As I am about to make a suggestion with regard to the amendments to this Bill, I should be glad if Senators would have a copy of the amendments before them.
In connection with the amendments I should say that the amendments are, as Senators will appreciate, in some cases involved, and particularly is this so in the cases of those to Section 4 dealing with opening and closing hours and split hours on Sundays in the Dublin area and in the county boroughs. A study of the amendments which I have made seems to show that it would be desirable to have the several points raised by the amendments to this section segregated in some way for the purposes of decision, if not of discussion.
Five questions appear to be raised in amendments Nos. 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10. These questions are:—
(1) The hour of opening in Dublin in the morning on weekdays.
(2) The hour of closing in the evening on weekdays.
Neither of those two matters should occasion any difficulty as straight questions can be put on amendments Nos. 3 and 4.
The principal difficulty from the point of view of procedure arises in the case of the opening and closing hours and the split hour in the County Borough of Dublin and in the Dublin metropolitan area on Sundays, i.e., amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9 and 10 offered to paragraph (b) of Section 4.
The following questions appear to emerge in those cases:—
(3) the opening hour on Sundays;
(4) the question of the split hour; whether there should be a split period at all, and if there is, what should be its duration;
(5) the hour of closing in the evening.
At this point I should say that the amendments which were sent in in the names of Senators Foran and Campbell and those also in the names of Senators Conlon and Quirke provided self-contained proposals; Senator Foran's and Senator Campbell's proposal being that the hours on Sunday should be from 2 to 6, with no split hour, and Senator Conlon's and Senator Quirke's proposal an opening from 2 to 3, a split period of two hours' duration between 3 and 5, and a closing hour of seven in the evening. It was thought better to divide these amendments so that clear-cut decisions, if these were desired, could be obtained on the separate points. I might suggest at this point that it might be for the convenience of the Committee if the discussion on these proposals in the case of Dublin could take place on one amendment, say, on the first, No. 3. If after that discussion decisions on specific points were required, I suggest that they could be taken by means of appropriate questions on selected amendments.
For example, the matter of the opening hour on weekdays can be decided on a straight question on No. 3: That the words ‘half-past ten' in line 33, page 2, stand part of the section"; the hour of closing on weekdays on a question on No. 4: "That the words ‘half-past ten' in line 34, page 2, stand part of the section."
Coming to Sundays:
(a) The hour of opening could be tested on a question on amendment No. 6: "That the words ‘two o'clock in the afternoon', in line 41, page 2, stand part of the section."
(b) The matter of the split hour could be similarly tested on amendment No. 8 on a question: "That the words ‘between the hours of three o'clock and four o'clock in the afternoon' in lines 41 and 42, page 2, stand part of the section"; and
(c) The matter of the closing hour on amendment No. 10 on a question: "That the words ‘seven o'clock' in line 43, page 2, stand part of the section."
These are only suggestions, however, and the Chair is in the hands of the Committee as regards the procedure to be followed. If the Committee desires that separate discussions should take place on the different aspects of the matter, then there will be no objection from the point of view of the Chair, but I still think that discussion covering the whole question of hours might be the more satisfactory way.
The remaining amendments to the Bill are not so involved and I think can be dealt with in the ordinary course as some overlap, but the questions they raise can be segregated as we progress. Possibly one decision on the question of an opening on St. Patrick's Day, which is dealt with separately in the case of the boroughs from that of the rest of the country, will suffice on this stage. I should add that when we have disposed of the questions of hours in the case of the boroughs on weekdays and in the case of Dublin on Sundays I will call the amendments in regard to Limerick and in regard to Bray, No. 5 and No. 7, in the names of Senators Colbert and O'Dwyer, and Senator C.M. Byrne, respectively.