Before we take up consideration of the Committee Stage of this Bill, I should indicate that the two amendments in the name of Senator Gemma Hussey are out of order as they are outside the scope of the Bill as read a Second Time.
An Bille um an Seachtú Leasú ar an mBunreacht (Forais Árdoideachais do Thoghadh Comhaltai de Sheanad Éireann), 1979: An Coiste agus na Céimeanna Deiridh. Seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Election of Members of Seanad Éireann by Institutions of Higher Education) Bill, 1979: Committee and Final Stages.
I certainly would not dispute the ruling on that. Perhaps the Cathaoirleach could expand a little bit, if he would not mind. The Cathaoirleach says they are outside the scope of the Bill. The reason I put them down was that I had the impression that if one was amending an Article of the Constitution that one could bring an amendment to amend other sections of that Article. I wonder could the Cathaoirleach expand on the reasons why they are out of order?
The Bill as read a Second Time does not relate in any way to the right of the Taoiseach to nominate Members to the Seanad. The Senator's amendments are designed to abolish this right and are therefore clearly outside the scope of the Bill.
Aontaíodh le haltanna 1 agus 2.
The drafting is absolutely awful. It is, no doubt, what is intended to be done so that the client is satisfied. If my understanding of the Schedule is correct, it seems to me to be open to the law to be such that any one of the institutions could be picked to the exclusion of all the institutions: apart from bringing them all together, anyone of them can be selected and we can have just one constituency. As far as I can understand it need not even be one of the two mentioned in the existing text particularly in the context of paragraph 3 which I know has been drafted in contemplation of this dissolution of the National University of Ireland, but could it permit the dissolution of the University of Dublin? In the context of the two institutions named in the Constitution as being entitled to send their representatives here, in the context of the provision now providing for the Articles not to be understood as preventing the dissolution of either of them, I think that paragraph 2 would entitle the law to be such that one of these various colleges could be picked to the exclusion of the two existing institutions, the two universities. If it is not done in this law it can be done in another law. I would like to know what we are doing with university representation as such. No doubt this is the will of such people as are here that university representation can be determined quite easily under this.
Apart from this, I really think it should not be so difficult to read. When I go back to the Constitution I find each section so logical and so easy to read but in contrast I find this stuff exceedingly difficult to read and it ought not to be. If people who are trained to read these things find this difficult to read, what must it be like for the layman to find this in what is supposed to be a popular document capable of being read by any citizen? Despite all that has been said about the Constitution by people who knew damn all about it, it can at least be read. If there is something one does not like in it one can see that one does not like it. If there is something in this that one does not like, one would want to be highly skilled to discover that one did not like it.
I do not quite understand what the Senator means by saying that any one college could be selected. Selected for what?
The law could be such that one of all of the institutions, to the exclusion of all the institutions, including the two institutions mentioned in the earlier subsections of the section of this Article, could be excluded from being an institution which would send representatives here. Maybe that is what everybody wants but that is what I understand this to mean. Not merely are we providing for the dissolution of the NUI and we are not exactly providing for the dissolution of the University of Dublin I am sure, but by putting in this additional provision we are making it possible to read this earlier subsection as entitling this Legislature to pass a law and to cut out the University of Dublin as well as the National University of Ireland. Maybe this is what everybody wants but if this is so it ought to be more clearly expressed than it is. I do not know what the rush is about. Why cannot this all be wrapped up at a time when we are dealing with universities, higher education?
The purpose of section 4 (3) of Article 18 is to remove any doubt that there might be that the mention of the name of a university in Article 18 should be interpreted as a guarantee that the university should not and could not be dissolved.
That has a carry-over effect that subsection (2) can be read as meaning any institution which is an institution of higher education and I should have thought that, there being no definition of an institution of higher education, that that should be expressed as being determinable by law also but that any institution may be determinable by law as an institution of higher education and be selected to the exclusion of the whole lot of them. Fianna Fáil may decide to establish a research bureau and then that could be selected as the one to send six representatives up here. It is inconceivable in the context of other Articles in the Constitution but this is going to be read as if it were enacted in 1937. It is very strange looking stuff for the draftsman to be shoving in, the tailpiece of the provisions about the University of Dublin and the National University of Ireland. My recommendation to the University of Dublin—while I am extremely sorry to hear that Senator Conor Cruise-O'Brien is resigning from the Seanad and I very much regret that he is not going to be giving us his observations on life which could be very useful on this Bill—is quickly to select for the by-election a good parliamtentary draftsman for the next stage of this matter which will be the higher education Bill and that will be very useful to all the people concerned.
I will just comment on the last remark that Senator FitzGerald made. Senator FitzGerald's party have been talking like this in the other House. In defence of the parliamentary draftsmen, they work very hard and produce many drafts and I think that the drafts are quite clear. Universities are mentioned as distinct from institutions of higher education in the State in subsection (2) and they are mentioned in the context of the franchise only. In subsection (3) "university" is mentioned specifically and to the exclusion of the institutions of higher education mentioned in the subsection before that. It is mentioned purely in the context of dissolution by law.
The Minister says it is clear but it is extraordinary how much clearer it gets when one looks at the green ballot paper where the words "not exceeding six" appears and it is spelled out in such a way that even I can understand it. With the aid of the ballot paper one can find out what one is legislating for but what one is legislating for ought to be clearer. I cannot see why we should hesitate to say "six" instead of "an equal number".
There is averba clara. It says that an equal number of members be elected pursuant to paragraphs I and 2. It does not take a major intellectual exercise to check that three and three are mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2. There are three for the University of Dublin and three for the National University of Ireland.
Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
- An Bille um an Seachtú Leasú ar an mBunreacht (Forais Árdoideachais do Thoghadh Comhaltaí de Sheanad Eireann), 1979: An Dara Céim. Seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Election of Members of Seanad Éireann by Institutions of Higher Education) Bill, 1979: Second Stage.
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- Referendum (Amendment) Bill, 1979: Second and Subsequent Stages.