Returns to Writs. - Civil Liability Bill, 1959—First Stage.

I move that leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for the amendment of the law relating to the defence of contributory negligence in civil actions and to amend the Tortfeasors Act, 1951.

I understand that it is necessary to give a short explanation, if it is required. The Minister is aware that this is a Bill to modify the defence of contributory negligence in civil actions.

We are opposing the introduction of this Bill not because we do not agree with its principles but simply because we have a Bill of our own in draft form. I intend to bring this Bill before the Government as soon as I can and I hope that it may be possible to introduce it and to circulate the text to Deputies some time in the New Year.

May I suggest to the Minister that he should agree to a First Reading of this Bill? I certainly feel rather strongly about this. I introduced this Bill seven years ago. A Second Reading of the debate took place in this House and when an undertaking was given to me by the then Minister, the debate was adjourned, pending the introduction forthwith by the Government of a similar Bill.

There cannot be a debate at this stage.

I thought that the mover was entitled to make a short statement.

I should like to know from the Deputy why he did nothing about the Bill during three of the seven years. The Deputy knows that it is quite a complicated legal business and a lot of thought has had to go into it.

Everybody knows that the Bill was in draft form for the last seven years.

We have given a great deal of thought to this matter and there is a Bill now in draft form. It is not in conformity with the Bill the Deputy has in mind but it will meet the point. I think by far the better course would be to await the presentation of the Government's Bill and if the Deputy does not like it then, he can say so.

Can we not agree to a First Reading?

We are against this Bill.

On a point of order, is it not the procedure that if somebody opposes the introduction of a Private Members' Bill, then the Deputy moving it can make a short statement to explain the Bill?

Not at this stage, if the Bill is opposed. If the First Reading is opposed, the debate thereon shall be adjourned to the next day on which Private Members' Business is to be taken.

Does that mean that it can come up for discussion after 9 o'clock to-night, if there is no other business?

Standing Orders state "the next day".

Does it mean that I can speak at some stage?

Next Wednesday, I think.

Debate accordingly adjourned to Wednesday, 28th October, 1959.