BUSINESS OF THE SEANAD.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I am afraid our plans have all gone agley with regard to our business for to-day, and in the immediate future. Yesterday, at the request of the Government, I informed the Seanad, in view of the interest taken by the President in the Housing (Building Facilities) Bill, that it was desirable that it should stand out and not be disposed of to-day. I mentioned that it would appear upon the Order Paper because it was too late to have it struck out, but that by common consent we might agree that it should not be taken to-day by reason of the absence of the President through his regrettable illness, and for his convenience. The Seanad naturally agreed to that. To-day, however, I received intimation that the President is very anxious that this Bill should be disposed of—which was not in agreement with the message I got last night, and which I communicated to the Seanad— and that he thought it better, if the Seanad would agree, that the Committee Stage should go on to-day, and he would have some Minister in attendance to take his place. However, I pointed out that I could not well ask the Seanad to do that for two reasons. First, in view of the intimation I had given them, it was possible that Senators who had amendments down, which they wished to move, might not attend to-day, on the faith of the Bill not being taken. In the next place, I knew there were amendments that had been sent in, in addition to those on the Paper, and there had been no time to print them. Consequently, I came to the conclusion that it would not be reasonable or right to compel the Seanad to proceed with this Bill in Committee to-day.

That raises this next question. The Seanad will remember that we considered and practically agreed to a suggestion that, everything else being equal, we should meet fortnightly. It looked as if, and it still looks as if, we could finish the business on the Order Paper to-day if we omit the Housing Bill, with the result that in the normal course we should not have met for a fortnight. But, I understand, that this day fortnight would bring us into the conclusion of Holy Week, and some Senators have expressed the desire that there should be no meeting of the Seanad during that period. The week after that will be Easter Week, and, unless we make some other arrangement, it will practically mean that we would not meet again for a month. In view of the pressing nature of this Housing (Building Facilities) Bill, what I am going to ask the Seanad to do is this: It would be possible to meet to-morrow and take the Committee Stage of the Housing Bill, but we would not gain anything by that, seeing that we would have to take the Report Stage afterwards. That would involve an interval, and would require the Seanad meeting to deal with the Report Stage. What I am going to ask the Seanad to agree to is, to meet on Wednesday next. On that day we could take the Committee Stage of the Housing Bill, and other business that is ready for us. I may tell you shortly what it is. There is the Second Stage of the Electricity Undertakings Bill.

Is that contentious?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Well, it is rather a fiery subject. That is all I know. There will probably be the Second Stage of the Juries (Amendment) Bill. I believe lady members of the Seanad take some interest in that. There is the Second Stage of the Summer Time Bill; the Committee Stage of the Public Safety (Punishment of Offences) Bill, to which we gave a Second Reading to-day; the Report Stage of the Ministers and Secretaries Bill; the Fifth Stage of the Firearms (Temporary Provisions) Bill; and the Concluding Stage of the Courts of Justice Bill. I think there is enough work in that to keep us occupied on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. If the Seanad agrees with me I would suggest that that is the best way out. I greatly regret that I have so frequently to ask the Seanad to arrive at a decision as to their meetings, and the next day to ask them to do an exactly opposite thing. It is not my fault. It is really nobody's fault. It is a misfortune due to the illness of the President and circumstances of that kind that must be constantly occurring. I do my best to accomodate Senators by providing a bill of fare that will be available at a convenient date, but if our arrangements go astray they must not blame me, but put it upon the exigencies of the position. Is it the wish of the Seanad that after our adjournment to-day we should meet again on Wednesday next?

Agreed.