As I intimated some time ago, it is the intention to refer the Intoxicating Liquor Bill passed last year by the Dáil to the Governor-General for signature. As a matter of convenience, that will be done on Saturday, and it will be operative law in the country on Monday next, the Police Forces being informed accordingly. I doubt very much if it would be of any advantage to attempt to proceed with the current Bill this Session, and my proposal to the Dáil is that its further consideration be left over until we meet after the Adjournment.
DÁIL IN COMMITTEE. - INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924.
What about the Bill that is before the Dáil for this year?
The Minister proposes not to proceed with it now.
This Dáil did not pass that Bill of 1923, and we were not consulted about it. It was sent to the Seanad and left there for an incubation period of 270 days, and I consider that it came out a full-blown magpie, or a bad egg. After all, Sir, I do not think that this is treating us fairly. We should proceed with the present Bill. The societies in the county that I come from have urged very strongly that we should proceed with the present Bill in accordance with the pledges given by the Minister for Justice that he would give a free vote of the Dáil on that much talked of Section 12. I would move that we go on with that Bill if it is possible in the short time we have. We are promised a Commission from the Minister for Justice, and I understand that that Commission will set the two Bills aside, that is, if it is worth being called a Commission at all. That is the purpose for which it will work, and as a result I am sure you will have a third Licensing Bill for this year. I hope it will be an improvement on the other two, and give both the publicans and the public an opportunity of doing better by giving greater facilities to both of them.
It is proposed to discharge the order for the Committee Stage of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill.
On a point of information: Is the position at the moment that this Bill must go through and must be sent to the Governor-General for his signature and become law next week? Is that the actual position, and have we no alternative?
That is the position. We do not regard ourselves as having any alternative.
We do not. The Dáil has no alternative, but the Executive Council have an alternative, and that is to bring in a repealing Bill.
We will not do that.
They may not wish to do it, but let us have it quite clear. Do not let us have the attitude that they are unwilling martyrs having to put the law in force, when they can bring in a repealing Bill.
May I say, as a matter of explanation, that that is not really an alternative. There is no alternative course to getting the Bill of last year signed when our attention is drawn to our duty in that regard by the Attorney-General. You could get the Bill of last year signed and then introduce a Bill repealing it. In fact you could not repeal it until it was signed.
Since that is the view that the law advisors take on the Constitution, are the Executive Council going to amend the Constitution, because if not, a most impossible situation is being created? Let us take the case of an Executive Council in its last year of office immediately before a General Election, anxious to win popularity for itself. It passes a number of measures through the Dáil which it knows that the Seanad will hold up. These measures will be held up by the Seanad for the General Election. That Government is defeated. What happens then? Does its successor have to get the Governor-General's assent to these measures which it does not approve of, and then solemnly sit down and spend the whole of its first session repealing them? The situation is an absolutely ludicrous one and has never been contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. Apart altogether from the merits of the Bill, I am thinking of the general effects on the State, and the Executive Council must take into consideration the Constitution and see that we are not faced with difficulties like this in the future.
I only want to say, Sir, that the Liquor Bill of 1923 was not brought in as an electioneering move.
I am not suggesting that. I was suggesting what might happen in the future.
Deputy Daly has made a statement already.
If the position is that the Minister says that the Bill must be sent to the Governor-General for signature, and that, therefore, the Executive Council have no option in that, would the Minister consider the desirability of bringing in a Bill on Monday or Tuesday to repeal that measure?
I am prepared to do as I said—to insert on Report Stage in the current Bill a clause repealing the 1923 measure, but I will not simply bring in a Billad hoc to repeal the 1923 Measure.
Will the Minister be prepared to give facilities to a private member to bring in a Repeal Bill?
That is a question for the President.
We have already entered into possession of all the time that is available for private Deputies in order to try to get through the business.
Will the Minister inform us that the Seanad did actually consider this Bill that is now going to receive the signature of the Governor-General—did they actually consider it, or only postpone consideration of it?
I am advised they considered it within the meaning of the Act.
The position as regards this Licensing Bill has been examined from many points of view. As far as I know, both in the city and the country, the licensed trade do favour the Bill before the House in preference to the Bill that is going to be made law on next Saturday, and I thought up to now some way could be found out of the difficulty that has arisen, as far as the Constitution is concerned, of getting the Governor-General's assent. I thought it might be postponed, but from what the Minister has said that the Bill must become law, I do not see any way out of the difficulty. I merely want to make the statement that, as far as the licensed trade is concerned, they favour the Bill before the House in preference to the measure of 1923, and it would satisfy me that the Bill introduced this year, with the exception of Clause 12, should become law. I am speaking for the country traders and. I think, for the city traders also. It is unfortunate this crisis has arisen. We are used to crises in the country, and I suppose——
There will be a crisis on next Monday night when the Bill becomes law.
There will be a crisis in the country, I suppose, as well as in the House, and I hope the Minister will carry out, at the earliest possible moment, the intentions he has expressed in the Dáil to introduce a clause repealing the 1923 measure.
Would the Deputy who has just sat down say if it is possible to arrange with the Deputies who have tabled amendments tending to limit the effect of the Bill to withdraw these amendments? Then it might be possible to pass the Bill before the adjournment.
Is Deputy Johnson prepared to withdraw his own amendments?
I will consider that.
I hardly think it is proper to describe this as a crisis. I think we might describe it as an accomplished fact, as something which will save a crisis, or, at all events, an avalanche of literature on the Liquor Bill I think it is a very happy solution of a very difficult position.
When does the Minister proposed to resume consideration of the Bill?
My proposal is to take up the further consideration of the Bill, after the adjournment—on the 15th October.
Will we have a recess in between?
That is a question for the President.
It is no longer my responsibility.