malley has pointed out, however, that we are now dealing, not with the subject-matter of sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) of Section 15, but with the subject-matter of sub-section (5) of Section 15, which is quite a different thing. But if Deputy Sweetman is anxious for me to recall to the House what I did say on 3rd December 17 years ago, I am quite prepared to do it. I do not think there is anything which would in any way substantiate the sort of speeches which have been made, particularly by Deputy O'Sullivan, here to-day. I said:—

"I do not think the public will be in any ignorance as to what they are voting on, but in any event they will have to guide them an authoritative statement of the nature of the proposal, the statement which is contained, first in the petition which the President in accepting and acting upon has approved of as being a fair and equitable representation of it...."

There is no question of a petition here in the case of a Bill to amend the Constitution. There cannot be any question of a petition here. Do we agree on that?

Therefore, that statement of mine had not particular reference to the problem which we are now discussing. Is that not admitted?

It had not—not in that context.

The Minister is taking part of it out of its context.

I am not. I am keeping it in its context. What the Deputy has been trying to do is to take it out of its context and utilise it in relation to quite another problem. However, we go on:—

"...and, secondly, in the President's message to the Taoiseach. It will perhaps be mainly upon that representation and that view of it that the people will determine their votes...."

In relation to a matter of ordinary legislation which has been the subject of a petition. That is clear.

It is not a bit clear.

It is clear. I quote:—

"...contained, first, in the petition which the President in accepting and acting upon has approved of as being a fair and equitable representation of it."

Does it not go on the ballot paper according to the Minister's assurance at the time?

I am sure we are-all very anxious, if we are to amend the provisions of the Referendum Act, which deal particularly with a constitutional amendment, not merely this one but any change which may arise in the future, to find a way out of this dilemma. You cannot deny it is a dilemma. There will be 16 pages of this Bill on the ballot paper. It would be quite impossible for the people to handle it. If the position is that members would be satisfied with having something like the Long Title expanded so as to cover the main provisions of the Bill, we could consider that. If the Deputies from the opposite side who are concerned to ensure that the matter will be put fairly to the people will put down an amendment, we are open to consider that.

This does not necessitate, as Deputy O'Higgins suggested, the withdrawal of the Bill. It is quite clear that the Title of the Bill is so drawn that any reasonable amendment could be considered, so that on the Committee Stage, if the Deputies had anything to suggest which would help us to solve the problem in that way, I am perfectly certain that the Minister for Local Government will be prepared to consider it. We want the ballot paper to be as compact as we properly can.

As compact. I think that, as a matter of ordinary common sense, that should be agreed upon. We want the proposal to be put fairly within this limitation. If the members of the Opposition have any proposal to suggest, I am sure the Minister for Local Government will consider it with an open mind.

I admired the Minister for having said that they wanted to put it fairly to the people. The Minister asked if the Opposition had any suggestion to make. I suggest it should be made as plain as possible to the people what they are voting for or against. In one part of the ballot paper, it asks: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution in the undermentioned Bill?" Why put it in that form? Why not put it in this form: "Do you disapprove of it?" We are as much entitled to put it that way as the other.

Therefore, that is very unfair. It is not being put fairly to the people. It says: "Do you approve of it?" I think that is very unfair. I have a suggestion to put forward. Why not have it the same as in a general election? Under this proposal, if a blind person, for example, goes to the returning officer and asks for an explanation, the only explanation he gets is that it is the third amendment of the Constitution.

Of course, the Minister for Health is only playing politics when he talks about having 16 pages. Why not tell the people that this is a Bill to abolish or not to abolish P.R.? That would make it very plain to them. It would not require 16 pages to tell them that. Why not put it that way? It is just the same as a general election. There is a list of voters. A person who is blind and not capable of reading the names hands his ballot paper to the returning officer. Will the returning officer say to him: "I will not read it for you"? This is a general election. How many people could vote at all then?

I do not think that this is a mistake on the part of the Civil Service. I say it is a deliberate attempt to mislead the people. If the Minister wants a way out of it, there is a way out of it. Let it not be to refer the voter to the amendment of the Constitution. Tell him straight that it is a vote for or against the abolition of P.R. That will not take 16 pages.

This is not a Bill upon which a speech can be made. Any Deputy who endeavoured to speak for a long time on this would be like operating a hula hoop—going round in circles. I ask the Minister to accept my suggestion and put the matter straight to the people. They should be told that they are voting for or against the abolition of P.R. That would make it very simple.

The Minister for Health can be the most naive person under the sun, when he wants to be. He excelled himself to-day in his naive approach to this problem. First of all, before I discuss this Bill, may I correct his memory in relation to what took place on 3rd December, 1941? The debate to which he referred and which had some reference to legislation on a referendum was preceded and followed by most specific references, by the late Professor O'Sullivan, and by the Minister for Local Government as he then was, the present Minister for Health, to the fact that they were considering the question of what was to go on the ballot paper for a Bill dealing with the Constitution and not merely a Bill dealing with ordinary legislation.

Column 1100 is full of such references. At column 1103, Professor O'Sullivan summed it up when he said:—

"I cited a Bill which, in the normal way, would have to go before the people—a Constitution Amendment Bill."

It was in relation to that, that the proposals in the 1942 Act were introduced by the then Government and piloted through the House by Deputy MacEntee, then Minister for Local Government.

I did not understand the Minister for Health to-day when he said he made it clear that in 1942, it was then an experimental measure, and that it was being amended now as a result of consideration of that experiment. The only interpretation I can give to the word "experiment" is something that has been tried, and the fact is that since that measure was passed, there has been no referendum to the people, on foot of that Bill. It is quite nonsensical to suggest that this amendment is being brought in purely as a result of what has transpired, and been seen by experience, since that Referendum Bill, as there has been no referendum.

The Minister for Health also tried deliberately to mislead the House into believing that this Bill is a Bill having sole reference to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill which is going through. Of course it has not. It is a general Bill.

No; I did not say so.

While it may be that the Short Title of every Bill, of every Constitution Amendment Bill, is to be the matter which is to go on ballot papers in the future and it is not only in relation to specific problems that may be posed in the Bill in question that we are asked to put this——

I do not like to interrupt the Deputy——

I willingly give way to the Minister.

There are two points to which I should like to draw the Deputy's attention.

Certainly.

The first is the form of the ballot paper. We had been dealing with the Trade Union Act in 1941. I said at column 1103:—

"I do not know what it means, but I do not propose to prognosticate as to what it will eventually involve in the form of a ballot paper."

It is quite clear that I had a very open mind as to what the shape of ballot papers, in future, might be on a referendum.

The next point I want to make is that I suggested we could deal with this proposition by expanding the Long Title and providing that the Long Title would appear on the ballot paper, not the Short Title.

What is the Minister quoting from?

Column 1103. Of course, the Minister contradicted in column 1103 what he had said in column 1100.

Oh, yes; most certainly.

What I said 17 years ago is not very germane really.

Not terribly, except from the point of view that it is nonsense to say that the reason this Bill is brought in now is that the other Bill was an experimental Bill.

There has been no experiment on it. So far as the Long Title of the Bill is concerned, the Minister would be better advised, as a member of the Government, to read the Bills that he has brought to the House. The Long Title of the Bill, the Committee Stage of which we shall discuss following this, gives perhaps even less information than the Short Title.

This Bill is a deliberate attempt to do two things, one of which has not yet been mentioned: first, to get the people to vote as blindly as the Government can get them to vote, to hide from the people what the issue is on which they are being asked to express an opinion; and secondly to prevent separate issues being put to the people. In the 1942 Act, which the Minister for Health sponsored in this House as Minister for Local Government, separate issues had to be put separately. We have, in this Bill, for example, two very different issues which, as the law stands at present, would have to be put to the people separately: first, whether there should be single seat constituencies or multi-seat constituencies, and secondly, whether there should be the transferable or non-transferable vote.

As the law now stands, each of these two propositions would have to be put separately on the ballot papers to the people. The purpose of this Bill is to prevent that happening and to parcel them up into a global parcel in which the people will be asked to deal with them merely under a general phrase, such as the Thrid Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

I want to make quite sure that when people are asked to vote on these issues, they will know clearly and succinctly what they are voting on. The proposal the Government have brought before us to-day does not help that in any way at all. On the contrary, it is designed to put into effect something which means that there will be nothing official initially, giving any indication of what the issue is.

After all, if the Minister was serious when he said he would like to hear some proposition as to the way in which the proposals could be put succinctly, is it not perfectly obvious that there are two questions in relation to each of these principles which could be asked on the ballot paper compactly, to use the Minister's own words: "Do you wish to change from multi-seat constituencies to single seat constituencies?" and as Deputy Donnellan said: "Do you wish to abolish P.R. in favour of the non-transferable vote?" There is nothing very long about either of those questions and they are the two principles which the Ceann Comhairle has ruled are the principles underlying the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

There is no difficulty whatever in putting either of these questions, if what is required is a specific ad hoc Bill to deal with the problem of the 14 or 16 page Bill at present before the House. They are two perfectly simple questions upon which there would not be the slightest difficulty in getting the assent of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges of this House, as being unanimously prepared to express the question which should be put. There would be no difficulty at all about the interpretation of the question if an approach were made by the Minister in that way.

The Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Health and every member of the Government must accept that what the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill attempts to do is to abolish multi-seat constituencies, to substitute single seat constituencies, to abolish P.R. and to substitute the non-transferable vote. It goes on to make a constitutional change in relation to the commission which, again, could be covered easily enough in a single question.

The other two matters are the prime principles upon which the Bill is framed. If this Bill were to be, as the Minister for Health tried a few minutes ago to pretend, an ad hoc Bill to deal solely with the question of a long Amendment of the Constitution Bill then there was a very simple way of doing it. It could have been done, if the Government were really genuinely anxious to ensure that the matter would be understood. The discussion here to-day has made it clear beyond question that there is that absence of genuineness on the other side of the House.

This Bill was introduced by the Minister for Local Government in a terse speech in which he hardly bothered at all, if at all, to give any explanation as to why the proposals that had been enacted by the House in 1942 are now being repealed. He confined his introduction purely to an explanation, the briefest possible explanation, of what the Bill purports to do. The House and the country are entitled to assume that when a Minister is bringing into this House a Bill repealing an existing Act of the Oireachtas and, particularly, repealing an Act of the Oireachtas enacted at a time when his own Party was in Government before, he would deign to give the House some explanation of the reasons that prompted the Government to introduce it into the House to-day.

The reason the Minister did not do that is that the purpose of the Bill is to prevent the people having an opportunity to express their view on more than one issue. The purpose of the Bill is to prevent the people having an opportunity of understanding clearly and authoritatively the issue under discussion. Of course, the purpose of all that is—just as in relation to the other Bill—that the more vague you make it, the more wrapped up you make it, the more it is likely to be a smokescreen to get the Government out of their difficulties as a result of being completely and absolutely unable to redeem their election promises. Nothing else can explain away the fact that the Minister for Local Government just pitched the Bill in without any adequate explanation to-day.

If the Government, as a whole, are as sincere as the Minister for Health tried to make us believe a few minutes ago, if the Minister was not speaking with his tongue in his cheek as only he can do in this House, with the most bland simulation even of rage, sometimes, with his tongue in his cheek the whole time, if they were in any way genuine, they would go about this Referendum Bill in a manner that would ensure that the people would know upon what they were to be asked to cast their vote. The questions that should be put on the ballot paper, if we are to make this an ad hoc Bill, should be simple, compact, short, easily understandable, such as: “Do you wish to abolish P.R.? Do you wish to abolish multi-seat constituencies and have single seat constituencies?” If those were in the Bill, nobody could object.

Surely it would be absurd to have an ad hoc Bill for every constitutional amendment?

I think Deputies, reflecting on this Bill, will appreciate one significant fact. This Bill is introduced in order to amend the Referendum Act of 1942. In the past 16 or 17 years, no member of any Government felt impelled to propose in this House the amendment of the 1942 Referendum Act. Since 1942, as Deputy O'Sullivan pointed out, no referendum in fact has been held. Accordingly, the Referendum Act, 1942, remained on our Statute Books unopened and unused.

It was only when the Government decided to seek the abolition of P.R. and were faced with the necessity of holding a referendum that they opened the Referendum Act, 1942. As a result of a study of that Act, they propose this amendment to the House. The first question I think any Deputy must ask himself is this: Is the amendment proposed in this Bill designed to facilitate or to make more difficult the abolition of P.R.? That is the question which must be asked, if not in this House, then by the people outside.

Is it not clear that the Government who seek to hold a referendum aimed at the abolition of P.R. are introducing this machinery to make the solution of that question more easy? Quite obviously, they will not propose an amendment to an Act passed 16 years ago at a time like this, if the result would be in any way to jeopardise their proposal in relation to the abolition of P.R. Accordingly, if not in this House, then certainly outside, the majority of opinion must be that this simple bit of machinery, "this simple Bill" as it has been described by the Minister for Health, is designed to make more easy the proposed abolition of P.R. Therefore, we on this side of the House must view this measure with the gravest suspicion.

When we examine the Bill and when we see that the amendments proposed to the Act of 1942 consist of a proposal which denies the voter the information accorded to him by the 1942 Act on what he is asked to vote upon, well, then, we feel our suspicions somewhat more confirmed. It surely is reasonable for any Deputy to suggest that an amendment of our fundamental law, of our Constitution, should be a matter of the gravest import to the people. This year, at the instance of the Government, everybody who buys a threepenny stamp is reminded that, 21 years ago, the Constitution of this country, enshrining P.R., was adopted by the people. An amendment of that Constitution in any way should be a step not lightly taken by anybody and not lightly decided by the people. It surely is strange that if this Bill becomes law, the one type of referendum in respect of which the voter will be given no information is a referendum dealing with a constitutional amendment.

As the law stands at the moment, whenever a proposal has to be referred to the people, be it a proposal in respect of which the view of the people is sought other than an amendment of the Constitution or a constitutional amendment—whatever the proposal may be—the ballot paper must contain an indication to the voter as to what he is asked to vote upon. This Bill, if it becomes law, will apply only to a constitutional referendum and provides that the voter in every referendum, except a constitutional referendum, shall be told on the ballot paper what he is voting upon, but in relation to a constitutional referendum, he will be told nothing except the Short Title of the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Is it not strange that, if this Bill becomes law, if the President, in the exercise of his powers, doubts the constitutionality of a Bill passed by this House and directs its submission to the people in a referendum, the ballot paper should contain a statement of the question the people are asked to vote upon and when they vote in such a referendum, they will know what they are voting upon, but if it is an amendment changing the fundamental law of this State, the people are to be given no information!

That is a matter which must cause disquiet among the people who follow the moves in this game of chess initiated by the Taoiseach last August. What case can be made for providing one set of law for a referendum dealing with matters other than amendments of the Constitution and another set of law dealing with constitutional amendments? I should have thought the Government and the House would lean backwards to ensure that where any proposal was made which would effect an amendment of the Constitution, the greatest possible care would be taken to ensure that every voter who cast his vote cast it with a full, knowledge of what was involved, fully understanding the question he was asked to decide. Here we find that in relation to that type of amendment information which at present must be given to the voter will no longer be given.

The Minister for Health said that to give proper information to the voter under the 1942 Act would involve printing 16 pages of this Bill. I do not know whether that is so or not. I do not intend to try to interpret the wording of the 1942 Act, but as I recollect sub-section (5) of Section 15 it provides that the proposal shall be stated on the ballot paper as nearly as possible in the same terms as it is stated in the Bill passed by the Oireachtas. I do not think it would defeat the ingenuity of the Government and its advisers to devise a formula whereby on the ballot paper a short statement would appear containing the heads of the proposal being submitted to the people. I received to-day from your office, a Cheann Comhairle, a letter which admirably summarises the effect of this Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, namely, that the system of the single member constituency with the single non-transferable vote should replace the present system of P.R. There is a simple, succinct, accurate statement of the effect of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. Why could not a statement of that kind, short and simple, in easily understood words, appear on the ballot paper so that every voter, when he goes in to vote, will know what he is asked to vote upon?

Deputy O'Malley suggested here— he did not in fact say it but he might very well have said it—we are not living in a balloon. When a voter goes in to vote, he goes in to vote. He does not, I think the Deputy said, go in to do a football pool. Of course he does not, but I wonder is there not something still more sinister in this proposal. When the Taoiseach gave his Press interview in relation to the proposal which eventually was enshrined in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill last September, he gave an assurance that when the people voted on this proposal to abolish P.R. they would not be troubled by any other question and he said quite positively: "We will not hold the Presidential election on the same day." He gave an assurance, which he subsequently repeated, that this issue would be submitted to the people as a separate issue, not confused or complicated by anything else.

I wonder is that assurance still to be relied upon or have Fianna Fáil since decided that perhaps they will hold the referendum and the Presidential election on the same day, with the present Taoiseach as a candidate, in the hope that, having so decided, they will get their voters to go to the booths not to fill up their football pools, but to vote for the Taoiseach and, when they are there, present them with a ballot paper relating to the referendum which merely contains the question: Do you approve or disapprove of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill?

It is significant that this amending Bill was late in making its appearance in this political game of chess. It is significant that only in recent weeks have the Government decided to change the machinery under which this referendum is to be held. I believe the reason is that they have decided to run the Taoiseach as their Party's nominee for the Presidency and they hope, by doing so, to get people out to vote for him and, when they get them there, by this sleight of hand, they will secure extra support for the referendum. In any event, we feel that this Bill is part of the plot that has been hatched by the Government to maintain their position in this Parliament.

Its effect will be to ask the people to vote in blinkers on this important question. Its effect will be that a percentage of people, as a certainty, those who are incapacitated or illiterate, will in going to the booths, cast votes in this referendum without having any idea of what they are voting on. There is a percentage of our people who have never learned to read or write, who will not read such report as will appear in to-morrow morning's newspapers of our deliberations here to-day. There is a section of our people who have not been able to follow the discussion in this House on the Second Reading of the Amendment of the Constitution Bill because they are illiterate. There is also another section of our people who, by reason of blindness, have been unable to follow the proceedings in Parliament on this important question, and those incapacitated people have always been recognised under our electoral laws.

They are always zealous about exercising the franchise, as every Deputy here knows and, under the existing Electoral Act, when they get their ballot paper, the presiding officer must acquaint them with the names of the candidates on that paper, and must mark the ballot paper in accordance with their directions. Can the Minister tell the House how such an elector, or blind person, going out to vote as a citizen of this country on this referendum, not having read or being able to read, not knowing of the discussions that have gone on here over the past two months or so, is to be acquainted with the facts necessary to make his choice when he is told the question is: "Do you approve of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill?"

If he were told that the question he had to decide as a legislator—mind you, as a legislator—was whether he approved or disapproved of a proposal that the system of a single-member constituency and the single non-transferable vote should replace the present system of P.R., then, at least, the issue would be brought fairly and squarely before him. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, this Bill contains other proposals and perhaps proposals of a more detailed nature which are also objectionable. It is significant that, in the proposal for the change in the ballot paper, the question and the form of the ballot paper seem to be weighted into suggesting that a voter should vote "Yes".

The question is: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution?" The present law says the question shall be: "Do you approve or disapprove of the proposal?" In other words, "or disapprove" has been taken out. Again, one can think of the illiterate voter who is asked the question: "Do you approve of the proposal entitled the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill?" The next thing read out to him is "Answer ‘Yes' or Answer ‘No'." That form of ballot paper, in my view, is shaped and designed to encourage an affirmative answer from the voter, and I believe it was designed to do so. Would anyone explain to me, when all other things are equal here and we should all endeavour to maintain the existing law, the status quo, why should the first answer appearing on the ballot paper be “Yes” and the last “No”?

It was always understood that on our ballot papers the names of candidates appeared in alphabetical order, but, in this ballot paper, the alphabetical sequence is disregarded. "Yes" appears before "No" and the Minister cannot say that perhaps in Irish it might be different because "Tá" comes after "Níl" in the Irish language. We have this very interesting coincidence that the question is: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution—answer ‘Yes'." I believe that this type of proposed ballot paper is not put in this Bill just by chance. I believe it is put there by design and that it is intended to facilitate the passage, by the people, of the proposal being submitted by the Government.

The Minister for Health referred to difficulties in printing a large ballot paper. I think I have dealt with that by reminding him that it would be possible to ask this House, if it were necessary—I do not think it is necessary, but even if it were—to approve of a system whereby a short, understandable statement of the effect of the proposal could be put in the ballot paper.

I wonder do Deputies realise that under the Constitution, which is being celebrated now by a stamp, this issue is decided by the people as legislators. It is they who effect the change or decide against it and they do it as legislators. We are their representatives here and we merely propose this measure to them and it is they who decide it, not we.

What right have we in this House to say we will just dole out a certain amount of information to the people; that we will not give them the Bill as they would not, understand it? What arrogance is that? What right has any Minister to suggest that an Irish voter should not have, as the member of every legislative assembly is entitled to have, the exact proposal upon which he is asked to vote? What is wrong in demanding that the voters in this referendum be given precisely a copy of this Bill? Are they not entitled to have it? It is going to affect their votes. They are the people by whose votes this issue will be decided and nobody else's.

Under what circumstances are we entitled to say we will just give them a little bit of information, because if we give them the Bill, they would not understand it? I regard that as the greatest piece of arrogance that could be uttered by any Minister in a democratic assembly. I should have thought, from the Press interview given by the Taoiseach and his references to the importance of this proposal in relation to the electoral system, that he would instruct his Ministers to ensure that no stone was left unturned, that no effort was spared to see that every voter from Cork to Donegal, and from Dublin to Galway, was given all the necessary information to enable a proper decision to be arrived at.

Those were his sentiments when, with a fanfare of trumpets, he told the Fianna Fáil Party they were really concerned about P.R. for many years back. Those were his sentiments last September when he told the people that they were seriously worried about the electoral system. Those were his sentiments last September, that this issue should not be clouded by any other issue, that he wanted a calm and objective discussion so that the people could follow exactly what is involved, that the issue could be fully realised by the people.

Why this change now? Why the sudden change to furtiveness and secrecy and diffidence that we are now presented with in this Bill? I think there is something very sinister in this proposal. The rules are being changed to suit certain players; the machinery for a referendum is now being altered in a particular way on the eve of a referendum which may shape the future of this country. The change sought, in my view, is sought to facilitate the passage of the Government's proposal by the people. It certainly is not designed to hinder it in any way.

The effect of the change is to deny the people the right which they now have to get information on the question on which they are asked to vote. I believe it is done, not because of any difficulties such as have been mentioned by the Minister for Health—difficulties of that kind can be overcome—but is designed to ensure that things will be made easier for the passage of the Government's proposal. It is for these reasons that we oppose the Second Reading of this Bill and we have tabled an amendment in the names of the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Mulcahy so that the people may appreciate that this Bill is not merely a machinery Bill. It is a Bill designed to deprive them of the right they now have and a Bill which is part of a plot concoted last August.

It became very plain as soon as this Bill was introduced and commented on that there were a number of very obvious difficulties and weaknesses involved. The Bill, of course, has been described by the Minister, and some of the Fianna Fáil spokesmen, as a Bill to make it possible for the citizens to vote on a proposal to amend the Constitution in a more simple manner, and that the Bill before the House would provide machinery which should commend itself to everyone because of its simplicity. Listening to the debate, it struck me that it was a wonder that some Fianna Fáil Deputies did not suggest that to have on the ballot paper a "yes" or "no" form of answer was a simple system that sometimes applied in cases where workers were being asked to take a decision on whether or not they would accept a wage increase. They did not do that because they were quite well aware that the circumstances in such a case would be entirely different from the circumstances of the citizens going to ballot in the expected referendum.

In those cases, workers know quite clearly what the issue is and there is no possible doubt about it, but in this case we have proposed the terms of a ballot paper with which the voter going to a local polling station will be issued which asks, according to the terms of this Bill: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?" and it refers them then to the Short Title of the Bill. Take an average elector. Suppose that question is put to him. The normal reaction is: "What are we asked to do?" It is very easy for the Minister or members of the Government. As one Fianna Fáil Deputy said, it is very simple: all you are asked to do is just to agree to the amendment of the Constitution. But even Fianna Fáil Deputies who appear to be able to speak on this matter with only one voice must at some time or other ask themselves what does "the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill" mean. Will the voter, even the one who makes a habit of reading the daily newspapers be quite clear as to what the issue is? Surely it is not suggested here or elsewhere that every citizen has been able to follow the complete discussion on the proposed amendment of the Constitution through the newspapers? Even the people who followed the discussions in Dáil Éireann as closely as possible up to the adjournment of the House will most likely be considerably confused as to the issues.

I think it is fair to say that no one has spoken here on the proposal to amend the Constitution from a purely objective point of view; certainly no Minister and no Fianna Fáil Deputy could do so because they were pledged to support a measure for a particular purpose which it is not necessary to go into now. Even if electors read the newspapers very carefully and if they read the many speeches of Fianna Fáil Ministers and Deputies on that matter, they certainly would not have had the issues put before them objectively. Consequently, it appears that it is the responsibility of the House to ensure that if a referendum takes place, the people who vote on it shall at least be quite clear as to what they are voting on.

When a Bill of particular importance is introduced, it is customary for the Minister responsible not only to circulate the Bill to the members but also to issue a memorandum, in most cases, setting out the main purposes of the measure. Surely this House in submitting a proposal that the Constitution be amended to the citizens at large is in exactly the same position as a Minister bringing a Bill to the House? Whether supporters of the Government or members of the Opposition Party or Independents, no matter how they are concerned in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, once the Bill is passed by this House and the Seanad, it becomes an Act and the proposal goes to the electors as legislators. The body putting that Act to the electorate is the Oireachtas. It is clear to me, therefore, that we have a responsibility to see that the proposals going before those entitled to vote shall be clear and definite and that there shall be no misunderstanding. There are many opportunities for misunderstandings in the present Bill.

The electorate will be asked:

"Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?"

That question will be addressed to thousands of electors throughout the country. It will be contained in a ballot paper which in normal circumstances may be issued to housewives taking a little time off from the day's work to go to the polling station in the morning, to people going home or returning from lunch during the day and taking a short time to vote, or to people coming to the polling booths in the evening between 6 and 9 p.m. when normally every polling station has very severe congestion.

The Bill provides that in the case of a person who cannot read or write, and perhaps in the case of those afflicted with blindness, those who cannot themselves take this "ever so simple ballot paper" and read it and make a decision, the presiding officer will be entitled to proceed in accordance with regulations set out on the last page:—

"Where the voter fails to understand the import of the said question, the presiding officer shall read out to the voter the Short Title of the Bill to amend the Constitution as stated on the ballot paper and then ask the voter, ‘Do you approve of or do you object to that Bill becoming law?' and then mark the ballot paper in accordance with the answer of the voter;".

In any case where the presiding officer is satisfied the prospective voter for any reason does not understand the import of the question, he is not entitled to give that voter information. He is entitled under this Bill only to put the question: "Do you or do you not approve of the proposal?"

For instance, if I want to cast my vote in a referendum and I say to the presiding officer: "I am not clear as to what this ballot paper means," he can only direct that question to me, asking me do I approve or do I object to the Bill becoming law; do I object to something I do not understand, that I do not know anything about and on which nobody has given me any official information.

If the Government are serious in this matter, surely the first thing they should agree to do is that which has been suggested here, that is, place a copy of whatever Bill goes before the people on the basis of referendum in the hands of every elector, or at least take every reasonable opportunity of doing so. For quite a few years now, it has been the practice in general elections to send a card to electors at their official addresses, showing the polling station, polling number and other details. Now, if it has been considered important by successive Governments to go to the trouble of posting to all electors cards informing them where they are to vote and what their registered number is, as a help to them, surely it is even more important, if the electorate are being asked to consider voting for or against a change in the Constitution, that the details of that change should be sent to them? Indeed, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that not alone should the details of the Bill be so sent, but that there should be included also an agreed statement of this House, on the lines of the usual White Paper or explanatory memorandum, setting out the main purposes of the Bill.

It has been mentioned here in the course of the discussion that there is a certain percentage of illiterate people in the country. I think there is an even larger number of semi-illiterate people in the country. Whether they are illiterate, semi-illiterate or completely literate, or whether they are handicapped in any way, as long as they are registered as electors, they are entitled to be given the full official information on which they, and only they, can make a decision. If the Minister and his colleagues suggest that this Bill is of any help in that regard, I submit that they are not being serious or fair to this House, or fair to the citizens generally.

I said earlier that this ballot paper is in a form sometimes used when workers receive an offer from an employer of an increase in wages and where the offer which is put to them is: "Are you in favour or not of accepting 10/- a week?" They all know it—there is no argument they can use: it is a question of "yes" or "no"; and it is not hedged around with the number of clauses in this Bill. There is nothing in this question as it is put in the form of a proposal, to suggest that the ballot paper itself would give any indication to the voters except: "Do you approve or disapprove of the Short Title of the Act?" Is that fair? Is it reasonable?

Some of us have been in this House for only a few years, but many Deputies have been here for many years; and hardly a session goes by that we do not demonstrate fairly clearly to ourselves and to citizens outside that we do not at all times understand the complete implications of certain Bills brought before the House. On how many occasions does it occur that what appears to be a reasonable Bill requires fairly long and repeated explanations as to its purpose? We are asked to adopt the attitude here that the electors, having either read ex-parte statements and arguments in national and provincial newspapers or other news organs, or having heard secondhand, from a friend or relative, that there is a proposal to change the Constitution, that there is a proposal to abolish P.R., understand clearly what they are doing, if they go to the polls and have the question put to them: “Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?”, and are given the Short Title of the Bill.

I have said in this House, and I have been sincere in saying it, that the Irish people have shown that they are possessed, on the average, of very high intelligence because of the way they have indicated, down the years, whether a particular political Party liked it or not, their preferences for those who should represent them here. At the same time, I feel sincerely that this amendment to the Referendum Act of 1942 will not realise the aim its proposers suggest they have in mind, the aim of making this simple, clear and understandable. There is no merit in simplifying something, if at the same time that which is simplified does not become more understanable. There is no merit in saying to a person: "Do you or do you not agree with a certain Act?" unless at the same time you make it clear beyond doubt what that Act is. Persons asked whether or not they agree to the passing of an Act are entitled to know the terms of that Act. The electorate are entitled to be given an objective and agreed statement as to what the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill proposes to do.

It appears to me that there is a purpose behind this proposal. That purpose is to make it simple for the people to say "Yes", if that is possible. Of course, this type of simplification is not new from Fianna Fáil, whether as a Government or as a Party. I do not have to remind Fianna Fáil Deputies how simple the Party endeavours to make every general election in practically every constituency. They usually endeavour to make general elections simple by calmly asking the voters, whether they are in Clare, Cork, Wexford, Donegal or Dublin, to "Vote Dev". That is very simple. De Valera may not be the candidate in those areas, but the voters are simply asked "Vote Dev". It is a habit in North-East Dublin, too. To give them credit, it has been successful on a number of occasions.

I am afraid that the people with such a mentality, who have avoided putting any clear economic or political proposal before the country and have covered up their lack in this respect by concentrating on the words "Vote Dev", may be of opinion that a similar approach will be successful in regard to the referendum. It appears to me that they do not want to make it clear to the people in the referendum that if they say "Yes", they are voting to do away with P.R. It seems to me that they do not want to make it clear to the people that if they say "Yes", they are voting for a single nontransferable vote and single member constituencies.

If the assurances of good faith given by the Government, that they desire to leave this matter to the calm and wise judgment of the people, are of any value, the first thing the Minister for Local Government should do is to agree that this Referendum Bill is misconceived, that it will not make any issue clearer to the people but will succeed only in mystifying them much more. If the Government are sincere that whatever is finally decided by the Oireachtas to be the subject-matter of the referendum should be considered calmly and objectively by the electorate and with a reasonable knowledge of what they are doing, then the Minister should assure the House that he is prepared to withdraw this type of ballot paper.

He should indicate that he is prepared to make the necessary administrative arrangements to ensure that a copy of the form of the referendum and a copy of the Constitution Amendment Bill will be in the hands of all those entitled to vote. The printing and distribution of those copies might cost a little more money, but the Government were responsible for introducing this proposal, in the first place, and if there is some little extra cost or worry involved in giving that information to the electorate, surely the Government should not cavil? They have not cavilled at the idea of introducing a proposal to amend the Constitution at the present time and therefore I do not think they should cavil at some extra expenditure.

I put it to the Minister and his colleagues in the Government that the electors are even more entitled than we are to an objective explanatory-memorandum in relation to the proposals upon which they will be asked to make a decision. The Minister has said this is purely a machinery Bill. If there is any real basis for his statement or any sincerity in the statements of his colleagues, he should, before this debate concludes, give the assurances for which we have asked. If the Government want the people to judge, they should at least put them in the position of being able to judge and not play another confidence trick on them, the type of trick they have played so often in the past by asking the people to say "Yes" or "No" to something in relation to which the people have not been properly advised. In equity, the people are entitled to information and it is the duty and obligation of the Government to ensure that every elector is informed clearly upon the matter in which he is called to make a decision. That applies not merely to the technical details of the Bill, but even more so to the effects the Bill may have, if it passes into legislation.

Listening to the various speeches from the Opposition Benches, one would think that Irish voters leave home on the morning of an election with a blank mind and that it is only when they cross the threshold of the polling booth that they unravel for themselves the problems they are asked to deal with there. One would think that it is only there and then that they make up their minds. That, of course, is not the situation that obtains. Take, for instance, a general election. Well in advance of election day, the electors have made up their minds and taken their decision as to the individuals they will support and the policy they wish to see implemented by the in-coming Government. There is no indication on the ballot paper as to the Party to which a candidate belongs; there is no indication as to the policy candidates will support, if elected. There is just the bare list of names. Irish electors down the years have made up their minds long before going to the polling station as to what they will do and as to whom they will support.

Do the Opposition believe that there will be a complete change in the future? Do they believe that the electors will in future leave their homes with their minds not made up? I do not believe they will and I do not believe the Opposition believe they will. Does anyone think it would help electors to present them with a copy of the third amendment of the Constitution on referendum day? In the time available to them, they would not be able to study the contents. If they were presented with an explanatory memorandum, I doubt if they would study such a document in the circumstances. We all know that these electors will be thoroughly familiar with the issue upon which they will be called to vote before they leave their homes and well in advance of the actual referendum. The Opposition suggests that some explanation should be given on the ballot paper for the benefit of the semi-literate, the illiterate and the less educated. They are the very people who would not benefit from an explanation in such circumstances. Such an explanation could help only those who are proficient m reading and capable of assimilating what they read.

I believe the correct procedure is to have a simple ballot paper. I agree that it would be a good thing well in advance to issue some explanation to ensure that all will have a clear picture as to what is intended. It would be a good idea to issue some short explanatory memorandum. If it is beyond the bounds of possibility to do that in the case of individual electors, then I would suggest that some explanation should be issued through the medium of the Press, especially through the medium of the weekly papers in the provincial areas.

There are a few points arising out of the Bill to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention. I do not agree that the Irish translation of the word "referendum" is correct. Secondly, there is a statement on the proposed ballot paper that an "X" should be placed in the square opposite "Yes" or "No". In its present layout, it is not a square and I suggest, therefore, that the word "space" should be used in that context.

This matter has been fairly well discussed this evening. We on this side of the House have been accused of delaying tactics. I want to assure the House that there was no such intention. As an Opposition, it is our duty to give expression to our views on the change in the electoral system which it is proposed to introduce.

The form of the ballot paper is far from clear. No matter how well people may be advised, there will be a certain amount of confusion. The elector is asked: Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution? People who do not take an active part in public life will not realise that in voting for the amendment of the Constitution, they are voting against P.R., that they are denying themselves the right in future elections to vote according to the P.R. system which has been in existence here since the foundation of the State.

I do not know why objection should be raised because doubt has been expressed from this side of the House as to the real intentions behind this Bill. In the City of Limerick, I have been asked what will be the effect of the passing of this Bill. I have been asked will it apply to future local government elections. To my mind, it will. I cannot see the Government having another referendum, if they want this to apply to local government elections. The Government will have the answer: The people have already decided on the abolition of P.R. Many people are disturbed on that point because in the City of Limerick for many years there was an agitation for the managerial system which made Limerick City and other cities one constituency and under P.R. we got representation of all sections and all interests.

I am afraid the Deputy is getting away from the Bill before the House.

If you say so, I shall not go any further. I am just citing questions that I have been asked. That is one of them. Deputy O'Malley told us that people are quite well aware of how to use the ballot paper. It is a strange thing that in the Limerick Corporation, when we wanted a discussion on P.R., Deputy O'Malley proposed that it should be ruled out of order. Is that fair to the people whom we want to guide as to what to do when they are presented with this ballot paper? I feel it my duty to say that in the House. I regret if I have gone outside the scope of the Bill. I do not feel there is any great harm in going slightly out of bounds when I do so in the interests of the people who are asking these questions. Undoubtedly, the Party to which I belong and other Parties will try as far as possible to make people aware of what they are doing when they are voting.

While we may be in this House for four, five or ten years, we are doing something in this Bill which will affect the lives and interests of the people generally for many years to come. There is some motive behind the Bill. That is the suspicion; that is the doubt. There is no clarity in the ballot paper as to the implications of answering "Yes" or "No" to the question: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution?" Many people will not understand what to do. There are many people who vote at election time who do not go to election rooms to know what to do. Illiterate people have been mentioned. There are many intelligent people who like to understand things for themselves and to decide for themselves in the light of their own understanding, without recourse to any Party for guidance.

There is certainly some motive behind the Bill. This is only a beginning and in my opinion the Bill will ultimately be applied to local government elections. We are doing our duty as an Opposition. I do not want to talk at length on this matter because many of the things that I might have said have been said already. I am very happy, as a Deputy representing Limerick City, to oppose this measure.

As I understood the Minister's opening statement, he said that Section 3 was specifically provided to authorise that officers appointed by the returning officer would be entitled to vote. In fact, the wording of the section makes that pretty clear:—

"Where—

(a) a person is entitled to vote at the poll at a referendum,

(b) he is employed, by the local returning officer for the constituency in which he is entitled to vote, for any purpose in connection with the poll in that constituency, and

(c) the circumstances of his employment are, in the opinion of that officer, such as to prevent him from voting at the polling station at which he would otherwise be entitled to vote, that officer may authorise him in writing to vote at a specified other polling station in that constituency, and the polling station so specified shall, for the purpose of rule 8 of the rules contained in the First Schedule of the Referendum Act, 1942, be deemed to be the polling station allotted to him."

A number of other people are engaged at polling stations. Under Section 17 (1) of the Act of 1942, each member of Dáil Éireann and of Seanad Éireann is entitled at such a referendum to nominate personation agents or people whose duty it is to help the presiding officer to prevent illegal voting. Would it not be well that these people, equally, should be entitled to vote because of the fact that duties assigned to them by the State take them from their homes and that they are part of the election machinery in the same way as officers appointed by the returning officer? I would suggest that, if it is intended that these people should be included, provision should be made that such persons—call them personation agents or what you like— whose duties prevent them from voting at the polling station at which they would otherwise be entitled to vote may be authorised to vote at some other polling station.

I intend to support the Fine Gael amendment to this Bill not because of any merits that the latter part of it has, to my mind, but mainly because of the fact that it is a refusal to give a Second Reading to the Bill at all.

I believe that whatever way you arrange this vote, you are simply dealing with an instrument of another Bill which is a complete travesty of justice. The Constitution Amendment Bill itself is, in my opinion, a Bill which is being forced through this House to give a minority group the right to govern here against the will of the majority of the people. Any kind of Bill that will implement that could not be amended in any shape or form because it is so wrong to attempt to amend an evil thing which is evil in itself. I am quite in agreement with the Fine Gael point of view that there are many people who will go to the polling booth unaware of what exactly the third amendment of the Constitution is. I am quite well aware that Fine Gael, perhaps, tabled their amendment from the parliamentary point of view, that it gives them the right to talk and focus attention on the evil of the third amendment itself. I agree with it from that point of view.

I shall support it completely on the grounds that it is a refusal to attempt to implement a previous Bill which has not even yet passed through this House. I feel that any device by which public attention can be focussed upon what is about to happen in this State is good. Anything that gives us an opportunity to discuss the matter in this House and which gives the newspapers an opportunity to publish that discussion is helpful.

It is significant that throughout the length and breadth of this country, in public bodies where Government supporters are chairmen, any attempt to bring this forward at these public bodies has been turned down on the basis that it is a political question. Of course, it is a political question, but would one not think that the more publicity and the more discussion we have about the matter, the better? Is that not all to the good? Is it not suggested that what is needed is the opinion of the whole people on whether or not we should abolish P.R.?

I suggest that Deputy Norton was very correct to-day in his speech when he said that the important thing in connection with the Bill now before the House is whether we are for or against P.R. Is that not really the whole substance of the matter? All the other things are consequential upon the important issue—whether the people want to retain the present system of voting or want to change to the single straight vote. In my opinion. Deputy Norton's solution of the problem was the correct one—that we should say to the people upon every occasion on this Bill and on the Third Amendment Bill, at this stage or on Committee Stage and at all times, to beware of what is about to happen. If they surrender their birthright by voting "Yes" at the time of the referendum, they will live long to regret it.

In my opinion and in the opinion of the Party to which I have the privilege to belong, this is one of the most extraordinary Bills that have been brought before this House under the guise of being necessary for various legal and constitutional reasons. It is, in effect, a Bill which is brought forward for purely political motives. We have not been given an adequate explanation of what will be done, if and when a question is being put before the people in the form of a referendum.

Surely, as previous speakers have stated, there is a clear and simple way of putting that before the electorate. This Bill is complicated and will be quite beyond the ordinary person to understand, not that the ordinary person is incapable of understanding more difficult matters than this, but the whole question will be so confused that the ordinary voter will simply not have the time and the opportunity to understand clearly the issue which is being put before him or her.

That is our objection to this Bill and it cannot be taken without some reference to the Bill which we were discussing last session, namely, the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958. You might almost call this an enabling Bill to permit the results of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill to be put before the Irish people in as confused a way as possible. That is what lies in and behind this Referendum (Amendment) Bill, 1958.

I ask the Government: What is your little game? What on earth are you up to? We have been brought back to the Dáil to-day, 7th January. Certainly, the members of my Party do not object to coming back to do the State's business in January, but why is this suddenly done? What is the rush? Why have we come back almost three weeks earlier? It is because the Government have not made up their minds on whom they are to put forward or what is to be done in connection with the Presidential election and whether they will have the question, if it goes through, of the alteration of the Constitution on the same or a different day.

At any rate, some sort of scheme is being hatched. At the end of it, the Irish people are to be presented with a ballot paper which would really take a constitutional lawyer to understand, instead of their being asked the perfectly simple question: Do you want P.R. or a single-member constituency? It would be quite simple to put the question to the people in a straightforward, easily-understood manner but by the very fact of the Bill's existence, it is perfectly clear that the ballot paper will be presented in a way which will be very difficult to understand. I am very sorry to see an Irish Government not only altering the well-tried method of election in this country but bringing in this Bill so that when the Irish people are asked if they want it or not, that question will be wrapped up in such a way that there will be the maximum confusion about it.

I do not think there is any other matter of great substance in the Bill, and so I wish to record here my very grave distrust of this Bill, and still more of what lies behind it, and my determined opposition to it.

This is a very reasonable amendment, in my opinion. A good many speeches have been made from both sides of the House, but it is a significant fact that most of the speeches have come from the Opposition and in so far as I have been here to listen to any of the speakers from the Government side, they do not seem to have endeavoured to answer the simple question: whether or not the people know what they are voting for.

It is true the Minister for Health spoke at some length and seemed to stress the point that it would be necessary to include the entire Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill— I think he said of 16 pages—to indicate to the people what they were voting for. Supposing we accept the Minister's argument and supposing the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill as it stands at present, was on the ballot paper, I think I can say quite frankly it would not clarify the issue in any way.

I know Deputies who have had considerable experience of reading Bills and they had to take more than one look, and more than half a dozen looks at that Bill, before they understood what it was about. I venture to suggest that there are probably quite a few Deputies who still do not know what it is about or understand its full implications.

I think it was Deputy Booth who said we could not make the ballot paper any simpler for the electorate because it would cost money. One does not wish to be cynical or anything like that, but surely our having to debate this Bill, and the other Bill for which this Bill is the machinery, is due to the fact that the Fianna Fáil Party are foisting on the Irish nation a referendum to change the electoral system without any request to do so.

When Deputy Booth was speaking on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill here, he was very careful to stress the fact that one of the reasons why P.R. should not be permitted to continue in our Constitution was that the people were too stupid to understand it. If the people were too stupid to understand it——

No. I question that altogether.

Perhaps I am wrong and I apologise to the Deputy if I misquoted him. Certainly in my hearing, several Deputies from the other side of the House—the Minister for Industry and Commerce was one—said that the Irish electorate did not understand the P.R. system. I will put it that way if the Deputy prefers it.

Very much so.

Surely if they do not understand P.R., how will anybody understand this ambiguous document? Do Fianna Fáil Deputies not know, unless, to quote the Taoiseach, they have cotton wool in their ears, that there is the most utter confusion throughout the country with regard to this referendum to change the electoral system.

I have spoken to people of all shades of opinion, intelligent and highly educated people, and in spite of what they are reading in the papers, they do not really know what the implications are of this proposed change in our electoral system. If the electorate are to go to the polling booths to vote on this proposal in its present form, if the only information they will have to guide them is that it is a measure relating to an amendment of the Constitution is it seriously suggested by Fianna Fáil Deputies—and I submit that the silence of the Fianna Fáil Deputies is proof that they know that this is the case—that the electorate will know what they are voting for? Of course, it is a good thing to have a referendum because the Fianna Fáil organisation will then come into action, with a whispering campaign by the organisation and so forth, to get the people to vote.

One or two other speakers mentioned that the referendum would probably take place at the same time as the Presidential election. It would be easy then with a confused ballot paper like this—and mark you, nobody, even intelligent people, will know what this ballot paper means when they see it—to confuse the two issues: Vote for Dev and vote Yes for the referendum. That is the latest change of tactics and that is why we have this Bill and why the Fianna Fáil Party are trying to amend the Constitution, to get through a referendum because they have been getting their answer in the country. They are afraid now that the referendum will be beaten and if it is beaten and the Taoiseach is successful in winning the Presidential election, they will have to face the next election under the old system, without the Chief at the head, and they know they will get, to put it crudely, the "works." They know that and that is why they brought this Bill in its present form to amend the Constitution. I charge that that is political dishonesty and nothing else. It is political dishonesty, in the first instance, to have a referendum to change the Constitution, when no one wants to do that, and it is political dishonesty to produce a proposal like this which no one will understand.

I know the Minister for Health is an intelligent man and I have the highest respect for his intelligence. Does he seriously suggest that anybody, an ordinary elector in any country in the world, seeing a ballot paper like that with the Short Title of the Constitution Amendment Bill written across the top of it would know what it is about. It is confusion confounded and the only hope I have is that the Irish people will see in it another attempt to put one across them and that the majority will read it and chuck it out.

So far as this debate has gone, and I have spoken before in the House about this, I quite agree with the amendment before the House to-night, but I feel, mind you, that, as the discussion has gone, it is not made clear to me that I can speak as I wish to speak here to-night, inasmuch as it has not been made clear to this House whether this referendum will be put before the electorate as an entity. That has not come as yet. I admit that the Taoiseach, in introducing the Bill, made it perfectly clear on two, three or different occasions that the question of the referendum would have to be voted on by the people as a separate item. Now, as far as I hear—I may be wrong and I may be very wrong but it is no harm to put it before the House—the Taoiseach may possibly be a candidate for the Presidential seat.

There is no question of the Presidential election——

It comes into it in this way. I want to ask this House, if that is the case, if that election will not be on the P.R. system. Is it not a fact? Will it not be on the P.R. system? It is an extraordinary thing that, if it will, we shall have the electorate putting their papers into one box on the P.R. system and, by the side of that, another box into which they are asked to put their papers saying whether they consider that the P.R. system should be abolished. That is all I want to know. It has not been put here to the House.

I could speak for a longer time if it had been made clear to me and to the House as to whether the question of the P.R. system was being put to the people at the referendum as a separate item. That has not been done. That is why I say that if it is a fact, as we hear—I do not know what truth there is in it and the Taoiseach is perfectly entitled to go for it——

It does not arise at this stage.

The Taoiseach must go for it under the P.R. system because it has not yet been decided whether or not P.R. is to be abolished. If they make it the one issue on the one day—I will not say any more until I find out if it is put before this House, as it should be put before this House— does the Taoiseach still stand by his statement that the referendum will be put to the people on its own? If it is the other way about, if the two issues come together and you have one box voting for P.R. and the other one trying to put it out, is it not time that some of the gentlemen on the opposite side of the House were medically examined?

We are concerned in the discussion here this evening with the treatment of the voting in relation to the referendum it is proposed to hold if and when the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, goes through. It is in the light of the importance of the Constitution to the people and the relationship between the Constitution and the Parliament that has served the people in many ways that we are concerned that this Parliament will do its work properly in regard to an important matter such as the amendment of the Constitution.

I appreciate the approach of Deputy Kyne to our amendment of the Bill, but there is something more in our amendment—at any rate, from my point of view—than Deputy Kyne apparently sees just at the moment. The Constitution is regarded by the Government as a very sacred thing—particularly as they have had a hand in the framing of it as it stands to-day; but, to our people as a whole, the Constitution of this State is a very sacred and a very important thing.

The Preamble to the Constitution firmly states, even from our point of view, the things that ought to be kept in mind when dealing with matters in regard to the Constitution. It accepts that all authority comes from God. It makes reference to the fact that our fathers were sustained by the Almighty in their struggle for the independence of our country and the principles that our people desired to have enshrined actively in the parliamentary and in the general life of this country and for which they sought that independence.

In the type of discussion we are having, leading up to the things proposed to be done, I think it well to read the Preamble to the Constitution of 1937, which is as follows:—

"In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

We, the people of Éire,

Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,

Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,

And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,

Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution."

In that Constitution, it is secured that all persons who have the right to vote in a general election will have the right to vote in a referendum. What I and what we object to in the proposals in this Referendum Bill, related as they are to the proposals in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, is that it carries into the proposition of what will be put on the ballot paper for the voter to decide on everything of the spirit that has dictated the Government's approach to the changes in the Constitution. It brings into the proposal here every desire to deceive and to withhold from the voter any kind of simple, serious, clear, concise statement of what he is asked to give an opinion on. So definite is that intent that the Referendum Act of 1942 is deliberately being changed so as to keep from the voter, by a statute of this House which it is hoped now to pass, a simple statement of what he is asked to say "Yes" or "No" about.

That action is being taken and these plans of deception and withholding of information are being practised in relation to a matter which the Preamble to the Constitution states our fathers made sacrifices for. They struggled for the independence of our nation in order to get principles of justice and charity and prudence established here so that the people of Ireland, individually created to the image and likeness of God, might serve their holy destiny under the light and guidance of the Most Holy Trinity, Whose authority is omnipotent and to Whom in all their actions, both as individuals and representing the State, they are responsible in the light of their final end.

In dealing with a matter like that. we have had many statements of human experience quoted to us. The Minister for Health, who has just left the House, quoted extracts from, I think, a dozen different volumes by a. dozen different persons in relation to human experience on the matters we are discussing here for the purpose of guiding us in every possible way. Every land in Europe was traversed, as well as the United States, in order to show us what is possible when humans take action in relation to their affairs.

When I regard the spirit in which the Constitution Amendment Bill was put before us and when I regard the trickery which was practised in relation to the framing of this Referendum Bill, two events in human experience come very forcibly to my mind, events in which the pride, the arrogance, the stupidity and the lust for power brought about the confusion of Babel, on the one hand and the downfall of Ananias, on the other. What I want to draw particular attention to is that the spirit of Ananias, the deception and the deceit that characterised the Constitutional Amendment Bill discussion is being given a kind of statutory form in Section I of the Amendment Bill here and in the Schedule. When I consider the struggle that was made here to get possession of the resources of the nation for the common good, to develop our character as a Christian people and to do our work for the nation successfully, I can hear the voice of Saint Peter as he cries out to Ananias: "Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart. Why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart. Thou hast not lied to man but to God."

The electors of this country are being asked, in the name of the Holy Trinity, to amend the Constitution and to say whether they approve of this proposal, without having sufficient knowledge of the nature of the proposal. Many people are being deprived of their rights on the basis that they are irresponsible, have no judgment or intelligence. You are hiding from them vital information. Men and classes concerned with the development of the social and economic life of Ireland are to be deprived of their rightful position in this Parliament. You are setting out by pure trickery to deprive this Parliament of an Opposition that would be worth while talking about. Therefore, I say this Referendum Bill enshrines the spirit of Ananias. I advise those who have been delving into books and quoting authorities on human experience to look back at the deceits and the hypocrisy of Ananias, the rebuke he got and the end to which he came, the young men rising up and carrying him out. Those who are responsible for this deceit and trickery are telling the people this is the last chance they have of wiping out P.R., but they will be carried out by the young men and left where they ought to be left politically.

When we set up this State, we had the tradition of our fathers behind us, their sacrifices and their work. On the very first day Dáil Éireann met, on 21st January, 1919, we declared, as part of our democratic programme, that we desired our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of liberty, equality, justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of Government and the willing adherence of the people. The institutions that were set up here were challenged by those who are introducing this Bill in other ways than merely by legislation introduced by them in this House.

That does not arise.

I challenge those who are behind the leaders who are putting this Bill before the House as to how far they are being misled, how far they are being frustrated and how far their sense of loyalty to persons and parties is bringing them along lines that others went along before, only to have to admit: "I would not follow them to-morrow, if I knew where to go." Or: "I know I was wrong when I was brought into so-and-so but I cannot let the leaders down now."

We must consider this whole question not only from the point of view of the economic circumstances of this country but from the point of view of the world outside. All kinds of things are challenging not only the economic well-being of the peoples of the world but the very soul and spirit of man. I must express my detestation of the kind of atmosphere that has crept into this House, of the kind of proposals that are being put before us and the manner in which they are put before us. We are trampling in a careless, thoughtless and brutal way on the spirit of a people, of a people who accept the Christian faith, Christian revelation and Christian ideals. It is because of that that I challenge what is going on here.

Does the Deputy suggest we on this side of the House do not accept those ideals?

This Bill enshrines in statutory form the spirit of Ananias.

Would the Minister clarify the point as to why in relation to the specimen ballot paper he has not kept to the procedure in the past of having the words "yes" and "no" in alphabetical order?

It is rather difficult to listen to the sanctimonious whining of the President of the Fine Gael Party, and to contain oneself within the good order of this House——

Those two things are always difficult.

——and to hear poured down on our heads here his suggestions of the spirit that animated the men on this side of the House in 1922. When we hear the talk about what their fathers did and the sacrifices they made, and when I sit here and listen to the Deputy opposite talking about the sacrifices made by those fathers, it really makes my blood boil. I hope I shall not hear any more about it from the self-same Deputy.

You will hear a lot more about the traditions of this country from me, while we are fighting for the liberty of the ordinary people.

You are not so good in fighting now as at the time I am referring to.

I do my duty on the public platform and in the proper place.

You do! We have these other Deputies all talking in the same breath without a word of sense in their heads, talking and creating confusion so that the people of the country may not know, even through their own intelligence, what is facing them in this issue. If there is confusion at the taking of this referendum, it will be due to the talk and the red herrings being dragged through this House by Depuites on the Opposition Benches. It will be confusion created by all the various Parties opposite, who have one thing in common, that is, that they do not want to see the referendum carried because they have no faith in themselves and do not believe in their own future. Therefore, they hand it over to Fianna Fáil on a plate and suggest that if we get this system working, Fianna Fáil will be here for all time. From their expressed views, it is clear that they have no faith in themselves nor in their policies, neither do they believe the people have any faith in them and naturally then, Fianna Fáil, who have the confidence of the people, will be here for a long time to come. You in opposition are condemning yourselves, not only by every word you have spoken here to-night, but also by every word you have spoken during the debate on the Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

We have invited helpful suggestions but all I can say is that, with the exception of a very brief moment of sanity on the part of a few of the people on the opposite side, we have got nothing from them to try to make clear that which they say is confused. Far from it. We got from all of them additions to the confusion they have already created. The first point made by the Leader of the Opposition, rather his first plaint, was that we were hurrying this thing through, coming in with it in the first week of the New Year, trying to rush it through without the people or the Deputies of the House knowing what it is about. This Bill was introduced and circulated some weeks before we adjourned at Christmas. It arises out of the introduction of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, which we have discussed for weeks on end and, if anybody feels we have not given to this matter sufficient discussion in this House—and from that discusson sufficient publicity in the newspapers and through the radio—then they should throw their minds back to the time when the draft Constitution was before this House.

What do we find if we do that? We find that the sum total number of hours occupied at that time by 28 speakers was 21½ hours—21½ hours spread over three days on the Second Reading of the entire draft Constitution of which we now, at the moment, are in process of amending but a very small, infinitesimal part. What do we find now? We find 63 speakers on Second Reading of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, having spoken a total of 50 hours, and that with greater methods and means of publicising what is being said from various sides of the House than were then in being, or available to the majority of the people of this country, in 1937. Even those people who cannot read, who through infirmity cannot see have now the general facility of Radio Éireann from which they can get "To-day in the Dáil."

From which you were kicked out.

And which Deputy O'Sullivan, much as he might like it, will never see the inside of.

You never know.

Because, according to himself and his Party, if this goes through they have no future.

The Minister should keep away from Radio Éireann from now on.

This confusion which has been created, and which is continuing to be created, is being created as a smokescreen, as a lot of blatherskite of which we do not lack any amount from the Opposition, both here in this debate and in the other debate which preceded it. As I have said, we find here 50 hours occupied by 63 speakers, spread over nine days of the time of this House, talking on the Second Reading of an amendment of but a small part of the Constitution, while this same draft Constitution went through the House, on Second Reading, with only 28 speakers speaking, I think, a total of 21½ hours, though now there is the added facility of Radio Éireann to give accounts to those who cannot read, through infirmity or illiteracy, of the discussions here. They have the benefit of the radio now to give them reports of the Dáil debates, and yet we are being told that we are rushing this matter through, so that the people will not know what this matter is about, in order that we will be able to have it passed through in spite of the people's wishes.

I want to say one thing to the Leader of the Opposition who has made that kind of nonsensical charge here to-night. If anything stands in relation to this matter at the moment it is this: If we as a Government go to the people and put in a referendum that we want a change, and if we do not give them sufficient knowledge of what that change is going to be, is it not our view that is going to suffer in the ballot paper? Are the people not likely to adopt the old maxim that the devil you know is better than the devil you do not know, and so will not vote for the change? Surely anybody will agree that if we are misleading the people, by blinding them to the issue involved, by not giving them a proper conception of the matter, we, as sponsors of this amendment of the Constitution will jeopardise our chances, and enhance the chances of members of the Opposition who are totally and entirely out against it? That, to my mind, is the most eloquent proof that can be given that what we do and propose here is not done in any spirit of trying to blind anybody. We are doing this because we feel it is proper that it should be done, and because we feel that this is the proper time to do it.

We are not hiding behind any subterfuge, as has been alleged by many speakers, both to-night and on other occasions. We are being asked by the Leader of the Opposition: why hurry this matter? I say we are not hurrying it and have not hurried it. It has been in the hands of the Deputies of this House for weeks. It is a simple, straightforward amendment we are now discussing, and the Leader of the Opposition and the other speakers on that side cannot submit that they have not had time to study and understand this amendment. That is particularly true in regard to the Leader of the Opposition. Of all people he does understand it. He has had time to read it and to appreciate fully what it contains but, nevertheless and despite that, he came along here, as did the other Opposition speakers who followed him, with the story that it is hurried, that it is not understood, that it is a move on Fianna Fáil's part to get this measure through the people while they do not know anything about it.

It is asked why should we do this, why should we introduce the Referendum (Amendment) Bill in 1958, why did we not find it necessary in 1946, and why did we not write it into the Act of 1942. I think a very fair answer to that is that we had not the experience, or had not come up against the practical difficulty that we are now confronted with as a consequence of the introduction of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. It was only when that Bill was introduced that we found ourselves confronted with the difficulty and the absurd condition, under the law, of having a ballot paper of 16 typescript pages, in two languages, in order to conform with something that seemed to be all right in 1942 but, in practice, is not all right.

Change the law.

Furthermore, I should like to say that Deputy O'Sullivan, that brilliant little coming gentleman in the Fine Gael front rank, talked in scathing terms and in a sneering way about Fianna Fáil now having to amend their own Act. I see nothing to sneer at in any Party amending an Act which they themselves were responsible for if they find that it does not suit.

If they see it is not suitable——

Change the law.

Will the President-elect please allow me to continue? As I said, if they find on any occasion that what they have done was not suitable, and if they find that it was wrong, then surely there is nothing to be sneered at if that Party admits they were wrong in their concept and desire to change it? That is what is being done here and nothing that Deputy O'Sullivan or anybody else can say can take away from the innate honesty displayed in that type of operation.

I might also point out that it is a reflection on the then Opposition, who were composed mainly of the present Opposition, or their successors in those Parties, that they had not operated successfully as an Opposition because they did not find the flaws which we have found ourselves. They have been falling down on their job in this Parliament over the years. Now the Opposition comes along and complains because we have got to operate not only as the Government but also as the Opposition.

That is what you are hoping for.

You seem to be fearing it rather than that we are hoping for it. We had some people saying that we were mutilating the Constitution by this amendment, this boasted Constitution as somebody put it, this Constitution which we are now celebrating by bringing out a stamp to commemorate the anniversary of the introduction and enactment of that Constitution.

Does anyone remember what was thought about that Constitution, which is now being referred to as a boasted Constitution, by the people who are talking as if we were trampling it underfoot? Surely some of the members opposite will recall that at the time of the introduction and the passage of that draft Constitution in this House it was jeered at and sneered at by the present Leader of the Opposition? It was not regarded as a Constitution at all and he so stated that in this House at the time.

Yet we have him and other Opposition speakers weeping and moaning because they say that we in Fianna Fáil are now mutilating the very Constitution which the Leader of the Opposition said was scarcely a Constitution at all back in 1937, when it was before the House. It is obvious that he cannot have it both ways. He cannot condemn the Constitution and at the same time try to uphold it. It is alleged here, of course, that the matter contained in the amendment could be attended to in a very simple manner. The simple manner we find is, apparently, by accepting the amendment tabled by the Fine Gael Party.

I just want to say that if that amendment was accepted it would not mean, as has been said here and as could be implied from what was said, that we could have on the ballot paper a simple statement. That has been suggested by a number of Deputies opposite. By accepting this amendment, as suggested by the Fine Gael Party, all we would do is leave things as they are, which is the situation that confronted my Department and myself when we came to look at this matter. We found that because of the situation as now contained in sub-section (5), Section 15 of the Referendum Act of 1942, we would be compelled to include in any ballot paper we might issue all that is contained, literally word for word and line for line, in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill which is before the House at present. We would have to put it all in and it was because we saw the absolute impossibility and the nonsense of trying to include that, and of expecting the voter to go in and read it all and having read it turn around and make up his mind presuming he could understand its full implications —which many Deputies say the ordinary voter could not be expected to do —that the Referendum Amendment Bill was brought before the House and is being discussed at this moment.

As I said, the amendment proposed by the Fine Gael Party to delete all words and to leave things as they stand, would not get us out of that difficulty. In fact, no real solution has been proposed by the members of the Opposition. Their solution is not a solution at all. It only leaves us in the dilemma in which we found ourselves in my Department when we came to examine the type of ballot paper that would have to carry the entire wording of the Third Amendment Bill now before the House.

I say to the Opposition, if you have a sensible and reasonable proposal would you please put it up because you have not put up one on this amendment, nor has any speaker made any real effort to do so?

The Minister was told to throw it out.

I think the Deputy should go home.

I should.

If in the minds of the Deputies opposite there are any ideas of how we should get over this matter, and if those are any way reasonable at all, I would be glad to accept them. I can certainly promise one thing, and that is that I will be glad to consider them fully and conclusively. It has been my difficulty, and that of my Department, to get over the situation which arises from sub-section (5), Section 15 of the 1942 Act as it now stands. Anything that has been suggested here does not, in fact, help us. It leaves us back where we were before we brought this Bill before the House. If you have anything worth while do bring it forward and forget this amendment which will not in effect alter anything but leave us in the same dilemma in which we found ourselves before.

There is another matter in this Bill to which exception has been taken. The last query addressed to me by Deputy Coogan was why we did not stick to an alphabetical order. I think I heard the same query from another speaker.

Deputy T.F. O'Higgins.

Very good. The point was made that "yes" should come after "no" and "Tá" should come after "Níl", that therefore this was a trick and therefore this Bill was introduced. Furthermore, it was suggested that we are wrong in putting on the proposed ballot paper, "Do you approve?" rather than, "Do you approve or disapprove?", or some such form. In fact, Article 47 of the Constitution so far as I can see, dictates that the question must be answered in a positive way, when it is a question put to the people in a referendum. They must approve rather than turn down something by disapproving. Article 47 lays that down.

Would the Minister then explain the Schedule to the Referendum Act of 1942?

I am afraid that is not what I am here for at the moment——

——but if there is something the Deputy wishes to have clarified or if the Deputy feels we can do something about it——

I was only trying to assist the Minister so that he would not make a blunder here.

Considering what I have heard the Deputy say here to-night, he will pardon me if I doubted that that was his intention, although I accept his word for it now that he was trying to be helpful.

Would the Minister quote Article 47 on which he bases that statement?

Article 47 is headed "The Referendum" and says:—

"Every proposal for an amendment of this Constitution which is submitted by referendum to the decision of the people shall, for the purpose of Article 46 of this Constitution, be held to have been approved by the people, if, upon having been so submitted, a majority of the votes cast at such referendum shall have been cast in favour of its enactment into law."

Is that the "if" upon which the Minister bases his statement?

It is just one of a number of reasons why it should be put in that way.

It would be almost worth while asking the Minister to read it out again.

Would the Deputy please allow me to speak as I allowed him to speak?

Surely the Minister, in what he has said, is talking nonsense——

Of course there is another reason why the question should be put in that way. I admit it was found difficult to find words in both languages that would give us the answers "Yes" or "No" and to give a true translation in a bilingual ballot paper of what is being presented for the first time. That was one of the reasons why we found we had to put the matter in this way—so that we could get a true or nearly true translation in both languages that could be easily understood, whether "Yes" or "No" or "Tá" or "Níl". That is another explanation I would suggest to some Deputies who may not readily subscribe to my view of Article 47 as to why this has been done in the way it has been done.

I would ask the Opposition: Is there any way we could put it that they would not have disagreed with? Is there any way in which the statement of the subject-matter of the third amendment of the Constitution could be put on the ballot paper, or a synopsis of that enactment? Is there any form of words which could be put on the ballot paper that the members of the Opposition would not take advantage of to show by misrepresentation that we were, in fact, trying to hoodwink somebody or other outside this House?

What about the simple question: Do you approve of P.R.?

They could not translate it into Irish, the Minister said.

No, that is not quite the point. Apparently there were a number of considerations involved. It has been suggested that three questions would need to be answered. It has been said here in all seriousness that it was quite a simple matter to put on the ballot paper three questions requiring an answer of the same type in order that this matter might be solved intelligently——

Not necessarily.

Would the Minister not be allowed to make his speech?

Here we find the brains of the Opposition on the Front Benches trying the tricks of the legal trade——

That is not so.

——by asking flimsy questions, trick questions. I heard it said here to-night that we were asking the question: "Do you approve or disapprove?" and that it was rather like the type of question: "Is it raining or not raining outside?" and the consequences——

Is that another defect in the Referendum Article?

It is a defect in the presentation of the facts by the Opposition, who want to misrepresent the situation so that nobody can understand it. Having failed miserably on the Second Reading on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, this opportunity is being taken to try to add to the confusion that they tried to create in the past.

It has also been suggested that we should run this referendum vote in the same way as a general election and we have been asked why we cannot allow the presiding officer to explain the issue to an illiterate or incapacitated voter who cannot mark his own paper. It has been suggested that we could give the presiding officer the same discretion as he has in regard to general elections. What discretion has a presiding officer in a general election? One finds 17, 16, 14 or ten names on a ballot paper and a voter comes in and does not know which person or what number of persons he is going to vote for. He says he wants his paper marked. That is usually what he says. He does not go up and say: "I do not understand the ballot paper." The only information he is supplied with, by the presiding officer, and the only information that the presiding officer is entitled to supply, is to read the list of names, whether it be five or 25, one after the other, just the names only. He may not tell the voter who, for one reason or another, cannot mark his own paper, what Party a man belongs to, where he comes from, who his father was or his mother, what policy he stands for or what he did during his last term of office or whether it was his first time up or anything else.

Yet, it is suggested here that something is enjoyed by the electorate in a general election that will not be enjoyed in this case. Surely that is rather "daft" thinking and it is rather "daft" to suggest that in a general election illiterate or incapacitated voters are fully conversant with the issues when they have heard from ten to 17 names read out to them, that they are then fully satisfied in their minds as to the people they will vote for. Everybody knows that is not so. Everybody knows such a man may go out as he came in, having forgotten the name of the man he came to vote for and not having had it recalled by the reading of the list of candidates. Very often he may not be able to vote at all. On the other hand, if the reading of the list does recall the name, he indicates that name and has the vote recorded.

Surely in view of all the time that has been spent discussing the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill and the time that has yet to be spent and will be spent on the Committee Stage and later when the Bill goes through the Seanad, does anybody seriously suggest that the people of the country are so dumb that they will not know what is involved and what will be presented to them in this referendum? Are the Opposition taking the line taken on another occasion by the present Leader of the Opposition? When Deputy Costello talked of the electorate, in regard to their intelligence or their lack of intelligence, he said, as reported in the Official Debates on the Draft Constitution, Volume 67, column 295:—

"Ninety-nine per cent. of the people of the country at the moment do not know there is such a thing as a Constitution being enacted in this House, and do not care, and 90 per cent. of them do not know what a Constitution is."

Is that still the mentality of the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit behind him, that the people are so ignorant that they do not know what a Constitution means and that, anyhow, as high a proportion of them as 90 per cent. do not care a thing about it? Are we still being faced with the belief that that is the position in the country? Certainly, listening to the moaning and groaning here to-night by various speakers, it would appear as if the Opposition views have not changed since 1937, that they still believe that the electorate are completely and absolutely ignorant, illiterate and without any knowledge or care as to what is going on. We in this Party and the Government know differently and we believe differently; and possibly that is the reason why we have kept the position on these benches for so many of the years since the State was set up.

Let no one make any mistake about it. The Irish people have very keen sense of what is going on in the political world in their own country. They have a pretty keen sense, indeed, and I think it would be pretty true to say that there are no more ardent politicians in their own way in any country than there are to be found in this country. Our people take a keen interest in all things political and I can assure the House they are taking a very keen interest in this matter.

The unemployed are not.

The throwing of dust in their eyes, as Deputy Coogan has tried to do just now, is not going to blind them to the issue. They will go to the polls to do their duty as they have done on many occasions before and we on this side of the House are quite satisfied to leave it to their good judgment, discretion and intelligence, without trying in any way to confuse them as the Opposition have tried to confuse them; and when the result is known we will abide by it.

You will have to; it is no thanks to you.

It certainly may not be any thanks to the Deputy either— when he is finished.

You will have to abide by the result.

We will be relieved of some of those we have here now amongst us.

The Minister's whispered threats will not avail.

Down on Dún Laoghaire pier we know what the emigrants think.

Was the Deputy down the pier to-night?

I was down many a night, and I would like it if the Minister were there, too.

Which pier? There is not much point in my trying to make things clear to the people who wish to create confusion where none exists. We are abused by the Deputies opposite, we are alleged to be perpetrating tricks of all kinds on the electorate, we are alleged to be trying to confuse the electorate. All sorts of suggestions are being made that our ideas in bringing these matters forward are not on the level.

I do not think that anything I or anybody else could say would really be necessary, because when it comes to the test the people themselves will be the final judges as to who is confusing whom and they will find out that we on this side, as has been our custom down through the years, are not trying to confuse them now.

In so far as the Referendum (Amendment) Bill is concerned, all I can do is repeat now that if any Deputies in the Opposition, despite their efforts to confuse the issue, have any ideas which would be of a helpful nature, to make more clear the situation as we now see it, I shall be glad to consider them in full. I shall consider their suggestions, whether made as amendments on the next stage of the Bill or submitted in any other way between now and the Committee Stage. I shall be glad to look into them and if I find a way out of the difficulties we have encountered no one will be more glad than I that we shall have found something acceptable to all concerned.

I would suggest that the amendment which is tabled here is one which does not remedy the situation, even if it were agreed to—and, of course, I have no intention of intimating that we are in agreement with it. It is of no value whatsoever and, therefore, I suggest that we could not adopt it. It would not give us the benefits which those in opposition seem to think it would give.

May I ask the Minister a question?

There is very little time.

Since the debate commenced, has the Minister considered the question of sending to each elector a precis of the proposals, as a type of White Paper?

Before the debate commenced, I gave that a great deal of thought and I am still open to consider further that or any other suggestion.

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted stand"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; Níl, 51.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • 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.
  • Donegan, Batt.
  • Dooley, Patrick.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Faulkner, Padraig.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Galvin, John.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Griffin, James.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Medlar, Martin.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Moloney, Daniel J.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Toole, James.
  • Russell, George E.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Burke, James.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Hogan, Bridget.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lindsay, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • 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.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies O'Sullivan and Crotty.
Question declared carried.
Main motion put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; Níl, 51.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • 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, Earnon.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Donegan, Batt.
  • Dooley, Patrick.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Faulkner, Padraig.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Galvin, John.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Griffin, James.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Medlar, Martin.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Moloney, Daniel J.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Toole, James.
  • Russell, George E.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Burke, James.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Hogan, Bridget.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lindsay, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • 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, Earnonn.
  • Sherwin, Frank.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies Crotty and O'Sullivan.
Question declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 20th January, 1959.