Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 3 Aug 1923

Vol. 4 No. 24


The first amendment is a purely verbal one. There are Boroughs in the country which are not County Boroughs. The Bill was made to read "County or other Boroughs." I move that the Dáil agree with the Seanad in the amendment— Section 56 line 27. To add after the word "county," at the end of the line, the words "or other."


The next amendment includes in the definition of local authorities not only committees of the directly elected local authorities but committees wholly or partly appointed by them. A similar amendment was put up by the same Senator in the case of the Electoral Law Bill, and was accepted. This simply brings the wording of the definition of the Electoral Abuses Bill into line with the wording of the definition that was inserted in the Electoral Law Act in the Seanad. I move that we agree with the Seanad in the amendment—Section 56, line 33. To insert after the words "Committee of" the words "or wholly or partly appointed by."

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment 3 is an amendment which was carried against me in the Seanad, but I would recommend the Dáil to accept it. As the Bill went up to the Seanad, there was no maximum limit of expenses. The Seanad seemed to be almost unanimously in favour of inserting a limit, and it carried this particular amendment. It fixes the limit a great deal higher than the limit in the Act of 1920. That Act fixed the limit at 2d. per Elector on the Register, so that in the case of a 3-member constituency, where there will be roughly 30,000 voters on the register, the scale that was adopted in the Seanad would give a limit of about £500 in a borough constituency per individual, and £625 in a county constituency. In the case of an eight-member constituency there would be £13,033, and in the case of a borough £1,666. In the case of a county constituency there is practically no limit, so far as the larger constituencies are concerned. It is a limit that may be gone up to in the smaller constituencies. In view, as I say, of the Practical unanimity of the Seanad in favour of inserting this amendment and of the necessity of passing the Bill on account of the business there is and the shortness of time, and in view of the fact that the limit is fixed so very high in a great many constituencies, it cannot operate as an effective limit at all, I would recommend the Dáil to accept it. The amendment is:

Delete Part III. of the First Schedule and substitute the following:—


The expenses mentioned in Parts I. and II. of this Schedule, other than personal expenses and the fee, if any, paid to the election agent (not exceeding in the case of a county election seventy-five pounds, and of a borough election fifty pounds, without reckoning for the purposes of that limit any part of the fee which may have been included in the expenses first above mentioned) shall not exceed an amount equal—

in the case of a county election to fivepence for each elector on the register;

in the case of an election for a borough to fourpence for each elector on the register.

Where there are two or more joint candidates at an election, the maximum amount of expenses in Parts I., II, and III. of this Schedule shall, for each of the joint candidates, be the amount produced by multiplying a single candidate's maximum by one-and-a-half and dividing the result by the number of joint candidates.

If there is to be a limit, I would much prefer a lower limit. I would like to ask what limit there will be in the case of a University constituency, or will Deputy Professor Magennis be able to spend any amount of money he likes.

I think, Sir, as this is a matter that concerns elections to the Dáil, and is altogether alien in that regard, at any rate to the Seanad; that this is the House that should determine the limit, because it is a question of limiting expenditure to curb corruption, to preclude as far as possible opportunities for bribery, let us say, under the cover of election expenses. As the Minister has pointed out, this is in practice setting up no limit at all. If we had time, I am quite sure the Dáil would not accept this amendment but would send it back again.

I think we might draw attention again to the fact that in the original Bill there was a limit put to the expenditure of election agents. In the case of a University constituency there will be no limit if this amendment is accepted. It seems to have been deliberately deleted.

There is a reason for that, sir.

I do not know whether those responsible had been in consultation with Deputy Magennis or other representatives of the Universities, but one must assume that they had been, judging by Deputy Magennis's eagerness to defend the omission.

The point I take it, is that University candidates would not bribe and University graduates could not be bribed.

The Deputy is rather premature in thinking that I am eager to defend this, but I am eager to express my gratitude to the Dáil that it recognises the justice of the plea that I put forward for more remuneration to University Professors and for members of the teaching staffs. The omission of this is a confession of faith in our protestations that it is impossible for a University Professor, as a candidate, to bribe anyone.