Electoral (Dáil Eireann and Local Authorities) Bill, 1945—Report and Fifth Stages.

Before we enter on the Report Stage, I should like to make a suggestion to the House regarding procedure on the amendments. Senators will observe that amendment No. 2—the Government amendment— proposes to reverse the decision reached in Committee, and to restore the Bill to the form in which it was received from the Dáil. The amendments of Senator Douglas—Nos. 1 and 3—are, as I interpret them, amendments consequential on the amendment made in Committee. I would suggest, therefore, that the debate on the matter involved should take place on amendment No. 2, and if that amendment be made, then amendments Nos. 1 and 3 should be regarded as falling consequentially. If, on the other hand, amendment No. 2 be negatived, then we can take up the subject matters of Nos. 1 and 3 which, as I have said, seem to me to be consequential amendments. If the House agrees, we will proceed accordingly.

Agreed.

Government amendment No. 2:—
In page 2, lines 29-30, to delete the words "the age that person will be if living on the 15th day of April next after the qualifying date" (inserted in Committee), and to substitute instead the words:—"that person's age on the 15th day of September, being the qualifying date".

This amendment is brought forward so that the Seanad may have an opportunity of reconsidering the question which will arise if the amendment already adopted is finally inserted in the Bill. The effect of the amendment, it will be recollected, was to treat the age qualification as being effective on the date of the coming into force of the register instead of on the qualifying date which is six months earlier and which is the determining date for other qualifications and incapacities. In other words, an elector desiring to be registered would have to have attained the age of 21 on April 15th, and would therefore only be 20 years and some months on the qualifying date.

I have thought over the implications of Senator Douglas's amendment, not only, shall we say, from the legal point of view, but from the common sense point of view. Apart altogether from the advice given to me by the officers from the Department responsible for the franchise, I myself have again read the Electoral Act of 1923, and the Local Government Electoral Registration Act of 1924. I referred to the clauses of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, which still have legislative effect to-day, and as a person with some ordinary common sense knowledge of administration and business, I believe confusion will arise. I believe that the chances that confusion will arise are so great that I ask members of the Seanad to reconsider their original decision and to allow this matter to be considered separately on another occasion.

So far as purely legal considerations are concerned, I should like to put forward the following observations to the House. The method of preparing the register of electors ensures that the register will contain a list of all persons who were entitled to be registered on a fixed date previous to the coming into force of the register. This method has the merit of being definite and free from confusion.

If a qualifying date is fixed for some purposes, and in effect a different date is fixed for another purpose, the meaning and application of expressions in the rules are fundamentally altered, and the register will not be a list of persons entitled to be registered on the qualifying date, but will also be a list of persons, in addition, who became 21 between the qualifying date and the date of the coming into force of the register.

In regard to the law and rules governing the legislation which in turn sets up the register, these are contained in Part II of the Electoral Act, 1923, Sections 8-16, and also in Schedule I, Rules 1-40. The whole of this code was drafted on the assumption that a person in order to be entitled to be registered must be qualified and not subject to any incapacity whatever on the qualifying date. Now, there are other in capacities than those imposed by age, imprisonment under certain codes, and incapacity in regard to residence or the occupation of premises. Each of these rules would require detailed consideration to ensure that every provision inconsistent with the amendment would be modified. For example, a person who claims to be entitled to be registered in the course of the preparation of the register, and whose name is not entered in the lists may make a claim. The rule in connection with this would require to be varied so that a person who was not 21, but who would be 21 at a later date, can claim that he would be entitled at a later date.

Similarly, in the case of objection, if the lists contained the name of a person under 21, an objection may be made. An amendment would be necessary to ensure that an objection will not lie if the person will be 21 years of age at a future date before the 15th April. A preliminary examination of these rules shows that a redraft of the code and the orders made under these rules would be necessary. Any extensive amendment of rules in general use is objectionable and the cause of confusion. As the House knows, the Electoral Act has been amended in various respects, but we have managed to retain the rules governing the Dáil and the Local Government franchise, and having regard to every aspect of the matter it would be most undesirable to change these rules by shifting the dates in the registration procedure from one month to another.

The electoral law was consolidated in the Electoral Act of 1923 and the Local Government Electors Registration Act, 1924, except for the Local Government Franchise provisions which are contained in Sections 3, 4, 7, 10 and 44 of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, which still apply. Division III of the Register of Electors contains the names of persons who are registered as local government electors only, that is to say, people who have votes apart from their age qualifications, by virtue of the occupation of premises in a certain area at a certain date. There are about 10,000 such persons.

Most of the persons registered in Division III derive their qualification from the Act of 1918, that is a qualification from the occupation of premises for the period of six months ending on the qualifying date. The provisions of the Act of 1918 are to be interpreted in accordance with Section 41 of that Act, subject to the expressed provision of the Local Government Electors Registration Act of 1924, an Act which directs that the register of electors prepared under the Act of 1923, should also be a register of local government electors. In the application of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act of 1918, interpreted according to Section 41, and incorporated in the electoral code by the Act of 1924, as amended by the Bill now under consideration, a person's age for the purposes of Sections 3 and 4 will be taken to be that person's age at the end of the qualifying period of six months ending on the 15th of September, unless it could be held that the amendment to the Bill modifies or repeals Section 41, sub-section (7) of the Representation of the People Act, 1918.

I could not say what is the effect of the amendment. In order to clarify this somewhat complex matter, I should say that the Electoral Act of 1923 did not recodify the whole of the legislation affecting both local government and Dáil electors. Portion of the legislation derives from a British Act, and that Act clearly defines that the age factor is determined on the qualifying date and not on the date of the coming into force of the register. It immediately causes legal difficulties. It would require very great consideration, and looking at it with the common sense which I hope I have, I have come to the conclusion that it would reduce the electoral law to a state of confusion. Before we could possibly accept Senator Douglas's amendment, we would have to consider altering the first section of the 1923 Act in which the expression is used that a person who has attained the age of 21 is entitled to vote. An alteration would be required in the very first clause of the Act and we would immediately have to make the most elaborate investigation into the legal procedure governing the rules of registration and also governing the local government section of the register which is partly derived from a British Act and is not affected by the Act of 1923.

It seems inevitable that results like this will flow from this duality of qualifying dates, and it is clear that these complications will all be avoided if one day is taken for all these purposes to decide whether a person has the necessary qualifications, and a register made of the persons so found to be qualified, to come in force as soon thereafter as the practical considerations of time for preparation, inspection, correction, and printing will permit.

Again, putting this into simple language, one might say that although the Constitution provides that subject to any other disqualification imposed by law, people should vote at 21, in practice that should mean that they should vote as soon as possible after reaching the age of 21 and that there should not be any duality of principle whereby you take one date for one purpose, and another for another purpose, in determining a person's right to exercise the franchise or not. Since the Electoral Act was passed, many of its provisions have been repealed in order to give effect to constitutional provisions and to extend the franchise for local government elections and to make other changes which experience in administration have shown to be necessary.

The electoral law is again in need of codification for the convenience of those who have to carry out the law in relation to registration and elections, and some progress has already been made to that end. The idea underlying the amendment which has been inserted in the Bill is, I feel, one to be noted for consideration in relation to codification of our electoral legislation.

I want to say that I have no feeling of opposition to the principle of Senator Douglas's motion and if, without fear of causing confusion or of causing a doubt to arise in the minds of the electors, it is possible at a later date, when we recodify all our electoral legislation, to enable a person to vote after the coming into force of the register who is qualified under Senator Douglas's terms, I should be more than delighted to assist any person desiring to do it and I am sure this House would co-operate to that end.

I feel that a Bill which is passed by the House should contain all the amendments which may be consequential. The one operative section in the Bill which was sent to the Seanad proposes to change the qualifying date and the other provisions of the Bill contain the necessary consequential amendments. As I have explained, the amendment inserted in Committee involves changes in every expression of the law relating to franchise. The rules and statutory forms would also require to be revised and amended. The existing law and rules are clear and well-defined, but the amendment would make many of the provisions doubtful and ambiguous in meaning. I do not believe that the Seanad will finally insist on inserting an amendment to this effect. I suggest that Senator Douglas and those who supported him in the amendment rather desire to have the possibility of altering the law on the lines of the amendment considered at a convenient opportunity, such as would occur, as I have said, when we proceed to recodify the existing law.

Once more I should like to say that I believe there is a lot to be said for Senator Douglas's proposal. So long as we note for examination the intention of his amendment I believe the Minister for Local Government is going as far as he can, and I ask Senator Douglas to consider impartially what I have said, because I can assure the House that I am not accustomed to make complications in dealing with legislation or with matters referring to the law. I have not come here simply for the purpose of trying to raise a number of nebulous arguments against a principle with which I agree. But I would like to repeat that I have read the electoral law and taken the advice of an officer of the Department who has immense experience in these matters. I am absolutely convinced that this is not the time to introduce this principle, and that we should pass this Bill in its present form as a measures which did nothing but take the registration dates in connection with the register of electors, and advance them for a period of a few weeks for the administrative convenience of the people who prepare and print the Acts, and carry out the other purposes laid down in connection with the legislation.

I could take practically the same words as the Parliamentary Secretary if I could have noted them down in shorthand, and say that I had read the statute and understood it to the best of my ability, but I could not add that I had the advice of an officer of the Department. I say that I am convinced that this is still the proper time to send the message back to the Dáil. What might occur afterwards when there had been a number of expressions on it in the Dáil would be a different matter. If there was a general expression of opinion and if it came back to this House with the statement that views had been expressed, and that it was going to be dealt with later on by the Government in another way, then obviously nobody is going to make trouble over a matter of procedure. The Parliamentary Secretary has, to the best of my knowledge created a precedent. I think he is the first person representing the Government who has taken advantage of the special arrangement by which a Minister or a Parlimentary Secretary can introduce an amendment for the purpose of asking the House to go back on a decision made previously.

That was never intended. It was intended as a facility. It has been done before but it was always done on the motion of a member of the House. The Parliamentary Secretary is quite entitled to do it, but he has created a precedent. That is of very little importance. What does matter to my mind is that we have in the 1923 Act a provision which is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. I have not the reverence for British Acts that some people have and I am not at all alarmed at the prospect of having to amend them. I have again and again stated my view that the sooner we can get to the stage that members of the Oireachtas have not got to refer to British Acts but only to our own Acts the healthier it will be. I am glad there is a possibility of revision which will get rid of the 1918 British Act, but I also recognise that there are a great many other matters in that Act which will require consideration. The issue is simply this: I maintain that it was intended that a person should be entitled to vote at the age of 21.

I submit that this is entirely out of order. The House I think has not complied with Standing Order 84, page 65, and until such time as that Standing Order is complied with I suggest we have no power to discuss the matter.

I take it the Senator is referring to the fact that the amendment has not been seconded.

I refer to the particular Standing Order which I quoted and which I suggest the Leader of the House should appreciate.

It has always been assumed in the case of a Government amendment, Senator, on the Fourth Stage, that there is a seconder. Perhaps, however, we should have the amendment formally seconded.

This is a proposal to reverse a decision. In that particular instance we might well be as formal as possible.

I will take a seconder now.

I second.

We have never had a case like this before so I have sympathy with you, Sir, in adopting what under the ordinary circumstances has been our practice. The Constitutions both provided that a person who has attained the age of 21 is entitled to vote, but we provided a legal disqualification, so that young people can never get the vote until 21½ and frequently 22½.

We have now before us a Bill which extends that period for a week or so, and it will be slightly worse if we regard it as worse. This is the only occasion on which this House can satisfactorily send its views to the Dáil. On the last stage we favoured the principle that it was desirable for a person to get a vote as soon as possible after reaching the age of 21 years. I do not need to put the matter any further, because this is a simple issue. I want a message sent to the Dáil by means of the amendment, to the effect that we would like to have that provided. I feel that no substantial number of people is opposed to this, although I have heard some people say that the age should be 25, which, I suppose, would be 26½ years. That has no reference to the question before the House. There is very little opposition to this principle, and I would be very surprised if the Government on finding that this was the general view did not adopt it in this Bill, or in some other way. What the House is being asked to do is to reverse its decision and not to send this back to the Dáil. I think that it is a mistake, and I am opposed to the amendment.

I want to make one or two points in answer to Senator Douglas. He stated that a precedent was created when the House is asked to pass an amendment to undo on the Report Stage what was done in Committee. My experience is that that is not so. When Deputy Mulcahy was Minister for Local Government, I moved an amendment on the Committee Stage of the Housing Bill which the House carried by two votes. It was to give a special increase of grants to farmers of £50 valuation. The House carried the amendment, but the Minister for Local Government brought it back on the Report Stage and had it thrown out.

Was the motion to reverse the decision not moved by a member of the House? I think it was.

It was reversed after a vote.

Yes, but the reversal was moved by a member of the House.

Surely, that Seanad was abolished?

These were the bad old days.

Senator Douglas suggested that it was a precedent for the House to be asked to reverse a decision.

That was not the point. I did not say there was no precedent for reversing a decision.

If that is not the point I will leave it at that. The Senator made another point, that in view of the decision on the last day it would be better to let this go to the Dáil and get their opinion, and when it came back maybe decide otherwise. We have our own opinions in this House. I do not think it is a good thing for this House to wait to see what will happen in the other House, before we come to an ultimate decision. I think that that is bad advice for the Senator to give, and I do not think we should adopt it. The original amendment itself is not of major importance, and is a matter merely of whether we vote for April or September. It is not of such great importance that we should stand firm against the wishes of the Minister, under the circumstances. After all, there was no point, unless it created serious administrative difficulties, in the Parliamentary Secretary pressing his amendment, but because it does create difficulties, both legal and otherwise, he has come back to the House to put these points. Of course, we are anxious to give the vote to the person concerned immediately after he becomes 21. I do not think the House minds whether it is in the month of September or the month of April, so we should not create administrative difficulties in amendment of the Principal Act.

I can well understand Senator Douglas's difficulty in the present circumstances. Having carried his amendment on the last day, I can see his difficulty in agreeing to the present amendment, which nullifies that of the last day. While I do not want to criticise the Parliamentary Secretary for not having given on the last day the facts he gave to-day, I believe that, if the House had those facts then, there would have been a different decision. I suggest we should accept the statement given by him to-day and vote for this amendment, and that we need not feel we have done anything wrong. I can understand how people who voted for the Senator's amendment on the last day may feel. They may think they are showing the white feather or backing down now. But anyone has a right to change his mind; the only people who have no such right are those who have no minds to change.

There are a good few in this House who changed their minds.

We have had an explanation of the effects of Senator Douglas's amendment, if it were implemented. A reasonable explanation has been given and we should unanimously support the amendment now proposed to the House.

The business of this House is to consider legislation that comes from the Dáil and to suggest amendments which, in our opinion, are sound amendments. We are always in the position that Senator McEllin mentions, that is, we have to wait until we hear what the Dáil says and then make up our minds. As a matter of fact the position is even worse than that. When we have heard what the Dáil thinks, it does not really matter how we make up our minds, as we have no power to do any more about it.

I am not interested in what the Dáil says, at any time.

I have not got such a profound disregard for a Fianna Fáil majority as Senator McEllin has. Whatever Party has a majority in the Dáil, the Dáil is there and it is the best we have at any particular moment.

A very good commentator.

Therefore I think it is the business of this House to be interested in what the other House thinks. It is very important for us. If we are to justify ourselves at all as a House, we ought to be able to give consideration to legislation and, when we pass an amendment, we should send it to the Dáil. If the Dáil decides against it, we should then be reasonable about it and not stand upon our dignity. In this particular instance, I think the position mentioned by Senator Douglas has not been grasped by Senator McEllin. He did not object to the idea itself of our rescinding an amendment that we passed.

I think it is objectionable that, having passed an amendment after consideration, we should reverse it on a speech by a Parliamentary Secretary or by a Minister—I am not thinking of the Parliamentary Secretary personally —without having heard a single word from any member of the House in favour of the reversion.

That is our position now. We are supposed to be a deliberative Assembly. We have heard a good and reasonable speech from the Parliamentary Secretary, the speech that it is his business to make, but he is asking us to change our mind as we expressed it last week, and not a single member of the House has delivered to us one syllable on the merits of what he proposes, except to say in the usual fashion: "The Parliamentary Secretary is right." That is all. There is not a single word otherwise. Someone says: "He is right, and if he had vouchsafed to us on the last occasion the speech that he made now, we would all say that he is right"—which, of course, is not so.

Without going into the merits of the amendment, I would say that this is not a very important matter. It is interesting, in the sense that those of us on both sides of the House who voted for the amendment, and the Parliamentary Secretary and, presumably, the Minister and the Government generally, are all in agreement that this is a desirable thing to do. That is the position we are in. We are not disagreeing on the principle on its merits.

The Parliamentary Secretary to-day disagrees on the question as to whether it is practicable to make this amendment to the Bill and put it into operation. It is the question of machinery. That being so, we might do what Senator Douglas suggested and let the amendment go to the Dáil. Let the Parliamentary Secretary then make his case to the Dáil and, if it comes back to us, having been rejected, we could let it go. But it is quite wrong that we should ourselves take up the position that, having already agreed to the amendment and being ourselves in agreement as to its merits on the principle involved, we should now refuse to let the Dáil consider it. We should not refuse to let the Dáil consider it, but should let it go to the Dáil in a very amiable and friendly fashion, without changing our own mind. If what the Parliamentary Secretary says is correct—and I am agreeing with him entirely when he wants to do what we want to do—let me remind him that he can never do what we want to do without amending this Bill. Is that not correct? I take it that the Parliamentary Secretary agrees with that. What we want to do in this amendment can never be done by rescinding it without waiting until the Bill becomes an Act and then amending the Act.

I do not follow the Parliamentary Secretary in what he says about confusion. What does he mean? Does he mean that the people filling up forms will be confused by the two dates, as between people living in the house on the 15th September and those people coming in on the 15th April? People have developed too much ingenuity in filling up forms. They are not so unintelligent that they cannot fill them up, but they are rather too intelligent in doing so. This question of 21 years of age would not arise in every household, but only in a household where a particular person was 21 years of age, or was going to be 21 years of age before the 15th April following the date upon which the form was being filled up. The Parliamentary Secretary may rest assured that, between our natural characteristics and the assistance our people get from the Department of Education, the forms could be properly filled up, even if the amendment carried last week were left in the Bill.

Senator Douglas has referred to the extraordinary reverence which Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries have for British legislation and Cumann na nGaedheal legislation when it suits them. The 1918 Act is quoted with reverence in the Seanad, but out on a political platform during a general election, Heaven only knows what we cannot say about British and Cumann na nGaedheal legislation. One of the things I have noticed is that any suggestion of changing anything the last Government did, or the British Government did, is regarded as absolute treason and blasphemy. I have not the same reverence for British legislation or for the legislation of the last Government, which was going through a very difficult time. I suggest that he did not succeed in proving that the matter was impossible— far from it. I have some knowledge of all those Acts myself. What he did say, in fact, was that he had read the Acts and that he had got advice. Now, advice means advice from civil servants. If the Civil Service wants to do something, it is always very simple—nothing is simpler. I have had more than 20 years' experience of it. Whatever the Civil Service wants to do is the easiest thing in the world. It is the most reasonable thing; the most logical thing. But when you want to change something which the Civil Service does not like to change, then it becomes extremely complicated, extremely difficult. There is Section 7, there is Section 11, there is sub-section (4), there is the Act of 1918, there is the Act of 1923, there are forms, rules and statutory Orders. They all come into it. You may not do anything to change a scheme that they have. That is the position here.

Perhaps you will be glad to know that I have not got the last debates, so I cannot quote myself. But I take this to my credit, Sir: I think I suggested that the only thing against the amendment which Senator Douglas proposed on the last occasion was that it would upset the scheme that the Civil Service had, and the Parliamentary Secretary has made it as clear as noonday in his speech just now that that is what is wrong with the amendment. It would just be a troublesome thing, and, therefore, it cannot be done. But, as I say, if something had to be done, then it could be done with the greatest possible simplicity. I do suggest to Senator Quirke and to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the House that we are all in agreement with the suggestion that, since the Constitution provides that people of 21 years of age should have votes, steps should be taken to give them votes when they are 21 and not when they are 22. If that principle is accepted, why should we not send a message to the Dáil suggesting that here is a way to do it, and leave the Dáil to solve the problem as to whether it can or cannot be done?

That is our responsibility.

I cannot teach Senator McEllin anything about his responsibility. Senator McEllin does not understand what this House is for at all.

Senator McEllin is just as intelligent as Senator Hayes, even though he is in the university.

It is not because I am in the university; it is because, like the Parliamentary Secretary, I have common sense and am applying it to an ordinary problem. This House has a function. Its function is no more than to suggest amendments to the Dáil. It is our responsibility to put things up to the Dáil, and it is the Dáil's responsibility to decide upon them in the end. Our function then, having put something up to the Dáil and having heard the Dáil's views on it, is to make up our minds what we are going to do. What I am suggesting, in spite of Senator McEllin, is what a Second House with our powers—I should rather say lack of powers—should clearly do, and that is to put up to the Dáil this particular flaw in legislation and let the Dáil consider it. That would be a much more reasonable and much more dignified and, I think, much more fruitful procedure for ourselves and for the Parliamentary Secretary than that we should now reverse our own decision. I think, Sir, for that reason that we should stick to the amendment we have passed; that we should let the problem go to the Dáil, and hear what they have to say about it, because they are more concerned about it than we are. They have to go up for election under those conditions, and members here have not, so we should stick to our own amendment and let the matter be further considered. I think, therefore, that we should reject the proposal of the Parliamentary Secretary.

With all due respect to Senator Hayes——

Can Senator Quirke speak a second time?

The Senator may not speak a second time.

I was merely going to say a word on behalf of the civil servants.

He can only speak once.

I protest against Senator Hayes's attack on the civil servants.

Is there any other member of the Fianna Fáil Party who knows anything at all about this amendment?

First of all I want to apologise for not having been here on the last day on which this matter was discussed. One of my functions as a member of this House is to try to convince the Minister and/or his Department—I use "and/or" deliberately there—as to mistakes which they are making or about to make in legislation. I would mention for Senator Hayes's benefit in that connection that, when a Bill came before this House in which I was very particularly interested, I endeavoured by all the arguments possible to convince the Minister and his Department of the necessity for amendments, and those amendments were duly inserted. I have followed the very same procedure in connection with this Bill. I have tried to convince the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department of the justness and correctness of the object of Senator Douglas's amendment. Like other members here, I was in favour of it, but when the difficulties were pointed out to me, as they have been pointed out to the House this evening, I could not see my way to force a division in the House. I was in the same position in connection with the Diseases of Animals Bill. As a matter of fact, in the end there was only one point on which I was in a different frame of mind from that of the Minister and his Department, and I stood down on that. I have tried to do the same as far as this Bill is concerned. I will say to Senator Hayes that I have been definitely convinced that the thing cannot be done at this stage. But I would refer to this legislation as lazy legislation because it is doing things by sections; it is piecemeal. I referred to a previous Bill as patchwork legislation. This is patchwork legislation also.

As far as the difficulties that are there at present are concerned, I am convinced that we cannot overcome them by any quick method, but I must point out again that the Parliamentary Secretary has given the House a promise to codify this electoral legislation. I hope it will be done fairly quickly. Certain citizens are at present deprived of a vote. I refer to the Civic Guards, and I hope the Chair will not rule me out on this. I merely want to make a passing reference to the fact that a certain section of the community are deprived of the functions to which they are entitled by the Constitution; they are deprived of a vote. I think the time has come when that should pass. We gave a vote to the members of the Army, and to everybody else over 21 years of age who is not debarred through some crime, and I think the time has come when the Civic Guards should also be permitted to use the franchise. That is one of the things which should engage the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary when dealing with the amendment of the electoral law.

I want to put the arguments which have convinced me that this thing cannot be done quickly at present. The 15th September is now mentioned as the qualifying date. There is a whole series of dates here which are simply legislation by reference, but they are consequential on that date—15th September. If we enact here that everybody who has attained the age of 21 years is entitled to vote, we should, according to the Constitution, allow them that right even if they become eligible only on the very day before the election. That would raise a difficulty. Then, I could possibly apply for registration on the 15th September, seeing I would be 21 years on the 14th April. But somebody has the right to object to that, and all these subsequent dates are detailed in the Bill, which provides for my substantiating my claim and for subsequent claims by people whose names do not appear on the published list. If the applicants were to be entitled to vote the very day they reach 21 years, it would involve tremendous complication. There could be fictitious claims. Every citizen must have the right to object to a person claiming a vote and the claimant has the right to prove his claim. Preferably, that should have been provided for in this Bill, but we should either not have passed the Second Reading, or we should let the Bill stand as it came before us. That is my procedure in dealing with matters in which I am particularly interested.

I was particularly interested in other features of this Bill which we discussed the last day. It would be out of order to discuss them on this amendment, but there were alterations of dates which lessened the period allowed to the local authority for compilation of the original lists, instead of increasing it, as was demanded by the Corporation of Dublin. However, I am quite satisfied with the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary that this change would involve a great deal of detail, and I am satisfied that we should accept the Bill as it is. We should, however, point out that there is a very important principle in the amendment proposed by Senator Douglas, and that there are other amendments to the electoral law which it would be advantageous for us to consider also.

We might all agree with Senator O'Donovan, that there is need to make other amendments to the electoral law than those included in this Bill. Unfortunately, those amendments, particularly the amendments enumerated by the Senator, would not be in order in view of the Title of the Bill. This is simply a Bill to change a particular date and other dates consequential on that principal change. What I find difficulty about is the disposition to discuss the matter before us now as if it were of political importance. I suggest that no political importance whatever is to be attached to this Bill or to the proposal which was before us on the last occasion. What was done here was to decide that a person who became 21 years of age on the date on which the register came into force should be entitled to be registered as a voter. I do not want to argue that question again but I think that it is difficult, in view of the provisions of the Constitution, to challenge the right of that individual to be so registered. I think that there can be no doubt that the intention of the Constitution is that every person should, on reaching 21 years of age,ipso facto become a voter and we should devise machinery to enable that intention to be carried out.

The Parliamentary Secretary suggested that, while he agreed in principle with the contention made for the retention of the amendment made on the last occasion, there were mechanical difficulties in the way which compelled him to ask for the abolition of the amendment made in Committee. I should like to point out that there is no immediate urgency about the Bill. This Bill will not affect anything done in compiling the register which comes into force on the 1st June of this year. We have ten months, if we so desire, in which to make whatever amendments in machinery are necessary to give effect to the provisions now inserted in this Bill. What I feel difficulty about is the proposal coming at this stage that the Seanad should undo something which it thought fit to do on the last occasion. I think that, in the main, if the Seanad takes a decision in Committee, it should adhere to that decision during the remaining stages. We do not finally determine the shape of legislation. In the last analysis, that is decided by the Dáil. If amendments inserted here are rejected in the Dáil, that determines the final character of the Act, because the Bill becomes an Act, despite anything we may do or say, in the shape in which it last leaves the Dáil.

All that can be done by this House, in the event of dispute with the Dáil, is to delay the date on which the Bill becomes law. There is no reason why we should take up that line. There is a good case for making recommendations for consideration by the Dáil and there is much wisdom, having made these recommendations, in finally accepting the view of the Dáil when it reaches us. That line of action should commend itself to us in this House.

Therefore I think that the House would be stultifying itself if, having, wisely or unwisely, carried an amendment of this kind in Committee, it were to refuse to stand by the decision on a later stage. Senator Hayes adverted to the fact that we are always confronted with something done by other bodies and other Governments when it comes to a matter of this kind. On almost every occasion we are told how wise the Cumann na nGaedheal Government or the British Government were. Reference was made by a Senator to the action of the Seanad of 1929, notwithstanding that the House to which he made reference was wiped out of existence in 1936 because the Government of the day considered it was not suitable for the performance of the functions assigned to it. I think I might say, with all due deference to Senator Sir John Keane, that it was wiped out largely because of its ascendancy character, and yet we are asked to follow the example of that ascendancy chamber in this democratic year of 1945. I refuse to do that. Again, with regard to the difficulty of altering the old British order, in a few moments when this Bill is out of the way, we shall be asked to approve of a section in another Bill to repeal a section of a pre-Union statute, an Irish statute, of 1771.

I think the Deputy is a little premature in refering to that Bill. He can deal with it when we reach it.

I am merely pointing out that there should be no difficulty in amending regulations made under a British Act of 1918, if we can in this House repeal a section of a pre-Union statute of 1771. I think that is a reasonable assumption. For these reasons, irrespective of my view as to the wisdom or otherwise of deleting the amendment which was inserted in Committee, I would be unwilling to join in undoing that decision now. I think the House, apart from any attitude they might adopt towards the Bill as a whole, would be very unwise to revoke on this occasion the decision which was freely taken a week ago.

I do not think that Senator Hayes should feel that it is because we did not consider this matter that some of us did not speak on it when it was before the House on the last occasion. I should like to assure Senator Hayes that, as far as I and some of my colleagues are concerned, we certainly did our best to inquire into the implications of the proposed amendment before we came into the House at all. I am sorry Senator Ryan is not here now. He spoke on the last occasion and he put the case with regard to the amendments as concisely and as adequately as it could have been put. Before the House met on the last occasion I remember asking one of my colleagues did he quite understand the implication of the amendment. He replied he did not. We both adjourned to the Library where we looked up some of the statutes and regulations relating to electoral law. We had not gone very far when we realised that, in effect, if this amendment were to be accepted, it would call for a considerable amount of modification in the existing electoral law. We agreed then that this was not the place to make the change desired by Senator Douglas.

I, and I am sure some of my colleagues, do not disagree with the idea Senator Douglas has in mind. If the Constitution declares that a person on attaining the age of 21 shall be entitled to vote, I accept that and I agree that it should be implemented, if it is at all possible to implement it. But as the Parliamentary Secretary says, we have to take the commonsense view of things, and the commonsense view in this case is that it should be implemented as soon as possible, implemented as early as may be. I was satisfied last week that Senator Douglas had served his purpose by making a statement and having the matter considered by the House, but I was convinced last week also, just as I am today, that it would be unwise to attempt to make the change he desires in this particular Bill. One of the reasons I have given, a reason that weighed with me last week and a reason that weighed with Senator Ryan when he spoke, was the extent to which this particular amendment would call for further amendments. It would be idle to pass this amendment now without providing for all the other amendments required in the electoral law. Senator Hayes seems to make the case mainly that it was because the Civil Service feels that this would involve them in too much trouble that we should not reverse our decision now. I am not at all in agreement with him that the Civil Service is a lazy, indifferent institution, as he would have us believe——

I never said that the Civil Service was lazy and indifferent. I have ample experience to justify an assertion to the contrary. There is no member present in the House who knows as I do how industrious the Civil Service is—nobody.

If these words do not properly convey what I understood from Senator Hayes's speech, I am perfectly willing to withdraw them, but at the same time it is clear that Senator Hayes feels that it is because of the opposition of the Civil Service to this amendment that the Parliamentary Secretary is opposing it.

He said so.

That, I think, in effect, is the very same thing.

No, Sir. Really we shall have to get this English language right. To say that the Civil Service opposes something is certainly not to say that they are lazy and indifferent. They are most industrious and they are very far from being indifferent.

In opposition, like the Senator.

Anywhere.

We must have regard to any difficulties we may be creating through our actions. Reference has been made to the inadvisability of reversing the decision come to on the last occasion. For my part I did not agree with the decision taken on the last occasion, and it will not trouble me in the least to have that decision reversed if I can, but that is not the point. I think it is quite within our power and within our rights, and there is nothing whatever undignified or unbecoming if, on the production of further evidence, we come to the conclusion that we ought to change our mind and consequently alter the decision we came to a week ago. I suggest that in view of the case made by the Parliamentary Secretary, we cannot do anything else but to make the change that he asks for. Senator Hayes has expressed appreciation of the case made by the Parliamentary Secretary. Senator Douglas also expressed his appreciation of the case made. They agree that there is something in it. In fact, the Parliamentary Secretary has brought forward considerable evidence as to why we should not send this Bill back to the Dáil with the amendment passed on the last day.

I do not think there is anything more that I can say about it, except that I want to assure Senator Hayes and everybody else that I certainly do not come into the Seanad and discuss any matter without considering beforehand the proposition we have to meet, and I can assure him that the same goes for most of my colleagues whom I have an opportunity of meeting. I agree with Senator Quirke and Senator O'Donovan, and with the Parliamentary Secretary, that we are fulfilling our duty as we should by accepting the evidence that has been tendered here by the Parliamentary Secretary, and that we all realise the difficulties implied in the amendment we inserted last week, and accept the statement that it is a matter to be considered when codification of the law takes place, and that adjustments will be made as far as possible. Merely to stand on our dignity and to say that since we passed it last week, we ought to insist on sending it back to the Dáil, is not, I think, in accordance with a right sense of responsibility.

Senator Duffy made a rather remarkable statement when he said that if we pass an amendment we ought to persist in it in the Final Stages of the Bill—in fact he used the words whether we are right or wrong. That is an extraordinary statement, that people who do things which they find out afterwards are wrong are bound to persist in that wrong and that a body, a Legislative Assembly such as this, should persist in it—why, the idea is preposterous. It is immoral and improper from every point of view that we should pass legislation for future generations which we know is wrong.

We do not pass legislation.

Nobody would stand over the proposal.

Do we take it that the Senator is arguing that this amendment is morally wrong?

I say that the Senator has laid down the principle that we ought to persist in any amendment we make whether it is right or whether it is wrong. I say that is a proposition nobody can stand over, that it may lead to the commission of crimes of an extraordinary magnitude by a legislative assembly such as this. I say that if we do things and find out they are wrong we are bound to correct them.

And vote as we think fit?

Here we are voting for a certain amendment. We afterwards discover that we were wrong in voting for that amendment. Are we to persist, as Senator Duffy suggests, to the very end of the Bill, or are we to do what Senator Hayes suggests, let it go back to the Dáil, and then when it comes back from the Dáil cease to persist and admit that we were wrong? What would the Dáil think of us if we sent back the Bill with this bald amendment, without any provision to amend the other Acts? Would they not say, to say the least of it, that we were very careless and very incapable, and not fit to be here as Senators? Are we to have the Bill sent back to the Dáil and to be told when it comes again to us that we were wrong, and to be chidden in that manner? Have we then to say: "We have done wrong, we will accept your amendment"? I think that is a curious line of thought on the part of Senator Hayes, that we should wait until the Dáil tells us we were wrong.

I am sorry to interrupt the Senator, but I did not say the Dáil will tell us we were wrong. The Dáil will say: "We do not agree with you." That is a different thing from telling us that we were wrong. The Senator has been using the word "immoral"——

The Dáil must be composed of very refined, nice people who are very careful not to hurt our feelings.

That is so.

But what ideas will they have about us?

But does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that we are right and suggests the time is not opportune?

I was trying to proceed, but I do not mind those interruptions at all, Sir.

He likes them.

The Parliamentary Secretary has said nothing of the kind. The Parliamentary Secretary said that those amendments would entail a tremendous lot of recasting of former legislation which if left in its present form would be unconstitutional. It would be putting on the register of voters persons who were not 21, although the Constitution says that a person will not have a vote until he is 21. The Electoral Act of 1923 provides that before a person is put on the register he must be 21 years of age. It would be unconstitutional. Are we to put in an amendment that is unconstitutional? Are we to show to the people of the Dáil that we are not fit to understand legislation when it comes before us? It would take a long time, evidently to amend all the Acts and Orders made under those Acts in order to make this at all possible, but it is not suggested that we should do that.

It is merely suggested that we send this back in its bald, crude, unthought-of form, and to show we are not capable of understanding what we are doing. I for one will be thoroughly opposed to doing anything of that kind. I think it would be an insult to the intelligence of every person in this House, and that it would be unworthy of the dignity of this House that such a slur should be cast upon us. I have a great deal of sympathy with what Senator Douglas proposes to do. I believe he had an experience in his own house where a man was deprived of his vote for an unreasonably long time, but the Parliamentary Secretary has given an undertaking that he will have it remedied in the proper way.

If practicable.

If that is correct, it makes all the difference in the world to me.

Perhaps I should intervene to explain that I said if practicable.

Yes, if practicable.

I did not catch the words. I thought it was an absolute undertaking.

If the Government so desires.

I think that the undertaking does, in fact, mean that if practicable it will be done.

It means if the Government want to do it. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary——

Let me defend the Parliamentary Secretary. He should not be asked questions like that.

The Parliamentary Secretary can defend himself if he is permitted.

I would suggest that it is an undertaking that ought to be accepted by the House. I would ask Senator Douglas to accept it and not to press his amendment.

I am going to be brief, but I felt impelled to intervene on listening to Senator O'Dea. I do not want to say more than I should, but I must confess that it made me blush for shame that a member of this House should describe the amendment in the terms he described it, and should try to make a party of the Parliamentary Secretary to the attempt. To suggest that amendment of this Bill is unconstitutional can only be described as the purest nonsense. The Constitution is quite clear when it says that everybody over 21 years shall have a vote according to law, and the Electoral Act of 1932 is quite clear when it states that the qualification date for deciding the time upon which a person becomes 21 is the 15th November. We are altering that date and making it 15th April following. Senator O'Donovan will agree that it is just as easy for me to decide in advance how old a person whom I know is going to vote against me is on that date, as it is to decide how old he was at a later date. I can decide whether a person is 21 just as easily ahead.

Did I understand the Senator to say the 15th April following? I think the amendment says the previous 15th April.

I may not appreciate the effect of the Bill but, as I understand it, it means that the new register is going to come into force on the 15th April instead of the 1st June. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me if I am wrong. The new register is going to come into force on the 15th April, and it is on that date we ought to decide whether a person has qualified or not. It is only a matter of changing the qualification date and I suggest that Senator O'Dea should realise that changing it in that manner can hardly be described as unconstitutional. The Parliamentary Secretary on the last occasion stated in the House, column 1465: "I am afraid the Government will be unable to accept this amendment because this Bill is, to a large degree, if not almost wholly, a machinery Bill." As I understand him, the Government want a machinery Bill, and I am afraid I am quite at a loss to understand the labyrinth of objections on these lines. Like Senator Hayes and Senator Douglas, I have the utmost confidence in the Civil Service being able to draft regulations that will give this amendment effect. I have sufficient confidence in the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department to be perfectly certain that if the Dáil, as well as this House, so wish, amendments will be inserted consequential upon that decision. That is the only way it can be done and the only way it is ever done. We discussed a principle. There are consequential amendments to that principle and the Bill goes back to the other House. If the other House wishes to accept that principle they insert consequential amendments. To suggest that to do that is not in accordance with the dignity of this House I think comes very badly from any member of this House.

As far as I am personally concerned, I think 21 is entirely too young an age to give a person the responsibility of voting. If I had my way I would like to see the age much higher.

I am afraid that is not the question we are discussing.

I am rather indifferent as to whether a person would be slightly under or over 21. The position I take it is this, that there is a very experienced officer in charge of electoral arrangements. I presume that this amendment was submitted to him, and that he at once looked into sections of various other Acts that would be affected. I presume he has put them all in a notebook and that the time necessary to assemble amendments and put them before the House would be very small. I should say that a couple of hours would be sufficient. If he gave these amendments to the Parliamentary Secretary, assuming that the Parliamentary Secretary accepted amendments carried on the last day, all he need do is to submit consequential amendments. Senator O'Dea complains that this House did not insert the consequential amendments. That, I think, is not so much our function as the function of the Parliamentary Secretary.

I agree with various speakers who said that the Bill ought to go back to the Dáil to give it a chance of reconsidering the advisability of inserting consequential amendments If we are going to hold up matters I would be reluctant to do so, but it has not been said that the effect of such action would be to create any serious inconvenience. We carried an amendment to the Transport Bill and the Minister asked the Dáil to accept it. Many Senators wanted this amendment to be accepted and even the Parliamentary Secretary seems to have a certain amount of sympathy with the idea. That being so, what is the reason why the Dáil should not be given an opportunity of reconsidering the matter?

A previous speaker made the point that if we passed this Bill in its present form, when a codifying plan is submitted in the future, we will then have to undo what we are doing deliberately now. I do not see any reason for that. I am perfectly indifferent as to the 21 years class and the 21 years minus and would prefer to see the age three or four years more. Taking all things into consideration, I think we ought to adhere to our decision and give the Dáil a chance of reconsidering it.

I think the debate served a useful purpose in that it has enabled the House to discuss the purpose the Government had in view in resisting Senator Douglas's amendment. I do not propose to enter into a discussion as to the rightness or the wrongness of the Seanad reversing a decision, but I should point out that this is considered to be a revising House where matters of a technical nature can be discussed in connection with legislation. I see nothing in the least detrimental to the prestige of the House, if on reconsidering a matter which is wholly legal and technical, it feels inclined to change its view. It seems that that would be serving the purpose of the Seanad rather than detracting from its prestige. Upon that matter, one could have a long discussion, but it is not really germane to the Bill.

Senator Hayes made an observation in regard to our implied loyalty to British legislation. His comment was of a very cheap, political character. The point I made in connection with the 1918 Act was that there was an Act, whether British or Irish, prior to the Electoral Act of 1923, and that the Electoral Act, 1923, recodified the provisions of that previous Act—call it either Irish or British. However, it did not codify all these provisions; it left certain of them standing. Following that, the Local Government Electors Registration Act, 1924, was passed. This Act sought to bring the local government franchise into administrative and legal coincidence with the 1923 Act, but again referred to the 1918 Act in respect of certain matters. Therefore, to suggest that the bringing into the discussion of this 1918 Act was a sort of spurious loyalty to British provisions is nonsense. It was a prior Act which still affected our legislation. If the Party to which Senator Hayes belongs had thought fit to recodify the electoral legislation so as to make it unnecessary to refer back to the 1918 Act, that would have removed one, but only one, of the legal difficulties associated with Senator Douglas's amendment.

Further comments were made regarding the administration of the Civil Service. I have to make protest here against those comments, because the Civil Service, or that portion of it which is in charge of the franchise, is responsible to the Minister for Local Government, and any adverse reflection on the Civil Service in respect of the franchise section is automatically a reflection on the Minister for Local Government. Speaking as a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, and looking back at the years since 1932, I can say that the Ministers for Local Government—both the past and the present Minister—in their conduct of all matters pertaining to the franchise have shown an almost unrivalled record of efficiency, zeal and dispatch. When members of this House consider the number of elections held and the number of revisions that have taken place in our electoral machinery since that date, and when they recall the absolute smoothness with which elections have proceeded since 1932, they will agree that I am justified in formally protesting against every reflection made on those in charge of that matter, which reflection applies automatically to the Minister.

In regard to the question as to the Minister's intention in respect of the theory underlying Senator Douglas's amendment, I wish to make the position perfectly clear. We go as far as to say that, in theory, it would be desirable that persons who reach the age of 21 years in a given year should exercise the franchise. We say that there must be a date prescribed during the year after which persons who were declared to be 21 years may vote. That is the pure, absolute theory underlying the Constitution. Having said that, I should then say that we must make certain that a document, which is as unchallengeable as humanly possible, of persons entitled to vote is produced. A document that will have the respect of the people, that can be adequately interpreted in the courts or concerning which litigation could take place in the courts efficiently, and a document which can be interpreted by officers in charge of the central and local administration whatever be the pure theory in regard to the right of a person to vote at 21 years of age, the production of an unchallengeable document containing the names of persons entitled to vote must be ensured. There is a large area of doubt as to whether or not it is possible to carry out the wishes implied in Senator Douglas's amendment.

As I said before, the position is that, after very serious examination, we prefer to have a register of persons who, as soon as practicable after the age of 21 years, all other considerations being fully examined, may vote according to law. I might add that the very words of the Constitution clearly indicated that regard would have to be had to legislation in connection with the definition of the expression "persons who have attained the age of 21 years". I think that I have gone into sufficient detail to convince the House that there are real, legal and administrative difficulties in connection with Senator Douglas's amendment, and I hope the House, acting as a revising body and as a body particularly qualified to have regard to legal and technical considerations, will show its good sense by reversing the decision which, in its wisdom, it came to at the previous sitting.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 16.

  • Clarkin, Andrew S.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Healy, Denis D.
  • Hearne, Michael.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Honan, Thomas V.
  • Johnston, Séamus.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, Peter T.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • McCabe, Dominick.
  • McEllin, John E.
  • Magennis, William.
  • O Buachalla, Liam.
  • O'Dea, Louis E.
  • O'Donovan, Seán.
  • O Máille, Pádraic.
  • Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
  • Quirke, William.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Stafford, Matthew.
  • Summerfield, Frederick M.

Níl

  • Barniville, Henry L.
  • Baxter, Patrick F.
  • Campbell, Seán P.
  • Counihan, John J.
  • Douglas, James G.
  • Duffy, Luke J.
  • Hayden, Thomas.
  • Horan, Edmund.
  • Keane, Sir John.
  • Kyle, Sam.
  • McGee, James T.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick John.
  • Ruane, Seán T.
  • Smyth, Michael.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tunney, James.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Hearne and Séan O'Donovan; Níl: Senators Douglas and Sweetman.
Amendment declared carried.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 not moved?

I think I have a right to move amendment No. 1.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Yes, Senator, if it is not consequential.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 2, in the Long Title, line 15, to delete the words "Consequential upon the said amendments".

As far as I can see, the title of this Bill is inaccurate, apart altogether from the decision which the House has just made. Even at the risk of again being accused of attacking the civil servants, which I did not do and which, as far as I can see, nobody did, I suggest that an error was made when the Title of this Bill was drafted. The Title says:

"An Act to amend the Electoral Act, 1923, and the Local Government (Extension of Franchise) Act, 1935, by substituting the 15th day of September for the 15th day of November as the qualifying date for Dáil electors and local government electors, respectively, and to provide for certain other matters consequential upon the said amendments".

I thought it was agreed, when we started this debate, that the other two amendments would be regarded as consequential, and would, therefore, stand or fall by the decision on the first amendment.

I did not agree to anything of the kind. The Cathaoirleach said they would be taken afterwards, as he thought they were consequential. I had informed him that I did not think they were consequential. However, if it is the desire of the House not to make any correction, I am quite prepared to let it go at that. My point was that when I examined the Bill I came to the conclusion that this amendment was desirable, because in fact the Bill contains provisions which are not consequential on substituting the 15th day of September for the 15th day of November. I think I am correct in pointing that out. It will be found that the period of time between the two dates is longer as between the qualifying date and the date on which the register comes into force. That is not, strictly speaking, consequential.

As far as I am concerned, I doubt very much if the Title of a Bill has any legal value at all, but some members of the House last week, and particularly Senator Ryan, seemed to think that it was of considerable importance. In fact, Senator Ryan devoted a good portion of his speech to pointing out the importance of having the Title of a Bill correctly stated. If that is so, then I think it is important that we should have it stated correctly. As I have said, to my mind, it is not very important because I do not think that if you came to argue a case in court it would affect the amending of the Act at all if the Title were completely different. I admit that I am not quite sure about that, and I was shaken by the arguments made by Senator Ryan. While I am on my feet, however, I should like to say that nothing that I have said here, or in fact that I have heard here, was intended as in any way a reflection on civil servants. I have not the slightest doubt that the civil servants advising the Minister do advise him honestly and to the best of their ability. So much faith and confidence have I in the honesty of the civil servants that I am sure they could draft the consequential amendments in a few days.

In connection with this amendment, proposing the alteration of the Long Title of the Bill, I think Senator Douglas can be assured that the courts have already decided that the Long Title of a Bill cannot alter the construction placed on the Bill, and therefore this amendment is unnecessary and of no importance.

Is that any reason why we should not put the matter right, if it is not right?

I am not prepared to say that the Long Title is not already entirely adequate.

Surely we are entitled to be given a reason showing why it is adequate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.
Question proposed: "That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration."

I wish to say a word or two on this stage of the Bill, Sir. I made a speech on the Committee Stage, and I gathered from the opening remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary, in concluding the debate, that he thought that some reflections had been made on civil servants. I certainly referred to the civil servants, but I am sure that I made no reflection on them. I am well aware, and have been well aware for a good number of years, of the honesty, competency and efficiency of the civil servants, but civil servants, after all, are like farmers, skilled workers, or anybody else, in that they like their own handiwork and do not like it to be interfered with. They feel, when they have done a job, that it is a beautiful job and that nobody should interfere with it—just in the same way as other people feel about their handiwork. That, of course, is a natural human instinct. That is all I said, and in speaking in that way I had no intention of making any reflections on the civil servants. As I have said, I have had ample experience of the work of civil servants, and I know that they advise the Minister concerned to do what is best in the public interest. I was quite clear about that, and I did not reflect on the civil servants in any way, nor do I think that other Senators who spoke reflected upon them. I would not, however, accept the Parliamentary Secretary's further statement that a reflection on the civil servants is also a reflection on the Minister concerned. I think that, both in this House and in the other House, we are entitled to attack the Minister, if we feel that he should be attacked; but, of course, always, when any of us endeavour to attack a Minister in this House, we are asked: "Is this in order?"

Question put and agreed to.
Question:—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Bill, as amended, be returned to the Dáil.