An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—Tairiscint (atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Motion (resumed).

Thairg an Taoiseach an tairiscint seo a leanas, Dé Céadaoin, 29 Aibreán, 1959:—
DE BHRÍ go ndearna Dáil Éireann, ar an 29ú lá d'Eanáir, 1959, an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, a rith agus a chur chun Seanad Éireann, agus gur dhiúltaigh Seanad Éireann dó ar an 19ú lá de Mhárta, 1959,
Go gcinneann Dáil Éireann ANOIS AR AN ÁBHAR SIN leis seo, de bhun ailt 1 d'Airteagal 23 den Bhunreacht, go measfar an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, mar a ritheadh ag Dáil Éireann é, a bheith rite ag dhá Theach an Oireachtais.
The following motion was moved by the Taoiseach on Wednesday, 29th April, 1959:—
THAT WHEREAS the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, was, on the 29th day of January, 1959, passed by Dáil Éireann and sent to Seanad Éireann, and was on the 19th day of March, 1959, rejected by Seanad Éireann,
NOW THEREFORE Dáil Éireann, pursuant to section 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution, hereby resolves that the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, as passed by Dáil Éireann, be deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Athchromadh ar an díospóireacht ar an leasú seo a leanas ar an tairiscint sin:—
Na focail uile i ndiaidh an fhocail "go" sa chéad line a scriosadh agus na focail seo a leanas a chur ina ionad:
bhfúil an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, tar éis beachtaíocht thromchúiseach leanúnach a tharraingt i nDáil Éireann, gur dhiúltaigh Seanad Éireann dó, agus gur cúis imní agus easaontais i measc an phobail é,
Go gcinneann Dáil Éireann ANOIS AR AN ÁBHAR SIN leis seo gan beart de bhun ailt 1 d'Airteagal 23 den Bhunreacht a dhéanamh go dtí go bhfaighfear tuarascáil ó Chomhchoiste de Dháil Éireann agus Seanad Éireann, a cheapfar chun scrúdú a dhéanamh ar iarmairtí sóisialacha, polaiticiúla agus eacnamaíocha na n-athruithe sa chóras togcháin atá beartaithe sa Bhille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—an tuarascáil a bheith le tabhairt ag an gComhchoiste tráth nach déanaí ná an 29ú lá de Lunasa, 1959.—(Na Teachtaí Seán Ua Coisdealbha, Risteárd Ua Maolchatha.)
Debate resumed on the following amendment thereto:—
1. To delete all words after the figures "1958" in line 2 and substitute therefor the words:
has given rise to serious and sustained criticism in Dáil Éireann, has been rejected in Seanad Éireann, and has caused disquiet and division among the people.
NOW THEREFORE Dáil Éireann hereby resolves to postpone action under section 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution until a report shall have been received from a Joint Committee of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, appointed to examine the social, political and economic implications of the changes in the electoral system proposed in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—the Joint Committee to report not later than the 29th day of August, 1959.—(Deputies John A. Costello, Richard Mulcahy.)

This motion in the name of the Taoiseach, asking the House to assume that the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, is a motion which I feel, in honesty and in commonsense, should be rejected by this House. I trust that even at the 11th hour, there may be members of Fianna Fáil who will be in a position to stand on their own feet and have this outrageous proposal rejected. This is a proposal that has evil and ill-conceived motives and it is entirely unsuited to this country and to its people.

The principal motive behind this Bill is to obtain power and authority and to stamp down on the people. I venture to say that parliament will be a nice spectacle if proportional representation is abolished and if there is no Opposition. It would be a nice spectacle if you had no Labour Party, or no Fine Gael Party, or nobody to speak for the ordinary men and women, and to defend them against being crushed out of existence by those who are thirsting for power and greedy for jobbery, and who aim to deprive the people of representation in their own Parliament and of the right to select whomever they like for Parliament. Since this State was founded, no legislation of a more serious character has passed through this House. Even the Taoiseach himself, as reported in theIrish Press for 27th April, when speaking in Monaghan, was reported as having stated:—

"Where the P.R. system was in use in Continental countries, they had seen that governments there changed hands every few months. Under the same system they had seen the collapse of two coalitions in this country since 1948, and Fianna Fáil wanted to try and prevent the country from suffering the same fate in the future."

That is why the Taoiseach wants to abolish P.R.——

A Deputy

It is commonsense, too.

It is commonsense to have no Government but a Fianna Fáil Government. It is commonsense to Fianna Fáil that nobody should have a job but Fianna Fáil. It is commonsense that any proposal that comes from Labour, Fine Gael, or from the Farmers' Party is nonsense. The only proposal that has commonsense is the one that comes from Fianna Fáil. There should be no other Party; that is what this Bill aims at. It aims at wiping out every other Party and at having parliament a mere machine working to implement the will of a political Party.

That is what this Bill is intended to do and that is what the people must guard against. That is why the people, from this day forward, must realise that voting "no", and asking their friends to vote "no", doing what Seanad Éireann did, and doing what every Party in this State is doing— except Fianna Fáil—is the only way in which they will preserve the privileges and rights they have at present. It is amusing to hear the Taoiseach making speeches in which he says that coalition Governments are bad, that they are dangerous and that no good can come from them and that P.R. is responsible for coalitions. Proportional representation was responsible for the coalition of Fianna Fáil with five Independents a few years ago, was it not? That coalition was all right. The coalition that brings in Fianna Fáil is all right.

I venture to prophesy that if this Bill is passed nobody will be allowed to express criticism in this House because there will be a Government without opposition. The reason Fianna Fáil are anxious to pass this Bill without further delay is that they think they will be able to pull sufficient wool over the eyes of the electorate and that they will be able to utilise the Taoiseach, in his capacity as spellbinder, to convince the people that it is bad for the country to have P.R. and good for the country to have the type of electoral system which nobody wants except Fianna Fáil. There are Fianna Fáil Deputies who are hoping and praying this will not be passed. There are honest Fianna Fáil Deputies, I am sure, like a certain Senator who in the course of a speech in the Seanad referred to the fact——

I have already indicated that discussions in the Seanad may not be referred to in this connection.

I accept your ruling on that issue. I want to make reference to the fact that our country may be one of the oldest in Western Europe but it is one of the youngest and is in its infancy as regards native government. The greatest tragedy that ever befell our country was the split which caused the Civil War and under the system of P.R. there was a satisfactory outcome to that split because all sections of the community, minorities, had a right to send representatives to this Parliament under P.R.

I should like to place on record the views expressed by one of the leading and most influential British newspapers, theManchester Guardian. The Manchester Guardian saw fit to write an editorial on the action of the present Government in attempting to abolish P.R. They expressed the hope that the people here would not be either silly enough or foolish enough to impose upon themselves by their own votes a system of voting which is unsatisfactory in England at the present time. The Manchester Guardian said that Ireland would eventually be the loser if its Parliamentarians were forced, as in Britain, into one of the two Party straitjackets. The article goes on to say:

Ireland has been a model of the virtues which its advocates have claimed for P.R. It has had longer periods of stable Government than most other European countries; at the same time, by giving representation to minority views, P.R. has served as a unifying force in a country that was deeply split by civil war.

Is there anyone in Fianna Fáil who can deny that?

Would the Deputy give the date of that quotation?

TheIrish Independent of yesterday's date, reporting on a leading article in the Manchester Guardian. Can anyone in the Fianna Fáil Party deny that? There is probably no country in Europe which has suffered so severely in the years of its infancy of native government than ours and if there has been any attempt or if any attempt is being made to solve our difficulties it is due to the fact that certain people can express their views in Parliament, speak for the element that sent them in, and vote in accordance with the wishes of those who elected them.

The leading article goes on to say:

It is hard to believe that any other electoral system could have done more to establish Irish politics on a firm constitutional basis.

I ask the Fianna Fáil Party: could any system of election have done more to make this House function properly than the system of P.R., to give the people of all classes, of all political views and all religious denominations the right to enter this place? God forbid that the day would come when the doors of this Parliament would be closed to those people. Bolted and barred for ever will be the doors of this Parliament to such people if this Bill becomes law. The report goes on:

Some modification of the electoral system may be required. Must this involve the overthrow of P.R.?

You will probably find people on all sides of the House who feel the electoral system might be reviewed, and that is exactly what this Party seeks in the amendment tabled by Deputies Costello and Mulcahy, suggesting that a committee representative of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann should calmly sit down round a table and see if there are any defects in the present electoral system. I venture to say that Dáil Éireann would welcome a proposal from any such body as to how we can unite on both sides of the House in an effort to remove any defects that may exist in our electoral system.

Is it right or reasonable that Fianna Fáil should refuse to sit down with Fine Gael, with the Labour Party or the Farmers' Party, say they will not co-operate in an attempt to solve an important national problem such as this or debate what improvements in the existing system could be brought about? The reason they will not cooperate is greed for power. They know that under a new system the power can be handed on, that favours can be given to those who are associated with that power and that probably the right will be denied to those who do not believe in Fianna Fáil to have even an existence in this country much less a voice in Parliament to speak for them when this Bill is passed.

Surely there must be at least one of the 79 Fianna Fáil members with a conscience, and I pose this question to him through the Chair: can there be anything fairer than to ask all Parties in this House to sit down round a table and see if there are any electoral defects that require to be removed in order to get an improved system of election, in the opinion of all Parties, not in the opinion of the leader of any one political Party?

The article goes on to say:

Might not the object be achieved by substituting three-member constituencies for those which at present return five or more members?

This is a very important point because in 1935, under the 1923 Electoral Act, you had in this country a large number of constituencies some returning eight, seven, five members. As a result of some changes they were altered to read: nine five-member constituencies, nine four-member constituencies and 22 three-member constituencies.

Nobody will disagree that the constituencies at present are big and difficult to manage, and that it might be wise to sit down in an effort to recast them. I am not concerned with whether my constituency would be a nine-member or a three-member constituency, but I object to its being a one-member constituency. Many Deputies already have spoken about the danger of the majority of the people living in such a constituency not having recourse to the Deputy elected on the minority vote.

Why not?

I shall put it clearly to the Deputy through the Chair. If there are thousands of workers in a constituency who vote for a particular candidate, if that candidate is beaten by a Fianna Fáil candidate and if Fianna Fáil go back again to the old days and introduce a wages standstill order, which would make it a criminal offence for a worker to seek an increase in his pay, who then will speak for the labouring man so affected by such an order if the only Deputy representing the constituency is a member of the Government Party which brought in this crippling legislation?

That is hypothetical.

Fianna Fáil have always spoken for the working man.

I feel I have given Deputy Booth and Deputy Moher an example. Assuming we have a Minister for Agriculture in the future who may see fit to cut the throats of the calves again and if a large section of the farmers in a constituency vote solidly against the representative who comes in here as a member of the Government Party carrying out such outrageous legislation, is it possible for that representative to speak with two voices? Can he say "It is wrong to cut the throats of the calves" or "It is wrong to restrict the wages of the worker", while voting with the Government at the same time? The Taoiseach has not made that clear in this House.

The Deputy has not either.

I do not want to be drawn out by the Deputy, but I do not think there could be anything clearer. But Fianna Fáil have always spoken with two voices, one in Parliament and another down the country. It may be that in the future, if this Bill is passed, Fianna Fáil may have some unknown, uncanny or weird method by which they will be able to speak and vote with two voices.

How many have Fine Gael?

I suggest that Deputy Flanagan be allowed make his statement without interruption. We would get along better if there were fewer interruptions.

I am endeavouring to prove that Fianna Fáil's effort to secure permanent tenure of office is deliberately designed to deprive the majority of our people of an opportunity of expressing their views in Parliament. I have challenged Deputy Booth and the Taoiseach to tell me and the country how it will be possible in the single-member constituency for the majority to have their views expressed here if the one representative, elected on a minority vote, is a member of a Government that has been associated with the imposition of serious injustices and hardships on the electorate. Deputy Booth said it was quite simple. I presume he means he can go down to the church gates and say one thing to the people and then come up here and do the opposite. That is typical of Fianna Fáil. They have been at that since 1932 or a few lamentable years before that.

I know of only one advantage of this outrageous, ill-conceived, ill-timed and bad legislation. The time spent debating it has been of enormous value. People who did not understand proportional representation or knew little about it are now being educated by the debates here. They can see clearly that the move is to safeguard the interests of Fianna Fáil in the future and that the sole purpose of it is to silence Parliament and set up in this country a dictatorship in the guise of democracy.

The most serious and outrageous part of this Bill is not the reduction of the strength of the citizen's vote, but the greatest danger is the constituencies commission. If Fianna Fáil act in the future as they have in the past—and remember a leopard never changes its spots and the old dog never varies his trot—we may assume that as Fianna Fáil grow older, they will not grow any wiser but will become more vicious, more wicked, and hungrier for power. Should we have the misfortune of having this legislation passed, the country will be up against a piece of legalised trickery in which we will have a system of gerrymandering the constituencies. This Bill leaves it open to have the constituencies gerrymandered. We are to have three members appointed by Fianna Fáil, three members of the Opposition, as approved by the Ceann Comhairle, and an independent chairman appointed by the President, no matter who he may be. If the President is to be who Fianna Fáil think it will be, he will appoint on such a commission whom he thinks will serve him best. By refusing to make a recommendation, the three Fianna Fáil representatives can prevent the commission from functioning properly. When they do not make a recommendation, then the President's nominee has the right to draft out the constituencies to suit himself, and Parliament must accept that.

Two thirds, as this Parliament is constituted, must accept that.

One does not expect accuracy from Deputy Flanagan.

If we may not have accuracy, could we have order? I want to point out to the Chair that Deputy Haughey is reading a paper.

I am not reading a paper, a Cheann Comhairle. That is another inaccuracy. The obligation on this side of the House is to provide a quorum but I do not think we should have to listen to this nonsense.

There is a remedy for that—not to read a paper while the Deputy is speaking.

Order. Deputy O.J. Flanagan, on the amendment.

Is Deputy Haughey asking for a count?

I am not.

No matter what efforts Deputy Haughey or any other Deputy may make to attempt to knock Deputies from this side of the House off the track, they will not succeed in doing so. I was dealing with what I can describe as the unforeseen graft behind this legislation by which it can be directed by Fianna Fáil from the very top down to the bottom, to suit themselves.

Do we not all know that, human nature being what it is, there is nothing to stop or prevent the Government from dividing constituencies to suit themselves? I may say openly in this Parliament that I feel I would be as likely to fall in line with human nature as anyone else and that if I had the opportunity, I might do the same thing myself, namely, gerrymander constituencies to suit myself.

Not at all. The Deputy would not.

Is the Deputy getting nervous?

No. Far from it. I am far from getting nervous. Nevertheless, it is no harm to tell the people that the gerrymandering of constituencies is something that can take place, is likely to take place and will take place if this Bill is passed and it has taken place——

It can take place much easier under the present system.

Assuming we try to gerrymander constituencies under the present system, it would be an extremely difficult job. You cannot gerrymander a constituency under the present system behind closed doors. It can only be done openly and publicly. No matter what way you gerrymander a constituency under the present system, minorities will still have the right to send a representative to Parliament because, under the present system, you cannot have less than a three-seat constituency. The least representative constituency we have is a three-seat constituency and we cannot have less. No matter how a constituency commission, no matter how a political head of such a commission, no matter how one is steeped in the stew of Fianna Fáil, no matter how one would endeavour to rig a constituency, it will not be a successful job once the elector has the value of his vote to the fullest possible extent under P.R.

The leading article to which I referred in theManchester Guardian has this to say in its last paragraph:

"The pity is that, by forcing the electorate to choose between the present method and one as different, and as uncongenial to many Irishmen as that used in Britain, Mr de Valera has barred the middle road. Ireland will eventually be the loser if its Parliamentarians are forced, as is Britain, into one of two party straitjackets."

No matter what may be said in defence of the British electoral system, England is a country that cannot in any way be compared to this. Even if the present electoral system suited Britain, which it does not, is there any reason why we cannot have an electoral system which will suit our own needs, our own requirements and meet the wishes of our own people?

TheManchester Guardian has rendered great service in two respects. In the first place, they have shown us that the system which Fianna Fáil want to impose upon our Irish voters is not a success, is not welcome and is not working satisfactorily in England. In the second place, they say that Ireland will be the loser if P.R. is abolished. But the Manchester Guardian does not know, as we know, that the present Government are not concerned whether Ireland is the loser so long as Fianna Fáil is the winner. That is all that matters to Fianna Fáil.

The great pity is that those who write of this country from England, the Continent or the United States, write, not with an inside knowledge of the workings of this country, but write of what they are told by those in this country and with authority to speak for it. If they knew the inner workings, as we do in this Parliament, if theManchester Guardian knew for a moment the real motives behind the abolition of P.R., their story, whilst it might be the same in substance, would probably carry a graver or more serious leading article.

Down through the years, our people have been peculiar in many respects. Our people have taken a lot, over the past 30 years. They have suffered economically and financially. They have suffered national ills which mainly, through Government policy, have been imposed upon them. There is one thing our people will not stand for and that is to be bought, bribed or bullied. Any Party that tries to buy our people, to bribe our people or to bully our people will be met with resistance from the good old Irish spirit that must prevail in parts of this country.

We were thumbed down in this country by a foreign Power for over 700 years and we have not been free long enough to realise what real freedom means. There is a great section of our people who still have the slave mind and think no Parliament is functioning properly unless some type of slavery is imposed upon them. Our fathers and grandfathers were convinced of that. Only our sons, our grandchildren and probably the third generation to come in this country will be able to see this. The Irish have been noted always for being good fighters. An old warrior of the 1914-18 War would tell you that it was the Irish who won that war for England because they were always in the front line and were afraid of nothing.

Cannon fodder.

It was the bravery of the Irishmen, many of them in this House, on both sides, who fought for this country, that put the British out of the country. It was courage, bravery, determination and a love of country and freedom that made them do that.

I suggest that the Deputy keep closer to the motion.

That is his paper for the Historical Society.

If the Fianna Fáil Party get this measure through, they will be challenging the fighting spirit of our people in taking away from them something that they have. You can give the Irish people plenty and they may not show great thanks or they may be grateful, but when it comes to taking from them what they have, it is another day's work. For the first time since this State was established, an effort is now being made by this Government to dismantle the elector, to unyoke him, to strip him naked of his electoral facilities, thus to deprive him of something that he has. If that happens—I do not believe it will—the doors of this Parliament will be closed in the teeth of the majority of the people, which will lead to the establishment of illegal organisations and to unrest amongst organised trade unions. It will be the breeding ground for discontent, planning. plotting against the State.

I venture to prophesy, with regret that at the end of 12 to 15 years of government with P.R. abolished there will be a revolution and an uprising in the country. That may be the cause of laughter from Fianna Fáil but my basis for that prophecy is the policy of Fianna Fáil with such good opposition as there is at present. That is my belief, if we are to judge by their method of government, their method of filling appointments, their method of giving jobs, their method of respecting Parliament, giving information in Parliament, the manner in which Parliament has on many occasions been treated with contempt, if we are to judge by their conduct with big opposition, with three, four or five Parties in this House to expose and to criticise. Whether the criticism is constructive or destructive, at least we have the right to criticise.

When Fianna Fáil have carried out the bare-faced, unnatural, unchristian, inhuman, undemocratic deeds that they have carried out over the years, what is to stop them from adding one hundredfold to that policy if there is nobody in this House to vote against it, to speak against it, to protest against it or to question it?

The Deputy is like a juke box with the stopper out.

A Deputy

The Deputy will be here.

I will be here all right but one swallow never made a summer. To a certain limit any Government can carry on, forcing our people to emigrate, forcing unemployment on them, having internment camps, authorising unfounded raids on people, and so on, but the time will come when, if Parliament cannot function for those outside Parliament, you will have a vast organisation of unrest that will rise up and plot against and eventually overthrow——

And destroy.

——and destroy any Government that tries to implement a policy of dictatorship without having due regard to the requirements and necessities of the people.

Fianna Fáil are a very strange Party. Every time they have a problem they are able to go to some remote part of South Asia or some place that we never heard of and dig up an example. They spend most of their time studying atlases trying to discover some place that we never heard of, either at the North or the South Pole, to try to get an example of some kind that fits in with their policy and then they are able to tell the House that because such a thing happened in South Asia, in some unknown destination, and worked well, it will work here and that it is a good idea. They always seem to have some kind of example. The Taoiseach finds no trouble in digging up numerous examples such as he has dug up on the question of proportional representation. There was one thing that he could not discover. He could not tell us what was wrong with the Coalition Government except that it put Fianna Fáil out and put him out. I put it on record again in this House, to the distaste and disgust of Fianna Fáil, that the years of greatest prosperity that this country ever enjoyed were the years of inter-Party Government.

It is worth trying anyway, is it not?

Deputies may criticise the holding of two elections on one day, the Presidential Election and the referendum. I should like to see a third election on proportional representation. I would welcome a general election. Would it not be more democratic of those who believe in democracy and in consulting the people and asking the people to decide and who want to acquaint the people of every move, to let the President exercise one last right and authorise the dissolution of this Parliament and, under the existing system of election, put the changing of the electoral system as part of a general election programme? The reason why they will not have the general election is that they are running away, showing the white flag. They are afraid. They are cowards. They cannot face the people.

We have to face the people.

The next time that they have to face the people they do not want to do it under P.R. They want to change the system of election. They are running away from the people. The wind is up. The white flag is up. The writing is on the wall. The evidence of cowardice is available. They are running away. Fianna Fáil now have to take shelter. They can no longer come out on open ground and say that they will fight on the electoral system which the people have enjoyed since we got our freedom. They are running away from it now and they know quite well why they are running.

Come down to Wexford and tell that to the people down there. We have three Deputies in Wexford.

You have three in Laois-Offaly also. There is not much difference between the constituencies.

The wheat growers would like to get a chance.

I do not know if I am to take Deputy Browne's request as an invitation to go to Wexford. Am I to go to Wexford?

Would the Deputy like to see me there?

All right. I think I shall get in touch with Deputy Esmonde and ask his permission to address a meeting in the Bull Ring. I promise Deputy Browne that if I go there, it will not be all sunshine for him.

The Deputy might get back to the motion.

It is true to say that the motive behind the proposed change is to make sure that there will not be another coalition government.

Is that the motive?

The real motive behind the change is not that Fianna Fáil think that the new system would be good for the country but simply that Deputies on this side of the House are not to be allowed, even with the votes of the majority of the people, to form a Government. The majority of the people are not to be allowed to send representatives to this House and to set up a Government unless they are members of Fianna Fáil.

That is nonsense, and the Deputy knows it.

Not at all. The Taoiseach, speaking in Monaghan, said exactly the same thing as Deputy Booth—that coalitions were dangerous and bad for the country. I should like to hear the Taoiseach go further on this because he has never availed of an opportunity in this House to state the hard and fast reasons for the failure of coalitions. He has told us only that they are bad and dangerous because he himself was put out of office. Will any Deputy tell me that there can be a better form of government than the form by which all the members of political Parties sit around a Government table and reach decisions, not in the interests of a political Party, but on considerations of what is in the best interests of the community in general? What is wrong with a Government that has on one side the representatives of the farming community and, on the other side, the representatives of labour? Is there any Deputy of Fianna Fáil will tell me that the workers or the farmers of this country should not be allowed to take their place in the government of the country?

I venture to say that the majority of Government representatives here speak with a different tongue down the country on this issue. It was a great day for this country when the leaders of all the Parties found themselves able to come together with the exception of two—Basil Brooke in the North and de Valera in the South. They sat around the one table and hammered out a policy, a programme of development and of security that brought good and far-reaching results, that provided employment and that built up the economy of the country.

Why was it thrown out if it was so good?

I do not think the Ceann Comhairle will allow me to answer that question.

I am allowing a great deal.

If he did allow me, I would have to tell the Deputy that it was because of the broken promises made by the Deputies opposite, the promises of 45/- a barrel for barley, 82/6d. a barrel for wheat and 3/- a gallon for milk. It was this propaganda, assisted by three Party newspapers, that helped successfully to fool the electorate. I am sorry to say that the Irish people did fall for these promises, that they did fall for the Utopia that was promised to them by Fianna Fáil. It was not because the inter-Party failed in this country. It was because the efforts of that Government were sabotaged and belittled by the...

TheIrish Press.

Yes, it helped. The people may not be as easy to gull this time as they were before. They have been gulled successfully once, but I think the Referendum will be a blessing in disguise. I am glad the people will have a chance of voting on this issue, although I should prefer that it was tackled from another angle —by a committee of this House making certain recommendations. However, I am still glad that this issue is to go before the people because I know that the people will trounce hell out of Fianna Fáil. A couple of weeks ago, we had a small chance. Now we have a fifty-fifty chance and the longer this debate goes on, the more clearly the people see the motives of Fianna Fáil. I think that on 17th June the Irish people will strike for freedom as they never struck before and I feel that Fianna Fáil will get the hiding that is coming to them since they first entered the public life of this country. I ask those Parties which oppose Fianna Fáil here to unite——

I thought they were united.

——on this issue and get the people out to vote. One of the most potent weapons in the hands of the people at the moment is the vote, and I am deeply concerned with the large numbers of people who do not vote. The people who do not vote are usually those who are the first to grumble subsequently and to concern themselves about bad Government. What Fianna Fáil is afraid of is, of course, that this time every one who has a vote—every one who is opposed to the Taoiseach—will go out to vote and take advantage of the golden opportunity that offers to enjoy to the full the pleasure of voting against him. Mark you, there are people who are only waiting for the day. It was stated by one Deputy in this debate that there should not be a contest for the Presidential election. Would we not be regarded as a disgrace by the whole world if it could be said that the present Taoiseach, the man responsible for bringing in this dictatorship Bill, was elected as head of the State without any opposition? Would not those of us who disagree with him be taken as those who believe in him?

The question of the Presidential election does not arise and there cannot, therefore, be any discussion on the Presidential election.

It was vital that he should be opposed. If no other candidate had offered, I would have stood myself if only to give the people the opportunity of voting against him.

The matter does not arise on this motion.

I am convinced that Fianna Fáil believe that this referendum will be passed not on the votes recorded in favour of it but on the votes of those who stay away. That is where grave danger lies. There are people behind the Iron Curtain today who once enjoyed the right to vote according to their conscience. Because of their own carelessness and their disregard for that right things were allowed to drift and eventually they lost the right to vote according to their conscience. Fianna Fáil may hope to win because of carelessness and because of apathy on the part of some of the electorate. There is a duty on every member of this House to bring home to the people, particularly to those who have no regard for the democratic weapon they hold in their hands, how imperative it is that they should exercise their right to vote. If they fail to vote, then they are not loyal citizens. If the people of Hungary and the other countries behind the Iron Curtain had today the privileges we now enjoy they would lose no time in going to the polls.

Our people take too much for granted. The red light has been given. This is the first effort made to interfere with the people's right to vote. It is the first attack on the people's right to vote. Fianna Fáil are deliberately taking this step now. I appeal to the members of this House and to the people in general to cherish the right to vote in free elections. In addition, I appeal to them to hold on to the system of election which has worked so well and which has given us stable Government over the years.

The Taoiseach may talk of strong Government. No one is concerned about strong government. What the people want is good government, wise government, efficient government, capable government, sincere government and, above all, Government by the people. The people are not concerned with strength. There is a danger now that the people may lose something which, unknown to them, is an extremely precious weapon in their hands. I trust that in their wisdom, they will appreciate what they possess. I trust that in the wisdom of the Fianna Fáil Party the people constituting that Party will try to bring a proper appreciation of the position to those who do not cherish the right to vote. We all have a public duty in that respect.

In this election I hope that we shall have the biggest vote ever recorded in this country since the establishment of our own Government. I trust that the people will use their vote wisely and with discretion in defence of what they now enjoy—freedom of speech, free exercise of voting power, representative Parliament. The only way in which they can hold on to those important principles is by coming out and voting; and when they vote I hope that they will vote "No".

The circumstances surrounding the introduction of this motion are unusual. The motion itself is unusual, if not unique. Over the years it has been the custom when the Seanad enjoying as it does limited privileges, suggested amendments to Bills passed here that those amendments were duly accepted by this House. The present instance marks a complete departure from the established practice over the years. The Seanad is being held up to odium. The Seanad is composed of people elected in a certain way by certain bodies. Its members are well-known industrialists, professional men, businessmen, agriculturists, trade unionists and so on.

After a long and protracted debate on the Third Amendment to the Constitution Bill the Seanad decided in their wisdom that we should at least try to hold on to the vital principles of proportional representation. They passed amendments ensuring that safeguard. These amendments are now being rejected. I believe the people will take a serious view. It clearly demonstrates to all that the Seanad, as at present constituted, is a completely negative body; it has not even the power to ensure that effect is given to its decisions.

I cannot refrain from commenting on the phrasing of this motion. It says that: "Dáil Éireann hereby resolves that the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, as passed by Dáil Éireann be deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas." I accept that that is quite legal, but can anyone in his sane senses, can anyone in his conscience, hold that he can support this Bill as a Bill passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas? It is a very serious matter and this ambiguous phrasing is quite deceptive, unintentionally deceptive perhaps, but at the same time we should have more direct wording in relation to our Bills. I could understand it if the motion included words to the effect that "this Bill having been passed through Dáil Éireann, and having been rejected by the Seanad, is now before Dáil Éireann again for acceptance."

In the Dáil, amendments were proposed to this Bill, and those amendments were rejected. One in particular put down by Deputy Russell, which would ensure a reduction in the representation in the House, was rejected by the Taoiseach, and his arguments were that if representation in this House were reduced, it might be possible that we would not get sufficient personnel of Ministerial standard to take charge of the various Departments of State. That is ridiculous, and it is a reflection on the House.

I am convinced that Ministers are not as indispensable as they are alleged to be. Because of the set-up here over the years, because of the spirit of distrust, because of political heat, Ministers were denied certain powers which were transferred to the State. Therefore to-day Ministers are largely figureheads—I shall not use the common jargon, rubber stamps; I shall not go so far as that—but the tendency has certainly been to destroy the flexibility of our whole democratic system. It is desirable to point that out to show that Ministers are not as indispensable as the Taoiseach maintains they are, but I shall not go any further on that point.

The Taoiseach pointed out the importance of a vigorous Opposition. Surely if ever there was vigour in opposition—a virile, forthright and tenacious opposition—certainly it was displayed during the passage of this Bill through the House. The Opposition made every effort to focus attention on the undesirability of changing the electoral system, but the Bill passed through the Dáil without being altered even in one comma. I ask then: Why should we have an Opposition? What is the use of an Opposition when there is not enough goodwill for the acceptance of anything the Opposition puts up?

So far in this House, or in the public Press, or in the symposia I have attended, I have heard no convincing arguments as to why the system should be changed. There is, of course, the old argument that the system we have was imposed on us by the British. If that is so, it is a reflection on all who sat here for the past 37 years, that they have sat under something imposed by the British. Surely our people in the past were not so spineless as to accept a system imposed by the British.

Has it taken us 37 years to find the flaws and imperfections in the system we have operated with such success, the system which has been used so intelligently? On occasions almost 90 per cent. of the people came out to operate the type of voting under P.R. It is certainly nonsense to say that it was imposed by the British. That is a complete falsehood. No Irishman from 1916 to 1922 or 1932 would accept that, because there was no other system in mind at that time, and our patriots and leaders had only one system in mind, and that was the system of P.R., which would safeguard the rights of minorities and would ensure that they would have the right to seek representation in this Parliament. It was advocated as an attraction to the Unionists in the south of Ireland if they were prepared to accept self-government in the conviction that their interests would be safeguarded.

P.R. was in operation in Northern Ireland for some years. I do not know whether or not it was imposed by the British, but when it did not suit British interests or Unionist interests in the North, the system was abolished and our co-nationalists and our co-religionists were denied the right to seek representation. We here very properly resented that at the time. Any Irishman worth his salt, or worth his name, resented it when the British Parliament denied our people in the North the right to seek representation such as we gave to the Unionists here. Today it is a bit ironic to find the Parliament of the 26 Counties doing precisely what they resented in years gone by, denying our people rights to which they are entitled.

P.R., as I say, was advocated over the years by our leading men no matter on which side of the House they sat, or how divided they were outside. The system appealed to the Irish people because of its fairness in the past, and they are to be congratulated for their courage, determination and realism, in devising a system that was suited to our way of life. Britain has been cited as an example because of her progress under what is called the straight vote system, but there are thousands in Great Britain, I feel, who would like to have the system changed if that were possible. The tradition there is the two Party system under which these Parties have been entrenched in power during the years. Vested interests have been created to such a degree that nobody sitting in the British Parliament dare suggest a change in the existing system because there is too much at stake.

Proportional representation is certainly a safeguard for minorities. Let us take the straight vote system in a single seat constituency. The greatest anomaly of all is the fact, as was pointed out by many Deputies and particularly by Deputy Norton, that in a single seat constituency where there are three candidates contesting the election, the candidate getting one vote over 33? per cent. of the poll will be returned to Parliament. The 66 per cent., approximately, have no choice whatever—the candidates they support have no chance whatever of having any representation. I think that is wrong, and it is quite true to say you then have a minority elected by the people and forming a Government against the wishes of the majority. Surely that is an anomaly which any Irishman would not stand for and, if it had been done in the past by Great Britain, we should have been up in arms against it.

It is very hard to understand the motive and the mentality behind the change contemplated in this Bill. Besides, we are not so blind as not to realise that there is a great deal of political patronage in this country at the moment, and there would be more if it were not for the fact that we have had proportional representation down through the years we have had independence. We have had representatives of small organised groups who brought great realism into the debates here, who were able to speak for the interests they represented, able to speak factually and objectively, devoid of any Party ties and Party responsibilities, and that realism and that objectivity helped to counteract any tendency towards political patronage and political corruption.

I have no personal interest whatever in this question, except the interest of the future of this country. If there have been failures in the past, these failures were not attributable to the system of election. If there have been failures, it is because our people became too complacent and Governments were seized with a certain stagnation. They lacked initiative and now they are trying to resurrect and expand our economy, in a feverish effort to maintain the little economic independence we have.

I have met strangers to this country, foreigners, who were very intrigued by our system of election because the results gave us representatives and Governments that were a true reflection of the country's choice and the country's needs. They agreed with our system and these were the opinions of people who had no interests in our country other than literary interests, or historical interests because of their ancestral ties with it. They were able to come here and tell us that we have a system of election which they would love to enjoy in Great Britain. There is a particular friend of mine in Cork, a Protestant gentleman, who has said to me that he travels in England a great deal, and knows many English people who would love to see their system of election changed and the system we have put into operation over there. He regrets that that is not possible.

The argument is used that it is up to the people to decide this issue. I agree that the people will decide it, but why are we so anxious about the people's rights, views, and opinions now? Many things have been decided in this House regardless of the consequences to the people, and why now do we use these pious platitudes? The people were not a bit concerned with the system of election. They were quite satisfied with the system that operated down through the years, and would have remained quite satisfied with it. Nobody in this House demanded that it be changed. No national Party demanded it; no group, organised or otherwise, demanded a change in this system; but now the people are being asked to change a system in which they firmly believe. They were so convinced of its rights, its merits, and its success that they never thought of having any other system.

It is wrong that at this time of economic strain and difficulty, and of financial strain as well, we should be debating this measure over a period of six months when instead we should be trying to promote a spirit of unity so that the country could survive and meet the challenge to its existence which must be met by every country today. I think there is a certain amount of make-believe in saying that the people are being asked to decide this. I agree that the people will finally have to decide it, but I think the Leader of the Opposition was quite right in putting forward the amendment so that the people will have every chance of knowing the whys and wherefores of this contemplated change, and so that they will be able to act in a spirit of conviction when this measure comes before them.

Deputy O.J. Flanagan made many suggestions during this debate and one of them was very sensible. I suppose it is too late now to ask the Government to be less adamant and less insistent on forcing this measure through, but we could have a general election, test the pulse of the people on this question and then come back and decide whether the system of election is to be changed or not. I feel that this contemplated change is a turning back on everything we had in the past. We are not being true to the memory of those people who gave their lives for this country, who made sacrifices for it, always in the belief that our system of election was fair, that it gave a right to every group in the country to seek representation in Dáil Éireann and that no matter how revolutionary a group might be, they could send their representatives in here to air their views and advocate their cause.

It is a pity that we have decided to take this retrograde step. I believe that it will do irreparable harm in future generations, if it goes through, and I make this plea for no personal reason of my own but solely for the sake of the Irish nation and the Irish people.

We are discussing here today, and have been for some time, the motion proposed by the Taoiseach in accordance with the Constitution, which seeks to set aside the decision of a House of the Oireachtas in reference to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, and we are also discussing an amendment to that proposal which has been tabled by the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy General Mulcahy, asking that this issue, at this stage, be examined fully by anad hoc body. The suggestion has been made by the supporters of the Taoiseach, and by his Ministers, that we on this side of the House are standing in the way of the people deciding this issue.

It has been urged, Sir, by different speakers on your left hand side that now the time has come when this issue of proportional representation or the British system of voting should be decided by the people. I think that kind of argument is not sound. It may appear to be attractive to those outside who are intended to be impressed by it, but, in fact, it does not amount to much. We all know that in any democracy, under any system of parliamentary election, the people from time to time come to a wrong decision. I believe they came to a wrong decision in the last election when they elected a Fianna Fáil Government. The Deputies on your left, Sir, do not agree with that, but they certainly would have said that the people came to a wrong decision in 1954 when they put out Fianna Fáil.

Whatever may be the truth of it, the fact is that from time to time when any issue is submitted to the people, there are two views as to the decision the people come to. That is understandable; that is why we have a difference in political outlook and that is why this House is divided as between those on your left, Sir, and those on your right; but it is important to remember that in relation to any issue decided by the people as to who should be the Government of this country, and as to what policy should be in operation in this country, up to this the people have always had the right to think again and decide again.

In accordance with that right, the people in a general election in 1948 decided against Fianna Fáil. They put out of office a Fianna Fáil Government and put into office an inter-Party Government. In 1951, the people changed their minds, elected a Fianna Fáil Government and put out the inter-Party Government. In 1954, an inter-Party Government went back into office. In 1957, an inter-Party Government went out of office. The right of the people to change their minds in relation to any issue has always been universally recognised. That has worked all right, even though from time to time different Governments have quite suddenly asked the President to dissolve the Dáil and have gone to the people in a general election. From time to time, there has not been any notice given of such an impending election, but even so, it has worked all right because everybody knew that whatever the people decided on polling day, they could undo subsequently if they found that they had been wrong.

In this referendum, we are asking the people to decide this issue firmly and for all time. Whatever way the people decide this issue, they will not be entitled to have second thoughts about it. They will not be entitled 12 months later, or two years later, or four years later, to say: "It is a pity we did not decide the other way on 17th June, 1959." This issue will be decided this time firmly and finally and no Party ever again will urge the people to change the system under which our Houses of the Oireachtas are elected.

That, Sir, is an important consideration and it means that any of us here with any sense of responsibility must be quite certain that this issue will be decided by the people fully realising its implications and in possession of all the facts. We understand from the Taoiseach—putting the best complexion we can on his extraordinary mental gyrations in relation to this issue—that ever since 1948, he has had the gravest doubts about proportional representation. We understand from him, if his words in this debate are to be accepted, that it was in 1948, on the coming into office of a Government opposed to him, that he became convinced that P.R. was dangerous and should be changed. It is a notable fact that it took 11 years for the Taoiseach's doubts to find vocal expression.

It is an interesting fact that throughout succeeding Dála after 1948, throughout the general election of 1951, the general election of 1954 and the general election in 1957, at no time when the Fianna Fáil Party were seeking the support of minority groups did the Taoiseach express the doubts which now he says he held in relation to P.R. That is a significant fact and it prompts the question: why now, only six months after the Taoiseach, in the summer of last year, gave expression to his doubts about P.R., should all this be surrounded by the haste and urgency with which the Government suggest it should?

What is urgent about this issue? The Taoiseach diddled and doodled—in his own words—for ten years with a variety of mental reservations about P.R. but did nothing about it throughout 1948, 1949, 1950 and throughout the 50's. Up to 1958 the Taoiseach took care to say nothing which might be interpreted, particularly at an election time, as being critical of P.R. Why should the matter now have become a burning and urgent matter of Government policy? We suggest that if this issue is so important that the people are not entitled to second thoughts about it, as the decision on this referendum will colour and fashion and shape the outlook and personnel of this Parliament for many years, it is prudent and proper that this issue should be presented to the people in a proper and careful manner. We say that the ordinary polemics of politics, the discussions here and elsewhere, the exchanges which take place, as they properly take place, at public meetings, to some extent help to inform public opinion but that is not enough.

Many of us who were born into, or who have grown up in politics, many of us who find ourselves in this House and many of us who are living in a political atmosphere find quite frequently that we cannot see the wood for the trees because we are too close, too tied-up in the political life of the country fully to realise the implications of an issue such as this. We have tried, on both sides of the House, to discuss this matter objectively, as objectively as we can, but I do not think we have been able to avoid the discussion becoming, eventually, a political Party discussion across the House. I think it is inevitable that that should be so. Therefore, it is inevitable that the people who are being asked to decide this issue eventually should feel that this is just one or other of the differences which are hurled across the floor of this House. Of course, if we are true to ourselves, true to our traditions here, and true to our individual responsibility, each one of us must realise that this issue transcends by far any other Party difference or Party issue that may have arisen over the past 40 years.

We question, therefore, whether it is prudent that this referendum should be put to the people surrounded by the atmosphere of urgency and haste with which the Government seek to surround it. We cannot prevent this motion being passed, I suppose, and eventually this issue must go to the people. I have little doubt that the elector who goes to vote on this issue will go, in the majority of cases, because he is Fianna Fáil or because he is opposed to Fianna Fáil. He will go to vote and decide this issue because of the political beliefs he holds.

Accordingly we are going to have the future of Ireland decided because two sides fought a Civil War away back in 1922. That is not sound, proper or prudent in the interests of this nation. You just have to look at the speeches both sides make each weekend on this issue; we are driven to ask the Irish people to reject this referendum proposal or to support it because of individuals and personalities that should take a secondary place in relation to an issue of this importance.

It is for that reason we on this side of the House have tabled an amendment to the Taoiseach's motion. We have tabled it, not because we believe it will be possible to secure a majority in this House in favour of the amendment but in the hope that at this eleventh hour those who possibly may not have to live in the political life of this country in years to come, those who have seen the water flow under the bridge and go away, those whose contribution may have been made to the political life of Ireland, may reckon that the future of Ireland is worth the cost of a little bit of political expediency.

We have tabled this amendment urging on the Government to pause and to think in relation to this important issue. Would it not be better presented, if they believe in it, would it not be a sounder case if they were convinced of it, if an impartial body, standing apart from and outside politics, would examine this issue and advise fully on its implications? Who would be fearful of such a body, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle? We, on your righthand side, are not fearful of any examination by any body or any tribunal the Government may appoint.

The people.

It is easy to say that. The people decided the guillotine should fall in the French Revolution. Was that justice? The people decide many things and having decided frequently they are sorry on the morrow. In relation to this issue once the people decide nobody can change that. The decision becomes part of the immutable law of the land, not to be changed or altered, not to be amended or repealed in any way or in any sense as long as our Constitution continues. That is too important to have rushed on the people as a string attached to a Presidential election. That is far too important to have decided by the people in the muddied waters that will arise from the clash of personalities as to who will be the President of Ireland for the next seven years.

We assume that those who suggest this change sincerely believe in their proposal to introduce into this country the British system of election, the straight vote. If so, what objection can they have to that proposal being examined by a body outside and removed from politics? If their case is a good one they will impress any impartial body. If their case is a sound one the recommendations will be in their favour. What is wrong with that? Why are they so timorous about it? Why should they be ashamed to submit their proposals for a clear, careful examination by a body not obsessed by considerations of political expediency?

Those of us who believe sincerely in P.R., knowing Ireland, knowing Irish history, believing in the future of this country, have little doubt that any such impartial body would recommend the Irish people to hold fast to P.R. as a guarantee of the rights and liberties we have established over the past 40 years. We have no doubt at all that such would be the result and we wonder at the fact that the leader of the Government, his Ministers and his supporters should be hastening with all the heavy artillery to get this issue decided quickly by the people at a time when old slogans, old issues and old differences will be referred to and appealed to in order to cloud the minds of the people and prevent the people deciding an issue of transcendent importance and deciding it properly. It is wrong and irresponsible that the future of this Parliament which was established at so much cost and which is now accepted after 40 years by so many people, should be decided by a whim or a fancy, and because particular personalities are raised in order to cloud the important issue.

It is a good thing for those of us in politics in this House, however we got there, that we should from time to time allow our opinions and views to be tempered and qualified by those not as close to things as we are, those who stand apart and who can look at things more objectively. Such a view was given by an English Liberal newspaper yesterday, theManchester Guardian. I do not think there is anyone who would regard the views of the Manchester Guardian as being less than worthy of consideration. The Manchester Guardian in an editorial yesterday gave its views on this issue. These are the views of a man outside the Irish political scene looking at it objectively, from a distance, if you like, but looking at it without any bias one way or the other.

TheManchester Guardian yesterday, under the heading “Ireland will be the loser”, says as follows:

Ireland has been a model of the virtues which its advocates have claimed for P.R. It has had longer periods of stable Government than most other European countries; at the same time, by giving representation to minority views, proportional representation has served as a unifying force in a country that was deeply split by civil war. It is hard to believe that any other electoral system could have done more to establish Irish politics on a firm constitutional basis. Some modification of the electoral system may be required. Must this involve the overthrow of P.R.? Might not the object be achieved by substituting three-member constituencies for those which at present return five or more members—or, perhaps better, by institution of one-seat constituencies using the alternative vote?

On a point of order, would the Deputy say from what he is quoting?

The Deputy has given the reference.

The quotation continues:

The pity is that, by forcing the electorate to choose between the present method and one as different, and as uncongenial to many Irishmen, as that used in Britain, Mr. de Valera has barred the middle road. Ireland will eventually be the loser if its parliamentarians are forced, as in Britain, into one of two Party straitjackets.

There is a view—an English view if you like—coming from a country whose electoral system we are urged now to adopt from a person writing an editorial in one of the best-informed and leading daily newspapers in Britain. Can we take heed or are we so dense and so bothered that we listen to nothing? Will the Party over there put blinkers about them and refuse to see to right or left? Can we not take some note of the fact that an informed writer, writing from the country whose system it is suggested we adopt, says of us that if we adopt that system, Ireland will be the loser?

It would be a tragedy if strict Party discipline should coerce and impel the majority of the Deputies in the Fianna Fáil Party—and I believe it to be a majority—who have sincere doubts about this matter into forcing, at the instance of the Taoiseach and his colleagues in the Government, this motion through the House. There is little doubt that there is much to gain and nothing to lose by having an impartial examination of this whole issue as it affects this country. Who is to lose by it? There is not a single person who holds strong views on this issue who can sincerely say: "I shall be the loser if this issue is examined fairly and squarely outside the heat of politics." If he says he is the loser he has no right to be heard on this issue at all because he has commended to the people views he does not believe.

We say there is nothing to lose— nothing at all—no sacrifice of principle in relation to anyone's beliefs or views if this matter is examined carefully and fully by an impartial body. We say there is everything to be gained by having such an inquiry. The people can decide this issue in six months' or 12 months' time. What does it matter? Ireland will last longer than that. The people will decide this issue knowing the full implications, armed with the full facts, coldly and dispassionately, as an electorate should. They will decide the future of their country. It is theirs, not ours in this House, not of any individual here. It belongs to the Irish people. We have no right so to fashion or decide things here that the future of this country depends on the decision of any other group amongst us.

I should like to hear before this debate concludes how many Deputies on your left, Sir, can say with sincerity that they object to having this matter examined carefully and impartially? I could understand if there were some genuine time factor involved, if the sands of time were running out and if we could say here, as a Parliament, that there was a D-day approaching beyond which we could not go. If we, as representatives of the Irish people, could be convinced that time was of the essence in this matter, then perhaps we could say there was no time to have this examined by anybody and that we must go immediately to the people.

But where is the time factor? How is time of essence in relation to this matter? This Parliament has functioned, and functioned well I assert, over 40 years under proportional representation. Proportional representation was put by Deputies on this side of the House into the first Constitution of the State. It was put by Deputies on that side of the House into the second Constitution of the State. Up to last September proportional representation has been agreed national policy. Up to last September every leader of every political Party in this country protested against any threat against P.R. We all joined together in the middle twenties to assert in relation to Ulster that the Unionist organisation there were running in the teeth of democracy when they abolished P.R. in the Six Counties.

We all have been of one voice and mind and we all have been in step over the past 40 years. We all held that view in accordance with our ideals and traditions, in accordance with the principles of the Sinn Féin movement, from which the majority of this House derives a political essence. Everyone, be he a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael supporter, learned of P.R. from Arthur Griffith, knew that it was something to strive for from Michael Collins. It was handed down at the foundation of this State as Ireland's answer to the charge of "Rome Rule." Because the British asserted in 1918 that Home Rule would mean Rome Rule, the Sinn Féin organisation pledged itself to establish here in Ireland under its freedom the system of proportional representation. We have adopted it, worked it, learned it. It has been Irish in its inspiration, in its history, in its tradition.

The Taoiseach was able to protest to Lord Craigavon in 1926. He was the leader of a Party outside this House. He was able to say, on behalf of the section of the people he represented, that he protested against Craigavon's move against P.R. in the Six Counties. The Taoiseach was able to say in 1936, when he put P.R. into our Constitution, that we were fortunate in Ireland to have it, that it worked well, that it was a good system.

I assert that P.R. has been common national policy up to last Autumn. Why should we all get into a dither so suddenly because the Taoiseach, as he is entitled to do, has changed his mind? Where is the time factor involved in this? In view of all the discussion we had here throughout the Autumn and the Dáil being brought back in the month of January in an unprecedented way, after the discussion in the Seanad and the discussion here over the past three weeks, would it not be far better to call a halt, stop for a bit and think for a bit instead of talking and allow the people to pause and to think?

We cannot see any urgency in this matter. We cannot see any impelling reason why this House should be kept sitting day after day, to get this motion through. From a national point of view, there is no urgency. In the interests of Ireland, there is no urgency. A Parliament that has lasted for 40 years, a Constitution which has lasted through its organisations and institutions for 40 years, will continue to last for a little bit longer. It would be no harm next year or the year after or, better still, after the next general election to have this matter carefully examined.

We cannot help thinking that whilst we cannot see the sands of time running out, while the Irish people cannot be convinced of any urgency, nevertheless, somewhere in this House, amongst certain Deputies, there is an urgency, a feeling of panic, a feeling that "if we do not get this done in four weeks' time, we can never get it done". Why should there be that feeling there? The Fianna Fáil Party have a complete majority. What they will do when the voting comes about on this motion they can do just as well in six months' time. Why are they in such a dither about getting this through? I regret to say that we are driven to the conclusion that they are concerned with one thing only, namely, to use the man they have as long as they have him. They want to force this issue on the people while they are still led by their present leader. I think that is unfair to the Taoiseach. I think they are not treating him as he should be treated.

If the Fianna Fáil Party sincerely believe in the merits of the present Taoiseach, why can they not let him leave active politics in dignity and with honour? Why should his last performance on the stage of Irish political life be complicated by a political conspiracy? Why should he be involved in a panicky rush to the Irish people to get them to decide one thing when in fact they think they are deciding another? In our view, it is wrong. It is doing a disservice to this nation which has grown up over 40 difficult, turbulent years. It is doing a disservice to this House that has had to survive many vicissitudes and that is now respected by all sides.

It is doing a disservice to the future of this country to have this issue committed in haste to the Irish people, in addition to the fact that they are being asked to decide it complicated, muddled and obscured, as the Government proposes. It is further to be remembered that this motion we are discussing here is the first of its kind this Dáil has had to entertain—a motion whereby this Dáil is asked to set at nought the considered opinion and decision of Seanad Éireann. We should not do that lightly. We should not do it without a recognition of the facts that we are one House of an Irish Parliament, one only. We may be the House directly elected but we are one of two pillars to an Irish Constitution.

We should not hastily, imprudently and out of considerations of political expediency seek to set aside the decision of the other House of the Oireachtas. This proposal will be identified with the Taoiseach because, in my view, he has been used more on this issue than anybody else. However, in this House, the proposal is the Taoiseach's proposal. We know well that, out of those who supported the motion, in Seanad Éireann, if the Taoiseach's own nominated Senators were withdrawn, the proposal would have been defeated two to one in that House. That is a matter of some significance.

The Taoiseach's eleven nominees are persons who, in accordance with the Constitution, in accordance with his rights, he nominates as members of Seanad Éireann. If they were not counted, there would only be a handful of Senators, in the entire of that body of 60, who could be found to support his views. If we can clear our minds of prejudice, we should know that in Seanad Éireann, in so far as those who are opposed to Fianna Fáil are concerned, leaving aside Fine Gael, if you like, there are a number of Senators without any clear political affiliations. There are at least six from the two Universities. There are others too, who, in the devious ways Senators succeed in getting themselves elected from time to time, are members of that House, but certainly there are six University Senators and, in relation to those six Senators, any of us in this House who have proposed measures in the Seanad will recognise that sometimes they are with you and sometimes they are against you and, generally, the six University Senators are against one another, three against three.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy but I must inform him that the views and actions of individual Senators are not for debate on this motion. The action of the Seanad itself is relevant but not the speeches, actions or views of individual Senators.

I am much obliged to you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. May I proceed to say what I was about to say, namely, that in relation to the decision of the Seanad which we are asked to set at nought we should bear in mind that an important group of Senators, without discussing the views of individuals, a group of Senators without any Party affiliations, were all of one mind in rejecting this proposal? Surely that suggests to any fair-minded Deputy that this is one issue on which we should pause, think and ponder?

Is there nothing to be said in their favour? Is this issue to be decided just because the Whips of the Fianna Fáil Party told the majority of the Deputies of this House, sitting on the left of the Chair, to vote that way when the vote comes? Is there to be no more consideration of the fact that one House of the Irish Parliament, after careful debate and deliberation, has decided that this is bad for the country? I would suggest, Sir, that it is asking for trouble for this Dáil and for the country if we conduct ourselves in that way.

There is nothing wrong in giving time to the people and there is nothing wrong in giving ourselves time, to solve and unravel some of our difficulties. We are told that the Leader of the Government will shortly retire from active politics. That will mean a new Taoiseach and a new Government. It will mean that this Dáil will be asked to elect for a short time a new Taoiseach and a new Government. I am certain that the new Taoiseach will feel it in accordance with his duty quickly to go to the country to seek renewal of a mandate. What is so difficult about postponing this issue until next Autumn when, in any event, whoever succeeds the Taoiseach must, in honour bound, go to the Irish people to seek authority to govern?

Deputy O'Malley thinks he is here for the next two or three years. Tóg bog é; fan go bhfeicir. What is wrong in permitting that to happen? Whoever succeeds the Taoiseach cannot say that he is Ireland's leader because he has the authority of 70 odd Deputies on the left-hand side of the Chair. He must go further, if he is a democrat, and seek the authority from the only people entitled to give it, the Irish people, freely voting in a general election. I have no doubt that the new Taoiseach will do what has been done and is done by every other such Prime Minister throughout the world.

I feel that that would be a subject for another day's debate.

I agree. I strayed from the point as a result of the interjection from Deputy O'Malley.

We should not like to stop the Deputy in his wishful thinking.

It is wishful thinking. I would love a general election. I wish for it and hope my wishful thinking will come about.

Mr. Macmillan succeeded Mr. Eden and there was no general election.

Mr. Eden succeeded Mr. Churchill, and there was.

It is "This Other Eden" that the Deputy is thinking about.

Deputy O'Malley's "This Other Eden" is to be in the House at the moment. We have strayed from the point. All I want to suggest is that it is the prudent, proper and responsible thing for the Government to do in the present political situation. There is going to be a change—I believe an upheaval; perhaps Deputy O'Malley does not agree with that—there is going to be a change of some significance. Why would not the Government agree, in those circumstances, to postpone this issue so that it can be decided in calmer times? We all, I hope, believe in the future of this country. We all should, whether we do or not. We should be striving to help the future of the country in accordance with our views, our lights and our ideals. We should never allow the future of Ireland to be decided on short term considerations of expediency.

We have made a grave charge against the Fianna Fáil Party. We have charged them with seeking to change the electoral system in order to suit their own political convenience. That has been the charge made consistently by us since last September. It has been denied by Fianna Fáil. Individual Ministers have said: "Not at all. We are really doing this in the interests of the Labour Party; we are doing it in the interests of the Fine Gael Party; we are doing it in everybody's interests but, certainly, we are not doing it in our own interests." There it has been. We continue to charge the Fianna Fáil Party with contriving this change because of the impending departure of their leader and in order to ensure that an electoral system will be established which will suit them and no one else.

That is a serious charge. If I were a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, sincerely believing in the British electoral system, I should be grieved by that charge and I would seek to demonstrate that it was not true. I would seek to show by every means available to me that that charge was without foundation. If the charge were persisted in, as it has been, I would seek to say to my critics: "All right; let us adjourn this matter for 12 months, for a period. Let us have it examined by some body established for that purpose." I would seek to establish the merits of my proposal in the eyes of judges whom I would not appoint or seek to persuade in any way. That is the reasonable approach.

If, further, my Party were charged with seeking to rush this issue in order to get it carried on the coat tails of a personality or individual, I would say: "No; we shall not do that. We shall fight you another day because we believe in the things we say. We shall fight you another time when things are clearer and calmer and the people can decide better." That would be the approach of a democrat, a person sincerely believing in Ireland, in its future and in this Dáil.

We note the fact that appeals such as I have tried to make have no effect on Fianna Fáil. They are going ahead all the time. They must have this question passed by this Dáil as quickly as possible, 30 days at least before June 17th. It has to be passed by then because the Minister for Local Government must have sufficient time to make an order for the holding of the referendum on the same date as the Presidential election.

If there is a Presidential election.

Is the Taoiseach withdrawing? We know well that the reason for that haste is that those who propose this change do not believe in it. They do not sincerely believe in it. I do not believe that there is any Irishman worthy of the name who believes in the British system of doing things and there is not a sincere Fianna Fáil-er who believes sincerely that what Lord Craigavon and Basil Brooke do in the Six Counties is the right thing to do. Of course, they do not believe it, but they have been convinced that it is the expedient thing to do and they have been ordered, as decent Fianna Fáil Deputies, perhaps, in this House know they have been ordered, to vote against their consciences and their beliefs. They will do it, I know, because, unfortunately, considerations of what is expedient become practical politics for many people.

I should like to say to Fianna Fáil Deputies that they have freedom now, which they will not have if P.R. goes, to act as honest men in this House. There is not a Fianna Fáil Deputy, who is true to his conscience, who acts in accordance with his principles and who states his beliefs, who has not a fair chance under P.R. of commending his fortunes to his electorate. The present position cannot stop him standing. He can stand and he can get, as Deputy Dr. Noel Browne was able to get in the last election, a quota of people to send him here without the backing of any political party.

That is a freedom they have got now under proportional representation. It is a freedom which a certain member of Parliament found that he had not got in the North under the British system of voting. If proportional representation goes every Deputy in this House, and particularly those of the Fianna Fáil Party, will realise that he must obey the directions of Party headquarters. He cannot have a thought or utter a word that is not censored and pruned by his political bosses. He must do as he is told to do and, if he does not, he will find the nomination withdrawn and that will be the end.

We all have had experience of Deputies whom we are still very glad to see amongst us and whom the Party headquarters sought to put out of the Dáil. There were white-headed boys to be brought in in their places but because of proportional representation they have been able to come back here. That is an important freedom. Many a Deputy sitting up on the heights opposite may now realise where they are going and have their own doubts about the wisdom of changing the system.

My suggestion is that this is too important an issue to be decided in the heat of a political debate. I have said that, no matter how hard we strive to discuss an issue of this kind on its merits, inevitably it becomes a matter of Party controversy. Inevitably it becomes a bone of contention to be thrown across this House. I have found myself falling into the same error that any other Deputy wishing to take part in this debate will find himself falling into. This issue, proposed at a highly critical time in the life of this country, by a Government in office that is losing its leader and founder, is bound to lead to the conclusion that it is being done to suit the convenience of that Government. That means that, whatever the result may be, it cannot be a proper decision.

We have disagreed with decisions by the people in general elections but we have always known that the people can go back on what they have done. They can always undo the harm just as the harm done in 1957 will be undone. The people are entitled to the opportunity to decide what Government they will have in office and what policy they will have in operation but on this issue they cannot undo what will be done. For all time this British system of election, if the referendum is adopted, is going to become the immutable law of this land, never to be changed or bettered, altered, amended or appealed.

Of course it could be changed.

Will Deputy O'Malley explain to me how a Government elected under the British system of voting is going to cut its own throat? That is why the Taoiseach, when he announced this matter in September last, said that this issue was too important, too fundamental to have it confused with the Presidential Election or any other issues. The Taoiseach was right when he said that and I am sure that he was saying what he sincerely believed—that it would not be right to have the referendum issue confused with an election for the Presidency.

Why the change now? What has happened since last September to cause the Government now to say that this whole thing must be muddled up, that the clear waters must be muddied and that the people must decide this thing with their minds obscured and troubled by the thought of who is the best man to be President of Ireland. I cannot see that anything has happened in the last six months to give any justification for the change in the Taoiseach's attitude since last September. The only thing that could have brought about that change is that it suits the present Fianna Fáil Party.

They are losing their leader, their founder, the one political argument that they have sought to use for the last 30 years when they had no other argument and they must effect the change while they still have him. That is the urgency of the whole matter. That urgency is dictated by considerations of self-preservation, the preservation in office of the individual members of the present Government and the supporters behind them. This Dáil functioned without them before. There is no one who can truly say that he is essential to the Irish people.

I suggest that those who are so anxious about their own political future should forget their selfishness for a while and think of Ireland's future and allow the people to dwell on the merits of the issue itself. They should allow the people to say whether or not it is a good thing to finish the Fine Gael Party that built the State and the Labour Party that was here before Fianna Fáil was heard of. It would be a bad thing to have an Irish Parliament dominated by a political Party. The result and end of that could be red revolution.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Teachta T.Ó hUiginn ar ball beag agus caithfidh mé a admháil gur doiligh meon agus aigne Fine Gael i leith P.R. a thuiscint go cruinn beacht. Dár ndóigh, ón mbliain 1927 go dtí an bhliain 1947 ba mhinic agus ba rí-mhinic taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den Dáil a mhol ceannairí Chumann na nGael, agus ina dhiaidh sin Fine Gael, go tréan P.R. a chur i leataoibh agus córas simplí ciallmhar a chur ar fáil ina áit. Tá beartaithe ag an Rialtas anois le cabhair an phobail a leithéid a dhéanamh. Céard a thárla idir an dá linn gur tháinig Fine Gael ar athrú comhairle? Níl na húdair ar aon fhocal.

Tá daoine ann, áfach, a deir gur fuath le Fine Gael aon athrú chun feabhais a dhéanamh ar fhaitíos go gcuirfeadh an guthrú direach deireadh go deo leo mar pháirtí éifeachtach i gcúrsaí polataíochta na tíre seo.

Níor athraigh Fine Gael ar an ábhar seo.

Bíodh ciall agat.

Bhí an Teachta T.O hUiginn ag caint faoi anManchester Guardian ar ball beag agus, mar bhios á rá, deireann na daoine seo go dtuigeann Fine Gael an claochlú a tháinig ar na Liberals sa mBreatain Mhóir agus go measann siad go bhfuil an mí-ádh céanna i ndán dóibh féin amach anseo ach an Guthrú Direach a bheith againn mar chóras bhótaíochta.

Deir daoine eile go bhfuil Fine Gael lán-tsásta anois le páirt a ghlacadh i Rialtas Comhpháirteach. Níl a thuille ag teastáil uathu. Dár ndóigh, is ait an mac an saol. Má tá ceannairí Fhine Gaei sásta leis an gcéim anuas sin ní doigh go bhfuil a lucht leanúna sa tír sásta ná leath-shásta le socrú dá shórt. Séard atá ag teastáil uathu-san Rialtas Fine Gael a fheiceáil i réim agus é ina sheasamh ar a bhonna féin gan baint dá laghad aige le dreamanna eile. Is ar ín ar éigin a thiocfadh le Fine Gael faoin gCóras P.R. atá againn Rialtas dá gcuid féin a bhunú go deo na ndeor. Seans faoin gCóras Guthrú Díreach go bhféadfaidís é sin a dhéanamh. Ach an fior nach foláir dóibh go brách bheith i ngéibheann ag umhlú do na páirtithe beaga úd nach bhfuil meas mada acu orthu?

Tá fhios ag an saol gur minic a chuidigh na páirtithe beaga le Fine Gael in am an ghátair. Ba liosta le luadh iad na páirtithe sin a bhí faoi mhaise agus faoi bhláth tráth den tsaol agus nach bhfuil tásc ná tuairisc anois orthu. Séard a thárla dóibh gur alp Fine Gael isteach ina gcraos iad ceann i ndiaidh a chéile.

Is rí-mhaith a thuigeas Fine Gael gurb amhlaidh a bhéas an scéal amach anseo ach P.R. a bheith againn mar chóras bhótaíochta.

Sén locht is mó atá ar P.R. go gcruthaíonn sé agus go gcothaíonn sé na páirtithe beaga úd. In áit na daoine a dhlúthú agus a chomhdhlúthú le chéile mar ba chóir sé an chaoi go ndéanann sé ranna agus aicmí nua díobh. Is annamh a bhíos gá ar bith leis na haicmí sin. Bréagnaíonn siad ciall an tsean-fhocail nach neart go cur le chéile. Marach P.R. ní bheadh a leath acu ann, dubh, bán ná riabhach. Ní nach íonadh, afach, go mbéidís-san freisin fabharach don chóras a chruthaigh agus a chuir ann iad agus go mba chargaos leo é a athrú ar mhaithe leis an tír.

Fásann an Rialtas Comhpháirteach go réidh nádúrtha as na páirtithe beaga. Ach nach luíonn sé le réasún gur Rialtas mínádúrtha a leithéid de mheascán mearaí? Séard a bhíos ann cnuasach contrártha de dhreamanna beaga a bhfuil cuspóirí éagsúla agus polasaithe éagsúla acu. Bíonn chuile pháirtí acu agus a shúil aige ar a leas agus ar a bheartas féin. Is cuma faoi leas agus dul chun cinn na tíre má fhéadann an páirtí é féin a neartú agus a chur chun cinn.

Céard is ciall le Olltoghchán murab é Rialtas a thoghadh don tír, Rialtas a mbeidh tromlach sásúil aige agus a bheas seasmhach le linn ré na Dála faoi mar atá leagtha amach san mBunreacht. Bíonn deis, áfach, ag an Rialtas sin a pholasaí agus a chlár a chur i bhfeidhm. Bíonn sin go soléir le feiceáil ins na tíortha ina bhfuil an Guthrú Díreach mar chóras acu, cuirim i gcás, na Stáit Aontaithe, Ceanada, an Astráil agus an Bhreatain Mhór. Cén uair a bhíos na tíortha sin i bhfad gan Rialtas seasmhach, ní hionann is na tíortha ar an Mór-Roinn faoin gCóras P.R., gur minic dóibh in a gceap magaidh ós comhair an tsaoil ag iarraidh Rialtas a bhunú agus a choinneáil in oiflg nuair a bunaítear é.

Dár ndóigh is fíor go gcothaíonn an Guthrú Díreach córas Parlamainte dhá-pháirtí. Ach cén dochar é sin? Bíonn cúram an Rialtais ar Pháirtí Mhór amháin agus cúram na Freasúrachta ar an bPáirtí Mhór eile. Is córas fiúntach é gan aimhreas. Ansin má bhíonn an pobal mí-shásta leis an Rialtas níl le déanamh acu ach é a chur as oifig ag an Olltoghchán agus an Páirtí Mór eile a chur i mbun an Rialtais. Sin é díreach an rud a thiteas amach sa mBreatain Mhóir, i gCeanada agus sna Stáit Aontaithe. Is seafóideach an chaint í gur féidir leis an nGuthrú Díreach an t-aon pháirtí amháin a choinneáil i gcumhacht go deo ach ó thosaigh an diospóireacht seo is minic a chualathas cainteoirí á rá go gcoinneodh sé Fianna Fáil i réim anseo go deo na ndeor. Sén t-aon rud amháin a choinneos Fianna Fáil ina Rialtas bhótaí na ndaoine.

Faoin gCóras nua atá beartaithe sa mBille seo beidh an dáilcheantar beag ann agus áit ann dó. Ar Theachta Dála amháin a bheas cúram an dáilcheantair sin. Tiúrfar deis dó eolas cruinn ceart a chur ar a chúramaí. Ar an láimh eile dhe beidh deis acu san eolas a chur ar an Teachta agus a chuid oibre a mheas dóibh féin mar ba chóir. Is cinnte go mbeidh sé ar chumas an Teachta a dhualgaisí a chomhlíonadh níos éifeachtaí agus go gcuirfear deireadh leis an dúbláil saothair a bhíos sa Dáilcheantar faoi láthair, áit a mbíonn iomad Teachtaí ag iomaíocht le chéile.

Mar bhuille scoir: Ar an bpobal amháin agus ní ar Oireachtas Éireann a bhrathas an cheist seo dí-chur P.R. nó a choinneáil. Sé toradh an Reifrinn amháin a shocrós an scéal. Tuige mar sin na tréan-iarrachtaí atá á ndéanamh ag daoine áirithe le nach mbeadh deis ag an bpobal é a réiteach, iad féin mar ba cheart. Cuireann geatsaí an tSeanaid seo Seanad eile i gcuimhne dhúinn, Seanad nár mhian leis an mhóid Dílse a dhíchur nó an Bunreacht a thionscnamh. Níl aon ghá ach an oiread le Coimisiún a cheapadh leis an scéal a chíoradh. Níl ann ach cur i gcéill. Tá an Coimisiún ann cheana féin, na daoine. Tiúrfaidh siad sin a mbreith air.

I shall begin by quoting the words of Arthur Griffith and I shall follow that by quoting the words of the Taoiseach in relation to the system of voting which it is intended to change. In 1911, Arthur Griffith writing inSinn Féin said:—

"Proportional representation secures that the majority of the electors shall rule and that minorities shall be represented in proportion to their strength. It is the one just system of election under a democratic Government."

Could anything better be said for the existing system of voting which the Fianna Fáil Party are now trying to change for their own purposes?

I shall now quote what the Taoiseach said when he was asking the people to support the Constitution which enshrined the present system of voting. Speaking in this House during the debate on the Constitution in June, 1937, as reported in Vol. 67, col. 1343, the Taoiseach said:—

"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 this country: we have to be very grateful that we have had the system of proportional representation here. It gives a certain amount of stability, and on the system of the single transferable vote you have fair representation of Parties."

At column 1353, the Taoiseach said:—

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

Could anything better have been said by the Taoiseach in favour of the system he now tries to destroy than the opinions he conveyed to the Dáil when speaking on 1st June, 1937, and asking the House to approve of the system of P.R. being enshrined in the Constitution at that time?

It is obvious from the haste with which efforts are being made to finish off this debate and put this issue to the country, that the Fianna Fáil Party are determined not to put the issues involved in the present voting system as against those in the proposed new system in a calm way for the decision of the electors. Instead of putting the merits of the system in a calm atmosphere to the electorate, they have decided to pin their proposals to the coat-tails of the Taoiseach in the coming presidential election, in the hope that he will carry the new system with him, in spite of the views of the ordinary people.

We have not noticed a desire in any section of the community for a change in the system of voting. No effort was made by any organised group of intelligent people to put forward a suggestion that the existing system of P.R. ought to be changed. In spite of that, it is being advocated by the Fianna Fáil Party for their own political ends and their own political purposes, not in the interests of the nation, but to maintain their own strength and unity.

The Taoiseach himself said that the system of P.R. has worked well and that we ought to be thankful that we have had it here, but now for political ends, and for the benefit of the Fianna Fáil Party, efforts are being made to abolish that system which the people have operated so effectively and so well for practically 40 years. Any time the people wanted a change of Government, they had a system which enabled them to bring about that change. It is a remarkable fact that down through the years there has been a very reasonable trend in political opinion here and Governments knew very well that they were sent here as a result of the considered opinion of a democratic electorate, people who were able to exercise their votes in a free and democratic manner, having considered the various issues involved when it came to a question of reelecting or changing the Government.

The Taoiseach admitted here in the House that it was because Fianna Fáil were put out of office in 1948 that he has since decided to take that system away from the people and to prevent them from ever again removing Fianna Fáil by the election of an inter-Party Government. He did not have time to do so before he was put out in 1948. He came back again in 1951 with all kinds of efforts and promises and he stayed here for approximately three years until 1954, at which time the inter-Party Government were sent in with a majority of nearly a quarter of a million people. Approximately 700,000 people were against Fianna Fáil and 500,000 were for them. It was only fair that the Deputies elected by the 700,000 people should form the Government rather than the Party which was supported by 500,000 people.

A case is being made at the present time that under the new system, whatever group gets the largest number of votes, even if it is far from a majority of the votes, should be given the opportunity of forming the Government. Our view is that we should follow majority rule in the democratic way which is permitted under the system of P.R. People have not been asking for a change in the voting system and the Fianna Fáil Party should not try to push a new system down their throats. In fact, it is becoming more obvious, as time passes, that the citizens of this country will not swallow the new system which the Fianna Fáil Party are attempting to push down their throats.

Last autumn, the Taoiseach mentioned that this was a very important issue and that it should not be confused with the Presidential election, but now we find that he is to be a candidate himself in the Presidential election and that the proposed change in the voting system is to be decided upon the same day. Is it fair for the Taoiseach to exercise his personality and the sympathy that he may encourage amongst the electorate, to support him as a candidate, and at the same time, to support a change in the voting system, a change which he advocates in spite of the glowing tribute which he paid in the past to the system of proportional representation which was the basis on which this State was founded? It is a blow at the very foundations of the State to try, at this stage, to alter the voting system. The present system of voting is the basis on which the State was established, and it is the system that has functioned very well in a democratic manner for practically 40 years. Why should the foundations of the State be taken away in such an abrupt, hasty manner? Why will the Fianna Fáil Party not agree to sit down and give calm and cool consideration to a proposal which will interfere with the people's rights to elect representatives to Parliament?

Those are the terms of the amendment tabled by Deputy General Mulcahy and Deputy J.A. Costello. It is a very reasonable request. It is a very important request as far as the people of this country are concerned, because, if their rights are taken from them now, the right to have majority representation in Dáil Éireann, they may never get the opportunity to reverse that decision at a later date, without a violent national upheaval.

The proposed new system is alien to the fair-minded democratic outlook for which the ordinary Irishman is noted. Efforts are being made now to adopt the British system of election, but let us remember that the system of election in Great Britain is one that has operated there for hundreds of years, and not just a matter of the 40 years during which our Parliament has functioned here. Having given consideration to that system, we had the advantage, around 1920, of being able to adopt a system which would suit democratic Parliament better than the old British system which had functioned across the water through the years. Arthur Griffith proved it to be so. We had the advantage, in 1920, of being able to look around the world and examine the different systems whereby parliamentary representatives were elected, and it was decided at that time that the system fairest to all sections of the community was the system of proportional representation, the system which we have had since.

Let us remember that there are nearly 10,000,000 people in Great Britain who hope that the system of voting which exists there will be changed to the system we have in this country. There has been an agitation in progress in Great Britain, with a substantial measure of public opinion behind it, since approximately 1831, putting up every possible argument to show that the system of election in Great Britain should be altered to the fairer method of proportional representation. Several books have been written, regarding that matter, by authorities who have gone to great trouble, who have obtained statistics to support their arguments in favour of scrapping the system of election used in Great Britain and giving to the people a fairer method of electing their representatives by the use of the proportional representation system.

The majority Fianna Fáil have in the Dáil at the present time is being used for several purposes. At the moment, it is being used to set aside the considered decision of the Seanad which, on three different occasions, when it was put to a vote, rejected the proposal to abolish the system of proportional representation and to adopt the system of what they called the straight vote, which is being advocated by Fianna Fáil in the Dáil. Their majority in the Dáil is a substantial one; it is a working majority; and it was obtained by promises of more bread, work, houses and economic security. That is what the majority was given to the Fianna Fáil Government for. But, instead of giving the people those things which were expected from them as a result of the general election in 1957, their majority is being used to take away from the people their ordinary democratic right to elect members to the Dáil under the system of proportional representation, which is agreed to be the fairest system. It seems that there was one more trick in the promises that Fianna Fáil so frequently offered to the people.

In 1957, they acceded to office once more by making various promises which led the people to believe that the difficult economic condition which obtained in 1956 could be overcome merely by a change of Government. They obtained their substantial majorty under the system of proportional representation, a system which they now try to destroy because they know it would be used by the people to-morrow—if they got the opportunity—to put them out of office once more, as they did twice during the past ten years.

Let us remember that it is the vested interests in Great Britain and the United States of America which are keeping the two-Party system in operation there. It does not suit the Conservatives in Great Britain to promote the adoption of an electoral system which would enable the Liberal Party to grow strong again, or any other Party which would have a widespread appeal to the electorate there. Their opponents are the Labour Party and, when the Labour Party are in power, they know that if they give the opportunity to the Liberals, under a new system of election, they might suffer just the same as the Conservatives would suffer, if the people were given an alternative choice. Instead, the electorate in Great Britain are mainly thrust into two straitjackets, the straitjacket of the Conservative Party and the straitjacket of the Labour Party.

It is well known that there are people in Great Britain who have been voting Liberal for perhaps 25 or 30 years and who have never yet succeeded in returning a member to Parliament. Their political view is Liberal and, in the last general election in Great Britain, a million Liberals in various constituencies cast votes and yet did not get even one representative into Parliament. It is a situation which could not arise under the system of proportional representation. Under that system, members of Parliament are elected in proportion to the measure of support which they get for the policies they put before the electorate at the time of a general election, and, as I say, the agitation which started in 1832 in Great Britain still goes on trying to bring into Great Britain a system of proportional representation such as we have here in Ireland.

Mention has already been made of the comments of theManchester Guardian in regard to the system of proportional representation in Ireland. I think that those who read and study the comments of the Manchester Guardian should be grateful for them, realising that we are being given the benefit of a dispassionate, outside view so far as our electoral system is concerned.

TheManchester Guardian in a leading article says:—

"Ireland has been a model of the virtues which its advocates have claimed for P.R. It has had longer periods of stable Government than most other European countries; at the same time, by giving representation to minority views, proportional representation has served as a unifying force in a country that was deeply split by civil war."

Is it fair that the influence of the Civil War, which is still strong inside this House because it has not left the memory of surviving generations, should be used at this stage in order to take from the people a system which was provided for the country before the Civil War? It is unfair at this stage to use that Civil War frame of mind to take away this system of voting and to put the coming generations into a straitjacket.

The fairness of the present system cannot be disputed and can we not leave a decision to change the voting system to a future generation? Is it fair for the old Fianna Fáil Cabinet, most of whom will be retiring from active political life in the next few years, to take from the people the fairest system of election known in this part of the world? We know that the proposed system can result in a situation in which 35 per cent. of the electors can send a member into the Dáil and the remaining 65 per cent. will have no representative. It is a system where one equals three and is such a system fair? In other words, they get barely over one-third of the votes and they can secure the seat in spite of the views of two-thirds of the people who vote against them.

We could have a situation where one-quarter of the electorate would be capable of electing three-quarters of the Dáil, orvice versa, where three-quarters of the electorate would succeed in electing one-quarter of the members here. That is not a fair system but the Government intend to adopt it because they consider it will bring them the best political advantage. It is a spiteful blow at the citizens because they rejected Fianna Fáil in 1948 and again in 1954. This question did not arise until Fianna Fáil had been rejected twice by the people and the Taoiseach admitted it when this debate began. He admitted that it was precisely because Fianna Fáil were put out of office in 1948 that he gave serious consideration to changing the voting system. But we will not always be with the people; the Taoiseach will not always be with the people and it is unfair to impose on them a system which is obviously unfair and which in the future it may be impossible to change.

In Great Britain it is impossible for the people to change the system. The vested interests in the Conservative Party and in the Labour Party do not want the Liberals to become stronger, or they do not want any other political organisation to grow strong there. The result is that the people in Great Britain, however they might like it, are in the position where the two great Parties have vested interests in keeping the present system and in preventing the people from getting the maximum results from the votes which they cast for their representatives. If we had this proposed new system we would have a situation where the people in fact would not be the electors of the candidates because it would be the Party headquarters that would decide who was the candidate to stand in any particular constituency. If the Party did not like the colour of a man's eyes, or if the Party had any particular prejudice against any candidate, regardless of his talents, they could refuse to put him forward as a candidate. The public, if they want to vote Party, will be given a candidate which Party headquarters decides to present to them in their constituency, whether they like it or not, whether or not they consider he is fit for the position, or whether or not he is a man of talent. If he is a good Party man that will be the test.

At the present time the political Parties in every constituency are able to provide the people with an alternative choice. In a three seat constituency it is usual for the major political Parties to put up two candidates each, so that the public can choose between one or other of those candidates to represent them, as they think fit. It is only fair that the people should be given the right to make a choice instead of the Party headquarters.

If the Fianna Fáil Party were ever serious regarding the Partition and the possibility of having the Border abolished, surely they would not now propose to introduce a system which will ensure that minorities in the Six Counties will have no hope of getting fair representation? We know that at present in the Six Counties minorities have not got fair representation. Parliament there has been reduced almost to a farce. It was reduced to a farce when the system of proportional representation was taken away from the people in the late 1920's. The Taoiseach protested vigorously at that time and said that taking away the system of P.R. from the people of the Six Counties deprived the minorities of fair representation.

He was a vigorous advocate of the system of proportional representation at that time. It was the P.R. system that enabled him, in the long run, to come into this House and enabled Fianna Fáil to act as an organised, democratic political Party, and eventually to become elected as a Government, aided by the Labour Party. He was supported by the Labour Party in forming the first Government here and then, when he was put out in 1948 by the Labour Party, he decided to bring in a system which will give his Party an unfair representation in this House. It seems that the Taoiseach was quite satisfied when he had the support of the Labour Party, and other Parties too in this House, but when those Parties, in their judgment, decided to oppose the policy of Fianna Fáil he decided to try to exterminate them and to deprive the people they represented of any representation in the Dáil.

What chance would the minorities in the Six Counties or indeed the minorities in this part of Ireland have of getting fair or proportional representation under the proposed new system? It will be obvious to the Nationalist minority in the Six County area that whatever hope they would have had under P.R. as operated here, they will have no hope of fair representation if we in this part of the country decide to abolish P.R. and adopt the vested interest system operated by the Labour and Conservative Parties in Great Britain.

When we consider all the anti-British exclamations of the Fianna Fáil Party for their own purposes at various times in order to secure political support and sympathy, it is surprising to see that Fianna Fáil propose to introduce the British system of voting which will be most unsuitable to our people. Is it possible that the Fianna Fáil Party are admirers, for instance, of the system in Kenya where it takes about four native votes to equal one colonial vote? I have mentioned already that we could have a situation here under the proposed system where one vote would be equal to three.

This movement toward depriving the people of the Republic of fair representation started in a quiet way when the Fianna Fáil Party noticed that the system was not favourable to them if the number of seats in a constituency was more than three. At one time there were approximately 30 constituencies. In some of those constituencies there were five, six, seven or eight seats and when the system of P.R. operated in those constituencies the system was seen at its best. However, the Fianna Fáil Party decided they were not getting any advantage out of it or only the slight advantage which a major Party gets under the system of P.R. Therefore they decided to increase the number of three-seat constituencies and to reduce the number of five-, six- or seven-seat constituencies. That brought us nearer to the "straitjacket" vote system where 49 per cent. of the electorate are capable of getting two seats under the present system——

Fifty-one per cent.

No, 49 per cent.

I am surprised at that.

Fifty one per cent. makes a Party a certainty for getting two seats but in fact the vote can be as low as 49 per cent. which would enable a political Party to get two seats in a three-seat constituency. My complaint is that the number of seats under our system should not have been brought down as low as three, that the constituency, in order to ensure a fair representation for the various political views, political Parties and sections of the community, should have at least five seats. Thus we would get a good democratic result under P.R. Bad as the three-seat constituency is in the matter of giving advantage to a major Party and placing the minor Parties at a disadvantage, the proposal to take away the P.R. system and substitute the straight vote system will worsen the situation as far as giving fair representation to the people is concerned.

It has been admitted by a Minister of the Party—the Minister for Local Government, speaking here on the 7th January, 1959—that the real purpose of the proposed change is to exterminate the Fine Gael Party as well as every other political Party in the country. I should like to quote what the Minister for Local Government said on that occasion:

If this referendum goes through Fine Gael will have had it.

Therefore the cat is out of the bag. It was all calculated in the Fianna Fáil Party room that under the proposed system they will be able to exterminate the Fine Gael Party and all opposition in the Dáil in spite of the fact that Fianna Fáil might receive only a minority of the votes. Supposing there are four candidates in a constituency and Fianna Fáil gets 26 per cent. of the votes, Fine Gael gets 25 per cent., Labour gets 23 per cent. and the others get the remainder, Fianna Fáil would get the seat with 26 per cent. because that is the largest number of votes for any candidate, although that number does not represent a majority of the people.

That is our objection to the proposal to change the system. We believe that majority rule is the best for this country. It seems to be the tradition of Irishmen to be fairminded and to abide by the majority decision. Any time we have had a by-election under the single transferable vote system we got a result which was favourable to one Party and unfavourable to the other, but nobody disputed it because they knew the people had cast their votes and given their preferences. When those votes and preferences are counted the fairest result that could be contemplated comes from that count. We know the results from those by-elections have been fairly arrived at even though we may not agree with the result. The people have spoken and they have been given an opportunity to speak in a very clear fashion, not alone by giving their first preferences to a candidate of their choice but also their preferences to show which line of policy they wish to have followed by the candidate who is eventually elected from a by-election.

It is only fair, even at this stage, to ask the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Party to contest this issue on its merits and not in the whirlwind of excitement which we shall have with the clash of personalities during the Presidential election. Is it fair to create hysteria among the electorate in order to get them to vote for one candidate or another in the Presidential election and at the same time use the influence of those candidates in relation to a proposal to change the voting system?

We need a calm decision by the electorate. We do not want a decision resulting from the wild enthusiasm which may be associated with the Presidential election day. This is a very serious matter for the people. They should not be asked to make a decision when their minds are disturbed by the kind of circus and menagerie that can be anticipated for this Presidential election.

I should like to ask the Fianna Fáil Party why they are using the Taoiseach for the purpose of influencing this decision. Recently the Minister for Industry and Commerce sent out a circular to various industrialists asking for subscriptions to the Fianna Fáil funds for this election campaign. We notice that, in addition, the Tánaiste also asked for support for the new system of voting which the Taoiseach is sponsoring. Is it fair to use that kind of sympathy and to get funds for the purpose of taking away from the people a voting system they have operated so well in the past?

The Taoiseach is going out of active politics. Why not let him go out of active politics and let us at a later stage have a decision in a calm way regarding this system of voting? The matter has been extensively debated. Every point of view has been put to the public, and their minds should not be confused by the Presidential Election. When the various points have been fully considered and debated, let them make their decision. If this new system were adopted—I do not think it will but we must let the people decide for themselves—the nation would be put in a straitjacket from which it could not be easily released. Certainly it could not be released through the ordinary process of election.

First of all, this system is designed to ensure that the Fianna Fáil Party will have a substantial majority. Suppose in the course of time when the other political Parties are exterminated from this House, public opinion grows and over the next couple of decades another political Party rises up here, eventually gets into office and puts out the Fianna Fáil Party. It is obvious that such a political Party would then decide it was in their interest not to change the voting system but to keep the straitjacket system. The result would be that we would have a system here such as there is in Great Britain at present. You would probably have a large body of people here, just as there is in Great Britain, agitating for a change in the voting system and they would not be heeded. They would not be heeded by Fianna Fáil, if they are there in 20 years' time, and they would not be heeded by the opposing political Party which may grow up in the meantime. I am mentioning these points because these things may happen if the proposed new system is adopted by the people.

There is a growing measure of opposition to the proposal and its chances of being accepted by the people are growing less. But the maximum effort is being made by the Fianna Fáil Party, and the Taoiseach is being used by that Party to try to put over this system once and for all. The Fianna Fáil Party will benefit from it immediately, whatever about the benefit that may come to another political Party in 20 years' time—by then it will not matter very much to those of us in active politics at present.

It is well known that there are many Fianna Fáil supporters who will vote against the proposal to change the present voting system. I have met them myself. I was visiting one house where there are six adults. They are active supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party, both in the matter of canvassing and driving cars. They informed me that not one vote in that House would be cast in favour of taking away from the people the present system of proportional representation. If the Taoiseach is a candidate, they intend to vote for him in the Presidential Election; but they will put an "X" opposite "No" on the ballot paper as far as the change in the voting system is concerned.

We had an example in the Seanad where Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien said she would vote against the proposal to change the voting system although she supported the Government in trying to get it passed in the Seanad, where it was in fact rejected. There you have two examples of people who for one reason or another are supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party and who will vote against a proposal to change the voting system being sponsored by that Party.

That should be a consolation to the Deputy.

Ní thuigim sin. Can one imagine the extent of the political racketeering which might occur if we had in the Dáil 110 Fianna Fáil Deputies and 30 others? That could easily happen, certainly after the first election under the proposed new system. It could happen although Fianna Fáil would not have obtained even half of the votes. Supposing they got around 500,000 votes, which they got at the last election, they would then get 110 seats, whereas the remainder, with 550,000 votes, would get 30 seats. Those are cold figures and facts. In the last election Fianna Fáil got 50,000 votes fewer than the candidates opposing them. But they were elected under a fair system and they got a substantial majority on the promise of the policy they put before the electorate early in 1957. I am giving the example of where Fianna Fáil secured in 1957 the highest number of seats they ever secured under the proportional representation system; and even though they secured the highest number ever, they got 50,000 fewer votes than the other Parties contesting the election. In the next general election probably they will get 200,000 fewer votes, as they did before.

We had the example in 1954 where approximately 750,000 people voted for the Parties which formed the Costello Government and approximately 500,000 people voted for Fianna Fáil. It was a case of 750,000 versus 500,000. Still the right of the 750,000 to send representatives to this House is disputed by Fianna Fáil when it comes to the formation of a Government of Ministers representing the views expressed by those people through the secrecy of the ballot box.

We shall have the rotten system of the spoils of office operating as it never operated before if we have a situation here where we have a Government with a vast majority of representatives in this House. Is it fair to the ordinary citizen to ask him to support a system which will enable a political Party to operate a system of the spoils of office for their political supporters, regardless of the merit of various other people who might be interested in the employment, the positions or the appointments in reference to which this spoils of office system might operate?

It has happened before. We have seen examples before where the Fianna Fáil Party have used that system. They have used it because they had a sufficient majority and the necessary influence to extend the spoils of office to their own political supporters. It is possible that that kind of abuse can be operated not alone by one political Party but by others too. However, when we consider a Party with a huge over-all majority we can be sure that the position will boil down to a situation where a man who wants to eat to live will be drawn into the ranks and into the grips of the Fianna Fáil Party, if they get that majority.

We had an example only the other day. I wonder, for instance, if the Fianna Fáil Party had not the majority they have at the moment, would the house of a parish priest be raided at five o'clock in the morning?

The Deputy may not discuss administration now.

I shall not refer to administration. I shall say that public feeling would be disregarded by a Government with a substantial majority who could stick out their tongues at anybody who wanted to oppose them, who wanted to have a contrary view or who wanted to argue a point with them. That is the kind of abuse which you can get where there is a substantial majority. Where a democracy is functioning fairly and properly, the likelihood of abuses is reduced to a minimum. That is the ideal system. It is the fairest system to the citizens, where no abuse would be operated so far as it can be stopped by the ordinary system of fair play which comes from fair representation, particularly in Parliament or on local bodies.

We had the spectacle of Deputy Booth coming in here, obviously with a speech prepared for him in the Fianna Fáil Headquarters, pretending to represent the views of people by whom he was elected. I think it has been a most improper thing to find a Deputy, representing a section of the people here, being used by Fianna Fáil Headquarters in order to give them the Judas kiss—and that is what it amounts to—for political purposes.

Why should the Deputy attribute that to Deputy Booth? He knows nothing about it.

I know he was very well briefed.

It is a pity the Deputy was not. He should be asked to withdraw the expression. I think it is most improper.

Explain the "Judas kiss".

Deputy Booth is entitled to make a contribution to this debate and such motives should not be attributed to him.

That is the situation we are likely to have. You will have people swallowing their own principles in order to follow a certain system.

By implication, Deputy Rooney is attributing motives to Deputy Booth that are quite improper.

I did not mention any Deputy.

The Deputy is following what he has said. I think it is most improper.

I will say that the system that will be brought about by the proposal to change the voting will encourage abuses and they are abuses which the present system did not permit. The question is: Would the Fianna Fáil Party, if they succeeded in a month's time in getting through the proposal to change the system of P.R., just stop at changing the voting system or would they encroach on and invade the rights of the people in other spheres? It is probable that they would, because they would have such a substantial majority. It is not like the system in Great Britain where Labour and Conservatives are fairly evenly balanced but, even there in Great Britain, if there is a change of two or three per cent. in the vote, it brings a colossal swing and change. But, since that system would be foreign to this country, we would not have anything like a balance, anything like evenness for and against in a political system here that would result immediately from the proposed new system.

While the situation would be settling down to normality for the next 20 years or more, possibly, if the people had patience for that time, it is only fair to assume that all kinds of abuses would be operated by the Party having the advantage given to them under the proposed new system. I cannot understand and I do not understand why the members of the Fianna Fáil Party have shown themselves to be so spineless in this matter. They have swallowed the system regardless of whether or not it is fair. Whether or not it is reasonable, they will try to get it through, whether the people like it or not.

It is the people who will put it through, surely?

That is the argument now. Deputy Loughman has just put up the argument. It is like when they talked about a hanging. A man was brought up to the gallows, the rope was put around his neck and he dropped through the trapdoor. The argument was that it was not the man who pulled the trap who hanged him but his own weight. In other words, he hanged himself.

Deputy Rooney is hanging himself.

Deputy Loughman wants to say now that it is the people themselves who will put this straitjacket on themselves but he and his Party will do their best to confuse the issue and, by confusing the issue, to take from the people the privileges they have under the present system. If the people want to change the Government, under the present system, they can do so at any time. In fact, if they get an opportunity in a general election in the near future, it is almost certain that the Government will be changed. The advantage of the present system is that the people can keep a Government or get rid of them. Under the proposed new system, they will not be able to get rid of the Government so easily, especially a Fianna Fáil Government.

The Fianna Fáil Party, very cunningly, have seen for themselves that the proposed new system if adopted by the people will give them very great advantage for the next 20 years. It will leave them in a position where the ordinary democratic system of election cannot possibly put them out of office, whether the people like it or not. In the event of that system being adopted, we can imagine a situation in which you might have the system of blackmail being operated and threats being operated in various directions, designed only for the advantage of the Fianna Fáil Party. They would be in a position to give various preferences and various financial advantage, in return, of course, for the kind of blackmail that could be expected where such advantages would be made available.

What kind of mind are these outpourings coming from? I had a higher opinion of the Deputy.

The position is—and I am glad the Minister for Education brought up the point—that these abuses have already come to light. They were already exposed.

Instance a few of them. We shall be very pleased to hear them.

No; we are not going to discuss administration. I already said that.

The Deputy is able to apply the thin brush, but, when he is asked to rub it in, he cannot do it.

That is the truth. These things were exposed several times and the public can remember quite clearly.

Administration does not arise on this motion or amendment. I have told the Deputy that before.

These arguments, made for political advantage, bring us all into disrepute. They are unsustainable.

I wanted to mention that we had a decision from the Seanad and this motion proposes that we should disregard that decision.

The decision of the Seanad is not referred to in the motion. This is a motion to put into operation a provision of the Constitution.

On a point of order, surely the whole kernel of this discussion is that the Government want to ride roughshod over the decision of the Seanad?

That is a political argument. I am only putting the argument as to order.

I am putting it as a point of order to the Chair that there is a motion down here, arising out of the decision of the Seanad and, as a matter of order——

No; we cannot discuss the decision of the Seanad.

We have been discussing it for the past three weeks.

No. The Deputy may have discussed what the Seanad decided.

Exactly—the decision of the Seanad.

No. There is a difference between the matter the Seanad decided on and the decision of the Seanad.

I should be only too happy if, for the guidance of the House, you would define the difference between the decision of the Seanad and what the Seanad decided.

The matter which the Seanad decided on is quite a different matter from the decision of the Seanad—as the decision of the Seanad.

I am sure the Seanad would be delighted to hear it.

Would it not be in order to discuss the necessity for the introduction of this motion?

It depends on whether it was the decision of the Seanad or what the Seanad decided.

The decision of the Seanad may not be discussed here as the decision of the Seanad.

I did not ask that. I asked would it be in order to discuss the necessity for the introduction of this motion. The necessity was the defeat of the Bill by the Seanad.

The motion before the House is a motion by the Taoiseach to put into operation a provision of the Constitution. That is the matter before the House and the decision of the Seanad does not arise on that, as the decision of the Seanad.

I understand that we are discussing——

The Deputy will have to get around that one.

——that it shall be deemed to have been passed. Is that not the wording?

They are the words of the Constitution. The Deputy does not want to discuss the Constitution?

No, Sir.

Again, on a point of order, surely this motion not only concerns, may I put it, what the Seanad decided, but also discusses an amendment of the Constitution. Surely the Deputy is in order in discussing the Constitution.

The portion of the Constitution that is relevant.

Yes. That is not the Constitution.

I understood from the Chair's remark that the Deputy was being—perhaps "reprimanded" would be too strong a word —but being advised not to discuss the Constitution.

Yes; not the Constitution in general.

No; the Constitution as affected by this motion.

Exactly. That is what I am trying to keep him within and Deputy O'Higgins knows it, I think.

I know what is under discussion, but, in case I am wrong in any particular, I look to the Chair for guidance.

The Deputy is not speaking.

Surely every Deputy is so entitled.

Deputy Rooney, on the motion.

I just mentioned that the decision of the Seanad is being disregarded.

You are on a sticky wicket again.

It is surprising that the Taoiseach spoke so briefly when he came to the House with this motion. Unfortunately, although this matter has been fully discussed and debated, the Taoiseach never took the Opposition to task in this House on this issue. He came in here and introduced the Bill many months ago and hardly said anything in favour of it or anything that could be debated with him. He merely stood up, spoke a few words, sat down, and then went out. Similarly, when replying to the Second Reading debate, he said very little. He came in on this occasion with the motion in order to steamroll it through with the majority he has. Again, he said very little—a couple of dozen words.

Is that not a lesson to us all?

"It is easy to say ‘yes'"—is that the lesson?

I do not consider that it is a lesson and most people in the country do not consider that it is a lesson. The point I want to make is that the Taoiseach when he comes in here can be taken to task, and any points or arguments he has to put up can be debated, but he ran out of the House every time and was not seen in the House until the end of the debate.

He is getting fitted.

Fitted, yes.

The point I want to make is that if the Taoiseach thinks he has a case for this, why does he not come in here and listen to the debate? Why did he not go up to the Seanad and listen to the debate there? Because he does not want to hear any arguments. He sees the advantage for the Fianna Fáil Party and he is determined to take that advantage, if he possibly can.

I feel that this is such an important issue that we should have got a comprehensive statement from the Taoiseach when he was introducing this motion. It is very unusual to have a measure come back to the Dáil from the Seanad and then put to this House in order to have it steamrolled through by a majority. The Taoiseach seems to have plenty to say when he goes down the country to the Party conventions, but, of course, he cannot be taken to task at these conventions. He has avoided taking part in the debate here. In fact, it is remarkable that the majority of the Government front benchers, apart from coming into the House and going out of it again, have kept away from the Bill and left it to the Opposition to have the matter fully discussed and debated.

I mentioned already that in Britain over a million people voted for the Liberals in the last election but did not get one seat. We could have the situation here where a large number of people would support a particular Party or policy and yet fail to get representation in the Dáil. TheManchester Guardian in a leading article this morning, which is quoted in the Irish Independent to-day, says:

It is hard to believe that any other electoral system could have done more to establish Irish politics on a firm constitutional basis.

On a point of order, is it in order for a succession of Fine Gael Deputies to come in here with the same brief and cuttings from theManchester Guardian?

That is not a point of order.

You used to do the same. It is only a game.

Major de Valera

It is only a game— that is a new attitude to politics.

We do not want any lectures from Deputy de Valera.

Major de Valera

That is a new outlook on proportional representation.

It was a quiet and peaceful House until Deputy de Valera came in.

I should like to take this opportunity of welcoming Deputy Vivion de Valera to the House. This is the second time I have seen him since the change of Government in 1957.

That does not arise on the motion.

I have been giving a quotation from theManchester Guardian and I have a different point to make on it from that made by other Deputies. This article, which supported the retention of proportional representation in Ireland, continued:—

Some modification of the electoral system may be required. Must this involve the overthrow of P.R.? Might not the object be achieved by substituting three member constituencies for those which at present return five or more members—or, perhaps better, by institution of one-seat constituencies using the alternative vote?

That is the system which we have at present in by-elections. We get a very fair result from the by-elections under the alternative vote system. The man who wrote this article considers it a very fair system and he is a man who is outside this country completely.

What issue of theManchester Guardian contained that article?

Today's.

Major de Valera

TheManchester Guardian had a very interesting article on proportional representation on Saturday.

That must have appeared in yesterday's issue and it was quoted today by theIrish Independent.

The article goes on:—

The pity is that, by forcing the electorate to choose between the present method and one as different and as uncongenial to many Irishmen as that used in Britain, Mr. de Valera has barred the middle road. Ireland will eventually be the loser if its parliamentarians are forced, as in Britain, into one of two Party strait jackets.

I want to point out that under the changed system of election, there would be only one large straitjacket here for 20 years, much to the disadvantage of the community at large. The rights of the citizens would obviously disappear when they would not have proper representation in Parliament and you might have a situation where the majority of the people outside the Dáil would decide to set up a Parliament outside Leinster House.

We have seen such a situation in another country where our good friend Castro and his revolutionaries decided to do away with the minority government, a government representing a minority of the citizens of that country. There was a revolution there by the majority of the people led by Fidel Castro. There were many abuses in that country. The system of the spoils of office operated there and then we had the revolution and all that followed it.

Similarly, we have seen the situation in Britain when there was a swing to one side or the other. We have seen policies completely reversed, much to the discomfort and loss of the people affected. We had on one occasion the nationalisation of the steel industry when one government got into office and immediately another government got in, it was denationalised. We have Conservatism on one occasion and Socialism on another. Those are the drastic changes which can come about under the two-Party system as opposed to the system of election under proportional representation.

We could also have a situation in which industries would be nationalised and private enterprise invaded and that policy reversed subsequently by a new Government. We could have a great deal of economic disturbance. We could have drastic changes of policy. During the 40 years since our own Government was established, we have not been subjected to these misfortunes, chiefly because our system of election prevented any drastic changes, particularly changes which might impose great hardship on one or other section of the community. We had a strong Cosgrave Government under proportional representation—a Government which functioned despite the very grave difficulties which faced them during those years. It was followed by a strong Fianna Fáil Government for approximately 16 years. We had then two inter-Party Governments. On the average, the inter-Party Governments had a longer life than the average Fianna Fáil Government. The fact is that under the proportional representation system the people have an opportunity of electing whatever Government they like. The proposed new system will not afford them the same opportunity.

In these days, one is justified in asking why the voters' attention is being diverted to electoral changes rather than directed to the very grave economic problems facing the country. It is obvious the Fianna Fáil Party have no intention of doing anything about the problems which exist. They want to take the people's minds away from them. If they succeed in getting the new system of election through, they do not care what happens to the people in general. At the moment we have a Government with a working majority of 20. Would the Fianna Fáil Government be any better off with a majority of 80 under the proposed system? Surely the Fianna Fáil Party cannot argue that it is impossible to implement an effective economic policy with a majority of 20?

Where does the Deputy get the 20?

I am working on the division lists. There is very little case to be made for taking away from the people the system which has operated so well up to this. There is no indication that the new system will be a suitable system. Our people are very patient. They are very fairminded. If they find an injustice has been done to them it is not likely they will show the same kind of patience as we see elsewhere.

This is a selfish move on the part of Fianna Fáil. The Taoiseach has talked about a multiplicity of Parties. There are only three political Parties in the House with a membership of more than four. Surely the Taoiseach cannot contend that it is harmful for divergent political opinions to be represented here, when there are only three political Parties with a membership of more than four. Obviously, he is thinking of the danger of a break-up in his own Party in which, when he is gone, one might have the Lemass group, the Aiken group, the MacEntee group and the Ryan group. That is the multiplicity of Parties against which the Taoiseach wishes to provide. This legislation is for the purpose of cementing his Party and keeping them together, whether they like it or not. He knows very well that they would not have stood together in the past, were it not for his unifying influence. Now that he has decided to leave active politics, he brings in this system, irrespective of whether or not it is good for the people, in order to maintain the Fianna Fáil Party as a unified political organisation.

It is very difficult to reconcile the Taoiseach's attitude today with his action in the past. We remember the praises he sang of our present system of election in 1937. It is the system which elected Fianna Fáil to government in eight general elections over 16 years. It is the system which sent Fianna Fáil back at every election. It was kind to him then, even though, in more recent times, it may have been unkind to him. It would, of course, be unkind to him again, if the people were given the opportunity at another general election. It is intended, however, to change the system of voting before the next general election. It is a clever move because it means that it will no longer be possible to put Fianna Fáil out, but it would have been possible to put them out had the present system been maintained.

The new system will render the votes of many people ineffective because, if they do not vote for Fianna Fáil, they may as well stay at home. They will be wasting their time just like the man I mentioned earlier who has been voting Liberal for 25 years and never yet had a Liberal representative in the House of Commons. It is unfair to create a situation wherein the opportunity a man gets of expressing his opinion on a ballot paper is rendered ineffective. A vote will be of very little use to him unless he is a supporter of Fianna Fáil because that is the Party the system favours.

The Taoiseach says he dislikes coalitions and that is the reason he has decided to bring in this new system. If we examine the record of the two coalition Governments, we find he is jealous of the achievements of those two coalition Governments. In 1948, the first coalition Government was confronted with a position of utter stagnancy. The situation was not a happy one; we had to float a loan of £10,000,000 to pay the Fianna Fáil debts which had accumulated over a period of 16 years.

The Deputy is getting away from the motion.

We had to float a loan of £10,000,000 shortly after the general election of 1948.

The Deputy would not be in order in going into Government policy too closely.

Very well.

Deputy Corry did it to a large extent.

Two hours and 50 minutes to go.

They do not want to hear about the £10,000,000 apparently. They had hoped that it was forgotten but it has not been, so when it comes to talking about coalitions, it must be remembered that the coalition had to float a loan of £10,000,000 to pay the debts left by Fianna Fáil.

Major de Valera

£10,000,000 is small when compared with the external assets which were squandered.

Do not go into millions as Deputy Corry did—and he got lost.

Major de Valera

The country lost as a result of the first coalition.

That is why the people elected a second coalition Government!

Did the Minister for Industry and Commerce lose his £100,000,000? What happened to that?

This is developing into an argument and Deputy Rooney is the only Deputy in possession.

I thought he might like a breathing space.

Those are mainly the points I wanted to make against this proposal. It has already been widely debated, but we have not heard from the other side of the House, any arguments that would convince the people that this proposal is for the good of the nation. If the nation could be convinced that the new system would give more bread, more work or better conditions for our people, and more houses, possibly Fianna Fáil would be justified in asking the people to support it, but the Fianna Fáil Party cannot tell them that it will give more work, more security or a place at home instead of a berth on the emigrant ship. Those are the arguments the people want to hear, that the new voting system will give them an improved standard of living with better pay, better conditions and more security.

That is the attitude the Fianna Fáil Party should adopt and that is what the people want to hear. If Fianna Fáil could say all that to the people, they would get their support. If they could show the people in what way a change in the voting system will improve their standard of living or make things easier for the ordinary men and women in this country, the people would be far more interested in those better conditions than in a change in their system of voting.

Every effort is being made by the Fianna Fáil Party to take from the people the system which they have been operating successfully for so long. Unfortunately, the people have only a month left now in which to decide to hold on to the system which has been so fair to them and under which only three Taosigh, Mr. Cosgrave, Deputy de Valera and Deputy Costello, functioned here as leaders of three different Governments. It is fair to say that the system has been satisfactory so far as the ordinary electors are concerned and efforts to change it do not appear to be justified.

In introducing this motion and thereby disregarding, out-of-hand, the considered judgment and decision of Seanad Éireann, the Taoiseach has, in effect, made a laughing stock of the Houses of the Oireachtas as presently constituted, and has gone a long way towards impairing the good name this country has enjoyed abroad amongst the democratic countries, for fair play, justice and honesty in its Parliamentary activities.

The whole history and background leading up to this motion must appear almost unbelievable to a stranger. We are seeking now, through this motion, to put to the people, at this most inopportune time, the question as to whether the electoral system which has been operating here since the foundation of the State should or should not be changed. We need go back only to the last general election to pinpoint how unreal this suggestion is. Quite candidly, I was concerned actively in the last general election and as a candidate, I did not hear the remotest hint from any of the Fianna Fáil candidates in my constituency, or in any other constituency, that the system of election under which we were then seeking election was wrong or unsuitable for this country.

Every Deputy sitting in the House now, every Deputy for or against the proposal, was elected under the P.R. system. There are many of us who, perhaps, would not be here if some other system of election had been in operation, and that applies to people on all sides of the House. Something which must strike us immediately is that of all the very many problems, and of all the very many points put before the people for their decision in the 1957 general election, not one tittle was there regarding the merits or the demerits of the P.R. system of election. We discussed the food subsidies; we discussed unemployment; we argued about emigration; each Party put forward their policy on Partition and on the revival of the Irish language; we discussed whether, and to what extent, we needed new school accommodation, further housing accommodation; and, to a large extent, we concentrated our energies and our powers of arguments on the merits of one-Party governmentversus multi-Party government.

All those issues were debated up and down the country at every crossroads, outside every church gate, in every hall that was hired to hold an election meeting. We had that whole wide field of discussion but none of the candidates who were then contesting the election, and are now on the Government side of the House, suggested to the people that the time was opportune for a change in the method of election. That was not an issue before the people at all and the people operated the election system as they found it, the only system they have ever known, when returning the Government Party to this House.

At the end of last year, like a bolt out of the blue, the Taoiseach announced at the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis that it was his considered view that the system of election which had returned him to office, less than two years previously, was a bad system; that the system which had returned his Party to power for 16 out of 20 years was a bad system, and that it needed changing. Nobody had suggested it up to that, but, of course, by the mysterious powers of mysticism and hypnotism the Taoiseach apparently wields over the members of his Party, straight away you had a thousand voices reechoing the master's voice: "P.R. is bad; we must rid ourselves of it." Straight away you had Deputies up and down the country convening their closest Party assistants and carrying out a process of conditioning the people for this referendum.

The question was obviously so important, taking precedence over all our other various problems that we had discussed during the last general election campaign, that it now transpired all the things which all of us argued about during that campaign were unimportant in the light of the major brainwave the Taoiseach got, prior to the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis. Immediately the political Parties and the people of the country were asked to concentrate all their thoughts and all their energies on this alleged major problem. For a while, we were to forget that we still had a very serious unemployment problem, and probably that was one of the reasons for the introduction of the proposal.

We were to forget, in particular, that the Government were elected largely on the promises they made to end the unemployment problem. They had paraded up and down the country with the slogan: "Elect Fianna Fáil and end your unemployment problem" and "Wives, get your husbands back to work." That problem was now to be brushed aside. We were to forget our housing problems and our school problems; we were to forget the economic problems that beset the nation; and we were to concentrate all our energies on considering whether or not the system of election, which had received the approval of all Parties in this House down through the years, was a correct one, and whether or not it should be dispensed with. That was so important that the Dáil had to be re-convened during a time when, in the normal way, it would be in recess for the Christmas period. It was reconvened and we had a long and full discussion here on the merits and demerits of the Bill, on its introduction and on its passage through the various Stages.

It was alleged then, of course, by the speakers on behalf of the Government Party that it was being talked out here for the sake of obstruction because the people on this side of the House did not wish it to go to the people. I do not believe that the Government spokesmen were serious in that argument, but, nevertheless, it was put forward. I think the people of the country appreciate the service that was rendered to them by the Opposition Parties in discussing this matter at such length, endeavouring to bring to bear on the subject all possible arguments, and in endeavouring to have the public enlightened before the referendum was held. At any rate, after a very full discussion here, the Bill went through because the Government Party, being a majority Party in this House, had the necessary majority, and the majority ruled. It then went to the Seanad and I think any unbiassed person will agree that the debate on the issue in the Seanad was first-class.

I think the prestige of the Seanad went up very much, in the estimation of the thinking people of this country, because of the manner in which they dealt with this Bill. When I say "dealt with", I am not speaking of the decision they ultimately made. I am speaking of the contributions, the valid and cogent arguments brought to bear on the subject by spokesmen on both sides of the Seanad. I think nobody can accuse the Seanad of not having dealt conscientiously with the Bill. Eventually, the Bill was rejected by the Seanad and I personally feel that it is regrettable that, in spite of the decision of the Seanad, the Taoiseach has seen fit—particularly at this time when he is contemplating retiring from public life after a very long career—to disregard completely the wishes of the Seanad and foist the issue on an electorate that really does not want it.

It must be the experience of all of us that the people are saying: "Why must we have all this hub-bub; why is so much time being wasted on an issue such as this when we have so many other problems confronting us?" The Taoiseach may have miscalculated the feelings of the people. He may have mistimed it in introducing the Bill originally, but I do feel he got a wonderful opportunity of a way out, without loss of face to anybody, on the Bill being rejected in the Seanad. I think he certainly would not have lost face and would have gone up in the estimation of the people, if he had then said: "Very well; the time appears to be inopportune for a decision on this matter by the people. I shall accept public opinion as voiced in the Seanad, where I could not get a majority, and I shall postpone this Bill, pending the further investigation of this matter in a cooler atmosphere, in a non-political atmosphere, by some commission or other." I personally regret that the Taoiseach did not avail of the golden opportunity which then presented itself to him.

Be that as it may, we now find ourselves faced with the whole political hurly-burly being brought to bear on a decision affecting the Constitution. To my mind any change in the Constitution of a State is a very, very important matter. I feel that any change, irrespective of what it is or by whom it is proposed, so long as it is a change in the Constitution of a State, should be debated and argued and voted on in the calmest possible atmosphere. Such changes as appear desirable but which do not appear to be urgent—where it matters not whether you take them this year or the year after—should be time so as to coincide as much as possible with a period where you have comparative political quiet and general calm in the country. It is highly undesirable that such changes should be forced on the people when very many other problems of a very grave nature are besetting them.

It is unfortunate that on this occasion the people who had the power to do so should have seen fit to ask the people to consider a constitutional change of this magnitude, a change in the system by which the members are elected to this Parliament. As I say, if other major problems were absent, the time might be opportune to ask them to consider and give their judgment on such a question but the people are not concerned with that at the moment. As we are aware, on both sides of the House, the problem confronting the ordinary man at present is one of getting a job, and of keeping it, and of raising a family on the wages paid to him. The problem besetting ordinary families is the fact that jobs cannot be found for sons and daughters and that when they come of age almost automatically they must emigrate to find employment. The problem besetting those left at home is the low standard of living for the large mass of the people.

These problems are not related to the motion before the House.

I do not propose to develop them and I am just mentioning them in passing. With problems such as those existing and foremost in the minds of the people, without attributing any reasons for the existence of these problems, I am simply suggesting that this appears to me to be a time which is most inopportune to ask the people to decide a purely constitutional issue which, to my mind, should be debated and decided in the calmest possible atmosphere, away from political dissension of any description. Of course, to make confusion more confounded, we add to these problems by deciding to hold a referendum at the same time as the Presidential election. Whoever decided that has, first of all, done a disservice to the office of President. He has, or they have, done a grave disservice to that office and a disservice to the people by expecting them to give their decision on a constitutional issue at a time when they are being cajoled and bludgeoned on purely political issues by political Parties.

That is the situation and it behoves those of us who are charged with doing so—because of the responsibility we accept when we enter public life—to make our case, even in this undesirable atmosphere. I was particularly struck during the passage of this Bill through this House and through the Seanad, up to the time of its rejection by that House, that there was unaminity on one point by all sides. It was unanimously accepted, and was not disputed, that the proposed new electoral system would be the means of ensuring that small Parties could not be represented in this House. Nobody seriously tried to refute the allegation that the smaller Parties in this House at the moment would disappear in the first election after the change, if the referendum is carried.

The case was made by the Government Party that that is a desirable thing. It is regarded as undesirable to have an independent Labour Party in this House. It is, apparently, regarded as undesirable to have a Farmers' Party here, the Clann na Talmhan Party. It is desirable, apparently to ensure that the Sinn Féin Party, who have an abstentionist policy, cannot succeed in carrying their case so far as saying: "At least we elected a man to the House and we will pursue our policy by indicating that we shall not go there."

I do not want to develop the argument which I made on the Second Stage of this Bill as to what effect that will have, particularly in relation to the people who hold extreme views, as expressed in incidents over the past few years. At any rate, the Government tune appears to be that small Parties are undesirable. We had the Taoiseach saying here, and I am quite sure he has repeated it, that small Parties were undesirable because they went out at election times and made promises which they did not intend to fulfil because they knew that on their own they could not form a Government. I think it ill-behoves any Fianna Fáil spokesman to upbraid any of the smaller Parties regarding their conduct in relation to promises made during election campaigns. If I wished to do so—but I do not wish to delay the House—I could produce a sheaf of pamphlets issued by the Fianna Fáil Party during the last general election outlining their promises, which, of course, they did not implement. It would perhaps, be particularly embarrassing for Deputy Galvin and Deputy Healy were I to produce the election literature published in our constituency in the city of Cork. I have done so previously and, with the help of God, I shall do so again in the future but in a debate of this nature I do not wish to quote them again.

It is quite clear, and the people sitting opposite know it as well as I do, that it is not a valid argument for any member of the Government Party to say that small Parties are undesirable because they make promises. That is not a valid argument. There may be other arguments why a person could hold the view that small Parties are undesirable and while I do not hold that view it is one which I am prepared to argue and also to respect. My answer is that if small Parties are undesirable surely the proper way to have that decided is by the people at each general election.

The people should not be asked to decide once and for all, as they appear to be invited to do now, whether it is desirable that smaller Parties should have representation in this House in relation to the support they get at any general election. The people should not be asked to commit themselves irretrievably to that situation, but should be allowed at each general election to decide whom they want to elect. If sufficient people see fit and proper at any general election to elect 12, 14, 16 or 20 Deputies of the Labour Party, they are entitled to do so. The Parties opposing them at that election can bring all the arguments they wish to bear on the matter and can advise the people against electing them, but surely it is fundamental to democracy that the people should be allowed to do so, if they wish.

We are being charged by speakers on the opposite side with stringing this debate out. They say: "Why not let the people decide?" Not alone am I prepared to allow the people to decide in the referendum but I am prepared to allow them to decide at each general election, under the P.R. system, whether it is desirable to have a two-party parliament or a parliament in which there are one or two major Parties and other Parties representing interests who have the support of the electors.

It is quite clear that the question of a one-Party government or a multi-Party government can be put before the people at each general election. In 1951, in 1954 and in 1957, the people were clearly asked to decide between a one-Party government represented by the Fianna Fáil Party or a multi-Party government represented by the other people who had associated with one another during the first inter-Party Government in 1948. The issue was quite clear in 1951, 1954 and 1957. On two out of those three occasions, the people decided they wanted a one-Party Government, in 1951 and in 1957. In those years, the people opted for a one-Party Government and they were entitled to get it. In 1954, the other of these three occasions, the people decided for a multi-Party Government and they got it. I do not see where that contravenes any democratic thought or practice. The people were entitled and allowed to decide on this issue in 1951, 1954, and 1957 and they should be allowed to decide also in 1960, 1970 or 1975.

It is claimed that under the proposed system of election, we will get more stable government, more responsible government, by having on one side of the House the major Government Party and one other large Party in opposition. I think it was the Tánaiste who advocated that the small Parties, the sectional interests or, as I think he called them, the pressure groups should, if they wanted their voice heard, join one or other of the major Parties, state their point of view there and endeavour to have their sectional point of view carried into the general policy of the major Party.

That is all right in theory but purely farm interests would not be quite at home with purely industrial interests. Labour interests would not regard as satisfactory a situation in which their ideals and aspirations would be discussed within a Party and carried only in so far as they could carry the strength of that Party internally. The place for the advocacy of the policy of these varied groups is here in Dáil Éireann. It would be a completely retrograde step that the facilities to discuss and advocate their policy in this House, which are now available to the Labour Party and to other Parties who endeavour to represent certain interests, should be taken away from them and that there should be substituted for this Chamber some back room in a political hall where they would endeavour to convince internally the Party bosses as to the merits of their case. I do not think any self-respecting section of our community, sectional interest, small Parties, pressure groups or whatever you like to call them, would accept or could be expected to accept that situation.

We are told that the new system will give us a better type of candidate. I doubt that. If you implement the straight vote system, the British or Stormont system, it is inevitable that the Fianna Fáil Party, for instance, being the Party with the major support in this country, would have a certain number of safe seats, approximately 30, and, similarly, the Fine Gael Party would have perhaps 20 safe seats. That could lead to wholesale abuse. In the filling of those seats, you would have open to you the abuse in relation to what could be regarded as a political reward for services rendered or services to be rendered by an individual to a political Party. It is no use closing our eyes to that. That could happen.

A safe Fianna Fáil seat could be given as a reward perhaps to a man who had rendered signal service to the country in the past, but who is now incapable of being a truly active representative on behalf of his constituents. It would be a human and understandable temptation for a political Party to say: "We shall give this safe seat to this poor fellow at the end of his days as a reward for what he has done." I do not think that the people of that constituency should be visited with such a disadvantage. Nor do I think that they would feel themselves that they were adequately represented; they would feel it was a complete abuse of the electoral system.

You can also have the situation where there is no such agreement, where the seat will not be regarded as an endowment to some man at the end of his days. You can understand the pulling, dragging and skull-duggery there will be within that political Party, which has in fact the power to grant a seat in this House to an individual. It could easily happen that 50 or more delegates of that Party would have the granting of a seat here to a particular individual. So long as that candidate was produced at the election, the people supporting the major Party would have no option but to put him in. The only other course open to them would be to vote contrary to their consciences and political thought. I do not think any of us would wish to see such a state of affairs existing here. I am sure many Fianna Fáil Deputies who have spoken on this matter up and down the country spoke with their tongues in their cheeks.

Speaking against the present electoral system, Deputy Booth made the point that where, for instance a Fine Gael candidate was elected on the votes of a Labour candidate on the third or fourth count, he was a peculiar type of candidate. He could not be three-quarters Fine Gael and a quarter Labour. Under the proposed allegedly straight system a Fianna Fáil candidate who gets the highest number of votes in a constituency contested also by Fine Gael, Labour, Farmers and Clann na Poblachta is elected, even though he gets only a minority of the total votes cast. He would then have to be some kind of a piebald Deputy, worse than Deputy Booth's man who is three-quarters Fine Gael and a quarter Labour. This man would have to be one-third Fianna Fáil and one-sixth each Fine Gael, Labour, Farmers and Clann na Poblachta because he would be the only representative the entire electorate in that constituency would have. I do not think anybody is competent to speak for all shades of political thought in any constituency.

You could have the situation of a Fine Gael candidate being elected as the sole representative in his constituency. He has to speak on behalf of those supporting Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Farmers. It is too much to expect that the Fianna Fáil constituent should be able to go along to a Fine Gael Deputy and endeavour to get him to put down a question in the House which would embarrass a Fine Gael Minister. Does anybody in his same senses think that would happen? Does anybody think that I could go along to Deputy Healy in Cork—I am taking Deputy Healy because as the sitting Deputy he represents me as one of his constituents—

The Deputy is very lucky.

Could anybody expect Deputy Healy to pursue a Labour or trade union matter raised by me which would embarrass his Minister? I do not think so. I do not think Deputy Healy would be dishonest in refusing to do that for me. The whole situation would probably be an embarrassment to him. The situation where you have three, four or five Deputies from the one constituency representing various interests but, by and large, representing the whole constituency and anxious to meet the wishes of the people generally and to press forward the welfare and advancement of the constituency as a whole, is a much more desirable situation.

I must say that the Taoiseach has not explained, to my satisfaction at any rate, the reason for the change of mind that has come over him over the years. He has not explained why he is now saying to the country and why he has now apparently convinced his own Party, outwardly at any event, that P.R. is bad, when he was saying in 1937 that the system we had we knew, that the people knew it and that it had worked well. At the time of the passing of the 1937 Constitution he expressed the opinion that the P.R. system gave fair representation and that it succeeded better than any other system we knew or had read about. Those were very straight and strong words. He has not explained to this House or to the people what happened since that time—outside of the fact that he was put out of government in 1948 and 1954—to make that P.R. system, which returned him to office on so many occasions, such an undesirable thing now. If he does not make that case strongly and quickly, he can look to his laurels when it comes to the referendum. My personal opinion is that in this issue the Taoiseach has bitten off more than he can chew, probably at the behest of some of the colleagues he is leaving behind him to carry on in a Fianna Fáil Government. First of all, they underestimated the intelligence of the people. They underestimated the energy of the Opposition and, all in all, I think they have made a major blunder which they will pay for on the day of the referendum. I am thoroughly convinced that with the Opposition Parties putting the case before the electorate and with thinking people generally being so convinced of the merits of the case being made by Opposition speakers, there is no doubt that, irrespective of the confusion that may be created by having the Presidential Election on the same day as the referendum, this will ultimately turn out to be a boomerang for the Fianna Fáil Party. Instead of being a blessing, it will be a boomerang for them; and for very many days to come they will regret their decision to force this on the people.

The Taoiseach's proposal that the Bill be deemed to have been passed has been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition. Deputy Costello's amendment is reasonable and should be accepted by the Government. It asks that further consideration be given to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill which is aimed at the proportional representation system, a system which has operated here for so many years.

We are all well aware of the discussion in this House when this proposal was brought in here out of the blue, unexpectedly, without any recommendation from anybody except the Taoiseach. It seemed to me and to everybody on this side of the House that the Taoiseach evidently saw an opportunity of doing something for Fianna Fáil before he left that Party. The proposal he put before the House at that time was the abolition of P.R. The system of P.R. was first recommended in 1912 by the then President of Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith. He described that system as most suitable for the Irish people. After the fight for freedom, when the first Government was formed, P.R. was put into the Constitution by Arthur Griffith and those associated with him in the first Government of this State. P.R. was the system of election considered most suitable.

After a number of years, the Taoiseach and his Party decided to come into this Dáil and not to disregard it, as Sinn Féin did at that time and as Sinn Féin are doing today. He came into this House in 1927. He was elected under that system and I think he was re-elected once or twice afterwards. In 1937, the Taoiseach decided that a new Constitution for this country was needed. He put a Constitution before the people and in doing so he described P.R. as the fairest method of election. That method of election has continued right up to the present time.

It is rather strange, after 37 years of trial, that P.R. has suddenly been declared a bad system for the Irish people. It has been declared a bad system because it is a system which gives the various sections of the people the right to express, through the ballot box, their views on Government policy. That Government policy will come under trial at least once in every five years, but, for various reasons, it has come under trial much oftener.

It is rather strange that the Taoiseach should ignore the views of those people who have given very sound reasons as to why P.R. should not be abolished. We are well aware that Fianna Fáil have an over-all majority in this House. The proposal had to go through because of that majority. We know the arguments that were made for and against. I think they made interesting reading to the people of the country.

We know all the arguments for and against the measure, as made in the Seanad. The debate there, too, was very interesting. It gave our people to understand that in our Seanad we have people of independent thought, people who are prepared to give a lead, and to give of their talents and their judgment in relation to what is best in the national interest. Having done that and the Bill having been rejected in the Seanad, it has come before this House again. As I have already said, the proposal which comes from the Taoiseach is that the Bill should be passed. To that proposal there is an amendment by Deputy J.A. Costello that the Bill be deferred for further consideration. That is a reasonable request. It is hard to understand the hurry in trying to push the measure through. It will go through, no doubt, but we on the Opposition benches feel that whether or not we are delaying the House, we are fulfilling a duty to the people who sent us here by debating the matter fully.

After 40 years of trial, the P.R. system of election is now being challenged. It will be for the people to decide. Under the present system we can have in any three-seat constituency, a Fianna Fáil T.D., a Fine Gael T.D. and perhaps a Labour or an Independent T.D. In that way, you have the largest Party, the second largest Party and the third, each represented. I do not know what line or argument one could put forward as to why that should not be so. We are told that the different sections of the people should always come together in the national interest. It can truly be said that when the fight for freedom took place in 1916, Pádraig Pearse, Tom Clarke and all the others associated with them did not ask any one section of the people to join the fight for freedom in which they laid down their lives.

I think, too, a grave mistake is being made if we introduce the proposed system which will represent a policy controlled by one Party. We cannot hope to have unity, particularly in elements—Labour, for instance. Is no weapon to be left in their hands except the strike weapon? Is the Parliamentary Question, which is considered the Constitutional way of putting one's point of view before the people, to be disregarded as it will be disregarded if Labour does not get representation in this House?

Another matter, too, which has of late been recognised is that the farmers are a very important section of our people who play a major part in the economic life of the country. Does the proposed new system mean that if they want to come into this Parliament, they must go to a political club, take out a membership card and hope to get selected by the Party at election time and then come forward to represent the farmers? If the farmers of Ireland and the working people of Ireland decide they want to send forward a candidate from among their own people, affiliated to their own union, whether he be a representative of the farmers or of the working people, they are entitled to say that he is the man they want to put forward at the election.

Under the proposal now before the House, it is intended, instead of having the multiple-seat constituency with the transferable vote, to have a single-seat constituency with a non-transferable vote. That means that in, say, a four-seat constituency—I represent such a constituency—if Fianna Fáil can get in respect of each of these four seats 40 per cent. of the votes, then they get all the seats. On the other hand, if Fine Gael get 35 per cent. and Labour 25 per cent., they get no representation. There you have clearly a picture where 40 per cent. of the voters in an election decide that their candidate represents that constituency and the 60 per cent. who have not decided to give them their No. 1 vote get no representation. To my mind, that is a very undemocratic system. It is a very grave situation and can result in disaster.

If an attempt is made to keep down people who may have grievances or to get them to yield to a political power, no matter how great, the people will rebel against it.

The British were here for 700 years and at the end of that time the people decided to get the freedom of the country and control of State institutions. It is those parliamentary institutions, which were bought so dearly and at such great sacrifice in 1916 to 1921 that are now being threatened.

In the last revision of constituencies, in 1947, Fianna Fáil decided that there should be nine five-seat constituencies, 22 three-seat constituencies and nine four-seat constituencies. In 1947, having been in power for years, Fianna Fáil felt fairly safe but wanted to make themselves safer. In 1947, they gave the people an opportunity to decide that 51 per cent of the votes would entitle a Party to a majority of seats. They felt that they would get 51 per cent of the votes in most of the three-seat constituencies, which would give them two out of every three seats. It had worked pretty well for them in the past, but it did not work so well from 1947, for, in 1948, the Parties who formed the inter-Party Government gained substantially in some of the three-seat constituencies and those Parties, who had been 16 years in the wilderness, so to speak, felt it was time to come together, find out how far they could agree on a common policy and put it into operation. We know how well they succeeded for three years. We know, and the farmers know, that the prices of cattle soared from year to year because the Minister for Agriculture of the inter-Party Government, Deputy Dillon, decided that civil servants would not go to England to seek a market for our cattle but that he himself would go.

That is a very broad question, is it not?

All the other Ministers of State, also, did very valuable work for the economy of the country in their three years of office. In a three-seat constituency, a Party which gets 51 per cent of the votes will get two seats and another Party will get one seat. That is a fair test. Under the proposal now before the people, the single seat constituency with the non-transferable vote, the Fianna Fáil Party will have to get only 40 per cent of the votes to get that seat. With 40 per cent of the votes, they can win the four seats in Limerick. There is no reason why any Party should claim the sole right to represent the people in any constituency. I have mentioned Limerick because I have tried to judge the effects of this proposal there. I have a good idea as to how the constituencies will be divided. Limerick city comprises residential areas, working class areas and business areas. There is no clear-cut division between working class and residential areas. In each part of the city, there are residential areas and working class schemes. It is obvious that it would be very difficult for any Party which is not highly organised and prepared to spend a great deal of money to succeed in that area.

We know that appeals have been sent out already for a huge amount of money. The Fine Gael Party have not got that money. As everybody in political life knows, we have to spend a certain amount of money at every election. We have not got the big money that will swing an election. I do not think it is right or fair or just that any Party should try to swing an election. The people should be given a fair system of government and all sections should be afforded an opportunity of representation in Parliament. That is the only way to preserve democracy. We should be doing a very bad day's work, whether in government or in opposition, if we did not protest against anything that would be undemocratic.

Can any Deputy imagine a situation in which there would be, say, 100 Government Deputies and 20 or 30 Deputies in opposition? In that situation, the only function the Opposition could perform would be to obstruct. Can it be expected that people would enter the Dáil as an Opposition to a Government so entrenched in power and would spend weeks studying legislation and considering social problems, in the knowledge that they were completely ineffective? It is like a dog barking up a tree at a cat. That is the only comparison I can make of the situation.

The people have many ways of judging what they should do in this coming referendum but I fear that some of them rely more on personalities than on political argument or common sense. Many people have been asking what all this is about and what is the necessity for the change. No matter what appears in the newspapers or spoken off political platforms it is no use. People are very disturbed to-day. They are disturbed because there is a revolutionary change in industry, a revolution in machinery which has made many people redundant. Unemployment has now hit many homes. That is a tragic happening and has led to comment from the Bishop of Cork, Most Rev. Dr. Lucey, who has no interest in politics but who has an interest in the people. The fact that young people have to leave their homes and seek a living in foreign lands is, perhaps, not the worst of our tragedies.

The Deputy really ought to pass from that. It does not arise on this motion.

I accept your ruling, Sir. The Bill has been sent back to this House by the Seanad which rejected it by a two to one majority.

What does the Deputy say?

If we take away the eleven people put into the Seanad by the Taoiseach, the 30 people who voted against the Bill and the 19 people who voted for it, it is nearly a two-thirds majority. I am not going to dwell on that matter other than to say that there was a two to one majority against the proposed change in the Seanad. I am sorry if, in saying that, I am offending somebody on the opposite benches but I am sometimes very offended myself when I hear people talk on that side of the House. However, I never interrupt and I think we would be doing a service to the Ceann Comhairle and to the House if we could bear with others.

I should like to draw the attention of the House to the published opinion of six professors representing the two Dublin Universities in the Seanad. They have issued a manifesto in which they state that in their opinion the people should hold on to proportional representation. We all agree that the universities are places of learning where professional people, teachers, doctors and lawyers—receive the education necessary to qualify them for their professions. The minds of those people are not clouded by any political issues. They are elected by the graduates of the Universities who know them and their work and I think that their opinion is well worth considering. When we get men such as these coming forward and giving a considered opinion we should hesitate and ask ourselves whether it would be wise to rush such a measure as this before the people.

If we want to get a picture of the multiple-seat constituency as against the single seat constituency we have only to look at the situation in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland there are 52 seats to which members are elected by the single non-transferable vote. In the last election the position was so favourable to the Government Party that 22 members were returned unopposed. There was no use opposing them. In the other seats there was opposition but with practically no effect. I think there are about 12 members in opposition in the Northern Parliament. They are in the position of barking up a tree. It does not matter what they say. The Party with the power and the money is going to rule and that is the Party that is ruling in Northern Ireland.

The same would happen in Northern Ireland under proportional representation.

It is a wonder then that they do not have proportional representation in the North. I believe that if you had three or four-seat constituencies in Northern Ireland with the transferable vote you would have much larger representation for minorities. That is something that should be suggested by those who have the interest of the smaller Parties at heart.

The Taoiseach was very fond of talking about Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry and of pointing out how they had been gerrymandered. Now he has suddenly stopped talking about them. Why, after all his condemnation of the Unionist Party for their gerrymandering of these seats, has he given up talking about it for the last 12 months? There is a good reason; he now wants to gerrymander the seats in the Twenty Six Counties.

Under the new system it is doubtful if candidates will be selected by their own areas. A number of them will be selected by the Party bosses. They will probably live here in Dublin. They will be men of vision, if you like—big men in the economic life of the country. They will not be bothered going down the country to talk to the farmer, the labourer and the shopkeeper. They will stay in Dublin. When they have something to say, we shall hear them on the radio. The system which sends up the plain man to parliament is a good system and I cannot see any reason why we should drop the system which has served us so well for so long and which has given such very fair results.

The Taoiseach has given us some calculations and I shall use his own figures. He has quoted them several times: 40 per cent for one Party, 35 per cent for another Party, and 25 per cent for a third Party. That does not, of course, give fair representation. There is, too, the danger that the Government elected under such a system may at some stage decide that local authorities are getting too troublesome. Local authorities are elected under proportional representation. Members of local authorities may at times be troublesome. They have to listen to people's grievances. There may be nothing in these grievances, but they must make representations to whatever Minister is involved. In a way that is a safety valve because it at least provides the people with a means of airing their grievances.

The Taoiseach says now that P.R. is a bad system. If a strong Government are returned under the proposed new system, they will be strong in office. Likewise, they will be strong in the local authorities. It is doubtful if one will get the type of candidate one would like to see offering for local authorities. It is doubtful if the businessmen or the big farmer will bother has head coming along to Dáil Eireann. He may not like to come in under a political banner. He will be debarred from coming in as an Independent. That is one of the dangers I see in this proposed new system.

One of the things which brought me into public life was the appalling housing conditions in Limerick city. As a member of the Corporation, I felt I could help the manager and the officials to solve the problem. After 15 years in the Corporation, I feel I have achieved something worth-while. But most people do not look at things in that way. That is why I think this measure carries in it very grave dangers. In the local authority now, you meet the different representatives and there is to a certain extent a harmonising of interests. It will be a major tragedy if the Government, having got this measure through, decide to apply the same system to local authorities. In Northern Ireland, there is a definite cleavage between the Unionists and the Nationalists. At times, it reaches extremes. One reads in the Press of a Nationalist ex-soldier who fought right through the war looking for a house and a Unionist supporter, who never spent a day in the Army, gets the house. That happens, and it is to be deplored, but, if it happens in Northern Ireland between the Nationalists and the Unionists, there is every reason to suppose that it will happen in the Twenty-Six Counties under the new system.

Too much stress has been laid on multiplicity of Parties. We have not a multiplicity of Parties at the moment. We have Fianna Fáil with 78 seats; Fine Gael with 40 seats; Labour with 12; and Farmers with 4. That represents four Parties. There are a number of Independents. I cannot understand how anyone can argue that P.R. leads to a multiplicity of Parties. The two major Parties have in turn held office. Fianna Fáil policy has been tested; Fine Gael policy has been tested. Inter-Party Government has been tested. The present system of election should be allowed to continue. We come here to work for those who send us here. If the people are not satisfied with the Government, they have a constitutional right to change. Let us not have here a Government with a huge majority whipped, as it will be whipped, to serve the Party first and the people in a secondary capacity.

The issues are extremely grave. It is all very right and proper to have personalities in a Presidential election. It is tragic to introduce personalities into a proposed change in the electoral system. The Government would be wise to accept the amendment in the name of Deputy Costello. We should put the issue to the country as a separate issue. As we are to have a Presidential election, let us have a Presidential election and let it be a Presidential election, and let the people vote 1, 2, 3 as they like, but then let us have a general election. Let the then Government state that they want this referendum, that they want the electoral system changed and let the Deputies elected at the general election be the people who will decide for and against the referendum. In the last general election, the people were not told about the proposed change. They were entitled to be told. That is the only safe and democratic way in which one can get a decision. If that were done by the various Parties which were elected, nobody would be dissatisfied. In the coming referendum, the people are asked to vote "Yes" or "No" and they have not got it into their heads yet whether it should be "yes" or "No". At a circus a clown comes out to keep the children quiet and he says: "Yes and no; yes and no" and suddenly he says: "No and yes." At the moment the people are confused and we will not get what is called a genuine reflection of what is in their minds.

Another matter I should like to refer to is that it is strange that after all we said against the British we are now adopting the British system of election, the single seat with the non-transferable vote. We are more or less condemning the system which Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and all those associated with the early days of our parliamentary life and even the Taoiseach himself in 1937, praised and said was far fairer. Now we suddenly say we want the British system. Let us judge the British system by what is happening in Northern Ireland. If we do that, we shall get the truth. Let us not learn by trial and error.

There is no reason, to my mind, why the Government should not pay heed to the many interested people who have spoken on this very important matter. I feel that what will happen if this referendum is passed is that an organised Party will be geared up and will control the whole country. I feel that is what will happen, but only for a time. The Government would be foolish if they do not say to the Opposition that they are prepared to sit down and talk it over. That is what should be done, if we are as democratic as we are supposed to be.

I have spoken at great length and I did not intend to speak at all, but I do not speak very often and I felt that I should give my views to the best of my ability in the interests of the people I represent. It is not from any anxiety to stay in public life that I make the remarks I have made. I feel that our great men of 1916 and 1921, although they are now in different camps, have taken different sides, and have gone before the country in various ways and put policies before the people should not in the end see our people leaving the country, and emigration and unemployment figures soaring. That is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that after rearing young people and spending money to educate them, they should be given as a gift to other countries. Their services are paid for as we know, but their services are a benefit to the countries to which they emigrate. That is where I see the tragedy. With mechanisation of farms——

The Deputy is now travelling far from the motion before the House.

I do not wish to say anything further but, in conclusion, may I say to the Taoiseach and the Government Party that they should seriously consider the amendment tabled by Deputy J.A. Costello to refer back this Bill for further consideration?

I am one of those Deputies who sat rather frequently and patiently on these benches during the discussion on this measure for several months past. There are a number of others like me who did not intervene. We were anxious to hear from the Opposition what exactly was the case they had to make as to why they were afraid to let the people decide an issue such as this. I have heard different speakers, but I cannot say I have heard different speeches. I have heard the same speech from different Deputies, day in and day out, all that time, but I did not hear, in any of those speeches, anyone make a case other than that which would be made by frightened people.

Fine Gael are frightened—not to-day or yesterday but for a long time—of the Irish people. When the Labour Party joined the Coalition, they became frightened as well and so did all the other Parties that formed the Coalition. The result of it all is, of course, that they have lost confidence in the Irish people. They tell us every day in their speeches that the Irish people are not capable of judging— that they are not capable of deciding this issue. A moment ago, Deputy Carew said: "Why not have a general election and let the people make up their minds?" This is a general election. The people are asked to come to the booths, not to decide on candidates, but to decide a simple issue, whether or not they are prepared to change the system whereby Dáil representatives are elected at the moment. I can form only one conclusion as a result of all the speeches I have heard, that is—and it is not anything new to me—that Fine Gael are completely out of touch with the people of rural Ireland. They have not the slightest idea of the amount of intelligence which the people in rural Ireland have and, of course, the intelligence which people in cities and large towns have. They seem to have no confidence in those people or in their intelligence. I am quite a long time in this House and I have always had one belief, and one lesson driven home to me, and that is that on the edge of a bog in rural Ireland you will find an intelligent individual, a person who can discuss politics with you as intelligently as most of the Deputies on the opposite side of this House who have been speaking against this motion.

I heard Deputy Carew a moment ago speak about Fianna Fáil coming into this House. I also heard a lot of talk during the debate about dictatorship. I am one of those who came into this House 32 years ago. Why did I come in? I came in because the then Government were putting through a Flogging Bill. That was worse than any dictatorship in this country, and we had a number of issues such as that being put across by Fine Gael because they wanted to have a dictatorship. We all remember that there was one Party in this country—and the people of the country know it—that could put a foot down on behalf of dictatorship. That was the Blueshirt Movement and that is why Fine Gael are frightened ever since.

If Fine Gael, the largest Party on the Opposition side, want to build themselves up and again occupy the Government benches let them put a policy before the people that suits the people. Let them not talk above the people's heads. Let them be sensible in what they say. All down through the years they have carried on with the old type of propaganda that they used when they were in complete control in the early stages, when they had very little opposition. We had talk of small Parties disappearing and, during my time in the House, I have seen a lot of Parties disappear. I have seen the Labour Party, as have many young Deputies who came into the House a few years ago, as a strong Party. They joined Fine Gael in Government with, I think, about 21 members but they did not return in the next election with 21 members. They ought to waken up and realise the reason for that. The people they represent are not the type of people who are prepared to tie themselves on to Fine Gael, because Fine Gael policy has always been most destructive and never helpful, as far as I can remember.

We should recall the speeches made when the present Constitution was before this House. The speeches made at that time were exactly the same type of speeches as those made to-day. The Opposition were afraid to let the Constitution go before the people and have them decide whether they wanted to change it and adopt the new one. They told the people that Fianna Fáil would be dictators if that Constitution were allowed to pass but what has happened since? The very people who said that we were establishing a dictatorship swallowed the Constitution afterwards, and went all over the world making speeches that we had the best Constitution in the world.

Why are the speakers on the opposite side afraid to let the people decide this issue? Somebody said a moment ago that the Seanad held up the Bill and then threw it back, but the Seanad has never had the experience of facing the electorate in this country and, to my mind, the Seanad should have been terribly slow to reject this Bill.

I think the Deputy had better pass from that.

Somebody referred to the Seanad a moment ago but I do not think the effect the Seanad had on this issue has been taken very seriously throughout the country. As I said before, some of the Fine Gael speakers should tell us why they are not prepared to let the people decide this issue for themselves. When this debate started a long time ago I formed the conclusion that there were a number of Deputies on the opposite side who felt very shaky about their own position in their constituencies. Having made inquiries I have now come to the conclusion that, whether it is a question of P.R. or anything else, their position is still shaky. When discussing this matter I think that Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy O'Higgins can really shake hands to the Dáil, in so far as P.R. or the single-member constituency are concerned, and say goodbye now.

I intervened in the debate only with the intention of asking those people across the House to tell us the reason why they are afraid to let the people decide this issue. Do they think the people are so grossly ignorant that they are incapable of making a proper decision? If not, for what other reason have they opposed this? Is it for the sake of politics?

I shall have other points to dwell on but, before going further, I have to draw particular attention to the contribution of Deputy Killilea. We all understand that Deputy Killilea came in to vote against the Flogging Bill but we remember afterwards when he voted for another. He came in to vote for the Constitution in 1937. He followed the Taoiseach in voting for a new British King to represent us. I am afraid that in discussing what is before the House red herrings are being drawn across the issue by Deputy Killilea, which tend to deceive the people in a more extraordinary manner than anything else that can be said here. I submit that it is late in the day to discuss the Flogging Bill.

You would know nothing about that anyway.

Unfortunately, Deputy Killilea has drawn particular attention to the fact that small Parties, like the Labour Party, lost support by voting for and supporting an inter-Party Government. Of course, Deputy Killilea conveniently forgets that the Labour Party unfortunately also lost some of the seats they had here when they supported the other large Party, Fianna Fáil. We know that the history of this small State is such that any small Party is always handicapped by supporting any of the two large Parties, and we suffered more in the Labour Party by having supported Fianna Fáil—even under proportional representation—between 1932 and 1948 than we ever did in any instance since 1948 onwards.

You did not support Fianna Fáil during all those years.

Apparently Deputy Killilea is terribly worried that a small Party like the Labour Party should have lost votes during the last ten years, but he has proudly boasted that he is a member of this House for 32 years, and he never worried in 1933, in 1938 nor in 1943 when his Party, led by the Taoiseach, jumped the country under P.R., even though they held a majority, and demanded another quick election at the expense of the Labour Party. It is a bit late in the day to tell us they are mourning the fate of small Parties.

We were not afraid to face the people.

I shall face the people at any time. I should like to know why the back benchers of Fianna Fáil who are like myself, a back bencher of the Labour Party, are not going out and speaking at the church gates on this issue? In a general election, or a local election, they do so but now they are depending on a little, small black book to give the answers to questions they may be asked.

There is plenty of time yet.

And they have decided in relation to the forthcoming referendum that the wisest course for them to take to try to get the support of the people in rural Ireland is by not addressing them in that way.

Not at all. You will see them.

They are depending on some of their Ministers. I intend to draw particular attention to some of the statements made by Ministers on behalf of the back benchers of Fianna Fáil. Unfortunately during the past three weeks, circumstances placed me in the position of not being able to attend here, but at least I was able, through the Dáil debates, to study the statements of some of the members here. What struck me forcibly was the approach of four members and I must say that the approach of each and every one of them, as against the other three out of the four, was so amazing and contradictory that I think it is essential to draw attention to it.

The first one could be termed as putting up the case of the Prussian junta. The second, from the way he put forward his point of view, would remind one of a professor of philosophy, theology, and economic science, all wrapped up in one. The third, to me at any rate, would undoubtedly make an excellent public relations officer for a government and of course the fourth would be what is termed down the country a general handyman, the man who does all the little jobs the boss does not want to do himself. I did not think that I would have to add another to the four. The members of the Government Party, and particularly the Taoiseach who is responsible for this motion, have made it perfectly clear that the coalition of Parties is a deadly thing. The coming together of various Parties to form a Government, whether we call it inter-Party or coalition, is ruination for the country. When the Taoiseach says that every one of his Party will say it

The extraordinary thing in relation to the views of these four members I have mentioned is that apparently there is the most extraordinary combination of different individual views to the formation of a coalition within one Party ever heard of from speakers of different Parties in opposition. In relation to the Fianna Fáil view that P.R. has failed, apparently their view is that a coalition of individuals is all right when the individuals are in one Party. They may differ completely, as they have in the views expressed here, but the fact that they are under one roof, in the one Party, means they are then part of a homogeneous mass. Let us examine the views expressed by these members whom I have mentioned.

First of all, there is the Minister for External Affairs, or, as an old man down the country termed him lately, with no disrespect intended, the "Minister for Everything." In the case which the Minister made in favour of abolishing P.R. as a system of election to this Assembly, he made it perfectly clear throughout that what he wants is a system whereby there will be two Parties and only two in this Chamber. That would be grand for this country, of course, and everything would look lovely then. He wants no more than two Parties. It is a good job that Deputy Killilea did not draw attention to the fact that in 1927, apparently when he came in, Fianna Fáil were not the second Party——

They were.

They were not the second Party in the Chamber. There was the Labour Party and there were other small Parties as well. But the Minister for External Affairs says: "Nothing doing. There can be only two Parties," if he can have his way— a Government Party and an Opposition. Why then did the Fianna Fáil Party not realise in 1927 the utter necessity for coming in as part of one main Opposition Party? I say they were right to come in independent of any other Party but I believe that other Parties have the same right of being independent of what may be termed the main Opposition Party. The Minister for External Affairs knows, and I am sure Deputy Killilea knows it too, coming from a rural area, just as I do, that no matter what system there is, no Government will ever prevent people in rural Ireland from returning members of small Parties. Perhaps they will be returned in smaller numbers but they will be here, even if there are only one or two of them instead of half a dozen, or three or four instead of a dozen. One thing which the Minister for External Affairs will never succeed in doing is having just one Party facing him and his Party across the House.

He is worried about another point and, in fairness, his colleague, the Minister for Education, seems to be worried about it, too. Over the years, we did not dare to expect an answer from the Minister for External Affairs in matters relating to his Party, but he insists on getting an answer, as he stated in the Dáil Debates, from the Labour Party. He is not here now but perhaps his colleague, or the Chief Whip of the Party, may convey to him my answer regarding what the Labour Party will do in connection with a motion passed by our annual conference a few years ago. I shall give the answer and I have no hesitation in doing so. The Labour Party as a democratic Party have always accepted the decisions of our Party conference. Unless any decision arrived at by the annual conference is altered by a further annual conference of the full Party, we are bound to accept decisions already passed. I hope the Minister will be told that. As a democratic Party, we, as the small Parliamentary group of the Labour Party, never go contrary to decisions of the conference, and please God, we never shall.

The second member I mentioned, and who drifted off at a tangent to the Minister for External Affairs, was none other than Deputy de Valera. His point was, and it is very interesting, that a Government are, or should be, elected by the popular vote. I am entitled to ask what really is the popular vote. Let us look at the rural areas with which we are all conversant. In Tipperary, there could be one member elected in the constituency which Deputy Loughman now represents. If one member, should it be a Labour man, be elected with only 25 per cent. of the votes, would that be popular?

It could not happen.

I am sorry to have to use the words but it seems to me extraordinary political ignorance for a Deputy to say it could not happen.

A hundred to one.

I have proof it could happen. Under the proposed system in an area embracing a population of between 20,000 and 30,000 of a population, which includes children under 21, the number of people entitled to vote will vary between 8,000 and 10,000.

The figures are wrong.

Take it as a maximum of 10,000 people. If there are three or four candidates, 2,500 people voting for one candidate—and it is important to remember that the Minister for Lands said recently down in Mallow that while only one candidate can be elected, any number of candidates can stand——

Would the Deputy mind——

I am minding nothing. I shall quote where it suits and give the Deputy his answer. If there are four candidates standing in a constituency with a maximum voting register of 10,000, if one candidate can get 2,500 votes, although the other three between them can get 7,500, they cannot beat him. Now is Deputy Loughman satisfied? Would he say the people in his constituency would be satisfied if a Labour Deputy was elected on a quarter of the vote ? Would he say that would be a popular vote? I say it would be anything but popular to see three-quarters of the people of that constituency disfranchised and one quarter of the population enjoying the benefit of having their candidate elected for a period of five years.

Deputy Major de Valera again concentrated on what he termed the two blocs. In this he is on the same ground as the Minister for External Affairs: "We want a Government and one main opposition Party," and we are told that is going to give the benefits for which the people are longing. Let me skip No. 3 and come to No. 4. No. 4 was the view expressed by Deputy Corry. I know Deputy Corry as well as anyone and I regard him personally as a friend of mine. I am proud to say he is a Corkman like myself. However, I am sorry that Deputy Corry apparently is as bewildered in relation to the operation of P.R. as——

As the Deputy.

As Deputy Loughman is Deputy Corry told us here that to his own personal knowledge a man walked into this Assembly having being elected by one vote. That could happen, of course, but in the case Deputy Corry mentioned the man who walked in was in an area where there were six candidates. According to Deputy Corry's story, one elector, in his wisdom or otherwise, marked his paper right down to No. 6 and decided to give this man No. 6. Yet Deputy Corry tried to convince everyone here, as Deputy Loughman probably would, that the No. 6 vote got him into this chamber. It is an absolute impossibility that the last number could give him one vote over another candidate because——

There must have been seven candidates.

Anything to get out of a hole helps. Apparently this man, struggling to get that No. 6 vote, was running neck and neck with some other man and one vote would decide it. But if the No. 6 was marked for this man surely a higher number, being nearer to No. 1, must have been marked on a paper for the other candidate? What happened him? Deputy Corry forgot. I do not blame him for not going to the church gates speaking about P.R.

Let me come to the third person who put up such an extraordinary performance to justify the abolition of our present system and the introduction of the straight vote system. When I hear it termed the straight vote system it reminds me of the Mallow Road, the most crooked road in the country. Deputy Booth was not to be outdone by any of his colleagues and he is one unit in the homogeneous mass. In fairness to Deputy Booth— what I did not do in relation to the other speakers—I think it is essential that I should quote what he said. He is speaking of the importance or otherwise of public opinion.

At column 1620, volume 174 of the Dáil Debates of the 5th May, 1959 Deputy Booth is reported as saying:

"We do not say that it was in deference to public opinion that we took this action because the average member of the public has far too many things on his mind for him to worry about the niceties of an electoral system."

That in itself is rather interesting because many members of the Government Party have been telling us for the last six months that it is in response to the demands of the people that this opportunity is being given to them. Last summer the Taoiseach started the ball rolling by telling us that the people were clamouring for it. He went so far as to say that in his journeyings around the country in 1948 after the election, everywhere he went the people were beseeching him to have P.R. wiped out. Yet Deputy Booth makes it perfectly clear that it is not being done in deference to public opinion but because the Party, led by the Taoiseach, have decided, irrespective of whether it may suit public opinion or not, to try to put this case across.

Speaking at column 1626 of the same volume Deputy Booth makes a most extraordinary statement:—

The powerlessness of the present Opposition in Northern Ireland—

—I would say the six north eastern counties. I am not trying to "pull a fast one" on him, but that is how we understand the position—

is purely because there are not sufficient voters to give them more power. That is the beginning and the end of it.

So that is the position? We have been fooling ourselves all the time? If Deputy Booth says that is the beginning and the end of it, is it not time that the Minister for External Affairs changed his line of approach? Over the weekend the Minister was guest at a celebration which brought together a number of the men of other years and at which tribute was paid to the part they played in obtaining our freedom. At that celebration the Minister stated that one Unionist vote in the Six Counties was equivalent to two, and sometimes three, Nationalist votes. Is the Minister right? Deputy Booth says he is not.

Deputy Booth said more than the Deputy is quoting.

Deputy Loughman is becoming so uneasy that he should leave. Deputy Booth is not being misquoted. I have never dishonoured my principles by misquoting anyone. If Deputy Loughman wants to study the remarks, I have given the reference. If he can show where I am out one single word, let him come in here and I shall apologise to himself and to Deputy Booth. But I am not misquoting. It is important to understand that we shall have to change our views completely and realise that the position in the Six Counties is nothing like we thought it was. I supported the views expressed by the Taoiseach every time he condemned the system in those counties which, under the straight vote, gave to a minority far less representation than that to which they were entitled. But now Deputy Booth apparently says that the Taoiseach and all of us are wrong.

Let us go a little further. At Column 1628 in the same Volume, Deputy Booth is reported as saying:—

There are some people who think they are doing a great day's work for Ireland when they twist the facts in relation to Northern Ireland.

The more he goes on, the more complicated it becomes. Apparently, we have all been twisting the facts. Apparently, the people who are advising the electors in the Twenty-Six Counties to go over to the new system are telling them, through their mouthpiece, Deputy Booth, that their ideas are old-fashioned and that they will have to become more liberal-minded in regard to the system of election in the Six Counties.

But Deputy Booth goes further than that. At Column 1630 he is reported as saying:

It is difficult to find out what he (Deputy Dillon) is defending, and I do not know how you could "undebauch" a system...

Deputy Booth has friends for once. During the week-end the Taoiseach himself rode in with Deputy Booth. The Taoiseach may not agree with him in relation to what he said about the Six Counties, but at least in regard to the debauched system, he does agree. I am quoting from theCork Examiner of Monday, 11th May. The Taoiseach speaking about P.R. after 1937 said:—

"It was not long until everyone in the country saw very clearly what the consequences of the so-called P.R. system would be."

The Taoiseach makes it clear that it was after 1937 he considered it was the "so-called" P.R. system. Deputy Booth said it was debauched and that you could not undebauch it. Perhaps somebody would tell us now, if the system of P.R. mentioned by the Taoiseach is debauched, as apparently Deputy Booth says it is, who debauched it?

Up to 1932, under the P.R. system, there were a few nine-member constituencies and there were seven-member and five-member constituencies. In 1937 that was changed. Some of the large constituencies were altered. But, apparently, even that alteration did not give the desired effect—an increased representation for the Fianna Fáil Party in Government. Therefore, Deputy Booth's debauched system was further debauched by Fianna Fáil. For whose benefit? Again, the number of constituencies with five members was slashed and the number of constituencies with three members was extended wherever possible for the benefit of the Government. Now that it is admitted that the system is debauched, did anyone else interfere with it other than the Fianna Fáil Government?

There is one thing with which Deputy Booth cannot charge the inter-Party Government, and that is the debauching of P.R; because from 1948 to 1951 and from 1954 to 1957 they did nothing to interfere with the P.R. system. I have never been one to go out of my way to speak in favour of Fine Gael no more than Fianna Fáil. The Cumann na nGaedheal Government found it difficult to operate under P.R. in 1927. The most important point is that, at least, even though they may have seen it was going against them, they were still honest enough to the people they represented, and to the country as a whole, not to interfere with the system of P.R. in that period. It was left to the Taoiseach from 1932 onwards to make a system of election into what he now terms a so-called "P.R. system".

It was Deputy Dillon who said that.

I have quoted Deputy Booth and Deputy Booth can go and check it in the Dáil Library if he so wishes.

I quoted Deputy Dillon.

I am sorry for having to repeat it but, to prove that I am not misquoting, Deputy Booth says here he agrees with Deputy Dillon. He was amazed to find that there was some little point on which he could agree with Deputy Dillon. He mentioned here that a debauched system could not be undebauched, any more than a scrambled egg could be unscrambled.

If the Deputy will look back further, he will see the point I wanted to make.

I have a few more nice statements here which were made by Deputy Booth. As reported in Column 1640 in the same volume of the Official Report, Deputy Booth states: "We do not consider for a moment and never did consider that we would have to wait for public opinion to advise us in this matter." There we have it again. On the one hand the Taoiseach tells us that the proposed change is being made at the behest of people clamouring for it everywhere he went and now Deputy Booth says quite clearly, as I have quoted, that they did not have to wait for anyone, that they had decided themselves.

Then we hear about Coalition Parties and the different views expressed by different Parties. What a wonderful set of circumstances must have arisen to bring together such various views under the one roof in one political Party. I am sorry to have to waste so much time in quoting but I will make clear why I find it so essential to do so. Deputy Booth finishes by saying, as reported at Column 1641: "We have allowed the Opposition to talk almost endlessly on this subject." It is kind of him. I wonder is it because we have P.R. or is it in the hope of securing the so-called straight vote that, at this point, Deputy Booth has allowed us to talk almost endlessly? That is wonderful.

A line of approach similar to that was heard of in other countries where people were looking forward to the day when a minority counted for nothing, a minority view, expressed in the country represented by so-called Government. Deputy Booth took exception to references by Deputy Dillon. He thought Deputy Dillon was extra hard. However, I think it ill became Deputy Booth to go so far as to suggest that Independents were voting for the retention of P.R. solely because it was for their own protection. He gave credit to two Independents who supported the Government. I always understood that an Independent has a right to vote with any Party or any Government or Opposition he so wishes. I would never suggest that Independents who would vote against my principles or my opinions would do so for an ulterior motive in relation to their personal welfare. It is unfair to the members concerned and it ill becomes the member who used those words.

I judge them on the words they use themselves.

I judge, too. It is extraordinary that an important member of Fianna Fáil went so far as to state that this measure, a measure to try to secure the abolition of P.R. and the introduction of what I term "the narrow road system," was supported by the Unionist Party in the Dáil and Seanad. That is interesting.

I did not say that. I did not know there was one.

I did not say the Deputy did but it is on the records that a responsible member of Fianna Fáil stated that. If that is true then undoubtedly, whether it is a coalition or a friendly alignment—I do not know which we may call it—there is an alignment between the outlook on the Taoiseach's introduction of this measure here, supported by Deputy Booth and by members of Fianna Fáil, and the policy in operation in the Six Counties where Deputy Booth made it clear that the Opposition cannot do any better because, as he stated, of the number of votes they had, and that is that.

The Minister for Defence said, and I agree with him wholeheartedly, that one Unionist vote in the Six Counties is equal to two, and at times three, Nationalist votes.

Not in the Parliamentary election.

You might argue that with the Minister for External Affairs.

In relation to Deputy Booth's interjection, it is quite easy to give figures to suit any particular occasion. I heard an interjection by a member of the Fianna Fáil Party for whom I have great respect. He stated a while ago, when Deputy Carew was speaking, that even if P.R. were in operation in the Six Counties, the position would be the same. What an extraordinary suggestion—the suggestion that there would be no difference. We know there would be a difference. We have no hesitation in saying that there would have to be a difference in representation. I recall to the mind of Deputy Booth and others that in elections there in the recent past, where the Opposition was divided—Nationalists and members of Sinn Féin or the Labour Party—the Opposition combined had a much greater vote than one Unionist candidate but, because there was no transfer of votes, the candidate representing the Unionist Party under the so-called "straight vote" system was able to sit smugly as a member of Stormont and say: "Although the others outvoted me, I got in because they could not transfer their votes." That is the position for which, admittedly, not only Deputy Booth but other Deputies who have spoken are anxious.

There are many members of the Fianna Fáil Party whom I know personally who hold certain views. As I said at the start, we in rural Ireland have something in common, completely divorced from our own political viewpoints, but I have nothing in common with the views expressed by Deputy Booth in relation to the importance of switching from the electoral system we have now. I come from an area where we know and understand that the views expressed by some people are very similar to those of Deputy Booth. They never formed a part of the true sentiments of the rural Ireland that we know. If it were for nothing else but for that alone, may God grant that no system of election will be imposed on the people of rural Ireland which would introduce into the Parliament of this country the new-found, new-styled Laberalism that is so prelevant among some of the members of the Fianna Fáil back benchers at present.

Having drawn attention to the views expressed by these four members, I should like now to draw attention to a point made by many members of the Opposition. Many members of the Opposition, during the course of the debate, stated that under the present electoral system not alone had the elector the right to vote for the Party of his choice but where there were two candidates from one Party, he could vote for one or the other.

I have tried to draw particular attention to certain points in relation to four Government speakers. In the four constituencies represented by the Minister for External Affairs, Deputy Major de Valera, Deputy Booth and Deputy Corry, the Fianna Fáil voter was lucky to have an alternative. In each of those constituencies there were two Fianna Fáil candidates. At least, the voters in those areas who believed in the Fianna Fáil policy were not coerced by circumstances to vote for one Party candidate only. They had a choice of two.

I feel it incumbent on me, also, to draw attention to some of the remarks made by the Taoiseach over the week-end. The Taoiseach is the person primarily responsible for the introduction of the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. I quote from theCork Examiner of Monday, 11th May, a report of a convention:

Mr. de Valera said that in 1948 Parties with conflicting policies formed a Coalition Government. All of the Parties concerned had told their supporters they would not join a coalition and they deceived their supporters.

I am not interested in past history but I challenge the Taoiseach, Deputy Loughman or any other member of Fianna Fáil to show where in any discussion during the winter of 1947 and the month of January, 1948, prior to the formation of the Government, there was ever a word of coalition or inter-Party, at any stage.

Deputy Blowick said it.

Deputy Loughman must allow Deputy Desmond to speak without interruption.

He asked me a question.

The Taoiseach said that they deceived their supporters because they said they would have no hand in coalition government. We know that it was after the election in 1948 that the first suggestion ever emanated in relation to coalition and we also know that, up to to-day, the Taoiseach regrets as one of the biggest mistakes in his life the fact that he misjudged the situation when he believed that, in spite of the ill-treatment given to the Labour Party, they could not form part of an inter-Party Government.

Later, in the same speech, the Taoiseach is reported as saying:

The only way a Party could secure itself in office was by giving good service to the community, by having a good policy and showing that it was attainable by having good performers and good administrators.

So, it was essential, even under the straight vote system, to have good performers and good administrators. We know that is correct. We know that what is keeping the junta in Stormont in their present position is that they have good supporters, good administrators and good actors. That is why we are opposed to it here.

The further we can keep away from a system that is a curse to six counties in our little country, the more chance we have of bringing every section of the community, at least in the Twenty-Six Counties, into a position where each section will listen attentively to the views of all other sections. That is not the case now. The Taoiseach says that it is essential to have good performers and good administrators. Apparently, the Party that can produce the good performers and the good administrators will come out on top but the only way in which they can come out on top, of course, is under the straight vote system!

Deputy Loughman mentioned the impossibility of a candidate securing election with a total poll of 2,500 out of 10,000. For his benefit and for the benefit of the House, I intend to quote from the same issue of theCork Examiner a report of a statement of the Minister for Lands in Mallow, County Cork:

At the polling booth the elector would have one vote to cast for one candidate. Any number of candidates could be nominated.

That was kind, of course. That is the key to the whole plot. You can vote for only one candidate but the more candidates that are nominated the better chance "our man" has. The Minister did not say that but we all know that is the meaning. The greatest chance there is of the Government coming back with a huge majority is by dividing and conquering, by encouraging the farmers to put up their candidate, the Fine Gael Party to put up their candidate, to make sure that the Labour Party will put up a candidate and that Sinn Féin, if they did not wipe them out, would put up a candidate. The more candidates that are nominated, the greater the chance the "good performer" has of coming back and making sure that he is a good administrator.

I shall quote what I consider to be the gem of all these statements, in view of the fact that the Taoiseach has been telling us all the time that it is not for the benefit of Fianna Fáil they are introducing this measure. That has been asserted by many Fianna Fáil speakers but, naturally, the statement of the Taoiseach must carry more weight. While the Taoiseach says that it is not for the benefit of the Party, the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Deputy Moran, is repored as follows, again in theCork Examiner of 11th May, speaking in Nenagh at a convention:

"Mr. M. Moráin, Minister for the Gaeltacht, said it is quite apparent now that if Fianna Fáil had had the straight vote system under which a strong Fianna Fáil Government would have been elected in 1932 the economic war would never have dragged on the length it did,"

and so forth. I am not interested in the economic war but the point is that, while the Taoiseach says that it is not for the benefit of Fianna Fáil they are introducing the Bill, the Minister for the Gaeltacht says: "What an awful pity it is that we had not it in 1932. What a powerful Government we then would have." If they had it in 1932, they would have had it ever since. It is natural for them to expect that if they can get it through, they will be in the same position as Lord Brookeborough and the Stormont Government are in. Is that for the benefit of the country? Fianna Fáil may believe that it is. Should this Bill go through, history may prove the reverse to be the case.

Deputy Loughman rightly drew particular attention to the position in relation to six constituencies surrounding his own constituency. He went so far as to say that the candidate with the highest number of first preference votes was elected. That may be. I do not know anything about those constituencies. In answer to him, I am entitled to give actual figures. There is no question of going into detail. I will give the finalised figures in a constituency with which I am directly concerned. It happened under P.R. and it is only under P.R. that it could happen.

In the election campaign, there were Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Farmer and Labour candidates. Each Party contested that election and asked the electorate for their votes. The Farmer candidate, who got 4,700 votes, was eliminated after the first count. Now, watch the result. Of those 4,700 votes, approximately 49 per cent of the people who had cast their first preferences for the Farmer candidate cast their second preference for Fine Gael; in other words, they were saying that if they could not get their No. 1 candidate elected, the Fine Gael man was their second choice.

That Fine Gael Deputy is in the House to-day. Again, of those 4,700 votes, 38 per cent of the people who cast them said that they wanted the Farmer but if they could not get him, they wanted Fianna Fáil. We have that Fianna Fáil Deputy in the House to-day. Of those 4,700 votes, 7½ per cent of the people casting them said that if they could not get the Farmer in, they wanted the Labour man and they got the Labour candidate. So that out of the 4,700 persons who voted for that Farmer candidate, 95 per cent, while not succeeding in electing their No. 1 man, did succeed in electing their No. 2 and so nobody can say that South Cork is not represented in Dáil Éireann. That could happen only under proportional representation.

What would happen under the so-called straight vote system? There you would have those 4,700 voters divided into two constituencies. Many of them would be the fathers and mothers of families and would thus be representing the opinions of probably 20,000 people. They will be in the position of having to put an X before the candidate of whichever Party they prefer. They can do no more and the result would be that they would have no representative for their 4,700 votes.

That is the position the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Party wish to impose on the people. They are telling us that they are leaving it to the free choice of the people. I think it is amusing to hear that being said and then to see the front benchers and every Deputy on the Government side going to their conventions and saying everything possible against proportional representation and not one word in favour of it. It does seem strange when they say here that they are leaving the choice to the people.

They ought to be sincere at least and tell the people that there are two sides to the story. Why should they depend on the Opposition in Leinster House, comprised of different political Parties and the Independents, to go to the public and say that they are condemning proportional representation but "here are the facts in favour of it"? That is of vital importance to the people. If they want to decide it on a fair basis, let them come out in the open and give a fair résumé of both sides of the argument.

There is another aspect of this problem that does not seem to have been touched on at all. Despite what Government may be in power, with the introduction of the straight vote system and with the result of the referendum known to the Government and its being known how the people voted for and against the change in every constituency in the Twenty-Six Counties, it will be utterly impossible to divide these constituencies into fair divisions. Any Party having the desire of abolishing proportional representation and knowing the way the people voted on the issue will be bound to divide the constituencies in their own favour.

I believe that the really true picture of what this change will mean cannot possibly be seen for ten or 15 years. The Minister for Lands did mention that the next ten years will be very important in the life of the country. Of course that is so. We know that the electors of the Twenty-Six Counties are very independent-minded. I give them credit for that. They may vote for Labour, or Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael at one election and they may be the bitterest enemies of any one of those Parties at the next. They are entitled to do that, but, in the years to come, should this change be put into operation, after the period of trial is over, they may see their error, but it will then be too late.

In ten years' time, should the change be successful, the position in rural Ireland will be static. The supporters of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour will hold to their own Parties. However, we do know that any swing which affects the Parties comes, not from the rural areas, but from the industrial areas. Dublin and County Dublin must play a large part in any election result. Cork city, Limerick, Waterford and Galway and any other area that is likely to become more industrialised will play a greater part in any swing of votes from one Party to another.

Here in Dublin you could have an electorate of 10,000 people and a Government candidate who is fairly strong with a good, solid vote behind him. It could also happen that the Opposition candidate might be equally strong or pretty near to it. Along with them, there could be a candidate from one of the smaller Parties. In such an industrial area we can easily see what would be the position of these 10,000 voters with a strong Government candidate, an equally strong Opposition candidate and a fairly strong second choice.

In the rural areas, that cannot happen and what may be the result? No member of this Government, or the Taoiseach, can prevent the formation of another Party in the Twenty-Six Counties. They cannot prevent such a Party from using a most patriotic name. They cannot prevent such a Party from taking up a policy which may be considered far more advantageous for the electorate in the industrial areas than the policy put forward by the Government or the Opposition.

Cuireadh an díospóireacht ar ath-ló.

Debate adjourned.