There is a question of which I have given private notice, i.e., with regard to the travelling expenses of the members of the Seanad. There are some regulations, I believe, and I should like to ask what those regulations are.
APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE.
In answering that question, I would say that by Article 23 of the Constitution, this Seanad in the same way as the Dáil, has got power to provide for the payment of its members and may, in addition, "provide them with free travelling facilities in any part of Ireland." I think that possibly the wisest course to adopt with regard to this matter is that inasmuch as we have to appoint at least one Committee to determine matters of this kind that this question should be included in the reference to that Committee. Later on, you will see it is essential to have a Committee for the purpose of determining and ascertaining matters with regard to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. We shall also have to make provision for the official staff required for this Seanad. I think all these matters could very well be left to one good Committee of the Seanad to consider and report to us, and then you as a general body can come to any conclusion on their recommendation that you think fit. The first business on the Agenda is the appointment of one of these Committees, to which I have referred—the appointment of Committee under the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution. The necessity for its appointment arises under Article 21 of the Constitution. That Article is as follows:—"Each House shall elect its own Chairman and Deputy-Chairman, and shall prescribe their powers, duties, remuneration, and terms of office." You will observe that that only covers the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. I cannot find any provision in the Constitution that deals with the creation and appointment of the official staff that will be required—that is to say, the number or anything else; nor can I find the authority which is finally to determine that matter. Therefore, I think it would be a wise thing for us to include that in the reference to this Committee, that we will have to appoint under Article 21, and to ask them to furnish us with their suggestions as to the extent and nature of the staff that will be required. Instead of having two Committees overlapping, I suggest that might be included in the reference under Article 21. In the meantime it will be necessary for some member of the Seanad to propose that the Committee be appointed in pursuance of Article 21 of the Constitution.
There is a question I would like to raise at some proper and convenient time. I do not know when it will be convenient, but it is on the question of the speech yesterday, and the telegrams that passed between the King and the Governor-General. I would like just to ask some questions about it when the proper time arises. I will leave that matter to you.
I will not overlook that, Senator Moore. Of course, you will see that until we have our Standing Orders it is very difficult for me to lay down, or suggest to you, any procedure on a matter of that kind. I think the best plan would be, where a question of that kind arises, it should be left to the Seanad to decide whether they will entertain a particular motion or not.
I suppose it can be raised on the Governor-General's speech, when that arises?
Yesterday we passed a resolution thanking the Governor-General for his speech and for the legislation that was included or promised in it. I think, if you had any question to raise upon it, then was the time to do it by way of amendment or otherwise.
Perhaps you forget that you told us yesterday that we could debate this matter later.
I do not forget anything that happened yesterday. My memory is still equal to that strain. I remember that distinctly. All that happened yesterday was that the resolution as originally framed included the words "and we approve." Some members objected to that because they had not an opportunity of discussing it. They did not in fact approve of certain matters and I accordingly suggested to leave out the word "approve" and adopt the resolution without the word "approve." The resolution was then passed thanking the Governor-General for his speech and for the legislation promised in that speech. If you objected to the Seanad doing that, yesterday was your time to move an amendment.
You stated at the time that you would leave the matter open for discussion and that it could be raised whenever it was found suitable.
Certainly, whenever the legislation came on.
You may take it from me that the last thing I propose or wish to do is to curtail freedom of speech.
I am not suggesting that for a moment.
All I want to see is that we proceed with due order and regularity. That is my only interest and object. If you bring up the question later in the day I will see, as far as I can, how your desires can be met.
Many of us were under the impression that the passing of that resolution yesterday did not debar a discussion on the Address afterwards. We felt that there might have been some need for the Seanad passing the resolution. Consequently on the statements made by you, whether rightly or wrongly, it was our impression that a debate on the Address would be provided for, and that there would be no opposition to Senators discussing the Address itself, and the subjects omitted from the Address, and so forth.
If that desire exists amongst any substantial section of the Seanad I shall do my very best to facilitate them.
Do I understand that the Standing Orders of the Dáil have been temporarily adopted by us?
I notice that Standing Order 16 says: "Provided that questions relating to matters of urgent public importance may, by permission of the Ceann Comhairle, be asked on private notice." I do not know whether this question arises, or whether it is considered a matter of public importance or not, but seeing that the Standing Orders are in a transition stage here, and that we have no set Standing Orders, I would like to ask whether the present application might come under the extract I have just read?
I am afraid not, for this reason: that deals purely with the procedure of the Dáil. We have no Ministers here to answer questions. That will be a matter a Committee on Procedure and on the Standing Orders will have to carefully consider. I perceive a considerable difficulty of questions here being raised on responsible actions of Ministers of the Free State if there is no provision made by which they would be enabled to attend this Seanad and answer these questions. I will not be in a position to answer them, because I am not a member of the Government. The intent of the Constitution is that I shall hold myself independent, as I intend to do. But it is obvious, for the convenience of the Seanad, that there should be some means provided by which Ministers could attend here if they think fit to answer questions on important Government matters. I think that matter should be included in our reference to the Committee. It will be part of the Committee's duty. We have already appointed a Committee to provide Standing Orders for this Seanad. This Committee will naturally consult with another similar Committee in the other place and come to some modus vivendi.
The Constitution lays down that all Ministers can attend here.
That is set out in Article 57.
Yes, Article 57 says, "Every Minister shall have the right to attend and be heard in Seanad Eireann." I understand there is a Liaison Officer or Minister to be appointed by the Government and he will come in and answer these questions.
The clear statement that you have made rather tends to show that as far as possible the Seanad will be well advised to take only urgent matters to-day, and let us have our own Standing Orders to consider these questions now raised. I think otherwise we will waste a great deal of time.
Perhaps the Chairman would be a little liberal in not sticking too close to the Order until we have got our own Standing Orders.
I will do that with the greatest of pleasure. I think the Seanad should consider whether it would be wise for them to adopt the suggestion made by Mr. Douglas. We are more or less at present proceeding in the dark. We are only finding our feet, finding our way, and before we come to a debate on any serious constitutional question we should have our own Standing Orders so that we can proceed with due process and deliberation. It will not mean any long delay, because the Committee will be able to arrive at a decision on these Standing Orders within a very short time. Probably the wisest course would be to transact nothing but purely pressing business to-day, to appoint Committees for urgent matters, and then when they are ready with their reports, and when we have framed our own Standing Orders we can go formally through any business that any member may bring forward.
I quite agree. We ought to press forward with urgent matters.
An obviously practical proposition has been put to us from the Chair. Until we are regularly constituted we are more or less beating the air. If any member desires to raise any question it will be always open to him, as soon as we have our Standing Orders completed, to draw attention to any matter by simply handing in notice of motion. If any member wishes to raise a question of that kind he could do so by giving ordinary notice. I regard our Standing Orders as a matter of the utmost importance. It will be in the recollection of the Seanad that the first resolution we passed was that we should appoint a Committee to draw up our own Standing Orders. For the time being we have adopted the Standing Orders of the Dáil. They may suit us well, but at all events we must have our own Standing Orders. Obviously what we shall do now is to discharge essential business and let our Committees proceed to work.
If that Committee got to work now is it not possible they could report to us by Friday?
I do not think it will be a very elaborate business at all. There are many Articles in the Standing Orders that we may take verbatim almost from the Dáil. There are a great many, on the other hand, that have no application to our procedure here. If we have an opportunity, I am quite prepared to wait on here after the Seanad rises and have a meeting of the Committee who are framing the Standing Orders. By the end of an hour we would have done a good deal of work, and very likely we would be able to report to the Seanad, if not on Friday, at least on Monday. The present matter before the Seanad is that this Committee, under Article 21 of the Constitution, should be appointed. It will be necessary for some Senator to propose the appointment of that Committee, and it will be necessary that the Seanad should define its duties and its terms of reference. I do not think it would be very convenient to have a general discussion on a matter of that kind. The simple course would be to refer it to a Committee to report to the Seanad, and the recommendation of that Committee can be adopted or rejected. I think it is not a fitting subject for a general debate in the Seanad. That is a matter entirely for the members of the Seanad. The same thing applies to Article 23, the matter that the Earl of Mayo asked me about. That Article reads:—"The Oireachtas shall make provision for the payment of its members, and may in addition provide them with free travelling facilities in any part of Ireland." I think that would be an inconvenient thing for discussion in the Seanad, and it ought to be left also to this other Committee, and let them report to the Seanad on both matters.
Nobody apparently seems to have thought this matter out, and we ought to make a move in some shape. Could the Chairman give us any indication of the number that this Committee should probably consist of?
It is not desirable to have these Committees too large. I should say at the outset that five or six would be enough. Probably Col. Moore would be satisfied if the Committee he wishes to set up with regard to officers is embodied in this Committee, which could then deal with the duties of Chairman and Deputy-Chairman, the remuneration of members and travelling expenses, and the appointment of officers.
I do not object to any arrangement made. I rather doubt if it is not rather too much to ask the Committee to do. If we want to settle only about the Official Staff and their salaries, that could be done in a day or two. The other matters would take a longer time.
That could be met in this way—they could take up this matter first, and make an interim report on it.
It is very desirable that one Committee should deal with both, for the additional reason that there would be a certain amount of overlapping, and they would have to consult together if you had two Committees. Further, there are matters in which the Committee will have to consult with the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil as to a joint arrangement about printing, and there will have to be a working agreement between the two Clerks.
To put the matter in proper order I beg to move that a Committee for the purpose of your suggestion be set up forthwith.
I think it will be better to keep things separate. It will require a very special Committee to go into the question of the Constitution and the provisions you propose. The Committee suggested will require all the brains we can get. The other matter is a mere matter of finance and the selection of clerks.
The duties of the Committee under Article 23 will not be very laborious. It will be merely to suggest what they consider right as to the payment of members and as to travelling expenses. That is a matter that is provided for by Article 23. The other Article, 21, only deals with the powers of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. These three matters are to a great extent united, and the same principle would seem to run through them all, and I think you would be gaining a lot if you would leave them to the one Committee. There is another reason, the Senators should bear it in mind that it will be a great tax upon the representatives of the Seanad who live in distant parts of the country to be asked to attend those Committees. Therefore, as far as possible, we should impose this duty on residents in the city or vicinity. A Committee of business men would dispose of these matters in two sittings.
I beg to second the proposal. The Committee should consist of six or seven members.
In selecting this Committee regard should be paid to the various interests represented in the Seanad.
Motion made and question put: "That a Committee be appointed to consider and report to this Seanad upon the matters contained in Article 21 and Article 23 of the Constitution, and also to report on similar matters in connection with the Official Staff of the Seanad."
I think that on this Committee there should be a number of business men. This is a matter which, of course, requires business knowledge and training, and I propose that the following three Senators be included on the Committee:—Martin Fitzgerald, J.J. Parkinson and J. McLoughlin.
I do not think I would be able to give the necessary time, and I would ask you not to include my name.
I would therefore suggest Dr. Oliver Gogarty.
Might I suggest that the Chairman or Deputy Chairman would act on the Committee?
This Committee will have to consider a number of things with regard to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, and in view of that I do not think either of them should be on the Committee. It would be very awkward, for example, if either the Chairman or Deputy Chairman was present when the Committee would be prescribing the duties of their offices, or their remuneration and their terms of office. It is far better to leave both out.
Let the representatives of each party select their own men. Let us work on democratic lines.
While the members of the Committee are being selected, might I suggest that when Senators rise in their places, either you Mr. Chairman, or they, would announce the names in the interest of the Seanad generally, and particularly in the interest of the Press and the officials of the Seanad, who are at a great disadvantage in not knowing personally each Senator?
I hope as far as I am concerned I will be able to put a name on them all very soon. It would undoubtedly help very much if when a Senator arises he would mention his name.
I beg to move: "That the Committee as already agreed on shall consist of the following:—Mr. Andrew Jameson, Sir John Purser Griffith, Dr. Gogarty, Mr. J.J. Parkinson, Mr. Bennett, Colonel Moore, Mr. Farren, Mrs. Wyse Power, Mr. MacLysaght, and Mr. M. O'Dea." The Seanad will notice that we have made this a very large committee. Personally, I am not in favour of large committees, but this committee has been made large, and it will not therefore be necessary for every member of it to be present every day. I submit these names for the consideration of the Senators.
I beg to second the motion. This Committee, in my opinion, is admirably suited to do the work.
May I make one suggestion in reference to the Committee? It is in conformity with the usual practice that the Senator who has made the motion should consent to act upon the Committee. If that is agreeable to the Senate I shall put Sir Thomas Esmonde's name in conjunction with those already mentioned.
Motion made and question put "That the Committee shall consist of the following:—Sir Thomas Esmonde, Mr. Andrew Jameson, Sir J. Purser Griffith, Dr. Gogarty, Mr. J.J. Parkinson, Mr. Bennett, Colonel Moore, Mr. Farren, Mrs. Wyse Power, Mr. MacLysaght, and Mr. M. O'Dea."