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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 Mar 1959

Vol. 50 No. 11

An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—An Coiste. Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Committee Stage.

Sula rachaimid i gCoiste ar an mBille, b'fhéidir go bhfónfaidh sé do na Seanadóiri má thugaim cuntas réasúnta mion ar thuairimí an Chathaoirligh faoin nós imeachta ba chóir a leanúint.

Teastaíonn uaim a chur in iúl i gcoitinne go dtairgfear na ceisteanna go léir i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla agus go gcinnfidh siad an t-ábhar i gcás an téacsa Ghaeilge agus an téacsa Bhéarla.

Is é tuairim an Chathaoirligh nár chóir aon díospóireacht a bheith ann faoi alt 1, an t-alt a dhéanann an socrú foirmiúil chun ábhar atá sa Bhunreacht cheana a scriosadh agus ábhar nua a chur isteach sa Bhunreacht. Tá sonrai an ábhair nua sin sa Sceideal agus meastar dá ndéantaí díospóireacht faoi alt 1 gur ró-dhóigh go ndéanfaí an díospóireacht chéanna in athuair i gcás an Sceidil. Ar an ábhar go bhfuil leasuithe curtha síos le haghaidh an Sceidil, measann an Cathaoirleach gurbh oiriúnaí dá mba orthu sin a dhéanfaí an díospóireacht.

Do réir na treorach atá ceadaithe ag an Teach, tairgfear ceist ar leithligh ar gach fo-alt faoi leith d'alt 2 agus ar gach alt faoi leith ina dhiaidh sin den Sceideal i ngach cás tar éis leasuithe a bheidh in ordú ar na fo-ailt nó na hailt a bheith curtha de láimh. Déanfar an cheist faoin Sceideal a chur ansin agus ina dhiaidh sin na ceisteanna faoin Réamhrá agus faoin Tedeal.

Teastaíonn uaim a chur in iúl ag an bpointe seo go bhfuil leasuithe Uimh. 1 agus 2 as ordú toisc go bhfuil siad ar neamhréir le prionsabal an Bhille mar léadh é an Dara Uair. Tá sé sin curtha in iúl do na Seanadóirí lena mbaineann sé.

Tá súil agam go nglacfaidh an Teach leis an nós imeachta seo atá minithe agam.

Before we go into Committee on the Bill, it may be helpful to Senators if I indicate in some detail the Chair's views on the procedure which should be adopted.

In general I should say that all questions will be proposed bilingually and will decide the issue in respect of both the Irish and English texts.

In the opinion of the Chair, there should be no debate on Section 1 which makes the formal arrangement for the deletion of existing matter from, and the insertion of new matter in, the Constitution. The details of such new matter are contained in the Schedule and it is considered that debate on Section 1 would be inevitably repeated on the Schedule. As amendments have been tabled to the Schedule the Chair feels that the debate may more appropriately take place thereon.

In accordance with the instruction approved of by the House, a separate question will be proposed on each of the sub-sections of Section 2 and on each of the subsequent sections of the Schedule in each case after amendments to the sub-sections or sections that are in order have been disposed of. The question on the Schedule will then be put followed by the questions on the Preamble and the Title.

At this stage, I should inform the House that amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are out of order as they are in conflict with the principle of the Bill as read a Second Time. The Senators concerned have been informed.

I trust that the procedure outlined will prove acceptable to the House.

I should have said I agree entirely that the Committee must pass Sections 1 and 2 of the Bill and then take the detailed discussion. I should have mentioned that in my statement on the motion.

On a point of order. Arising out of the first amendment, standing in the names of Professor George O'Brien and myself, about the question of the transferable versus the non-transferable vote, while I bow to the Chair in its ruling, I should have thought that the main principle of the Bill was the breaking-down of the constituencies and the substitution of single member constituencies for the others.

I believe that, in linking two principles together like this, in trying to carry in the principle of the non-transferable vote, as it were, on the coat-tails of the principle of the breaking-down of constituencies, the approach is unfair to the people of the country. I do not wish to elaborate, but I would point out that, in marked contrast to this package Bill that has been offered to the Irish people, is our very democratic approach to settling the problems of the people in the Cameroons, in Africa.

The Senator is going beyond——

I wish to protest at the linking together of the two principles.

May I make a point of order? The principle of this Bill, I submit, is the deletion of P.R. from the Constitution. The insertion of single member constituencies, with the single transferable vote has no element of P.R. at all in it and, therefore, is not contrary to the principle of the Bill. I submit to you, Sir, that what we have decided on the Second Reading is that we will abolish P.R.—take it out of the Constitution—but that the insertion in the Constitution of a scheme whereby single member constituencies and a single non-transferable vote for these constituencies is not P.R., contains no element at all of it, and therefore is not contrary to the principles of the Bill.

I should inform the House that the Chair understands the principles of the Bill to be (1) provision for single seat constituencies and (2) provision for the non-transferable vote, or the single vote, as it is popularly called. These are the principles enshrined in the Bill—no more and no less.

D'aontaíodh le Altanna a 1 agus 2.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
Tairgeadh an Cheist: "I gCodanna I agus II, go bhfanfaidh fo-alt (1º) d'alt 2 mar chuid den Sceideal."
Question proposed: "That in Parts I and II, sub-section (1º) of Section 2 stand part of the Schedule."

This sub-section abolishes the multiple seat constituency. It is to be remarked from the point of view of the history of this matter that the number of three seat constituencies was, more than once, increased. There were only three in 1923; they became 15 in 1935 and they became 22 in 1947. The three seat constituencies offer a smaller degree of proportionality than the five seat constituencies. The policy of the Taoiseach and his Government has been to increase the number of three seat constituencies. But that increase did not give them precisely what they wanted. In a three seat constituency a big Party might get two seats. The biggest Party would necessarily get two seats and get them on a simple majority. For example, if the quota was 6,000 then 6,001 votes would give them two seats. In any event, they would be likely to get one seat, but that was not sufficient and the three seat and the five seat constituencies are now being abolished and we are going back to the single seat.

The five seat constituency was a better arrangement for the purpose of P.R. It left the Dáil door open to anybody who could get one-sixth of the votes in a constituency. What we need most in this country is new blood in politics. I submit that the five seat constituency gave a better chance to younger people. It gave a better chance to new policies, even novel policies, to get some representation in the Dáil than they could possibly have under the new system. It gave an opportunity to younger people who had no cachet or stamp from a Party to get into the Dáil.

The destruction of P.R. which is contained in this sub-section and the substitution of the single seat gives the Party bosses much greater power and gives the ordinary voter much less choice and much less power of selection. If he belongs to a particular Party, he gets only one candidate. His choice is that he must vote for that candidate or renege his Party—a position in which people in this country do not like to find themselves—a position, in fact, in which they like to find themselves less in this country than in most. The only way in which that can be met is under the five seat constituency. Even under the three seat constituency the voter always had a choice between members of his own Party. For example, if he so chose, he could select a younger member or any member whom he considered a better member than the sitting member.

Under the new system he has to displace the sitting member at the Party convention first, before he gets any choice. The result would be, I think, to give you a House much more fixed and static than it is at present. It would be invidious to give examples but there are examples of cases where a younger man of the Fianna Fáil Party, for example, defeated an older sitting Deputy. The same thing has occurred in other Parties. I submit that the possibility that that can happen is good—and I am speaking by no means, of course, as a younger man myself. It is a good thing that, even within their own Party, voters should have a choice between A and B.

P.R. here has created a good and an admirable Parliament and has overcome a great many difficulties. I think it was the Parliament and the fact that people came into a Parliament and the fact that work had to be done in a Parliament and that there was no other way of doing it and that people came in, in great variety, enabled us to overcome the aftermath of the civil war. The Parliament and the system under which it was elected had a great deal to do with that. Apart from that aspect, it showed former Unionists and former extreme Nationalists that each group was human and composed of good Irishmen and had good qualities. I saw that Parliament working. I think P.R. made a very good Parliament and did extremely good national work.

One of the great differences—I shall not go into history except for this slight comparison — between the Parnell split and the civil war was that when the Parnell split was over everybody was defeated: nothing was to be done. However, after the civil war, there was everything to be done inside this Parliament. One of the most creditable things to this Parliament and the members on different sides is that people who had been physically opposed to each other in the civil war were able to sit down and work in a very orderly manner and carry out the parliamentary work very well. In spite of accusations made from time to time that that was not so, it is so. It is a great credit to the Irish people and the men who came into the Dáil. An effort was made to establish a situation in which there would be no fraternisation. Some front benchers endeavoured to bring that about but, as a matter of fact, the common sense and the ordinary Irish humanity of the back benchers saw that that did not happen, and it did not happen.

I have an entirely different idea of Parliament from the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach, in his final speech on the Second Stage of this Bill, revealed why he had inserted this particular provision into this amendment of the Constitution. He wants a Parliament which will not have discussion. The essence of a Parliament, surely, is that it should be a deliberative assembly, that there should be discussion in it. But the Taoiseach wants a Parliament which will have a very substantial majority of one Party and which, when that majority comes in, will have discussion in camera on the Government's proposals. He thinks the Government is much more important than the Parliament. I do not agree with him and I think that a situation where the Government can overawe the Parliament by a substantial majority, and where discussion is mainly in camera—which, being translated, means in the Government Party room instead of the Dáil chamber—is a bad scheme. I take issue with the Taoiseach on that matter.

I do not favour government which would be strong enough to rush everything through, to save time as the Taoiseach says, with people who have the same common interest. The Taoiseach is able to persuade himself, and some others, that what he wants is right, is in the national interest and that discussion in his Party is always in the national interest and no other matter comes into it. We all know that that is not so and the Taoiseach himself knows that that is not so.

It seems to me that the system we have is a much more democratic system than the system set out in this Bill. We have all had experience of Governments, on both sides, which had majorities and even of Governments with slender majorities, and every Minister I ever knew was always in a hurry. I think the idea of taking the brakes off Government and Ministers is a very bad idea both for the Government and for the people and, ultimately, for democracy. The Taoiseach's desire is to gag the majority and judge democracy, or the way it works, by the size of a parliamentary majority. I think that is quite wrong and foolish. We had no inquiry into this. We were told we should leave it to the politicians and, in fact, during the debate the word "professor"— since a number of professors here were opposed to the measure—became almost a term of reproach and so also did the word "scientist." One Senator was reproached with being a scientist and he and the professors were told that they should mind their own business and leave this to the politicians. What does that mean? It means leaving it to the propagandists and the skilled deceivers of the people, to the Irish Press and to the Sunday Press, to the people who are under the Taoiseach's control and specially employed for the purpose of making black into white. Let nobody inquire into it and when a scientist discusses this he is told: “Tut, tut. Mind your own business. Go home and teach mathematical physics, but do not speak to us”. Everybody knows that is the whole idea. I think that is a wrong idea and that it is going to work out very badly for the whole of us.

Another thing that is bound to happen is that if you abolish the three seat and the five seat constituencies you are bound to create a Parliament which will be much more urban than the present one. Take any example you wish. Take Louth, with Dundalk at one end and Drogheda at the other. Take Kildare, or Waterford, or any place you like, no matter how you divide the constituency, the town vote is bound to be of greater importance and bound to give a much more urban Dáil than you get at present.

Similarly, the system means that you are abolishing majority representation. This means that a Party that tops the poll, the first candidate past the post, will get in without a majority; it means a substitution of minority election for majority election.

The Taoiseach and other people on the far side blandly tell us that the people opposed to the big Parties should get together. Why should they be driven to do that? Why can we not take an example from the Six Counties, from Northern Ireland? Our fundamental case against Partition is that the people across the Border are Irishmen, like we are, and if they are like us we can learn from them what our reactions are likely to be at the result of abolishing P.R. The result of abolishing P.R. there has not been to reduce the number of Parties. The number has increased more than under P.R. and, incidentally, there are more Independents. They have not come together, although they have a greater pressure to come together than anybody has here. But they have not come together. Neither would people here come together.

It seems to me that you are excluding minorities under this particular sub-section and taking the foundations from under the Dáil. There have been all kinds of examples given of how politicians deal with matters. We are told that people with outlandish policies should not be able to get in with one-sixth of the votes. What is an outlandish policy? It is any kind of policy which the Taoiseach, or some other Minister of the Fianna Fáil Party defines as outlandish. The notion that people not in a majority have a policy which is outlandish is entirely false and the same applies to the idea of small Parties making promises which they cannot fulfil. How anybody of any authority in the Fianna Fáil Party can have the effrontery to say that people make promises which they know they cannot fulfil baffles me. I can remember the most outlandish promises being made, promises to bring emigrants back, to get the wheels of industry turning, to do all kinds of things which they knew they could not do. There were promises to solve unemployment, to destroy the British market and other kinds of promises. No small Party could possibly compete with the big Parties here with regard to promises.

I suggest that in this sub-section we have a scheme which is going to work entirely in favour of big Parties, going to work entirely against minorities and take the foundations from under the Dáil. As far as we are concerned, the vast majority of the people know only the system that we have. They have worked it very intelligently. One of the most remarkable things about P.R. which has been commented upon by people coming here is the intelligent way in which votes are transferred. When a casual outsider asks why a vote has been transferred from, say, a Fine Gael candidate to a Fianna Fáil candidate, or vice versa, then, if you know anything about local affairs, you can give him the reason right away. This matter will, of course, arise on the next sub-section but what we are doing here is endeavouring to create a situation in which the people with a substantial minority of votes will get a substantial majority in the Dáil and thus have power to put a policy into operation, without a majority of the people in the country behind the policy.

We have discussed this at some length already but no single argument was put up on this matter. All kinds of research was made into what somebody else said, what people said at various times, but, in all the debate we had on the Second Stage, there was no discussion from the Government Benches about P.R. itself and its genuine effects as contrasted with the British system. The Taoiseach put the matter quite simply. He said: "P.R. creates Parties." Of course, P.R. does not create Parties; Parties were there before P.R. and the Party has an organic life of its own and is entitled to exist.

The situation that somebody should say to Fine Gael or Labour: "You must amalgamate with somebody else to fight us" should not be allowed. The Taoiseach was as plain as a pikestaff about this. He said he once believed in P.R.—although, mark you, both the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Defence have said he did not believe in it at all in 1937 and only put it in to deceive somebody. But, leaving that out for the moment, his own line is that he was really shaken in 1948 when he saw himself defeated and he thought P.R. was the cause of it. When it happened again in 1954, he thought that was unforgivable on the part of P.R. and decided to abolish it. That is why it is being abolished now. It is being abolished for purely Party, political, partisan reasons. No arguments of any kind, except that particular kind of argument, have been advanced for the change and I am against it.

On this matter—the sub-section which deals with the provisions that constituencies shall be represented by one member only—I should like to suggest that if this new arrangement goes through and is approved in the referendum, people, voters in particular, will very soon learn to regret it, when they find that they are represented in the Dáil by only one T.D.

Senator Hayes has mentioned that multiple seat constituencies have been reduced. There used to be a great number of seven seat constituencies and then five seat constituencies. Now there is a great number of three seat constituencies. I would see in the three seat constituencies a considerable advantage, nevertheless, over the single seat constituency, for the reason that I think it is a good thing for the voter to regard himself as being represented, not just by one T.D. or just by a T.D. in one Party.

Not so very long ago the Minister for Health made a speech in which he said in effect: "You can judge your T.D. by the work he does for and in his constituency. You will be closer to him if the constituency is smaller," and so on. But you cannot fairly judge his rival in action, unless his rival is also a T.D. You have only one standard of comparison in relation to that constituency, if that constituency has only one representative. You cannot say to yourself: "I can now see in practice and in activity whether the Labour T.D. or the Fianna Fáil T.D. or the Fine Gael T.D. or the Clann na Talmhan T.D. or the Clann na Poblachta T.D. or the Independent is in fact actively representing me in the way I desire to be represented."

If we take seriously the contention of the Minister for Health in that regard, it clearly becomes less possible for us to judge our T.D. in action if we have nobody with whom to compare him, basing the comparison on activity in relation to the same local constituency problems. Of course, you can say: "I think that the present T.D. is probably acting more in accordance with the interests of this constituency than his rival in another Party would have done if elected ", or "the rival, if he had been elected, would probably have acted better" but we would have only a very vague and purely imaginary comparison.

At present, even in the small three seat constituency, it is possible to see for yourself which of these representatives, be they of any Party, is in fact actively and effectively concerned with the interests of the constituency. Therefore, it seems to me that the argument that you will get better, more effective and closer representation by a single member falls to the ground. It is far more valuable, if you find that the representative of your own Party is not anxious for some reason, to raise a particular matter which seems of vital interest and concern to you locally, to be able to get in touch with a representative of another Party who represents your constituency and to say to him: "Here are the facts. Will you take this matter up? Fianna Fáil do not want to touch it. It is dynamite. Fine Gael do not want to touch it; they think it is safer to do nothing. The Labour Party seem to be scared". You could run the gamut. Perhaps in the end you would find nobody to raise it but your chance of finding somebody to raise a particular local matter is greater if you have three, four or five representatives of different and competing Parties, than if you have simply one.

I remember an occasion in the Seanad when a Senator got up and said in relation to a bridge that might or might not be built in his part of the world that he besought the Minister—he was a Fine Gael Minister—to accept a particular amendment in relation to the Youghal Bridge because, if he did not, though he knew exactly what the local people thought about it, he would be forced to vote against his conscience, if the Whips were put on. That Senator has disappeared from amongst us; possibly, I do not know, due to the fact that the local people thought he should have voted rather with his conscience than with the Whips. It seems to me, however, that in local matters of that kind it is a very healthy thing for the Parliament and for the country to have three or four T.D.s representing the same constituency, and knowing the same problems, than to have simply one Party man.

In an election in County Antrim, in the 1920s, before they abolished P.R., there was an eight seat constituency. The result of the first count was that three members were elected. The first was a Cabinet Minister, a Unionist; the second was a Cabinet Member, a Unionist; and the third was a Nationalist. On the first count, the other candidates—there were ten in all—were fourth, a Unionist; fifth, a Unionist; sixth, a Unionist; seventh, a Unionist; eighth, a Unionist, ninth, a Unionist, and tenth, a Farmer. When the surplus votes of the first two Unionists were distributed, no further candidate was elected; some of the other Unionists went up a bit; but, when the surplus votes of the Nationalist were distributed, Number 10, the Farmer, reached the quota and was elected. The final result in that eight seat constituency was that you had six Unionists, one Nationalist and one Farmer, because those who were most anxious to get a Nationalist in had as a second choice a Farmer, and exercised their rights under P.R. P.R. has been abolished there and you now have the entire area represented by one Party.

Nobody could suggest that a system which gives you six members of the Government Party opposed by two others is unstable and it seems to me that, in a certain sense, a crushing overall majority is less stable in practice than the system which gives a chance to minorities in that way.

Furthermore, if there is only one seat per constituency, it is fairly obvious that no Party will put up more than one candidate. Theoretically it is possible for a Party to put up two candidates even if there is only one seat but they would be far more likely to do so under the system of the single transferable vote. In practice, it is quite obvious that the voters will have one Party man put before them. That means that the electors will be given no choice as between different shades of political view, and economic and humanitarian outlook, within the same Party. At present, when there may be as many as five or six candidates from one Party the elector can vote very loyally for the whole Party ticket, but can express a preference, for reasons of shades of difference of opinion within the Party, for one or other candidate.

All that will be abolished, if there is only one Party candidate. There will be no allowance made for shades of difference within the Party. It may well be that there are no shades of difference within the Party. When I endeavoured on the Second Stage to goad Senator Lenihan into telling me whether there was anybody at the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis who argued against the abolition of P.R., all he replied was that "there was a discussion". I could not extract from him even the statement that there was a single person who said anything against it! It may well be, therefore, that all shades of difference within the Party have been ironed out completely; that there is no difference of opinion on anything within the Fianna Fáil Party.

That may well be true of the other Parties also, but, if it is, and if it is the case that each Party must ask the elector to take a single person as representing them absolutely on everything, then I think it is a great pity for our Irish democracy, because the life blood of democracy lies in the discussion of differences of opinion, not merely as between Parties, but within Parties. The Party that is most healthy is the one that allows for the widest difference of opinion within the Party. If it simply means that we will have a single person representing the Party, and will not be given the chance to choose even as between Party representatives, it will be a bad day for Irish democracy.

The single seat constituency system places a premium on "safeness". What the Party wants is the "safe" candidate, the candidate who will never argue about anything, the candidate who will vote as he is asked to vote, the candidate who will not give any trouble, the candidate who will never criticise a Minister, a candidate who will be a good boy or a good girl. That means, in fact, putting a premium on mediocrity. I am afraid that one result of the single seat constituency inevitably will be the putting before the electorate of the same "sane and safe" mediocrities, the safe people who will follow the Party line blindly, docilely and obediently. Therefore, it seems to me that the whole principle enshrined in this sub-section is wrong, and intrinsically bad for our democratic system.

In speaking to the Second Reading of this Bill, I mentioned the fact that this change in our electoral system might bear heavily on the minorities. I did not give any details. I tried to speak from the national point of view and not from the point of view of any particular denomination. But some people asked me afterwards whether I could substantiate what I had said when I said it would bear hardly on the religious minority. I think it is only reasonable that, very briefly, I should try to substantiate that point now as a reason for opposing this section of the Bill.

We all know that P.R. was established in the Irish Constitutions of 1922 and 1937 with the express purpose of safeguarding the rights of minorities. Both the constitutional and the military leaders in the struggle for Irish independence before and after 1916 liberally affirmed their determination to preserve those rights, not only for the sake of the minorities themselves, but in the name of justice and for the general good of the Irish nation. In fact, long before the British Government introduced P.R. into Ireland it had been advocated by independent-minded Irishmen for Ireland as a whole.

My claim is that this change will remove that safeguard for the minorities and, in particular, for the Protestant minority to which I belong. Let me briefly explain the mathematics of the situation. Under P.R., the following are the percentages of votes which are certain to win a seat —I emphasise the word "certain": In a five member constituency, 16? per cent. of the voting plus the one is certain to get a seat; in a four member constituency, 20 per cent. plus one; and in a three member constituency, 25 per cent. plus one. But, under the other system, to be certain of winning a seat in a two-sided contest you must get 50 per cent. plus one; and the minimum possible to win is 33? per cent. plus one where there are three candidates for the seat. You can see at once the unfavourable comparison there for the Protestant minority, and this applies to other minorities.

Once again, under P.R., as low as figure as 16? per cent. plus one can win a seat and the highest figure necessary to be certain of a seat is 25 per cent. plus one, whereas under the other system, which is called the straight vote but which should, I think, very much more appropriately be called the simple vote—or even the wasting vote would be a better name still—you will need possibly 50 per cent. plus one.

I do not like the denominational approach. I do not think it is necessary in our country to-day. I hope it will never be necessary. But there is a possibility that in some crisis the Protestant minority would want to be sure of electing one of their own people to speak for them in the Dáil. That, I think, is an undesirable situation. I hope it will never happen. But it might happen. Under the present system, they are sure that they can have three or possibly four people of their own elected by Protestants as Protestants to the Dáil. In a certain situation in this country that might be desirable and just.

Under the proposed change it will be virtually impossible for Protestants, simply all Protestants, to elect a Protestant in the new Dáil because I doubt—I have not absolutely final figures for this—whether Protestants command 40 per cent. plus one of the voting in any particular constituency or are likely to do it.

Those are my arguments against the section. I think they are precise mathematical arguments to show why this change does bear heavily on the Protestant minority.

I want to emphasise, once again, that I hope it will not make any practical difference. I have confidence that the major Parties will continue to give full opportunities to Protestants who have the ability and the desire to serve their country. But I still think, as a matter of justice, that the religious minority should be certain of being able to elect certain members for for themselves, if necessary. That is why I oppose this section.

I am very much in favour of this section because I believe it is fundamental to the success of the measure which is under discussion. Senator Stanford said that he disliked the denominational approach to this matter. Indeed, I think that is an approach which should be avoided by this House if at all possible but I submit that the Senator's own approach was of that kind.

It would be far better to argue this section on its merits than to drag in this question of religious minorities. There is nothing in the section that would preclude religious minorities from having candidates put up in a general election, that is, if those candidates would be selected by one or other of the big Parties on the basis that they are worthy of selection. This question of minorities has been overemphasised. The minority groups in any democratic country like this will always be able to find their own feet. In the Dáil and in the Seanad we have T.D.s and Senators who belong to different religious denominations. They are able to render a good account of themselves. If, by their energy and their general political conduct in our national life, they prove themselves worthy of support, the Irish people will undoubtedly support them again.

That, of course, applies to majorities as well as minorities. Even a majority Party will not select candidates unless those candidates are suitable and will be effective representatives if they are elected. I do not agree with Senator Sheehy Skeffington when he says that in the case of the single seat constituency there is no standard of comparison. Of course there will be a general standard of comparison and the people will be always in a position to know whether their representative in the Dáil is doing his work in an energetic and conscientious way or not. If they find that one of their T.D.s, whatever Party he represents, is not rendering a good account of his stewardship, they have no remedy until the next general election comes along. That applies both to the present system and the system of the single seat constituency. If they find that the person in whom they have reposed their confidences for a period of five years, or whatever the period is, has not measured up to their expectations of him, there is no remedy in either case until the next general election.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington also mentioned the question of some bridge or other and the attitude that a certain Senator took up here in connection with the matter. I submit that dealing with the question of bridges and roads is not the primary purpose for which a T.D. is elected. His primary function is to make his contribution towards the councils of the nation and I am afraid that in the past all of us were inclined to attach too much importance to these local affairs, and not give enough attention to the primary duty that we were elected for, namely, to contribute to debates in An Dáil on general national matters. The duty of a T.D. when he is elected is to take his place in the Dáil and contribute to the main stream of discussion, thus assisting the Government of the day to make their decisions as a result of whatever discussion has taken place in the Dáil.

I was surprised to hear Senator Hayes say that Parliament is more important than Government. I do not agree with him, because if you had the finest Parliament in the world and if that Parliament were composed of the best members that could be imagined, unless there was a Government there capable enough and effective enough to safeguard the interests of the nation, whatever work would be done in Parliament would be of no account. There must be a Government in the first instance. Without a properly elected Government, a Government with stability behind it, there can be no progress and if there cannot be national progress what good is Parliament? What good would be the discussions that would take place in Parliament if there were no group of individuals capable of giving the people a lead from day to day and of making sure that the rights and liberties of the people would be upheld and questions of national importance attended to?

Effective Government is more important to-day than it has ever been. We are living in a critical age when there are tensions all round us. A cold war is raging in the world and nobody can tell from one week to another what will happen. In order to deal with a situation like that, you want a united, solid Government, a Government that will know where it is going. That does not arise so much on this section and I do not want to elaborate on it.

I am entirely in favour of the single seat constituency. Speaking from a certain amount of experience, I am a great believer in fixing responsibility on one person in all these matters. If you fix full responsibility on one person you will be able to judge in the end whether he is worthy of support or not. I do not want to repeat what I said on the Second Reading but my experience is that where there are three or five T.D.s representing a constituency you will find them all engaged in exactly the same work; there is a dissipation of energy between them. One person could do the work as effectively as three or five. The representations they make to the Department will bear the same fruit if their case is a good one. If the case is not a good one, it is not likely to succeed even when three or five make representations. Under the present system civil servants must waste time considering representations from each one of these representatives. It is a waste of time on the part of whatever officials would have to deal with the individual representations of these T.D.s, all making these representations about the one thing. So, as I said at the outset, I am very much in favour of the one seat constituency. Before this Bill came before the Dáil or the Seanad, I was of the same opinion. I have had experience of how many members of the Dáil have had to traverse the same path about something concerning the welfare of the constituency they represented.

The sub-section we are considering here reads:—

"Dáil Éireann shall be composed of members who represent constituencies..."

I presume the word "democratically" represent is implied there from our Constitution, although it is not mentioned. If that is so, and in view of the second part of this sub-section which reads:—

"...and one member only shall be returned for each constituency,"

I suggest that, if the first part means "democratically represent" the second part is contradictory because that one member can be elected by a minority vote. I suppose it is being maintained that, to have single seat constituencies is, in fact, a fully democratic procedure. I suggest that where this particular system works in England it is demonstrably not democratic. The same can be said in relation to Northern Ireland. Indeed, when we had the system ourselves before the Treaty, I do not think that even then it could be claimed to be a democratic form of representation in constituencies.

In England, it is quite clear that there are large Liberal elements all over the country, who are quite strong and yet who never get any representation in their constituencies. They are permanently disfranchised by the one seat system. Similarly, in other areas where there are large Labour elements —in fact, only marginal areas—the Labour Party have never been able to get representation. Similarly, there are areas where Conservatives have never been able to get representation in Labour areas. Therefore, there are large elements in the population who never have any voice in the government of the country or representation in Parliament.

In England, the representation in each area is completely in the hands of the Party bosses or, if you like, in the hands of the Party. In some isolated cases you will find that the local committees are, in fact, able to put up candidates but they have to be sanctioned by headquarters. It boils down to the fact that in England the large majority of the sitting members of Parliament are the picks of the parliamentary Parties and, therefore, the parliamentary bosses and, really, the Party Whips, because if they do not obey the Whips the bosses do not want them and they are not allowed to stand. Therefore, they are just heads in Parliament who will vote the way they are required to vote by the leaders of the Party. I suggest that not by any stretch of imagination could that system be held up as an ideal system of democracy and yet that is what is inherent in this proposed sub-section.

I shall come now to the other headline in this regard and refer to Northern Ireland. We can all see what has been happening there. For nearly 40 years now, there has been practically no change of representatives there. There has been absolutely no change of representation in the form of a Government. Our Nationalist brethren up there have never a hope of getting any proportionate representation in the Parliament or in the Government of the country, under this system which is proposed to be brought in here now.

We have heard here representatives of minority Parties who, quite rightly, have declared that in this proposal they see the end of any chance of having even a reasonable degree of representation in future in Parliament. They will have to be content with the local big Party representative who is put in to represent the constituency and then have to do the best they can and make the best case they can to him in order to get any degree of representation and to have their voices in any way heard in Parliament.

I suggest that a Deputy would have to perform a miracle if he could go into our Parliament and give a fair representation to all the people making approaches to him for this, that and the other. It is impossible for one man to represent all the different elements of all the different Parties within any given constituency. I think it is a very retrograde step to set up a system like that in a country like this where we have a good variety of independent thought, which is very desirable. We Irish pride ourselves that we do not like to be driven like sheep but this measure is designed for a sheep-like population or, if it is not designed for one, then it is designed to make a sheep-like population.

I come now to our experience in our own country. I am old enough to remember the single vote system working in Ireland. I come from Waterford, which was John Redmond's constituency at the time of the old Irish Party. The same thing happened there when Sinn Féin came into existence. They had a sweeping success when the population of the country was able to assert itself but that success came only when the assertion came in a huge enormous over-sweeping way. In the ordinary course of events before Sinn Féin had arisen—in 1912 or 1913—there was an M.P. in County Waterford whose name was Power—a well-known Power, because everybody in Waterford is named Power—who died. The story is told that a certain individual in the vicinity of Tramore wished to be put up for the constituency. I do not think it is any harm to refer to the case now because all concerned are long since dead. This individual wrote to Father O'Donnell who was the Administrator in the Cathedral in Waterford. He was John Redmond's right-hand man, as many P.P.s were in those days. In his letter the individual asked Fr. O'Donnell that he should be put up for the constituency. He was in fact put up and was elected. There was no question about it: it was as easy as that. An interesting sidelight on this case was the following story. Father O'Donnell wrote to the individual and said he would be very glad to recommend him to John Redmond and then he wrote to John Redmond and told him not to touch that man with a forty-foot pole. Father O'Donnell put the letters in the wrong envelopes. However, the individual in question was elected M.P. in the place of Mr. Power. That is the kind of thing we are going back to—the single member constituency in England where four-fifths of the seats become permanent. Once a man is established in a constituency as a member, he has got an immense patronage and it is very hard to move him. Once he has got the patronage of the area and an all-over power, he has a 50-yards start in the 100 yards on everybody else at an election and even within the Party itself because, once he is sitting, even if he is not very good, the Party itself cannot remove him. The system is undemocratic.

As regards Northern Ireland, everybody in this House could make a speech on the conditions in Northern Ireland if he wished to do so. The single vote system is meant to give an exclusive advantage to the Party, to the leader of the Party and to the representative. This I think is most undemocratic. For these reasons I am opposed to this sub-section and to the single member constituency system.

I think it would be a very good idea for the Senator who has just spoken to undertake a personal crusade to the United States and Britain to save them from this undemocratic form of election that they have in these countries. If it will be undemocratic here, surely it is undemocratic there. I think these countries should be saved for democracy and Senator McGuire might be the man to do it.

Senator Stanford said that he did not like taking the denominational approach but he certainly took it and he took it in a most political way, using the religion of a certain minority to try to get them to vote for his political convictions against P.R. If we want to have the denominational approach, and if Senator Stanford or anybody else wants to raise it, we will face it. The Protestants here represent 7 per cent. of the people and they get a 2 per cent. representation in the Dáil. Can anybody deny that? If Senator Stanford wants to get the Protestants to go off into one corner of the country to set up an enclave and have their representation according to their numbers well, then, it does not seem that they will get the true proportion under the system we propose to abolish and which Senator Stanford wants us to retain.

The fact is that it is well known that minorities here are interested only in their own peculiarity whether it is of religion, or some social approach, or anything else. If they are a very tiny minority they do not do well under P.R. Nobody bothers about them. Senator Cole, I thought, made a very reasonable speech on this business the other day. If this issue is raised, it has to be faced. Senator Cole said what we all know to be a fact, that 30 years ago it would have been impossible to get the religious minority here to join the ordinary Parties——

He meant Fianna Fáil.

They did not join either of the big Parties in any numbers and we know that, in fact, they tried to put up in Monaghan, Cavan and certain other parts of the country, in two or three other constituencies, Protestant candidates, as Protestants, to represent their interests as Protestants, no matter whether they were farmers or labourers or anything else. That was the narrow denominational approach which Senator Stanford takes. The result was that the Protestant candidates were not returned and that we have——

Senator Cole's father was in the Parliament for nearly 20 years.

But he disappeared under P.R.


The thing is, if you want the representation for a 7 per cent. minority, no matter what you call it, you cannot get it under the P.R. system which we are abolishing. It has been proved that their representation was wiped out and it was only those who joined the major Parties who survived.

What is the position in, say, Britain where there is a very much smaller religious minority than 7 per cent.? Our religious minority of 7 per cent., in fact, does not get direct representation, but through the Parties it has a representation of, say, 2 per cent. in the Dáil. In Britain there is a minority of one half of ½ per cent. and it gets representation of more than 3 per cent. It is recognised that in the United States of America, where there is a great number of minorities—minorities of colour, of race, of creed, of nationality, and of economic or religious beliefs—the straight voting system gives these minorities better representation than they could possibly get under any system of P.R.

Senator Stanford pointed out that in order to be sure of electing a representative here a minority would want to have 25 per cent. in a constituency. That means that a minority that has only 7 per cent. all over the country could never get a candidate elected as a minority candidate. In the U.S.A. there are minorities of much less than 7 per cent. but they are represented in Congress because, while they might be only a few per cent. all over the country, their votes and their influence have a marginal importance and that marginal importance might be a vital factor in an election in any constituency in any part of the United States of America. All big Parties tend to have representatives in the panel of candidates for various things, various vacancies, and the result is that all sorts of minorities, very tiny minorities, have representation in the United States Congress. The straight vote system has this integrating effect, this very valuable effect, on the social life of the United States, that it tends to force all these minorities to find their common interest, whereas P.R., as we know, tends to make every small group exaggerate its exclusive personal interest, or minority interest, and to take no heed of the general interest which must be served if the nation as a whole is to make progress.

Senator Hayes in discussing this matter on the Second Reading, in his main speech, said we wanted to give individuals the power to blackmail by having a single member constituency; that with the straight vote we were putting it is the power of individuals to blackmail the political Parties, that if they did not get something for standing down they would go forward and threaten one or other of the larger Parties with defeat. He objected to it because the straight vote gave individuals the power to blackmail before an election. What we are concerned with more than anything else is that, if there is to be blackmail, it should be practiced openly before the election so that the people will know who is blackmailing whom while they have the time to decide whether they will vote for that system or not or for the individuals involved in the bargaining, or blackmail, as Senator Hayes put it. Senator Hayes does not want blackmail before an election; he wants it afterwards.

I do not. By definition, blackmail cannot be open. Is that not right?

Senator Hayes is wriggling on the precise meaning of the word "blackmail." Whatever it means, he does not want it before the election——

It means something done in the dark.

——he wants it afterwards.

I do not want it at all. I want the Minister to talk about P.R., but he is not able. He is talking about blackmail. Let us hear him on P.R. for a moment.

We shall hear him on the P.R. blackmail that Senator Hayes wants to continue. Senator Hayes would like the blackmail to be postponed until after the election.

That is not true. I never said that.

The Senator wants it before it?

I do not want it at all. I have never been associated with blackmail of any kind, public or private, and the Minister knows it.

If there is to be blackmail, does the Senator want it before the election or postponed until after the election.

I do not want it at all.

What we feel is that if there is to be blackmail, it should not be after the election when the people have no remedy. But if the smaller Parties or groups of Parties are to blackmail each other to secure that they will get a few Ministries to run or something of that kind, they should be forced to do it before the election. It is better to do it before the election than afterwards.

I thought from the speeches made by Senator Sheehy Skeffington, Senator Stanford, Senator Quinlan and others on the Second Reading that we would have an opportunity on this Committee Stage to test exactly what size of minority the various sections of this House want to have represented in the Dáil. But there has been no resolution put down to secure that if we are to have 150 seats in the Dáil any minority with one vote in 150 should have the opportunity of getting elected. We discussed this matter for months in the Dáil and we discussed it here for several weeks. In my speeches I challenged those talking about minority representation that there was one way of getting representation for the smallest minority it is possible to have represented in the Dáil, and that is to have an amendment making the Twenty-Six Counties into one constituency, so that, if we are to have 150 seats in the Dáil, any minority with one out of 150 votes could get representation, or any minority with 10 per cent. could get 10 per cent. of the representation in the Dáil.

Why has that amendment not been put down? If the Senators here are so enthusiastic about getting all minorities represented as they represent themselves to be when talking and as they will represent themselves to be when we will have the campaign on this referendum in the country——

On a point of order, we made no such statements.

I did not mention Senator Quinlan in connection with that matter. It was Senator Stanford, Senator Hayes and other Senators who were weeping about minorities, saying that we wanted to destroy minorities, that we wanted minorities to have no rights and that we wanted the Dáil to be completely Fianna Fáil.

Could the Minister quote me on that?

I am tired quoting the Senator. That was the general effect of the speech he made.

When it comes now to the Committee Stage, when they could have put in an amendment to secure that a minority of one in 150 could get representation, they turn their backs on it. Even to-day Senator Sheehy Skeffington spoke about a voter having no choice, as between the candidates of the one Party, to select the candidate whose opinions are the nearest shade to his own, and saying that in three or four member constituencies, when Parties put up three or four candidates, they give the voters a choice even as between the candidates of the single Party. But there has been no amendment. Voters could get a very close approximation to their own shade of opinion if they had the right to choose one candidate out of 150. But Senator Sheehy Skeffington did not put down an amendment to that effect, nor did the other Senators who spoke in much the same strain.

The Minister has not learned much about parliamentary procedure in 30 years in Parliament. How could anyone put down an amendment like that?

I have learned one thing in 30 years.

I am delighted to hear it.

I have sized up Senator Hayes. When Senator Hayes does not want to face an issue in this Seanad, whether it is a question of economics or anything else, he tries to get a row going about the civil war or the British market. That is his tactic.

On a point of order, Sir, is this in order?

The Senator is not in order now.

I am entitled to speak.

Senators who persist in interrupting other Senators or Ministers are clearly out of order.

I have raised a point of order and I am entitled to a decision on it.


Senator O'Donovan is out of order and must resume his seat.

With all due respect to you, Sir, I am not out of order.

May I make a point of order, Sir? When a Senator rises to make a point of order, can he be answered from the Chair to the effect that he is not in order?

When Senators persist in interrupting other Senators, it is clear they are out of order.

When a Senator rises to make a point of order, he can be told he is quite wrong, but can he be told he is out of order?

The Chair has ruled. The Minister to continue.

I should like to say to Senator McGuire, who made the allegation that the straight vote system is undemocratic and will turn the Irish people into a flock of sheep, that he should really take time off and go to Britain, the United States, Canada and those other countries to prevent them from turning their people into crowds of sheep and to get them to live up to his standard of democracy.

The Minister for External Affairs, in spite of his many trips to the United States as Irish representative to the United Nations, does not seem to know very much about the Constitution of the United States. I am going to deal with points made by the Minister. If the Minister knew anything about the Constitution of the United States he would know that the Constitution of the United States is so framed that there can never be tyranny under the Constitution and the purpose of democratic Government and of democratic Constitutions is to prevent any of the organs of Government becoming too strong.

That is the system we have in our Constitution and that is the system which they have in the United States Constitution. If the Minister knew anything about the Constitution of the United States, to examine which he urges Senator McGuire to go out to the United States, he would know that there is a distinct separation between the powers of Government and the powers of the Legislature. The Government is represented by the President and the Legislature has its own powers. The Legislature is there for the purpose of exercising control and keeping in check the President, who is the executive arm of Government. That is why democracy in the United States is safe and will continue to be safe.

Further, if the Minister knew anything about recent events in the United States, he would know that, since 1954, the Party of the President of the United States has been in a minority in Congress and in a very decided minority since the elections of 1958. It is for that very reason, it is because of that constitutional set-up, that democracy is so safe in the United States of America. If that was the type of amendment that was being brought in here, that the Executive, that is to say, the Government, would be answerable to the Legislature, that is to say, the Dáil, in the way the President of the United States is answerable to the Houses of Congress, then we might be in agreement with such a change but that is not the change that is being brought in here. The change that is being made here is to deny the people of the country the representation to which they are entitled and to which they have been entitled for the past 40 years.

The Minister talked about Great Britain. He is, apparently, converted to the British market and British ships and now to the British Constitution. In that context might I recall to the House that in 1936 we had a Fianna Fáil Government unnecessarily consenting to an amendment of the British Constitution and they had no mandate from the people to do so?

Is this relevant?

The External Relations Act was raised by Fianna Fáil speakers on the Second Stage. I am entitled to refer to the External Relations Act and I say that, if that Act was repealed, it was repealed because it was unnecessary in our circumstances because we had a Republic and because a majority of the Dáil, including the Fianna Fáil members of Dáil Éireann, were in favour of repealing it. In 1936, when Edward VIII, King of England, was abdicating——

And King of the Free State.

And King of the Free State, quite so—there was no necessity whatever on this country to introduce any legislation to deal with that matter. When the King of England was gone, when Edward VIII was gone, then we had no King in this country. Instead of that, we had Dáil Éireann summoned by telegram to put through the External Relations Act. The result was that it was so well drafted and we were in such great haste to amend the Constitution that we had two Kings in this Country— George VI until the repeal of the External Relations Act and the former Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, for certain purposes from December, 1936 until July 1937, when that position was rectified by an Act of the Oireachtas.

I am glad the Senator described that as the British Constitution.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This is not a subject for the amendment of the sub-section.

If we are going to talk about what was done by the Coalition Government and by pressure groups in the Coalition Government, as alleged by Fianna Fáil, we might as well say these things, within the rules of order. The Minister talks about the United States. The position of the United States has no relationship whatever with us and well the Minister knows it. The United States is a Federal State consisting of 49 different States with a population of 160,000,000. It is the greater of the two greatest powers in the world. You cannot compare that kind of country with a country such as this and you cannot compare its constitutional procedure with the procedure under our Constitution. In any event, they do not bear any comparison because the two systems under which Government is provided in the United States and in this country have no relationship whatever.

The Minister then talks of what was going on in Great Britain. I thought that, when I had said something on the Second Stage about the British Constitution and the manner by which candidates for election to Parliament are elected, the Minister would not raise that one again. I am going to reread for the Minister's benefit a passage from The Economist, dated January 24th, which deals with the position obtaining in Britain. There is not real democracy in Great Britain. It is run by a small junta in the different constituencies in Britain.

According to The Economist.

And other people. If the Senator reads articles in recent issues of The Observer he will find the same thing.

According to The Observer.

They are not all wrong.

They are all wrong except the Irish Press.

At page 298 of The Economist where it deals with the position of the election of candidates in a single member constituency, it says:—

"Constituency associations are usually run by a small group of active and often extremist Party workers. Even in theory this small group is elected only by the few hundreds of local zealots who work for a candidate, not by the tens of thousands who vote for him; in practice it is often personally dominated by two or three active enthusiasts who have time to spare. Yet, because of the device of nominating a ‘prospective parliamentary candidates' well before the election, this tiny and unrepresentative group has absolute control over the timing of what is in most cases the de facto choice of a candidate.”

We have seen in Britain in the case of the recent by-election in Southend a candidate wholly unacceptable to even the constituency association foisted upon that constituency. That is the kind of system that the Government wants to introduce here.

It may well be, of course, that we have Mr. Churchill speaking in favour of P.R. and that he sees what way the wind is blowing and we may find ourselves in the ludicrous position of having abolished P.R. and then finding ourselves in the position that Britain will have changed its electoral system and have introduced the single transferable vote.

The Minister then comes along with what can be regarded only as a completely absurd challenge to Senator Professor Stanford and others that we should turn the Twenty-Six Counties into one constituency. That sort of debating point shows the weakness of the arguments of the Minister and his supporters in favour of this particular amendment. We are not idiots and we do not want to have an idiotic system of that kind.

You want P.R., do you not?

We have had a particular system and it has worked to our satisfaction and has been incorporated in the Constitution by the people. We do not want it changed. That is all we are saying on this Bill. The Minister says, then, that we have turned our backs upon amending this Bill. The Minister knows very well, as Senator Professor Hayes has pointed out, that if such an amendment was put down it would be immediately ruled out of order by the Chair, and people are not going to waste their time putting down an amendment which they know would be completely out of order.

Was that the only reason why you did not put it down?

That is not the reason. The reason is that it was an idiotic amendment.

Therefore, you do not believe in P.R.?

We do. We believe in a workable system of P.R. anyway. The Taoiseach is on record as having stated in Volume 50, column 254:—

"From 1938, that is, for the past 20 years, looking at the working of this system, I have on many occasions pointed out that, if it should lead here to a multiplicity of Parties, it would be well for the people, in the interests of government, in the interests of the State and in the interests of the community, to get rid of it."

There was provision in the Constitution which was enacted on the 1st July, 1937, and came into operation on the 29th December, 1937, for making amendments for a period of approximately three years from the date of entry into office of the first President. The position was that up to May in 1941 the Constitution was capable of amendment. The Taoiseach now says that since 1938 he has been speaking against P.R. but though he had an opportunity between 1938 and 1941 of amending the Constitution he did not do so.

You know that there was something happening at that time in the world.

Something slightly more important.

It might, of course, be said that this was a radical change but the Government did a whole lot of other things to it. There was one amendment of the Constitution in 1939 and no less than 30 in 1941.


They were not technical.

One of them was regarded by many people as a most far-reaching amendment and a most dangerous one, that would enable a Government to make grave inroads upon the liberty of the people. That is the amendment to Article 28 sub-section (3) of the Constitution. As enacted by the people, sub-section (3) of Article 28 said:—

"Nothing in this Constitution shall be invoked to invalidate any law enacted by the Oireachtas which is expressed to be for the purpose of securing the public safety and the preservation of the State in time of war or armed rebellion, or to nullify any act done or purporting to be done in pursuance of any such law."

That was a fair and reasonable provision. One of the amendments which was incorporated in 1941 provided for the addition to this sub-section of the words "and ‘time of war or armed rebellion' includes such time after the termination of any war, or of any such armed conflict as aforesaid, or of any armed rebellion, as may elapse until each of the Houses of the Oireachtas shall have resolved that the national emergency occasioned by such war, armed conflict, or armed rebellion has ceased to exist."

We can now, therefore, have the position in which either House of the Oireachtas can decide that a national emergency——

On a point of order, in what way is this discussion relevant to the Bill before us?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair is the judge of order. Senator O'Quigley.

Senators have said that the amendments were only trifling or technical. The amendment made in 1941 which I am speaking about was not at all technical.

Should we abolish P.R. without going to the people?

I will come back to that if the Senator will only be patient and listen to me a little longer.

We are very patient.

The amendment I speak about vests in either the Seanad or the Dáil the power to continue a national emergency for so long as either House thinks proper, and that means that the liberties of the subject as set out in this Constitution can be indefinitely suspended. That was an amendment which could vitally affect the very liberties of the people and sweep away rights guaranteed under the Constitution. It is a very fundamental amendment, and it was thought fit and proper to put it into the Constitution by an amendment in 1941, when we were in the throes of a great war. The Taoiseach has said that he had doubts about P.R. when they were putting it into the Constitution but he did not think it appropriate to amend the Constitution in any way to abolish P.R. in 1941.

That would prevent the people from deciding.

The Minister for External Affairs stated in the Dáil that P.R. was put into the 1922 Constitution because of some kind of compulsion or coercion from the British. That, of course, does not stand the test of history. What was put into the 1922 Constitution was merely a simple statement that the members of Dáil Éireann shall be elected upon the principles of P.R. As Fianna Fáil were talking about what is going on in Australia, the United States, Finland and every other place, I thought it was quite in order that we should know what the position was in other countries. I examined 89 Constitutions of other countries. In only two Constitutions which prescribe P.R. is the precise method of P.R. that is to be used set down. The farmers of the 1937 Constitution were not satisfied with what the British had imposed upon us. If they are right in their own statements, they wanted to go further and tie us up much more than the British had done in the 1922 Constitution, because they introduced an amendment in the 1937 Constitution that "members shall be elected on the principles of P.R. by means of the single transferable vote". The whole difficulty arises from the fact that these words "by means of the single transferable vote" tie us to a particular form of P.R.

I have heard Senator Lenihan and some of his colleagues saying at a debating society meeting that there were 1,000 systems of P.R. In spite of the great varieties you can have to suit conditions in different countries, the 1937 Constitution amended the provisions of the 1922 Constitution so as to tie us to one system, the single transferable vote. If the Taoiseach had thought it suited his own position in 1937 there would have been nothing wrong in leaving the Constitution just as it was in that respect in 1922. There would have been no great opposition to it and the system of P.R. that would be employed in Ireland could have been determined by an electoral law. If we wanted to go further than that we could say: "The electoral law shall not be changed more than once in 20 years." That would give us more stability.

In the course of his reply on the Second Reading of the Bill, the Taoiseach said that if we found the system we are introducing did not work we could change it. I have a fundamental objection to such a suggestion. The Constitution should be like the yard measurement: it should be standard and should be subjected to as little change as possible. If we are going to tinker around with the Constitution, amending it as particular Parties' interests demand, we are getting away from the protection and stability that having a written Constitution was intended, and ought, to give us. What we are doing now is something that should be more or less permanent. If we do not get that permanency, our Constitution is a much less valuable document than I thought it to be.

This amendment to the Constitution arises out of a philosophical concept completely different from that on which democratic institutions should be based. This amendment runs completely counter to the general framework of our Constitution. Our Constitution provides that all powers of Government, legislative, executive and judicial shall be exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State established by the Constitution. Contrary to what the Taoiseach says, the Legislature, that is, the Dáil and Seanad, are just as important organs of State as the Government and they are intended to be so in the Constitution. Under the Constitution, the Government is supposed to be answerable to the Dáil and the Government, contrary to what the Taoiseach says, are not our rulers. At column 250, Volume 50, of the Seanad Debates of the 4th February, 1959, the Taoiseach says:——

"One of the main purposes of elections is to provide a Government."

The first purpose of an election is to provide a Dáil and it is from the Dáil that the Government are selected. The purpose of providing the Dáil is that the people shall be represented, in accordance with their choice and their decision, in the making of laws. It is the laws that are passed by the Dáil and Seanad that govern the people and that the people must obey. The Taoiseach continues:—

"Two main purposes are indicated in the Constitution—two matters on which the ultimate power is with the people. The first is deciding who will be their rulers—in other words, their Government—and the second is deciding what is to be the national policy."

I have read the Constitution many times and I do not know where you will find in it any statement, expressed or implied, that the purpose of an election is to determine national policy. The purpose of an election is to elect Deputies who will determine the laws which will govern the people. I agree entirely with Senator Kissane when he states that Deputies should come into Dáil Éireann for the purpose of making their contribution to the councils of the nation. That is their primary purpose and that is the purpose of a representative Parliament. Under this system of single member constituencies we will not have a representative Parliament and indeed of all Parties it ill-becomes Fianna Fáil—with the name they have adopted, wrongly I believe, "Fianna Fáil"—to deny the people what is long established in the Irish mind, cothrom na Féinne.

We are trying to give it to them. You are denying it to them.

Cothrom na Féinne, fair play; that is what P.R. gives, what we have always wanted for everybody. I quote the Taoiseach again at column 886, Volume 50, of the Seanad Debates of the 19th February, 1959:—

"When you speak about candidate B with 40 per cent. getting in where you had a division of 35, 40 and 25 per cent., you are not going to say that the 35 per cent. and the 25 per cent. should be added together and that it is a matter of 60 against 40."

The Taoiseach is certainly getting away from what was in the Gospel last Sunday: "He that is not with me is against me."

Do not bring the Gospels into it.

That is a practical application of Christianity: "He that is not with me is against me."

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

But the Taoiseach says that 60 per cent., or some proportion of those voters are in favour of the 40 per cent. man. If that is so, why did they not vote for him? It was interesting to hear the Taoiseach, on the Final Stage of this Bill, deal with all the elections—1932, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1943, 1944, 1948, 1951—and then, full stop. There was a full stop at 1951. I was waiting to see what he would have to say when he came to the 1954 election. At that time, the people who are now being asked to change over to the single member constituency and abolish P.R. had had the experience of a Coalition Government formed in 1948 and they knew, in the 1954 election, that there was a possibility that if they did not vote for Fianna Fáil they would have a Coalition Government. They knew that, in spite of the warnings issued to them by the Taoiseach not to vote for coalition Parties, they would get another Coalition Government but they did, in fact, vote for a Coalition Government and a Coalition Government they got.

What had the Taoiseach to say after the general election? He recognised the right of the people to make their choice. As reported in the Irish Press, some days after the election of the Coalition Government, he had this to say: “The coalition Parties have a majority and they can form a Government.” But he did not deal with the 1954 situation because he was in the difficult position that the people knew that P.R. would lead to Coalition Government and they accepted that position in 1954 and they had a Coalition Government and, if it happened again——

And they changed their minds in 1957.

—— in the same way as they changed their minds in 1954. Is the Taoiseach afraid that, the people having had the valuable experience of two periods of Coalition Government and having seen the benefits to be derived from two periods of Coalition Government, Coalition Government would become a feature of our political life? As I said on the Second Stage, and I repeat it now, Coalition Governments were very welcome in our political life. They brought together people among whom there was very little difference of opinion on most matters. Some Senators may laugh. I would point out to them that on the Second Reading of the Bill in the Dáil the Taoiseach stated that the small Parties had no fundamental point of difference. If they had no fundamental point of difference I would ask what is to prevent them from coming together? They are in no different position from members of a big Party where you have conservative and Left opinion in a big Party. I do not know what goes on inside Fianna Fáil Party rooms but, looking at the different strata of our economic life from which the members are drawn —they say they represent all sections of the community: farmers, workers, professional people, and so on—there is no fundamental difference between the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, I take it. If that be so and if they can agree, then, why can we not have small Parties amongst whom there is no fundamental point of difference acting in the same way as a large Party? I would ask that question of Fianna Fáil speakers?

Apparently the motto of the Taoiseach is to divide and rule. At column 254 of the Official Report of Seanad Éireann of the 4th February, 1959, the Taoiseach is reported as saying:—

"We all know there were issues here which divided the country into two major Parties. As long as that was so and there was no public support of any kind for the smaller Parties, they found it very difficult to operate and had not operated to any extent. It is different when the aims and objects which divided the major Parties are no longer there."

I always thought, as a young person having grown up in a free country, that the great misfortune in Irish history was the split in 1922, and I still believe it to be so. Here we have the Taoiseach regarding as good the fact that we had a split and now saying that because there are no major differences between the Parties and nothing to keep them apart, they must be kept apart, and the only way to do it is to amend the Constitution. Frankly, I do not understand that outlook and, if it was for no reason other than that, I would be strongly opposed to this amendment.

I had not intended to intervene again on this sub-section, but I do so because I have been named and, I think, seriously misunderstood by two speakers. I refrained from interrupting them when they did so, as I think it is more orderly, perhaps, and more effective to answer them afterwards. The first was Senator Kissane, who seemed completely to misunderstand what I said in rebuttal of what the Minister for Health said. The Minister for Health has been telling the country widely that single seat constituencies, which is the subject matter of the sub-section which we are now discussing, ensured T.D.s who will be very closely in touch, because of the smallness of the area involved, with their electors. He has said that the electors will be able to see how they behave and act and judge them in action in relation to their own local issues because they will be close to the area. Senator Kissane's answer was that he was surprised that I should suggest that local issues should be allowed to predominate in Parliament, and so on.

I did not make any such suggestion. I suggest that if you are concerned with local issues, concerned to have your Deputy living in the area and close to his constituents, the people will have a proper chance of judging him only if there are two or three such people of different political tints, all concerned with such issues, and all in the Parliament at the same time, for purposes of real comparison. Furthermore, I want to make it clear that the concern with local issues and being in the area, and so on, is not merely in the mind of the Minister for Health but is also in the mind of the Taoiseach. As reported at column 882 of the Official Report of Seanad Éireann of 19th February, 1959, the Taoiseach is reported as follows:—

"In a single member constituency the people will know the candidate, assuming, for the moment, that he comes from within the area. If he is brought in from outside, one can rest assured that there will be those within the area who will take very good care to let the people know what he is like. In fact, the chances of someone coming in from outside are slight unless there is some exceptionally good reason."

At column 883, he continued:—

"They will want someone who will be representative of their community,..."

Later on, he says:—

"...who will be interested in their interests and who will, having come into the National Assembly, examine proposed legislation from the point of view of how that legislation will bear upon those whom he represents."

That laying of emphasis on local affairs was not done by me, as Senator Kissane seems to think. It was not done by me but by the Minister for Health and by the Taoiseach. His condemnation rebounds upon them. My point was that if you are really concerned with having a local man as your Deputy, then a Fianna Fáil Deputy, a Labour Deputy, a Fine Gael Deputy, if they are all in the Parliament, and equally in touch with the same local issues, can far more easily be compared for their relative capacity in Parliament than if only one member is elected and the others are all defeated.

Senator Kissane also said that if several T.D.s in different Parties are concerned with the same case there will be "duplication of effort". He said that if the case is good, action will be taken and that, if it is bad, no action will be taken. I am prepared to believe that Senator Kissane is a very innocent man, but I am afraid I do not believe that the mere merit of the case is sufficient to have it dealt with by the Government if it is raised by an Opposition T.D., or if there is no fear of its being raised by an Opposition T.D. by reason of the fact that for the area there is no Opposition T.D. at all. Therefore, I would say that if you want local as well as national interests really to be dealt with by the Opposition—which I regard as an essential part of democratic practice—then you must have at least three, and preferably more, representing the different shades of opinion in the same area.

The Minister for External Affairs also mentioned me by name in regard to my speech just now, and my speech on the Second Stage. He said he was surprised that I, and others, had not put down an amendment to transform the whole country into a single constituency, in order that we might have perfect P.R., so that if the 150th part of the electorate could be got together on one issue they would be entitled to a representative. The reason that I did not put down such an amendment, apart from the fact that it would have been ruled out of order, is that I do not ask for exact or extreme P.R. I would go so far as to say that I think a seven seat constituency is better than a five seat constituency, and a five seat constituency is better than a three seat constituency, but I made it quite clear —I hoped—on the Second Reading that the method of P.R. which we have, even though it gives a preponderance of power to the big Parties, is a good system, a good working system.

We have a good working system of P.R., and I recognised that though it did not give full and absolute P.R. to all the minorities, it did give them a reasonable look in. In other words, I am relatively satisfied with the present system, and it is a very poor argument for the Minister to say: "Since you want P.R. you must want the extreme kind, and since you did not ask for it you cannot be sincere in saying you want it at all." The extreme case would be for every single minority to be represented in Parliament in proportion to their strength. I did not ask for that and I did not hear any other Senator asking for it.

What I did say was that we thought the present system a reasonable compromise, and I mentioned the fact that the only two Parties in the last three elections that have got more seats than their proportion of votes have been the two big Parties. That has happened. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil received more than their proportion of seats in the elections under this system, but we recognise that while that gives them a working majority it does not give them too great power. To say to us that because we want to retain the measure of P.R. that we now have, we should fly to the extreme and demand absolute P.R., would be as absurd as for us to say to the Government: "We are surprised that you are very much for the single seat constituency system and yet do not ask for single Party Parliament, because it would give the Government even more power and more stability".

It would be grossly unfair to say to Fianna Fáil: "Because you want the single seat constituency, because you want stable Government, why do you not go to the extreme and carry your convictions to the limit and say you want only one Party?" That would be unfair, it would be the extreme case. We do not want the extreme. It would be ridiculous for me to get up and say to the representatives of Fianna Fáil: "Why did you not, instead of asking for single seat constituencies, ask for single Party Government or, in other words, dictatorship, if you are really sincere in wanting full and stable power to implement your policy?" That would be unfair. It would be unfair to challenge Fianna Fáil on the grounds that, because they want some more power, to explain why they do not grab all the power. So, also, it is unfair to the supporters of the present system, which is not fully P.R., and which gives big Parties plenty of power, to say: "Why do you not go the whole hog and ask for complete P.R.?"

We suggest that under the present system the big Parties are clearly given more power than their voting strength but that power is necessary for the continuance of Government. The system gives them extra power, but it does not eliminate the small Parties. We ask them to be satisfied with that surplus of power, and not to go out grabbing for even more.

I did not intend to intervene so soon again in this debate but Senator Sheehy Skeffington accused me of misquoting him——


——misinterpreting his statement and I feel that I have to return the compliment. He tried to point out to the Seanad that the statement I made was in some way at variance with the statement of the Taoiseach and the statement of the Minister for Health. I said, of course, and I repeat that the primary business of a T.D. is to take his place in the National Assembly and to contribute to the debates that take place therein.

But when I said that I did not mean to convey the impression that the T.D. should be excluded from representing his constituents' point of view, because there is such a thing as social legislation: legislation on agricultural matters, legislation on industrial matters and so on, in which the constituents of the said T.D. may have a very vital interest. It would be, of course, the duty of the T.D. to put his point of view before the National Assembly on behalf of the constituents he represents.

When I advocate that, there is nothing that could be said to be at variance with anything that has been said by the Taoiseach or by the Minister for Health. Of course, it will always be the duty of the T.D. to keep a watchful eye on everything that happens in the Dáil so that nothing will be done that would work out to the detriment of the people he represents. Any good public representative can do that and, at the same time, make his contribution towards whatever national policy will be enunciated by those entrusted with the conduct of the affairs of the nation, for the time being.

As I said before, and I repeat it now, I am a firm believer in fixing responsibility on one individual, so that there can be no evasion of responsibility. If the person who has been elected to represent his constituents in any part of the country is found wanting in his advocacy for or on behalf of the people whom he represents, or found wanting in his general attitude towards what takes place in the National Assembly, well, then, the remedy will be there in the next election and the remedy will not be available any sooner.

But you cannot compare him with another local sitting T.D.

Well, if he cannot be compared with another local sitting T.D. he can be compared with other Deputies who are engaged in exactly the same business. The speeches and happenings in the Dáil are very widely reported. The people will be always in a position to read those reports, judge for themselves and make up their minds as to whether the person they have elected to the Dáil is worthy of their continued support or not.

What about those who do not live in their constituencies?

That is a different point. I would say again that I am in favour of this section. I am in favour of the establishment of the single member constituency; and I believe that if it is enacted with the other provisions in the Bill, it will show good results in the time to come.

The kind of speech Senator Kissane has just made is one which could very well be followed out. It would be very interesting and profitable if we were to discuss the precise function of Deputies, whether these functions have heretofore been the best that could be contrived for the national interest and whether the electoral system we have is good for the particular purposes we want or whether a new system should be adopted. I should like very much to follow Senator Kissane on that particular line and discuss it.

However, I rose for a rather different purpose. I found the Minister's speech on the subject this evening— perhaps I should say off the subject? —rather depressing. He began on a personal note about Senator McGuire who, after all, did say something about P.R. The Minister, in a sneering way and in a rather elephantine effort at humour, said that Senator McGuire should go to the United States on a crusade. I should like to put it to the House that if Senator McGuire did go to the United States, as a member of a crusade or otherwise, he would prove to be more knowledgeable and acceptable to the people of the United States than the present Minister for External Affairs.

I am saying it and a great many important people in America have said it quite clearly.

We heard that before.

This is part of the scheme. Nobody is to be listened to unless he says "Up Dev".


Nobody here will stop me making my speech.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Lenihan must learn to make his contribution to order in this House.

I am prepared to accept your ruling.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

To what is the Senator rising?

I want to make certain that the interruptions from that side will be dealt with in the same way.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is Senator Mullins rising to a point of order?

A point of information. I object strongly to interruptions——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is not asking a question.

I accept your suggestion that interruptions should cease, but I want it to be on all sides of the House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I shall do my utmost.

On a point of information. In what way are pronouncements made in the United States related to the section with which we are dealing?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am sure Senator Kissane heard the Minister make reference to Senator McGuire going to the United States. Senator Hayes is on that point. The Minister was not ruled out and I am not ruling out Senator Hayes on that point. I hope my ruling is clear.

I shall not be long on it. I am not vexed, and nobody can vex me.

I am glad to hear it. I think if Senator McGuire went to the United States, as a representative on a crusade, or otherwise, he would be more knowledgeable and more acceptable to the people of the United States than the present Minister. At any rate, he would be lucid. He would not be personal. Certainly, he would be courteous and would be more like a representative Irishman in every shape and form than the Minister for External Affairs.

If the Minister wants to give advice perhaps he would go over to France and make a trip to Scandinavia and tell all these people that what they want is the British system of election, and if they only had the common sense of the Fianna Fáil Party and adopted the British system of election, all their evils would disappear. There would not be a bit of trouble in Scandinavia and there would be absolute stability in France. All they would have to do is adopt the British system. The Minister has hated the British in his time, just as he hates me at the moment. There is an example for him of something he could do to make retribution to the base, brutal and bloody Saxon.

Having said that, let me come on to P.R. I did not say I wanted minorities of a small character represented in the Dáil. What I said—and what the Minister in his speech on the Second Stage and his speech here to-day did not advert to—is that what we have at present is a system whereby you must get a majority to get into the Dáil and what we are substituting for it is a system whereby you may get the minority of votes in the constituencies and still get a substantial majority of the seats. The Minister suggested a ludicrous amendment. I will confess to him he reminded me of something I did not think of before. I should like to suggest an amendment—and I think it would be in order—to add certain words: "That Dáil Éireann shall be composed of members who represent constituencies and one member only shall be returned for each constituency, even if such member is elected on a minority vote." That would be a suitable amendment and it would express the precise kind of thing we are doing in this Bill and in this sub-section.

That is the position. The voter's choice is strictly limited. What I said was that we have a system which gives a fair representation to the voters on the votes cast and that we are substituting for that system a system which will enable a well-organised Party to get a minority of the votes in the country and a substantial majority of the seats in the Dáil. In other words, we are substituting a minority system for the system we have.

It is alleged that stability and continuity are assured by the British system. The reverse is true. Rapid change takes place under the British system. We get more stability and more continuity here. It is surely healthier for the body politic, and particularly healthier for us in our circumstances and with our history, that there should be a fair system of election and no frustration on the part of anybody.

I should like to hear from Senator Kissane, who has experience of this. I should like to discuss this matter on a calmer basis and see what kind of Dáil we really do want. I have seen a great many different kinds of Dáil. It is doubtful whether there should be insistence on a full Party programme. It is doubtful whether a Government should resign when it is defeated if it is not on a matter of importance. I believe we are a homogeneous community; and I think the Dáil and Seanad, but particularly the Dáil, proved completely that we are a homogeneous community, because in spite of the efforts made, and made very actively—the Minister himself made them—to keep people apart, the back benchers did get together and proved we were a homogeneous community that could not be divided. If that is so, why not let the Dáil act according to that? Why could we not have more special committees and less full dress debates? Why should we have what we have at present: a constant edge as between one side and the other? There is no reason why the Dáil should be a battlefield. We might make improvements there and let the electoral system alone.

There is only one other thing I should like to say. I put it before, but I should like to put it again. It has been said that this move is being made in the cause of progress. Progress towards what? What kind of progress has been impeded by this system of election we have had here since the State was founded? Will someone tell us what the Party in office who want to abolish P.R., have been prevented from doing by the system of election that obtains here? What have they been prevented from doing by not having the overwhelming majority which they say they want now? They have done a certain amount of harm and they might have done more if they had an overwhelming majority. I doubt it. Then we are told to let the people decide. We are not keeping the people from deciding but if the Senators are so anxious to let the people decide why would they not let the people have a system of election which would enable them to decide how many Deputies would get into the Dáil on a particular basis and for a particular purpose instead of having a system under which a distinct minority of votes at an election can give a substantial majority in the Dáil?

I see no reason at all for this particular sub-section except the reason that has been given so clearly by the Taoiseach now that under the present system he has been defeated and he is seeking—and seeking in vain—another system under which he cannot be defeated. There is no national reason whatever for this sub-section—nothing except Party political reasons. No one has told us what the real reasons are except these and I think nobody can.

There has been some discussion about the question of minorities. When the question was put as to why an amendment was not put down to try to deal with the people who are minorities, who have been deprived of their representation, it was Senator Sheehy Skeffington who said that, of course, those who opposed this Bill did not want to go all the way on the question of providing representation for minorities. I think he was probably speaking for many others on the opposite benches who were not prepared to go the whole way and have one constituency for the whole country in which every type of minority would be represented. Senator Sheehy Skeffington is willing to give representation to minorities, to those minorities who would be represented in a five seat constituency or possibly in a seven seat constituency but he is not prepared to go further than that.

On a point of personal explanation. I said I accepted the present position which includes three seat constituencies. My point was that the big Parties under the present system are given extra power but the present system does not eliminate the small Parties.

My point is that Senator Sheehy Skeffington was apparently satisfied with the system which would provide at most a seven seat constituency. He would not ask for a bigger constituency than that. I think I am correct in interpreting his position in that way but why stop at a seven seat constituency? Why, if a question of minorities is being dealt with, and its consideration is apparently giving trouble to a lot of people, does he decide to stop at a seven seat constituency? How can Senator Sheehy Skeffington decide that once you have a constituency of say, seven seats, you will be able to get a seat in that size constituency, that in that situation you are adequately dealing with the right of minorities because it is quite clear that you will not deal with all minorities under such a system and that you will not give representation to all minorities?

I do not see why you can suddenly pick a certain size of constituency and say, thus far shall we go and no further. Who is to determine what size of constituency you can stop at? Who is to determine what size of a minority you must give representation to and what size of a minority you need not give representation to? Senator Sheehy Skeffington is apparently deciding to his own satisfaction that if you have a five seat or at the most a seven seat constituency you are going far enough but many others would probably decide that that was not going far enough.

I believe that it is when you stop to consider this question of how far you should go you realise the impossibility of dealing adequately with this question of minorities—the impossibility of dealing with it on the basis of trying to give representation on a proportional basis to different sections of the community. I believe it is impossible to do that under P.R. and certainly under P.R. as we have known it here during the past 30 years.

In the Dáil at the moment under the system which is being defended you have a number of Parties but I do not think it can be contended that you have minorities represented in the sense in which it has been argued here that minorities should be represented because neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael in the Dáil represent minorities. I think that both of them purport to represent all sections of the community.

I do not think it can seriously be suggested that Clann na Talmhan represents any particular minority and although the Labour Party does purport to represent a minority, in fact, they do not succeed in doing so to any great extent, so that the present P.R. system, which is being defended and which is being fought for because it is supposed to be giving representation to minorities, in fact, has failed entirely to do so. No matter how far you extend it, even to five seats or seven seats, I do not think you will appreciably improve the position and those who are defending P.R. are not prepared to go the whole way and have one constituency in which, undoubtedly, you would have every type of minority in the country adequately represented.

If you sincerely believe that the primary consideration in the electoral system is to give satisfactory representation to minorities, then you must go the whole way and have one constituency for the whole country in which every minority, no matter how small, will have their chance of having representation. If you are not going the whole way, if you are going to cut it down to a constituency of five seats, seven seats or three seats, then it is quite clear that under that system you will not give representation to minorities. It is only wasting time to attempt to do it in that way.

The proof of that is the fact that in the Dáil at the moment we have not representation for minorities. Deputy Sheldon when he was speaking on this Bill in the Dáil summed it up very well when he gave the reason why he was voting for the amendment of the Constitution. He said that the trouble about the present electoral system was that it appeared to be doing something which it did not, in fact, do. That, I think, is the principal handicap, the principal disadvantage in the present system.

In so far as it may be contended that some minorities are represented in the Dáil at the moment, in so far as Labour is represented there and in so far as Clann na Talmhan may be regarded as a certain type of minority, a certain section of the farming community, then there is no reason why the same number of Deputies should not be elected under the single member constituency and the non-transferable vote. Consequently, I believe the proposed new system can produce exactly the same Dáil and deal with the question of representation just as satisfactorily as it is being dealt with to-day.

It is very unfortunate that the Taoiseach has plunged the country into a bitter political controversy at this particular time in his determination to abolish P.R. There was never more important and pressing work to be done than there is now and never in the history of our country was it more important that all Parties should work in close unity and harmony in the interests of the country and try to end unemployment, to end emigration, and to get cracking, as some people stated a few months ago. This is a most retrograde step.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This is not a Second Reading debate.

I entirely agree. It is a most retrograde step which may have far-reaching consequences. The idea of the Taoiseach seems to be to divide the people when they should be coming together and working in the interests of all sections of the community. No matter what has been stated here to-day or was stated in summing up by the Taoiseach on the last day, P.R. has served this country very well. It has given us stability and strong Government but, unfortunately, it may not have given us good Government all the time. We all know that it gives the different Parties representation more or less proportionate to their strength. The British system, which the Fianna Fáil Party are trying to foist on the country, does not do that. There is no better example than what has taken place in Northern Ireland, where the minority has been kept down and has not got fair representation. We know that this straight voting system will suit the large, well-organised Party, and the Party with most money behind it. We know what that Party is at the present time, the Party that has very big industrialists who will give big subscriptions. That is the Party that can succeed under this scheme. Under the system of straight voting you can have freak results and a minority Government. Only a year or two ago a minority in this country tried to usurp the authority of the Dáil.

They did in 1922.

The minority usurped the authority of the Dáil.

We hear Fianna Fáil to-day speaking about democracy and the rule of law. This is coming from people who from 1922 to 1927 did not think much about democracy and in that time usurped——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We need not go back to that period at all.

When we hear these people talking about democracy it is only right that we should know what happened between 1922 and 1927.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We have had enough of that period, and I am not going to permit discussion of that period on this sub-section of the Schedule. I hope that interruptions will cease and we will have a more amicable discussion.

I do not object to discussing that period. I will not sit here and hear any Senator discussing——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am not going to permit discussion. I am responsible for order.

I did not allude to that period until Senator Mullins referred to it.

I said that a year or two ago a certain minority in this country tried to usurp power and interfere with the legitimate Government.

Senator L'Estrange stated that a minority usurped power in 1922.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Are you rasing a point of order?

I did not. I never mentioned 1922, but if there are things on the Fianna Fáil people's consciences, I cannot be responsible for that. I said that a year or two ago when we had a majority Government it had to take action to put down a minority.

We had to put down the Blue Shirts.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Mullins, really, as Leader of the House, must give a good example.

If Senator L'Estrange discusses the Bill I am prepared to give good example.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Mullins must accept the Chair's ruling.

I do accept it unreservedly and hope that Senator L'Estrange will accept it too.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I say that Senator L'Estrange will accept it too.

I am quite prepared to accept the ruling of the House even though Senator Mullins called me a liar. I am quite prepared to accept your ruling, Sir. The last day I spoke Senator Mullins referred to me as a liar twice.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We are not going back. Senator L'Estrange will resume his seat, please. We are not going back on what took place the last day. We are not taking up any questions with regard to order on the last day. Senator L'Estrange has referred to something of which I have no knowledge. If something like that took place on the last day and it was brought to the attention of the Chair then it is not going to be raised now. Senators must try to keep to the discussion on the sub-section.

I withdrew the expression in deference to the good order of the House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Mullins withdrew the expression.

Then it is over.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is finished, and that was accepted by the House. It must be accepted by Senator L'Estrange and everybody else, and it is not open to discussion again.

I claim that a minority Government cannot act or speak in the interests of the whole people of the country as a majority Government can. We know that under the straight voting system, in a constituency where 12,000 people can vote, Fianna Fáil can get 4,000 votes, Fine Gael 3,000, Labour 2,000, Clann na Poblachta 2,000 and an Independent 1,000 votes. That will mean that the man with 4,000 votes would be elected to represent the whole 12,000 voters and the other 8,000 voters would have no legitimate representative in Parliament to speak for them. Nobody can deny that that can happen under this system. We gave examples on the last day which I am not going to go over again of what has happened in South Africa, and what happened in France where the Communists got 5,000,000 votes and only ten seats; it took 500,000 votes to elect one Communist Deputy whereas one Government supporter, a de Gaullist, was elected with 19,000 votes. We have heard a lot about minorities. We know that under our present political system it cannot be said that the Parties we have here now will not give fair play to the religious minorities—though at one time I believe that was not so.

The Parties we have now are all giving fair play to minorities, but we do not know what can happen under the straight vote system or what sort of Government we might have in 20, 30 or 40 years' time. We could have a set-up in which a Government might not give proper representation to minorities.

The farmers are the most important section of the community. The success or failure of our economy depends on them. Under P.R. they get a fair crack of the whip but if this referendum were carried—although I believe it will not be—you could have a socialist Government here. That could easily happen if there were an economic depression in Britain and if a couple of hundred thousand of our people had to come back here because under this system of single member constituencies 35 per cent. of the voters in a constituency could elect a Deputy. The farmers are entitled, as a national Farmers' Party, to put up their candidates and get fair representation. Under P.R. they can do that in the majority of the constituencies.

The same remarks apply to Labour. Under the straight vote system you could have a Government representing industrialists or perhaps ratepayers, and the Labour organisation might not get fair representation. Farmers and workers are the two most important sections of our people. They are entitled to have a system of election which will give them fair play. Although they can get that under the present system they will not get it if Fianna Fáil carry through this referendum and if the British and the Six County system of election is put into operation here.

We have heard a great deal about the selection of parliamentary representatives. Under P.R. the people have a choice but, if P.R. goes, the Party bosses will be in complete control. They will come to the different conventions and will be more inclined to select the "yes" man, the Party man, who will not kick over the traces, who will have very little to say and who will follow the leader at all times. That applies especially to the Party which forms the present Government. For 40 years the whole Party was in favour of P.R. The Taoiseach spoke in favour of P.R.—I quoted his words on the last day and I shall not repeat them now—in 1911, 1919, 1927, and he put it into the Constitution of 1937.

We had Senators telling us what happened in Germany and Italy when Hitler and Mussolini came to power. Senator Lenihan should remember that Hitler was five years in power and Mussolini six years in power in 1937 and if the Taoiseach had his eyes open then as he claims to have now he should have seen the wrongs of P.R. and should not have enshrined it in his Constitution of 1937.

The Taoiseach stated the last day that from 1938 onwards he knew that P.R. was wrong. Whom does he think he is fooling? For three years afterwards he had power to bring in a Bill to Dáil Éireann and by a simple majority there change that system if he so desired. In 1953 the Minister for Health, Deputy MacEntee, stated he was in favour of P.R.

It might be no harm to quote from the Irish Catholic of the 23rd December, 1958, what Pope John XXIII said when he called on the people to participate actively in the political life of their country and carefully to select their parliamentary representatives. If this Bill goes through the people cannot select their parliamentary representatives. They will be selected by the Party bosses. The Pope stated:—

"Voters must choose their representatives with the greatest wisdom and knowledge because their choice is of particular importance in a democratic regime in which the representatives of the people have legislative power.

The moral rectitude, the practical capacity and the intellectual powers of parliamentary deputies are for the people of a democratic regime a matter of life and death, of prosperity or of decadence, of recovery or of perpetual ill condition."

If this Bill goes through, the people will have no choice whatever. They will have no way of judging the moral rectitude of the candidate, or as to whether he is a proper type of man or not. The Party bosses will select the candidate and the Fianna Fáil supporters will vote for that candidate. That system is altogether wrong. We want to get the best type of people into our Parliament.

Let us take, for example, the constituency of Longford-Westmeath where under P.R. you could have 14 or 15 candidates, where Fianna Fáil might have five candidates, Fine Gael four and other Parties three each. The people there have a choice and can vote one, two, three, all the way down to 15 if they wish. Fianna Fáil supporters can return the two best people out of their five candidates and Fine Gael supporters can do the same. However, under the new system, the British system that is being proposed, when the people go out to vote, all the Fianna Fáil supporters must vote for the man the Party bosses and the Party hacks have chosen whether he is good, bad or indifferent. We know the Parties do that because of elections in Roscommon and Wicklow candidates were selected by the people at a democratic convention and in Carlow-Kilkenny, the daughter of a Fianna Fáil ex-Minister was selected in a democratic way at a Party convention, but the autocrats and the dictators at Party headquarters turned these candidates down because they wanted to get better Party candidates and people who would toe the Party line.

It was interesting to listen to-day to the Minister for External Affairs. He asked Senator McGuire to make a crusade to England—I shall leave out what he said about America—to see how democracy has been saved there.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

When the House adjourned I was mentioning that the Minister for External Affairs said it was a pity that Senator McGuire did not make a crusade to Britain to see how democracy was saved in that country. It is a pity he did not add Red China and Cuba to that list. It might have been more relevant if he had mentioned Cuba.

If this measure goes through and if we have a system under which one member is returned for each constituency, then, as could very well happen in a view of the fact that Fianna Fáil had a majority in 39 constituencies out of 41 the last time, you could have the Fianna Fáil Party with perhaps 100 to 110 members and a very small Opposition. If graft, corruption and patronage continue as at present the people would become disillusioned and what you might have here in a few years is a Fidel Castro. That is what we all want to avoid but, unfortunately, we seem to be heading in that direction.

When the Minister was quoting Britain and British democracy and implying that we should make a crusade to Britain, he said he had learned a little in the last 30 years. I remember the time we were told to burn everything British except their coal; that we had whipped John Bull left, right and centre; that the British market was gone and gone forever, thanks be to God. I remember when the Minister who is present to-day said that if every ship in the world were sent to the bottom of the sea we could do without Britain and the rest of the world. Now the Minister comes in here and, in this year of 1959, is of the opinion that we should go over to Britain to see how the proposed system for this country has saved democracy there. There is no doubt that the Minister has come a long way and learned a little in the past 30 years.

There was much talk about small Parties making promises before elections which they knew they had no intention of fulfilling. When I hear certain people speak along those lines, I am reminded of the Russian delegates speaking at the United Nations about peace and democracies. There is no small Party in this country which can equal the largest Party that we have here at present for making and breaking promises. We can go back to the promises made in 1932 that they alone had a plan to restore the Irish language and to end emigration and unemployment and to levy equitable rates on the farmers—they were between 6/- and 9/- in the £ then and we know what they are now. We had their promises of 1952 to maintain the subsidies and to reduce the cost of living and we know that those promises were not kept. Several promises were made before the 1954 General Election. We were promised definitely that subsidies would not be interfered with. Immediately Fianna Fáil got into power they sent the prices of bread, flour, and sugar up by almost 100 per cent.

The Minister for External Affairs spoke about blackmail being practised openly. If people in other Parties practise blackmail, either openly or behind closed doors, we on this side of the House, and the people who came before me since 1922—those in Cumann na nGaedheal—have a clean record in that regard. Let anybody on the far side give quotations now. The Minister said it was better to blackmail openly before elections than afterwards. It is a wonder that Fianna Fáil do not do what they preach—and if I am asked to give a quotation I will certainly give it.

In 1951 Fianna Fáil were in a minority after the general election of that year and were depending on the votes of five Independent Deputies. They met in the Party's headquarters and published a 17-point programme. Point No. 15 of that programme was to maintain the subsidies and to reduce the cost of living. We know the blackmail that went on at that time to get the votes of five Independents and we know that they were promised that there would be no general election for three years, or, if there was, that they would be compensated in other ways.

The Taoiseach stated here that any time he was not strong enough to govern, and had to depend on any small Party, he went to the country the next year and got a majority. He told us that he went to the country in 1933 because he did not have an overall majority; he went in 1938 because he did not get an overall majority in 1937; he went in 1944 because he did not get an overall majority in 1943 and he said —you can look up his own words:—

"Had we got back into power again in 1948 we would have gone to the country in 1949 and we would have got the overall majority that we wanted."

The question I want to ask the Taoiseach is this: if there was no blackmail practised openly—I am using the words of the Minister for External Affairs—and if there was no blackmail practised behind closed doors, why did he not go to the country in 1952 and have the general election that he said he would have had in 1949 if he had been elected in 1948?

The reason is quite obvious: two of the people who supported him left him and they were afterwards put into the Seanad. Indeed, despite the scurrilous attack which was definitely made in the other House on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health, the Minister for Health, Deputy MacEntee, has appointed one of the men to the Hospitals' Commission at a salary almost similar to what he would receive here.

The Senator will now come to the sub-section.

I am referring to the fact that the Minister for External Affairs spoke here to-day about blackmail being practised. This sub-section says: "Dáil Éireann shall be composed of members who represent constituencies, and one member only shall be returned for each constituency." I should like to know, if this goes through, can any guarantee be got from the Taoiseach, or the Minister for External Affairs, that those who differ from them politically will get a fair crack of the whip? Can there be any guarantee got from them? When I spoke on the last day I mentioned what has happened in Clare and what has happened, and is happening, in Galway, and the members for those constituencies were to reply, but so far I have not heard any reply.

The Senator will remember that this Bill has to do with parliamentary elections.

But remember, Sir, that this Bill says that one member shall be returned for each constituency. Let us take the County of Clare. There are four seats at present there and if this Bill goes through they will be held by four Fianna Fáil Deputies. Nobody can deny, unless it is gerrymandered to suit Fine Gael, and that is not very likely—that with the vote Fianna Fáil have there will be four Fianna Fáil Deputies. The same applies to Galway. If Galway is a single member constituency, instead of having the representation that you have at present—Fianna Fáil have the majority even though in some constituencies they have a majority of only several thousand votes—there can very easily be nine Fianna Fáil Deputies in Galway. Nine plus four makes 13 Fianna Fáil Deputies in this huge area of the country.

We are told that Deputies have to attend to the work of their constituents. Who is to attend to the work of those who stand for the Fine Gael policy in either Clare or Galway? Senator Lenihan may laugh. I know in my own county where people approached Fianna Fáil county councillors and they were asked if they were members of the local club and had they paid their subscription this year. I know that and I can prove it. I stated on the last day what was going on in Clare and Galway and certain people tried to contradict me but, as I said, if this system is passed, Fianna Fáil can get all the seats in Clare and the Opposition will get none. Fianna Fáil have 17 seats at present on the county council and the Opposition have 14. Despite that fact, on the subsidiary bodies where travelling expenses are paid——

I want to remind the Senator that local authorities are not involved in this Bill, which has to do with parliamentary elections.

But many of these people on the county councils in those areas will be the future T.D.s and surely if Fianna Fáil county councillors where the Party has a majority, do not give fair play and fair representation, then, when these people stand for the single seat constituencies and get into Leinster House, we cannot expect to get fair play from them. If they deny representation on every subsidiary body, except on two or three little hospital committees where there are no travelling expenses, then, surely, when they are promoted and come to Leinster House, they will dictate to the people of the whole country the same as they are doing in Clare and Galway.

I want to suggest to the Senator finally that he has adverted sufficiently to that matter and that he must now come to the question of parliamentary elections and the revision of constituencies.

I think that the present system has suited us admirably up to the present. It has given minorities fair representation in Parliament and I would recommend that the people vote against this measure.

I want to register my protest against the speech made here to-night by Senator Stanford. I think it was the most disgraceful speech I have heard from a public representative since I came into the Seanad. I think the Senator has done a disservice, not alone to the orderly conduct of affairs in this country, but a disservice to the unity which exists and which shall continue to exist amongst all sections of our people here. The idea that the protection of any religious minority in this island depends on a few lines on a piece of paper in a Constitution, or in an Act, or in a law, is so monstrous that I am surprised Senator Stanford could give it credence for one moment. It is not because their rights are guaranteed on paper or by law and it is not because a law is passed changing the system of election that any religious minority in this country will suffer in any way. The history of this country, even in times of stress, was such that religious minorities had no cause to fear the actions of the majority. I think that, particularly at this time, to introduce denominationalism into a debate on a system of election is something which should not be condoned or allowed to pass without comment.

Another unfortunate reference which Senator Stanford made was to the fact that a religious minority under P.R. can be sure of getting three Deputies elected as Protestants, and that under the proposed alteration in the system Protestants could not be elected as Protestants.

In point of fact, I said Protestants could not be certain of election as Protestants—quite a different thing.

Very well. The mentality behind it is the same. It might be added for the information of Professor Stanford that the only representative of the Protestant minority in Dáil Éireann, who was elected as such, made a very strong case for this Bill and voted in favour of it.

He was elected by Catholics and Protestants.

I feel that to make a statement such as Senator Stanford made, that the change in the electoral system, will remove the safeguard for the Protestant minority, is so nonsensical that if the newspapers see fit to publish it, people will only laugh at the ridiculousness of the statement.

I do not intend to pursue the statements made here by certain Senators which were far from the subject under consideration. However, I should like to make reference to Senator McGuire's belief in regard to the straight vote system in England that it is not an ideal democratic system and that about four-fifths of the seats are permanently considered safe seats. Senator O'Quigley followed somewhat the same line and introduced the United States Constitution as a red herring. Another Senator stated that if the straight vote system were in operation here, Labour, for instance, might not get fair play.

In view of the statements which have been made in this House on the Second Stage, in the Dáil and throughout the country from public platforms with regard to what is likely to happen under the straight vote, it would be well to examine what has happened in the country nearest us which is operating the straight vote, and consider then whether the prospects put forward by the doleful prophets of Fine Gael and Labour here have any relation to the facts. For instance, we had the leader of the Fine Gael Party, a former Taoiseach, stating, at column 616, Volume 171, of the Dáil Debates, that the proposals

"are intended to put the political power of the people into the hands of the major political Party sponsoring them."

He was followed by the leader of the Labour Party, at column 618 of the same Volume, who said:—

"The architects of this Bill, if they wanted to confess openly what their intentions were, might have added in brackets, ‘to provide for the continued control of the Oireachtas by the Fianna Fáil Party'."

One would imagine that when the people approve of the proposals in the referendum and we have elections under the straight vote, by some means unknown to any living person, the results of the general election under that system are already known to Fianna Fáil and that we can forecast, as some of the Labour and Fine Gael speakers have forecast, the exact number of seats we will get and the number the Opposition will get. Listening to them, one would imagine that such an overwhelming majority would be achieved by Parties under the straight vote system that they could go on forever and that there would be hardly any hope of the people getting an opportunity in a reasonable time to pronounce judgment on what the Government elected at the previous election had done.

We are told that under the straight vote an Opposition would be wiped out, that the small Parties would be wiped out and that, in particular, the Bill was aimed at the Labour Party. I do not know what mentality pervades the Labour people who have spoken here and in the country but of one thing I am sure: if they approach the task of building a strong Party with a view to forming a Government with the hopeless outlook given expression to in their speeches here, then there is not much hope of their unseating either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael either under P.R. or the straight vote.

"Alas!" said he. There is a famous musical called Show Boat. There was a famous song in it called “Old Man River.” Listening to the Fine Gael and Labour speakers reminds me of one of the lines in it sung by Paul Robeson. It is: “they are tired of living and scared of dying.”

And they want to do away with any opposition.

But "they still keep rolling along".

They want to get rid of opposition, said Senator Burke.

Somebody else saw that show too.

If "they still keep rolling along," why are they so pessimistic? Why are they so afraid of the straight vote and why do they turn the whole business which will arise under the straight vote into a sort of bogeyman?

Because of the peculiar statements which have been made here, I should like to refer to the history of recent political government in England, which is the country nearest to us that has the straight vote, and the state what happened to Parties and how it was that a certain Party became the Government of England with a great majority because they had confidence in themselves, undoubtedly, and put forward a programme which appealed to the people.

Before doing that, it might be of interest to recall, also, in reply to the statements that we are riveting a Fianna Fáil dictatorship on the backs of the people, what actually happened under the straight vote system in Great Britain. It is interesting to note that since 1900 there were 15 general elections in Great Britain. Let us examine them to see how the dictatorship of the straight vote operated.

The outcome of those 15 general elections was that on six occasions there was a Conservative Government, on four occasions there was a Labour Government, on three occasions there was a Liberal Government and on two occasions there was a Coalition Government. It was interesting, also, to note that only the Liberal Party ever formed a Government three times in a row. Labour and the Conservatives did get a second successive term of office but only on one occasion each. There were 15 general elections in Great Britain under the straight vote since 1900. Under P.R. here, a period or only 37 years—we had 14 general elections, one less than the British had in 59 years of the straight vote.

How many since 1932?

These elections proved that no Party is invulnerable. Under the straight vote no Party can establish an impregnable hold on the people or on the votes. No Party can go up for election and say with certainty that they will be re-elected. The history of the last 16 years under the straight vote in Great Britain is eloquent testimony to that. It is the most informative and educative piece of history that could be recalled to Senators. I propose to recall it. It might enthuse the representatives of Labour here also.

The Conservatives and Liberals or Radicals, as some of them were known at that time, farmed out the Government of Great Britain between them in the early part of the century and the end of the 19th century. The modern Labour Party in Britain as such came into existence less than 60 years ago and in the first general election in 1900 the Labour Party put forward 15 candidates. They got two of them elected. They did not howl for P.R. either. In 1906 the Labour Party put 50 candidates into the field. Twenty-nine were elected. At that time, as a result of that election, there were 379 Liberals and 157 Conservatives and 83 Nationalists. The Opposition Party were not wiped out.

In January, 1910, the Labour Party won 40 seats. They added two more to their total in the second election which followed at the end of that year. In 1918, a month after the great allied victory in World War I, when they had what was known as the Khaki election, and we had what was known as the Republican Victory election here, the Labour Party won 57 seats in spite of the war hysteria and in spite of the anti-Kaiser mentality put forward by the war-time Coalition Government. Incidentally, at that time they polled over 2,500,000 votes in spite of all the handicaps I have mentioned. A significant development at that time was that from being a sort of wishy-washy representation of the working people they began to adopt a definitely socialist outlook and thus marked themselves out as apart from the Liberal and Conservative Parties.

In this 1918 election, too, for the first time the people of Britain were offered a choice of two alternative Governments because Labour had 316 candidates in the field. They did not, however, succeed. It took them 27 years after that before they became a Government but they did not whine and cry about riveting a dictatorship and the unfairness of the vote or anything like that. They just plodded on, worked and produced a policy and gained the confidence of the people.

We continue the story. In 1922, Labour got 142 seats and they added 49 more to this total when a snap election was held in 1923. Those Senators who take any interest in what happens in other countries will remember that Ramsey MacDonald, with a Party of 191 Labour men behind him, but relying on the support of the Liberals—159 of them—formed the first Labour Government in Britain in 1923. The minority Government fell when the Liberals withdrew their support because of the foreign policy adopted by Ramsey MacDonald.

There was a general election then and the consequence of the scare propaganda which was perpertrated by the experts whom we have so often learned to distrust in this country was the defeat of the Labour Party. Although they lost 40 seats, their candidates polled a record total at that time of 5,500,000 votes. It did not dishearten them. They did not whine for the P.R. system to give them a fair deal. They did not say that the Tories and the Liberals had put a dictatorship on their backs. They just kept on and accepted the verdict of the people.

Labour came out of the General Election of 1929 with a greater representation in the House of Commons than any other Party. They got 288 seats and the second Labour Government was formed but it was again relying on Liberal support. It was not a Coalition Government, but was a minority Government carrying on with the support of another Party so long as its policy appealed to the other Party. It lasted only two years.

That Government was heavily defeated in the election of 1931 by a coalition of Tories, Liberals, and, unfortunately, a bunch of renegade labourites who befuddled the electorate with a scare story about the savings banks, that their deposits would be worthless and the pound would drop. The consequence was that the Labour Party lost 200 seats, and went back with 52 returned, but they did not give up. All this is a propos of the position which obtains in this country, where it is alleged that, because there are two big Parties now, there must be always two big Parties and never a third or a fourth or a fifth Party under straight voting.

Labour staged a comeback in 1935 and won three times as many seats as they had won in 1931. They had 156 seats. I know that some Senators do not like this medicine, but they must take it. I am going to continue speaking until I am satisfied that I have done my best to educate them. After all these years, we come to 1945 and victory, and what a victory. It was a total victory. As I said here in the Second Stage debate, in reply to an ignorant interruption, the Labour Party swept Britain and achieved an independent majority of almost 150 seats over all other Parties and groups combined. They got 394 seats, and an interesting thing about it is that only one of their 603 candidates lost his deposit.

Why are you quoting England all the time? I thought you did not like England.

This great sweep did not wipe out every other Party.

It led to two big Parties. You are proving just what we want to say.

There were 188 Conservatives returned, as well as Liberals, Unionists, Communists, National Government supporters and Independents to the number of 60. This was at a time when Labour swept Britain with the greatest majority ever. Would you not imagine that at that time, when Labour secured such a grip on the Government of the country and people showed such tremendous support, that they were there for ever, that it would be impossible to shift them, if what we have been told is true—that under the straight voting system with single seat constituencies you could never shift Fianna Fáil out of Government? Maybe these people, if they had been living in Britain in 1945, would have said that there was no hope of ever shifting the Labour Party but it did not work out that way. In five short years—in fact, less—public opinion began to swing around, and, when the election of 1950 came, the Conservatives were again on the road back; Labour lost 79 seats and the Conservatives gained 100. The Labour Government majority in the House of Commons was reduced to seven but this time not one of its 617 candidates lost his deposit.

After the sweeping victory of 1945, in five years that tremendous force was reduced to a majority of seven under the straight vote. We are told here that once the straight vote system is brought in here there will be one Government for all time, and it will be Fianna Fáil. I am trying to show Senators that they need not be so pessimistic. In the ordinary way of life, people will change their opinions and Senators may hope that if they behave themselves and are good boys and stop being so ignorant here now, and try to listen to my voice, they themselves may some day——

Is it in order to refer to us as ignorant? I did not interrupt and I refuse to be referred to as ignorant.

During four and a half years of the Labour Government —it is interesting in regard to what we are told about the stranglehold Fianna Fáil or any other Party will get—there were 52 by-elections and the Labour Party put up a remarkable record of not losing one seat they held at the general election. Would that not make anybody believe that there was no possibility of any alternative Government ever arising in Britain for many moons? But, as I have said, when the election came in 1950, in spite of the tremendous record of achievement they had put up in five years and of the fact that they were the most energetic and active Government Britain had had for a century and in spite of the tremendous support they had got from the people in the previous general election, they were left without an effective working majority in Parliament under the straight vote.

It is interesting also to note, in view of what has been said in the debate on the Second Stage of the Bill and also in the Dáil, that in that election of 1950 every one of the 613 seats in Britain was contested. There was a stern fight for every one of them and even the seat of the Speaker of the House of Commons was contested and he had to win it at the polls. The Labour Government at that time could not carry on with a majority of seven and there was another general election. This time Labour lost 19 seats and the Conservatives gained 22, and with a strength of 320 to 296 the Conservatives formed a Government which ran its full term.

What I want to try to drive into the heads of Senators—and none are so blind as they who will not see—is the fact that even at times of greatest Party victory under the straight voting system the Opposition Parties were not reduced to nullity and impotence. They were not wiped out. They were a very effective force in Parliament and formed a very constructive and active opposition and when the Government policy lost public approval even the biggest majority at the previous election was no guarantee that they would be returned at the next. Take, for instance, what happened in the last general election in Britain, when the Conservatives got a second term of office with 344 seats to Labour's 277. The popular vote was 13,311,938 to 12,405,246 for Labour. Does anyone tell me there can be any aspersions cast on the democratic system of which that Government was elected such as the aspersions that were cast here to-night? Does anybody tell me that is not a fair and just system by which the people of a nation can choose its Government and Parliament?

I have shown, in the history of the rise in 50 short years of a tremendous Party in Britain, that under the straight vote system there is no such thing as an insurance policy for all time for any Party, that so long as a Party commands the support of the people, so long as a Party's policy merits the co-operation of the people, it will attract public support. When it does not do that, when its representatives fall down on their job, the Party loses support and no safe seats or anything else will be of any use. I should like to quote an article, which appears in the Fine Gael monthly paper, the National Observer, by one of those who helped to get the abolition of P.R. included in the first draft statement of policy issued by Fine Gael.

Quote his name.

Surely the Senator reads the National Observer. This is what he says:—

"Personally, I am so certain that a return to straight voting would not only be for the good of the country by ensuring continuance of stable Government but also for the good of Fine Gael as a Party, by giving it a chance of taking the lead, and that I think an effort should be made to dissuade Deputies and their immediate friends from settling down into an attitude of blank pessimistic opposition to the proposed change. Nearly all the arguments which have heretofore been most frequently used against the restoration of straight voting are so ill-founded and divorced from reason that long-continued use of them cannot but do harm."

That article is by Earnán de Blaghad and it saves me time in answering and answers Senators in a more effective way than anything I could say. There is no need for Fine Gael to be so pessimistic and so downhearted. There is no need for them to visualise the end of the world—it will not come that fast —and there is no need to bring into the fight against the straight vote everything that can be thought of at home and abroad from the Bible to pronouncements of His Holiness the Pope. There is no need for the introduction of propaganda of that nature.

The straight vote is a common-sense method of election. The single seat constituency is the type of area which will enable the people to secure good representation, to know their representatives and to keep tabs on them, and which will enable the representative to keep tabs on his constituency and know the people in it. It will give more effective and more satisfactory representation than the P.R. system has given us in that regard during the past 40 years. I would advise the Labour and Fine Gael Parties not to think the end of the world is coming. We believe in the co-existence of the Parties. We are not afraid to have the Labour Party, the Fine Gael Party or any other Parties provided the people want them, but it is a matter for the people to decide, not for us. We do not intend to wipe out anybody. As I said on the Second Stage of the Bill, any wiping out that will be done will be done by the people.

We want the chance to wipe you out.

I am very sorry to see that Senator O'Leary, who has been jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box, seems to suggest a serious split in the Labour Party. He and his fellow Senators here do not seem to be able to see any hope for the future, whereas one of his leaders addressing the Institute of Public Relations in Dublin the other night forecast that the united trade union movement, one of whose treasurers represents Labour in the Seanad, would move forward to a political future, not on the lines of the American Labour Party but on the lines of the British Labour Party; in other words, he visualised what I have been talking about for the last 15 minutes in regard to the history of the British Labour Party, that far from there being dark skies and no prospects, a united trade union movement can succeed in having a future in the political life of the nation. I have no doubt he speaks the mind of sensible representatives of the workers and that is the approach which supporters of the Labour Party should have in regard to these matters.

As for Fine Gael, if they feel that the people have lost confidence in them, that they will not be able to command sufficient support in any of the constituencies under the straight vote, it would be better for them to merge with some of the other Parties or some of the successors of the other Parties which in the past they tried to gobble up and did gobble up on a few occasions.

So many things have been said by Senator Professor Hayes here that it would take a whole speech to answer them and I do not intend to do it. One thing he said was that what we need most is new blood in politics. Under the straight vote system which the people will enact through a referendum, there will be new blood in politics. The P.R. system is not conducive to the emergence of new blood in the political life of the country. It ensures the continuity of representation by people who get in on personal grounds or at the tail end of a Party or by climbing up a ladder or getting transfers down to the 30th count, and so on, but it does not encourage or give a chance to new blood, young blood, to get into political life in the way in which the single seat constituency and the straight vote would. Therefore, if the Senator Professor Hayes really wants to see new blood in our political life he should withdraw his opposition to this Bill.

Senator Professor Hayes also said that nobody should say to Fine Gael or Labour: "You must amalgamate with someone else to fight us." Nobody is saying that. All anybody has said is that under the straight vote system there is nothing to prevent Parties or candidates in any constituency deciding that they will co-operate to ensure the defeat of somebody they do not like. They can do so under this system in exactly the same way as they can do it under P.R. But there is no question of their being able to do it under this system in exactly the same way as it was done under P.R.: in other words under this single seat constituency system, if there is any concerted plan of opposition to anyone, the cards will have to be put on the table before polling day and not after, so that the people will see clearly that they are either voting for a one-Party representative or for a representative of a conglomeration or combination of several Parties with a design approved by the several Parties concerned.

All I should like to add is a reference to that statement made by Senator Professor Hayes. The bargaining which goes on and which went on and which was described as a political blackmail is something which is peculiar to P.R. and peculiar to the coalition conditions which existed here on two occasions in the past ten or 12 years. It would be very unwise for Senator Professor Hayes or any of the other members of the Opposition to deny that any such thing existed. There is no doubt whatsoever about it. On another occasion, when it would be more relevant to the subject under discussion, I hope to return to it. For the moment, I am content to say I hope the members of Seanad Éireann will see that this sub-section is approved and that the Committee Stage of the Bill is passed within a reasonable time so that we may get down to other and serious work which awaits us.

I rise on this Committee Stage because, as a young man and a scientist, I am utterly disgusted with the attempt made to form what should be reasonable debate. I find the professor is held up as something that should be scoffed at and laughed at. My colleague, Senator O'Quigley, has done perhaps the finest job that has been done in this House and is giving value to the Irish people who sent him here. He has investigated 89 Constitutions. He was discharging his duty in the highest and noblest sense of the word. It ill befits any group to scoff at him. On the contrary, those people should be delighted with his painstaking work.

I myself, in my own way, have tried also to take what I hope is the scientific approach. I was trained as a scientist. I am used to dealing with scientists—people who know the facts; people who can discuss facts; people who will refute facts by other facts. I am not used to dealing with people who indulge in wild generalisations such as one made by Senator O'Reilly, for example. Speaking in this House on 18th February, 1959, as reported in the Official Report, column 830, Senator O'Reilly said:—

"I think if I suggest the Independent Senators on the Opposite side have become more Fine Gael than the Fine Gael members themselves it would be correct."

That is an outrageous statement. We were Independent, I presume, when we voted, and readily so, for the Government representative as Chairman of the Seanad—and we would do so again. We were right when we supported the Government on a number of their Bills but we are wrong when we try to do——

On a point of order. Has this anything to do with the question before the House?

It certainly has. When we try to make a scientific investigation in order to make a contribution to this Bill we are scoffed at and sneered at. What disturbs me more than anything else is the fact that the scoffing and the sneering have come from the younger elements across the House—a fact which makes me despair almost for the future of this country.

Has the Senator not got a sense of humour?

I have another quotation here from the speech made by Senator Lahiffe in this House on 18th February 1959, as reported at column 749 of the Official Report.

"I was speaking to some of the people in the West of Ireland since last week. They read some of those learned speeches"

—"learned" there, is a word of opprobium, too—

"and their attitude appears to be that the whole trouble in the world to-day is created by scientists and they say:—‘God help us if the scientists have anything to do with it any more.' We have only to mention the fact that the scientists have recommended that we retain P.R. and we have no further trouble about getting them to do what is right."

I assume that these two statements are actually the most valuable contributions made in this House towards showing the Irish people precisely what all this is about and getting them to take a stand and say that a proper investigation has not been made into where we are going.

There is no independent document, no report of a commission, to tell us where we are going except accounts of what is happening in other countries— conditions that do not fit here—and a tendency to ignore the close example we have got across the Border. Of course, that must be dismissed.

There is no parallel.

"There is no parallel." That is a typical argument. The Taoiseach set the headline when he said in this House on 19th February, 1959, as reported in the Official Report, column 881:—

"I do not know whether I should continue on this. The arguments that have been put forward here are simply arguments on a basis that do not stand careful examination."

It is a rule of debate that, when you have not a good case, you abuse your opponents. I suggest we have had far too much of that in the present debate.

Speaking, I hope, for the young men of this country, speaking for the graduates of the National University of Ireland who sent me here, I say we ask more from the country than what we are getting here. These men have lost confidence in our political parties. Like Nero, the political parties are fiddling while Rome is burning. They are destroying the very foundation on which our political system is built— the confidence of the people of this country.

Let the Senator make his contribution and stop——

A Minister's son.

I shall turn to some of Senator Ryan's wild generalisations. Let us examine the steps taken to bring three seat, four seat or five seat constituencies down to single seat constituencies, which is a most revolutionary and dangerous move. I wonder that we did not secure reliable prediction from men acknowledged as impartial, to show us where we are heading, before taking the step. I appeal for that commission. Lord Pakenham is, perhaps, the greatest friend this country has ever had in England. He knows the inside and the outside of the straight vote. He can tell us whether the Taoiseach's idea that all is fair and lovely in English politics, that they are all saints over there and that we are simply blackmailers here, is correct. I should like to hear Lord Pakenham's views on that matter.

I suggest that Monsieur Schumann, the greatest man in Western Europe to-day, not excepting Doctor Adenauer, could tell us the ins and outs of the straight vote system. He knows the purpose of Government. It is not the aggrandisement of a Party or the handing of dictatorial powers to any leader. It is the development of a country along Christian lines as befits Western Europe and as befits us more than anybody else. There is a man we can rely upon. We can get representatives from Denmark or anywhere else. If you do not want them to sit on a commission, you can get their advice as witnesses. But what do we find? How is this suggestion received? We find that the Minister for External Affairs says— he is actually the most open about it —at column 637, Volume 50:—

"We have had a commission of 147 men sitting on the proposed change for almost three months in the Dáil and I do not know how long it is going to take here. I think that is the best type of commission."

So he does subscribe to the idea of a commission. Did anybody ever see such a result as we have had from this commission, with the same charges being repeated and counter-repeated, with no effort being made to arrive at any conclusions? Did this, or did it not, happen in England? Was P.R. in operation in France? There were no efforts to arrive at conclusions. Surely if we treat the Dáil or the Seanad as a commission, the product of their months of discussion should be taken, analysed and conclusions drawn from it, if that is possible.

On a point of order. Has not the question of the commission suggested by Senator Quinlan already been decided? Is it in order to continue on this subject?

Surely it is in order to know what will happen when we move from the three seat constituency to the one seat constituency, to know what is proposed in this paragraph?

The Chair feels that the Senator is going unduly outside the scope of the section. The Seanad has already decided in principle for the single member constituencies.

Yes, but we are discussing the reasons and the arguments advanced by Senator Mullins——

The vote on the Second Reading decided that question.

Yes. Perhaps the Senator does not like the quotations but other members have given quotations and I am giving a few to bear out the necessity for being careful, for knowing where we are going. I would have expected Senator O'Donovan, as a man with scientific training, to appreciate the scientific approach. For Senator O'Donovan's benefit, I find that the Minister for External Affairs thinks a commission is a good idea and thinks there should be some effort to sum up what has happened in those debates. I presume that will be done. I hope it will be done for the guidance of the electors.

We come now to column 691 of the Official Reports and we find there that Senator Ryan is much more dogmatic on this than the Minister for External Affairs. He says:—

"The suggestion of setting up a commission is the purest nonsense and although I was not here when Senator Quinlan claims he answered the question which I put, I just cannot imagine who he suggests would be on that commission, who would be better qualified to deal with that subject than the members of the Oireachtas.

I suggest that such extravagant language as "the purest nonsense" merely reflects the weakness of the arguments that are being advanced.

We turn now to column 878, where the Taoiseach refers to the same thing. He says:—

"We had some Senators suggesting we should have had a commission. I think Senators travelled a good deal in seeing what other people had done. But our people have got first-hand knowledge, if they care to use it, first-hand knowledge of how this system works, why up to the present time it has worked not too unsuccessfully and the danger that lies inherent in it—the danger that comes from the fact that it induces a multiplicity of Parties and that with a multiplicity of Parties you will have endemic coalitions."

Well, the Taoiseach apparently does not make any real commitment on the question of a commission. To pass from the commission. It just shows that when you ask something that is scientific it is not refuted by direct argument; we are told we have the information already: it is really unnecessary. It is refuted by extravagant arguments, such as by describing it as the "purest nonsense", or some other type of L. and H. debating tactics.

Now I come to the points mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs. I, too, happened to be in the United States of America and I have taken a close interest in the economic life of the United States. I took a deep interest in it when I was there and there is no parallel whatsoever between the system there and the system we are proposing to introduce here. The straight vote in that country is ringed around with all forms of safeguards. The gravest fear that I have about the introduction of the straight vote and the reduction of the constituencies from three seat to one seat, is that it will lead to completely violent swings from one extreme to the other, unless the Party that gets the first big swing begins to feel that with their majority—probably five to one in the next election—they have a divine right to rule and henceforth the people have no right to do wrong. Consequently, steps must be taken to ensure that they cannot have instability of government, which would be interpreted as putting out the government that is in power——

How can they do that?

If Senator Mullins is really keen to know, I shall again give him those few points. First of all, in the United States you simply cannot have such a swing. That whole set up of the American Constitution was gone into by Senator O'Quigley and I do not want to go into it in detail. You have the division of powers; you have the President and his executive and you have a real Senate, not a shadow debating society like we have got. It has got real powers and, moreover, it is elected on a straight vote, in other words, single constituencies, but it is elected in three stages, ruling out any drive to a complete swing.

But it is a straight vote?

That is the least feature of it.

But it is a straight vote election, is it not?

That is what I wanted.

The really important feature is that the election is staggered. You have one-third elected this year, one-third is elected two years afterwards and one-third is elected two years after that. Whatever system you use, that will ensure that the pendulum cannot swing too far. The real danger is where the swing of the pendulum is too great. Then, the House of Representatives in America is elected every two years. So that, even if it does swing, as it very often does, the swing will be corrected quite quickly in a couple of years. There are all the other safeguards up above. There are highly developed democratic organisations that are always on their toes to challenge the Government on any breach of democratic rights there. We have not got to anything like the same stage or maturity of political development here.

Again, we take the other extreme, which is the English system, worked up so effectively by Senator Mullins. He gave a very interesting survey of the whole system and for that we are indebted to him. But there is a number of points that show that the English system is completely inapplicable here. That is due to the sharp division between the two groups there, the complete difference in philosophy between the Conservatives, on the one side, and Labour on the other, where anything between 400 and 500 of the 600 seats are completely tied. In other words, there is no possibility of a change.

They are not tied.

The whole swing takes place in the 100 or 150, or at most 200 seats, where there is a chance for a change. So that, one of the worst effects of the straight vote is prevented in England by the tied seat system. Personally, I do not think I or anybody else here would be willing to sacrifice our independence and freedom of action to institute two-third tied seats here so that we would avoid a danger like that.

There is no such thing as two-third tied seats in Britain.

The Leader of the House should have more patience, like the Leader of the Opposition.

I should like to have these points answered. I should like to be well and truly assured on them by some really important person. For instance, I should like if Lord Pakenham could assure us that those conditions would not develop here. It is not unreasonable to ask that the electors should have that information before they are called on to give any decision or to vote.

We also see in England that candidates are picked two years in advance. In fact, there is the spectacle of a successor already picked to an Independent Conservative in Bournemouth, Mr. Nicolson, because Mr. Nicolson did not absolutely toe the Party line. It is very interesting to note how it works. Under the guise of democracy, the Party did not want to throw him out and say "You cannot stand any longer." But, as he has pointed out in his book, which should be required reading for all who speak on this, it was the loyal Party adherents down in the constituency that got the whisper from the big noises in Whitehall "Take care of him; he is a renegade." The Party machine went into action in the constituency, and Senators know the result. It is summed up here:—

"Every Party organisation aims at building up a solid core of adherents in the constituency, men and women who can be relied on to raise money and organise election campaigns. To these people the service of a Party is an end in itself and Party activities have a semi-religious character. For their benefit Party myths are invented and illusions fostered so that there is a permanent and artificial division between men of true and men of false political beliefs."

That would seem to sum up a lot of the debate we have had here: that the country must be divided into the sheep and the goats, and that the sheep will get everything.

The Senator will give the reference of the quotation.

The Times Literary Supplement of Friday, 10th October, 1958. The book is The Life and Soul of the Party, by Nicholson. It is published for the sum of 18/-.

And it will be in the Library to-morrow.

I have been really intrigued by the statement of the Minister for External Affairs, and earlier, by the statement of Senator Mrs. Dowdall, about this half per cent. minority who have got seven per cent. of the votes under the English system. The Minister promised to give a straight answer to a straight question. May I ask who are the half per cent. minority referred to?

A half per cent. of the population in Britain are Jewish, and they get three per cent. of the representation. I did not say seven per cent.; I said three per cent.

It is not the first country in the world where the Jews have got very high representation. I think that is a tribute to the tenacity of the Jewish people, but it is rather remarkable that the Jewish people, with their outstanding success in England, did not see fit to impose the same system in the new State of Israel.

The Senator has not read the papers.

Yes, I have read the papers, and I have seen where Mr. Ben Gurion, the same as any other man who has had uninterrupted power for a long time, is trying to think how he can perpetuate himself. He is looking longingly at the British system and saying, "If I could have that, I could possibly keep my Party in power for the next 20 years." I am sure that the Jews as a nation do not regard division as a foundation upon which they can build their young nation. They regard the co-operation and understanding of all groups in politics as absolutely essential to the national well-being; they consider that all are capable of making a contribution to the common good.

Again, I was appalled by the efforts to try to make the whole debate rediculous by resorting to the secondary school tactics of putting the case to the extreme and trying to suggest that if we are sincere in P.R., we should advocate one constituency for the whole country. Senator Sheehy Skeffington answered that exceedingly well when he said that the present system combined the two essentials of giving fair representation to all sections in Parliament and, at the same time, offering a chance of having stable Government for the period. You have got to combine the two. The present system does that reasonably well and, if we are to change from that, well, there are many alternatives besides what is being proposed.

Professor Hogan has been quoted so often and with such gusto that it would be well to know what his considered opinion on this is. His considered opinion is that if we do need a further shift in the direction of majority government, to give a bigger bonus to the larger Parties, we might consider breaking down the five and four seat constituencies to three seats; or even go a little bit further and, if we are not satisfied with that, we might institute in sparsely populated regions, like Kerry and parts of Connemara, a few trial single seat constituencies but, of course, with the transferable vote. That is his opinion. I have his authority to quote it here and I hope that Senators in future will not try to mis-represent what Professor Hogan says.

Senators' quotations show one thing. They show Professor Hogan the scientist and the man who can pick the faults in both systems. When they quote they quote just the faults. Anybody can find the faults. Why not quote the faults he finds in majority government? Why not quote the fact that he is convinced that it was the straight vote or the illiterate vote, where you place your "X", that brought the Reds into Spain? That is in his book and that should be quoted. Do we want anything like that to happen?

In the single seat non-transferable vote system there is a grave danger of getting these tremendous swings. That is the view of most people who have studied the problem carefully and with whom I have discussed the matter. I am asked how one can make predictions of election results. Surely any scientist must be prepared to make predictions. He must be prepared to get his figures together to show the basis of his predictions. Anybody who wishes to differ and who has the figures is entitled to show how the matter should be interpreted otherwise.

In my own constituency of Cork we have the situation where out of 43,000 votes cast in the last election three Fianna Fáil candidates were returned. I am in agreement with that. It gives a nice bonus to the majority Party. It gives them 60 per cent. of the representation for about 47 per cent. of the votes. That is a one-third bonus— quite a substantial bonus. The others elected there were—one Fine Gael member and one Labour man. The people of Cork are quite satisfied with that representation—at least they are satisfied in so far as each group feel they have somebody to go to. Fianna Fáil have their three members. Fine Gael can approach their man, Deputy Stephen Barrett, and Labour have a first-class representative in Deputy Casey so that the people feel they are represented. They feel they have access to Parliament.

What is proposed to be done? Cork City will now be divided into five regions and the poll in each region will then be about 9,000 votes the next time. No doubt we will have a Fianna Fáil candidate in each place. Also, I take it that we shall have a Fine Gael and a Labour candidate. What will the result be? Fianna Fáil, provided they can get about 37 or 38 per cent. of the votes in any one of the places, will be sure of the seat because the rest will be distributed between the two others, Fine Gael and Labour—not to mention any Independent who may stand for election.

The situation is that in Cork, on the average, 48 out of every 100 people voted for Fianna Fáil. Could anybody tell me how you can cut— or shall I use the word "gerrymander?"—a pocket out of Cork in which Fianna Fáil on the showing in the last election would have less than 37 per cent. of the votes? I certainly am not aware of any such regions in the city. The result of this manoeuvre, then, will be that in place of the present representation for Cork City there will be five Fianna Fáil Deputies for Cork City.

I do not think that the people of Cork City, when that is explained to them, will have any doubt whatever about the justification for the retention of P.R. I do not think they will listen to any fantastic tales by anyone, whether Minister or Senator, about the injustice of P.R. Surely the concrete example of the injustice of the straight vote or the illiterate vote for Cork City will be the fact that next time there must be five Fianna Fáil representatives?

Then, of course, we have the wonderful case made that the representative will suddenly become conscious of the whole community. He will represent everybody in his constituency. He will become what you might call a coalition or inter-Party man—the same to everybody. If he is to carry out all these duties properly, on Monday night he must attend at Fianna Fáil headquarters, on Tuesday night, Fine Gael headquarters and on Wednesday night he must go back to the Labour headquarters. I do not know whether the Independent will be able to get hold of him on any night of the week.

Surely nobody is serious in suggesting that that type of representation will be better than what we have at present? I should like to go on record as stating that if they lose Deputy Casey in Cork City they will lose one of the best Deputies they have. He is a first class man. He is also a man who took long and serious steps to train himself before he ever entered public life. He is a man who has got all the social teaching. That also might be said about Senator Murphy and Senator Crowley. In other words, the Labour Party are to be congratulated on the type of men it is turning out at present. It ill behaves any Government to contemplate driving these men out of Parliament. They are a credit anywhere, whether they are in Government or in Opposition. I say that while I am identified with no Party whatsoever.

I come to my own home county in West Limerick where, in recent years, Fianna Fáil have got a fairly substantial majority and which previously was a seven seat constituency. That was cut up rather nicely. Now there is a three seat and a four seat constituency. The three seat constituency is such that it has returned, since it was formed, two Fianna Fáil Deputies and one Fine Gael Deputy. I do not object. It gives an edge to the majority Party.

What will happen from now on? At present, there are three Deputies in West Limerick. The last time there were elected there Deputy Collins, Deputy Ó Briain and Deputy Jones. Fianna Fáil got 53 per cent. of the votes and they got two seats. The others got 47 per cent. This will be divided up and there will be three Fianna Fáil Deputies returned there the next time. If the last election had been conducted on the system now proposed, it is almost certain that we would have three Government representatives and no Fine Gael representative. I do not think the people of West Limerick would appreciate that.

I could go on but I do not wish to weary the House with the election results from all the other regions. Of course, we are reminded by the Taoiseach and others that it is not fair to add together the Labour and Fine Gael vote. He would like to split it equally between the two. That is not what is happening. The split is that at least 95 per cent. of the vote from one group has transferred over to the other in the election.

Next, we have the claim, again rather extravagantly made, that the proposed change will do at least one thing: It will make every Party stand on its own two feet. That is a grand thing, that seems on the surface to be very well worth while, but is it a fact? We have only to look across the Border to see that it is not so, because after 30 years we are to-day no nearer the replacement of the Unionist Government than we were in 1929.

Senator Ryan thought that far too much was made of this because he conceives that 60 per cent. of the North are Unionists. In fact that is the highest figure I have heard conceded by anybody here who was advocating the ending of Partition. The last election results gave 39 seats out of 52 to the Unionist Party. That is 75 per cent. representation for 60 per cent. of the people, and the others, who got 40 per cent. of the vote on Senator Ryan's calculation, had to be content with 25 per cent. of the seats. He is content with the system under which a Unionist in the North requires only half as many votes to elect him as a Nationalist or a Labour man.

Where can we make progress when we have such wrong thinking on these important issues? If that is the case why do we not recognise that the Unionists are fixed in the North always and for all time, and give over satire-rattling about Partition? I was one of those at the inter-Parliamentary Union in London last year and we were, to tell the truth, a bit nauseated about two much sabre-rattling on the Partition question. The speeches made then will all have to be rewritten, because we cannot charge them with gerrymandering, as has been charged down the years. We should be honest about it, withdraw our charges and instruct our representatives in the U.N.O. and elsewhere to withdraw those charges, and to do it gracefully.

We come to the business that those advocating the abolition of P.R. want to push the whole thing to the absurdity of suggesting that we are looking for a single constituency for the whole country. But they rebel when we point out where the other system, of straight voting, can be pushed to. They rebel when we tell them where it has taken the people of Russia, Hungary, China, and everywhere else. In fact, every one of those dictatorships has its straight voting. They get the citizens to put down their X before the name of the candidate the government tells them. They are progressing recently, and feel that they ought to have the trappings of democracy, so they are, in a few elections behind the Iron Curtain, putting up a selected opposition as well. There is where the straight vote leads you.

Remember that here, while we may pride ourselves on our Christian heritage and traditions and the way we observe our religious festivals and our religion, those who are studying us, the philosophers, whose business it is to study trends, have for years called out against the dictatorial leanings and developments evident in Irish politics over the last 20 or 30 years. We have the whole period of the ‘30's when there was ruthless centralisation of government, with the county councils and corporations and all the rest being almost squeezed out of existence. You might say that they are there to-day simply to draw their travelling expenses and do what the manager tells them. It is no wonder that we have our rates and everything else at the level we have, when the local authorities will not be given the necessary function in that matter.

The totalitarian outlook is most dangerous when it is in people who are not aware that they have that outlook. That is our real difficulty here. People say "how can Ireland go Communist? How could such a thing happen?" But Douglas Hyde, who knows a lot more about the methods of Communism than anybody in this or the other House, is not so dogmatic about it. In fact, he is almost dreading the fact that it could happen.

Again, take Professor James Hogan, who has been quoted here. If you read his pamphlet, published in 1939, "Can Ireland become Communist?" you cannot be so complacent. Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. That is what we have to keep in mind, and democracy has to be hedged around with all forms of safeguards. That is why we on this side feel that we are doing our duty to the Irish nation by debating this measure fully and properly and by spending hours carrying out scientific investigations. I am proud to say that I am doing that while still putting 40 or 50 hours into my own job. I can say to anybody that I have not for one moment neglected that job. I have spent extra hours in endeavouring to make a scientific approach to and analysis of this problem. The more I analyse it the more frightened I become of the dreadful consequences that can happen.

Up and down the country there are young men, and men not so young, who are trying to find out what this is all about. No better advice could be given to those people than that they should obtain the Seanad reports over the past four weeks, go through them carefully and critically examine the arguments put up, see the answers by those opposing this motion and, above all, note the extravagant statements and the use of the principle: "If you have a bad case, abuse your opponents." These Seanad reports, in my view, present the most damning case that can be made against the present proposal. I believe that they are not by any means finished yet.

We come to the Labour Party in England. I want to make just one passing reference to it. Perhaps Senator Mullins, who is not here, and who takes such a poor view of professors in this country, might be surprised if he saw the number of professors who are in the British Labour Party and I suppose he would be amazed, too, at the fact that these are the men who hold most of the safe seats. The Party simply imposes them on the people down the country. I wonder will the present or any future Government endeavour to make more use of our universities when they do get all these safe seats.

I want to go on record as having approved very much of Senator Stanford's statement, which was reasoned and perfectly legitimate and sound, and one that should not be dismissed in the way in which it has been. His statement merely covered a possibility which he and I and everybody else hope will never arise here. However, if we have Senator Mullins referring to safeguards in the Constitution as just scraps of paper, what guarantee or protection does the Constitution give us?

I do not think young Ireland can afford to sit down and wait while some new Party grows up, like the British Labour Party, in the hope that it might obtain power here after 27 years. If that is the hope that is held out to us, that we will have Party bosses of the worst type until then, that we are going to repeat the history and follow the absolute reign for 27 years of the Unionist Party in the Six Counties then there is little future in this country for any young people.

One of the most frightening features of the single seat constituency and the non-transferable vote is the way men of ability have been squelched out in the North and in Britain. We have the recent case of Mr. Montgomery Hyde and only a few years back we had that of Dr. Warnock who, because he was a brilliant man was pushed out by the Party bosses. If they had P.R. in the North you would have far better representation for the opposition. Take the 1955 Westminster Election, where 127,000 in the four constituencies in Belfast voted Unionist, 52,000 voted Labour and 18,000 Nationalist. By the magic of the straight vote the Unionists got the four seats and there was no representation for anybody else. Does anybody here say it is a fair system that deprives 70,000 non-Unionist voters in Belfast of representation? If that is the case, everything we have been saying about Partition up to this has been all wrong.

The National Parliament has been mentioned. It is a healthy sign that there are some few in the Fine Gael ranks who are in favour of the straight vote, who have the courage of their convictions and are not tied up by Party considerations. I would be far happier about this measure if it could be shown that there are three or four supporters of the Government who are not in favour of it. This 100 per cent. support gives me the same sickening feeling I experience on seeing that Hitler or Stalin got 99.9 per cent. of the votes in an election. Such people never get less than 99.9 per cent. of the votes cast.

A great deal has been said about consulting the people. When this is being done, why not consult the people properly, first of all, by letting them have an authoritative report by impartial people setting out precisely what we might expect from any one of the half dozen changes to be made in the present system? When the people have had that report, why not consult them properly instead of giving them a package deal in which you say: Do you approve of the single seat constituency and the non-transferable vote? Surely these are two distinct and separate questions.

If we respect the people and if we regard them as the final arbiters in this, surely they have the right to answer each of these questions separately: No. 1. Do you approve of the single seat constituency? If a majority are in favour of No. 1, No. 2 could be put: Do you approve of having the vote transferable or should it be non-transferable?

From what I have read in the Cork Examiner of 25th February, the fact that what I am saying is simple logic is clear to our representatives in the United Nations. Apparently, when we go away, we can be objective. Before that assembly there is the question of the future of the British Cameroons in Africa and the question of holding a plebiscite. There are disputes in the Trusteeship Committee of the General Assembly as to what the future should be there and as to what questions they should ask those people. We do not think they are being fair to those people. They are not asking them sufficient questions. They are not putting all the alternatives before the people and so our representative, Mr. Kennedy, suggests that four choices should be offered in the plebiscite. It is accepted by us that a plebiscite is not a matter of black and white, yes or no. He wants four choices, and rightly so. These are the four questions suggested: No. 1. Should the British Cameroons integrate with Nigeria; No. 2. Should they integrate with the French Cameroons; No. 3. Should there be a continued trusteeship; and No. 4. Should there be eventual independence?

You cannot solve that problem by an X vote. You must get down to your 1, 2, 3 and 4. The people will have to be asked to vote No. 1 for the proposition they favour most, No. 2 for their second choice, No. 3 for their third, and No. 4 for their fourth. They are being asked to vote in an intelligent way, not in the way in which you treat illiterates by asking them to make their mark, to put down their X. Some have suggested that the use of the figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 is wrong. All it means in the case of the British Cameroons is that it saves going back next week and the week after and the week after that again. If you were to operate this plebiscite with an X you should say: "Put an X against your choice". The Xs would be totalled up and the proposition that gets the least number of Xs out of the four is ruled out and we are back the week after with three questions. Then we ask them to put their X to the proposition they favour most of the three. The Xs are counted up again and the question with the least number of Xs is eliminated. Finally we are down to two questions and they vote accordingly. But the simple process of 1, 2, 3 and 4, which is capable of being understood by any national schoolboy is being used to avoid the expense and delay of repetition.

All the person is asked simply is: "If we cannot comply with your first choice, what will we do after it?"

Senators are all familiar with this question of voting, whether it be for a lord mayor, a rate collector, or anything else. Four, five or six names are proposed. You put your "X" before the name you think best. Then the "Xs" are totalled up and the candidate with the lowest number is declared out. You vote again until you eventually bring it down to two candidates and then you vote between those two. All that could be done at any corporation or county council meeting in a single vote by simply asking the members to vote 1, 2, 3 and 4— it being understood that, if they cannot give them the man they give the No. 1 vote to, they will give them the man to whom they give No. 2. There is a lot of misunderstanding of that throughout the country and a feeling that a simple vote is the right thing for a simple people. Surely our people, in this day and age, are able to put down 1, 2, 3, 4 rather than be reduced simply to making "Xs".

I want to comment on the question of stability of Government. It is claimed that the reduction from multi seat down to single seat constituencies will contribute to stability of Government. I have made the point that my fear is that it will give over-stability, which is, if you wish, far worse than under-stability. You get these complete swings. It raises the question then: Have we had instability of Government or are we likely to have instability of Government in this country in the future?

We have got to look at those frightful tragedies that the proposers of this Bill have cited, where the Government, in 1933, had an election after a year; in 1938, they had an election after another year and again in 1944. Well, these actually were only examples of good political craft on the part of the Taoiseach himself. They caused no more instability here than a good bout of 'flu would have caused. All they meant was that, for three or four weeks between the declaration of an election and the election itself, the Ministers were absent part of the time from their offices. They were still there as Ministers but they were absent just part of the time. In fact, you might say it was equal to taking two weeks' holidays. They returned after the election to the same offices they had before the election. I submit that to regard such a thing as instability of Government or as preventing any action is very much against the facts.

The Minister for External Affairs has been demanding a straight answer to a straight question. Perhaps he will give a straight answer to a very straight question I want to put to him. I do not expect the answer to-day. We will give him a few days. The question is this: Will the Minister list, in each of the periods in which his Party were in Government, just three items that they were prevented from carrying through due to the fact that they had not a greater majority in the House than they had? I am asking the Minister to list just three in each period to show how these were the vital happenings that would have made all the difference to our present position. Personally, I, as a scientist, or any other person—Senator Mrs. Dowdall may laugh——

I am bored with the repetition.

Repetition is sometimes very good. Teachers use it to try to get a fact across, sometimes.

The Senator has used that phrase on quite a number of occasions.

I hope it will improve Senator O'Reilly's knowledge of science and scientists. Speaking for the younger people of this country—

Senator Quinlan need not be so offensive.

Speaking for the younger people, I must point out that our emigration is running from 40,000 to 50,000 a year while our birthrate is only 60,000. Our unemployment is running at 80,000 a year. These figures condemn the Government we have had in our own time. Did anybody, starting off in 1918 or 1920, contemplate such a trend of events? What would they have said if they were told that that would be the effect of our attempts at self-government in 30 years? How would they have reacted if they were told that we would have more Irish in England by 1959 than we had in the Six Counties in 1922? Surely that condemns our Government offhand? I am not criticising their efforts but it shows we have not been as successful as we should. It shows that, to us here, emigration is a far greater catastrophe than the world war was for Britain. It shows that far more of our population was being lost than the number of the British population killed during the world war years.

Is this relevant to the question before the House?

Is the Senator blaming P.R. for that?

Perhaps you do not like to mention emigration and to mention those facts as showing the failure of our Government. Perhaps the Minister for External Affairs will be able to show that they were prevented from taking measures over the past years that would have righted our emigration position. I do not see where that can be but we can wait and see what he will have to say on it.

In England, the great catastrophe of the world war was faced by a uniting of all the Parties together for the common good. For five solid years, England was ruled by coalition. Mr. Atlee, as the Deputy Premier, was consulted on everything by Mr. Churchill and it was that unity that pulled the nation through. I feel we shall not get anywhere with emigration or Partition until we face those problems, as a united nation.

I think I am voicing the opinion of most of the young people of this country when I say that, at least for four or five years, there should be an end to Party squabbling and an effort should be made to get down to it and to pull this country out of the position in which we find ourselves—a position that is far more serious, nationally, for us than even the dark days of Dunkirk were for the British nation.

Again on the question of stability, even if we take the position when Fianna Fáil were replaced by the inter-Party Government, I say that most other countries would have regarded that as a ripple on the ocean. They would have regarded it as just a slight change of emphasis. A new team had come together but they had basically the same philosophy. They were basically trying to do their best to pull the country together. Bear in mind that the two have the same team of advisors. That is what is lost sight of in all our discussions on stability.

Our Civil Service provides the whole machinery behind our Government— one Minister and 100 or more civil servants in his Department. He has to rely on their judgment and on their integrity and we can all pay respect to, and compliment our Civil Service for the integrity and the brains that are in it. At all times they are striving to find out what is best for the country and they propound their schemes to our Ministers. No man is such a colossal genius that he could dispense with his Civil Service Department and do everything himself. Therefore, when you replace one Minister by another that is not instability unless, perhaps, it is like England in 1945 where you had a real difference in policy in the change-over —on the question of nationalisation or non-nationalisation—and that creates instability, creates a major change in your system. But we have had no changes here comparable to that.

Again, take the fact that we have worship of the Party, and loyalty to the Party, and it is said that all small groups must be forced into the Party strait jacket. We heard Italy being mentioned. What is really the trouble with the Christian Democrats? The trouble is that they are left and right wing and the trouble is within their own Party itself. I venture to say that we have much more fundamental agreement between all our Parties— between the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil or between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, or Fianna Fáil and Labour—and that there is much more basic agreement than there is even among the members of even one of the British Parties.

First of all, we all subscribe to the Christian principles and the position of the family. We subscribe to the question of aid for Church schools. We subscribe to all those very important principles, but in the British Conservative Party there is no such fundamental philosophy to keep the members together and it is a poor substitute for fundamental philosophy to think that the Party strait jacket can do it. So that we are just merely contributing then, to the wave of cynicism that has hit the country by trying to make a mountain out of a molehill and the example is the independent Senators. As long as we supported the Government, if we voted for the Government Cathaoirleach for the Seanad, we were independent, but once we show signs of thinking for ourselves, once we are prepared to have an honest viewpoint that differs from the viewpoint of the Government, then we are to be insulted by Senator Lahiffe and others who jeered that we had become more Fine Gael than Fine Gael themselves.

Give the quotation.

If the Senator wants it I will give it, but I have already given it.

It has been quoted already.

I did not hear it.

It is only delaying the House.

I never used that expression.

Tell the Seanad that I used the expression.

I must apologise to Senator Lahiffe because it was Senator O'Reilly who made the statement. He said, at column 829, Volume 50:—

"I think if I suggest the Independent Senators on the opposite side have become more Fine Gael than the Fine Gael members themselves, it would be correct."

Senator Lahiffe's quotation was the one in which learned speeches and scientists were sneered at.

The quotation is as follows, at column 749, of the same volume——

"I was speaking to some of the people in the West of Ireland since last week. They read some of those learned speeches and their attitude appears to be that the whole trouble in the world to-day is created by scientists and they say: "God help us if the scientists have anything to do with it any more."

I do not think the scientists——


I do not think any scientific approach to our problems could have given us a position in which 40,000 to 50,000 people are compelled to emigrate every year, that is, if you have a family of six, at present trends, four or five, at least, have to emigrate to earn their living. Surely that is not what our forefathers fought and died for.

Finally, on the question of strong government. We seem to worship strong government and I wonder is it a reaction to our past because, after all, we had the strongest Government in the world here for 700 years. Do we want to return to that position? I think that if we are lauding everything British and want to get back to the strong arm and strong methods of the British is it not really proof that, after all, we have lost confidence?

The scientific approach, about which we have heard so much, has a rather Marxist tone about it. I do not propose to go into any particular analysis of that. I prefer to get down to a more reasonable analysis of this very straightforward measure. The speakers opposite should have a real knowledge of the issues at stake and should rid themselves of the sort of hysterical and humorous outburst we have just listened to.

On a point of correction. There was nothing humorous about it.

There is a very net issue here and there is nothing wrong or unfair about putting a fair and simple question to the people. Senator Quinlan talked about some referendum in the British Cameroons dealing with various trusteeship arrangements with their neighbours and which has no relevance to a simple question of "Yes" or "No" on the straight vote system. We are asking the people to reject the system that is now in operation and, instead, to improve the position of the country by having this well-tried system in order to give more effective government. That is all the proposal means and I do not think there is anything dishonest or unfair about it.

The only issue the people have to decide, and there is no point in clouding it, is whether the system proposed to them would give more effective government. The Government have been active in the economic sphere. They have issued a White Paper on the matter which deals with expansion over the next few years. In addition, in the constitutional sphere, the Government have decided that an improvement could be effected by the introduction of the straight voting system, that it would give more effective government than the present system. That is the only question on which the people are being asked to say "Yes" or "No". I fail to see how it could be put more simply. Unfortunately, a lot of irrelevancies were introduced and I feel it incumbent on myself, as a Government spokesman, to refute some of them.

I mentioned figures on the Second Stage and it is rather difficult to have to repeat them again. They are figures which operated in the Six Counties area when they had P.R. there in the 1920s and figures in the election after 1929 when they reverted to the straight vote system and the single-member constituency. In 1921 and 1925, in the Six County area, under P.R. the National Republican and Sinn Féin groups got 12 seats. In the two elections under the straight vote in 1929 and 1923 they lost one seat—they dropped from 12 to 11 seats. Right through that period, in the two elections under P.R., followed by two elections under the straight vote system, the Unionist Party representation in the Stormont Parliament did not change one whit. That is unanswerable. In 1921, the Unionist representation in the Stormont Parliament was 34. In 1933, under the majority system, it was still 34.

It is 39 to-day; it is growing.

Surely the apposite scientific figures to that are the figures of the elections immediately before and after the change in the electoral system? Senator Quinlan knows that the situation in the Six Counties is one that has been dealt with by a monolithic Party following sectarian ideals. With that end in view the constituencies are gerrymandered. If Senator Quinlan wants to become more partisan than he has been, he may charge that we are going to gerrymander the constituencies. But he has not gone that far.

It is impossible to gerrymander constituencies in the Twenty-Six Counties where, as Senator Quinlan says, we are a homogeneous people, believing in the same Christian principles. Gerrymandering has succeeded principally in areas like South Africa and the Six Counties, where sectarian groups can juggle about in non-sectarian areas. As an example of the sort of scientific reckoning we have been given in this debate, we had a quotation from the election figures in 1957 in Cork City—Senator Quinlan's area. He stated that, on those figures and assuming Fianna Fáil held their support, they would get all five seats under the single seat system. That is what the lawyers call special pleading. It is not very academic and no great tribute to scholarship. You can lift out a particular figure in a particular constituency to make a case on that basis.

On a point of order. I referred to the other constituencies, but time prevented me from going through them.

Looking at the figures for the election of 1957, it is probably true that we might do well in Cork City but, on those figures, we would probably do very badly in West Cork. In 1957, the total Fianna Fáil vote in West Cork was 9,380 and the total anti Fianna Fáil vote was 16,939.

It is split in two.

It was twice the Fianna Fáil vote in West Cork. We would be lucky to get a seat there under the single seat system. In North Kerry our total vote in 1957 was 13,207 and the total anti-Fianna Fáil vote was 21,260. We would have a struggle in North Kerry. As a particular example of Professor Quinlan's special pleading, he went into County Limerick and quoted West Limerick where, undoubtedly, we would do well. In 1957, we got 17,000 votes and the anti-Fianna Fáil vote was 8,000. We would do well there, but surely all honesty and good scholarship should have made Professor Quinlan move to East Limerick were we got 16,000 votes and the anti Fianna Fáil vote was 20,000.

The point is quite apparent. Just as in Britain, support varies throughout the country. In two-Party development, strong Fianna Fáil areas and strong Fine Gael areas would emerge. That happens in Britain, Canada and the United States, and there is no reason for it not to happen here. Going back to the election of 1954, and taking the figures for the constituencies of Cork West, Cork East, Cork North and Cork South, we find Fianna Fáil would be doing well to get an odd seat here and there. In Cork West, in 1954, our vote was 9,500 against 19,000; in Cork East it was 12,500 against 17,000; in Cork North it was 11,500 against 17,500; in Cork South, it was 10,500 against nearly 20,000.

The Senator is ignoring the transferable vote.

I am quoting the figures.

That is not scientific.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator should be permitted to continue.

On a point of Order. I should like to draw the attention of the Chair to the fact that it seems to be the practice for Members to repeat themselves.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Leave that to the Chair.

I do not think the people who oppose this measure can ride two hobby horses at the same time. It has become the practice to throw in the great, big, evil spectre of Communism. It is a great gambit. Deputy General MacEoin was the first man to use it some weeks ago. It is blatant political chancing.

What about MacEntee of a few years ago?

Is it in order for Senator L'Estrange to refer to the Minister for Health as "MacEntee"?

The Minister for Health.

On the one hand, we are told that this measure is to ensure the perpetuation of Fianna Fáil as a totalitarian Government and on the other hand, we are told it will pave the way for an alternative Government to form a Marxist Government. You cannot argue that this measure is designed to perpetuate us, and say, at the same time, it will mean Communists sweeping all at the next election. It is a blatant partisan argument. Surely the answer to any of these wrong ideas, that we do not want to develop this country, is the organisation of sound national Parties? A lot of play has been made by Senator Quinlan about young men. I happen to be a fairly young fellow. I faced the people in two elections as a member of a political Party with older members of my Party fighting the campaign with me. I see nothing wrong with the joining of the older and younger people in the major political Parties. Surely it is in that direction we can progress in the future.

You will not be able to in the single seat constituency.

I can assure the Senator I have the utmost confidence in my ability to deal with that situation.

You cannot go forward with other members of your Party any more.

I have the greatest confidence in my ability to deal with that. The national Parties in this country have a very good record. We have had this notion by vocationally-minded people of something being wrong with our political Parties and political leaders. We have made considerable progress since 1921. I am not ashamed of what the older generation did during that period. This proposal is designed to provide the people with a system of election whereby progress can be made more effectively in the future. Surely the strongest bulwark against cynicism or any wrong political philosophy is the organisation of national Parties on a sound political basis. We have attempted to do that in the Fianna Fáil Party. At Fianna Fáil conventions, where candidates have been selected, I have seen as fine a body of men as are in the community. I have seen 200 or 300 people electing their candidates in a democratic fashion. The Fine Gael Party do the same thing. I do not see where the Party caucus is at headquarters.

They were not all ratified.

The ratification clause is one heading. This measure represents a challenge to the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party to come in with us and provide an alternative Government within a sound parliamentary framework. Instead of —to use an American expression— bellyaching about other "isms" coming in, why cannot they take the time to organise their Parties nationally and be in a position to be an alternative Government if the people so decide? If our national Party get in young people and organise themselves they can reject or repel any challenge from any wrong philosophy.

It might be no harm to mention that the present system has not benefited at all the larger minority Party. They have one seat out of 30 in the City of Dublin—an industrial city with approximately 500,000 of a population. In Belfast they have six seats—four Labour, one National Labour and one Republican Labour. In this city at the moment, under the present system, there is only one city Labour Deputy. That is sufficient indictment of or comment on the present system.

If you have a minority Party and if that Party enlarges its appeal, if it makes a broad national appeal outside the section it represents and makes a countrywide drive, that minority Party, under the straight vote system, can get into Government. The classical example of that is the example of the Labour Party in England mentioned by Senator Ó Maoláin.

If there is one thing upon which there is unanimity at the moment it is that the single seat idea is good. There is unanimity in regard to the single seat idea being a good one. I am convinced that the straight vote system will lead to a much better candidate going forward for election than you had heretofore. I am convinced that political Parties will be induced by reason of this compact area to select much better candidates than have been selected.

It was mentioned that this proposal will do away with personalities and that it will make the election a mere cipher arrangement and that if the Party bosses—that was the denigrating term used—selected a man that man would get in. I do not think the facts prove that. Personalities will certainly count in this smaller and more compact area. There is an analogy in a recent election in the United States which proves the point. Only a few months ago there was a landslide in the election in the States. Practically every seat for the House of Representatives and the Senate went to the Republican Party. In New York State, in particular, despite the fact that New York is traditionally Democratic, they beat the outgoing Democrat, Mr. Harriman, and elected Mr. Rockefeller, a Republican. Mr. Rockefeller had a personality and an ability which appealed to the people in New York State. That is a clear example of a personality being successful. It is an example of ability of a certain kind appealing to the people and breaking through the Party barriers.

I can see that happening in this county in many constituencies where you have smaller areas. I can see that happening on the strength of a person's ability alone. I genuinely think that. You have the parallel case in New York.

The inherent idea in this proposal is that of an alternative Government. It is as net and as simple as that. We think that this change will permit the people more effectively to provide themselves with a Government. In opposition you will have an alternative Government to which the public can swing in the event of the people rejecting the Government in office. We think that can be done better under this system.

On Second Reading, I dealt with the failures of the system in the past. It does not require much imagination to look ahead. Assuming that in 1961, under the present system, the people decide to reject the Fianna Fáil Party, to whom can they hand over the reins of Government, since the Labour Party said they will never again coalesce with the Fine Gael Party? That was a public utterance made since the formation of the Government. If the people decide to reject Fianna Fáil at the next general election, who is to govern the country?

Surely it would be much better if, in the next general election, the people decide to reject Fianna Fáil that as well as doing that negative function, they can do something positive, by electing another Government from a major Party, which will produce a policy that will enable the people to swing to them. That is the challenge inherent in this idea. Where, for instance, is the shadow Cabinet at the moment? If the Labour Party will not coalesce with the Fine Gael Party, where is the alternative Government in the Dáil to-day? Where do we see it being built up?

As a university graduate, I was genuinely disappointed at the contributions made here by the university representatives. I mean that in all sincerity.

Because they did not favour Fianna Fáil?

I take the view that all six of them were entitled to vote as they did. I see nothing whatever wrong with that, but I would have expected university representatives to come to the Seanad and put the pros and cons, in respect of this prosposal. Any thinking academic man could, in coming in here, inform the House by postulating arguments in favour of the proposal and then postulating arguments in favour of the retention of the present system and could have given us a balanced statement and could have come to the conclusion that on balance the retention of the present system would be better than a change. I see nothing wrong with that, but not one of them made an attempt to give us a balanced analysis.

In your opinion.

Analysis of the speeches would lead one to that conclusion. I did not hear one word of approbation for the Government proposal coming from Senator Professor Quinlan, Senator Professor O'Brien, or Senator Professor Stanford. Senator Sheehy Skeffington, of course, always has his own line. There was nothing at all of independent balanced argument from the professors. The only balanced argument of an academic kind relates to this question of representation, and you would expect university professors to give us a balanced argument about it and possibly come down on one side if they wished; but there is a definite philosophical issue and they made no attempt to analyse it.

We feel that the emphasis should be on government, that what is needed in this country above all else is effective government. A lot of people in Ireland think that way too. Senator Professor Quinlan says that we are all more or less of the same way of thinking and all follow the Christian way of life. I suppose that is true in the Twenty-Six County area of our island, that 95 per cent. of our people are integrated in that we have, broadly speaking, a system where there are few excesses of power, wealth or status. If that is the case, why dissipate our energy in creating minority Parties?

Why prevent it?

Surely if we have an integrated community we can reflect all shades of view in two or three Parties. I personally have no doubt that the three major Parties—Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour—can easily fit within their Party organisations every shade of political opinion in the country. I see no reason why political thought and opinion should not work through those Party organisations and push themselves to the forefront if they wish. I cannot see why those so-called minority interests cannot fit themselves into those Party structures.

Are you not legislating for the future?

Is there anything wrong with that? That is what every Government worth its salt does. It legislates for the future. It does not sit back and wait for any opportunistic breath of wind this way or that way. The Government is looking ahead to the future and thinks that there is no reason in the world why we should have a system which artificially creates minority Parties. The effect of those minority Parties, Clann na Talún and Clann na Poblachta, is, undoubtedly, that, far from representing shades of opinion in society, they merely become pressure groups whose leaders use their key position to put the gun to the heads of responsible Parties and say that they want Ministry A or B or C. It comes down to that, to power politics and groups holding the gun to the heads of Party leaders.

I do not see why we should have that situation or why our energies should be dissipated in organising minority Parties of that description. I feel that 99 per cent. of the shades of opinion can be fitted into Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or the Labour Party and surely Fine Gael and Labour can face up to the challenge in this measure, which is saying to them: "Come in with Fianna Fáil and we can have a balanced society in this country and always provide a Government. You can be the alternative Government if you organise nationally and put your policy to the people and persuade them to reject Fianna Fáil." I hope that there will always be room for independent men in Irish political life.

I did not think that the Senator was giving them much of a show in his analysis.

Anyway, the thing is to get down to this analysis of the alternative Government idea. That is the challenge of this proposal and we ask the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party to face up to that. If they get down to hard work we can be rejected and put out of existence but it must be admitted that that will not happen, because the Fianna Fáil Party got where it is by getting down to work.

If we can avoid recrimination and the hysterical speech making of which we have had too much, particularly from Senator Professor Quinlan, we will get down to practical work. Men of vocational impulses like Senator Professor Quinlan would be better if they got into one of those Parties and worked through them in every debate instead of sitting on the fence here and making sneering remarks about youth having lost faith in politics. If they tend to lose faith the challenge is to youth also to get into political Parties. We have far too much of this denigrating of political parties, sneering at political bosses and the political machine. Political Parties make democracy possible and make it work. We are proud in Fianna Fáil to say that we have a political organisation that is grounded democratically in every parish in the country. We ask Senators on the other side to organise themselves efficiently on that basis and to come in to be an alternative Government.

Initially I want to protest against the behaviour of Senator Mullins. When I entered this House to-day he was speaking, and he referred to "ignorant interruptions". Perhaps he was in order. While the Leas-Chathaoirleach could not hear him, I heard him refer to Senators opposite as "ignorant". I refuse to come here to be called ignorant in that fashion by the Leader of the House.

O.K., stay at home.

I did not interrupt Senator Mullins, and I did not behave in a fashion that gave him the right to call me ignorant. I want to protest against that.

I am quite fed up of listening to all these arguments about countries overseas and particularly the constant litany of results of the English Parliament produced by Senator Mullins. Everybody in the House will accept the fact that the present Taoiseach is well able to assess the impact of this new system if it is imposed on Irish political life. The Front Bench on the opposite side as well as on this side would be highly experienced and quite able, without referring to any country in the world, to assess what would happen and where votes would go. Perhaps even people like me who are only in political life since 1954 would be quite able to assess what would be the results of this measure in their own particular constituencies at least. I feel that I am perfectly able, without referring to England or to the Cameroons as Senator Quinlan referred to, or any of those places, to assess the results that would come if this system should come to be approved by the people in the referendum, though I believe it will not come.

The first thing I generalised about on the Second Stage of this Bill was the point on which I will now particularise, that is, the question of one member representing an area. I am a local politician as well as in the Seanad, and I know full well the way that these things work. I know how certain people will ring up, say, the Drogheda Corporation office in the evening when the manager has left and ask what were the orders made by the manager that day. Having got the information that Mrs. A got a house, the politician writes: "I am glad to inform you that I have been told to-day by the county manager that you have got a house." The professional politician with time on his hands and the opportunity to do that can become well nigh invincible although his legislative ability may be nil and although he may be a complete menace.

Let me give the House another instance. Supposing the local politician is friendly with the local labour organiser and that there are men doing some work for a contractor, say, digging a drain. If the politician succeeds in getting all of those men into the union he is hailed as the saviour of all, as the man who got everybody into the union. Does that man not gain votes? Of course he does. Has he any legislative ability? Very probably he has not, because a man who will try to gain votes in that fashion is not likely to be the type of man who would have such ability. If he were, he would seek votes in the proper manner by advocating the policy of his Party in so far as he believed in it and not put to the people proposals of his Party in which he did not believe.

There is a myriad of ways in which a man could get votes if he had nothing else to do. I have plenty to do, but in any event I would not stoop to seek votes in the manner in which it can be done. All over Ireland there are people who, for a Dáil or a Seanad allowance, and for the kudos to be gained, would do that. I submit that the single member constituency of 20,000 people gives them the opportunity to do it.

I should like to draw attention to a statement made by Senator Mullins. He says Parties can co-operate in the single member constituency to secure the defeat of somebody they do not like. In a peculiar way the Fianna Fáil Party—although they cannot co-operate; it is not a thing they know very well—can act in such a way as to ensure the defeat of somebody they do not like. In saying that I want to make it clear that I do not think that politicians on every side or any side are plaster saints. It is like horse-racing, dog-racing or any other activity like that. The little kick in the ankle or the dig in the ribs is used just as often as the straight attempt in order to gain one's end. All Parties use these methods, but it is open more to the large Party who have a vote which is largely regimented, which consists of certain families who have supported them right down from 1922. Some of them are foremen in factories who, perhaps, have got their jobs in the period from 1932 when in the natural way, not because of Fianna Fáil legislation, factories were built in Ireland. They support the Fianna Fáil Party because of their jobs. Apart from that type of vote, there is the independent and more flexible vote, the one that is better for the Irish nation. I would not be here if that were not the case. However, when there is an inflexible 4,000 Fianna Fáil vote in an electorate of 9,000, which is the average of a constituency of 20,000 people, is it not up to the Fianna Fáil Party, if they assess the situation as one in which they have only 4,000 votes and there is a possibility that an independent vote will reach 5,000, to throw £100 to a man of straw who might normally only get 2,000 votes? In this way the man who should be elected, if the election were honestly run, is defeated by the man of straw.

There is a story in County Louth about a certain man—let us call him Donegan so that nobody can say I am naming anybody—who some years ago held the key vote on a certain issue at a county council meeting. Another man went on Sunday morning to try to persuade him not to turn up at the council meeting. The key-man went into the public house and had a drink and he was still drinking that night. He went home and the following morning he returned and had another couple of drinks. This man who should have gone to the meeting that day was to be seen riding around on a green Raleigh bicycle, and it is still referred to as the "Donegan bicycle". Politics is not a game for plaster saints. If a Party do not want to see a certain man getting in they can give £100 to a man of straw and see to it that that man is elected although the other man should get the majority and win.

Could that man on the green bicycle have won it in a bet for having been able to take so much whiskey?

He could, indeed, but he did not.

Again on this question of messenger boys, I act as messenger boy, too. I have to write 70 letters a week on political matters and I know my opposite number does the same thing. However, when the constituency is brought down from an area of 67,000 votes to an area of 9,000 votes, is it not true that the best messenger boy is the man who will rush up to a Department at Government expense and ask: "What about Jimmy Donegan's reconstruction grant?", and who, when he is told: "We are going to give that," will write to Jimmy Donegan saying: "You are going to get your reconstruction grant"? That, of course, means extra votes for that politician.

Is that not the kind of thing we want to stop? Is there any legislative ability needed for that? I do not want to go too far on this point, but I do suggest, with respect, intending no personal insult, that that sort of thing is responsible for the mediocrity of the Front Bench of the Fianna Fáil Party in the Seanad, with one exception.

Tugadh tuairisc ar a ndearnadh; an Coiste do shuí arís.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 5th March, 1959.