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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Jan 1959

Vol. 172 No. 6

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

Tairgeadh an cheist arís: "I gCodanna I agus II, go bhfanfaidh fo-alt (2) mar chuid den Sceideal."
Question again proposed: "That in Parts I and II, sub-section (2) stand part of the Schedule."

I had just opened my remarks when the Dáil adjourned on Thursday last and was about to reply to what Deputy Costello had said. The discussion on this section relates to the single transferable vote and I pointed out that the single transferable vote type of P.R. was the type of P.R. to which Deputy Costello expressed most objection in 1937. I quoted him to that effect.

Deputy Larkin preceded Deputy Costello and, in the course of his speech, objected most strenuously to the idea that Parties should unite before an election and tell the people if they intended to form a Coalition after the election. For six years, from 1948 to 1951 and from 1954 to 1957, we had to listen to Deputy Mulcahy, Deputy Costello, Deputy Norton and others, praising the system of Coalition, saying how united they were, what an intellectual treat it was for Deputy Costello to discuss matters with members of the other Parties represented in the Government, with Deputy Norton, Deputy Everett, Deputy Blowick and all the other Deputies who became Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries in the Coalition Governments.

Why had unity between these Parties suddenly become so obnoxious? If they are prepared to unite after an election and form a Government and advocate that Fianna Fáil, instead of turning their backs on national unity, should join with them and form an all-Party national Government, why have they now got an objection to uniting at least half, or nearly half, the people before an election, so that they can decide on a policy, put it before the people and get a decision taken that could be made effective by a Government? Why do they now suddenly turn their backs on the road to unity and favour division?

They want every section of the community, not only to have the right to put up candidates, and to advocate their policy during an election but they claim that they want them to be represented here, but if they carry that to its logical conclusion, the right thing for them to advocate here is not the three-or five-member constituency, not the transferable vote, not the single member constituency, but the transferable vote in one constituency for the whole State. Why should they be content merely with giving an opportunity of being represented here to people who got only 10 per cent. or 12 per cent. of the first preference votes in a constituency? Why not go the whole hog and say that anyone who gets on the first preference, or on the first preferences and the other preferences, 1/147th or 1/148th of the people to support him should be elected to this House?

They themselves put a limit on the size of the vote a Deputy should get in order to be elected here. None of them has advocated the system that has been proposed, and indeed operated in some countries, of the whole of the State forming one constituency and allowing every Party that wants to put up a candidate to do so. In those circumstances, anyone who got 1/148th of the votes either on the first preferences or the second, third, fourth or 145th preference, if they added up to 1/148th of the votes, would get the seat. They themselves are putting a limit on the minority groups that could be represented. There is a limit in their minds and they have clearly shown it is a limit.

I want to put this to the Labour Party and to others who are in favour of keeping to the transferable vote of the P.R. system: what objection is there to Parties that are prepared to unite after an election disclosing that fact to the people before an election? If they want to form a Coalition which can only carry out one policy, why do they want to put six, seven, 20 or 30 different policies to the people and, when elected, get together and go through all the intrigue that ex-Deputy Larkin described in order to form a Coalition Government and get that Coalition Government to agree to some proposal or other?

Do they want to be in the position again in which the candidates, say in the election of 1948, were? When they were elected, they came here—I shall quote some of them—and formed a Coalition Government. The Leader of one of the small Parties, on 3rd January at Castlebar, as reported in the Connaught Telegraph said:

"When we went in there as a Farmers' Party, the only real farmers' organisation at present in the Dáil, we had to overcome a nasty odour as three other previous Parties had joined with Fine Gael and many people thought it would only be a matter of time until we would lose our identity and independence. I can tell you that the strict attitude of the independence which was adopted at the beginning still stands, that there will be no merging with any Party. We have no right to sell that independence. We never asked your authority to do so and we are not asking now for that authority."

The same gentleman, on 1st October, 1947, as reported in the Fermanagh Herald, said:

"Whilst he remained Leader of the Party it would veer neither to the left nor the right and would continue to refuse to be drawn into a Coalition with Fine Gael or any other Party in the Dáil."

Is it for the purpose of having that sort of speech made by people who intend to coalesce that the transferable vote is required? It will enable them to do so.

The same gentleman, as reported in the Mayo News, said at Castlebar on 24th January, 1940:

"Neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael had the interest of rural Ireland at heart...Clann na Talmhan never asked for a mandate to join with any Party and they believed in holding their identity and in being independent."

And the Minister's answer is to destroy their voting power.

Is it to enable Clann na Talmhan to say to the country that they will never join with Fine Gael, that they will never join with Labour, that they will not have a Coalition and, gathering votes on that policy, get in to form a Coalition, that the single transferable vote is required?

We got them in spite of you and we will get them again in spite of you.

Another gentleman of the same Party I have quoted said, as reported in the Connaught Telegraph of 10th January, 1948:

"Now let us take Fine Gael. One does not speak harshly of the dead or dying.... Their record was never good and even now it is becoming worse. After that comes the Labour Party. Here is a Party whose lack of leadership and organising ability is something on the verge of suicide.... Let us examine the half-dozen or so Independents...who forever remain the arch-enemy of the Irish people."

We take it that he went on to examine them for the purpose of saying they would never coalesce with them, they would keep independent of these. Is it for the purpose of having that type of speech made by a half-dozen or a dozen different Parties that Fine Gael, in spite of what Deputy Costello said, in spite of what we know from his words to be his real opinion, want the single transferable vote carried on?

Will the Minister give the reference?

I have already done so.

It is entirely out of order.

"It would be unwise"— said another gentleman from another Party that has since been in this House—

"to allow the Government of the country into the hands of such an inexperienced body of young men"

—the Clann na Poblachta Party. The reference there is the daily Press of 14th January, 1948. But Fine Gael did give the power of veto to the Party which they denounced at the election. They joined with them. In spite of what Fine Gael had promised during the previous by-election and announced as their policy, they completely reversed their policy in regard to one major issue in order to yield to the veto of this Party that was so denounced by their candidates. Is that the type of thing they want to go on with? Is that why they want the transferable vote; although Deputy Costello pointed out its weaknesses so clearly?

One candidate for the Labour Party speaking at Dún Laoghaire on 15th January, 1948, said Fianna Fáil would not get an overall majority and in this eventuality the Labour Party would not go into a Coalition but they did. Immediately they got the votes on not going into a Coalition, they went into a Coalition. What was the result of the Coalition thus formed, in spite of all the promises made by the various sections that they would not form a Coalition? The first thing that was done——

On a point of order, before the Minister continues, will it be made clear from the Chair that, if the Minister arrogates to himself the right to discuss the results of the policy of different Governments, other Deputies will be entitled to do the same? I am asking that question at this stage because the Minister introduced his sentence by saying words to the effect: "Now, let us see the results of the Government thus formed."

From a constitutional point of view, yes.

I want to make it clear that a number of things might be said from this side of the House relating to the failure of the present Government to do anything about unemployment and the economic situation which, I suggest, we are entitled to discuss, if the Minister is allowed to continue along those lines.

The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot give a ruling in advance.

Can we understand from that that the Minister is in order at the moment?

One of the first results of the coming together of the Coalition of 1948——

——was to take off the taxes you put on in 1947.

——was that the Taoiseach-designate abrogated his constitutional rights and responsibility to decide when he would have a general election if he had a majority.

You mean what ex-Deputy Cowan told us Deputy de Valera did.

That is not so.

I do not care what anybody said: I know what I said.

We do not have to rely on the word of a single individual for this. It was published that Deputy Costello had so abrogated his right.

Produce the publication.

Does the Deputy deny it?

Good. We will get the Dáil Debates.

Get the Mayo News.

Until the Minister produces it, I suggest he is not entitled to continue on that line.

I shall leave it and come back to it. I can speak three times. I am delighted to get the Deputy's denial at this stage.

I have denied it before and I shall deny it again, too.

The next thing in the Coalition—as Deputy Norton so well remembers and as the then Deputy James Larkin so succinctly described —was that Fine Gael used every opportunity that came not only in the open light of day but in the dark of night, and next time he promised the people that they would know better, but they did not know any better or, at least, if they knew better, they did not act any better because they joined again, letting Fine Gael use every opportunity not only in the open light of day but in the dark of night.

I have asked the Labour Party many times during the course of this debate if, the next time—the third time—they will know any better. I put it to them that it is only fair to the people whose votes they got that they should let them know whether they are going to know any better next time or not. They should not go around making speeches such as those I have quoted, against all the policies except their own, denying they were going to have any Coalition, saying that next time they would know better, in order to get votes to put them in a position to get the Departments of Government under their control.

One of the other things that happened from the constitutional point of view was the complete collapse of collective responsibility. Under the Coalitions, the various Departments became independent principalities and the Taoiseach leading the Coalition had no power to get rid of the "Baron of Baltinglass" no matter how much he disagreed with what he was implementing in his Department.

He was not a dictator.

According to the Constitution, on the Taoiseach is the responsibility and the duty of selecting the men to run the Departments and, if he does not approve of their policy, to fire them. On the Taoiseach is the responsibility, placed there by the people when they enacted the Constitution, to take his own decision on the question as to when there is to be an election, if he has a majority.

Has he power to nominate a successor?

Then the Minister is out.

I may be out. Fianna Fáil will decide that, not the Labour Party.

Could the Minister tell us whether he is still in the running?

In this debate, we are discussing an issue that is much more important for the Irish people, that is, whatever Government comes in here, how it will be run in future, whether the people will have power to decide between two or as near two as possible practical policies. My firm belief is that if the people do not use the opportunity they are getting on this occasion to adopt a system of election——

The British system.

The American system.

The Six-County system.

——that will make for the cohesion of the Irish people as against a system that was imposed upon us for the purpose of dividing them up and keeping them divided, then we will not make the progress in the future we should make as a nation. There are people who have been examining this matter objectively across the Atlantic Ocean and looking at Europe. What they say about the system of P.R. is in line with what I have been saying, what the Taoiseach has been saying and——

Lord Craigavon has been saying.

——what Deputy Costello was saying on other occasions. The editor of the New York Times of 11th November, 1948, in an article entitled “A Warning to Germany,” said:

"Following the first armistice, Germany adopted what it considered to be the most advanced Government in the world modelled after the continental parliamentary system as exemplified in France and boasting of the latest electoral gadgets of the perfectionists. This served the ambitions of professional politicians, but it atomised the electorate into more than a score of Parties, deadlocked Parliament, paralysed the Coalition Governments and so disgusted the people that it killed off democracy by its very complexity and enabled a dictator to ride to power....

P.R., especially of the British type favoured in the United States, may be innocuous in local affairs or in countries not rent by grave decisions among the people."

On a point of order, surely the Minister realises that sub-section (1) of the Schedule dealt with P.R. but we have left that now and we are not dealing with the question of P.R. The Minister has spoken for the best part of an hour on a subject-matter which I submit to you is entirely irrelevant to the sub-section we are supposed to be discussing.

I am speaking about——

On a further point of order, perhaps the Minister would do the Chair the courtesy of allowing the Chair to speak.

The Chair did not offer to speak. The Chair recognises that these are disorderly interruptions, for the purpose of creating confusion.

I submitted a point of order which I think I am entitled to have ruled on by the Chair and not by the Minister for External Affairs.

The Deputy is quite right. P.R. was dealt with on sub-section (1) and what is being dealt with now is sub-section (2), which is perfectly clear in its terms, namely:—

"The members shall be elected on the system of the single non-transferable vote, the candidate in a constituency who receives the largest number of votes being elected, but provision may be made by law for determining who is to be elected where there is no such candidate because two or more candidates receive the same number of votes."

P.R., per se, does not, of course, fall for discussion on this sub-section.

This sub-section proposes to adopt the straight vote system, the candidate in the constituency receiving the largest number of votes being elected. As against that system, there are a number of what the New York Times, in this article I am quoting, calls “the latest electoral gadgets of the perfectionists”. One of them has been advocated here, that we should have the single transferable vote system in single member constituencies from this time forth. The New York Times points out in relation to this system:—

"...even in the United States it has produced more inequalities than it has remedied, and might have proved paralysing had it been applied on a national scale in the last election. It has so proved itself in European countries split by fundamental ideological differences and unaccustomed to compromise and the democratic give-and-take. No element is more aware of this than the Communists, who, in places where they do not yet dominate, urge representation not only for political Parties but also for other ‘democratic'—that is, Communistic front—organisations, until they are ready to suppress all Parties save their own and establish a one-Party state.

For these reasons, echoing what General De Gaulle is preaching in France, Dr. Hans Luther, former Reich Chancellor and ambassador to Washington, pleaded with the Bonn Convention to drop this fatal system and adopt the simple majority system of the United States, which has assured stable government for more than 150 years. Parliamentarism and P.R., he told the delegates, are mutually exclusive and democracy is doomed wherever P.R. exists."

On a point of order, surely this is flouting the ruling of the Chair?

I take it that the Minister is discussing the single transferable vote.

He is reading a newspaper.

I do not see how anyone can take that out of what the Minister is reading.

Dr. Hans Luther, who saw Hitler come into power——

It is dangerous to let you abroad.

——under the perfectionism which has been advocated here——

There is a perfectionist sitting on your right.

——warned his countrymen to drop this fatal system and adopt the simple majority system which we are advocating, the simple majority system of the United States which has assured them stable government for more than 150 years. That was ten years ago, so that the period for which the simple majority system, which we propose, has assured stable government in that great country is 160 years.

Beannacht Dé le h-anamnacha na marbh.

Agus go dtabharfaidh Sé ciall do na daoine atá beo. There is a very clear cut decision to be taken by the people on the day of the referendum. We want to put it to them clearly whether they are prepared to adopt that simple straight majority system or whether they wish to go in for some of the electoral gadgets that the Opposition Parties— some of them—are now proposing.

Having, to the best of their power, by their vote on sub-section (1), wiped out the multi-member constituency, the Government now, by pressing sub-section (2), seek to wipe out the single transferable vote. I should like to address myself, through you, Sir, to the Taoiseach. When you were here on Thursday last, I complained of the failure on the part of the Government to reply to the specific points being raised. The Minister for External Affairs has gone again to the other ends of the earth. You can take a very queer view of Irish affairs when you are looking across the Atlantic at times, but the decision, the issue proposed here, is a very simple one.

The Taoiseach, in asking us to accept this sub-section, proposes to prevent the vote of a person who does not vote for the leading candidates in the electoral field having any value at all. That is the simple proposal and that proposal has to be considered, not in the light of what anybody is writing in New York papers, German papers or any other papers, but in the light of Irish experience and Irish traditions, of the extent to which these are carried by Irish voices.

We had the Minister for Industry and Commerce rather sneering at the ideas Arthur Griffith had on the subject of P.R.; but I quote him here on what may be applied to the single non-transferable vote. In June, 1912, Arthur Griffith wrote, in relation to what was coming in the Home Rule Bill of 1914:—

"If democracy is to survive as the working principle of government, it can only survive on the admission of the minority to a share in representation with its strength of the Government of the State."

He said that, with the single straight vote, as they call it, even with the extended franchise of giving the vote to women, if the straight form of the single non-transferable vote was to remain in the Home Rule Bill, it was but to increase the power of the boss and to decrease the liberty of the individual "unless the electoral system is reformed on the system of one vote, one value".

I asked the Minister for Defence why he could not simplify his mind for a moment, and consider how a county council goes through the process of electing a rate collector. If there are seven candidates for one position——

Having seven different policies, to complete the illustration.

——a vote is taken and a person who is completely out of the running is eliminated. That process is continued until you get to the last pair and, when that position is reached, every man on the council who wants to vote has a vote in the deciding issue. An attempt is being made, particularly by the Minister for Health, to deride that as what he calls "a privileged vote." The person whose first and second choices in the election for a rate collectorship are defeated has a privileged vote, according to the Minister for Health, if, when it comes to the final vote, his vote has any value at all.

I ask the Taoiseach if he will look at the Louth constituency, to which the Minister for External Affairs has so often referred in his speeches here, and to look at the 1957 polling results. On that occasion, there were two Fianna Fáil, two Fine Gael, one Labour and one Sinn Féin candidates. I want to ask the Taoiseach why he is proposing here a system that will deprive the Labour candidates in Louth, or rather deprive a person who would like to support a Labour candidate in Louth, from giving that candidate his No. 1 vote? Why does he propose to deprive people of their vote if they vote for a person standing in the Sinn Féin or Clann na Poblachta interests? How is it duplication of a vote if, in the process at present in operation, in the case of a candidate who is a minority candidate and who cannot hope to be elected, a person can transfer his vote to the candidate next on the ballot paper, according to his preference, in the same way as a person voting in a county council for a rate collectorship is able to do?

The Minister for External Affairs has been explaining to the Taoiseach, as well as to everybody else, what happened in the past where small Parties considered they had a right to representation here and came in here and then joined in the House. The Minister has explained that one of the outstanding virtues of the proposal here is the bringing about of integration. Will the Minister, or the Taoiseach, explain what integration means? I understood that integration, from the point of view put here, would be taking the representative of the farmers, the representatives of Labour and the representatives of the other sections of the people who consider they have a particular type of interest or a particular aspect of Irish affairs to represent in the Irish Parliament, who would like to come in and represent these views separately while subscribing generally to the main Irish policy, and squeezing them forcibly into one body by some kind of long-drawn-out geological process of rock formation.

Or a Coalition. Did you not integrate them into a Coalition?

It is inside in this House that we want integration and I want to ask the Taoiseach what type of integration it is and where integration takes place, if not in this House? I want the Taoiseach to explain why Louth workers, or Louth Nationalists, say, who want to get away from commitments, from Fianna Fáil, or Fine Gael, and want to go into another national Party, are to be deprived of their voting power. I want to know why they are not to develop their political personality, their political outlook and their political work through the normal political channels—channels which have been established in accordance with the desires and wishes of the people and which have shown themselves capable of working here and capable of making this Parliament an integrating force, whether it is the type of integrating force which in 1933 brought the formation of the Fine Gael Party or the type of integrating force which brought an inter-Party Government into being in 1948 and in 1951.

Why is the Taoiseach proposing that if people want to support Labour in Louth at present, they are to be deprived of their vote? Why if they want to develop a national movement other than Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, are they to be deprived of their votes? Why, if four candidates go up there and if one gets 5,000 votes, another 4,000, a third 3,000 and a fourth, 2,000 should the 5,000 vote person be declared elected in a constituency where 14,000 people have exercised their rights of franchise?

The Minister for Health has endeavoured to put it over on the people that in a case such as the Louth case I spoke of, where a man votes for Labour and then transfers his votes to Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, as the case may be, that is a privileged franchise. Why is it regarded as giving additional votes to a section of the people who are entitled to be accommodated in that way? I want to ask the Taoiseach to tell us why it is a privileged franchise when a person votes for number one and then transfers to number two and number three. Is he aware that this is the approach of the Minister for Health to the electorate who would support minority Parties and other characters who would go up as representatives for minorities Parties—I propose to quote from the Irish Times, but I am quite sure the Minister for Health is fairly well reflected in the Irish Press as well. Speaking at Longford on Sunday last, he talked about the intelligent voter and went on to say:—

"In contrast with this intelligent voter, there stands the crank whose first vote is cast for the crackpot candidate who appeals to him most. Out goes the crackpot on the first elimination; but the crank voter is still at the firing line with his second chance, his second vote, his second preference. We may be almost certain that this second preference will be given to another candidate whose appeal to the intelligent electorate is almost as insignificant as was the crank's first choice. So out again goes the second favourite. Our crank, however, if he has marked more than two preferences on the ballot paper has a third chance, and indeed if he continues to vote for candidates who in being unacceptable to any appreciable number of fellow citizens, resemble his first, may continue to vote until all seats are filled."

In the case of Louth, when speaking here before, I have indicated that in the last four elections, Louth has been represented as follows: in 1948, by one Fine Gael, one Labour and one Fianna Fáil Deputy; in 1951, by two Fianna Fáil Deputies and one Fine Gael; in 1954, by one Fianna Fáil and two Fine Gael; and in 1957, by two Fianna Fáil and one Fine Gael. That is the character of the constituency. In one of these elections, the Labour Party succeeded in getting a candidate in. They are still operating in Louth as a political Party, but they are being warned off now, unless they can go into some back room with Fine Gael and divide up their constituencies, in the hope that an arrangement of that kind can, or will be, appreciated by the electorate.

Some of the South Tipperary and North Tipperary Deputies have been intervening in the debate with odd remarks, and I should like them to look at the election returns in respect of the characters and the candidates that have been put up in the last four elections and the policies and interests they represent. I should like them to consider to what extent they range themselves behind the Minister for Health in describing them as crackpots and the people who supported them as cranks.

I should like to ask the Taoiseach to look at the number of votes that ultimately were not transferred. He will see that out of 31,600 votes cast in Louth at the last general election, only 1,300 faded out; all these votes, except 1,300, were completely absorbed in the decision finally taken, which put two Fianna Fáil Deputies and one Fine Gael Deputy in in the constituency.

We are not concerned with what America thinks or what Germany thinks or what Italy thinks, or with how many people will look into the telescope to see what is going to happen. We are looking into the past for traditions and for the objectivity that we have as Irish people. I should like the Taoiseach, in addressing himself to this matter of the single transferable vote, to turn his mind to the proceedings of the first Dáil which have just been republished now and for the first time made available in a handy form for the public. I should like him to recall the day on which he attended here on 11th April and also to look at the Report for 10th of April. Cathal Brugha on that day used these words:—

"Gach déantús a chuirfear ar bun, caithfidh an lucht oibre cuid de'n sochar d'fhághail as maraon le na bpágh.

B'iad an lucht oibre na daoine ba dhílse i gcomhnuidhe. Gheobhaidis cur isteach go mor orainn sa togha deirionnach, dá mba mhaith leo é. Seasóchaimídne le lucht oibre na hÉireann feasta."

He considered that in the 1919 election the representatives of organised Labour could have interfered very much with the decision that was really made at that election by putting up their candidates and by withdrawing votes from the Sinn Féin candidates at that time. The Taoiseach himself followed and on page 78 of the Report of the session of April 12th, he said:

" was quite clear that the democratic programme, as adopted by the Dáil, contemplated a situation somewhat different from that in which they actually found themselves. They had the occupation of the foreigner in their country and while that state of affairs existed, they could not put fully into force their desires and their wishes as far as their social programme was concerned."

I hope the House will realise that having absented himself from the whole of the discussion on Thursday last, the Taoiseach now, on being deliberately addressed and reminded of the words spoken by him in the first Dáil on 12th April on page 78 of the recently published book of the Dáil Debates, deliberately leaves the House——

I just want to say that the Taoiseach had to go on urgent business and that he sat through all that for the past two months.

Very well. If the Minister will undertake to represent the Taoiseach and to answer the question I was putting to the Taoiseach just now, I shall not have to raise it again. I was quoting what the Taoiseach said on 12th April, 1919. The quotation continues:—

"What they had got to do was to consult organised Labour and they had actually formed a special session of their Cabinet to deal with that. When they had got the views of organised Labour they had got to examine more closely the conditions under which the people lived and they had got to examine the question carefully in a way it had never been examined before, with a view to definite remedies that were immediately within their power. He had never made any promise to Labour, because, while the enemy was within their gates, the immediate question was to get possession of their country."

He went on:—

"They could, however, offer the fullest and closest co-operation with Labour."

And so on.

What was offered to Labour and to the farmers and to every section of the people was that the Irish Parliament that was built up by them on every section of the people would reflect every section of the people and do so through its representatives in order to deal more effectively with the whole work of the people.

Again, I ask the Taoiseach in the light of Cathal Brugha's remarks and his own remarks, are we to understand that Labour was to be looked after socially and economically, but that it was to be kept in its place politically ? Are we to understand that various organised interests on the farming side or any other side were to be kept in their places, or were they to get freedom of entry to this House in accordance with the Constitution which gives the right to any citizen to become a member of the Dáil and which gives the right to every citizen to have a vote of equal power with every other to put representatives into the Dáil?

Let us forget New York and the other places and let us answer the questions: Why in Louth, or in any other constituency—I am taking Louth because the Minister for External Affairs has come into the open with the solution for Louth—is it that nobody but Fianna Fáil should be allowed to put up representatives in all constituencies? And why, if other Parties do not come together and study what is happening under the thimbles throughout the constituencies, is it so much the worse for them? If they appear to be different from one another in any way, to be different in such a way that they would wish to claim equal rights or to have as much right, the one as the other, to put representatives into Parliament, so much the worse for them because the first horse past the post, even though it would almost certainly be a minority horse, is to be given power of government.

You want to keep it under the thimbles until the election is over?

I want to know why the voting rights of men or women will be taken from them because they do not wish to vote in accordance with Fianna Fáil policy for Fianna Fáil, or for Fianna Fáil policy which is that they should turn the Parliament of the Irish people into a place where two massed groups would sit facing each other in opposition on Irish affairs and policy generally.

We are a homogeneous people with a homogeneous policy and a tradition of unity and strength arising out of that unity. This Parliament was set up here to bring representatives of all our people into it, to find inside Parliament all the means open to parliamentary institutions to promote unity at the centre of our strength. It is because of that we ask the Government who are proposing to make these changes not to tell us what is written in New York papers or what happened here, there and elsewhere in Europe, but to look at what happened in our own country and what is happening here to-day. Let them look at our history and traditions and tell us, in the light of these, why they are going to take the votes completely away from the people who do not stand for a policy of having this House divided into two separate or two massed factions, struggling with each other to be the group that will have power over the people. My remarks are addressed to the Taoiseach.

The Minister for External Affairs——

Sir, I have made three attempts to speak.

I am not picking out anybody. I am endeavouring to interlard the Parties.

——I think, without knowing it—has been quite unfair to the Taoiseach in his quotation from that new-found friend of his in New York who wrote in 1948 on the subject of P.R. from his chair in that great city. Of course, anybody except, perhaps, the Minister for External Affairs, would have seen that what he wrote is completely inapposite here and has no relation whatever to the circumstances which operate here to-day. The gentleman on that occasion talked about P.R. in countries where a score of political Parties existed because of P.R., but, unfortunately for the Minister for External Affairs, in this country to-day, we have not scores of political Parties.

If a membership of four is taken as qualifying for the description of Party —I take that merely for argument's sake—there are three Parties here to-day, whereas, in 1923, 36 years ago, there were four Parties which fulfilled that condition. Although these were indisputable facts, somebody pushes into the hands of the Minister for External Affairs a musty old document of the kind he quoted and so hard up are the Minister and the Government for arguments to justify this fraudulent Bill that even that musty old document, inapposite and irrelevant as it is, is pressed into service here in order to try to delude the people that their interests will be served by voting for this Bill.

The Minister went on to quote his New York friend about electoral gadgets and said, in effect, that P.R. contained a number of electoral gadgets. Notwithstanding the belief of the Minister for External Affairs, that is, the second-hand belief of the Minister for External Affairs, borrowing from the mind of his great philosopher from New York, that P.R. contains electoral gadgets, the Taoiseach, in 1927, said of this scheme of "electoral gadgets," to quote the Minister for External Affairs, that he would never say that minorities should be denied representation and that if the object of those who advised the abolition of P.R. was to wipe out minority representation, they would get no support from him. That was the view of the Taoiseach on electoral gadgets in 1927.

When the Taoiseach was ten years older, in 1937, he said of P.R.:—

"I think we get probably in this country more than in any other country better balanced results from the system we have. If you take the countries where P.R. exists, you get better balanced results than you get in other countries. I think we get the benefits of P.R. in reasonably balanced legislation here better than in any other country that I have read about or know about."

That was the view of the Taoiseach of what the Minister's friend calls electoral gadgets.

When the Taoiseach gave the country the benefit of those views, he was expressing a view which represents a modern thought on the whole question of parliamentary government which, as Deputy Mulcahy has said, is for the purpose of enabling the electorate, that is, the citizens, to be represented on the floor of this House in proportion to their electoral strength. A scheme of that kind, of course, interferes with the ambitions of the Fianna Fáil Party and, of course, anything that crowds their way to power and strength has to be smashed and squashed. In all this matter, the Government have selected an unsound and unwise philosopher, if I may use that paradox, to advise the Irish people as to what they are to do in the matter of parliamentary elections and parliamentary systems of Government.

I remember that during the war years, when we sat in these benches trying to plan to ward off the worst rigours of the economic isolation in which we were placed, everybody regretted that we had not enough ships to take goods to our shores and were, as a result, in the position of a beleaguered nation. Out of all that period of gloom and despair sprang one bright idea. It came from the Minister for External Affairs. In about 1941 or 1942—Deputies remember what the world situation was at that time—when every ship was a floating goldmine and every country in the world wanted to get ships to transport goods to strengthen their economies in the war situation, the Minister jumped on to the burning deck and said: "Look here, lads. It does not matter if all the ships were at the bottom of the sea. So long as we use our brains we can work out a better standard of living for our people."

That does not seem very apposite to the sub-section.

I think I am entitled to question the credibility of the witness who has been brought in here for the purpose of making the case for the Government.

The Minister is not a witness.

It is not an accurate statement, either.

A man who made a speech of that kind in 1941 has reached the lowest level of economic absurdity ever reached by a human brain. In face of his abysmal ignorance of the simplest economic facts at that time, is it not a bit brazen to throw him in now on a political argument of this kind to give the same quack advice as he gave to the people at that time?

I did not give that advice.

Unquestionably, the Minister gave it and it is on the Dáil records and I shall bring it back before the debate finishes.

And quote what the Labour Party was saying at that time —unless we went on our knees, we could not survive.

Sub-section (2).

The Minister said that if we used our brains, it did not matter if all the ships were at the bottom of the sea.

We got through that time in spite of you.

In spite of us?

Yes—in spite of you.

All your ullogóning that we could not get going unless we went on our knees.

The Deputy wanted us to go on our knees.

We might have been better were it not for the Minister's ignorant prancing around America.

All this is irrelevant. Sub-section (2) is under discussion.

Deputy Norton obviously does not want to deal with the Bill. He just wants to create a bit of a row, like Deputy Dillon going back to the civil war.

Deputy Norton, on sub-section (2).

We have been advised by the gentleman with this hopeless record of fallibility, by philosophers and prophets, that we should adopt their method of election which, of course, is the British method of election, which is the Six County method of election and it has been adopted here for the same reason as it has been adopted in the Six Counties. I refer to the single non-transferable vote. It was adopted in the Six Counties to keep down to a minimum Nationalist or anti-Partition representation there and in Britain, for the deliberate purpose of keeping out a third Party, the elimination of which the two larger Parties in Britain regard as essential for their benefit.

I want to follow for a minute or two the argument which was made by Deputy Larkin the other day. I have not got the exact figures he used but I shall take somewhat similar figures. Deputy Larkin quoted the case of a constituency in which there were five Parties contesting an election. One Party got 3,000 votes; a second Party 2,000 votes; a third Party 2,000 votes; a fourth Party 1,500 votes and a fifth Party 1,500 votes. That means that the first candidate got 3,000 votes and the other four candidates between them got 7,000 votes. Is it not quite clear from that that seven out of every ten people in that constituency do not want the man who got 3,000 votes to represent them because seven out of every ten, or 70 out of every 100, said: "We do not want you; we will not vote for you". They distributed their votes over four other Parties. Nevertheless, the candidate who got three votes out of every ten, 30 out of 100 or 3,000 out of 10,000, is elected.

It is alleged he represents not merely the 3,000 who voted for him but the 7,000 who voted against him. Will somebody say on what basis it is considered that that is a democratic method of election? In a constituency where 10,000 people voted, the man who gets 3,000 votes is assumed to represent the majority of the people, even though 7,000 people have trudged to the polling booths and said: "We do not want you to represent us." Will some member of the Fianna Fáil Party tell us why that is considered to be a democratic method of election?

Surely the minimum requirement ought to be that before a person can represent a constituency, he ought to have a majority of the votes, but this man is not required to have a majority of the votes. If he gets 3,000 out of 10,000, he can come in here with a minority of votes. There is no reason in the world why he should not be compelled to get a majority before he can claim to represent a constituency. He can get that majority only by permitting the single transferable vote, even in a single member constituency; in other words, to do in the future what is done to-day under the system of by elections in connection with the principle of P.R.

If the purpose of this Bill were to devise a scheme by which you could get people into the Dáil who did not get a majority of votes in the constituency, this is an excellent method. If that is the purpose of the Bill, this Bill fulfils its purpose and fulfils the aim of its architects; but sedulously it is being attempted to suggest that the purpose of the Bill is to give the people a better system of democratic election. However, if you examine it, you find that if you get 3,000 votes out of 10,000, you can come in here. The other 7,000 votes cast in the election are of no value. They are not transferable. As far as the 7,000 persons who went to the polls on polling day are concerned, they might as well have stayed at home, because their votes are of no value whatever in determining the result in that constituency.

Perhaps somebody from Fianna Fáil will explain why we have to have that method of election. They believe, as did Lord Craigavon, that that is the method that produces stability. He believes, along with the Canadians, that that is the best method of producing stability. Now, apparently, we are to have it here, in the pathetic belief that it will produce some kind of economic renaissance which we have not been able to get under P.R. As I said before, the real purpose of the Bill is this: it is a dishonest subterfuge to keep the Fianna Fáil Party in power, and to allow them control the whole mechanism of government. If they, by the appointments they have already made to the bench and the other appointments they will make to the bench, can succeed in holding on to office——

That does not arise under sub-section (2).

I am entitled to point out what are the consequences. I would call your attention to this fact, Sir. If you peruse the official record, you will see that the Minister for External Affairs was allowed to discuss the rise of Hitlerism on this section. I am merely calling attention to the fact that with the passage of time, if this Bill should be enacted, you will have, No. 1, the bench all beholding to the Fianna Fáil Party for appointments.——

No question of the bench arises on this section.

No. 2, the intention is, if possible, to collar the Presidential appointment. No. 3 is to control the Dáil by having a Fianna Fáil Party in control here, although with a minority of votes. No. 4 is that, through the Taoiseach, the Seanad will be controlled. Then it is only a matter of time to manipulate the local government election laws and they will control the county councils as well.

The sub-section deals with none of these things.

I know, but it did not deal with Hitlerism, either. The Minister was allowed to talk about some unknown warrior he discovered in New York when he was over there. I take it I have no less liberty than the Minister for External Affairs? That is the clear plan: from the bench down to the county councils—all controlled by the Fianna Fáil Party. That will be the Fianna Fáil brand of democracy.

That is stability, à la de Valera. It is like Czechoslovakian democracy.

Like the blue shirts we were to have worn here, but did not, thank God!

The Minister for External Affairs is corrugated in his approach to arguments. He ought to know that there has been a Labour Party in this country for nearly half a century. To many people, the Labour Party policy is the one which commends itself. They prefer that policy, whatever imperfections are inherent in it, to the policy of any other Party, and they continue to vote for Labour candidates and for the Labour Party. It is because of that we have had a Labour Party in this House ever since it was established and it is because of it that, down through the years, we have had a Labour Party, not merely in this House but a physical organic Party outside the House. That will be the pattern of our future development—that there will continue to be a Labour Party. Whether this Bill is carried or beaten, there will be a Labour Party continuing to enjoy representation in this House.

What I cannot understand about the Minister for External Affairs is that pathetic wail of his: "Why do the people in the Labour Party not get into a Party with Fine Gael or Clann na Poblachta or Clann na Talmhan or any other Parties?" One would imagine that the Minister's feet were on this earth for a sufficiency of years to enable him to understand that childish question and to answer it. The simple answer is that the Labour Party policy and outlook are entirely different in many respects from the policy and outlook of the other Parties they are invited and recommended to join by the Minister for External Affairs. Therefore, the Labour Party proposes to keep its identity and independence. It will continue to do that here, whether this Bill is passed or not. There is no intention to join either the Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil Parties. The Labour Party will continue to strive for parliamentary representation at election time and it will continue to hold an organisation because it believes in the philosophy of the Labour Party and not the philosophy of other Parties. That is the reason for its existence to-day. That has been the motivating power for its past parliamentary political activities, and it will continue to be its raison d'être.

In the face of these facts, why does the Minister for External Affairs keep bleating that the Labour Party should join with some other Party? The Labour Party has no intention of joining with any other political Party. Having served the people in this House for almost 40 years and having served the nation in its hour of travail, the Labour Party feels it is still entitled to have representation here. But this Bill is designed to keep the Labour Party out of this House. That will be the result of it. It is designed to keep out other Parties.

As the Tánaiste and the Minister for External Affairs said, their view is that there ought to be a governing Party—a Fianna Fáil Party and an Opposition Party, and that there is no room for any other Party in the country. That is such a vicious contradiction of the political and social patterns of every other country in the free world, that to attempt to enthrone that kind of concept of parliamentary government here is completely contrary to the character, homogeneity and philosophy of our people.

The Government, if they carry this Bill and get an election held under the vicious system they have in mind, will create in this country a situation which will entitle them, in the judgment of posterity, to full responsibility for the catastrophic device to which they are now setting their hand. There is no demand for this Bill. It is the brainchild of a man who is now leaving the political scene. There was no demand for it in the last General Election; there is no demand for it now. Deputies on the Government Benches could not be colder in their approach to anything than they are in their approach to this Constitution Amendment Bill. Yet, it is being put through; it is being put through for one purpose, namely, to build the Fianna Fáil Party bigger than the nation, but it will fail in its purpose.

The main argument advanced by Opposition Deputies against this sub-section appears to be that, unless a candidate gets more than 50 per cent. of the votes, he represents a minority view and a system which allows that to happen is, in their opinion, undemocratic. That is nonsense. In an election, in a single seat constituency, where there are five or six candidates, is is almost impossible obviously for any candidate to get more than 50 per cent. of the votes cast. It is possible to devise any number of systems for juggling with the votes after the poll in order to arrive at a situation in which a candidate will be allotted more than 50 per cent. of the votes by the returning officer and his staff.

The system we have had here up to the present of the single transferable vote is just one of a number of systems that can be devised but it is certainly not the best that could be devised. It produces results which satisfy those who will not take the trouble to examine the system but proves nothing. P.R. does not even allot the votes proportionately because at several stages in its operation parcels of votes are selected at random for distribution. Even if the principle of proportionality were consistently applied, the results would, in my opinion, be unsustainable because the principle is based on the absurd assumption that a voter's first, second, third, fourth, fifth and, indeed, even his 25th vote are all of equal value as expressions of his political views.

Several Deputies have given examples of the situation that could arise in a single seat constituency with five or six candidates. These were all examples of very close voting as between the five or six different Parties. Different figures were taken, but I do not think anybody would object to these figures. Let us assume that a Fianna Fáil candidate gets 4,000 votes, a Fine Gael candidate 3,500 votes, a Labour candidate 3,300 votes, the National Progressive Democrats 3,000 votes, Clann na Poblachta 2,800 votes, Sinn Féin 2,600 votes; that voting should be close enough for anybody. I maintain that even there it is shown there are more people in favour of the policy of Fianna Fáil than are in favour of any other policy. It is nonsense to suggest that there are 4,000 for Fianna Fáil and 15,000 against.

Could the Minister tell us how parcels arise in a single seat constituency?

We are talking about the single transferable vote.

In a single seat constituency. Where does the question of the distribution of parcels arise in a single seat constituency?

Remember, sub-section (1) has been passed and we are now dealing with sub-section (2) of the Schedule.

Any argument is good enough. It does not matter whether there is any ground for it.

That is not the argument. I said even if the principle of proportionality were followed closely, the results are not sustainable because it is based on an absurd assumption.

Forgive me. We can forget the parcels now. They came in by mistake.

Deputy Mulcahy tried to deduce an analogy in relation to the selection of a rate collector. Of course, the five or six candidates for the post of rate collector do not go forward on the basis of holding different policies. It is purely a question of picking a man for a job in that case.

Hear, hear!

Picking a man to do the job.

Emphasis on "picking".

We have been given examples by Deputy Norton, Deputy Larkin, Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy J.A. Costello of five or six different political candidates asking for votes on the basis of five or six different policies. I am assuming that the people were as evenly divided as the figures I have quoted show and I say that the results show more people in favour of Fianna Fáil policy than any other policy. I agree 15,200 people did not vote for Fianna Fáil, but there were 15,700 who did not vote for Fine Gael, and a larger number still who did not vote for any of the other policies. It is fair to assume that all the Parties had different policies; otherwise, there would be only one Party. It is ridiculous to assert that one can prove by this arbitrary mathematical process described as the single transferable vote that there were more people in favour of one of the other policies than the figures show.

The argument used by the Opposition is that there were 15,000 against Fianna Fáil and 4,000 for. All our experience shows, even under the single transferable vote, that results do not work out like that at all. Take the example of the last by-election in Dublin South Central. The Fianna Fáil candidate got 6,014 votes out of a total of 17,583. On the basis of the argument used here, that means that there were 6,014 people in favour of Fianna Fáil and 11,569 against. But even under the single transferable vote, that is not the way it worked out at all. In the final result, the Fianna Fáil candidate was credited with 7,988 votes and the Clann na Poblachta candidate was credited with 7,083 votes.

What is all the fuss about so?

That represents the views of the people.

It certainly did not represent the views of the people. It is nonsense to treat a man's fifth preference vote as being of the same value as his first choice. Suppose in the case I have quoted, you did apply the system of the single transferable vote, and arrived eventually at the result that Fine Gael got 10,000 votes, Fianna Fáil, 9,000 votes, having eliminated the Sinn Féin candidate, the Clann na Poblachta candidate, the National Progressive Democrat and the Labour candidate in that order, the 10,000 votes then credited to the Fine Gael candidate consist of his original 3,500, plus a number of second preferences received from Labour, National Progressive Democrats, Clann na Poblachta and Sinn Féin, a number of third preference votes received from National Progressive Democrats, Clann na Poblachta and Sinn Féin, a number of fourth preferences received from Clann na Poblachta and Sinn Féin and a number of fifth preferences received from Sinn Féin. The 9,000 credited to Fianna Fáil consist of 4,000 first preference votes which were actually cast for Fianna Fáil, the remainder being made up in the same way as in the case of Fine Gael. It is nonsense to suggest that in those circumstances 10,000 people chose the Fine Gael policy as the best on offer and 9,000 chose Fianna Fáil's policy. We know that a first preference vote means, in those circumstances: "I believe that this policy is the best of the six on offer." We do not know what a fifth preference means.

It means fifth best.

It may mean: "Of the six policies on offer, I believe this is the fifth best or the second worst."

I maintain that it is ridiculous to treat such a statement as being of equal value in support of a policy as the statement: "I choose this as the best policy on offer."

It may only mean: "I have been advised to exercise the franchise fully by voting for all the candidates and I might as well put a No. 5 down here as well as anywhere else."

Not at all. It means: "I would rather have anyone but you."

Stop drivelling.

It is not of the same value as an expression of a person's political views as the statement: "I choose this as the best policy on offer." Anybody who is prepared to be fair will agree that a person who chooses a policy as only his fifth choice or his sixth certainly cannot think very highly of it. If we accept the contention that you get the correct result by counting the number of votes in favour of a policy, it is obvious that there is no justification for taking a person's fifth preference as being of equal value to another person's first preference. The same thing applies in a slightly lesser degree to other preferences in between —second, third and fourth. When a person is asked to choose from a number of policies which one he thinks best, obviously his second preference should not be treated as of equal value with his first.

It is not, until a man is eliminated.

I know it is not. The point is that the elector is asked to choose which of the six policies he thinks is best.

Oh, no—which he wants most and which he wants least.

I say that to say: "This is the second worst" is not the same as saying: "I think this is the best policy and the one I should like to see as the policy of the Government". The fact is that nobody can say what any individual means by his preference vote. It is probable that no two people mean exactly the same thing by their preference votes. There is no way of deciding to what extent a particular policy is accepted by the voter. The only practical thing to do is what we are proposing, namely, to ask the people to choose from those on offer which policy they prefer and accept the result as they express it in the ballot boxes.

The basis of this system of the single transferable vote, as far as I know, is that the voter who voted for a candidate who does not get the greatest number of votes is disfranchised, unless we devise some system to enable him to continue to take part in the election, and it is then claimed that we arrive at a result which gives the consensus of the opinion of the electorate as a whole. The examples which Opposition Deputies quoted here were all of cases where there was very close voting. If you take a more realistic example, where the voting is not quite so close, say a Fianna Fáil candidate gets 8,000 votes, a Fine Gael candidate 6,000 votes; a Labour candidate 3,000 votes; Clann na Talmhan candidate 1,500 votes; Clann na Poblachta 500; National Progressive Democrats 300, you eliminate the candidates one after the other and after three have been eliminated after the fourth count, you might have the result that Fianna Fáil would have 8,300 votes, Fine Gael 6,500, Labour 4,500, and you then proceed to eliminate the Labour candidate which may result in the Fianna Fáil candidate being elected with 9,700 votes and the Fine Gael candidate being defeated with 9,500 votes.

Or it might result in a draw. Then you put the two names in a hat.

What happens is that the Fianna Fáil candidate is elected and the cranks who, as Deputy Dillon said, devised the system are satisfied that justice has been done because the 300 voters who voted for the crank Party have had full value given to their opinion. Their second, third, fourth and fifth preferences have all been treated just as if they were actual votes. We are told that if this were not done, they would be disfranchised. What about the 6,000 who voted for the Fine Gael candidate and who failed to elect their candidate? Has the same kind of justice been done to them? They have had to stand or fall by their first choice, while the others had five chances to elect a candidate.

Is that not the way Deputy Briscoe was elected Lord Mayor?

If, after the fourth count, the position being as I said, the Fine Gael second preferences had been counted, since every good Fine Gael man is known to hate Fianna Fáil, it is likely that the bulk of those would have gone to the Labour candidate and have elected him, so that the operation of the system of the single transferable vote just by chance turned out to elect the Fianna Fáil candidate in that case, whereas if it had been applied impartially to all the voters a different result might have been obtained.

Very true.

P.R., as Deputy Dillon says, was invented by cranks and it was invented by cranks to do justice to the cranks only. No attention, therefore, is paid under this system to the second preference of voters who vote for a Party that has so reasonable a policy as to attract the support of almost one-third of the voters in the constituency.

All voters in an election are anonymous, but P.R. arranges to take full account of all the preferences of some, while others must stand or fall by their first choice. In the general election of 1957, there were 209,708 voters who supported candidates who failed to secure election and these 209,708 had their preference votes counted as No. 1 votes. On the other hand, there were 163,016 voters whose candidates also failed to secure election, but their votes were disregarded. Therefore, this so-called perfect system resulted, in 1957, in 163,000 citizens being placed in a special category as second-class citizens, not entitled to the same rights of franchise as the remainder. The only thing that marked these people out from those who got the preferential treatment was that they supported candidates who attracted sufficient support to remain in the fight up to the closing stages.

Is the Minister referring to non-transferable votes?

I am not, but to votes which were not considered and which nobody knows whether they were transferable or not.

What are the 163,000 the Minister refers to?

They are people who supported candidates who were not elected, but who had not any account taken of their second preferences.

Because the candidates were able to remain in the fight until the concluding stages. I shall give Deputy O'Higgins an example of an actual constituency.

Where there were just two left.

I intend to do it, anyway.

The Minister has it all in the brief before him.

I have plenty of examples here. The fact is that P.R. ignores the votes of people such as those who support candidates who have a reasonable policy and, therefore, can attract a reasonable amount of support, but it ensures and is designed to ensure that, come what may, the voters who vote for one crackpot Party after another will have eventually the decisive voice at the critical stage of the election.

It encourages irresponsibility because a voter can say: "I can vote for any policy, however outlandish, with complete impunity because when that particular candidate is eliminated, I can transfer my votes to anyone I like". The system we propose is absolutely fair to every citizen and every Party. Under the straight vote, the same treatment is given to every citizen and every Party. Each Party puts its case to the people and whoever has the best case gains the seat in that constituency. Each voter chooses the Party he prefers and if that Party can get the most support, the Party is elected. No preferential treatment is given to anyone under the system we propose.

The present system is indefensible because it differentiates between the voters for no good reason. In 1957, 30 per cent. of the voters voted for candidates who were not elected and some of these, amounting to 17 per cent. of the total voters, had full account taken of their preference votes, but the remainder, amounting to 13 per cent., were ignored. I hope that somebody will explain why this differentiation should be made between the different members of the electorate.

It is claimed that by the single transferable vote we get results which give us a true reflection of the view of the majority. I have shown that the manner in which it is claimed the majority view is arrived at, is ridiculous since the expression of a voter: "I consider this policy to be fourth or fifth best or second or third worst" is taken as being an endorsement of that policy and as being of equal value with the expression: "I consider this policy to be the best."

With regard to the suggestion that it is impossible for a small Party to improve its position under this system, there is the example of the British Labour Party which, in a comparatively short space of time, rose from being a very small Party to the position of being one of the major Parties in England. I gave an example before of the absurd results that can come from the single transferable vote where you have three candidates, "A" with 6,000 votes, "B" with 5,000 votes and "C" with 4,000 votes. "C" is eliminated and a possible distribution could be that "A" gets 1,400 and "B" 2,600, "B" being declared elected. I maintain that that does not show that a majority of the people favour "B".

Only a limited investigation has been carried out and if a thorough investigation were carried out, even under this system, different results might be obtained. The justification for taking account of the second preferences of candidate "C" voters is that if they fail to elect their candidate, they would be disfranchised unless they got a second chance. But, as a result of doing that, the 6,000 who voted for "A" have, in fact, been disfranchised. They have failed to elect their candidate. Surely they have the same rights as the other 4,000?

I cannot follow the thread of the Minister's discourse.

The Deputy does not want to.

I do, indeed.

If "A's" second preferences were considered, it is possible that 4,000 might have gone to "C" and 2,000 to "B".

But they did not.

They were not considered. Then you will arrive at the result that a majority wanted "C". Therefore, you have a majority in favour of both "C" and "B". Then, if you consider the second preference of the other candidate, you could arrive at a result where you have a majority in favour of the three candidates. That is an absurd result and you arrive at it because your basic assumption is an absurd one.

The conclusion the Minister reached was that it was absurd. I agree. His observations are utterly absurd and incomprehensible.

Incomprehensible to the Deputy but reasonable to a person possessed of some brains.

It is no harm that I should go on record as stating that to me they are incomprehensible.

I would ask Deputies to consider the results during the last general election in Dublin North-West.

The last by-election?

No, the general election.

What has this to do with sub-section (2)?

The Minister has not yet spoken on it. I cannot say what he is about to say.

I want to submit to the Chair, as a point of order, that the House has already taken a decision on the question of multi-seat constituencies and that we are now discussing the single transferable vote in relation to single seat constituencies, a fact of which the Minister for Defence seems to be entirely unaware.

I only wanted to point out that you arrived at results which cannot be justified as a result of the operation of the system known as the single transferable vote and that in fact the title at least of one of the Deputies elected in the constituency of Dublin North-West to a seat in this House, even on the basis of the principle of the single transferable vote, is defective and could not be justified.

Would the Minister suggest the single transferable vote for the Presidential election?

There will be no transferable vote.

He did not the last time.

The Deputy has made his speech.

Jack in the Box, you had better shut up.

Deputies should allow the Minister for Defence to continue.

In that constituency of Dublin North-West, Deputy Gogan was elected on the first count and after the third count, the situation was: Deputy Byrne as he now is 3,828——

On a point of order, are we discussing sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)? If we are discussing sub-section (2), there cannot conceivably be any relevance in an argument based on multi-seat constituencies.

The single transferable vote.

In a multi-seat constituency.

With the single transferable vote.

Neither of you understands what he is talking about. I made a point of order. Let the Leas-Cheann Comhairle determine if we can have a discussion on the consequence of voting in a multi-seat constituency, having disposed of sub-section (1), and being now engaged in a discussion of sub-section (2)?

The single transferable vote.

Leave it to the Chair; there is only one Chair.

Sub-section (2) relates to the system of the single non-transferable vote as against the P.R. system of election.

In a single seat constituency.

Yes. The House has already disposed of sub-section (1) which deals with the multi-seat constituency.

The point Deputy O'Higgins wanted to have his mind cleared on was the type of people to whom I was referring.

I understand you now.

The Deputy does not want to hear it.

The Minister is talking about where two candidates are left for one seat. Is that not it?

Leave it at that.

In this particular constituency, for instance, there were, after the third count, one seat having been filled——

On a point of order, can we discuss what happened in a multi-seat constituency when we have disposed of sub-section (1) and are now engaged in a discussion of sub-section (2)? I understood you to rule that we cannot.

The question of multi-seat constituencies does not arise.

The single non-transferable vote arises.

Fight it out between the pair of you.

Deputies opposite do not wish to have examples shown of how the single transferable vote reacts unfairly in depriving certain citizens——

In single seat constituencies.

——of the same rights of franchise as others.

I did not know the Minister was being irrelevant at the time I asked for clarification.

I have already shown how it operates in single seat constituencies, how full account is taken of all the preferences of the voters who vote for small Parties, even though they are an expression of opinion that the particular Party is the second worst of those on offer. They are treated as being an endorsement of that Party's policy, the same as the voters who state that it is the best policy on offer and how, on the other hand, those who vote for a candidate who can attract a reasonable amount of support have no consideration paid at all to their second preferences. This is how it acts to give different rights of franchise to one section of citizens and how it resulted in 163,000 of the voters of this country being put into the special category of second-class citizens at the last election.

Any examination of it at all will show that. It is pretended then by the people who are in favour of P.R. that that system gives fair play to everybody, but any examination of it will show that Deputy Dillon was right for once when he described the system as a fraud and a cod. The system we are proposing is obviously fair, as every voter gets the same treatment and every Party has exactly the same chance to have its candidate elected.

Deputy Norton maintains that under this system the Labour Party would have no alternative but either to go out of existence or coalesce with Fine Gael.

He did not say that.

Of course, there is another way——

He did not say that.

He did say that.

He said that was what Fianna Fáil wanted.

He said that under this system the Labour Party must either coalesce with Fine Gael or get no seats in an election.

He did not say that.

What the Labour Party——

He did not say it.

Order! The Minister for Defence.

The Minister ought to tell the truth then.

All the Labour Party have to do is the same as Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, that is, to go into a constituency and convince more people in that constituency that theirs is the best policy than either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, and, if they do that, the Labour Party will get the seat. If the National Progressive Democrats, Clann na Poblachta or Clann na Talmhan can do the same thing, they will get the seat. Therefore, it is the fairest system of election, where every Party has the same chance and every citizen has the same right of franchise. The opposite is the case under the system of the single transferable vote.

In the same way as the Nationalists in the North, if they could do it.

I want to ask the Minister for Defence, if he is sincere in his argument against the present P.R. system of voting, why is it that, seeing we are to put this Bill before the people on a national referendum, the system which is all wrong for Dáil Éireann is right for the Presidential election? I am asking the Minister for Defence why this system of voting for the President is not being changed also, instead of leaving it presumably, until it suits somebody to do it in the future.

There are not three different policies.

The Minister for Defence based his argument on the suggestion that it is to do away with irresponsible policies—I think the word he used was "outlandish". We have no guarantee that some outlandish Presidential candidate may not appear on the scene some time. Is it not quite obvious that P.R. is being preserved for the Presidential election for the very same purpose for which it is being abolished for Dáil elections—to suit one man?

The second matter I want to raise with the Minister is: who gave him or any other member of this House the authority to describe any policy as outlandish? I ask him to throw his mind back—I am sure he has read some history—to the time of the Fenians. The Fenians were described as outlandish; and if we go back to 1916, we find that the Volunteers who rose in Easter Week were outlandish. What right or authority has the Minister for Defence or anybody else in this House to describe any policy as presented to the people by a Party or an individual, for their judgment, as outlandish? The Minister is not the judge.

I was only taking it on the basis of the number of votes they got.

The Minister referred to "outlandish" policies as an argument in favour of the Bill.

I want to know where he got the authority to do so.

In the case I quoted, I got it from the fact that only 200 or 300 people voted for them and therefore such a policy is ridiculous and outlandish.

May I suggest to the Minister that he mind his own business and leave the people's business to the people?

Why then will the Deputy not let it go to the people for their decision?

That is what we want. We want the people to decide and not the returning officer and his officials.

The Minister let the iron hand out of the velvet glove for once. He is assuming to himself, in sheer bumptiousness, the right to say what policy is right. The Minister will learn a good deal as time goes on. It is the people's right, not his, to criticise a policy, and if only 300 want to vote for a policy, that is their business, and not the business of anyone here. I suppose it is the Sinn Féin policy the Minister had in mind. Perhaps many people, including the Minister for Defence, might think the Sinn Féin policy outlandish.

The question of policies does not arise on this sub-section.

The Minister for Defence dealt at length with the question of policies and described them as outlandish.

The Minister mentioned the question of policies but did not discuss the various policies as the Deputy is doing.

Who gave him the authority to describe a policy as outlandish—the word he used during the debate?

Sub-section (2) of Section 2 provides:—

"The members shall be elected on the system of the single non-transferable vote, the candidate in a constituency who receives the largest number of votes being elected, but provision may be made by law for determining who is to be elected where there is no such candidate because two or more candidates receive the same number of votes."

We are asked to pass that sub-section and to put it before the people. If the people accept it, the rights which they had for 40 years will be taken away. Despite all the thumping of breasts and shedding of tears about the allegedly horrible system of election we have had for 40 years, nevertheless, it has given good service to the country and it has produced a great amount of stability. Why is it that only now, in 1959, this system is found to be so horrible? Fianna Fáil have done very well under it, from sheer clever manipulating and they are one of the last Parties here who should condemn it.

I submit that the reason for this Bill is the successful way in which the single non-transferable vote has worked in Northern Ireland—not in England or in any other country now, but on our own doorstep in Northern Ireland. Although the Minister for External Affairs took us to New York and other places in the course of his speech to-day, I thought he would wind up in Red China, which is one of his great favourites. I submit that the main reason for this Bill is the way the proposed system has worked in the North since P.R. was abolished there in 1929.

In the very last election in the Six Counties, polling took place in 25 constituencies. The members holding the seats in respect of 27 other constituencies were returned unopposed. In other words, more than 50 per cent. of the seats were filled without an election. The people in 27 constituencies, out of a total of 52 constituencies, did not get an opportunity of voting and yet that is the system we are now asked to adopt here.

In spite of their condemnation of Coalitions, Fianna Fáil came into this House in 1932 on a Coalition. They succeeded in freeing themselves and in getting a majority of a kind all down through the years until 1948.

I fear the Deputy is getting away from the sub-section.

Surely I may put forward my views on the reason for the question before the House? I submit that the reason is that Fianna Fáil found they could do without a Coalition, although they started life as a Government in this House as a Coalition. I want the Minister for Defence or anybody on the Government side of the House to deny that Fianna Fáil attempted to form a Coalition in 1948.

It is completely untrue.

It is not relevant.

We had a Coalition Government in 1954.

It was not a Coalition Government; it was a one-Party Government.

I should have said from 1951 to 1954.

The Minister for Defence should have heard the former Deputy Cowan speak in this House for the Government, with the authority he had, with the promise that that Government would run its term of office.

It was a one-Party Government.

With five tails attached.

Fianna Fáil want to make quite sure that their being in power will never be endangered again. That is the reason for this measure. No consideration is taken of the fact that rights which the people enjoyed under P.R. for the past 40 years will now be taken away.

The Minister for Defence, with other members of Fianna Fáil, seems to think it is bad that people should have the right to vote more than once at an election. What is wrong with it? Why was it not denounced up to this? Why is it that the man who insisted on enshrining P.R. in the Constitution of 1937 should now, 21 or 22 years later, decide it is bad and that it should be removed? These are questions that should be answered.

Here is another question. Where did the public demand come from for this measure? As a rule, this House is largely guided, I take it—or, if it is not, it should be—by public demand, where that demand is reasonable and sound. Where did the demand come from for this measure? What right have the Government now got to take away from the people the right which they have enjoyed for 40 years to vote for more than one candidate?

That is not the question before the House at the moment.

On a point of order, that is exactly what is in point here, namely, that the people will not be able to exercise their preference votes by voting for more than one candidate. Deputy Blowick is protesting against that.

We are discussing sub-section (2) of Section 2 of Part II of the Schedule to the Bill.

Yes, of Part II of the Schedule to this Bill, which proposes to take from the people a right which they enjoyed for 40 years. Why have the Government decided to take away that right? If this sub-section becomes law, then, henceforward, the people may vote only once at a parliamentary election. Why is the right to vote 2, 3, 4 and 5, for example, being taken away from them? So far, we have not been given an answer to that question from the Government Benches. If our people were illiterate, I could understand such a step. This sub-section is treating the people as if they were illiterate, as if they did not know how to use the P.R. system, which is a little complicated, and that we must, for that reason, adopt the straight vote system.

I must point out to Deputy Blowick that the Committee have already agreed to Section 2 (1º) of Part II of the Schedule to the Bill, which provides as follows:

"Dáil Éireann shall be composed of members who represent constituencies, and one member only shall be returned for each constituency."

Therefore, I do not see how the question of multi-seat constituencies can be argued.

This is a matter of considerable importance to the House. Deputy Blowick, as I understood him, was not arguing about multi-seat constituencies. He was protesting against the fact that the Government are endeavouring to deprive the people of the right to a transferable vote—of the right to vote 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on, in respect of as many candidates as may be contesting the single seat in a constituency.

That is my point. I am asking why the Government consider it necessary now to deprive the people of that right to exercise their preference votes, which they had up to this. The people used the P.R. system very intelligently, despite the condemnation by the Minister for Defence of outlandish policies and perhaps outlandish Parties and outlandish candidates.

There was a very low percentage of spoiled votes in every constituency. The total number of spoiled votes was so small that it is not a condemnation of the P.R. system of voting. We must seek deeper, then, to find why this right is being taken away from us now. In his speech to-day, the Minister for External Affairs referred us to the editor of the New York Times, and took us to many countries in Europe, in his efforts to find examples for us. He told us of things which happened in Germany ten or 12 years ago when, he said, there were 20 Parties there.

He took us to what Deputy Blowick said in Castlebar in 1948.

I was not here for that part of the Minister's speech but I should be delighted to hear a repetition of it at any time. I submit there is no need for us to go to the United States or to Europe for an example, when we have the real reason for this Bill on our own doorstep in Northern Ireland. We could not have a better example of the two systems of voting than the example of the system of voting in Northern Ireland and the system of voting in this country up to this. In Northern Ireland, one Party has got into office and it is beyond the power of the people now to put them out. Once a Party gets in under the single vote system, it will be well-nigh impossible for the people to bring about a change of Government. That is why we are to have the change. Fianna Fáil are now in power. If the rights of the people are taken away as a result of this sub-section, if the people themselves vote those rights away, then, Fianna Fáil being in power at the moment, it will be virtually impossible to put them out of office for 25 or 30 years. That is why the Bill is being introduced now.

The Minister for External Affairs should be ashamed of himself. He said he read this article ten or 12 years ago about the horrors of the electoral system in Germany. He was a Minister in this House from 1951 to 1954 and yet he did nothing to introduce a change. Why? The real reason is that Fianna Fáil have not yet got over the imagined humiliation they suffered from being put out of office twice— once in 1948 and again in 1954. That is the real reason for the Bill. When they looked around to see what system they could bring in which would ensure their return election after election, they did not need to go any further than across the Border into the Six Counties. They found there the system that has worked so well for the people in the Six Counties and they said: "We cannot do better than follow that system." They are falling into line with Stormont and with the British whom they are supposed to be, in general policy, so much against.

It is important in dealing with this sub-section that we should keep firmly fixed in our minds the fact that the House has already taken a decision on the question of multi-seat constituencies, or on what is commonly referred to as the P.R. system. There is some confusion in the mind of the Minister for External Affairs and of the Taoiseach, judging by their approach to the discussion on this sub-section. The Taoiseach's refusal to give any explanation to the House as to why this sub-section is introduced into the Bill, his refusal to give the House and through the House, the people, any explanation or justification of his desire to abolish the single transferable vote in addition to abolishing P.R., seems to be due either to some confusion in the mind of the Taoiseach that both are one and the same thing or to a decision by the Government that it would be good election tactics for them to try to put it across to the people that both these separate and distinct entities are one and the same thing.

It is entirely wrong to consider the subject matter of sub-section (1) and the subject matter of sub-section (2) of this Schedule as being the same thing. They are not the same thing. I do not accept the validity of any of the arguments the Taoiseach, the Minister for External Affairs and other Government spokesmen put forward in justification of their desire to abolish P.R. as evidenced by sub-section (1) of the Schedule, but I want it to be quite clear that whatever validity those arguments have, they have no relevancy whatever to the question of the single transferable vote. Yet we have the spectacle of the Minister for Defence— I mean, the Minister for External Affairs—I said the Minister for Defence by mistake, but at least let me say to the credit of the Minister for Defence that he did endeavour to deal with the sub-section—talking to the Dáil and repeating the various arguments which have been made in connection with P.R. apparently under the impression that he was dealing with precisely the same subject as he dealt with last week and the week before.

The Government in introducing this Bill are endeavouring to abolish, No. 1, P.R. and, No. 2, the single transferable vote. If there is any validity in the arguments they have been giving here for the past fortnight, the relevancy and the validity of those arguments can be directed only against the system of P.R. The action of the Government in endeavouring to abolish also the system of the single transferable vote is, in my view, wanton and reckless destruction of an electoral system, or portion of an electoral system, which has stood the test of time in this country and has stood the people well.

The single transferable vote is what has ensured and what could continue to ensure that there will be majority Government here and that the Government, no matter what Government it is, will govern with the consent of the majority of the people. Deputy Mulcahy referred to the fact that in some elections for particular offices, what is done is that after each count the last candidate drops out and the electorate vote again for the remaining candidates. Despite the remarks of the Minister for Defence, I consider that that would be perhaps the best and most democratic system of election that one could envisage, but when you are dealing with the question of parliamentary elections, it would of course be impracticable to work on that basis. However, the system of the single transferable vote gives all the advantages of that system combined in one operation.

The Minister for Defence seemed to be somewhat wrathful over the system of the single transferable vote—I am taking his argument although he was wrong in failing to recollect that we are dealing for the purpose of this discussion with single seat constituencies and not multi-seat constituencies—on the basis that in the last election 163,000, I think he said, votes were disregarded, the reason being I understand that, in various places, probably in most constituencies, a situation arose at some stage, in which there were only two candidates left and only one seat to be filled; consequently, the person with the highest number of votes of the two remaining candidates got the seat. What the Minister for Defence overlooks is that under the British system, which he is inviting the Irish people to adopt, something in the region of 600,000 or 700,000 votes would be disregarded because every vote cast for an unsuccessful candidate under the "X" vote system, the British system which the Government are asking us to adopt, would be a wasted vote. It would have no effect in electing a representative to this House. It would have no effect subsequently in forming a representative Government out of those elected. What the Government are seeking to do when they put their desire to abolish the single transferable vote into this Bill is, whether they know it or not, to enshrine in the Constitution a principle of Government by minority instead of Government by majority.

Under the single transferable vote system, the elector is an elector in the proper sense. He is not merely a voter. He is given an opportunity of saying, when he is casting his vote, that he will give his first preference to a particular candidate and of opting that, if that candidate is not elected in the first place, he will then give his vote to another, to a second preference candidate and so on. That, I think, is the essential fairness and democracy of our present system By means of the system of the single transferable vote, it is quite clear that whatever candidate is elected is elected by a system which has examined and sifted all the preferences and all the votes of the electors in that constituency.

It is only after that sifting of the preferences that the candidate is elected and, when he is elected, he is elected because he genuinely represents the majority opinion in the constituency. There is no question about it. Under the single transferable vote, the candidate who is elected ultimately represents and reflects the majority opinion in the constituency.

Under the "X" voting system, the British system, which the Government wants us to adopt, it is very much on the cards that a candidate will be elected on a minority of votes in the constituency. In nearly any constituency you like to think of, if a seat is contested by more than two candidates, it is nearly certain that the winner under the British system will be a person who has a minority vote in the constituency. If, on the other hand, you retain the single transferable vote and apply it to the single seat constituency, at least this could be claimed: whatever candidate was elected would be elected only after the largest possible area or field of consent had been drawn on by him to get his mandate for coming into this House. He would be here as the representative of the majority vote in that constituency.

I do not want to see sub-section (1), which has been adopted by this House, being passed by the people. I do not want to see the multi-seat constituencies being abolished, but, even if they were, I still say that in the single-seat constituencies, we should retain the single transferable vote and, at least, ensure that whoever is elected as a representative in such a constituency will be here as the representative of the majority of the people in that constituency.

This House should express its thanks to the Leader of the Opposition and to Deputy Mulcahy for ensuring that the House is enabled to consider, to discuss and to come to decisions separately on these matters, the two separate and distinct matters contained in sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) of the Schedule. They should express their thanks that they are now able to come to a separate decision on the question of multi-seat constituencies and P.R. on the one hand, and the single transferable vote on the other. If the Government had their way, the position would have been that this House would have been able to take a decision only on the Schedule as a whole. They would have been forced into the position of discussing the Schedule as a whole, and of voting on it as a whole, though it contains a number of different provisions, and it was due to the motion moved in this House by the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Mulcahy that this House is now enabled to discuss these two important and distinct questions as distinct and separate issues.

It would be only right that the people of the country should be given a similar opportunity. There is no reason, no good reason, why the people of the country should be forced into the position that they must vote for the abolition of both of these separate and distinct items at the same time. It may be that many people would like to see the single seat constituency who, at the same time, would prefer to retain the single transferable vote. What opportunity, on the Government plan, will those people get of indicating what they want? We hear a lot of prating about the will of the people and of this question being left to the people to decide. Are the Government showing any regard or any respect for the will of the people in the particular type of question that is to be put to them in this referendum? Are not the people going to be forced into the position that if they vote "Yes" in the referendum, they are voting not alone for the abolition of P.R. but also for the abolition of the single transferable vote?

I ask the Government, even at this late stage, to amend this Bill so that those questions can be submitted as separate issues to the people, so that the people will be allowed to take their separate decisions on those two issues. I do not think it is necessary that there should be a second referendum. I think that the form of the ballot paper could be such that the people would be able to vote on each of these questions separately, and I think they should be given that opportunity. As far as I am concerned, the advice I would give to the people would be to vote "No" on both of these issues.

I think the fact that the Taoiseach refused to give this House any justification, or refused to advance any arguments whatever in support of this sub-section, makes a farce of all the arguments the Government have been putting up in connection with sub-section (1), because it seems to me to be quite clear that the Government have made up their minds that the two issues are one and the same thing, that they are so closely related and intertwined that you cannot separate one from the other. I am convinced that that is entirely wrong, and it is approaching the matter in a slovenly fashion without having given any proper examination to what the Government conceive to be a problem facing the public.

If the Government were serious in trying to improve the electoral system, surely it would not be too much to expect that there would be proper examination of what is involved? Surely it would not be too much to expect—with all the commissions they have appointed—that they could appoint a commission to examine this question? I should be willing to wager anything I have got that if this question were submitted to a commission, the commission would advise that the question of P.R., on the one hand, and the question of the single transferable vote, on the other, are separate and distinct issues; and if the Government wanted a change, wanted to get away to some extent from the electoral system which has worked so well in this country for the past 30 or 40 years, any independent commission set up and established would certainly advise caution. They would not advise or recommend to the Government this kind of leap in the dark, which the Government ask the people to take. I think the advice that any independent commission would give would be to recommend that if we are doing away with the multi-seat constituencies and going to adopt single seat constituencies, we should, at least, in those constituencies have the single transferable vote. The Government have not shown any indication, good, bad or indifferent, that they are prepared to submit that question for consideration or examination by any independent body or commission. On the other hand they have adopted the attitude: "We have got a majority in the House. It is probably the last time we will ever have a majority and, therefore, we are going to push these measures through the House, now that we have got that majority."

I have said before that the argument of the Minister for External Affairs and those who argue on similar lines, that this is probably the last opportunity Fianna Fáil will ever have of obtaining a majority under the system of P.R., is quite right because now that the plot has been hatched and dragged out into the open, there are very few of the electorate who would be willing to entrust them with a majority in this House again.

The Minister for Defence referred to the by-election—I think it was Dublin South-Central—where the Fianna Fáil candidate, out of a valid poll of 17,500 odd, got about 6,000 votes and was subsequently elected. No one on this side of the House has any grievance as a result of Deputy Cummins's election, for the simple reason that it was carried out under the system of the single transferable vote. Deputy Cummins got only 6,014 votes out of the total valid poll of 17,583 first preference votes. When the other preference votes had been sifted, Deputy Cummins was the candidate, out of the five candidates who faced the electorate, who got the majority of preferences and consequently became the Deputy for that constituency, entitled to claim that he was the representative of the majority of the people who cast their votes in that election. I am leaving out of consideration the fact that some 35,000 people did not bother to vote in the election, but of the people who did vote, there was no doubt that under the single transferable vote which was in operation, Deputy Cummins came into this House as fairly representing the majority opinion of those who voted in the by-election.

What would be the position if the single transferable vote were not in operation? Then Deputy Cummins, having obtained 6,014 votes out of 17,583, would have come in here as the Deputy for the constituency not being able to claim that he was representative of the majority of voters in that constituency. The only thing to be said if we had been dealing with the "X" vote in that by-election was that while Deputy Cummins got 6,014 votes, there were 11,583 votes cast for other candidates, that there were 11,583 votes cast against Deputy Cummins and only 6,014 for him. He would then have come into this House the winner under the British election system which the Minister for External Affairs wants us to adopt, and certainly he would not be able to claim that he was representative of anything except a minority, something well under 50 per cent., of the people who voted.

When the Minister for External Affairs refers to that by-election figure, I want him to know we are quite satisfied that Deputy Cummins is entitled to claim that he represents the majority of the people who voted in that election. The reason we are satisfied that he is in with the consent of the majority of the people who voted is just that that election was carried out under the single transferable vote system. The Minister for Defence refers to the system which the Government are asking us to adopt as an absolutely fair system. I do not think it is any such thing. At the moment, whoever is elected can claim to represent the majority view of the people who vote. Under the system which Fianna Fáil are asking us to adopt, that certainly will not be so.

The single transferable vote ensures that there will be majority rule and it ensures that the Government, having got a majority of the seats in this Parliament, are in a position to claim that they govern with the consent of the people. It is very important that any Government should be in a position to make that claim and that fact has been recognised by the Taoiseach in a quotation which I propose to place on the records of this House. He has stated, in effect, that the size of the Government majority in the House is not all-important, but that it is important that the Government should have the people behind them. That is important at any time. It is important even at the present time that the Government, with a majority of 14 or 15 seats, or whatever it is, should be able to claim they have the majority of the people behind them. That is very much open to question now.

One of the things of which the Government are afraid is that the question of whether or not the people are behind the Government might be put to the test in this referendum. I suspect very strongly that that is the reason why the Taoiseach has been prevailed upon by the Fianna Fáil Party to go forward as a candidate for the Presidency, so that both elections may be carried out on the same day and so that his influence and prestige with a number of people may be utilised for the purpose of securing votes for the proposals contained in this Bill.

The point I want to make is that it is important that a Government should have the consent of the majority of the people; that it should be able to say that it has the people behind it. Under the British system which we are being asked to adopt, we may very well have a Government in office who are in a substantial minority in relation to the votes cast in the general election which elected them to office. We may find ourselves in the situation where, in practically every constituency, a Fianna Fáil candidate with a minority of the votes cast in the constituency could become the candidate elected.

The Taoiseach had this to say with regard to what a strong Government is, as reported in the Irish Press of 20th January, 1948:—

"A Government is strong only if it has a majority in Parliament because with our system, the Government depends on the majority it has in Parliament. It is a weak Government if it has not a strong majority."

I am giving that quotation deliberately in case I might be accused of suppressing any of it. He goes on:—

"It is not strong merely because it has a parliamentary majority. If it can be suggested that a Government is not supported by the people, then a Government by that very fact is a weak Government—if, after these elections——"

this was in reference to the 1948 elections——

"——a finger can be pointed at us, and it is said in the Dáil: ‘You have a majority of 12 or 14 over the other Parties, but the people are not behind you—you have not the majority or the people.' You know that the Opposition would talk in that way, and would be encouraged in their efforts by the fact that that charge could be made.

We are determined that that charge cannot be made and if we are to continue as a Government we would have to have a majority in Parliament; be able to show that that majority was reasonably given to us and that the people were behind us as well as the majority in Parliament."

Now, the Taoiseach and his Government are asking the people to adopt a system which may very well give us, for many years to come, minority Government and a Government which can be demonstrated to be a minority Government. We are asked to do that in the face of those views expressed by the Taoiseach as to the importance of the Government having a majority of the people behind it, not simply a majority in Parliament. We are asked to do so, notwithstanding the fact that the Taoiseach himself is on record as showing that no matter what majority a Government may have in this House, it is a weak Government, unless it has the majority of the people behind it.

We are asked to adopt a system which may give us minority Government. I do not want to say anything further on this issue, but I would appeal to the Taoiseach and to the Minister for External Affairs, who seems to be principally responsible for this debate as far as the Government are concerned, to give us some arguments, if any exist, to justify the abolition of the single transferable vote which they are recommending to the House. So far, we have heard nothing worth while from the Government: we have heard nothing at all from the Taoiseach. His only contribution was at the very commencement when he was asked to give some explanation. He said:—

"I think it can be inferred from the terms of the sub-section what is in it. The matter has been discussed here many times already and arguments put forward for and against."

That was the Taoiseach's attitude— am I not right in saying—his refusal to explain the reason for this sub-section is because he considers the question of P.R. on the one hand and the single transferable vote, on the other to be the same thing. We heard the Minister for External Affairs and I think the kindest thing would be not to refer further to his speech, but I would ask him, the Taoiseach or any other member of the Government at least to show this House the courtesy of making their arguments in favour of this sub-section. At least, let it be clear to the people that the arguments which were relevant to the question of the P.R. issue are not relevant to the question of the single transferable vote. Let the Government endeavour to justify what they are asking the people to do and if they cannot do that, let them have the good grace to withdraw this provision from the Bill.

I should like to deal with the comparison which Deputy Blowick made between the system which will operate in the Twenty-Six Counties if this Bill goes through and the system of election in the Six Counties at present. He quoted figures for constituencies where elections took place and indicated that there were 27 constituencies in the Six Counties where no elections were held, where the Unionist member or, in some cases, the Unionist candidate, had a walk-over. He went on to say that is what this Bill proposes to do in regard to the election system of the Twenty-Six Counties. Nobody knows better than Deputy Blowick that is only part of the whole story and that it is dishonest to go so far and no further. He knows that anyone in the North or the Party leaders on both sides can produce a map of the constituencies and before any election can pin up in each constituency an orange or a green flag and that these flags will truly represent the position. If a constituency is Unionist, it will remain Unionist; if it is Nationalist, it will remain Nationalist. In the constituencies where there is but a slight difference and where, on any occasion a Unionist seat is lost, then the gerrymandering machine comes into operation and the whole constituency is changed without any regard to the population.

Under the straight voting system here in the single seat constituency, we have two guiding factors: first, a group of people of between 20,000 and 30,000 and, secondly, geographical considerations. Everyone knows there can be no such thing as gerrymandering here, because, having those two consideration in mind, one must arrive at a small area which must be compact and which does not lend itself to gerrymandering.

Are you as harmless as that?

The point I want to make as an argument against Deputy Blowick is that we will not have the same pattern of elections here as in the Six Counties. He knows there is a sharp division up there with Unionists, on the one hand, and Nationalists on the other. From the time Partition was established, that has been the pattern. Here we have represented a number of Parties in a rather major way, Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. I think that pattern will still obtain and that constituencies with a big Labour population will have Labour representatives here.

In attacking the non-transferable vote, Deputy Blowick said that unfair results would come from it. He knows very well, as leader of the Clann na Talmhan Party which claims to represent farmers, that he was selected by the same method. He knows that at branch meetings the chairman is selected by that method, so that, to my mind, those two points of his were put across in a way which was not in accordance with all the facts.

Deputy O'Higgins made sure that every time he mentioned the non-transferable vote, he called it "the British system". He reiterated "the British system" again and again. Anyone looking at a copy of the debate containing his contribution will see "the British system" running right through it.

But it is the British system.

Yes, it is the British system, but it is also the system used in many other countries.

It is also the system used in many countries all over the world.

The British Commonwealth?

We have many characteristics which are British, but that does not say we are British. The point which Deputy O'Higgins is trying to stress, and the one which the Opposition will endeavour to put across during the referendum, is that this system is British. That is in keeping with the other arguments, the dishonest arguments, they are using against this Bill.

I listened to the Minister for External Affairs speaking for nearly an hour this evening on this sub-section; and it all amounted to: "What happened in 1948?". I would like the Minister to ask himself what did happen in 1948. What happened then was that, under the present method of election, the Irish people decided by a majority of over 500,000 that the then Fianna Fáil Government should go out of power. If the Minister looks up the result of the vote in the February, 1948, election, he will find that that was the result. In this sub-section, an attempt is being made now to prevent that ever happening again.

When the Minister was speaking he wandered from the Mayo News to the New York Times. It is a terrible distance from North Mayo, where that little paper is edited, from what this fellow or that fellow said in it—and the Minister never mentioned who said it—to New York, to what was said in the New York Times; yet the Minister tried to connect both of them to show that the transferable vote should be abolished. Let me give an example of what could happen on the abolition of the transferable vote. In this House at the moment, we have, say, six Parties—Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Talmhan, Independents, Sinn Féin—who will not come in, and of course there is “Dev's Group.” Let us suppose that each of those six puts forward a candidate in an election under the one-seat constituency system. There will be from 20,000 to 30,000 voters, according to the Bill, in the area. Let us say that there are 20,000 voters and that roughly 15,000 cast their votes— that is a good percentage. Of those 15,000 voters, say 2,500 vote for Fine Gael; 2,500 vote for Labour; 2,500 vote for Sinn Féin; 2,500 vote for an Independent; 2,500 vote for Clann na Talmhan; and 2,501 vote for Fianna Fáil. The result—I hope it does not happen, but it may—would be that the Fianna Fáil man, polling 2,501, would be declared elected and the 12,500 voters who voted otherwise would have no representative. I say that that is not a fair method of election.

Of course, I am not worrying about that myself, for the simple reason that, very often, in the elections I have fought since 1943, I had such a surplus to spare that it elected some Fianna Fáil men to this House. However, under the example I have given, that is not the will of the people as it has been expressed by the Taoiseach so many times down through the years, especially when he puts that long cloak around him when he goes out to the rural areas, the cloak that cloaks so much.

The Minister for External Affairs also spoke this evening on what happened in France. It bears no comparison at all with conditions in this country. I remember well the 1948 General Election, which sank into the marrow of the bones of the Fianna Fáil Party. Everywhere a Fianna Fáil speaker stood up, he said: "Did you hear what happened in France?" and quite a few of them did not even know where France was at all. It has no bearing whatsoever on the matter.

This is the last straw, so far as the will of the people is concerned. Unfortunately, it is coming to the time when very many of them do not want to vote at all. However, many of our people who go to vote may prefer one candidate and may give him their first preference vote. If that man is not elected, they have at present a transferable vote; but under this proposal— which is the legacy the President-elect is leaving us—the result will be just what Craigavon said in days gone by in the North of Ireland: "A Protestant Government for a Protestant people." Just as Craigavon said: "A Protestant Government for a Protestant people", de Valera says: "A Fianna Fáil Government for a Fianna Fáil minority." I will not say "Fianna Fáil Party", because they were never consulted about it and a lot of them know it is their swan song and that they will never be heard of again.

The longer this debate continues, the more we go around in circles and the more the people of the country are confused to know what it is all about, why they are being asked for this change and what is the necessity for it. It would be difficult for me at this stage to say something new or something which has not been said already in the various speeches made in this debate over the weeks. The more speeches that are made, the more confused is the issue becoming. I shall quote a few lines from the Taoiseach himself at column 331 of the Official Report, dated the 13th January, 1959:—

"...I am not against P.R. of any kind, but I am against coalitions that result from it. I think it leads to a multiplicity of small Parties, which leads, inevitably, to coalitions."

If the Taoiseach himself is not opposed to P.R., what justifiable case can be made for it through the country? After all, we must have Government by the people and for the people. There is no Party that gained more by P.R. than the Fianna Fáil Party as they have represented the people of this country for a great number of years indeed.

No one can say that we had unstable Government in this country over the past 40 years during which every Government was elected under P.R. and the multi-seat constituency system. Many arguments can be put forward in favour of one or the other, but certainly the greatest argument that can be put forward for retaining the present system is that it has given good results in this country all down the years.

It is true that we had changes of Government. It is also true that we had on two occasions coalition Governments, but the fact remains that, when the people got tired of Fianna Fáil, there was no choice but to elect an alternative Government and that Government was a Coalition. The people in their wisdom again got tired of the Coalition and they had the power in their hands to get rid of it when they thought fit. That is democracy of the best kind. When we hear all the talk about giving the people the opportunity of voting on this business, is it not true that the power is to be taken from the people and that they will not have the same power in future as they had in the past, if we get rid of the present system of election to Dáil Éireann?

The issue is becoming even more confused at the moment with the decision of the Taoiseach to contest the Presidential election on the same day as the referendum. That is confusing the issue even more than it is being confused at the present time.

I do not like to interrupt the Deputy, but clearly he is not discussing the matter before the House. Most of that matter was discussed last week on the sub-section. The matter before the House now is the single non-transferable vote. I wish the Deputy would address himself to that.

That is correct, but such a wide field has already been covered by all the other speakers that I thought I would have the same right.

Nobody is limiting the Deputy's right. The Deputies I heard did not travel as wide afield as the Deputy is seeking to traverse now.

The Presidential election is to be contested——

That does not arise, either.

It has already been mentioned this evening.

It may be mentioned, but clearly it is not an issue on the sub-section.

The fact that these two elections are being held on the same day is certainly going to confuse the issue very much, as far as the people are concerned. Personally, I do not like the idea of having the two on the one day. For that matter, I feel that the people throughout the country would much prefer to be left in peace and harmony during the coming summer, rather than be upset by the spate of oratory which we can expect for the next six months as a result of the Referendum Bill and the Presidential Election.

I have one suggestion to make in regard to the non-transferable vote system. I make it in all earnestness because I know that the people throughout the country want peace. They expected, when they elected the Government last year, that there would be no interference with that peace by the political Parties for the next five years.

I feel that the Taoiseach would be very wise indeed at this moment to withdraw the Bill. I appreciate that the first sub-section has been passed but I am dealing with the second sub-section. If the Taoiseach would even now see his way to withdraw the Bill and if the Leader of the Opposition could see his way to waive his opposition to the Taoiseach for the Presidential Election, the elected representatives of this country could go back to their constituents and I have no doubt that they would be far more welcome than they will be if they go down and try to spread disunity, strife and turmoil amongst the people, especially amongst the young people, who do not want this business at all at the present time.

The Deputy has not taken my advice and confined himself to the sub-section. He is travelling all over the place.

I appreciate that, Sir, but we have had certain examples put before us of what has happened in America, Northern Ireland, England and South Africa. What we have to deal with is our own small island territory. Our system is unique in that it is not used in any other country. Other countries have other forms of P.R.; we have the multi-member constituency and the single transferable vote which gives a reasonably fair representation to all sections of our community.

I represent a rural community for the most part. If the proposed system is adopted, rural communities will certainly suffer. There are more votes in one street in a city or town than will be found in seven or eight townlands. It will be almost impossible for a man to get himself elected in rural Ireland, if the measure before the House is accepted. I agree people should have freedom of choice. On this occasion—I speak on good authority—the people would prefer if we did not have any referendum this year, whether it be for the abolition of P.R. or the election of a President; the people want to be left in peace. They want to be allowed to develop the country. If proper development could be brought about, what peace and harmony would exist throughout the length and breadth of the country? The £100,000 which will be spent on this referendum and Presidential election could profitably be spent in developing the country's natural resources, expanding agriculture, improving fisheries, etxending afforestation, oil exploration and all the other facets which call for development. This will be wilful wastage of £100,000 at a time when money is scarce, at a time when it is almost impossible for me, representing an area which is so much in the public eye——

I shall not allow this to go on. I have given the Deputy a direction and I have asked him to confine himself to the matter before the House, the transferable versus the non-transferable vote. He is indulging in a speech which is really outside the Committee Stage of the Bill and, if he does not come to the section, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.

It has been argued by Government spokesmen that Coalition Governments can be produced under the present system. That seems to be the best argument they can advance against the present system. They consider coalitions bad. Any Government which is too long in office can be bad Government. It will not be a good thing to put a Government into power in the future, a Government which cannot be put out by the people. Under the present system of election, Governments may be put out. I think Deputy Blowick's suggestion provides the ideal solution; even if we are to have single-seat constituencies, we should have the transferable vote to ensure representation for all sections of our community.

I represent a rural area. I have no personal ambitions, but I realise that if this proposed system comes into operation, it will be virtually impossible for a Deputy representing a rural area to get elected to this House. I am also a member of a local authority, the biggest local authority in Ireland. We are quite a happy family; we were all elected under P.R. and the single transferable vote.

The Deputy could not say the same about Cobh.

We do not throw any dirty water at all in Cork County Council.

This was drinking water.

P.R. has worked reasonably well in Southern Ireland. We cannot say the same for the system which obtains in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Blowick pointed out that only 25 of the 52 seats are contested in Northern Ireland. If that is the system the Government propose to force on the people now, then I personally think it would be a very bad thing for any public man to have so much security of tenure; whether he works or whether he does not work, his seat will be so secure no one will oppose him. That is the position in the North. I hope I shall never see the day when it will be the position in the South. I like a good, straight, decent contest, and let the people decide. The day elections are done away with will be a bad day for the country. Indeed, there could be a very serious development following on this proposed system. We have had peace; we have had stability, a certain amount of prosperity, a certain amount of security and fair play under the present system. It may not be possible to say the same for the future, if this proposal is accepted.

I oppose this sub-section. We should have the right to contest every election. I know we shall not be denied that right, but the fact is people will not be inclined to throw money away foolishly when they know they have no chance of being elected. That chance is being taken from them under this. It is for that reason that I oppose this section.

This sub-section proposes that we should adopt here a system which has become traditional in Great Britain. The grounds for the proposal now boil down to this: Fianna Fáil speakers are endeavouring to make us believe that the system could be put into effect here within a reasonable time. If we study the British system of elections and the effect of it in the Six Counties, we see that the adoption of that system in this part of the country would not give proper representation to all sections of the community, particularly when it is remembered that only 25 of the 52 seats are contested in the North of Ireland. That is because the system does not suit their temperament and will not give them an opportunity to secure representation. In the North of Ireland, there is monopoly representation by a minority.

The Irish people in general are very jealous of their rights. Down through the years, we have seen the tenacity with which the people fought for their rights. There is the example of the agrarian troubles; there is the example of neighbours fighting about a fence, showing determination and insistence on their rights.

The system of election in operation here is a modern system. It was first introduced here about 45 years ago and endorsed in our Constitution of 1937. In discussing the system, we need not go further back than 1937 because the system was enshrined in what is described as a purely Irish Constitution which was adopted in 1937. We are discussing a proposal now to take out of the Constitution that arrangement for parliamentary representation.

The people of this country are very fairminded. What can we expect if there are large groups of people, very probably a great majority of the people, deprived of fair representation? We often hear the treasured words repeated, "Government of the people, by the people, for the people." Under the proposed new system, will we have a Government of the people, by the people, for the people if there is a Government in office supported by a majority of Deputies who were elected by a minority of the people? For instance, if there is a Government with a substantial majority in the House elected by 30 per cent. of the voters, what patience can be expected of the 70 per cent. of the people who did not want that Government? We certainly will not have the kind of disposition that there might be in Great Britain where there is a long tradition. Instead, there will be the impatience that is demonstrated in many other countries where an injustice becomes obvious.

It is obvious that an injustice will be perpetrated in this country, if the present system is taken from our people. That it should be taken from our people is proposed by the Fianna Fáil Party who can thank the P.R. system for the fact that they ever became a Government. They came in here as a Coalition and functioned as a Coalition until such time as they found that they could form a single Party Government and that single Party Government was elected under the existing system of P.R. which was considered by them and by the people to be a fair system.

A result from elections carried out under a fair system and under the existing system, is a result from a majority. Take the example of the single transferable vote in a by-election contested by a number of candidates. When the counting of the votes has been concluded, not one person in the constituency will dispute the result because everyone is fully satisfied that his vote had its full measure of effect in the result of the election.

May we ask the Government what is the hurry to change the system now? Why is it being rushed? Could we not select a few areas at a future date, say, at the next general election, in which the proposed new system could be operated and see if the results from those selected constituencies would be half as fair as the results obtained from other constituencies, or half as representative of the views of the people who are entitled to have their views expressed at the election and ventilated in Parliament? Could we not delay this proposal until we try to find out whether or not it would be satisfactory?

I have suggested that a few areas could be selected. At present there are 40 constituencies. Six could be selected and results obtained there could be compared with the results obtained in the other areas. The people could then see for themselves whether or not the proposed new system would be fairer than the system at present in operation.

If the Government are not prepared to wait until the next general election to select a few constituencies, why not have a few by-elections held under the proposed system and see if the electors in those constituencies would be satisfied with the results? I doubt very much if they would be. For instance, in a by-election where 16,001 people cast their votes, 4,000 for Fine Gael, 4,000 for Labour, 4,000 for Farmers and 4,001 for Fianna Fáil, is it contended that such a result in a by-election in any part of Ireland would be accepted by the people as a fair result or a majority result? I think not. That is what the people are being asked to accept now.

It is proposed to mix up this issue with the Presidential election. That can hardly be regarded as fair. Under that arrangement, the people will be asked to exercise two systems of voting on the same day. They will be handed a ballot paper on which the words "Yes" and "No" appear and it is doubtful yet whether the majority of people know opposite which word the X should be placed.

That surely does not arise on this sub-section. There is a sub-section under discussion. The Deputy is drawing in extraneous matter.

Very well. The point I was making is that it is proposed now to have the system of the single non-transferable vote. I am discussing the consequences of it and I have given examples of what can be expected from it.

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

It has been observed that the sponsor of this proposal, the Taoiseach himself, has been conspicuous by his absence from the House. He made a very weak case in favour of the Bill. He lost any argument he tried to make. Since then, he has been sending in different Ministers to hear the debate, but he will not come in and listen to the case being made.

The people are able to operate the present system effectively. They can bring about a change of Government any time they wish. If there were an election to-morrow, it is obvious there would be a change of Government again, but the people will not be given that opportunity. Instead, Fianna Fáil are bringing in this measure in the hope that it will be accepted in the referendum and adopted. It is very difficult for people not close to political activity to decide what effect the "X" opposite "Yes" or "No" will have.

We are not discussing the referendum. The Deputy may not discuss everything in this Bill on the sub-section before the House. I suggest he confine himself to what is in the Bill: the non-transferable vote versus the transferable vote.

The people are to be asked whether they are in favour of a system or not, and this system includes the non-transferable vote. In order to show whether they are in favour of the non-transferable vote or not, they will have to write "X" on the ballot paper.

Surely that does not arise on this?

I accept your ruling, Sir.

They are asked to accept an "X" vote.

They would be asked on another measure, not on this.

On the same day, it is proposed we shall have the existing system operated in connection with the Presidential election. It can hardly be considered fair—

I have already told the Deputy that that is extraneous to what is in this measure.

Very well, Sir. Another point I wanted to make is this. Under this proposal, we may have a majority of Deputies elected by a minority of the voters. We may have a situation in this country we do not want to see. We have only to look at Cuba at present to see that, under their system, they are able to bring about a change of Government only by a revolution. Again, it is a case of a majority rising up against a minority. Is it fair to impose a system on this country which will cause a majority of the people to rise up in violence against the minority Government that will obviously result from the proposed system?

On this issue, if I am in order, I want to inquire which ballot paper will be presented first to the electors on the day of the Presidential election?

The only matter that falls for discussion is this sub-section. I have already told the Deputy that. He will not succeed in having anything discussed by a side wind, if it is not in this sub-section.

I feel that this system should be made an issue in the next general election instead of pushing it through the Dáil, without giving the people an opportunity in a general election of indicating whether they are in favour of such a drastic change. It is obvious that the Fianna Fáil Party have no more promises for sale or they would be content to accept the decision of the people under the P.R. system. That explains why 35,000 people did not vote in the Dublin South Central by-election some time ago. They found they had been double-crossed in the matter of policy and refrained from casting their votes in spite of the best efforts of the Government Party and their propaganda to secure a good measure of support. It is obvious that the Government are in power for the last time under the existing system. They are afraid to face the people in a general election under the existing system.

It is obvious that the proposed system is completely unsuited to the temperament of our people. We have seen that system demonstrated in the Six Counties and proved to be a failure, as far as effective and proper representation is concerned. The Government here are trying to copy the British system. That system was imposed on the North of Ireland for a purpose. That purpose was to defeat majority rule and give power to a minority. It is obvious that the Government's fortunes are falling and that they are losing favour with the people. Now they are bringing in a system to enable them to hold office, even if they lose further support.

In any system of election, there are three fundamental principles: the delineation of the constituency; the decision whether it should be a single or multi-member constituency; and whether the system of election should be the transferable or the non-transferable vote. The Party now in Government have, on more than one occasion, interfered with P.R. in relation to two of these three. In the revision of the constituencies, they have resorted to a certain amount of gerrymandering, and they have, by the whittling down of the number of seats in a constituency in excess of three members, reduced the beneficial results that flow from the intelligent implementation of P.R.

In this sub-section, we are dealing with the third factor—the single or non-transferable vote. Back over the past 20 odd years, it has been impossible for the Party now in office to do anything that would interfere with that system. It is one which they had either to retain or throw completely overboard. There could be no half measure. We are asked in the House to pass a Bill containing this sub-section. The Bill will then go to the people who will be asked, as one of a number of issues to be decided by a simple answer "Yes" or "No", to abandon the system they have known so well and have operated so well down through the years.

We could cite hundreds of examples where the electorate have intelligently applied the powers they have held and hold at the moment. They have given their first preferences to the person they chose and have gone on with their other preferences to select from the remaining candidates the persons they felt were entitled to their support and, in that way, they exercised a definite influence on the results of an election. I shall give merely one example of how intelligently Fianna Fáil supporters can exercise that preference. In the last general election, there were two——

On a point of order, I was about to give an example from the 1957 general election and I was ruled out of order. I hope that ruling will apply to Deputy O'Sullivan also.

The Minister does not want to hear him.

Would the Minister enlighten me on his point of order?

It was ruled in my case, when I endeavoured to refer to a constituency in the last general election, that I was dealing with a matter which had already been decided—the multi-seat constituency —and that on this sub-section, we were dealing only with the single transferable vote. I am only asking that the same ruling be applied to Deputy O'Sullivan as he insisted on being applied to me.

That is all we are discussing but I can see a connection with the single transferable vote.

Quite, Sir.

So can I, but I was not allowed to refer to the results of a general election.

I am dealing with the matter before the House.

I can see a connection between the single transferable vote and the result——

Personally, I think the Minister got a bad break that time.

So do I. I can see a connection, but I was prevented from referring to it.

The remarks which I am making are in no way connected with the issue of multi versus single member constituencies.

But you were afraid to hear my arguments.

The decision on the previous sub-section was the result of the steamrolling vote of the Party in office last week.

You were afraid to hear them.

We are dealing today with a sub-section which is concerned with the transferability or non-transferability of votes, and the reference I was about to cite has nothing to do with the question of multi or single member constituencies.

It is the transferable vote.

The Opposition were afraid to hear my arguments.

It has no connection with the issue which the Minister was speaking about earlier this afternoon. There were two Fianna Fáil candidates in West Cork. On the elimination of one, the other, Deputy Cotter, was elected. He had 1,717 of a surplus. The Fianna Fáil voters in that constituency went on to give their third preferences to a candidate, Deputy Wycherley, who secured a seat and in that way succeeded in putting out the sitting Fine Gael Deputy. That was an intelligent application of the transferable vote and the Government are denying——

Major de Valera

Very intelligent, I would say.

In a multi-member constituency.

I did not interrupt the Minister when he was speaking.

Yes, the Deputy did. He refused to hear my arguments.

At any rate, the Minister got the worst of the argument, if I did. I am suggesting now that in a single member constituency with the non-transferable vote, not only would the supporters of his Party in West Cork be denied the choice between two candidates, but also denied the choice between the remaining candidates on the ballot paper which they enjoyed all down the years. That is a Fianna Fáil example. I could provide dozens of Fine Gael examples.

But the Deputy will not listen to any from this side of the House.

I could point to the fact that in the last general election, despite the fact that there was only one Fine Gael candidate in North Cork, on the transfer of his surplus every vote was transferable, out of a poll of 7,911 votes. Does that not indicate that notwithstanding the fact that the electorate there had only one Fine Gael candidate to vote for, every person who went to vote for Fine Gael desired to go on and vote for some other candidate. Is it not a fact that down through the years our people have learned to use P.R. to its fullest extent in the transferability of votes? You may have the odd person who will have a personal interest in a candidate and all he wants is to see that candidate elected. Such people may not know anything about politics and they may be disinterested generally in politics. They may not know anything personal about the other candidates on the ballot paper, but they can, and have done what the Government is now forcing the entire electorate to do, namely, to exercise so much power and restrict them to that, to put them on the level where they have to mark with an "X", or whatever symbol may be used, their preference for just one candidate out of all the candidates presented on the ballot paper. Why take away from the people the right they have used so effectively, and enjoyed for so long, and which they have never resented having?

The Government cannot take it away.

Not in a single instance has there been a letter written to the papers, or has a public body protested against the use of the transferable vote, as we have known it, but the Government have written into the Bill something which is not wanted by the people and on which the people will not be given an opportunity of expressing their views because it is confused in this Bill with three other distinct issues. There are many people who may wish to have the single member constituency who would only like to have it with the transferable vote. They will not be permitted to exercise that opinion in the referendum.

That is why I go back to the very commencement of the discussion to say that this was of such importance that it was something which should have been presented to a commission for examination, a commission of experts who, through their deliberations, from the material which they would command, from their experience and from the fact that they would be people with considerable knowledge of the subject, could possibly recommend to the Government a system of election which could go to the people in a referendum.

It is possible that they would recommend the single member constituency—I am saying "possible"; I am not saying "probable"—with the transferable vote. I am citing the example of persons who have a personal interest in one of the candidates on the ballot paper. Under the existing system, they have done what they regard as their duty and, if that candidate is not elected, good enough: they are not entitled to have their views on record because they have not indicated that they have any other views, but there are many thousands in the community who have other views. They may be active members of a political Party. They may have been influential at their Party convention in getting a panel of candidates selected and, having got that panel of candidates selected, they may have a greater preference for one candidate than another. They might like to come from that convention and to influence anybody they can in order to ensure that the candidate they supported at the convention will be elected to the seat. They are being denied that opportunity now.

We have cited in earlier debates, and I do not wish to go back on them now, instances where, in Britain, for example, there were rebels due to the Suez episode and possibly other matters in relation to which a minute part of a large political Party did not see eye to eye with majority opinion. Because they dared to express their opinion, they are being jettisoned by the Party. They will not get nomination at the next general election. The electorate in those constituencies—representing quite a substantial volume of opinion—will never get the opportunity of recording the fact that they would wish to uphold or to reject the stand taken by certain M.P.s on such an occasion. If they had the transferable vote system in Britain these people could give their votes to such candidates. Such a candidate could go forward for election on the merits of his actions at that time and the people could record their decision. However, that will never happen under the British system of election and the system which this Government now intend to impose on this country.

Going on from that, the person interested in politics would vote for the panel under the transferable vote system. He would select from that panel the candidates he thought would make the most suitable Deputy and then go on to give his next vote to his colleague of that team on the panel. After that, such a person would exercise his choice among the remaining candidates. It is quite possible that, in the course of that campaign, some candidates secured nomination holding views directly contrary to the views held by a particular voter: whose views were anathema to that voter. The voter would like to see any candidate on the ballot paper elected rather than that candidate. Under the transferable vote, he or she could exercise that preference by voting down along the ballot paper and leaving the last vote to that person to whose views he or she was so hostile. That is a liberty people have enjoyed and used through the years, but, under this section, we intend to take that right from them.

Take any group of people going to a polling booth. They may even come out of the one motor car. One or two of them may just be interested politically and may have no desire to continue their preferences, after voting for their own panel of candidates. Thank goodness, in recent years, there has been a growing consciousness of what people can do with a ballot paper at election time. We have seen them use the ballot paper to express their preference for candidates right down the length of the paper, until they exhausted the full list of candidates.

Why are the Government Party— whether it is the Party or their Leader is not clear, but it would appear to be more the influence of the Leader than the Party—at this time seeking to steamroll this measure through the Oireachtas and to influence the electorate at large to abandon this system of election and to substitute therefor a system under which a person can put only a symbol in front of the name of one candidate? The Party now in Government were quite adept for a number of years when they went into campaigns, at securing lower preference votes. They paid particular attention to the voter who, they knew, intended to vote for a candidate who might not secure election and, after that, they paid attention to the voter who, they knew, intended to give his or her first preference vote to a candidate who might secure a good majority. They obtained quite a number of seats by the effective manner in which their organisation secured those lower preferences and consequently they used P.R. to good Party effect.

As the years wore on and as the Party grew arrogant in office, as they alienated so many small Parties and independent people, the day came when the Party no longer commanded that influence over the lower preference transferable votes. It was from that day, the day which the Taoiseach says was in 1948, that the Party decided that P.R. was no longer of benefit to the Party and, consequently, must go. But they did not announce their intention in 1948, or in 1951, or in 1954, or in 1957. They did not announce their intention until such time as they secured the majority they now enjoy in this House to enable them to do a job of work, the details of which we are not permitted to discuss in this debate. However, they seek to use what they say is their last chance to take from the people, among other rights, the right to transfer their vote if the candidate for whom they have cast their first preference is not elected.

The Minister for Defence tried to make some play with the fact that voters who secured the election of a Deputy should have their second and lower preference votes examined. Surely there is justice in the contrary point of view, namely, that they have a Deputy elected and that it is those who have given their first preference votes to other candidates who have not been elected who are entitled to some measure of representation and that, in going down the list and finding their next preference, we are applying the principles of justice in the matter of securing fair representation for the various interests in the country?

It is extraordinary that, at the very time when the people are required to jettison P.R. in all its moods and tenses, we should have a Presidential election to be decided by the principles of P.R. Those who speak from the Government side of the House, before they deny any virtue whatever to the principle of P.R., should keep in the back of their minds that the person of the Taoiseach is involved in the Presidential election and, consequently, must be placed above the point at which any voice can be "raised" to the effect that anybody assuming that office—and let us say that we agree completely and entirely with the Government in their decision that the office of President, as required in the Constitution, shall be subject to the P.R. system of election—is elected on a minority vote. It would be a terrible situation if the President were elected on a minority vote.

I would go on from that to say that it would be no less terrible to have the Government of the country elected on a minority vote. The Party in office do not consider that. They like to point to our neighbours across the water and to stress the strong Government the people there have experienced, despite the fact that they have had more frequent and violent changes of Government than we have had and despite the fact that they have enjoyed less stability than we in the past 36 years. Yet, members of Fianna Fáil like to claim that the system of election in Britain has worked well in that country.

It has been said that many people are still confused about the issues in this election. It is adding to their confusion to require them to exercise a vote under the old system of P.R. and then to require them to leave that ballot box and to go over to another ballot box in the same polling booth and record their condemnation of the system of election they used just a minute before. Some day somebody will make a fortune out of that Gilbertian situation. Yet this Government are asking the people to vote in that manner.

We say it is right and proper that the transferable vote should be retained for the Presidential election, but that there is also justification for saying to the Government that it is also right and proper to retain that system of election which has been regarded by visitors to this country and to this House, on hearing the details of it, as something they would wish to have in their own land, providing the right to express their preferences but which has been denied to them under the system of election they have. They have expressed the view quite forcibly that we in Ireland enjoy a greater amount of power in the selection of our members of Parliament than they do in their own countries.

It is all very well for the Minister for External Affairs to say that that can all be fixed by entry behind closed doors before an election, but we say the system we have had, which made it possible for ordinary people to submit their names to the electorate and then to abide by the decision of the people as recorded in varying preferences, is something we should not throw aside lightly. We remember, indeed, the allegation—there was a half-hearted attempt to resurrect it in the course of this debate—that the Parties that came together in 1948 did so without any mandate, that they had done something outrageous, something the people would not stand for. Consequently, it was with some interest that the country looked to the first by-election after that general election.

The people in these by-election areas resolved the point at issue and, to give an indication of what they thought of the formation of that inter-Party Government, at the time when Deputy O'Donnell was elected in Donegal, there was a transfer of over 90 per cent. of votes from the Clann na Poblachta candidate to the inter-Party Fine Gael candidate, Deputy O'Donnell, showing that, in the opinion of the Clann na Poblachta supporters in that county, what that Government had done was the right thing. Soon after, unfortunately, there was a vacancy in West Cork, where we lost the late Minister for Local Government, Mr. Tim Murphy. When we went to that constituency the same issue was presented to the people in West Cork and they endorsed the action of that Government in coming together and implementing the programme then being implemented.

The intention here is to ensure that that privilege which the people have used so well, and which has been commented on so favourably and so often by people in responsible positions in this country, should be jettisoned under this sub-section. We say, consequently, that if this measure is passed, we are removing from the system of election we have had here for so long one of its most valuable attributes, the transferable vote, and that in substituting the system which the Government propose as an alternative to what we have enjoyed, they are asking those who have got their leaving certificate to go back into the infants' class.

It is apparent to the general public at this stage what the issues are in connection with this measure, particularly in regard to this sub-section. The discussion which has taken place here over the last few weeks has borne fruit. People throughout the country, as far as I am aware and from my experience of the country, have been considering the pros and cons of the present system and the change proposed to be made under this sub-section. The discussion in this House has been very useful. It has been enlightening and has served its purpose in that the people have now become aware of the dangers involved.

Having said that, I should like to emphasise again what I said here recently, that now that the people realise the issues involved, they feel the Government should not be allowed any longer to evade its responsibilities with regard to the serious conditions that obtain in the country. The public feel that the longer this discussion lasts the better the Government like it, in that it saves their bacon, saves them from being brought to book, and saves them from taking the necessary steps that a stable Government and a strong Government, as they are, should take to carry out their promises. The people are well aware now of the dangers involved and if this measure, this attempt to change the Constitution, were put before the people within the next week, they would reject it by an overwhelming majority, and with that overwhelming majority of a rejection would be a call to the Government to get on with the work for which they were elected and to cease wasting the time of the people and this House by bringing in such a measure.

There is not the slightest doubt of the accuracy of my forecast in this connection, because it has been brought home forcibly within the last few weeks that the Government have become very uneasy about the likelihood of success when they face the people on this referendum. That uneasiness has been shown and proved by the fact that they are bringing a red herring across the path of this measure inasmuch as the Taoiseach himself is now being thrown in to confuse the issue. By right, the present Taoiseach's name should appear on this measure because it is part and parcel of what the Government hope to achieve under this amending Bill. It was Deputy Costello who said last week that the Government had despaired of getting the people to support the measure, that their only hope of success was to bring in the Taoiseach himself and say to the people: "Give this to the old man as his last wish."

The Deputy might now come to the sub-section.

I would suggest that the majority of the people have a clear picture now, in so far as it is possible for the people in this House to give it, or, at any rate, in so far as it is possible for that section of the Press which is not tied to put the facts before the people. I, therefore, respectfully suggest to the members of the Opposition that at this stage they should decide as soon as possible to have this measure dealt with finally in this House. As I said, I realise the part taken by the Opposition in this has been of the utmost benefit to the people, but I do suggest that the longer this measure is discussed, and the longer this sub-section is discussed, the more the Opposition in this House are walking into the trap prepared for them by the wiliest politician in this country. I do not use the word with disrespect to him. The Taoiseach has laid a trap——

The Deputy has been speaking over five minutes and he has not related one word to the sub-section.

Of course I am relating my remarks to the sub-section.

The Deputy is aware that we are discussing sub-section (2), which deals with the non-transferable vote versus the transferable vote. The Deputy has not mentioned either since he began speaking.

I think I am entitled to give reasons why much further discussion on this sub-section is unnecessary, and that is the sole purpose of my speaking.

The Deputy must speak to the sub-section before the House. Anything else is irrelevant.

In my opinion, the general public are now aware of the implications contained in this sub-section. They are aware of the fact that a Government can be elected, and will be elected, if this is passed by the referendum, that will not represent the majority of the people, and we know it is the desire of the Government and of the retiring Taoiseach that that Government should be for years to come none other than Fianna Fáil. It is in order to ensure that that most important point, that is contained in sub-section (2), is not allowed to be fogged over, that I suggest that we dispose of the measure to ensure that there will be no clash between the Presidential election and the referendum.

It would be a tragic thing if the implications of sub-section (2) of the Schedule were to be discussed on the same platform and at the same time as we will have a discussion on the personality of the new President. It is in order to have the discussion on the new President, and to have the emphasis on the Presidential election, that the Government hope to hold the two on the same day. Nobody, for a moment, can suggest that the Presidential election is of anything like the same importance as what the Government are trying to do under sub-section (2) of the Schedule of this Bill.

The question of the Presidential election is not before the House and does not, therefore, arise.

The importance of what the Government are trying to put across in sub-section (2) arises, and it is to prevent the importance of that sub-section from being smothered in the hury-burly of a Presidential election that I suggest, at this stage, that we do our utmost in this House to ensure that the two, the referendum and the Presidential election, do not clash. I think it can be arranged that the matter we are discussing here—it is the system of election with the non-transferable vote—that entire problem, should be put before the people within the next two months and then let us have, at a later stage, the Presidential election.

When I make that appeal, I do so with the full knowledge and appreciation of the first-class work that has been done, in this House and outside it, over the weeks that have elapsed, to bring home to the people the implications contained in the measure. For that reason, I am concluding by saying it is not my intention to delay the House on any other stage of this measure. I will endeavour, to the best of my ability, to have the matter under discussion expedited so that we can, outside of this House, put our views to the general public so that the decision will be taken in a calm fashion, in a clear manner, and that that decision will be taken as soon as possible and will not, under any circumstances, be associated or tangled with the question of the Presidential election.

In the last analysis, when we proceed to examine, and having fully examined, the implications of this section, we are right up against the problem of where authority should be placed having been ultimately derived from the people. In my view, authority, coming from the people as it does, should rest with the majority, always, of course, assuming that that majority is behaving itself consonant with the rule of law. The desire on the part of the Government —I do not think it can be called any other word but desire; it certainly is not manifest that this constitutional change they seek to bring about is based on any sort of patriotic grounds, that it comes from any sort of demand dictated by the betterment of our people—is a desire for power.

Power is something which takes a long time to acquire. It is dearly bought, not alone in money and blood, but in mental development and mental training. Power is something which can operate only at its best when it is being operated justly and with due regard to the moral issues associated with its proper operation. To keep power and the use of power on that high level of majority rule, consistent with the rule of law, its operation devoted to the betterment of our people, involves major vigilance on the part of the real givers of that power from day to day, from week to week, and year to year.

It is only by subterfuge or political camouflage or by some sort of red-herring being drawn across the trail of the national thought that the national thought is coerced into accepting something which it would never accept, were it as vigilant as it should be in the preservation of the power gained and which it will continue to gain. The desire—I use the word "desire" advisedly—on the part of this Government to get rid of the single transferable vote is simply and solely a manifestation of political dread within their own hearts, because they know that the last card of political double dealing and trickery has been played, that the people will no longer accept as trumps the kind of things to which they have been subjected in the past.

The removal of the single transferable vote, and its replacement by the single non-transferable vote, changes the elector from the status of an elector into a mere "yes" or "no" man or woman. The limited power of choice is taken away. No longer is the elector what the very word derivatively means—a person who chooses—because it is from the Party machine that he or she will be given the man or woman for whom to vote. I do not see, and I cannot see, the logical basis of any argument which says 4,001 votes can morally, or properly, or authoritatively give a seat in a constituency on the non-transferable vote, where 16,001 people voted. It is true that to some extent the people will be free to merge and that, of course, would be the proper thing to do in order to preserve their power and keep their power of choice; but nowhere will you see that happening until such time as that power is taken from this minority vote. That would be the case if this referendum, from the point of view of the Government, is a success, but it would be too late. Nevertheless I do not think it will be a success, because as far as I and other Deputies can see, and as far as the views of the people on the street can be gathered, the people are in genuine fear of what might happen to them, once this power is taken from them.

All kinds of arguments have been offered inside and outside the House as to why we should exchange, as a major constitutional issue, the present system of the single transferable vote for the single non-transferable vote. The real reason has not been given—Fianna Fáil's desire for the perpetuation of power in their hands. I think I would be entitled to say that once it was achieved in relation to the national Parliament, it would only be the thin end of the wedge and that later it would be applied to the Presidency, the Seanad, to local councils and to borough councils, until eventually you would have that "integral structure" that was so eloquently, and with such tremendous bias, outlined by the Minister for Defence in Listowel last Saturday night and reported in the Sunday Press of last Sunday. If that is the kind of integral structure that we are to envisage, then it is time that people packed up and it is no wonder that some are packing up and leaving in disgust and despair. Under that integral structure envisaged in the course of that speech by the Minister for Defence, I can see the way——

What type of integral structure? Give the quotation.

The integral structure that meant the outlawing of every system of politics, except that of Fianna Fáil.

May we have the quotation?

I have not got it with me, but there will be ample opportunity——

The Deputy has alleged that I advocated an integral structure which would outlaw every political opinion, expect Fianna Fáil's opinion. I suggest that he either produce the quotation or withdraw the allegation.

So far as the Chair is concerned, Deputy Lindsay is only paraphrasing——

He is imagining——

—— and the Chair cannot ask him for the reference.

He is imagining and inventing.

When it comes to describing the bias, venom and hatred that is running currently through every utterance of the Minister for Defence, no imagination on my part is needed. It is so in every word that drops from his lips. I can see the time in this political structure envisaged, as I said, by the Minister for Defence on Saturday, when county councils will be controlled, borough councils will be controlled, and all officials will be controlled and when, in the last resort, it will not be possible for the poor or the needy even to get home assistance, or boots for their children, unless they are prepared, as they were asked to be prepared before, to vote for Fianna Fáil.

We have been told that the people do not understand P.R. We have been using it now for upwards of 40 years, ever since it was brought in first on the occasion of a borough council election for Sligo town. I noticed that Deputy Gilbride has not had the hardihood which he had on the Second Reading, to come in here to contradict and refute my contradiction of him when he brazenly asserted that the principles of P.R. were enshrined in that Sligo Bill as a condition precedent to the British Government of the day allowing the Bill——

That does not seem to be relevant to the sub-section.

I submit that it is relevant in this way, that, in 1918, in Sligo, P.R. was tried for the first time. The two corporations had been a failure, the Unionist one up to 1898 and the Nationalist one that followed as a result of the provisions of the Local Government Act 1898. Under the particular statute they got together in Sligo, through the Ratepayers' Association and a meeting of the citizens, and it was in Sligo itself the idea originated that the P.R. system should be incorporated and I am indebted for confirmation of that to an article in the Irish Times on 15th January, 1959. We were told in 1958 by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that P.R. was cumbersome and that the people did not understand it. See what happened in Sligo in 1918 on the very first effort at P.R. in this country. The Ratepayers received 823 first preference votes and won eight seats. Sinn Féin with 674 votes got seven seats. Five seats were won by Labour with 432 first preference votes and the Independents got four seats with 279 votes. If that result were to be worked out mathematically in relation to P.R. and to what the result should be on those votes, the Ratepayers would be entitled to 8.945 seats. They got eight. Sinn Féin would be entitled to 7.632 seats and got seven. Labour should get 4.895 seats and got five and Independents should get 3.032 seats but got four seats.

Illiteracy was at a much higher level, I would suggest, in 1918 than it is to-day. Of the 2,251 people who voted in Sligo in that election 10.29 per cent. were illiterate and only 1.75 per cent. of the votes were spoiled in 1918.

I do not think I could abandon reference to the Sligo election without quoting what the Irish Times said of the result at that time:—

"P.R. is the Magna Carta of the political and municipal minorities. The result of the Sligo election is so conspicuously fair that all Parties to it are well pleased. It must excite hopes throughout the whole of Ireland which it would be folly as well as cruelty to disappoint. The suppression of minority opinion in Ireland is one of the root causes of all our national backwardness and unrest. Mr. Birrell, in his cynical way, accepted it as a law of nature; but we know now that it is merely a disease in the body politic and we have discovered at least the principle of the cure."

As a result of the election, the Ratepayers on that occasion who supported the measure met and, at the meeting, the local Catholic Administrator of Sligo, then Fr. Butler, who later became Very Rev. Canon Butler, P.P., Elphin, said this:—

"We are all quite satisfied that the Bill as it stands is a great measure of reform for Sligo, and a liberal charter of freedom for its people." These were the remarks of 1918 in regard to the transferable vote but I want to come to 1938 when on 23rd June, the Rev. Canon Luce, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin, wrote to the Irish Times and said in relation to P.R.—I should like Deputies to note the strain of prophecy through this:—

"It would be a thousand pities,"

he wrote,

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

P.R. has been a healing force in our midst. Old political feuds are dying; public spirit is replacing faction. Our elections are well conducted. The voice of reason is heard, and the gun is silent. P.R. deserves much of the credit; for P.R. produces contented and loyal minorities, whereas the other system breeds muzzled, sullen, discontented minorities, predisposed to doctrines of violence.

P.R. has been a unifying force, and unity is strength. The other system antagonises majority and minority, accentuates the differences between them, and, therefore, weakens both. How, then, can some say that P.R. fails to give strong governance? A contented minority is a strength to the majority, while a discontented minority and a bullying majority are a weakness to the whole body politic. Surely those who accuse P.R. of making for weak Governments are confusing the strength of authority, based on political consent, with the brute strength of force majeure.

Since the establishment of the Free State we have lived under several administrations, every one of them elected by P.R. Every one of them has been a strong Government, judged by the true test of strength. Their legislative output has been large, yet most of the grave measures have been carried by the slenderest majority. The scale only just turned, but there was consent behind it and whether we approved or disapproved we all accepted the decisions loyally and cheerfully and made them our own; for we have been able to say to ourselves: ‘It is the will of the people, ascertained under the fairest electoral system ever devised by the wit of man.' We shall not be able to say that if P.R. goes. If P.R. goes, the feeling of enforced submission will banish the freeman's feeling of glad consent to the law which he through his representative has helped to make. A Government with a majority of six under P.R. is infinitely stronger than a Government with a majority of 60 elected otherwise.

P.R. bevels the sharp edge of political controversy. It says to striving factions: ‘Sirs, ye be brethren.' Its psychological basis is sound. It rests, not on that artificial, childish division of men and measures into good and bad, nice and nasty, but on our true and natural judgments of our fellow man and their thoughts. We do not love and hate; we prefer; we like more, or we like less... The P.R. voting paper is the voting paper for the intelligent, public-spirited man."

Fianna Fáil have a pathetic belief in the power of the falsehood oft repeated. They have sought to say that in 1947 I repudiated the whole principle of P.R. Usually, I do not bother to correct the false-holds of Fianna Fáil; they are too numerous and noisome to trouble with; but for the record it may be well to say in the context of this discussion that, in 1947, I pointed out that those who hoped to operate the system of P.R. in its fullest application were living in a Utopian world of illusion, founding their system on the assumption that something like Fianna Fáil could not happen, while those of us who know the imperfect world in which we live are only too conscious of the fact that in an imperfect system something like Fianna Fáil does sometimes happen.

When they got the power in 1935 by the Electoral Act of that year, they went as far as they dare to gut the whole principle of the multiple constituency upon which the ideal form of P.R. is founded; and they reduced all the constituencies in Ireland from their seven and five seat status— and, in some cases, nine seat status—in which P.R. functions perfectly, to three seat constituencies, in order to ensure in so far as they could, that wherever they secured a bare majority of the votes in any area, their bare majority would secure to Fianna Fáil two seats, leaving for the rest of the voters one seat. In that imperfect form, P.R., in my judgment, had ceased to function and was merely a travesty of the original system. Therefore, those who had hoped to see P.R. function on the basis of the multi-seat constituency of nine, seven or five seats were Utopian, unfitted for the practical side of life; and such persons trespassed on the dangerous field of public life at their peril and very often at the peril of their neighbours.

I went on to say that in the imperfect world in which we live, it seemed to me that the single seat constituency with the transferable vote represented the nearest approach we could get to a fair record of the people's preference and a true choice of the individuals whom the people wanted to represent them in this, the sovereign Parliament of Ireland. Anyone who wishes to trouble himself to refer back to the text—and the full text—of what I said in the discussion of the Electoral Act of 1947 will find that that is a faithful representation of the contention I then made.

Now, all this that is proceeding here to-day is undertaken by Fianna Fáil in the cause of stability. I think we are entitled to ask them what they mean by stability. In the past 35 years, we have had three Prime Ministers in Ireland. Is there any other democracy in the world which can claim a like measure of stability? Manifestly, there is not; but "stability" has ceased to mean in the ranks of Fianna Fáil what ordinary men mean by stability. For Fianna Fáil stability is rapidly coming to mean that in this country anything which reveals the possibility of any Government other than a Fianna Fáil Government functioning here is self-evidently unstable and requiring amendment so that an alternative to Fianna Fáil never can emerge again.

I warn that we are travelling the road which may well precipitate this country into disaster. The Fianna Fáil spokesmen in this debate have already declared quite openly that they want to see wiped out of this House, where they say there is no longer room for them, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the Independents; and the Minister for Local Government has declared that he is inspired by the pious hope that the principal Opposition Party will be wiped out, too. Despite his denials, he is convicted publicly of falsehood because although he protests that he never used certain words, every independent testimony is that he did use them; and yet with unblushing effrontery, he comes into the House and faces us all, convicted publicly of falsehood and wholly unable to utter a word to discharge himself from an indictment that no honourable man should bear in silence. The burden of that falsehood is that he revealed before the world the secret hopes of his own colleagues and that his leader condemned him for letting the cat out of the bag. And so we are moving along this profligate road. We began in the first sub-section by reducing minorities to virtual impotence; in the first sub-section, the purpose of the decision of this House was to render the votes of minorities ineffective. The purpose of this sub-section is to create a situation in which their votes will not be counted at all—and that is political dictatorship run mad.

Some of us listened to the Minister for Defence to-day. I freely concede that he was floundering about in a brief that had been furnished to him and that he himself did not understand. Despite his repeated reference to the document with which he was furnished when he came in here, much of what he said was incoherent. In so far as sense could be made out of what he was saying, he wanted to communicate to the House his belief that the idea that anyone should be allowed to choose between the worst and the second worst was an outrage on freedom and justice.

I do not think he is an inexperienced politician: I think he was born and bred in the atmosphere of politics. I do not give him the excuse of saying that he is an unsophisticated entrant in this House. Much of his activities since he came in here demonstrate the fact that he is fully sophisticated in the worst practices of Fianna Fáil politics. The truth is that he does not realise the magnitude of the outrage that his contentions make on every standard of public decency. If he had learned as much as he ought to know about this troubled world in which we live, he would have learned long ere now that "public life in any free society is not always a choice between the best and the second best, but all too often a choice between the worst and the second worst", in the immortal words of the late Tom Kettle.

What is wrong in leaving a man free in this country to say: "I like Fine Gael best and, if I could have it, I would have them; but I will have anyone rather than Fianna Fáil"? Is there anything wrong in leaving the free voter in this country say: "From the horrors of Fianna Fáil, good Lord deliver me", and using his vote to that end? Is there anything wrong in a free man in this society saying: "I will vote Labour as my first preference, but if I cannot secure the election of a Labour candidate, then I prefer a Fine Gael candidate to a Fianna Fáil candidate"? Is that wrong? Does that shock the disinterested and lofty sentiments of Fianna Fáil? I know that Fianna Fáil find it hard to imagine that for any vacancy, Presidential, Bord na gCon, Parliament, or anywhere else there is a job to be got, they cannot find some Fianna Fáil nominee who would be glad to get it. I know it never occurs to Fianna Fáil that, so long as there is a Fianna Fáil hack available to push into any vacancy, anybody else should be considered.

Or a Fine Gael one at that.

But there are other elements in this country and, strangely enough, their main preoccupation is: "From Fianna Fáil, good Lord, deliver us." I think it is that knowledge that makes Fianna Fáil say that they are determined to abolish the single transferable vote.

Is there not something fantastic in a situation in which we deliberately retain for the purpose of the Presidential election the single transferable vote? Is it not fantastic that for every other election in Ireland the single transferable vote operates, where the choice is to be made in public and under the scrutiny of the public's eyes? But only in respect of Parliament are we to establish the principle that where there is a powerful political machine, amply furnished with funds by the vested interests they protect, fortified by three kept newspapers who can maintain a bombardment of publicity on the public night and day, that they are to be the only people with any prospect of securing in each constituency—the machinery for the delineation of which they are to arrange—a majority, not of all the votes cast, but a majority of the dragooned votes which have been terrorised, purchased and persuaded; and given that they can get 6,000 in a poll of 16,000 and that 10,000 other voters, having expressed their preferences amongst the various other Parties before them, may not say because of this: "From Fianna Fáil, good Lord, deliver us."

Precautions are to be taken now that they will never be allowed to express that sentiment. Outside Bedlam, has the argument ever been made that there is anything wrong in giving full weight to the expressed desire of a voter in a free election? The greatest advocate of the British parliamentary system operating their present voting system, Sir Winston Churchill, has himself gone on record as saying that he considers the existing system in Great Britain to have one grave defect, that is, that substantially 2,000,000 intelligent voters are disfranchised, unless they are prepared to abandon their rights and declare their first preferences in a public poll.

Do we ourselves not know that the adoption of the proposal put before us now by the Fianna Fáil Government was accepted by the Government of Northern Ireland lest a day should come when those elements in the community of Northern Ireland, who were not dominated by the Orange Lodges or by the traditional bigotries that have poisoned public life in that part of our country, might combine to form an alternative Government and make an end of the Orange dictatorship in Northern Ireland? Is that not the fact? Is that not the reason Lord Brookeborough wiped out every form of P.R. in Northern Ireland? Is it not true that if the single transferable vote operated in certain constituencies in the City of Belfast to-day, a different result could reasonably be anticipated from an election held in those areas?

But I want to avoid, in so far as it is humanly possible, the cloud of confusion that can be imported into this discussion by referring to the situation that obtains elsewhere. In the last analysis, we are concerned with what will obtain in Ireland, or that part of it for which we are responsible and for which we must answer not only to our own people but to the world. I want to warn Deputies and the people of this country that, as we move from decision to decision in connection with this measure, we have begun and encompassed the primary purpose of Fianna Fáil, that is, by our decision on sub-section (1) of the section, effectively to exclude from this Parliament the representatives of every minority in Ireland. But, now, under sub-section (2), we are moving to the extraordinary act of legislating that the very votes of minorities will not in effect be counted any more.

I do not believe at this moment that one-third of the Fianna Fáil Party believe in the justice of what they are now doing. I do not believe that this proposal will be carried in the country, but I think it is something of which we in this House will have reason to be ashamed, if by our resolution we ask the country to adopt it. I know that Fianna Fáil have been driven to the desperate expedient of throwing the person of the Taoiseach into this fight, apprehensive that the judgment of the people on the merits of this proposed constitutional amendment will go against them. It is an inglorious destiny for a man who has been 40 years in the public life of this country, whether you agree or disagree with him, that he should be thrown into the scales of a controversial struggle of this character, in the hope that irrational sympathy with him will bring down the verdict of the public on the wrong side.

The question of the Presidential election does not arise on this sub-section.

The question of whether the people are to adopt this proposed amendment to the Constitution must be, I suppose, relevant; and I think we can legitimately make an intelligent anticipation from what we have been told by Ministers in the course of this debate that it is now the intention to hold both elections on the same day. It is legitimate surely to argue that if sympathy moves the electorate, that is no reason why they should vote against their conscience for the extinction of minority representation in this House, or that they should go beyond that to the point of declaring that the votes of minorities shall not be counted at all.

I often wonder if Deputies realise the monstrous character of what they are being asked to do. I do not know if they fully realise that, having done it, it may be extremely difficult to put the situation right again. I confess that the labour of arguing this case in this House is arduous beyond belief, because one knows that the Ministers are not open to conviction and that the Deputies behind them will not be allowed to change their votes. Nevertheless, so long as this is the Parliament of Ireland, representative of all sections of our community, access to which is free for all who can muster a minimum number of their neighbours' votes to support them, and so long as this is a free Parliament where any minority, however insignificant, once elected, is entitled to be heard, then it is our duty, as well as our privilege, to participate in making it work.

I ask Deputies who are members of the Fianna Fáil majority in this House to pause now and ask themselves what will Dáil Éireann look like if the voice of minorities is no longer heard here. This House, these institutions, will survive so long as our people believe that they are what they represent themselves to be: Parliament is Parliament so long as it represents the people. The Fianna Fáil illusion that the size of its majority is the guarantee of its democratic character is madness in the world in which we live to-day. There are Parliaments functioning all through Eastern Europe and Asia where Governments can claim majorities of 99.9 per cent. for every act they do from murder to mayhem, to rapine and slaughter, and every act is represented as the democratic will of the people. But those who live under that detestable tyranny are under no illusion. Though the traitors to democracy gather all the language and the forms of democracy around them to conceal their horrid nature, they deceive no one but themselves.

There is no denying by any element in this country that this is a free Parliament, freely chosen in free elections. There is no denying that we of the principal Opposition Party sought the franchise of the people and failed to get it in the freest possible election that could be conducted anywhere in the world. There is no element in this country to-day that can challenge the fact that Fianna Fáil have an overall majority in the freest Parliament in the world, elected under the freest system in the world. There is no one who can honestly challenge the undoubted right of the existing Fianna Fáil Government to rule this country by the authority of God——

——delegated to the freely chosen representatives of the people. And the surest sign of that is the presence here of the smallest minority and, indeed, the absence of one minority, which sought election, achieved the right to come here and is afraid to face the music. It is their absence and the fact that they have the right to come here and make their case which is the Government's principal justification, and our justification, for consenting to the continued detention of 100 to 150 men without trial in Curragh Camp.

Picture the situation which will obtain in this House if the Government Party sit here faced by one Opposition Party, and all the other benches empty, the voice of every minority in the country silenced and their votes discarded. Whichever of us occupy the Government Benches will occupy it by the authority of a number of Deputies who admittedly and openly represent only a minority of the voters they have come here professedly to represent. If anybody offered to any reasonable citizen of this country the alternative of a Dáil constituted as it is to-day, with its doors wide open to anyone who takes up his own tub and stands at the corner of any street or any cross-roads in Ireland and makes his case, however fantastic it may seem to us, and gets the electors to vote for him, and a Dáil consisting exclusively of the nominees of two political blocs, is there anybody in this country daft enough to say that he would prefer the second to the first? I heard the Minister for Defence to-day speaking of how intolerable it was that people should have the right to vote or the right to seek votes on a fantastic policy. I do not think I am misquoting him.

"Outlandish" was the word he used.

Outlandish policy— Deputy Blowick rose after him and asked him this pertinent question: Who is to decide that a policy is outlandish? Who is to say that a policy is outlandish? What policy was ever more outlandish than the policy that was preached by Jerusalem to the Roman Empire?

The Chair pointed out that the question of policies did not arise and could not be debated.

Look, Sir, watch where we are going. We are now, at the instance of the Minister for Defence, being called upon to legislate in such a way that nobody will be allowed to enter the political arena on the ground that his policy is outlandish. I am not canvassing the merits of Christianity or the cult of Diana of Ephesus, but surely I am entitled to say that when St. Paul stood in Ephesus the decent silversmiths of Ephesus said: "This man is coming out with an outlandish policy and he should not be allowed to preach it and upset the country." Is that not true? That is on the highest level, but I do not have to look further back than my own grandfather who, remember, was bundled out of this country by authority about 100 years ago. On what ground?—that he was upsetting the country with outlandish proposals. He managed to get away to America. John Mitchel went to Australia and Smith O'Brien went there, too, for no greater crime than that they were advocates of outlandish proposals.

Do not let us forget that there have been times when that indictment came, not from the right but from the left. It was in 1879 that the founders of the Land League proposed to the Fenians that physical force should be laid aside and the Plan of Campaign substituted for it in the Land League.

I do not understand what reference this has to sub-section (2).

The Ceann Comhairle was delivered from the ordeal that I went through in listening to the Minister for Defence who was making the argument that we should so legislate, and we are now asked to do so, to ensure that persons with outlandish policies will not have access to the electorate. Deputy Blowick asked him who is to judge——

The only thing before the House is sub-section (2) of the Schedule. I ask the Deputy to confine himself to that.

Very gladly, Sir, but in how far am I to deem the Minister for Defence to be part of sub-section (2) of Section 2 of the Schedule? He was injected into it and I agree that on anything he is an excrescence, but in this particular case, my function is, where an excrescence presents itself, to extirpate it, in so far as fair debate will allow.

This is the single non-transferable vote versus the single transferable vote. There is no other issue.

No other issue whatever arises on this sub-section.

And the Minister for Defence argued that if there were persons irresponsible enough to vote for outlandish policies, then the proper decision was that their votes should not be counted and that the issue should be joined between the man who got an absolute majority and the man who came next upon the poll, and if there were four other candidates, any of whom received less than the second man, they would be deemed to be persons advocating outlandish policies and their votes discounted and disregarded. Is that right?

That is quite untrue. That was not the argument. If Deputy Dillon wants to kill time from now to Christmas, it is all right. I shall not interrupt.

No, no. I have spoken once on this section. I spoke once on the last section—once—and I spoke from my knowledge of the facts. It ill becomes the Minister for External Affairs, who hauled in the Minister for Defence to-day with a brief prepared by the Minister for External Affairs and set the poor fellow on his feet to flounder about here incoherently. The only thing that emerged was this argument. He was pressed to say why is not a person who has expressed a third, fourth, fifth or sixth preference entitled to have his vote counted. Because, he said, that encourages people to advocate and vote for outlandish policies.

That is not true.

That is as we understood it. Enough of this. The Minister for Local Government tells us that we did not hear him say what he said and that he never said it and it is not true. We heard him say it and we trust the testimony of our own ears before we do the veracity or memory of the Minister for Local Government. We trust the testimony of our own ears before we trust the veracity or accuracy of the Minister for External Affairs. Deputy Blowick, who does not belong to my Party or to the Party of the Minister for External Affairs, was listening to him and the first question Deputy Blowick asked him when he rose to his feet was: who is to determine what is an outlandish policy? Surely I am entitled to argue against the Minister for Defence who says that one of the principal reasons why he is supporting it is to prevent people from voting three, four, five and six, from voting for what he deems as outlandish policies.

I do not think the Deputy should pursue the outlandish policy.

I do not want to. All I want to do is to put the question. There were various points in our own history when minorities were, by every definition, and in our later history from left and right, described as advocating outlandish policies, but the fact that they retained their right and freedom to approach our people and to argue with them gave them the opportunity ultimately to prevail and it was because that opportunity has been sacrosanct in this country from the date of the foundation of this State that we have with us to-day the unique stability, in the generally accepted meaning of that term, that all of us know we at present have. We are going to throw it away. And for what? The Minister for External Affairs says for Fianna Fáil's stability.

I now belong to one of the largest minorities in this country and this minority to which I belong constitutes a part of the minority vote in this country which is greater than the total vote recorded for Fianna Fáil. Bear that in mind. Consider the testimony of all the Deputies in this House representative of that minority which is greater than the majority on which Fianna Fáil rests, for between us on this side of the House we polled more first preference votes than Fianna Fáil.

On behalf of that part of it which the Fine Gael Party constitutes in every constituency in Ireland, I want to tell the Government that the stability they hope for is not what we mean by stability. The stability they hope for is the perpetuation in office, by such methods as they hope to deploy, of their political faction. That is not the way to stability. The way to stability is to provide, in so far as it is possible for us to do, that in every succeeding generation this Dáil will truly represent the people and then we will cheerfully, whichever side of the House we are on, pledge our lives in defence of the unchallengeable right of a freely elected Government to govern this country by the authority of God. But I warn you that if you so distort the face of Parliament that our people cease to see in it the certain citadel of free institutions, no exertion on this side or on the Minister's side of the House will give the Government the firm foundation from which to govern with stability.

The mistake Fianna Fáil are making is that they yearn for stability of an Executive constituted from their Party and they are putting on the foundation of freedom in this country a burden greater than it will bear. Our concern is not for the stability of any Executive but for the stability of Parliament itself, to ensure that whatever Government is elected by the authority of this Parliament will have under its feet an unshakable authority and that every section in this House, whichever side it sits on, will feel it has a duty under God to support the ultimate authority of an Executive thus freely chosen.

I suppose it is waste of breath to press upon the Government that even at this eleventh hour there is a hope of repairing much of the damage that has been done if this sub-section is withdrawn. Admittedly, it would be a second best, but unlike the Minister for Defence, long experience, personal and vicarious, in the political life of Ireland has reconciled me to the acceptance not infrequently, not of the second best but of the second worst and the aim to achieve that is well known to me to be a legitimate aim of earnest public effort. Maybe the withdrawal of sub-section (2) would be entitled to no more dignified description than the second worst, but at least it would be better than the decision not to count their votes at all.

I am prepared to suggest to the Government that, even if they have substantially closed the doors of Dáil Éireann to minorities, there is still some opening left to give minorities the feeling that they can still participate in the public life of Ireland; it is no more than the modest proposal that, when the votes are counted and it transpires that, on the first count, no one has a clear majority, the votes of the minorities will not then be cast aside.

As I listen to myself urge that upon an Irish Government, I find it hard to believe my own ears. I could conceive of such a plea being appropriate in Hungary, or Czechoslovakia or Poland, and I can imagine that if such representations in their dying Parliaments were reported in the Press in Europe, democrats everywhere would pray that that vestige of freedom would be left. Have we not come a long road when we find ourselves forced to the point of petitioning for that remnant of freedom for our own minorities in our own country? Have we all gone mad? Of the 11 Fianna Fáil Deputies sitting opposite to me, I do not believe there are more than three, or possibly four, who would ever have dreamed of a proposal to refuse to count the votes of a minority in Ireland; yet they will be dragooned into the Lobby in defence of that principle.

It is a humiliation to me that I have lived to see the day that I should plead unsuccessfully, as I believe I will be unsuccessful, for the right of minorities in Ireland to have their votes counted. It is good that from the decision of this House there should be an appeal to the people. It is good for freedom; it is good for the survival of liberty, but it is bad for Dáil Éireann. It is a bad thing that we should ever have it to tell that by the votes of the elected representatives of the Irish people, we sought to throw the uncounted votes of minorities into the wastepaper basket.

Were the Government to mend their hand at this stage and say: "We wanted to go the whole hog but we recognise that the hallmark of democracy in a Government is not their power to do as they wish but their careful solicitude for the views of minorities, and in the light of that we propose to go half way, perhaps with trepidation, perhaps with reluctance but in the desire to publicise before the world that democracy in this country has not become a fraudulent facade for tyranny. We are prepared to drop the proposal to abolish the transferable vote and stand on the principle of the single member constituency with the transferable vote, not perhaps as the second best, but as the second worst, in order to carry into evidence our desire to go to the limit to meet the legitimate views of minorities, great and small, in this country," I do not deny that this would seriously qualify the force of the case we can and will make against the shocking proposals enshrined in this Bill, but I am not enough of a politician—though I glory in that title—to seek a successful political campaign at the expense of our Parliament's disgrace. I would prefer that Parliament, by its voice, would at least give qualified acknowledgement to the rights of the few in our community. I should hate to see the day that Parliament in Dublin would meet with no Labour Party, no Clann na Talmhan, no Independents—these benches empty. Is there an honest Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party who does not share my horror at such a possibility?

The Deputy knows there is a big difference between the Second Reading and the Committee Stage of a Bill. The Deputy is making a Second Reading speech all the time.

Well, Sir, in my five and 20 years in this House, I daresay there is no Deputy in it more familiar with the Rules of Order than I—I am blowed if I know how one could make any other kind of speech than the one I am making.

We are dealing with the single transferable vote and the single non-transferable vote.

I am pleading for the second worst of those, and that is, the preservation and protection of minorities and an assurance, at least, that their votes will be counted.

The Deputy is not getting very close to the Committee Stage.

Here is the issue joined between us. The Fianna Fáil Party's proposal is that once the votes have been determined to be those of minorities—advocating what the Minister for Defence declared as outlandish—they should be discarded and thereafter ignored. Our case is that, however outlandish the Executive or anyone else in this House considers anyone to be, so long as he obeys the law and acknowledges the supremacy of Parliament, and the authority of the Government freely chosen, he is entitled to have his vote counted, and full weight to be given to his view, however remote it may be from the decisions that we have taken. I do not see how any democrat in a free society can dissociate himself from that proposal, but I am not at all sure that we can hope that Fianna Fáil will conform to that description.

Deputy Dillon's famous last words were that he did not see how any democrat in a free society could stand over this section of the Bill. There is one democrat who usually sits in the seat beside Deputy Dillon who stood wholeheartedly for this section and who stood wholeheartedly against the single transferable vote—Deputy J. A. Costello. On that net issue, the single transferable vote, at column 1345, Volume 68 of the Official Report, he said:—

"We always understood that the real defect under any system of P.R., and particularly the system of the single transferable vote, was that it led, in circumstances where there are no big economic issues before the country, to a large number of small Parties being returned, making for instability in government."

Deputy J.A. Costello was against the single transferable vote in 1937. He wanted to leave the matter open, to have some other system of proportionality. I wish Deputy Dillon would go to the United States, Canada, or some place else——

He was there before the Minister ever saw them.

——and tell them that their system of election, the direct vote system, is political dictatorship gone mad, as he said the straight vote system here is. I take it that if Deputy Dillon thinks that the straight vote system is political dictatorship gone mad here, he also thinks it is political dictatorship gone mad in the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain and other countries where it is operated. Does he or does he not?

It is not the same thing.

Whist! Let him fall into his own trap.

He thinks, as he said just now, that the straight vote system which is in operation in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and other countries, and which we propose to operate here, if the people agree, is an outrage on every standard of public decency. Deputy Dillon should take a trip around and tell those countries that the system of election they are operating is an outrage on the standard of public decency and that it is political dictatorship gone mad.

To-night, as on every occasion on which I have heard him in this Dáil, Deputy Dillon exaggerated to the point of madness. He likened the straight vote system to the system in operation in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other countries behind the Iron Curtain. He should give these lectures in countries like Great Britain and the United States about the monstrous character of the straight vote system, the treachery to democracy involved, the irrationality involved, all these phrases which he used in relation to our proposition to put to the people the question as to whether they want here the system which the American people think is right in the United States, which the British people think is right in Great Britain, which the New Zealanders and the Canadians think is right for their countries. If the straight vote system is, as Deputy Dillon says, political dictatorship gone mad, an outrage on every standard of public decency then it is also an outrage in those countries.

A great number of speakers in the debate to-day again reiterated that Fianna Fáil had done very well under this system, and that we should be content with it. We know that the adoption of the straight vote system is likely to create very much greater differences between election and election than the single transferable vote. Under the single transferable vote for the past 30 years, the Fianna Fáil Party went up gradually, and then between 1933 and to-day, we never went up or down more than a few seats.

In 1933, we went up five; in 1937, we went down eight; in 1938, we went up eight; in 1943, we went down ten; in 1944, we went up nine; in 1948, we went down eight; in 1951, we went up one; in 1954, we went down four; and in 1957, we went up 13. Everybody realises that once a Party, on the transferable vote system, becomes as big as Fianna Fáil, that is the pattern of elections and we know that, under the straight vote system, the ups and downs of Parties are very much greater.

Take this question as to what Fianna Fáil want to see, what Fianna Fáil mean to do, under the straight vote system. What will count is what the Irish people want to do at any general election, the next general election and general elections thereafter. If the Irish people want to do with any minority in this country what the British electors wanted to do with regard to Labour from 1918 to 1924, they would put the Party up— they can do it in a few years—that will form the Government. If they do not want that, they can keep them down or put them down afterwards. If the people want to put Fianna Fáil down, they will put them down as low as the British people, within a few years, put down the Labour Party— the Labour Party that was so powerful in Britain up to 1939 and that suddenly plunged.

Deputy Dillon is not talking to people who have no knowledge of these things. There are enough of our people alive throughout the country who know what can happen under the straight vote system. The Irish Party in the British House of Commons came up through the straight vote system. They went down and Sinn Féin came up through the straight vote system, in 1919. The British, for their own good reasons, introduced the transferable vote system here in 1920 for the parliamentary election at that time, but they missed the bus. They introduced it too late to achieve their objective of splitting the Irish people into such smithereens that we could not make any advance.

Although the Taoiseach himself said he desired it in 1919— desired it. He said that himself and you tell us the British Government imposed it on us.

It does not seem that this measure is relevant to the question before the House. This has been discussed. Various aspects of this measure have been discussed. What the Minister is saying has been said several times at least. It is the serious, considered opinion of the Ceann Comhairle that the only question before the House at the moment is sub-section (2) and that it should be adhered to completely.

I agree completely with the Chair. I am keeping as near as I can, but I must advert occasionally to some of the things Deputy Dillon said.

I certainly never said that the Taoiseach did not want P.R. in 1919 because he told us he did. Is that not so?

That is an awfully cute interruption by Deputy Dillon. Does he intend to make a speech now and to deny that he never said this? The people in the Dáil, and in the country, are grown up and Deputy Dillon should grow up with them. The reason Deputy Dillon and his friends have been over there for the past 27 years is that they did not treat the people as sensible human beings.

I do not want to add anything further to what I have said on this matter. I think Deputy Dillon should really have the wit not to describe the system now in operation in many countries in the outrageous terms in which he described the straight vote system. It does not do him or the country any good that a person who was the deputy leader of the principal Opposition Party in this country should refer in such outrageous and untruthful terms to the electoral system that is in operation where democracy has, as in America, lasted 150 years.

I want to reiterate most explicitly every word I used in the remarks I made before the Minister for External Affairs intervened.

More "famous last words".

I am told by the Minister for External Affairs I am now in the position of defending something imposed upon us by the British. Either that is true or it is false. Did I and every other Deputy of Dáil Éireann hear the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, the Taoiseach, say here that, far from having anything imposed on him in 1919, he wanted P.R.? These two propositions cannot be true—what the Minister for External Affairs says now and what the Taoiseach said last week. Both these statements cannot be true. Do you not think, a Cheann Comhairle, that, at some stage, a Government, who pride themselves on speaking with one voice on every matter of consequence ought to tell us which of these two voices reproduces the truth of their situation?

The Chair feels, in regard to the direction this discussion has taken at the moment, that the entire matter of the Bill is being thrown open in the discussion. This Bill has been open for discussion for quite a long time. Many speeches have been made and many points of view put. It seems to me now—we have reached a stage when we are in Committee—that we ought to confine ourselves to Committee points. There is a sub-section before the Committee and Second Reading speeches should not be made on this matter from any side of the House.

Hear, hear!

That is the considered opinion of the Chair. I feel I should be lacking in my duty, as the Deputy appointed to preside over these discussions, if I did not point out that no speech should be delivered now on this Committee Stage of the second sub-section which is likely to throw open the entire matter of the Bill for discussion by the Dáil.

Hear, hear!

I hear the Minister for External Affairs rumbling cheerfully "hear, hear". I do not think that that enforces the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle in the least. In fact, it is rather an unbecoming intervention by the Minister for External Affairs. I fully understand the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle and I need hardly say that I fully agree with it; but the Ceann Comhairle will remember that the difficulty encountered in the initial stages of this discussion was to segregate the three issues involved and they were, (1) the multiple constituencies: we segregated that into sub-section (1); and (2) the single transferable vote, which we segregated into sub-section (2).

And that is open for discussion, and nothing else.

The Minister for External Affairs, who followed me, said that the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello, expressed himself as being opposed to the single transferable vote. The Minister for External Affairs is a very stubborn man and is often very slow on the uptake. I think possibly that is the reason for the incomprehensible contribution by the Minister for Defence as it was from the brief of the Minister for External Affairs that he was picking.

I tried to explain at some length that anyone who understands public life in a democracy very often accepts the second worst in order to avoid the worst. Deputy Costello in the context in which the Minister for External Affairs referred, relating the case that there are various forms of P.R. and that he wanted to retain the fullest freedom to choose that form which he thought would operate most efficiently and most equitably, said there were forms which were much better in his judgment to the single transferable vote, but he was then arguing that we should leave ourselves free to opt between various forms of P.R. He was arguing against the injection into the immutable terms of the Constitution of any one system of P.R. He was arguing that there should be a general reference to P.R., leaving it to the legislation of Oireachtas Éireann to determine which form we would operate under the permissive clause he advocated for incorporation into the Constitution.

I believe the Minister for External Affairs knows that as well as I do. We have lost the battle in relation to sub-section (1) and I do not want to reopen it. A decision has been taken on it. Now I am in the position of fighting, not for the second best, but for the second worst and urging upon the Government not to go the extra step envisaged in this sub-section.

I do not think the Minister for External Affairs has made any effective reply to the arguments I have pressed upon him. The burden of his reply is to charge me with criticising the electoral system of Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Great Britain. I do not think that implication follows at all. We have no Maori minority in this country, but there is a distinguished and respected Maori minority in New Zealand, with a special constitutional provision providing that there must be Maori representatives in the New Zealand Parliament. What is the use of quoting to me the analogy between our circumstances and those of New Zealand?

Who are the Maoris here, could you tell me?

One fact emerges, that is, that as New Zealand expanded and as her empty spaces filled up with the immigrant people, that immigrant majority said: "We must so control our system of election that although the Maoris constitute a microscopic minority who could never expect to elect anyone to Parliament, we will provide that whoever else is elected, there must be at least four Maoris. If the white electorate desire to add to that number, they are free to do so." I am pleased to record amongst the friends of my family the late Sir James Carroll who was half Maori but he was not elected on the Maori vote. It seems to me that the Minister's comparison with the conditions in New Zealand merely reinforces our case. We have not any Maoris in our country. We cannot say there is a minority and that at least one Deputy must represent them because our minorities are minorities of the intellect.

Our minorities may be secret minorities. They do not want to come into the open and proclaim their faith. That is why we have the secret ballot. I can see a shiver passing through Fianna Fáil. A secret minority—what a crime! They have forgotten that parliamentary freedom rests on the secret ballot. We keep the ballot secret so that minorities apprehensive of what might happen to them if the nature of their vote were known could drop their ballot in, knowing that no living creature could ever tell how they voted.

Until that was established, there were no parliamentary minorities in Ireland. You voted as the landlord told you or you did not vote at all. Why did we establish the secret ballot? Was it not for the accommodation of minorities so small that those who wanted to vote for them were not free to proclaim their allegiance without fear but astounded the powers-that-be by the consequence of a vote thus secretly given? Is it not commonly agreed on all sides of the House that if that secret element were once removed, the whole form of electoral system, whatever it might be, would crumble and decay?

But I am led by the Minister for External Affairs from New Zealand, which, I say, powerfully reinforces the case I have made, to Canada and I am told: "Look at Canada." I am not urged to examine the fact that Canada is a federal state. Suppose the French of Canada were scattered all over Canada and not concentrated in the State of Quebec, would the Minister for External Affairs consider that it would contribute to the stability of the state, if the indigenous French population, who were there before the present population took over, should be permanently suppressed and denied all access to Parliament because they were scattered throughout the whole Dominion? The very geographical circumstances of Canada guarantee special devices to ensure adequate representation of the French minority in Canada. Montreal and Quebec are a power in Canada without which no Government can aspire to be the Government of federal Canada. Who needs to take electoral measures to protect an electoral minority like that? It has been stated that you could not be Prime Minister of Canada, if you had not a French father or mother. That is overstating the case, but it is certain that no federal Government of Canada could long survive, if Quebec were solid against them. There is no minority problem there.

Then I am told to come to America. I have forgotten more about the United States than the Minister ever knew. The tune has changed. When this discussion began, the whole burden of the Fianna Fáil case was that they must so rig the electoral system that coalitions would become impossible. That thesis has become so nauseating to the majority of our people that they have dropped it, but the plain fact is that, in the United States, special circumstances obtain and they provide no analogy upon which our conditions can be judged. I do not want to draw the House into an endless discussion on the constitutional situation in the United States.

But remember, Sir, I am in this awkward dilemma, that I am told my condemnation of Fianna Fáil proposals involves a condemnation of New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Great Britain. I sympathise with the difficulty of the Chair, if put to rebut that, I am to cover the whole constitutional position of these countries. The scope of the debate would then greatly widen. Circumstances have operated in the United States of America to date which have made it possible for great coalitions to govern that great country, what we would call a coalition, upon which they have imposed the arbitrary term of "Party", but anything less like a Party, as we understand it, than the Democratic Party consisting of the Deep South and the radical North, or the Republican Party consisting of left-wing supporters of President Eisenhower and the right-wing supporters of the late Senator Taft could not be imagined.

In our electoral or political life, we would never dream of applying a description of a political Party to either of such combinations. We would recognise them for what they truly are, broad coalitions, and I think the case made by the Minister firmly supports a thesis put forward by me. I think he is right, that one effect of P.R., whether in itself or following from the form envisaged in sub-section (2), will be to throw up in this country broadly speaking, two great coalitions not far removed from those of the United States of America, the Democrats represented by the present Opposition in this House and the hard-shelled vested interests, right-wing republicans as represented by the Tánaiste and the Government which he will be called upon to form, when and if the Taoiseach retires from the Taoiseach's room, preparatory to entering the Presidential contest. But, every instance which the Minister for External Affairs has called to mind to rebut the case I have sought to make will, I think, on informed examination, operate to buttress and support the proposition I have urged upon Dáil Éireann.

Here is the net issue. We seek as the second best, in the situation in which the country now finds itself, the transferable vote in the case of a constituency which our decision on sub-section (1) predicates, and by that means, to ensure that the votes of the most insignificant minority in Ireland will be counted and given due weight. Fianna Fáil aim to establish that only those who vote for the orthodox will be considered hereafter and that, in the classical and never-to-be-forgotten words of the Minister for Defence, anyone who propounds or sustains with his vote outlandish policies will find himself effectively disfranchised. Come now—is that a proposition for which the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, with their histories behind them, can bring themselves to vote?

It was not the proposition.

Come now—the proposition is that those who constitute minorities by voting for policies so outlandish that they cannot return fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh in the poll will lose their votes and they will not be counted to effect the final verdict of the poll. Is there anyone, from the extreme left to the extreme right of Fianna Fáil who will defend that proposition and, if there is, let him examine his own conscience and history and ask: If that rule had been invoked against them and their leaders, would they still be on the hillsides with guns?

Why not try to convert Deputy Costello? He is against the transferable vote, too.

I attached great importance to this section—whether it is right or wrong that one person should represent an area. I doubted it, but, at least, while I might tolerate that, I cannot accept a minority representing a majority. That is a very challenging business. It is a new idea.

Hear, hear!

Since Magna Charta, when the King first of all surrendered some of his power, there has been a steady improvement in the powers vested in the people, but now we are effecting a radical step. We are talking about the British and the Americans. They never had P.R. The British and the Americans have advanced in their form of democracy. There was the franchise of 1932 when at least people with property could vote and later people of a certain age could vote. Lastly, women could vote and even now in England, they are discussing the question of the effect of property. They want to control the use of property in creating public opinion. There have been discussions on the number of cars people should be allowed to possess, and the money they should use, so that there is a steady improvement in democracy in England, but we are taking an opposite stand.

We are advocating here that instead of a majority ruling, a minority should rule, and I cannot understand all the efforts that have been made to try to make out that stability is more important than majority rule. Dictatorship advocates that, and I would be in favour of dictatorship by an individual because an individual will at least know that the welfare of the country is his responsibility. He could be a man not concerned with money, but just with posterity, with the honour and glory of having achieved something for the nation, so that he might do much good for the nation. I would support a dictator, if the man were there, but he is not. I would not support dictatorship by a faction, because I have no faith in factions.

To suggest that we should now accept government by a minority, by a faction, as against a majority is certainly a new idea and I do not understand how this form of advocacy conforms to stability. After all, when you talk of stability, you mean something that will last, but a thing will last only if it is generally accepted. If a thing is not accepted generally, if it is not accepted by the majority, there is a danger that it can be overthrown, and that it might be challenged. I do not see what stability there is in a system of that sort, whether the majority are right or wrong, and they are often wrong. Nevertheless, there are only two ways about it. We must either accept the majority or we must accept dictatorship. That is the alternative to it.

We accept the majority because there is something majestic about it. It is the law. After all, the majority make the law and if a minority make the law, the majority can change it. The majority is always the law, but here we have a new conception. Obviously, a minority in this country is going to be the Government. In practically every case, the Conservative Party in England has been a minority of the people. This book which I have, Parliamentary Representation, demonstrates that even where the Conservatives were 1,000,000 or 2,000,000, less than the Opposition, they had as many as 100 seats more than the majority.

Now, that may be accepted in England; the majority there may accept a large minority Government because the situation is very different from the situation here. Many people will accept tyranny, if it pays them to to do so, if they are having a good time under, say, a benevolent dictatorship. If the dictator does the right thing, the majority will be with him and so a minority Government in England may be accepted if it reflects more prosperity. England is a completely different country from Ireland, and so is America. England has taken the products of the world by all sorts of means, by force and every other way, and as a result, it has made the people fairly prosperous. A nation which is prosperous, and which has good social benefits, may accept a certain form of tyranny. In America, it is the same. There is prosperity in America and there are opportunities. If people are denied certain rights, they have so many opportunities that they tolerate that little form of tyranny, but here, in a poor country like ours, where there are many hungry mouths to be fed and many dissatisfied people, there is no evidence that they will accept it.

Take, for instance, this extreme body, Sinn Féin. There is nothing like that in America. They may have had it at one time in the South, but they took action and ended it in the interests of the nation, but as far as we are concerned, that problem is here. Then you have the Labour Party who have the power to strike and to make trouble. There are forces in this country which may not accept this, and facts will challenge the statement that this would bring stability.

In these other countries that were mentioned, there are tremendous opportunities, but here the Dáil and the Seanad are regarded as the Hollywood of this country. Thousands of people aspire to be members of the Dáil. There is not very much else to aspire to and this little Utopia that appeals to so many is to be denied to so many and they are supposed to accept that situation. I know human nature and I am satisfied they will not accept it.

I do not propose to go back and speak about something somebody said or did not say. I am concerned with one thing that is, that a body in power is trying to create a new conception of democracy, that a minority of people should govern a majority, and that that is stability. I should have considered compromising in some way with this Bill if there were some give on this section. I refuse to accept that a minority should govern a majority. For instance, let us say a minority becomes the Government, as is likely to happen. Let us say that a minority of the people take it into their hands to govern a majority. How can the Government expect that the laws they enact will be accepted, and that the laws will have all the majesty which we are told should be associated with the law? The majority, in all probability, would not accept the law, or they would accept it under duress, because the minority in power has the resources of the law to have it accepted. But will it be freely accepted?

It is said that this conception of democracy will mean stability. One does not have to go very far before turning stability into anarchy and that is what this Government are inviting. What is supposed to be something of great benefit to the country, because it may give stability, may have the very opposite effect. It may frighten people away from the country. It may frighten money away from the country because people who are asked to invest money here, or take an interest in this country, will make their own inquiries as to whether or not the Government here is stable, just as a banker makes inquiries when you go to him and ask him for money. He does not go by the front you put up. He makes discreet inquiries—does the applicant own that bicycle that he has; does he own that house? He finds out an applicant's true standing and then treats him accordingly. When others are sizing us up in regard to our stability, they may say this is a minority. They may say that, by some trick of the loop, legislation has created a State where the majority do not rule and that there is something unstable about such a situation. In my opinion, it will not mean stability.

I thought that perhaps we would take a leaf from General de Gaulle's book and at least agree that if nobody got a majority in the first election, there would be another election, that those who got the least votes would withdraw, leaving the battle to be fought between one and two, which would give the Government the force of majority will. But no, we are to stick to Government by a minority of the people.

When it comes to property, we agree to P.R., if you like. When a man has property and leaves it to his sons, Tom, Dick and Harry, he is at liberty to say: "I will leave £1,000 to Tom and to Dick and to Harry," but if at his death Tom is deceased, then Tom's share will go to the other two, and so on. In property, a man is entitled so to make a will that if some beneficiary is deceased at the testator's death, then the others will get his share. In other words, he is entitled to say what shall be done with his property, but that right is being denied——

The Deputy should now come to the sub-section.

And leave the wills to the lawyers.

I am dealing with the sub-section. The view is taken in this sub-section that a person has no right to transfer votes. Property may be transferred, but not votes. If it is thought that means stability or good law, perhaps those who think so will learn to regret it. I know the Government want this debate to finish. They want, as they say, to let the people judge. I am pretty sure that if the "atom bomb", the Irish Press, were not at their back, they would not be so anxious to get it to the people.

It is often a liability.

I just wanted to make it clear that this is the most dangerous sub-section that we are asked to accept, that a minority should represent a majority. I hold that does not give stability but the very opposite. I say it is dangerous and shall say no more.

One of the things that struck me in the speeches made by Government speakers during this debate on the Second and Committee Stages was the want of information as to where the demand for the alteration of the present system of election originated. At no time have I heard or read of a corporation, county council, urban council or any local authority, since P.R. was introduced here, advocating a change of this kind. Neither have I heard of a chamber of commerce, a debating society or any society at any time urging an alteration in our system of election. We have, perhaps, heard of resolutions suggesting there should be fewer members in the Dáil, or that we should not have a Seanad, showing that the people in various organisations and societies are interested in the system of Government, but, at no time, has there been any suggestion that P.R. was other than what the people wanted as a method of electing Deputies to Dáil Éireann. In fact, not even an inspired Fianna Fáil cumann has, at any time within the previous year, issued any resolution that I have read or heard of, indicating they themselves felt there should be a change.

What does the change in voting mean? It means exactly as the last Deputy said, that a Deputy can be elected by a minority vote, if more than two are contesting the seat. The Deputy returned for a constituency can be the minority representative because the combined votes of the other two could quite easily—and probably will —outnumber the votes cast in favour of the man who will then be presumed to be their representative. I suggest that is contrary to all the systems of election we know here. Anyone who has taken part in sports clubs remembers the system by which chairmen are elected. It is usually done on a show of hands. A number of names are proposed and seconded, and it is clearly understood at the outset that a clear majority is required for election. If three contest the post, the lowest is eliminated and further voting decides between the remaining two. In that way, the club is assured that whoever is elected chairman has the support of the majority of the members.

Is not the P.R. voting system carrying out the very same method and doing it at one operation in secret ballot by means of the transfer of votes? It has been said that this system works excellently in England. I suggest there are some factors in England that do not apply at all to Ireland. In many British constituencies, only two people contest the seat which means that the straight vote gives exactly the same result as P.R. It is only where there is the intervention of a third or fourth contestant that there is a departure, fundamentally, from the principle of P.R. Again, in England, the vast numbers of electors in the constituencies have a decided effect. A splinter group, or a man going up without much support, would not have any visible effect on the result, but in our constituencies, with the small number of voters proposed under this Bill in general, it is quite conceivable that in any of the constituencies the total number of votes cast would be somewhere in the region of 8,000. In a close contest, any crank nominated by any group of people would conceivably affect the issue and mean the difference between the election of one individual or another.

I suggest that the Government in associating stability with this form of election are completely and utterly wrong; rather will it lead to instability in its worst form or as a Deputy here put it last week, to the situation in which a man can secure nomination under the threat that if he is not nominated by his Party, he will stand as an Independent and thereby cause the defeat of that Party at an election.

The main reason I intervene in this debate is to reply to some statements made, I think, by the Minister for External Affairs. In his speech earlier to-day, he asked why did the Parties not get together before the election? Why did not Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan announce that they were coming together and had a common policy? For the Labour Party, let me say this: we have no intention of coming together with any other Party before any election and stating we have a common policy. We stand, and we run our candidates as a Labour Party, with a distinct and separate policy from Fine Gael, Clann na Talmhan or Clann na Poblachta or any other Party, including Fianna Fáil. We have no intention of stating otherwise, but that does not say that while we try to get every candidate we put forward elected above any other Party, when the results come to hand, if the people in their wisdom have decided to return only a certain number of Labour candidates and a group or groups of Parties are prepared to co-operate with us on an agreed basis to advance the national good, we are not prepared, in the interests of the country, to co-operate with them or with any group, if we feel we can be of service to the country. We are prepared to continue that policy and we challenge Fianna Fáil to say that they are equally prepared to co-operate with us or with other groups in the advancement of this country in this time of economic crisis and distress which no one can deny is upon us.

I cannot see how this is relevant on the sub-section, which deals with the question of the transferable as against the non-transferable vote.

He is answering the Minister for External Affairs.

I could not see either, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that the Minister was in order in referring to it; but, as he did, I felt it was my duty, as one of the Party, to answer him and tell him why. The Minister for Defence pointed out to-day that if the Labour Party got a majority of the votes, they could return a candidate. That is quite true; there is no doubt about it; but is it not also true that if the Nationalists in the north of Ireland got a majority of the votes, they could return a candidate? Is it not also true that, where the Nationalists and Sinn Féin contest against the Unionists, they split the vote and give the seat to the Unionists? Is it not equally true that where the Labour Parties—both Northern Ireland and the Irish Labour Party—have entered the fray together against the Unionist candidate, the fact that there is no transferable vote there means that the Unionist candidate gets a present of the seat?

Is that what is desired here? Is that what is intended? I suggest that Fianna Fáil know very well that what has happened in the north, due to the fact that the Nationalist interests—be they Sinn Féin or ordinary Nationalists or Irish Labour—is that, in their eagerness to contest and their eagerness to represent, they give the Unionist group a present of the seat there. Equally so, I believe that Fianna Fáil realise that the very difficulty which I pointed out, where Labour are not prepared to stand down for Fine Gael, Fine Gael are not prepared to stand down for Clann na Poblachta, or Clann na Poblachta not prepared to stand down for somebody else, with all of us fighting— and legally and rightfully fighting—to secure representation in this House, that Fianna Fáil will get the advantage of being the largest single Party, which has a bigger vote than any of the other Parties taken singly, but which is in the minority if the combined vote is taken into account.

I suggest that it is for that reason that we have this proposal, coming from nobody but the Fianna Fáil Party, to alter the Constitution, so that they may secure political advantage against the national wellbeing.

Deputy Dillon said Fine Gael got more first preferences than Fianna Fáil.

I am not responsible for what Deputy Dillon said.

Thank God for that.

It has also been claimed —by, I think, the Minister for External Affairs—that P.R. was imposed on us by Britain for our undoing. Beyond having read of what happened around the 1918 period, or when P.R. was first introduced in Sligo, or later on when it came in the General Election of 1921, I have had no personal knowledge of it. However, I know that in 1937 I was old enough and intelligent enough to understand what I read and heard; and at no time did I hear, during the course of the speeches of that year, any question of our being asked to vote for a Constitution embodying P.R. as a cardinal principle, although P.R. was something imposed on us by an alien Power against our wish. It is most unfair to put forward as an argument for the abolition of P.R. that it is British-imposed. I should prefer to make an argument on the merits, as to whether it is good or bad. Certainly, no one can defend an attempt, at this late stage, to say that it was imposed by another Government, since it was accepted by the people of this country in 1937 of their own free will.

There are many things we accuse Britain of imposing on us, as well as P.R., but I see no haste on the part of the Government to abolish them. I know of many privileges and conditions in relation to fishing and other matters, which, I suggest, the Government should be equally as anxious to abolish, if it is a matter of their imposition by Britain. It is, of course, completely wrong to claim that, because a man has a preference and has voted No. 1, and votes No. 2, 3 and 4 in an election, he therefore has a multiplicity of votes. In P.R., as in the straight vote, there is one vote and one vote only; the second and third are not votes—they are preferences. In voting, you decide that if the man for whom you vote No. 1 has no need of that vote—either because he has a surplus of votes or because he is so low he cannot possibly be elected—your vote should go elsewhere. It is worked on a mathematical formula as to the value, if it is a surplus; in the case of elimination, it is a whole vote. It simply means that the vote is transferred to the person of your second choice. Claiming that that is wrong is something in the nature of saying that because a man puts a 1/- on a horse to win, he would be ridiculous in saving himself by an each-way bet. I see no difference in the claim. I should be surprised if any of my friends on the Fianna Fáil Benches would claim that, because a man backs a horse to win, from the nature of it, he should not put on a place bet at all.

The aim of this sub-section and of the other sub-sections is purely and simply to give an advantage to one Party. Having examined the results of the last election and of the previous election, it is pretty clear that there is only one way by which Fianna Fáil can be defeated in the foreseeable future, that is, by a combination of the Parties forming a Government, as was done in 1948 and 1954. However, if this Bill is passed and if it is endorsed in the referendum, it will make certain that that will never happen again and that Fianna Fáil will be returned to power. When they are in power, they can then take steps to see that they will continue there indefinitely.

We are in Committee dealing with sub-section (2), which says:—

"The members shall be elected on the system of the single non-transferable vote..."

There is a legal maxim which says: qui facit per alium, facit per se. Therefore, I respectfully suggest that what others say or do on behalf of the Taoiseach is said or done by him. We have had four reasons advanced why we should have sub-section (2) of this section. The Minister for External Affairs said the reason we should have the single vote was that the British Government imposed P.R. upon us away back in 1919. The Taoiseach said he believed in P.R. but did not believe in a multiplicity of Parties forming Governments. He said he came to that conclusion in 1948.

The Minister for Defence said, when speaking for the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Party, he knew that P.R. was wrong in 1937, but it was inserted in the Constitution for the simple reason that, if it had not been, the Opposition of the day would take advantage of it and it might frighten a minority into voting against the Constitution. The Minister for Local Government let the cat out of the bag, I think, when he said that if this Bill goes through—and this Bill incorporates sub-section (2)—then "Fine Gael will have had it". So, the Taoiseach advances four different reasons for the abolition of P.R. and the substitution therefor of sub-section (2).

We have had three or four general elections and a number of by-elections since 1948. The Taoiseach himself admits that he knew from 1948 on that P.R. should be abolished. Why did he never tell the Irish people that he intended abolishing P.R. and why did he never make it a plank in his programme? That is something I should like explained. If he knew from 1948 that it was not the ideal thing and should be abolished, why did he never put that into his programme?

When did he tell the people he proposed abolishing P.R.?

Does the Deputy want me to read some quotations from 1948?

The Deputy should grow up. The Taoiseach said he was in favour of P.R. up until 1948. The reason he was against it then was that what he described as a Coalition Government was formed. The Minister for External Affairs goes further. He says he knew from 1919 that it was imposed on us by those dreadful people, the British. That is the reason we have the system at all, he says.

The Deputy does not want to hear these?

I will hear them later. I hope the Deputy will make a speech.

We have heard so many speeches repeated that I might as well get in.

This is the first time the Deputy has heard me.

Let us hear Deputy O'Donnell then.

Yes, and without interruption, I hope. The Minister for Defence said he knew from 1937 that P.R. was wrong but they were afraid, if they disclosed it then, that certain minorities—I hope Deputy Booth is listening—might vote against the Constitution. They were afraid to let the cat out of the bag because the Opposition of that day might disclose to certain minorities that they were going to be disfranchised.

They did that, anyway.

If they did, you would not have Deputy Booth over there; he would be on this side.

God forbid I should be over there.

I can assure the Deputy that we would welcome him and his friends into the Party. Remember we never blackguarded them and we never said their houses should be burned down.

Thank you very much indeed.

They have dragged it out of me. Deputy Booth and his friends are always welcome in Fine Gael.

That is very nice of you.

I should like to know, if all this is true and if they knew from 1919 about P.R., why they never disclosed it to the Irish people? I should like to know why they waited until they got this majority to introduce this proposal, a proposal which is designed to divert the minds of the Irish people from the economic problems facing them.

One thing worries me very much. At every election and by-election for the past 25 years, we have had about 66 per cent. of the Irish people exercising the franchise. About 66 per cent. would be a good average. Sometimes it is as low as 50 per cent. and sometimes, as in the case of Dublin, 36 per cent. That has happened with all the machinery of the various political Parties working 100 per cent., with transport at the disposal of the electors and everything else. Who will bring out the voters to exercise the franchise on this sub-section? How are they to be aroused to give their affirmative or negative on this sub-section? Are Fianna Fáil hoping that there will be a small vote and that, possibly, the well-organised supporters of Fianna Fáil will be the only people who will come out and exercise the franchise? Are they hoping that by playing the joker and throwing in the Presidential Election on the same day, with the Taoiseach as candidate, they will rouse their ardent supporters to come out and vote in favour of the amendment of the Constitution?

The first day I read this Bill, I said it was the last will and testament of the Taoiseach. Little did I think at that time that he was going to pass from the political scene so soon. It is evident now that his intention is to pass out of Irish politics, not only to grasp the Presidential chair but to leave the Government Benches to his Party for at least the foreseeable future. Usually a last will and testament does not operate until the death of the testator, but he is ensuring it will operate when he passes from the political scene and that he will see the operation and probate of his will.

I think it was Deputy Kyne who put his finger on this point. In the Six Counties, there has been grave dissatisfaction with the Nationalist policy there for the ending of Partition; so much so, that factions have arisen and there has been faction fighting against faction, with the result that in some constituencies the Unionist minority have slipped in and taken advantage of that fighting between factions. Fianna Fáil know that the Irish people down here are so fed-up with their policy of the past 25 years that a number of Parties, such as Clann na Poblachta, Sinn Féin, Clann na Talmhan and some Independents, have grown up and have vied with Fine Gael and Labour in trying to form a Party to endeavour to oust the Fianna Fáil Party, and Fianna Fáil as a minority are taking advantage of this faction fighting. That is the only reason for the insertion of sub-section (2), but, as I said at the outset, qui facit per alium facit per se.

Why did four different Ministers give four different reasons for the insertion of this sub-section? Why did they never advertise that they knew that P.R. and the transferable vote were wrong? It is just like the time the Tánaiste went to the south and the Taoiseach went to the west and said: "If returned to power, we will never abolish the food subsidies," but when they came to power, not only did they abolish the food subsidies but they are now trying to do something else, to take away by this sub-section something which was not only written into the Constitution of 1922 but was also written into the Constitution by the Fianna Fáil Party, and by the Irish people in 1937. That is why I am opposed to sub-section (2).

Deputy O'Donnell has laboured the point that Fianna Fáil never expressed their point of view until now as to how they felt about P.R. I asked him would he like to hear some quotations, and I shall give some of them now. I shall use the Irish Independent as the source of my information which should be acceptable to Deputy O'Donnell. In the Irish Independent of 1st January, 1948, it is reported:—

"Having stated that it required two general elections to give Fianna Fáil the required over-all majority, Mr. de Valera said that this was due to the way in which P.R. worked."

Did he say he was against it?

If the Deputy will be patient, I have further quotations. On 2nd January, 1948, in the same paper, there is a double column banner headline which reads: "P.R. could bring about disaster—Mr. de Valera," and the Taoiseach is reported as saying:—

"He said that P.R. had brought about disastrous conditions in other countries and it could bring about the same conditions in this country."

On 5th January, 1948, the Irish Independent reported:—

"Mr. de Valera said he had read a book in which the Prime Minister of another state in Europe was quoted as saying to the author. ‘Fight P.R. as you would fight the devil.' We have that system here and if we are not very careful it can build up into the somewhat disastrous situations that States in Europe have got into."

On the 6th January, 1948, the Taoiseach is reported in the Irish Independent as saying:—

"I am a believer in democracy. I believe the people have a right to rule themselves. I want to see democracy worked, and I know perfectly well that it is not working and that it will not work properly in any country when groups or Parties come before the people and get votes under what is really false pretences. Under a two-Party system it works well because then people know the Party of the Government and of the Opposition. When you have a multiple system, and P.R. tends to permit it, you have misfortune following which followed on the Continent."

With only two Parties, you would have no need for P.R.

On 12th January, 1948, the Taoiseach is reported in the Irish Independent as saying:—

"P.R. did undoubtedly make for Government by small Parties called Coalition Government. I am not making a special plea here against that for ourselves. Our opponents made that plea as far back as 1927."

Again, on 17th January, 1948, there was a headline in the Irish Independent:“P.R. not issue now, says de Valera” and I quote:—

"He was asked once or twice recently whether they were making the abolition of P.R. an issue in that election or not, but P.R. could not be abolished as a result of that election because it was embodied in the Constitution and before it could be altered they would first of all have to come to the people in a special ad hoc plebiscite. You can therefore see that P.R. is not an issue directly in this election. What is the issue is what arises out of P.R.”

Unfortunately I have not got them with me, but there are similar speeches made by the Taoiseach in 1953 which I could quote and which would rebut much of what Deputy O'Donnell had to say.

When the discussion on this sub-section opened, a number of questions were put to the Taoiseach by various Deputies as to whether he would give his interpretation of the meaning and the purpose of the sub-section. Up to the present moment, the Taoiseach has not seen fit to intervene and has adopted the attitude which he adopted on Thursday last of saying he has no intention of contributing.

This sub-section is a very important sub-section. Its importance is made more significant by the type of contribution made by the various spokesmen of Fianna Fáil because they have been careful to avoid underlining that its main purpose and main effect is to limit the present choice of the elector. Under the system of the single transferable vote, the elector has the choice when going to the polls, if there are two candidates, of expressing his preference for one of the two and, if there are three candidates, he has the opportunity not only of expressing his preference for the candidate he thinks will serve his interests best, but of indicating, beyond yea or nay, the candidate he thinks will serve his interests worst. By voting No. 1 for his first preference and No. 2 for his second preference, he indicates quite clearly that the third candidate is the person he does not desire to be elected.

Supposing candidate No. 3 is elected, he is the worst.

This House has been afflicted by many Deputies of Fianna Fáil over the years and many of us think they are the worst choice we could have and if the electors think the Fianna Fáil candidate should not be supported, they should have the privilege of indicating that. Where there are four candidates, the elector has the opportunity under the present system of examining their qualifications and examining, as far as he or she can, the policies they represent. Unfortunately, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, it is sometimes very difficult for electors in this country to examine policies before an election. It is very difficult at times, when we have the Taoiseach—who hopes to be removed from this sphere of activity—on more than one occasion indicating that he did not think it correct to put a policy before the people prior to an election.

Give us a quotation as to when he said that.

He said the programme should come after the election.

What chance has an elector of selecting a policy when the Government is to be composed of five different Parties, each with a separate policy? What chance is there of selecting a policy?

West Donegal always endorsed it, but before that, Deputy O'Donnell beat Deputy Brennan.

Deputy Brennan will be able to tell us who are the cranks and who are the crackpots who figured in West Donegal elections, according to the Minister for Health in a speech recently.

Deputy Brennan has always headed the poll in West Donegal. Deputy O'Donnell got P.R. to help him on every occasion.

Not on that one.

Yes, on that one.

But the transferable vote decided it.

The by-election in West Donegal is not before us at the moment.

P.R. came to his assistance.

Just to facilitate the Minister for Health.

I am particularly pleased that we have finally managed to evoke some signs of life amongst the Fianna Fáil back benchers.

When one hears Deputy Larkin making the same speech for the fifth time, it becomes monotonous.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, would you request Deputy Brennan to come back into the House, instead of leaving now? As I was saying, on more than one occasion, in the case of a general election, the Taoiseach indicated very clearly that, in his view, neither he nor his political Party should be expected to put before the people a definite programme and policy.

The question does not arise on this sub-section. The Deputy must relate his remarks to the sub-section.

I was relating my remarks to the difficulty of electors, when coming to cast their votes in a time of election. Nevertheless, even in spite of those difficulties, the electors under the single transferable vote have managed to express their views. Now, whether we agree with their views or not is immaterial; but, as I say, they managed to express their views quite clearly. That is contrary to the suggestions made on a number of occasions that the present system of P.R., under which an elector had a choice of indicating his vote and a number of preferences, was a system which created confusion in the minds of the electors, that made it difficult for them to cast their votes correctly and clearly; and, I take it, that it thus created a situation under which there would be likely to be a large number of spoiled votes.

The Table published in the Department of Local Government Report 1956-57 proves beyond yea or nay that a very high proportion of the electors managed to cast their votes and that there was a very very small proportion of spoiled votes in the course of that general election. In the particulars relating to the general election of Deputies to Dáil Éireann in March, 1957, of the total votes cast 1,238,559, the percentage of invalid votes, as a percentage of votes cast, amounted to 0.93—less than 1 per cent. In some areas, the percentage was 0.45—less than one-half per cent. Therefore, the contention made by some of the spokesmen of Fianna Fáil during the course of the discussion, that the electors were faced with a difficulty in operating the system of P.R., is shown by those figures to have no real basis.

During the course of to-day's discussion, the Minister for External Affairs might have been accused— possibly with much more justice than I could be accused—of repeating himself. He took us again for a short journey to the Continent of Europe and to the United States of America. He referred briefly to the fact that in America there are mainly two Parties —call them political Parties, if you will—the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. The Minister forgot to mention, however, that it is quite a common occurrence when the Senate of the United States meets—and I think it meets very frequently—that members of the Republican Party supporting the President of the United States of America vote with members of the Democrat Party who are supposed to be opposed to the President; and that members of the Democrat Party cross over the floor and vote with the Republicans.

Can anyone imagine that happening here? Can anyone consider that there is a hole in hell hot enough, or a place in this world remote enough, for a Fianna Fáil Deputy who would dare to cross the floor and vote with Fine Gael? Does everyone not know that he would be branded, not just as a traitor to his Party but with the brand of Cain, which would be put in large letters across his forehead? Certainly, the best thing he could do for himself and his family, and for future generations of his family, would be to remove himself to Canada, America or somewhere else. We know that the one heinous sin in the Fianna Fáil Party is for a person to have a mind of his own, or rather to express his mind where someone outside the Fianna Fáil Party can hear it.

The question before the House is the non-transferable vote as opposed to the transferable vote.

The question before the House is the non-transferable vote and the Minister for External Affairs suggested that there was a parallel in the system they are anxious to introduce here with the system as it operates in the United States of America. It is no business of mine to discuss the internal affairs of the United States of America, and I do not propose to do so; but I do not think that even a Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party will deny me the right to mention that there is no such parallel in the United States of America between the members of the Democrat Party and the members of the Republican Party, as there is in this House between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, Fine Gael and Labour, or Fianna Fáil and anybody else.

Tugadh tuairisc ar a ndearnadh; an Coiste do shuí arís.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 21st January, 1959.