Tairgim go léifear an Bille an Dara hUaire.
Bille gearr é seo agus tá súil agam go nglacfaidh na Teachtaí go léir leis. Tá dhá rud á dhéanamh san mBille. Níl aon foráil dleaghthach ann faoi láthair "Aldermen" a thoghadh do Bhárdas Átha Cliath ó thárla gur cuireadh alt 36 den Acht Rialtais Áitiúil (Baile Átha Cliath), 1930, ar ceal. Tá cead é sin a dhéanamh á thabhairt anois. De réir fó-alt (5) d'alt 3 den Acht Rialtais Áitiúil (Baile Átha Cliath), 1945, caithfidh an t-Aire luacháil agus daonradh a chur san áireamh agus socruighthe á dhéanamh aige faoi uimhir na gcomhaltaí a thoghfar i gceantar ar bith. Táim ag iarraidh ar an Dáil é seo a chur ar ceal.
The Bill proposes two amendments to the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1945. The first amendment, effected by paragraph (a) of section 1, will enable an Order under the 1945 Act dividing the city into electoral areas to specify the number of aldermen to be elected for each area. Consequent on the repeal of section 36 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, there is now no provision for the election of aldermen at the 1967 local elections. It seems appropriate that the position in Dublin should be the same as in other county boroughs, and that the necessary provision should be made in time for this year's local elections. What is now proposed is similar to the provision made in section 87 of the Electoral Act, 1963, in relation to the other county boroughs.
The second amendment to the 1945 Act is that provided for in paragraph (b) of section 1, that is, the deletion of subsection (5) of section 3 of the 1945 Act. That subsection reads as follows:
"(5) In assigning by an order under this section the numbers of members to be elected for the electoral areas specified in the order, the Minister shall have regard to the populations and rateable valuations of such areas".
The explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill gives an example of the kind of distortion caused by making valuation a factor in arranging electoral areas. I should say that I am aware of the case that can be made for giving some weighting to valuation and I am prepared to concede that it can seem plausible enough. However, I am firmly of the opinion that the principle of "one man-one vote" should override all other considerations and that any provision which infringes on this principle, even indirectly, should go.
The repeal of subsection (5) of section 3 of the 1945 Act will bring the position in Dublin into line with that obtaining in the other county boroughs, in that no express legal requirements will be laid down as to the factors to be taken into account in the division of the county borough into electoral areas. It will, therefore, devolve on the Minister to devise the fairest possible division in the circumstances. In the Committee Stage debate in the Dáil on what is now section 87 of the Electoral Act, 1963, some Deputies made the point that the making of a dividing order was a very extensive power but the House eventually accepted the section on the understanding that the Minister would introduce an amendment at Report Stage providing for the laying of dividing orders before each House. So far as Dublin is concerned, such a provision already exists; subsection (8) of section 3 of the 1945 Act provides for the laying of an order before each House of the Oireachtas and for possible annulment by either House.
Other aspects of the electoral law are under consideration at present, and I hope to be able to introduce a Bill on electoral petitions and certain other matters in the next few months. Meanwhile I would stress the need for urgent consideration of this present Bill if any dividing order in accordance with its terms is to be effective at the next local elections. The urgency arises from the fact that the Register of Electors now being prepared, and which comes into force next April, must take account of the new electoral areas. This leaves very little time for the making of the order and for the taking of certain preliminary steps by the corporation. I would therefore urge a speedy passage of the Bill, if, as I confidently expect, its provisions commend themselves to the House.