Before hearing a statement from Senator Douglas I would like to hear the views of the Seanad about the discussion on the temporary housing of the Oireachtas. Perhaps as the President is here now, I might repeat that he stated in the Dáil that he would say something about the estimate he has prepared which would throw some light on this subject. I take it that it will be discussed to-morrow in the Dáil. I suggest to the Senators that they might postpone the discussion here until they see this new material.
SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - BUSINESS OF THE SEANAD.
I have spoken to some Senators who are very much interested in the subject, and I think the impression is that if the President would give us this information to-morrow we might discuss it here, at the same time as the Dáil. I do not think that the difficulty is very great. It will mean that if we do not discuss it to-morrow we cannot discuss it for another week.
I mean to have this discussion on Friday.
You were proposing not to have any meeting on Friday.
If the Seanad wishes there can be a meeting at 11 o'clock on Friday to discuss this. If the Seanad desires it, I will convene a sitting for 11 o'clock on Friday.
Senators may want to get away, and they would have to come back specially for that work. That would be rather inconvenient, and it would suit better to discuss it to-morrow.
I cannot promise that.
Anyway it is better for us to discuss it here to-morrow, because once the Dáil has settled the matter there is little use in our discussing it.
I would much prefer to hear what the Dáil has to say, and whatever statement the President has to put before it. This is a matter in which everybody takes great interest. It is a question that we ought to discuss with due notice and full information. I would be quite against discussing it on Friday.
I hope to have the information to-morrow about the Estimates. The matter is already in some sort of order. I have not been able to look into it, and see if it is satisfactory for presentation.
Then we are not anxious to get it until you have given it to the Dáil.
I am hoping to be able to announce that it will be ready for the Dáil to-mororw.
We will leave it that way. We will settle to-morrow whether we can discuss this question with additional information on Friday. If, on the other hand, information is not available we can postpone the discussion until next week.
I wish to mention, with regard to this matter, that I think as a matter of procedure it would be much more convenient to the Seanad if the motion to adopt the report were withdrawn, and a resolution of a definite character were put down pledging the Seanad to either one or other of the two recommendations—that is to say, a motion that the Seanad approve of the proposal to take over Leinster House. An amendment could be moved to go elsewhere. Further you could put down a resolution to go elsewhere, and an amendment could be moved to stay in Leinster House. That would be a more convenient way of eliciting the opinion of the Seanad than the motion that the Report be confirmed. That is a matter for ourselves to consider. I would like the Seanad to hear a statement from Senator Douglas as regards the business outstanding.
I understand that it is the intention of the Dáil to meet until about the 16th or 18th of July and then adjourn, to meet again a week or so later to consider any outstanding business that may come back to them from the Seanad. That information was given to Senator Brown and myself by the Attorney-General as the then intention of the Government. But we know that good intentions are not always capable of being carried out to the full. We may take it, however, that is substantially the plan of the Dáil at present. There is a large number of Bills, many of them of a minor character, and it seems to me from the conversation I had with members of the Seanad that it would be much more convenient if some sort of time table could be arranged for the taking of these Bills. I think so far as I can see, unless we spend a great deal of time over some motions, that we could meet for a reasonable time say, to-morrow and Friday and probably on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday of next week. We would have disposed of most of the business that is likely to come before us by then with possibly one or two meetings on the following week if it be found necessary to hold them. It would depend to some extent on the number of amendments that may be moved to Bills. On to-morrow we promised to take the Fifth Stage of the Railways Bill and also the Fourth and Fifth Stages of the Unemployment Insurance Bill. Senator O'Farrell has put down a motion to enable that to be done.
Also the Finance Bill.
Also the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill. There were a number of Bills received last night which technically could not be taken until Friday but I would submit to the Seanad that the Second Stage might be taken with a view to having the Committee Stage on Wednesday, which would give Senators ample time to consider amendments. The Bills are: The Local Elections (Postponement) Bill, 1924; The Indemnity Bill, 1924; The Telephone Capital Bill, 1924 (a Money Bill); The Trades' Loans Guarantee Bill, 1924; The Damage to Property (Compensation) (Amendment) Bill, 1924; The Fisheries (Election of Conservators) Postponement Bill, 1924. There are two Bills which I got leave to introduce and which are being circulated and printed—the Oireachtas Witnesses Oaths Bill and the Private Bill Costs Bill. They are largely of a non-controversial character and I suggest that the Second Stage of them might be taken so that the Committee Stage could be taken early next week. If there is general agreement on these two Bills, it would be desirable that they should reach the Dáil, if possible, and become law before the adjournment.
I would suggest that the Seanad agree to take the Second Stage of these Bills to-morrow—most of them being unlikely to cause any lengthy discussion—thus having a day in between the Bills which were before us to-day but which were not apparently of a controversial character. They could be taken on Friday in Committee with the report on the accommodation of the Oireachtas. The Bills are: The Local Government (Rates on Agricultural Land) Bill, The Criminal Justice Administration Bill, The Criminal Justice (Evidence) Bill, and the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Continuance Amendment Bill. That would give us a reasonable amount of business for Friday. The other Bills which have been before us and which might also I think be taken are: The Dublin Police Bill—Report Stage; The Dáil Eireann Courts (Winding Up) Bill— Report Stage; and the National Health Insurance Bill—Report Stage. As there was no amendment to any of these Bills on the Committee Stage, it is reasonable that the Report Stage be taken on Friday. If there had been amendments in Committee, I would have been opposed to taking them on this Stage on two days' notice.
If this were done, the House, it seems to me, could adjourn then until the following Wednesday, when the Committee Stage of a number of Bills, the Second Stage of which we are proposing to take to-morrow, might be taken. None of these Bills is likely to take any great amount of time in Committee with the exception of the Trade Loans Guarantee Bill, which is an important Bill, and which, I imagine, will take a considerable amount of consideration in Committee. But there will be from to-morrow until Wednesday for considering and putting down amendments. On Wednesday the House could then consider, in view of the nature of the Bills, whether it was prepared to meet again on Thursday and Friday and take the final stages of these Bills, or whether it would be desirable to postpone the final stages of these Bills until the following week. I have mentioned, I think, all the Bills which have reached us up to the present.
In addition to these Bills, there are, I think, eight Bills before the Dáil, and I, personally, do not know whether they are going to reach us before the adjournment or not. There is the Local Government Bill, which, I understand, is definitely postponed. There is the Intoxicating Liquor Bill, which seems to be indefinitely postponed. I do not know exactly the position with regard to it. The State Harbours Bill has been referred to a Committee, and it seems doubtful whether it will reach us or not before the adjournment, but I am told that it may. The Dairy Produce Bill was referred to a Committee, and the Committee, I understand, is now in a position to report. I do not know when the Report and Final Stage will be taken in the Dáil, but in any case it is not likely that we will have it in time to deal with. There is the Military Service Pensions Bill and the Local Officers Compensation (War Period) Bill.
There is the Intermediate Education Amendment Bill, which, I think, will probably reach us. A Bill which was introduced yesterday, the Drainage Maintenance Bill, 1924, will not, I think, reach us. It would seem as if in all probability we will have to meet for one or two days the week after next, after the Dáil has adjourned, to finish up our business. I have carefully, with the assistance of the Assistant Clerk, gone through these Bills, and, as far as I can see, that is a correct statement of the position.
There must be a number of these Bills that are not pressing. If that is so, I think, in view of the fact that they have been rushed in upon us at this hour, we ought to be very slow in going through them. If there is no hurry about them why should we not give them a Second Reading and let them stand over until after we meet again?
I think the Seanad should consider that, in the case of each Bill, and I have suggested that we should take the Second Reading to-morrow. Most of these Bills are small Bills. My own view is that a Bill that would be important is the Trades Loan Guarantee Bill. Most of the others are regarded by Ministers as important because they are mostly small amending Bills which they want to get through. I think it is important that the Trades Loan Guarantee Bill should be passed before the summer. Otherwise its effect would be lost.
I think as each Bill comes up to be read a second time we will then see whether it is a Bill we should give reasonable and proper time to, and whether it is or is not an urgent Bill. If it is not an urgent Bill, I think we ought to let it stand over. If it is urgent, let us dispose of it.
The Seanad adjourned at 5.20 p.m., until 3 o'clock on Thursday, the 10th July.