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

Tairgeadh an Cheist arís: "Go rithfidh an Bille anois."
Question again proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

The Minister for External Affairs has reminded us that this debate has gone on for nine weeks. During that period, I have listened to contributions from Ministers and from members of various Parties, but in all that time I have not heard such utter rubbish as has just been offered by the Minister. We are a small nation of some 3,000,000 people with a Constitution originally brought in here in 1922, amended and adopted by the people on the proposal of the Taoiseach in 1937. Our Constitution, our institutions of Government, our way of doing business in this House, the methods of the Government in dealing with business, have nothing in common with the system which is operated in the United States of America. The Minister for External Affairs should be the first to know that, if they are discussing a Bill in the House of Representatives, there is no Cabinet taking part in the debate there. In the United States, the Cabinet is not even part of the Legislature. The States themselves—49 at the moment—have got their own State Governments. National decisions are made by the Federal Parliament, but many of the laws which bind the citizens are the laws made by the State Legislatures and there is no such thing as a national Minister in the same sense as we have such a Minister. Even beyond that, has it not been common knowledge over the past 30 or 40 years that from time to time in the United States of America, there have been grave differences of opinion between the President for the time being and the legislative chambers making up Congress itself? Yet, this is the country, this is the continent, the Minister sets up as having a type of electoral system which would be more suitable in Irish conditions than the one which—according to the words of the Taoiseach on many occasions—has been successful in our own country, in our own conditions, since 1937.

I have come to the conclusion—and I wonder if it is a conclusion that many of our people are coming to—as a result of the type of case put up by the Government spokesmen, that this Government are a majority Government, they have got the support of the majority in this House—in the general election they were elected on the basis of getting the support of the majority of the Irish people, and nobody is quarrelling with that—but this Government have so little faith in themselves and in their Party and in their own future that they wish to ensure that future elections will be decided, not on the basis of a majority decision of the Irish people, as they are at the moment, but on the basis of a minority decision of the Irish people.

Many Deputies have concentrated on the possible results of the introduction of the proposed system, and have stated on many occasions that the tendency of this Bill—if it is accepted eventually by the people in a referendum—will be to deny representation to minority sections of our people. In that regard, the Minister for External Affairs has been kind enough to refer on many occasions to the Labour Party. I do not think either the members of the Labour Party in this House or their supporters in various parts of the country care very much what opinions the Minister has in relation to the Party's future. However, I agree with him that so long as the workers of this country believe that their interests will be served by having Deputies of the Labour Party in this House, they will continue to send them here, no matter what the system of election is.

That is not the fundamental issue. The fundamental issue may have been clouded by concentrating on the necessity of continuing to provide in this House fair and equal representation for substantial minorities in the country. The fundamental issue is that this Bill, if passed, will tend to have this House representing a minority of the people. If in a few years' time, as well might be the case, the Fianna Fáil Party were reduced to 30 or 40 members, I doubt if the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Health or the Minister for Local Government would consider that Fianna Fáil supporters should not have the right to nominate candidates in every constituency or that Fine Gael or any other Party that had grown bigger should not have a similar right. The general tendency of the Bill has been quite clearly shown by the Minister for External Affairs. He is anxious—and I take it the Government are anxious —to introduce into this country a system whereby there will be a Government Party and an Opposition Party.

The Minister for External Affairs and some of his colleagues talk about an alliance between Fine Gael and Labour or Fianna Fáil and Labour because, they say, their policies are familiar. We know they are talking cockeyed nonsense. The Minister for Industry and Commerce indicated that he thought the Labour Party had a different philosophy and outlook from the other big Parties here. I agree with him. I hope the outlook will grow more different and that this other era will come to an end very soon.

This evening, the Minister for External Affairs referred to the development of a powerful Labour Party in England. There was no Sinn Féin Party to split in England. At the beginning of the century and for a long time before that, you had in England the Conservative and the Liberal Parties. The Labour Party grew and developed in England when the workers there realised that they required not only industrial strength but protection of their interests in the Parliament of that nation. To-day, the strength of the Labour Party in England rests on that firm basis. There can be no analogy between the situation that developed in England from the beginning of the century to immediately before the war, and the situation in this country. The Parliament in which we sit has only operated as a Parliament since 1922. To the sincere regret of many of us here not allied to either side and to thousands of supporters outside, that situation has not yet clarified itself.

We have discussed this measure at length. It may be an earnest of things to come, if the Government succeeds in getting its way, that on a number of occasions leading Government spokesmen have expressed their irritation at the prolongation of the discussion. The discussion has been prolonged no more than that of many other Bills, possibly of less importance, that came before the House. It has been suggested that the discussion has been a waste of time and that there has been an endeavour to obstruct the course of the Bill. We have a Government with a majority of 18. I do not think the Government can suggest that the prolonged discussion on this matter has held up urgent public business. The Government of the day can set down and order the business to be dealt with by the Dáil. It may be—I do not know—that they have no public urgent business. Certainly, they have demonstrated in the course of their contributions to this debate a singular lack of faith in their own capacity to convince the people that they have done a good job during this period of office and that they are entitled to get their support again.

There appear to be two main conclusions to be drawn. The first is that the Government have introduced this Bill because they are convinced they have no hope of being returned with a majority in the event of another general election under the system of P.R. I suggest that conclusion is a reasonable and correct one. It is based on this very simple thesis. If they had such faith in their own Party and in their ability to convince the people that they are doing a good thing and deserve the support of the people for a further period in office, then I submit they would never have introduced this Bill at this stage.

The second conclusion that one must reach in this matter is that this Government, headed by the Taoiseach, with Ministers, some of whom have had many years in office as Ministers, and who on countless occasions have expressed their belief in democratic decisions taken by the people, democratic decisions made in the name of the people, are even losing their alleged regard for democracy.

The Minister for External Affairs tried, as usual, to be humorous. He indicated that the alternative to the direct system of voting—in other words, the continuation of P.R. to its extreme limits—would result in one constituency for the whole country and, for that single constituency, candidates would go forward for election on the basis of covering the whole country. The Minister, in his endeavour to be humorous, neglected to advert to the fact that this Dáil, as at present constituted, represents all the people in the country and constituencies are divided in certain ways for the purpose of giving fair representation to all the people in the country.

The Constitution which they now propose to emasculate provides that the number of people in a constituency shall be limited both as regards the minimum and the maximum. It is inherent in the Constitution that representatives elected here are elected to represent Irish citizens and they are, therefore, elected to speak in their name. They are not elected merely for the purpose of electing a Taoiseach and ensuring that ten, 12 or 14 Cabinet Ministers are appointed. Under the present system of P.R., as it operates here, not a single Minister has been able to say that the people are unfairly represented. It is perfectly obvious that if the new system is accepted, that statement cannot be made in the future, because, in practically every case, where two candidates contest a constituency, the Deputy elected will be representative of a minority. If only 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. of a constituency send a Deputy here elected on a minority basis, this House will then, of necessity, represent only a minority of the people.

I wonder whether the vaunted regard of the Minister for External Affairs for a Government elected as a result of such a system would rest on any fair basis? I sincerely believe that parliamentary democracy, as it operates in this country, and democracy itself, as recognised in this country, will suffer a most severe blow if the proposals contained in this Bill are passed by the Dáil and Seanad and approved by the people. The tragedy will be that the people, and this is true of Fianna Fáil too, may not realise that until after the event. If this issue goes before the people, there will be very little opportunity for calm, considered judgment. In any country, when an issue is put before the people and presented to them by newspapers, by radio and other means of propaganda, the people can conceivably make a mistake if the weight of the publicity falls in a certain direction. I appealed to the Taoiseach earlier to give an assurance to the House that the people would be afforded a fair and equal opportunity of judging the merits and demerits of this proposal. Nobody in the House has yet received such an assurance. Indeed, it is obviously the intention of the Government and the Taoiseach not to give such an assurance to the people.

Unlike the Minister for External Affairs, I do not claim to be the possessor of a prophetic vision. The Minister for External Affairs purported to state most explicitly the result not merely of the referendum but also of the Presidential election. I do not know what the result of either election will be. It is an article of my Faith that nobody knows the future but the Almighty. This I do know: this Bill will certainly put to the severest test the degree of political maturity of the Irish people and the extent of the growth of their political education and judgment. It is, accordingly, of vital importance, not merely to the present generation but to generations to come, that the issues involved in these proposals contained in the Bill should be clearly and explicitly put before the people and that they should get that opportunity to which they are entitled of calm and dispassionate consideration and judgment.

This Bill is certainly full of possibilities and pregnant with consequences for good or ill for the present generation and for future generations. It was, therefore, incumbent upon the representatives of the people here in Dáil Éireann to ensure that the provisions of this Bill, every aspect of it, every possibility contained in it and every possible consequence that might ensue from it, should be considered and adequately debated, so that the Irish people would know that they were not engaged in a purely political debate, that it was not a question of "Up Dev" or "Up Fianna Fáil" or "Up Fine Gael" or "Up Labour" or anything else, but that they were engaged in a political discussion of high import and of great consequence to the future of this country. It behoved us here and it behoved in particular the Government to approach the task that faced us here in Dáil Éireann in the past couple of months with serious recognition of the responsibility which lay upon them to the present generation and to future generations.

We are told in the Constitution, which has been so much lauded by the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Health, in Article 45, the duties which are cast upon the Oireachtas and, thereby, upon the representatives of the people who sit in the two Houses of the Oireachtas. We are told what their responsibilities and their duties are in framing and discussing legislation. These are set out in Article 45 under the heading "Directive Principles of Social Policy":—

"The principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas. The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the exclusive care of the Oireachtas."

Under that much-lauded Constitution and that Article thereof, Deputies here are charged with the duties mentioned in that Article and, in particular, they are bound to strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting, as effectively as they may, a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life. They are, I repeat, under a responsibility in the legislation they sponsor and support in this House to promote the welfare of the whole people and, impliedly, to have due regard for the principles of justice and charity.

At all events, I believe a number of Ministers and many of the Deputies who have spoken in this House on the Government side do not know what the principles of justice or charity are and are prepared to bolster up any case, by any argument, however much it may be in derogation of these principles of justice and charity. The people are entitled to know the meaning of this Bill and the reasons for it. Accordingly, we who are in opposition —all Parties and all sections in the Opposition—approach the duty that we feel imposed upon us in all seriousness and with every intention of seeing that this Bill will be fully debated. So far as we can ensure it, we wish it to get to the people in such a way that they will be able to do their duty and, as we hope, demonstrate once again that they have reached a degree of political maturity and political education in this small State of which we may well be proud.

They will not be able to demonstrate that unless they get the opportunity of knowing what is involved in this and, also, of knowing the truth and, also, of appreciating the fact that they are doing something which not merely affects a political Party or the head of a political Party, but affects generations of the Irish people yet unborn, perhaps.

I drew attention in the course of the debates on this Bill to the falsity of the case that was being put forward and to the fact that the Irish people were about to be deluded, if Fianna Fáil could achieve it, by appeals to old loyalties, political loyalties and personal loyalties to the Leader of the Party and that they were being asked to vote for the proposals in this Bill, not because they knew or cared or understood what was in the Bill, but because they were asked "not to let the old man down."

I should think that, in the conduct of the future debates in the other House of the Oireachtas, the Seanad, and also in the propaganda that will be put forward during the course of the campaign on the referendum and the Presidential election, Fianna Fáil, at least at this late hour in their political life, should realise their responsibilities and, whatever about the Presidential election, at least in their debates on the Referendum Bill, should put whatever arguments they have with truth and with some degree of accuracy.

It would take me quite a long time to deal with all the malicious innuendoes and the false suggestions that have been made here to bolster up this case by the Fianna Fáil Ministers and those of their Party who spoke in this debate. I intend to select only one or two to justify what I have been saying as a warning to the Irish people to be sure, when they are considering the verdict they have to give on these proposals, that they will weigh the arguments and sift the so-called reasons and be in a position to assess the true worth of what is being told to them.

I should have thought that, if the Ministers were really serious in their efforts in this Bill, that they would have been able to advance cogent arguments and to rely upon reason and argument and not upon malicious innuendoes and suggestions, but, of course, as we know and as I am sure a very big number of the people realise at the present time, this Bill is nothing but a piece of aggressive arrogance on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party and an unscrupulous effort to secure permanent power and, in order to secure that, which is the essential aim of this Bill, they forget the dictates of truth, justice and charity.

May I take one example at the outset? Deputy O'Malley, speaking on the Committee Stage of this Bill, on Wednesday, 26th November, 1958, at column 1088, Volume 171, No. 8 of the Official Reports, said this:—

"Deputy McGilligan had a few words to say, about 12 in all, on what his ideas were and I give this as his opinion on the system of P.R. On the 25th May, 1937, Deputy McGilligan said——"

Deputy O'Malley purports to quote what is in the Dáil Debates of that date:—

"It was always held with regard to P.R., which this country adopted, we had adopted the worst possible system."

The comment by Deputy O'Malley on that alleged quotation is:—

"Now by their fruits you shall know them."

That, of course, was one of the statements which I said had no regard for charity, truth or justice and contained an entirely false and malicious innuendo. It was repeated in a publication which was handed to me the other day by a gentleman I do not know. In the January issue ofAn Gléas, the political propaganda sheet of Fianna Fáil, No. 43 of January, 1959, in which their propaganda in reference to the Presidential election and the referendum is set forth, there is in a framed square or whatever the journalistic expression for it is—in a framed panel—there appears: “Who said this?” It is in a corner and recollect this is a document that is to be sent widespread throughout the country in order to get votes for the Government case on the referendum. “Who said this?” And this is what is quoted: “It was always held that with regard to P.R., which this country adopted, we had adopted the worst possible system”—following Deputy O'Malley's quotation from Deputy McGilligan. Then you see: “For the answer to this question see column 4” and in column 4 is given in black letters: “Who said it? Mr. Patrick McGilligan, T.D., in Dáil Éireann on 25-5-'37.”

Now we go to the Dáil Debates and what do we find? We find that that quotation has been deliberately misquoted because what Deputy McGilligan said at column 1070 of the Dáil Debates of 25th May, 1937, was something more than was given there. This is the full quotation which ought to have been given if Fianna Fáil had any belief in their case, not to speak of having any regard for truth, justice or Christian charity. This is what Deputy McGilligan said and I quote:—

"It was always held that with regard to P.R., which this country adopted, we had adopted the worst possible system."

The President, as he then was, now the Taoiseach, said:—

"That may be the Deputy's opinion."

Deputy McGilligan replied:—

"It is not my viewpoint, but one held by a number of people, and it is a matter that might be argued."

The President said:—

"We can argue it when it comes up again."

That was deliberately stated in this House by Deputy O'Malley, misquoting Deputy McGilligan for the purpose of suggesting that Deputy McGilligan's view was that we had adopted the worst possible system of P.R. That was repeated or it is going to be spread broadcast—that lie—throughout the length and breadth of this country in order to get votes for Fianna Fáil in the referendum. I say that is why——

I do not think the word "lie" should be used in connection with——

It is a lie. I repeat it, Sir. It is a lie.

It is true.

It is not a parliamentary expression.

With great respect, it is not unparliamentary. It is a lie

Whether the Deputy is correct or otherwise, the word "lie" should not be used.

It is damn well untrue and the Minister for Defence knows it.

The Minister for Defence knows it is untrue.

Will Deputy Sweetman please control himself? I am not arguing with Deputy Costello as to whether the statement is correct or otherwise. He ought not use the word "lie".

I will describe it as untrue.

On a point of order, is it not proper to describe here in the House a statement in a sheet published by Fianna Fáil as a lie, if it is a lie? It is fromGléas.

The Chair feels bound by the accepted rule that the word "lie" is unparliamentary.

On a point of order, is it not a fact that the word "lie" is unparliamentary in respect of any statement made in this House but not in respect of papers or quotations from outside the House? Is that not the clear Standing Order on which this ruling has been given?

On occasions when the word "lie" has been used in relation to any person the Chair prefers that the Deputy using the word should withdraw it.

I have used the word "lie", but in deference to your ruling, I say it is untrue.

It is nonsense. It has never been so ruled in respect of a publication.

Deputies and the Fianna Fáil Party even in this rag should have some regard to truth and I say that the vital part of the quotation from Deputy McGilligan was left out, where he says: "It is not my view," and when Deputy O'Malley makes a statement in this House suggesting that it was his view, and when that statement is made in this propaganda sheet which is to be circulated widespread throughout the country, it is time the Irish people understood the depths to which the Government have been reduced in order to try to get this Bill passed by an unthinking people and people who are shallow enough to accept what is said in a Party propaganda sheet. I want to protest against that class of thing because I do feel this is a most serious issue for the people and it ought not to be fought merely on the lines of Party political propaganda. There ought to be a possibility of putting a calm and considered case to the Irish people, without resorting to lies.

I want to refer again to one or two other examples of similar matters in order that I may get home to the Irish people what they have to decide on this Bill when it is referred to them by referendum. The Minister for Health this afternoon repeated some of these mean and malicious suggestions. I have with great difficulty, in deference to the ruling of the Chair, in the course of the speeches I have made, prevented myself from answering the sneers and the gibes and the malicious suggestions made from the opposite benches about my colleagues and myself in what they are pleased to call the Coalition Governments from 1948 to 1951 and from 1954 to 1957. When the Minister for Health to-day repeats these sneers, I am entitled at least to make one or two comments upon them.

He suggested, as has been suggested before in this debate—and I passed it over for the reason that I would find another opportunity outside this House to answer these matters, but I cannot let it pass on this, the Final Stage of the Bill, when the Bill with all its provisions is leaving the House for the last time—that as Leader of the Government in 1954 to 1957, I abrogated my constitutional duty and right in reference to the right of the Taoiseach to ask for a dissolution of Dáil Éireann from the President. He suggested, and almost went beyond the point of suggestion, to state, that there was something scandalous and disreputable in the way I had asked the President for a dissolution in 1957 when the Government I led still had a majority supporting it in this House.

He suggested it was because of some difficulties in the Government about financial affairs or because we were unable to produce the Book of Estimates or the financial proposals for that year and he told us, quite obviously being afraid of Deputy Norton, that of course Deputy Norton did not say it but that some of his supporters did say it throughout the country during the election campaign, that we were not a happy family in the Coalition at that time. I want to answer that very simply. I asked the President for a dissolution and got it, as I was entitled to ask for it and to get it, because I felt I was doing my duty to the Irish people. It had no reference, good, bad or indifferent, to any policy or any financial affairs, any Book of Estimates or anything else. It was intimated to me that a certain Party supporting the Government at that time were withdrawing their support.

We had got, in 1954, a clear mandate, as was admitted by the Taoiseach, to form a Coalition Government, as he likes to call it, and when it was quite clear that a certain Party in that Coalition was not going to continue its support, I felt it my duty to put the matter to the Irish people and I did so. That ends that. I hope the Minister for Health and all the other people who have been making these suggestions in the course of this debate, and elsewhere, will now cease their false suggestions and malicious and mean innuendoes.

As I say, I will take another occasion to deal with the sneers and the gibes about Coalition Governments, and the two I had the honour and privilege of leading in the last few years.

Having regard to the innuendo of the Minister for Health this afternoon and some of the things said during the course of the debate, I will say that I had the privilege and pleasure of being associated with Deputy Norton, Leader of the Labour Party, for nearly six and a half years in Government. During all that time I never had any dispute, difference or anything other than extreme harmony with him. I hope there will be no more of these lies, suggestions or innuendoes throughout the country. The Minister for Health repeated them to-day. I want to put an end to that.

In the course of this debate and outside the House it was also suggested that we opposed the First Reading of this Bill because we were afraid to let the Irish people decide upon it by referendum. That, again, is untrue, something that should not be restated. I want to make the position quite clear. We opposed the Bill from the very start because we felt it was urgently necessary to rouse the Irish people to the dangers of the proposals contained in the Bill which will soon have passed all its stages and go from this House. We were accused of obstruction. I felt—and still feel—that the proposals in the Bill are fraught with such grave possibilities and consequences for the Irish people that it was necessary that they should be thoroughly debated and dissected. I state these as mere examples. Time does not permit me to go into all of them. I will take an opportunity elsewhere and at other times to do so.

I want to pass to the Bill. It is, I think, a matter of some little significance that on the occasion, when the Taoiseach has announced his intention of retiring from the active political arena, there should be contained in this Bill proposals for increasing the powers of the President. I say that the Taoiseach has announced his intention of retiring from the political arena because he will be elected to the office of Uachtarán or he will not. If he is elected he must cease to be the Head of the Government. If he is not elected—if he gets such a rebuke from the Irish people—I do not think that he could possibly remain on as Taoiseach. Apparently, the Minister for External Affairs, with his prophetic vision, says he will be elected. Assuming he is elected—I am pretty certain the Taoiseach and his colleagues think it is a certainty—with that thought in their minds, we find in this Bill a proposal to increase the power of the President.

On the Committee Stage of the Bill I drew attention to the powers of the President in reference to the commission and the dangers inherent in it. It is not without significance that that addition is put in when the Taoiseach thinks he is going to be President. I think it is a bad thing to increase the powers of the President; it is worse to suggest—it seems to be implied—that there should be some sort of closer relationship between the office of the President, the office of the Taoiseach and the Dáil. I think it a bad thing to increase the powers of the President to dismiss a judge and the six members of this commission as the proposal stands in the Bill at the present time. It is a bad thing to bring the President into the arena of hot, passionate Party politics. That is the proposal in this Bill.

I do not know whether or not the political correspondent of theIrish Times reflects the view of the Taoiseach in this matter but that correspondent has been singularly accurate in all his prognostications of what was going to happen in reference to the proposals for the referendum and to the Presidential campaign. On the 9th January, 1959, it was stated by the political correspondent of the Irish Times that Mr. de Valera was going to stand for President. He went on to say that the duties of President would not be so arduous as those of Taoiseach and that under the Constitution he would be constantly consulted on major matters by the Government. The statement continues: “It is believed, too, that Mr. de Valera would tend to draw the office of President more closely to the Government and the Oireachtas.”

I want to register here a protest against any such suggestion. I want to ask the Taoiseach and the members of the Government if this represents their view. Colour is given to it by the fact that in this Bill the President's powers are being increased in a way that would seem more closely to associate the office of President with political matters than heretofore. It is entirely unjustified. It is entirely undemocratic that anybody should be able to say that the President, who ought to be merely the ornamental Head of this State, merely the figurehead of this State to perform certain very limited functions, Mr. de Valera going, as he believes, into that office, would tend to draw the Presidential office more closely to the Government and the Oireachtas. I want to know from the Taoiseach to-night, when he is winding up the debate, whether that represents his view because, if it does, we are up against a very serious issue indeed.

I listened to the Minister for External Affairs to-night and earlier in the afternoon to the Minister for Health. The Minister for Health was obviously reading from a prepared brief. He did it very badly indeed. I would say that the Minister for External Affairs put forward such arguments as he did glibly and with a certain degree of coherence. His efforts, added to those of the Minister for Health, would really make one think that there was never before a more wonderful thing in the world than the proposal contained in this Bill to impose the straight vote on the electorate. Never was there such a thing before in the world. There is nothing standing between the Irish people and the proposal which Mr. Khrushchev spoke of yesterday—more food, less work and no taxes. All that is standing between us now is P.R. and we will have less work, more food and no taxes.

Of course, it is perhaps relevant to interpolate at the moment in reference to "no taxes" that, since Fianna Fáil got into office, they have never reduced taxation. The only time taxation was reduced since 1932 was when the Coalition was in office. It was not P.R. that stopped the Fianna Fáil Government during all those years. But whether this is such a heaven-sent gift or not, may we say we are open to a little argument? There might be something to be said about it but there is very little to be said for it. Anything that could be said for the straight vote, any single thing the Minister for External Affairs said to-night in the course of his jumping up and down on the Committee Stage of this Bill was all known in 1937—every single thing.

The Minister has had his officials searching the libraries of Europe for books, documents, and information concerning France, Germany, and other places on the Continent of Europe. He thinks probably he knows America so well that he need not read any book about it and that he is able to speakex cathedra from his own knowledge of the United States.

Red China.

A lot of books were available in 1937 about Senates as well as P.R. They were all available at that time. All the arguments were available then. This wonderful system that will bring such great prosperity to Ireland and which is the only obstacle between unheard—of and untold prosperity—all that was there in 1936. The then President of the Executive Council, now the Taoiseach, said at that time that P.R. was the best system and that, by and large, it worked extremely well.

But the new system will be the new systemà la de Gaulle.

This has been quoted many times during the debates on this measure. In Volume 67-68 of the Official Report of the debate in this House on the Constitution, as reported at column 1343, this is what the Taoiseach, who was at that time the President of the Executive Council, had to say in relation to P.R.:—

"The system we have we know; the people know it. On the whole it has worked out pretty well. I think that we have a good deal to be thankful for in the country: we have to be very grateful that we have had the system of P.R. here. It gives a certain amount of stability."

We have to be grateful for P.R.— that one system that is standing now between us and untold and unheard-of prosperity. The then Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is also our present Minister for Industry and Commerce, said at that time that P.R. was certainly a better system than that which prevailed heretofore and which was then in operation in Great Britain. He said that the system which operated in that country might well give the minority a very substantial majority in Parliament. That was what they said then, with all the arguments available to them at that time that are available to them now.

When I had the temerity, doing my duty as a member of the Opposition and putting the case against the proposal, when I put the case that might be put against it, the then President of the Executive Council, the present Taoiseach, brushed it aside and said we should be grateful for having the system and that he intended to enshrine it and imbed it deeply in the Constitution—and prevent the country from getting the prosperity which it will now get. Perhaps that is why, all during the term of office of Fianna Fáil, the country did not get the prosperity to which it was entitled.

Is it not utterly preposterous for Ministers and their satellites, speaking from prepared briefs, to bring forward arguments about France, the United States and other countries, such as we heard from the Minister for External Affairs to-day? He spoke about France. That is one of the ways in which they try to dupe the people. However, the Minister was caught out and exposed. It was clearly shown by independent people that the conditions in France and considerations in reference to P.R. have no relation whatever to the situation that emerged from time to time in that Republic.

The Minister for External Affairs also said that the United States were very lucky because the Almighty gave them, after they had won their freedom, I suppose, a collection of the wisest constitutional lawyers, the most far-seeing statesmen that any country was ever blessed with. Subsequently, they had men such as Chief Justice Marshall who moulded the Constitution, then in a very sketchy form, in a way that gave it flesh and blood so that the nation has become the powerful and mighty nation it is to-day. But it was not the question of an electoral system that brought that about. It is nonsense to talk about the conditions existing in other countries which have no relation whatever to this country— deluding the Irish people by talking about France and other countries. We have to consider our own conditions.

We are entering upon an untried pathway. We are entering upon untrodden ground, upon territory uncharted and unmapped. We have no experience of how the straight vote will work in our own conditions. It works in a certain way in Britain because they have a tradition of centuries behind them. As I said in my Second Reading speech, it works under conditions that exist in that country which do not exist here and which enable it to work well there.

The two big political Parties there take very good care that no other system will get a chance in Great Britain because it suits the big political Parties. To-day, the Minister for External Affairs referred in his speech —I could not follow the relevance— to some system of P.R. that gave control by Party bosses. Was he referring to the present system that gave control to the Party bosses of Fianna Fáil? Whatever the system, what is absolutely and abundantly clear is that, under the straight vote system proposed in this Bill, Party bosses will have the first, middle and last say in all things connected with the selection and election of candidates. As I said on the Committee Stage, it is the apotheosis of Party bosses.

Of course the Tory Party in Britain do not want P.R. They do not desire to see the 2,500,000 Liberals, who are without representation there, coming upon the political scene. Neither do the Labour Party because they have, over the years, built themselves up into a powerful Party and, while they are in for one term of three, four or five years, they are out for the next two, three or four years. They are in and out. The see-saw goes on between the two big Parties and that suits them fine. They will never give a chance to P.R.—nor will any Parliament elected here, if these proposals go through and there is a straight vote, ever allow the electorate a chance by referendum or even mob law to change that system because it will suit the big Parties that will emerge here in the future far better.

The Minister for External Affairs also gave a very interesting piece of information which, I am sure, will be of great interest to the people. He said that one of the reasons—one of the reasons—why they did not have the straight vote in the Constitution when it was being drafted in 1936-37, and enacted by the people subsequently, was, if you please, that they were afraid the Constitution would not be passed by the people. It nearly took my breath away. In the statement I have read out the Taoiseach said we ought to be grateful for having P.R. Now, the Minister says the reason why they put in P.R. was that they were afraid the Constitution would not be passed. They were in such a bad way, by reason of the foul tactics of the Opposition, that they feared the people would be deluded and the Constitution would not be passed. In other words, what the Minister for External Affairs has done here to-night is to accuse his Leader, the Taoiseach, of deliberately deceiving the Irish people when——

He said it could be changed and a means of changing it put into the Constitution.

Do not run away from your case. I took it down here. On the one hand we had the President of the Executive Council, as he was then—the Taoiseach, as he is now—saying we ought to be grateful for having P.R. On the other hand, if the Minister for External Affairs is right, I repeat that the irreproachable Dev. deliberately deceived the Irish people in order to get his precious Constitution passed by them and that he would not have got it through if he had not. That is one of the arguments seriously put forward by the Minister for External Affairs in asking the Irish people to approve of these proposals through the referendum. He is saying to the Irish people: "Your hero, Dev., deluded you or whoever was voting in 1937. He deliberately deceived you to get the Constitution through. Now in his old age you will absolve him from his mortal sin against you." That in one aspect is very funny but in another aspect it is very serious indeed, when the Government Party and their Ministers have to resort to such tactics as those.

I want to repeat very briefly what I said in the course of some of the discussion. What amazes me is the arrogance of the Government, of the Party supporting them and all who support them, whoever they may be, in the country—their arrogance in trying to mould the future of this country in the interests of their own Party. How do we know what the conditions will be in future years? We are, to use a phrase that has become a cliché, at the end of an era. The Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, who has been a prominent figure in Ireland for good or evil, for many years, will be departing from the political scene, whatever the result of the Presidential election will be. That will have a paramount effect upon the political allegiance of future generations. We do not know how the people will act in the future but the Government have the arrogance to say conditions will exist for all time in this world, and in this country in particular, exactly as they are now.

We are going to put fetters around future generations in the interests of one political Party, in the interests of a pet notion of the disappearing Taoiseach. A dying generation has no right to hamper or endeavour to hamper the young generations of Irish men and women. If the Irish people want to elect through this system of P.R. cranks and cranky Parties, as the Minister for External Affairs said to-night and as the Minister for Health also said earlier, they have a right to do so and it is not democracy to prevent their exercising that right. It is not democracy to say: "We want to have a particular system here because we think it will be better for our Party", and under cover of all sorts of misrepresentations and slanders get this thing through.

I pleaded, and the Opposition as a whole pleaded, that time would be given to calm deliberation on this matter, that it would be examined, and that we should not, at the end of this era of a dying generation, foist our ideas, even if we think them good ideas, upon generations of young people who are now perhaps only 17 or 18 years of age and who will be voting at the next general election. We have no right to do it. We are doing an injustice in foisting on them our own particular notions whether they be valid or whether we hold them sincerely or not.

There is no such thing as the forseeable future for mankind. We do not know what dangerous conditions we shall create by means of this Bill. This above all is a matter in relation to which we ought to have gone slowly and cautiously. We have had experience of this system of P.R. It has worked well and the people have been able to use it properly for a period from 1922 to 1959 at various elections from time to time. Now, because particular individuals think they should not have been beaten in two general elections, in 1948 and 1954, the people are told: "The system is a bad one. It should be changed, but we leave that to you to do, so give us your dying benediction."

A dying generation such as we are has no right to impose its will upon young people. I want to emphasise and repeat for the last time in this House that if this system is changed the Irish people will never, certainly not for generations to come, be given a chance, for the reasons I have already given, to change that system whether or not it works well for the Irish people. They will never get a chance to change it by constitutional means and it will require something like a revolution to do so.

We have had here something precious. I used to boast that we had democracy in Ireland brought to its logical conclusion, that we had parliamentary democracy, that we had adult suffrage and P.R. Few countries in the world can make a boast of that kind. We are a small nation, a people who had been derided for centuries and who had been made the butt of the British boast that we would never be able to govern ourselves, but whatever struggles we have had—and we have had many deep and bitter ones—at least we have demonstrated to the world we are able to manage our own institutions.

We built those institutions in hard and difficult times and in spite of difficulties. It was a source of pride to us and something precious that we valued, that we had parliamentary democracy, representation through adult suffrage and by means of P.R. a chance for every section of the people that required and wished to be represented in an Irish Parliament to get their due and just share of representation there. That was something of which we were proud. That is something the Government ask the Irish people to throw away. Because we built our parliamentary traditions in difficult times and in spite of difficulties, they ought to be and, I think, they are all the more precious to us and we should not throw them away, because we will have a new Parliament, building up some other and probably less precious traditions under the proposal in this Bill.

I have no Independent Deputies on my list so far, and there is only three-quarters of an hour left.

My reason for speaking is the fact that no Independent has spoken to-day and as this Bill is designated to eliminate Independents and small Parties, the main victims should have a say in the final appeal. I am glad the Taoiseach is here because I am wondering has he considered all that has been said here. It is strange if he has not or if he has not been advised as to what has been said here because it would be tantamount to giving a direction to the people in ignorance of what was said against the proposal. As has been pointed out, the proposal is very grave. It means that only a privileged set of people will now govern this country and that only a privileged set of people will be members of this House.

I am, perhaps, not the ideal type of member. Perhaps the ideal type is the fellow who is glad to be here and who keeps his mouth shut. We have two Parties comprised largely of people who were the product of the national struggle, and those people are now either about to retire, or are in a certain stage of dotage. They must be, and if it is the policy—and it has been the policy—of the Parties to want only those nice, quiet gentlemen who will not say much, that does not bode well for the future. Performance is not effected by nice, quiet people, but by people with will, and if only nice, quiet people, who are afraid to say "boo" to the leaders, comprise the Parties, who then are to take the place of those older men who undoubtedly had ability but who are now on their way out?

It is all right to ask what about their sons and all that, but I do not want to make any reference to sons. Let me say this much, however, that there are sons who have undoubted administrative ability, but recently, when a writer tried to defend nepotism in politics, he attempted to show that great men's sons can also be great. What did he do but quote. Alexander the Great and then jump to Pitt, over 2,000 years of history, to try to trace a couple of people to prove his point? Leadership is necessary in political Parties for the welfare and progress of the country, and to face major obstacles such as our economic problems and Partition, a problem little referred to in this House. How are we to make out, if the main Parties are to be comprised of nice quiet people, perhaps the sons, perhaps the friends of the leaders who are passing out? It means that to a large extent mediocrity will be in command.

That has been the position in England for quite a long period. It has been established that most of the Prime Ministers there were mediocre in ability and the one man they hold up is Churchill, a square peg of a man. They all conspired to keep him out because he was not the nice, quiet, gentlemanly type, and it was only because the English people were in real danger, and largely because he was connected with an aristocratic family, that alone saved him and planted him in the Parliament.

My objection is that this Bill says that any man with natural ability may keep out. While the Taoiseach may say that a man with natural ability can join a Party, that man is the type who is not wanted in political Parties. If the Taoiseach has any experience of constituencies, he ought to realise what goes on in them. Each constituency is comprised of a lot of people. Some of them have been there a long time and are actually in control of the constituency and, when any man tries to push himself forward, the majority is against him. Not only that, but that majority will get the blessing of the oldtimers at the top, so that I do not think the Taoiseach really knows politics at the bottom.

I have said my piece because I wanted to have a say in this final appeal. I am protesting against this Bill because it means the control of politics in the hands of a privileged few. It means mediocrity in command and, on behalf of the thousands of people who aspire to be members of this House, I protest, and I protest, and I protest. I shall say no more.

The House has now come to the final stage of the discussions on this Bill and while many arguments have been used which, in normal circumstances, ought to disturb the Government responsible for the Bill, and while many of these arguments are of a cogency which might call into question the Government's wisdom in the interests of the nation in proceeding with the Bill, I expect we shall have from the Taoiseach to-night a relentless endorsement of the Bill, a profession by him that this Bill is going to lead the Irish people into a land of milk and honey, and that all the difficulties of the past will now disappear and be dissipated, once we adopt the method of election of the single non-transferable vote.

The Government's only policy in this matter appears to be: when in doubt do what the British do, because that is the attitude of the Government in this Bill. The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Health and the Minister for External Affairs have been sent in here to tell us the advantages which flow from the single non-transferable vote, and they have quoted in support of their view what Lord Craigavon did in order to ensure that his Party would have proprietary rights to Government in the Six Counties. We have been told why the British Government clings on to the system of the non-transferable vote. Canada has been quoted and South Africa has been quoted.

As I said earlier, there is one thing about the British—they must have qualities which are not strictly definable, because here, notwithstanding all we have said about them down through our chequered history, the Taoiseach has now reached the stage, in 1959, when he commends to the Irish people the same method of election as the British have adopted and retained. He commends to our people here the same method of election as the Stormont group have adopted in order to strangle an effective Opposition Party in Stormont, and to rivet themselves in power.

I do not suppose that any Bill has had the unique record of this Bill. Bills have come into this House and have been amended in a variety of ways, on the Committee Stage and on the Report Stage, but this Bill, because of the docile majority who sit behind the Government, has not been amended in Committee. Not a single amendment has been made in these two contentious Bills and probably will not be made because, once the Taoiseach gets the bit in his teeth and tells the boys that this must be done, then it is as much as their political life is worth to question the wisdom of what he says. The Taoiseach is still riding through his battle with the bit in his teeth, and his own spurs on his back, in case he should relent in the slightest and listen to the reasonable and common-sense arguments which have been advanced in the course of this debate.

What are we doing in this Bill? I want to put it briefly. Here, under this Bill to-night, we are proposing to abolish the system of P.R. which our people have experienced over approximately the past 40 years. Here, to-night, we are proposing to abolish a system of election which gives substantial groups of people—not less than 25 per cent., in a three-member constituency—the right to have representation on the floor of this House; to put the point of view of those who sent them here before Parliament and before the nation.

We are being asked to abolish a system with which we are familiar and to adopt a system of election of which none of our people, under 58 years of age, has had any previous experience. Can anybody imagine that this system as it works in the Six Counties, or as it works in Britain, will have any mesmeric economic or fiscal advantages for this country? If the abolition of P.R. could have made the Six Counties prosperous, they would have been prosperous long ago.

In this debate, the Taoiseach has pretended to see in the abolition of P.R. the abolition also of many other problems with which this Government promised to deal and which, during the past two years, they have given no evidence of their intention even to think about seriously. We were told by the Taoiseach that the people knew the system of P.R. We were told by the Taoiseach, that our people understood the system of P.R. We were told by the Taoiseach, in 1927, that he would never say that a minority should be denied representation and 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. Ten years later, he said that we probably get, in this country, the best results under a system of P.R.; that we get better balanced results than in any other country. He said that we get the benefits of P.R. in reasonably balanced legislation. The Taoiseach recommended P.R. to the country in 1937 in these words which permit of no ambiguity whatever.

The Minister for External Affairs says that the Taoiseach put P.R. into the Constitution as a masquerade. The Taoiseach said he recommended the inclusion of P.R. in the Constitution because of its virtues, which are described in this un mistakable language. But his Minister for External Affairs said: "That is not so at all; we put P.R. into the Constitution because we were afraid it would be beaten if we took P.R. out of it." There is a pretty situation: the Taoiseach saying: "We put it in because of its virtues" and the new hopeful for the position of Taoiseach saying: "Not at all; we put it in there because we were afraid to take it out". Now, the Taoiseach can be right or the Minister for External Affairs can be right, but they both cannot be right. One of them must be wrong. The Taoiseach should tell us whether the Minister is right or does the Taoiseach believe what he said when he commended P.R. to the House and to the country in 1937? There has been no public demand whatever for the abolition of P.R.

Frequently, it is not very difficult to get local authorities and various other bodies to meet and pass resolutions on various subjects. Everybody who has had experience of Irish life knows that. Can anybody recall a local authority, between 1937 and 1958, meeting to pass resolutions demanding the abolition of P.R.? Can anybody recall any body in the country meeting to demand the abolition of P.R.? How many Deputies on those benches could put up their hands and say, before they vote this evening on this Bill, that they made speeches demanding the abolition of P.R.?

There was, in fact, no demand from the public for the abolition of P.R. This demand has arisen only in the Taoiseach's imagination. He believes he now sees what the Irish people want. He believes he sees the abolition of P.R. as being better for the Irish people. Lord Craigavon thought the same, that it was better for the sake of the people in the Six Counties. The Taoiseach, nearly 30 years afterwards, follows faithfully in the footsteps of Lord Craigavon, notwithstanding his condemnation in 1929 of the step which Lord Craigavon took then in abolishing P.R.

The Six Counties have been quoted to us as an example of a territory where stability has been brought about by the abolition of P.R. Everybody knows the sole purpose of the Orange group which controls the Stormont Parliament was to abolish P.R. so as to dwarf, and as far as they could, strangle, opposition to them in that Parliament. The sole purpose of maintaining the single non-transferable vote in England is to keep out the Liberals because the British Tory and Labour Parties do not want to see the reemergence of a Liberal Party which, on its political strength, must get votes and seats, and these seats would inevitably take from the strength of the other two larger Parties there.

Why compare conditions in a country of fewer than 3,000,000 people, with a dwindling population and with an entirely diverse economic structure, with the conditions which operate in Britain to-day? The reasons which justify and convince the British that they should maintain the single non-transferable vote are reasons which take stock of the British position and the British economy and the pattern of political life in Britain and of a very long tradition of Parliamentary government there.

Is anybody prepared to say that all these conditions are repeated in exactly the same form, if on a smaller canvas, in this country? Does anybody believe that the reasons which justify the British in continuing their method of election are reasons for its adoption here? When the Six Counties abolished P.R., we said in 1937—through the mouth of the Taoiseach—that we would get better balanced results with P.R. than any other method of election, and better results than any country of which the Taoiseach knew. Now we are asked, in spite of these positive statements, to reverse what the Taoiseach recommended in 1937 and to vote for the abolition of P.R., because the Taoiseach thinks the abolition of P.R. has brought stability to the Six Counties, and that its non-appearance in Britain and Canada and New Zealand have brought stability to these countries.

That is the sole reason we are being asked to abolish P.R. The Taoiseach, however, in the course of this debate, did draw the curtain aside from a secretive mind. He said, at one stage, that he was not strongly opposed to P.R. himself, that what he disliked were the inter-Party Governments which he said, or alleged, grew up under a system of P.R. The Taoiseach has gone on record as saying that he hated the inter-Party Government. He detested an inter-Party Government—very noble sentiments indeed for the Taoiseach and particularly noble sentiments, if and when he occupies the office of President in the Phoenix Park. These were the Taoiseach's sentiments as recorded in the Official Report.

Why does the Taoiseach dislike inter-Party Government? He was quite content with P.R. so long as he could command, as he did, a majority in the House. He had control of the Government from 1932 to 1948, but when the Taoiseach and his Party were defeated in the election of 1948, the Taoiseach then adopted the attitude that P.R. was detestable, notwithstanding his previous commendations of it. P.R. was opposed to the best interests of the Irish people and the Taoiseach never forgave P.R. simply because the people, in the exercise of their rights, in 1948, decided that they would vote for Parties other than Fianna Fáil and gave these Parties sufficient strength to enable them to form an inter-Party Government.

Perhaps if that had been the only occasion on which the Taoiseach's Party had been defeated, the people would have been forgiven and the Parties which formed the inter-Party Government might not be detested so much by the Taoiseach, but when it happened again in 1954, the Taoiseach then determined to pursue a line of policy which would prevent the people from ever again exercising their freedom of choice at an election by electing candidates under the well-known, well-tried and strongly-recommended system of P.R. which the Taoiseach commended to us in 1937 and put into the Constitution of that year.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the Taoiseach's annoyance in this matter is based on the fact that the Taoiseach was put out of office in 1948 and in 1954. I am prepared to concede that the Taoiseach is a most remarkable man, a unique man in many respects. Fianna Fáil, will never get a "spellbinder" like him in the future because many members of his Party—and I do not know whether it would be fair to exempt the Taoiseach from this body—believe that the Taoiseach, the centre of all life, must be the centre of all pageantry in this country, that you cannot have a Government without the Taoiseach and that if you have such Government, you have Hamlet without the prince.

It may be that some people are born with such a mentality that at a christening they want to be the baby and at a wedding they want to be the bridegroom. I can understand that kind of mentality and I can understand that having been in office for a long time, as this Government have, you can develop a sort of proprietary sense of government, and feel that nobody can do the job better than you can: that you have some supernatural right to rule and that you can do that and think for the people. You can imagine, too, that you think for them better than they can think for themselves and exercise their votes for them better than they can do it themselves. I understand that; I understand there can be people who believe that; but that is not democracy. That is just rigging an electoral system so as to ensure that it will give you the results which you have previously determined it will give you.

The whole purpose of this Bill rests not on any principle or on any deep-rooted belief that the direct, non-transferable vote has virtues over the P.R. method of election. It rests on one principle only—and I put "principle" in inverted commas,— that if you can rig the system of election, abolish P.R. and introduce the British and Six County method of election, you may be able, for one election, perhaps for two, to get into this House a Fianna Fáil Party which, while in a minority so far as the votes cast in an election are concerned, will nevertheless be the largest Party when the votes are counted after the poll and that Party can hold on to office for another election and perhaps one after that. Many people will say: "That will see us through, lads. We will get two more elections. There is no need to worry about posterity after that."

This Bill is aimed at producing a situation in which the Taoiseach, now that he has decided to endeavour to reside in the Phoenix Park, may bequeath to the Party he is leaving behind a method of election which will ensure that even if he has left the Party and gone to the Park, the Party will at least have an election machine under which, as has been said so often in this debate, if you can "collar" 30 per cent. of the votes on polling day—even though that is a minority of the electors—you can still control a majority of seats in the House and the Government as well.

If anybody on the Fianna Fáil Benches says that this is a scheme to enable other political Parties "to have had it," as one Minister said, then I understand it. Or if it is said that this is a scheme to get results which will keep the Fianna Fáil Party there, I understand it, but it is not a scheme to ensure that the people of the country will be allowed to exercise their votes in a democratic way and I say that it is nothing short of the bitterest violence to democracy to arrange an electoral system whereby a candidate who gets 3,000 votes out of 11,000 cast can come in here to represent not merely his own 3,000 but the 8,000 who voted against him. If that is democracy, I do not want to be associated with that variety of democracy.

It is not intended, apparently, that you should.

With the Taoiseach, I believe—and I think he was much more truthful in 1937 than he has been on this Bill—that P.R. had, and still has, all the virtues for which the Taoiseach gave it credit in 1937. I believe he was right then in resisting any attempt to take P.R. out of the Constitution. I believe P.R., in our circumstances and in particular with our past, has virtues the significance of which we cannot appreciate because we have tasted no other system. It has been rightly said that you miss liberty only when it is taken away from you; we may miss P.R. only when it is taken away from us and the damage has then been done.

P.R., as the Taoiseach said in 1937, is a stabilising influence. As a method of election, it eliminates the possibility of an hysterical election. It makes sure that there can be no snap or panic decisions or frenzied voting. It makes sure that no political quacks or pseudo-revolutionaries can engage in a whirlwind campaign to produce a frenzy among the electorate that can have a very disconcerting effect on election results. With our past, is it not desirable that we should have an electoral method which will eliminate wild or frenzied voting? The system which we have, as we have known it over the past 40 years, in spite of many difficulties on the home front, has given stability and relative tranquility in this House, when other methods might not have produced the same results. Why should we throw away these advantages to-day? What is wrong with the nation to-day that, of all the issues confronting it, we must concentrate solely on this one issue, the abolition of P.R., for which nobody has made any demand and for the abolition of which only the Taoiseach is the inspiration?

The Taoiseach said the other day that the abolition of P.R. would give stability. He said exactly the opposite in 1937. At any rate, he says that, once we abolish P.R., we shall get stability and single Party Government. In Britain they have no P.R., they have the single member constituency and the non-transferable vote. It is interesting to note that in the 24 years from 1918 to 1942, Britain had a Coalition Government for 15 years, a minority Government for three years and a one-Party Government for six years. Therefore, even the adoption of the single non-transferable vote will not ensure for the Taoiseach the eradiction of the evils which he professes to see by a continuance of P.R.

Why, then, is this issue catapulted into the arena here? Is it possible that we have no other problem before the nation? Is it possible that we have nothing else to do? Is it possible that, having nothing else to do, we are just filling in our time until the next election? Does anyone even remotely suspect that there are tremendous issues outside which call for solution, tremendous issues which affect the lives of simple men and women in their little cottages up and down the country? While we are wasting weeks discussing something which nobody but the Taoiseach wants, the lives of these people are ebbying away and the problems which affect them are being left untouched.

I was interested to read in a newspaper the other day a speech made by the Taoiseach in the Mansion House, on the occasion of the anniversary of the meeting of the First Dáil. He deplored the fact that we still have Partition in the country and he used these words:—

"The obvious common sense at the moment is to consolidate what we have got; and we have a lot to do before it is consolidated. We have to try to provide a livelihood for those born in this country, so that so many of them will not have to emigrate. It is a difficult task, but one to which we should devote ourselves."

I sympathise with every single word which the Taoiseach has said there. I would suggest to him that, instead of sundering and fragmenting the political Parties in this country by discussing a worthless Bill of this kind, he should use this platform as a forum from which he could make appeals to each and every Party up and down the country, for the good will, for the enthusiasm, to do what he thought he should do when he spoke in the Mansion House last week, namely, everything possible to provide a livelihood for those born in this country, so that so many of them will not have to emigrate.

The Taoiseach recognised that it was a difficult task. Will it be made any easier by the introduction of a Bill of this kind, by dividing the country into two on the merits or otherwise of this proposed referendum and the new method of voting as compared with the present method? Why is it being done at this stage? Surely the Irish people are entitled to a fair chance and a fair break? We have 83,000 people registered at the employment exchanges to-day and 17,000 of them are registered in Dublin. There are 60,000 of our people emigrating each year, trying to find elsewhere the livelihood which they cannot get here.

While the Irish drift all over the world and while Irish blood ebbs out like that, while those left behind are trying to make ends meet, at a time when the cost of living was never higher than it is to-day, the biggest solace the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Party have for them is so say: "Forget your troubles; we are all right; we will give you a referendum instead of the reforms you were promised when you voted for us in the last election." It is a derisory comment on the intelligence of the Irish people that they should be treated in that way and it is a sordid method of reciprocating the way in which they voted for the present Government in the last election.

It is rather difficult at this stage to start repeating the arguments which have been put forward in favour of this Bill.

The boys have to come in now.

Quite a large number of irrelevancies have been brought in.

There are a few more of the boys outside. There are three or four more in the Library.

Would the Deputy allow the Taoiseach to make his contribution without interruption?

All sorts of motives have been suggested for the introduction of this Bill. The simple motive for bringing it in is to provide for the country a better method of election, a better method of finding a Government, than the one which exists. That is the purpose. It is interesting to note the new enthusiasm of Fine Gael for the system of P.R. I remember occasions when their attitude was quite different. I pointed out to the House the advertisements which they issued back in 1927. We heard quite a good deal of the rumbling which was taking place in the Fine Gael ranks about 1933 on this question of P.R., as it is called.

One of the primary purpose of an election in this country, as I have already pointed out, is to get a Government for the country, a Government which will be able truly to represent the people, the will of the people and the policy of the people. When there is talk about representative Government, one would think that it is the representation of Parties that is meant and that if there are 20 different Parties the whole idea is to give representation to those Parties. As far as I understand it, the whole purpose of representative democracy is to try to get into Parliament members who will represent the constituencies which elect them. That is done by the system of single-member constituencies and the non-transferable vote, in my opinion, far better than it is done by the system which we have called P.R.

When those opposite talk about P.R., one would imagine that, somehow or other, through this system, every section in the country was going to be represented in this House. Under the single-member system there will be individuals who, in the main, will represent the current of opinion in the constituencies in which they have been elected. Surely that is the best form of representation, that the people in a single constituency will vote for the person they think best represents the views they have in regard to what is best in the national interest. You get that by the single-member constituency because the individual elected is the person who gets the predominant vote indicating the opinion in the constituency.

The fundamental fault of the system we have is that it leads, as was admitted by the Leader of the Opposition when we were discussing this matter back in 1937, to a multiplicity of Parties. Do we want that? Do we want to create a multiplicity of Parties here? A multiplicity of Parties inevitably means Coalition Governments, and Coalition Governments mean, as was stated in the advertisement I referred to on a previous occasion, bargaining for place and power between irresponsible minority groups—irresponsible because in such circumstances any group can put before the people a policy which they have not the slightest notion of implementing, a policy which they think will be attractive but which they know they would never have the opportunity of putting into effect. The moment they enter into a coalition, they get rid of their responsibilities.

The single-member constituency and the direct vote means that the person elected is responsible to the people for the policy for which he stands, and that the Government composed of a majority of such is a Government which cannot elude its responsibilities. It has to face them. The purpose of this measure is to try to give the people a system which will avoid this multiplicity of Parties. It is the multiplicity of Parties that is wrong with the present system. That system makes for disintegration, whereas the system we are recommending is one which makes for integration.

Some Deputy I listened to to-day said that we should not have back-room methods and bargaining between the various Parties before an election. It is very much better that they should bargain before rather than after the election. We want their bargaining to be put to the test before the people. If they feel that if they go up as rivals they will divide their supporters, it is very much better that they should come to an agreement that a certain candidate would be the best representative for both groups. It is very much better that they should do that in the light of day before the election than that they should do it afterwards in the backrooms when the election is over, as was done before, when the people will not have any opportunity of deciding whether they will or will not accept the bargain.

Remember when Deputy Baxter and Deputy Johnston were of offered Ministries? Who offered them Ministries?

Deputy Flanagan must cease interrupting.

As I say, it is better that bargains be made before the election so that the people can judge upon them. They should not be made behind the people's backs. It is because this system we have leads, and has led in other countries, to a multiplicity of Parties—and where there is a multiplicity of Parties you have coalitions—that you have unstable Governments, different groups bargaining, irresponsible groups bargaining and weak Government. As the Fine Gael advertisement put it, you have frequent changes of Government and you have the bursting up of these coalitions. It is to try to save the country from the consequences of such a multiplicity of Parties that the present Bill is introduced, and for no other reason.

We hear that this is undemocratic. Is it undemocratic to put before the people a proposal which we think is good, but which is opposed by others and on which the people themselves are to be the judges? The people are to be the judges in this case. It is not as if our Party were putting through something by the weight of our majority in the House. We are using our majority to give the people an opportunity they would not get except under circumstances such as the present. The Leader of the Opposition says that they will never get the opportunity again, if this system is put through and they want to change. Of course, they will have an opportunity—a very much better opportunity, I would say, when you had two Parties, each of which would come before the electorate to get a decision in favour of a change if they wanted it, than you would have if you had a large number of Parties, each one with a vested interest in keeping the system in vogue that makes for a multiplicity of Parties.

The single constituency is a workable constituency. It is in every way more convenient for the people in it to choose their representative. It is in every way easier for the representative to know the wants of the particular community he represents and to represent these wants here in the Dáil. It is very much easier for the people, who have any particular matter they want to bring to his attention, to bring it to his attention; and he will have a definite responsibility placed upon him to look after the interests of the constituency and the interests of the country as a whole. I say there is no comparison between the two as far as the people's convenience and the satisfactory way in which it can work are concerned.

The next question is the system of the non-transferable vote. You can work up as many examples as you like. It is very easy to imagine an extreme case and say: "Would you stand for this?" or "Would you stand for that?" having worked out some extreme case which could occur. I shall not say any system is perfect. I shall not say the single-member constituency system is perfect, but I say it is far less imperfect than the other system. They say to you: "Take a case of, say, 40 per cent., 35 per cent, and 25 per cent. Thirty-five and 25 make 60; therefore, the 40 gets in as against 60." Is that accurate reasoning?

It is not. Suppose A, B, and C are the candidates. A gets 40, B 35 and C 25, for example. Will you tell me that there as 60 per cent. who have a different view to that of A? Let us say they voted from a positive point of view. Who will tell me that the 35 and 25 should be added together?

They will tell you themselves if you let them.

They do not tell you themselves. Let us take that example and work it out. Take the 35 and 25. Suppose there were 20 of C's second preferences in favour of B and five in favour of A. Then B gets it, is that not so? Very well then. What about A? A is out. What about the present system when you come to A? Suppose that 30 of A's second preferences were for C and only ten for B, then the position is reversed and it is C who should get in.

What is the panic about then?

That is the position, and then Deputies opposite pretend that that is the perfect system and, under it, one will inevitably get the correct preferences.

(Interruptions.)

Deputies must allow the Taoiseach to conclude without these interruptions.

The pretence is that if A gets 40 per cent., B 35 per cent. and C 25 per cent., one must add the 35 per cent. and the 25 per cent. and reach the conclusion that A is in a minority. That does not follow at all. It does not follow that A is in a minority; and, equally, it does not follow that if second preferences from C are transferred to B, then B has got the greatest number of preferences, first and second. I have given the House an example clearly demonstrating that C may be the candidate who should be elected.

Now, the other system is simple. It is understandable. Under it, the people will size up the candidates, the policies for which they stand and the sort of Government to which they are likely to lead. Having sized them up, they will vote for them. Taking the community as a whole, it has been found that, in the long run the simple direct system in which the voter puts a simple X in front of the name of the candidate for whom he wishes to vote, gives the best results. One thing it definitely does is to compel parties, if they intend to bargain, to do the bargaining beforehand. It does not, of course, exclude, Parties. There is nothing in it to exclude Parties. It does not prevent people voting as they please. But it does prevent a multiplicity of Parties being able to affect government and prevent stable government.

At this point, I should like for a moment to deal briefly with the constituency commission. We have been attacked in relation to the commission. When we were discussing this matter on the Committee and Report Stages of the Bill, I pointed out that the idea of having a body independent of the Dáil was mentioned first by the Leader of the Opposition. We thought it a good idea because it would remove the pretence that there was a danger of some attempt at gerrymandering. We believed it was a good idea to take a committee of this House, three nominated by the Taoiseach from the majority Party, since in all probability it will be the majority Party which will from the Government, and three nominated from the Opposition. It has been said more than once here in these discussions that the three from the Opposition will be nominated by the Ceann Comhairle. That is not the position. They will be nominated by a method which the Ceann Comhairle will indicate. He will indicate the method by which the nominations are to be made. That is essential because the Opposition may vary in its form, and a method which might be suitable if there were only one Opposition Party might not be suitable should there be two, or more, Parties forming the Opposition.

Let me return now for a moment to this suggestion that under the proposed system there will only be two Parties in the House. That is not true. One can have more than two Parties. All we are trying to do is to ensure that the country will have a stable Government with a stable majority. That does not prevent the formation of Parties. If there is some particular area in which Party A is strong, then the Party A candidate is the representative who will be elected. In another area it may be Party B which is strong, and it is the B Party's representative who will be elected. In another area it may be C that is strong, and in that area it will be the C Party's representative who will be elected. One can, of course, have more than one Party under the system. Undoubtedly the system does make for single-Party government and not a Government made up of a number of divergent groups.

On the question of nomination then, the Ceann Comhairle, having taken cognisance of the composition of the Opposition Party, or Parties, will indicate the method by which the representatives from the Opposition side will be selected, so that there will then be three on the commission representatives of the Government and three representatives of the Opposition. So far as it is humanly possible to do so, there will be an independent chairman.

I was if I may say so, positively scandalised by some of the remarks made by the Opposition about judges and Presidents, and so on, as if it were not possible for a man to do justice if the doing of it might in any way hurt himself. We would all be very just people, indeed, if justice always coincided with our own desires and our own wills. I take it that justice means that the right thing will be done even though one may have quite human inclinations to do something different.

Now, the Council of State is not the nebulous body the Leader of the Opposition seems to suggest. It is a well-defined body with certainex-officio members. Some are chosen by the President as suitable advisers. In the future, as in the past, it will consist of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, representing the Government, the Chief Justice and the President of the High Court, representing the judiciary, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Ceann Comhairle, representative of the two parliamentary assemblies over which they preside, and the Attorney General, together with certain other people who formerly held important offices in the State; one of the members of the council held the office of President of the Executive Council. I do not think there is anything nebulous about these.

I never saw the council.

Because there was no occasion on which it was necessary for the President to summon it.

That shows how stable the country is.

There was no function the President had to exercise which called for the bringing together of the Council of State.

May I mention there have been two meetings of the Council of State?

The President must bring the council together in certain cases in which he has an independent discretion and does not have to act on the advice of the Government.

He might bring them together to wish us a happy new year.

He might do that. I do not know. I shall not speculate.

Do not put it into the Bill at any rate.

The Council of State is a well-defined constitutional body and the purpose of it is to enable the President, when he is acting in certain matters in which he has discretion, to hear the opinions of certain advisers.

The Council of State has been constituted not merely of members representative of the Government side. The President very wisely took note of the Opposition, and when there was a change of Government and some members who had been on the Government side went over to Opposition, he took those, so that in the Council of State the Government side and the Opposition side are fairly well represented. Therefore, when a matter of this sort, such as the choosing of the chairman, came to be decided by him, he would bring the Council of State together. He is bound to do it according to the Bill. He would hear the views that might be expressed as to which judge of the Supreme Court, or the High Court, might be most suitable for this particular task.

Are we to say that the President, having heard these things, would act unfairly or unjustly, and are we to say that a judge, who is not dependent in any way, will act unfairly or unjustly? The judge is free from pressure, just as the President, during his term of office, is free from pressure by any political Party and can carry out his constitutional duties impartially, without any threat of any kind. Similarly with the judges. We have chosen judges for important tasks in the past. We have chosen them, why?—for one reason, because they are independent of political Parties. We do not say that any particular person who is interested in the well-being of this country is likely to be completely detached as far as politics are concerned; he may have his likes and dislikes; but, when he is put in a position like that, he acts fairly—unless we are going to say that all people are corrupt and you cannot get such a thing at all as a man acting decently and fairly and in a way that is expected of him when he has any political leanings.

A judge is chosen also because he is accustomed to weigh evidence. He is a man who is likely to weigh up arguments, pro and con. It is his daily task to do that in relation to certain legal matters. Matters of fact come up before him for determination from time to time and, therefore, he is a person who is eminently qualified to judge on questions where arguments have been put before him on one side or the other. I do not think that you could get a better man to do this work. It will be a difficult task, as we have said already, a very difficult task.

There will be a certain limit on the number of constituencies. That will have to be determined by law. Once that is done, then the commission has to work within that limit and to try to see, in so far as geographical and other conditions will permit, that there will be equality of population in each of these areas. In my opinion, therefore, everything that can be done to safeguard the community from any political Party malpractices is being done.

Finally, the judgment will lie with the people. I believe, believe strongly, that the change from the present system to the system of the single non-transferable vote would give us more stable Government and I would say to Deputy Norton and others that stable Government is fundamental for progress.

Because, if you have not stable Government, you have constant upsets and we have seen what has been the result in other places where that has happened.

You get far greater upsets, from one change to another, with the single member constituency and the single non-transferable vote.

It is quite true that you can have a change-over.

Far greater upsets.

Not so far as the members of a Government are concerned.

What do you want a stable bad Government for?

The people will be able to settle that very quickly.

Give them a chance.

They will have that very quickly. They will get the same opportunity of ending that. There is a way in which they will have an opportunity of dealing with a bad Government.

One Deputy thinks that Independents could not be elected under this system. Of course, Independents can be elected. I would say that a good man, standing out in his own community, who is a worthy person to represent that community, would beat the candidate from any Party that had not as good a man, and there is much greater opportunity——

Excuse me, Sir.

——for a person or an Independent to be elected under the system of the non-transferable vote than there is under any other.

My name was not mentioned once in theIrish Press.

Deputy Sherwin must cease interrupting.

An Independent may go up just as any section of the community may go up.

There is very little use in continuing. The arguments have been put here from our side, the arguments we have. The Opposition have put up their side of it, and they are trying to pretend that this is a traditional system. You would imagine that we have had it since the time of Brian Boru or before the days of the Battle of Kinsale, or something like that. We do know that the system came in here in 1919 and we do know the conditions that brought it in here and we do know the reason that was put forward for bringing it in.

We do not know the reason why it has been left to now to change it.

We are not going to accept the suggestion that it has been traditional here. Neither will we accept the suggestion that it is more democratic than the other system. I was listening to one of the Deputies on the other side to-day and one would imagine that it became a question of Christian dogma to have P.R.

Will the Taoiseach address himself to my argument?

One would think it was one of the Ten Commandments. Yes. That is the impression made on my mind, anyway.

I am not responsible for your mind. I am responsible for the argument I made.

It is nonsense to suggest that the P.R. system, as we call it, is traditionally Irish. It was pointed out by the Minister for Health here to-day that it was brought in by an Englishman.

That is ridiculous.

If we are talking about systems, one an English system and the other an Irish system, the P.R. system is certainly as much English as the other.

The system he is introducing is trampling on something that is traditionally Irish.

Does the Deputy say that the system that we had is the natural system?

The Taoiseach should not misrepresent the arguments I made.

I am trying to give the impression I got from listening.

What could the Taoiseach call that but misrepresentation?

All right. The system we recommend is every bit as democratic as the other, unless you say that Parties have some special claim and that other sections of the community, unless they happen to be in Parties, are not to be represented. I say that if you have an individual who stands up and is elected in a single-member constituency and gets a majority of votes, that does give representation in a better way than if you have two or three people getting in through the transference of votes from one section to the other.

He does not get the majority.

Often Deputies have been elected here who did not get a majority. I say that there is no perfect system and that what we have to do is to get the system with the least imperfections, and the one imperfection we ought to avoid is the one that gives Coalition Governments.

(Interruptions.)

Yes, I stand over that. I stand definitely against coalition government.

I thought that cat would get out of the bag.

They all burst up time after time.

What about 1957?

What about unemployment and emigration?

There would have been——

(Interruptions.)

The foundation for stability and progress in this country is a good electoral system and not a system that gives multiplicity of Parties, not a system which gives the bargaining by irresponsible groups that takes place after the election.

With the "busted flush."

That is what has happened——

(Interruptions.)

——and were it not, as I said before on previous occasions, that there was one Party that was not prepared to go into the market, we would not have had the results that we have had now, or the possibility——

(Interruptions.)

Or the unemployment or the emigration.

The people now have the opportunity of deciding what system they want. We are not forcing anything upon the people. We are giving them the advice we think best and the people can judge.

Not having anything better to offer them.

Why not tell the people the truth?

(Interruptions.)

You are hoping the vote will be split and you will be able to slip in between. They will not swallow this.

A Deputy

The Party opposite are afraid of the referendum.

We are not a bit afraid of it.

(Interruptions.)

You have not got a chance.

Would Deputies like to take a bet on it? I will take any bet, and when we win it, there will be an end to all these denials.

(Interruptions.)

Any time the Minister for Local Government likes and anywhere. He said it and he knows he said it.

Deputy Lindsay has already spoken. He might allow the Chair——

I have been challenged to fisticuffs by the Minister for Local Government and I have told him I am ready——

You are the first Mayo man who did not win.

(Interruptions.)

I am putting the question:—"That the Bill do now pass."

No more free speech in this country.

Who put the Union Jack on University College, Galway?

Cuireadh an cheist.

Question put.
Rinne an Dáil vótáil: Tá, 74, Níl, 55.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 55.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Blaney, Neal T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Collins, James J.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cotter, Edward.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Cummins, Patrick J.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Mick.
  • de Valera, Eamon.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacCarthy, Seán.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Medlar, Martin.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Moloney, Daniel J.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Donegan, Batt.
  • Dooley, Patrick.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Faulkner, Padraig.
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Galvin, John.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Griffin, James.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Toole, James.
  • Russell, George E.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Burke, James.
  • Byrne, Tom.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C., Bart.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hogan, Bridget.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lindsay, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Manley, Timothy.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Sherwin, Frank.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies O'Sullivan and Casey.
Question declared carried.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist.

There will be cheers in Portadown to-night.