SEANAD ELECTORAL BILL, 1928—COMMITTEE STAGE.

The Dáil went into Committee.
Question—"That Section 1 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECTION 2.
(1) For the purpose of every Seanad election there shall be a Seanad returning officer who shall be appointed for each such election by the Minister not later than the 13th day of November preceding such election.
(2) It shall be the duty of the Seanad returning officer to conduct the election in respect of which he is appointed, to count the votes cast thereat and to ascertain and declare the result thereof in accordance with this Act and to do such other matters and things in respect of such election as he is required by this Act to do.
(3) The Minister for Finance shall prepare a scale of maximum charges for Seanad returning officers and every Seanad returning officer shall be paid by the said Minister out of the Central Fund his reasonable charges in respect of his services and expenses in relation to the election in respect of which he was appointed but not exceeding in any case the maximum charges specified in the said scale of maximum charges for the time being in force.

I move:—

To add, at the end of sub-section (1) the words "and who shall be either the Registration Officer at the time being for the University Constituency of the National University of Ireland or the Registration Officer at the time being for the University Constituency of Dublin University."

This amendment was put down to enable the House to express its opinion upon the proposal contained in the Bill. It appears to us that of the many extraordinary things in this Bill, the section which deals with the appointment of the returning officer is easily the most extraordinary. It is laid down here that the returning officer for the Seanad election shall be appointed by the Minister. I think I referred to this matter during the Second Reading. It is a bad principle. You have in this election a very limited number of voters of whom the Minister is one. You have political parties contending for success at this election and the Minister is a very important member of one of those parties. When, therefore, we find in this Bill a proposal to give that Minister, who is a voter in the election, who is a partisan in respect of the candidates nominated and who has a very direct party interest in the result of the election, the power of appointing the returning officer we think that proposal is unsound and wrong and that there should be a restriction placed upon that power. The restriction which it is suggested in the amendment should be placed upon that power, is that there should be specified a number of persons occupying suitable positions from amongst whom the Minister must make a selection. I suggested, for example, that the returning officer for the borough constituencies of Dublin or the returning officer for the county constituency of Dublin would be a suitable person to appoint. I suggest in this amendment that the registration officer either for the National University or the Dublin University should be appointed. It would not be possible to suggest the appointment of the returning officers for the University constituencies as they are not persons who would be free to come in and take up work of this kind. The actual work as far as I have been able to ascertain in connection with elections for these constituencies is done by the registration officers and they would be persons with considerable experience of the manner in which elections by postal voting are carried out and that is the method suggested in this Bill.

I think to leave it to the Minister's absolute discretion to appoint any person whom he may as returning officer is a bad principle. Remember there is no restriction whatever on his power, nothing in this Bill which prevents him appointing as a returning officer a person who may himself be a candidate for this election, nothing to prevent him appointing, say, the General Secretary of Cumann na nGaedheal as returning officer for this election. We believe the system suggested in the amendment is a better alternative and will give the Minister for Local Government the right to make the appointment, but it says that the person whom he appoints will be one of the following, and we suggest that the following be the registration officer of either of the University constituencies, or I would not object if it were proposed to include the returning officer for any of the Dublin constituencies. We think, however, that the confidence which voters would have in the secrecy of the ballot and the conduct of the election would be much greater if that suggestion were adopted than if the Bill goes through as it stands.

May I ask the Deputy what would his position be if postal voting were abolished; would he still hold the same view?

Undoubtedly.

The Minister for Local Government is made statutorily responsible in connection with election to both Houses, inasmuch as in this particular case, as in the last election, the Minister for Local Government appoints a returning officer for the Seanad election. Deputy Lemass's amendment asks us, and I take it he meant the registration officer and not the returning officer in his amendment——

He asks that the Minister for Local Government shall appoint a person on the nomination of either the governing body of the National University or the governing body of Trinity, and the ground upon which the Dáil is asked to arrange that is that the Minister for Local Government is a very strong politician and cannot be expected to discharge in a proper way to all parties the duty that falls on him as a Minister. He asks that a man should be appointed at the dictate of the governing body of the National University, the President over which is the political leader of his own Party, who will be rather a strong politician, but not saddled with statutory responsibilities, which are those of a Minister or a person nominated by the governing body of the Dublin University, a body presided over by certainly an absentee, a person who, as far as I know, walks into the position in an automatic way, but actually as far as we are concerned here, an absentee. The Deputy may have introduced this amendment simply for purposes of discussion of this proposal. If he suggests that he intends his amendment seriously, I am hardly prepared to believe him. The proposal in the Bill is that the Minister made statutorily responsible for the administration of those elections will be the person who will appoint the returning officer. I submit in carrying out that responsibility that he should do it on his own initiative and not be subject to the guidance of any other body.

I would like to point out to the Minister that if he thought twice he would not have spoken against this amendment in the manner he did. The fact that the registration officer of the National University is appointed by a body the chairman of which is a person who is interested in political matters does not arise. I know that, for example, the returning officer of the constituency of which I am a member is one of the keenest politicians in this country, but he is also one of the fairest returning officers. The registration officer is appointed for the specific reason by the governing body of these universities. We permit the Vice-Chancellor of the National University and Provost of the Dublin University to act as a returning officer at the election of members to the Dáil, and every argument advanced by the Minister could be advanced against that, and surely the election of members of the Dáil is as important as of members of the Seanad. The objection to the proposal in that Bill is that the Minister appoints an individual for the specific purposes of conducting the particular election in which whoever may be Minister at the time will undoubtedly have a very keen interest, and whether or not there is any possibility of the present Minister for Local Government using the power given to him wrongly, this section does undoubtedly leave the way open to the possibility of corrupt practice at some time in the future, and as such we think it should be amended. If the amendment of mine is not considered suitable, perhaps the Minister will indicate on what lines he would consider an amendment to be suitable. As far as I am concerned, I want to see it provided that there shall not be given to the Minister for Local Government, whoever he may be at the time, absolute discretion in the appointment of a returning officer.

I was rather astonished to hear an officer of the University of Dublin—the Provost, I think it was— described——

Some officer of that University described as an absentee. That is the university to which the House is voting money. Is that right?

You cannot discuss that now.

No, but that is the point. Here is an attack by the Minister for Local Government upon that body because it has got an absentee automatic and that same Government is standing over paying grants to these people and grants which are not paid relatively to other universities. I put down a question some time ago asking where a sum of money was spent. It was beautifully covered up. It took a long time to find it out, but it went to one of these universities which has been truthfully or untruthfully characterised in this manner by the Minister for Local Government. Deputy Lemass has said that this particular clause lays open the road to corruption. I am going to put it much stronger than that. If the declarations which have been made from those front benches in relation to these Constitution Bills and the rights of minorities under these Constitution Bills and in relation to the amendment and changing of them are correct, then I say not merely does it open out the road to corruption, but we have a direct intimation that that road to corruption will be followed. A Minister upon those benches told us that what we would get would be our minimum of right, no more and no less. The full exercise of all powers that they had and which their majority gives to them under the Constitution they would use, and we would not come crawling, mewling and asking ad misericordium for something more. They, the strong men, the upright and honest men, told us if a thing was put into a Bill by a majority which gave them a power to do a certain thing they would do that certain thing. Do they deny that? They can look up the records.

It was the most amazing statement I ever heard coming from men professing any constitutionalism in the ordinary way in relation to minorities. Those people went out of their way to say that "the minimum"—that was their own phrase, I was astonished to hear—exercise of right and nothing more but the minimum exercise of right, would be allowed the minority. Unless they were lying in this, they were deliberately misrepresenting their attitude in relation to this Constitution. They may have been telling us something they would do which they did not intend to do, but they have told us that they would use this power to do a corrupt thing which they have power to do and which we know has been done. You can remember a series of instances given in this House in relation to what happened before elections. A road was to be finished before an election, but a man who was Chairman of Cumann na nGaedheal and who had no interest in that road, because there was an election coming on, by a little bit of manoeuvre arranged that the job could be made to last for ten weeks. That was the evidence which was produced, and that was the evidence with the production of which the President interfered as much as he possibly could. That is the record of these people. You had the same story here, from another member of these benches, of ten cases within five miles, where there was a corrupt misuse of public funds for the purpose of indications of appreciation to the servants of Cumann na Gaedheal. Those people have taken to themselves deliberately the power to do this corrupt thing, and they have told this House that any power they have we must envisage them using, because they have said that our rights were going to be the minimum. Either they said what was false or they were showing just that little spurious courage of the forcibly feeble, or they meant it and they were telling the truth from those benches when they told us in advance that every power they had under any legal straining of the law they would use against the minority and for the majority. They have declared that if they had the power legally to do a corrupt thing they would do it. They have taken the power legally to do a corrupt thing and this House is entitled to assume, and bound to assume, that they intend to do it.

We are not taking power legally to do a corrupt thing, and the statement the Deputy made concerning me was untrue.

The statement which I made in relation to the President I will repeat and I will justify from the records of this House.

And I state it is untrue, and the Deputy knows it, what is more.

"The Deputy knows it is untrue." Very good.

I rise to correct two mistakes. I think I had better correct them by categorical statements. No member of the governing body of Trinity College, Dublin, is an absentee. The body no doubt to which the Minister referred is the Senate, which is not the governing body in that sense at all, and does not correspond in many ways to the Senates of other universities. There is no member of the governing body who is an absentee. The second statement that I wish to correct has reference to the grants. In the Estimates for this year, for instance, there is no money in the form of a grant to Trinity College, Dublin. There is a sum of £3,000 paid in accordance with the Land Act of 1923 as compensation for losses accruing due to the operations of that Act, but there is no definite sum in the form of a grant to the university. I think, in view of the statements made, it is important that these two points should be made clear.

Arising out of Deputy Thrift's remarks, perhaps I did make a mistake in equating the Senate of the Dublin University with the Senate of the National University, and, therefore, I withdraw the suggestion. A propos of the suggestion, I would have thought, at any rate from some of the speeches we have heard on the Seanad and on certain sections of the Seanad, that the Party on the opposite side would not be prepared to allow the governing body of the Dublin University to nominate a Returning Officer for the Seanad election.

Some time or other, perhaps, the day will come when Deputy Flinn will be Minister for Finance in a Government elected by Fianna Fáil. On that occasion it may be the misfortune of the Minister for Local Government and the President to sit on one of the benches now occupied by Deputy Flinn and his Party. When that day comes, if it ever does come— what I say may be due to a foggy outlook on my part—perhaps a discussion on a Bill of this kind will be brought forward by the Local Government Minister who is fathering this Bill to-day, and he will be saying probably the same thing about Deputy Flinn as Deputy Flinn is now saying of him.

If so, it will be only political "prop" on my part.

It may be due to my foggy outlook when I say that day may come. To come back to the question at issue, I must say I was surprised to hear Deputy Lemass say that he would stick to the same view in case postal voting was abolished. I take it that the returning officer in this case will be a civil servant, who will, perhaps, be a man of very high standard, a man, perhaps, who was responsible for the conduct of the last Seanad election and, as for as my knowledge and the knowledge of my Party is concerned, he conducted that election in a manner befitting the position he occupied and the trust reposed in him by the people who appointed him. Now, whether postal voting be the system or whether the voting be here in this House, I am prepared to place my trust in that man, believing that he will do the work in as faithful and as conscientious a manner as he did it on the occasion of the last election to the Seanad, when the job was far bigger and was a much more onerous one.

Will the Minister accept the amendment?

I would like to ask the Minister if he is prepared to amend the Bill in order to provide that no candidate can be made a returning officer?

The Deputy seeks to put into the Bill all kinds of insertions that are suggestions rather than practical contributions to the framing of legislation. I do not see that there is any necessity to add anything to what is there. The Minister for Local Government is the person statutorily responsible for looking after elections to both Houses. He will appoint the returning officer where the Dáil and Seanad are voting together.

Surely the Minister will recognise where a feeling of that kind is in the opposition, regarding it simply as an opposition——

The Deputy had better live it down. It is all nervousness on his part.

You had better not interrupt me. If you were somebody else you would be called to order.

The Deputy should address the Chair.

Yes, and the President ought to address the Chair. It would pay the President to recognise that principle here. There is a general feeling here that a person politically interested ought not be put in that position. He ought not be put in that very significant position while definitely or partly politically interested. He ought not be operating. We are not particular who will be put in. We are not particular about the machinery you will adopt. The Minister's own words are that Deputy Lemass has made a suggestion. We make the suggestion that between now and the Report Stage the Minister will find some party-proof method, reasonable party-proof method, of appointing this man. The present position is a direct party asset. There is not the slightest reason to doubt our sincerity in saying that we do not like it. We do not like that that power should be in the possession either of the Minister's Party or our Party in relation to these elections. We think that the Minister ought meet the opinion of the House and the desire of the House in finding some alternative method which would not be questionable.

I am not prepared to accept the amendment saying that this person shall be a civil servant. That would be no safeguard. It would be merely a suggestion. It would not be outside the power of any member of the Executive to appoint a civil servant as returning officer who might be as politically minded as any one outside the Civil Service. The person the Minister will appoint will naturally be someone responsible for the election section of his Department. To modify this thing any more would not improve the legislation as drafted, and would not give any of the safeguards that the Deputies are looking for.

Why not the governing body of the University? What is your objection?

Rather that the Minister for Local Government should stand over his own responsibilities without asking the governing body of any university to allow him to lean on them.

You intend to have the power. You told us you intend to use it for a particular purpose.

Is it not a fact that an announcement will be publicly made of the appointment of the returning officer? His name will be given, and then there will be an opportunity of raising the matter here in this way?

Deputy Davin has a longer experience of elections than Deputy Flinn. He has experience of elections on two occasions in the Seanad, and it was the same returning officer who acted on both occasions. The Minister for Local Government can answer in this House in respect of any objections that may be made against any person whom by law he has the power to appoint. I do not know whether if Deputy Flinn was appointed to the Seanad in 1922 he would be on the benches opposite to-day, but, of course, that does not matter.

No. It does not matter.

What the Deputies on the Opposition want is some non-political and non-sectarian person to carry out the duties of this country who are very anxious to see non-political associations formed. My experience is that the person who is non-political is the person who has not sufficiently strong political convictions and beliefs for membership of any political association.

Mr. BOLAND

Any supporter of Cumann na nGaedheal is non-political.

Yes, it is non-political in this sense, that outside Cumann na nGaedheal, there are few sensible people.

Mr. BOLAND

All the jobs are on the Cumann na nGaedheal side.

I am sure when the Deputy is at a meeting of his own Party, if he looks round, he will say: "The President was right." This is the usual method in connection with legislation, and all these allegations about corruption come from a mind that is not sufficiently strong to stand the strain of politics. I hear these allegations from people young in politics, and the louder and the more vehement they are, the greater the change that is after taking place or is likely to take place in the political convictions of the person who makes them.

My advice to Deputy Flinn is to take those matters much more easily. The Deputy should not get excited. There is a great deal of good in human nature. The fact that the Deputy pretends to think there is corruption in public life shows only that he is convincing himself and not convincing anyone outside. Such statements as the Deputy has made are not contributions to the business of this House; they do not do him or his Party very much credit, and they do not do the country credit.

Or the Government much credit, either.

It does the Government no harm. I can assure the Deputy of that; but I think he knows it already. If much more of that goes on all the people will say, in my opinion, is "God help him." This particular method of appointing a returning officer is, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Minister, the best method. It has been done before, and I think it is in a previous Electoral Act. No question arises of abuse, and if such a question did arise it would not mean that it was a bad system. There are opportunities for ventilating objections or grievances or any exceptions that might be taken to the person appointed. That is parliamentary government. I do not know that the Minister would be in a much more happy position if he were to approach either of the two bodies mentioned and ask them to nominate persons. Why should he not get nominations from both? If they both nominated how would he make a selection from the two? Would it be by seniority or suitability for office? Then he is to escape all responsibility in connection with an Act which ought to be an Act for which the administration would be responsible. The Minister stands over and can be held responsible for anything that takes place in connection with an election carried out in the manner that we advocate. If the returning officer is appointed in the manner now suggested and anything is subsequently questioned, the Minister can well say: "I carried out the appointment in accordance with the law and I have no control over the person appointed." That would be an unhappy position, not alone for the Minister, but for the House. I think the appointment by the Minister—and it is practically inevitable that it would be a civil servant—is the best and the only proper method of filling the office.

Amendment put. The Committee divided: Tá, 48; Níl, 78.

Tá.

Allen, Denis.Blaney, Neal.Boland, Gerald.Boland, Patrick.Brady, Seán.Briscoe, Robert.Buckley, Daniel.Carney, Frank.Carty, Frank.Clery, Michael.Cooney, Eamon.Corkery, Dan.Corry, Martin John.Crowley, Fred. Hugh.Crowley, Tadhg.Derrig, Thomas.De Valera, Eamon.Fahy, Frank.Flinn, Hugo.French, Seán.Gorry, Patrick J.Goulding, John.Hayes, Seán.Holt, Samuel.

Houlihan, Patrick.Jordan, Stephen.Kent, William R.Kerlin, Frank.Killane, James Joseph.Killilea, Mark.Kilroy, Michael.Lemass, Seán F.Maguire, Ben.MacEntee, Seán.Moore, Séamus.Mullins, Thomas.O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.O'Leary, William.O'Reilly, Matthew.O'Reilly, Thomas.Powell, Thomas P.Ryan, James.Sexton, Martin.Sheehy, Timothy (Tipperary).Smith, Patrick.Tubridy, John.Walsh, Richard.Ward, Francis C.

Níl.

Aird, William P.Alton, Ernest Henry.Anthony, Richard.Beckett, James Walter.Blythe, Ernest.Bourke, Séamus A.Brennan, Michael.Broderick, Henry.Brodrick, Seán. Corish, Richard.Cosgrave, William T.Craig, Sir James.Crowley, James.Daly, John.Davin, William.De Loughrey, Peter.Doherty, Eugene.Doyle, Edward.Doyle, Peadar Seán.Duggan, Edmund John.Dwyer, James.Egan, Barry M.Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.Fitzgerald, Desmond.Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.Good, John.Gorey, Denis J.Heffernan, Michael R.Hennessy, Michael Joseph.Hennessy, Thomas.Hennigan, John.Henry, Mark.Hogan, Patrick (Galway).Holohan, Richard.Jordan, Michael.Keogh, Myles.Law, Hugh Alexander.Leonard, Patrick.Lynch, Finian.

Byrne, Alfred.Byrne, John Joseph.Carey, Edmund.Cassidy, Archie J.Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.Colohan, Hugh.Conlon, Martin.Connolly, Michael P.Cooper, Bryan Ricco. Mathews, Arthur Patrick.McDonogh, Martin.McFadden, Michael Og.McGilligan, Patrick.Mongan, Joseph W.Mulcahy, Richard.Murphy, James E.Murphy, Timothy Joseph.Myles, James Sproule.Nally, Martin Michael.Nolan, John Thomas.O'Connell, Richard.O'Connor, Bartholomew.O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.O'Hanlon, John F.O'Leary, Daniel.O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.O'Reilly, John J.O'Sullivan, Gearoid.O'Sullivan, John Marcus.Redmond, William Archer.Rice, Vincent.Shaw, Patrick W.Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).Thrift, William Edward.Tierney, Michael.Vaughan, Daniel.White, John.White, Vincent Joseph.Wolfe, Jasper Travers.

Tellers—Tá: Deputies Gerald Boland and Allen. Níl: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle.

I move:—

In sub-section (3), line 32, after the word "Fund" to insert the words "or the growing produce thereof."

This is merely a drafting amendment. Normally Central Fund payments are made on quarterly days. This is the phraseology usually adopted so that payment may be made from a credit payment on the requisition of the Minister for Finance.

Amendment agreed to.
Section, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 3.

The amendments which I have on the Paper suggesting an alteration of the dates depend, as far as I am concerned, upon the acceptance or rejection of the amendment to Section 11, dealing with the question of postal voting. I am prepared, with your permission, sir, and the permission of the House, to leave these amendments over until that question is decided.

The suggestion is that amendments 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15, and 18 in the Deputy's name will not be moved, and that the whole question of the abolition of postal voting will be discussed on amendment 19?

Amendment 18 deals with quite a different matter.

The suggestion is that the Deputy will not move the amendments and will deal with the question of postal voting upon amendment 19?

In other words, if postal voting is retained, or if my amendment is rejected, I do not propose to move the alterations suggested in the previous amendments.

I stand by postal voting, but I am prepared to accept the date in Deputy Davin's amendment. If he does not wish to move it now, I can think over the matter further and can introduce an amendment, if necessary, on my own behalf, on the Report Stage.

If that is the case I will formally move the amendment, but I thought the amendments were consequential.

As far as I know, the election must be concluded before the 6th December. Is that correct?

If the Minister proposes to accept the alteration in the date suggested by Deputy Davin, it will shorten considerably the time for the conduct of the election. I should like the Minister to indicate, before we go any further, whether or not the suggestion contained in amendment 17, with reference to the declaration of identity—that is an amendment which frankly compels voters to be in Ireland when recording their votes—will be accepted. One of the main reasons why that amendment has been put in is that the provision in the Bill at present really only confers the benefit of voting outside the country on people who happen to be absent in England or France, or some near country. The right would not be extended to members of the Dáil and Seanad who happened to be absent. say, in the United States or Canada. If it is now proposed still further to reduce the period which will be available for the conduct of the election, it will also reduce the facilities for voting outside the country.

That was not my intention.

Perhaps it would be better to have the whole matter discussed on amendment 19.

Deputy Lemass's point would be a very good one if he had not already put down amendment 17, to prevent any member of the Dáil and Seanad who does not happen to be in Saorstát Eireann from voting. His proposal is that every declaration shall be made in Saorstát Eireann, so that I do not know why he has suddenly got this consideration for Deputies or Senators who may be in the United States.

It was quite obvious from the dates that appeared in the Bill that every member of the Dáil and Seanad, no matter where he was, was not given the right to vote—only those who happened to be in Ireland or England, or some country near Ireland. The question was then whether we should give that right to every member of the Dáil or Seanad, no matter in what part of the world he is, or confine the right of voting to those who were in Ireland at the time, and I decided in favour of the latter.

Then I do not see why the Deputy objects to Deputy Davin's amendment.

I am not objecting. I am asking the Minister whether or not he is prepared to accept that amendment.

I am not prepared to accept the amendment restricting the right to vote to people who are at the time of voting in Saorstát Eireann.

We cannot discuss amendment 17 now.

Amendments 3 and 4 not moved.
Section 3 agreed to.
SECTION 4.
Amendment 5 not moved.
Section 4 agreed to.
SECTION 5.
Amendment 6 not moved.

I move:—

In sub-section (1), line 13, to delete the word "are" where it first occurs in that line and substitute the word "as."

That is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 8 not moved.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 6.
(2) As soon as he has received the said statements the Seanad returning officer shall prepare therefrom the panel of candidates for such election and shall publish the same in theIris Oifigiúil and shall send a copy thereof by post to every member of Dáil Eireann and every member of Seanad Eireann.
(4) A panel of candidates prepared by a Seanad returning officer under this section shall distinguish the candidates nominated by Dáil Eireann and the candidates nominated by Seanad Eireann and shall show in respect of every candidate his name, address, description, and qualifications as stated in the relevant statement furnished to the Seanad returning officer under this section but where any such statement of qualifications exceeds forty words in length the excess over such forty words shall not be inserted in the panel.
Amendment 9 not moved.

I move:—

In sub-section (2), line 39, before the word "post" to insert the word "registered."

Would the Minister agree to leave this matter over, as I have agreed to leave it over, pending the decision of the House on the question of whether or not we should have postal voting or voting by assembly here? If postal voting is abolished, there is no necessity for the word "registered."

It is necessary, because this is advising all members of the Dáil and Seanad at the earliest possible moment in an informal manner by sending them a copy of the panel. This has not to do with the issuing of the ballot paper. It has reference to issuing them at the earliest possible moment a list of the panel, which will subsequently go before them in the shape of a ballot paper. This amendment, therefore, is necessary.

Will the Minister explain the significance of the word "send" in line 32, Section 1? "The Clerk of the Dáil shall send to the Seanad returning officer." Does that mean that he shall deliver?

It means that from the Clerk of the Dáil and the Clerk of the Seanad there shall pass, in some way, to the returning officer the necessary list.

Would it not be better to have the words "shall cause to have delivered by the Clerk to the returning officer"; to put the responsibility for delivery of the list on the Clerk?

I shall look into that and see if there is any significance in it, and, if so, I can have an amendment brought up on the Report Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In sub-section (4) to delete all from the word "distinguish" in line 48 to the word "shall" in line 50.

It is thought undesirable to distinguish on the panel of candidates whether they are nominees of the Dáil or of the Seanad. The rules that are provided by the Dáil and the rules provided by the Seanad for the selection of their own panel can be so framed that the members of the Dáil and the Seanad will know their own particular nominees.

Amendment agreed to.
Question—"That Section 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Section 7 agreed to.
SECTION 8.
(1) Not less than three days before the day appointed for the issue of ballot papers at a Seanad election the Clerk of the Dáil shall furnish to the Seanad returning officer a statement of the names and addresses of the members of Dáil Eireann and the Clerk of the Seanad shall furnish to the Seanad returning officer a statement of the names and addresses of the members of Seanad Eireann.

I move amendment 12:

At the end of sub-section (1) to add the words "whose term of office as members of the Seanad does not expire at the conclusion of the election then pending."

This amendment is proposed to deprive retiring Senators of the right to vote for their successors, or as the case may be, and will be, in some cases, to vote for their own re-election. It is very hard to argue against the proposal in the sub-section when one has not heard the arguments in favour of it. I will listen carefully for any sound reason from any democrat, such as the Minister is supposed to be, in favour of giving these nineteen retiring Senators the right to vote to re-elect themselves. The average attendance in the Seanad for the past three years, taken from the official records of that House, is shown to be something less than forty out of sixty. The people who have failed to attend or whose names are at the bottom of the attendance list are, in most cases, the nineteen who are about to retire. I am given to understand, and I am sure the Minister cannot contradict me, that a number of these nineteen retiring Senators do not propose to seek re-election, for reasons best known to themselves. A considerable number of the nineteen never took any active interest in the work of the Seanad, to which they were nominated by the President or elected by the people three years ago. As I say, it is difficult to make a case against this proposal, because one cannot understand why such a proposal is brought in. The point is an important one— and I hope Deputies, irrespective of Parties, will pay attention to it—that these nineteen Senators, a small number of whom never have attended the proceedings of the Seanad for the last three years, will have the right to send two of their selection back to the Seanad again. If nineteen people vote and act in accordance with the same procedure they have carried out in the last three years, they will possibly return two men who will not attend the Seanad as they did not attend it before. How long are we going to carry on a farce of this kind? In the words of the "Irish Times" this morning, are we going to put men into the Seanad who will do honour to the nation and honour their own responsibilities to those who put them there? I shall listen very attentively to the arguments which the Minister will put forward in favour of rushing the Bill, by which it is provided that retiring Senators should have the right to elect their successors or themselves.

The Deputy's difficulty apparently is to make any case in favour of his own amendment. The provision in the Bill is a provision that could not be modified without going against the Constitution. I almost feel that the Deputy's amendment is unconstitutional, because the Constitution states that members shall be elected to the Seanad by members of the Dáil and Seanad voting together.

On that point, would it be unconstitutional if moved after the 6th December?

The Constitution provides that the Senate shall consist of 60 members. I should have to refer to the Attorney-General as to the point whether if there was no election carried out to fill the different vacancies before the 6th December the Seanad would exist or not. The Seanad has existed from time to time with a casual vacancy, but whether it could exist with one-third or one-fourth of its membership vacant is a legal point upon which I should not care to give a decision. If we saddle people with the responsibility of Senators, there is a certain amount of childishness, I suggest, in saying that in reference to a particular election in which they are outgoing members they are not to be allowed to vote for fear that by all joining together it would be possible to return two of the outgoing members again to the Seanad. I suggest that the person who has given nine years to his duty in the Seanad ought to be particularly qualified to say what kind of person should be put into the Seanad and, perhaps, ought to have a particular qualification to say which two of the outgoing Senators ought to be elected by outgoing Senators voting en bloc, if they so desire. It is not conceivable that outgoing Senators would club together in this particular way to put themselves into the Seanad, but if they did I think they would be perfectly entitled to do it, and they might give us two very good Senators as a result. It is a small matter, and the point can hardly be raised for practical purposes to suggest that in our legislation we should exclude outgoing Senators from having a voice in an ensuing Seanad election.

We intend to sup port Deputy Davin's amendment. I listened carefully to the Minister for Local Government, wondering what reason he would put forward for giving retiring Senators a voice in the election of their successors. So far as I could make out, his first argument was that constitutionally we were bound to do it. That might be an excuse in ordinary circumstances, but when we have a bundle of Constitution Bills before us and when this matter was raised before it gave an opportunity to the Executive of changing the Constitution if they so desired; they cannot excuse themselves on that basis. They have simply to say that it is their intention to give retiring Senators, whether they attended or not, the right to vote for their successors. That is their deliberate policy. Let them stand for it and not pretend that they are forced under the Constitution to have to do so.

I would not leave the Deputy under a misapprehension in this matter. I hope that I did not suggest that we were being forced by the Constitution into this particular frame of mind. The giving to Senators of a vote, apart altogether from the Constitution, is a thing to which we see no reason to object. We are satisfied that there is no reason why, three or four days before a Seanad election becomes due, you should take from a certain section of Senators rights which their colleagues have.

Is it not clear that if the election was not rushed and did not take place before the 6th December, the period of office of the nineteen Senators would have expired, and, under the Constitution, they would have no right to vote for their successors or for their own re-election?

If the election took place after the 6th December the Senators going out would not be entitled to vote. I see no argument for postponing the election until after that date.

What is the object of rushing it?

It is not being rushed.

We may discard the argument about the Constitution. It is one to which we should give no attention. The Executive, as part of their policy, have deliberately arranged and continue to keep it so that retiring Senators would have a vote. That point, therefore, does not give any argument so far as meeting Deputy Davin's request for argument is concerned. The Minister said "for fear they might join together and elect two Senators." Is not there very good reason for seeing that they should not join together and prevent it altogether? I hold there is. I hold with Deputy Davin that because many of these retiring Senators could be proved not to have attended to their business it is wrong to give them a vote in order that they may vote for themselves. It is also wrong from this point of view, namely, one of our objections to including the Seanad with the Dáil as an electorate is that the Seanad is far more numerous in proportion to the Dáil. We are only 153, while the Seanad is 60. Therefore, the Seanad has altogether an unfair proportion of votes. One of the reasons that I would like to see these 19 or 20 retiring Senators not being allowed to vote is that it would lessen the disproportion which the Seanad would have as compared with the votes of the direct representatives of the people. Therefore, from the positive point of view of trying to reduce the voting strength of the Seanad, I think that that opportunity should be availed of. It is a bad principle to allow retiring Senators to vote for themselves. They are going to be the judges of their own conduct, whereas if they are to be elected by a body other than themselves they will have other people to judge of their conduct. These are some of the points which we have in mind. I do not believe that the Minister for Local Government has at all met Deputy Davin's request for a positive reason as to why these retiring Senators should have a vote.

I think a very poor case has been made for this amendment. In the first place, we are always inclined to overlook the fact that a Joint Committee of the two Houses made certain recommendations which, as I have said already this evening, are embodied in certain Bills before the Dáil. One of the recommendations is this particular one. The matter was brought up at the Committee as to whether or not outgoing Senators should have a right to vote. What struck me in connection with that right was that if we were to suppose that outgoing Senators were the wisest men in the country, the most competent and the most honourable, are they going to be returned? If these 19 Senators gave excellent service to the country during their term of office, and if they were the best men in the country, would they be returned?

I do not think so.

Is not that why you say you were returned?

I think the Deputy will admit that it is out of the question that they would be returned.

If they were all you say they would not be in the Seanad.

They start with that disadvantage. Deputy de Valera and Deputy Davin think that it is right to deprive them now of the right to vote in connection with the election of 19 persons to succeed them or to fill the vacancies. What is a Second House? I think sometimes, on hearing Deputies on the far side of the House addressing themselves to this subject, that they really want a Second House much the same as this, politically much the same as this.

Not at all.

I certainly have not been able to learn anything else. If one were to read from everything that has been said, nothing else could be gleaned from what has been said.

Your Bill provides for it.

And the only setoff against that being so is the representation there in the Seanad at the moment. One would imagine, after hearing all that has been said about this new proposal, that the worst possible thing was being done. You do not want the same House. I do not want the same House. If I were a member of the Party opposite, which God forbid——

——I would still have this view with regard to a Second House. Not once have the Deputies on either the Labour Benches or the Fianna Fáil Benches told us what their view would be under ideal conditions as regards a Second House. I have heard complaints being made about non-attendance. The Senator who perhaps has erred most in that respect is a very old friend of mine. He was one of my nominees to the Seanad. He was unfortunately in rather indifferent health when appointed, and his number of attendances was perhaps the lowest. From my knowledge of him, I know him very nearly twenty years, I consider that he would be one of the best qualified persons in the country to mark a ballot paper, and he would not do it from any political motive. He would not be guided by political affiliations in marking it. It is one of the disadvantages of being in a small introspective Party that outside the walls of that Party we cannot see. Deputies opposite do not know that type of person, but on more than one occasion he was a very real bulwark for national interests in this country, although he never belonged to any political party in the country. To say that outgoing Senators should be deprived of the right of voting at this election, in my opinion, is really a sharp trick, although I believe Deputy Davin never intended it as such. The Seanad consists of 60 members. Members of the Dáil are not precluded from voting for themselves if they happen to live in the constituency which they represent. They are reproducing themselves according to what we have heard. It is all right as long as you do it outside for yourself, but to do it for anybody else is another proposition altogether.

It is not the same effect outside as inside.

One evening when I was distributing words of wisdom here the Leas-Cheann Comhairle interrupted me and said that I was not to go into the history of the country or into the reorganisation of the national institutions of the country. I think I told Deputies on more than one occasion that circumstances prevented that regular and ideal organisation which ought to have come about. One effort was made when the Seanad was in course of construction on the first occasion to make some attempt, at any rate, in that direction. Not many of the members of the Seanad, of the original nominees, are left. The fact of these nineteen members having the right to vote would affect I do not believe the election of two members. From my examination, I think, it would take something like eleven votes to secure the return of one person. These nineteen will certainly not vote in one direction. They may vote in two or three directions, but it occurs to me to be an act of very bad grace indeed to say that the outgoing members of this body should not have the right to vote, that instead of having an electorate of 212 we are to have an electorate of 193 or thereabouts. I do not think a case has been made for it. I think everything is against it. I so not think we ought to be nervous because of these nineteen out of 212 votes, and I think that to try to extend the life of the Seanad so that they would not be entitled to vote would be an act unworthy of the Dáil.

Of course we know that the President, first of all, and his Party are responsible for taking from the people the right of electing members to the Seanad because they believe, and have convinced themselves, with very few other people, that the people if given this right would not send into the Seanad the type of person which the present Government would like to get there. They took this right from the people. The President goes on further and hopes—he apparently gives one the impression that he is objecting to it— that the Seanad will not be turned into an institution such as this is, composed on party lines. This Bill is the very Bill which makes certain that the Seanad of the future, after three or four more elections, in six or nine years time, will be a body similar to that which we have here to-day. Who is responsible for that but the President and the Minister for Local Government and the people who stand for this Bill? If the elections were left to the people, more people of independent outlook would come into the Seanad than would be elected to it as a result of voting by the Dáil and Seanad combined. The Minister for Local Government knocked me out altogether. He said that the people who do not attend the Seanad, although they took an oath to carry out certain duties there, were specially qualified to re-elect themselves or to elect their successors. That is something you would not have expected from the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, say, about ten years ago. Of course, he is entitled to change his mind.

As the Deputy is entitled to draw on his imagination.

The President also taunts members of the Opposition Benches with not having given their views in this House, as to what their impressions are of the most ideal Seanad we might have. Deputy de Valera was the Deputy who moved the reference back of these Constitution Amending Bills affecting the Seanad, until such time as a Select Committee set up by this House could go into the question, and the President, speaking from the very same seat in which he is now sitting, vehemently opposed the proposal. That is my view, because I believe we could learn from the experience of the last five or six years. I think all Parties should be consulted and their views taken by the Government as to what amendments are necessary so far as the Constitution of the Seanad is concerned, so as to get the best type of people in that Assembly. The President will have to father the responsibility for bringing in this Bill and in particular for the section which I am trying to amend. The Minister for Local Government has stated that I made no case for the amendment, but one would like to hear the arguments for this section. He admitted quite frankly that the Bill is being rushed through so that it will become an Act before the 6th December in order that retiring Senators will have the right they would not otherwise have, of voting for their own re-election. We will have the Ministers and their colleagues entered on the records of this Dáil as supporting this Bill, and in the days to come they will have to justify this proposal.

Might I interrupt the Deputy for a moment? The Minister's proposal is that the Seanad should be elected by the Dáil and the Seanad sitting together, while the Deputy's proposal is that it should be elected by the Dáil and two-thirds of the Seanad.

I suggest that you are rushing this Bill through at break-neck pace to confer on those people a right which they have not, under the Constitution, to elect their own successors. That right they would not have if the Bill were not passed before the 6th December.

It is not being rushed through at break-neck speed.

took the Chair.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 63.

Tá.

  • Allen, Denis.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Broderick, Henry.
  • Buckley, Daniel.
  • Carney, Frank.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cassidy, Archie J.
  • Clery, Michael.
  • Colohan, Hugh.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corkery, Dan.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doyle, Edward.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fahy, Frank.
  • Flinn, Hugo.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Holt, Samuel.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kent, William R.
  • Kerlin, Frank.
  • Killane, James Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mullins, Thomas.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
  • O'Leary, William.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas.
  • Powell, Thomas P.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sexton, Martin.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (Tipperary).
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Tubridy, John.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.

Níl.

  • Aird, William P.
  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Conlon, Martin.
  • Connolly, Michael P.
  • Cooper, Bryan Ricco.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Crowley, James.
  • Daly, John.
  • Jordan, Michael.
  • Keogh, Myles.
  • Law, Hugh Alexander.
  • Leonard, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James E.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin Michael.
  • Nolan, John Thomas.
  • O'Connell, Richard.
  • O'Connor, Bartholomew.
  • De Loughrey, Peter.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Dwyer, James.
  • Egan, Barry M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Heffernan, Michael R.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Henry, Mark.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Hanlon, John F.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
  • O'Reilly, John J.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearoid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Tierney, Michael.
  • Vaughan, Daniel.
  • White, John.
  • White, Vincent Joseph.
  • Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Cassidy and Gerald Boland; Níl: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle.
Question—"That Section 8 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECTION 9.
(1) The voting at a Seanad election shall be on the principle of proportional representation and each elector shall have one transferable vote which shall be given by ballot.
(2) At a Seanad election the ballot of each voter shall consist of a paper (in this Act called a ballot paper) containing a list of the candidates described by their names, addresses, and descriptions as stated in the panel of candidates for that election and arranged alphabetically in the order of their surnames and, in the case of identity of surnames, of their other names and either in one continuous column or in such other manner (without departing from the said alphabetical order) as in the opinion of the Minister is best calculated to facilitate marking and counting.
(3) The ballot papers shall be in the prescribed form and each ballot paper shall have a number printed on the back and shall have attached a counterfoil with the same number printed on the face and every ballot paper shall at the time of issue thereof be marked on both sides with an official mark either stamped or perforated.
(4) The surname of each candidate shall be printed on the ballot papers in large characters and their other names and their addresses and descriptions shall be printed in small characters save that whenever the surnames of two or more candidates are the same there shall be printed in large characters (in addition to their surnames) the other names of such candidates and so much of the address or the description or of both the address and the description of each such candidate as will, in the opinion of the Seanad returning officer, effectively distinguish such candidate.

I move amendment 13:—

In sub-section (2), line 12, to delete the word "Minister" and substitute the words "returning officer."

This is a minor amendment, the purpose of which is to give to the returning officer what I believe should be the powers of the returning officer. As a matter of fact, when I saw the word "Minister" in the section originally. I thought it was a misprint. It appears to me that it is the only part of the election in which the Minister directly interferes. He has the right to appoint the returning officer and to make regulations concerning the returning officer's duties, but this section provides that he should interfere in one matter concerning the election, that is, the drawing up of the form of the ballot paper. That is properly the duty of the returning officer, and I cannot see why it has not been left to the returning officer. I would be glad if the Minister states why he thinks it necessary to have that power.

The Minister is responsible for prescribing forms for both registration and election purposes. He did the same in connection with the last Seanad election, and you cannot split up the Minister's responsibility in the matter by saying he shall be responsible in one way for the form and the returning officer shall be responsible in another. It falls naturally in with his responsibility.

I am afraid I do not feel satisfied with that. I think this involves the Minister interfering in the conduct of the election after it is started. The prescribing of the forms and all that class of work can be done long before the election has actually commenced, but the Minister would not interfere under this section until after this had been done and the number of candidates was known and other information was available which it would be necessary to have before the forms of ballot paper could be prescribed. If the provision laid down in the Electoral Act concerning the ballot paper were followed in this case I think it would be satisfactory. The matter could be left, I believe, to the discretion of the returning officer. He would know how to do it just as well as the Minister.

There is another special point involved in this. There is to be a certain limit to the number of candidates, and these will not vary except by one or two. If the Minister is responsible for prescribing the particular form to be used in the election there is no reason why you should take from him the responsibility of saying whether it would be one, two, three or four or whatever number of columns there are to be in the form. He has to prescribe the form to be used in this election.

Amendment put and declared lost.
SECTION 10.
(1) An elector in giving his vote must place on his ballot paper the figure 1 opposite the name of the candidate for whom he votes, and may in addition place on his ballot paper the figures 2 and 3, or 2, 3, and 4, and so on opposite the names of other candidates in the order of his preference.
(2) Any ballot paper—
(a) which does not bear the official mark, or
(b) on which the figure 1 standing alone indicating a first preference for some candidate is not placed, or
(c) on which the figure 1 standing alone indicating a first preference is set opposite the name of more than one candidate, or
(d) on which the figure 1 standing alone indicating a first preference and some other number is set opposite the name of the same candidate, or
(e) on which anything except the voter's number on the back is written or marked by which the voter can be identified,
shall be invalid and not counted.

I move amendment 14:—

In sub-section (1), lines 44 and 45, to delete the words "except the voter's number on the back."

This amendment and amendment 24 go together. It is put down to hear what justification, if any, can be offered for the system of writing the voters' number on the back of the ballot paper. According to the Constitution Amendment Bill which was passed concerning this, this election is to be conducted by secret ballot. In order to ensure, apparently, that the ballot will be secret, provision is made by which it is possible to find out how each voter recorded his preferences. Therefore there does not seem to be any useful purpose whatever served by this provision that the number of the voter will be placed upon the ballot paper. If there is any useful purpose served by it, we will be glad to hear it. It seems to me that the only purpose which could be served by that provision would be to have some means by which the secrecy of the ballot could be violated. The same thing is done at elections carried out for the Dáil, but, as I pointed out before, I think it is not so serious on those occasions. It is one thing to find out how each voter recorded out of a total vote of sixty or seventy thousand. It is a very different thing if the total number of votes is only a couple of hundred. There would be very little difficulty for the returning officer or any person on the returning officer's staff, or even for any person—a candidate, for example—attending the distribution of the ballot papers or the counting of the votes finding out how a particular individual voted. If you want an open election, have an open election, and you will get the support of every Deputy on these benches in favour of it. But if you want a secret ballot, let it be secret. Do not let it be secret merely for one section of the House only. I believe the main purpose of this provision is to provide some means, as I said, for violating the secrecy of the ballot. If there is any other reason for it, let the Minister state it. We have given the matter careful consideration, and we have been unable to arrive at any other conclusion concerning the insertion of this section.

I do not know if the Deputy understands the procedure in sending out ballot papers and receiving them back by post. There is sent out to each voter a ballot paper, an envelope in which the ballot paper is to be enclosed, a form of identity, and an envelope in which the envelope is to be returned. The ballot paper is filled up, put inside the small envelope and closed by the person sending it in. The identity paper is then put around that envelope, and that is put into an outer envelope, which is sent to the returning officer. The identity paper is looked at to see that it is properly filled up, and to see that the person sending the envelope in was a person entitled to send it in.

That is to be the way. On the envelope in which the number of the voter is there is the identity number in pencil. The number of the voter is on the outside of the envelope which encloses the ballot paper. These two numbers are compared to ensure that the identity paper that comes in is the identity paper proper to come in that envelope. The identity papers are then put away and sealed up. Before the envelope containing the ballot papers are opened the number of the envelope is compared with the number on the back of the ballot paper for the purpose of establishing, to the satisfaction of the returning officer, that the identity paper in the envelope is the identity paper corresponding to the ballot paper which is inside. It is the envelope enclosing the ballot paper that is the connecting link between the two. The two are never related to each other directly, so that there is no disclosing of the secrecy of the ballot there. At every act which the returning officer takes in carrying out the opening of the count representatives of the candidates, or the candidates themselves, are present. So that, as I say, the identity paper is never brought into direct relation with the ballot papers. The number on the back of the ballot paper is there for one reason only, and that is for the purpose of being able to prove in the case of a petition to the courts for the purpose of the court that the voting paper was issued to a particular person. A particular elector may deny, as part of a policy of upsetting an election, that he got a voting paper or that he was allowed to vote. There is only one way to establish that, and that is by the court having the power to examine the ballot papers, when put in a proper and legal way before the court. It is only the court that can examine the ballot paper for the purpose of relating it to somebody who comes before it claiming that he did not vote or get an opportunity of voting. In so far as the suggestion is made that this provision is to enable it to be known how persons recorded their preferences, in sub-section (2) of Section 14 it is distinctly stated that no person who has voted at a Seanad election shall in any legal proceeding be required to state for whom he has voted. So that it is not within the competence of the court to say in respect of a ballot paper that comes before it how the preferences of a voting paper belonging to a particular man have been cast. I move to report progress.

The Dáil went out of Committee.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again at 8.25.