Perhaps I should speak to this amendment as well as to my own, because I think the one is bound up with the other. My amendment reads:—
Section 1. After line 47 to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
"The appointment of the Committee of Privileges referred to in the preceding paragraph shall be completed within ten days of the issue of the certificate by the Chairman of Dáil Eireann. In the event of either House failing to elect its quota of members to act on the Committee or the non-appointment or absence of a Chairman the remaining members shall act as the duly constituted Committee."
The first difference between the amendment moved by Senator Douglas and my amendment is on the question of the number of days. The ten days seem to me preferable, because of the possibility of seven or six days having elapsed before a certain thing was done. If the suggestion contained in Senator Connolly's amendment is inserted in the Bill, then there is not very much point in the ten days as against the seven. The second point on which my amendment differs from the amendment moved by Senator Douglas is, that it provides for the possible absence of the Chairman, whereas Senator Douglas's amendment does not take note of that as a possibility. It is a possibility, and in a constitutional provision of this kind, I think it should be provided against, because the end of the section declares that if the committee does not decide and report within 21 days, then the Money Bill becomes law, notwithstanding any other view that the Seanad may take as to the meaning of the Bill.
One cannot but remember in this connection the rather vivid example in connection with the Boundary Commission. When it was provided that that Commission should be set up consisting of a representative of Northern Ireland with others, the Northern Ireland representative was not appointed, and therefore the Commission could not act. If for any reason, a majority in the Dáil decided to take no notice of a requisition from two-fifths of the members, the Committee could not act. If the majority of the Seanad did not appoint its three members the Committee could not act, and if for any other reason a Chairman was not appointed, or, having been appointed, did not make himself available, the Committee could not act, and the Bill would automatically become law. I think that the proposal in these two amendments is to fill a gap which is clearly evident in the Bill as drafted. Except for the point about the chairmanship, I am quite prepared to support the amendment moved by Senator Douglas, but I think that some provision ought to be made for meeting the possibility of the absence of the Chairman.