I wish to call the attention of the Seanad very shortly to the position in which this Bill at present stands. The Seanad may recollect that it was referred, together with another kindred Bill, to a Select Committee. The Select Committee consisted of Senator Douglas, who acted as Chairman; Senators Brown, Mrs. Stopford Green, Mrs. Wyse Power, James Moran, and J. T. O'Farrell. The Committee, having considered the Bill, made certain amendments in it which you will find on the Pink Paper. These amendments have raised, in an acute form, a constitutional question concerning the rights of the Seanad and its control in matters of public expenditure which are presented in Bills other than certified Money Bills. I do not wish or propose to go into that matter now, if a suggestion which I desire to make to the Seanad is adopted. The question and the issues involved are very serious and very important, and affect the privileges of the Seanad. Had I known yesterday that Senators Douglas, Brown and O'Farrell would be absent to-day, fulfilling important public engagements, I would not have asked the Seanad to take the Report Stage of this Bill to-day, and in view of their absence, and the somewhat small attendance of Senators to-day, I think it would be better in the interests of the Seanad if the consideration of this Bill on the Report Stage was adjourned until Wednesday next.
I throw out that suggestion. It will be a matter, of course, entirely for the Seanad as to whether they will adopt it or not. I might mention that the effect of the amendments that were made was to delete two particular sub-sections in the Government Bill. The Government have tabled two amendments, which would to some extent alter the form of their own original draft Bill in regard to these two particular clauses. They have not tabled, nor have I received any motion, to delete the clauses inserted by the Committee. I think that must be an oversight, and it will be a matter quite capable of easy correction. What they have done is that they have tabled two amendments to their own original sections, as if those sections still stood in the Bill, whereas, in fact, they are out of the Bill, and their place has been taken by two sections that were inserted in the Committee of the Seanad. So that, as a matter of form, it would be necessary, if the Government wished to take that course, before they can amend their own original clauses now deleted to move the deletion of the clauses inserted by your Committee. That is a mere matter of form; it could be corrected and an opportunity given to the Government to move their amendments. But the other matter involves a constitutional issue which has been already very often a matter of discussion here. Perhaps the Seanad may think that in view of the small numbers here to-day, and in the absence of three members of the Select Committee who, I take it, were mainly responsible for the insertion of the two clauses, it would possibly be wiser to postpone the consideration of this Bill on the Report Stage until Wednesday next.