The Division Bell was not ringing in a number of rooms, Sir.
Seanad Division Bells.
The Chair is aware of this situation and understands that the matter will be dealt with before tomorrow.
On a point of order, perhaps the Chair would explain to the House whether, in the event of the electrical system for calling Divisions not operating in part of the House, those Divisions will subsequently be deemed to be valid or otherwise. I have a particular reason for asking this, because there is a feeling throughout the House this afternoon and this evening that in relation to the Division this afternoon, which was the first Division in which the bells were not operating, the vote might have been reversed had the bells been operating in all parts of the House.
The Senator will be aware that the system of bells is an aid to Senators who find themselves unable to be here. It is a matter for a Senator to be present in the House for a Division.
They do not seem to be operating.
In other words, the first obligation is upon the Members to acquaint themselves of a Division?
That is correct.
May I make one other brief point, because it is something that has caused considerable confusion to Members on all sides of the House today? Last summer we were seriously discommoded because of the fact that there was a complete rewiring of the warning bells being carried out throughout the House and its environs. Every morning when either the Dáil or Seanad is sitting those of us who arrive here early are seriously discommoded by the ringing of the Division Bells.
This is not a point of order.
Surely it is in order to ensure that the Division Bells operate properly? Any morning, when those of us who come early arrive, the Division Bells are being checked for an hour at a time—physically checked by the method of the bells being rung and inspected to make sure that they are ringing and that the bulbs are lighting. One would have thought that, considering they were completely rewired last year, these bells would have been able to operate less than 12 months later. Surely when the Clerk of the Seanad presses the switch he is doing no more than ensuring that an electrical circuit exists to light the bulbs?
This is becoming a speech.
The point I am making is that Members have to attend various Committees in other parts of the House, and if we cannot attend other Committees of the House in safety and expect the Division Bells to ring, then the whole process of parliamentary life will break. I am quite serious about this.
I am asking the Senator to sit down. The Chair has already stated that this matter is being looked into. The bell system is to be examined tonight and the Chair expects it to be working properly tomorrow.
On the general question of the bells, the Chair understands that they have in fact been giving a considerable amount of trouble and consideration is at present being given to having a totally different sound system which one hopes will be more efficient. In any event, the matter is being looked into. The Chair regrets very much this problem that has arisen today and on certain other days and hopes that by tomorrow the problem will be solved.
If the House agrees I suggest that we continue with this Bill until 10.30 p.m.
What will happen in the event of their being another Division tonight? How will Senators be aware of this in other parts of the House?
I would suggest that the Senator could remain here?
In which event he would be gonged instead of belled.