Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1968: Date for Report Stage.

Is it agreed to take the Fourth Stage now?

(Cavan): We cannot agree to that.

The Minister would like to turn this place into a law mill. We will not let him.

I agree to have the next Stage postponed until Tuesday, 18th February, 1969.

(Cavan): This day fortnight. With respect, amendments will be put down and the time between now and next Tuesday is completely inadequate.

There already is an amendment in for Report Stage.

(Cavan): There will be further amendments.

I object to the postponement of Report Stage until the week after next. This debate has taken so long already that there cannot be anything more to be said. Even if Deputy L'Estrange succeeds in getting more of his Deputies to come in in a fortnight's time than he did this week, there will be very little more to be said.

The Minister for Local Government could not get a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary.

In order that the Bill may pass through the House as expeditiously as possible and in order, accordingly, that the way may be prepared for a general election, of which Deputies opposite are so afraid, I must press for the Report Stage on Tuesday next.

(Cavan): The Minister's proposal is unreasonable. We will not agree to Tuesday next.

The question is that the Report Stage be taken on Tuesday next.

There is a question before the House on which I wish to speak. This is a House of Parliament——

You would never think so at the moment.

——and you will not turn it into a bear garden and you will not shout me down. You had better make up your mind to that.

The Deputy will not be here much longer.

The Minister will not, by ignorant interruption, disturb me in the least. I know what I am dealing with and I know how to deal with them.

Run away.

No battering ram will work here.

That you should be afraid of me does not surprise me. I will keep myself within the Rules of Order as I think best. This Bill is brought in here by the present Minister for Local Government with, I believe— indeed, I hope—the relucant consent of the Taoiseach and the Ministers associated with him in Government for the purpose of kicking the people of this country in the teeth.

If Deputy Dillon would allow me for just one moment: the only question before the House at the moment is the date on which the Report Stage will be taken——

In other words, when the next kick will be administered.

——and we cannot discuss again the whole Bill on the question as to when the next Stage will be taken.

I am going to discuss the propriety of taking this Bill on next Tuesday and I claim my rights under the Standing Orders of this House to discuss that.

There is no such Standing Order as would allow repetition of debate on this question. As I said, the only question before us at the moment is whether the Bill should be taken on Tuesday next.

That is precisely the issue I want to try and it is going to be tried by this House and there is no Standing Order of this House, that I know of, that prohibits any Deputy, humble or great, from making his voice heard upon it. This Bill was brought in for the purpose of kicking our people in the teeth because they would not submit to the dictatorship of the Fianna Fáil Party to amend the Constitution in the respect in which they sought to amend it. This Bill has to be examined as an instrument devised by the Minister for Local Government to cause the maximum electoral disturbance that it is within his power to cause. The function of this House is, by due deliberation and suitable amendment, to seek, in so far as we can, to repair the damage that the Minister, in his malignant revenge, seeks to impose upon the people.

This is grossly disorderly.

I have already pointed out to Deputy Dillon that that is not an issue before the House at the moment. The only issue before us is the date on which we take the Report Stage.

Deputy Dillon has no respect for the House.

The Minister has no respect for the country.

The Deputy did not even have enough respect to come in and vote.

Charlie McNamara!

I wish, a Cheann Comhairle, to point out to the House that there are complicated sections in this Bill and, remember, they have been, by design, drawn so as to interfere with the geographical boundaries of the maximum number of counties. If they are to be examined and amendments offered to restore some norm of sanity to this redistribution Bill we, the Opposition in this House, have to put our hand to that task without the resources of the Custom House behind us. I am as certain as I am sitting in this place that there is in the Custom House at this moment a draft Bill which involves virtually no interference with the county boundaries of this country and I believe that such a Bill can yet be got, but to get it, Sir, we have got to have time to examine the circumstances of each individual constituency and re-draw the entire map.

It will not help you.

Is it seriously argued that it is a reasonable requisition on an Opposition, with a Bill which the Government have seen fit to debate in this House over the past five days while the whole industrial life of the country was grinding to a halt and while every school in Ireland was closing down——

Deputy Dillon cannot drive a coach and four through the Rules of the House. It is disorderly and the Deputy——

Is it reasonable——

——is not being reasonable and the Deputy knows he is not being reasonable. The only question put by the Chair is on what date will we have the Report Stage. Deputies will have an opportunity of putting down their amendments and discussing them then in a relevant manner before the House.

In the name of common sense, how do you expect an Opposition, which has now to turn its hand to the discussion of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, and which is faced with the fact of the industrial crisis in which the country is gripped at the present time, between now and Monday next to have filed in the office of Dáil Éireann the amendments we want to have considered on the Report Stage of this Bill? I put it to the Ceann Comhairle—not to any member of the Fianna Fáil Party—because I deem the Ceann Comhairle, once he has assumed those robes, to have severed his political ties so long as he sits in that Chair, that he has a duty, and a very special and peculiar duty, to protect the rights of minorities in this House. And I put it to the Ceann Comhairle that no responsible incumbent of his Chair can demur to the strongest possible protest being made from this side of the House at being asked to provide the kind of amendments that it might be our duty to set down to a Bill of this magnitude, making available to us Thursday and Friday and requiring us to have these amendments filed in the office of this House on Monday. You know, Sir, that such a requisition is to turn our proceedings into a farce. I said before by way of interjection—I want to repeat it—that this House is not a Fianna Fáil Bill mill and it will never be allowed to become that so long as we are here.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

They can use their majority. They can walk through the Lobby and insist that legislation will be considered. They can tell the House that they will not inform the House of the fundamentals of Government policy and then go down to West Clare and proclaim it there. They ought to recognise——

This is treating the Chair with contempt.

If the Deputy has to have a catharsis why have it in Dáil Éireann?

A Deputy

Better than in West Clare.

If the Deputy has to have a psychological catharsis why subject Dáil Éireann to it?

If the Minister wants to talk about catharsis perhaps we might pursue that simile a little further, but I think the rules of delicacy should restrain us.

Deputies opposite might be glad of West Clare some time with all the disorder that is around them, the disorder they can never control.

The Minister for Labour has been in labour for quite some time but he has not even produced a mouse yet.

Deputies opposite have produced glib solutions to problems they have never faced.

The Minister and his Department have been there for four years doing sweet Fanny Adams.

Is it reasonable, a Cheann Comhairle, for an Opposition desiring to legislate in a reasonable way to ask for time to formulate and set down the amendments it seeks to set down on a Bill of this kind? I say it is. I say it is to reduce our proceedings to a farce to insist that the Report Stage of this Bill be taken next Tuesday.

Deputy Fitzpatrick has offered a reasonable compromise by suggesting it should be taken next Tuesday week. I think that puts on him and on the rest of us an undue burden, perhaps, but I want it to go on public record that if Fianna Fáil use their fortuitous majority in this House——

It was hard earned.

I thought the Minister was going to say "dearly purchased".

It was hard earned. That is something the Deputy never did.

If Fianna Fáil use their majority, whether it was dearly purchased or otherwise——

Hard earned.

——for the purpose of denying the Parliamentary Opposition its undoubted right responsibly to participate in legislation, the country ought to know and know well the road we are travelling. Remember this, Parliament is the moral justification of the Government it chooses. The moment our people make up their minds that the Government no longer rests on the authority of Parliament, but elects to derive its power from Taca, there will arise questions in this country which may be beyond the capacity of any Government to control. I do not like the present Government.

We did not know that. That is news.

The truth is out.

There is an admission.

I do not like the constitution of the Government, but I am prepared to defend in any part of Ireland the undoubted right of this Government to govern, because it was chosen by this Parliament and holds itself still subject to the ultimate authority of the representatives of the Irish people. I warn Fianna Fáil that if that fortuitous majority is seen by our people to be used to turn our legislative proceedings into a farce they are snatching a cheap victory in the Lobbies of the House which may be the dearest political tactic the Irish people have ever had operated upon them.

In view of the attitude of the Minister for Local Government in this debate, and the general attitude of the Government to this problem, the Labour Party, particularly because of what the Minister said a few moments ago—that any further delay will hold up the general election—are prepared to support the Government and to have the Bill finished as quickly as possible——

Hear, hear.

——because the sooner the general election comes the better, as the Minister will realise. He said the same thing during the referendum discussion and yet in the Seanad he spoke for six hours and 50 minutes on one occasion. He went to the country and he got his answer, and he will get his answer again when he goes to the country in the general election. I now challenge the Minister or the Taoiseach to give us the date for the general election.

Do not waste time.

I am not the Taoiseach.

No, the Minister is not and never will be. We are prepared to support the Government in having this decided as quickly as possible in order to ensure that we will have a general election at the earliest possible date. Perhaps the Minister will oblige us by saying when he wants the general election?

Twelve months from next month.

It will be too bad for you when it comes.

It will be too soon for the Deputy and he will not come back.

(Cavan): A very serious question of principle is involved here. This is a Bill of a fundamental nature which has been introduced here to arrange the constituencies which will elect Deputies to this House at the next general election from whom a Government will be formed. The Bill got a reasonable Second Reading here. We have been discussing it for the past four sitting days in Committee. I venture to suggest to you, Sir, that if the debate were analysed it would be seen that a very considerable percentage of the time of the debate was taken up by the Minister for Local Government speaking.

I never spoke first.

(Cavan): I think it is an unwritten law of this House——

It was always to reply.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy L'Estrange should not interrupt Deputy Fitzpatrick.

(Cavan):——that a reasonable time is given to the Opposition between Committee Stage and Report Stage to enable the Opposition, first of all, to consider amendments and, secondly, to put them down. The proposal which the Minister puts before the House is that we should take the Report Stage of this Bill on Tuesday next. This is Thursday.

No, it is not.

(Cavan): If I may say so——

On a point of order, this is Wednesday.

(Cavan):——this is the attitude of this abnormal man. The Minister is the man who came into this House at 3 o'clock and remained in it without leaving his seat until 10.30 at night.

A Deputy

That is dedication.

I must have left my seat when I was talking.

(Cavan): We have tomorrow and Friday to consider amendments and put them down. The offices of this House will not be open on Saturday. It has been the practice here that a reasonable time is given for putting down amendments. The Taoiseach is not in the House at the moment. I wonder does he stand over the irresponsible attitude of the Minister to this very fundamental Bill. A very serious principle is involved here. We would be doing violence to our Parliamentary procedure and Parliamentary democracy if we were to treat this as lightly as the Minister appears to be treating it. I appeal to the Taoiseach, even at this stage, to reconsider this matter and order the Minister to agree to a reasonable date, a reasonable length of time, which I suggest would be Tuesday, 25th instant.

As I understand it, what I am pressing is for the right to put this on the Order Paper. When it is actually taken is a completely different matter.

There is a motion before the House and the Minister put it there.

All I am asking is that it should be ordered for next Tuesday.

(Cavan): If the Minister wants a way out——

I do not want a way out.

We are trying to get a way out for the Deputy.

(Cavan):——I am prepared to allow him to put it on the Order Paper if he gives a public undertaking that it will not be taken before Tuesday 25th.

That is a matter to be arranged. Fine Gael may have settled their internal differences by next Tuesday. How do I know? It would not be the first time.

Have Fianna Fáil settled who is Taoiseach?

Deputy L'Estrange may be able to persuade Deputy Fitzpatrick.

I am minding my own business and the Minister should mind his.

They think the public are stupid enough to listen to that nonsense.

Members may speak only once on this matter.

The Minister spoke twice.

He was answering a question.

Who asked the question?

All I did was clarify a point.

A Deputy

Which twin has the Toni?

May I start by drawing your attention to the fact that the Minister has spoken twice already in relation to this question?

I have not.

Whatever one may think of the Minister for Local Government, cetainly in relation to this debate, this question of electoral changes, we have had a surfeit of the Minister for Local Government but, a Cheann Comhairle, the question before us is whether the Report Stage of this Bill be taken next Tuesday or next Tuesday week. The Minister proposes next Tuesday and Deputy Fitzpatrick proposes next Tuesday week. For as long as I have been in this House, even in relation to the most controversial of issues, there always has been a certain courtesy extended from the Government benches to the Opposition benches and that courtesy has been in accordance with the principles enshrined in our Standing Orders that there should be a fair opportunity given for consideration of amendments and debate in relation to all legislation brought in here and open for discussion.

I do not think I have ever before witnessed a situation such as we have this evening that on a Wednesday evening, after a long Committee discussion on a Bill which was clearly prolific of amendment, the Minister says: "Next Tuesday" and refuses to entertain the legitimate suggestion made by the Deputy from the Opposition in charge of the measure. It certainly is lacking in courtesy. It is indicative of the mentality behind the Bill and indicative of the mentality of the Minister for Local Government. May I suggest, if he wants a general election let him have it tonight?

Hear, hear.

There is no question of anyone from these benches fearing a general election.

A Deputy

You are afraid to stand in some parts of the country.

There is no part of Ireland I would fear to stand in.

What about Dublin North-East?

Are we to understand that the moment this Bill passes through Oireachtas Éireann this absurd unrepresentative Dáil will be dissolved? If so, why not do it here and now?

Deputies

Hear, hear.

That, unfortunately, is not the question we are discussing.

I am glad the Deputy recognises it.

I would advise the Minister for Agriculture not to interrupt me.

(Interruptions.)

They are sitting in the Front Benches. The two of them are spancelled goats. Look at them. Wait until the people of Ireland realise what they are at and it will come home to them. The two assistant Taoiseachs, look at them.

The Deputy can laugh now because that is the only way he will ever be. That is the way he gets his few bob.

Any few bob I make, I make honestly.

(Interruptions.)

The question before the House is the date for the Report Stage of the Bill.

Here is a Bill which proposes to change and alter the vast majority of the existing constituencies. That Bill, presumably, since it has been introduced by the Government, is intended to be a responsible measure. The motives for its introduction are open to question. They are certainly open to suspicion by those outside the Government but there are Deputies who feel they have a responsibility to the electors of this country to have this measure fully and adequately considered by this deliberative assembly. Is it possible, after the Committee Stage, which concludes after this discussion, whether it ends tonight or not I do not know—there are fair indications it may not end then—to have a responsible political Party, and that is the Fine Gael Party, consider before next Tuesday what amendments they wish to have reported to the Dáil? I would suggest that it is utterly unreasonable to suggest that merely tomorrow and Friday, the only two working days left this week, should be allowed for the consideration of Report amendments.

It is perfectly clear that there is behind this Bill a kind of thug mentality, a mentality which suggests: "I say next Tuesday. I listen to no one who says otherwise and I will crack the whip and the dummies behind will start walking." Look at the cherubs. When this Dáil ends so many of those will go into the outer darkness never having opened their mouths in Dáil Éireann.

We are discussing when we will take the Report Stage of the Bill.

The Deputy is never here. How would he know?

(Interruptions.)

We are discussing the Report of this Committee. Deputy Lalor does not even know what a Report is. I doubt if he knows what a Committee is.

He is a Parliamentary Secretary.

(Interruptions.)

You are afraid of the challenge.

We are discussing when the Report Stage of the Bill will be taken. I would ask the Deputy to speak to that.

That is the object of my intervention. If we are to have a proper Assemby here it should be Tuesday week. If we are just going to have a Fianna Fáil controlled Chamber then it will be next Tuesday. Until such time as the people get hold of the Fianna Fáil Party that is the issue. Is democracy to function in this House or is it not?

All Stages have often been given together.

Certainly, by agreement. You can secure anything by agreement but there is nothing you will achieve by trying to obliterate the Opposition and you certainly will not obliterate the Fine Gael Party.

The Minister suggested if there was agreement between the Whips.

He suggested first of all that we would have the Report Stage this evening.

If the Minister for Finance would talk sense to the Minister for Local Government it would benefit this House.

On a point of order. Am I correct that we hear now that the Minister said that the Bill be put on the Order Paper for next Tuesday with the understanding that unless there is agreement between the Whips it will not be considered until the following Tuesday?

That is what I said.

That is acceptable as far as I am concerned.

If that is what is said now I think we have achieved our purpose.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

We are indebted to the Minister for Finance, not to the Minister for Local Government, for this.

The Taoiseach sent in word to the Minister for Finance.

(Cavan): Deputy Booth came in with the message.

Keep quiet. Would you get this Minister for Local Government to stand up and say this because I would not trust him unless I heard him say it?

It is not in order. He has spoken twice already.

Let Fine Gael keep on delaying.

I want to know what exactly is before the House. If the proposal is that the Report Stage be taken next Tuesday, we shall not agree.

Correct. Let us vote on it, so.

When we are ready.

Fine Gael's wish is to keep away the general election. To them, it is frightening.

(Cavan): On a point of order. I do not know——

Further speeches would not now be in order for the Deputy.

(Cavan): I have no intention of making a speech now. I want to make a point of order. I am not clear as to what is before the House. If the Minister for Finance, in his own gentlemanly way, is giving an assurance on behalf of his less gentlemanly colleague, the Minister for Local Government, that if the Bill is put on the Order Paper it will not be taken before Tuesday week next, I shall agree.

I interjected in an endeavour to explain to the Deputies opposite what the Minister for Local Government said.

I quite distinctly heard the Minister for Local Government say that all he was seeking was that the Bill be ordered for Tuesday next and then that it be subject to the agreement of the Whips——

Which is normal procedure.

On a point of order. Ask the Ceann Comhairle what was the question he put to the House. The question he put to the House was that this be ordered to be taken on Tuesday next.

That is the way you put it.

The Minister for Local Government indicated Tuesday next; that the Bill should go down on the Order Paper then. As the House is aware, Bills are often put on the Order Paper and are there for months.

The Order Paper is full of them. Have a look at it.

Never for a Report Stage. Do you know what a Report Stage is?

I want the responsibility for delay to be yours.

(Cavan): The Minister is trying to wriggle his way out of it.

It is quite obvious to me, as a backbencher, what is the matter here. This Bill was equitable and firm. The Opposition sat and considered it. For this Committee Stage, they could frame only three or four Opposition amendments.

Deputies

Is this in order?

It is not in order.

Because of this, they find their cries of "gerrymandering" nullified.

Deputies

Chair, Chair.

Now the Opposition are trying to delay. They now find themselves in the position of trying to show some real opposition. This is only a filibuster.

Surely we could save an awful lot of public time if the Minister for Local Government would only repeat what the Minister for Finance said, because he did not say it originally?

I did not hear it. I did not hear the Minister for Local Government mention the Whips.

Ah, yes.

In common with most Deputies, I should like some clarification of this——

——in order to delay.

The suggestion is that the reason for our attitude here is that we wish to delay the date of a general election. I want to give a definite assurance to the "Assistant Taoiseach" and the rest of the Government that we would be glad to have a general election as soon as possible.

Tonight.

If one were held now, there would be no South County Dublin constituency for Deputy M.J. O'Higgins.

As far as my present position is concerned, I do not know whether he is the first or the second "Assistant Taoiseach", but I would like the Minister to understand quite clearly that no Fianna Fáil Minister will push me out of Wicklow: that is a matter for the people of Wicklow. It does not surprise me at all that the first or the second "Assistant Taoiseach" would like to see me go because when I went there first, there was no Fine Gael seat there. There were two Fianna Fáil seats there. Now, there are two Fine Gael seats and only one Fianna Fáil seat there.

I was hoping that Deputy O'Higgins might address himself to the question before the Dáil, namely, on what date are we to take the Report Stage of the Bill.

Deputies

Tuesday next.

Deputy O'Higgins shared the Chair's hope. He had hoped he would be allowed to address himself to the question before the House. He had commenced to do that. The Minister apparently wishes to open a discussion as to what constituencies would or would not be in existence—I do not know what the Minister for Finance is waving his hands about for——

The O'Higginses always come into this House at the eleventh hour. They are now trying to take over from Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick of Cavan——

After his being here all day yesterday.

(Cavan): The Minister for Finance is trying to get the two thugs in front of him out of the mess they are in—and that is his own assessment.

If the Chair could intervene again, Deputies may not address Members of the House as "thugs". The Deputy will withdraw the statement.

The Minister for Local Government used it against me. Ask him to withdraw.

Deputies

That is different.

It was all right then, because a Minister used it. One law for one side of the House and another law for another side of the House. There should be the same laws for both sides of the House.

When did I say that?

Deputy Fitzpatrick will withdraw the word.

(Cavan): In deference to the wishes of the Chair, and if the Chair so rules that it is unparliamentary, I will withdraw the word and substitute “these irresponsible people who are disgracing democracy”.

I am in danger of losing the thread of my argument with these interruptions.

Give them a chance over there. They will not be there long.

(Cavan): Deputy Dowling appeared to be Deputy Leader of the Party at the Ard Fheis. He is as good as some of them.

Deputy O'Higgins.

I started off by saying that, in common with most Deputies, I would welcome some clarification of the position. As I understood what happened here, Sir——

I will clarify it again, Sir——

(Cavan): He has got into a mess now.

——if I am allowed.

He refused to get up two seconds ago.

(Cavan): This Report Stage will not be taken before the 25th with our consent.

Deputy O'Higgins, without interruption.

The first proposal of the Minister for Local Government was that we should take the Report Stage this evening. In face of protest from this side of the House the Minister for Local Government then amended his proposal to the effect that the Report Stage be taken on Tuesday next.

That is correct. That meant it would be on the Order Paper.

Deputies

Ah.

(Cavan): It took the Minister a long time to think that up.

No, I did not. I have already said that. It is on the records of the House.

His enlightened colleague behind him, the Minister for Finance, thought that one up.

They made a mess of PR.

If we had accepted the proposal that the Report Stage be taken this evening, was the intention then that it be discussed or simply that the House should then adjourn to enable the Taoiseach and the two "Assistant Taoiseachs" to go into conference to decide when the Report Stage would be taken?

In any event, what has happened is that the Minister has made a proposal that the Report Stage of this intricate and complex Bill, which has already been discussed at some length on Committee Stage, be taken on Tuesday next and the Chair accepted that proposal and was about to take a vote on it when Deputy James Dillon indicated his desire to have this question discussed in the House and the question is now being discussed in the House. As far as I am concerned, I think the Minister will rue the day he made this proposition and insisted on it in face of the reasonable request made by Deputy Tom Fitzpatrick that proper time be allowed in order to enable adequate consideration to be given to the tabling of the amendments——

The Order of Business is decided on each day.

——and to the drafting of amendments for Report Stage. I wish to say quite clearly to the Minister and to every Deputy sitting behind him that, as far as we are concerned, a question of this sort will not simply be a question of counting heads, no matter what majority they may have. You will hear the arguments and you will hear the case put up against this proposition. It is not a question merely of using your majority in this House to steamroll a measure such as this through the House without adequate consideration in respect of the drafting of Report amendments by members of the Opposition.

The fact that such a proposition as this has been made demonstrates the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party when they are in possession of a majority of Members in this House. The Ceann Comhairle has reminded Deputies of the question before us, the question being that the Report Stage of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1968, be taken on Tuesday next. With all respect to the Chair, whose ruling I, of course, accept on this matter, it is appropriate, and even necessary, for Deputies to give proper consideration to the motion proposed by the Minister and to consider, perhaps in some detail, the Bill. The Minister wants the Bill tabled hastily for Report Stage, with a weekend intervening, without any adequate opportunity for Deputies to consider their attitude to the amendments.

How about Wednesday?

There were several amendments on Committee Stage which were tabled——

They are filibustering on it.

We cannot reopen the Committee Stage.

I do not intend to reopen the Committee Stage——

Deputies

Chair.

——except to the extent that I may think it necessary in connection with my arguments on the motions proposed to quote, possibly at some length, from the Committee Stage debate. For the moment I am merely directing the attention of the Chair to the fact that for the Committee discussion of this Bill there were no less than 32 amendments tabled.

Practically all Ministerial amendments.

They were virtually all Ministerial amendments. If between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage the Minister found it possible to table this number of amendments—I assume that before doing so, he had the necessary conferences with the officials of his Department and the unnecessary conferences with the Deputies of his own Party—it took a matter of months, including the Christmas Recess, for the Minister to table 30 odd amendments for the Committee Stage, it would be quite unreasonable, even from the Minister's own point of view, to expect that in a matter of three or four days with a weekend intervening, when no doubt the "Assistant Taoiseachs" and the various other members of the Government will be required to go around the country making speeches at Fianna Fáil Cumainn on the present industrial unrest, on the teachers' strike——

The Deputy should keep on the question before the House.

I am sure the Chair will appreciate this because he was an active constituency Deputy for a number of years. I am dealing now with the calls on members of the Government but I shall get around to the calls on the members of the Opposition before I finish. Surely the Chair will appreciate that, with the calls on the members of the Government and with the requirements on the Minister for Finance in Dublin North-East on account of the present situation there, when it may be necessary to send the Minister for Local Government to make speeches on that side of the city or indeed in any other county throughout the county, it will be virtually impossible for the Minister for Local Government to give his whole attention to the consideration of possible amendments to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1968, between now and Tuesday next.

I will do my best.

We all know the Minister will do his best but there might be a difference of opinion as to what that would amount to. The Minister is in the unfortunate position of being faced with the possibility of a number of amendments being suggested on Report Stage from his own side of the House, and who knows but that at the next meeting of the Cabinet—I do not know if it is on Fridays or Tuesdays they have them—he may find that some of his own colleagues are not entirely satisfied with the position arising out of the Committee Stage and it may be necessary for the Minister to instruct his Departmental officials, and it may even be necessary for other Ministers to instruct their secretaries to read very carefully through the debate on the Committee Stage of this Bill.

For God's sake, will the Minister order it for Tuesday week?

The Order of Business is decided each day.

The procedure has always been never to put the Report Stage on the Order Paper until a reasonable time has elapsed.

Question "That the Report Stage of the Bill be taken on Tuesday, 25th February" put and agreed to.
Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 25th February, 1969.