I feel compelled to take advantage of the last opportunity that will be afforded me to make one further protest against the passage of this Bill. I oppose it because it is bad for the people as a whole and bad for the Seanad in particular. The new method will not give the best Senators; it certainly will not give independent Senators. It removes the incentive to the efficient, conscientious and industrious discharge of public duties. Instead of working in the general interests and for the merit and appreciation of the general public, it will be to the interest of the Senators of the future to work merely for the purpose of winning the favour of ten Deputies or fellow-Senators. That is not in the interests of efficiency. It is not in the interests of the conscientious discharge of public duties; it is not calculated to give this House the power which will make it a desirable and effective Second Chamber. It is, moreover, open to disreputable canvassing practices which have already begun. On the last day we met Senators informed me that they had already been approached in the anterooms of this House and canvassed for their votes for the forthcoming election. I have myself certainly had letters asking for my support, and I heard one man proclaim joyfully and victoriously that he had devoted a week of his holidays towards securing the necessary support to enable him to be elected to the Seanad for nine years to come. He was able to come back to work confident in the knowledge that already he was as good as elected. I think that is a most undesirable possibility to place within the reach of anybody who can get within speaking distance of Leinster House or who can approach sufficient Deputies and Senators outside it.
It was alleged that the old method was a method that favoured people mainly in possession of money. Well, it is a notorious fact that amongst the defeated were some of those who spent the most money, while amongst the elected were people who had little or no money at all to spend. But the new system certainly gives overwhelming support to the man with the money bags. The golden silence will be infinitely more effective than the silver oratory in the future. The man who can contribute a substantial amount to Party funds will have an infinitely greater chance of being elected to this House to legislate for the people outside than the man who, with any other qualifications, is capable of fulfilling a public or legislative function.
It has been stated that the people elected in 1922 by the Dáil have, on the whole, been a credit to themselves in the conduct of their business, and I am not going to say that they have not. I happened to be one of those elected. I also had the advantage of being elected at the one and only popular election. But I would point out that there was a difference there as compared with what will obtain in the future. In the first place, there was not that mad rush for the Seanad in 1922 that there will be in 1928. It was not then quite safe to be a Senator, as many Senators have reason to know, and the type of person who will approach Deputies and Senators in 1928 was very silent and kept very much in the background in 1922. Moreover, those who were elected in 1922 by that method were convinced that they would, in 1928, or in whatever year their term of office expired, have to face the people as a whole, and they have worked with that belief in their minds. But the people who will be elected at the forthcoming election will have no such incentive to discharge their duties in a conscientious way. All that they will have to do will be to please the ten people that are necessary to elect them to this House. I do not know but that in certain circumstances the much-despised British method of creating hereditary peers, much as we abhor it, is not calculated to give a more independent House, and a more public-spirited House than we are going to have under the new system. As I say, I abhor it and I think it absurd, but it certainly gives a more independent form of legislature than we will have when this Bill becomes law.
Already this Bill is being used by the enemies of this House as a document under which the House may be deprived of effective legislative powers, and it certainly will be used as a further argument for its final extinction. Those who vote for the Bill, whether they know it or not, whether they care or not, are helping towards the final elimination of this House as a part of the Legislature. We are told that we will get under this system independent Senators, and that it is desirable, above all things, that they should be of an independent type, even though they may have certain Party affiliations. Whilst these statements are being made it is well known that a small group of people in this House who dared to act independently in regard to this Bill were called together last week and severely castigated by a junior Minister for having the great daring to vote against a Government measure. If that is the case under conditions as they are, what, in the name of Providence, is going to be the state of dependence of this House when Senators owe their election and when they are dependent upon their re-election by members of the other House? That is one indication of the sort of influence that is brought to bear on Senators who are ostensible supporters of the Government but who dare at times to show a little independence of spirit, particularly in a matter affecting the Constitution and affecting the whole future of this House. We are very anxious to-day to see, when a Division is called on this measure, if there is going to be any turnover of votes. I am convinced that there will not be, and I do hope that each of the Senators who received what was considered a well-merited lecture and castigation will show that they have not changed their opinion.