SEANAD RESUMES. - PUBLIC SAFETY (EMERGENCY POWERS) BILL—FOURTH STAGE.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I have just been informed that, in view of certain things that occurred this morning, the Government deem it absolutely essential that, if possible, the Report Stage of the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill should be taken to-day. The Minister in charge of the Bill is here, and perhaps the Seanad would give him permission to make a statement.

Permission granted.

The position with regard to this Bill is one that I desire to put frankly before the Seanad. Prisoners have been held for many months now by the common law powers of the military— by the powers inherent in the military when dealing with a situation of war or armed revolt. There was no statutory power for the holding of those prisoners, and it is possible that the Courts, having regard to the marked improvement in the country within the past few months, may decide that, although arms are secreted throughout the country, and although there is an organisation challenging the existing fabric of the State, a condition of war or armed revolt does not exist. If the Courts were to decide that, the Executive would have no legal authority for the holding of any prisoners, and would have no option but to release on the country the ten or twelve thousand prisoners now held. That is the position which I would ask Senators to consider. It would involve the immediate and indiscriminate release of all who are now in military custody. That consideration raises a position of urgency in the matter of the passing of this Bill. A habeas corpus application is at present under consideration by the Judges, and I understand that a decision may be given to-morrow morning. It is eminently desirable that the Executive should have legal authority for detaining prisoners, as distinct from the common law powers of the military, by to-morrow morning, and I would ask the indulgence of Senators for the consideration of the Report Stage of this Bill now.

In view of the fact that this Bill is being brought forward now I am afraid that there will be a great deal of confusion and inconvenience caused, because there were some amendments which we had intended moving on the Third and Fourth Stages, and the Minister promised to accept some of them.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I will see that there is the fullest opportunity for putting forward these amendments. It is only right that that should be done.

SECTION 1.

I beg to move an amendment, in Section 1, paragraph (b), line 3, that the words “for reasons stated” be deleted.

They are already deleted. I was going to raise the point that the amendment moved by me deleted them. If I remember aright we put in the words "certify in writing that he is satisfied." I was going to move to insert the words "certify in writing that for the reasons stated he is satisfied," in order to keep within the original.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I distinctly recollect the Minister saying that in one part of the Bill the expression "for reasons stated" got in by inadvertence. I think that is in Section 2, Sub-section (2). Does Senator Mrs. Wyse Power intend her amendment to apply to Section 2 Sub-section (2)?

I have one for that. I withdraw the other.

My amendment would be to insert the words "certify in writing that for reasons stated he is satisfied." I quite recognise the Minister's point with regard to the later section but I think it would simplify the passage of the Bill if they were inserted here.

My objection to the words is based on technical, legal grounds. I am advised that if such words appeared in the Bill the courts would, or might, deem it within their competence to call for those reasons, and even to pronounce upon their sufficiency or otherwise. That is the only objection. In fact and in practice it is extremely probable that the reasons will be stated in the report. In fact, it is certain that they will be. It is to the insertion of the words in the Bill that the objection is. I am strongly advised not to accept an amendment in these terms.

I suggest that the Minister can solve the difficulty by agreeing to the deletion of Sub-section (c) altogether. I do not think he is strong on it at all, and I intend moving the deletion of it if this amendment is not carried. I suggest that that is the simpler way.

I second Senator Douglas' amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It is proposed and seconded that the words "for reasons stated" be inserted in paragraph (c) of Section 1. These words had been expunged. Senator Douglas' amendment has restored them.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I now beg to move the deletion of Sub-section (c). As pointed out yesterday, every imaginable crime against the State that cannot be dealt with by the ordinary law is provided for in (a) and (b), while Section 2 governs the whole litany of crimes in Part 2 of the Schedule to the Act. This sub-section is absolutely unnecessary and the Minister himself will admit on examination of it that he has all the power necessary without it. He will, I know, accuse us of obstruction for moving these amendments and dividing the House upon them but I think he will himself be responsible if he does not give some consideration to this amendment. I hope he will accept it, because it is very hard to argue that the sub-section is necessary.

I second the amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I considered the complaint made yesterday with regard to the failure to record the votes of Senators who came in from outside before the actual poll was concluded. Until we have a Standing Order regulating the matter I have come to the conclusion that, in fairness, I will admit the vote of any Senator who comes into the Chamber before the poll is actually concluded.

I would suggest that you should also allow a member of the Seanad to change his vote.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That might lead to a great deal of loose voting. I really think that a Senator ought to be presumed to have sufficient intelligence to know on which side he is voting.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 22.

  • James Green Douglas.
  • William Cummins.
  • J.C. Dowdall.
  • Michael Duffy.
  • Thomas Farren.
  • Mrs. Alice Stopford Green.
  • Edward MacLysaght.
  • Thomas MacPartlin.
  • John Thomas O'Farrell.

Níl

  • John Bagwell.
  • William Barrington.
  • Thomas Westropp Bennett.
  • Peter de Loughry.
  • Dowager Countess of Desart.
  • Sir Nugent Everard.
  • Rt. Hon. The Earl of Granard.
  • Henry Seymour Guinness.
  • Cornelius J. Irwin.
  • Arthur Jackson.
  • Rt. Hon. A. Jameson.
  • Sir John Keane.
  • Patrick Williams Kenny.
  • The Earl of Kerry.
  • Joseph Clayton Love.
  • Edward MacEvoy.
  • James MacKean.
  • John MacLoughlin.
  • Michael O'Dea.
  • Col. Sir William Hutcheson Poe
  • Mrs. Jane Wyse Power.
  • William Butler Yeats.
Amendment declared lost.

I move in Section 2, sub-section 2, line 15 to delete the words "for stated reasons."

I second that.

I must oppose this amendment. It gives liberty to have citizens of this country ordered to be detained in custody without any reason being given and I will protest against that power——

The reason is that the Minister is of opinion that the public safety would be endangered by such person being at liberty.

There is no reason to be stated. The Minister may say that in his opinion it would be better for the public safety that a certain person ought not to be at liberty but that is not sufficient grounds for depriving a citizen of this country of his liberty. Every person is entitled to know what he is being detained for. If you claim the right to detain without trial or charge a prisoner, he has at least a right to be told why he is being detained. We opposed on the previous reading the giving of power either to the Minister or responsible Military or Police Officers to deprive people of their liberty without reasons being assigned. It is the most elementary principle of justice that a person should not be deprived of the most precious thing he could possess without at least being told the reason for it. I oppose the Bill and will continue to oppose it and obstruct it as far as I can. I am fighting for the liberty of the subject under this Bill and I will continue to fight for it, and I do not want to be misinterpreted in any way.

I think we are all fighting for the liberty of the subject and the liberty of more subjects than one, and under the special circumstances and the great emergency with which we are faced I do not see why obstruction should be pursued. We know what will happen if this Bill does not go through. The liberty of the subject is very dear to us and so is the liberty of the whole nation.

On a point of Order are Senators allowed to speak twice on the one subject?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I did not stop Mrs. Wyse Power, but our Standing Orders do not seem to provide for speaking twice on the same subject in Committee. The mover of a motion is generally permitted to reply but apparently our Standing Orders do not seem to provide for that. I think it is better, in view of the short time at our disposal, to confine Senators to one statement.

All of us are in favour of the liberty of the subject but we are not in favour of the unlimited licence of the subject to do whatever he may feel inclined to do lawfully or unlawfully, and we ought to be more concerned for the safety of the country. The man who is in prison is there for stated reasons. He has a record behind him for lawlessness and for doing that which he feels inclined to do by means or methods which commend themselves to him but not to any law abiding person. Apparently in prison he is unrepentant, and if set at liberty apparently he will pursue the same course for which he was arrested, and by which he menaces the safety not alone of the subject but of the whole community. He has power to disturb the peace of a whole district and to menace the lives of thousands of people. Is it contended here that so long as he continues that attitude in prison and out of it that we should release him in the interests of the liberty of the subject and place the unfortunate people of his district at his tender mercies?

If I might be allowed to use the words of the Minister for Home Affairs in the other House I never heard such a lot of unadulterated piffle as has been talked about this Bill. We are concerned with the number of honest law abiding citizens who may come within the clutches of this Bill. It is to protect their liberty and to see that the instrument used to punish criminals is not to be used against innocent men.

Senator O'Farrell should have made that discrimination before.

The statement of the last speaker suggests that I was out for people who commit violence. I think it is pretty well known——

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think Senator O'Farrell has made that point clear on your behalf. The amendment proposes to delete from Section 2, Sub-section (2), line 15, the words "for stated reasons."

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 11.

  • John Bagwell.
  • William Barrington.
  • Thomas Westropp Bennett.
  • John C. Counihan.
  • Peter de Loughry.
  • Dowager Countess of Desart.
  • Sir Nugent Everard.
  • The Earl of Granard.
  • Henry Seymour Guinness.
  • Cornelius Joseph Irwin.
  • Arthur Jackson.
  • Sir John Keane.
  • Patrick Williams Kenny.
  • The Earl of Kerry.
  • Joseph Clayton Love.
  • Edward MacEvoy.
  • James MacKean.
  • John MacLoughlin.
  • Michael O'Dea.
  • Col. Sir William Hutcheson Poe.
  • Mrs. Jane Wyse Power.
  • The Earl of Wicklow.

Níl

  • James Green Douglas.
  • William Cummins.
  • J.C. Dowdall.
  • Michael Duffy.
  • Thomas Farren.
  • Mrs. Alice Stopford Green.
  • Rt. Hon. Andrew Jameson.
  • Edward MacLysaght.
  • Thomas MacPartlin.
  • Col. Maurice Moore.
  • John Thomas O'Farrell.
Amendment declared carried.
Question: "That Sections 2, 3, and 4 stand part of the Bill," put and agreed to."
SECTION 5.

I move to delete Sub-section (4) which is a sub-section dealing with flogging. This amendment was moved on the Committee Stage of the Bill, and the reasons given then need not be repeated here. It is only necessary for me to say that I move the deletion of the sub-clause, because I believe there will not be a necessity for having it in the Bill.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Pardon me one moment. There is no provision in the Standing Orders dealing with the question of the right or power of a Senator to raise upon the Report Stage an amendment which has been rejected in Committee. The procedure in other cases varies. We have no Standing Orders on the subject, and all I wish to say while I am not going to prevent it on this Bill I do not want it to be regarded as a precedent that we should follow the practice by which an amendment rejected in Committee cannot be repeated on the Report Stage. Under the circumstances in which we are, and in view of this particular Bill I am not going to stop Senator Farren, but I do not want it to be set up as a precedent.

I do not want to set up a precedent. Am I in order to speak against the section?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think you are.

Amendment not proceeded with.

I want to move at the end of Sub-section (6), to add the following words: "And in no case shall the provision of this section become operative until the expiration of three months after the passing of this Act." I move that on the strength of a suggestion made yesterday when the section was under consideration. I hope it will appeal even to those who have supported the principle of flogging in the section itself. I think we can all hope to carry on for three months with the powers at the disposal of the State without having recourse to flogging. Without the lash we have made considerable progress. The result of accepting this will be that it will give the new Parliament the power to review the position if it so desires. It will give that Parliament the right to consider the Act, and repeal or amend it as it thinks fit. I think in debating a new principle of this kind of a very serious character in the dying hours of the Parliament, which for obvious reasons cannot be looked upon as representative as it might be, it is a dangerous thing to do, and the least that might be expected is that we should give the new Parliament an opportunity of considering it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Is it the whole section you wish that to apply to, or only Sub-section (4)?

The whole section. I will move it that way, although I only intended to move it in regard to Sub-section (4). With the leave of the Seanad I would like to amend it in that form. That would not mean that a crime committed after the passing of this Act shall not be amenable to the punishment set out under Sub-section (4). It would mean a postponement of the punishment. If the incoming Parliament desires it they can put the full section into operation after the period of three months has elapsed. My amendment now reads: "In no case shall the provision of Sub-section (4) become operative until the expiration of three months after the passing of this Act." These words are to be added to Sub-section (6).

I beg to support the amendment. I am sure no member of the Government looks with favour on the provisions of Sub-section (4). I think at best they regard it as rather a disrgaceful necessity, and I think this gives the Government an opportunity of seeing whether the law will assert itself, and if that is the case I am sure the Government is not anxious to put the provisions immediately into force.

If the next Parliament does not like this Bill, or any Section of this Bill, it can amend it in a single day by a one clause Bill. Senators are optimistic about the future. The future to be normal, or anything like normal, would want to be a big advance on the present. I do not know whether Senators are judging the country by the conditions in Dublin or the counties around Dublin, but there are large areas in the country where robbery under arms is at the moment routine. A Senator the other day handed me a list of raids on premises in Offaly. They have gone on steadily every second and third day right through May, June, and right up to July. If the Senator supporting the amendment is familiar, say, with what is happening in West Cork, as I think he is, I am rather surprised that he should support the amendment. At the moment, in certain areas, both of these offences are the normal and the routine, and imprisonment will not check them and deter the people who are living by their guns.

Imprisonment as a deterrent is largely blunted in this country for a combination of reasons. It is a fine thing to get up and speak humanitarianism and confine it to the criminal. It was a question of having pity on people who are under the the harrow, and taking steps necessary to stop the persecution. One can dilate on flogging, quote Parnell, talk about the British Army and Navy, and talk about the priests and clergymen of other religions who were persecuted in the past, but the bald fact remains that the only two classes of people against whom it is proposed to use the Bill is the man who robs with a gun, and the man who burns his neighbour's property, and not even to those who have done that in the past, as this Section does not apply to any offences committed before the date of the passing of this Act.

It is a fair warning to the gun-man and the torch-man, and we should really take a broad view of our responsibilities to the people of the country, and recognise that they have a right to be protected in person and property, and the means we are using, and the methods we are adopting to protect must be the methods that will, in fact, protect them. That is the case with this Bill, and this Sub-Section of the Bill. There is an absolutely indefeasible right in the people to live secure in their person and property. If imprisonment is not a deterrent, and I am absolutely satisfied it is not a deterrent, and is not going to be a deterrent, then we have no cause for not debating a measure that would be a deterrent. That is the problem that Senators, like the members of the Dáil, and members of the Executive Council have to face, that the Government is failing in its most elementary function in many areas. The Government cannot be allowed to fail here, and if it did fail here then the people of the country would have a perfect right to call upon a Government elsewhere to protect them.

For several reasons I agree with the amendment. But my main reason is that if those things are going to be inflicted just in front of a general election, I believe there are people on the other side who will say that it is not a free election, and who will go out and stop all elections. Half a dozen men would stop any election. I guarantee if you give me half a dozen men armed with revolvers and put those men in a motor car you can stop any election in Ireland. Last year in one constituency there were 170 polling booths, and if you wanted to protect all the polling booths you would want 100,000 men. How are you going to do that? People will say, if we are not going to have a free election we will have no election. Therefore, I strongly oppose those severe measures, and I cannot understand why the Government brought the amendment in, because, in my mind, it revolutionises all things. Now, it is said that no stated reason should be given. I have a strong objection to the clause as it stands. I fear it will cause the greatest damage. I was greatly surprised to hear from the Minister that the Government is failing in all its powers. I have heard the Minister say in every constituency: "What splendid people we are! We have established order, come along and give us your support. We are the only people."

Simply as a matter of information, I would like to know whether the Senator means by freedom of election freedom to burn your neighbour's house or to rob his property.

My objection was that it will upset the elections.

You said there was no freedom.

The Government said they succeeded splendidly, and now it is said that they have not. Although they failed by the bullet, we are now going to have the lash. I was down in Castlebar recently, and Ministers were stating what a wonderful success they had. Now the Ministers say the Government is failing in all its parts. Banks may be robbed and houses may be burned, but, if so, why go around the country and claim such wonderful success? I think the amendment was brought in most inadvisedly.

I am accustomed to debates both here and on the other side of the water, but really when Colonel Moore begins a speech which is most suitable for the hustings, I think it is time for someone to get up and make some objection to the Senator's statements. There is nothing personal in the matter, but really my own opinion is that he ought to keep entirely to the amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I could not find anything in Colonel Moore's speech out of order. He was clearly entitled to refer to the change in the Bill as a reason why he was going to support this amendment.

I think our views are pretty well known on that particular clause. It was threshed out very fully and very ably by almost every member of this Seanad. I think it is a pity that amendments considered yesterday should be re-opened to-day.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

No ruling of mine would affect this amendment which is clearly in order. This is the first time an amendment of this kind was put forward.

Colonel Moore tried to convey a more or less political impression that the freedom of elections was hindred by this particular clause and that it was aimed at political opponents. To my mind that is completely irrelevant to the clause we are discussing. This clause enables malefactors to be punished as we consider they deserve to be, and to postpone such punishment for a period of three months is, in other words, to make the clause inoperative. If arson or robbery with violence is occurring then I say it would be very improper for us to withhold further power to prevent such crimes taking place. I believe flogging is the only thing to prevent such crimes. Those may be the outcome of people who, cloaking themselves under nationality, try to become malefactors, men without an atom of nationality, men whose whole desire is against the nation, men who would stop at nothing to destroy the nation so that they would derive some little benefit from the ashes of what they burn. These are the men, men with souls, men determined to ruin this country, for whom it is now asked to delay punishment, which the Seanad yesterday declared to be useful as a preventative, and to allow them to go free for a period of three months.

I think the last Senator is under a gross misapprehension as to the nature and effect of this amendment. It is not proposed to take the power of punishment out of the hands of the Ministers. They can take steps which we cannot approve of. They can take immediate steps to detain those criminals in custody for a period of three months. That is the character of the amendment, and it would seem to me there is a great deal of confusion in the mind of the Minister. The Minister did not refer to this matter. He made no reference to the position, at all, taken up by Mr. O'Farrell, or to the fact that he still retains complete power over those people.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The amendment might have been framed to produce that result, the result which the Senator says it does produce, namely, that the punishment might be adjudged but not inflicted for three months. That is not the result of the amendment. As it stands at present the effect would be that no sentences of flogging could be imposed until the expiration of three calendar months from the date of the Bill. What Senator O'Farrell wants to procure is that although the sentence might be passed it should not be imposed until after the expiration of three months.

It is your interpretation of it I mean.

If we are going on like this we shall never get on with the work.

We all like to talk when our pockets are concerned. We do not like to talk on the liberties of the people.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Under the practice of the House of Commons any amendment rejected in Committee can be revived on the Report Stage. That is stated by Erskine May to be the practice of the House of Commons. The House of Commons procedure is not binding upon us, and we have not adopted it in our Standing Orders, and I am not going to rule that it is permissible to do this. In view of the present position I shall not make any such rulings until these Bills are put through.

This is a new amendment. If speeches have been made similar to those yesterday or any other day it is the fault of those making them. There is no use in trying to throw dust in the eyes of the assembly. We have declared our view that if crimes committed after the passing of this Act be punishable by the penalties here they should not be inflicted until the expiration of three months.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

You have now stated your object as the same as that stated by Senator Cummins.

What I mean is that no flogging sentences shall be passed or imposed until the expiration of three months. Before a division is taken I may state that my object is that while the punishment may be imposed it should not be inflicted.

This sub-section deals with people found guilty on indictment. That involves Sessions and there will be no Sessions until the next Parliament is in being. The next Parliament can repeal this measure by a one clause Bill.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 24

  • James Green Douglas.
  • William Cummins.
  • J.C. Dowdall.
  • Michael Duffy.
  • Thomas Farren.
  • Mrs. Alice Stopford Green.
  • Cornelius Joseph Irwin.
  • Edward MacEvoy.
  • Edward MacLysaght.
  • Thomas MacPartlin.
  • Colonel Maurice Moore.
  • John Thomas O'Farrell.

Níl

  • John Bagwell.
  • William Barrington.
  • Thomas Westropp Bennett.
  • John C. Counihan.
  • Peter de Loughry.
  • The Dowager Countess of Desart.
  • The Earl of Granard.
  • Henry Seymour Guinness.
  • Arthur Jackson.
  • Right Hon. Andrew Jameson.
  • Sir John Keane.
  • Patrick Williams Kenny.
  • The Earl of Kerry.
  • Thomas Linehan.
  • Joseph Clayton Love.
  • James MacKean.
  • John MacLoughlin.
  • The Earl of Mayo.
  • Michael O'Dea.
  • William O'Sullivan.
  • Colonel Sir William Hutcheson Poe.
  • Mrs. Jane Wyse Power.
  • The Earl of Wicklow.
  • William Butler Yeats.
Amendment declared lost.
Sections 6, 7, 8, 9 put and agreed to.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Section 10.

We would want more time to see what these sections contain.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

This is Report Stage, and I am merely calling over the sections with a view to ascertaining if any amendment will be suggested.

I propose that Clause 10 be omitted from the Bill.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Am I to take that as a serious proposition. Who will second it?

Section 10 put and agreed to.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Section 11.

I propose an amendment to insert the words "is informed by a magistrate."

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I cannot accept that, as I understand there are no magistrates.

Well, District Justices.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

There is no seconder.

Section 11 put and agreed to.
Sections 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and Part 1 of Schedule put and agreed to.
SCHEDULE.—PART II.

I move in Paragraph 12, to insert before the word "aiding" the word "knowingly." I do not think there will be any objection to that.

I beg to second.

Is there a distinction to be made between members of the Seanad who propose amendments? That amendment was proposed in Committee and not accepted.

It was proposed in Committee, and I undertook to consider it. I asked Senator Mrs. Wyse Power to move the amendment, which is in fact an official one.

I accept the explanation.

Amendment put and agreed to.

There was also an agreed amendment with regard to visitation to be inserted.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That has been inserted.

That is so.