I beg to move the Second Reading of the Dublin Port and Docks Bill, 1924. I would like to point out the urgency of this Bill. Owing to circumstances over which the Port Board had no control a mistake was made in the powers given to the Chief Justice, so that when we applied to get a revising barrister he discovered that he had not power to appoint one. The result was that the voters' list could not be revised, and consequently we could not have an election. The seven retiring members are, therefore, disqualified. Those, in addition to the seven members representing the Corporation, make a total of fourteen, or exactly half the entire Board. No work of an executive nature can be carried on except with a clear majority of the Board. As a case in point, we have got a certain distance with a motion to reduce the rates by 50 per cent. on passenger ships coming into the port of Dublin. At present we have not power to do that. We have got a certain distance with it, but the motion is held up until such time as we have a majority of the Board in attendance. Thus, at the moment, we cannot move further in the matter. The Board has gone to considerable expense in getting deep water berths for ocean-going steamers, and these are 35 feet deep at low water and 47 feet at high water. The tourist business looks as if it is going to bring much money into the country. The Board are alive to the interests of the country as well as to those of the port, and they want to be prepared to carry on when the time comes, but that cannot be done until we have a majority of members present. Our hands are therefore tied at the moment. For that reason I ask that the Bill be treated as an urgent matter.
DUBLIN PORT AND DOCKS BILL, 1924—SECOND STAGE.
I beg to second the motion.
While I do not want to take up the position of opposing this particular Bill, I would like to take the opportunity of making a few remarks regarding the whole question of administration of the Port and Docks Board.
I am afraid that that is a little wide. This Bill is for a definite and distinct purpose only, namely, to make provision for the difficulty that has been occasioned which prevents the Chief Justice from fulfilling the duties, which were supposed to be cast upon him, of appointing a barrister to revise the list of voters. Any observations pertinent to that would be pertinent to the motion, but a general discussion on the Port and Docks Board itself would not be in order.
I respectfully suggest that this is a Bill to provide facilities for the operations of the existing franchise of the Port Board of Dublin. I want to say that while I do not want actively to oppose this Bill, I am diametrically opposed to the franchise by which the Port Board of Dublin is elected. It is a notorious fact that the authority over the port of Dublin is elected on a most restricted franchise, and that there is practically no representation of ordinary citizens on the Board. If it were not for the fact that I believe it is necessary to secure this Bill in order to enable the port authority to carry on its duties, I would very vigorously oppose it. There are some questions in connection with this Board that ought to receive the consideration of the Government. I am informed, whether rightly or wrongly, that it is not necessary to be a citizen of Saorstát Eireann to be a member of the Board. I am informed so. I do not say I am correct, but I believe I am.
There is no truth whatever in that statement. To be a member you must reside within a certain radius, and you must have certain monetary qualifications.
My information is that you want a certain residence qualification, but that does not qualify you to be a citizen of the Saorstát.
I am quite unwilling to curtail observations as long as they are pertinent to the Bill, but there is nothing in the Bill dealing with the qualifications of candidates. It deals with the revision of the electors' list. If it dealt with the general duties of the Board the discussion would be much wider, but as it is limited in its scope I do not think it would be regular to embark on a discussion on the general policy of the original Act. You see, Senator, my difficulty. I will give you every latitude, but I must ask you to confine yourself to matters dealt with in the Bill.
With all respect, this Bill is to enable an election to be held for membership of the Dublin Port and Docks Board, and I respectfully suggest that I am within my rights in discussing the qualifications of members eligible for election on the Board.
In regard to the election, all the Bill does is to ask that the period for election be postponed for a period until this revision is completed. It does not deal with the election itself or with the qualification of members.
It provides for putting off the date of the election of members.
I see that, but I am afraid that that would not be wide enough to let in a general discussion on the qualifications of members. If the Bill proposed to alter that, or to deal with it in any way, it would be a different thing. As the Bill stands, however, a discussion of that kind would not be in order.
If that is your ruling I have no alternative but to accept your ruling under protest. Every latitude was given in the other House.
Was the ruling of the Speaker asked for?
No, but it has not been asked for here, either.
That does not deprive me of my right and duty to take notice of those things.
Subject to your ruling in regard to the general scope of the Bill, I think it is desirable that an appeal might be made in the interests of the port of Dublin and the citizens generally, at all events to the representatives of the Board here, that they would take early steps towards altering the archaic and unreasonable representation on the Board as already constituted, and that they would take steps towards altering the present basis of representation.
I let you get that part off, and that contains the gist of your grievance. I am afraid you would be transgressing my ruling if you went into details on the matter. I do not mind your having called attention to the matter on which you and Senator Farren feel so strongly, but I do not think you ought to go into details in the matter.
There is an amendment down on which I contend you will not be able to maintain your ruling.
When the amendment comes we will discuss that, but we are not on the amendments now. We are on the question relevant to the motion that this Bill be read a second time.
Unless you rule this amendment out of order you cannot go on this line.
Sufficient for the day—