With regard to the next business on the agenda, the Housing (Building Facilities) Bill, 1924, which is down for Second Reading, strong representation has been made to me on behalf of members interested from the Labour point of view that this has come upon them more or less by surprise, that they are anxious to discuss this Bill upon the Second Reading but have not had the time or the opportunity of making it up, inasmuch as it has only been very recently circulated. I have been asked, with the permission of the House, to allow this to stand until the next sitting of the Seanad. If there is no objection to that in any quarter of the House I shall accordingly allow this item on the agenda to stand over until the next meeting.
ORDER OF BUSINESS.
May I ask, in the event of a postponement being agreed to, that the other Stages of this Bill might be facilitated. To put it shortly, I am sure that my friends opposite realise that every day now counts in the building trade. We are just coming to the time when it is desirable, if the Bill be a success at all, that it should get very early consideration.
Would it suit the purposes of the Government if we took the Second Reading of this Bill this day fortnight, and the Committee and concluding stages the following day, or do you think an earlier date than that is really desirable?
I certainly would like an earlier date if it were possible.
Cannot we take the Second Reading now? It is merely a matter of generalities, and the real thing is the Committee Stage.
That is the thing I was particularly asked by the representatives of Labour not to do.
I suggest we should agree to take the two Stages more or less by general agreement, that the Committee should sit immediately after the Second Stage, and that there should be reasonable time in which amendments could be put in.
I think that is a very reasonable suggestion. Supposing we put down the Second Reading and the Committee Stage for Wednesday fortnight?
I do not want to be taken as an obstructionist to this Bill, for my greatest difficulty for the past eight or ten years has been to try and get over obstruction to the provision of houses. I do not want the Seanad to think that it is from the point of view of obstruction that I have asked for the postponement of the Second Stage. As a matter of fact, the building of houses is one of the few things I claim to know something about. With regard to this particular Bill there are points in it, and more particularly its policy, with which I disagree. It was only when I arrived here to-day that I found that the Second Reading was to be taken, and I think it is unfair that I should be placed at this disadvantage. I want facilities to be given for the Bill, but I would suggest to the House that it is unfair that the Second Reading of such an important measure as this should be taken without due notice.
We could meet the position in this way: It was suggested yesterday that in future the regular routine should be fortnightly sessions, but there is no reason why these fortnightly sessions should not begin from next week, that the House should meet next week, and that this Bill should be disposed of through all its Stages next week, if that would meet the wishes of the President.
That would be very satisfactory.
That would be an admirable arrangement. We know perfectly well that this is the most important time of the year for building purposes. This is an urgent matter, and it would probably suit the convenience of the Seanad if we were to discuss the matter next Wednesday, and have a proper debate on it.
I would like to hear more from Senator Farren about this, for we have all been in the difficult position of having Second Readings hurried, and after the Second Reading was over hurried on to the Committee Stage, and it is one of the things we are trying to remedy. I want to hear definitely from Senator Farren whether he is satisfied we ought to hurry all these Stages together.
If we sit next week, I do not intend or propose that the two Stages should be taken together. It was only in the event of our not sitting for a fortnight, but if we were going to sit next week I see no reason why we should not take the Second Reading on Wednesday and the Committee Stage on Thursday.
That is what I wanted to hear Senator Farren's opinion about. What I think he is fighting for is that after we have had the Second Reading we should have time to think over it.
With all respect that is not what I want. All I say is we have been taken at a disadvantage to-day, because it was only when we arrived here we found that the Second Reading was to be taken to-day. So far as next week is concerned, I am willing to fall in with the arrangement to facilitate the passing of the Bill.
There are other reasons why it might be desirable, if the Seanad sees no serious objection, that we should meet next week. There is a very important question standing over, regarding the Judiciary Committee. That Committee has met, and their report is practically ready, so that we would be in a position to submit it to the Seanad next week. Then the Joint Committee which was sitting with regard to the temporary accomodation of the Oireachtas have sent in their report. That will be in the hands of members of both Houses by Saturday next, and I hope to arrange with the Speaker of the Dáil that it should come up for consideration on the same day in both Houses. We might be able to arrange that it should be considered in both Houses on Thursday or Friday next week.
In connection with the Housing Bill, many clauses deal with finance, and as the Bill has not been certified by the Speaker of the other House as a Money Bill, will it come before us as a non-financial measure? How is it proposed to deal with these clauses in this or any other Bill that would have a financial complexion?
That would take me about an hour to expound, and it would be better for me if the Senator would reserve that until it arises. I am quite prepared to deal with it when it arises in a concrete case, and if any question of that kind is raised when the Bill is in Committee, I hope I shall be in a position to deal with it satisfactorily.
I think it has arisen in connection with a previous Bill, and we did consider it.
I have told you that the Committee have their report practically ready, and it will come up next week, but whether it will throw any light on the point you have now raised, which is bigger than the other question, I do not know.
In connection with our business, I should like to voice the increasing inconvenience country members suffer under the arrangements regarding our work. This Bill left the Dáil within the last three or four days.
Surely it would have been possible to give some warning or notice to the effect that at any moment it might be considered here so that when it appears on the Paper it could be gone on with.
That warning is given by circulating the Bill. The Bill was circulated to members of the Seanad last week.
I see, but can it be understood that when a Bill is circulated that is notice to Senators to be prepared to discuss it when it appears on the Order Paper? It is extraordinarily difficult. I have no doubt there are extenuating circumstances when things appear on the Order Paper and we come and find they are then put off.
The way of meeting that difficulty is provided for in the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders provide that "The Orders of the day for each day shall be delivered at the Dublin address of each Senator so as to arrive not later than the morning of that date." It was only when we came in here to-day that we got the notice regarding this. We did not even bring copies of the Bill with us. Unless Senators are provided with copies at short notice discussion could hardly take place.
It is right to mention in regard to that point that I distinctly stated yesterday that this Bill would be on the Agenda for to-day.
I did not hear you, sir.
That is quite possible. It might have been just at the close of the proceedings, and could easily escape you. I shall tell the House what the business will be for next week. I think it looks as if it will at least occupy two days, so that they may make their arrangements accordingly. First of all, the Second Reading of this Bill will appear on the Agenda for Wednesday. There will be the Committee Stage of the Firearms Bill, and the Committee Stage of the Ministers and Secretaries Bill; the Committee Stage of the Housing Bill, that is assuming the Senators are prepared to have the Committee Stage the day after the Second Reading is disposed of; the Report Stage of the Local Government (Collection of Rates) Bill, which will only take a moment; this matter which was reserved in regard to the Courts of Justice Bill; the Report of the Joint Committee on the Accommodation of the Oireachtas; and the Report of the Committee on Standing Orders, suggesting certain alterations in the existing Standing Orders. These are all the matters that up to the present I know of will be available for next week. While I presume the general opinion of the Seanad is in favour of a definite arrangement by which we should have fortnightly sittings there will probably be no objection to this arrangement beginning from next week.
I take it from the business read out that we will probably have to sit for three days next week.
I would not go that far, but I do not like making these forecasts, as I find them generally wrong. I think I may safely say that there is work for two days.
The Seanad adjourned at 5.3 p.m. until Wednesday.