An Bille Um An Triú Leasú Ar An mBunreacht, 1971: An Coiste. - Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971: Committee Stage.

The Chair wishes to point out to Deputies that the amendments to pages 4 and 5 of this Bill have been addressed to the lines numbered by the printer. There is an error in the numbering which will be corrected in the next print.

The Chair also wishes to point out that section I provides for the addition to Article 29 of the Constitution of the new matter set out in the Schedule. Deputies will have an opportunity of debating the proposals on section I or on the Schedule but not on both and a duplication of the debate is not, of course, permissible. As the main amendments have been tabled to the Schedule, it is suggested that the debate might take place on it and that sections 1 and 2 be postponed until the Schedule has been disposed of.

Could you guide me on this? I am sorry, I do not understand Dáil procedure very well. Could you tell me which of Deputy Sherwin's amendments will be taken first, the one to section I or the one to the Schedule?

We are dealing with the Schedule first and the amendments to the Schedule will be dealt with before we come to deal with the sections of the Bill.

AN SCEIDEAL.

SCHEDULE.

Tairgim leasú a 2a:

I move amendment No. 2a:

I gCuid I, leathanach 5, línte 32 agus 33, "de dhroim do bheith ina chomhalta de na Comhphobail" a scriosadh agus ", de bhíthin riachtanais na n-oibleagáidí mar chomhalta de na Comhphobail," a chur ina ionad;

agus

I gCuid II, leathanach 7, line 9, "consequent on" a scriosadh agus "necessitated by the obligations of" a chur ina ionad.

2a. In Part I, page 4, lines 33 and 34, to delete "de dhroim do bheith ina chomhalta de na Comhphobail" and substitute ", de bhíthin riachtanais na n-oibleagáidí mar chomhalta de na Comhphobail,";

and

In Part II, page 6, line 9, to delete "consequent on" and substitute "necessitated by the obligations of".

This amendment provides for the deletion of certain words in line 9 of Part II of the Schedule. This was referred to at considerable length by a number of Deputies as well as myself on Second Stage. At that time we also adverted to the possible need to make other amendments and a good deal of time was spent referring to certain other Articles and sub-Articles of the Constitution. In fact, in the course of the Second Stage I think we indicated that it was possible that amendments would be moved on Committee Stage for the specific purpose of including certain sections by naming them for specific mention in the Schedule to the Bill.

However, on reconsideration and after further examination of the Bill, it has been decided that it is not necessary to propose other amendments because the specific terms of the Rome Treaty as well as the other two treaties referred to here in no way affect the Articles of the Constitution to which we adverted. I refer to Articles like involvement in a conflict and the specific involvement of the State in war or the Article dealing with fundamental human rights. These were the particular ones as well as the Articles dealing with the raising of an armed force. While there was some concern about the possible infringement, I think it is right to say that there are no provisions in the EEC established by the Treaty of Rome which involves in any sense any diminution of these rights. Certainly the State cannot participate in or be involved in war except with the clear assent of Dáil Éireann.

That is clear, and consequently we have decided that the only amendment we shall move is the one described as amendment No. 2a on the white sheet. The wording of the amendment proposes to delete "consequent on" and to substitute "necessitated by the obligations of" membership. The reason for the amendment—this was the subject of considerable discussion on the Second Stage—is that the words "consequent on" are too wide. The proposed amendment will limit the changes which may become necessary as a result of the accession of this country to the EEC in the event of this referendum being accepted by the people—that the changes, which will have the force of law, will only be those that are necessitated by the obligations of membership, those which are strictly necessary rather than any changes involving actions done or measures adopted consequent on membership.

As I have said, this amendment therefore is limited to that specific point. It is designed to ensure that the proposed amendment in no sense exceeds the necessary changes which must be made in order to conform with the Treaty of Rome. The discussion which we had on the Second Stage adverted to a number of factors including the question of war, and I think it is quite clear that the terms of the Treaty of Rome in no sense conflict with Article 28 (3) (1) of the Constitution. That and the sections dealing with fundamental human rights are the specific Articles which caused some concern and were the subject of comment in the course of the Second Stage discussion. This particular wording has been so drafted that it will rephrase the Schedule which will read, in the relevant passage:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.

The sole purpose of this change is to ensure that the phraseology of the Schedule expressly will be limited to actions and measures necessitated by the obligations of membership. To that extent I believe it meets the general desire that any change should be only that absolutely necessary rather than involving wider alterations of the Constitution.

We expressed some concern about other sections but on reflection we decided the best way is to put this as clearly as possible—to put the issue, when the Act is put before the people, not in a complicated way by discussing matters not in it. This particular wording has been so drafted as to ensure that it will be possible to make whatever changes are necessary and that no changes which are not necessary will be involved.

As the Taoiseach stated on the Second Stage of this Bill, its object is to enable the people to decide by way of referendum whether they wish to agree to amendments in our Constitution which would be, to use the words in the Bill, consequent on membership of the European Communities. He also made it clear that he thought there was a great deal to be said for the view that the issue should be posed as simply as possible and in such a way that the people will be able to give a clear "yes" or "no".

On the other hand, it is self-evident that if the people decide in a referendum to vote "yes", what they will be saying is that they want to take up membership of the Communities and that they want such changes as are necessary in our Constitution to be brought about. The wording of the Bill as it stands in this connection is "consequent on membership of the Communities". The amendment proposed by Deputy Cosgrave would, I think, to the average voter make no difference. It may be that as far as lawyers are concerned it will mean the somewhat wider interpretation that certain "actions done, laws enacted",et cetera, necessarily arise out of our membership of the Communities, but I think this is largely a matter of a very fine legal interpretation.

As far as the average voter is concerned, I do not think there will be any real difference. However, as far as the Government are concerned, what we want to do is to ask the people to make up their minds whether they wish us to enter the EEC and, if so, to make the necessary changes in the Constitution. The Taoiseach was at pains to point out that we tried to have the Bill drafted in such a way as to make it clear that only such changes as were directly necessitated by membership were contemplated and that what is proposed here are changes consequent on membership of the existing Communities, not of any new community which might sometime evolve. Therefore, so far as the Government are concerned the amendment proposed by Deputy Cosgrave will, as I have said, make no difference to the average voter. It may make some difference to some lawyers arguing the matter very finely but since our objective is to ask the people to make a clear decision we have no objection to this amendment. So far as I am concerned, it is one that has the same meaning as the Bill as drafted, although it may be that some lawyers arguing fine legal points will detect a difference between the two versions. So far as we are concerned, the purpose behind the Bill is being met and is not being interfered with by the amendment. Consequently, the Government are prepared to accept this amendment.

I should like to express satisfaction that Deputy Cosgrave's amendment is being accepted by the Government, although I detect a singular lack of enthusiasm by the Minister. The plain fact is that in the view of a significant number of people this amendment is absolutely essential to make the issue one which can be voted on with credibility by the people. It is important that this should be understood: that under the original wording the fear was legitimately entertained by many people that we were going to permit a situation in which merely following on our entry into Europe a whole lot of our laws could be questioned as a consequence of membership. That was never the intention of anyone who proposed our membership of the Communities. In order to make that absolutely clear, Deputy Cosgrave's amendment was tabled. I would have felt that the acceptance of Deputy Cosgrave's amendment by the Government might, indeed, have been done more generously than it has been done. It is good, however, that the amendment is being accepted.

I notice that the Minister for Finance, in accepting the amendment, said that in his view the amendment had the same meaning as the phrase in the original Bill. The Minister for Finance said that it might be argued from a lawyer's point of view that it was a bit tighter. That may be so; I have not an opinion on that. I find myself in agreement with the Minister for Finance in saying that it is clear that the amendment in the name of Deputy Cosgrave has substantially the same meaning as the original Part II of the Bill. We have the deletion of two words and the addition of five words in a section of 11 lines. This Part is quite an extraordinarily comprehensive one. It is so comprehensive that when we make the slight change to "necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Community" then we are changing this sentence only in regard to action by the State. The second half of the same sentence refers to "laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or the institutions thereof". The acceptance of this amendment by the Government makes an absolutely insignificant difference to the full meaning of the sentence and also to the full meaning of the Bill. It may be that at the lawyers' level it makes a little difference. It does not make any difference to the Labour Party's essential objection to the Bill.

The Deputy will appreciate that he will have an opportunity of dealing with the Schedule as a whole when we dispose of the amendment.

I appreciate that and I do not intend to speak for long. I want to make clear that our opposition to this amendment arises simply as a reiteration of our basic objection to this section of this Bill. If we thought that it made a significant difference to the section as a whole we might have thought it would be better to get some little bit of benefit. The essential objective of this section is to give power, not just to hold a referendum. It goes deeper. It will wipe away large parts of the constitutional protection which we have had. We discussed at length in the debate on the Second Stage those sections of the Constitution which could lose their validity under this section of the Bill. We have indicated that we think the 1937 Constitution was a much less satisfactory one than the original Constitution of the State. It was a sectarian Constitution and one in which the approach to reunifying the country was made much more difficult. It still contains some useful protections for which we may have the greatest need in the near future. It is not the aspect which enables the people to be consulted which we object to. We are as anxious as anyone for that consultation of the people. We await their verdict. What we object to are the aspects of the Bill which enable not just sections of the Constitution to be rendered invalid but which effectively negate the Constitution. So much of it is swept away that what is left is hard to describe as being the original document.

This amendment is so tiny and, as the Minister has correctly said, is substantially the same in meaning that I do not think we could logically oppose this part of the Bill on Second Stage and now accept an amendment which might make a bit more grist for the lawyer's mills but which in the ordinary understanding of the section itself or of the section with the amendment now accepted makes no substantial difference to the scope, the extent, the vagueness and the sweeping powers of this section. Consequently, though the Minister in speaking for the Government has accepted this amendment, we are opposing it.

I find the logic of the Labour Party's position difficult to follow. I find the common sense of the Minister's position difficult to follow also. I find myself in the happy position of believing that Fine Gael is the only party in this House which has any sense in this matter.

And the only one in the party with any sense is the Deputy himself.

(Interruptions.)

This barrage is unexpected. I must have offended the Labour Party deeply by what I have said, but I still think despite their barrage their position is irrational. There are two elements in this part we are seeking to amend. There is the basic question of the extent to which it is necessary to provide for a modification of our Constitution in order to secure membership of the EEC. That is something which you are either for or against because you are for or against membership. Clearly if you are against membership you are against the Bill. That is logical enough, but if, in fact, the Irish people are to adopt this— and the Labour Party clearly concede their right to do so and will accept their verdict, of course, as a democratic party and have always said they will—it is important that they do not accept a change in the Constitution which gives to any Irish Government any power to override the Constitution on its own account for its own purposes. It is important that nothing should be put to the people or adopted by them which does any more than the minimum necessary to our Constitution to enable us to enter the EEC. The reason why this amendment is so essential and why it has determined our attitude to this whole issue is that, as drafted, the Bill left open in a very serious way the possibility of the Government bringing in legislation which was not necessitated by the obligations of membership but which could be held to be consequent on membership.

Such legislation could be in any field. Let us take an absurd and extreme example to make the point. The Government could hold that, in order to secure the orderly application of the Treaty of Rome in the difficult circumstances of this country, various human rights should be suspended. If the Government brought in a Bill called the "Suspension of Human Rights (Consequent on EEC Membership) Bill" that Bill would not be unconstitutional. It would depend on what the courts would decide, but the likelihood of the courts deciding it was unconstitutional with that wording in the Bill is certainly dubious.

Is the Deputy serious?

The courts are very slow to interfere with the Legislature and to say the Legislature is wrong in its judgement of facts. If the Legislature passed a Bill of any kind expressed to be consequent on membership of the Community and if that Bill were, in the judgement of the Legislature, necessary, I am not at all sure that the High Court, or the Supreme Court, would look behind that to establish the facts, which is a matter for the Legislature given that the Bill is expressed to be consequent on membership. I am not suggesting that would happen or that the High Court or the Supreme Court would decide it was constitutional, but clearly legislation expressed to be consequent on membership and which did appear to arise from membership but would not be necessitated by it could conceivably and, I would think, even probably get through in these circumstances.

The opposition of the Labour Party to this amendment is curious. It is an opposition which, given that the Government have accepted the amendment, will not affect events, but why they should pursue a line which involves expressing a wish to leave a provision which the Government have accepted could give them powers beyond what is necessary is something I do not fully understand.

The Bill, as drafted, with this amendment, does no more than the minimum necessary to secure membership. It ensures that any law passed here which can be shown legally to be necessitated by the obligations of membership, to be an unavoidable consequence of membership, to be required by membership, will, to that extent, take precedence over the Constitution, but unless that can be shown and if the law is simply consequential on membership but not necessitated by it, it does not override the Constitution. Similarly in relation to the provision in the second part to which Deputy Keating referred, that the regulations of the Community which must be regulations properly adopted in due form under the Treaty of Rome "shall have the effect of law despite the existing provisions in the Constitution limiting legislative power to Oireachtas Éireann". That is also a necessary consequence of membership. If one accepts membership one accepts that. If one rejects that one rejects membership. It is logical therefore that provision should be there. These provisions will enable us to be part of the Community within whose decision-making system we shall play our role; and it must be remarked that within that system as it has operated to date, no country has ever been voted down in any matters that concerned its vital interests. It is quite clear from the attitudes of some Governments, such as the French Government, that they are determined that will not happen.

Deputy Keating has argued that the whole tone of this amendment is wrong, that it should have been in the form of a listing of the Articles of the Constitution which are specifically affected but, as I suggested on the Second Stage, he undermined his own argument by listing a series of Articles that he thought might be affected, showing the danger of legislating by trying to pick out the Articles that might be affected when we cannot be sure which they are. Such a procedure could leave us in the position where an astute lawyer would find a loophole of some kind in years to come as a result of which our membership of the Community and all the benefits accruing from that would be invalidated, requiring a further referendum. That would be quite wrong.

This amendment does no more than the necessary minimum to enable us to be members of the Community. As such it is necessary if we are to put to the Irish people a realistic alternative of entering or not entering. If the Bill did less than this we would not, in fact, be posing the alternative of entering or not entering, because a Bill drafted with fewer provisions than this would not entitle us to enter. It is the minimum necessary to put a realistic alternative to the Irish people when the referendum takes place.

I speak under some difficulty on this amendment. First of all, to me the whole Fine Gael attitude to the Common Market and to this Bill is a tragic example of the sheepish me-tooism which too often is practised by the leadership of that party. Secondly, I speak under an intellectual difficulty. I have often been called an academic intellectual and perhaps that piece of opprobrium is accurate; it has often been said that there are too many doctors in this party, but I thank God I am not a lawyer and I think we can say with our hands on our hearts that we have no lawyers in the Labour Party. We have had three lawyers speaking from Fine Gael and defending this amendment. As far as I am concerned, apart from the points made by Deputy Keating the only intelligent thing said here so far was said by the Minister, and I congratulate him on characteristic intelligence in saying that this would make no difference to the ordinary voter. It certainly will not. It does not make any difference to anybody.

I do not so much oppose this amendment as dissociate myself from it with a certain degree of derision. I shall certainly not go to the ramparts or the barricades to insist that "consequent on" should be replaced by "necessitated by the obligations of". This is great fun for the lawyers, and I think the amendment is a nonsense. I am sorry to have to say that to people I respect as much as my friend, Deputy Garret FitzGerald, and his eminent colleagues there. The acceptance of the amendment by the Minister is equally a nonsense, because the acceptance of an amendment by a Minister is supposed to indicate a relatively significant change on the part of the Minister brought about by his flexible acceptance of the reasoned arguments presented to him by Members of the Opposition. The Minister has just said he accepts this amendment because it does not make a blind bit of difference, if I may use that rather crude language.

Do you believe him?

Yes, I completely believe him, and since I will not be one of those receiving fees for briefs to debate the difference between "consequent on" and "necessitated by the obligations of", I reserve the right to agree with him. I think the Minister is perfectly right, that he is a very sensible and cynical man to accept the amendment. His acceptance of this amendment, so far from offering any readiness on the part of the Government to alter the disgraceful clause in question in Part II of this Bill, which provides a portmanteau which allows any section of our Constitution to be swept aside by some lawyer's judgment of the meaning of either of these two phrases I have mentioned, so far from representing any significant gain for those who oppose this Bill totally in its present form or even oppose it marginally, it is the first kiss in the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael honeymoon in Brussels.

I did not intend to speak on this amendment but when Deputy FitzGerald spoke I was prompted to speak on it. He mentioned that it was logical that those who would oppose the amendment before the House would, in effect, be opposing the EEC entry.

I did not, with respect.

The Deputy implied it.

He put it the other way round.

I said the opposite but let the Deputy carry on.

He said, in effect, that those who would be against the amendment proposed by the Government would seem to be definite in their opposition to entry to the EEC.

I said the opposite.

I am a bit puzzled about how the Deputy said the opposite.

I suggested that it was logical if one wanted to prevent the Constitution being overridden one should tie down as tightly as possible any changes in it and, therefore, you should be in favour of the amendment not against it. There may be confusion because I may have used the word "amendment" in relation to our amendment and about the whole Bill as an amendment to the Constitution.

I seem to have misunderstood what the Deputy said. In relation to our Constitution we in this House are, to coin a phrase, "boys" in a sense because the people are the controlling power. They enacted the Constitution, they are responsible in regard to Articles of the Constitution and, therefore, any amendments to it naturally become their responsibility.

Article 46, 1º of the Constitution states:

Any provision of this Constitution may be amended, whether by way of variation, addition, or repeal, in the manner provided by this Article.

I should like to contend that on entry into the EEC we are led to believe that Articles will be removed from our Constitution. In fact, the manner in which our Constitution is amended is unconstitutional and is contrary to Article 46, 1º.

That is the most sensible contribution so far.

I am glad to see Deputy O'Donovan follows what the Deputy says because I did not.

It is dead easy.

I am not concerned about pursuing the thought as developed by Deputy Sherwin although it is a valid one. I believe we will talk about this again and again. I am interested in the logic or non-logic of our opposition in relation to this section. Deputy FitzGerald is able to add and he, therefore, knows that when an amendment is proposed by the second largest party in the House and accepted by the largest party in the House, whether we oppose or do not oppose, makes no difference to the material outcome. Therefore, the role we can play in this is not to determine the final result of this amendment but to express our thoughts on it. Therefore, no action of ours either strengthens or weakens the outcome. Since the Government have accepted the amendment, no action of ours strengthens the inadequacy in the Bill at the moment.

The point of our opposition is precisely in the circumstances of a referendum. If we were to say we favoured this amendment we would be participating in playing the game of trying to make section 3, Part II of the Bill a little better, a little more acceptable. We made it perfectly clear that the section is totally unacceptable, that it drives a coach and four through our Constitution, that it destroys it section by section, that it enables this to be done without any full discussion of it. The amendment does not materially alter the real threat of this section, that in regard to the validity of things done by the Communities it has no effect whatsoever. We would be participating in a charade, which could very properly be a source of reproach to us, if we did anything other than to dismiss the whole thing as a game of ping-pong between two parties who are in basic agreement on this issue. We may be reproached for lack of logic but any other action in regard to any playing with little bits of polite alteration of what is to us a monstrous section of the Bill would very properly be a source of reproach. It would be irresponsible on our part if we did anything other than make clear our total opposition.

As one who supported the Bill on Second Stage, at the same time, having read some of the speeches and listened to more of them I was satisfied that there was a feeling within the House that certain amendments would be necessary. In Press reports since it was quite clear that amendments would be submitted, particularly by the Fine Gael Party, and that they were likely to be accepted by the Government, as this one has now been accepted. The Bill, as I see it gives the Government and the Communities a blank cheque, so to speak, to deal in what way they wish with our Constitution.

The Fine Gael Party amendment, which has been accepted by the Government, seems to put some control on what we do in relation to our Constitution, that we will only amend or pass legislation that is strictly necessary for our entry into the Common Market. I do not know whether the amendment controls what the Communities do subsequently. As I see it it states:

Prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.

I should like some clarification on this. Can we find a situation here where we are controlling ourselves in relation to changes in the Constitution or enactments in this House and at the same time allowing any other member of the Communities to pass laws that will be in force here that might be repugnant to our Constitution? In relation to legislation passed here by successive governments with all the expertise available to them we have found subsequently that some part or subsection of it has been declared unconstitutional. I have no doubt that the draftsmen framing this legislation originally tried to bring it within the framework of the Constitution.

What will happen when we will have people in other parts of Europe who will enact laws which might very well be found to be unconstitutional as far as we are concerned? I am not sure whether the Fine Gael amendment covers that particular aspect or whether they are worried about it. I am particularly worried about it. I am glad that the Minister has gone so far as to accept this amendment in relation to our own laws here. I should like to be satisfied that we are not leaving any loopholes here for other member States to decide what kind of laws we should or should not have.

Perhaps I may help Deputy Brennan on this particular point. He seemed to suggest that there could be circumstances in which individual members of the Communities could pass laws affecting us. He said "individual States". This, of course, is not the case. The only laws which are covered by this are laws passed by the Council of Ministers of the Community which arise directly from the Rome Treaties, which are within the framework of the Rome Treaties and which are designed to implement the Rome Treaties.

That is the main point Deputy Brennan made and Deputy FitzGerald knows well what the argument was and he should set about answering it.

I am setting about answering it in my own rather convoluted way, in the Deputy's view.

Deputy O'Donovan is perfectly correct. Deputy Brennan's objection was not so much——

Deputy FitzGerald.

I was thinking of making my own speech, but I was diverted into losing my point. The only legislation covered by this is legislation of the Communities.

That is what Deputy Brennan said.

That legislation must be passed with the same effect as individual States passing laws. I just want to clarify that point in case his inadvertent phraseology could have misled anybody inside or outside the House. These are the laws passed under the terms of the Rome Treaties. It is important, I think, to get this clear because, with the new phraseology now incorporated in the Bill, the Bill applies only to laws which are passed under the existing Rome Treaties. These are confined, of course, to economic matters. Within that sphere they are extensive and very important economic decisions will in future be taken jointly by ourselves and other countries; but they are confined to that and it is worth emphasising that point.

There are many aspects of our Constitution which are untouched by this. As the Treaties are purely economic no attempt by the group of countries which are members of the Communities to legislate in a manner which is not required by or under the terms of the Rome Treaty would come within the framework of this and, should they decide to legislate on matters not covered by the Treaty, such as, for example, military and defence matters, any such legislation would be null and void and would not affect our Constitution. It is only anything which is necessitated by the obligations of membership or regulations passed pursuant to the Treaties binding on these particular Communities which is affected and, as these Communities are confined to economic matters, it is only in these matters this can take any effect. It is important that that point should be clarified. Of course, as these Communities operate on the basis of having a legislative power binding on member States, a power which has hitherto been operated by unanimity, for which there is provision, to operate by a qualified majority in future, as we are joining such a Community, if we decide in favour, then that implies accepting the sharing of legislative power in respect of the matters covered by the Treaties. If we are not prepared to accept that, then we cannot join and we should not pretend we want to join. If in fact, we do decide we want to join, then the minimum provision we have to make is what is here and it is important that the Irish people should be faced with something which is the minimum necessary and which does not go beyond that. I do not understand the logic of the point of view of the Labour Party that voting for or against something in the Dáil is something you decide on not solely because you think you can win the vote. On most occasions we, in the Opposition, in all parties, air our views indeed, but one votes for what one thinks is right; one knows one is going to be defeated most of the time, but one votes for what one thinks is right. We think it right that no Government in this country should have any power to override the Constitution by claiming that legislation is required and arises consequent on the Treaty.

It was not a question of right or wrong. I understood Deputy FitzGerald to suggest that we were somehow strengthening the original version of the Bill by opposing the Fine Gael amendment. The point I was making is that no action of ours, one way or the other, would affect what the Dáil passes and we are therefore entirely free to vote as we think right.

It is a view I do not personally share. The fact that on any given issue we want to defeat the Government is not a reason for voting against something which is good or for something which is bad.

And that was never suggested by me.

I see. Then I have failed completely to understand the Deputy.

And not for the first time.

I understood the Deputy's argument to be that, because the Labour Party's vote could not affect the issue, there was no point in voting for something, even if that something had the effect, as we believe and are advised it will have, of preventing a Government here legislating in a matter not required by the Rome Treaty and overriding the Constitution. That danger exists. It is easy to dismiss lawyers and say lawyers do not matter. In fact, it is lawyers, lawyers in the form of judges, who decide after hearing advocacy whether or not something is constitutional. This is a constitutional Bill. It is a legal Bill. The wording of it is vital. If any mistake or looseness in the wording were allowed to persist then the Government could acquire the power to override the Constitution for their own purposes in matters that are not necessitated by the obligations of the Treaty. It is the duty of the Opposition in this House to prevent that and I am sorry the Labour Party have not seen it as part of their duty to support us in this matter.

I was under the impression, wrongly I think now, that Deputy Cosgrave, who introduced the amendment, explained it and that his explanation was the explanation to the amendment. Since then Deputy FitzGerald has, of course, put a different complexion on the amendment and, in my opinion, if the question of support or anything else came up, this would completely alter my opinion and, I am sure, the opinions of some of my colleagues on the question as to whether or not we should support the amendment. The Minister has accepted the amendment for the very simple reason that the Fianna Fáil Government are anxious to have Fine Gael on the same side as themselves during the referendum. It is as simple as that. It is not because it is an improvement.

Whether or not it is an improvement is beside the point. The only reason they have accepted it is because they want the support of Fine Gael. Deputy Cosgrave threatened them some weeks ago that he would, in fact, have to think very strongly if certain things were not done; they could not hope to win the referendum on their own and, Fianna Fáil, having seen the amendment and realising, as the Minister has said, that it did not matter a damn whether they accepted it or not, said: "Oh, we will accept it. If that pleases the boys and gets them in on the same side as us, then it is all right."

I honestly believe this is a type of Bill entirely misinterpreted by Deputy FitzGerald, for some peculiar reason. I think Deputy Brennan put his finger right on the kernel; the only thing I am sorry for is that he did not put his finger on it on Second Reading because I believe that he and the people who are on this side should have spotted this particular thing much earlier and voted against the Government at that particular time. Whether or not they were defeated is beside the point. Fine Gael, voting with them, would ensure they would not be defeated. But Deputy Brennan did, in fact, put his finger on the kernel of the whole thing and it is senseless for Deputy FitzGerald to be talking now about what the Community as a whole decide. In fact, the Community may decide to do certain things and, if they do, then they are acceptable, or will be acceptable if this amendment of the Constitution is passed. Do not forget that the whole Kernel of this is Part II and it is Part II, the Schedule, we are discussing here this evening. In addition, reference has been made by more than one speaker to the fact that this must be constitutional and people have been talking about the necessity to have rights so that we can appeal to the Constitution. If this Bill is passed, then we no longer have any right to go to the High Court or the Supreme Court to find out whether or not something is constitutional because one of the things excluded in the Constitution by reference to the courts is an amendment to the Constitution and the Minister is, I am sure, aware of that.

Surely the Deputy is not, unless I misunderstood him, saying that, because of that provision, which refers to an amendment of the Constitution, in any matter in which normally people would have gone to the courts to argue that it is unconstitutional they will no longer be able to do so.

This is an amendment of the Constitution, whether something is constitutional or not; if someone wants to challenge it, he cannot do so.

Because the people so decided and the people are above the Supreme Court.

That is the story. If they find out that there were a number of Bills previously that were wrong and that a mistake was made they cannot go any further. If we accept that, and if we enter the EEC and if we make this amendment, does anybody seriously suggest that at that stage some citizen can go to the courts and ask to have certain things that are being proposed declared unconstitutional? Is it not a fact that this is conditional on being an amendment of the Constitution and we have no right to change it in any way? Deputy Cosgrave made reference earlier—I did not quite follow his argument—to war being declared and Deputy FitzGerald said that defence commitments did not, of course, enter into it at all, good, bad or indifferent. Maybe Deputy FitzGerald was being a little bit cute about this. Is not the political objective of the Community the setting-up of one Community? And if you have such a Community defence is bound to enter into it——

Not in the same Treaty.

That is a legalistic objection——

A constitutional objection.

It is not a constitutional objection. Deputy FitzGerald must know that the Taoiseach in Paris four years ago stated that we were prepared to accept any commitment required of us.

It has nothing to do with it——

Is it not true——

——as amended. It would have something to do with it if we did not amend it.

Is it not true that the Minister now sitting in the front bench, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Taoiseach have repeated that a Europe worth joining is a Europe worth defending? Is that not so?

It is not a fact.

If the Minister did not say it, that is all right.

Not those actual words.

Here we come back to Deputy FitzGerald. He will put a few twists on this also.

The Deputy is pretty good at that himself.

I would want to be. I also have a very good memory and my memory is that if these were not the exact words they are pretty close to them: "a Europe worth joining is a Europe worth defending." Then we hear people here saying: "There are no defence commitments involved in this."

In the Treaty?

That is not what we are talking about.

It is, or it ought to be.

Deputy FitzGerald has been on his feet about six times already and perhaps he would let me have a few minutes. Then he can contradict me if he wishes.

We should confine ourselves to the amendment. There will be an opportunity later of broadening the discussion.

I have been confining myself and I shall confine myself to the amendment because the arguments so far made have been following a certain line. If they were allowed by the Chair I am not broadening the discussion by following the same line. I have repeated two things that were said, one of which I think—I am not quite sure—Deputy Cosgrave said and the second, of which I am sure, that Deputy FitzGerald said. If they made those statements in support of the amendment I should be entitled to comment on them. If they say that changing the Constitution in this way does not in any way involve defence commitments for this country and I say it does, I think that is relevant.

Can you show that?

I have already shown it. If the Deputy says it, I must comment on it.

It would be much more relevant if the Deputy would show the basis for his argument.

Where is the section of the Rome Treaty in question?

Deputy FitzGerald is trying to make us believe that the Rome Treaty is the be-all and end-all and that there will be no further treaty——

And the amendment of the Constitution.

——of any kind within the EEC——

——while he knows that the Paris Treaty followed and that there will be further——

Further followed by this amendment.

Deputy FitzGerald has been a good while in Parliament but not long enough to get away with that sort of trick. It does not matter what he says, what is agreed under this Bill and amendment is what this House will have to exist on, if it does exist, for a long time to come.

May I interrupt the Deputy?

Of course.

On the assumption that the Deputy is making a reasoned argument and not propaganda, may I put this proposition to him?

The Minister would know nothing about propaganda; he never listens to the radio.

I am asking him to have a look at the Schedule in relation to which the amendment is before us and he can see that it refers specifically to three treaties, gives the dates of them and therefore this amendment can only operate in relation to those specific treaties and their specific provisions. None of those provisions refers to defence or military commitments. On that basis I ask the Deputy how does he justify his argument?

I am glad the Minister asked that question because I said it a few minutes ago and the Minister was inclined to agree though he thought they were not the exact words. Because already the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister have stated that Ireland was prepared to accept any defence commitments required and they also stated that a Europe worth joining was a Europe worth defending. It is only a very small step from that to accepting that whatever arguments or treaties are made in future they will follow the line set here. Perhaps the Minister is suggesting that if something like this happens a further referendum will be held?

No, but I suggest that whether it is a large or a small step to the next stage he talks about, and whatever view one takes of that, it is not covered by this Bill. That is the point I am making.

The Minister will remember his own words about Deputy Cosgrave's amendment. When the amendment went down the Minister said that as far as he was concerned it did not make much difference but that certain lawyers might be able to make an argument on it. I have great respect for lawyers, unlike some of my colleagues here, and I know they can make arguments which do not seem to the ordinary layman to exist but in fact are there.

The Deputy is the father of a very good lawyer.

Thanks very much. Is it not a fact that if the Minister is prepared to accept a set of words which we know differ entirely from the words that are there but which the Minister says—and he is a lawyer—makes no difference at all——

He did not say that——

He said it made no difference good or bad—let him stand up and deny it afterwards if he wants to—but that the smart lawyers might find a difference. If that is so in regard to this wording who knows but that some smart lawyers can come along at a later stage and read into this section something that will allow defence commitments to be written in, including this country, when we have passed this measure?

On that basis we should stop legislating altogether.

I suggest we should start with this Bill. We should all be very happy if you decide to begin with this Bill and stop legislating there. Throw it out and we shall all be very happy. The reason why we are not supporting the Fine Gael amendment, as Deputy Keating so aptly said, is not because we particularly oppose the amendment but because we particularly oppose the whole Bill. We shall oppose it and all its concomitants.

And any attempt to improve it.

I agree completely with what Deputy Brennan said. It is all very well for Deputy FitzGerald to stand up afterwards and by a smart alec device take a single phrase out of the speech and build a speech on that. I do not regard that as serious discussion. That is mickey mousing and is bad legislative behaviour. I genuinely think that.

The Deputy can tut, tut as much as he likes. Deputy Brennan made quite a clear case. It is that there are really three parts in Part II of this Bill. If the Bill were the first sentence in Part II we might oppose it but we think it would be a fair issue to put to the people. The second sentence has two different provisions in it. They are not satisfied to make three sentences of this business. They abolish the Constitution past, present and to come by a single sentence. I was inclined to think that this was an example of the lemmings. I think the lemmings behave as they do because they have over-population——

That is not our problem.

This is much more like the rush of the Gadarene swine. According to the biblical story, the devil got into them. The first part of the second sentence reads:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities...

The second part states:

...or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.

That means that all laws adopted by the Communities will over-ride the Constitution. Deputy FitzGerald may say this relates only to economic matters. For the moment, of course, he is talking as the lawyer with an interest in legal institutions and cultural affairs. Normally he professes to talk in this House as an economist——

I accept the correction.

The Deputy is not the only person who may profess to talk.

I take the Deputy's point. I have no objection so long as a person does not wear a different suit. There is an important distinction between what is the first and the second parts of this sentence. Fundamentally, we are tying ourselves hand and foot. Of course, it could be said that once we join the Communities we will be tied hand and foot in any event. We are told very many things about the EEC. First, associate membership was not on, but now we find dozens of countries becoming associate members.

They were mentioned by a lawyer inThe Irish Times yesterday——

The Deputy means association.

Acting Chairman

Whatever the Deputy may mean, I suggest that association or associate membership is not relevant to this amendment. Perhaps it would be appropriate on the Schedule.

I can speak about it on the Schedule. It is all the same whether we discuss it on the amendment or on the Schedule. I have argued this point in the House before.

Acting Chairman

I suggest that the Deputy should deal with the amendment now and he can make his other contribution later.

I would ask the Minister to give the House an assurance on the following matter. While we can be happy that the amendment will cover matters as they stand now, can we assure the people during the referendum campaign that the Council of Ministers will not doublecross us in any way? Assuming that the Amendment to the Constitution is accepted, will we have some say in any changes the Council of Ministers might make or in laws they might pass? It could happen that in the six-months period the Council of Ministers might bring in some legislation which might affect us in an adverse manner.

As of now there is in operation a procedure under which the four applicant countries will be consulted by the Communities on any developments which will take place between now and the date of accession. A formal procedure has been set up in this regard. It will continue to operate after the referendum and prior to entry, assuming that the referendum is carried.

Having said that, I should draw the Deputies attention to some facts they appear to have overlooked. First, the wording of this Bill as originally drafted, or now as proposed to be amended by Deputy Cosgrave and agreed to on this side of the House, is very restrictive. It refers specifically to three Treaties. These are written down and are available and their terms are known. There is no provision in this Bill under which some development which might take place within the EEC which is not provided for in those Treaties could, in fact, take place and be imported into our law. Deputy MacSharry referred to what might happen if an attempt were made to bring in some legislation in the Communities which would bind us when we become members in the interval after the referendum and before accession. First, should this happen the piece of legislation would have to conform with the Treaties and, secondly, it would have to be in breach of our Constitution before this Bill comes into play.

As to whether such a matter is within the terms of the Treaties, and also as to whether such a matter would, but for the passage of this Bill and the subsequent referendum, be in breach of our Constitution, is a matter which would be decided by our High Court and possibly our Supreme Court. It is specific as to what is involved. Clearly, the major part of the legislation and directives which would arise would never come within the category of measures infringing our Constitution. As Deputy FitzGerald pointed out, they deal mainly with economic matters.

Therefore, there is a limited area where this could arise. If anyone wants to contest it, he can contest it before our courts unless it is an act which arises directly from the terms of the Treaties referred to in Part II of the Schedule. This would be a matter for interpretation by our courts. I believe there may be people who have been under a misapprehension in regard to this matter but there are others who are under no misapprehension whatever. They know very well what is involved but they do not want the people to know.

A very interesting and worrying trend of argument has emerged in a contribution and in some interjections by Deputy FitzGerald and in the contributions from the Minister for Finance. The emphasis in both cases is what I characterised in an interjection while Deputy FitzGerald was speaking as "legalistic". We are being urged to consider this amendment entirely, to quote the Minister for Finance, as "referring specifically to three Treaties", for which the dates are given. This is legalistic and misleading and it is a serious point. We all know that the Communities are on-going things. Indeed, they have declared their future plans at some length. We know that Hallstein formulation of many years ago: "We are not in business; we are in politics". There are many other statements. We get economic union, we get a customs union, then we get an economic union and a monetary union and then a political union. This is not a secret. It is not a surprise to any of us. In fact, it is loudly proclaimed by the Commission and by everyone who looks at the Communities.

The Deputy will agree that it is not proclaimed that that can happen just on foot of the existing Treaties and without another treaty.

I take the point of what the Minister has just said. I will come to that in a moment. Were it not the case that it was so loudly proclaimed, we would know anyway that it was inevitable because of its very nature, the building of three sub-Communities, the Coal and Steel Community, Euratom and the Economic Community is not a process that can stand still. We know with absolute certainty that they will stagnate or disintegrate or else they will progress towards closer unity. There is no point in our arguing at this stage precisely what form that closer unity will take because we could have different opinions about it and, to some extent, it is in the womb of time. No politicians' predictions will alter that evolution very much.

We also know with absolute certainty, if we are telling the truth about it, that adhering to the Community— and I am using it now in the singular and adhering to the three separate Treaties is not a readily reversible process. You might reverse it after about six months, or a year, or 18 months, but you will not reverse it after five years without causing the most profound convulsions and upheavals. There is the analogy of the eggs and the omelette. You cannot unmake an omelette. You cannot unscramble an egg. To go back to Germany and say: "The Zollverein started something which ended in two German States currently, but we will go back to the status quo before the Zollverein came into existence", is simply impossible. It may not be impossible in legalistic terms but it is impossible in terms of reality.

Because nobody wants to.

Or will want to in the future.

Possibly. I am not arguing about whether or not people want to, but we know as a fact that, after a significant period of participation, it will be next to impossible to back out of membership of the Communities. We know that it is an open-ended commitment. We also know— just to take the Treaty of Rome which is much the more important of the three—that, if my memory is correct, it was signed in April, 1957.

March. The Feast of the Annunciation.

Thank you. Therefore it was being thought up, and drafted, and argued about, and significantly formed, during the second half of 1956, 16 years ago. I have met many people in Ireland who think it is wonderful, but I met nobody in Brussels who thought it was wonderful. I met universal agreement that it was antiquated, out of date, in need of revision, archaic,et cetera, which is pretty obvious anyway.

You can make what Deputy FitzGerald and the Minister have made, what I call the legalistic argument that we are just talking about the Bill, the Minister says, and that it refers specifically to the three Treaties which is true or, as Deputy FitzGerald says, that we are talking simply about the Treaty of Rome and that there is nothing either in the Treaty of Rome or in this Bill or this amendment which has any relevance to a future "defence commitment" or future participation in a European army, involving the abandonment of our neutrality. Formalistically and legalistically that is true but it is not true in reality because we know that we are arguing about more than the terms of the Treaty of Rome.

Would the Deputy accept that he is arguing against membership because of many of the features of membership rather than against the specific wording of the amendment?

I would not. I am not now developing any argument as to whether or not we should sign this Treaty. I am saying that when we are considering the validity of this amendment we are not entitled to say, in what I call a legalistic or formalistic way, that we are looking at the text of the Treaties only. If we are serious we are, in fact, looking at the reality to which we are committing ourselves, which is very much more than the text of the Treaties. I know that the text of the Treaties commits us to no military involvement, but we are taking decisions which offer a choice to the Irish people. We would be deceiving them if we said that in reality there is no military commitment involved. Of course there is no military commitment involved in the small print. For example, if I write a cheque for money I have not got, at that moment I do not involve myself in bankruptcy, but I involve myself in bankruptcy as an inevitable sequel, as the end point in a chain of events I am setting in motion.

For any serious observer of the European scene to suggest that the end result of the chain of events we are setting in motion will be other than participation in a military commitment is not frank. I want to come back to the word "legalistic" and the legalistic distinction of saying the Bill refers specifically to the three Treaties, as the Minister said, or that we are only discussing the Treaty of Rome and there is nothing about defence in the Treaty of Rome, as Deputy FitzGerald said. These things are formally true but they are not true in relation to the honest presentation of the issues to the Irish people, which is what this Bill is about. When Deputy Tully pressed the Minister on whether or not there was a commitment to defend Europe the Minister hedged a little about the precise wording.

Acting Chairman

I hate to interrupt the Deputy but I said before that we are not discussing the actual Bill but rather the amendment. There will be an opportunity later on to indulge in the discussion which the Deputy now seems to be entering upon. I would suggest again that we should deal with the amendment as quickly as we can and then proceed on to the other considerations.

I respect the opinion of the Chair but I contend that since I stood up I have been referring specifically to things said by the Minister and by Deputy FitzGerald about this amendment. Unless I have a completely wrong grasp of the Standing Orders I understand that I am in order in pursuing matters that have already been admitted to the debate.

Could I submit that what happened was that in arguing the case for the amendment I suggested that the effect of the amendment was to eliminate what hitherto appeared to be the possibility that it could be argued that the provisions of our Constitution in relation to defence could be overridden. I think Deputy Keating is trying to rebut my argument. I submit that he is in order.

I think Deputy FitzGerald should take the Chair.

I am entitled to make a point of order.

I wish to remain in order and to respect the rulings of the Chair. Perhaps I am taking a little time but I am not wandering widely. I am staying on the single theme introduced by Deputy FitzGerald and the Minister on this amendment, whether our attitudes and our conclusions could be based on the three Treaties and what is specifically in those Treaties or even more narrowly, as Deputy FitzGerald says, on what is in the Treaty of Rome.

Deputy Keating's contention, as I understand it, is that it does not matter what is in the Bill. He believes certain things are going to happen and that these are what we should be discussing. If, in effect, that is what he is saying, we are wasting our time because, as I understand Standing Orders, we can discuss only what is in the Bill.

Of course. I was not for one moment favouring the House with any predictions on my part as to what is likely to happen or as to how I thought the Communities would evolve. I shall do that at another time but what I was doing was arguing that considerations of that nature would have to be taken inevitably into our judgment. I was not saying what were those considerations. It would take me a long time to do so and I have no intention of burdening the House as to what are my predictions or expectations. Such would be out of order, in any case. The point I am making is that any valid considerations will have to be made not only on the wording of the Bill but also in the light of our assessments of the likely evolution, and that we cannot have a real debate on any of this if we confine ourselves legalistically in this simple way because we know that we are entering on an open-ended process and we must have some impression of this process. The single point that I rose to make was that if we try to argue out of the small print, out of the Treaty of Rome, out of the past 15 or 16 years, we are not presenting the issues in the way in which they should be presented.

The one point I should like to make is in regard to the observations made already concerning laws enacted by the Communities and to which both the Minister and Deputy FitzGerald referred. I refer specifically to Part II, section 3, lines 9 and 10, where the phrase "laws enacted" occurs but where occur also two other and much wider phrases. These are: "acts done or measures adopted" and I might emphasise that in this case neither of the terms "acts" nor "measures" is given a capital letter. It is quite clear as to what is a law. So, also, it is clear as to what is meant by a law enacted because there is an historically evolved mechanism in any nation whereby laws are enacted. Consequently, a law is something that is definable. It is much more difficult, however, to define an act done or a measure adopted. I know that in this context it has not the meaning that it would have in ordinary life where an act done is any visible movement.

Of course, in this case "acts done" can only be acts done by legally constituted and correctly operating organs of the Community. Yet, it is very much wider than simply the laws enacted by the Council. This, again, leads us to the objection to the section in that, even as amended, it falls on the grounds of vagueness because the meaning of "laws enacted", "acts done" or "measures adopted" is so wide and imprecise as to be incapable of valid legal definition. Therefore, these words have very little meaning at all and the reason for rejecting the amendment is that, even dropping the words "consequent on" in line 10 and substituting the words "necessitated by the obligations of", the imprecision of the phrase "acts done or measures adopted" is not removed. We have been directing our attention to the amended sentence in so far as it refers in both sentences to "laws enacted" but of course this is the narrowest and, in legal terms, the most easily dealt with section and, therefore, the most meaningful section. The section which refers to "acts done" or "measures adopted" is so wide as to be imprecise and to have no meaning. Even amended, it is so wide as to have no meaning.

The stand taken by the Labour Party is particularly important and we must go back to the first case made by Deputy Keating—the rose-by-any-other-name difference between "consequent on" and "necessitated by"—and to the easy way in which the Minister dismissed effectively the amendment as being of so little consequence that he could accept it in so far as it did not change basically the meaning of the section and left him with his original proposals and intentions. It is only right that if the Fine Gael Party are now becoming worried by their rather deeper examination of the implications and, God knows, it is about time they decided to examine the implications in depth, they should not be under the impression that they have strengthened in any way the barriers against actions which they would now resist or would prefer did not result from accession to the Common Market. As Deputy Keating points out, this section carries not only the laws enacted but the acts done and the measures adopted. It seems to me to represent a very superficial assessment of the consequences of the introduction of Deputy Cosgrave's amendment to think that it would make any serious difference in the results that would follow should we join the Communities.

I have been involved in this debate for many years. Anybody who even reads the section can appreciate that the situation is very much an on-going one, right from the European Steel and Coal Community established in 1951 to the Treaty of Rome and up to the present position in which we have now signed conditionally the Treaty. Anybody who listened to or saw the discussions following the signature the other day would have little doubt. Listening to Douglas-Home or Heath or the various other speakers it was quite obvious that one simply cannot restrict oneself to the economic commitments of the Treaty of Rome, that this is simply a step towards the creation of a political unity. They were all quite certain about this. People like Heath talked about the consequence to Britain of their special relationship with America and the particular problem facing the French because of their non-membership of NATO. The total impression created was that having got this out of the way we are now moving on to the next step of a continuing, on-going evolution in Europe. I shall not discuss the objections many of us have already made about the Common Market but this is simply another step towards political unity, leading to the political unit finding itself faced with defence commitments of one kind or another.

Most of us were very shocked by the Minister for Foreign Affairs volunteering that we would accept all the commitments of the Treaty of Rome or of accession to the Common Market. Implicit in his promise of our honouring our responsibility—what is worth joining is worth defending and that sort of general theme—was the idea of eventual defence commitments and that is implicit in our general attitude over the whole period of the negotiations about the Rome Treaty and now the EEC.

If the Fine Gael Party are having second thoughts about the full implications, now that they are beginning to understand and see the full implications from what they have either read or heard, it would be foolish of them to think that they are now erecting any kind of significant impediment, barrier or safeguard which was not there already. As the Minister has told them it is already there as far as he is concerned to the extent that he wanted and this simply makes little or no difference.

I recall a speech by the former Minister for Justice, Deputy Micheál Ó Móráin, in which he claimed that the whole intention was to join NATO. That was in the time of the late Seán Lemass as Taoiseach.

It would not be the last time he got the wrong end of the stick.

That may be so but he was joined by a number of his colleagues who happen to have been in the direct negotiations since they started. They are under no misapprehension apparently, collectively, as to what is involved here.

This simple substitution by Fine Gael of "necessitated" for "consequential on" is really whistling past the graveyard. It saves us from nothing at all. For that reason I think the Labour Party are correct in drawing everybody's attention, including the attention of the Fine Gael Party, to the futility of their amendment.

In the hope of clearing this issue a little for the general public——

The Deputy is an incurable optimist.

——I should like to pursue this a little further. The point at issue here, which is being fairly skilfully avoided but I think deliberately avoided by the Labour Party is that the words "consequent on" are loose and could have two effects, one of which we have adverted to——

The Deputy is partly a lawyer.

I am a legislator, as we all are, and concerned as we all must be with precisely what words mean. A lot of trouble can occur if legislators do not legislate by saying what they mean or if the wording is loose and as a result of loose wording things can happen that we never intended to happen. It is our job to legislate properly. All of us are lawyers. We make the laws and we are lawyers in that sense. The pooh-poohing of the importance of legislating accurately, correctly and unambiguously is something that should not come from any part of this House. Having made that clear let me get back to the issue.

The effect of changing these words is twofold. I think we have really adverted too much to one aspect and not enough to another. One is that it removes from our Government the power to introduce legislation which is not necessitated by the obligations of membership but which could be alleged or said to arise consequent on membership. We think that important because we do not think any power should be given to this or to any other Government that might have the effect of enabling them to override the Constitution.

There is another aspect which I think is worth emphasising because the question of defence has come up so much from the Labour Party. It could be argued that, if the words "consequent on membership" were left, a subsequent treaty negotiated for defence purposes between member states would be consequent on the three Treaties. I think this is arguable because the Rome Treaties and the Treaty of Paris were originally signed by countries with the intention of moving towards a further political union. They are quite right to emphasise that point. They would also be helpful if they mentioned the fact that the countries concerned after 15 years have made damn all progress in that direction and the most they have been able to achieve so far is to agree to meet every six months to see if they can agree on anything. That is another day's work.

It is quite possible that, if the wording had been left and if the members of the Communities had decided, arising out of their original aspiration, to sign a treaty with defence commitments, it could have been alleged, and could have been upheld in our courts, that such a treaty was consequent on the other three treaties. It cannot, however, be alleged that any further treaty is necessitated by the obligations of these three treaties. The obligations of these three treaties concern economic matters only and there is no obligation in them in any matter of defence or foreign policy. There may be aspirations which the founders had but they are not contained in the articles of these treaties. By the change in wording we have made absolutely certain what would not have been certain otherwise: that if any future treaty is signed with defence commitments, if any Irish Government enter into that and if that treaty involves any infringement of our Constitution in such matters as the declaration of war, the raising of an army, then as a result of this amendment there could be no doubt whatever but that that further treaty must be put to the people in a constitutional referendum. If we had not put down this amendment it would have been possible for some Government here to enter into a further treaty, to claim that that treaty was consequent on the other three, which could be sustained in the courts, and to avoid the necessity for any further referendum in matters of foreign policy.

May I ask the Deputy a question? Consequent on the Fine Gael amendment he said the Government would have power to refuse the ratifying of a further treaty——

I did not say anything of the kind.

He said that consequent on the amendment the Government would not be bound by future treaties.

I did not, in fact. I said that no future treaty of defence as a result of this amendment could be held to override our Constitution and in so far as there is anything in it with constitutional implications it would require a further referendum, a vital safeguard for our people.

I was not endeavouring to represent the exactness of his prose but is he seriously suggesting that in ten years time if such a referendum said that defence arrangements were unacceptable to the Irish people we could get out of the Common Market?

No. What I am suggesting is that if in the process of time some Irish Government decide that they want to move ahead to some matter involving a defence commitment—this could happen to some Government—and if such a treaty were signed and if that treaty purported in any way to have constitutional implications—to give power to raise an army in this country, to give power to anybody to declare war on our behalf and thus to override our Constitution —then that treaty as a result of this amendment could become law in this country only if there were a further constitutional amendment put to the people. The people could accept that or reject it.

What would the alternative be? What if they rejected it?

If they rejected it they would certainly not take part in that defence treaty. That does not affect our situation within these three treaties and there could be no better defence for us than to be in a position to say that as a result of the way this amendment has gone through this House any proposal for defence commitments is something that must be the affair of the Irish people. That is the effect of this and it is of vital importance to us.

Quite apart from ensuring that no Government can use the excuse of the EEC to legislate over the heads of the people and to override the Constitution, by virtue of this amendment also —and this I think the Labour Party must accept—it would be necessary to come back to the country again. The speeches made on the Labour side of the House are legitimate though not entirely in order. They are legitimate speeches arguing the case against the Irish people joining the EEC. What they are saying is that if we join this Community it will tend to evolve in this general direction, that we do not have to look at the direction. This is a legitimate argument but not to me a compelling one. But it is not as legitimate an argument as our argument for this amendment. It is a political argument against joining the EEC. It is a legitimate one but not directed to the issue involved here.

As far as we are concerned, there is a doubt—even the Minister admits there is a doubt and he has every interest in playing it down, playing down the bad and weak drafting on the Government's side—which could have enabled the Government to override the Constitution, which could have enabled a future defence treaty to be put through without referring it to the Irish people. By virtue of this amendment these things cannot now happen. That is important and our job is to legislate in such a way as to prevent any looseness creeping in, to prevent excessive powers being given to this Government or to anybody else in respect of our affairs and to ensure that to the people and the people alone will be referred all matters affecting the vital interests of this State.

That is the purpose of this amendment and I think the Labour Party, by putting up an ingenious though not entirely relevant argument in the matter, are not acting in the best interests of this community as a whole because it is vital that we ensure that if there are any future defence commitments they will be referred to the Irish people. That is where we stand and it is for that very strong reason that we press this amendment.

The accusation has been made that we are evading the issue.

Yes, indeed.

Not the Minister. He is watching it with great amusement.

There is no sign of the Government fighting this campaign. It has been left to Fine Gael.

I think, therefore, one ought to try to reiterate exactly what the substance of and the reason for our objection is. I would not personally only stand on the ground which the Minister for Finance in a careless moment gave for rejecting the amendment. He did not advance it as a reasonable rejection but he said—I wrote down the words and I am convinced the transcript will validate this quotation: "It has the same meaning." He subsequently said lawyers might find differences, but that it has the same meaning.

The Deputy has omitted something from that. My recollection is that I said "for the average voter".

If I misunderstood the Minister, I apologise. I thought the substance of his argument was——

It was arrogance.

It was: "Who cares for the average voter?"

That seems to be the argument coming from those benches.

I doubt if the Minister could by any scrutiny of the record find any evidence to indicate this attitude on my part. If there is such it was an error on my part because I have no such feeling towards the average voter. Possibly I misunderstood him. I thought he meant that there was not a substantial significant difference between the Bill and the amendment, that lawyers might be able to work out differences even if the laymen could not but that since it did not matter very much either way, the Government were prepared as a gesture of goodwill to accept the amendment. I thought the Minister was taking a different position from that of Deputy FitzGerald who said that in this amendment there is a profoundly important safeguard.

The Deputy may take it that there is a difference between Deputy FitzGerald and myself.

Yes, I thought there was, but Deputy FitzGerald believes there is a profoundly important safeguard in the Fine Gael amendment.

The Minister believes that in accepting the amendment, while it may present a small tightening of the Bill which lawyers may be able to make something of, it is not a very significant difference.

That is a fair summary.

But the Minister will agree it is lawyers eventually who will decide whether it is constitutional or not.

His argument against the amendment is that it makes very little difference. It is an argument that the Minister has used but it is by no means the core of the argument against it. If one is in our position of finding this a thing not just to be rejected but something which is monstrous— the whole Part is monstrous—then minor alterations to it, if we participate in them, can be interpreted as some sort of truck with the whole thing which we find outrageous. But that is not the core. That is an ancillary argument as far as I am concerned. It is an argument that is not very important either way. There is no point in going into that and saying: "Good on you. It is a great improvement. We support that." It is not important enough to merit that point of view. We would be getting ourselves involved in something trivial if we said that.

The core of the objection is different. We have a second sentence from lines 7 to 11 in part II of the Schedule and it contains two halves. The first half says that no provision of the Constitution invalidates laws enacted or measures adopted by the State. That is something this State and this Parliament does and that is being amended in what may be a major or a minor way, depending on whether it is Deputy FitzGerald's or the Minister's view. That half will be amended by the Fine Gael proposed amendment—the Government have accepted the amendment. The second half says that no provision of the Constitution prevents laws enacted by the Communities or the institutions thereof from having the force of law in this State.

That is the second half of the sentence. That is not what this State does. It is what the Communities or their institutions do in regard to us. The reason the amendment is so weak is precisely because it does not amend this second half of this sentence. Deputy FitzGerald waxes passionate when explaining that he thought that by this amendment we could avoid a subsequent defence commitment if at a referendum the Irish people rejected the treaty embodying that defence commitment, that in some way the defence commitment would be binding on us if we did not have the amendment but that it would only be binding after a referendum in which the people would have voted "Yes", and that, therefore, there was an important safeguard there. This again comes back to the point— and strengthens my conviction that I was right to introduce the matter of the critique of the legalistic approach at an earlier stage both in regard to the remarks of the Minister and those of Deputy FitzGerald—that if we were inevitably part of an on-going situation, and I think Deputy FitzGerald at least agrees that the Communities as envisaged are going to constitute an on-going situation of which we may not be a part, but that if we are such a part and if, as the years progress we become an inextricable part, then the matter of whether we participate in a defence commitment, to use an euphemism, will not be decided in terms of referenda or in legalistic terms but in the terms of the reality of the power situation at that time. Decisions about legalistic protections against being involved in a war or an arms buildup or in the giving of military bases will, in fact, be the result of the outcomes of pressures which we will not be able to resist in reality, whatever we may be able to do in law.

The whole point of my making a distinction between the reality of the on-going situation and the legalistic aspect was that even if we had legalistic protection we would not have realistic protection. We would not have protection in reality. We could not participate on the one hand and not participate on the other hand. An essential thing about the Community is that if you are in for a penny you are in for a pound. One cannot say "I like that aspect but I do not like the other one and I will ignore that". That may be the legal situation but it is not the real situation. It is wrong to pretend to people that they have legal protection which they do not have. I will make the analogy of the situation in Northern Ireland and the situation of the blacks in America where the blacks had for 100 years constitutional rights and until they engaged in the most militant forms of struggle, those written-down, legal rights were not worth a damn to them because they could not be realised in the existing situation. All of the citizens in Northern Ireland at this moment have, in theory, equality before the law. Yet, in the whole life of that State it has never existed as a reality. To say that the legal protection being offered by this amendment exists is one thing; it may be there as fully as Deputy FitzGerald says it is, although I am inclined to think it is not and to agree with the Minister in that. But that sort of legal protection which we as people with responsibility for political decisions know is not the situation will be worth very little. Even if we accept the amendment and the assessment given by Deputy FitzGerald we, in thinking by our voting for it that we are thereby getting something significant for the future protection of the Irish people, would be misleading them for political, power, economic and general State reasons.

What is the Deputy recommending to the House on the basis of his argument?

His usual negative approach.

I thought that the rejection by the Labour Party of this amendment had been made clear at the beginning. I was recommending the House to reject the amendment. I was taking up the statements of Deputy FitzGerald that, in fact, we had somehow not taken the real content of this amendment, but that we were being evasive and seeking some subsidiary arguments to reject it. When something is as trivial as this is in regard to the real problem, the truth is that one is condoning something impermissible in having anything to do with it at all. To seek to amend this section is like putting a plaster on a cancer. When you put a plaster on a cancer you actually do something harmful because you are pretending that what you are doing is some good to somebody. In fact, what one needs in such circumstances is truth and reality, and not a whitewashing job which is what this amendment is. The core of the amendment, as Deputy Tully said, is that it is a whitewashing job and a bit of plastic surgery to make a loosely and carelessly drafted Bill acceptable to a population who, in the Government's fears, are in danger of defeating the referendum. We as a party oppose this.

Deputy Keating's contribution improves his argument marginally and brings him nearer to the point.

Would the Deputy, having assessed the previous arguments, like to award marks to speakers in the Labour Party for their contributions?

I am willing to do so if they are willing to accept my assessments. The fact remains that the argument which the Deputy is putting is a political one, as the Deputy knows. The Deputy is saying that if we join this Community it will tend towards closer political unity and that we will be brought along in that direction. The Deputy can make this point on platforms outside churches throughout the length and breadth of Ireland in the next few months.

Deputy FitzGerald and the Minister will be standing on the same platforms.

We may be in different compartments on the same train. Fianna Fáil can afford first-class seats more than we can.

This is rather upsetting for the long-term plans of the Labour Party.

I am afraid that although Deputy Keating's defence of his position is improving as he goes along nevertheless he is not really dealing with the critical point. The question at issue is whether this amendment does, in some way, make it more likely that the Irish people, through a referendum, will have a say in any future defence commitments or whether in any way it would make it less likely that Fianna Fáil or any other Government could override the Constitution in matters where this is not required by the terms of the treaties. Nothing that has been said from the Fianna Fáil benches has weakened or diminished the argument to that effect.

Deputy Keating has talked around the point but has not referred specifically to this point. It is all very well to say that we are going to be pushed in a particular direction. It is the Irish people who will decide whether we will be pushed into this or not. The Irish people will have to make the decision in this. If there is any defence commitment which involves the raising of forces by any authority other than that of our Government, or which involves any power to declare war on our behalf then, as this Bill is now amended, one can say certainly that such further treaties must be referred to the Irish people for a constitutional decision. As it stands before the amendment, that is not so. This is the vital step forward. Whether or not Deputy Keating is right in thinking that it is in this direction that the Community will evolve is not important. If the Deputy is right in thinking that and if he is concerned in preventing it and having the opportunity of persuading the Irish people to oppose any such commitment, then he should be violently in favour of this amendment. It seems to me that when, in fact, this goes through and when the referendum is won it could well be that in spite of what Deputy Keating says he will find himself relying on this amendment in order to prevent the commitment which the Labour Party feel so strongly about. I would like to see how the future will evolve. If a time came when, in fact, the countries joining with us in this enterprise shared our viewpoints on foreign policy, which they notably do not at the moment—I find deep divisions between us and them on many issues— and if the peoples of these countries, including our own people consulted in a referendum, as they will have to be consulted, decide to go further together in some form of closer unity, then I might well find myself favouring that. At the moment what I am concerned with is that any future commitment of that kind must be one decided by the Irish people and that no Irish Government be given the power to do these things over the heads of the Irish people.

That is what this amendment is all about. While the Labour Party may say they are not interested and that to support it would in some way tarnish their pure, anti-EEC attitudes, I still think it is a pity they would not support us in the enterprise of securing that this whole question of development involving any impingement on our Constitution under any fresh treaty must be referred to the Irish people. It is a pity they would not support us in that, but they have their tactical position and they want to maintain it.

I am sorry that in awarding marks we have to suggest that Deputy FitzGerald is what in psychological terms is called a slow learner. What we are trying to put across to him is the fact that he has been told by the Minister that because there is virtually no difference between his wording and Deputy FitzGerald's wording it is acceptable. Therefore, the Fine Gael Party, having promised that there would be a number of amendments, end up by producing this now relatively unimportant amendment, as far as we are concerned and as far as the Minister is concerned, in that it will not change anything in a basic way. One wonders why, having been told it makes no significant difference, the Fine Gael Party persists with the amendment.

We do not believe the Minister.

Is it simply an act of token revolt against the prospect of a joint campaign to get this idea of going into the Common Market accepted by the public, or is there a genuine fear in this connection? This is a factor which is causing me some anxiety, because I know Deputy FitzGerald knows much more about the Common Market than I know because he has given much more time and study to it. Is it, on the one hand, simply a deceit or an act of windowdressing or is it on the other hand, a serious fear on the part of the Fine Gael Party that they have entered on a course which will bring them to a situation in which they do not particularly want to find themselves? Did theybona fide put down this amendment believing that it would protect them in some way or another from the consequences of their mistaken judgment, in the first instance, in supporting the Government on this issue?

This is what I say is the slow learner part of Deputy FitzGerald's continued obstinate defence of what seems to me an untenable position. He told us that he was very worried about something and that by changing "consequent" to "necessitated" he believed we had gained something very significant, something that was going to provide a profound safeguard—some phrase like that he used. Now we find that this is not so at all. Why does Deputy FitzGerald want to change this in a fundamental way, and having been told that he can change it in a fundamental way, would he now tell us what he thinks will be the consequences? Why did he worry about the word "consequent" at all if the word "consequent" is exactly the same in its meaning as the word "necessitated"?

But it is not.

This is what we are now being told. We accept that Deputy FitzGerald isbona fide in his fears. We share these fears about the prospects to come and have shared them for many years since this proposal was first mooted. All my political life I have opposed this whole thing. Is it true that Deputy FitzGerald has genuine fears about the prospect before us and that he is as worried as we are, not just by the Community laws or the acts done or measures adopted by the Community but also by the implications of the Community's institutions: the bureaucracy, the secretariat, the various defence forces, the various advisory bodies and groups that they have set up?

The Community have no defence forces.

Not at the present time. It was fascinating the other night listening to this discussion, and the fact that Health said he did not believe in referenda.

We do not believe in Health.

But you are now joining Health. I am sure Deputy FitzGerald knows that when this proposal was introduced many years ago the first thing I said was that the decision as to whether we went in or not would be taken for Stormont and Dublin in London. We are going in because London is going in and for no other reason. We all know that; it is not a subject for debate at the present time. It was interesting to hear what we felt were absolutely sacrosanct principles of the whole process of democratic Government dismissed as completely unimportant and that certain matters such as a referendum to decide on an amendment to the Constitution, were ones on which the major powers did not agree.

This Fine Gael amendment has produced a very confusing situation. One can be cynical about it, and as I said at the beginning, they simply do not want evidence that the civil war is at last over and that we are going to get them standing on the same platform advocating this particular measure which they should have done 30 or 40 years ago. They are about to put up some sort of token resistance to this picture which will be drawn of them over the next few months. Is it that or is Deputy FitzGerald very frightened now of the probable consequences of going into the Common Market and is his silly amendment an attempt to lock the stable door? Because we are now told it is not an amendment that makes any real difference.

Told by the Minister, whom the Deputy should not too easily believe.

There is one other factor. I certainly believe that the end result of this is, as I said at the beginning, a progressive, continually ongoing attempt to create a defence committee against the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. That has been my main objection to this. This is something which does not frighten Deputy FitzGerald or, perhaps, it does. I remember 12 or 13 years ago debating with the then Shadow Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Declan Costello. He was at that time arguing with little heart in favour of going into NATO while I was against going into it.

The Deputy is departing from the amendment.

I would be very interested to know if that is still the Fine Gael policy. Is this simply shadow boxing? Are they well aware of the true implication of the decision they have taken with the Government and that we will, like Deputy Moran, Deputy Hillery, Deputy Colley, the late Seán Lemass, be quite satisfied that we will inevitably, as a consequence of unity of this State under the Treaty of Rome, end up in the whole NATO anti-Socialist set-up?

(Cavan): The attitude and the policy of Fine Gael towards the EEC are well known and have been so for the past ten years. We believe it is nationally and economically advisable that we should enter Europe. We believe that it will lead to unification of the country, that once the economic border disappears the political border will follow. I do not intend to enter into this in detail. We believe, economically, that it would be suicidal for us to remain outside the Community, because we believe that we will be right back to the position which afflicted this country in the 1930s.

That might be discussed on the Schedule as a whole.

(Cavan): I appreciate that but I wanted to make those few general remarks. When we saw this amendment to the Constitution we were concerned to ensure that the amendment would be adequate and sufficiently wide to admit us into the Common Market. We were concerned to see that the Constitution would be sufficiently amended to permit us to join Europe but we were equally anxious to ensure that no unnecessary amendment was made to the Constitution. We were also anxious to ensure that the Constitution was not totally suspended.

We applied ourselves to the best of our ability to study the amendment put forward by the Government. We sought advice and listened to the views of other people on the wording of this amendment. We came to the conclusion that, without doubt, this amendment was unnecessarily wide. When I speak of the amendment to the Constitution I speak of the Third Amendment to the Constitution Bill, 1971. We came to the conclusion that this was a classical example of the Fianna Fáil attitude of taking more power than is really necessary, a trend which has been evident in recent years of using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

We put down this amendment which seeks to delete the words "consequent on" and substitute "necessitated by". We believe that that is a very worthwhile amendment, that it will preserve each Article of the Constitution and each part of an Article which it is not necessary to amend because we are entering Europe. The Government have accepted that amendment but they have, I regret to say, accepted it, through the Minister for Finance, in a most ungracious manner by saying that it really does not matter but they are going to accept it to please us. That is typical of the policy of the infallibility of the Taoiseach and some of his colleagues. It is typical of the arrogance which has been displayed by the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government over the past few years but it is not doing them any good.

The Minister would have done himself and his party much better service if he had come in here and said: "We are anxious to amend the Constitution but only to amend it to the extent that is necessary and we believe that the Fine Gael amendment is an improvement on the Bill as drafted." I regret to say that would be expecting too much from the Government. In the words of the Leader of this party this referendum, which will be necessary to enact this Bill, cannot be passed without the full support of the Fine Gael Party.

Do the people not have a say in this?

All the say.

One would think, listening to the Deputy, that Fine Gael had all the say.

(Cavan): The people had considerable say in two other referenda sponsored by the Government in the last decade and we know what happened.

They will decide this one, too, whether Fine Gael like it or not.

The Minister should not be rude to them. They might change their minds.

(Cavan): The Minister and the Government believe they are infallible. They are small because they believe if they yield an inch they are letting themselves down. Some of the big men within the Government have been put out of it and we now have a number of small men in it who are fearful of acknowledging any good in any other party or any shortcomings in their own party.

Some of the big men are distinguished strangers now.

(Cavan): The Fine Gael Party have always been conscious of the national interests. They are not prepared to play politics with the question of whether or not we should enter Europe. But now, as in the past, we are determined to protect the country from the folly and, indeed, on some occasions, the stupidity of Fianna Fáil. We are determined to protect Fianna Fáil from themselves. That is what this amendment is about and it would be much more appropriate if the Minister for Finance had come in here and said in a gracious manner that, having considered the Bill and having considered the Fine Gael amendment, he was satisfied that our amendment improved the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill and, in that light, he was accepting it. He did not do that. I find it difficult to understand the attitude of the Minister. I pose him a question here and now: If this amendment makes no difference why did he accept it? Why did he not come in and argue the case that the amendment was not necessary?

Did the Deputy hear what the Minister said?

(Cavan): I did hear what the Minister said. I am fully conscious of what he said. I was very surprised at what he said. But it will not alter Fine Gael's attitude towards our entry into Europe. Fine Gael will not be put off the national interest by the reluctance of the Government to do the decent thing, the honourable thing. I find it very difficult to understand why the Minister came in here and, in accepting the amendment, said it made no difference; if it did not make any difference he should not accept it.

Would the Deputy care to quote reasonably accurately?

(Cavan): The Minister knows very well, as all constitutional lawyers in the country know, that this amendment makes a vast difference.

Hear, hear.

(Cavan): It curbs the powers which it was sought to confer on the Government and on Europe. We are prepared to accept any amendment to the Constitution which is strictly necessary to our entry into Europe, but we are not prepared, as the Government want, to confer vague powers on the Government or on anybody else. The Taoiseach and his Government love dealing in vague generalities and the civil servants who advise the Government love to get more power than is necessary at a particular time. They like to look years ahead and take powers which are not now necessary but which they think might be necessary in 20 or 30 years time. We do not believe in that. We believe in consulting the Oireachtas when the occasion arises in the confident knowledge that the Oireachtas will do the right thing at the time at which it is consulted.

I was prompted to rise and speak as I have spoken only because of the ungracious attitude of the Minister towards this amendment. Fine Gael will campaign for and support the passing of the referendum necessary to enact this Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1971, but we will do that after studying the Bill and putting down this amendment which we are satisfied is a vast improvement on the sloppy, unwieldy terms of the amendment put forward by the Government. It will not be the first time Fine Gael has had to stand between the Government over there and the rights of the people. I rise to make that clear and to reaffirm that we in this party, satisfied that it is in the interests of the country to enter Europe and that it would be a national, political and economic disaster if we did not enter Europe and, notwithstanding the muddling and messing of the Fianna Fáil Party in providing the mechanics for entering into Europe, and having helped them to overcome their mistakes, will support entrance into Europe.

We are very grateful.

At the risk of drawing upon us a fifth oration from Deputy FitzGerald I would like to say a few words about the Irish in the amendment.

An rud a bhí ann "de dhroim do bheith ina chomhalta de na Comhphobail". Anois ón fhocal "drom", "back" a thagann "dhroim". Here is the translation of the amendment as now proposed by Deputy Cosgrave "de bhíthin riachtanais na n-oibleagáidí..." Is focal firinscneach é "riachtanas" agus sé "riachtanais" an tuiseal ginideach, uimhir uatha, den fhocal céanna, nach ea? Ba cheart "riachtanas" a bheith ann, nach ceart "de bhíthin riachtanas na n-oibleagáidí..." An dóigh leis an Aire go bhfuil an ceart agam?

(Cur isteach.)

Ba cheart an tuiseal ginideach, uimhir iolra, a bheith ann ach is é an tuiseal ginideach, uimhir uatha atá ann. Tá sean-fhocal ann "Níl dlí ag riachtanas" ach sin ceist eile. Níl aon dlí ag an Rialtas seo. Sé mo thuairim go bhfuil an ceart agam. Ba cheart an uimhir iolra a bheith ann. Ar aon chuma, beidh sé ar dhuine éigin féachaint isteach sa scéal. Is í an Ghaeilge an chéad teanga oifigiúil agus tá an leasú curtha síos i nGaeilge.

I am not competent to follow my colleague into the complexities of the spoken vernacular of the people. I want to refer to two points made recently, one by the Minister and one by Deputy FitzGerald. I also want to comment upon what I think is a very important point and that is the way in which this discussion is developing. It reveals significant things. First, the Minister has made an accusation of arrogance against us with reference to his argument that the amendment would not be particularly relevant to the average voter. I mentioned the three Fine Gael lawyers. I forgot the Minister is also a lawyer. Now we have four lawyers. I have nothing against lawyers. I think they are very handy people on occasion, but I also think litigation is to be avoided at all costs if humanly possible.

(Cavan): Lawyers are very necessary at times.

This discussion has been a lawyer's delight. The Minister has said this amendment will be acceptable precisely because it will be unintelligible to the average voter. The arrogance, if there is any, is coming from the Minister because he has implied that there are two sets of people, the lawyers, the men with the long grey faces, as Pearse called them—it is not fashionable to quote Pearse now in some places in this House—and the laymen. The lawyers will have great fun. The lawyers will sit and if something is done in Europe they will debate whether or not what is done in Europe produces consequences in our case which are necessitated by the obligations of, as opposed to what would have happened if they had been consequences following upon something which was not consequent on—I wish them luck and I hope they get good fat fees from the State.

I respectfully suggest that the Minister is right here in his casual dismissal of this amendment. He is accepting it because, in effect, he says it is ridiculous; it does not mean anything to the ordinary people. Therefore, it can be permitted to go through. Deputy FitzGerald has very rightly taken up this point for reasons I shall explain shortly, reasons which I think will be rather painful when I come to them. Deputy Keating pointed out that legal restrictions of the kind contained in this amendment are not worth the paper they are written on. Not only have the speeches from these benches been relevant but in my opinion they have been the only ones that have been relevant to the discussion. Joining the EEC is jumping on to a moving escalator from which one will never be allowed to get off.

Deputy FitzGerald said that if the Fine Gael amendment is accepted the Irish people will decide in future. Great heavens! The Irish people will decide! He say he has an open mind about the future. I have the utmost respect for and confidence in Deputy FitzGerald. I am sure he has an open mind about the future. I wonder has Dr. Mansholt an open mind about the future. I wonder if the people who run the EEC in which we shall be as tiny and insignificant as the fleas upon other fleas in Dr. Johnson, have open minds. It is all right for us to have open minds. In ten years time we shall be so totally economically committed to the infrastructure of the EEC and our trade will be so firmly based——

We are again getting away from the amendment.

I am coming to the amendment. We shall be so totally locked in the embrace of the EEC that if in ten years time a decision is taken of a political or military kind, does Deputy FitzGerald seriously suggest anything in particular is gained by the fact that this will force a referendum?

Our economy would be so totally committed to the EEC that we would be going to the people and, in effect, offering them two alternatives, the kind of horrible alternatives that both major parties have structured for them in the present referendum. You can go to them and say: "If you do not like joining a European army, we shall say, accepting normative powers in the European Parliament, you can reject the referendum. In that case you can get out." Presumably you then unmoor the country from its situation 50 miles from England and sail it across the Atlantic. I do not see anything is gained by this amendment. As Deputy Keating correctly pointed out, this is an open-ended, steadily developing process and the Fine Gael amendment is a joke which the Minister has accepted as a joke. Here the Minister is right.

The last thing I want to say is about the intervention of Deputy Fitzpatrick on this Bill and the way in which suddenly Fine Gael are contributing so much so vehemently to this discussion.

More than Fianna Fáil are, in any case.

If Deputy FitzGerald thinks that this amendment is going to make a significant change in the Bill he is pulling the wool over his own eyes. I have enough respect for the Deputy to think that he is doing this unconsciously. He has many excellent qualities. He has two defects which he has manifested in this debate. One is a tendency to garrulousness and the other is that he has a blind spot where the Common Market is concerned and believes that it is a pot of honey at the end of the rainbow. These are amiable defects in an old friend of mine and I am prepared to accept Deputy FitzGerald, warts and all. What I am not prepared to accept is a process by which the wool is pulled over the eyes of the Irish people. Let me say in blunt terms, and I have a tendency to speak in blunter terms than my colleague, Deputy Keating—I do not have the economic knowledge of himself or of Dr. O'Donovan—in my opinion—I do not suggest Deputy FitzGerald is a part of this—this amendment is more than a joke; it is a trick. The Fine Gael Party are already embarrassed by the fact that they have publicly come out in a situation where they are virtually at one on the same platform with Fianna Fáil on this issue.

(Cavan): Fianna Fáil have come over to our policy of 30 years standing.

That is possibly a lawyer's point also. Speaking from the aspect of these benches I do not see——

It is a very political point.

——very much in the difference whether they join you or you join them.

The Deputy should keep to the amendment.

In my opinion Fine Gael believed that by bringing in this amendment, if the Minister had accepted it with dignity instead of the flippancy with which he did accept it, they could then have gone to the country and said: "This Bill is significantly better because of the contribution which we made. We are not, therefore, asking you to vote Fianna Fáil but we are asking you to vote for a Bill which is radically altered by the application of our integrity, our sincerity and our superior intellects." The Minister being wise in his own generation destroyed this tactic in a second by saying: "I am accepting your amendment because your amendment is a joke." This is why Fine Gael speakers are now coming in to speak vehemently in defence of this amendment and to condemn the Minister vehemently because there is a game of battledore and shuttlecock being played across the House. The bluff of this amendment has now been called. The Minister has destroyed the tactic precisely by accepting it in the contemptuous terms in which he accepted it. In so doing he will make it all the more difficult for Fine Gael to support the Bill without merely indulging in what I earlier described as "me-tooism". The attempt to make a constructive contribution towards this Bill has been exposed by the Minister as being irresponsible and superficial as, in fact, it is. In so doing and as this debate has developed it reminds me, if it was necessary to remind me, that the only meaningful and substantial opposition to this entire measure comes from these benches.

Listening to the debate on the amendment at the outset and bemused by the lawyers' arguments back and forth I was tempted to say: "Perhaps it does not matter one way or the other" but now I think it does. I thank the Minister for this. I am sure Fine Gael are very angry with the Minister for spoiling their little tactic. I thank the Minister for making it clear that he accepts the amendment with flippant cynicism and destroys all its credibility in the process.

Deputy Thornley did not attribute to me any element of honesty. In other words, he suggests that everything I have said I do not believe or mean.

I say you are putting your finger in your own eye.

The Deputy said more than that but I think he makes a mistake if he thinks that. It does not really answer the case.

The trouble with the Deputy is that he never thinks long enough about anything.

I have been thinking about this subject for about 15 years which should be long enough for most people.

Not about this amendment.

No, but about many aspects of the problem which this amendment will eventually incarnate. I should like to come for a moment to what Deputy Dr. Browne said because he raised the question of whether I and Fine Gael in general are becoming frightened of the prospects of the EEC and that that was what lay behind the amendment. It is important that particular hare should be dealt with immediately. This party have always favoured membership of the EEC and have seen great advantages for us in membership of the EEC. We see it at this stage as an economic community——

We are moving from the amendment to a discussion of the Schedule.

I do not think so. I am trying to deal with why the amendment was necessary. Deputy Dr. Browne suggested that in introducing this amendment we are in some way frightened of the consequences of EEC membership but the purpose of the amendment is not in any way to head off the consequences of EEC membership but to ensure that by this amendment of the Constitution which we are here enacting we shall do no more at this point in time and require the Irish people to do no more than accept membership of the Economic Communities established by these three treaties. We seek to ensure by the amendment that any further commitments which may be good or bad —I have said I have an open mind on them because it depends entirely on the circumstances in which they arise— and the purpose of any further developments that may turn up in the future we have an open mind in regard to these but we insist that the people shall be given the chance to determine whether there shall be a further evolution beyond the point of the present EEC with their three Communities and three treaties. I have said—and I think this is the view of my party generally— that it is possible that an evolution might take place in the Community, in which the other countries might come to share our views on foreign policy and, as a result, we might come together for other purposes. I have no confidence in this happening in the foreseeable future but it could happen. If it happens, there could come a time when we might consider it necessary to seek endorsement from the people with regard to a further treaty involving other commitments.

All we are saving is that this should be left to the people. We are not content with, or prepared to have a situation where another government— perhaps a Fianna Fáil Government— might walk us into some commitments involving foreign policy and defence where this country did not accept the basic foreign policy involved in such a commitment. We are not content to have a situation where this could be imposed on us by the Government by way of legislation, without it having to be put to the people.

May I ask Deputy FitzGerald if the object is to keep the options of the Irish Government and the people open?

Yes. At this moment I do not believe the Irish people would wish to enter into further commitments of a political defence foreign policy character with the Community, bearing in mind that the general foreign policy of the Community does not conform to our views. However, we do not exclude the possibility that it may change and if it changes the Irish people must be given a say in the matter. We are not prepared to trust any government with a decision of this kind over the heads of the people.

This amendment is necessary to ensure that no government will enact any law on any other subject claiming it is consequent on membership and that they will not attempt to enter into any commitments of a further character beyond what is in the three treaties without going back to the Irish people if there are any constitutional implications involved. This is the position and it should not be confused with anything members of the Labour Party may have said. They have their reasons for the line they have taken and I respect them, but nothing they have said should confuse the public regarding our position and where we stand.

There is a good reason why we have repeatedly put across our objection to the amendment and to the entire Bill. Deputy Keating pointed out that the objection to the amendment is that it attempts to alter the Schedule to a Bill which we believe should not be before this House and which should not be passed. Our reasons are as simple as that.

The main reason we want to have this on the record of the House so that everyone will know what is happening is that we believe that not only with regard to this section and this amendment, but wittingly or unwittingly, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are putting across propaganda to the people of the country which we believe will lead them into a morass.

We believe that Fianna Fáil are using unfairly the mass media to put across a very slanted view in favour of EEC entry. It is our job in this House to try to get at the truth. Like Deputy FitzGerald, I believe the people are entitled to make up their minds. Whether they are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or Independent supporters they will get an opportunity of voting in the referendum. They should know what they are voting for or against. Any suggestion that things are as clear as the Minister attempted to suggest when he spoke in this debate is wrong.

Part II states:

The State may become a member of the European Coal and Steel Community (established by Treaty signed at Paris on the 18th day of April, 1951), the European Economic Community (established by Treaty signed at Rome on the 25th day of March, 1957) and the European Atomic Energy Community (established by Treaty signed at Rome on the 25th day of March, 1957).

The important part is the following where it states:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State consequent on membership of the Communities or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.

Fine Gael have tabled an amendment which states:

In Part II, page 6, line 9, to delete "consequent on" and substitute "necessitated by the obligations of".

They maintain that this amendment makes it foolproof. May I point out that this would simply mean that the second portion of the Schedule would read:

No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Communities or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State.

To suggest that this is giving us the safeguard we want is too ridiculous for words. Deputy Keating has pointed this out, and this fact cannot be stressed too often, no matter how you twist words about or how you write in the amendments suggested by Fine Gael. So far as I can see, the Communities can make a decision which will bind us. If we decide, as Deputy FitzGerald said, that we cannot go in without having a further referendum, what will we do if we are forced in five or ten years time to have a referendum to decide whether the wording of Fine Gael or the wording of Fianna Fáil can protect us? Is it not a fact that in ten years time we will be so enmeshed if we go in we will not be able to get out? Not only is it unfair but it is dishonest on the part of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to attempt to tell the people that we can slip in and out of the Communities as easily as a person can join and leave Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or any other party here.

Where was it suggested that this could be done?

Deputy FitzGerald may have a short memory, but I listened to him this evening stating we could have a referendum if we were involved in a defence commitment——

On a new treaty.

——and if we were not satisfied we could opt out——

Out of that new treaty.

Is Deputy FitzGerald trying to make Members of this House and the people believe that you can opt out of a particular part? Deputy Keating has referred to opting out of the parts we do not like and keeping the parts that we like——

It is not only a part; it is something new.

If it is adopted by the Communities it will become a part of the existing treaties and no twisting of words by anyone here will alter that fact. As was pointed out by Deputy Thornley a short time ago, we accept it, warts and all. We are in or we are out; we cannot pick out the little bits we like and discard what we dislike. If the Communities bring in laws or regulations we do not like, we cannot opt out of them. The people are entitled to be told the truth and that is all the Labour Party are asking. I would castigate the Government for giving the impression to the people that there is a bed of roses waiting for them in Europe. I fear that if they go in they will find a bed of roses all right, but it will be wintertime, the roses will be gone, and all that will be left will be the thorns.

I fear that Deputy Tully may be confusing this further. There are times when I feel that the absence of lawyers in the Labour Party may be a mistake. It seems to me that what he visualises here is that the Communities as defined here might in the future enact laws, or do acts, or adopt measures, which could in some way involve us in commitments of the kind we have been talking about, defence and foreign policy. Of course they cannot. What Deputy Tully should understand, and what is important that our people should understand, is that the power of these Communities, defined as being the three set up by these Treaties, to act in any respect depends upon these Treaties.

Not simply on those three. Did the Deputy read the rest of the sentence?

Yes. I am dealing now with the second half of the sentence which reads: "...laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the ... Communities, or institutions thereof, from having the force of law in the State."

That is right.

That is the crucial part. The Communities there described are the three Communities established by the three Treaties named above. The three Communities have powers to act only within the framework of those three Treaties. Any action they purported to take which did not derive from those three Treaties, and which moved into another sphere not covered by the three Treaties, would beultra vires and would not, in fact, have the effect of law within the Communities here or any other part thereof.

It is like children playing. If we do not like the game we can move on to another.

These three Communities are established under three Treaties for economic purposes. There are specific obligations contained in the Treaties and they require us to accept laws enacted under the Treaties, to carry out the purposes of the Treaties and authorised by them. So much is this the case that, in cases where there has been any doubt as to whether a measure, even an economic measure, could come within the terms of the Treaty, the six countries have separately as six independent countries agreed together on the matter lest what they might do purporting to act as a Community would be found to beultra vires through not being authorised by the laws involved. That has happened even in cases of economic provisions.

Therefore, there is no question of the Communities having the power under these three Treaties to enact laws, do acts, or adopt measures going outside the framework of the Treaties. If they did so they would beultra vires and would not come within the framework of the phraseology here and would inevitably be so found by our High Court, and Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice.

That would do us a fat lot of good.

It is important to clarify that point. I am glad Deputy Tully raised it so that it can be clarified and any doubts that might arise subsequently on that score can be allayed. There should be no doubts on this point. We cannot be bound in respect of matters going beyond these three Treaties except by a fresh treaty. The Labour Party are entitled to argue in the referendum campaign, although not so much on this amendment, that if we go in we will get into an on-going situation where there will be pressure on us of some kind to move further. That may well be the case. It is important that we build up the necessary barriers against any such pressure being put on any Irish Government which might succumb easily to it. We must stiffen the back of any Irish Government so that there will be no question of any further commitments being entered into save with the consent of the Irish people. That is what this amendment does.

It is a little perverse of the Labour Party not to see the point of this and not to come with us on this important provision to ensure that the Irish people will have the final say in anything which goes beyond what is in these three Treaties. By our amendment we have tied down any constitutional changes to what is required and authorised and done under these three Treaties. That limits it in a way that we can measure and see. We have ensured that nothing beyond that can be done that has any constitutional implications, unless the matter is once again brought to the Irish people to decide. They will then decide, having listened to the views of the political parties at that time, on any issue that is put before them. What they decide will bind us and nothing else can bind us.

Tonight we have heard many references to the Treaties that combine to present to us the picture of the EEC. We have read that the European Coal and Steel Community was established on 18th April, 1951, that the European Economic Community was established and the Treaty signed in Rome on 25th March, 1957, and that EURATOM was established by a Treaty signed at Rome on 25th March, 1957. That is a fair time ago. Do the experts insinuate that no amendment has been sought in the meantime by the six countries who accepted the initial Treaty? Is it suggested that these amendments have not altered the Treaties to some degree? Subsequent to our entry, would an amendment to any of these Treaties effectively bring up the question of defence? Could we not be faced with an entirely new treaty or a necessary amendment to the existing Treaties? If so, all the arguments here tonight are weakened. I should like to hear from the experts if that is the case.

We have been talking now for a fair length of time on one tiny amendment.

I question that statement.

That is a reflection on the Chair.

The Minister is at liberty to question it.

The Minister has admitted that it is not tiny.

We would happily and instantly have complied with any ruling by the Chair. I rose to make a point which the Minister will see is quite different from the sense of his interjection. Although this is a tiny amendment to one section of a very brief Bill, this is an extraordinarily important Bill. It is impossible to over-estimate its importance. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the sentence which constitutes the second half of Part II of the Bill. That one sentence referring to the actions of this State on the one hand, and the actions of the Communities and their institutions on the other hand, will be the subject of a very great deal of legislation in the UK. It is very condensed here.

I believe the Dáil is doing something very important in spending so much time on this Bill because of the central nature of this Part. The Minister may be outraged by this but I think we have had a serious debate about serious issues. We have even listened to each other. We have talked to each other. We have not been unduly abusive. We have not been simply making debating points or thumping each other for fun or to release our irritations. We have uncovered things which are absolutely fundamental. I feel that Parliament is working rather well here tonight. Perhaps I feel that because I am participating. That is a possible explanation. We are having a serious discussion on serious matters. I thought I would say that because it could be argued that we were devoting a great deal of time to something which on the face of it was rather small. I do not think it is.

Having said that I want to refer to the thoughts uttered recently by Deputy FitzGerald on what precisely this section, as amended, commits us to. We have agreement thus far that, whether we call it the Community or the Communities, this is an on-going process which will inevitably add other dimensions of co-operation to the presently existing dimensions of the free movement of goods, capital and labour to a common market. I think we are agreed also that we cannot predict exactly how this evolution will go. I have to say from these benches, as someone opposed to full membership, that I may be able to look at the Community in ten years and say: "It has evolved in a way that I did not foresee. It has evolved in a way that I did not see at first, in a way that has minimised the drawbacks, that has strengthened the good things which, I admit, are there now. I was wrong in my fears and reservations and I should not have opposed entry at the time Ireland was considering entry." I admit the possibility that the Community may evolve in that way. Deputy FitzGerald said that future commitments may be good or may be bad but that he had an open mind. This, too, is my position. More than Deputy FitzGerald I am inclined to fear the badness. I am inclined to be more cautious but I do not deny the possibility that I may be in error. So far there is no enormous difference between the three parties in the House, and if we go on to say that the process of participation may be reversible after 12 months or two years, it will not be reversible after five years. We might agree on that also. We might agree that five years is too short a time for our full involvement in the machinery for the process to be reversible. Very shortly after that period, it will be irreversible. We are assuming a commitment that is open-ended and in my view, once we have a profound degree of economic integration, this will be irreversible in the same way as happened the States of Italy and Germany during the last century.

Later when I asked Deputy FitzGerald if it was his objective to keep the options open, his reply was an unequivocal "yes", that the Irish people would not wish to enter into future commitments without having an opportunity to debate them and to vote on them in a referendum. I am trying to represent fairly the Deputy's position and that is my position too. I want to keep open the options. Having got agreement, I hope, even between the three parties on propositions thus far, let us look now at this section of the Bill and at this particular amendment to it because we come back to the argument between legal interpretation and what I term real interpretation. Laws are a reflection of what exists in an evolving society. They are a codification of it but only to a very limited extent are they a cause of it. One does not write the law first and have the social evolution afterwards. It is the other way round. That being the case, I am sceptical of the powers of law of legal enactments to alter the direction of social evolution. As is our right, I think Deputy FitzGerald and I would disagree on this, but I do not believe that any legal protection will save us from the consequences of the on-going process once we are enmeshed in it. Neither do I believe we can get out of it by any legal process but, to the same extent as Deputy FitzGerald, I wish to keep the options open. That being Deputy FitzGerald's position I am puzzled as to why he opts for full membership of the Community as it seems to me that the way in which to keep the options open——

I think the Deputy is getting a 100 miles away from the amendment.

He was getting away from what I said.

He was not getting away from the amendment.

The options of which I was speaking are options that go beyond the present obligations.

The Chair is getting a great deal of help from those two sides of the House.

I am glad the Deputy admits my implication that the Chair is not getting much help from the Labour benches.

From experience I can say that the Chair gets no trouble from these benches.

Unlike the Minister for Finance, I have the utmost confidence in the rulings of each of the successive Chairmen who have participated in this debate. It is not I but Deputy FitzGerald and the Minister for Finance who are casting reflections on the Chair.

I was only correcting a misinterpretation of what I said.

The Minister has accused me of being a 100 miles away from the amendment but I understood that what I was saying arose from the phrase "consequences of membership" and arose from the suggested amendment necessitated by the obligations of membership. I believe what I have been saying to be relevant directly to that because the difference between Deputy FitzGerald and I is that all he considers to be necessitated by the obligations of membership are legal commitments.

The only things necessitated legally. We are enacting legally a legal document.

It seems to me that the further we go the lamer becomes this distinction between law and reality because it is not simply a matter of commiting the Irish people to a legal document or to signing treaties: we are committing them to a political, social, economic evolution or not committing them.

The people are committing themselves.

We are now on the amendment to a legal document, not on an amendment to the referendum.

Who is directing the Chair now?

This seems to me to be a legalistic quibble. If we are concerned only with the words of Bills and with the legal aspects of Bills——

Yes, on Committee Stage.

As people who are not lawyers but who are legislators, we should be concerned also with the implications of Bills, with the result they are likely to have on the future evolution of this country and on the well-being or otherwise of the people. As a non-lawyer, I will have no right to have opinions confined simply to the legal area. All I can say usefully in a parliament concerns the larger implications. If I wanted to have merely the legal implications, I would simply buy someone versed in legal procedure.

There are different Stages of a Bill for a debate of this kind. That is why Standing Orders are as they are.

This is a good Committee Stage. I know it is irritating some people because they are not used to being in the House during discussions on Committee Stages of Bills.

I had endeavoured to try to ascertain the extent to which we had some agreement so that we could clarify the jumping off ground as to where we disagreed. I thought we were in agreement as to the commitment being open-ended, that to a great deal the commitment concerned much more than treaties, that it concerned the reality of evolving political, economic and social life if we joined the Community. I thought we were in agreement as to not being able to have an I-want-to-get-off attitude after a certain period, that we were agreed we were not certain as to the type of future commitments we would have and that none of us could predict with certainty the way in which the Community would evolve. Therefore, I concluded that, nationally, what was prudent to do was to keep open the options. But we seem to be in disagreement as to the best mechanism of keeping open the options. I would have thought that it would have been prudent to have an associate or trade agreement by which we could watch the evolution without having to accept "the laws enacted, the acts done or the measures adopted by the Communities or their institutions". I would have thought that it would be prudent to avoid commitment to those things, to avoid what was necessitated by the obligations of membership but to retain the position whereby we could watch and choose, whereby we could retain the possibility of genuinely, as distinct from legalistically, consulting the Irish people at a later stage.

It is absolutely seriously my contention that you can have legal consultation at a certain stage of the process until you are black in the face but it will be a barren exercise, an exercise in falsehood and emptiness, if you know that you have no real choice, no option but to concur in the general evolution of a community much larger than yourself, where you represent 1 per cent of the population and a ½ per cent of GNP, a community on which you can have no real influence in regard to its evolution and in which you have no choice but to accept the results of that evolution. To pretend to the Irish people that any little form of amendment will confer on them that choice at a future time is to bury oneself in legalism, to shut one's eyes to the real evolution of society, to behave in a naïve way. I do not mean this to be abusive. I find Deputy FitzGerald's naïveté in ways attractive. It is a charming thing at this stage of his life, with the experience he has, that he should be naïve in the way he is. I feel that he is naïve in this way, that he is making the distinction between the law and the reality perfectly sincerely and genuinely, but that we should not accept that distinction because it is a false distinction. We can write in little legalistic safeguards until we are black in the face and it will not alter a tiny bit the reality of our choice or lack of choice because of the tiny, frail economy we have—the poorest, the weakest, the most peripheral, the most underdeveloped. If we climb on what Deputy Thornley called this escalator we cannot get off. It is fair to say that and not to present the possibility of bogus choice to the people as if it was real choice. This is where the confusion of law and reality is leading us.

This is really the centre of our objection to this amendment—that it holds out possibilities of choice which in reality do not exist. It holds out the pretence that we are retaining a sovereignty and being able to decide, inside this Parliament even, which of a number of roads we go, when that choice has disappeared from us. It seems to me that the logical pursuit of the doubts, the uncertainty, the open-mindedness that has been expressed here is to take a position which permits us to avoid major disruption of trade but which permits us to make a choice at a quite different future time, in the light of the way the market evolves, whether we want full membership or not, to postpone the irreversible choice, to take up a position of protection, but also one which keeps the options open.

I draw totally different conclusions from the things Deputy FitzGerald has said in full sincerity. I share his open-mindedness about the way it might go but, since I am open-minded also, I feel that we have to take up a stance of protection and not of shutting our eyes and jumping blindly into the future trusting that the negative aspects will somehow disappear and the positive aspects will flower and that the Community will be OK for us. Perhaps it will. I admit that possibility but it is a terribly dangerous thing to do. It is an almost lighthearted thing to do with the future of a nation. I would want much greater guarantees than at present.

That is a criticism of this amendment. I am not being frivolous or irrelevant, I submit, and you must be of the same opinion, Sir, because you have not suggested that I was out of order. What I had to say and what has been said from these benches was in order, relevant, pertinent and germane directly to a discussion of this amendment. It is an effort to tease out in public whether there is any real, valid protection written into this amendment. In our view there is not and, therefore, our support of it would be validating a triviality—something which is not intended, I accept, as a misrepresentation but which would end up in five or ten years as deceiving the Irish people into believing that they have protection of a legalistic kind, believing that they have choices and options which they do not possess. I think it is a genuinely proposed inadequate thing.

I am not sure that I agree with Deputy Thornley. The Minister is possibly regretting his incautious dismissal of the amendment. Think what a lot of time he would have saved himself if he had just pretended that this was a serious amendment and that he was accepting it with good grace as an important contribution to the betterment of the legislation and that then Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could campaign together happily in view of the real contribution that Fine Gael had made to making the legislation better. Instead he dismissed it. I do not think it was a piece of wickedness. Maybe it was a piece of silliness on his part, but I think it has had a good result because it has committed the two parties. I am sorry also, on an issue as important as this, that we have not had more contributions from the Government benches.

There must be aspects of this they could have discussed even if it were to validate and support. I find depressing the unwillingness to discuss it at all, the closed mind, the suggestion that we have no choice and that the people who object to our passing this Bill are somehow irresponsible and, as was suggested by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, somehow unpatriotic. This is argument by abuse. This is a serious issue. I would have wished to hear it discussed more from the Government benches. I shall wait for a serious argument that the protections we are given by this amendment go beyond legal ones and I shall wait with interest for an effort to argue that, even if those legal protections exist, they will be protections in reality and that choice after five or seven years will exist in reality. If it does not exist in reality then why deceive the people? I accept that the intention is not to deceive but I submit that the effect may in reality be to deceive.

For clever nonsense it is really very difficult to beat Deputy Justin Keating. He is a superb performer. I shall come back to him in a moment.

It is one way to attack it. Would the Minister indicate the ways in which it is nonsense?

Do not worry, I will come back to it in a moment.

Some time ago Deputy Sherwin asked a question and I did not get a chance to answer it until now. The question he asked was whether it was possible, by way of amendment of the existing Treaties, that, say, a political development could take place, political community could take place, a major development by way of amendment of the existing Treaties which would mean that the people of this country would not get an opportunity of deciding whether they wanted to go in or not. I think I am fairly summarising his question. The answer to that is one that I gave earlier in the debate to Deputy MacSharry and it was subsequently elaborated on by Deputy FitzGerald in response to another point that was raised. That is that any development of the Communities, and we do expect developments, in so far as they go outside the terms of the Treaties which are specified in this Bill would beultra vires and certainly would not be binding on the people of this country under this Bill or any other Bill. I have no doubt that if the kind of development which might take place and which Deputy Sherwin and others had in mind did take place, it would necessitate as far as we are concerned a further referendum for the people to decide whether they wished to take part and thereby amend the Constitution. It is my belief that was the position under the Bill as drafted and that it is still the position under the Bill as proposed to be amended, and I have indicated the Government's acceptance of the amendment.

To return to Deputy Keating, I have been listening to him for some time on this. I have listened to his ingenious arguments and those of some of his colleagues and I do not think he can deny that when their arguments are brought to their logical conclusion what they amount to is that he and some of his colleagues believe it is not in the interests of the Irish people that we should become full members of these Communities. On that basis he has argued about things that might happen in the future, and if they do he argues we have to accept them.

Underlying all this are a number of assumptions he has not attempted to justify, but there is one argument that disturbs me. It is that one has to approach all legislation, and particularly this piece of legislation, on the basis of supposition. He did not refer to what is in the Bill. He admitted very early that his argument could not stand up if he were to base it on what is in the Bill.

I made no such admission.

By implication he did because he went on to say that it is not what is in the Bill, that it is not the legal realities, and he went on to argue——

There is no reality in the Bill.

The terms of the Bill are before the House and, finding himself unable to oppose them with logic, Deputy Keating and his colleagues introduce a whole lot of suppositions which have nothing to do with what is in the Bill and they tried to make them relevant. The question in my mind and which I am now forced to put arises from Deputy Keating's last contribution, in the course of which he was congratulating himself and other Members of the House on the excellence of the Committee Stage debate, a view with which I do not agree.

I did not think the Minister did.

I do not disagree because I think the contributions were unimportant or because the points made were not of importance but because in my view they disclosed more and more that what the Labour Deputies were arguing about was the whole fundamental principle of the Bill. We are supposed to be discussing an amendment put down by Deputy Cosgrave and my question is this: if the Labour Party have such a deep fear, why on earth have we not got some amendments from them?

Because we do not believe in the Bill at all.

The excellence of the debate in Deputy Keating's view was apparently that in the course of it he developed his theme until finally he came up with the argument, after some hours, that what we should really be doing is providing for association with the Community rather than full membership. I do not think that is an unfair interpretation.

I think it is profoundly ridiculous, but it is on record to be read.

Is the Deputy saying I am misrepresenting the case he made?

He said "association or a trade agreement".

I accept that amendment.

The Minister is good at accepting amendments tonight.

Why does Deputy Keating think it is a good Committee Stage debate to have the kind of debate we have been having when, strictly speaking, if the case he produced were his real case, we would be discussing an amendment from him to that effect?

Do not be trying to do the innocent.

Do you not think, Sir, that the Minister is casting the gravest aspersions on you and your predecessors in the Chair?

I am casting the aspersion——

It would be better to leave that matter to the Chair.

That is what I should like to do.

Acting Chairman

I should prefer if the Deputy and other speakers would confine themselves to the terms of this amendment. The terms are very clear. I have not been in the Chair long enough to have the trend of the debate but I would deprecate any Deputy from any side going back on what other Deputies have said. What he said is said, and it remains for the amendment to be debated.

I hope the Minister takes the point.

I have taken all of the points. I have long ago in this debate dealt with the amendment. I have tried to deal with the questions raised which appeared to have even some relevance to the amendment, but when we reached the stage when we had Deputy Keating making the propositions he made I thought it was going too far. It is time Deputy Keating explained to us and to the public about the wonderful Committee Stage. Why are there no amendments by the Labour Party? Why are they using the Fine Gael amendment——

I want very briefly to point out what Deputy Keating said——

The new coalition.

It seems to me that at the end of his remarks he was coming to the issue of whether the Irish people should accept this amendment of the Constitution. What we are concerned with is that the amendment put to the people should be one that involves the minimum interference with the Constitution, the minimum risks of any kind. That is the ground on which we have based our amendment. I do not think Deputy Keating ever applied himself to that issue. He said that the talk about legal obstacles is nonsense. That is by no means entirely true because if you think in terms of ten years, five years hence, and some proposition comes forward for a further treaty dealing with the matters Deputy Keating is sensitive about, defence matters, and if at that stage there is a weak Irish Government, possibly a Fianna Fáil one, who would succumb to pressures, there would be no better back-stiffener for them than to be in a position where they could say: "I am sorry. The fact is this would require a referendum and I do not think we could carry it."

In practical realistic terms that is what matters. All we want to do by this amendment is to put the Government in a position where they have to fight their corner, where they cannot be weak, where they have to be strong and where, if they decide to go along with some future agreement the Irish people would find unsatisfactory, when the Government came back they would be kicked in the teeth and told to get out. They are the terms of real power politics of the future and I thought Deputy Keating, with his thoughtful approach to these matters. would see the point.

He does. He is one of the most able people in the House.

Is it not extraordinary that after the amendment introduced by Fine Gael was described as being of no consequence——

To the average voter.

——he now compliments Deputy FitzGerald on his statement that it is a terribly important amendment.

What is the Deputy quoting now?

The Minister.

That I complimented Deputy Garret FitzGerald on his very important amendment?

The Minister said that Deputy Keating recognised the worth of it.

Maybe I put the Deputy to sleep and he had a dream

I would like the Minister to read the report when it comes out next week.

I did not say that.

The Minister will be amazed.

I would be amazed if I said that.

Is it important or is it not?

Deputy FitzGerald said that the amendment was important and will prove to be so in the future and that he was surprised Deputy Keating had not recognised that. The Minister said he had recognised it. He said he recognised him as one of the most intelligent men here.

That is perfectly all right. Irony can be read into statements even if it does not appear in brackets.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are closer than they were at the start of the debate. I regret that the debate which has taken three and a half hours so far will take much longer. Apparently the Minister feels a sense of grievance because it has taken so long.

I do not care how long it takes, but I feel offended at the gross abuse of the rules of this House. We make rules in our own interest and come in and abuse them. That annoys me.

As a person who acted as temporary chairman during part of this debate I take strong exception to that statement. Each chairman in turn obliges the House because the Ceann Comhairle is ill.

I have done that kind of duty myself.

I hope that the Members sitting in the benches did not criticise the Minister when they got an opportunity of doing so. It is unfair. Deputy Carter is doing a good job in the Chair.

I think so, too.

He always does a good job in that position. I was going to comment that this is the most important debate which has taken place in this House since the Treaty debate. It will prove to be so. Is it not an awful thing that we have an objection because three and a half hours have been spent on it?

The Minister has attempted to make propaganda.

(Interruptions.)

Acting Chairman

I appeal to the House to come back to the amendment. I do not want to dispute the issue with the Deputy, but I would like that we should discuss this in a calm way. We might get a better result in the end. Reference back to speakers or cross-talk is out of order at present. I appeal to Deputies on all sides to keep to the terms of the amendment.

Would Deputy Tully yield to me on a point of order? The Minister said that there had been a gross abuse of the rules of this House. Since the debate started I have heard no reprimand by anyone in the Chair. Is it in order for the Minister to make unsubstantiated accusations like that against the procedure of this Parliament? Would it be in order to require him to either substantiate his statement or to withdraw it?

May I submit that the statement I made related to the people who were guilty of that abuse?

(Cavan): There cannot be a speech on a point of order.

I am entitled to make a submission when the Chair is considering a point of order.

In view of the fact that the Minister has been alone for most of the time and he probably felt lonely before the arrival of a number of backbenchers——

(Interruptions.)

I have been here since 6.30 p.m.

The Deputy was in and out a few times.

The Minister needs no help.

He got no help anyway.

Acting Chairman

I appealed to the House on a previous occasion to get down to the amendment and to refrain from reference back. I would like Deputy Tully to come to the amendment and to be free from interruptions for the remainder of our time here tonight.

I sought the guidance of the Chair on a point of order. I asked if it was in order for the Minister to make an accusation that there has been gross abuse of the rules of this House. His statement was unsubstantiated and not withdrawn.

Acting Chairman

I have heard the point of order. There have been a few Chairmen here tonight. I was not in the House for the whole debate. I do not propose to make a ruling on this point. Deputies sometimes say things or speak in certain ways in a debate. Sometimes the Chair, for the purpose of good conduct of the debate, prefers to let remarks pass. I did not hear the Minister's reference and therefore I do not propose to make a ruling.

As one who took the Chair on two occasions tonight and who sat in the House for the rest of the debate, I felt that the debate was a most orderly one and that at no time was there any transgression of the rules of order. It was unfair of the Minister to put the present Chairman in the position he is in now. So far as reference back is concerned, there was only reference back to something said by a previous speaker, when such statement was not in accordance with fact. It has always been accepted that it is right to comment on something which might, in fact, give a wrong impression if it was allowed to pass without comment.

I am anxious to have the debate proceed on normal lines. I consider this a very important debate and the matter under discussion tonight is also important. Fine Gael considered that the section under debate was important and that the amendment was important. The Minister said that he was accepting the amendment and that it did not matter anyway because the amendment was of no importance and was just juggling with words. The Minister commented, when Deputy FitzGerald said that he was surprised that Deputy Keating had not recognised the merit of the amendment: "Of course, he recognised it." The Minister changed around.

The debate has been orderly and useful. It has allowed the point of view of the three parties represented in this House to be put down on record. The views will remain on record for as long as the records last. Anybody who wants the point of view of the particular parties on this amendment can read it on the record. It is only right that should be so. My only regret is that the Minister was left so alone. It is true that Deputy MacSharry was in and out of the House. Deputy Tunney held the position of Chair for a period. Apart from that the Minister was on his own.

It is unfair that any suggestion should be made that the matter we are discussing should be rushed through the House as if we were rushing to catch a train. Many of us have a long way to go and perhaps it would suit us a lot better if the debate were to collapse. But we were not elected for that; we were elected to put the point of view of the people we represent before this House. We have been attempting to do that all night and we are prepared to accept in good faith the points made both by Fine Gael and the Minister. We think they are wrong but we accept their views as being held sincerely. What we want to avoid is the ordinary people, the voters, being forced into the position that when eventually a referendum takes place they would go to vote on an issue about which they do not know the full facts, the reason for that being that the Government are prepared to put only one side of the story. If the Government are not prepared to put both sides of the story, it is our job to see that it goes on the record.

We believe it is wrong to suggest that we can accept the amended provisions here tonight, then go to the country and if the amendment to the Constitution is carried, go into Europe and point to this amendment at a later stage and say: "It is all right no matter what happens in Europe". Even if it is decided that war is to be declared by a then built-up political group, let it be against Eastern Europe, against China or the USA—I do not care which it is —I do not want to see this country involved in a war in favour of or against anybody. We have been traditionally neutral and that is the way we want it to remain. We believe there is no safeguard and that it is not right that either the Government or Fine Gael should try to put it across that there is a safeguard in this amended Schedule which will allow us to opt out if we do not like the way the game is going.

Opt out of what?

Opt out of the EEC.

We never said that. A new military treaty. That is what we said.

As France has done.

The Parliamentary Secretary is talking about NATO. That is an entirely different matter. Deputy Garret FitzGerald has shown us that he agrees it is possible that there would be a military bloc established at a later date. If he is prepared to agree to that, does he suggest for a moment that it will be possible for ten nations of Europe to be fully integrated for a number of years and then, because the second smallest of them does not like what is going on, they can suddenly say: "We are not going to take part in this. You fight the battle for us. We are dropping out"? If that is the case then why did the Minister for Foreign Affairs—and the Minister for Finance said he did not say it in so many words—say two things, first: "A Europe worth joining is worth defending"; and, secondly: "We are prepared to accept any commitments" and when they were asked: "Does that include defence?", they said: "Any commitments"?

It is no use asking me that.

If they say it is likely to happen and if Deputy FitzGerald says it is likely to happen and he is prepared to back the stand taken by the Fianna Fáil Government, then I can ask him just the same as I ask them, because he is prepared to take the mantle of Fianna Fáil around him in this connection. Do not let us be codding about this.

The Deputy must not have been listening to me.

I listened to everything the Deputy said and I admire a great deal of the point of view he is able to put and the speed at which he is able to put it.

It is all a question of productivity.

I would not like to be paying Deputy Garret FitzGerald by the word.

If we were to pay him by the thought that would be fine.

The kernel of this discussion here tonight is whether the proposed amendment of the Constitution in the Schedule, as amended by Fine Gael, gives protection to this country for the future. The Minister said it was entirely wrong that we should even talk about these things. He did not say we were gazing into a crystal ball but that we were talking about things that might happen. If we do not talk about things that might happen as a result of this, what can we talk about? Is he able to tell us exactly what will happen? This referendum will be decided not on what is being offered but the whole thing, what is happening now and what is likely to happen in years to come, and it all depends on who will make the best case to the public.

Let me repeat what I said the other day: the Irish people have become very well-informed. It does not matter whether five out of the ten minutes of news at 8 o'clock or at 9 o'clock is Fianna Fáil Party propaganda or not, pro-EEC or not, when they come to vote they will count everything that is going. When that time comes Fianna Fáil and maybe Fine Gael, too, if they are in the same cart, will wonder what happened the horse because there will be no locomotion; they will be left sitting.

(Interruptions.)

Acting Chairman

Will Deputies please allow the debate to proceed?

It seems to me we have reached the point where the central validation that Fine Gael are offering for their amendment is that any future developments inside the Community which would require a new treaty would beultra vires, to use the words of the Minister for Finance when he was agreeing with the point, and it would not be binding on us. Therefore, putting in the sort of protection that this amendment envisages would, in fact, as Deputy FitzGerald said earlier, keep our options open.

This is a point of view that is tenable on certain assumptions. On the other hand, there is doubt as to whether it is true or not. However, we are faced with deciding whether the legal protection that would be given would protect our freedom of choice. When the Minister for Finance was agreeing with Deputy FitzGerald's point on this, he used a phrase which I wrote down at the time; again I do not pretend it is an accurate transcript but I think it represents fairly the sense of what he said, that such developments would beultra vires. “Such developments” is a loose phrase and we want to inquire as to precisely what it means. What developments? If one is thinking in terms of a national military pact, then if a situation develops in which a pact is being agreed, a common army organised, a common nuclear deterrent and all these things, then of course Deputy FitzGerald is right. If that is what you mean by the Minister's phrase “such developments” then he is right, then there would be the protection.

It is useful to have that protection through our amendment.

It is of some use but I made the point previously that it is of some use at the cost of validating something. I made the analogy of a plaster on a cancer. It is of some use in the sense that the plaster on the cancer is of some use. It may make the person who applies it feel better. If you feel that you are doing something you feel good about it. A great deal of medicine is based on the ritual of doing something to make the person who does it feel better rather than sitting there doing nothing.

The amendment is of the same order of magnitude. I do not think it is much better than that. I do not deny the possibility that the amendment might do a little bit of good but it would be so tiny that the aspect which justifies opposition to it is that it gives a bogus sense of security. If such developments mean the formal adhering to treaties, of course, we have choice in that respect. I suggest that such developments mean the growing together of economies, the purchasing of resources and companies by the multi-nationals, the inevitable growing dependence of the smaller economies on the larger ones and, therefore, the inevitable transfer of the freedom of choice to the centres of decision making which will be outside this Parliament or this island.

Once you have that power of economic decision being taken outside an area where you can exert any influence then you may have the formal right to say "no" but you do not have the real right to say "no". It is misleading to pretend that that form is of any value. It is so misleading that it is a harmful thing to do. The crucial development in regard to decision making is the development of the subordination of our economy, which is absolutely inevitable and which has already taken place to a great extent in regard to the UK domination of it.

The Minister said that such developments would beultra vires and would not be binding on us. The reality of economic integration is not within or without the powers of what the Treaty of Rome permits but is a process which is happening inside the economic framework that the Treaty of Rome has produced and encourages. It is the development of the transfer of governmental decision making to Brussels, the transfer of economic decision making to the multi-nationals outside Ireland, the diminution of our power to decide anything, be it governmental or economic, and indeed the inevitable loss of decision in the area of social policy—we have to equate our social policy with those of the other member States—which will diminish and in fact abolish our right to decide and to choose. They are not formal or legal developments.

I accept the Minister for Finance's point that those developments without a new treaty would beultra vires, would not be binding on us and we would retain a formal power to deliberate on them and to have a decision about them. I suggest that to believe that that formal power contains real guarantees of decision making and of independent choice is to mislead people. When you have the situation where you transfer the areas of real decision making outside a sovereign parliament in a country like this then you transfer all the other powers as well. We will not make the major taxation decisions, the financial decisions, the major decisions about the way we shift wealth around in the Community by financial policy. We will not make any significant decisions about social policy or any significant decisions, as far as I know, about the major shift of capital inside the Community. We can certainly have a regional policy inside Ireland but we cannot have a major one.

While this amendment gives a formal protection it does not give a real protection. I rather quailed because of the threatening attitude of the Minister for Finance when he got up—perhaps he did not mean it to be threatening but it came over to me like that— and I thought I would be demolished. I thought he had some arguments which would indicate that I was being irrelevant, that I was behaving improperly, that there was a gross abuse of the rules of the House. I thought these things would be validated.

The Deputy is completely insulated against any attacks by his own self-righteousness and the knowledge that he is always right. It is a great protection.

Cast doubts on Fianna Fáil's inability and we might be right.

The Minister may not accept this but I assure him that I feel bound to listen to the points of view of others and I feel bound to validate my own opinions very often and to doubt them. I hope my opinion is continually evolving in the light of that examination. I am bound to look at such objections, which are offered in a party political way, and to say that perhaps there is some residuum of truth and serious argument in it after all. The Minister made his opening threat and said he would come back to me. He said it was a disturbing assumption that one has to approach all Bills with supposition.

That sounds like a somewhat garbled version of what I said.

I do not write shorthand. Is there any point in asking the Minister to amplify exactly what he said? He suggested that the making of suppositions in regard to arguments about a Bill was somewhat impermissible and the suppositions we had been making in regard to the future evolution of the Community and our measuring of this amendment against our suppositions about the future evolution of the Community were somehow improper, or were somehow an abuse of the rules of the House.

The theme of what I was saying at that point was that I understood Deputy Keating in particular to be arguing that in effect the terms of this Bill were irrelevant, that what was relevant was his view of reality; that the terms of this Bill were the legalism and the formalism. I think he used those words a few times tonight.

That was not what the Deputy said.

The Minister has not helped me a bit.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 26th January, 1972.