On the section, may I say that the Bill is one which, I think, could hardly be discussed adequately by this House in the present position? Section 1 says that "This Act may be cited as the Defence Act, 1954." It has had a very long and chequered history and it comes to us at this moment when, if we were to amend it, we would hold it up and leave it to a new Dáil which will, quite obviously, however it is composed, have a great many other things on its mind besides the consideration of Seanad amendments to a Defence Bill. It will, for example, in the months of June and July, when it sits, have very serious financial business to do. I think, therefore, that even if we were to pass amendments to this Bill we could not hope that they would get adequate consideration in time.
It is only fair to say that the delay in bringing the Bill before us is not the fault of the Minister, and I am not in any way saying that it is. The Bill was delayed in the Dáil largely from the fact that a Special Committee met at great length. The proceedings of that Special Committee were, so to speak, re-hashed in the Dáil itself. In these circumstances I, personally, do not propose, and I do not know of anybody here who does propose, to go through the Bill. It has got very great consideration over a very long period of time.
The Minister has told us, and quite clearly he is correct, that, even if he gets the Bill to-day and if it becomes an Act within the next few days, it will still take several months before it will come into operation. I think that the Minister and the Department, having worked so hard on this Bill, should not be prevented from having it passed into an Act without further delay. It is not the last Defence Bill, presumably, that will be introduced. If flaws are found in it, then the Minister for Defence, or some Minister for Defence, will bring in amendments to it. The matter is not a Party matter, and has got, as I have said, very adequate consideration. In these circumstances, and seeing that this House itself is in a transition stage, I think that amendments could hardly be considered even if we were to pass them. Therefore, I suggest that we take the Committee Stage as rapidly as may be.