The object of this Bill is well known to members of the House. It was introduced as a result of the recommendation, I think I might say the almost unanimous recommendation, of a Joint Committee. The Bill has been a considerable time in the Dáil, and while it was there a certain amount of nervousness was apparently aroused, with the result that some amendments were introduced to safeguard the Dáil. The object of the Bill of course is to make it possible for this House, if it is really dissatisfied with the declaration of the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil that a Bill is a Money Bill, to have a reasonable chance of questioning it by providing a period of seven days, which is a short period enough as it stands, within which to question the decision. The amendment inserted in the Bill provided that if the Committee did not make a decision and report within twenty-one days, then the decision of the Ceann Comhairle shall prevail and shall be definite. That, I take it, was introduced lest the influence of the Seanad on the Committee might make them delay and make no report at all. Therefore, the constitutional provision that there are only twenty-one days to consider a Money Bill might be of no effect.
It seems to me, when we come to consider this Bill in detail, while we should undoubtedly approve of the principle, we shall be obliged as a result of the amendment to make some safeguard for the Seanad. There is no provision at all in the Bill that the Dáil will appoint three members. There is also no provision that they will meet within twenty-one days for the purpose of appointing three members. As we know, it is not at all uncommon for a number of Bills to be sent to this House and for the Dáil to adjourn for a number of weeks, coming back afterwards to consider any amendments we may make. It seems to me that if this Bill is to be effective there will have to be some provision to deal with the situation, should either House fail to appoint three members. I think that the proper procedure would be, in the event of setting up a Committee of Privileges and of either House failing to appoint three members, that the Committee should be given power to act without waiting for the appointment of these three members. If that is not done, the provision regarding a report within twenty-one days may, through inadvertence, operate so that this House may be unable to have the matter considered.