I regret I have to call upon the indulgence of the Dáil to some extent for longer sittings than have been anticipated, in order to permit the discharge of the business which we found it necessary to introduce into the Dáil. I have made a personal examination of the time that has been taken to deal with the various amendments put down in connection with the Public Safety Bill. I find that we are not in a position to devote, through normal meetings, a sufficient amount of time to this Bill. It is, therefore, my unpleasant duty to ask the Dáil to sit later and longer in order to deal with this matter. It is, of course, always within the power of the Executive to apply the remedies which are provided in the Standing Orders. We have not, so far, exercised our rights in those matters, and we do not wish to exercise them; we think that the ordinary time, which Deputies think is necessary to enable them to discuss and deal with the business presented to them, ought to be allotted, but it is not in our power to make an hour any longer than it is or to make a day's sitting longer than it is, unless we extend the period of a day's meeting from 3 o'clock p.m. until after 8.30 p.m. Now, the motion, therefore, I would move is this: "That the Dáil sit after 8.30 p.m. to-night for the consideration of the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill, 1923, and that it adjourn not later than 4 a.m. to-morrow, Friday, the 13th inst." Before putting that I would like to know if it is possible to divide on questions after 8.30 p.m. I presume that you Sir, are the judge of that, and if it be possible to divide it is unnecessary to include in the motion any provision to suspend that Standing Order. If you decide against me on that I will include something which will enable us to take divisions after that hour.
EXTENDED HOURS OF SITTING.
Can a motion of this kind be taken without notice?
Yes, there is a Standing Order, No. 10, which says: "A motion that Dáil Eireann shall sit later than 8.30 o'clock on any evening may be made without notice, and not later than 6.30 o'clock p.m. on the same evening. On Tuesdays and Thursdays this motion shall be made only by a Minister."
The President wants a ruling on Standing Order No. 9 (the old No. 10): "While Dáil Eireann is in Session, it shall meet at 3.0 o'clock p.m. punctually on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of each week, unless the Dáil shall otherwise order. At 8.30 o'clock p.m. the Ceann Comhairle shall take the Order of the Day for the adjournment of the Dáil, whereupon any Teachta may bring forward any matter for discussion of which he has previously given notice, not later than 6.30 o'clock p.m. In the event of such discussion taking place the Dáil shall adjourn not later than 9 o'clock, p.m., but the Dáil shall not divide on any question after 8.30 o'clock p.m." The last paragraph which I have read seems to me to have special reference to a case where notice is given and a matter is raised on the adjournment. If under the Standing Orders we have power to decide that we shall sit later than 8.30 I take it, if such a motion were carried, we would be sitting later than 8.30 for the transaction of business. The transaction of business seems to me to involve the making of decisions, and if necessary the taking of divisions. If a motion to sit later than 8.30 were decided in the affirmative the business could go on in the ordinary way.
I second the motion.
The motion is that the Dáil sit after 8.30 to-night for the consideration of the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill, 1923, and that it adjourn not later than 4 a.m. to-morrow, Friday, the 13th instant.
One hears with interest, if not with pleasure, the statement of the Minister in making this motion. One might have been better satisfied if one had heard from the Minister an expression of regret that the business of the Dáil for the past three months has been so conducted as to make it necessary to have recourse to a motion of this kind. We have had meetings for one or two days and then adjournments for several days. We have had proposals to meet for three or four days, and then a suggestion that we should adjourn for a week or ten days because there was no business ready. Then we have the Minister coming along and saying "Here is a Bill which requires discussion, and there are other Bills on the stocks which require discussion of an equally serious character, and there are so many Bills of that kind on the stocks which require to be discussed, considered and amended before the expiry of the Parliament, that we can only get the business done by having all-night sittings." That is not a testimony to the way the Minister has directed the business of the Dáil. There is implied in this motion a suggestion that there is too much consideration being given to this present Bill.
I am glad to hear the disavowal. It has been implied by others who sit behind the Ministers.
The fact is then that close consideration is required of the Bill, and that it cannot be done within the ordinary time allotted. I am not going to grumble at any demand upon the Dáil for time to consider fully every Bill that is put forward. I suggest, however, that it is not good for the Dáil or for the members that we should be asked to come here these days, sit from 3 o'clock in the afternoon until 4 o'clock next morning, and give proper consideration to important matters of legislation. I think the Dáil will agree, with the heat of the day such as we have had it in this building, members cannot—they show that by their absence—give proper consideration to those measures. I think it would be in the interests of the measure and of the Dáil if we accepted the suggestion of the Minister with regard to the night sitting, and adjourned until 7 o'clock or 8 o'clock from now and sit in the cool of the evening, and consider those matters under better atmospheric conditions. I am sure that that proposal will meet with the unexpressed assent of members. I am sure members will much prefer to meet here at, say, 7 or 8 o'clock p.m., and continue the discussion and consideration of the measure in the cool of the evening rather than sit from now onward for twelve hours and 25 minutes. It is not possible for those who take a serious view of their duties to sit here the whole time, and it is not possible for those who take a serious view of their duties to spend hours nominally in attendance, but not hearing the discussion, and I want, if possible, to avoid any reasonable excuse for that kind of conduct on the part of Deputies. I hope the suggestion will be received as it is made, and I, therefore, beg to move, as an amendment, that the Dáil do now adjourn and resume its sitting say, at 7.30 p.m., and continue to sit from that time until the hour named in the Minister's motion.
I formally second the amendment.
The Standing Order under which the motion is moved clearly contemplates an extension of the hours of sitting. It contemplates sitting until 8.30 p.m., and by motion made before 6.30 p.m., ordering that the Dáil may continue to sit. The amendment is an amendment to adjourn, and I think is not relevant to the motion. The motion could be amended by reducing the time during which we shall sit, but I do not think it could be amended by our adjourning, which is a different method of increasing the time available.
It is felt by some of our members that 4 o'clock would be a rather awkward time to disperse and that it might be well to extend it to 8 o'clock a.m. Perhaps the Minister would accept that?
I am very glad to hear from the Deputy of the innocence of the Deputies for whom he speaks. I have been occasionally out at 4 a.m., and I do not think it would do the Deputy's friends any harm just to see the morning break at that hour.
The objection to 4 o'clock does not apply to me personally, but it does to those who are not living in Dublin, in whose case it would mean walking around the streets for about three hours, until a train would be running to Dun Laoghaire or Bray.
I will try to provide accommodation for them when they are going, if that would meet the Deputy.
I do not think it would be very much use going to bed for two hours, getting up for a journey and finishing the sleep elsewhere.
I move, as an amendment:—"That 8 a.m. be substituted for 4 a.m."
I second that.
I accept that.
The amendment is to substitute for the words "4 a.m.,""8 a.m.," so that the motion would then read, "That the Dáil sit after 8.30 p.m. to-night, for the consideration of the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill, 1923, and that it adjourn not later than 8 a.m. to-morrow (Friday), the 13th inst."
I am very glad to be able to meet the Deputy on that.
The motion, as amended, is now before the Dáil.
There is something to recommend the motion, and if the motion is carried I hope that the Ministry will make such provisions for the conduct of business that the more serious part of the business will be taken from 9 or 10 o'clock at night until the earlier hours. It is, I think, obvious to everybody who is taking part in the business that it is very trying. Many of us have been remarking, within the last three or four days, that Ministers themselves must be feeling the strain very much, much more than the ordinary Deputies, and if the Minister's motion is intended to give plenty of time for the discussion of the serious Bills that are to come before the Dáil I think that nobody could have a reasonable objection. There was some talk the other day to the effect that the Dáil was rather a churning machine for churning out Bills. It looked to some extent very like that. The churn, if we are to take the Minister's word for it, does not seem to have been working very effectively, because it has not been churning them out quickly enough. There would be an opportunity for churning them out much more quickly and giving much more time to their consideration under this proposed arrangement. That, I think, is of very great importance. I do not know whether I would be in order in referring to another House in this connection, but some of us have rather an admiration for the ease and facility with which another House can dispose of several weeks' work in about twenty minutes. We have not yet, with all our experience of eight or nine months' legislation, acquired that particular facility, but I have no doubt that, if in the early parts of our day's debate we are meeting in a more or less heated atmosphere, as we go into the cooler atmosphere of the night we will be able to legislate in a manner becoming to the Dáil and to the whole nation. It is important, I think, that we should legislate in that manner. I hope for the sake of the Dáil and the credit of the nation that we shall have rather more active and actual interest taken in the measures before the Dáil by those Deputies who take very little interest apparently except only when it comes to a division and to vote. I for one hope to see to-night that the benches will be not only full from eight o'clock on, but that the cooler atmosphere, not to talk about other things, will enable those Deputies to speak and take a real interest in improving not only the machinery of legislation, but the legislation itself.
I would like before the motion is put to know is it the intention of the Government to sit also to-morrow at twelve o'clock.
Yes, from 12 o'clock to 4.
In that event I do not know whether human nature can stand the strain. If we have to sit now until 8 o'clock in the morning, and resume after four hours that is not conducive to serious discussion.
You will get the serious discussion all right.
I have a good deal of sympathy with Deputy Johnson's suggestion that we should adjourn until later on this evening and then sit until a late hour to-morrow morning.
I have been very much impressed in finding that Deputy O'Brien has approved of the principle that we should work for seventeen hours per day, and I am also interested in finding that those who support him so whole-heartedly support that proposition.
I am sure the reason of the President in extending the hours is simply to try and get the Public Safety Bill through before morning. I presume there must be a very large number of offenders throughout the country waiting for this Bill to be passed so as to be put inside and kept in safe places at the expense of the ratepayers. So far as I am concerned, I am quite prepared to act in continuous sittings for any length provided that the Minister for Home Affairs, and other Ministers, do not make such long speeches against amendments to the Bill. If there is any delay in passing those Bills the Minister who puts them forward must accept all responsibility for the delay. I can assure the Dáil that I will not let the Minister for Agriculture get away, for he made very long speeches to the amendments on the Land Bill last week, In fact I was of the opinion that those Bills were only brought forward to flabbergast the people of the Saorstát. Those Bills were brought forward with no serious idea that they would go through until after the next election.
Coming back to the subject of sitting here all night, and adopting the same policy as another country across the Atlantic—I really find it very hard to say the sister nation—I cannot do it. If we are going to adopt this policy, I sincerely hope that the President, who is also Minister for Finance, will not forget that the messengers, attendants, and all the people who are employed by him to act in the Dáil, will get double pay for overtime. All overtime starts from the time the day's work finishes, and it is not their fault if the Minister puts forward the idea of sitting all night, and if these attendants, messengers, and others are paid this overtime it will be at the expense of the Minister, and I hope not at the expense of the State. Furthermore, I think Deputy Johnson's amendment is a very reasonable one. He has taken into account the terrible wave of heat that is passing over the country at the present time.
Deputy Johnson's amendment is out of order.
Well, Deputy O'Brien's amendment. Deputy O'Brien, being a sensible Teachta, has taken into account the long hours for the employees. Deputy O'Brien recognises as well as I do that the benches opposite were practically empty during the sittings for the past few weeks, and that after a discussion, when the button was pressed, Deputies just came in to say "Tá" or "Níl" on the division. If this night sitting takes place I hope every Deputy will be in his place, and I can assure the Minister for Home Affairs that, as far as the Labour benches are concerned, we will give him speeches enough on the amendments to this Bill.
It is now 4 o'clock, and if the Atlantic has got shifted from the West to the East of Ireland by 4 o'clock in the afternoon, where would it get by 4 o'clock in the morning?
I think it is due to Deputy Johnson and to other Deputies that I should admit what he said about the indulgence of the Dáil with regard to the business put before them for the last six or nine months. There has been serious cause of complaint. I have explained more than once that that was owing to the circumstances of the time and to the fact that although it took some time to prepare certain measures and produce them in the Dáil, no undue delay took place. We gave them very careful consideration before we brought them forward, and I can certainly answer for the Ministry that, so far as I know, it has not neglected any opportunity of bringing business forward at the earliest possible moment. There is, of course, cause for dissatisfaction, but I should say that we were not concerned entirely with legislation that came before the Dáil. There were many other matters, and for some time there will be other matters, engaging the attention of the Ministry. I admit that we have had to draw a good deal on the indulgence of the Dáil, and I would like to pay a tribute to the members of all parties for the consideration they gave the Ministry in connection with the discharge of its duty.
On this motion I would like to say that, except from the point of view of the personal convenience of Deputies sitting in the heat of the day, no case has been made for the extension of time beyond the ordinary. I understand that the Seanad has adjourned for a fortnight. Except for the Corrupt Practices Bill, I do not think there is any Bill before the Dáil at the moment awaiting consideration. I submit that no case has yet been made, except the one for the personal convenience of Deputies, for insisting on a twelve hours' sitting. This is Thursday evening. Only last week we decided to change the period of the sitting on Friday to allow Deputies to go home. It would have been a very much more reasonable proposition to extend the hours of Friday's sitting rather than to cut off a Friday's sitting one week and then go on with all-night sittings next week. As I say, there are two measures before the Dáil of importance, and when these are passed the Seanad will have nothing to do for several days. The Seanad will not sit for a fortnight, but when the Seanad gets these Bills I do not know how long they may take over them. They may take a considerably longer period than the Dáil would take—very likely will, I think. I am sorry that the Minister has not been able to make a better case for a continuous Session to-day than he has done. I hope that will be remembered on the next motion.
- Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
- Gearóid Ó Súileabháin.
- Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.
- Seán Ó Maolruaidh.
- Mícheál Ó hAonghusa.
- Domhnall Ó Mocháin.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
- Peadar Mac a' Bháird.
- Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.
- Seán Mac Garaidh.
- Risteárd Ó Maolchatha.
- Pilib Mac Cosgair.
- Mícheál de Stáineas.
- Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
- Eárnan Altún.
- Sir Séamus Craig, Ridire, M.D.
- Liam Thrift.
- Eoin Mac Néill.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Pádraig Ó hÓgáin.
- Pádraic Ó Máille.
- Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Piaras Béaslaí.
- Fionán Ó Loingsigh.
- Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoith.
- Criostóir Ó Broin.
- Caoimhghin Ó hUigin.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Séamus Ó Dóláin.
- Seán Mac Eoin.
- Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.
- Eamon Ó Dúgáin.
- Peadar Ó hAodha.
- Séamus Ó Murchadha.
- Seosamh Mac Giolla Bhrighdc.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Tomás Ó Domhnaill.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Uinseann de Faoite.
- Séamus de Burca.
- Donchadh Ó Guaire.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.
- Liam de Róiste.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Seoirse, Ghabháin Uí Dhubhthaigh.
- Liam Ó Briain.
- Tomás Ó Conaill.
- Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.
- Séamus Eabhróid.
- Liam Ó Daimhín.
- Seán Ó Laidhin.
- Cathal Ó Seanáin.
- Domhnall Ó Nuirgheasa.
- Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.