THE STANDING ORDERS.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The first business on the agenda is the resumed consideration of the Standing Orders. It is the recollection of the Seanad that we reached No. 38 before the adjournment took place. We will now proceed to consider the others consecutively.

Standing Orders Nos. 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, and 46 were adopted.

May I ask a question with regard to No. 47? I see it appears that if a Senator introduces a Bill, he himself will move its passage in its various stages through the Seanad. What will happen where a Bill comes from Dáil Eireann which has no representative in this Seanad, and at present no arrangement that I am aware of exists whereby a member of the Seanad shall act as Government representative and pilot a Bill through its various stages?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That difficulty has been in my mind, and in that of some of my colleagues from the very start, owing to the fact that there is no provision that makes it compulsory for a Minister to attend here during the passage of Bills. They have the right to attend, but we have no power to compel them to do so. It is for themselves whether they do it or not, and I think they will find it to their own convenience in the case of a Bill which they have to discuss to provide that some Minister in charge will be in attendance here. I should mention in addition that this Committee on Standing Orders hope to be able to arrive at some mutual arrangement between this Seanad and the Dáil by which mutual facilities will be afforded in the first instance to members of the Government during the passage of Bills here, and a corresponding privilege, or permission, to members of the Seanad who are interested in Bills originating in this House and under discussion in the other, and nothing definite has been arrived at, but I will assure the Senator we have not overlooked the matter, and will do our best to provide mutual facilities to deal with the matter he mentioned.

May I mention that Standing Order No. 59 also provides for that.

A great many Senators were embarrassed by the position they were in owing to the absence of a Minister here to explain their point of view.

Standing Orders 48 to 64 were then adopted without discussion.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

We now come to a series of clauses from 65 to 71, which proposes the method of election in the case of casual vacancies caused by death or resignation of a member and perhaps as Chairman of the Committee appointed to draft these Standing Orders I might mention that I am responsible primarily for these particular Orders, having drawn them up, though they were, of course, subject to be approved by other members of the Committee, as they were. I should like shortly to explain what the system is. On receiving notice or knowledge of the fact that there is a vacancy the Draft Orders provide that the Chairman shall at the next meeting of the Seanad have a notice on the Agenda informing the Seanad that the vacancy has taken place. At that meeting the Seanad is then to fix a day for an election to fill the vacancy, and that date is not to happen for a shorter interval than a fortnight from the date of notice. That is to say a fortnight at least must elapse from the date on which notice is given of the holding of an election. During the first week of that fortnight any member of this Seanad may nominate a candidate for the vacancy, the nomination to contain the full name, address, and qualifications of the candidate proposed.

Is there to be a seconder?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Not neces— sarily. Such nomination to be accompanied by a consent in writing from the person nominated that he will serve if elected. On the date fixed for the election the Draft Orders propose that in the event—an unlikely event, I should think—of candidates nominated exceeding five in number the first vote shall be taken for a select list of three out of the total number, and the three who obtain the highest votes are to be put on the select list. Then a further ballot is to be taken to select two out of the three, and after the two have been selected there shall be a further ballot as between these two. If, on the ballot as between the two one candidate obtains a majority of 3/5ths of the members present and voting he is to be declared elected. If he does not get a majority of 3/5ths his name is to be put forward to the Seanad again, and if he again fails to get the requisite majority the election is to be treated as abortive. On the other hand if the number of candidates does not exceed five, but is more than two the first ballot is to be for two only. Then there is to be a second ballot as between the two, and the rest of the proceedings is as in the previous case. If only two are nominated, then, of course, the first and second ballots are to be dispensed with, and a ballot is taken between the two, and if either obtains the necessary 3/5ths majority he becomes duly elected. If he fails to get the 3/5ths his name is again submitted, and if he again fails the election is abortive.

A SENATOR.

What about a tie?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The Chairman has a casting vote.

You cannot have a tie if there is to be a 3/5ths majority.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

If there is only one candidate proposed, then the Standing Orders provide that his name should be submitted to a ballot, and if he obtains 3/5ths of a majority of the members present and voting he is to be declared elected. If he fails to get the 3/5ths majority the election is abortive. Then there is a proviso for the purposes of this election, that the quorum is to be not less than thirty members. I want the Seanad to understand that this means that no person can be elected to fill a casual vacancy unless he has the support of at least 18 members. I do not think that that is an extravagant number and I think that the Seanad may, perhaps, agree that no person ought to be elected to a responsible position of this kind, unless he can command the votes of 18 members of the Seanad. If you made it a bare majority the result would be that a candidate who only obtained 15 votes out of 60 members of the Seanad might possibly be returned. These are the draft proposals, and I shall now ask Senator Linehan to propose his alternative Standing Orders, of which he has given notice.

As far as Rules 65 and 66 are concerned, I have no objection to them, but I have to the others, which are very complicated as regards procedure in the case of an election.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

What are the other rules?

67, 68, 69 and 70. I propose we omit these four rules and proceed to formulate rules which will be more simple and will be better understood by the members of the Seanad. According to these rules, where it is necessary to have a 3/5ths majority at the end of a poll, it may happen that several times we might not be able to elect a Senator at all. I do not see why an ordinary majority of the Senators would not do. It is necessary, by the rules, to have a 3/5ths majority to ensure that an election will be valid. Now, it might happen that after several polls no candidate will be able to secure that majority, so that the election will be abortive and have to be gone over again. I think it will be quite sufficient for a candidate to secure a majority of the votes of the Senators, and that should be sufficient to secure his election. I sent in draft alternative rules for filling a vacancy, which were circulated. The amendment I propose is: "To omit Rules 67, 68, 69, and 70, and substitute:—

‘Upon the appointed day the Seanad shall proceed to elect by ballot a Senator to fill the vacancy, and if there are more than two candidates proposed, the name of the candidate who receives the smallest number of votes as a result of the first ballot shall be eliminated, and further ballots between the remaining candidates shall be taken, always after each ballot striking off the name of the candidate having the smallest number of votes, till the number of candidates be reduced to two, when a final vote by ballot shall be taken, and the candidate who received the majority of the votes shall be declared elected.'

‘If two or more candidates having the smallest number of votes as the result of any ballot have obtained an equal number of votes, the Cathaoirleach shall decide which of them shall have his name eliminated."'

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It will be more in order if I put rule 65 to the Seanad as you do not quarrel with any rule until you come to 67. When we come to that I will put your amendment.

Standing Orders 65 and 66 were then adopted without discussion.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

As regards Rules 67, 68, 69 and 70, Senator Linehan moves as an amendment the deletion of these four and the substitution in their place of the above amendment.

I think on the basis of the proposed voting the election would carry on for a very long time. It seems to me that the rules are not framed at all on democratic principles. On the rules framed, if five or six go up, and one candidate secures say 45 votes he must go up repeatedly for election. As he has got a majority of the Seanad I do not think he should have to go up again and again. If on the first voting any person nominated secures a majority of those present, a majority in excess of the other candidates combined, it does not appear to me that there is any sense in further voting.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I understand you to suggest that if there were 5 candidates the whole thing is to depend on one vote.

Yes, if one candidate gets the majority of the Senators on the first count. Otherwise it is simply putting the election back and back.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

You are not supporting the amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Well, you are out of order for the present as the amendment has not been seconded.

We have not had the amendment before us in its full form.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That is true, but Mr. Linehan is now in possession.

But none of us have a copy of the amendment, and some of us do not know what is in it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I do not understand how that is so as it was circulated.

No one here has a copy of it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It proposes that no matter what number of candidates might go forward they would be weeded out one by one, according to the percentage of votes for the various candidates. That is to say on the first ballot the candidate who gets the least number of votes his name is weeded out. Then you have another ballot to weed out the next name, until only two are left. Whichever of these get the majority, and if there is no tie, will be elected automatically. I am a good deal impressed by Senator Linehan's amendment, which seems to me to have many points of advantage over Articles 68, 69 and 70, but it differs in one very important respect, which is that it does not provide for a 3/5ths majority.

rose to speak.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Are you seconding his amendment?

I am prepared to second his amendment, but I should like, before doing so, to have some information, which I think you could give us from the Chair, as to what was in the minds of the Committee who prepared the Standing Orders providing for a 3/5ths majority.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I thought I made that clear. The idea the Committee had was this, that it would be a mistake, if you had a very meagre attendance in the Seanad, if a candidate obtained, we will say, only 12, 13, or 14 votes for a position of the kind, and that matter should be one in which each Senator will recognise his own responsibility, and will do his best to attend on the occasion. And, therefore, we wanted to avoid any person being elected to the position unless he had at least the support in the Seanad of 18 members.

If Senator Linehan would alter that amendment to provide for a 3/5ths majority I would second it.

That is one of the points I object to.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Then I must bring the point back to regulate it. Does anyone second it?

I second it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Now the amendment is open for discussion.

I think, Sir, the first draft of the rules was left very wide. Three-fifths of a majority should not be essential for election. A majority should be quite sufficient, provided that a certain number—we call it a quorum— forms the House—that is, that no rushing might be done by a small number. You suggest that 18 should be the minimum votes for an elected Senator. I think that is very moderate.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Then may I point out to you, Senator Fitzgerald, that unless you put the quorum at 30, on your suggestion of a bare majority 15 or 16 would be enough.

I fully realise that, and that is the reason why I go a little further than you and say 18. I even go further, and say the number who will vote for a Senator should not be under 20 or 25, if you like, for the election of a Senator. I certainly say that the idea of a two-thirds majority is not by any means reasonable or democratic.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Three-fifths.

Three-fifths and two-fifths, I think, is altogether out of proportion. I think the majority of an Assembly like this ought to be quite sufficient for the election of a member. If, on the first ballot, the candidate nominated, secures the majority of this Assembly——

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Are you proposing that now as an amendment?

I propose that as an amendment.

On a point of order, can you have two amendments before the Seanad at one time?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH.

Oh, yes; they are not before the Seanad at the one time. If Senator Martin. Fitzgerald moves an amendment, and it is seconded, I shall take that first, because, if that were carried, of course it would dispose of Senator Linehan's amendment and would dispose of the draft proposals of the Committee.

With all respect the amendment proposed by Senator Linehan must take precedence over any other amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I do not agree with that, for this obvious reason, that if Senator Martin Fitzgerald's amendment commends itself to the good-sense of the majority of the Seanad, it disposes not only of the draft proposals of the Committee, but of the amendment proposed by Senator Linehan. Is Senator Martin Fitzgerald's amendment seconded?

Would not Senator Fitzgerald's amendment be an amendment to the other amendment?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That is the reason why I am taking it now.

I would respectfully submit that the business before the Seanad is the Report of the Committee on Standing Orders. Senator Linehan has moved an amendment to this original motion, and I cannot convince myself how you can accept another amendment to that amendment before you deal with the amendment to the original motion.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Cannot the Senator see the absurd position the Seanad will be placed in if I were to allow a discussion to continue on Senator Linehan's motion? That motion might be carried, and then Senator Martin Fitzgerald might move his amendment, the effect of which would be to destroy altogether Senator Linehan's amendment, and consequently the more convenient course is to proceed with Senator Fitzgerald's amendment after it is seconded.

In that event will we be allowed to propose the amendment which will abolish both the other amendments?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Certainly, but I do not think that will happen.

I am afraid I am more democratic than the Committee, Mr. Linehan and Mr. Fitzgerald——

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

One moment. Are you seconding Senator Martin Fitzgerald's amendment?

No, I am not. I am speaking generally.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Then I must ask you to wait.

I beg to second Senator Fitzgerald's amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I want the Seanad to understand the position before them. First of all, there was a motion to approve of the Draft Proposals of the Committee. To that Senator Linehan has moved a series of clauses, which would delete 67, 68, 69, and 70, and it is proposed to draft Orders to substitute in their place the method of election that I have mentioned. Senator Martin Fitzgerald has proposed as an alternative, by amendment, a different method of selection, which, if adopted, would rule out both the proposals of the Committee and Senator Linehan's proposed amendment. And now, if anybody wishes to speak upon the amendment moved by Senator Martin Fitzgerald, of course he is at liberty to do so.

What is the amendment?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The amendment is—if any candidate proposed, no matter what the number of candidates may be, obtains a majority of the members present and voting, he is to be there and then declared to be elected a Senator.

As I said before, I am rather more democratic than the Committee, or Senator Linehan and Senator Fitzgerald. My opinion is this, and you may take it how you like, surely if there is to be a Senator elected to this Seanad, that is a very important matter. If people do not attend here to elect that Senator, I am of opinion that the majority of the Seanad should decide who is to be their Senator. We, as a body, have been chosen, nominated, and elected.

Well, I allow the correction. Surely, in times like these, there is a certain dignity allowed to this Assembly, and if people do not come to elect a man to this body when a vacancy occurs that is their fault, and this arrangement suggested both by the Committee and by the amendments, I say with all due respect to the movers of each amendment, I think, is very complicated. A fortnight's notice of the death or resignation of a member will be given, and then there is seven days more for a proposal to be brought forward for the election of a member to fill the vacancy, and there is plenty time for people to come forward here and elect a Senator. Let the man who gets the biggest majority be a member of the Seanad. That does away with all this 3/5ths or one-half arrangement. Members of the Seanad have got to come here and do their duty, that is my opinion. I disapprove entirely of this mixed-up sort of arrangement for the election of a Senator in a body like this, especially as it is the first time there has been a Seanad in Ireland.

I wish to support the amendment. I think where a member has the majority of the Seanad he should command the respect of the Seanad. Under the proposal of Senator Fitzgerald, if a man comes here and there are 30 Senators, and if he has the support of 16 of these he is elected, because he has a clear majority of the Seanad. It seems the simplest arrangement, and far less complicated than the other one of eliminating one after the other. That in my experience in other places led to a good deal of finesse. I have seen men who had not a chance brought from the bottom of the poll and competing with the last candidate, thereby eliminating useful candidates. In my opinion, if a man comes here and commands the respect of the Seanad, so as to secure a majority, then he should be entitled to the respect shown to him by the Seanad, and be thereby elected. I feel that strongly. I do not suppose the occasion will ever arise, but if this Seanad will ever arrive at a stage in which they might resolve themselves into a clique that clique might so arrange that the man with the second or third majority might be ruled out of all subsequent voting. I feel strongly Senator Fitzgerald's proposal is a wiser one, and for that reason I would like to suggest, from the little experience I have had, that it might work better.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

May I point out that there is a misapprehension in your mind, that the adoption of this amendment by Senator Fitzgerald might lead to the very danger and difficulty you yourselves anticipate,i.e., that a certain section of the Seanad might vote solidly for one candidate and thereby exclude better men who came No. 2 or No. 3. That is the very thing I am afraid is likely to happen if you adopt this idea of having but one vote and giving the election to the candidate who secures the majority on the one large ballot.

Surely if a man commands the respect of the Seanad, sufficient to get the majority of the votes, he ought to be entitled to be elected a member of the Seanad.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH.

That is an obvious truism, but how are we to arrive at the result? What I mean, Senator, is that the very evil you anticipate, that is to say a particular section of the Seanad might vote solidly for one man, and might exclude better candidates who are lower down on the list. That is the very danger that is likely to happen if you decide the whole thing on one ballot.

I think you misinterpret my amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

We will hear you when the debate on your amendment is finished.

I feel that I must vote against this amendment, and the reason I vote against it is that while I am in favour of the idea of the majority carrying the Senator to the Seanad, there appears to me to be underlying the discussion all along the fact that there must be 16 or 17, or 18 members voting in favour before any Senator is elected. That underlies Senator Fitzgerald's motion. I do not see why, if all the important business of this Seanad can be carried by seven Senators, there must be 18 to vote for one Senator, who may be a dummy Senator. Surely it is not altogether so important that we should have the whole lot here. It appears to me that a great number of the Senators look upon this as a spare time job—that they can come here when they like and stay away when they like, and that the elections will be kept over until they can come, when their own business allows them. Some of us look upon it as a duty to be here at every meeting, and I think this should be the outlook of all the Senators —that they should be here, especially at the present time. It is not a question of delaying a meeting until you get eighteen of the people you like best to turn up to elect your man. I think a majority vote is all right in so far as it goes, but underlying Senator Fitzgerald's idea, I think, is sixteen or eighteen of his own sort. Despite an anti-party vote here yesterday, one can see the party here just the same, though they do not wear the label up. That is really what is behind the whole thing—to ensure that if their business will not permit them to be here, that there will be a sufficient number here to carry one of their own party. It is about time that we said that the opinion voiced yesterday is going to hold—that is, about the abolition of parties. It is about time that an opportunity was taken to try and abolish parties, and to try and do the thing in a proper manner. The country expects you to do it in a proper manner. You are expected to be here at all times to do the nation's work in a proper manner, and not to come here when your business suits. And the election of a Senator here is just as much the nation's work as anything else that takes place here. If Senator Fitzgerald will qualify his amendment by saying he does not confine it to any number we may be able to vote for it; but if underlying the amendment is the idea of having fifteen or thirty of his own people to elect a man, then we will vote against it.

That will come up under 71.

But it will be brushed over if you allow this to go.

I do not know that we are particularly clear as to the procedure that Senator Fitzgerald proposes. I think the procedure outlined in these Clauses 67, 68, and 69 is quite all right, with the exception of the provision regarding the necessary three-fifths majority. I think there can be general agreement in letting this clause stand, with that exception. As has been pointed out already, far more important decisions than the election of a Senator to fill a vacancy can be carried by seven votes, and there is, moreover, the question of the quorum of thirty for such an election. That leaves the question open to considerable abuse. Can you not conceive a few men, seeing that there would not be much chance of having their nominee carried on a particular occasion, walking out of the Chamber and leaving less than thirty people inside, and thereby postponing the election to another day? Twenty-nine senators may stay here; and although twenty-nine, or five-sixths, might be in favour of the election of a particular nominee, the election might become inoperative because four or five Senators were smoking in the Lobby. As has been pointed out, they get fourteen days' notice, and there are equal facilities for all to attend here on an occasion of that kind, and if somebody is elected by a majority of those present who may not command the support of three-fifths of thirty or three-fifths of those who should be here, the responsibility lies with the people who are not here and should be here if they possibly could. Consequently I would support the amendment provided it means that the procedure outlined in this report is adhered to, and that the three-fifths majority and the thirty of a quorum be abolished, and that the bare majority should be sufficient to elect a Senator, in view of the complicated procedure outlined, and in view of the fact that fourteen days' notice has to be given.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Might I point out that Senator McPartlin is not really supporting the amendment. The amendment of Senator Martin Fitzgerald is very plain and simple—that there should be one ballot and one ballot only, and that the candidate elected——

No, no; that is what I wanted to question.

I think there is a misunderstanding.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Will Senator Martin Fitzgerald put his amendment in writing, before we discuss it any further I certainly understood that that was what it meant.

handed in his amendment in writing.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH.

I will read this to the Seanad. It is not quite clear to me. Perhaps the Seanad will understand it. I can only say that I think it shows the importance in a matter of this kind—a matter of serious importance— that amendments should be put down in writing:—

"That in the case of the election of a Senator to the Seanad, in case of more than one nomination, should any nomination for the Senatorship secure a clear majority of those present that he be elected. In the case of more than two nominees and a clear majority not being given to one, the nominee who gets the smallest number of votes be eliminated, and that the election proceed on the same basis for the other nominees."

If the Senators understand that they will be in a position to vote upon it.

Might I suggest that Senator Fitzgerald——

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

One moment. In view of what Senator McPartlin has said, it is only right that Senator Martin Fitzgerald should tell the Seanad does he propose to support or amend Clause 71?

In view of the remarks made by our friend of the Labour Party, and by our friend, the Earl of Mayo, I think I simply stand by the amendment I place before you.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Do you propose to amend Clause 71?

Yes—that a quorum of the Seanad simply fills the vacancy.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

In other words, your amendment is to take the place of not only 67, 68, 69 and 70, but also of 71.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Now I understand. I think we had better take a vote on that, if no other Senator wishes to speak.

It would make it more clear to members if you would read the amendment a second time.

Amendment read again.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I have read it as it has been handed to me.

Are the names of the candidates to be one after the other in voting?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I am not very sanguine, but if I am right, as I understand it, it means this,—that on the first election no matter how many candidates there are, if one of the candidates secures a clear majority of the members present and voting he is to be elected as the result of that first vote.

Who is to decide what name is to be put first?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think what the Senator means is that no matter how many candidates there will be the Seanad will be asked in the first instance to vote, each member voting for any cadidate he likes. I presume he intends to confine the right of voting to one candidate only no matter how many there may be, and apparently he contemplates that as a result of that first vote any one candidate who obtains a clear majority of the Senators present is to be declared elected. But if he fails to get that majority then there is to be another vote, and the one who receives the smallest number of votes on the second ballot is to be eliminated. I should have thought that what should have happened would be that if in the second ballot any candidate gets a clear majority he should be elected. This means that the whole thing should be re-drafted because it is unworkable at present.

The whole thing has been sprung upon us.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I am told you were asked, a considerable time ago, to put this into writing.

No, it was only a while ago, and, of course, I had to listen to the discussion. I could not write and listen to the discussion at the same time.

I suggest that Senator Fitzgerald adds to the end of his amendment that the voting then proceeds until one of the candidates secures a majority of those present. I think that would cover the point.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

He would also have to provide as to what the voting powers of the members of the Seanad on the first ballot are. Does he intend to confine each Senator to a vote for one candidate only?

Naturally this is not Proportional Representation. The whole difficulty is met by saying that if on the first vote a person receives a clear majority, or on the second vote he receives a clear majority, he is elected.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

If there are five candidates—do you propose when the first vote is taken amongst the five that each member of the Seanad is only to vote for one.

Yes, certainly.

Before we vote I think if this is carried it will go in as a Standing Order, and the wording of it could be vastly improved.

May I point out that the question of the deletion of Orders 67 to 72 should be voted upon first. If this amendment is carried it would absolutely delete all these clauses.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

You cannot move anything at present, because we are debating this amendment. If this amendment is carried Rules 67, 68, 69, 70 and 71 should go out.

If this amendment is moved, can we move a subsequent amendment?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Yes. I will have the roll called on the amendment moved by Senator Fitzgerald.

I feel unable to vote upon the amendment unless it is properly worded.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

If the Seanad will bear with me for a couple of minutes I will try and put it clearly. I presume that Senator Fitzgerald intends that the vote is to be by ballot.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I will put the amendment then in this form:—"That a vote by ballot shall be taken as between persons nominated, each Senator voting for one name only, and if upon such vote the candidate at the head of the poll obtains a clear majority of the members present and voting, he shall be declared elected. Otherwise further ballots shall be taken until a candidate has obtained this majority the candidate who at each of these further ballots obtains the smallest number of votes being eliminated."

There is little difference in principle between what is now proposed and the amendment which I proposed. I think I will save the time of the Seanad by withdrawing my amendment and accepting this instead.

I think there is one important difference. I did not understand that Senator Linehan intended that Clause 71 should be eliminated.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

His amendment did not propose that. Let the Seanad clearly understand that this amendment of Senator Martin Fitzgerald is in lieu not only of four clauses, but of five. In other words, if it is carried, Rules 67, 68, 69, 70, and 71 go out.

What is a clear majority?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

If there were 41 voting, 21 would be a clear majority. In other words, it is a bare majority.

If there should be two or three or more vacancies, will the same machinery apply?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Yes; the same machinery will apply, certainly.

I think we are not showing a great deal of courtesy to the Committee who drew up these Standing Orders. We are trying to get a very democratic method of election, but we must not ignore the fact that in Rules 67, 68, and 69 the Committee have taken very elaborate precautions to prevent any rushing of a vote, and I take it for granted that our Committee have considered these things very carefully, and if we adopt Senator Fitzgerald's amendment now we will be sweeping away all these things. I do not think that many of us realise what we are sweeping away. The Committee very elaborately considered these matters, and it seems to me to be wrong to sweep away a lot of things to obtain one. The quorum is to be the same as is necessary for the rest of the business of the House, because you are doing away with clause 71. The amendment wants a majority of the Senators present to vote, and the numbers present should be sufficient to form a quorum to carry on an election; but to secure that object, which many of us may think quite right, we are doing away with clauses that must have been put forward for some reason by the Committee, and I think before we do that we ought to hear some members of the Committee, to tell us what value there is in these, and what parts we might sweep away without doing any harm. There is a good deal to be said for the real gist of Senator Fitzgerald's amendment, because I doubt if it was wise to alter the quorum. We should trust our Senators to attend in sufficient numbers to enable a proper vote to be taken. I should vote probably in favour of not altering the quorum, but I do not think that, in order to secure that result, we should do away with all the other recommendations in Rules 67, 68, and 69 made by the Committee.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

If it would meet the views of the Senators perhaps Rules 67, 68, 69 and 70 could be allowed to stand with ‘3/5ths" altered to a bare majority and rule 71 deleted. Perhaps that would meet the view of the majority of the Senators.

It is possible that through some calamity or other Senators might not be able to attend. There might be a breakdown on the railways and Senators might not be able to turn up, and in that case would not 5 or 6 have the right if they turned up to insist on a vote?

You should have 12, and I had intended to move something on the lines the Cathaoirleach suggested. I suggest that we should now leave the Standing Orders as they are, only deleting the words "3/5th" in Orders 68 and 70, and deleting rule 71. You will then have left what I will describe as considerable machinery and you will have done away with the 3/5ths and the 30 as a quorum.

I entirely agree with the last Senator.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think that I will see that those Clauses are amended to fall in with that view because I think it is an advantage to have a weeding out of the candidates. I think these rules are wiser in that respect, and if you provide this weeding-out, then it meets the very point that Senator Linehan is anxious to bring about, and if the Seanad leave it to me, I will try to meet their view and do away with the quorum of 30 as distinct from a quorum of 12. I think it would be desirable that the Committee be appointed and I think Senator Douglas is prepared to move the appointment of such a Committee.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.

I think that any important Committee that is appointed should have power to deal with further Standing Orders that will be necessary in relation to Private Bill legislation. Anybody at all familiar with the Private Bill legislation in the Houses of Parliament at Westminister, knows that very careful and very minute Standing Orders are required for the purpose of Private Bill Legislation, and these Orders provide for the payment of fees. I have frequently heard that the expenses of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster are largely met by fees paid upon Private Bill legislation. It would be a very desirable thing if the Committee would bear these points in mind when considering the new Standing Orders.