An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—Tairiscint (atogáil). 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 tariscint sin:
Na focail uile i ndiaidh an fhocail "go" so chéad líne a scriosadh agus na focail seo a leanas a chur ina n-ionad:
bhfuil an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, tar éis beachtaíocht thromchuiseach leanúnach a tharraingt i nDáil Éireann, gur dhiúltaigh Seanad Éireann dó, agus gur cúis imní agus easaontas 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 so 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 Lúnasa, 1959."
(Na Teachtaí Seán Ua Coisdealbha, Risteárd Ó 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.)

If the two-Party system does not develop within a very short time, if this proposal is adopted by the people, I think the likely consequences for this country are very grave indeed. I think the likely consequences are also appreciated by the Government Party because, if, in fact, the new system is in operation at the next general election, or the one after, and there are not just two candidates but three or four candidates contesting a one-seat constituency, who is likely to gain by such a situation but the Fianna Fáil Party? It seems to me that unless there are formed either electoral pacts of one sort or another, or a new Opposition Party of some sort or another, the Government are likely to be the gainers. Looking into the future with regard to these matters, it seems to me that one of the distinct possibilities in this proposed change— if it is accepted—is that we shall have a number of Parliaments in this House with a very strong Government Party in office and with a very small Party or Parties in opposition.

These things have developed in other countries, and we have seen what happens in other countries when parliaments are not representative of the people. We have seen what happens when parliaments are dominated by one Party, where the Opposition is a truncated one and enfeebled by electoral defects. I do not think I exaggerate when I say one of the possibilities of this change, if it is adopted by the people, will be a grave weakening of our whole system of parliamentary democracy. One further likely danger is that there may be violent swings if such a system is operated here, swings which will give representation to people unsuited to government, unqualified to govern, with ideas that are ill-thought out, swings which will result in a very dangerous situation developing here.

I think that the dangers which we anticipate are real. It is possible that they may not be realised; it is possible our apprehensions may prove false, but I do not think it is worth while taking the chance that that may be so. I do not think it is worth while taking the chance that what has happened in other countries may not happen here and, in consequence, I do not think this decision, brought about from a political judgment on the part of the Government, is justified.

As I have said, the Government have made this proposal for the abolition of proportional representation because of their dislike of the coalition Governments which have been formed in this country. They are taking what has been described as a leap in the dark, which is fraught with danger for the country and for our whole system of parliamentary democracy. I believe they are taking this leap in the dark for unjustifiable and unjustified reasons and I feel, as I said at the outset, that we are justified in saying that this was not a decision taken by the Fianna Fáil Party.

This was not a decision which was imposed on the Taoiseach by the back-benchers of his Party. It was a decision taken by the leader of the Government in the knowledge that he would shortly be leaving active Irish politics. I am satisfied that the Taoiseach, in that regard, thinks he is actting correctly, but I believe he is wrong. No man should take upon himself the responsibility of doing what the Taoiseach is proposing to do, and I think he is wrong in getting his own Party to agree to amend the Constitution in this manner, in view of the very grave difficulties which are to be anticipated.

Government spokesmen have chided us about being afraid of the people. We are afraid of the people if they are not told exactly what is involved. Unfortunately, we on this side of the House have not got the weapons which are available to the Government Party in their daily newspapers, and in their Sunday paper. It is our task, as parliamentarians working an Irish democracy through this Parliament, to inform the people of what is involved in these proposals, and that is what we have been endeavouring to do. If, in fact, the people decide against this proposal, as I am hopeful they will on June 17th, it will not be because the Parties on this side of the House have been trying to do something undemocratic in keeping this legislation from the people, but, on the contrary, because they have fulfilled their democratic duty of educating the people, through Parliament, in what is involved, and seeing that something which may involve very great danger for this State is not accepted by them through their lack of knowledge of the real issues at stake.

I should like at the outset to refer to some of the allegations made by Government Deputies that because we are opposing the abolition of P.R. we are denying the rights of the people. The Fianna Fáil Government are in the position that they are the only Party in the Twenty-Six Counties in favour of abolishing P.R. The Opposition and other people outside this House, including the United Trade Union Congress, are opposed to it. The United Trade Union Congress has passed a resolution protesting against the proposed abolition of P.R. Now we have the Government speakers repeating their master's voice throughout the country. They do not mention the Belfast Government; they merely say: "We want a straight vote; we want stability."

During the last election I heard a Deputy make a similar statement in my constituency: "We want a strong Government; give Dev a majority so that he will be able to put his plans into operation." I say that the whole scheme of the Taoiseach is a red herring to take the people's minds from the problems which face the country at present. It is brought forward to distract the minds of housewives from the nightmare of trying to make ends meet because of the high cost of living and to take people's minds away from the huge wave of unemployment and emigration.

Not one word has been mentioned about any of these three important matters in the speeches of the Fianna Fáil Deputies but, as I say, they are only repeating their master's voice—"a strong Government and a straight vote." What does a straight vote mean? We do not need to study France to know, although there have been some people making speeches around the country about what is happening there. I am concerned only with what is going to happen in my own country and I suggest that the straight vote means a vote similar to the vote which they have for the Belfast Government at present. The Taoiseach was quite right when he stated on many occasions, along with other Fianna Fáil members, that the reaction to the straight vote in the north would be that minorities would have no representation. How right he has been in that prophecy. Only within the last fortnight a Church dignitary there pointed out that a number of the Catholic minority were unable to get either jobs or houses.

Is that the system that we want to see adopted here, that if one Party gets a majority you must be a member of that Party in order to get a job? I do not believe that would happen but I do not want to be in the position of depriving minorities of their rights. I have been criticised in my constituency for saying that this action would mean that a large section in my constituency would be deprived of representation. The answer given to me was: "Let them join one or other of the large Parties." Why should any minority or any individual be asked to join any Party?

I suppose I am the only person in this House who has had the experience of seeing three changes in the proportional representation system since 1923. The first time we had five members for Wicklow and Kildare; we came along some years afterwards and we transferred portion of County Wicklow to County Carlow and reduced the membership. In 1937 Fianna Fáil got a large majority and decided that we would not have so many nine member and five member constituencies but that we would have two and three member constituencies. I was put back into my own county which became a three member constituency.

Deputy Loughman gave us a lecture on how easy it would be for all the Party to be elected. I do not believe that the proportion he mentioned would work out as the Deputy believes it would. A commission is to be set up and nobody knows what area that commission will select, whether it will be my constituency——

On a point of explanation, I did not refer at all to the possible division of the constituencies.

I am sorry if I misinterpreted the Deputy's speech when I read it. I took it that he mentioned Tipperary——

I mentioned three member, four member, and five member constituencies as such.

The Deputy pointed out that two big Parties will share the majority of the seats. I do not agree. However, I accept the Deputy's statement. I am opposing this motion as a trade unionist and in doing so am carrying out an agreement with the Trade Union Congress who have passed a unanimous resolution appealing to their members to do everything in their power to try to bring home to the people the seriousness of voting for any system other than proportional representation, as being the fairest manner of voting. We all know that this is not a question of a straight vote or of stability but, and it has been repeated many times here, a question purely of political tactics. Fianna Fáil recognise that with the unsettled state of the country, its economic position and the failure of the Government to fulfil even one of their last general election promises, and the failure of the Tánaiste to provide the 100,000 jobs he promised, their position would be serious if there was a general election at present.

The people were delighted with the promise of the Tánaiste. I remember a bureau being set up in my constituency to which the people were to go with their complaints. It did not remain open for very long; they were too busy and the result was that the bureau was closed. We never had so much unemployment in my constituency as we have at the present time. This is a political tactic because the Taoiseach has stated, in another part of the country, that he recognises that in the next election, under proportional representation, Fianna Fáil would not get a majority. It is recognised that any Government in power for a certain time may have to do something unpopular and lose certain of its members. Here the Government has failed completely to implement even one of the promises they made during the last election. They cannot get on a platform now and talk about the inter-Party Government and the cost of living. We know what the price of food is at present; we also know about the large numbers of unemployed who meet Fianna Fáil Deputies in their various constituencies. In the rural areas there are vacant cottages with a charge of 2/6d. or 3/- a week for half an acre of land, but there are no applicants because they have gone to look for work in another country.

These are the matters the Government should have been considering instead of indulging in political tactics and bringing in red herrings like the abolition of P.R. and the introduction of the straight vote. They are merely following the example of the Belfast Government in their endeavour to deprive minorities of representation. Every member of the Fianna Fáil Party has denounced the electoral practices of the Belfast Government. I am using the word "Belfast" instead of "Stormont" because a large number of people, especially in my constituency, may not know where Stormont is but they know where Belfast is.

I do not intend to deal with the points which have been raised about France or other countries. I shall deal with our country. If Labour were to be defeated in an election it could create a serious situation. I have weathered the storm since 1923 and, please God, if I have the strength I shall weather it again no matter what way my constituency is manipulated. I am not speaking about myself but about the whole trade union movement which is now united. If they have no representation in Parliament there may be certain disgruntled individuals who might use the situation to achieve ends against the policy of the majority of the people.

Do not give that excuse to them. Let us preserve the right of every citizen, whoever he may be, to seek the votes of the people and elect a Government without forcing Labour to join Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. There are labouring men in both of those organisations just as there are farmers. When it comes to a question of Government versus Labour, naturally as loyal members of the respective Parties they must vote with the Party. I have seen teachers voting with their Party against their own feelings. We should not give to a certain element the excuse that we are not representing the people because this element has no representatives to put forward their views in Parliament. I have been here since 1923 and I remember the time when we were not supposed to represent anybody here. These boys may try to repeat the excuse that we represent only certain elements in the community.

Fianna Fáil have not, over the last two years, fulfilled the promises they made. The Fianna Fáil Party, having been elected, as the Taoiseach said, as a strong Government with a large majority, should have as their first concern the solution of the economic difficulties which we face. I have experienced strikes and various other happenings since 1923 and I can only hope that what has happened in other countries will not happen here. Men of goodwill are doing their best to cooperate but that cannot continue. The leaders of the trade union movement cannot continue from month to month asking the members not to take action.

We in the Labour Party welcome the opportunity of going before the people and I know what the result will be when the question is put in my constituency. However, we are prepared to accept the decision of the people and let us hear no more of this talk of denying rights to the people. We intend to give the people the opportunity of coming to a decision and to explain to them how serious a decision it is.

I am against dictatorship whether it is on county boards, public boards or in the Government. If P.R. is abolished we shall have as firm a dictatorship as we have under the county councils. Members will be powerless because there will be such a large majority on either one side or the other that the minority will have very little say and their representations will not be considered by the Government.

There is only one Party in Ireland asking for this change; there is no other Party to support it. Apart from the other political Parties who are opposed to the change there is the United Trade Union Congress. The Government should consider the fact that an organisation representing all the trade unions, irrespective of what their political opinions may be—and there are various political opinions among the members of those unions—have passed a unanimous resolution appealing to their branches and to their members to do everything in their power to defeat the Government's intentions to abolish P.R. We want P.R. retained so that no excuse will be given either to trade unionists, or any other elements under a different name, to take up a position outside the Constitution.

Therefore, I am opposed bitterly to this change and I am saying so as a paid-up member of a trade union. I am confident that my constituency will vote against the abolition of P.R. They will vote for the retention of that system so that the minorities in my constituency will have every opportunity of having their representatives returned in future elections.

Deputy Everett mentioned that Fianna Fáil should be more concerned with the promises they made prior to the last election than with changing the electoral system. If we cast our minds back to the state of this country in January and February of 1957, before that election took place, we can see the advance that has been made in the last two years to carry out the pledges and promises made. Due to the action, or inaction, of the Coalition Government the country was brought to a state of bankruptcy. One of the reasons why we needed a strong Government was to bring it back to the sound economic position to which it has been brought today in the course of two short years. That is one of the reasons why we should have no more to do with coalition Governments here.

Deputy Declan Costello said we were making this proposal because we did not like Coalition Governments. I think the people did not like them either. They gave that answer in no uncertain manner in the last election. We have been told also that there is no demand for this system of voting. Deputy Everett was harping on the trade unions. I am led to believe—at least we were told here anyway—that the system under which they elect their officers is the straight vote and not proportional representation.

Not the union of which I am a member, and it is the largest union in Ireland.

There is only one trade union whose Executive is elected under the P.R. system.

In any event, it has been stated that some of the trade unions use the straight vote system and it has not been contradicted.

It has been contradicted now.

This proposal to change the voting system has been brought before the House. It has been discussed here, in the other House and throughout the country for long enough. Since it was introduced here by the Taoiseach, it has been opposed by the Opposition throughout the country tooth and nail. They do not want to let the people decide the issue for themselves. They tell us that we have an intelligent electorate. If they are intelligent, as we believe they are, why not let the issue go to them? Why has it been held up for so long without letting the people decide for themselves? We have been accused of dictatorship. All we want is to let this proposal go to the people. We have not been told why they have held it up for so long. The only alternative we have got is an amendment by the Fine Gael Party to set up a commission to advise the people what to do——

Not at all. Did the Deputy read it?

——as much as to say the people do not know what to do. It is only another tactic to hold it up.

To hold it up for information.

They have tried every stunt they can to bedevil the position and hold it up instead of letting it go to the people. You do not like it because you know that the Taoiseach has done it in the national interest in order to give us peace, progress and stability in government in this country. Like every other step he took in the national interest, this has been opposed by the same element. When he asked for the removal of the Oath of Allegiance to a foreign King which Deputies had to take here, that was in the national interest and it was opposed tooth and nail by Fine Gael at the time. In spite of that, the attitude of the Taoiseach was endorsed by the Irish people at an election and he removed the Oath of Allegiance.

Later on, when the Taoiseach wanted to prevent the annuities being sent across the Irish Sea by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government —£5,000,000 a year going to John Bull—that also was in the national interest——

That is not relevant——

I want to show that everything our leader did in the national interest was opposed by the same elements as are opposing this.

They are not relevant to the motion or amendment.

A reply to this would be proper, Sir?

As I say, they are not relevant to the motion or the amendment.

I want to show that this is being done in the interests of the nation and that the same tactics are being used by the Opposition to prevent it being put to the people as they used in relation to the other steps taken by the Fianna Fáil Party in the national interest in the past. When the Taoiseach put the new Constitution to the people in a referendum was it not opposed by the same people as are opposing this referendum today?

And you want to change it now.

We want to change it in the light of what has happened in the meantime when we had two Coalition Governments——

That is the reason.

——which brought us to the verge of economic ruin. Deputy Everett mentioned that he had no objection to the people deciding this issue and that he was a democrat. If he has no objection, why has it been held up in this House for so long? What was the need to hold it up since last November or December? Why not let the issue be decided? Why were you afraid to let it go to the people? It could have been decided long ago.

All rubbish.

It is not. You know perfectly well that the whole thing is you are afraid of the people's decision.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Kitt is entitled to make a statement without interruption.

It hurts Deputy McGilligan.

What did the Minister say? Surely the Minister is literate?

It hurts Deputy McGilligan.

Order! Deputy Kitt.

We have been told here that the straight vote system will ensure that Fianna Fáil will remain in power for ever. How is it then that Deputy McGilligan's own colleague, the former Taoiseach, Deputy Costello, favoured the straight vote system?

He never did.

So did Deputy Dillon and Deputy McGilligan himself.

Never. I deny that.

It has been quoted in this House.

I want the quotation, Sir. I deny I ever said anything of the sort.

The Deputy did not make a quotation. I am insisting that Deputy Kitt be allowed to speak without interruption.

Did Deputy McGilligan ever say in the Dáil on the 25th May, 1937, that "It was always held that with regard to proportional representation, which this country adopted, we had adopted the worst possible system?"

That is right—on the system. Has the Deputy the earlier part of that speech?

No. I am quoting the part that applies to Deputy McGilligan.

I was moving to keep P.R. in the Constitution.

Deputy McGilligan, I take it, will make a contribution to this debate? He can then complement the statements made now.

Point 7 of the Declaration at the foundation of the Fine Gael Party in 1933 was:

"The abolition of the present P.R. system so as to secure more effective democratic control of national policy and to establish closer personal relationships between Parliamentary representatives and their constituents."

Is that not a statement against P.R. and in favour of the single-member constituency?

Would you read it again?

I read it loud enough. Here it is again:

The abolition of the present P.R. system so as to secure more effective democratic control of national policy and to establish closer personal relationships between Parliamentary representatives and their constituents.

That was point No. 7 of the Fine Gael Party declaration when it was formed in 1933, as published. If that is not a declaration in favour of the abolition of P.R. and bringing in the single-member constituency, I do not know what it means. It is quite clear that Fine Gael, their policy and certain members, have spoken and advocated the abolition of P.R. But now, because our leader has brought in this and has done so in the national interest, they want to oppose it for the sake of opposition—and that is all it appears to me. After today, please God, it will go to the people soon. I know the answer the people of my constituency will give. When that is done, when the P.R. system is abolished and the straight vote is in operation, the people will be following the advice of the Taoiseach as they have followed it in the past on everything that was required to be done in the national interest. I believe they will do this also in the national interest.

I think I should be allowed to talk to Deputy Kitt, through the Chair. He complains about an oath, as he calls it. It was discovered that there was no Oath. Whatever it was, it was swallowed by everybody belonging to Fianna Fáil. Was it not an empty formula?

We made it that but it was an Oath.

You took it also. You took the Oath.

And so did your leaders.

No, they did not.

We were reduced to the position that Deputies said they had seen that the testament was either put out of the room or at least six feet away from the people who took an empty formula. What was the effect of the testment, if it was not an oath? Does it not have the same effect seven feet away as the effect it has six feet away?

On a point of order, you, Sir, prevented me from speaking on the abolition of the Oath. How is it that Deputy McGilligan is now being permitted to dwell on the subject?

The Deputy made advertence to what he claimed Fianna Fáil had done in the national interest. He made reference to the Oath and to land agitation. Deputy McGilligan has a certain right to reply to the statements made on that occasion, even though on both occasions they are irrelevant.

The Oath is not there now. It is gone in spite of you.

Is it an Oath or an empty formula?

He just wanted the name in the book.

People came into this House when what they called the Oath was obligatory. Did they take it or not?

Deputies

No.

Because they put the testament five feet away from them? Secondly, there were the annuities. Was it not a great pity that the Seanad were not adverted to in their view with regard to the annuities—that the matter should be held up for a consultation? Instead, we drifted into a war which we started——

In which you helped the British.

And the Blueshirts——

The Minister for Defence is a bit of a babe in arms. He ought to keep quite while I am speaking of things that occurred while he was not about and which he does not understand.

The Deputy did not keep very quite when Deputy Kitt was speaking.

I was at least interrupting on things I know about.

If Deputy McGilligan will be allowed to speak, I take it we can proceed.

Deputy Kitt was not.

Deputy Kitt unfortunately introduced these elements.

"Unfortunately" in every way—for the debate and for himself.

——for order in the House and for relevancy.

Let us look back on history. The Economic War was started on the annuities. In 1938, a trade agreement had to be made with England. It was a pretty poor business which we had to try to put shape on ten years later. It was so weak because our farmers were on their knees—because, as the Taoiseach said, he knew the annuities would be paid in a more expensive way than if they were sent across to England. Deputy Kitt will forget that phrase of his great leader.

We won the battle anyhow.

We won that battle——

In spite of the Blueshirts.

Anybody looking at Ireland in 1938 cannot say we won that struggle with England. We were on our knees.

The Deputy must come to the motion.

To the Constitution. My phrases with regard to the Constitution of 1937 were relevant to this debate. Deputy Kitt quoted me as saying I was against a certain system of P.R. He will not bring in the full quotation. I was there moving that we would have the principle of P.R. in the Constitution but not the system. Just a little above that quotation which Deputy Kitt read, there is an interruption from the Taoiseach who said: "I know there are many systems of P.R." I added the comment that is there— that it was understood we had adopted the worst system. Immediately after that, the Taoiseach continued and said that that might be my view and I said it was not my view.

Later, in relation to the advertisement that was read out, it was argued that we objected as a Party to the then system of P.R. when we agreed that P.R. as a principle should be observed and we voted for that in the Constitution. The Deputy's followers, of course, voted for it, too, and it was accepted as being the proper way in which the declaration of elections should be done in this country.

Deputy Kitt thinks there was a bad economic position here in 1957. He will remember that one of the tests posed by his leader with regard to a bad economic system and a better one was the question of employment. Since 1956/57, there are 30,000 fewer people in employment than there were in that bad year. Perhaps Deputy Kitt will explain how that happens under the good system his leader has given the country for two years?

Were there not nearly 100,000 people unemployed?

There are 30,000 fewer in employment. There never were 100,000 unemployed in this country——

I said: "practically."

There never were 100,000 people unemployed in this country, except when Fianna Fáil were in office. That continued—I asked a Question about it and the statistic is there—for 11 years from 1934 when there was an average of 100,000. At one time, the figure reached 140,000.

Before unemployment assistance was introduced, people did not register at the employment exchanges.

That is a new one. It is well thought out but the figures are there. There was an average of 100,000 unemployed for the period Fianna Fáil reigned. I do not know about the early years such as 1933 because the statistics are not complete, but from 1934 onwards that was the case. Let us face the employment figures. Employment is the thing. You can get rid of the unemployed if they emigrate, as they did in two of your years—in the two years since Fianna Fáil came back to power.

The little pamphlet calledEconomic Statistics issued before the Budget shows that there were 10,000 fewer people employed in 1958 than in the year before and 20,000 fewer that year than in the year before—30,000 fewer persons. Then we were told by Fianna Fáil propagandists at the time of the 1957 election that it was a question of wives sending their husbands to work and there were 100,000 jobs promised. That is the way in which the present Party got to power. Deputy Kitt can still think of that as the bad economic position of 1957 and then he says people gave their answer to that in no uncertain fashion. The Deputy, I suppose, has not looked at the statistics of voting in the last election. Fianna Fáil did not get a majority of the votes of the country. They got a majority here through the way in which the marginal seats went but they did not get a majority of the votes cast in the election.

Of the No. 1 votes.

Of the No. 1 votes.

I suppose they are all votes.

I am taking how the votes went in the end.

Proportionally, when you take in lower preferences, we got a majority, not of No. 1 votes but of Nos. 2, 3, and 4 votes.

You got a majority under P.R. but, remember, 150,000 people who had previously supported the Party to which I belong, the Labour Party, Clann na Talmhan and Clann na Poblachta, did not vote. They did not vote Fianna Fáil. That is what is called the very emphatic answer in no uncertain fashion given in 1957. It is because Deputy Kitt's leader recognised how bad, in fact, that result was, when analysed, that we are getting this proposal, so that a thinly-spread minority, evenly distributed over a constituency, can achieve a bigger majority in this House than even that which the Party got without getting a majority of the votes in the last election.

I listened to Deputy Kitt as I previously listened to Deputy Seán MacCarthy. It is really dreadful in an area where we are supposed to be ruled by argument to have Deputy Kitt and Deputy MacCarthy at this point asserting that the Party to which I belong, the Labour Party, and all those other than Fianna Fáil are afraid to let this matter go to the people. Is that not the argument that is being used? That is Deputy Kitt's argument. Does Deputy Kitt believe that? It is going to the people. The only difference between us is that we want it to go to an informed people. Deputies opposite would rather have it go to people who would be influenced by emotional sway—vote Fianna Fáil, vote for de Valera, and let us have all the elections on the same day, and then we may scramble through and we can hope to be safe for a good while. It is the difference between having an informed electorate voting on a matter and having an electorate that does not know what it is doing, as would have been the case if this matter had been allowed to be rushed by Fianna Fáil, as they desired when this matter was first introduced.

Deputy MacCarthy was allowed to talk today about the voting in the Seanad, even allowed to speak of certain people who are to be regarded as experts on Constitutional Law. He was then held up. But he did speak of the majority in the Seanad. He said the Second Reading was passed. He did not give the voting—by one or two votes. Then he said it seemed to be ludicrous that a House which had accepted the principle of abolishing P.R. could turn around on Committee or other Stage and vote against it. Of course, Deputy MacCarthy said that that was due to the accident of a couple of people being sick. There were a couple more accidents than that. There were certain people there who would not face up to their responsibilities. There was one lady Senator whose case has been quoted.

There has been a convention here for a long time——

This has been spoken on. I may speak of it in this House.

Will the Deputy allow me? There has been a convention here for years that members of the Seanad and decisions of the Seanad are not discussed in this House.

It was discussed here today, Sir.

I think the Deputy ought to adhere to that convention.

I shall adhere to it but when other people are allowed to make argument, surely I am entitled to at least the same space and to occupy the same time to refute the argument. I do not intend to go into anything with regard to personalities. Deputy MacCarthy spoke of the six university men in the Seanad and asked what do they, while they may be great people academically, know of Constitutional law.

They were referred to before because they made a statement outside the Seanad and it was not considered as a proceeding of the House.

He was talking about them in respect to their votes in the Seanad. He said that they were six of the people who wanted to have this matter delayed and caused the delay. So they have. I want to put the Opposition point of view. They are six people who stand an election, maybe with a select type of electorate, but they do stand an election. What about the eleven nominees of the Taoiseach? Are they to be counted? If they are not counted, the Seanad vote was not a majority of one; it was very nearly, as somebody said in this House, a two to one majority of the free Seanad against the proposal and, Sir, if Constitutional law is to be regarded as a qualification for a vote in the Seanad, one could think quickly, without mentioning names, of a lot of the personnel in the Seanad in respect of whom one would very easily come to a decisive negative as to their attitude on Constitutional matters and their knowledge of anything in the nature of Constitutional law. The Seanad have acted, as they are entitled to do constitutionally. They have, if the free vote is taken, by an almost two to one majority, voted against the proposal.

How does the Deputy make that out? The most it could be is 30 to 20—10 nominated.

There are 11 nominated.

Eleven, I should say.

Will the Deputy do the sum? He will find it is very nearly two to one.

The constitution of the Seanad surely does not arise on this.

The Deputy has gone out to make a calculation.

Looking for a ball-frame.

I made a comment. I do not want to make it again. On the free votes in the Seanad the majority was nearly two to one against. It was not quite. It was, at least, in the bookie's language, seven to four against. It was at least that. Here is Deputy MacCarthy, on this date, a month before the elections take place, still rolling out the old contention that to have a resolution moved and spoken on here indicates fear of the people. There is no fear of the people.

I am quite confident of what is going to happen. I might have been afraid of what the popular result would have been if this matter had been pushed to referendum in the winter of last year but there is no doubt that, as the process of education has gone on, as arguments have been proceeding here and have been reported, there is clarification in people's minds. All over the place, there has been an upsurge of feeling against the proposal. Quite an anger has developed over the arrogance of the people who believe that, just because one man in this country can get a lot of toadies around him in the Cabinet, get them to agree to something and get a wider group of supporters in the Dáil, he is going to get all Fianna Fáil supporters to tread the same way just because, after so many years, he has made up his mind that P.R. is no longer good for the people but something that has to be got rid of.

It is quite clear that this has been run completely and entirely as a matter of Fianna Fáil politics. That seems to be a reflection of the anxiety that Deputies opposite must feel, and express themselves as feeling, with regard to the result. All the Party weight is now to be thrown into these two questions of the President and the abolition of P.R. First of all, we have the fact that the two elections are to be held on the same day. I can understand people objecting to this amendment of ours on the ground that, if it were carried, it would preclude all possibility of the two elections being held on the same day and many people would agree that that would be a proper result and it was what was announced as a principle accepted by the Taoiseach when this debate first started. He said there was no question of having the two matters decided on the same day, that they would be on different dates and different types of electoral machinery would operate in the two elections.

However, we are following now the precedent established at the time of the plebiscite on the Constitution when it was frankly stated here that it was vital to hold the plebiscite for the Constitution and the elections on the same day as, without the incentive given to the voters to come out and vote for an individual, or individuals, there would be no hope of moving them to come out and vote for something abstract like the Constitution. Therefore, to get the Party strength, it was decided to hold both the plebiscite and the elections on the same day thereby ensuring that those who favoured Fianna Fáil would turn into the polling both, decide the ordinary election and carry forward their votes to the Constitution in a sort of Fianna Fáil spirit. It is rather significant that about 100,000 people who voted in the general election did not bother to vote, one way or the other, in the matter of the Constitution.

We are now having the Taoiseach put forward as a Presidential candidate. It makes one think of a previous period, way back many years ago, when defeated in a straight vote with regard to the acceptance of the arrangement with England, the present Taoiseach, then president of an organisation, threw his weight into the scale by resigning from office in the hope that the vote on that issue would strengthen opposition to the Treaty arrangements. That failed as I believe his effort to swing things now by putting his own personal influence into the scale again in connection with the abolition of proportional representation will also fail.

We are also, I understand from a speech made here today—it is a matter that came as a surprise to me—to have not merely the two elections on the same day but it is also contemplated that, while there will be two ballot papers, they will both be handed to the voter as he goes in to the common booth, the one for the referendum on the abolition of proportional representation and the other for the election of a President. If that is true, the thing assumes a most scandalous colouring.

Further, I understand that in the city of Dublin it is now accepted that there are not enough ballot boxes and the position will be that a voter going in to the both and accepting one ballot paper in connection with the Presidential Election and another in connection with P.R. will subsequently have to put both ballot papers into the same ballot box. The first effort made by the scrutineers afterwards will be the segregation of the votes cast in one matter as opposed to the votes cast in the other. If that is the situation likely to develop, it indicates a more confused situation than was ever contemplated and will, of course, take away completely from any security with regard to the vote.

In addition to all this, we have the political attitude stressed by the pressure that is being put and has been put on Deputies that they must all walk the same line, that this is their only safeguard and shield against the terrors of the future and the political wilderness for them unless they conform and do what the Taoiseach asks them to do. Worst of all, we have this matter of the letter issued by the Tánaiste. A letter has been sent by the Tánaiste to business people——

Is it not the same as the one issued by Deputy Sweetman and Deputy Mulcahy?

Would the Minister produce to me anything written by Deputy Sweetman?

And Deputy Mulcahy. I saw it. It is in the same terms.

Would the Minister produce it? I should like to see it.

The Deputy probably has seen it.

I have not seen it.

I do not regard the Minister as very reliable in his statements and I am entitled to ask for the production of a document when the existence of the document is denied.

By this time one has got used to the Tánaiste writing to people and it is only to be expected that he will write to those who either have received or are likely to receive benefits from the operations of his Department. That is known in America as "lobbying of interested people" to put pressure on members of Congress. We have not, so far, got that system here. We regard it as something near corruption. But we have got used to it in connection with ordinary elections. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, as Tánaiste, addresses letters to people who, as I say, have got benefit or, more particularly, those who may look to have benefit from some of the operations of his Department. With reluctance, one might accept something that has grown up over the years; one might accept that the Minister in charge of the Department of Industry and Commerce is entitled to have some regard of those who supported him politically. It is clear that there is at least a temptation that that may tinge his views when it comes to deciding things which should be decided objectively.

Now, however, there are new considerations. The Minister for Industry and Commerce as Tánaiste, and possibly as someone elevated to a higher sphere, wants to know not merely how people supported him as head of the Department giving economic benefit but he also wants to know if they subscribed to the Party itself, the Party which wants one vote cast for the Taoiseach as President and another vote cast for the abolition of proportional representation.

These are not commercial matters and while, as I say, it is near corruption to have it done in connection with commercial matters, it approaches much more closely to corruption when it is done in connection with such a matter as the Presidential Election and an issue which should be left to the free vote of an informed democracy, the question of the system of voting under which they will elect their representatives to the Dáil.

Every effort is being made to ensure success. Both elections will be held on the same day. The personality of the Taoiseach is thrown in. The blackmailing letter issues to the industrialists. All that is happening in relation to these two issues, in relation to what is described as a free vote of the people as to the system of voting and their choice in that regard; and it was expected to be their free choice unprejudiced by anything in the way of politics in relation to the person who will hold office as President of the country for the next seven years.

It is not worth while at this stage doing anything more than looking at the arguments used against the system of proportional representation that we have. There was talk about multiplicity of Parties. It is only the dullest of backbenchers in Fianna Fáil who believe in that any longer and who venture to advance it at this hour. There has been no multiplicity of Parties in this country since 1922. There is no likelihood of any great multiplicity of Parties in the future. The number of Parties which has evolved is representative of distinct interests and these interests have a right to claim representation. It is one of the benefits of the system we have that it gives representation where there is sufficient strength, a strength which can be regarded as important and worthy of representation.

We have been told that under proportional representation one might get short Parliaments. In the two periods in which there was coalition Government in this country both Governments had a longer period of parliamentary office than the average Fianna Fáil Government.

On a point of order, my word was doubted here. Would I be in order in producing the document to which I referred, the document issued by Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy Sweetman?

Neither of whom is a Minister.

It was denied the document existed. It does exist and it is in practically the same terms.

The Minister is trying to get in that somebody has done the same thing as the Tánaiste.

They have done it.

They are not Ministers.

I have the letter here.

Order! Deputy McGilligan is entitled to speak and, unless he gives way to the Minister, I do not see how the Minister can introduce the matter.

We were told it is impossible to carry through policy under coalitions. The Fianna Fáil Government came into office in 1932. They went out of office in 1948. They had 16 years in Government. Two elections during that period gave them an over-all majority. What did they give in return. Stagnation. There was certainly no break up of Parliament preventing them from carrying through a policy that might be regarded as good for the people. For 16 years they held sway. Yet we get a complaint now that under proportional representation there is not sufficient length of parliamentary life to enable a policy to be put through. The same people have been in control of Government here for 16 years. We can look back now on the record of what they did in those 16 years. Whatever excuse they may make for what they did or did not do, they cannot make the excuse that they were handicapped because proportional representation deprived them of the strength to put their policy through.

As against that, we are told that coalitions are bad. We are told that there was a certain amount of lobbying, a certain amount of bargaining going on. Coalitions are bad, are they? Compare what the two Coalitions did between 1948 and 1951, and between 1954 and 1957 and see is there anything comparable with it since 1932. Taxation was reduced all round. People who had been kept down in their conditions of living by standstill orders, actual and threatened, were not merely allowed but encouraged to have their living standards raised. Those people who had gone out on pension, when their pensions were not equal to the stress of the cost of living, had their pensions improved. The whole personnel of the State service, civil servants, the Garda, the Army and teachers who had the right to arbitration were encouraged to seek it, and those who had not were encouraged to have themselves assimilated in their conditions with those who had these arbitration rights.

The positions of all those people were improved and we started in those years the system of the capital Budget and the capital Budget schemes, which have left their mark on Fianna Fáil and which Fianna Fáil cannot get rid of, much as they would like to, and much as they engaged in a frenzy of vituperation when these things were started. Judging by results, this country should like coalition Governments and abhor at least one type of single Party Government, the single Party Fianna Fáil Government.

I have a liking for coalition Governments, may I say, outside the single Party. I mean a coalition where there is real collaboration, not the type of coalition, as I say, the hysterical mind of Fianna Fáil conjured up where some people try to veto what one of the groups of Parties wants to carry through. I lived for six years under those conditions. There was real collaboration. There was no question of anybody imposing a veto or trying to do so. Matters were resolved by argument, as they are, or at least supposed to be resolved here, and we do not think it any fault that it was done in a council chamber instead of openly in the Dáil, particularly when the fruits of that argument in the council chamber were eventually exposed here in the Dáil and the Dáil was able to do whatever it could to try to drive a wedge between the Parties and Party methods. It was something which might be regarded as a compromise between two extreme points of view and extreme points of view are not always the best. In coalition Government one can get real cooperation and we got it for six years.

Hear, hear!

We got such good results that we showed by example and contrast what Fianna Fáil might have done, but failed to do, and in doing so, we aroused the envy and hatred of the Taoiseach and it is that envy and hatred which has led to the present proposals.

There has been a great deal of talk by the Government that coalition programmes should be exposed before an election. Individually, I do not see any great virtue in that, but I should like to look at the application of it. The Minister for Defence is amused but he will not be so amused at what I am about to say. Here is a programme that was not exposed before the last election. At the last election the programme which was exposed was 100,000 new jobs, was it not?

Yes, it was. Let the uneasy cuckoo stay in his nest.

I am not uneasy at all. The Deputy asked a question and the answer is "no".

I should like someone more associated with the Party and someone older than such a newcomer to give me the answer. In any event, the cuckoo always stirs uneasily. Let him keep quite. These 100,000 jobs were promised. Remember the poster: "Wives, get your husbands back to work."

It did not mention 100,000 jobs.

The question of sending them to work in England was not mentioned.

"Let us get cracking."

Which we did.

We will see the result.

We have seen it.

The programme before the election was "Get cracking", "100,000 jobs,""The Lemass scheme"——

In any event, it was planned to give 100,000 jobs and, in addition to that, the food subsidies were to be retained. The Tánaiste was very angry at what he called the stupid comments made as to their intentions and he and the Taoiseach at different places said it was no part of their policy to reduce the food subsidies, that they did not believe in such a thing. May I take it then that before the election the programme was more jobs and cheap food? —and after the election the subsidies disappeared and food became dearer.

It was alleged against us when we asserted that workers and State personnel had a right to have their emoluments raised to meet the increased cost of living, that it was a conspiracy against the State, that we were trying to do away with any good that might have come from the Budget proposals by asking the people to look for increased emoluments. Again, and I have already referred to this, the number of people employed dropped by 30,000. There are 30,000 fewer people in jobs in the country now than there were two years ago. I saw in a journal recently an item on two men meeting in the steerage of the boat at Dún Laoghaire going to Holyhead. One asked the other: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am one of the 100,000 who did not get one of the jobs that were promised. Who are you?""I am worse," he said, "I am one of the 30,000 who had a job and who lost it since Fianna Fáil came in."

Am I right in thinking that the picture is entirely different after an election from what was exposed to the people to get their votes before the election?

The Deputy is not right; he is wrong.

Would the Deputy explain where I am wrong?

No; I am just telling you.

The Deputy is just content to say I am wrong. I thought this House was a place for argument and that we might have the value of the Deputy's argument.

I have already contributed to the argument.

It should not be done in such a namby-pamby way. The Deputy should stand up to it. Will he stand up and say where I am wrong? Was there not a promise of more jobs in the country?

And there have been.

Not at all.

Let us get one thing at a time.

How many more were there?

There was a promise of more jobs, was there not?

There was a promise that we would try to get more.

To do your best.

You promised more jobs. There was no suggestion of "if we can do it". It was: "We will do it.""Wives get your husbands back to work." The Deputy reminds me—what was the number of jobs? Was it 100,000? Am I right?

Does the Deputy deny that there was a figure of 100,000 in what was called "the Lemass scheme"?

Yes, some time before the election.

The promise was made?

Some considerable time.

But not after.

But not after! I am getting the contrast. Was there not a statement that the food subsidies would not be withdrawn?

No. There was a statement that it was not our policy to withdraw the subsidies.

"We have no intention of withdrawing them."

And we had not, but this hardly seems relevant.

Had you taken a decision before you left office?

May I be referred to any record of that decision?

The reference is to be found in the Estimates that were framed. Where was the money to come from?

And the subsidies were still in the Estimates.

Tell us where the money was to come from.

Will you tell us where the money is to come from for the jet planes?

The subsidies were in the Estimates and there was no intention to remove them from the Estimates.

Then tell us where you proposed to get the money to pay the subsidies.

Now let us return to Deputy Booth.

Would the Deputy return to the motion?

Will the Deputy agree that there are 30,000 fewer people in employment now than there were two years ago?

I do not know but I doubt it.

Does the Deputy know that the Government have produced a book giving the employment figures at the end of 1958 and they are 30,000 fewer than at the end of 1957?

I do know that unemployment is down and that emigration is down.

I questioned the Minister for Finance on that point during the Budget debate when I asked him how was it possible that unemployment can be lower and that emigration can be lower and at the same time, we have fewer people employed. The answer he gave me was that they must be emigrating.

That was not the answer. The explanation was that the figures referred to dealt with a period in the past and that the figures for last year will be published in a couple of months.

The answer was that they must be emigrating and that is the only answer he gave me. There can be no other answer. Yet it is contended that emigration is down and that unemployment is down.

The figures given were given up to the end of 1958.

They were not.

The figures were published for the year 1958.

This matter is not relevant to the motion before the House. The Deputy is going into great detail on unemployment and emigration.

I am not sure if you were in the Chair when this matter started, Sir. I am answering a question posed by Deputy Kitt that an election programme ought to be made before an election and not afterwards. I contend that in, 1957, the Fianna Fáil Party promised the electorate 100,000 new jobs and after the election, the reality was 30,000 fewer jobs and dearer food.

And extra health charges.

There was no promise of that before the election. If, as Deputy Kitt says, the people gave their answer in no uncertain manner in the 1957 election, I do not know why there is all the horror of putting this matter to the people in a general election. The Taoiseach expressed himself more clearly than any of his Deputies when he said in Monaghan that there was no hope under the present system of Fianna Fáil ever getting an overall majority again.

He did not say that.

What did he say?

He said they could not count on it.

I hope that on any other occasion on which I am speaking here, the Deputy to whom I shall refer as the cuckoo will come in here to his nest. I find that he is very helpful to me. If the Taoiseach could count on it, we would still have the same system. Is that not right?

Of course, he cannot count on it. He knows he would never again get it in his lifetime or in that of his Party. The pattern of politics in this country changed just after the war. The Government were lucky to be in office during the time the war was on because then there was a feeling that it would be wrong to change the Government during a time of crisis. The first time the people got a chance to speak their mind after the war was in 1948 and Fianna Fáil were beaten. In those days, the people had not got acquainted with the form of coalition governments, but whether they knew about them or not, they were certain of one thing, that is, that they did not want Fianna Fáil—and they were quite decisive about that.

They did not want Fine Gael, either.

After the 1948 election, a coalition Government was formed, something that nobody expected.

Exactly.

It was formed to the frightful disturbance of the Party which Deputy Booth was later to join. It was a strange thing for the Taoiseach to find that this could happen. Before that Government was formed and before the election, there was no coherence between the Parties who formed it. Thy had different policies but they met together and decided it was better to give the people a chance to enjoy a different form of government from that provided by Fianna Fáil.

That Government went out in 1951. It was actually returned in 1951 also, but six people who were told by the electors to join a coalition Government went over to Fianna Fáil. Those six people were wiped out ruthlessly by the voters at the next election because of their traitorous behaviour at that time. In 1954, the people most deliberately voted for a coalition Government. It was promised to them from the platforms. We said that we would go into coalition if the people gave sufficient votes to enable us to do so and they gave us the votes.

There is no doubt that the whole fabric of government in this country has changed since 1948. The Taoiseach, who knows politics, if he knows nothing else, can see that. He knows that the victory of 1957 was a very hollow thing. It is because the truth is known that there is never again a possibility of his getting an over-all majority for whatever Party he leads that he has brought in this proposal for the abolition of proportional representation.

We would be doomed to coalition government permanently.

Perhaps the Deputy does not want that, but perhaps the people do. Are they not entitled to have it if they want it?

There is no alternative then. There would be no alternative if no Party could get an over-all majority.

Then if there is no alternative, I welcome that position. Is it not the right of the people to say that that is what they want?

If they know what they are doing.

They have no right to do wrong.

Were the Fianna Fáil Party not put out of office by proportional representation? Was that not the system which gave the people the greatest freedom of choice?

It presented them with something they had not voted for.

Deputy Booth should allow Deputy McGilligan to speak.

The Deputy is so genteel it is hard to understand what he says. In any event it is seen here now after the two statements made, one of which was an aggressive statement against an Opposition; that was by the Minister for Local Government: "If this thing goes through Fine Gael have had it." That was the attack on his part and the other is the nicer phrase of the Taoiseach that unless this goes through—at least he wants it to go through—there is no hope of Fianna Fáil ever having an overall majority in this House again.

The Taoiseach apparently equates the national interests with the fortunes of the Fianna Fáil Party, and, therefore, feels he is entitled to throw everything into the arena. It is now being made a completely Party question. There is no longer any pretence that it is being put in an ordinary way for the people to express their views on it after deliberation. The main thing emerging from the debate is that what Fianna Fáil detests most is the effort to educate the people as to what this thing means. All the efforts that have been made in the Seanad during the various Stages, and here again now, are not so much devoted to the question as to whether a vote should be taken on a certain date or not, but that when the matter comes before the people the people will know to some degree what they are voting for, and will not be swayed by Party emotion and a one-Party machine.

As a Deputy from the same constituency as the Taoiseach I feel it incumbent on me to stand up at the close of this debate and say a few words.

Is it possible to read a newspaper in the House in the view of the Chair?

I did not catch that.

Deputy Booth is reading aHerald while the Deputy is speaking.

He is getting educated now.

The Chair is not aware that Deputy Booth is reading any newspaper. The reading of newspapers is not allowed in the House except for the purpose of reference.

I do not think he was referring to anything.

What makes the Deputy think I was not?

There is more sense in Joe Sherwood.

It is very bad manners to the Deputy in possession.

The question before the House has been debated since last November, and there is not a whole lot left for me to say this evening but, anyway, I shall try to be honest with the House and with the people who sent me here. While saying that, I must add that I honestly believe what has been happening here since last November is nothing more or less than the result of a civil war. Mind you, a civil war in other countries, as well as here, is not easily forgotten. I personally believe it is the spirit of that civil war which permeates this House through the years, unfortunately to the detriment of the country and of the people of the country.

One thing which strikes me very forcibly is that every native Parliament since 1922 has been elected under the P.R. system. As far back as 1927 even the leader of the Government, then Leader of Sinn Féin, speaking at Cavan said that he would be completely out against anybody who would oppose the P.R. system. Again, in 1937, not being satisfied with the then Constitution he drafted his own which, of course, as leader of the Government he was perfectly entitled to do, but he took very good care to insert and endorse the system of P.R. in that Constitution, simply and solely because he said we were a lucky people to have it—it was the system we knew and the system we understood.

Having made those statements I feel it is rather peculiar, now that he is about to retire from the political arena, that he should ask to have the system of election which placed him in power done away with, the system which gave him the strong majority which his Government has at present. Despite that, he gives as one of his reasons for the abolition of proportional representation that we could never get a strong and stable Government until it was abolished. It is an extraordinary thing that the man who got what he says could not be got under P.R.—a strong Government —should now use his power to do away with the system which gave him the power to do away with it.

I honestly believe there must be something very sinister behind the proposal. What it is I do not know, but time will tell. Personally, for the sake of our people and for the sake of generations yet to come, I certainly would not like that that system would be done away with inasmuch as it is quite possible—and I think Deputies and the Minister on the opposite side will agree with me—that Fianna Fáil can get into office with a very big majority, and it is possible, having got that majority under the straight vote, there is nothing to prevent them from prolonging the life of the Dáil. After five years they could easily say—we should all rejoice in it if we were inside here at the time—that the life of the Dáil should be ten years, and that once in ten years would be enough to have an election. I definitely would agree with them on that, if I were here myself, but it would be giving them a power which I would not like them to get, and it might be as well for themselves that they should not get that power.

Those are my views. I believe that when the Taoiseach is resigning from the public and political life of the country he should leave to the people the system of election which he has said they should be proud to have, the system of election they knew and the system of election they understood.

I should like to join my voice with that of every member of the House outside the Fianna Fáil Party in appealing to the Taoiseach to accept the amendment tabled by Deputy Costello and Deputy Mulcahy. This is a very reasonable amendment, that a committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas study the whole system of election in this country and ascertain whether there is any better system, or any improvement on the present system, which could be suggested. The Taoiseach has done that already in relation to the Seanad. He has already set up a committee to go into the form of election for the Seanad. If that is necessary for the Seanad, how much more necessary is it for the Dáil, the real power in government? We have seen the power of the Seanad during the past few months when they turned down this Bill. We saw where the Government, by a mere motion and with a majority in this Dáil, could override the Seanad's decision on this matter.

We have had a debate here for quite a long time on the referendum and only one or two Independent Deputies spoke in favour of the change. Every other Independent spoke against it. We saw an even more united front in the Seanad and not one Independent member there spoke in favour of the change from proportional representation to the straight vote. When it came to the question of voting, the result was 29 against the proposed change and 28 for a change. The result looked very close, but I wonder do many people realise that 11 of the people who voted in favour of changing the present system were nominated to the Seanad by the Taoiseach? They had not even to go to the trouble of being elected as the other Senators had, so that really of the elected members in the Seanad, there were 29 in favour of no change and 17 for a change.

Immediately after, we had a proposal made by six University professors, six independent men, not depending on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or any other Party for their votes. They got their votes, you might say, in their own right as representative men. The graduates of the Universities felt that these candidates were best fitted to represent them.

The Chair has ruled that the individual views of Senators are not relevant to the motion.

I am not stating individual views; I am referring only to this united appeal.

The Deputy is entitled to refer to the action of the Seanad but not to the individual actions of Senators.

I take it that the Deputy is entitled to refer to a published statement by six University Senators?

That is quite correct; he is entitled to do that.

That is what I am referring to. These Senators do not belong to any political Party. They are six independent people and they just asked for the same thing as this amendment asks for—that a committee be set up by both Houses of the Oireachtas to go into the matter of a change in the system of election.

As the Minister for Lands stated definitely here this evening, if this goes through, it is a leap in the dark. Do the present Government want the country to take a leap in the dark? After all, we in this House will not be here in 25, or 30 or 40 years' time. We do not know what could happen here. We have had practically 40 years' experience of the present system and we know what can happen. We know that the people at any general election, if they so desire, can change from a Fianna Fáil Government to an inter-Party Government or any other Government. In fact we have had various changes since 1948 and there was no trouble about the people changing from one Government to another. The system in operation gave them that opportunity and under that system we have had the strongest Government since the State was established.

The Government have not been two years in office and they have three years more to complete their term. If in two years' time the Government said: "The plans which we had in 1957 have not yet matured. We firmly believe that we have got so far in the field and that if a change were made in the Government next year, all these plans would be dashed to the ground. We want a change in the system so that we may be able to carry on for another five years" there might be some grounds for this. Instead, having been in office for two years—during which time we saw no fruits of good Government, although we have seen the fruits of strong Government—they seek this change. We have seen the various Budgets brought in by the Minister for Finance and we saw that the Minister for Agriculture, during the year, was lost and could not be found. That can be strong Government. It can be strong Government when you can have the position that the Ministers are in such a position that they do not care about the Dáil and give irrelevant answers when they are challenged. But can you have good Government in that way?

It is most essential for Parliament, in any country outside the Iron Curtain, to have a responsible Opposition and to have a reasonably-sized Opposition. When you have Bills passing through this House, as you have nearly every month or so, you must have some Opposition to examine these Bills, someone who is qualified, possibly by reason of previous Ministerial experience. If we have not got representative Opposition, there is no hope of helping the Government. The Government produce Bills and the people expect the Opposition to perform the duty of an efficient Opposition, and examine the Bills and suggest amendments. If the Government are not prepared to carry out those amendments, the Opposition cannot help it, but they are supposed to do their duty, and often when a non-contentious Bill is passing through the House, the Government see their way to accept the Opposition's amendments, or see the good points put up by the Opposition. If you gave a Bill direct from the draftsman to an ordinary man, he would hardly understand it and it is only a man qualified through years of Parliamentary experience who can go through it.

The Ministers have the assistance of experts in their Departments. They are there, whatever Minister or whatever Party is in power. They, or their successors, are there to assist the Ministers, but the Opposition have no facility whatever for obtaining assistance from any expert and it is most essential that there should be a responsible and representative Opposition in the House. If this Bill goes through, it could happen that Fianna Fáil or any other Party, would come back in another election, with 100 seats. Where would we be then? There might be only 30 or 40 people in opposition. Those people would not be whole-time politicians. They would have only a Deputy's allowance and could devote only part of their time to the business of this House. How could the people expect those Deputies to sit down week after week and do the work which should be done by 60 or 70 Deputies? When there are 60 or 70 Deputies, the job is quite easy, although they still have not got the expert assistance the Government have. That is natural enough. A Minister must have expert assistance to carry a Bill through the House.

The one great fault in this proposal is that it represents a leap in the dark and I say that we would have much the same result as they have had in Northern Ireland. The Unionist Government in Northern Ireland abolished P.R. from the same point of view as Fianna Fáil are trying to abolish it. First there was the cry: "We do not want small Parties. Small Parties can put up an election programme to the people which they will not have to carry out because they can never be called upon to form a Government." However, since last November or December the people have seen through that attitude and now the Taoiseach bluntly says it was because Fianna Fáil could not count on obtaining an over-all majority in any future elections under the present electoral system that they wished to allow the people to decide in what way Deputies should be elected in future.

It was not a member of the Opposition who said that. We have been saying it all the time but the Taoiseach is saying it now, that it is because Fianna Fáil could not obtain a majority that they are going to the country in this manner. Surely it is unfair for them to change the rules of the game when it suits them. The advantage of setting up this committee is that the people would see that here was a committee representing all Parties in the Dáil and Seanad, which would remove the impression that this Bill is being promoted to perpetuate a Party. The Taoiseach is advancing in years and many people expected he would not be here this week but if he cares to be present another week that is his business. However, it is very bad policy to try to perpetuate a Party in office. Who can be sure of anything in this world? If this change comes about it could act as a boomerang on the Fianna Fáil Party.

When Deputy Carew was speaking about the abolition of P.R. in the North, Deputy Cunningham, I think, said it would make no difference whatever here. Does he forget the gerrymandering that was done in Derry under this new system? The same thing could happen in Kilkenny and in Dublin. If there was a surplus in one constituency they could remove that surplus to another constituency and create another surplus there. Deputy Cunningham could not see that there would be exactly the same results here as in the North. In Derry City where there is a large majority of Nationalists, a majority of Unionists are sitting on the council due to the gerrymandering of that area.

I have already mentioned the difference between strong Government and good Government. We have the fruits of strong Government. I was speaking in Callan on an occasion when Fianna Fáil supporters were distributing handbills printed by theIrish Press saying: “Let us go ahead again.” It gave me an idea: to where are we going ahead? Are we to go ahead as we did in 1952 when under the Budget of that year Fianna Fáil took away half of the subsidies? We were wondering would we take away the other half and they were hardly back in Government when they removed it and put up the price of essential foods.

It is very hard for a man, employed or unemployed, nowadays to live in reasonable conditions. There is a great deal of unemployment, leading to emigration. Last Saturday week in Kilkenny a woman told me that the seventh of her eight sons had gone to England. I knew that woman and her family well and they had come to me to help them obtain jobs on the corporation building scheme. They were anxious to work and were physically able to do good work as I found out from the engineer. Every building scheme closed down and when I went to the Minister for Local Government about building in Kilkenny he said: "Do not mention unemployment. That has no bearing on it." I tried to put a hardship case. The former Minister had sanctioned a full scheme and the present Minister had cut it down to half. He said unemployment had nothing to do with it. I went to him on behalf of the people I represent——

I do not see how this arises on the motion or the amendment.

I am pointing out what strong Government means. If he was not a member of a strong Government he would not have said that. He would have said: "We have three Deputies in Kilkenny. If I do not at least investigate the unemployment situation in Kilkenny I shall not be carrying out my duty." However, words of his have become famous in this country: "If this Bill goes through Fine Gael will have had it." He is only a few hours away from the Bill going through and he will have his heart's desire. I am sure the Minister for Local Government will be delighted to think that Fine Gael will have had it. However, if this change is made it is not Fine Gael or any other Party who will have had it but the people for generations to come.

No matter what propaganda goes out from the Government and the Party opposite, no matter how much money they collect, in whatever way they collect it and whatever machine they use, the people can be trusted to take the right decision. If the Bill had been rushed through last December the people would have been at a disadvantage, but now they have seen the difference between P.R. and the single member dictatorship. The people will not stand for dictatorship. The Minister for Local Government will be proved wrong, and the people will not have had it. They will say, "no" when they are called on to vote and I have no doubt that they will also say "MacEoin" in the Presidential Election.

Most of us are inclined to forget a very important thing, that the electorate of this country who are under 59 years of age know only one system of election, that is, P.R. All under 59 years of age are ignorant of the method of election known as the straight vote. It is essential to point out to them the difference between election by P.R. and election by what Fianna Fáil like to call the straight vote.

A Bill was introduced here last October or November. The Opposition were upbraided because they dared oppose it. The Seanad was upbraided because they dared oppose and defeat it. Today we are being told by Fianna Fáil: "You are trying to waste the time of the House by talking this matter out." I think the nation owes a vote of thanks to the Opposition for the manner in which they have talked this matter out, because all the electorate under 59 years of age would not know what this Bill was about or why a referendum is being held were it not for the manner in which the facts have been presented to them by the Opposition speakers. For that reason they have done a service to the nation.

Every speaker on this side and in the Labour, the Clann na Talmhan and Independent benches has done a very good service to the nation by explaining to them from this forum what is meant by this Bill. I wonder what would have happened if no opposition had been offered here and the Bill became an Act, came before the country and the people were asked to mark a cross before "Yes" or "No". What percentage of the electorate at that stage would know what it was all about? I am afraid very few indeed of those under the age of 59.

Having justified our action in talking it out, we now come to the question as to why we should have this Bill before us at all. The people had a Constitution in 1922. That Constitution was accepted, and it worked perfectly for 15 years. The present Taoiseach and his Party decided to amend the Constitution in 1937. In my opinion the big thing in the Constitution of 1922 and in the Constitution of 1937 is proportional representation. If the Taoiseach had any doubts as to the virtue of that particular Article in the Constitution of 1937 he should have brought it to the notice of the Irish people, but he now tells us that even in 1937 he had his doubts.

He says the Irish people had a Magna Charta in 1937 in Bunreacht na hÉireann, the Irish Constitution. But the Taoiseach says he doubted very much if the Irish people would have accepted it if the electoral system was amended by the abolition of proportional representation. Surely that is a fraud? I think that is a downright fraud. It is pulling the wool across the eyes of the Irish people, by saying: "Look, accept this Constitution. There is one of the good Articles in it —an electoral system by which minorities will be represented in Parliament and will have the forum of the Parliament to voice their opinions. I am putting that in but immediately I get the chance I shall take it out. There are doubts at the back of my mind today in 1937, but unfortunately I cannot afford to express my doubts because, if I do, you will not accept this Magna Charta we are offering." The Taoiseach decided to let sleeping dogs lie and did not bother any more about it. It never worried him until 1948. Something happened in 1948 which created grave doubts in his mind as to the advantages of proportional representation.

What caused those grave doubts? Those doubts were caused by a number of Parties representing different political opinions coming together and deciding to work for the benefit of the nation as a whole. Remember the time that that occurred in 1948. It occurred in the month of February. Up in my own constituency, two months before, the present Tánaiste appeared; and what was the picture he painted for the Irish people? He said to them: "You are facing the three blackest years in the history of this country economically and financially." He said that, to try and pull us out of the mire, he would impose certain taxes. The Irish people believed the Tánaiste and said: "This is serious. He evidently meant what he said because he has imposed these penal taxes."

The Irish people hastened to listen to the voices of Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta and the Independents who said: "We do not believe that this nation is facing this critical time which the Tánaiste says it is." Each of those Parties asked the electorate to elect them to office. The electorate did not elect them to office but gave them a majority over Fianna Fáil.

They did not. It took Independents. Fianna Fáil had a majority over all Parties.

Then why did you not elect a Taoiseach and Government?

I said Independents.

Independents are a Party too.

They are not a Party.

They are elected by the people of this State.

But they are not a Party.

I included the Independent Party.

There is no Independent Party.

Did Fianna Fáil not accept the support of Independents?

The point I am making is that the Coalition Parties had not got a majority over Fianna Fáil in 1948.

Does the Minister agree with me that those gentlemen there, representing independent interests here, were right in voting for any Government they wished?

Of course they were. I am saying they were not a Party.

My argument is that the people did not believe the then Tánaiste that this country was in the dire economic and financial state in which the Tánaiste said it was. Sinking their differences, all those Parties decided to come together and work on a common platform to prove that by co-operation between them they could pull the State out of this mire into which the Tánaiste said it was sinking.

I put it to the Minister that they did pull it out of the mire. What was the first thing they did? The only visible evidence of mire was the imposition of penal taxes. Is that not so? They abolished them right on the spot. Not only did they do that but they saw that this country at that time was reeking with tuberculosis and no effort was being made by the then Government to house those unfortunate patients. Not only did they take away those penal taxes but they found money for the erection of sanatoria all over the country. When did they do that? In the days when Fianna Fáil told us we were facing the greatest financial and economic crisis this State had ever known. How did they do it? By coming together, pooling their plans, getting the best out of the policy of each Party and cooperating. That is what they did in the years when Fianna Fáil were prophesying disaster for the future. But they did it so well that they created a doubt in the mind of the Taoiseach.

Then the Taoiseach said: "We are up against a problem. This thing is going so well that the first chance we get we shall nip it in the bud. We shall leave this State with two Parties, and two Parties only." Now let there be no doubt whatever about this. Fine Gael is based on the acceptance of the Treaty; they are Treatyites. That was the foundation of the Fine Gael Party. I am not saying what Fianna Fáil are now but they were anti-Treatyites. That was the difference between the two big Parties in this State. But there were a number of Parties, such as Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and Labour, who said: "To hell with the Treaty, the Treatyites and the anti-Treatyites, let us try and get together." What does the Taoiseach say? "No, we still have two Parties, Treatyites and anti-Treatyites. That is what I want. Let history decide which was right."

I shall not debate the merits of the Treaty. Like the Minister, I was probably going around in skirts at the time. The less I know about what occurred at the time the better. But it is a pity that we should perpetuate that difference. It is a pity we should try to wipe out Labour, Farmers, Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta and Independents. My good friend over there, Deputy Davern, on one occasion when I was saying it was a pity that Labour and Farmers should go, said: "We have all those in the Fianna Fáil Party." Is that not the clue to the whole thing? In other words: "We represent all interests in this State; therefore, there should be only one Party, namely, Fianna Fáil." Another Deputy said the same thing. It was said by way of interjection, but I think it was letting the cat out of the bag. Does the Minister agree with one Party being elected to a democratic Parliament such as this?

Nobody agrees with that.

Very good. Therefore the Minister agrees there should be at least two Parties? More than one? Why should not new Parties, if they wish to creep up, have an opportunity——

So they can, as the Labour Party did in England under the straight vote.

The Minister for Defence will remember when the Labour Party first came into being in England. It came into being or rather gained momentum and strength during the first World War.

When was it first formed and how long would it have remained in petticoats?

Exactly, how long would it have remained in petticoats were it not for that uplifting of what I might call the lower middle classes during the first World War? Suppose for a second that Gael Linn want to voice their policy and views by electing members to this House. Political Parties do not spring up as mushrooms in this State of ours. They proceed as Clann na Poblachta did, that is, by getting a candidate in now and another in again and by using this forum for putting their policy before the people. Eventually, they are able, possibly, to elect a Party which will have some weight either in Government or in Opposition. But, under the straight vote, they have not a hope in hell of electing a Deputy to this House.

Suppose for a second the people of rural Ireland decided they wanted to elect a farmer candidate. Must he join one of the two Parties in order to get representation here? The Minister says he must join either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. However, the policy of the farmer might clash with the policy of either of the two big Parties in the House. If it does, he has to swallow the policy he is advocating and accept the policy of one or other of the two Parties. He will be left in the wilderness if he does not do that. That is one of the Taoiseach's arguments.

The Minister for Health went down the country and said, in effect: "I think, under the straight vote, that what will happen is that the best candidate, the most popular candidate, the most influential candidate in each constituency, will be elected irrespective of the Party to which he belongs." Supposing that happens and supposing we have 146 Independent Deputies coming in here. Surely the first thing we would have to do would be to form an inter-Party Government. They would have to form themselves into groups—rural groups, urban groups, Gaeltacht groups and probably Masonic groups. Then they would have to coalesce amongst themselves and come to produce some agreed policy. Would that be a proper system?

I think the electoral system we have is an ideal one. Let me take as an example the constituency which I have the honour to represent with Deputies Breslin and J. Brennan. Suppose for a second that in my constituency a supporter of Deputy Breslin is dissatisfied with the manner in which he is looking after a particular matter. He has the right to turn to me, as the opposite number.

He would not go to you.

Does he not go to the three of you together?

Sure—because he knows he has us on our toes. We have to be on our toes because if I do not work for my constituent and my supporter he will very soon go to Deputy Breslin or to Deputy J. Brennan. I shall take care that I shall work for him and he will not go to them—and Deputy Breslin and Deputy J. Brennan will do the same thing for their supporters. They know well that if a constituent is dissatisfied with them he will switch over to me very quickly. We can hold up West Donegal as an example to most constituencies. All the Deputies there are on their toes, which is a very good thing.

Suppose one Deputy only represents my constituency. Suppose he happens to be Deputy Breslin or myself. I know who is voting for me just as Deputy Breslin knows who is voting for him. We know our supporters. What chance has the opposite number, the person who supported the defeated candidate, of getting cothrom na féinne from the elected Deputy? None whatever. What is worse, if that Deputy is a Party hack—I am not saying he is one side or the other—what say exactly has the local convention in his election? We have had examples of it. I shall quote only Fianna Fáil. You remember the by-election in Wicklow. The local convention selected a candidate but the Party bosses said, in effect: "No, we do not want him. You will take our man. If you do not take our man, out you get."

What would it be like, I wonder, if there were only one Deputy for a constituency? That Deputy would be selected by the Party bosses in Dublin and that Deputy would eventually reap the fruits of office in the profession of which he happened to be a member, be he a farmer, lawyer, doctor or anything else. He will move on and his successor, again, would be nominated by the Party bosses in Dublin, and so on down through the years with the result that, after a few generations, the elected Deputies would probably live in Dublin City and have no contact whatsoever with their constituents, as happens in England to-day. They would live in the City of Dublin.

Like some of your own.

Remember that, if some of my own do that, the people, under P.R., have an opportunity of throwing them out. Under the direct vote, they will not have a hope of throwing out a man of that type because he will be the nominee of the Party boss and he is the big chief and what he says goes.

I am referring to what Fianna Fáil hope there will be, namely, two Parties and two Parties only. While a Deputy was speaking the other day and referring to the two-Party system in the North he was interrupted by Deputy Booth who said that the Government is elected by the will of the people. Do Deputies here subscribe to the view that Stormont is elected by the will of the people in the Six Counties? Will any person here stand over that statement by Deputy Booth? We who live on the Border have some experience of gerrymandering. Derry, Fermanagh, Tyrone, South Armagh are left without representation despite the fact that the Nationalists there have a majority of the votes. However, by the manipulation of gerrymandering, they are left without representation. Suppose we had a strong Government and a weak Opposition here and suppose we came to revise the constituencies, as we would have to do every ten years. Suppose that strong Government had the say in the revision of the constituencies, I wonder if we would have gerrymandering here? Does anybody doubt that we have had gerrymandering here? I think that is one of the strongest reasons why we should oppose this Bill.

There is another matter to which Deputy McGilligan referred. On the occasion of the last referendum, there were local elections. One of the reasons advanced at that time for having the local elections and the referendum on the same day was that there were no politics in local authorities, that the members were not elected on Party lines, that, in the main, they were independent and that their supporters would be coming out to vote and that it would be an opportunity to bring them out to vote. Despite that, as Deputy McGilligan has pointed out, 100,000 electors who came out to vote in the local elections refused or failed to cast their votes in the referendum. If an elector wishes to vote for one of the two candidates for the Presidency, or one of the three, if there are three, and goes to the polling booth and demands a ballot paper, will the referendum ballot paper be pushed into his hand or, if he wants to vote in the referendum and demands a referendum ballot paper, will the ballot paper for the Presidential election be pushed into his hand? If it is, surely that is intimidation, because he has to return the paper and there is a duty and an onus on the returning officer to see that every ballot paper handed out by him goes into the box.

When this matter was first mooted, the Taoiseach assured us that there would be no other election on the same day as the referendum, that the people would have an opportunity there and then of expressing their views for or against proportional representation. He then changed his mind, without expressing a view, and hinted that it might be possible that we would have the two elections on the same day.

Immediately Fine Gael announced their intention of putting Deputy MacEoin forward as a candidate for the Presidency, the Taoiseach, as a political stroke, had to counteract that and threw himself into the fray, not, in my opinion, in the hope that he would go to the Park—I do not believe that the man ever wanted to go to the Park. I think it is breaking his heart to leave that front seat—but because he is being pushed. The reason he is being pushed is, not to make him President, but to carry the referendum, in the hope that the name of the Taoiseach will encourage all Fianna Fáil supporters to come out and vote, not only for him, but for his policy, as they did in the past, without even knowing what it is.

As I said the other day, Fianna Fáil played their cards and, in the end—I do not say it in any way disrespectfully— they produce the joker and they hope the joker will win the trick. I do not say that in any disrespectful manner to the Taoiseach.

He will have the right to nominate his successor as Taoiseach. The ambition of his Party is that he will go to the Park, that he will nominate his successor as Taoiseach, that the referendum will be carried and that his Party will remain in office for at least another generation. Not only does he write his last will and testament, but wants to see it probated as well. That, in my opinion, is exactly what they are endeavouring to do by holding these two most important elections on the same day.

As I said at the outset, we have performed our duty in the proper manner to the nation by endeavouring to enlighten the electorate, particularly all those under 59 years of age who knew only the proportional representation system of election. We have done a great day's work for the nation by educating the electorate into the disadvantages of doing away with a system which has worked so satisfactorily since the foundation of this State.

This is the final stage of this debate and, as Deputy O'Donnell has said, it gives every Deputy a further chance of putting his views before the House. The charge that we on this side of the House have held up the debate unnecessarily is unwarranted, especially when one reflects on the seriousness of the subject. It is a very important matter and it is only right that it should get the fullest possible discussion, preparatory to its being put to the people.

The Taoiseach has a motion before the House in which he asks this House to deem a certain Bill to have been passed by the Seanad. That is a very unsatisfactory way of dealing with a Bill that has been fully discussed in the Seanad and defeated there. We are asked to assume that it has been passed by another part of the Oireachtas. A Bill comes before the House and is passed or defeated. This Bill, as we know, has been defeated in the Seanad after very frank and full discussion. Now, under the Constitution, it must come back to the Dáil and the Taoiseach asks that we should deem it to have been passed by the Seanad.

It is very interesting to contrast the methods of discussing this subject in the Dáil and in the Seanad. When the Bill was discussed in the Dáil some months ago, on the various Stages, it was passed by a Party vote. It then went to the Seanad and was defeated on a non-Party vote. That is very significant. In the Seanad, there are men of all shades of political opinion, men experienced in economic and political affairs, who are unbiased. They gave their decision and defeated the Bill. That is in sharp contrast with the result in this House. As Deputy O'Donnell has said, if the discussion on the Bill does nothing but draw people's attenton to the seriousness of the matter, it will have done a great deal.

In opposition to the Taoiseach's motion, there is a Fine Gael amendment which asks that the matter be referred to a commission composed of members of both Houses of the Oireachtas. To my mind, that might be rather dangerous because, human nature being what it is, vested interests might creep in, unavoidably. My personal opinion is that, if a commission were set up, it should be composed of impartial men of good standing, having no immediate connection with any part of the Oireachtas. However, I agree with the principle of setting up—shall we call it a court of inquiry? At least, it would mean that the issue could be put to the people with a certain degree of unanimity, that Party bitterness would be avoided and the people would be able, calmly and dispassionately, to assess the implications of the two systems. It is obvious that the amendment will not be accepted. This issue will be decided now on a Party basis. Deputies will be addressing the electorate throughout the country at weekends and they will appeal to the Party loyalties of the people; they will ask the people to vote in a certain way on this issue.

I do not think that is the proper way to tackle this matter because people will be blinded by their Party loyalties and they will not be able, objectively and dispassionately, to give a decision for or against, in the absence of a careful examination of all the implications inherent in the issue. It is more than significant that the two elections will be held in the same day. The Taoiseach is entering the Presidential contest. I think, in company with many others, that the Taoiseach is holding the referendum on the same day as the Presidential election for the express purpose of attracting out to vote the lukewarm Fianna Fáil supporter. If the two issues were decided separately on different days, it could easily happen that many Fianna Fáil supporters would not bother to come out to vote either for or against the abolition of P.R. I am convinced that many Fianna Fáil supporters throughout the country are quite satisfied to leave things as they are. They do not want this change. But when they see the name of Eamon de Valera on the Presidential ballot paper, they will feel impelled to vote for him out of a sense of loyalty and, having voted for him, they will go on and vote in the referendum.

It is admitted on this side of the House that there are defects in the present system. As I pointed out on an earlier occasion, a man can head the poll on the first count and yet be defeated. That happened at the last election in Galway. The man who headed the poll on the first count was eventually eliminated. Under the present system, too, we have the situation where a man who heads the poll with a large surplus draws in with him his colleague who may lie at the bottom of the poll. These are two glaring defects in the present system. That is one reason why I suggest this inquiry should be held in an effort to eradicate and eliminate such defects. There may be others.

When, however, we come to consider the proposed new system, we find that a man can easily be returned as the elected representative of the people in a constituency and yet not command the majority support of the people in that constituency. If for no other reason, an inquiry should be held for the purpose of examining into such a situation as that. It would redound to the credit of Fianna Fáil and to the credit of the Taoiseach if they would now accept this amendment. If this inquiry were set up, there would then be no further bitterness and there would be no regrets. The issue could be put to the people on a unanimous recommendation from this House.

It has been stated on many occasions by Fianna Fáil speakers in answer to criticisms which have come from this side of the House that it is the people who will decide. Of course, it is the people who will decide. It is only right and proper that they should decide. But the people should only be asked to decide an issue calling for a change for which they themselves have clamoured. They have not demanded this change. The Taoiseach has stated, here and elsewhere, that going around the country since 1948, he was asked on various occasions to abolish P.R. and bring in the straight vote. I am not aware of anyone in my constituency clamouring for that change. It is very significant that the Taoiseach made that statement only after he was defeated in 1948 and again after he was defeated in 1954. It appears now that the people were not clamouring for such a change prior to 1948. They were not demanding a change between 1932 and 1948. It was only after the accession to power of the two coalition Governments that the supposed clamour was noticed.

The charge is being made against us that we are preventing the issue from going to the people. That is a nonsensical charge to make, especially when one remembers that Fianna Fáil have a majority of 17 or 18 in this House, for all practical purposes. The combined Opposition know that Fianna Fáil can carry this issue, and will carry it. It is our duty, however, to insist on a discussion of this matter, a matter of grave import for the future of the country. The straight vote, if carried, will govern all future elections. For that reason, it is only right and proper that the matter should be fully discussed here.

There is one particular danger I can see resulting from this change. It might easily mean that we will have a preponderance of urban representation. There will be only one seat in each constituency. The bulk of the population reside in the towns. In each constituency, there will probably be one or two towns. The man who can attract the majority of the votes in the urban areas will most probably be an urban representative. His election will be detrimental to the rural population in that constituency, unless specifically rural constituencies are established. We shall have to await the outcome of the proposed commission before we shall know what the position will be.

In recent weeks, since this Bill came back from the Seanad, there is apparent in the country, reflected in the national Press, a growing realisation of the serious implications inherent in the Bill. When the suggestion was first mooted by the Taoiseach and when the Bill was introduced here, comparatively little notice was taken of it. The discussion which took place here and in the Seanad has brought to the people generally a realisation of the importance of this issue. I feel confident that they will vote wholeheartedly against the proposed change. We must remember, however, that many people who walk into the polling booth to vote on this issue will become somewhat confused when they read the official jargon on the ballot paper. They will not know whether to put "yes" or "no", respectively, in the squares.

Before they go in, they may have their minds fully made up to vote in a certain way, but when they get inside, they may get mixed up and put down "no" when they mean "yes" andvice versa. It is only right, therefore, that we should fully inform the people as to the implications of this, and as to the meaning of the question on the ballot paper, what it means actually. As a result of that difficult question on the ballot paper, this issue can be won and lost by default, by many people not realising they are making a mistake in putting “yes” where they meant to put “no”. Whatever the result of this issue, but especially if it is passed, it will not be a true reflection of the wish of the people because that wish will hinge on their Party loyalties.

I believe the two elections, the referendum election and the Presidential election, should be separated. I held the opposite view about that on the Second Stage, and I expressed the hope then that the elections would be held on the same day, if only for the reason of saving a certain amount of expense. Since then, I have been converted to the view that the two issues should be separated, not only to try to get a definite reflection of the opinions of the people, but also so that they will not be distracted by the attraction of the magnetic name of Eamon de Valera. The fact that the Presidential election and the referendum are being held on the same day will damage the ability of the people to give a proper and fair indication of their desire in this matter.

As I said before, there are other far more pressing problems to be tackled throughout the country at the present time. We have the high rate of emigration, and the high rate of unemployment, and it would suit the Government and the whole House better, if they tackled or tried, in a genuine way, to tackle the more pressing problems. I doubt that this change, if it is brought about, will solve or will help to make it easy to sole, the pressing problems which beset us.

I am convinced that there is an ulterior motive in the mind of the Taoiseach and in the mind of Fianna Fáil, in general, in bringing this motion to the House. I am convinced that this is a move to try to perpetuate their continuance in office, especially when they will no longer have the binding influence of the Taoiseach when he retires from politics—and it appears that that day is not far distant. It may be difficult for Fianna Fáil in those circumstances to remain a cohesive and united Party and I believe that in future, when the Taoiseach retires, they will find it rather difficult to command the support of the people which they command at the present time.

Therefore, I think there is really an ulterior motive in trying to change to the straight vote system. The reason put forward by the Taoiseach for the introduction of this measure is that P.R. leads to instability of government and irresponsibility in government. As I said before, if Fianna Fáil press this reason, they must admit that it is a reflection on themselves, and on their past periods of office since 1932, because they were elected under the P.R. system. If, therefore, the P.R. system results in instability and irresponsibility Fianna Fáil have been irresponsible and unstable for the past number of years. We must remember that under the P.R. system they have a majority to-day of 17 and that majority, in this comparatively small Parliament, is sufficient for them to implement their various plans and economic proposals, without seeking to consolidate themselves completely.

As the leader of the Opposition said, we are coming to the end of an era in this country and no one knows what is in front of us. An attempt, such as the attempt now being made, to change the system of election is, to my mind, fraught with great danger. Hints have been thrown out that a spirit of unrest and, possibly worse, might result under the straight vote system. I would hesitate to contribute to that view, because I should not like to hold the opinion that this spirit of unrest should be encouraged by any kind of inflammatory speech.

Deputy Dillon appealed to the Taoiseach even at this eleventh hour to accept the amendment. I should like to endorse that appeal even at this eleventh hour and a half. I am convinced it will not be accepted, but we would be failing in our duty if we did not press the amendment, and the importance and the efficacy of the amendment, on the Taoiseach in so far as possible.

I have not very much more to say except to comment briefly on the setup envisaged in the proposed commission which may revise the constituencies if the Bill goes through. There are to be seven men on the commission: three from the Fianna Fáil benches, three from the Opposition benches, with a neutral chairman to be appointed by the President. If the three Fianna Fáil members and the three Opposition members of the commission do not agree on any plan for the revision of the constituencies, the Chairman, the seventh man on the commission, may present his plan for the proposed revision, and that plan will be accepted, even thought it is the work of only one individual. The job of recarving and reshaping the constituencies, if it ever happens, is too big for one man, and he should not be given that terrible power, as I would put it, the power to decide on the new constituencies. His suggestions will be accepted in their entirety by the President. That is a very wrong and very unsuitable arrangement.

Mention has been made of the fact that under the straight vote system the people will have no choice of candidate. That is quite true because no Party will put forward more than one candidate for one seat in a constituency. If the people in a constituency do not like the candidate of a particular Party, it could easily result in their abstaining from voting and you would have a reduced vote. That would be bad because it would mean we would not have a reflection of the majority opinion of the people.

They may be in favour of voting for the particular Party but they may not be in favour of voting for the particular candidate and therfore they would abstain from voting. Under the present system, the people have at least two candidates from whom to choose their favourite; sometimes they have three and sometimes they have four. They will pick the man they think best to represent them. When they are confined to voting blindly for one person, it is bad.

I express the hope that this Bill, whenever it does go to the people, will be overwhelmingly defeated, as I think it will be defeated. I think the people are satisfied with the present system of election. It is the system they know. The Taoiseach himself said that in 1937 when he said it is the system we know and that it has worked well. I forget the other utterances of the Taoiseach in defence of proportional representation but I do know that he was a champion of it in 1937. It is significant that since 1948, after two defeats, he has thought the time opportune to make the change he wants made.

We have before us an amendment and I do not think it is too much to ask the Government Party to accept it. It merely asks that an independent body not tinged with any political bias should report on the system of election. The Taoiseach is not prepared to accept that. Instead he proposes to bulldoze this proposal through the House just as he tried to bulldoze it through in the middle of winter for the purpose of preventing the people from knowing all the facts.

There is no support outside this House for this proposal. Not one of the Fianna Fáil cumainn throughout the country asked for it. Only the Taoiseach asked for it and of course "yes" men have to say "yes" but I know that a lot of them throughout the country are saying "no." Not even the local Fianna Fáil cumainn have asked for it.

Different arguments have been put forward in support of the change. One Minister says one thing and another says something else. It has been said that it was imposed on us by the British and for that reason it must go. It was imposed on the North of Ireland by the British and the Taoiseach used to say that it would have to go there. He is not saying that to-night but he is saying that proportional representation must go here. He also says that we must have stability in government. That is a vote of no confidence in his own Party because Fianna Fáil now have the largest majority ever given to a Party in this House and still the Taoiseach says that there is no stability.

We have had a quarter of a century of Fianna Fáil rule and what have we after it? We have unemployment, emigration, pessimism, railways closing down all over the country and, worse still, no faith in democracy. That is the most dangerous point we have ever reached in our history. The Taoiseach has spoken about everything but the thing he was elected to do—to deal with the problems of unemployment and emigration. That is what he and his Party were sent into this House to do and yet we have such unemployment and emigration as were never known before. They have pulled this political red herring across the path to take the people's attention from the problems facing the country.

At the recent Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, the Taoiseach said they would all have to take off their coats but now he himself has thrown in the towel. He has lost faith in us and in the country. He is not going on any platform throughout the country. I know the amount of hard work that has been done by the Party. The Taoiseach says that we must abolish P.R. in order to get stable Government, but if the Taoiseach would abolish what he was sent here to abolish, unemployment and emigration, the people would have more faith in democracy.

I ask the Taoiseach, at this last minute, to accept the amendment proposed. It would be one of the biggest things he could do, but I suppose he would find it too hard to swallow his words.

Some Deputies who have spoken recently have voiced some hope that the Government would accept the motion in the names of Deputy Costello and myself. I do not speak with any hope of that. The 13th of May, 1959, will be a rather interesting date in Irish history. I do not know much about the history of the Parliament that passed the Act of Union and wiped itself out as a Parliament, but I do know a lot about the history of this House.

I do know that this motion will be passed by the strength of the Fianna Fáil vote in this House and that that vote will be analogous to the vote that passed the Act of Union and wiped itself out as an Irish Parliament. It will be a vote in an Irish Parliament attempting to weaken and destroy the foundations on which this House is based. We all know the need there is, in the light of the work that requires to be done by an Irish Parliament in relation to Irish conditions and the difficulties that confront us, for a secure and stable Parliament, built on the complete support of the people and working with their closest co-operation. If the intention of the vote of the Government Party tonight is carried into actual effect, and the foundations on which this Parliament is based were weakened in the way the Government proposal would weaken them, then the hopes with which this Parliament was set up would be completely dashed.

We are being asked to subscribe to a proposal that would go to the people as the recommendation from the Parliamentary majority that minorities should be allowed no chance of any representation in this House. That is the definite proposal: that the value of the Irish vote, and the restrictive way in which it would be cast, would be such that no minority would be able to appear in this House. We have had an example in the North of Ireland of how that has worked there, the effect it has had on Parliament, which it has nullified, and the effect which it has had on the minority section of the Parliament in the North of Ireland whose political powers it has completely atrophied with all that that implies.

The proposal, therefore, as I say, is so to weaken and destroy the foundations of this Parliament that the action of the Government to-night, in putting their full voting power behind their proposal, as against standing back and allowing it to be examined as the amendment suggests, is analogous to the vote cast when the Act of Union was passed in a previous Irish Parliament. We oppose that. We stand by an Irish Parliament in which the minority sections of the country can be represented with confidence. By permitting them to have their say and influence there, we retain for them a Parliament which they can respect, support and co-operate with.

This House, since its establishment, has had very many tragic moments. It has shown itself, in its ordinary days, to be a place where men of every Party, from every part of the country and every walk of life, can mix in harmony and friendship. Even in the course of the long debate that has taken place here on this issue, that aspect has shown itself. There is, however, one thing in this House which completely nullifies all that. When the drums beat on the 12th July in the North of Ireland the whole atmosphere is changed and people who would ordinarily salute one another and co-operate one with another, change completely. Here the division bells, and the hissing whisper of orders and instructions of one kind and another, have a much more frequent and even much more alarming effect on the Fianna Fáil vote in this House. We have had a situation here in which this House, great and all as has been its strength, and much as it has done for the country, has been hamstrung by reason of the fact that a large Party in this House regard themselves as an Ascendancy.

They are a Party who object to allowing anybody in this House, in Parliament, or in the country, to have any power but themselves. They object to any Party, or anybody in this country, getting any credit for any achievement, for having any brains and intelligence, or for having any national feeling but themselves. That is the blemish which is on this House. Perhaps this is the darkness here before the dawn when the people will have an opportunity of having their say, and the sound of the voices with which they will make their say on the Government's proposal to keep minorities out of this House perhaps will scatter the malignant spirit that holds a great Party in this House. Many people, with fine ideas and all that, will break the malignant spirit that brings so much of malice so much of dissension and so much of the Ascendancy spirit into the ringing of the division bell, and into the Party-whispered instructions.

I say that this House has had many tragic moments. It was founded in January, 1919, and though it was not internationally recognised it had great strength, great force, and great achievements. Where did the strength come from? Did it come from one Party? Did it come from two, or three, or four Parties? It came from the strength of the whole people banded together to stand simply by their own intelligence, by their own devotion to Ireland as a nation, and by their own confidence and comradeship with one another; standing together as a force, as a people, with an institution that they called our Parliament, as the institution to which they looked for guidance and protection and regarded as a symbol of their spirit and industry.

Where did it lead? Some speaker on history recently said history should not be an argument; it should be a conversation. We have not reached a time here in Ireland where history can safely be a conversation. I do not wish to discuss any aspect of history at this particular moment except by way of conversation and merely to put into its perspective the work we are doing here today. I say the Parliament established in January, 1919, representing nothing but a people, a united people in spite of differences of tradition, both politically and otherwise, nevertheless stood for a united people. We can just get one comment, in the conversational way in which people in England can discuss history with one another, on it.

Thornton inThe Imperial Idea And Its Enemies, referring to the position in Ireland said:

The case of Ireland made it clear to everyone that the British Empire could no longer be assumed to stand foursquare on a basis of unchallengeable power. For the Sinn Féin movement had challenged that power, and had challenged it successfully. They won Home Rule, denied to generation of Irish Nationalist parliamentarians, in a campaign of terrorism and crime. They won it not because they had superior military force. For England to ‘hold' Ireland in 1922 would have required the tactics of Strongbow, Essex, and Cromwell combined. England had bigger forces at her disposal still Cromwell had possessed: but employment of their tactics was not a practicable imperial policy.

A Parliament was internationally established in 1922 and we must ask ourselves what had the people stood up against? They had stood up against an attack on their liberties that began in 1912 and 1913, when another ascendancy Party, with an ascendancy spirit in Great Britain, thought they could ride roughshod even over a statute of the British House of Commons and, as another English historian, in a conversational way, writing about English history in the way in which they can apparently among themselves write today, described the situation that arose there as a rebellion against Parliament and a rebellious movement which would have destroyed Parliamentary institutions in Great Britain if the world war of 1914 had not broken out.

There was an ascendency spirit at that time in Great Britain. After that, there was the attempt to enforce conscription during the war. After the war for small nations had been won, there was the attempt to destroy the Irish Parliament established in January, 1919. All that came with the Black and Tans and with the arguments, and with the threats of war, and all that kind of thing. The strength of the people here, represented by their Parliament of 1919, was to overcome these forces and to set up this State. The strength of the people, the spirit of the people, and the common sense of the people, and the feeling that they had ideals with regard to life and a tradition with regard to these ideals that would withstand the gun that Pearse withstood, the imprisonment MacSwiney withstood and the torture that Ashe withstood, were all responsible for this Parliament being set up.

This Parliament had its moments of tragedy. The Taoiseach is well aware that I stood in the seat alongside him to answer to this House, and to the people, for an action taken to defend this House from being wiped out of existence by the assassination of the Deputies, one by one. We have come to establish our Parliament through terror and through struggle in arms, but in arms not simply for the sake of arms, but as showing the spirit that lay behind them. If we have had this struggle outside, we are quite aware that the stepping stones to this House are smeared with our own blood. We know how many died unnecessarily, in one way or another. The people, with the political plans they laid for electing this House and holding this House, have maintained this House and the path to this House could not have been maintained in the way it was maintained if it had not been for the spirit of our people, which is in their veins and in their minds and in their traditions and ideals.

If we tamper with the foundations, and tamper with the stream through which there flows into this House the spirit of our people, we are doing something to destroy what is our people's strength.

We are reducing ourselves, temporarily, at any rate, to what Parliament in the North of Ireland has been reduced, where an ascendancy holds itself, through unscrupulous means, in greater strength than it would otherwise have; where Parliamentary life is non-existent and where the political strength of the greater part of the minorities is completely atrophied.

The proposal which it is attempted to put across is in the spirit which I characterise in my own way, as the spirit that wiped out the Act of Union, the spirit that meant the Conservative Party in 1912 and 1913 trampled on British institutions and traditions in order to prevent our people from having a Parliament of its own. That spirit, with all kinds of suggestions, innuendoes and misrepresentations, denies that the electoral system upon which the Parliament is based, was based on Irish ideals and the Irish spirit and that it was intended to give, and did give, a reflection in our Parliament of the spirit that sought for unity and institutions that would represent the people.

In May, 1921, as I have said before, the Taoiseach issued a proclamation affirming the aims of Sinn Féin. He declared and I quote:-

The policy of Sinn Féin remains unchanged. It stands for the right of this nation to determine freely for themselves how they shall be governed and for the right of every citizen to an equal voice in the determination; it stands for civil and religious equality and for the full proportional representation and all possible safeguarding of minorities.

We are told by the same Taoiseach that proportional representation was forced upon the country in order to trick the people who stood for achieving nationalism and in order to divide and split the people. Then, the other day he told us that it was because Fianna Fáil could not count on obtaining an over-all majority in any future election under the present electoral system that they had decided to allow the people to decide by what system Dáil members would be elected in the future. To allow the people to decide——

Will the Deputy give the reference?

I am sorry; it was in theIrish Independent for 27th April, 1959. I am sure it was in the Irish Press, too. We are asked that an informed people should be allowed to decide. In the last hours of this debate, we have been left here with no voice speaking from the Government benches, while voice after voice spoke from the opposition benches, and with no attendance except a Parliamentary Secretary for a while and the Minister for Defence.

The Minister for Defence, in helping the people to decide, spoke in Listowel on 24th of January, 1959. I think the extract is fromThe Kerryman, but if anybody doubts that it is correct, I shall hand it over. The report states:

It is necessary that the Fianna Fáil organisation should be kept at its maximum efficiency in order that the important task of ridding the country of the present dangerous system of election should be successfully accomplished, said Mr. Kevin Boland, Minister for Defence, at a meeting of Listowel Comhairle Ceanntair on Saturday night.

A little over 21 years ago our Party undertook a similar task against the combined opposition of all the elements comprising the coalition of to-day. The object then was to replace the foreign imposed Constitution, which was established on the instructions of Lloyd George and with the aid of British arms by our present opponents, by a Republican Constitution, which will need no alteration when the Six Counties, bartered away by the same people, are regained.

A number of the people here to-day will remember the unscrupulous nature of the campaign that was waged by all the Opposition Parties in their last desperate stand in defence of the British Dominion called the Irish Free State. They will remember the frantic efforts made to mobilise every sectional interest against the enactment of a free Constitution.

Then he referred to—

...those who have stood firm in face of the organised thuggery of the Blueshirts and saved democracy from distinction.

The Minister for Finance, and I quote fromThe Sunday Press of 26th April, 1959, spoke in Dublin at a 21st Anniversary Dinner of the Irish Constitution. The report says—

Dr. Ryan, who was guest of honour at the function, said this was surprising having regard to the fact that the old Constitution mentioned the King of England 23 times and never mentioned the existence of God.

—all helping the people to decide whether P.R. should go or not.

This House was in being in September, 1925, although it was not recognised by the leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party at that time. Nevertheless sometime in 1925—Deputies who want to get the exact reference can refer to the records of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Congress in Washington and Ottawa in that year —Deputy Tom Johnston, Senator Michael Hayes who was then the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, and myself attended the Inter-Parliamentary Congress as the Irish representatives. In front of the full floor of that congress hall, where men from the very east of the world to the west were represented, Deputy Johnston stood up to challenge a statement made by the British Prime Minister at that time about the King of England. The statement was to the effect that when the King of England was at war all the Dominions were at war and so was the Irish Free State.

The Leader of the Labour Party challenged that and challenged it with such effect that the Leader of the British Party, Sir Robert Horne, who was out of the congress hall at the time, came back and found it necessary to answer what Deputy Johnston put up. He had to admit that what the Deputy had said was right, that there was no body who could commit the Irish Free State to war except Dáil Éireann. He added that it was not much use for the Irish to act like children, playing tig, crossing their fingers and saying: "I am not playing" because if there was a strong enemy at war with Great Britain, he could very easily get an excuse for bringing Ireland into war even without the acquiescence of Dáil Éireann.

However, that is where the King of England won in the Constitution that the electorate are being told about in such an informed way in order to prepare them for knocking down the foundation under our Parliament. As for God in the original Constitution, I wonder are the Government not ashamed of themselves that, incorrectly, wrongly, and in that way, they bring the name of God into the question.

Again I ask the Taoiseach: why do we offer up our prayers at the beginning of our daily work? Why do we as individuals pray daily that we may be made partakers of the Divinity of Him who partook of our humanity? I ask that question because it is a vital one in dealing with the foundations upon which you are to build up Parliament. There can be no question of dealing with our constitutional matters by mere arithmetic, by a mere ascendancy spirit directed to material things. We must realise that the spirit of man is a much bigger thing in which to invest, and requires investment more than the development of the resources of the country, any technique or any scientific approach to things.

This House is here only because it reflects the people's wishes and reflects their strength. It is deplorable that this House should be used contrary to the wishes of the people, so that one Ascendancy Party stands in debate against the rest, determined that nobody can have a voice or a say in Parliament or make any contribution to the work of the Government except themselves. If we cannot exercise that right we shall struggle along in the way in which we have been struggling and with the record that is there, but we shall not be conducting the affairs of Parliament in the way in which our people intended. We shall be carrying on the affairs of our Parliament, dating from its establishment in 1922, in a spirit which never informed our political affairs.

By way of referring to the spirit that moved the people in the difficult days when the Parliament of January, 1919 was set up, I should like to quote, as I have previously quoted, from Col. 1314 Vol. 171 of the Dáil Debates of the 2nd December, 1958, what Arthur Griffith said in June, 1912:

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

That is good enough for 1912 but I should like to go back to the higher reaches of the stream and to quote from the introduction to the first Irish Year Book that Griffith published in 1908. This was a beginning of an Irish encyclopaedia. In it various aspects of Irish life were dealt with for about four years and then stopped when the political work quickened, when the Home Rule Bill came along for discussion, when the Volunteers had to be organised. He had appealed to men of every Party, class and creed to convey in their own way their own experience and their own recommendations with regard to various aspects of Irish Life. The introduction to the book states:

The object of this book is to render available to the whole people of Ireland that information on the affairs of their country which is necessary for their defence and essential to their progress.

Then it goes on:—

...The National Council is responsible for the publication of theIrish Year Book but not for the opinions expressed by any of its contributors. Each contributor is responsible for what he or she has written, and for nothing else in this Book. Our object is to place before All Ireland a book in which All Ireland expresses itself, and when this book was projected we accordingly communicated with men and women of all parties, classes, and creeds in Ireland, inviting them to deal in the Irish Year Book with those subjects in which they were skilled. The response confirmed our faith that Irish Patriotism is the monopoly of no party, no sect, no class, Unionist and Anti-Unionist, Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Methodist and Quaker, the Northern Manufacturer and the Southern Agriculturist, the man of leisure and the man of toil— all are here offering the results of their study and experience to help their country.

He wanted what he called a concise meeting place in Ireland that would represent the spirit of those who showed, in the manner in which they set out to make a contribution to theYear Book, what contribution they wanted to make to develop Irish resources, to overcome and exorcise the antagonisms that were there for historic and other reasons and to help the various classes of society to come together and exchange their views, experiences and ideas in a developing Ireland on every aspect of Irish life, Irish education, Irish agriculture and Irish industry.

So that the ideal and the principle in the foundation of the system of proportional representation that was introduced in our Constitution, and that was introduced in our Constitution in accordance with the quotation from the Taoiseach's statement in May, 1921, as the tradition of Sinn Féin, sprung from the people of all Parties, creeds and classes and sprang from a recognition that what the country needed was a Parliament with representation for each of these sections of the people, where they would know one another, overcome their differences and bring their power of work and thought and co-operation together to advance the affairs of this country under an Irish Parliament.

If the people are being asked to do such a thing, which even the Government in their statement regard as so fundamental to our people, why have they to be misled and distracted and why have the emotions aroused over the spilling of Irish blood at Irish hands, with memories of our early steps here, to be brought into the situation? Is not the very fact that we have these memories, as well as the achievements in between, a warning to us that we have to look to our true traditions, where our teaching and strength come from?

What on earth are we to think of people's concern for this when we hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce speaking of Griffith, his ideals and his works, as the work of an immature political mind? I think he said "like the back-page expressions of an immature political mind." I heard Deputy Tom Kelly, a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, stand up here and speak very emotionally of the great man Griffith was and how he slaved from one end of the week to the other. He might have had 30/- coming in. Then he found himself in the position in which, when he did go and face the British representatives to have it out in the council chamber and find some kind of a formula for reconciliation and mutual working, he had the faith he had when he came back.

I had a similar experience to that in the corridors of this House when one responsible member of the Fianna Fáil Party, in a discussion with me arising out of what Tom Kelly said and my reaction to it, said, with regard to his own leaders: "I would not follow them to-morrow if I knew where to go." I do not mention that for acrimony. I mention it because I feel that at this hour of the day we ought to be to some extent among ourselves in the position in which we can discuss history conversationally, in the same way as the British can discuss things that were of vital import and that have really brought disaster on themselves. Because what the British attitude towards Ireland, as represented by the Conservative plot or rebellion of 1912 and what ultimately flew from that has brought on Ireland has been less in achievement than what it brought on Britain and British interests throughout the world; and what it has brought on Europe and the United States, goodness only knows.

I mention these things because they are known in the hearts and minds of everybody in this House. The difficulties I speak of are as well known to the people who face us as they are to ourselves. It is because I feel that they are as close to Irish sentiment in the past, and knowledge of where Irish strength lies, that I dare to criticise them and face them in this way. We are asked by an Act of this House to suggest to the people that the Irish Parliament wants them to tamper with their foundations here and to keep minority Parties out of the House.

Deputy O'Donnell spoke to-day of the two big Parties and of the people who wanted to have nothing to do with them because of their origins. He could very well know that there are people who supported one or other of these Parties who want to get away from that and want to find themselves in a position in a Party, or at any rate in a position in Parliament, in which they can discuss Irish matters and cooperate on Irish economic matters without having every expression they make and every discussion they have tangled with thoughts of the past. These people are not allowed to escape from the bird lime the Fianna Fáil Party want to lay around everything that was done here with the pure purpose of assembly.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has been speaking on economic matters. Let us look at just one item of the economic barometer. The figures published for the Budget discussion show that between 1957 and 1958 there was a fall of 10,000 persons in employment. In the same period there was a natural increase in population of 25,000 or 26,000. Going back to 1951, there was a fall in employment of 88,000 people. In 1958, 88,000 fewer people were in employment in the State than in 1951. In every one of these years, the natural increase in the population was there, an increase of 25,000 to 26,000 persons. Therefore, looking at our Ireland in 1958 and comparing it with 1951 we find that approximately 295,000 people are unaccounted for. I regard that as sufficient fact alone to suggest that there are serious problems with regard to employment and production to be attended to here.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has indicated that the wiping-out of P.R. is very definitely linked with the economic drive. He is a man with long experience in the Department of Industry and Commerce. I suppose he has been in that Department for about 20 years. A White Paper has been published and a grey book has been distributed to pull together all the possible things that could be done in the Irish economy. I wonder if the Taoiseach would tell us how the wiping-out of P.R. would strengthen the people to do the work required to help our people into employment or even to maintain in employment those in employment.

There is much talk today about adult education and about relations between management and labour. Does the Taoiseach not realise that some analogous principles apply between the people and their Government, between workers and their management? In the development of management-labour relations for better production, certain principles are being arrived at and, from the point of view of man's Divine origin and his Divine destiny, consideration has been given to these things in industry. Will the Taoiseach say that they have no bearing on the relations between man and man and between people and government in politics?

In the March/April, 1959, issue of theBulletin of the Catholic Societies Vocational Organisation Education Conference, under a note headed “The Key to Management-Labour Relations” I find this quoted from the Bishop of Shrewsbury:

In the construction of good relations between managers, workmen and consumers, the corner-stone is the recognition of the dignity of the human, individual personality.

In another part of the issue, the following sentence appears:

As late as February 5th, 1956, when addressing the International Conference on Human Relations in Industry, Pius XII lamented the fact that while dead matter emerges ennobled by industrial processes, men were there corrupted and degraded.

He then said that a slow improvement was being made from that position.

Later there was a reference to his Christmas message of 1942 in which he laid down five fundamental points for the peaceful order of society, which are as follows:

(i) The dignity and Rights of the Human Person.

(ii) The Protection of Social Unity, and especially of the Family.

(iii) The Dignity and Prerogatives of Labour.

(iv) The Restoration of the Judicial Constitution.

(v) The Christian Conception of the State.

He who would have the star of peace to shine permanently over society must do all in his power to restore to the human person the dignity which God conferred upon him from the beginning ... he must favour, by all legitimate means, and in every sphere of life social forms which render possible and guarantee full personal responsibility in regard to things both temporal and spiritual.

More and more, as the days pass, Governments as such are handed more and more responsibility and are finding out more and more vocational services that they can give to the society whom they govern. All the more, therefore, the people who elect the Government have to be sure that they can have confidence that the Government are dealing adequately and fully with those matters in which the people as a whole expect their help and guidance.

With regard to the proposals in this Bill, the Government have set out to bring about a situation in which they will squeeze the independence out of the people. You may have a Fine Gael man, a Farmer, a Fianna Fáil man, a Labour man or an Independent for a particular constituency and, in the game, Fianna Fáil against the rest, with all the astonishing crown of nationalism, achievement, and all that type of thing, around the Fianna Fáil candidate. They hope to be at the head of the list, in any case, and to be a Government supported by, say, about 4,500 people out of 15,000.

Why has the Deputy no hopes in that direction?

I am asking what you think about the dignity of man and about the dignity——

He would not know, anyhow.

——which he claims and prays for and about his function here on earth in being the fingers of God in taking the resources He places here in this earth and moulding them to all the greatness and the beauty and the services for which they were intended. My mind goes back again to the spirit which moved our people towards the years 1912 or 1913.

France has been mentioned here. Before the Volunteers were formed, our thoughts were in touch with Europe and with Christian thought, though we were not University people. There was a Bishop in France at that time who, writing of the magnificent achievements of the 19th century, then drawing to a close, painted a world in 1875—around the time of the Franco-Prussian War—where magnificent advances in science had taken place.

Telegrams were flashing around the world with the speed of light. The Alps were being tunnelled. The Pyrenees were being overcome. Bridges were being built over the seas. Geology was being developed. Unexpected developments in science which astonished the world were taking place at that time. There was never an age, he thought, with bigger disasters surrounding it and bigger abysses under its feet. If we today see how pygmy were the achievements that were referred to there as the achievements of the end of the 19th Century and see the advances of science and the abysses that open under the feet of men, of countries and of Governments today, we ought to realise, just as he was then preaching, that nothing but religion and a return to religion and the religious aspect of man and the strengthening of man's spirit, using the riches of God and dispensing them properly, could save the world from the destruction around it.

What are we to do if we have an Irish Parliament trampling on individual responsibility in relation to Government and telling those who do not belong to the Fianna Fáil Party and who will not join some other Party, to be a massed Opposition here discussing the country's affairs at the Parliamentary level as two groups striving for power? What are we to do if we destroy by Government action and Government policy the sense of responsibility and dignity in the 14,500 people whose mouths will be shut by the man who gets 4,500 votes and enters Parliament as their representative? Where does the Minister for Industry and Commerce think he is leading? Where do we think we are leading Irish society?

I have stigmatised the Taoiseach's approach to political and human matters by ascribing to him advocacy of the Machiavellian approach to policy which is enshrined inThe Prince. I should like the Taoiseach to tell me that I misinterpret. I should like him to tell us, if he is instructing the people and wants to instruct the people, what he means or what the Minister for Finance means, by going to some of the hotels of Dublin to meet a Fianna Fáil convention and telling them that the people who developed the Constitution of 1922 had no conception of and no reference to God, because it is untrue. I should like to ask the Taoiseach does he realise where he is and the cauldron of confusion, spite, and mischief he is creating for the people while he gathers himself up and departs, as it is suggested, from active political life?

Unless this Parliament realises that it has no strength except from the people, no intelligence except the intelligence that is the people, you are just building up a kind of ascendancy spirit that certainly, whatever may happen the ascendancy, will ruin the people and destroy their strength at a vital time in the world's history.

This, the 13th May, 1959, will be remarkable in history as a date to be associated with the date that the Union was passed but it will record, I hope, that Irish democracy, that is, the ordinary Irish people of every Party, creed and class, were much more wide-awake in their freedom and well able to take care of their freedom and had less difficulties in doing it than the democracy of Ireland that had to stand helplessly by while the Parliament, such as it was in Ireland at that time, was sold.

I do appeal to those younger speakers from the Fianna Fáil benches who are going around the country to talk some time or another around the fire with their uncles, their fathers or their friends and get the low-down on some of the tribulations that they, as well as other people, and this House, went through from the day it was formed, particularly from the day it was established here in Leinster House internationally recognised. If they do, they will have some chance of disentangling themselves from the web of ascendancy spite that at critical moments here is dragged around every word and every expression of opinion in this House, lest the intelligence of our people would break through.

What the Government are looking forward to is the weakening of the people's grip on Parliament, the establishing of themselves as an ascendancy here. I do not think that it would be good for them because they had every power in the world in the years in which they were in office fully and fruitfully to use Irish resources. There was no assistance from any Party here that could have been denied to them, if it was claimed. They have not shown themselves to have that competency and I do not know how on earth, in their consciences or in their imaginations or in their intellects, they face the problems before this country if they stick their fingers in the people's eyes and if they get massed behind them a strong Government that will just represent a minority of the people. If they do that, then we will have a Government here and a Parliament which has not the people's strength behind it and, caught between a weak and disappointed people and strong world events and internal difficulties, they will just all go, some day or another, into the madhouse.

As I explained at the outset, the purpose of this motion, which is about to be put to the Dáil, is to see that the opportunity is given to the people to decide whether they want an amendment of the Constitution which will provide for the straight vote and single-member constituency, or whether they want to retain the present system. It is necessary that the Bill pass or be deemed to have passed both Houses of the Oireachtas before it can be put before the people for their judgment. It has been passed by the Dáil. It has not been passed— it was rejected by a single vote—by the Seanad. By this resolution we can deem it to have been passed and then it can be referred to the people by way of referendum. An amendment has been proposed, and to me, at any rate, it simply represents a device for the purpose of delay. It is purely a tactical device to prevent this motion from being passed if, by that device, they can prevent it from being passed.

It is suggested that a Joint Committee of the Dáil and Seanad should consider this issue and make a report. The reasons they give for that suggestion are twofold: we would get more information about the possible consequences resulting from the change— more information as to how it has worked out in other countries—and more time would be given to the people to enable them to ponder on this question and make up their minds upon it.

As far as getting more information is concerned, I doubt if any issue before this House has ever shown such research in various directions and over such a wide field. That research proves that nothing more is likely to be got by the setting up of a Joint Committee such as that suggested in the amendment. As for getting decisions which might help us to decide other than what we have already decided, I think everybody knows what would happen; we would get those on one side voting for and those on the other side voting against the change.

As far as giving the people more time is concerned, the people have had close on six months during which this question has been before them on public platforms throughout the country and in the reports in the newspapers of discussions here and in the Seanad. Again, I think I am justified in saying that there is no real basis for this amendment. It is simply a tactical device to gain time and to make it appear, perhaps, that the Opposition are more seriously concerned than, in my opinion, they are in getting time and in getting further consideration of the matter.

I listened to the leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello, speaking on this amendment some few days ago. It seemed to me he was very hard put to it, indeed, for argument when he had to take a condensed report of a speech of mine—a report which occupied a little over half a column in a newspaper. It was the report of a speech which took, I am sure, well over an hour to deliver and which would require, if it were reported verbatim, the whole side of a newspaper. Yet, the leader of the Opposition took that condensed report. He took from it a single sentence. He took that sentence out of its context in order to suggest that the purpose we had in introducing this amendment to the Constitution was simply to ensure an over-all majority for Fianna Fáil in the future. He suggested that what we had in mind was simply the fact that we could not hope to gain an over-all majority in the future and we were doing this solely for the purpose of ensuring such a majority for Fianna Fáil in the future.

I thought his argument very, very poor indeed. It was an unworthy performance really. He took a sentence, passed away from it, came back to it again with another little twist, like the little twist one gives to advance a screw, turned it about a bit, went on a little further, turned it again until he was satisfied he had it turned sufficiently into the form in which he now wants people to believe it was said. What I said at that point in that particular speech was the culmination of an argument, an argument I thought a sound argument.

The reason we are taking advantage of the fact that we have a majority at the moment is to give the people the opportunity of deciding this question for themselves. I said that an over-all majority for any Party under the present system is extremely difficult to achieve. I said that had been proved in the case of Fianna Fáil. We did not get a majority in 1932. It took two elections to get a majority. We got it in 1933. The same situation was repeated in 1937 and 1938. It took two elections to get an over-all majority. It took two elections again in 1943 and 1944 to get an over-all majority.

We have an over-all majority now. We could not rely—and this is a fact —on over-all majorities for any Party in the future under the present system because of the development of multiplicity of Parties and because of the dispersion into multiplicity of Parties which the present system of proportional representation encourages. One could not rely upon getting a majority, a majority such as we have at the moment. That is a fact. It is because one could not be certain of having a majority in the future under the present system that I felt it was our duty, with the majority we now enjoy, to give the people an opportunity of deciding this issue.

It is a very important matter for them to decide. It lies at the foundations of all our political institutions. It is the basis on which our Parliament rests. If we want to have a good Parliament and a good Government, then it is our duty to make the foundations as secure as we can. We believe they are not secure under present conditions.

The trouble with the Opposition is that they will not face up to the arguments in this particular matter. They are trying to get away from the arguments by alleging that Fianna Fáil is inspired by nothing more than narrow Party interest. I have pointed out already that if we were inspired purely by a narrow Party point of view we would not have touched the present system. There was no reason why we should spark off this controversy and go to all the trouble of bringing this to the people if we were thinking simply in terms of Party. We could continue as we are. We have a majority which would enable us to do our work. What we are doing is using the majority we have to make the foundations of the State as secure as we can make them.

I can understand why Fine Gael in particular are not prepared to face up to the arguments because the arguments are the arguments which they themselves advanced on a former occasion in favour of getting rid of proportional representation and adopting another system. It was they who first advocated a change. They were the first to attack the present system. They were the first to point out its weaknesses and its defects. On a previous occasion here I brought in a photostatic reproduction of an advertisement which they issued in 1927. They pointed out very clearly what the weaknesses of proportional representation were. It is really Fine Gael who are responsible for first stating the arguments for this proposed change. This was the Fine Gael view. They took it that proportional representation leads inevitably to multiplicity of Parties, that multiplicity of Parties leads inevitably to coalition governments, and then they went on to point out what coalition government would mean to the country. They said it would mean bargaining for place and power between irresponsible minority groups. I ask is that a fact or is it not?

Is it not? Does not what happened in 1948 show whether it is a fact or not?

What happened in 1948?

It was Fine Gael who said it, or Cumann na nGaedheal, as they were at that time. They said that coalition government meant bargaining for place and power between irresponsible minority groups, and those who lived in this country and saw what happened in 1948 know perfectly well that that was so, that bargaining for place and power——

What has that to do with Fine Gael?

In 1948.

Bargaining for place between irresponsible minority groups.

The Taoiseach is speaking of 1948?

I am saying what Fine Gael put into this advertisement pointing out——

You are not.

You are not.

Take your medicine.

Deputy Mulcahy was allowed to speak for an hour without interruption and the Taoiseach should now be permitted to make his statement without interruption.

So far as I am concerned, Fine Gael and Cumann na nGaedheal are the same.

It is just a twist.

It is a twist because Fine Gael and Cumann na nGaedheal are the same. I am told that was not so. Cumann na nGaedheal put an advertisement in, in which the No. 1 point was that coalition government meant bargaining for place and power between irresponsible minority groups, and 1948 proved that that was right.

Deputies

Hear, hear!

What did 1954 prove?

Next it said that coalition government was weak government, with no stated policy, and that was equally proved by 1948 and even by 1954.

The people have no right to be wrong.

There was bargaining for place and power and then weak government with no stated policy.

Quite untrue.

Take it.

Do the facts show it?

I did not interrupt the Deputy——

He deserved it.

——and he wandered all over the globe.

He did not go to Tasmania.

The next item was —and these are the Fine Gael arguments——

A Deputy

Fine Gael?

Cumann na nGaedheal—they are the same. Cumann na nGaedheal and Fine Gael—I do not distinguish between them. It is simply a change of name. The next thing was that you would have frequent changes of Government. That is what was predicted if you had coalition government. We know that in other countries where there have been coalitions, there have been frequent changes, and we know that here two coalitions were smashed up and burst up from internal friction.

Frequent changes of government— and then the advertisement went on: "a consequent depression in trade and industry". Now I heard the Deputy talking a few moments ago as if he wished to do that. "Trade and industry"—they must have known it very well in 1927. When they wrote that advertisement, they knew perfectly well then how frequent changes of government, weak government, bargaining for place and power and all that sort of thing would influence trade and industry. Depression in trade and industry was to follow. I ask the people of the country to take that and use it as a test of what happened in 1948.

The next point was: no progress, with stability, security and credit in constant danger. Those were the things they said would follow coalition government. The people have had experience of coalition government. We believe in the future things would be even worse than that, and having got the necessary majority and opportunity, we want to see that the people will be given the opportunity, if they take it, to make the change.

Now it may be suggested that it was only in 1927 that Cumann na nGaedheal or Fine Gael, or whatever they called themselves at that time, had those views. I thought I would bring in here another interesting exhibit. On the last occasion, I exhibited here a photostatic reproduction of the advertisement. I have here a photostat of another very interesting document. It is the leader page of the Fine Gael organ at that time, of 10th May, 1930,The Star. In The Star we find an excellent record of the faults of proportional representation.

He is writing the same thing for you today.

Do not run away.

It was the official organ of Fine Gael or Cumann na nGaedheal.

It was Ernest Blythe and he is still saying the same things. He is as daft now as he was then.

But you all stood behind him.

Magna est veritas et praevalebit.

It isThe Star, and it represented the policy of Cumann na nGaedheal at that time——

You have got the policy now.

——that they wanted to get rid of proportional representation, and they showed—and I have already said this is the only time they showed any fundamental political sense——

Do you agree with that?

Even Deputy Dillon changed apparently, because he supported this at one time and changed his views afterwards.

Do you agree now?

It pointed out the faults of the particular system that we were operating. It began, if my recollection is right—would I not love to read it for you? —by finding fault with the system and explaining that political normality had not been arrived at, and that mainly it was the fault of the bad electoral system that we had. It said that the system of proportional representation here, though not quite as bad as that in Germany—but that was the best that could be said of it—had the ineradicable faults which attached to the system and which have exposed themselves wherever this system was in operation. It went on then to say that before the first World War and after it, certain countries had enshrined in their Constitutions this proportional representation system, that certain "theorisers and faddists" had pushed their views, with the result that it had been so enshrined.

Do Blythe and he not make a lovely bride and groom?

Then they went on to say—it is right that Deputy Dillon should interject now; he was their white-haired boy——

They are well matched.

He was the white-haired boy. I am taking this from the editorial ofThe Star, the Cumann na nGaedheal official organ.

When God made you, he matched you.

Apparently after that he said it was like Prohibition, that it resembled Prohibition in the way that those who had experience of it found, on the whole, it was the cause of various evils, that because certain vested interests have grown up beside it, it will be very difficult to get rid of it. We have vested interests which have grown up beside it, and it will be very difficult to get rid of it because these vested interests will campaign to see that they do not lose it.

It went on to say that the British had thrust it upon us, that it had been thrust upon us by the British. Will Deputy Mulcahy take that to heart?

There is not a word of truth in it.

Of course there is. History knows it.

It is not true. It is only yourself would say it.

Here is what this informed article said about it. It said that there had been in Britain for a number of years a certain number of "generously subsidised propagandist societies" which were trying to get the British people to abandon what was their traditional system of election and to adopt proportional representation, that some of the English people were interested but that they were not convinced. It says that the Home Rule Act of 1920, containing the proportional representation system of election, was put on to us, and here I think that Deputy Dillon must have had something to do with the writing of this article, for the words it uses are "on the policy of trying it on the dog." These kind people thought it would be a good thing to try it on the dog. I shall go further. I shall say that they wanted to kill the dog if they could do it.

They had your help in 1937.

They were trying it on the dog in order to produce certain results which it had produced elsewhere. That would serve British interests and not our interests. That is why proportional representation was put into the 1920 Act. That is why I say it was thrust upon our people by the British.

Why did you put it in in 1937?

I have told the people and told the country why that was done, but many more interesting things have to come out of this article, so I shall not go off on the other trail. That matter can be dealt with again. It was introduced here, and that was the beginning of it in our Parliamentary elections. It was brought in through a British Act of Parliament. They would not have it for themselves but, on the principle of trying it on the dog, they gave it to us.

I should love to be able to read this article because it would be most interesting to do so. The people here, it goes on to say, did not take very much interest in it. There was a certain amount of apathy which was attributed in the article to want of experience, for the reason that the people did not know what exactly would come out of it and also because there were things of greater importance happening at that time. So the Irish people did not kick up a great row about it. I had something to say about it at the time. I said that we knew why they were putting it in here but that we were sufficiently strong to see that it did not produce the effects which they thought it would produce.

This article then goes on to talk about what might have happened after the Treaty if there had not been proportional representation and finally it goes on to talk about the fundamental faults of proportional representation. The first thing it says about it is that it operates to be non-democratic. This is what it says, coming from the other side.

Ernest Blythe.

And it goes on to make a good case to prove that. It says that the evils have not disclosed themselves here because of the dominance of the Treaty question. It says that because the Treaty question was such an important matter in the political thought of the people, minor things did not matter.

Ernest Blythe again.

This is the leading article in this Cumann na nGaedheal organ. I believe that it is the fundamental thought of a large number of Fine Gael people, both here in this House and outside it.

Wait and see.

That is just what we are going to do. We shall give the opportunity to the people to see, and I shall be surprised if the arguments behind this leading article do not still persist in the minds of those who subscribed to them at that time.

The article goes on to say that in its operation proportional representation is non-democratic, that it has not shown its evil effects because of the Treaty issue dominating the political field and then it says that perhaps, in four or five years, we would reach political normality and then it would begin to reveal itself.

Then what shall we see, it asks. We shall see a multiplicity of Parties. We shall see five or six of them, not strong enough to form a Government themselves, coming together and by "selfish negotiations and backstairs intrigue"—I am not coining these words—by "selfish negotiations and backstairs intrigue", they will hammer out some sort of programme. That programme will never have been put to the people, and therefore the democratic principles will have been violated by all these Parties who altered democratic methods: democracy itself will be set aside. That is the argument. These are the Cumann na nGaedheal arguments that are put forward against proportional representation. Is it any wonder that we have the speakers on the opposite side running away from the facts? They have not answered these things. If these are wrong, let us hear them, let these things be answered.

We have seen them printed in theSunday Press.

I have already given you the same arguments by repeating the Cumann na nGaedheal advertisement. It was only recently I came across this precious document.

Did you not say they were wrong?

I did not argue against them in detail. I did not.

But did you not say they were wrong?

I took the decision in the then situation at the time, as I said before. I dealt with it and I knew the people had the power, if they got the opportunity, to make any change they wanted. We have now got the opportunity for them and I hope they will take it, but, in any case, it will be given to them.

Deputies

Hear, hear!

We have had this pretence that this system we have operating here is traditionally Irish. My goodness—traditionally Irish! People may talk about the long record, the centuries-old custom of the British system, but to talk of proportional representation as being traditionally Irish when one of the strongest Parties in the State from the very start opposed it, and said it was a system that would lead to multiplication of Parties and, therefore, to instability of government, is nonsense.

It is because we believe these things are fundamentally true that we have introduced this Bill. We believe the system does lead to instability. We do believe that the proposed system is a much better system, that it is nearer to true democracy, nearer to true representation of the people. Deputy Mulcahy is talking about preventing people from being elected, but every citizen who can get votes can go out before a single-member constituency and get them. Every minority that wants to put up a candidate can do so. If they want to join Parties, they can do it. We have no segregation here. We are not trying to segregate our people into groups.

We want a Parliament representative of the nation, representative at least of the people in this State, and we shall get it very much better under the proposed system. It has been proved in practice to be a much better system than the system in which you have little groups that, in any one constituency, represent only a fraction— groups coming along and uniting behind the backs of the people. If there is to be bargaining, let it be done in front of the people. If the various Parties want to get together prior to a general election, they can do so, and that was the difference between 1954 and 1948. At least it could be said in 1954 that you went before the people with a certain amount of unity.

And got a majority.

You can combine again under the new system. This is a challenge to you to combine again.

If the people want it.

Quite, if the people want it. We are not imposing it upon the people. We are not going behind the people's backs in doing this. We are giving the people the opportunity, in the open, to say whether they want the system that we believe will lead to stable government in this country, that has been proven to lead to stability in countries where it is in operation.

Such as Stormont.

As against a system which has proven its instability in every country in which it has been adopted.

Nonsense.

That is the question the people have to decide. If they decide in favour of the amendment, of getting rid of proportional representation, then the bargains can be made before the people's eyes and not behind their backs.

Shades of the "busted flush"!

It has been suggested that it would lead to domination by one Party, but surely it is the people who dominate, not an ascendancy of one Party. Our Party is only ascendant in the sense that it gets the votes of our people and as long as it gets the votes of the people. I hope it will have the ascendancy, in a democratic state, for the time being in order to have sufficient power to carry out its programme, to keep the orderly conditions of our State and to make further economic progress.

That is the issue the people have to decide. I do not know what way they will decide it. I know all the Opposition Parties with their vested interests in the existing system will vote against it, and will do their best to get the people to vote against it, but I believe the people will think about the welfare of the country, and about its future, and decide that stability is much more important than having this co-called representation of groups or Parties. The thing that has to be represented is the nation. We want to have a truly representative Parliament and we want to have a stable Government because that is the ultimate centre of power, of energy— the driving centre. We hope the people will have such a Government that will be sanctioned by the people and have their support in carrying out their policy, the policy they have put before the people and to which the people have given their approval.

We are glad to know the Taoiseach believes Craigavon was right.

That is the reason we suggest this system of voting and we hope the people will adopt it.

Swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go bhfanfaidh mar chuid den bhun-cheist na focail a thairgtear a scriosadh."

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
Rinne an Dáil Vótáil: Tá, 75; Níl, 56.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 56.

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

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Burke, James.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C., Bart
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hogan, Bridget.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lindsay, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Manley, Timothy.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Sherwin, Frank.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies O'Sullivan and Crotty.
Question declared carried.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist.
Cuireadh an príomh-thairiscint.
Main motion put.
Rinne an Dáil Vótáil: Tá, 75; Níl, 56.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 56.

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

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Burke, James.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan D.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lindsay, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Manley, Timothy.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C., Bart.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hogan, Bridget.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Sherwin, Frank.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tully, John.
  • Wycherley, Florence.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman; Níl: Deputies O'Sullivan and Crotty.
Question declared carried.
Fáisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist.
The Dáil adjourned at 11 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 14th May, 1959.