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Seanad Éireann debate -
Monday, 18 Dec 1922

Vol. 1 No. 4


My object in bringing this proposal before the Seanad, is that all Senators may be given some special work to engage their minds, and that whatever subject may be brought before us there will be a certain number of persons fully qualified, by previous study, to discuss it. I beg to move:—"That, as Seanad Eireann is in the peculiar position of having no Ministers, it will be in the interest of business for Committees to be appointed to study and report to the Seanad on the following subjects:—Industry and Commerce, Finance, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Education and Local Government." You see, I am, to a certain extent, following the particular Ministries. I have made a mistake by the omission of a couple, and I would like to have those added; they are Labour, which is a very important one; Fine Arts, which I think is also very important, and another is Defence. There is an immense mass of legislative work before the Oireachtas, generally described as reconstruction. However well qualified the Government or An Dáil may be, it would be very difficult to find time to think out and work out the mass of details involved. It ought to be our duty, in consultation with the Government, to lay the basis for a number of Bills, small or large, that may eventually come before the Oireachtas. In this way we shall be able to give great assistance in the legislative projects that may be before us. I have spoken of this matter privately to some Senators, and it seemed to receive such commendation from them that I hope the proposal in some form or other will be accepted by all. With regard to the method by which these Committees may be got together, I suggest that an organising committee be now appointed for the purpose. It occurs to me that it should be composed of one Senator for each of the Committees named,' and that the person most closely connected with the class of work of that committee be chosen. I put the following list forward for consideration, but it must be understood that the names in the list I put forward will be merely an organising committee, one for each of these committees that I have named. It will take some little time before this can be done. It cannot very well be done within the next few days. These people named could go round and consult the wishes of the different Senators as to what Committee they would like to serve on, and get the names together. They could meet again and make proper arrangements. I suggest the following list for an organising committee: Senator Andrew Jameson, Sir John Griffith, Sir John Keane, Colonel Maurice Moore, Senator Butler, Mrs. Costelloe, Senator Yeats, Senator Farren (or some other Labour member), Sir Bryan Mahon. Each of these could take one particular subject and arrange a committee of members. For instance, Senator Jameson might arrange a Finance Committee, and so on. Senator Yeats could arrange a Committee on Fine Arts. For Agriculture and Fisheries we might have Senator Butler; Home and Foreign Affairs, Sir John Keane; Industry and Commerce, Sir John Griffith and Mr. Goodbody; Education, Mrs. Costelloe; Defence, Sir Bryan Mahon. It will be the duty of the Organising Committee to enquire into the wishes of the Seanad and arrange the Senators into the most suitable committees. I propose that motion.

I beg to second Senator Moore's proposition.

I think it is very undesirable at the present moment to pass such a wide and sweeping resolution. It is entirely sprung on the Seanad. I do not think it is fair or reasonable that a number of names should be flung at a meeting in this form, and the passing of that resolution would, I think, be entirely against the ordinary interests of this Seanad.

May I suggest to Senator Moore that it would be desirable to withdraw the motion. Personally I have a good deal of sympathy with him, but I do not agree with him as to the exact form, and I should very much like to see members of the Seanad consider the whole question as to what committees should be appointed, and the possibility of effective joint committees with the other House. We have no right to appoint such committees, but it is quite possible by mutual agreement it might be arranged, and it might be very much more powerful in many matters. I do not suggest that we should adjourn this generally as though we disapproved of it, but I think it would be wise to defer it a little further, and for that reason I suggest it be postponed.

As one who agrees strongly with this idea as to Committees, I may say I agree entirely with Mr. Douglas that we might postpone it. If we got joint committees later on it would be far better.

I am quite willing to do what is suggested. My view was that in some of these matters, for instance finance, it would be a good thing to have a joint committee of the two Houses. My idea was that these Committees when once formed might get into touch with the Ministry, or members of the other House. If both sides agree to Committees of that sort, they might get outside help or specialists to advise them. It would be well that members of this Seanad, instead of going back to their homes without anything to do, perhaps for the next week or fortnight, should, instead of waiting for instructions to be put before them, form a number of different bodies of this Seanad for special work which they could study, so that they could come back and be in a position when a Bill is proposed to give us some advice as to what the heads of the Bills should be and so forth. I think one of the Senators who has spoken seems to have misunderstood the motion. It was merely a suggestion that those people I have mentioned should organise different Committees, not that they should form Committees themselves, but that each one should organise the Committee to which their names are attached, but if it is thought desirable to postpone the matter, and have a general talk on the question afterwards, I am perfectly willing to agree.


I am sure the Seanad is very grateful to Senator Moore. I think there was much that is very helpful in his suggestion, but at the same time I think it better that the matter should be considered as a whole rather than taken piecemeal. When we meet again after the recess, we will have the benefit of his views before us, and I am quite sure we will be able to utilise them and produce a good general scheme.

Motion by leave withdrawn.