Before I proceed to resume the debate, I think that in fairness to the House I should express my regret for any offence which I may have given to the Chair or to members of the House yesterday evening in an impulsive moment. I hope this expression of regret will be accepted by the Chair and members of the House in the spirit in which it is given.
Constitution (Amendment No. 24) Bill, 1935.—Motion by Senator Douglas (Resumed).
So far as I am concerned, the Senator's statement is accepted in the spirit in which it is tendered. I would like to say that I deeply regret if I allowed myself to be provoked into making a remark which of its nature drew forth from the Senator a remark which I am sure he did not intend.
I am sure I am very grateful to Senator MacEllin for the attitude he has adopted. At all times the Senator has treated the House with the greatest courtesy and I am glad he has thought it wise to make this expression of regret. I am equally glad to hear the remarks of Senator O'Hanlon and I am sure the House is very pleased also.
I was referring yesterday evening to remarks that were made by the President at some stage either in this or in the other House in connection with the abolition of the Seanad. He inferred that it was no harm to experiment. Experimenting has proved a lot of things in various aspects of life. It has proved one thing, that if you do not experiment, you can make very serious mistakes and, consequently, I have a feeling that it would be a very good thing to experiment in this instance. I, also, believe that the experiment if, and when, carried out may prove some of the prophecies made about Single Chamber government to be of no value. As a matter of fact, I do think, with the Party leaders we have to-day, that that experiment could prove to be effective and satisfactory. If that were so we might have a continuance of that system. But we are not discussing the pros and cons of this issue merely for to-day or to-morrow. We have to look to the future, and it is quite possible, when the present Party leaders are not here and are succeeded by others whom we do not know to-day that it would be hard to determine whether the experiment of Single Chamber government would be successful under those people. Nevertheless, I have not the slightest doubt, so far as the present Irish leader is concerned, that no reactionary decisions would be likely to be taken, or that there would be any abuse of the majority he holds in the Dáil to-day.
As I said yesterday evening, his whole attitude in life since he became a constitutional leader has clearly demonstrated, and should give confidence to the people as a whole, that fact. But assuming that we find ourselves, in the near future, under Single Chamber government, there are a lot of doubtful possibilities under that system. I see a few terrible snags myself. One aspect of it is this: the leader of the Government, and the Cabinet as a whole, will undoubtedly be fired with enthusiasm to show that they are a Cabinet which sticks rigidly to the practice as heretofore, but they will have such a thing to contend with as Party discipline. You will have, what is likely to be found in all Parties, lively back benchers. They will be likely to be forcible in their ways, and will be likely to put up to the Cabinet, for the time being, that they want certain legislation, and they will be likely to say: "Now that you have a majority, there is no excuse, and no reason why you should not go on with certain legislation when there is nothing to disturb you." The Cabinet will have no one else responsible to fall back upon, and that point of view is likely to create discontent or indiscipline in the ranks. On the other hand, you will have people down the country, through their organisations, and so on, likely to put pressure upon T.D.s, and if T.D.s are likely to accede to that, it will come back upon the Cabinet again. There again you will have discontent below, and, as a result, some time in the future, the Cabinet might find itself in the position when they might be very glad to have some body, like a Second Chamber, to fall back upon, and to say "the final word does not rest with us; there is somebody else to be satisfied."
This is the time now to talk quite frankly upon that aspect of the matter, and I am putting what possible things might happen in the future. It is more than a possibility that such things might happen, perhaps not in the next five or ten years, but in the next generation. That may not matter so much to us now; still, if we are setting a precedent now, we should try to be satisfied it will not be used for ulterior motives later, and that the expressions we hear people using to-day about dictatorship will not materialise. There may be even stronger reasons of possible abuse in Single Chamber government under proportional representation.
Proportional representation, as I see it, very rarely leaves a clear-cut majority to any Party. It has a tendency towards the levelling up of Parties. Under Single Chamber government will proportional representation leave us likely to find ourselves in the position that the numerical strength of the different Parties is so close that what occurs in Paris to-day, when the mob can swing the pendulum one way or the other, may occur here? It is a well-known fact, from what we see from time to time, that the mob in Paris is quite capable of swinging the political pendulum. The difference in the numerical strength of Parties is so small that an organised mob is quite capable of swinging the pendulum, so much so that that particular mob may control the final decision of the Government, even though they have the Two Chamber system there.
What would be the position, when we have Single Chamber government, with the possibility that we might find ourselves without numerical strength in any particular Party, and all Parties so close that a well organised machine would be able to upset Government or, at any rate, create a sense of insecurity and instability by their organised methods? As I said, I do not know, but I am giving my opinion as to the difficulties, as I see it, that are likely to exist from different aspects of life in Single Chamber government. That leads me to the conclusion, whether I like it or not, that I must, per force of circumstances, see if I can satisfy my own conscience that there is more security and stability in the two-chamber system of Parliament, let it be under a republic or a monarchy. I am not a doctrinaire in regard to either; I am thinking which would lead to greater security. When we are discussing matters such as this, I may say that I entered this House with a certain amount of misgiving. I entered it on the clear understanding that this House, as it stands at present, could not be as effective an instrument as it would have been if Lincoln's great phrase—election by the people for the people—had been acted upon. Senator Milroy said yesterday that we were subservient in regard to this particular matter. All my actions in the House have been subservient to the general policy of the Party I represent. So have Senator Milroy's actions and those of other Senators on his side of the House. They have given very good examples of subserviency.
The whole cause of the trouble is the system of election to this House. As a result of that system of election, the first essential is subserviency. If one were not subservient, he would not be here at all. The day the Seanad agreed to that system of election and passed it they sealed their own fate, and the sooner that system is abolished the better. I do not want to labour this question. I have said what I think and, having done so, I am quite satisfied with the vote I am going to cast. I am quite happy in thinking that I am casting that vote in the best interests of the country as well as in the best interests of the House. I hope and I believe that the future will see a dual form of government here under the existing régime. I am only speaking for myself and, of course, I do not know. But believing that that is so, I think you would be well advised to allow this Bill through now. The sooner it goes through, the sooner the points I have made will become obvious. The sooner they become obvious, the sooner, I believe, we shall have a dual form of government.
For two reasons, I am glad Senator Douglas put down this motion. One reason is that it has made it possible for us to have a speech like that which Senator MacEllin has just delivered and which we might not have had if we had been voting directly on the Bill. Another reason is that it enables many Senators to vote on what they regard as the major rather than the secondary issue. I think that the major issue at stake is really whether or not we shall have in the Constitution a Second Chamber different in complexion and texture from the Dáil. A vote for Senator Douglas's motion is a vote against the Bill, but it is even more definitely a vote for a principle which is quite distinct from the fate of this House, as it stands, or anything affecting the present personnel of the Seanad. I hope the Seanad will pass the motion. If it does not pass it, I hope that, at any rate, it will reject the Bill, because this House ought not to consent to commit suicide even though the refusal to commit suicide may not alter the date of its disappearance by more than a few weeks.
The Seanad, in its representative character and in the integrity of its members, stands far above the old Parliament that was called Grattan's Parliament. The end of that Parliament was the last occasion on which an Irish legislative Chamber was invited to commit suicide. When that Parliament did commit suicide, it was, undoubtedly, a great calamity for the country, in spite of its manifold defects. No matter what representations may be made to it, I hope that the Seanad will not do what was done 135 years ago at the instance of Pitt and Castlereagh, whose allegation, by the way, was that what they wanted done was in the interests of the Irish people. I have no doubt that every Senator would readily co-operate in any consideration that might be given to the creation of a Chamber which would be a substitute for this Chamber—perhaps entirely different in personnel and differently constituted, with its members chosen by different bodies. If a Bill for that purpose came before the Seanad after due consideration, even though it meant that not a single member of this Chamber could be a member of the new body, I have no doubt that it would be welcomed and would be accepted here after discussion of any amendments and improvements that could be made in the scheme. To vote for the simple abolition of the Seanad, leaving us with Single Chamber government, is an entirely different thing. I hope the Senators who, for some reason, cannot vote against the Bill will be induced to abstain from voting altogether.
The Seanad has laboured under many handicaps. It has never met with proper appreciation because of reasons that are easy to understand. It was the subject of a great deal of attack in the beginning. A great deal of propaganda was concentrated against it and it is, I think, true to say that, at that time, there had not been throughout the country much thought given to constitutional problems. There was very little understanding through out the country of the desirability and advantages of a Second Chamber. There was a tendency in the country to think that any Second Chamber must be equated with the British House of Lords which, certainly, had a bad name. For that reason, I think that a fair view of the Seanad proceedings was not taken for a considerable time. Those who have been in the Seanad from the first or who have been in it for a long time can, I think, look back on its record of work with considerable satisfaction. When the Abolition Bill was before the Seanad for Second Reading, we had unfolded to us a list of the amendments which the Seanad had inserted in various Bills that came before it for consideration. In my opinion, that is in reality the least impressive, or, at any rate, the least important part of the work of the Seanad, because a great many of the amendments inserted were inserted with the assent of Ministers, and sometimes at the instance of Ministers, and it would probably be possible to devise other machinery that would do that particular work satisfactorily enough.
The great value of the Seanad was in its stabilising and moderating influence on both legislation and administration. I am certain I can speak with more knowledge of that than anybody in this House, because I had an opportunity of seeing the matter from the other side. I, for a long time, was in frequent contention with the Seanad, and, sometimes, in moments of disappointment or irritation, was inclined to look on the Seanad as a natural enemy, but I can, just because of that, testify to the continuous influence that was exerted by the very existence and independence of the Seanad. Ministers were never in a position to be certain of a majority in the Seanad. If there were any special occasion on which Ministers wanted not to be rebuffed, it would have been necessary for them to have made inquiries and to have ascertained the attitude of various individuals. Otherwise, a proposal that came before the Seanad might have been defeated. Consequently, in the framing of all proposals, the attitude that might be taken up by the Seanad had to be taken into account.
As I say, the influence of the Seanad was not measured by the total number of amendments inserted, or even by the number of amendments passed against the wishes of Ministers. It would be almost impossible to measure it adequately, but I think the general concensus of opinion of those who were in office for a long time here would be that very frequently legislative proposals were framed in a particular form rather than in another form, because it was felt necessary not to invite opposition in the Seanad.
It was said here yesterday that the Seanad never rejected any Bills introduced by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. As a matter of fact, the Seanad rejected two Bills. The first was a licensing Bill, which, owing to a misunderstanding as to the effect of the Constitution, the Seanad thought it had killed, but which in fact it had not killed. It refused to deal with the licensing Bill before the General Election of 1923, and it was generally assumed that the dissolution killed the Bill and that there would be no more of it. However, a contrary construction was afterwards put on the Constitution, and after the lapse of the delaying period, the Bill was submitted to the Governor-General and signed. There was also a Civil Service (Regulation) Bill which was rejected on Second Reading by the Seanad, and which only became law after the lapse of the maximum delaying period. In addition to that, as I have already indicated, on a great many occasions amendments were passed to which Ministers objected. In some cases, in order to prevent further delay, those amendments were recommended to the Dáil for acceptance by Ministers. In other cases, they came back to the Seanad, and there are even instances where conferences took place between the two Houses in order that accommodation might be found. So that it is entirely wrong to say that the Seanad was complacent in its dealings with the Cumann na nGaedheal Administration. Such a statement is contrary to the facts on record, and contrary to the testimony which can be given by anybody who had experience of government at that time.
I am not arguing that the Seanad in making those rejections was necessarily right, and I am not saying that the view of Ministers was wrong, or that the view of the Seanad was proven to be right, but they did mean that Ministers knew that any particular proposal might be held up by the Seanad and subjected to the special limelight of public criticism which that would involve. They might feel in regard to a particular proposal that they could vote it through the Dáil in a day or two and, if it would then be law, they would not hesitate to face the three or four days' discussion, but it would be quite a different matter if the thing were to be debated at equal length in the Seanad, rejected there and sent back to the Dáil with treble or, maybe, ten times the discussion and criticism. It was in that way that, in the very framing of legislation, in the very formulation of proposals, the existence of the Seanad, and the fact that the Seanad might definitely disagree with the Government, caused much greater care to be taken than would have had to be taken if only the Dáil alone had to be faced.
You cannot get a Second Chamber which is of any use without having some occasional inconveniences, without having disagreements with the Government. A Second Chamber that will never disagree is no use, or practically no use, and any functions it may discharge could be discharged by means of other machinery. It is natural enough that Ministers who regard themselves for the moment as thwarted by the Seanad should rail against the Seanad. I think that every Minister of the last Government, at one time or another, was irritated by something the Seanad did and railed against the Seanad, but when he had had time to think it over, he realised that no harm was done at worst, and that on occasions he was prevented from doing something which, on cooler reflection, he realised was just as well left undone. And in spite of the different clashes which took place, legislation was introduced by the last Government which actually extended the delaying power of the Seanad. At first, the Seanad could only delay a Bill for nine months. Ultimately, the power was increased to an effective 20 months.
It has been suggested, in the course of the debate, that the Seanad has dealt unfairly with the present Government, and has hampered them and prevented them from carrying out their programme. I do not think that accusation will bear investigation. After all, the most important and most urgent measures that came before the Seanad since the present Government came into office were measures of an economic character. None of those measures was held up, and none of those measures was mutilated or had any amendments inserted in it which in any way delayed it or prevented the Government from giving full effect to its policy.
As a matter of fact, I think that the exercise by the Seanad of its powers of delay, since the present Government came into office, while perhaps objectionable to them, has been in many instances helpful to the Government, because looked at in a calm and cool manner, these powers have served the purpose which Senator MacEllin in his speech recognised that a Second Chamber's activities might serve. They have given the Government an answer to the unreasonable elements amongst its own following. They have served the purpose that the Department of Finance often serves with another Ministry when expenditure is required. It is not an uncommon thing for a deputation to come up to a Department of State asking for something to be done. The Minister does not want to take on his shoulders the unpopularity of a refusal and he sympathises heartily with the views of the deputation. He tells them that if by any means he can induce the Department of Finance to agree to the expenditure the work will be done instanter, and when the deputation leaves to go over to the Department of Finance he gets on the 'phone to the Department and says, “For God's sake, do not give these people any encouragement.”
Do not lift the veil.
Of course the matter only goes to these extremes occasionally. The fact that the Seanad was there gave the Government a means of holding out against the most unreasonable elements amongst its own following without incurring risks which it might not wish to incur. One of the first Bills that was held up was the Oath Bill. I do not think that anybody who will try to look at the matter reasonably will say that there was anything wrong in the action of the Seanad in holding it up. Because that Bill affected the Treaty; it dealt with a question which had been frequently before the electorate, and had been frequently decided, if you like, by the electorate in a sense contrary to that embodied in the Bill. It was the kind of matter in which there could be no reasonable objection to delay. I believe that that delay allowed people who were specially unreasonable and specially extreme time to cool down before they applied any further pressure. That is looking at it from the internal point of view. But, looking at it from the national point of view, it was probably useful also, because with the start of the economic war, in which two parties were involved, there was always the danger that on the other side there might be some sort of rash or extreme action. My own feeling is that the possibility of undue exacerbation of the conflict was prevented by the delaying power of the Seanad.
Then, in regard to the question of university representation, what objection could there be to delaying a Bill of that sort? I think it was a Bill which could be regarded as very much of a Party Bill amending the Constitution. There was no principle involved that could make it urgent. Some people might agree in principle that university representation should be abolished, but if there was urgency involved that urgency was purely Party urgency and by no means national urgency. There was some delay in regard to the Redistribution of Seats Bill. Again, there was good reason why the Seanad should intervene, because a redistribution of seats should be carried out by consent or on the recommendations of some sort of an impartial board. It is extremely undesirable that it should be carried out simply on the basis of a majority Party vote.
It has been said that the Army Bill was held up by the Seanad. Of course that is simply not true. What the Seanad did was, in disapproval of a certain action, or by way of question of a certain action of the Minister for Defence to make the period of renewal of the Army Bill less than the customary 12 months. But it did not refuse to renew it, and anybody who knows anything about the attitude of the majority in the Seanad knows very well that it would not in any circumstances have refused to renew the Bill.
With regard to the Blueshirt Bill, which was, I believe, the remaining Bill held up by the Seanad, I think if Ministers were candid to-day they would acknowledge that the Seanad saved them from falling into a grave blunder by rejecting that Bill. I do not think there is any Minister could put his hand on his heart to-day and say that it would have been a good thing to have that Bill passed, or that it was a wise thing to introduce it. In fact, the introduction of that Bill was one of the very rash and foolish things which a Government will sometimes do. If there had been any danger—I do not think there was, but let us assume for the moment that there was—the passage of that Bill would not have removed it and it would have inevitably led to abuses of various kinds. I remember when that Bill was before the Seanad a rumour was put round— and the rumour proved to be well-founded—that if the Seanad rejected the Blueshirt Bill, a Bill would be immediately introduced for the abolition of the Seanad. That was conveyed to every one of the Senators who were opposed to the Government, the object being to induce them to vote against their judgment for the purpose of preserving the life of the House and their own tenure of office—to vote for a Bill which they thought should be rejected. It is to the credit of the House that no votes were deflected by that threat and that the Bill was rejected on the following day. It is desirable that the Second House should be preserved, but it would be wrong and useless to preserve it at the price of subserviency such as would have been involved there.
There has been talk about the Seanad not only having held up Bills wrongly but having passed Bills wrongly. There has been a great deal said about the passage of the Public Safety Act. I think the Seanad need have no regrets about the passage of the Public Safety Act. No doubt, in the light of experience, after the time that has elapsed and the consideration that has been possible, if the Bill were now before the House it would not be passed in the identical form in which it is on the Statute Book; but only minor amendments would be introduced because the present Government in effect acknowledges that in this country, in view of the history we have had, some sort of measure such as that Act is necessary. The jury system is so very vulnerable when opposed by an armed conspiracy that it is necessary to have machinery for trial, by a special tribunal, of people charged with certain classes of crime.
I do not think anything the Seanad did then need be regretted at this stage, or at any time, by anybody connected with it. Of course, these things do not really affect the major issue because, even if the record of the work of the Seanad had been as bad as has been represented by the most severe of its critics, its abolition without substitution would be an injury to the State, and a menace to the people. I regard the reasons which actuated the Government in desiring, whether for a short period or permanently, to concentrate all power in the Dáil as very short sighted and even irresponsible. This concentration of power in the Dáil is represented as something in the way of an increase in democratic liberty. I think the contrary is the fact, and that if we give unrestrained power to a Party majority, it imperils the liberty of the individual, and makes the democratic machinery of the State ineffective. It would be possible, perhaps, with safety to operate Single Chamber government if there were a rigid Constitution and if the judiciary, as well as being nominally independent in their status, were fully safeguarded, so that their legal independence could not be taken away. If we had a Supreme Court that was able to check all laws by reference to their compliance with a detailed and rigid Constitution, then the danger to democratic liberty involved in having a Single Chamber Parliament would not be great. But I do not think that it would be by any means as good a safeguard as is provided by a suitable Second Chamber—by any sort of reasonably good Second Chamber—because a rigid Constitution and a Supreme Court which will frequently disallow laws, if they infringe the Constitution, impose obstacles to the transaction of public business which are not so easily to be borne nowadays as in former times. The State nowadays has less the character of being a police State; its duties are not mainly police duties but social and economic duties, and I do not think that the existence of a rigid Constitution and a powerful Supreme Court, would represent the best machinery for safeguarding the rights of citizens. You want something more flexible and more adaptable, while being adequate to prevent excesses and a filching of the rights of the individual.
It would be possible to have Single Chamber government with some safety if, in addition to a Constitution a little less flexible than ours, you had some machinery like the Referendum. I think, however, the safeguard of the Referendum is not a very practicable one. It is expensive to hold Referenda. If held frequently the interest of the people is bound to be small, and there is bound to be considerable objection to them. If you have not a Second Chamber, to decide that Referenda shall be held, they may be forced upon the people by irresponsible groups. And during their progress under present conditions a government which was otherwise unchecked or which felt itself being impeded, has resources in the way of propaganda which did not exist in former times. That might tend to make the machinery of the Referendum much less useful than theoretically it should be. Again, you might have a Single Chamber form of government if you had an independent head of the State outside Parliament, not engaged in the active formulation of policy and the day to day work of government, and if that head of State were given certain powers of veto and dissolution. I think that would not be as good as a Second Chamber, because faults disclose themselves in individuals placed at the head of anything. There are a great many people who can share responsibility and do effective work when sharing responsibility but, if you put them on some pedestal, they disclose extreme weakness or get an inflated idea of their own wisdom and importance and prove unreasonable. I do not think that the giving of power over to the head of the State, to anyone chosen outside would be as good as the existence of a Second Chamber. There is no good substitute for a Second Chamber so chosen as not to be a replica of the principal chamber, and so chosen as not to have the Party system operating as strongly as it would operate in the principal chamber.
With the abolition of the Seanad, immediately we get into a perilous position from the legal and constitutional point of view. There is no doubt at all that the disappearance of the Seanad undermines the guarantee of independence of the judiciary. It puts the judges practically in the same position as major civil servants. I have the greatest respect for civil servants and for their honesty, integrity, independence and ability, but I would not be prepared to trust civil servants to defend the individual against a Government which was operating under strong motives of passion, prejudice, or anything of the kind. There is a pretended small safeguard in this Bill, requiring a special majority of the Dáil before a judge could be dismissed, but it would not pass the wit of man to amend the Bill in a single day, or to amend the Constitution in a single day, in such a way that a judge could be dismissed by a majority of a single vote. It would be easy, for instance, to take out of the Constitution the power of the Supreme Court or of the High Court the question of the validity of any law, and once that were done, whatever a majority vote in Parliament accomplished would stand. The fact is that the supposed or pretended safeguards for the judiciary are pure eyewash, and give no guarantee whatever that a heated Parliamentary majority might not dismiss a judge summarily for giving a decision in the courts contrary to their wishes. Now, that means that, beyond the courage or moral heroism of the individual judge, nothing remains to safeguard the independence of the judiciary. Many a judge, of course, will defy all Governments and give a decision according to his conscience even if he were to be dismissed on the instant; but there will be, in every assembly and in every group of people, those who are weak, and you will find that it will inevitably happen that there will be some people whose minds will be influenced by the precariousness of their position and who will be—in some cases they may not even know it themselves—deflected from the course they ought to follow.
Of course the same sort of thing occurs in connection with the Comptroller and Auditor-General. He is always a very unpopular official— perhaps more unpopular with civil servants than with Ministers—but it is not a good thing that the independence of the position of the Comptroller and Auditor-General should be removed as it is removed by this Bill; not that I fear anything wrong happening, but fear anything wrong happening soon, but that I consider it is a bad thing not to have safeguards and not to have proper and fully independent scrutiny of financial transactions. Opportunity is a source of temptation, and even more so, as a Senator says, of suspicion. That is even worse for the community, perhaps, than actual defalcations. The idea that things might perhaps be wrong is worse to some extent than having them actually wrong.
It has been pointed out also that once the Seanad goes a Government can, without difficulty, extend the duration of Parliament. There will be people always to propose that, when you are in any sort of a crisis. I can remember that, at one stage, supporters of the former Government made representations to us to get the term of Parliament extended. I think it was before 1927. We were approaching the date of the election and proposals were made to us that steps should be taken to extend the life of Parliament for a period. You are always liable to have Deputies proposing that. Let us suppose that the stock of a government is falling and that the government feels that that is due to its being in a difficult period. It feels that its policy has been justified, though the fruits of that policy have not just come yet, but that, if they had a little longer period in office, these fruits would certainly show themselves. Along with that you have Deputies who feels that they are likely to lose their seats, and so on. As a result of all this, you can have strong pressure put on a government to extend the life of Parliament for another period. Strong, if specious, arguments might be put to a government in such a case, and one can easily imagine that government saying: "We will remain in office for another year until our policy, which we believe in, is given a fair chance to show its fruits and until a fair verdict can be given on the results of our policy; the fruits have not yet had time to show themselves, and we will give one more year in order to give the fruits of our policy a chance to show themselves to the electorate." That is a temptation into which any government can fall.
There is also the question of giving additional legislative power to the Cabinet. First of all, of course, it is undoubtedly a great nuisance for any Minister to have to go even into the Dáil to defend a Bill. He has to sustain a great deal of abuse and, perhaps, of misrepresentation. Appeals may be made from his own side to amend the Bill unfairly so as to suit particular interests; and, generally it is an unpleasant thing to have to steer a Bill through the Parliamentary Assembly. As a result, cases will often arise in which Governments here will seek powers to legislate in a similar manner to Governments in other countries in which such powers have been given by Parliament. In many cases Deputies would be willing to give such powers to the Cabinet because, very often, a Government has to pass through the Dáil a Bill which is fairly unpopular throughout the country and about which many catch-cries can be raised. In such cases you will find Deputies, who would like to see the Bill passed, who recognise that it has to be passed, but who would be glad to have no hand in its passing. You will often find Deputies in that position. They would like to see the Bill passed, but they do not wish to face the possible odium of voting for it, and you will often see Deputies in such a case looking for pairs—although that is the same thing as voting, in effect while very often the government will like to get powers to save Ministers from facing the terrible ordeal to which a Minister often has to submit. In such a case, in order to avoid responsibility for the unpleasant things, you will often find Deputies only too anxious to urge the government to take all the responsibility and to say to the government: "You are the people in charge; take this matter in hand and do what is necessary, and we will give you the necessary vote of confidence." Accordingly, you have a great danger of a situation arising in which the powers of the Dáil will tend to become very restricted indeed.
Senator MacEllin referred to the effect of Proportional Representation in this regard. I think that, when you have very small majorities, you do get excessive discipline in Parties. Discipline is necessary in any assembly, but in Parliaments like the British Parliament, where there is a big majority, members of a Party are allowed a great deal of discretion and a member is even allowed to vote against his Party without being expelled. Consequently, a certain amount of independence is allowed and even encouraged, and if a Government were to be too arbitrary there would be an uprising against it. Our system of Proportional Representation, however, necessitates an amount of rigidity unknown on the other side of the Channel. Therefore, where you have a Government Party of the kind we have on this side of the water, you are not so likely to have any revolt against any action of the Government which may be undesirable, and you will find a greater inclination here to swallow everything than you will find in a different type of Parliament. Then, there is also the danger that Senator MacEllin alluded to—the danger of things being done by combinations of Parties. You will find in the case of a government formed by such a combination, where it would be impossible for the Government itself to carry things through the Dáil the Dáil might agree to give the combined group in the Cabinet the powers that are required.
Generally, I think that the abolition of the Second Chamber raises up very grave dangers. I am not at all saying that, in deciding to operate with a Single Chamber, the Government has in mind the doing of any outrageous things or that it has in mind the limiting of the legislative functions of the Dáil or interference with the liberty of the citizen in any way in which it would not interfere if the Seanad were here; but what is happening is that a position of temptation is being created; a position, if you like, of inducement; and when some sort of a difficulty or crisis occurs—and one cannot foresee the events that may arise — there is grave danger that things that the Government does not intend to do at all now will be undertaken and rushed through when there is no check by means of a Second Chamber. Of course, Governments, like individuals are human, and a group that constitutes a Government, which is like any other group of people, will act under the impulse of fear or the impulse of anger. It will be subject sometimes to an anxiety that amounts to panic, and sometimes it will behave with a measure of obstinacy that the circumstances do not warrant. All the failings in the human being are to be found in the group that constitutes a Government, and so you will undoubtedly have Governments, which have no effective check on them, rushing into one sort of measure or another which, in the general interests and even in their own interests is undesirable.
Now, where a Second Chamber differs from the principal Chamber is that the fate of a Government does not depend on it. The Second Chamber can check or defeat a Government without bringing it down, and, therefore, a Second Chamber can oppose its follies in an entirely different spirit to the Dáil. The Second Chamber can be perfectly cool about things which are bound to be a source of great anxiety to the principal Chamber of the Legislature. It is a very grave responsibility for a Deputy to defeat a Government which he has been elected to support. And remember that at the present time a Deputy is not elected for his own eloquence or other qualities. As a general rule, he is elected to support a Party or the Leader of a Government. He is very definitely elected in that way, and it is the gravest possible responsibility for a Deputy to vote against a Government on any matter of confidence and to throw out that Government. A member of a Second Chamber, whether he is elected on a strictly Party ticket or not, can act much more freely, because he knows that the Government will not be brought down. He knows that the Government can seek some other way of doing the things it wants to do, and, in the last resort, cannot throw the blame on him. Consequently, he can act according to his judgment.
Going back to the matter of experience, I would like to say that even though there has been perhaps more Party feeling in this Seanad than one would wish, certainly more than I would wish, there has been nothing like the Party rigidity that there has been in the Dáil. On a great number of matters, every Party here has divided, even on very important matters. Senators have acted according to their own judgment. And that will always be possible even if you have a bad system of election, if you have people one or two removes away from the contact that Deputies have, and if you have some fairly reasonable period of office.
This notion of abolishing the Seanad and operating under a Single Chamber has been defended as an experiment, but I am afraid that it is a bigger experiment than those who talk about it that way realise. It is a leap into the unknown. When some Senator yesterday was talking about it as an experiment, Senator Johnson jocularly remarked that it was an experiment like cutting one's throat. Now, I think from the constitutional point of view it is very much like that. A man draws a razor when he cuts his throat, and what will happen after that is something that he cannot visualise very well now. If the Oireachtas as a whole cuts its own throat by converting itself into a Single Chamber system, nobody can know what will happen. Suppose, for the sake of argument, anybody wanted to move to a dictatorship, the way would be perfectly easy. I want to say this quite candidly, whatever views I may have had about President de Valera's intentions when he came into office, that I do not believe now that his intention is to move on to a dictatorship, but it would be perfectly easy for him to do it, and if he changed his mind—and anybody may change his mind—then, with the sort of backing he would have in the Dáil, he could move easily from one step to another until we would have the type of Government that exists in countries where the ordinary liberties of the people have been taken away. Therefore, I hope the Seanad, by as large a majority as possible, will support Senator Douglas's motion in favour of the principle of a Second Chamber, and if that motion is defeated that they will vote against the Bill.
I wish to give my reasons as to why I cannot support the Bill introduced by the Government for the abolition of the Seanad. Some members of the House may think it a curious thing for an engineer to get up and speak on this, but my connection with the Seanad in this country has been a long one. As far back as 1921 I was nominated a Senator of the Southern Irish Parliament by the then English Government, and subsequently was nominated a member of this House by the last Government. The fact that my nomination to this House was vigorously supported by all Parties in the Dáil was deeply felt by me as an immense compliment. In my opinion, this Bill for the abolition of the Seanad will, if passed into law, put an end to the great hopes I had always entertained of seeing a united Ireland. It is 70 years now since first I came to Ireland, and at my present great age and after my long association with the country I consider myself almost an Irishman. I look back with great pleasure to the fact that at my elections to this House I always received the cordial support of all Parties. Speaking from an engineering point of view, my experience in the country has led me to the conviction that a united Ireland would be of immense advantage to us. As Senators know, I was appointed chairman of the Water-Power Resources Committee of Ireland. My work on that committee brought me into close contact with the people of the North and South. Indeed, I may say that my first connection with the country was in the North, while the greater part of my professional life has been spent in the South. My long experience has led me to this conclusion—that it would be of great advantage to us to have the energy of the North united to the fine qualities which are peculiar to the people of the South. I have a great desire to see a united country, but I feel that the passage of this Bill will hinder, rather than help, the consummation of that desire. From my experience of the North I cannot believe that the people there will ever consent to be united with their fellow-countrymen in the South in the circumstances that must prevail when this Bill becomes law.
Fourteen years ago I was asked by the Council of the Royal Dublin Society to give a lecture on "The Water-Power Resources of Ireland," the reason of that being that I had been chairman of the Water-Power Resources Committee. With your permission, Sir, I should like to read a sentence from that lecture. It is a very short one, but it will show the difficulty, from an engineer's point of view, of a divided Ireland:
"It will probably interest you to know that the use of the water power resources of the River Erne is likely to be obstructed by some of the political problems of the day, unless common sense gets the better of political infatuation."
I may say that the River Erne is the most powerful river in Ireland from a water-power resources point of view, and I was very anxious at that time to get that started very early in our improvements. When I refer to the catchment basin, I mean where the rainfall occurs that flows into the River Erne:
"The catchment basin of the Erne is almost entirely included in Northern Ireland, while the sites for the power stations, between Belleek and the sea, are in Southern Ireland. Can you imagine a more fruitful cause of friction—another river battlefield for poor Ireland?"
I was then referring, of course, to the Battle of the Boyne:
"Is this a possible reason for the suggested revision of boundaries? May it not be better used in the cause of a united Ireland, taken out of the hands of the politician and placed under the control of the engineer, for the use and convenience of Irishmen?"
You may think I have made a very foolish set of remarks, but it is really very much in my heart that we should do all in our power to unite the South and the North. I am afraid that this Bill will actually put a stop to it, at least as long as it remains on the Statute Book.
I have only a few words to say in support of Senator Douglas's motion. Nothing that we can say or do here to-day is likely to have any practical effect on the continued existence or otherwise of this House, but I hope the majority of us are going to protest against the Resolution of the Dáil. The form of protest is very important, and it seems to me that Senator Douglas's motion is the proper form. It is dignified, and it goes to the root of the matter. To abolish the Seanad without putting anything in its place seems to me to be a very long step away from liberty, and a long step towards dictatorship. My justification for saying that, apart from the course of future events, is the circumstances under which the abolition of this House came to be started as a political thing. The President lost his temper with the House and went straight out to draft a Bill for its abolition. There is nothing very constitutional in a method like that; there is something eminently dictatorial about it. His not being here to-day is also, of course, rather dictatorial. After all, this is a very important occasion in the constitutional history of this country, and one would have really thought that the head of the Government would have taken the trouble to be here.
Dictators and dictatorial forms of government are bad, and they are bad for this reason over all others, in my opinion. They sometimes appear to be necessary, and sometimes do a great deal of good in the beginning, but practically always end badly. I think one of the reasons is that they deprive the people of the country concerned of a sense of responsibility. The dictator does everything; he is looked to for everything; people cease to govern themselves or take any real responsibility in the affairs of their country, and that demoralises the people as a whole.
It is a matter of world experience that Second Chambers, however unnecessary in theory, are necessary in practice. They are necessary for the protection of the people. I am not now speaking only of the protection of minorities, although that is a very important factor. Also, of course, minorities do not always consist of the same sort of people. They may be a very different lot of people at one time from what they are at another. But for the protection of the people as a whole, a Second Chamber is necessary. The bicameral system, as it is called, is shown by the experience of the world to be the best. A number of examples of Single Chamber government have cropped up since the war. Senator Douglas, in moving his resolution, referred to them. They have none of them stood the test of time, whereas the two-chamber system has stood the test of time in most of the civilised countries of the world.
We heard in the debate yesterday that the Seanad deserves to be abolished because it has overridden the will of the people. What does that mean? That means that on several occasions this House has refused a Second Reading to Bills. What is a Second Chamber for? That is one of the things which it is for. If it never does that kind of thing, and it is never going to, it is not worth while having at all. So that it seems to me that that is a complete misconception of what a Second Chamber is for. The phrase, "Overriding the will of the people," does not seem to me to have any real meaning, but to be what you might call demagogy.
To illustrate the principle at issue, may I take for the moment the family? The family is the smallest unit of associated life. Suppose to yourself a family of a father and mother and four children in the twenties; all get the franchise; all qualified to express an opinion as to how certain matters in connection with the house and money should be dealt with. The four children all want a certain thing. The father and mother say: "No, you must not have that; you wait and you will get wiser when you think over it; that is foolish and a mistake and we will not have it." That is overriding the will of the majority. That is merely on a small scale what we are dealing with in a nation. I hold that it is a perfectly sensible parallel.
This Seanad is not, in my opinion, in every way an ideal Second Chamber. I doubt whether such a thing as an ideal Second Chamber exists in any country. But a great many exist, and have existed for a very long time, and all have worked very well. So that, because this may not be an ideal Second Chamber is no reason why there should be no Second Chamber. It seems to me that our greatest weakness is the system of our election, which has now been in force for a number of years. In effect we are elected by the Dáil. That is really what it amounts to, or something very near it. It seems to me to be a very bad system of election. Indeed I can only see one merit in it and that is that it was the cause of my being elected twice. Obviously when a House is elected in that kind of way it tends more and more to become a replica of the other House, and that is not what you want. It becomes less true to the terms of the Constitution. These are the words of the Constitution:—
"Seanad Eireann shall be composed of citizens who shall be proposed on the grounds that they have done honour to the nation by reason of useful public service or that, because of special qualifications or attainments, they represent important aspects of the nation's life."
That as a principle is simply admirable and can hardly be beaten. It is a very difficult thing to create a new Second Chamber. It is not impossible, but it is difficult, and it seems to me that in the matter of something to take the place of this House that as little as possible should be thrown away. Tradition is vitally important in matters of this kind. We have a certain tradition here and it would be a great pity that it should be entirely thrown away. We have got three courses open to us here. We can acquiesce and pass this Bill which would be a self-condemnatory action on our part. We can refuse to give it a Second Reading, or we can amend it in the way it was proposed to be amended by the resolution of Senator Douglas. I think that is the right way to do it. By suggesting that this Bill be amended in this way we, who know how greatly legislation has benefited in the 13 years by the labours of this House, should at least record our protest against its abolition without anything being put in its place. The experience of the modern civilised world may be urged against the abolition of this House. The President has proposed in a fit of temper to abolish this House; he has never shown any reason for doing so. That there has been no proposal to reform this House does not mean that none of us would be capable of suggesting reform. I think we are capable of doing it. That reform ought to take the shape of requiring a new method of election to the Seanad. By that means you retain the advantage of such tradition as we possess and the value of that tradition is a good deal.
Politics in this country never tended to be very mealy-mouthed. Politics generally tended to be rather in the opposite if not in a very violent direction. This House has a far better record for moderation and toleration than the other House. That has occurred to me more forcibly than it might have occurred to many other Senators here. I represent what is known to many people as the West British element in this country. I never made any disguise of it. I know that is the kind of thing I would represent to many people. There are degrees of West Britonism. I was never one whose eyes were fixed on the past. I am always looking to the future. I have accepted facts or I would not be here. Now it has always surprised me that I have been given so good a hearing as I have in this House, particularly in view of the fact that we are here in this House which came into being as a result of a revolution—a revolution against union with England. It was known that I was in those days one of those who favoured that union as being in the best interests of this country, but it seems to me surprising in view of that, that we here have been giving in this House an example of toleration. That is an example of the tradition that we can create for ourselves, because when we started we had no tradition. It seemed to come automatically from the beginning. It seems to me that the toleration that has been shown here in debate is not the least creditable thing during our time here. That toleration has a certain national and moral value. If there is not a Second Chamber that will all be thrown away and we will have a Government by Party without check, delay or restriction. That is a very dangerous thing in any country, and it is particularly so in a country like this where experience of self-government is extremely short. It is especially dangerous where you have full adult suffrage. Abolishing the Second Chamber in such circumstances is a reckless and dangerous experiment. I hope the House will adopt the amendment.
I should like to conclude by a quotation, not a long one. It seems to me to be a summary of almost everything said by those of us who do not agree with Single Chamber government, and it particularly fits into what was said by Senator Dowdall yesterday. The quotation is from John Stuart Mill. He was not a Tory. Indeed he was very much of an advanced thinker; he was a great authority on constitutional subjects. Here is what he has said:—
"A majority in a Single Assembly, when it has assumed a permanent character—when composed of the same persons habitually acting together, and always assured of victory in their own House—easily becomes despotic and overweening, if released from the necessity of considering whether its acts will be concurred in by another constituted authority. The same reason which induced the Romans to have two consuls, makes it desirable there should be two Chambers: that neither of them may be exposed to the corrupting influence of undivided power, even for the space of a single year."
The motion that Senator Douglas has moved asks:—
That consideration of the Second Stage of the Constitution (Amendment No. 24) Bill, 1935, be postponed until a later date to enable.... a conference to take place between the representatives of this House and the representatives of Dáil Eireann.
Between those two sentences there is a proposal that another Second Chamber might be established. I think the case that Senator Douglas made was a very powerful one. But there is a possible method, I think, of meeting the case that has been made for a Second Chamber by a reconstituted Dáil. I would like this motion to have contained an alternative possibility of providing a Parliamentary institution, even though it consisted of a Single Chamber, which it would guarantee that those safeguards that are claimed to be provided by the existence of a Single Chamber would be made certain by a reconstituted Single Chamber. I am going to support this motion of Senator Douglas believing that if such a conference were held the examination of that proposition would not be precluded. Senator Douglas made some references, and gave a quotation from the President's speech on the Second Reading of this Bill in the Dáil on 25th May, 1934. I propose to make a quotation or two supplemental to that, and perhaps extend the quotations which Senator Douglas gave us from President de Valera's speech. On the 25th of May, 1934, the President said (Parliamentary Debates, Volume 52, column 1866):—
"We come along and say the existing Second Chamber should go, and safeguards for the liberties of the people will have to be devised otherwise."
In column 1877 he went on to say:—
"If we agree in this House that a selected number of Articles guaranteeing fundamental rights are to be preserved, if we decide, for their preservation, that they cannot, for example, be changed by the Dáil except by a specified majority or on approval by the people by way of referendum, I believe that an alteration of the Constitution embodying that will be effective."
A little further on he says:—
"But the position at the moment legally is that, for a certain period of years, Articles of the Constitution can be amended by ordinary legislation. We can bring in a Bill here to amend these Articles if amendment should seem, in the light of experience, to be wise. We can guarantee these Articles against constant change either by way of requiring a Vote of this House so large as to ensure that, if it is obtained, there must be a strong popular demand for the change, or else provide that a change, to be effective, must be approved of by the people through the means of a Referendum."
Further on in column 1878 he says:—
"To meet the views of those who fear that either this Dáil or a subsequent Dáil might ignore these fundamental rights in the Constitution, I propose at a later stage, when this examination shall have been completed, to indicate certain Articles and bring them in in a special measure with safeguards by which they cannot be changed by a simple majority. It will be for the Dáil to decide whether or not that course is wise and necessary. Personally, I should like to see that done, and the Government will have no objection whatever to having it done."
It is apparent from those quotations that the President had in mind, speaking for the Executive Council, that there was need for fundamental constitutional provisions which could not be and ought not to be capable of being amended or expunged by a simple majority vote of the Dáil. He realised the necessity for certain fundamental Articles of the Constitution safeguarding the liberties of the people, and one had a right to expect, to anticipate and believe that such a measure would be brought under the consideration of the Dáil and Seanad before this present Bill became effective law. That has not been done. The position, therefore, is that with a Single Chamber without any constitutional safeguards whatever, and there are none to-day, the majority of the Dáil at any time could within two hours deprive the public, if they so desired, of all constitutional safeguards. There is nothing whatever in the law or Constitution which would prevent the Dáil, at the instance of a Minister, removing every possible constitutional safeguard and removing every statute from the statute book. That is a tremendous saying, but it will bear examination and I, for one, am not prepared, no matter if it were the Angel Gabriel come to earth who proposed to get that kind of power —I am not prepared to concede it.
In the course of these discussions quite a number of authorities have been quoted on constitutional matters and amongst others there has been a reference to Professor H.J. Laski, who is Professor of Political Science in the London University. Professor Laski is one of the authorities on constitutional and political subjects who is in favour of a Single Chamber legislature and one can see in the course of these discussions a certain echo of his writings on that subject. I want to quote one of his statements:—
"It ought not, for instance, to be possible for a revolution like that of Mussolini to express itself through constitutional forms."
Remember in this regard what I said, that the Dáil could quite constitutionally create a revolution such as that of Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, or Pilsudski in Poland. The Professor's statement proceeds:—
"Liberty is, in any case, a sufficiently fragile thing for it to be wise to make its suppression less easy than it has become in recent times. Men who are determined to enforce a change of this kind by violence will doubtless resort to it if no other means lies open. But it is, it may be urged, better that their efforts should be plainly revolutionary, than that they should be able to pervert the Constitution to their purpose. Atheism, after all, should not be preached from the pulpit of a Cathedral."
That quotation, I think, is appropriate to the situation that will be created if nothing else takes the place of the Seanad as at present constituted.
I want to argue in this connection that if the two-Chamber system is to be abandoned, it becomes essential that the Single Chamber should be recast and reconstructed and be given different powers with additional safeguards. It is certainly worth close consideration and I think it is possible for a Single Chamber to be established which would have the safeguards that I think are necessary for the public liberties. I, for one, am not very much moved by the assertions that are made in respect of Second Chambers as being the safeguards of public liberty. Occasionally they may be, but speaking for that large and respectable class in the community, the people of no property, I think the experience has been that Second Chambers have, in fact, been constituted for the purpose, and have generally effectively fulfilled their purpose, of restraining and restricting those urgings that have come from the demands of the disinherited classes. But we have, on the other hand, a large body of civic liberties which are not peculiarly the property or the need of these disinherited classes.
The citizen generally has, in the course of many generations of striving, secured certain civic liberties, public freedom against the Executive. I want to emphasise again that the course of democratic development, development to something approaching democracy, and the growth of Parliamentary institutions in themselves have been, in part at any rate, a protection of the public against the Executive, and recent events throughout the world have shown that we must be more and more conscious of the need for that protection against the Executive. And it is not because the Executive start out with the intention of being autocratic, and taking upon themselves excessive powers, of doing the things which are protested against in the name of liberty—Senator Blythe threw some light upon this—it is that when the Executive Government finds itself in a difficulty, when there is a problem to be solved that cannot be solved by constitutional forms, it decides to do these things, and to utilise the power given to them in a way never intended. One may quote in support of that statement quite a number of pieces of legislation that we have passed in this country, that have been used for purposes which Ministers, when they introduced these Bills, never intended they should be used for.
Take, for instance, the Emergency Imposition of Duties Bill, 1932. And, by the way, it is well to remind ourselves that the Oireachtas has given the Executive powers, under Article 2 (a) of the Constitution and the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act, which would make it very easy by constitutional forms to make any revolution they wished. When the Emergency Imposition of Duties Bill was introduced into this House by Senator Connolly, as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs—I am not going into political controversy, but I must quote this, which will be found in the Official Reports, Volume 15, column 1258, 18th July, 1932—he said:
"Last week the British Cabinet decided to impose a special tariff on various commodities exported from this country to Great Britain, and, in view of the position that has been created, the Executive Council have decided that it is necessary during the long recess that adequate powers be vested in them to deal in such manner as to them may seem wise, with regard to what may be frankly called a reprisals attitude, in regard to the imposition of a tariff on such goods as may be coming here from Britain or elsewhere."
I am not questioning at all the necessity for having these powers in the existing circumstances of that time. But these powers enable the Minister to impose duties which will be valid for eight months, on anything coming into this country, of any amount; to impose Excise duties and stamp duties on any article, or instrument, of any kind, or of any amount; and he can for that period of time at any rate do without any other form of taxation. But the powers of that Act were never intended, of course, to do what they were used for, and are being used for up to the present time, as, for instance, to impose protective duties on laces, rice husks, cheese, and many little things of that kind. Without alteration in any way, once such powers are given to Ministers their use may be extended beyond the original intention or purpose because it is easy to do things they wish to do by powers given to them for other purposes.
We had in 1923 an Act introduced into the Dáil, in view of the pressure of circumstances, to give powers to the Minister for Local Government to adapt, and regularise, the law relating to poor law, namely, the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act. It was promised, at that time, that there would be a permanent Act introduced later. We are still in the period of the Temporary Provisions Act, and the law relating to local government has been very considerably altered by Orders issued by the Minister under the powers of that Act. We know, again, how a Defence Forces Act was introduced, and passed both Houses, with no discussion at all, one might say, though that Act contained, I do not know, how many hundred sections. It was a temporary Act, which was brought in under the promise that a permanent Act was to be introduced later. But that permanent Act was never brought in, because it was found convenient for the Administration to continue from year to year with this temporary measure.
I mention these matters to show that the intention of Ministers, when introducing legislation, may be everything that is desirable. The powers given to them, under the pressure of circumstances, may make it seem desirable; but they use these powers, when they have got them, in a manner never intended, and for which they themselves never sought to have them. We are thus, under this Bill, placing the Dáil in a position of being able to abrogate control by the Constitution if it wishes. That seems to me, in view of the absence of any constitutional safeguard whatever, a power that should not be given if we can prevent it.
The Seanad, therefore, exists as a possible means whereby a Ministry with a majority in the Dáil might be forced to submit a Bill for public consideration. Senator Blythe expressed a view which I agree with. He spoke of the existence of a Second Chamber forcing public discussion, by the delay that inevitably occurs between the introduction of a Bill and the enactment of that Bill. Such a delay may make it possible, at least, for public opinion to find expression. That is the value of a Second Chamber in the absence of any constitutional provision making necessary a delay, in the passing of legislation through a Single Chamber.
I think it is worth while to consider our parliamentary institution in its purpose and intention. I think the fact is important that the institution we have experience of and know, and form part of, is based upon British practice, and that part of its procedure and practice conforms more or less to the procedure and practice of the House of Commons. The growth of this procedure was conditioned by the existence of a Second Chamber in Britain. If we are going to confer the powers to legislate and make constitutional alterations and amendments to a Single Chamber whose practice and procedure have grown up and developed in the atmosphere of a Double Chamber system, then I think the foundation of that practice has been cut away. The relation of Ministers to the Chamber and the arrangements about finance have all grown out of a parliamentary procedure which assumed the existence of a Second Chamber.
I think that the case made for a Second Chamber, so far as it is a valid one, is this— that it ensures that a reasonable time is allowed between the introduction of legislation and its enactment to enable Deputies and the public to become aware of the purposes of that legislation; that it requires that there should be critical public examination and discussion not only of the main purposes of a legislative proposal but of the secondary consequences, those minor matters that do not come into the public view and are not the subject of acute controversy and do not receive close examination in the Dáil. I contend also that one of the conditions that should be ensured is that minority opinions shall be heard and considered. The Dáil, as we know it, is, under these heads, a very great offender. It has been the experience, on several occasions, that the Dáil has not considered the general principles of legislation with due regard to their importance. In regard to close examination of the consequences of the minor provisions of measures, the Dáil fails and has failed very frequently. The Seanad has sometimes come to the aid of the Dáil and remedied the defects but, I think, only partially and occasionally.
In my understanding of what is required of a democratic parliamentary system it should provide that, as far as practicable, the people shall consent to and approve of the new laws and the amendments of the old laws under which they shall live. As direct consultation with the people by an executive is impossible, the representative system has been introduced. The representative system has, in recent generations, always tried to ensure—we, in our Constitution, have provided for it—that the sittings should, in normal circumstances, be in public. I do not think that anybody will deny that the object of that publicity is not merely to enable the public to attend a performance but to ensure that the people shall be at least made aware of what is being enacted in their name. In modern conditions, that means Press publicity and, in ultra-modern conditions, possibly the broadcasting of the proceedings of Parliament. It is important that that fact should be borne in mind in view of the necessity for delay. When a Single Chamber has power to alter its own Standing Orders and pass legislation in a single day the object of the public hearing and of giving an opportunity to the public to know what is being done in their name is abrogated and lost. Senator Blythe pointed out that he had no expectation or belief that there was any intention or desire on the part of the present Administration to do any of these bad things, but crises may arise at any time, or force of circumstances may induce them, as he pointed out, to do things which they at present do not desire to do.
I now come to what might be regarded by many people as the greater danger—the lack of critical examination of the secondary consequences of legislation. After all, when large measures which excite keen controversy are in the air there is a certain amount of publicity, and the chances of doing things of a grave nature surreptitiously are not very great and the occasions are not very frequent. But, as we are learning more and more, in measures brought before Parliament there are many minor proposals which are not the subject of explanation by the Minister and which frequently do not receive any examination on Committee Stage in the other Chamber. It is matters affecting interests which too often receive all the consideration on Committee Stage. The growth of administrative law, the power to devolve upon Ministers legislative authority by Orders and Regulations is a matter of very grave importance. Senator Douglas quoted from a statement signed by two lawyers dealing with the character of our legislation, in which they stated that it is becoming more and more a mere declaration of principles, leaving to the Executive authority the power to fill in the blanks. We have a new Civil Service growing up. It is growing up in this environment of administrative law. It is becoming accustomed to legislation which confers on the Executive the power to do legislative acts by Orders. Hitherto, under the old Administration, civil servants, who are the principal advisers of Ministers in drawing up proposals regarding legislation, were impressed with the necessity for conforming to Parliamentary practice and the need for circumspection in regard to the powers of Ministers. But the new Civil Service, growing up under these new conditions, will become more and more inclined to introduce into their legislative proposals suggestions that this, that and the other shall be referred to Ministers to give effect to by Order and Regulation.
I am saying that the Dáil, as we know it, has not done its duty in regard to this body of law and has not done its duty in effective criticism of this particular kind of provision. I have taken the trouble to inquire as to the processes of Departmental legislation. There is a class of legislation which is the subject of public discussion, and, very often, of Party controversy, and one may anticipate that that kind of a Bill is going to be examined critically by the Opposition, that amendments are going to be put forward and that there is perhaps going to be line by line examination. That may be done, but there is the other class of Bill which does not excite Party controversy—economic and social reform measures which are becoming more and more the theme for which legislation is proposed. I am suggesting that the system by which our legislation has been enacted, and, under a Single Chamber, will more and more be enacted, is very bad from the point of view of this close examination.
You have a proposal, let us say, for a Bill which is mainly machinery and Departmental; there is general agreement in the Department as to what is required. The impulse may come from the Minister because of political agitation or it may come from the Department because of the need they have felt in the Department. The heads of the Bill, let us say, are agreed to by the Executive Council and the filling in of all the provisions regarding machinery is then left to the Department and the draftsmen. With this new Civil Service which has grown up under, and has been nurtured on, the system of Departmental administration and legislation by Order, we will have more and more, I suggest, the kind of legislation which will embody powers to Ministers to do the law making. The heads of the Bill have been approved by the Executive Council and filled in by the Departmental officials and draftsmen and it is presented to the Dáil. The Minister comes to the House and explains its general purposes on Second Reading. Its general purposes are discussed on Second Reading and it is accepted. Then you have the examination in Committee and the Party system is operating. I am submitting that it is a denial of what is required of a Parliament to use that Party system for the carrying through of measures of this kind.
Let me take two illustrations such as the innocuous Road Traffic Bill and the Road Transport Bill. The Minister is in charge of the Bill and a considerable number of amendments are put forward. The Minister proposes to reject most of them and accept a few. These amendments are almost wholly, if not wholly, put forward by the Opposition. Everyone of those which he rejects is voted upon and his supporters meekly obey the orders of the Whips. The Road Transport Bill was a Bill of 68 sections. Can it be conceived that the Party behind the Minister of, say, 80 members had no interest in a Bill of that kind which would justify speeches by only two members of that Party outside the Minister? A Bill of 68 sections goes through the House and the only interest shown by the Deputies behind the Minister is measured by the fact that two of the Deputies of that Party have anything to say whatever on the measure.
The Road Traffic Bill with 175 sections and a Schedule is examined in Committee. One would certainly believe that a representative Chamber, on a measure which is not of a Party character, would have views to express on numerous items in that measure, and yet we find that, apart from an amendment dealing with the facilities to be given to G.A.A. supporters to attend a football match, as to which three Deputies supporting the Government made short speeches, and speeches by two other Deputies who spoke on the speed limit, and one other Deputy who took a continuing interest in the Bill, the whole of the discussion on these 175 sections was maintained by the Opposition, by the non-Governmental Parties and the Minister. I am not making any charge against the Deputies behind the Minister for their failure to do that, because it is a practice that began in 1923, and I think the explanation lies in this, that the Dáil procedure is a procedure which relegates to a Minister power to carry through Parliamentary measures, having got the consent in a Party meeting. It would not be very risky, I think, to say that the details of measures of that kind do not get consideration in Party meetings, and, even if that were the case, it is not the place for criticism and examination and discussion of details of measures to be undertaken.
This may seem somewhat apart from the purpose of this Motion, but I think I can show that it implies that, as a legislative instrument, the Dáil, to whom is, in effect, going to be handed over the whole power of legislation, and criticism of the Government and check upon the Executive, is not, will not and cannot, under its present procedure and method of conduct of business, do the work which a Legislature ought to do and which the public expects that Legislature to be doing.
We are, I think, coming to the question as to what we want the Parliamentary machine to do. Have we come to the stage when we think of democratic government as being a system whereby representatives will be elected for the main purpose, as Senator Blythe suggested, of supporting a Government; that once having set up a Government they should leave to that Government all the functions of legislation, to legislate by decree, occasionally calling the Chamber together and asking for its ratification? That is one view, a view that is growing in practice throughout the world. The other view is that the Legislature should be an instrument for setting down the desires of the people in legislation and participating in the work of legislation, having regard to the current desires of the public. I have the feeling that, perhaps carelessly, possibly deliberately, in a good many minds to-day, it is thought that, once having elected a Government, there should never be any criticism of that Government and that there should be free acquiescence in anything that Government does. One reads occasionally references to having elected a Government to lead and that we should follow that lead. I do not think those statements, which I have read frequently, and heard more frequently, are deliberately and thoughtfully made. I can understand that point of view when we are in the throes of a national crisis or at enmity or at war with another people, but I think it is an entire misunderstanding of what is aimed at when we speak of democratic Parliamentary government. I believe the Dáil as at present constituted will be inefficient and dangerous if it has complete power, such as will be given unless it is reconstructed radically and an entirely new method of doing its business is established.
Senator Blythe spoke of the disciplined Party system. I believe that the disciplined Party system in this Parliament or other Parliaments is, and will be, destructive of Parliamentary institutions. I should like to ask consideration of this proposition: that our modern system of regimented, pledge-bound Parties arose from the Parnellite Party in the British House of Commons on the one side, and the Social-democratic Parties on the Continent, particularly Germany, on the other side. The idea of pledge-bound Parties, disciplined and regimented as we know them—more or less disciplined and more or less regimented— was not known before those years, I think; and let it be borne in mind that the idea of the disciplined Party arose in Parliaments into which those disciplined Parties went as foreign institutions, where the disciplined Party entered for the purpose of destroying that institution and making government by that institution impossible. That was true of the Parnellite Party in the House of Commons; that was true to a large extent of the Social democratic Parties on the Continent of Europe. They went into those Parliaments for the purpose of using them to a degree—not to be of them, but always feeling themselves to be in a foreign atmosphere which they intended to overthrow some day or other. If we have adopted the practice of the disciplined, regimented Party which has come out of that source, I think the inevitable effects will be, if it is not greatly subdued, to destroy the democratic Parliamentary system.
Inherently, in my view, the Parliamentary system presupposes the acceptance, by those who operate its institutions, of the political system in which the Parliament functions. By wise compromise in recent times, there has been a modification. It has been made possible by the removal of tests, oaths, etc., for the representatives of revolutionary minorities to participate in these institutions—that is, participation by people who do not accept the system which the Parliamentary machine is designed to operate but agree to utilise the system in order, by appeal to public opinion, that they may some day turn minorities into majorities, and also, by being able to influence legislative changes, to prepare the ground and the public mind for the ultimate changes which they desire to effect. If it is to be made possible for a revolutionary minority, which rejects the social economic system of which the Parliament is the political expression, to operate in and through such an institution to achieve its ends, it is imperative that there shall be open discussion of the principles of measures and time for that open discussion to reach the public mind; that there shall be critical examination of the details of these measures, particularly having regard to the secondary consequences of those details, and that there shall be, in the third place, checks upon either the inadvertent or deliberate introduction of minor innovations which in their cumulative effect will give greatly enlarged powers to Executives and probably radically change the relations between the citizen and the Executive. If we allow a Single Chamber Legislature to operate—as if it is not radically changed, the Dáil as at present constituted would inevitably operate— then, I think, we are giving powers that ought not to be given.
Unless the safeguards that were indicated by President de Valera on the Second Reading of the Bill now under discussion are given effect to, and the Parliamentary system attuned to the necessities of the case, that is to say, that it is made really responsive to, and is in touch with popular opinion as voiced by its representatives, then the alternative for this country is a series of revolutions and counter revolutions. I think everyone is agreeable that that should be avoided. I do not think it can be avoided if we give powers to an Executive with an obedient, disciplined majority in the Dáil to overthrow the Constitution at its will. We are engaged more or less on a constitutional measure, and we are asked to agree to a new Constitution which will give all power to a majority in the Dáil. No constitutional safeguards are imposed upon that majority; there is no assurance that the judiciary shall be maintained independent; no assurance of any kind except the temporary will of the majority, that majority being, by virtue of the political system, obedient to and acquiescing in the desires of the Executive. The times in which we live are such as will place the Executive in very difficult quandaries, from which it will be very difficult to emerge. There will be other temptations. Senator Blythe's experience has shown how the temptations arise to use whatever powers are given by the Constitution for the purpose of getting out of temporary difficulties. I believe that is a dangerous power to give. I think it ought to be avoided. I believe the Executive Council is aware of the difficulties. I believe they would desire to avoid them. I do not believe they want that power. I do not believe they want power to give the chance to a majority in the Dáil to do what will be done by this Bill in its present form, without any safeguards. The fact that this proposal of Senator Douglas suggests a conference is an assurance of full and fair examination of any constitutional proposals, and is one that should be availed of. It is a great pity it has not been availed of any time within the last 12 months. I believe that I am perfectly justified in regarding Single Chamber government, without proper safeguards, as not being feasible or reasonable, and these safeguards must be a pre-condition of the change that is to be made. Therefore I intend to support the proposal of Senator Douglas.
Having listened to this debate since Senator Douglas moved his amendment, I cannot help asking the question: what has brought about this situation? In order to answer it, one has to look back a few years and to study the history of this House. We had some light thrown upon it by Senator Sir John Griffith. This House was established under circumstances and conditions that one might have hoped would have been a great success. Looking at the record of its work, one has to ask whether this House as constituted in 1922, and as it existed until a little while ago, has brought about the situation we are now considering. Senator Douglas, in the course of his address, emphasised the importance of the Constitution by which this House was established, and the danger of disregarding the terms of that Constitution. I wonder if he has forgotten that he was a member of the House when it passed 17 amendments to the Constitution, the effect of which was to remove, in the view of those who drafted the Constitution, 17 of the most important safeguards of popular rights and liberty. I wonder if the Senator realised that. Up to 1931 there were 17 amendments of the Constitution under which this House originally assembled in 1922, and I am not aware that there was any very emphatic protest in this House against these amendments, or any one of them.
Another matter that Senator Douglas emphasised was the danger of a Constitution that had no provision in it for referendum, and the danger of a unicameral system of government. I am sure that is a fairly legitimate comment. The Constitution under which this House came into existence, had provisions for a referendum in two cases, one on presentation of a petition to the Government, either by two-thirds of the Dáil or Seanad, so that legislation should be deferred for the time specified in Article 47. That would have the effect of holding up legislation for the time provided in the Article. That provision was in the original Constitution, but it was removed by the Legislature and by this House. I would like to know the reason from some of the advocates who now suggest that it is an extraordinary thing to ask to have this House abolished. I should like to get some reason why that provision was removed by this House without any strong protest against the violation of the Constitution. I should also like to know why, in the year 1928, when 96,000 registered voters in this State presented a petition regarding legislation that they wished to have introduced, the Dáil at that time adjourned consideration of the petition until some machinery was set up for the purpose. I should like to know why approval was given in this House to the striking out of the Article of the Constitution under which that petition was presented, without setting up the machinery for considering it, and why it was that the Article striking out the power to present a referendum by the people was rejected and the rejection endorsed by this House. I should like to know from somebody who is here defending the House under which we now sit, as at present constituted, what they have got to say in excuse for that, having regard to what Senator Douglas has said with reference to the danger of the permanent removal or deletion from the Constitution of any provision by way of referendum.
Quotations were made use of by Senator Douglas from a dissenting judgment in a particular case, as showing the perils that would result from the abolition of portions of the Constitution which preserved the liberty of the subject. Article 2 (a), which was passed in this House in the year 1931 when the late Government were in office, went through this House without any very great resistance on the part of the House. That was the particular piece of legislation that drove, if I might use a very plain and simple description, a coach and four through every provision in the Constitution that was placed in it for the protection of the liberty of the subject. It was passed through this House in a space of time—I will not say how long it took; the members of the House who were here at the time can tell us whether it was long or short or whether or not it was strenuously opposed here—but it was passed here and made a permanent deletion from the Constitution. Now, it was pointed out here by Senator Douglas that that is a thing which places us in a very difficult position at the present time. It does place us in a difficult position, but who is to save us from that position that we are placed in by the deletion of those preservatives—those, what I may call, elementary things for the preservation of the liberties of the subject? Who is to save us from that position, and who is to preserve the liberty of the subject? Is it the people who removed those bulwarks of the liberty of the subject from the very Constitution itself? That is the question I should like to have answered.
Now, does the House realise one thing that strikes me very forcibly? When we are asked to pass judgment upon what has occurred in the House during a long period in the House, are we not judging in our own case? When somebody says: "We think you ought to be abolished as you are at present constituted," are we the best judges in our own cause? Challenging of jurors on the ground of prejudice, favour, or bias has always been regarded as a good cause for challenge. Similarly, a judge who had expressed views of a particular kind that would be indicative of a preconceived judgment in a case to be decided, would be regarded, and would so regard himself generally, as not being the proper judge to try the particular case in question. That is the position we are in. We have to judge our own cause. Another tribunal has expressed its judgment on that, of which tribunal there are very few here. The public and the voters have been appealed to, to judge of this Assembly as at present constituted, and, as I understand, they have pronounced judgment against it, and we are asked now to reverse the decision of the people upon that if we think it is so desired. In other words, we are judging our own cause against the judgment expressed by the people—the mere common people, of course, but they are the people for whose liberties we profess to be so anxious to preserve safeguards.
I am not going to go over—I do not think it would be fair—the details of the various addresses we have heard here. Some of them I would prefer not to comment upon, because I do not think that my friends who made these addresses would, on mature consideration, have said some of the things they did say about the personnel or the people who have access to this House. I do not know that, on mature consideration, the personnel of this House is a worthy subject of consideration in a question such as we are considering now. I also have my doubts as to whether it is a fitting thing to charge a person, who would not have the right to reply in this debate, with things of the sort that have been laid to his door here. We have heard a good deal said, and very emphatically said, about one or two subjects that I may refer to. It was suggested here yesterday that the responsibility for the present condition of things, or the continuance of the condition of things, with regard to the Boundary, should be laid at the door of the President of the Executive. That was distinctly said—that it was one of his offences against the public that should be borne in mind. I wonder whether this House remembers its responsibility as regards the Boundary. If the House has forgotten it, I shall remind the House. The Boundary Commission sat some time in the year 1926, and, some little while after the Boundary Commission had terminated its sittings—under circumstances into which I shall not go in very much detail because I happen to know something about them that it might be just as well not to say anything about now, and I merely refer to what happened after their sittings had terminated—but some time after the sittings of the Boundary Commission had terminated, there was brought to the notice of this House the fact that a certain agreement, about which a great deal of public discussion has taken place for the last couple of years, had been entered into by one of your Ministers and by somebody representing the English Government. One of the terms of that agreement was that the Boundary, so far as it could be made by those two signatories to it, should remain permanent and as it was. When an effort was made to have a committee set up to have an investigation as to the circumstances under which that agreement was come to and what led to it, this House stood behind the Minister, who said: "I will not allow any discussion, any disclosure, of the circumstances under which that agreement was come to, and I will not allow any of my staff who could throw any light upon it to do so either." I would like to know whether I have given an accurate account of what occurred? If I have been inaccurate in my relation of the facts, I can be corrected by any Senator, and I invite correction. This I do say, that when a charge is made against somebody else, the President of the Executive Council as it happens to be on the present occasion, that he is the person responsible for the continuation of the existing state of affairs regarding the Boundary, I appeal to the sense of fair play which this House is claiming for itself to remember what occurred with reference to that transaction in 1926, and I ask: Are they satisfied with the part they took on that occasion in not insisting on a full disclosure of the circumstances that led up to that agreement of 1926?
So far for that matter. That is one of the things that has been said of the President. Other things have been laid at his charge, but I am sure there is not any shadow of foundation for these charges which I will not go into now because, I think, they were unworthy of the House. There have been references to banquets and entertainments at Geneva. I presume the gentlemen who made these references meant to suggest that these things did take place in Geneva. I wonder do either of these gentlemen pledge their accuracy as to the happening of these events on which they grounded their attacks on the President? I am not going to follow my friends into the other matters that they referred to because I do not think they were worthy of this House and I pass them by.
As I have already pointed out, we stand in the position of being judges of our own cause—appealing from a verdict which has been given against us. We have been impleaded before the electorate and they have found against us. What is the answer furnished by Senators here who are advocating support of this amendment? That they are apprehensive of the common people. They say: "Do not give the representatives of the people the right to manage their own affairs without control by us or some assembly such as this. If you give them control of their own affairs you will have revolutions constantly occurring here." Have they no confidence in their own countrymen? Do they doubt either the honesty or the ability of their own countrymen to manage their own affairs? I would like to have an answer to these questions. The young people of this country can no longer— and, we may say, thank God for it— go away in emigrant ships. They will have to live in this country and will have to be provided for—the young men and young women of Ireland, the best of them who always emigrated until quite recently. They are the people who will govern this country: the young people who are growing up and who will be its future men and women. I ask Senators: are you afraid of your own countrymen and women? A very distinguished Englishman, in a book he wrote, said of our country a good many years ago that: "She has had a long night and she will have an inevitable day." The people of this country will yet redeem and regenerate this country. Have Senators any doubt of that? I have no doubt that the men and women of this country are capable of redeeming and regenerating this country.
Has the Senator made up his mind on that?
I am not afraid to trust either my life or my liberty to my own countrymen. I am not afraid that if I do so we shall have revolutions here every other year. I would suggest that prophets of evil and prophets of misery in regard to this country are quite out of place at the present time. It is not a time for prophets of evil or prophets of depression. Others who think themselves more classy and, perhaps, more experienced in world affairs may think so, but the young people of Ireland do not think so. We certainly should not depress them or say anything that would make them despondent as to the future of our country. We ought to stand by them and help them to work out their own salvation, their own prosperity and their own peace in their own native country: to help them in every way, to encourage them to live in peace amongst themselves, and thereby bring prosperity to everyone in the country.
It has been a rather happy day in the Seanad. I think the note struck at the opening by Senator MacEllin created the proper atmosphere. Despite Senator Lynch's statement that we should not pass judgment on our own capacity, in justice to ourselves, in justice to the men and to the women who compose this Seanad, it would be true, I think, to say of all of them that they came into the public life of this country with high ideals. It is fitting, if they are to pass out, that they should maintain their dignity to the end. Despite the difficulties and, perhaps, the injustice with which they have been confronted in the present situation, I think they can make that claim. I came here later than others. In fact, I am hardly long enough here to feel myself fully acclimatised. Perhaps because of that I can stand away and look at the present situation and its causes with a somewhat more impartial mind and a cooler judgment than might be expected from members of this House who, for many years, have made a very valuable contribution to the political thought and to the political development of this State.
Whatever we may think, it cannot be denied that we are going, if the Seanad should so decide to-night to abolish itself, to make a very fundamental change in the system of Government in this country. We have to ask ourselves is that going to be good or bad. We ought to examine closely and calmly the reasons given why this change has to be made, why the Executive Council have decided to take this step. Above all, I say that truth, justice and wisdom should shine forth in every argument there is made for the abolition of this House. If the argument be not true, if the action be unjust, if a spirit of vindictiveness or intolerance is the driving motive, retribution will come to the State, to the people, and to the Party who are animated by such thoughts in the very serious decision which they ask this House to take.
We were told yesterday by Senator O'Neill that the main reason why the Seanad was to go was because the Seanad refused to pass five Bills which the Government introduced here. Elsewhere, I think, it has been stated that the Seanad stands in the way of the national advance. In the name of a national advance, Signor Mussolini is in arms in Abyssinia to-day; Herr Hitler is banishing the Jews and smashing, apparently, if he can, the Catholic and Evangelical Churches; Stalin has blotted out Sunday from his calendar; and Mustapha Kemal Pasha, in Turkey, has practically done the same thing. Yes, so that nations may advance and dictators can come to the top, and they have their way.
I am not, like Senator Blythe, anticipating any such serious consequences immediately here even if the Seanad should go. But let us be fair, let us look at the situation and see if the statement that this House stands in the way of the national advance be really true. Of course other reasons are given. They have been dealt with by other speakers. I have no desire whatever to be unfair either to the President or to his supporters in this House whom he expects to vote as he commands. I would, however, suggest that they ought to be at least as fair to the others. I believe it is quite untrue to state that the great majority of the members, if not all of the members, of this House are not as truly national as any section or group of our people anywhere in the country to-day. I believe all of our people in this House are as concerned about the nation's rights as is the President himself. Some may look at the problems of the nation from a different angle from the President and his responsible Ministers.
Five Bills, according to Senator O'Neill yesterday evening, were held up or, rather, he said, were thrown in the waste paper basket. That is not true. Bills were delayed. I think Senator Blythe this evening put the case for delay very well indeed. They were delayed, one particularly to which a great deal of reference has been made—the Uniforms Bill. If the Seanad never did anything else during the whole course of its existence than delay that Bill, I think it did the nation a service that we in those days are too close up to appreciate at its true worth. I believe that what it saved the nation in blood and tears by delaying that measure is something we are not now able properly to calculate. Even assuming, if it were true, that these Bills, because they were held up, dislocated government administration, would that in itself be justification for what the Seanad is asked to do with itself? I think not.
I would ask that Senators on the right should try and look out on this country to-day through those eyes which many of them used in 1914, 1915, 1916, and up to 1921. Are we growing less tolerant, more vindictive, more narrow, more bigoted than we were 20 years ago in this country? I think that if the Seanad, composed as it is, of men drawn from every class and creed in this community, had justice done to it, the fact would be appreciated that men's natures cannot change and men cannot be untrue to their principles or to the past merely because we have a change of Government here.
I urge very strongly that the haste and intolerance which are responsible in my view for the decision which the Seanad is asked to take will have very evil consequences for this country if this policy is to be persisted in. The leaders of the past, the patriots who died for this country, did not die so that one class or sect or Party would have their views, their outlook and their beliefs accepted by all. The patriots fought for what? They fought for liberty. But it was liberty for the individuals to live their lives as God created them, so long as the lives they lived were in accordance with the laws of God. Despite what we are asked to do, I feel I can hardly believe that it is the conception of the Government Party that individual liberty must always be subordinated to Party considerations to the extent that the individual no longer exists.
I strongly challenge the conception of the nation as expressed in this Bill and I strongly challenge the arguments used so that the Bill might be passed. If the Government's view were to be accepted I believe the logical consequences would be the establishment here of a totalitarian State where individual liberty would be a thing of the past and where the individual would no longer be able to express himself. In other words, we would be all mere cyphers. Let us go back a little bit. What is the nation at all? In reality, it is a collection of individuals, diverse in their views, with their conditions of life varied and distinct. Those were the conditions that we found existing here when, after centuries of struggle, a native Parliament was brought into existence. Was it the conception of those who fought to bring that Parliament into existence that those who believed that the Union was best for Ireland should leave Ireland with the British Army of occupation? Was that their conception of people who were prepared to live their lives, be themselves, and make their contributions to the political, social and economic thought that is essential for progress in this nation here to-day?
We have to recognise that in this country we have men, few, perhaps, in number, but capable of making a contribution to the new life of this country, a contribution that is essential for its cultural, economic and social development. I know it has been alleged that the presence of these people in this House has stayed the national advance. I prefer not to refer to individuals by name, but I believe they are represented by types of men like Senator Brown, Senator Jameson and others. I can only say that since I came into this House the work, the efforts and the endeavour of these people have amounted to a contribution second to none for the healthy development of conditions in this country. Take those people who stayed here after the British garrison had left. If we were sincere we should have invited them to play their part, and provide an opportunity for them where they could play their part. We should have told them that, or else have told them to go with the others. But they stayed and made their contribution. Apparently they are now told that they are in the way of the national advance. I cannot see truth or justice in a case like that.
But these men do not stand alone. There are others of us too, perhaps, against whom these allegations are made—that we are in the way of the national advance. Who are the others? Well, perhaps Senator Milroy is one. We listened to him yesterday, as we listened to him many times before. In these days it seems very popular, under the aegis of the Fianna Fáil Government, that the broadcasting department of this country thinks it is giving a very good service to the people to broadcast the efforts of the patriot men and women from 1914 to 1921 who were prepared to lay down their lives for the country. Through the medium of this service we had a tale told the other night of the very big effort indeed of Senator Milroy in an English prison with President de Valera in 1919. In that broadcast we were told of his efforts for the release of that distinguished visitor in England from inside an English prison.
It is very strange to-day, after all these years of service during which Senator Milroy risked his life many times that his country might live and that the people of this country might have liberty to develop and build up in their own particular way, that we should find that Senator Milroy, according to the interpretation of the followers of President de Valera, is staying the national advance in this House. Some may say that it is but a political argument, a political debating point. I cannot believe that when these statements are made they are really meant. If they are, I say the statements are untrue. I cannot believe and I cannot understand how it is that President de Valera is standing over such arguments. If he stands over them to-day and suggests that the people who are not prepared to be "yes" men to everything the Government will introduce in this or in the other House must be swept out of his path, how does he justify that? The suggestion is that we on this side of the House cannot make any contribution to this nation, that is our nation, that we cannot make any contribution to the future life of this country. In that case, what is the future of the country going to be and where is the liberty that the people of this country strove for in the days gone by? But those were days when President de Valera was not as intolerant as this Bill represents him to be now. I remember the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis in 1917. Strange to say that there again at a very critical moment in the country's history I saw President de Valera and Senator Milroy of to-day standing side by side. There are others here in this House, both on the right and on the left, who were present then.
I am giving this as an indication of the changed view of this man who has been placed at the head of affairs in this State, the man to whom many of us for years gave such loyal service and for whom so many sacrifices were made by men and women now in their graves when he was leader of a united people here. At a critical moment at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in 1917 a question arose as to whether or not a particular individual should be re-elected to the Executive of Sinn Féin. There were people there who believed, because of the attitude of this man in Easter Week, that he should not be given his place. They had their point of view, but there was the other point of view. The man in question was Dr. MacNeill. Senator Milroy came to the front of the platform and said that as one who stood behind the barricades in Easter Week he would like his view to be accepted and even though Dr. MacNeill was not with them there, he was good enough to be on the Executive again. President de Valera came forward and said that he, perhaps, was nearer to those who had been executed than any other man alive, and he could say to that gathering what Padraic Pearse said to him very shortly before his execution, and these were his words:
"I have done my best for Ireland and John MacNeill has done his best for Ireland."
That was the message that President de Valera conveyed to that gathering of thousands of men and women, and it was a message that carried that Convention.
President de Valera was then prepared to find a place in the nation for every man and woman, even though they made mistakes and even though they might have been misrepresented, who were prepared to make their contribution to the development of the State or the fight that had to be made so that the State could develop. But apparently all that is changed. Sins are laid at the doors of the men who in the past acquiesced apparently in all that the Cumann na nGaedheal Government did and who to-day have held up for a short period five Bills that enunciated in them the policy of Fianna Fáil; these men must be banished from the political life of this State. I think that on reflection the supporters of the Government will realise that if that policy be pursued to the ultimate end, be pursued by the successors of the present Government, there is no future for this country. If it be typical of the minds of the leaders, it is little wonder that an eminent Catholic Divine felt constrained recently to write something like this "It is a paradox and a puzzle to see the spiritual orientation of the private lives of the individual Catholics and its absence in the life of a Catholic nation." Yes, it is,
Passion and hate and want of charity are very largely responsible for the decision which has been taken with regard to this House. I think that decision was wrong. It has been urged by Senator Lynch, not with any great force or power of conviction, that this decision represents the will of the people, that there has been a demand that the Seanad should go and because there was such a demand, that it must go. It was never the issue in either of the elections that were fought. I have been in all the election contests since 1922. It might have been referred to, but it was never the issue. While there may have been prejudices in the country against the composition of the Second Chamber, despite that fact I feel that if it were put to the people as an issue I do not think the Government would get a favourable decision upon it, despite the argument that the Seanad as constituted was not the best that might be found.
It is true, of course, that the matter has been debated and was raised very strongly at the Ard Fheis of Fianna Fáil; we had condemnation there of the Seanad and we had strong urgings that the Seanad should go. But because these declarations were made, are Fianna Fáil Senators convinced that there was honesty behind these demands? Indeed, if I were to pass judgment upon them I would suggest that in standing over these demands or supporting them one would be pandering to the lowest vices in human nature in this country. I would urge that some of those demands came from men in the Fianna Fáil Party who were jealous because many of you here were selected and put into this Chamber and because they are not here themselves. I could give the names of men who were present at the Ard Fheis demanding the abolition of the Seanad and I am quite satisfied that had they been elected to the Seanad they would not be making any such demand and their views would have changed very quickly indeed.
I think no one of the Government Senators here will deny that the Seanad has made a very useful contribution to the legislation enacted by the Oireachtas. Most of these Senators have much more experience than I of what the Seanad has done. From that point of view I believe the Seanad is going to be a very great loss indeed. With all respect to the Dáil, I believe you can get discussions here of an entirely different character from the type of discussion you have in the Dáil. Party feelings, except on very rare occasions between one or two individuals, never run as high in this House as in the other House and because of that fact you can get an examination of Bills and their principles in a much more intelligent fashion than you can in the Dáil. Senator Blythe indicated this evening that it was his view that all the useful work done by the Seanad was not in the nature of amendments. In my view the work of amending Bills which was done in the Seanad is all-important and I am going to suggest that if that work is not done by some other authority the Dáil will never pass a Bill that will not be brought to the Courts and be found wanting in major particulars. The result will be that in regard to every measure passed you are going to have the Dáil introducing legislation with retrospective clauses just like the type of legislation that has been passed, so that it may clarify something it failed to clarify when the Bill first went through that Chamber.
There is not going to be that stability in commerce or trade, or agriculture or industry, that there ought to be if legislation is weak, lacking in quality and, worst of all, if it is passed in a manner that it would not be allowed to assume if it had gone to a Second Chamber for discussion. Ministers have had the opportunity of coming here and, they have admitted themselves, and they would still admit it in private discussion, that debates in this House are of a different character and more enlightening than they were accustomed to in the Dáil. All that will be lacking in the case of Single Chamber Government. Worst of all, if the Seanad is abolished the Oireachtas will cease to have that type of mind such as we find in Senators like Senator Jameson and Senator Brown which is now at their disposal. They have always brought to bear upon our proceedings here an air of earnestness and sincerity and their contributions, which will from thence-forward be lacking, will mean a serious loss in matters social, political and economic in the future of the State.
I think the Seanad would be wise, on reflection, to say to the Government: "Stay your hand; you have been hasty and rash. You are doing something and taking a decision in a moment of disappointment, of passion and of pique" and, as Senator Blythe said, "your conduct is going to have serious reactions on the life of Ireland in the future; and, distasteful though it may be to go back upon what you have done yet, for the sake of the country, for the sake of people who made great sacrifices, to build up and develop our national institutions, it would be a wiser and more honest course if you changed your attitude and decided to retain this institution which has been built up at so much cost and sacrifice." We should preserve the new atmosphere that many people are trying to create, and we should give these institutions a chance of playing their part before one of them is discarded.
It may be that the Senate did not do all that was expected from it. After all, it was a collection of human beings with all the frailties of man. But the Dáil is far from being without fault. A House like this would give intelligent and independent minds an opportunity of making their contribution in a way that is not possible in an assembly where rigid Party discipline has to be maintained. We get away from all that in this House. The contribution made in this debate, to-night, by Senator Johnson is an indication of what a man is capable of doing when he shakes himself free, looks problems in the face, and gets away from small Party considerations that influence men at other times. Senator Johnson was one of those who, in earlier years made, in my view, very great contributions to the shaping of the future of this State. I differ from him in many things, and I differed from him in years past, but I say there are very few people in this country who did so much as Senator Johnson to shape and mould things in the way that we find them to-day. He revealed himself again as I used to know him years ago and never since I came into this House did I hear a contribution more worthy of note than his speech to-day. If this House was to continue we would have much more of that in the future. Of course the Government can do the other thing. They can go the narrow way but if they go the narrow way, they are going down hill. President de Valera can lead upward and onward, and he would be well advised in his own best interest to take that course.
It seems to be the general desire—I have consulted with various Senators—that we should conclude this debate to-night and, that in order to do so, we should sit continuously until 9.30, when Senator Douglas, should be given an opportunity of closing the debate. There seems to be general agreement as regards that.
I do not agree. I do not see any reason why any man who wishes to speak should not be allowed to do so.
If the Senator does not agree that is enough. I consulted with another member of his Party who, I understood, was the Whip——
If I may make an explanation, I have been talking to the Whip. and I gathered from him that the arrangement was that it would be desirable to finish at 9.30 and that at that time Senator Douglas would reply. But that was on the assumption that other Senators who wanted to speak had the opportunity of doing so. If we could not possibly finish at that time, as I understand the arrangement, it was that we should meet to-morrow.
Then let us now consider the matter de novo.
We can surely finish before 9.30. I do not think there are many more speakers and, of those, most of them will finish in a short time.
Is there any necessity to make it definite that we must finish at 9.30?
I should like to have some definite arrangement.
I was consulted on behalf of a group of persons who wanted to speak and the desire was that we should finish at 9.30 but there was no intention to override the wishes of anybody.
I quite agree, but I am afraid that the Senator is out in his calculation. I do not want it to be said that the last thing we did here in this House was to put on the closure.
There are two alternatives. We might adjourn at 9 or 9.30 and meet again to-morrow morning, or we might meet next Wednesday.
I suggest to Senator Quirke that he should agree to 9.30, with this proviso: That if there is some other speaker he should be allowed to continue not later than ten. I am anxious for as much agreement as possible.
I would agree with that, but suppose we come to 9.30 and then find one or two, or possibly three or four, more speakers who desire to intervene, I do not think that any decision should be taken now.
May I respectfully suggest that we leave this matter over until 9.30. The Seanad will then be free to take whatever decision it likes.
Is it the suggestion that we should continue until 9 o'clock and that Senator Douglas should then have an opportunity of replying?
That was the suggestion.
I suggest the occasion is so important that it would not be desirable that there should be any preliminary arrangement of closure at any particular time. We might have an informal understanding that we should finish at 9.30, but, if circumstances do not allow that, we should decide to meet to-morrow. At present we shall leave the matter open.
I agree with what Senator Johnson has said. This is an important occasion, and there should be no closure of debate. Every member of the Seanad who wishes to speak ought to have the fullest opportunity to do so, even though we may have to meet to-morrow or next week.
We shall continue, then, without an adjournment this evening.
Of the speeches delivered to-day, I think that by far the most disappointing was that which we heard from Senator Lynch, an eminent member of the Irish Bar. One would have expected something better and more worthy of the occasion from the Senator than the type of speech to which we were treated. I do not think that the Senator did justice to himself, to this House or to the great profession to which he belongs. When questions of law, of constitutions and government are at issue, we do look to members of that institution, which has a great tradition of knowledge and a great tradition of liberty and of vision, to give us something a little higher than that garrulous, scolding type of speech one hears at a street corner during a general election. The Senator was also deplorably lacking in knowledge in regard to his alleged facts. He said, for instance, that within a certain period there were 17 amendments to the Constitution, each of which took out of the Constitution some valuable safeguard for the people. That, of course, is entirely inaccurate. Some of these amendments did take away safeguards but some did actually the reverse. The Senator talked a lot of nonsense about the youth of the country. "Are you," he asked, "going to take from them the right to work out their own salvation?" I have always a great deal of suspicion when I hear elderly people trying to exploit youth. This exploitation of the innocent, generous youth of the world is one of the causes of the many miseries which have been inflicted on the peoples of other lands in recent years. The youth of the country are entirely unconsulted in regard to this matter. They have been blinded in regard to it and, in any case, they have never had an opportunity of judging it as a single issue. It is the old, designing people of the country who will be responsible for any damage that may accrue.
One cannot but realise that we are approaching a vital moment of history so far as the political and civil liberties of the people of this State are concerned. The proposed abolition of this Chamber is just one sinister portent of what lies before us. The present march of events here is almost monotonously parallel with similar developments in other lands which have obliterated every vestige of collective and individual liberty. Those, here or elsewhere, who, by vote or speech, give any moral or material support to the coming invasion of popular liberty are accepting a grave personal responsibility for which they will have to answer at the bar of history. Amongst the most loyal and devoted supporters of the Government we find that quite recently there seems to be no question whatever—if any conclusion is to be drawn from their views privately expressed—that they are heading surely and certainly for a dictatorship. Some of them, like Senator Dowdall, and, to a certain extent, Senator MacEllin, have had the courage, the manliness and the patriotism to make that admission. Others of them, for various reasons— some of these reasons had better not be specified—still pursue the course which, when started, was merely a piece of political vengeance but which now, they must realise will, in its consequences, eventually engulf themselves.
Personally, I believe the Bill to be unconstitutional. A provisional Parliament, acting as a constituent Assembly, elected for that particular purpose, brought into being the two Houses of the Oireachtas—the Dáil and the Seanad. The powers and rights of each were specified but that constituent Assembly never gave one the power to destroy the other or implied in any of its Acts that it was giving that power. They have a common parent and unless you proceed on the practice of the female spider, which is said to eat her own husband whenever he tries to interfere in the management of the web, one House has no right to destroy or wipe out the other. Amendments of the Constitution are one thing. We are admitting the right of amending the Constitution in the motion before the House but the complete destruction or obliteration of one of the Chambers by which these amendments can be effected is quite a different thing. All constitutional procedure and tradition are being ignored in the attempted abolition of this House. In ignoring these well-established principles, which are universally respected and adopted in all democratically-governed countries, the Government are putting a premium upon violence and revolution and this country may have to pay for that recklessness in the years to come in blood and tears. The liberties, of which the first is now being taken away by the votes of those who have no right to take it away, may well have to be won back by the bayonets of those who come after us, with great suffering and sacrifice.
We have heard a lot of trash about an alleged mandate. There was no mandate and there could be no mandate, specific and complete, in regard to a programme which contained no fewer than 70 or 80 items. One might say that there was a partial mandate for the abolition of this House, as at present constituted. That is rather a different proposal from abolishing Second Chamber Government altogether. That a mere catch majority on 70 or 80 different issues should be used for the purpose of bringing about a drastic change of this kind is not in accordance with the principles of good government, of equity or of justice. I have a pretty vivid recollection of a famous interview which a number of members of the Labour Party, of which I was one, had with the President of the Executive Council on Good Friday of 1922. We spent two hours pleading with him then, with a view to averting the impending calamity of the civil war, and the only statement he made that has abided with me since as to what his views were was this: "The majority have no right to do wrong." He repeated that at least a dozen times in the course of the interview, in response to statements made to him to the effect that the Treaty had been accepted by a majority and that, consequently, it was his duty to observe the decision of the majority until it was reversed. He refused to accept it on the ground that the majority had no right to do wrong. Now, on the strength of a majority gained in circumstances which nobody can say involved the issue of the continuance or otherwise of the Seanad, he proceeds, by the most unconstitutional means, to radically alter the whole Constitution of this State.
I maintain that he got other mandates. He and his Government got a mandate for the abolition of unemployment, for providing more jobs than there would be people to fill them; he got a mandate at his own request for the full derating of agricultural land; he got an unquestioned mandate at his own request for the setting up of an arbitration board for the Civil Service. What has become of all those mandates? Ask the farmers. Ask the civil servants and the postal officials, who, after 18 months' negotiation, have been offered 1/- a week by way of increase in their miserable salaries. No real attempt has been made to justify the abolition of this Chamber. The principal attack has been launched upon the personnel of the Chamber. If it were of a different political complexion, then it would be all right. It was inevitably of a particular political complexion in the main because, when it was established, the present Government were boycotting Parliament and refusing to take any part in its composition or deliberations. But, with the ordinary efflux of time the political complexion would change and has changed, and gradually the present Government is getting a majority. Consequently, what is said about the personnel—and some very nasty, unjustifiable and unworthy things have been said about some of the members of this House—has nothing at all to do with the principle or question of the continued existence of this Chamber.
I have very little patience with people who say: "The Seanad, as at present constituted, should go, although I am in favour of a Second Chamber." Any fool can make a statement of that kind, but it takes a wise man to say what type of Chamber he proposes to take its place, and nobody, from the President down, has given us the slightest indication as to what he has in mind regarding an ideal type of Second Chamber. It has been pointed out, and admitted, that there can be no such thing as an ideal Chamber until human nature becomes ideal, and that the Seanad is at least as ideal a Second Chamber as the Dáil is a First. It is very easy to destroy, but very difficult to build up, and here we have only a proposal for the destruction of what is considered an undesirable type of Chamber, without any provision whatever for anything to take its place.
It has been mentioned here that one of the reasons why the Seanad should not command the confidence of the public is the fact that it is not popularly elected. That statement comes from the members of the Party who combined with the old Cumann na nGaedheal Party to destroy the representative character of this Chamber. I was one of those, and you, Sir, were another, who were elected by the votes of the people to this Assembly, and the two Parties combined to destroy the elective character of the Chamber, and then they denounce it because it is not elected directly by the people. One of the main charges—in fact, it was, for a long time, the only charge—against this House was the fact that it passed the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Bill in October, 1931. If that merits the execution of the Seanad, surely an equal penalty should be imposed on the Dáil, the popularly elected Chamber. It was there the Bill was introduced first and passed, but the extraordinary part of it is that the present Government, out of less than four years of office, have this Act in vigorous operation for over two and a-half years.
Consequently, it is quite plain that if such an Act had not been passed before they came into office, it would have had to be passed at their instigation after they came into office. I am sure they are not using it for the mere fun of it, but because they feel it is necessary. The remarkable part of it is that, by it, they have under lock and key, behind prison bars, the very same people to deal with whom the Act was passed. The Labour Party, and I, as one of them, opposed and voted against this Bill, but the Labour Party Conference in October, 1933, on the advice of Deputy Norton, the leader of the Party, rejected a motion calling upon the Government to withdraw the Bill. What complaint then is there to be made about the passing of an Act which has been in turn approved by all Parties, and has been used vigorously by two Governments, and more vigorously by the present Government than by their predecessors?
It is obvious, however, that the reason is not any of those stated. The reason is that the Seanad must be got out of the way to make way for a dictatorship, or something very much akin to it. Once established, a dictatorship is almost impossible to remove. In those countries on the continent where dictatorships prevail we find the most loathsome outrages on personal and public liberty committed in the sacred name of patriotism. If you want to do a diabolical public act or commit a public outrage, you must, first of all, invoke the name of nationality and patriotism, work up the fury of the mob, and you will not be long, if you bang the political drum sufficiently loudly, in being able to brand everybody who disagrees with your view-point as an enemy of the State who should be treated as such. The electors in Italy have not much opportunity of getting rid of the dictatorship with which they have saddled themselves. Instead of nominating their own candidates at an election, they can only vote for those on a panel selected for them by the Fascist Grand Council. They may writhe under the dictatorship and under its prohibitions, but they have no way—the free Press is crushed— of putting forward candidates to elect to their Parliament and to bring about a new order. They simply have to take what is given to them, and, short of violent revolution, they can do nothing to save themselves. I have heard in the last few months a number of people—some of them members of the Fianna Fáil Party—asking: "Have we seen the last free election in this Free State?"
There is one common feature about most recent dictatorships. They come, not from above, but from below. The ambitious demagogue, lavish in his promises to the needy and the greedy and skilfully exploiting all the human passions of racial hatred, religious bigotry and caste animosity, gets the necessary backing in order to establish himself in force and put the manacles on the community. Having done this, oppression descends upon all, sometimes more heavily upon the dupes who helped to place the upstart upon his throne. By successive steps, the Opposition are robbed of every means of constitutional expression and there remains nothing for them but rebellion and force. They are driven at times in their desperation to resort to unconstitutional methods and then their fate is sealed.
Is the Senator talking about this country?
From the dictatorship of a Party to the dictatorship of one man is but a step, and the dictatorship of a Party can be just as bad as the dictatorship of one individual. I want to say here, lest there be any mistake about it, that nobody either here or elsewhere has any mandate from the Labour movement to give a vote in favour of this Bill. The Labour Party Conference or the Labour Party Administrative Council never gave, or never were asked for a mandate. No Labour Deputy elected to the other House asked for such a mandate from the electors, so that anybody who attempts to speak for the Labour movement as being in support of this measure, is arrogating to himself rights to which he has no claim. People claiming to speak for democracy, and committing the country, in the name of their movement, to a Bill of this kind without consulting that movement, are certainly not acting according to the principles of democracy, if I can recognise it all. Labour Senators were sent here, not to destroy this House or discredit it; they were sent here to work the machinery of the House and to use it to help to mould, in the interests of those they represent, the legislation of the land, and they did.
I, personally, was sent here by 18,000 voters, not to discredit or destroy the Assembly, but to work it to the best of my ability. At each election, we had more than sufficient Labour candidates and it was never suggested by any one that they should be sent here for the purpose of destroying the Assembly or abolishing it. What is more, we got better results from that view-point—from the view-point of the workers—than did our colleagues in the Dáil. The Dáil Party gets the publicity, but the Seanad Party gets the results. The various Railway, Transport, Electricity, Insurance, and Local Government Bills, and all other Bills or Acts which contain a provision for the compensation of workers rendered redundant as the result of amalgamation and so forth, all bear eloquent testimony to the valuable provisions that were inserted in them on the motion of Labour Senators in this House. There are to-day thousands of railwaymen, transport workers, employees of electricity concerns and so on, who owe their security or the compensation that they got for disturbance to amendments which were inserted in this House.
It was Government legislation.
I had myself the experience of moving amendments here providing for better terms of compensation for redundant workers and having them carried, although previously they were moved in the Dáil and turned down. I found, as other Senators have said, that there was a greater disposition to deal with questions on their merits here than was the case in the other House. We found, too, a greater disposition on the part of Ministers to discuss cases on their merits here than in the other House. We had a tribute from the Minister for Industry and Commerce on one occasion for the valuable service given by this House in connection with two very important Bills. The very last Bill the House passed—probably the last Bill it will pass—the Conditions of Employment Bill, contains 32 amendments inserted by this House, every single one of which tends to improve the Bill from the point of view of the workers or, as Senator Lynch would call them, the common people. Incidentally, we carried three of these amendments in spite of the Minister and the Government Party, and I dare say the Minister will suggest to the other House that they should not be accepted although they are admittedly in the interests of the workers.
I think it is only fair I should say this when bellowing demagogues, looking after cheap publicity, go around the country making lying statements against this House. I have adopted the principle always of dealing with persons and institutions on their merits regardless of any Party Whip or tie. I am stating the bare facts, and in elementary justice to this House it is only right that I should say what I have just said. Personally, I regret it, but I see no prospect of Labour coming into office in this country for many years to come. The day on which it will take office has been materially postponed by a regrettable tendency recently to surrender the traditional independence of that Party to the political necessities of another organisation. But there has been an awakening. Speeches here and elsewhere show that there has been, and Deputies have admitted that they have been misled. We hear no more about fortnightly interviews and so forth, not through any fault of Labour but because they feel that they have been unfairly treated. That being the case, I am not prepared to do anything that would place a dictatorship in the hands of any other Party. Whatever dictatorship it is going to be, it is not going to be a Labour dictatorship. Personally, I should oppose a Labour dictatorship with the same vehemence that I would oppose any other dictatorship. I believe they are bad in themselves and should be always opposed. I do say that the Labour representative who would help in any way to prepare the way for a dictatorship would be cravenly bartering the rights of those whom he was sent to Parliament to protect and defend. Castlereagh is said to have destroyed Grattan's Parliament by corrupting one half of it and intimidating the other half. Well, I suppose there will be those who will hereafter look for rewards for helping to bring about the abolition of this House. I think, however, it is safe to say that every uncorrupted, unintimidated and non-expectant member of this House who is free will, without hesitation, refuse to give his vote for a Bill which proposes to end its existence.
They will do that in the highest interests of civil and political liberty. I cannot help reflect-on the fact that almost at the first meeting of the Seanad the first thing we did was to appoint a committee to try to bring about a settlement of the civil war, to try and save members of the present Government and their misguided followers from the trouble and miseries that they were bringing upon themselves and their country. That committee, which had intercourse with the President, had on it men like Senator Johnson, and the President was glad to discuss terms with them, but unfortunately they came to nothing. It is rather ironical that this House is now faced with destruction at the hands of those whom it tried to save at the most critical period in their whole history. This House has played, in my opinion, a worthy, a dignified and a useful part in the history of the last thirteen years. The members conducted their business with efficiency, and with a decorum that was not always present elsewhere. We have at least the consolation of knowing that no one has ever had to be expelled from this House owing to disorder, or any action which would suggest a Donnybrook fair. The same thing cannot be said of another place. We have also the consolation of knowing that its abolition is not being sought for the purpose of making this nation free for democracy; but rather to clear the way for a dictatorship. We heard of the closing days of the Roman Empire when the poor gladiators were slaughtered in the arena, and when the Christians were devoured by lions and other wild animals, to make a Roman holiday. In order to keep the minds of the people off their economic ills these barbarous pastimes had to be resorted to.
Now, the Government is obviously afraid of certain organisations in the country. The Governor-General has in part been thrown to them, and other mites now come in. The Seanad is part of the price that is going to be paid in order to keep off the wolves. But a double purpose is served, because by getting rid of the Seanad the setting up of a dictatorship is made smooth. In fact, it comes into being, because no longer will Parliament be master of the political situation. The Executive of the Fianna Fáil Party now becomes the governing body of the country. That has been already admitted in almost so many words by Senator MacEllin. What is going to happen now surely can happen again. That is a most dangerous declaration. It is deplorable that after struggling for liberty for 700 years, after a bare 13 years one of the first actions should be the destruction of one of the Houses of the first Parliament since Castlereagh destroyed Grattan's Parliament, and the taking away of what is regarded in all constitutionally governed countries, whether monarchies or republics, as one of the surest, safest and most democratic methods of government. I trust the House will not, notwithstanding the advice of Senator Lynch, act as its own judge, and condemn itself by giving a vote for this Bill. I intend to support the amendment of Senator Douglas, and although, in effect, it will do nothing at all to prolong the existence of this House, it will at least give to the country and to history what were our views at this vital moment.
With your permission, a Cathaoirleach, I want to ask Senator O'Farrell one question.
I do not think I can allow that now.
I only want to ask one question.
You can make a speech later on.
In this debate one matter struck me more than any other, and that was Senator Blythe's description of Ministerial feeling of rage and railing, both in the last Government and probably in this one towards the Seanad. There occurred to me the quotation which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Caius Marcus speaking to the Romans in "Coriolanus," which has been performed in Dublin for the past week, where he says: "They rail against the noble Senate, who, with the gods, keep them in awe, who else would feed on one another." I feel very much that if the Seanad is done away with—and this will probably happen—I think the Seanad should be retained, if only for this reason. Apart from that, the arguments of Senator Douglas in favour of the retention of bicameral government were convincing. While they covered practically the whole ground, they require one addition. The Senator made no reference at all of what a virtual dictatorship, either of a Party or of an individual, could do to control the freedom of the Press. The President admittedly stated, when this Bill was passing through the other House, that he would never do anything to stop the expression of free opinion. But already there have been cases—minor cases, all of them and of no great importance to the nation as a whole—where the freedom of the Press has been definitely interfered with. I look with considerable alarm as to what may happen in the future. For instance, I believe it is common knowledge that the various newspapers were circularised at the time of the coal-cattle pact and instructed not to comment upon it, and that newspapers in Dublin, Cork and Donegal were punished for criticising the Government's policy by the loss of advertisements. Finally it is common knowledge that in September last efforts were made by the C.I.D. to find out what pressmen were supplying provincial newspapers and foreign newspapers with news. On September 12th there was a public protest by the Institute of Journalists in Dublin against the action that had been taken. That kind of pressure is not healthy and it could be developed —so as to alter entirely the complexion of our national life—by the very forces that Senator MacEllin described, the various clubs throughout the country and restless back-benchers. Finally papers could be shut down or there could be a special Press law to prevent the expression of opinion. To my mind, that is one of the most serious things that could happen in this country.
I am prepared to vote for this motion, because I think it is the only way that we can put our views before the public. Personally, I do not advocate any change. Whatever method of selection there is for the Seanad, whether nomination or election, you will finally get a body which is governed by economic and political considerations. It may start perfect but it will develop in one direction or another. You cannot help that. I am not so sure of the correctness of Senator MacEllin's assurance that under this particular Irish leader everything will be done correctly. I do not say that he will err any more than anyone else. We have only to read the speeches of Senator Blythe when he was Minister for Finance. He assured us that certain measures would always operate in the hands of proper Irishmen in certain directions. I am very doubtful whether measures passed by a fresh lot of Irishmen will operate in future generations in the way we think. I think we are suffering rather in our nationality from enthusiastic reformers.
I really think that, although the public have been taught not to like us, we are possibly as good a body as you will ever get in this country. As to the question of election by the people—government by the people and for the people, and so on— I do not entirely agree with that either. I suggest the instance of the British House of Lords. Now, that institution, just as we are in this country, is abused by a great many people. You hear of the hereditary fellows with their chins and their foreheads back who can hardly speak King's English. That is the general impression of the House of Lords. Now, in actual fact, you have got promoted from the country and from Parliament in that way men with administrative, economic and commercial experience—the very finest brains in England. They are available for the Government to consult, and they do an immense lot of quiet work which nobody has any idea of. Every one of them, in the shape of peerages, is nominated. I think that when this House—it was long before my time— was nominated, it was nominated on very sound lines. There is a suggestion that there should be a Sixth Stage to the Bills. That is the only proposal put forward to take the place of this House, and I think that is perfectly futile. You will just have the same men with the same ideas and with the same political and economic biases, and I think that a different personnel is essential.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach took the Chair.
"When the devil was sick, the devil a saint would be; but when the devil was well, the devil a saint was he." If we are to follow the debate here in the House to-day, and if we are to take any particular notice of the letter, by way of apology, sent from the Cathaoirleach to the President, one must indeed conclude that the Seanad is sick and that, on its deathbed its attitude is in striking contrast to the attitude it adopted within the past 12 months, within the past two years, or within the past ten years for that matter. There is, I hold, sufficient evidence to prove that, should the Seanad get over its sickness and should the Cathaoirleach get over his sickness, the Seanad and the Cathaoirleach would get back to where they started from and that they would carry on the same campaign of personal attack and vilification of the President that they have carried on in the past. I should like to question the accuracy of the alleged facts in the apology of the Cathaoirleach to the President but, since the Cathaoirleach has ruled any question out of order on that particular subject, I do not propose to go into the matter.
We have had various quotations from the scribes of the Opposition, taken from Omar Khayam and other such philosophers. We have had the same old things trotted out here before. The same old caravan of Senator MacLoughlin "started for the dawn of nothing" on many occasions, and now it is not making any more haste than it made when it first started. Senator Milroy also quoted from that same author, but if I were to offer any advice to the Opposition it would be that they could find a very suitable quotation to apply to the whole argument of the Opposition in the writings of Omar Khayam. I cannot say from what page it is, but in one part of his writings he said:—
"I...heard great argument About it and about, but evermore
Came out by the same door as in I went."
Have we heard anything new from the speakers of the Opposition to-day? Have we heard any fresh argument put up which would convince us as to the necessity for the continuation of this Chamber? Have we heard any new case put up which was not trotted out here on 17 or 18 different occasions? There is very little necessity for anybody to reply, because there is nothing which has been said here to-day which has not been replied to on many occasions from the Fianna Fáil benches and by Fianna Fáil Ministers in this House, in the Dáil, and at every crossroads in the country? Let us take the motion before the House, however— and lest I should forget it, I want to draw particular attention to the wily tactics of Senator Blythe. Senator Blythe referred to the motion as not being a definite vote in any one direction. In an attempt to confuse, he suggested that it was merely a vote of principle.
And a vote against the Bill.
And a vote against the Bill, but a definite suggestion that a vote for the motion would be a vote for a two-Chamber Government. I say that anybody who votes for Senator Douglas's motion votes definitely for the continuation of this House, as at present constituted, and against the direct mandate of the Irish people.
Where was the mandate?
I am coming to that later on. Let us take the motion. The motion says:
"That consideration of the Second Stage of the Constitution (Amendment No. 24) Bill, 1935, be postponed until a later date to enable the following Message to be sent to the Dáil:
‘That, inasmuch as the Seanad is willing to pass the Constitution (Amendment No. 24) Bill, 1935, provided that an amendment is inserted therein to the effect that the Bill shall not come into operation until a Constitution Amendment Bill has been passed by the Dáil establishing a Second Chamber in substitution for Seanad Eireann, the Seanad proposes a conference between members representing both Houses of the Oireachtas for the purpose of considering an amendment of the character suggested and such other amendments providing for the period of transition or otherwise as may be found desirable...'"
With all due respect to Senator Douglas, and with all due respect to the various newspapers which applauded him for his remarkable statement in support of the motion, I say that the motion in itself is nothing less than absurd. What are we asked to do? We find the repentant Seanad now prepared to agree to its abolition, but on what terms? On conditions that it be not abolished. The speakers in support of the motion are quite willing that the Seanad be abolished, provided that they get a guarantee beforehand that the abolition will never come. However, we go along a bit farther and we find another proviso in the motion, which says: "That the Seanad be represented at such conference by seven Senators." We find that the Seanad has been tried and convicted by the supreme court of the country. But, notwithstanding that, we find that same Seanad now suggesting that seven of the culprits be picked from the lot and placed on the jury to decide in what manner their case should be conducted and what their fate should be in the hope, perhaps, that they may be sentenced to banishment from the country or penal servitude or something less than death.
Now I think that the motion is ridiculous, and I intend to oppose it by every force at my disposal. The Seanad has consistently opposed, since the first day it was introduced, the Bill for its own abolition. But now we find Senators coming along in a much milder tone. We find them prepared to climb down off the proverbial tree. Is it that they think the people have forgotten and that they will get a little bit more leniency because of their changed attitude? Is it that they have given up the idea of a Fianna Fáil defeat at the polls?
No, not at all. That is as inevitable as to-morrow's sunrise.
It is apparently a bit clouded.
Senator Milroy made a very long and a very brilliant speech and he should not interrupt Senator Quike.
Senator Milroy has obstructed me when speaking here and elsewhere on many occasions. "The defenders of free speech." I thought that I had finished with him on the last occasion but, apparently, he is popping up again. It is quite evident, at any rate, that the members of the Opposition have given up all hope of ever coming back again as the Government of this country since they are prepared, as has been practically admitted to-day and on previous occasions, to welcome a continuation of this House as at present constituted. It has been pointed out how unreasonable the President is and how foolish he is to abolish a House wherein, within the very near future, his Party would have a majority, so that we can only assume that the members of the Opposition would hail with delight an Assembly definitely pledged to the Fianna Fáil Administration.
For ten years we have opposed or, at least, attacked the Seanad because it danced when Cosgrave played the tune. Are we now to come along and say that we will change our mind, and that we are going to agree to an Assembly pledged to play to the whistle of de Valera? I say—I have stated it here on many occasions—that the Seanad has definitely time and again thwarted the will of the people, and I believe that it is now the will of the people that the Seanad must go. I understand that every possible means is going to be taken to insist on its continuation. I want to say here and now that further resistance by the Opposition to this Bill for the abolition of the Seanad will be no more effective than the opposition of the pebble in the stream—merely to show the strength of the current that it would attempt to impede.
The question of a mandate has been brought up as if the people had not given their opinions and their decisions repeatedly on this question of the abolition of the Seanad. It has been stated here to-day that we are moving towards a dictatorship; that we are clearing the way for a dictatorship, and that the Government has definitely decided on a one-Chamber Legislature. I am not here to give my opinion as to which is the better system, but I say it was a wise thing on the part of the Government to put in its manifesto the proposal to abolish the Seanad as at present constituted. The Government, according to that, is not definitely tied down to a one-Chamber Legislature. A two-Chamber Legislature has been tried here and found wanting. It is time to give a one-Chamber Legislature a try, and if that is not found to be a success there is nothing whatever to stop the country from going back to the two-Chamber system.
There is considerable controversy as to what was really meant by "the abolition of the Seanad as at present constituted" as if the people who voted for Fianna Fáil on that programme bothered their heads as to how it was to be eliminated. They meant, and they were determined, that the Seanad should be abolished if for no other reason than that, as I believe, it is impossible to build a new house on the site of an existing old house. It is not possible to build a proper House on the ruins of this Assembly until the ruins have been cleared away. There is a historic tale to the effect that a man wanted to give a contract for the building of a new house. He wanted it built on the exact site of the old house and from the exact materials which went to build the old house. He found that it was not possible to do that. The same thing applies to the Seanad. I believe it is not possible to remodel this House without, so to speak, removing it entirely, at least for a period.
I think it was Senator Douglas who referred in complimentary terms to a statement made in the Dáil by Deputy Thrift. I would like to join with Senator Douglas in my gratitude for that statement but, perhaps, for a different reason, because I believe that the statement made by Deputy Thrift in the Dáil was one of the greatest arguments ever put up in that or in any other House for the abolition of the Seanad. I am quoting from the Irish Times of 13th December, 1935:—
"Professor Thrift, speaking in the Dáil, said: Let them not misunderstand him. He claimed no privilege. He freely admitted that the present Government in their practical dealings had shown great width of mind and broadness of treatment. He made no complaint of that kind. But he did say that, by removing those paper academic provisions, if they liked things which in themselves meant little and which did not practically affect, to the extent of the weight of a feather, their actual being, they were cutting themselves off definitely for many years to come from those with whom they would wish to be united and making thousands of people in this country say, ‘Why did I ever lend my support to a separate Irish Free State Government'?"
That is a very good indication of the mentality of many Senators on the Opposition Benches. Professor Thrift sets himself up, and few will deny his right to do so, as the spokesman of the minority. He indicates very definitely that when the representatives of the minority took part in the setting up of this Assembly, with its provisions for the inclusion of a considerable representation from that minority, they did so to ensure that that separate—I want to lay emphasis on the word separate —Free State Irish Government would never be set up. They wanted to make sure by their presence in such a position that they would be able, should the occasion arise, to stand in the path of the people's progress. They wanted to be there to act, should the occasion arise, as the manacle of the minority on the progress of the majority. We have had various indications here that there was no necessity to make any provision for the safety or the security of the minority from the representatives of the majority in this House. They have got a fair deal in the past and should not expect more.
I feel quite sure that even those who are talking loudest about intolerance, vindictiveness, and all the rest of it realise just as well as I do that the man whom they challenge as being the culprit, the arch-criminal of the Irish Free State, is the least vindictive man who has ever stood in this or the other House, or any other such assembly for that matter.
We have been told by Senator Baxter, I think it was, that the Bill and the attitude of the supporters of the Bill, was reeking with vindictiveness. He pointed out the great qualities of the speakers from the Opposition as if they were the only men who were ever in this country. I have known some of them and I would join in paying tribute to the work they did for Ireland in the past, but even if they did do good work for Ireland, then that is no reason why they should have a licence now to come out and sling the worst type of personal abuse across the floor of this House at a man whom they were proud to be associated with in the past and who was always there, and always will be there, to lead his country when his country is in danger.
I defy any man here to prove to me that on any occasion President de Valera uttered one word that would suggest that he was in any way vindictive against the individuals in Opposition, that he has ever lowered himself to utter one word of personal abuse across the floor of this or the other House, or that he ever, even in his wildest enthusiasm at election times, said one word disrespectful to the men who were bitterly opposed to him in the present or in the past. The people who happen to be in the Opposition have a licence to say whatever they like, but nobody must reply to them in their own language. We have, as I say, sufficient evidence to indicate that the Seanad set itself out to thwart the people's will and to take the part of a foreign country against their native land.
I have been attacked for making here in the past what have been referred to as wild statements, and I was advised by friendly members of the Opposition not to forget myself to-night. I make no apology for anything I say to-night or anything I said in the past. But, I say that it is a desperate state of affairs to find a House of the Oireachtas in this country being held up by its own spokesmen as the bulwark against the people's progress. I say that it is a terrible thing at the present time, when a whirlwind of democracy is sweeping over the world, tumbling thrones, and crashing Constitutions, to find the Seanad of the Irish Free State perhaps not going quite so far as to suggest the recall of the Act of Union, but going very nearly so far as it.
Do I understand the Senator to say that the Seanad wanted the repeal of the Act of Union?
That was a slip, it is perfectly obvious.
It was no slip. I did not say the Seanad wanted the repeal of the Act of Union. I said they did not go quite so far as to demand the return of the Act of Union. But we have had expressions here to-day from prominent members of the Opposition which would indicate that they would prefer the repeal of the Act of Union to government under President de Valera. At a time when the domination of England is being challenged wherever her filthy flag is unfurled, at a time when the people of every country in the world are clamouring for self-determination, at a time when the cry is "India for the Indians,""Africa for the Africans,""Egypt for the Egyptians,""Canada for the Canadians," this kind of campaign is being carried on here, that Ireland should stand like a slave hugging the chains which have held her in bondage and refuse to be liberated. I say that Ireland must take her place, and when other nations shout and clamour for self-determination, when they call for their country for themselves, that the people of this country should not be held back, and that it must and shall be, Ireland for the Irish.
We have heard a lot of talk also about the breach of faith with the minority. It has been suggested that if this Bill were passed there would be no longer any safeguards for the minority. It was suggested by Senator Douglas that the Referendum had been removed. I do not want to go into the various things to which the Senator referred. But I do say this, and I will dismiss the whole lot of them, like the policeman in the Mountains of Mourne, with one wave of my hand—and what I say is this, that every defect that is in the law at the present time is there with the active co-operation of the Seanad and that every member of this Seanad must hold himself responsible for the defects therein. The Referendum was removed at the dictation of President Cosgrave and his Party with the active co-operation of this Assembly. Then we have these gentlemen coming along and referring to the Referendum. They set themselves up now as the defenders of democracy and as the defenders of the people. But they must know in their hearts that the people of this country will cheer at every cross-roads the day that the members of this Assembly walk out of Leinster House with bag and baggage.
It has also been suggested that it was hard for the Fianna Fáil Senators to take their medicine though they had worked so hard at the elections, and that when they had got the Fianna Fáil Party into power the hard and ungrateful President came along to banish the House in which they held their seats. I say for myself, and I think I can say for every member of this Party that we came into it on the invitation of the Party. When I came in here I came in on the definite understanding that when the time arose I was to be here to do my bit to wreck this House. I am here to-day to see that wrecking, and I make no apologies for that. When this House is abolished I will feel that I will have done a good day's work for my country. I notice that Senator Gogarty finds it hard to contain himself.
With regard to the arrangements made in connection with the Seanad at the time of the Treaty, it may be of interest to read the following document:—
"Agreements with Southern Unionists, 1921 and 1922. —On the 16th November, 1921, Mr. Arthur Griffith met Lord Midleton, Doctor Bernard (Provost of Trinity College) and Mr. Andrew Jameson in London, and discussed with them the question of safeguards for the interests of the Unionist minority. He reported this meeting in a letter to the President of the same date. In this letter he made the following statement regarding the discussion on a Senate and the understandings reached:—
They strongly argued there should be a Senate. I said I was in favour of a Second Chamber and I believed my colleagues would be. If it comes to a point, when we were erecting the machinery I would propose that they be consulted as to the constitution of the Senate. They said they were satisfied with this.'
Replying to a letter from Mr. Lloyd George on 1st December, 1921, Mr. Arthur Griffith referred to his agreement with the Southern Unionists, ‘to provide safeguards for the representation of minorities and the general protection of their interests.' He added: ‘Similar safeguards we shall expect in the case of the minority in the North-East area of Ireland.'"
It was agreed as an extra Treaty agreement that the minority in the South would get representation in the Seanad for, I think, a period of 12 years. It was agreed in the very same spirit that a similar provision would be made for the Nationalist minority in the North-East. I ask you what provision has been made for the Nationalist minority in the North-East?
The civil war.
Now, Senator Staines, please.
Civil war stopped any protection being secured for them.
If Senator Staines wishes to discuss the civil war we will have a day of it. The night is long yet.
Better stop that now.
What provision has been made for the Nationalist minority in the North-East? What steps have the members opposite taken to ensure or to suggest that any provision be made for their brothers and sisters in the North-East? We have Senators here, such as Senator Bagwell, men of considerable influence in the North-East corner of our country. What was their attitude when the people, the Nationalists of the North-East, were being hounded down as outcasts in their own land? What was their attitude when these people were denied employment in public offices and when members of the Northern Government publicly declared that such people as the Nationalist minority should even be denied private employment? They talk about intolerance. I say, and I am glad to be in a position to say, that we here in the South are the most tolerant people on the face of the earth. I say that the Irish people as a whole are the most tolerant people in the world. I do not want to go further into that question but before those people talk about intolerance they should first——
Who in this House suggested intolerance anyway?
No, there was no suggestion of intolerance. What Senator Bagwell said——
I do not agree. The question of intolerance was brought up several times.
Senators Bagwell, Milroy and MacLoughlin brought it up and Senator Gogarty has his mouth open to speak about it.
The Senator must not anticipate what Senator Gogarty is going to say; I am sure it will be very amusing. If I were Senator Quirke I would not continue in that strain any longer.
You, Sir, can rule me out of order.
At this stage, I do not want to rule anybody out of order.
One would imagine that Senator Quirke would obey the Chair.
Senator Gogarty, I would name you now without any hesitation. Senator Quirke.
The question of the possible dictatorship, in fact, the probable dictatorship, was discussed by at least half-a-dozen members of this House. It was discussed and pointed out by Senator O'Farrell, who poses as a leader of the Labour Party in this House, but I challenge Senator O'Farrell to prove that he is a leader of the Labour Party here or outside. I believe that it is a disgrace to the Labour Party to allow such a statement to go unchallenged. I believe that Senator O'Farrell, with qualifications, feels ashamed to be associated with Labour and that he would rather be associated with the autocrats on the other side of the House. But since he carries the stigma of Labour, I am afraid he will never make his way into the ranks of modern society or that those people on the opposite side will ever accept him with that stigma.
Many of those things were extra Treaty agreements. In the same way the provision for the Referendum was a matter of mutual understanding. They did not guarantee that the Referendum would never be removed. As I have pointed out, it has already been removed by the Cosgrave administration, or at the dictation of Mr. Cosgrave's Party. Why was it not pointed out at the time that the removal of the Referendum was a denial of the rights of the minority? I cannot say for a fact whether or not Senator Douglas voted for that particular measure, but if he did he has no right to stand up now and say that the abolition of the Seanad, which was set up practically on the same understanding, is a breach of faith with the minority or a breach of any other kind with any section of the people of this country.
I never did say anything of the sort.
We had rather heated exchanges when the question of the various Bills which were held up in the past came up for discussion, when various important national measures were held up, while it was possible to hold them up on the part of the so-called champions of democracy. Senator Staines flew off the handle and nearly attacked his neighbour, Senator O'Neill, in connection with the Army Bill.
I told the truth.
I do not say you did not.
Senator Staines has much experience and I will request of him that there should be no interruption.
I wish speakers would not keep mentioning Senators by their names. I told the truth, anyway.
Nobody suggests Senator Staines ever did anything else except tell the truth.
I would not, in a hundred years, suggest that Senator Staines would tell a lie; but his statement on that occasion was a little bit inaccurate. There was a little bit of credit on both sides, and if we had a division between what Senator O'Neill said and what Senator Staines said, we would be just about there. In connection with the Army Bill, the fact is that the Opposition insisted on an amendment to cut down the time to three months and Senator O'Neill said six months.
I said they tried to block the Bill.
It was three months, in any case. Three months might not seem a very long time, but it was a deliberate attempt to create distrust in the Army, to create anxiety, to throw a match into a magazine which was obviously in existence at that particular period. We have here the so-called champions of democracy, but when it came to the question of the Oath, was there any talk about the mandate? Does anybody question the fact that Fianna Fáil had a mandate from the people to abolish the Oath of Allegiance? Does anybody suggest that they voted for that particular item of our programme with any reservations? The members of the Opposition know quite well that such was not the case, but still when the Bill came to this House they opposed it tooth and nail. The same thing applied to the land annuities. When the question of the land annuities came up the champions of the people, the alleged representatives of the farmers included, worked tooth and nail against it.
The Cathaoirleach of this Assembly, who was prominently connected with the opening stages of that particular move to retain the land annuities in this country, did himself proud, as they say, on every occasion that it came up. When it was a question of the extension of the franchise, what was the attitude of the so-called champions of democracy? Did they try to extend the power to the people? I say they did not. They opposed every tooth and nail. They opposed every big national question which came before this House and then they will tell us that they are here in 1936 to protect the people from a dictatorship under President de Valera. We have been told by various speakers that this Bill to abolish the Seanad is just a little more of the vindictiveness of the President, a little more of his attitude, a further attempt by the President to get back at the people who beat him in the field of battle in 1922. Now we will discuss the civil war.
Sure. As if the men who made those statements did not know in their hearts—at least the men who were associated with the President in the past—that now or even in the midst of the civil war he never said one hard word against even his greatest opponents. They will come along now and insinuate that the man who holds the confidence of every section of the people in this country, who commands the respect of every Irishman and woman scattered to the four corners of the earth, will come back like the leaders of some of the other Parties in a tuppence-halfpenny manner to get back at his political opponents. It is hardly necessary for me to refute such a ridiculous charge. If I thought that there was anything in the charge I would be the loudest in my denunciation. I feel confident, notwithstanding any statements which have been made to the contrary, that the de Valera of 1936 is the same old de Valera that he was in 1934, 1933, 1922, 1920, 1919 and 1916. The men who are making those charges against him know very well that he is the same man to-day. There may be some excuse for some members of the Opposition who thought up to a year or two ago that the President had a tail and horns; but there is no excuse whatever for men like Senator Milroy and the other men who were associated with President de Valera in the old days to make the ridiculous, absurd and outlandish statements that we have heard here to-day. As I say, revenge is far from the mind of the President, and vengeance is the farthest away thing from his mind or from the mind of any member of our Party in this or the other House. We do not want to crow over those who were deemed a few years ago to have been victorious on the field of battle. We do not want to get back on them to-day because we outnumber them by the votes of the people. But I say that the people who refer to the President and his followers as "a bunch of gunmen,""thugs" and "gangsters" are hurling back a last insult to the people responsible for their political destruction. The men who were given these titles by members of the Opposition are men selected to be the Government by the overwhelming majority of the people of this country at two, or was it three, general elections.
Notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary by people hurling personal abuse at the President he possesses to-day the confidence of countless thousands of people who were not with him a few years ago in connection with this policy of abolishing the Seanad and for various other measures which had been passed in his determination to proceed along the lines towards national freedom. So that I think the question of hitting back in revenge at our political opponents is completely ruled out. In a House where so much poetry has been quoted perhaps I may in this connection recommend to our political opponents and indeed to members on both sides of the House an appropriate verse.
"Victory! There can be but one
Hallowed in every land.
When by the graves of our common dead
We, who were foemen, stand."
That is the only time we can claim victory. No Party in this country can claim victory until we have national unity, until the Milroys and the Staines and the rest of them—their opponents are joined together and when the men who fought side by side and also the men who fought in different camps, stand together over their common dead.
I believe as a result of the abolition of this House we will come nearer to the day when that desirable change shall come about. Since I came in here, not so very long ago, I heard practically nothing but personal abuse for political opponents. On every conceivable occasion attacks were made on individuals and on the slightest provocation bad points were made. I believe when this House is abolished there will be so much less of that kind of political tomfoolery and that we shall find ourselves advancing with less impediments on the road towards freedom. The question to be decided here is whether or not we are to be allowed to advance towards Ireland's destiny. We saw in our day fresh barricades built up in the people's path and we are not going to allow them or old barricades, which comes to the same thing, to block the way. Whether in seriousness or not, many of the members of the Opposition have stated that we are heading for a dictatorship, I say nothing of the kind. We have had a trial of dictatorship in this country for the past three years. We have had that dictatorship in the form of the Seanad, and if ever again there should be a Second House established in this country I say that that Second House should not have the right to veto the people's mandate.
Big arguments have been put up for a Second House. As I say, two-Chamber government has been tried and if I were to make any statement as to what my attitude would be towards a bi-cameral system, I would say this: That in my opinion the idea of a Second House is in reality obnoxious to the very ideal of representative government. As I said we have had a trial of dictatorship. I do not believe for one moment that we are heading in that direction. But if I had no choice—and I put it that way to the members of this House—if I had no choice but to vote for one of two dictators, Westropp Bennett or de Valera, it would not take me long to decide.
The Cathaoirleach resumed the Chair.
During the course of this debate, Senator O'Farrell took on himself the role of leadership of what is termed the Labour Party in this House. He said that no member of that Party had any mandate from the Labour movement to vote against this Motion. Let me assure the House that Senator O'Farrell had no authority for making any such statement. The position of the Labour Party in this House is that members of it are perfectly free to vote for or against this motion, as their consciences and commonsense direct them. As to the Senator's reference to past favours and future rewards in regard to those who vote against this Motion, the less said about that the better. It is an extraordinary thing that men who are the foremost in pushing their honesty and their political character and their puremindedness and impartiality, in connection with any particular measure, are the first to insinuate base motives to their opponents. I think the Labour members in this House can afford to pass over the cheap jibes and insinuations of Senator O'Farrell.
I regret that this debate has developed more along the lines of personality than of principle. As far as I am concerned I have no use whatever for personalities. The motion, to my mind—the mover admits this— declares that this House, as at present constituted, is not one that ought to get the support of the Irish people. The object of the motion is to remove what the mover referred to as the chaotic state of constitutionalism in this country—a state of affairs for which, he admitted, the present Government was not responsible. He said that he did not suggest that the present Administration had any direct responsibility for the chaotic condition of the Constitution or that the position could be remedied by continuing the present method of electing the Seanad or even by creating a new Chamber. Frankly, I fail to understand what attitude Senator Douglas has adopted on this question. The line of argument is that Dáil Eireann has not the power to alter the Constitution. The mover of the motion not alone admits that Dáil Eireann has that power but he proposes, as portion of his motion, that the Dáil should establish a new Second Chamber. I suggest to anybody who likes to study the question that if seven members of this House and seven members nominated by the Dáil have the right to draft a new constitution for the Second Chamber, then the elected representatives of the people have a perfect right to abolish that Chamber. Listening to some Senators, one would imagine that this was the first occasion on which the Constitution was tampered with. Every member of the House knows that that Constitution has been altered on, at least, 15 occasions. One Senator contradicted Senator Lynch and said that it was not altered to the disadvantage of the people. What has that got to do with the question? The fact remains that the Constitution was altered on a number of occasions and that the alterations were accepted by this House.
We have had a lot of talk about dictatorship. We have been told that, if this House goes, we shall have panel candidates and a state of affairs similar to that which exists in Germany, Austria or Italy. In my view, that talk is all nonsense. There is no evidence of any such thing. I ask any member of this House to take it upon himself, or herself, to say that the Seanad has prevented a dictatorship or is in a position to prevent a dictatorship if President de Valera desired it. On the first day of this year we had an extraordinary situation in this House. The members were divided equally on a certain important issue and we saw the Chairman give his vote in a certain way, as he had a perfect right to do. How is a House constituted as this is to be a barrier to dictatorship? It is true that about 20 members of the House were elected on a limited popular franchise. Perhaps these Senators can say that they represent the people who at that time were over 30 years of age and had the right to vote. But that was changed. The Seanad is now elected not by the votes of the people but by the votes of the members of both Houses. Is it not an extraordinary contention to put forward that while the members of both Houses can elect a Seanad, the majority of those members cannot do anything to alter the Constitution? I always thought that public representatives were the servants of the people who elected them. When I come in here, I learn that the position is reversed—that the elected representatives are the bosses of the people who elected them.
At this late hour, I have no desire to deal with the statements made by various speakers. A great deal of what was said had very little to do with the principle that is really at stake. To my mind, that principle is the right of the Parliament, elected on the basis of proportional representation on as fair a franchise as can be conceived, to govern this country. If the country stands in fear of all the dreadful consequences mentioned by Senators who supported this motion and if this Chamber is the only method by which a dictatorship can be prevented, then the chances of that dictatorship coming are very good. Even if this House were not abolished and if the Seanad continued as under present conditions, every man knows that, under the present system of election, this Government, possibly next November and certainly after the second election, would have a majority in this House, so that there would be merely duplication of representation. Senator Douglas expressed the hope that if seven good men and true were selected from this House—I hope the House would have the decency to elect a lady also—and seven from the Dáil, you would have, as a result of their meeting, a non-Party Seanad. Just imagine that — a non-Party Seanad. I have not heard any member of this House make the slightest suggestion as to how this ideal Second Chamber is to be brought about. So long as you have political principles and economic principles, you will have political Parties, and so long as you have political Parties you will have Party government. A slender majority in the Dáil of persons elected by the people is no more a dictatorship than a slender majority in the Second Chamber, nominated by people who were elected by the votes of the people.
If I had any of the fears that have been expressed by many of the Senators as to a coming dictatorship. it is certainly not to the activities of Seanad Eireann that I would be looking forward to prevent it. I would certainly appeal to my own class to take action to see that neither this Government, or any other Government, sets up a dictatorship in this country, whether they wore green shirts, blue shirts or red shirts. Personally, I do not believe that many of the speakers who have tried to terrorise us to-day accept the position that a dictatorship is possible in this country. If it is possible, I say that we need some much more effective method of saving the country from that position than a Second Chamber. As far as the members of the Labour Party are concerned, I in my humble way, do not take on myself the leadership, although perhaps I have as good a right to speak for the workers of this country as any man or woman in this Assembly. Each and every member of our Party is free to vote as his conscience directs him, and, as far as I am concerned, I shall cast my vote against this motion because I trust and have confidence in the honesty and good judgment of the people of this country.
It is extraordinary that the last Senator thought it worth his while to join the House last December 12 months with a rope around his neck. I wondered why the President did not attend in the House when such a vital question was under discussion. I put it down to peevishness and megalomania, but I find now that he has got such an excellent subaltern in Senator Quirke, one of the few people who put into practice the unicameral or one-Chamber system of government, that there is no necessity for the President to attend while Senator Quirke is here as an exponent of one-Chamber Government, as this shows:—
"Seanad Eireann, July 11, 1935.
To all whom it may concern:
Those wishing to obtain interviews with me are hereby notified that no further interviews will be granted at Ballinard Castle. I will attend as usual for such purposes at the Denis Lacey Club, Clonmel, on the first Saturday of each month, and at Leinster House in the midweek. All other matters must be dealt with through the post.
(Signed) Bill Quirke."
Now, we have not even a hope for a Second Chamber. Ballinard Castle is banged and bolted in the face of democracy, and Senator Bill Quirke will only see them in the Seanad. He lamented that Senator MacLaughlin dealt with Omar Khayyam, talking about "going out through the same door as in I went." He took very good care to go out through another door in 1916, under Lord Wimborne's Lieutenancy, when he gave a pedigree bitch to a soldiers' and sailors' jumble sale, held March 21, 1916, the year of the Rising, when his patriotism is elastic enough to allow him to be on both sides:—
"... under the patronage of His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in the Military Barracks, Fethard, in aid of the 18th R.I. Regiment Prisoners of War and Red Cross Association the donors of the miscellaneous gifts included William Quirke (now Senator)—a greyhound bitch (pedigree at sale)."
I hope that for the jumble sale for the out-of-work Senators he will give us a pedigree dog. The President was stated to be busy by his new lieutenant. I hope that new lieutenant will have as many rewards as Senator Connolly, now that he is in the Front Bench. The President was stated to be busy, but what business has he except to be busy with a thing that touches the whole future of the Irish nation?
Senator Connolly described him as the most loved statesman ever in the country, and Senator Quirke told us that hundreds of thousands of people were unanimous for him. What is the truth? What is the fact? He has got the biggest guard since Lynchehaun.
Are we discussing the Bill or the Motion?
Both, I take it.
The popularity of the President.
With regard to the pedigree bitch referred to by Senator Gogarty in my absence, I would like to explain that the progeny of that bitch turned out to be very illustrious. Some of them are not very far away from here and will be available for the jumble sale after the abolition of the Seanad.
If you could cross your running dog with a calf, the progeny could sprint over the border for a fair with a fair price. The popular President has the strongest bodyguard that any man in this country had, except Lynchehaun, and I mention Lynchehaun because he turned on the hand that fed him and put his benefactor on a hot seat. History repeats itself and we are at a moment in Irish history——
Is it a proper illustration to give to compare the President of the State to a criminal?
He came from Mayo, you know, Senator.
I think there should be a limit to this kind of talk.
You are a judge.
I must say that, in public decency, Sir, you ought to call on the Senator to withdraw that comparison.
Yes, the Senator should not make such a comparison.
It is odious, hideous. After all, he is the President of this State and it is outrageous for a man to get up in an assembly like this and draw such a comparison and that it should be allowed to go unchallenged.
I have the greatest pleasure in withdrawing any comparison betwen the criminal Lynchehaun and President de Valera. I was only comparing the strength of their bodyguards, but I will alter it and say that the President is the greatest national fiasco since Jem Roche. I have not the slightest anxiety about his being a successful dictator, because, judging by his history, he will be as much a dud as a dictator as he is at every attempt at constructive work. He will explode all his friends' hopes of lieutenancies under him. The people will get so tired of negations that they will finally throw him out. What I was going to warn Senators on the other side about is a comparison of Grattan's Parliament in the year 1800. Grattan's Parliament had a strong Upper House, representative of people who, in their own way, were patriots. They were bought by two methods. First of all, those who were ambitious and well-established in the country were given honours, while a section were given sums of money. Senators who are beginning to see that the Seanad should never have been established, in spite of their presence in it, ought to be warned because President de Valera can confer an honour on nobody and the money jobs will be merely temporary or in the form of a promissory note. Already five of the Government Senators have been given jobs. It is no wonder that Senator Quirke can look with equanimity upon the abolition of this House. He is a member of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. Has he or has he not got £300 a year for his loyalty?
And a useful member.
As a financial expert?
Of course, in the chaotic condition of our finances at present, I am sure the Senator would be a most indispensable man.
This House has not got much imagination when you are allowed to talk in it.
So freedom of speech is to be denied too?
It was denied, but for me.
You cannot close the doors of this House as you did the doors of your castle.
I will not have any more interruptions except on a point of order.
Except from the other side of the House.
Except on a point of order.
Except from the other side of the House.
I welcome Senator Quirke's interruption; he is a most obliging person to interrupt. Ireland is again in the market-place. It is again up for purchase. It was bought once by Castlereagh, who cut his country's throat and then cut his own. I trust that when the President has abolished the warders from the mental home—in other words, when the Seanad is abolished—Senator Barniville and myself will render first aid in case of a repetition of any such lamentable attempt. Senator O'Neill is a charming person to interrupt. It reminds me that after 700 years of trying to break the fortress in which Dark Rosaleen was presumed to be imprisoned, it was opened in the year 1922 and what emerged? De Valera, an elongated Larry O'Neill.
I protest against these personal allusions to members of the Seanad, especially in regard to physical appearances.
I am sorry Senator Comyn has spoken so little. He has been so long with his tongue in his cheek that I thought I would some day be called in to render first aid.
I never canvassed for work as Senator Gogarty did.
You only canvassed for Senatorial honours and you only canvassed for the Crown prosecutorship against men who had put their heads in the halter for this country.
That is a lie.
I would ask Senators to confine themselves to matters that are relevant to the debate.
President de Valera, who could not walk down Gloucester Street since coal became 2/6 a sack, was raised into power on three betrayals. He betrayed the I.R.A. many of whom had assisted in putting him into power. Some of them are in Arbour Hill, where probably some of his supporters in this House will find themselves eventually.
We found ourselves there before and there was not a word raised about it in this House, but, thank God, the country has resented that.
Surely Lord Wimborne never put you into Arbour Hill.
He certainly did; he put me on Spike Island.
Then it was a very ungrateful act on his part after the presentation of that pedigree bitch. President de Valera, as I say, rose into power on the betrayal of the I.R.A. and on the betrayal of the American ideal of democracy, which consists of a bicameral constitution. What will be the form of dictatorship in this country? Will it be a rigid dictatorship? It will be a dictatorship in the main of incompetents. As to the President's absence from this debate, I was told that the explanation was that he was engaged in trying further to reward Senator Connolly, but that he found considerable difficulty in getting him any position wherein incompetence could be sufficiently camouflaged. I found that that was not so. He was merely demonstrating his discourtesy to this House. It had to be dissolved in silence. His brand of dictatorship may take the following course. He may elect to have no more elections. The first thing that will go—it has been already undermined—is the freedom of the Press. The freedom of the Press will be the first thing to go just as Oranmore Aerodrome was closed because it was reported that 1,000 copies of the Evening Herald were flown from Kildonan Aerodrome to Oranmore Aerodrome. That meant that 1,000 less copies of the Irish Press could be sold next morning, so Oranmore Aerodrome was closed. The freedom of the Press will be the first thing to be undermined. We have seen the judiciary already threatened. Then we will have moratoria lest there be a run on Saving Certificates or on the banks. Then we shall have our movements restricted and tourists will not be able to dine with Mr. Eden at Geneva. Between Edenderry and Eden dinner we shall have a very peculiar future for the country. It is sad, and a serious matter of concern for us all, that after so many years of striving for liberty, liberty has been caricatured and made ridiculous by the people themselves, by the Irish people who, apparently, are constitutionally incapable of governing themselves. They rid themselves of the Englishmen and take a foreigner—anybody as long as his antecedents are obscure. Of the MacCarthys and the Quirkes we know a good deal but who in the name of heaven knows de Valera?
There is very little hope for this country until there is a public opinion aroused in the country that will destroy these pretensions. If an agent were sent over here by John Bull, could he have created more misery in three and a half years than has been created, and for what? In the name of liberty and progress, progress with the rates increased by 1/10 in the £, with the national debt increased, and the earnest promises of economy belied. That is the sort of matter that the Seanad would raise its voice against and endeavour to remedy. It would stop precipitate legislation, and even though it had little power in regard to money Bills, the fact that it could, and would to some extent obstruct them, would have a beneficial effect. Obstruction is the only tactics, and a thing to be thankful for when a nation is slipping down a precipice. I wish to make no personal comments.
I never said anything personal against you.
You said it against the President, and that is against every member of the Government Party. You would not be allowed to do it in any other House of Parliament in the world.
Is not that a splendid argument why this House should be continued? I made no personal reflection on the President whatever.
I shall repeat it for you if you wish.
You would not repeat it at any cross-roads in the country, because if you did you would be torn to shreds.
I do not go down to cross-roads.
You go down to the gutter.
You are speaking from a castle the door of which you slapped in the face of democracy. I think it is largely our own fault if the President is suffering from megalomania. We made so much of him. He was elected Chancellor of the National University, he was hailed in America as the avatar of Ireland, and it should come very tardily from us before we began disbelieving what we at one time believed. As Chancellor of the National University, he had got such a hatred for the King's English that he managed to crowd three mistakes into three words which he spoke last week, when he said that dairying was the "most fundamental branch" of agriculture.
Is the grammar of the President an issue here?
I quote it as the only example of economy on the part of the President of which I am aware.
I am not a grammarian. What did you say about grammar?
The President said that dairying was a most fundamental branch of agriculture.
It has no bearing on the Bill.
It has a bearing on the Bill, in that we swelled President de Valera's head to such an extent when we made him Chancellor of the National University. Now that the University members of the Dáil are to disappear there will be no freedom of speech as far as the universities are concerned. The educated members of the community shall have no voice in public affairs. Now, that the six university members are going to be put out, there will not be a single intelligent critic representing the universities in the Dáil, but all Deputies will be brought down to the intellectual level of President de Valera. That is the fate of a country that once sent away its sons to bring enlightenment to Europe. Since the betrayal of Kinsale by Don Juan d'Aguila there has never been a calamity comparable to the calamity that our Spaniard has brought on the country this month.
The conduct of the last Senator offers I think the best argument so far for the abolition of the Seanad which was so constituted that it enabled him to be a member. It is rather difficult, after the inanities of Senator Gogarty to get down to the real kernel of the business before us. In my opinion, the whole debate correctly centres round the composition of the Seanad, the rights of the people and the form the Legislature of this country should take. If I were asked to choose between the present system of this Second Chamber with the present Constitution on the one hand, and a new and properly drawn Constitution, with safeguards for the fundamental Articles of it, without the existence of a Second Chamber, I would choose the latter.
To state first principles with respect to the proper working of a democratic State, I say that it is essential that we should have a properly drawn Constitution, enshrining the people's charter of rights, and including certain guarantees with respect to fundamental Articles dealing with the independence of the country, free speech, freedom of the Press, inviolability of the liberty of the subject, the independence of the judges, the independence of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, the independence of the Legislature, obligations with respect to private property, including lands, and more definitely fundamental Articles with respect to Christian education. The creating of a Constitution is the highest and the most reasonable political act of the people of any country. The fundamental Articles of that Constitution— and I am not afraid to express this principle—should not be left to the power of a bare majority, not alone of the Legislature but of the people to alter at any particular time.
Let us examine our present constitutional position in the light of those principles. In my opinion we have not a properly drawn-up Constitution enshrining the people's charter of rights, their freedom and independence, and most certainly it does not contain special fundamental safeguards for some of the essential features I have mentioned. Senator Kennedy has drawn attention to the fact that if this Second Chamber were allowed to continue in existence, the probability is that the Fianna Fáil Government Party would occupy a majority in it. At the moment you have no protection for the judges. If you read the Article you will see that it states that if a specific charge of incapacity with respect to any judge is approved by both Chambers a judge can be dismissed. Therefore, I believe I am quite correct in drawing serious attention to the necessity for fixing certain fundamental Articles in the Constitution, rather than considering whether this country could be better run with Two Chamber legislature or Single Chamber legislature. Irrespective of the existence of a Second Chamber, with or without power to delay legislation, most certainly, in the absence of a Second Chamber, it is necessary for the Constitution to be perfected, and the necessary guarantees inserted in it, so that certain fundamental Articles cannot be changed by a simple, bare majority, either of the Legislature or of the people. Let us examine what the President said. Senator Johnson gave copious references from what the President stated in the Lower House. I do not propose to take up the time of this House repeating them, although I was greatly tempted to do so, because some Senators were not here to listen to Senator Johnson repeating the old bogey that a dictatorship was imminent. The President in no uncertain words definitely stated in 1934—18 months ago— that he proposed examining these fundamental Articles which would secure the rights and liberties of the people. "There was a feeling," he said—I do not think this was quoted by Senator Johnson—"that a subsequent Dáil could repeal any amendments which we propose to make by a simple majority. There is confusion," he said, "in the minds of those advancing that argument between the constitutional position and the position of an ordinary legislative act."
If, as he states, he is quite prepared to bring in legislation giving effect to certain fundamental portions of the Constitution, and that these cannot be changed by a simple, bare majority vote, but will require a certain percentage of the House, or that in addition, the matter may be put to the Referendum of the people, if the law is such, when any other Government comes into power they will have to apply the Constitution in accordance with the rules therein contained, just as, at the moment, he has been legally advised he can change Articles in the Constitution by the simple process he has taken. I listened with astonishment to the remarks made by Senator O'Farrell. He seemed to suggest that at no time can the Articles of the Constitution be legally amended. I hope I am not misquoting him. The Senator did not make any distinction between ordinary Articles of the Constitution and fundamental Articles, but one would have imagined that, as a Senator associated with Labour, he would not enunciate so reactionary a principle as that the voice of the people could not be made manifest in any direction. If the voice of the people will not be heard, the people can only take extraordinary action, and I do not believe that any single member of the Labour Party in either House could associate himself with so reactionary a principle as the one enunciated by Senator O'Farrell.
With all due respect, I would therefore suggest to Senator Douglas that, granted he accepts the bona fides of the President in his promise to give effect to what I have stated and to what Senator Johnson has stated, he can rest assured that the Dáil will not be abolished or its sittings suspended indefinitely, or the judges removed by a simple bare majority, and that a Party will not be able, nor will an individual be able, to seize complete power by creating new rules when, by reason of some strong emotion running, of panic or of ecstasy, the people may seem willing to change a government of law for a government of men. I believe that Senator Douglas understands the President just as well as, if not better than, even members of his own Party. He has been in contact with him on matters of high principle and great importance.
Senator Johnson, while in his very excellent speech drawing attention to the temptations that are placed in the way of a Single Chamber Legislature, claims that the electorate should be protected against the Executive. I have sufficient confidence in the President to make this statement: that, realising that he is but for the moment a custodian of the rights and privileges of the Irish people, as President of the Executive Council, the converse applies also, and that he is just as anxious to see that the Executive and the Legislature are protected, even against the people, by a close and thorough examination of the Constitution, and the laying down definitely of binding rules, so that fundamental portions of the Constitution will not be altered or repealed by a simple bare majority vote of the Legislature or the people.
Secondly, we are asked to consider the question of the form of legislature. We have heard arguments in favour of both Single Chamber government and Two Chamber government. I am of the opinion that there should be only one Chamber elected by the people and, if there be any Second Chamber, that it should not be so elected; that it should not have the opportunity of laying claim to authority direct from the people and, thereby, it should not be allowed to come into direct conflict or competition with the popularly elected Chamber. I believe that that is important as a basic principle of democracy and, having stated that, I propose to examine the position following upon the pros and cons that have been put by the various speakers.
I wonder—as everything practically is comparative in this life—what size of a State would one begin to realise could only contain a Single Chamber legislature. Take the Province of Munster. Would you have two Chambers for a State of that size? Would you have two Chambers for a State of the size of the County Cork? I have the opinion that comparisons with other countries are unfair, and I am not going to quote from past political thinkers, any more than I am going to bring forward comparisons with the prevailing systems operating in other countries. I am not going to quote Benjamin Franklin or Bentham, or any of those that, have been quoted, either for or against Single Chamber government.
I believe that we in our own country should be the best judges of our own particular situation, and my opinion is that an attempt at a Single Chamber legislature may well prove fruitful. It is a very small country. It is free of racial minorities—I speak now of the Irish Free State. It is free of warring religious factions. Its people are fairly cohesive in their adherence to the same standard of moral law— Christian charity—and, generally speaking, they have no desire for speedy or radical change. The people of the Irish Free State are practically a homogeneous whole, and the bitterness which one, listening to the speeches made by Senator Milroy in an otherwise very eloquent address, and that other Senators made in this House on this occasion and other occasions, and even the bitterness which one, listening to speeches made in the other House, may imagine exists, does not actually exist. I think that in no other country in the world have the effects of a civil conflict been removed so far towards banishment as in this country, due, to a great extent, to the conduct of the Fianna Fáil Government led by President de Valera.
I maintain, therefore, that this small country is better suited than all those others with which comparisons have been made for the unitary system of legislation. The President has stated that he intends to work it for a time. I am going to vote against Senator Douglas's motion because I believe, firstly, that the President should get an opportunity of working the unitary system for a time, and, secondly, because I believe so much in the importance of safeguarding the existing fundamental portions of the Constitution and amending those that are objectionable to us and repealing those that we have no room for, which should engage his attention as the first measure of importance under the new form of Government that he proposes to work. As a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, I go so far as to say that I am quite prepared to subscribe to a motion calling upon the Government, as one of its first essential acts, to promote a Bill to give binding effect to the fundamental clauses of the Constitution. I am quite prepared to support such a motion to-morrow if it is brought before the Seanad. If we can devise a practical Second Chamber, which will not be allowed to conflict with the popularly elected Chamber and which must, therefore, be primarily advisory and, consequently, preferably a non-Party Chamber, I would personally welcome its formation. It must not exist as a bulwark for any vested interests as the House of Lords was for the propertied classes in Great Britain. I know it is not a fair comparison to make: to compare this Chamber with the House of Lords, but, unfortunately, Senator the MacGillycuddy practically supported the existence of the House of Lords as the ideal Second Chamber, a Chamber which, out of a membership of 783, can only have an average attendance of 95——
That is what makes it good.
——and which, for a whole century, prevented the placing upon its Statute Book of decent enactments for the provision of education for the people of Great Britain, and for 40 years refused to pass a Home Rule Bill. I do not think that I need waste much time with that argument which was adduced by Senator the MacGillycuddy; but, no less, should this Seanad, or any Seanad that would follow in its wake, be a bulwark for the class which sought to deny the national advance in the direction of complete sovereign independence, and which I maintain this Seanad in the past has done. I do not wish to give offence to Senators who believed conscientiously that they were not so impeding the national advance.
There are diverse views upon every question, and, surely, the most serious question for Irishmen is the question of complete sovereign independence of the country. The major difference took place at the time of the Treaty when individuals took different sides. We, on this side, believed that the Treaty was not what we went out to fight for: that it did not give us complete sovereign independence. You on that side believed that it did; and we are entitled to maintain that, so long as the Seanad has stood in the way of removing those features in the Treaty, or in the position created by the Treaty, that mars our position as a complete independent sovereign State, so long are we entitled to claim that you sought to deny the national advance in the direction of complete sovereign independence. I make that point in all fairness. I am not bringing in any question of the civil war or any question of the differences between all points of view, but Senators understand that there were differences of point of view and that they are existing even to-day. I am perfectly entitled to claim that the Seanad has, in the past, set itself up as a bulwark for those who sought to deny the national advance towards the achievement of complete sovereign independence, and as the Fianna Fáil Party, representing the majority of the people of the country, had so decided.
Normally speaking, I incline in favour of a Second Chamber as a sort of safety valve for the legislative machine. Legislation in the main is all the better for being slow, and revision, if it is to take place at all, is better carried out in a new atmosphere. It can be claimed, of course, that revision can better be carried out by a small body of experts, technical and otherwise, rather than by a body of 40 or 50 men. Now, nobody has drawn attention to the fact, and I hope I am correct in asserting, that such revision may be provided under Article 45 of the Constitution which says that functional or vocational councils may be established with such powers, rights and duties as may be determined by law.
Now, such councils, if provided as an alternative to a Second Chamber, should in my opinion deliberate all their business in public. The people require that, because camera legislative action of any shape or form, either in the initial stages or in the revisionary stages, is to be deprecated. If the deliberations are not to take place in public, it would be just as well to hand the job over to one expert. I think it was Bernard Shaw who, no one occasion, said that one expert is better than a number, because in that case you cannot have a minority report. If, however, such functional or vocational councils are set up publicly to debate legislation, I maintain that any association of a sufficient number of qualified persons in a Single Chamber would not alone be better, but would be of much less cost to the State. I have made that point with respect to vocational and functional councils in order to provoke a reply from Senator Douglas on it. A Second Chamber that is supposed to be advisory and on a non-Party basis would have very little power. I have not given the matter any considered thought. I can only suggest that it could take Bills from the popularly elected Chamber for a first Committee Stage and return them to that Chamber for the completion of the remaining Stages, or for another Stage on Recommital. People will say if that is all the power that a Second Chamber will have, you probably will not get properly qualified persons to sit on it.
A Second Chamber has either to be an advisory body or it has not. It has either to be there for purposes of a revisionary or technical nature or for the purpose of conflicting with the popularly-elected Chamber. I say it should not be the latter. Consequently, I say that power may prove to be sufficient for it. It could keep discussing that particular Stage of the Bill for a period and give sufficient time to the electorate to form their judgment upon that particular Bill. If it did amend that Bill constructively, and its constructive amendments were not adopted by the lower House, public opinion would be formed against the lower House, and that is, in my opinion, a very decent way of bringing about a change in the minds of the electorate in a very constructive manner.
I was rather perturbed to hear from Senator Johnson of the dangers which he envisaged on account of the tendency of the State, even at the present moment, to carry out the law by means of certain orders and regulations. He drew attention to the increasing tendency to legislate in this manner, consequent upon the existence in a good many of our statutes of power enabling Ministers to make administrative laws to deal with matters under their control. The same position exists in more countries than one. This is an age of great speed and, while I regret that tendency, I believe that as times tend to become more normal—this country is passing through a very serious stage—that tendency will decrease. I believe that as industry and local authorities and economic bodies and vocational bodies will become more organised, the issuing of these orders and regulations will not present any great difficulty for the people, any more than the issuing of the many orders do not frighten the local administrative bodies in the country. I believe that eventually the law will only be applied in accordance with definite, fixed, stated principles in the different enactments. I echo what Senator Kennedy has said, as I have every confidence and faith in the democracy of the Irish people. I realise that if there is any overstepping on the part of the Legislature or the Executive Council, or the Civil Service, the people in no unmistakable way will show their resentment.
I have no suggestion whatsoever to make in respect to the method of the formation of a Second Chamber. I think that there exists a difficulty that has been agreed upon by all Parties, and I do not propose to offer any suggestion. I say that during the period that the Legislature will operate as a Single Chamber, we will have ample time to consider the whole possibilities of the situation, and I can only express the hope that those who believe in the efficacy of Second Chamber government for this country will commit their thoughts definitely to a practical scheme, and from that may emanate a Chamber more worthy of the name and dignity of a Second Chamber than, unfortunately, I regrettably state, this Chamber appears to have been.
Donnchadha Ua hEaluighthe
Nílim chun morán a rádh. At this late stage I do not intend to prolong this debate, but only to refer just to one or two points. I came in here at the last election, and in coming in here I knew exactly what the position was and what the fate of the Seanad was to be. But, in voting against Senator Douglas's motion, my action is not to be construed as a vote of no confidence in myself, and my vote is not to be construed as being in favour of a Single Chamber system of government. At this late stage, I do not intend to prolong the discussion, and simply confine myself to making these points.
It is not my intention to give a silent vote on this matter. I have nearly twelve years' experience in this House and during that period I have been pretty well satisfied that the class I come from and represent is much more likely to get favourable conditions from the other House than from this one. That is my experience. It has been stated that the Labour Party has no right or mandate to vote against this motion. I may say that they have no right or mandate to vote for it. I make a present of the compliments or comparisons that were made by Senators Gogarty, Blythe and O'Farrell in reference to the Castlereagh affair. I owe no special allegiance to the Fianna Fáil Government. I am prepared to oppose them and seriously criticise them every time an opportunity arises, but in that criticism it will never be my idea to descend to the level of the people in this House. I always try to act judicially in any matters before the House.
I must say that I was very much impressed by a number of people in this House with whom I do not agree, and I regret to part from them. Many of them are in the minority in this House and in the country and I regret their passing. I want to say this: Senator Blythe in the course of his remarks told the House that his experience was that two Bills were held up by this House. Two Bills in about ten years. What a contrast. When the Fianna Fáil Government came in Bills were held up—important Bills too. This House took upon itself very much the same authority as the House of Lords did in the British Parliament. To my mind, that was never the intention of the people of this country. The House exceeded its powers and authority.
It has been said that the other House has no right to abolish this House. But the people in the other House are responsible to the people who elected them and it has been said that a country gets the Government it deserves. This Government has been elected by the populace of this State; they have been deliberately obstructed in this House on numerous occasions until their patience was tried to breaking point and the breach has come. I am pretty well satisfied that this Government, after a very brief experience, will find the need for a Second Chamber, however it is composed. It is not my intention to go over the arguments used yesterday and to-day. To-day's debate was conducted on a very high level, with the exception of one or two speeches. It is a pity these exceptions were introduced. On the former occasion, when the Bill was before the House I voted for it and nothing that has happened in the interval would justify me changing my vote on this occasion. I intend to vote against the amendment and, in doing so, I am perfectly satisfied that I am working in the best interests of the working classes of this country.
At this late hour, I do not intend to occupy the time of the House for more than a minute or two. I formally seconded Senator Douglas's motion. I concur most heartily with every word of Senator Douglas's speech. He said everything that I could have said myself, and he has said it a great deal better. I shall not further weary the House by repetition. But there are one or two matters about which I would like to say a word or two. I have read most, if not all, of the pronouncements of the President on the subject of a Second Chamber and I am wholly unable to form any definite idea as to his real opinion on the subject or as to the actual intention he has with regard to the future existence of a Second Chamber in this country. The condition of the President's mind on this subject may be as hazy as my own idea of what his intentions are. But I would urge most strongly upon the President that he owes it to the country to give us a definite assurance that there will be a Second Chamber when this one disappears. The President has no mandate for a Single Chamber Government. The mandate which he claims is a mandate for the abolition of the House "as at present constituted," There is implicit in that the promise of a Second Chamber when this one disappears. But the country ought not to be left with a promise which is merely implicit and, therefore, I urge most strongly on the President that we ought to be told, and told expressly, where we are. That is really what underlies the motion before the House.
There is only one other matter about which I wish to say a word or two, and that is, the effect of a Single Chamber Government on the independence of the judges. The liberty of the people depends more than on anything else on the independence of the judges. That independence is not going to be assured by the provision in the present Bill of a four-seventh majority in the Single Chamber which will exist. As has been pointed out by more than one speaker in this debate, there is nothing to prevent that provision being put an end to by the Dáil by a majority of one single vote. There is, therefore, nothing to prevent the independence of the judges disappearing by reason of a single vote given in the other House. If you destroy the independence of the judges you destroy what is quite as valuable in the protection of the liberty of the subject—you destroy the independence of the Bar. For you will not get courageous and independent men to practise before a Bench that is not independent. If that were to happen, the law's protection of the liberty of the people would disappear in this country and it would have to disappear in a country where most of the legislation is done, not by Parliament, but by orders of the Executive Council.
I would, therefore, urge on the President to give the country a definite promise of a Second Chamber. There is just one word more I want to say. I have been a member of this House for more than 12 years. I hope that if and when another Senate is created it will be as free from political bitterness as this House has been. We, in this House, Sir, have not been quite perfect in that respect, but the occasions were relatively few. As a rule our work has been done by friendly discussion, and that is why it has been done so well.
Senator Douglas to conclude.
I find a certain amount of difficulty in replying to a debate of the general character such as has taken place on this motion which I moved. There have been some speeches of a very high character. A considerable number of them, I believe, will add to the distinction of this House and will add considerably to the literature of constitutional questions. I do not want to run the risk of offence by referring to one speech above another, but I think you all know those to which I refer. There are, however, a few matters to which I think I ought to refer, particularly arising out of what was said amongst those who are opposing the motion. I could, of course, keep you for an hour showing my shades of agreement with those who have supported it. I could equally keep you for longer than an hour explaining my disagreement with those who have opposed it. I intend to do my best to refer to a few matters which, I think, have not been fully replied to, and then to sum up what I believe to be the value and purpose of this debate.
We had, towards the end of the debate, two speeches from members of the Fianna Fáil Party which were somewhat characteristic of the two types of mind inside that Party. One was Senator Quirke and the other was Senator Fitzgerald. To Senator Quirke I do not propose to reply at any length. His type of argument is beyond me. He does not speak in the kind of language that appeals to me or to which I am really competent to reply. He explained himself, at any rate to me, by frankly stating that he was sent to this House to wreck the House and that that was his purpose here. That explains a good deal. He referred to the whirlwind of democracy that was sweeping over Europe and he gave that as a reason for the abolition of this House. Perhaps my greatest objection to unicameral government in this country is that we may get the kind of democracy that has been sweeping over Europe in the last few years. It always claims to be democratic, but a good deal of it in five or six countries is what I call dictatorship and not democracy.
Senator Fitzgerald took a completely different line. He showed, as indeed did almost every member, not quite every member, of this House, that he would prefer to see an experiment in a new Second Chamber than an experiment in Single Chamber government. He suggested, I think, with a reference to me personally, that granted that I accepted the intentions of the President, I might be quite content to leave this period, whatever the period may be, we have no idea, to unicameral government and have no fears. I want to suggest that that is not the way in which a Legislature can consider a Bill that is placed before it. It is no reflection on the President's intentions to say that he has left us in this position: He has had 20 months to deal with these other matters; he showed us that 20 months ago he realised the danger and now we simply have this Bill as it stands. I respectfully suggest to Senator Fitzgerald that this Bill as it stands is the only thing which we in this House can properly deal with.
The President, and I regret it, did not see fit to come here. I believe if he had seen his way to be present to-day he would have found there was a great deal of genuine uneasiness, which was not confined to one side of this House, and he would have had a certain amount of very genuine and serious argument with which he could have dealt. But he did not come to-day and he did not repeat the assurances of 20 months ago. Even if the President is prepared within the next couple of months to bring in these safeguards we must take the measure as it is, and the very fact that a prominent Senator like Senator Fitzgerald is satisfied that these steps are being taken is an extraordinarily good reason for this House passing the resolution which I have asked you to pass, because it is suggested that the bicameral Government should continue for a short period until the necessary steps have been taken.
There is one point of considerable difference between Senator Fitzgerald and myself. You will get it in the words, "The President of the Executive Council is the custodian of the rights of the people." To my mind, the President of the Executive Council is the servant of the people. If there is any custodian it is Parliament and that only in a limited sense. I suggest that there is a wrong idea there and that Parliament, both the Government and their supporters, and the leader of the Opposition and their supporters combined, have responsibilities to the people, and that where it is possible to act together you should act together.
The motion which I have proposed, and which was drafted by a few members of the group to which I belong, suggests what I believe to be a proper method to adopt in the circumstances. That is not going back on our previous proposal which was ignored, that the members of the two Houses should endeavour to hammer out a scheme for a new Second Chamber. That was ignored. It is useless to propose that now. My resolution does not propose it. What I propose is that a small conference between members of the two Houses should endeavour to insert an amendment in this Bill which will delay its operation, but will allow it to become law with the delayed operation until a new Second Chamber has passed the Dáil. That is all I am asking the House to pledge itself to agree to. But my resolution goes further. It enables that conference to consider any of the points suggested by Senator Johnson and, while it does not formally ask the House in advance to accept the Bill under those conditions, it allows them to be considered and sent back here.
I suggest with all seriousness to the Senators opposite who have expressed themselves as prepared to support this Bill, but who have expressed real uneasiness, that the wise course is to take such action as will force steps to be taken for constitutional safeguards and if possible to get an agreement which will allow this House to function for a short time until there is an endeavour to get agreement for a new Second Chamber. That is not a vote in any sense for this Bill, but it is a willingness to accept the facts and an endeavour to use them in the interests of the country.
Senator Fitzgerald said one thing that I really think I cannot pass over. He stated that this Seanad has all along impeded the march to sovereign independence. I wonder what he means. If he simply means that we refused, for reasons which I am not going to take time going into now— they are well known by the House—to pass the Bill with regard to the Oath, and if that is all he means, then I have nothing to say. But if he means that this House took other steps to stop the march towards the political independence of this country, I do not believe it is true. I think if the President were here he would admit that this House, even with support from the group that I belong to, which is supposed to be the most conservative in the House, though incidentally I do not think it is, supported the Land Bill which was introduced by the late Government and which made appeals to the Privy Council ineffective, and they supported the Bill of this Government which abolished appeals to the Privy Council.
I do not know of any constitutional change which made clear, or endeavoured to improve, the independent position of this country, which was thwarted by this House with the one possible exception which I do not admit applies, but which Senator Fitzgerald thinks does, that is the holding up of the Oath Bill. I cannot think of any other case of Bills, which could go into the category of affecting the sovereign independence of the country, which this House delayed.
He said that this House proved a bulwark for those who sought to deny national independence. I hope when this House ceases to exist, and when Senator Fitzgerald, like myself, retires from public life, and will have more leisure, he will do what is not necessary for me to do, that is get a complete list of the reports of the debates in this House and read them through from the beginning. If he does, I think he will find the record of this House on the question of political independence, and on all stages of it, is as good as that of the Dáil if not considerably better. I do not want to waste the time over a Senator of the intelligence of Senator Fitzgerald, as shown by his speech here to-day. He said he did not propose to go into details for the case of a new Second Chamber. I think he meant that it might be elected on functional or vocational lines. I have come to the conclusion that, provided it was not applied too strictly, it would be possible to work out an effective scheme along vocational lines.
I am not going to take up the time of the House, at this hour, by setting out a scheme of my own. My reason is this: I do not think any scheme that emanates from one man, or one Party, is going to have a chance of success; but if it is produced by a mixed committee and criticised by various men it would be different. The fact that it came from Senator Fitzgerald, or Senator Blythe, or Senator Brown, or Senator Johnson would mean that it would be looked at from a peculiar angle and with suspicion, and not treated on its merits. I do not think it is desirable for an individual to come forward with a scheme when there is room for such a variety of honest opinion.
I greatly valued the speech made by Senator Johnson, and I appreciate it and agree with a large portion of what he said. I agree that if there is to be Single Chamber government it is essential we should have a more rigid Constitution. I agree, incidentally, with Senator Fitzgerald that even if we had Two Chamber government there are various parts of our Constitution that should be made more rigid, although I think you have a great deal more latitude with two Chambers than with one. Where I differ from the Senator at present is this. I think there will be difficulty in the amount of rigidity necessary in Single Chamber government and that you would be less rigid in respect to a Second Chamber, which is what we desire.
It is unfortunate perhaps, in view of the fact that this whole matter is in the hands of the President himself, and has been dealt with by him, that he has seen so little of this House; and probably what he has seen of it has been in rather unfortunate circumstances. He has rarely been here when ordinary Bills were under discussion. He has rarely seen this House in Committee, and has little idea of the fact which seems to be agreed upon by all, that there has been really very little obstruction in this House. I am very glad Senator Brown is here and I congratulate him on having just reached his 80th year to-day. May I also mention the fact that there are five members of this House, who are over 80, and who will not be grieved very much if they are now asked to retire into private life. I venture also to say that those who imagine that members of this House, of any age, have been frightened by Party Whips to vote for this or that Party are entirely mistaken. Such is not the case. It is simply not true.
I should like to reply to Senator MacEllin whose speech I followed with interest. I disagreed much more with the part of it that he delivered yesterday than with the part he delivered to-day. I should like also to refer to Senator Lynch. All I say incidentally is that a Bill was introduced and passed for the abolition of the general Referendum, but so far as Constitution amendments were concerned the Referendum is still there. So far as I can gather the general Referendum was abolished, but it remains so far as Constitution amendments are concerned with the former period of eight years extended to 16 years. All Parties in this House united for the promotion of a Bill that would make that effective immediately, but that Bill was ignored by the Dáil, because, I suppose, it came from such a reactionary Chamber as this, which proposed a way to have the Referendum on Constitution amendments made effective.
I want to give a brief summing up of what I feel is the value of this debate. There seems to be a certain number of Senators, of whom Senator Healy is one, who want to preserve their own independent view. They want to make it quite clear that voting against this motion must not be taken as a vote of no confidence in themselves, and that they are still in favour of Two Chamber government. Senator Quirke told us he was not dealing with the pros and cons of Single Chamber or bicameral government. I do not know whether he is an exception. But it is clear there is a general desire to have a new Second Chamber. I may be wrong when I say that no one spoke in favour of Single Chamber government. I did not hear any such speech. I may have been out of the House when some Senator did speak in favour of Single Chamber government but, as I say, I did not hear anyone do so. It is certainly clear that no one in this House is prepared to advocate unrestricted Single Chamber government. If that is so I think we may take it that there is unanimity upon that matter.
There was a third point, not dealt with so widely, and there I cannot claim unanimity, and that was that there is need for a general revision of the Constitution, having regard to the chaos it has reached at the present time. I am glad I moved this resolution, because I believed it would enable this House to express its view upon this matter. But for one or two speeches, and apart from Party feeling, there might have been a direct vote for or against this Bill. The Government have the power in a short time to abolish this House. It is admitted by all that this is a time when there is need for more permanent democratic safeguards. It is admitted by all that the Constitution is in a state of chaos. A man with the character of President de Valera, as stated by his followers here and as some of us knew him in the past, should seize a unique opportunity of this kind. He will never gain anything by making the mistake which was made when the Constitution was originally drafted. Half the trouble which has arisen as regards the construction of this House and a great deal of the trouble which has arisen with regard to the Constitution itself was due to the fact that it was a one-sided Dáil that drafted it. You may imagine that you are going to remedy these matters by producing in four or seven months a new one-sided Second Chamber, or by coming out with a new Constitution drafted by one side, but history will repeat itself. Some other Party—I do not know what Party it will be—will come along and abolish it, in turn, and that will not do this country any good.
There is an opportunity now to get together a committee not of people who have been on one side or the other in this House or in the other House, but of prominent men who will have no political axe to grind. Let those of us who have experience give evidence before them. Let civil servants give evidence before them, and let us get an independent suggestion which can be considered freely by Parliament. If that suggestion be adopted, there will be no reason why we should take the initial step towards Single Chamber government. If this House lasts a month or two or three months longer, it will do no harm to the Government. The proceedings here to-day do not end the Seanad. It does not end even in 60 days. It will come to an end when the Executive Council take certain steps. They need not take those steps immediately, but they can take them, if they so desire, almost at once. They have an opportunity now to try to get something better than the present Chamber, and there will be more respect for the Government if they try to build up something rather than merely saying: "We do not like this and we will destroy it."
- Bagwell, John.
- Barniville, Dr. Henry L.
- Baxter, Patrick F.
- Coey Bigger, Sir Edward.
- Blythe, Ernest.
- Brown, Samuel L., K.C.
- Browne, Miss Kathleen.
- Counihan, John C.
- Dillon, James.
- Douglas, James G.
- Duggan, E.J.
- O'Farrell, John T.
- O'Hanlon, M.F.
- O'Rourke, Brian.
- O'Sullivan, Dr. William.
- Fanning, Michael.
- Farren, Thomas.
- Garahan, Hugh.
- Gogarty, Dr. O. St. J.
- Purser Griffith, Sir John.
- Johnson, Thomas.
- Kennedy, Cornelius.
- McGillycuddy of the Reeks, The.
- MacLoughlin, John.
- Milroy, Seán.
- O'Connor, Joseph.
- Parkinson, James J.
- Staines, Michael.
- Toal, Thomas.
- Wilson, Richard.
- Boyle, James J.
- Bean Uí Chléirigh, Caitlín.
- Comyn, Michael, K.C.
- Cummins, William.
- Duffy, Michael.
- Fitzgerald, Séamus.
- Foran, Thomas.
- Healy, Denis D.
- Honan, Thomas V.
- Kennedy, Thomas.
- Keyes, Raphael P.
- Linehan, Thomas.
- Lynch, Patrick, K.C.
- MacEllin, Seán E.
- O Máille, Pádraic.
- O'Neill, L.
- Bean an Phaoraigh, Siobhán.
- Quirke, William.
- Robinson, David L.
- Ruane, Thomas.