INDEMNITY (BRITISH MILITARY) BILL. - MESSAGE FROM THE DÁIL.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

The first business on the Orders of the Day is the message from the Dáil, which the Clerk will now read.

CLERK of the SEANAD

The following is the message:—"I have to inform you that the following resolution was passed by Dáil Eireann on the 13th January, 1923:—‘That the Bill be recommended to Seanad Eireann, with the following message:—" Dáil Eireann again desires the agreement of Seanad Eireann to the Indemnity (British Military) Bill, 1923, and while appreciating the reasons stated by Seanad Eireann for adjourning consideration of the Bill, urges upon the Seanad that the object which both Houses have in view would be best attained by the speedy passage of the Bill into law."'"

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

There has been a certain amount of misunderstanding with regard to the position of this Bill. As I under stand it, the resolution passed by the Seanad adjourned consideration of the Bill—that is, held it up, as it is entitled to do under the Constitution; and if no further action is taken by Seanad during the period of 270 days, then the Bill would automatically become law, as we have no power to hold it up for any longer period. It has been stated in the Press that the Bill was returned from the Seanad to the Dáil. That is a mistake. A message was sent by the Clerk informing the Dáil of our decision, but it is not correct to state that the Bill was returned. A message has now been received from the Dáil with reference to this Bill. The Standing Orders which we passed made no provision for the procedure to be adopted in the event of a message being received from the Dáil. We have already referred the question of the relations of the two Houses, including a question such as the receipt of a message or the sending of a message, to our Standing Orders Committee, and we will in due course receive a report from them, proposing, no doubt, additional Standing Orders to deal with such matters. Having no Standing Orders at the moment to deal with this matter, it seemed to me the right course was to place the message received from the Dáil on the Orders of the Day. If the Seanad desires to act in accordance with the message that has been received, it would be necessary first of all to table a motion for the rescinding of the previous motion, and for that purpose the assent of twenty Senators would be required. I understand the President intends to speak on the subject matter of this message. Meantime I think we will be quite in order in discussing the message for at least a reasonable time without any formal resolution.

I understood there would be no discussion on that particular message to-day. I had a motion to bring forward dealing with the matter, but as you have stated that the whole thing is to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee I do not see that there is any necessity for a discussion now. Of course we will be delighted to hear the President speaking, but as far as the message from the Dáil is concerned I think it should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.

This Bill that the Dáil has asked you to reconsider is an Amnesty Bill which has been passed by the Dáil in pursuance of a Proclamation issued by the late Commander-in-Chief, General Collins, on the 10th February, 1922, reading as follows:—

"Now that a Treaty of Peace has been concluded between the peoples of Ireland and Great Britain, the Provisional Government hereby decree a General Amnesty in respect of all acts committed in the course of the recent hostilities. This amnesty extends to all members of the naval, military, police or civil services of the British Government, and all other persons by whom acts of hostility against the Irish people were committed, aided or abetted, whether in Ireland or elsewhere, during the past six years, and the full protection of the law will be afforded to all such persons against violence or injury of any kind.

"The Provisional Government appeal to all Irish citizens to respect this amnesty in the spirit and in the letter. In this, as in other matters, we must not suffer ourselves to be outdone by our late enemies in seeking that the wrongs of the past may be buried in oblivion."

That is the spirit in which the Dáil considered this Bill, not as a matter of bargaining, not as a contract or an agreement between one side and another, but rather as an act of grace and something in regard to which, even if it were a thing that the other side agreed to this proposal in principle and did not, perhaps, act in the way in which everybody anticipated, at any rate it could not be said of us that we did not perform our duty with regard to those who were our late enemies in anything but a spirit of the most perfect goodwill and cordial co-operation towards wiping out all the bitternesses and all the troubles that we experienced during the last few years. It was not in any spirit of bargaining that the late Commander-in-Chief issued that Proclamation, and in any of the business that we have had under consideration in the Dáil, at no time can it be said that we traded on the memory of the late Commander-in-Chief or the late President. In every act that we carried out, or in the performance of any duty that we have had to discharge, we at all times endeavoured to carry out in the spirit and the letter, so far as it lay in our power, any undertaking or any promise given by either of those two great Irishmen. In pursuance of that we passed this Amnesty Bill, and the Dáil, in the same spirit, ask the reconsideration by this Seanad of that measure, and ask that it should be passed in the same spirit of good-will, and with the same generous, cordial feeling that has been shown in the Dáil. I think that if the matter be considered in the light of the possible result of the Seanad holding up this Bill in pursuance of the resolution that they have adopted, it will be seen at once that a certain number of months will pass by and the Bill will automatically come into operation, and be passed into law over the head of this Assembly. That is certainly a thing that I think, on consideration, the members of the Seanad would not wish.

This is the first occasion on which I have addressed the Seanad. We all understand the difficulty of arranging business between the two Houses, and of the attendance of Ministers here for the consideration of decisions, or the reconsideration of decisions, that have been arrived at by either House. That is a matter which, I expect, will have to be dealt with rather delicately. I think the Senators, generally, will not quarrel with me if I say, that this Seanad represents all sections of the community in the country. It may, perhaps, not represent all sections of the country in the proportion in which the country could be best represented if we were to take into consideration the various elements in it which require representation, but I put it to Senators, that in this matter, if there were any objection, it ought to come from the House in which popular feeling is more generously represented perhaps than it is here, and that this Seanad, as it is constituted, can scarcely have a quarrel with the individuals who took part in any act of hostility which we are seeking, by this particular instrument. to wipe out from our memory. One particular objection put forward against the passing of this Bill was, that at least one prisoner, or possibly more prisoners, had not been liberated. I believe, and I explained at some length in the Dáil in connection with that particular prisoner Mr. Dowling, that I was not personally acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, or so completely in touch with the activities of Mr. Dowling as to enable me to make the representations that might otherwise be made if it were a thing that I had complete and ample information as to his activities. It prejudiced to some extent my representations to the British Government, but it did not, in my opinion, prejudice the case of Mr. Dowling. If the interests of this Seanad are bound up in that particular case, I suggest, for the most careful consideration of the Seanad, that the interest of this particular man are not served by holding up this Bill. We have taken up the cases of prisoners who, properly speaking, do not come within the terms of this amnesty that was published by the late General Collins, or the amnesty that was passed by the British Government. We have succeeded in a great many cases. We have not succeeded in all cases. I have yet to meet the man who has succeeded in everything he has undertaken. I suppose it would not be disrespectful of me to refer to some of the arguments put forward here for holding up this Bill. They are arguments that are new to me. I trust the gentlemen who made those remarks will not take it that I intend to be in any way disrespectful, but I must say that the particular line of argument pursued did not appeal to me, because for some years past I have been in touch with, I think, most of the people who represent popular opinion in this country, and I do not know that at any time during that period any big body of opinion in this country clung to, or reposed any great faith in, the institution known as the United Kingdom. It did not appeal to people. A very large section of the country supported the idea that the Union was an immoral thing—that it was not an Act that any country could legitimately, or legally, attach any real signification to. From that point of view, instead of the term "the United Kingdom," for the last twenty years I have myself always heard people speak of England, Ireland, and Scotland as the Three Kingdoms, but that is simply an aside. The real thing that we are endeavouring to do, and that has prompted the introduction and passing of this Act, is that even though there may be some misgivings in the minds of people that the British Government has not, perhaps, done all that we would wish them to do, that we at any rate, on our side, desire to show that, as far as the individuals are concerned who were engaged in active hostility against us for the past, five, six, or seven years, we are prepared to wipe out all these differences; that we want to start anew, and wish to have no bitter memories; and that, as far as we are concerned, we freely and fully forgive them. It is in that spirit that I commend the consideration of this Bill to the Seanad, asking them to pass it in the same way as the Dáil was asked to pass it, and to do that fine act of grace.

I understand that we are not at present in a position, or entitled by the Orders of the Seanad, to speak on this matter, or raise any discussion on it whatsoever. That cannot be done until a memorandum has been signed by 20 members asking that the question be re-opened. I wish to know if I am right in that view?

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

My understanding of the position is that we cannot take any stage of the Bill until the previous resolution has been rescinded in accordance with the Standing Orders, which means that a resolution rescinding it must be tabled, showing the assent, in writing, of 20 Senators. I do not think, however, it is out of order to discuss the message that has been received from the Dáil. We can do that without prejudice to any future orders that we may make with regard to messages passing between the two Houses.

Am I entitled to speak in answer to the President?

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

Yes.

I thought not, myself. I wish to say a few words in reply to the President's statement. At the outset I desire to mention that I have myself tabled a resolution which I may mention is in agreement with the proposal made by the President to the effect that we should agree to continue the discussion on the Amnesty Bill. I think, considering that the Government have taken upon themselves the responsibility in this matter, it would be wrong for us to step in and continue to object any longer. That is my personal view. I have, therefore, tabled a resolution, and any Senator who desires to sign it can do so. The resolution asks that the Amnesty Bill be again brought before the Seanad, and if 20 members sign the resolution that can be done, as I understand from the Deputy-Chairman. That is all I have to say on that point. With regard to what the President has said just now, I must take great exception to his statement that the members of the Seanad are not as much interested in the prisoners as the Dáil. In my opinion the members of the Seanad are just as much interested in the prisoners as are the members of the Dáil, or any other popular assembly, and they have a keen desire to see all the Irish prisoners in England, or elsewhere, liberated at once. I hold, too, that the members of the Seanad are just as much entitled as the President or members of the Dáil to make a fight for the release of these men, and I think the suggestion that there is any difference of right, as between the members of the two Houses, to take steps in the matter should not be made. I have been mixed up in matters of this kind all my life, even, perhaps, before the President was interested in them, or, probably, before he was born. Therefore I really resent now that he is my junior, his coming in here and saying I have no longer any right to have an opinion on that subject because I am a member of the Seanad. It seems to me quite an extraordinary statement. I dare say that the President really did not mean any such thing.

I do not think he said any such thing.

I hope not. I think he referred to some arguments of mine with reference to the United Kingdom, and made a statement that there was no such thing as a United Kingdom. I am quite in accord with him in that matter. In the arguments I used I took the English point of view, and argued from that point of view, from the English constitutional point of view that they had no right to hold our prisoners. In the same way he says he has known a great many people who do not recognise the United Kingdom. I do not differ very much from him in that.

Is this discussion in order in the present form?

I was told I was in order before I got up.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

I have already stated that we had no Standing Orders dealing with the receipt of messages from the Dáil, and I suggested it would be convenient until we got those Standing Orders that a reasonable time might be allowed to discuss a message from the Dáil, as an act of courtesy, and I understood I had the assent of the Seanad in allowing the discussion.

The argument I put forward, and which I am trying to maintain was that whether it was the United Kingdom or three separate Kingdoms— and mind you his argument is more in favour of what I brought forward than my own, as I was arguing from the English constitutional point of view, and if there was any such thing as a United Kingdom or if there were three separate Kingdoms, what the President says holds then all the more—England has no right to keep our prisoners, because they are keeping prisoners belonging to a foreign State. Whichever way you put it my argument holds—whether there was never a United Kingdom, or whether it is a United Kingdom no longer. What I put forward before was that the military authorities of that day had the right from their point of view, from the point of view of military discipline, to punish people who mutinied. Those soldiers, whether Irish or not, enlisted under regulations which they understood perfectly well. I am not going to question that. What I do say is that once the two countries became separate Ireland had the right to her prisoners just the same as England had to hers, and that we had no right to keep English prisoners in our prison any more than England had to keep our prisoners in hers. The two countries are equal. Although they may have had the right to keep their prisoners in until the Treaty, once the Treaty was passed it became illegal and a breach of the Treaty to hold them, because I hold that the two countries are equal, and each had a right to claim back its prisoners. If that is not so—if England, as a superior Power, has a right to keep our prisoners, then we are not equal. Not only Irish citizens but Irish soldiers like Dowling owe their allegiance only to the Free State. If that is not so, I will have to change my opinion very much about this Treaty. I think all Irishmen would have to do so—because it would recognise England as a superior Power. If I am a believer in the Treaty and in the Constitution, England and Ireland are equal. So far, at all events, the Treaty between the two countries does not cover it. I think I will not go beyond that now. It would be too long. I have answered the two arguments put forward by the President.

I only want to correct what, in my opinion, is a misunderstanding of the President's position, and the position he took up in his statement to you. I think Senator Moore has made a grave mistake in attributing to the President any desire to belittle our representative position. There is no doubt—I do not think anybody here would deny it—that the Dáil more fully represents the popular feeling than we do. Fully half of the Seanad were indebted to nominations as representing certain interests. Therefore, although I am sure our opinions are of extreme value, yet I do not think we could claim that they are quite as representative as those of the Dáil. I only wish to draw your attention to what I think must be a misconception on the part of Senator Moore.

I am sure it is unnecessary to state, notwithstanding some flippant statements in another place to the contrary, that those of us who voted for the adjournment of this measure had only one object in view, and that was the release of the few unhappy men condemned to spend the best years of their lives behind English prison bars for political offences committed prior to, or immediately after, the signing of the Truce. We were anxious, and are still anxious, for obvious reasons, to obliterate every unpleasant reminder of an era fraught with racial strife, hatred, and bitterness, so that the atmosphere in which the new State is struggling for existence and stability might not be poisoned by the tainted breeze from the past. I think if some of the statements made to-day on the part of the Government had been made when the Bill was introduced on the last occasion, our decision might possibly have been different. It is hard to understand how it comes about that the English, who honoured the other implications of the Treaty in a fairly reasonable manner, should spoil the moral effect of much that has been done by clinging tenaciously to a few prisoners where thousands have been released. In view of the remarks made by the President to the effect that it is the opinion of him and his Cabinet, and, indeed, of the Dáil, that the best interests of these men would be served by passing this Bill, I believe that we should hardly be justified in adhering to the policy of holding it up until the last of the hostages is released. But it should be made clear that if the Bill is passed as a result of these statements, that on the people responsible for them will naturally rest the main responsibility for the ultimate result. I presume we should feel grateful, and should express our gratitude, for the many well-meant hints and more or less weighty lectures to which we, as an Assembly, have been treated during the discussion on this and other measures in another place. Well, one can understand the anxiety of a father as to the good conduct of his first-born, but one might also reasonably question the wisdom of rebuking or punishing a child in anticipation of some shortcomings or indiscretions of which he might possibly be guilty in the dim and uncertain future. For the sake of the child we hope that in this particular instance he will profit by the shortcomings and indiscretions of his father, rather than blindly follow his example. I am sure we are very grateful to our overzealous parent, three months our senior, but we would respectfully remind him— and I am now speaking collectively of another place—that the possession of power, either real or assumed, should not in itself be sufficient justification for dispensing with the elementary rules of courtesy and etiquette, and that the line between comedy, such as that which has been displayed elsewhere, and another accomplishment of a less flattering description is a somewhat narrow one, which not even an old man, having any regard for his own dignity or self-respect should cross very lightly.

When this Bill was brought before us, if there had been a Minister here, a representative of the Government, to tell us what the Government's intentions were, and what they wanted us to do, then I think this Bill would have been passed immediately. Senator Moore's motion would probably have been discussed, and that discussion would have served all the purposes that Senator Moore wished. The disability we labour under here is that we have no representative of the Government in this Seanad. We should, at least, have a couple of Ministers here, men who, on such occasions as this, would put before us the intentions of the Government. Then a deadlock of this description would not arise. Of course, as it has arisen we shall have to adopt whatever course the Standing Orders say should be applied to this motion. I think Senator Moore in his references to the President did not quite understand or accurately quote him. The President did not want to draw, I am sure, the distinction that Senator Moore put in his mouth as to the relative merits of the two Houses in discussing a question of this kind. I hope that the President will begin to rearrange his Cabinet, and when he finds an opportunity of creating another Minister, that he will select a Minister from this Seanad, and, therefore, that the Minister will be able to interpret the wishes of the Government to us.

I think that this debate is an illustration of the extreme difficulty under which we are endeavouring to carry on our business. Of course, in the beginning we must expect a certain amount of difficulty in working the machinery of legislative administration. It is no harm perhaps, that these difficulties should arise. In a sense, the sooner they arise the better, because then we may be able to take whatever steps are necessary to remedy them. I have listened to the President, and I have listened to Senator Moore. If I might deal with the President's speech first, I do not think there was any intention on the part of the President to lecture this Seanad. Some of my colleagues seem to imagine that there was. I do not think so. I am not very much a believer in lectures, because they are always open, at all events, to a reply, and if one party starts the lecture, then the other is bound to reciprocate, and that might lead us into all kinds of curious channels. I do not think the President had any intention of lecturing us. On the other hand, I do not think that Senator Moore was desirous of doing anything very unkind to the President or to anyone else, and I quite sympathise with him in his desire to see these prisoners released. He has a perfect right to express these sentiments; so have we all the right to express all our sentiments without being accountable to anybody except ourselves for the expressions to which we give utterance. As I understand the situation at the present moment, it is this: An amnesty was agreed upon at the time of the Treaty by England and Ireland. It was agreed by the negotiators on both sides that a general Act of Amnesty should be passed, and that England should do her part in the matter of passing an Indemnity Act and Ireland should do the same. I understand England has passed her Indemnity Act. I take it she has. We are now in process of passing our Indemnity Act.

I doubt if that is so; but I am open to correction. The President might inform us. He may have more information than we have.

I do not like to interrupt the Senator speaking.

I proceed on that assumption that England has not passed its Indemnity Act. If England has not passed an Indemnity Act, then that complicates the situation. I understood that she had, and that she was acting upon that Indemnity Act in releasing certain Irish prisoners. Certain Irish prisoners have been released. The Connaught Rangers in India have been released.

Not in that way.

I am sorry to say I am not very well posted in these matters. That was the general situation as I understood it. Proceeding with that argument, I should say, if you are going to make peace, make peace and be done with it. There is no use in carrying on these inveterate sores and these ancient blisters that do so much to make bad feeling between the two countries. I absolutely agree with Senator Moore. He expresses the sentiments that I have held all my life, that England and Ireland are two equal countries and in all their dealings with one another the proper position for them to take is that they areex aquo. Ireland treats with England as an equal sovereign nation and England treats with Ireland as an equal sovereign nation. Then we come to the practical point; what can we do in this matter? I understand that there are either one or two prisoners still in English gaols; one prisoner called Dowling, who I understand was associated with Sir Roger Casement in the landing.

No, it was afterwards.

Then I am wrong. At all events he was put in prison because of some action he took in connection with Irish politics. I would put it to the English Government, ‘What earthly good does it do them to keep this man in prison? If you are going to have an amnesty why not let him out?" Certainly in his endeavours to release Dowling Senator Moore has my entire sympathy. I think the only question now is what can we do. We perform a gracious act, if we say to the English people, "Well, we rely upon your goodwill and we rely on you to reciprocate it; we rely on you to pass this Act—we will not say on the understanding that our prisoners are to be released—we will not put it that way, but we expect that you will take note of this proceeding and that whatever Irish prisoners you have you will treat them as we would treat English prisoners if we had them under our control." The situation is really a bit awkward. Our Standing Orders afford us an excuse for delaying the matter a little bit longer, but inasmuch as peace is made, or said to have been made between these two countries by the Treaty I for one would not be prepared to put relatively small impediments in the way of a better understanding. I think both England and Ireland should try to forget their differences and should try to be friends in future, and, so far as we are concerned, if we can help in any way I should be very glad to help in that direction. Whatever action Senator Moore sees fit to take in the matter of asking the Seanad to reconsider this he can count on my support. I think he has done very well so far as he has gone, and he has certainly called attention to a case that should have been attended to, and I think the President has also treated us with his customary courtesy and he has made his case plain. If we are not correctly informed in the matter he will inform and correct us, but I would again remind the Seanad of the extreme difficulty we are in, and have been in, from the beginning in conducting our business and co-operating so far as we may in the government of the country owing to the peculiar relations that exist between our chamber and the other chamber.

We are sitting here under a definite Constitution. It has never been suggested in the Dáil that we have exceeded our powers. I think we did what we have a perfect right to do, and if we are now adopting a different attitude, it is because the mature opinion of the Government is that these prisoners run a better chance of being liberated by such action as we are asked to take by the President, and it is largely as an act of grace that we would be inclined to vote for the recision of the previous resolution. We were told, apparently, in the other House that we were not to be taken seriously. Well, we took ourselves seriously, and apparently our action made the other House take us so seriously that it was necessary for the President to come here to cool our temperature. He has not cooled me so far. I would still resist if I thought my action would release one prisoner. We spoke fully before about what we felt. I shall not allude to this again; but this I shall say, that we did not exceed cur powers, and when the day comes I hope we may still make good, even as we have done in this Bill; and, as a cooling Chamber, having cooled, that we may do useful work, and even, having cooled, that we may incubate. I feel strongly that we can do many things, and as a supporter of the original Resolution, and as an act of grace to the President and his Cabinet, I will vote for rescinding the Resolution.

Would I be in order in moving that we should proceed now? If the Resolution is lying for signature, I am sure there are twenty here prepared to sign immediately and let us get on.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

I understand that Deputy Colonel Moore has handed in a Resolution rescinding the previous Resolution which he moved, and which was adopted at the last meeting of the Seanad. If that is signed and handed in before the proceedings close to-day, it will then be possible, by leave of the Seanad, to put that Resolution, and to put the Second Stage of the Indemnity Bill on the Order Paper for to-morrow.

As Standing Orders have not already been adopted by the Seanad, would it not be possible to facilitate and to quicken matters if twenty Senators stood up in their places now, and give their consent to the withdrawal of the resolution? It would save time. We have not any Standing Orders and we are rather in a difficulty.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

I wish to point out that Standing Orders have been adopted, and we are acting on them.

I think I have a copy of them in my pocket. They are still subject to revision.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

They have been adopted by the Seanad for two months.

In answer to a point that was raised by Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde, who asked what act had been performed by the British Government in connection with this, I wish to say that a Royal Proclamation was issued giving a pardon—I forget the exact terms, I was ill at the time. It was published some time last year, but I have just remembered the circumstances, and I have had corroboration of that now from our Law Advisor, that that was the form in which their part of the transaction was completed.

Yes, it was done by Royal Proclamation which practically means the same thing as an Amnesty Act. I knew that something had been done.

I supported Senator Moore's Resolution, and, having heard the President, I hold the same attitude still. I think that in a matter of this sort the Dáil was rather premature in taking the initiative. Surely in the interchanges between the two Governments on a matter of this sort of mutual interest and of mutual concern some pour-parlers might reasonably have been expected in order to test the attitude of the English Government with regard to the entire matter of the withholding of the freedom of the Irish prisoners in her jails, and then Bills could have been introduced at the same time, both in the English Parliament and in the Dáil. I am sure the matter would have gone through. I have not the sublime faith in British Ministers that some in this Seanad seem to have; I do not think that anything in her history, or in the history of the connection between the two countries, would justify us in even hoping that these prisoners would be released as a result of this act of grace which we are now asked to perform. All our history points in the opposite direction. Any generous conduct on the part of Ireland in the past has not been responded to by the English Government. Whether the altered relations now may change their attitude or not. I do not know, but it has always been the practice of England in her dealings with Irish affairs, and with Irish requests to keep what is generally termed as something up her sleeve, to keep something in reserve in order that afterwards when pressure is applied, and more than pressure, when threats have been applied, that England might have it in her power to make some gracious concession. That has always been our experience of the attitude and the practice of the British Government in the past. Now, it may be different to-day. I do not know what private information the President may have as to the general feeling on the other side. The Minister may have some private information which would warrant him in coming to the Seanad, and assuring us, and it is on his assurance we are now going to act, that it will be in the best interests of the prisoners that we should withdraw our opposition. We are entirely acting upon that now in what we are to do, on the assurance the President has given us on what warrant and what foundation he knows best himself, but if the prisoners are still withheld after we withdraw our opposition, unreasonably withheld, certainly the blame cannot rest with the Seanad.

May I say that there may possibly be some misinterpretation of what I said. I would not like it to be understood that I gave any guarantee, or that I indicated that any representations have been made to me that in the event of this Bill being passed these prisoners would be released. I wish that to be understood. I do not think I permitted myself to give any undertaking of that sort. I simply say that in my opinion the best interests of the prisoners are not served by holding up this Bill. Nothing more than that I can tell you.

May I ask the President one question, because we may not have the opportunity of seeing him again. I hope we shall, but he might not be able to turn up at the moment. I notice in this Amnesty Bill the amnesty applies only to unconvicted prisoners or the prisoners who are suffering imprisonment which may be given under a higher judicial authority. It does not, as I understand—I may be quite wrong, and I am merely asking his opinion—I think it does not apply to prisoners who are already convicted and lie in jail and can make no appeal. In that case if a similar Amnesty Bill was passed in England it would not cover the cases of some of those men lying in prison. I may be wrong about that, and that is why I questioned the President.

I have gone through this Bill, but I have forgotten the exact details. I have so many Bills under consideration that it is utterly impossible to keep each in my head. I will look the matter up, and communicate with the Senator.

AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH

I propose to proceed with the next business on the Orders of the Day. If during this meeting of the Seanad the necessary signatures are handed in, I will then put it to the Seanad whether it is to be taken as an urgent motion by leave.