I beg to move the Second Reading of the Local Elections Postponement (Amendment) Bill, 1924. I feel that I owe the House an apology for this Bill. It was on the Order Paper yesterday, but it came on very suddenly. I happened to be in the hall talking to a Deputy at the time, and was not aware that the Bill had come on. I think that the House had a record yesterday for the rapidity with which it got through its business, and that is responsible for my fault in the matter. I do not think that it is necessary to go very much into detail in this matter now. I dealt with it at great length on the First Reading, and put the whole situation before Deputies. Under present conditions, if no change is made in our arrangements for the elections, they will have to take place on the 15th July.
We are not prepared to have elections at the present time. The Register and other arrangements are not fully completed, and some postponements will be necessary. Legally I am entitled to postpone the elections up to the 30th September, but I feel that a postponement to that date, or any intermediate date, would be very unsatisfactory. There is before the Dáil a Bill which I allowed to remain over on the Second Stage which I expect to come into operation in some form very soon after the Dáil meets following the recess, and that Bill will change the whole system of Local Government and will make it necessary to re-cast our whole system of the representation of local authorities. If we were to hold an election between now and the 30th September, it would mean a very considerable expense, costing over £160,000, which would be a very serious loss. I think it would be hard to get candidates to go forward for election to a position which will last for only a few months. For that reason I am asking the Dáil to give me power to postpone the elections up to March, 1925. This will not be a mandatory Bill; it will be merely permissive, and I do not think will be postponed to any date as far away as March, 1925. I expect that the Bill, or an amended form of the Bill, will pass in November, and it will be then possible to hold the elections. I would like to have fairly wide powers in the matter. The elections have been postponed on several occasions owing to circumstances over which I had no control, and it might have been better at the outset if we had taken wider powers to postpone the elections to a longer period than we actually postponed them for. For that reason I will ask the Dáil to give this Bill a Second Reading.