PRIVATE BILL COMMITTEES.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

There was a difficulty suggested to me by Senator Douglas with regard to the question as to whether the Committee that is now sitting and dealing with those Electricity Bills would have power to function at a time when the Seanad itself is not in actual session. My own view is that there is no difficulty in their doing so, It is not a prorogation. It is not the end of a session. It is simply that we are not holding a meeting for another interval. My own view, and the Standing Orders do not seem to conflict, is that there is nothing to prevent the Committee from remaining on and concluding their business. The Chairman has told me that they require the whole of next week to conclude. They propose to sit the whole of next week, and they contemplate sitting certainly until Friday next. At the same time, if there is any doubt in the minds of the Seanad it would be no harm to pass a resolution authorising, on behalf of the Seanad, this Committee to continue their business.

I had not an opportunity of consulting with you. My suggestion is that if we adjourn there would be no doubt, but if we were to pass a resolution there would be. There has been a question of the length and duration of the session. If the other House brought the session to an end, under the Constitution the session of the Seanad is not necessarily brought to an end. As it is a joint committee, a point of difficulty might be raised. My own view is if it is decided to bring the session to an end then it would be wise to pass two resolutions, one carrying forward all Private Bills to the next session in the stage in which they were. That might later be inserted as a Standing Order. In the case of those Liffey Bills, I think it is necessary expressly to give the Committee powers to meet whether the Oireachtas is in session or not, and take the stage they reach as the complete stage, provided they complete their work before the following session. I consulted with the Examiner of Private Bills and I find there is some difficulty in drafting a resolution. I came to the conclusion that we would have to meet for a short period next week, and in that case I would undertake to have a resolution provided. I do not think it would be wise or necessary to move any resolution.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That expresses my own views in the matter, and we will leave it at that and see whether anything can be done. I do not think the question will arise.

I think it would be very well if we had on our Standing Orders a resolution to the effect that Private Bills might be carried on to the next session at the stage they reach. I think that would be a public convenience, and probably it would result in saving money. I do not know whether Senator Douglas considered that point. I certainly would be in favour of having Private Bills coming on at the conclusion of the Session taken up for consideration at the next. With regard to this Electricity Bill, there is no doubt that its promotion has cost a good deal of money. It is a question that should be settled as soon as possible, and if it were necessary that they should continue their Session after the Dáil had adjourned, I think some resolution would be necessary.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Not if they adjourned their Session, but if they concluded their Session.

Yes, conclude their Session, and if there was a General Election that would complicate matters. In any case I would be in favour of moving a resolution in both cases.

Senator Esmonde has shown by his remarks that there are considerable difficulties.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

In other places the practice has been that when they are adjourning a public Session or when there is a prorogation there is a special resolution passed continuing all Private Bills at the stage they reach on prorogation. I see no reason why we should not have a Standing Order on the subject, and it is a matter I should carefully look into.