I have to express my regret to the Seanad that by reason of the unforeseen postponement of the discussion on the important matters that were to be raised in the Dáil the postponement of our sitting from 3 o'clock to 4.30 has not worked out exactly in the way I thought it would. I do not know whether, in view of the fact that the statement is, apparently, to be made at 5 o'clock, it will be the wish of the Seanad that they should proceed and finish the business on the Order Paper or whether it is their wish and desire to attend in the Dáil at 5 o'clock. If the latter is the view that the bulk of Senators take, then I would suggest that we might in the interval dispose of Nos. 1, 4 and 5 on the Order Paper, and leave the rest of the business, together with other business that will be forthcoming, standing over for to-morrow. That is a matter I shall leave entirely in the hands of the Seanad. Senators will understand that the arrangement I made was made with the best intentions, although it has miscarried.
BUSINESS OF THE SEANAD.
Personally, I would like to hear what is to be said in the Dáil. As to the business, I do not know whether we could dispose of No. 1 so quickly. In any case it is obvious we will have to meet to-morrow, as there are some important matters to come up.
I had a difficulty in suggesting that we might dispose of No. 1, because I know some Senators may want to speak upon it. As, apparently, we will have to meet again to-morrow, perhaps it would be sufficient if we disposed of Nos. 4 and 5, which I do not think will be contested. When these are disposed of I would like to take the Seanad into consultation with regard to a more definite arrangement as to our sittings in future, with a view to doing away with some of the inconvenience which Senators from the country at present suffer from.
Before we commence the ordinary business, I would like to protest against the change of hour from 3 to 4.30. Business people here have made their arrangements with a view to meeting at 3 o'clock, and I think that the hour should not be lightly changed in that way. It is only in the event of very exceptional circumstances arising that the hour should be changed. I would like to know what these exceptional circumstances are. As far as I am personally concerned, I think there was not sufficient reason why the hour should have been changed.
The only thing I wonder at is, if these are the views of the Senator, that he has not raised any objection to adjourning at five o'clock, because the very same reasons that induced us, with his consent, to agree to adjourn at five o'clock, were the reasons that influenced me in putting off the meeting from three to four-thirty. I must say I cannot accept the Senator's statement that it was lightly done. It was not done of my own wish. I did it on pressure from a number of Senators who came to me and represented that, so far as they knew, the Senate as a whole were most anxious to be present in the Dáil at three o'clock to hear the statement that was expected to be made. It was in deference to their pressure that I made the change. I can only repeat that I cannot understand how the Senator can object to that change, and, at the same time, acquiesce in the agreement, that has just been arrived at unanimously, that we should adjourn at five o'clock for identically the same purpose.
It does not follow that because I have not disagreed with adjourning at five o'clock, that therefore I have agreed with the other. After all, 3 o'clock has been definitely our hour of meeting, and I have not heard any general expression of opinion that Senators wished to meet at 4.30 for the purpose mentioned. As 3 o'clock was so definitely in our minds, I do not think it should be changed so lightly, as I said before.
I do not think the Senator was a likely person to have received this confidence from his brother Senators, because he would not have had an opportunity of meeting them. I had. A number of Senators expressed the wish to me that they should have an opportunity of attending in the Dáil at 3 o'clock, and it was in deference to these wishes so expressed that I made the change.
I do not wish in any way to reflect on your conduct in the matter. I only wish to make this protest so that in future, when a circumstance of this kind arises, at all events the general opinion should be elicited.
How do you suggest that could have been done in the present case, except in the way it was done?
I do not really wish to pursue the matter any further. I have made my protest and I am quite satisfied.
With regard to the business to be taken to-day, I understand that No. 3 is not likely to be contentious. If that is so, it would be got through very quickly. The Minister has made a private statement to me on the matter.
Very well, as I see the Minister is in attendance, we will take No. 3.