These proposals as well as every other proposal that comes before the House should, I would imagine, be examined from certain standpoints and those standpoints should be related to the time in which the proposals are being put forward.
I would like to start by examining these proposals from the point of view of their necessity as evidenced by public demand. Nowhere can I see any evidence from the circumstances obtaining at this time that there is a necessity for them nor that there is any public demand. In 1959 when similar proposals to these were being discussed, one rarely listened to anybody from either side of the House in the almost universal absence of everybody, unlike this evening. At that time the Public Gallery was relatively full. In the Public Gallery at this moment there is but one person and while, of course, the Press has its own way of doing things, it cannot be said that two members of the Press in the Press Gallery for a debate of this kind would show that their readers are avidly waiting for anything that we may say on either side of the House. As far as I can see and as far as I can hear from meeting people in different parts of the country the question generally asked in relation to this matter, when it is asked indeed, is "why now?" Why, when there are so many things pressing, so many problems crying out for solution, so many people unemployed, population falling drastically in certain areas, take the public eye of scrutiny off these matters by discussing in Dáil Éireann and later in Seanad Éireann and taking up the time of the House and the time of the country and newspaper space and people's time reading those newspapers with a proposed change in the voting system?
Deputy Mrs. Desmond who has just spoken has put her finger on the pulse of this matter. It is my view, too, as indeed, it is the view of many people not alone inside the House but outside it as well that these proposals have been put forward by the Government at this time because, first of all, they know that the constituencies must be revised in order to avoid a constitutional questioning of an election before the next election and the Government know, too, that in that part of the country along the western coast the population has so fallen that County Mayo lost about 28,000 people between the census of 1961 and 1966 and what is the Government's immediate proposal to remedy that in County Mayo? It is to maintain the number of Deputies they have at the moment by bringing in this Third Amendment which for convenience sake I shall call the tolerance proposal.
How can anybody argue that, in a three-seat constituency which will have to be enlarged on the one hand or if not enlarged the number of persons per Deputy reduced, if it were enlarged and the Deputies consequently reduced that the people would be much worse off with three-fifths of their present representation than they are with the whole of the representation now obtaining? I cannot for the life of me see how, for instance, I can be of any more use to 16,000 people than I would be to 20,000 people nor do I see how one and two-fifths of me could make for happier conditions among the number of people I represent at the moment.
We are told that this tolerance is necessary because of rivers, lakes, hills and mountains and, of course, coupled with that, the great difficulty the Deputy has in moving around and visiting his constituents. It has been called a duty by Deputy Davern, the Parliamentary Secretary. While it may be a duty and while it may be a very commendable thing, I want to say here and now that a lot of the going around by Deputies with good news, bad news or neutral news is not something in the interests of the people they represent, nor is it something in the interest of the constituency they represent. It is all part of the merry-go-round of his advancement, being first with the news. I know of very few Deputies in rural Ireland who are not able to cross the ravines, walk the hills, down the dales and even use boats to the islands in order to be first with the news. Tolerance, therefore, is not any solution, in my view, to the problems which exist in areas seriously denuded of population. How can it? Surely going around inquiring about old age pensions, social welfare benefits, rural improvement schemes and housing grants must become easier if the number of people grows less? If one is to follow this argument logically, the tolerance should go the other way because we are not on horseback travelling those queer ravines and galloping madly. Travelling conditions have changed since the beginning of this State. It probably was not easy at the beginning for somebody representing a very large area like Sligo-Leitrim or the whole of County Galway, having regard to the travelling conditions available to Deputies. Perhaps some of us would like the conditions for getting around to be improved but I still think the necessity to get around must not be the criterion by which this is changed.
It is not because a Deputy goes around and carefully nurses every vote from election to election and carefully nurses the coming of age of people that this should be changed. If that is a legislative necessity, then I do not know what legislative necessity is. When we talk of travelling conditions nowadays, we know that we can get to either end of our constituencies, however long they are, in less than two hours. When Deputy Davern was speaking about the tolerance, he made a complaint that Mr. Justice Budd did not have all those physical conditions before him. I remember this case well. Surely all the machinery of the State was available through the law officers of the Government, their representatives in the court, all their technical witnesses from the Department of Local Government who gave evidence and there is no need for any Fianna Fáil Deputy to come in here criticising the judgment of Mr. Justice Budd as being faulty because he did not have all the information which they in their wisdom think he should have had. If he had not, let them blame their own law officers and their technical advisers in the electoral section of the Department of Local Government. If they were not satisfied, why did they not appeal? There is a Supreme Court in this country to which we can appeal in such cases. The machinery of appeal was not used and constituencies at that time were redrawn in accordance with the principles laid down by Mr. Justice Budd in that judgment.
Those principles are still valid and the constituencies now under PR must be redrawn according to the very same principles. It is to avoid this that the Government are bringing in these proposals now. They see very clearly that opinion in the areas, for which they seek tolerance, is now mounting against them. I forget what the actual figures were in say 1948 but I think in the province of Connacht at that time, there were certainly not more than five—I know there were four— Fine Gael Deputies. The present representation in this House from the province of Connacht, where there are 23 seats, is 12 Fianna Fáil and 11 Fine Gael Deputies. That is as close as one could have it where there are 23 seats, that there would be 12 one way and 11 the other way. In the province of Connacht, on a redrawing of the constituencies, and in Donegal and possibly Clare, although I am not sure of that, maybe Kerry, West Cork, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon, the number of Deputies inevitably would have to be reduced and on that reduction, from my own study of the figure, the Fianna Fáil Party would suffer. It is not easy to determine how much but they would have certain losses.
It of course is not desirable from the point of view of the Fianna Fáil Party, or indeed from the point of view of any Party, to have losses. The Fianna Fáil Party are determined like the Israelites of old in, I think, the Book of Leviticus, to go a-whoring after false gods. Those people at that time were urged not to do this. At a later date in constitutional history, one reads of the efforts of the Liberals of the day under Asquith to increase the number of Liberals to avoid trouble from the Upper House. I think it was Sir William Harcourt who advised them to hold tight to principles and not go a-whoring after false constitutions. I would similarly urge on the Government of the day in this country.
I do not think there is very much more to be said about this question of tolerance. Tolerance, as interpreted in this Bill, is an effort by the Fianna Fáil Party to maintain their numbers as far as they can in the areas denuded of their population under their policies. There is no need for that. In modern conditions one can represent up to 30,000 people in a rural area, however vast it is, however many hills there are, however many ravines and however many rivers there are. Let nobody tell me that the purpose of a legislator is to spend virtually all the time when not in this House moving around his constituency looking for work and looking for it in such a way that he seeks to curry favour in every possible move.
What is really needed is a rationalisation of the services in the country. One can get an old age pension in 999 cases out of 1,000 by simply filling an application form which can be done by a local teacher or by somebody in his or her own house at the moment and producing a birth certificate. That is all that is required. The local officer comes along. There might be an occasional time, a very occasional time, when injustice is done, but in my experience, it is inadvertently done, certainly not deliberately done by any of the officers of the Department of Social Welfare. It is due to the fact that they have not been given all the evidence or they may make some kind of mistake due to the evidence being improperly put to them. Grants for houses are the same.
In every sizeable area in this country at the moment, there is an officer of some sort, one for social welfare, one for local government, one for agriculture, one for forestry—I could go on and on giving them. They are there in rural Ireland to be used by the people, at the service of the people and there is no need for the humbug of having TD's approached by the people to go to these officers and then going back to say: "You were lucky you asked me because if you had not, you would never have got it."
Let us stop the codology; let us stop the nonsense and become legislators, what we are intended to be. We are not all the drones that Deputy Davern made us out to be in his colourful verbiage, not based on truth, but arrogant nonsense. It would be a good thing if some of the men here in Parliament, even the junior Ministers, realised that logic is based on syllogisms, that there is the major premise, the minor premise and the conclusion, and without them you cannot reach the truth. Truth is not a political variant, to be taken from or added to as expediency requires. That is not the kind of Parliament that was envisaged for our people. These are not the kind of charges that should be levelled against Members of this House.
The single-seat constituency, the first past the post system, is where, whatever number of candidates stand, the man who gets the highest number of votes gets in. Again, we are told that it makes it easier to get around, around with the news, to be able to get to know everybody, to be able to move with greater ease in the knowledge that one recognises that baby's blue eyes belong to every mother to whom they in fact are alleged to belong. It has become very important in this matter of gathering votes, extremely important, but the more it progresses, the less effective Parliament will be. People will not have the time to do the work appropriate to Parliament.
How many Deputies go through even a fraction of the Bills brought before the House, Bills for social reform, fiscal measures, occupational injuries? How many go through them in the detail necessary and with the understanding that is more necessary still if they are to fulfil their true purposes here as legislators for the community? Would I not be right in saying that the number who do that— I do not say they should do it with all Bills because we all have our special likes for the things that apply to our special areas—is small? How many go through them all? It may be that this is not due to reluctance or laziness on their part, or incapacity to understand. It may well be due, and I think in many cases is due, to the fact that Deputies have to spend so long in this House either dictating letters to a secretariat or writing them themselves in longhand.
I confess straightaway that I am not a believer in the universal letter writer and I am often amazed when I meet Deputies in the corridors, Deputies of all Parties, with armfuls of letters. I ask myself: "I wonder what they are writing about; what is it all about and what is the necessity for all this?" Again, of course, it has been built up by the system that says you cannot get anything under any of the enactments of Parliament or any budgetary proposals unless you approach a TD, a Senator or a county councillor. What can be more ridiculous than that? What is more awful? Do people not feel ashamed writing as they do and talking as they do to innocent people, saying: "If you had not spoken to me, you might have had trouble in getting it"—let it be a pension, a housing grant, or anything else to which these people are perfectly entitled and which the officials of the appropriate Department will see they get?
Let us be rational, let us be realistic about our services, on the one hand, and let us be proper engineers of this House, on the other. I do not represent Dáil Éireann in North Mayo. I represent North Mayo in Dáil Éireann and anybody who does not want me on that basis is perfectly free to reject me.
On the single-seat constituency, too, we had the Parliamentary Secretary telling us we were going to get a better type of Deputy. Part of this, of course, is the complaint about the competition between Deputies of the same Party in a constituency. We do not have to worry about this in my particular constituency at the moment, where there are two Fine Gael TDs and one Fianna Fáil TD. So that, as far as the better type of Deputy is concerned, Fianna Fáil have them. They have their very best in my constituency in North Mayo. I want to know what Deputy Davern is seeking and at whom is he hinting when he says he wants a better type of Deputy.
For instance, in his own constituency in South Tipperary, the representation is two Fianna Fáil, one Fine Gael and one Labour. Does he think that by having the Fine Gael and the Labour man replaced by two Fianna Fáil men, he will have a better type of Deputy, or does he think that his other colleague would be replaced by a better type of Fianna Fáil candidate in whatever new area would be allotted to him, if allotted at all? There was never any doubt not that Deputy Davern was the better type of Deputy but that he was the best type of Deputy that was ever here. That well may be. But, the fact that a man has great capacity, great political insight, great experience, great knowledge of the law and all its consequences—Deputy Davern has all of these qualities to the full—does not give him the right to decry anybody else of lesser stature. He, obviously, is quite certain that there are people of lesser stature.
In Dublin North-East, there are five seats. Two of the representatives are Ministers in this Government; two of them are members of the Fine Gael Party; one is a member of the Labour Party. What better type of Deputy is the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Davern, looking for in North East Dublin? Whom does he want to eliminate in order to get better types? In Dublin North Central there are Deputy Major Vivion de Valera and Deputy Mrs. Celia Lynch, on the one hand, and Deputy Luke Belton, Deputy Michael O'Leary representing Fine Gael and Labour, respectively. Who is to be destroyed there in the interests of getting a better type of Deputy?
Does it not all amount to this, that this is a phrase that somebody thought up in order to convince the public in some queer way that a better type of Deputy will emerge if you have a single-seat constituency? How will it be done? Are Fianna Fáil going to change the machinery of the Convention, the ratification by the Party Headquarters or are they going to impose on a constituency somebody from outside? Somebody in Fianna Fáil should tell us.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Davern, had great complaints about our going to Clare and saying who would go and who would not go. He was on very dangerous ground there because his Party has got a history of imposing on constituencies people from outside whom the constituents do not want. That was done as recently as the last general election. I do not propose to follow the Parliamentary Secretary along that illogical path.
We are told by Government spokesmen that the single-seat constituency will make for stable government. Have all their own Governments over the last 30 years not been stable? What was wrong with them? They say that it makes for a quicker change of government. Do they seek a change of government? Are they holding out the hand of electoral friendship to Fine Gael and saying to us that this is our only chance of getting a sufficient number of seats to form a Government and that they are giving us this chance? Really, we are being treated as babes in arms if we are expected to believe in this kind of electoral generosity coming from the Government benches to us. I suppose the same would apply to the Labour Party, that they are making a similar offer to them.
Again, the single-seat constituency is being sought after now by Fianna Fáil because they see that opinion is mounting against them in all of the constituencies. I know they can say that they won five by-elections in a row and all that kind of thing. Certainly they did, but a by-election is a different proposition altogether. Fianna Fáil should look at their total polls. They are going down steadily. The fact that that is happening means that the Fianna Fáil Party vote will be considerably reduced at the next general election under proportional representation. Accordingly, they want to destroy proportional representation. They want to destroy anything that comes in their way.
In addition, there is this dishonest racialist remark of the Tánaiste, that proportional representation was imposed on us by the British and we must get rid of it. This is 1968. Some people never grow up. As far as his bitternesses are concerned, I do not think the Tánaiste has grown up. Anglo-Irish trade agreements are ex-tolled on the one hand and, on the other hand, the Tánaiste says that we must get rid of PR, which was imposed on us by the British, which was a terrible thing—which, of course, is absolutely removed from the truth. Assume for a moment the false premise of the Minister for External Affairs, that proportional representation was imposed on us by the British, why was it enshrined in the Constitution of 1937 by the Fianna Fáil Party, in which Party Deputy Aiken was then, as now, a considerable controlling force? In fact, I would say that his controlling force in 1936 and 1937 was stronger than it has been in recent times. Why did he not use that superior force and influence which he had in those days to prevent PR from being enshrined in the 1937 Constitution? Why should he in 1968 be indulging in all this ráiméis about PR being imposed on us by the British?
To follow that argument to its logical conclusion one could say that the British imposed income tax, local government laws, the rating system, the county system and a great deal of British common law. They imposed all these things but Fianna Fáil do not point to any of them as being bad until it begins to hurt them. We had all this old argument trotted out in 1959 as to the British imposition of PR but the people did not believe that, they rejected it, and they do not believe it now.
Under proportional representation there is fair play. Take, for instance, the recent by-election in Clare where almost 20,000 voted for Deputy Barrett and something over 9,000 voted for Mr. Bugler. I do not believe for one moment that the 20,000 voters in Clare who voted Fianna Fáil would like to see the 9,000 to 10,000 persons who voted Fine Gael disfranchised and not represented in Parliament. At the moment, following the by-elections, there are three Fianna Fáil Deputies and one Labour Deputy representing Clare. The normal representation of Clare, I would say, under proportional representation, at a general election, would be two Fianna Fáil Deputies, one Fine Gael Deputy and one Labour Deputy.
In regard to this Commission pre-sided over by a judge—I will have something to say about that incidentally, not critical of any judge or judges but of the unfairness of putting a judge so close to the political scene— I do not care what kind of Commission you have. If it were formed in heaven —and a Fianna Fáil inspired commission is not likely to come from such a celestial source—you can divide County Clare on the streams, the rivers, the mountains, the burns and the roads, and I do not care what four areas you emerge with, on the present voting strength you are going to get four Fianna Fáil Deputies.
Deputy Mrs. Desmond said that if there was not a Fianna Fáil Deputy somewhere they would have to go to the next one. Where do the people go to if they want to have representations made on their behalf? They go to one of the four and in the process become indebted. Being the nice, decent people we are in the West of Ireland, we never forget a favour, not openly anyway. Of course, when the next election comes around the four go in again somewhat strengthened by the little pieces of patronage they have successfully manoeuvred over the preceding time. Here are four of the safest seats you could possibly imagine. Where is this violent change the Fianna Fáil Party are offering us? Where is this great chance to come when every possible piece of Government patronage and local patronage will be used to cement in their safe seats these four people in the County of Clare?
At present we have got in the province of Connacht 12 Fianna Fáil Deputies and 11 Fine Gael Deputies. Now I do not care how this Commission divides up the various parts of the counties—that is maintaining the counties—the very best we could hope for in the Province of Connacht on the present voting system would be five, six, or maybe seven. But Fianna Fáil would maintain their twelve plus the ones we lost. Again, over the period between elections I have no doubt but that the power and patronage would be suitably used so that the people would never be able to lift a pencil in their hands to vote in any other way except for the sitting Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party.
I am serious in what I say now. I believe that even Fianna Fáil Deputies from the country would be prepared to admit this or certainly go a good part of the way with me. I wonder would Deputy Miller agree with me that he would rather see a constituency where there were Deputy Brigid Hogan O'Higgins and Deputy John Donnellan at one end and at the other Deputy Carty, Deputy Kitt and himself thrown in to keep a suitable balance, a majority, because that is what a suitable balance is in Fianna Fáil parlance? I do not think he would like to see the people who have been voting for Deputy Hogan O'Higgins and Deputy Donnellan put into the position of having to come to him. I have no doubt in the world but that he would receive them with the greatest courtesy, not alone offering but giving them his best help. But, at the same time, within himself he is bound to feel that here are people who would prefer to be going to somebody else, and in his heart of hearts he believes that they should have that somebody else to whom to go. This is what I call fair play. Nobody wants to see people ruled out of an audience. They must have an audience. From time to time the Deputies of a constituency get together on a deputation. I think the deputation from a constituency composed of all shades of political opinion parliamentarily represented is a much stronger delegation than the one-man deputation from the one-seat constituency.
I do not want to go over the old arguments in 1958 and 1959. This proposal was beaten then and from the tone of the people, particularly from their apparent lack of interest, I would think they are a trifle annoyed at parliamentary time being given and taken up by this performance. Face up to the situation, I would say to the Government. Redraw your constituencies along the legal principles that are there for you to follow. Use proportional representation as it has been used from the beginning of the State. If it puts you out of office there is always and always has been—it has happened in the past—the possibility that the same system will put you back again into office. It is not nice to be holding on to office all the time. It is not nice to be changing the rules when you think the game is going against you. That is the philosophy of the bully. I would say by and large particularly the rural Deputies—and this applies equally to the rural Deputies of Fianna Fáil—they are not bullies nor do they believe in the philosophy of bullying. I would say there exists within them the same modicum of fair play we all sense and like to practice. They would be as appalled as we are over here at changing the rules when you think you are losing the game.
Proportional representation has worked extremely well in this country, even though it has kept us in opposition for a much longer time than we would like to be in it. But we are not completely and utterly lost even in opposition because from time to time we give on the one hand, and on the other hand it is stolen, so much of our good policies to the Government that they are kept going. When they appear to be bankrupt of ideas for policies they just look up Fine Gael speeches and tracts on policy and set them in motion as of their own.
Proportional representation was adopted here and used because of its inherent sense of fair play. There is no point in people taking things out of context and quoting what somebody said in 1927 and what somebody else said in 1937. That is each side of the House. Fianna Fáil people made statements they do not want to hear, and I am quite sure there are statements made by Fine Gael people they do not want to hear. These things which were said were applicable in the times when they were said. They do not apply now, but that PR does give fair play is something that never changes.
The main plea I am making is to keep fair play in operation. In a three-seat constituency, PR may give two to Fianna Fáil this time. It may take the third one from them. It may give two to Fine Gael the next time. There will always be a time after that. After all, PR has done extremely well for the Fianna Fáil Party in the three, four and five-seat constituencies. It gives the people a choice. I have never yet heard anyone from the Fianna Fáil benches, a senior or a junior Minister or a backbencher, giving a real reason why they now want to change from PR to the single vote.
They talk about people having fire in their guts, fire in their bellies and looking for power. You have the power under PR. Are you not satisfied that you are going to retain it under PR? If you are, what is wrong with PR? If you are in doubt, as I believe you are, then you want to change the rules in the course of play. In earlier times at the foundation of the State, PR protected the religious minorities. I do not think this would be a valid reason for us to give now, because there has been such intermingling, such a great understanding and such a growth in neighbourliness among all our people, irrespective of creed or class, that that kind of protection for that kind of minority is no longer necessary.
Minorities are not always religious minorities. There will always be minorities, and I think they should have a voice. That is all they are asking for. I should have thought that in seeking to have this principle of fair play not only established but maintained, a far-seeing and thinking Government, called the youngest Cabinet in Europe, would keep in mind the future of this country. In the event of Partition going as we all hope it will—the economic barriers are being removed gradually and all that remains is a barrier of hearts, and irrespective of hand-shakings in Belfast and afternoon teas here, the barrier of hearts is still there and will always be there as long as you are content to deal with the top stratum; real friendship can be got only at the ordinary neighbourly level—I believe that the man and woman now voting Unionist in Down or Armagh or elsewhere coming into this State as citizens of the Republic of Ireland would like to feel that they would live in constituencies where they would have Parliamentary representation. If for nothing other than for our lost brethren across the Border, I would urge this Government to keep PR.
Nine years is a very short time. The people voted against this in 1959. They rejected it then. Nine years is a very short time in the history of Parliaments and a very short time in the history of a nation. It is too soon to ask the people to decide again. There may well come a time—certainly not this year or next year or even in the next ten or 20 years—when it might not be a bad idea to have another look at this, when we have gone through the full cycle of tariff reforms, when the recent Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement is fully implemented, when tariff barriers are fully down and customs impositions reduced to the minimum, when the Border as an economic barrier will have ceased to exist, and when our younger people North and South will begin effectively to work on the removal of the barrier of hearts.
Keep PR for that time and when they are all together—very few of us will be here—let them in a united Ireland decide whether they want to change their electoral system. That is the plea I am making here. I am making it almost non-politically. I am making it on behalf of minorities. It is of no great concern to some of us as each year passes whether the future lies with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour. The future will have to have its own assessment made in the days I am talking about, the days distant when all of this island will be one, and all of its people now unborn will be called upon to deal with and talk about constitutional issues for all of our people.
It is a shame to be wasting parliamentary time with proposals such as these when there are so many problems pressing upon us. It is a shame for Government speakers such as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to come in here and talk about absentee Deputies, and Deputies who have other work to do. Those of us who have other work to do and who gain experience from that work can bring it to bear on parliamentary discussions. I will not be a runner up hill or down dale at the behest of Deputy Davern on any principles he chooses to lay down as to the proper and appropriate duties of a Deputy. That argument is all directed towards the growth of the professional politician.
It is not a bad thing occasionally to have a professional politician here and there, whether he is a trade unionist or simply someone devoted entirely to politics, having given up something else. When the Parliamentary Secretary comes here and smugly attacks absentee Deputies and Deputies engaged in other work, earning another living outside of here, I want to ask him: "What did the others give up to become professional politicians." Where do insults begin and where do they finish?
It is extremely difficult, at times, not alone in this House but outside it, to listen to the neo-philosophers, the sophists, the gimmick-men, pronouncing views as if they were God-made. If any Fianna Fáil speaker succeeding Deputy Davern has anything to say about people engaged in work apart from Parliamentary duties let him tell us what their professionals gave up, let him tell us what their professionals left. If it is to perpetuate that kind of thinking and if it is to impose that kind of philosophy upon our people that this Government want to get rid of proportional representation, to destroy fair play, to change the rules as the game is going on, I urge upon them to withdraw. They are merely putting the people of this country to a certain waste of time and to an equally certain waste of public money. Fianna Fáil's effort to destroy fair play will not be tolerated by our people who have resisted all disruptive attacks on their democratic structure. They will resist this attack, too.
Mind you, the Fianna Fáil Party might do better if they drew the constituency lines again in accordance with the principles that are there laid down for them and took their chance in an ensuing general election. They might do better than they think they will do by trying to put something down the throats of our people which our people do not want.
It never ceases to amaze me nor, I am sure, does it cease to amaze reasonable people how it is that the Fianna Fáil Party, collectively, always seem to think they know what is good for the people of this country even though the people think otherwise. One would imagine that the people were some sort of bug-infested patients at the mercy of a Fianna Fáil medical equipment outfit going around with syringes and injecting into the people principles they want to operate in their veins as each day succeeds the other.
I say to this Fianna Fáil Government: be brave: withdraw these proposals. Have the real courage. Do not say these proposals are courageous— because they are not. These are the proposals of the coward. These are the proposals of the one who wants to change the rules while the game is still proceeding when he thinks he is losing. These are cowardly proposals. Be brave: withdraw them. At least, save yourselves the humiliation of having the people kick them back in your teeth.