Ninth Report of the Committee of Selection.

I beg to submit the Ninth Report of the Committee of Selection as follows:—

This Committee has nominated the following Deputies to serve on a Select Committee to consider the demise of certain State mining rights in the County Wicklow:—

Deputies J. Coburn, J. A. Costello, T. P. Dowdall, D. Fitzgerald, J. Fitzgerald-Kenney, H. Flinn, J. Geoghegan, J. Good, S. Moore, W. Norton, and O. Traynor.

I move that the report be adopted.

The motion is: That the report do lie on the Table.

That it lie upon the Table or that it be adopted?

It amounts to the same thing.

I move that the report be referred back to the Committee of Selection for further consideration. It has been said that the chameleon is a creature that can change his colour with amazing frequency. The capacity of Fianna Fáil to change its policy to suit the particular breeze that is blowing puts the chameleon's art to shame. Last night the Fianna Fáil Deputies who were on the Committee of Selection claimed the right to choose not only the Deputies who would represent their Party on the special committee that was to be set up, but also the right to choose the Deputies who would represent the Opposition Party. That claim was rebutted by the representatives of the Opposition and the Committee adjourned for an hour. When it reassembled the Fianna Fáil Deputies not only claimed it, but by their packed majority, forced that construction of the precedents governing the Selection Committees upon the Committee of Selection and they actually did elect or purport to elect Deputies to represent this Party in an inquiry into the seedy transactions of their own Administration.

Is that in order?

The merits of the question to be investigated may not be discussed; the reasons for referring it back to the Committee are the subject of debate.

These Deputies profess to be supporters of President de Valera. On the 17th May, 1929, as reported in column 2257 of volume 29 of the Official Debates, Deputy de Valera, as he then was, is reported as speaking with reference to a Committee similar to the Committee in the deliberations of which we took part last night, and he said:

"With regard to Private Bills in general, we therefore hold that the Committee set up to examine a Private Bill ought to be fairly representative of the House, and to get a representative Committee the same procedure ought to be adopted as is adopted for other Committees."

Now, the Committee of which we are debating the setting up is one of the other committees. It is not a Private Bill Committee. The President continued:

"The procedure in regard to other committees is that on the Selection Committee you have representatives of the different Parties, and when a selection of members has to be made, representatives of the different Parties nominate, and as a rule, the nominations are accepted,"

I ask Deputies Traynor and Smith to take special note of that—"as a rule, the nominations are accepted."

"I do not know that it has ever been held that the Committee of Selection could not refuse to take nominations from the representatives of any Party, but it has not in practice ever been done. Commonsense dictates——"

Of course, he recognised that at this time he was not addressing his own supporters, or he would not appeal to commonsense.

"Commonsense dictates that the simplest way to get a representative committee is to have the Selection Committee representative of all Parties, and to have it understood as a working rule that the nominees of the representatives on that committee of the different Parties will be accepted. That is our position with regard to this particular Joint Committee. We had a representative on it, and we expected that representative, when a selection was being made of members, would have the right to nominate on behalf of our Party such members as he thought would serve on that committee."

That is pretty explicit. It clearly lays down the view of Deputy de Valera, as he then was, and of President de Valera, as he now is. When, however, acting on that well-established and universally accepted precedent, we went to the Committee of Selection last night and handed in the names of four Deputies who would most adequately represent our Party on the Special Committee, we were met by a blank refusal by the packed majority of Fianna Fáil, to consent to their election, and they purported to choose other persons. Now, that is a direct negation of what President de Valera himself stood for in the House when he represented the Opposition. It is a direct repudiation of the well-established precedents by this House which were established long before Fianna Fáil came into the House at all. These were precedents of which Fianna Fáil did not hesitate to claim the protection in their own defence when they came in here as an Opposition. These are precedents established by Cumann na nGaedheal, the Labour Party, and the Independents, when they formed this House in the absence of Fianna Fáil. They were implemented by Fianna Fáil, for their own protection, when they were the Opposition. Their right to claim that protection was admitted by the majority with which they were confronted at that time. But on the first occasion, when those precedents are called to the aid of the minority which faces them in the Opposition, they sent in those two pillars of jurisprudence, Deputy Traynor and Deputy Smith, of Cavan, to luxuriate in their opportunity of trampling on the precedents which protected the independence of this House. It is nothing surprising to us to meet an attitude of that kind in Deputies like Deputy Traynor and Deputy Smith. We expected it and it does not surprise us.

I wish to make it quite clear that, though we recognise in their attitude a determination on their part to prostitute the proceedings of this House for the purpose of cheap Party advantage and for the purpose of defeating the ends for which this Committee was set up, we recognise our duty to co-operate in the carrying on of Parliamentary government in this country and we therefore propose to partake in this Committee in order to avoid a situation arising in which it might be said elsewhere that the ordinary institutions of Parliamentary government had broken down for want of capacity in the representatives of the people to carry them on. I want the House to realise, quite apart from the contemptible conduct which we have all come to expect from certain Deputies in the Government Party, the extremely disastrous precedent that is going to be established if the House allows this thing to happen. The Constitution guarantees one forum in this State upon which public men can ventilate what they believe to be abuses and where what appears to them to be a prima facie case of scandal has arisen, they can refer to it in this House; they can demand its investigation, and they can catechise the responsible Minister with absolute privilege.

And they can abuse that privilege.

If the departure which is now adumbrated from well-established precedent is permitted by this House the situation in future is going to be that, when a public man states what appears to him to be prima facie evidence of abuses in Government circles or Government administration, the Government of the day can, by using their majority in this House, fix the terms of reference for a Select Committee consisting not necessarily of the facts as stated by the member of the Opposition——

That matter is not relevant.

I submit in brief that they can use their majority to fix the terms of reference, that they can use their majority for the purpose of choosing the personnel, and that they can then use their majority on the Select Committee for the purpose of making a report. I venture to submit that I am not departing from the strict rule of order in pointing out the consequence that is going to flow from the precedent about to be established. First, the Government majority in this House can fix the terms of reference.

The Deputy should appreciate the fact that as soon as the terms of reference are decided by a Vote of the House they become terms of reference settled by the Dáil and may not be described as Party terms.

That merely emphasises the argument which I am submitting to the House. If Parliamentary institutions are to be worked they must be worked with goodwill. If they are to be abused by a majority they become the most loathsome tyranny of all, and that is the tyranny of a majority masquerading as democracy. They become a veiled and loathsome tyranny which holds itself out to the public as an advocate of freedom. It is to be observed that once the terms of reference are fixed they go up to the Committee as the terms of reference adopted, not by a Party, but by the House.

And have done so.

And have done so. Under the procedure of this House, without particular reference to these terms of reference, it is open to the Government to insist on any terms of reference they like if they command a majority of the members of the House. Having got that far, the precedent is laid down that the Opposition shall be furnished with the protection that they can put upon that Committee a fair proportion of members of their own choosing so that they may put upon it the most efficient members of their Party to conduct the inquiry that will arise out of the terms of reference fixed by the dominant Party in this House.

Now, it is sought to establish a rule that, having fixed the terms of reference, the Government can then proceed to choose, not only members of the Special Committee to represent their own Party but, where they think necessary, they can also choose members who they think will represent the Opposition Party, although the Opposition Party warns them that the names upon which their fancy has lighted do not represent the Opposition, and although the Opposition Party tenders for the acceptance of the Committee names which they, the Opposition, say fairly represent them in the matter to be undertaken. In this particular case the names submitted by the Opposition were those of Deputies Costello, McGilligan, Fitzgerald and Coburn. The abuses to be investigated were abuses which appeared to have——

They were allegations to be investigated.

They were insinuations to be investigated.

And the insinuation was——

Read the terms of reference.

——were abuses which took rise in the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Is the Deputy in order in describing them as abuses? That is the matter which the Committee has to determine.

The Deputy must not prejudge the matters upon which the Committee is to pronounce.

Surely, if if choose to describe a certain state of things as an abuse, I am free to do so. Surely, I am not bound to accept the view of Ministers as to what I conceive to be propriety in public life.

The Chair has not asked the Deputy to accept the view of any Minister or Deputy, but has stated that the House should not now prejudge the findings of the Committee which it has set up to investigate a certain matter.

I do not desire to thrust my views down the throats of the Government representatives, as they sought to thrust theirs down mine last week. I merely state my view and if it does not coincide with theirs they have the right to differ. The abuses that arose, arose in the Department of Industry and Commerce.

On a point of order. This Committee is being set up, according to a resolution passed by this House, to consider certain allegations that were made, and I submit that the Deputy has no right to describe the Committee as having any other function.

The Minister's contention is quite correct. The Committee is being set up to investigate allegations or charges made and to discover whether there were abuses.

That Department is one the procedure of which is extremely complex. The statute under which the powers are conferred upon the Minister is a complex one, and there was one Deputy in this Party peculiarly competent to inquire into the activities that had taken place.

Into the allegations.

Into the activities that had taken place—activities which are well known to the people of this country and which the people of the country are well able to judge. That Deputy, by the vote of the Government supporters, has been specifically precluded from membership of this Committee.

Because he made the allegations.

And the Government claim the right to exclude from the Select Committee the one individual who, we say, is fully competent to investigate matters which will come within the competence of the Committee to examine. I want to submit to the Government that in order to draw a veil over these activities they have allowed themselves to be carried away into discriminating against one individual. I urge them to realise that, in fact, what they are doing is destroying one of the most valuable liberties that Deputies in this House have got. I urge them to refrain from doing something which is going to be irreparable, simply from motives of pure expediency.

Precedents are hard to establish; but once established they are almost impossible to get rid of. We have, in this House, definitely established the right of every Party to nominate its own representatives upon select committees. That right is going to be taken away. If it is once established that the majority can take that right from the minority, in a case of one individual, you will have established, for all time, the principle that the majority has a right to nominate the whole committee if they so will, and this precedent will be quoted.

Deputy de Valera, as he then was, when in opposition saw the danger of it. The Government of the day saw the danger when Deputy de Valera remonstrated, and willingly agreed that it was essential to preserve that protection. Admittedly it is a fiction, because in the theory of the law the Committee of Selection can choose whom they will without reference to Parties at all. The precedent has grown up in order to prevent the committee doing injustice. Bring down that precedent once and you open the floodgates of injustice, and no one can close them except by an express resolution of this House, which will completely destroy the whole system of committees of selection for the future. We believe —we do not ask anyone on the Government side to agree with us—that this inquiry can be conducted satisfactorily only if Deputy McGilligan is a member of the Committee. We believe that unless he is there to assist in indicating persons and papers which must be sent for——

He will be there all right, as a witness.

—which must be sent for, a full investigation will not take place. We are satisfied that the granting of a lease to two members of the Minister's Party——

Does not arise.

I agree that it does not arise at this stage, but it is something into which inquiry is necessary. We want the inquiry to be of a kind to remove all doubts in the public mind. We want the fullest possible examination of everybody and everything connected with it, but we want it done in such a way that substantial truth will emerge. And that cannot be if the Government adhere to the attitude their representative adopted on this Committee of Selection. I urge them not to jettison precedents of this House in order to serve the contemptible and transient purpose they have in mind at the present time.

It is admitted that the precedent has been that all Parties can nominate any members they like to serve on these committees. I ask Deputy Dillon, or any other Deputy in this House, is there any precedent here or anywhere else for nominating on a committee a person who is the accuser. I submit that would be a far more dangerous precedent to set up than the precedent that has already been established in this House.

The accuser to be judge and jury.

I desire to second the motion that the report be referred back. The reason it is necessary to do this is that the action of the Committee of Selection last night was contrary to every scrap of precedent in connection with it. We had the President's appreciation of the situation, and the value of it, two years after he entered this House. We have the admission from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs now that that has been the precedent. Nevertheless the Committee of Selection were forced last night, shall I say by the chairman's attitude, to deal with matters in a way they were never dealt with before. The Selection Committee heretofore was never anything but machinery for associating the proposals of the various Parties in the House, and putting them together for presentation to the House. There never was a motion before them. The Committee has its own tradition. It was the machinery for taking certain bits of information, piecing them together, and presenting them to the House. All the precedents established in that particular way were scrapped and wiped out last night by the attitude of the chairman, forced upon him by the attitude of the representatives of the Fianna Fáil Party.

The House has decided that a special committee shall be set up to elicit certain facts, and having elicited them, to make such report upon them as a select committee of the Parliament of this country ought to make. As far as the people of the country are concerned, and the rank and file of this House are concerned, that report should be made upon the facts elicited by a committee like that, and would be worthy of the House and worthy of an Irish Parliament. But the particular things we are concerned with are the facts themselves. Deputy McGilligan brought some facts before the Dáil——

What facts?

Certain facts with regard to action taken, and certain facts with regard to the existence of documents. So far as the facts could be brought before the Dáil he made the House aware of the existence of certain documents, and the happenings of certain transactions. And on this he based an allegation that transactions had taken place, or were taking place, in respect of public property in this country which it was not in the public interest should be allowed to continue that they were such as should be inquired into in a public way; that the full facts should be brought to light and such action taken as would preserve the public interest.

Apart from whatever the departure from precedent may bring personally, I am concerned at the moment with the immediate purposes of this House; and the immediate purpose of this House is that it requires a select committee and has ordered such to be set up to elicit the facts and make a report to this House. Deputy Dillon has stated that Deputy McGilligan is being prevented from acting as a member of this committee in accordance with the wishes of the Fianna Fáil Party, and Deputy Donnelly says approvingly with a nod of the head: "Because he made the allegation."

These are the terms of reference.

The position now is that a person who is a member of the House, who becomes conversant with certain facts and, as a matter of public duty, brings to the notice of this House, in proper order, information with regard to them and informs the House as to what he thinks these facts imply in the matter of prejudice and injury to the public interest, when he convinces this House that there is a matter there to be inquired into, is going to be excluded from the personnel of the Committee commissioned by this House to find out who are the persons that should be brought to be examined to elicit certain facts.

He is obviously one of them, is he not?

He is the outstanding——

Witness.

——person that can most assist this Committee.

As a witness.

The important thing is that the facts shall be brought out and reported upon.

You would take him out of the dock and put him into the jury-box.

There is many a queer place that Deputy Cleary would like to put his political opponents.

I should like to see them in a better place than they are.

A Deputy who becomes cognisant of certain facts, brings these facts before the House here and so makes a case to the House that the public interest is being injured and has to be protected, is to be excluded, in Deputy Donnelly's opinion, from membership of the Committee that is to find out, by order of this House, every single person who can give information, every document in which information may be available, and have these brought before the Committee as a whole. This is a Committee on which the Government bloc are to have a majority. They have the chairman. There will be one report. If there is a majority opinion in that Committee, the report will be the majority opinion. There simply will be one report. It is only in the examination in the work of the Committee itself that the facts may be fully and clearly seen. Lack of information on the part of the Committee as to where they may look for facts, either from persons or documents, will keep the facts hidden. The absence from the Committee of any person, in respect of whom there is clear evidence that he can be of use to the Committee in following up the facts is going to make the work of the other members of the Committee more laborious than it otherwise would.

It seems to me that the attitude of the Fianna Fáil members if they refuse to accept this motion, is that they want to make it difficult for the members of this House sitting on this Committee to get at the facts. They can be assured that the sense of public duty, which members of this Party have in this House, is such as not to allow them shrink from any additional effort or work that may be necessary to get all the facts with regard to this particular matter, so that the facts and the implications of them may be fully estimated by the Committee. It is deliberately throwing difficulties in the way of the work of the Committee, set up by this House, to exclude from membership of the Committee the person who, because he brought certain facts before the House and because he made a case before this House, brought the House to the point of setting up this Committee to inquire into the facts.

On the contrary, he tried to evade the setting up of the Committee.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce can take the two amendments to his original motion, one by Deputy McGilligan and the other by Deputy Cosgrave, and examine them and see what aspect of this matter these amendments were going to help in examination.

I mentioned them—the interests of Deputy McGilligan's friends, the people who briefed him.

Order! That is not relevant.

What apparently has disclosed itself is that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is prepared to act as the spear-head of a movement to keep off this Select Committee the person who can most assist it.

As a witness.

He might be a witness that you might not want to hear.

We are only too anxious to hear him. We are giving him every facility.

A witness who does not want to be cross-examined.

I hold no brief for Deputy McGilligan as to what his performance under cross-examination is likely to be.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce does not appear to have enjoyed any experience he has had of it.

We want to know from Deputies of every Party, whether we are now to accept Deputy Donnelly's attitude that if a Deputy in this House puts facts before the House and makes therefrom allegations that drive this House to set up a Committee to inquire into them, the person who has taken the initiative in inquiring into the matter is going to be excluded from the body that will be set up to pursue the inquiry. There is no other interpretation that can be put on Deputy Donnelly's remark just now, the attitude of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party at the Selection Committee last night, or the vote that they may give if they decline to refer this report back to the Selection Committee, and, referring it back, do not give their representatives on that Committee different instructions. The House, by referring the report back, will do two things: (1) it will stick to the precedents already established in the Committee of Selection, and (2) it will establish this precedent, that when this House sets up a Committee to inquire into any matter that it believes should be inquired into because of the public interest, that the person who is responsible for drawing the attention of this House to such a public matter will not, by reason of the fact that he took the initiative in warning the House, be excluded from the Committee set up to inquire. If there is one person in this House who can be of use on this Committee, it is Deputy McGilligan, and to keep him off the Committee is to do what I have said, and to endeavour to make the work of the inquiry harder for those who may have to go on the Committee.

The Attorney-General

I confess that I have not very much knowledge of the working of this type of Committee. I can only gather from the general experience that I have had with regard to the setting up of tribunals the principles that ought to be applied by Deputies in considering the question that we are now discussing. It does seem to me an extraordinary attitude for the Opposition to take up: that it is unreasonable for Deputies here to oppose putting on this particular Committee Deputy McGilligan. I say that because the very resolution which was on the Order Paper states that the Committee is to be set up to investigate allegations made by Deputy McGilligan. I may be approaching this from a wrong. point of view, but it seems to me an amazing thing that Deputy Dillon and Deputy Mulcahy should, with such vehemence, urge that the man who has appeared in this House in the rôle of accuser, and who, from what I have heard of his statements in the House, has prejudged the issues, should allow his name to be nominated on this Committee. That seems to me a most amazing thing. I find it difficult to understand why Deputies who, I presume, are setting up this Committee in theory for the purpose of having an impartial inquiry to judge whether the allegations made by Deputy McGilligan are correctly founded or not should ask that that Committee should contain the member of the House who has been responsible for making the allegations which induced the Minister to invite the House to set up an inquiry to investigate the charges. That seems to be an extraordinary attitude, and it is very difficult to understand it.

I gather that this particular tribunal is to approach its task in a judicial manner: that it will inquire into these allegations in a judicial way. It passes me to understand how any Deputy who has made himself responsible for drawing inferences from certain facts which, he says, he has already in his possession, should consider himself fitted to occupy a position of an impartial judge at an inquiry such as this. That is one reason why I certainly cannot understand the attitude of the Opposition. Another reason which has been adverted to in the cross-fire and exchanges that took place here is an equally cogent one. Deputy Mulcahy attempted to suggest that what happened here was that Deputy McGilligan brought certain facts before the House and, more or less, invited the House to set up this Committee to inquire into them. I do not think that is exactly what happened at all. What happened I stated a moment ago. That Deputy McGilligan made certain definite charges. In any case, the terms of the resolution set down that there are certain definite charges made by him, and this Committee is being set up to approach this matter in an impartial way, to get all the facts and to see if those allegations are justifiable or not. It seems fairly clear as was suggested in the cross-fire and exchanges that have taken place here that he must be a witness there. I cannot very well understand why he should not be anxious to be a witness. It is very difficult to understand how he can be both judge and witness as well. I cannot understand why he himself should not insist on his Party allowing him to elect to appear there to substantiate the charges which, according to this resolution, he has made and which are about to be investigated.

I appeal to the members opposite to drop the Party considerations which seem to weigh with them in this matter and to approach this question in the way that any responsible body would approach the question of setting up a committee to inquire into serious charges. They should not put themselves in the absurd position of insisting that one of the judges is to be the man who, according to my reading of what he has said, has certainly to a great extent prejudged the very issues which he is asked to try. For these reasons, I suggest to the Party opposite that they ought to reconsider the attitude which they are adopting towards this motion.

I do not know if the Attorney-General was in the House during the discussions which took place on the motion which gave terms of reference to the Committee. Let us have the history of the whole case.

The terms of reference may not be debated.

I understand. The position, at any rate, is that there was a motion handed in by the Minister. The Minister, according to his own statement, amended that motion at the behest of certain persons, certain interested parties. That is point No. 1. The next is that the Minister selected the terms of reference, but he objected to including in the terms of reference the very thing that the Attorney-General has referred to—the charges made by Deputy McGilligan.

The Attorney-General

On a point of order, I referred to the resolution the House had accepted.

I know. The Minister put his resolution to the House and the House accepted it. That, I take it, will put the point made by the Attorney-General in order. The House, having passed a resolution which was objected to, sent it forward to the Selection Committee, and the report of the Selection Committee has, I understand, already been given. I would remind Deputies that this is a Selection Committee and not a Nomination Committee. A Selection Committee is set up on the basis that it is composed of members from each Party in the House. It has to do certain things. That Committee, as I say, is composed of representatives of the different Parties, and its work is done on the basis that the views of the different political Parties get expression there. This is the first time in the history of the House that the nominations of the Selection Committee have been made by a majority. Is that statement questioned?

It was done in the case of the Bank of Ireland Bill.

What is the Deputy talking about?

It was never done before in the history of the House.

Let us be clear about this. There are several Committees.

One is called the Joint Committee on Private Bills. That is not a Selection Committee. Is that point clear to the Deputy? Let me repeat again, that this is the first occasion on which a Committee has been selected by a majority by the Selection Committee. If that point is accepted, then we can get on. It is not fair to the public that there should be a lot of pettifogging cloudiness in connection with a matter that is up here for discussion. Let me again emphasise that the Selection Committee of this House has never before appointed a Committee by a majority. It has always been unanimous.

It was never made necessary before.

So that this is a precedent. There are a couple of other points mentioned in connection with this matter which are of interest. The Attorney-General says that Deputy McGilligan is the accuser and, as such, has prejudged the issue. The Attorney-General has had experience in connection with prosecutions and, if I may say so, occupies a position even above that of prosecutor. He has to take judicial cognisance of the elements of a prosecution. He knows what the position of a prosecutor is in court. The prosecutor gets the case and, if he is satisfied with it, it goes before the court. But there are other cases in which he says: "I enter a nolle prosequi.” He is prosecutor and judge at the same time.

The Attorney-General

He is not.

He judges the case and says that he is withdrawing the prosecution. Is not that so?(Interruption). We can deal with this matter without any heat, without any excitement or without any hysteria or irrelevance. We are informed that a man cannot prosecute and be a judge. The Attorney-General is both prosecutor and judge. He is prosecutor when he places the case before the court and he is judge when he says: “I am entering a nolle prosequi in this case.”

That is far-fetched.

It may be far-fetched but it is information for some of the people over there. What is the next point? That Deputy McGilligan is a witness. The Attorney-General, above all the members of that Party, knows the facts to which a witness can be called upon to testify. Has there been any statement made here by Deputy McGilligan which would qualify him for the office of witness before that Committee? Was he a witness to the lease? Was he a witness to any of the transactions which took place? The Attorney-General would, I think, admit that, from all we have heard, there is nothing which would qualify Deputy McGilligan to be a witness. That is my opinion and I am not a lawyer. Therefore, the witness point goes. The objection stood upon two legs, neither of them very strong. One of them was that Deputy McGilligan was the prosecutor; the other was that he was a witness.

He is the accused.

Accused of what?

He is accused of making allegations knowing them to be false.

Of doing his public duty.

We had better clear up this point. We have had a disorderly interjection by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is it to be allowed to pass, Sir?

On a point of order, is it in order for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to say that Deputy McGilligan made accusations in this House knowing them to be untrue?

That point is actually being raised by the leader of the Opposition. The Minister's observation was not in order.

Does the Minister propose to withdraw the statement?

It was for that reason that I moved to have this Committee set up.

Do you withdraw?

Let him alone. You would not expect anything else.

Scenes in this House are not advisable from any point of view. It is advisable in the interests of the House and of the country that we ought not to have business carried on in a way which reflects on members of the House. I suggest to the Minister that his observation should be withdrawn.

It is about time the Deputy began to think of these things.

I have made one rule and kept it—that is, to give no offence to anybody in the House, and I have been attacked as often as anybody here.

The statement I made was that I accuse Deputy McGilligan of making allegations knowing them to be false. I am proposing to prove that before this Committee.

The Chair has stated that that accusation is not in order and should be withdrawn.

The House is on its trial on occasions like this. When public opinion runs high on matters of this kind, it is more than advisable that the House should keep its head. At any rate, the two Front Benches of the House ought to be an example to the rest of the House. If the Minister thinks that it is going to add to his reputation—he stated the other day that his reputation as an honest man was his only asset—to make a charge of that kind, we shall have to leave it to the country to decide.

On a point of order, A Chinn Comhairle, is your ruling with regard to the observation of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to be treated by him with contempt and is that conduct to go unchallenged in the House? You, Sir, stated that the observation made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce was disorderly and should be withdrawn. The Minister has ignored your ruling.

I have ruled that it was neither permissible nor orderly to state that any Deputy deliberately said what he knew to be false. The Minister must withdraw the remark.

That is my point.

I am prepared, in deference to your ruling, to withdraw these words but that is what I propose to prove to this Committee.

That is a different matter.

That is why he is packing the Committee.

I have disposed of two points to my own satisfaction—the point as to the prosecutor and the point as to the witness. Let us examine the other side of the matter. We are advised by one or two speakers from the Fianna Fáil Party, by interjection or otherwise, that we ought not to be unreasonable. Their measure of the meaning of "reasonable" is to do everything they wish to do and nothing that they do not wish to do. I was not here this evening when this report was read to the House. But, on this Selection Committee, I find by the Press, there was one of the persons whose names were mentioned in connection with this lease.

He took no part in the proceedings.

Was he present?

Yes, but he took no part in the business. On a point of explanation——

The Parliamentary Secretary will have an opportunity of explaining later.

May I explain that the particular Deputy offered to withdraw but, by the wish of the Committee, remained.

May I add to the Parliamentary Secretary's observations that Deputy Briscoe offered to withdraw from the meeting of the Committee of Selection and that my colleagues and I immediately stated that we had no objection whatever to his remaining.

Deputy Cosgrave was trying to pull the other thing over us.

This is an impartial body. Deputy McGilligan was not there. They had their meeting and they brought in their selection. Let us link up the procedure. In the first place, the terms of reference were recommended by the Minister and forced through the House by the Minister. That is the first impartiality. The second impartiality is the selection.

The selection takes place by people who prepared the terms of reference, or by their colleagues. What transpires from the selection? There were two Ministers mentioned, if my recollection is correct, in connection with this case, and the Parliamentary Secretary to one of them is to be one of the judges. That is the third impartiality. We have got to realise that if people speak of impartiality it is not secured by putting a cloak on it, or by labelling it impartiality. We want to see impartiality actually in practice. It is well-known from what transpired here that Deputy McGilligan is not a witness. If there is objection to his being on the Committee, for the express purpose of finding out some of the things the Committee was to investigate, that is all right, But, as was stated, the Committee is not set up to investigate the charges he made, and that he read out. On these grounds, number one, Deputy McGilligan was not present when the Selection Committee was setting up this Committee. Number two, the nominees of this Party have not been accepted. A precedent has been established now for the first time, and it is a precedent which distinguishes this whole proceeding from beginning to end. This is obviously a case in which there ought to have been agreement, as regards the terms of reference and the Committee. No attempt at all has been made at that, except to correct the haste of the Minister.

The Deputy was informed that the terms of reference are not relevant to the discussion. The discussion is limited to a motion to refer back for a definite reason. The reason stated is that one of the persons nominated by the chief Opposition Party was not put on the Select Committee.

Thirdly, they have not distinguished themselves with regard to the impartiality which they invite other people to adopt. If we accepted that principle of impartiality and if we had taken the same line as the Deputies on the opposite benches who have entered objections, we could have entered objections to certain names. It was not done. Why? Because this is a matter of great public interest and great public importance, and it has been treated in a manner which reflects badly on the Committee of Selection, and on those who advised them to act as they have acted in this case.

The Deputy who has just sat down has been pleading for consideration of this case in a judicial and impartial manner, yet, he took the opportunity in his speech to endeavour to prejudice, in advance, the opinion which the public might form on the report of the Committee, by referring to the fact that the name of the Minister for Finance had been mentioned in the course of discussion on the whole matter. I think I showed to your satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of the House, that this matter was first raised most improperly by Deputy McGilligan on the debate on the Finance Bill, and that he made several inaccurate statements, by saying that the matter arose on the State Lands Act, for which I am the Minister responsible. In fact it arose on the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931, for which the Minister for Industry and Commerce is responsible. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing in the terms of reference of this Committee for which I, as Minister, am peculiarly, individually, or particularly, involved. The only purpose that Deputy Cosgrave could have had in taking objection on that ground, to the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance will be a member of the Committee, was to endeavour to prejudice in advance the opinion which the public might form on the report of the Committee. I have had no discussion about the case, good, bad or indifferent, with my Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Flinn, and I do not intend to have, so long as the Committee is sitting and so long as its report remains a matter of discussion.

That will be a great relief to the Minister.

The Minister sought to establish to your satisfaction that Deputy McGilligan offended against the rules of order in connection with matters concerning the Minister's Department.

I did not say anything of the sort. I said I thought I had established to the satisfaction of the House that I was administering the State Lands Act but not the Mines and Minerals Act, under which this matter arose. It is time to come back to the terms of reference. I would like to remind the House what they are.

The terms of reference are not in order.

They are, Sir, in this context.

On a point of order.

A moment, Sir. The terms of reference are that a Committee has been appointed to report to the Dáil on allegations made by Deputy McGilligan, and I am pointing out that it would not be proper that a member of the Committee should be the person who, according to the terms of reference, has made allegations; allegations not merely to things which relate to particular individuals whose names have been mentioned, but also relate—

The terms of reference may not be analysed. The Minister has made his point, that certain allegations were made by Deputy McGilligan. That should suffice for his purpose.

Yes, but I am going to point out that one allegation was that the action of the Minister in making such demise was improper. It has been stated that the terms are not wide enough and do not cover certain charges made by the Deputy. On that charge, they do cover everything said in this House by Deputy McGilligan. However, in relation to the things which Deputy McGilligan has said, if he appears before the Committee, he will come in some one or other capacity. Many of us believe that he will appear before that Committee as the accused person. Others think he is going there as a witness. The Party opposite thinks that he is the accuser in the case. In whatever capacity he goes before the Committee, I submit that it is improper that he should go there as a member, both as the accused and as his own judge. If he is a member of the Committee he cannot be a witness before it to prove allegations which some of his friends pretend to believe have substance. He cannot be there as accuser and as judge. That is what the Party opposite wants to make him. The one thing which they do not want to have him appear at the Committee is as a witness, because, quite evidently his connection with other parties to these proceedings——

That does not arise.

——would necessarily come into the discussion.

It has been stated by Deputy Dillon that precedents are to be established. But when a precedent has been established—and I am not suggesting that there has been any well-established precedent in this matter—it is capable of abuse, when it is abused it becomes a new precedent which it is desirable should be overthrown. What was the new precedent which it was sought to establish in regard to this matter? I think it will be admitted that it has been the universal practice, when there is going to be a judicial or an impartial investigation of any sort, that a person who is either the accuser or the accused should not also be the judge. I do not mind what light Deputy McGilligan stands in this matter. He should not appear on the Committee as a member of the investigating body. His function, if he has any function at all before the Committee, is either to give proof of the charges he made or to go there to rebut the charge which will be made against him. He cannot go there in a dual capacity. If, in putting forward our nominee for this Committee, we had the temerity, the hardihood or the audacity to nominate the Minister for Industry and Commerce, would not public opinion be shocked? Would not public opinion be shocked and appalled if we took such a cynical course? What is proposed by the Opposition? They propose to set up on that Committee the other party to these proceedings. Do they think they are going to get away with that? Do they not think that public opinion is going to see through it?

You would not leave it to the public.

Is not public opinion going to say that one of the reasons why the Opposition are trying to put Deputy McGilligan on that Committee is in order that there might not be such examination of his part in these proceedings, as would prove clearly that whoever else had a right to make accusations in this matter, he has not.

That is a matter for investigation by the Committee.

I am only dealing now, Sir, with the reason why the Opposition want to deal with this question in that way. Perhaps the other reason is that they want to make certain that there might be some other person on the Committee who would not subscribe to its report and they wish to put Deputy McGilligan on to ensure this because he could not damnify himself by subscribing to it. What other grounds could there be for the Opposition to seek to put Deputy McGilligan on this Committee? Is it that they are inadequately represented on the Committee already? It cannot be that, because they have the former Attorney-General on the Committee; they have the ex-Minister for Justice on the Committee; they have the ex-Minister for Defence on the Committee; and they have the ex-Minister for External Affairs on the Committee, and they have Deputy Coburn on the Committee. Is it suggested that any of these men are not capable of carrying out these investigations? Are we to understand that a trained investigator like Deputy Costello is incompetent to conduct an enquiry of this sort unless he has Deputy McGilligan sitting beside him? I suggest that Deputy Costello does know a great deal about this case and about the proposed investigation into this whole case. Deputy Costello was sitting beside Deputy McGilligan when Deputy McGilligan was making these allegations, and I formed the impression that Deputy Costello was perfectly familiar with the whole of this case. I got the impression that there was not anything that Deputy McGilligan could tell Deputy Costello that the later did not know already.

At that rate, you should put Deputy Costello off the Committee.

In any event, we are putting him on the Committee.

Who is putting him on?

We are saying that Deputy McGilligan should not be put on the Committee.

Deputy Costello only sat beside Deputy McGilligan.

Deputy Dillon used the word "prostitution" in connection with this. I suggest that it would be a prostitution of the procedure and privileges of this House if the person who made certain allegations here, and who is called upon to prove his allegations, were to be a member of the body that is to decide on the truth or otherwise of his statements. Of course, we all know that what the Opposition wants to secure is to save Deputy McGilligan from the necessity of making good the allegations he made here.

What about the observations the President made?

Deputy Mulcahy says that the Committee must not be held up in its work for lack of information or lack of knowledge as to where to look for the facts. Is not Deputy McGilligan still a member of the Party opposite? He is not ostracised? They are not boycotting him, are they? Is there any fact in the possession of Deputy McGilligan that he is afraid to give to Deputy Costello or Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney or any of the other members of the Committee who sat with him in the same Cabinet? Is there any person that Deputy McGilligan wishes to bring forward as a witness in this matter about whom he cannot inform his colleagues? Is there any fact that Deputy McGilligan should conceal from the members of the Committee—his own colleagues— merely because he himself is not a member of the Committee? The Deputy is in intimate touch with his own colleagues, and surely there is no fact that he would wish to conceal from those of them who happen to be members of this Committee? Who is going to be absent from the Committee who could be helpful to the Committee? Deputy Mulcahy said that the reason why it was sought to keep Deputy McGilligan off the Committee was because Deputy McGilligan knew of certain facts that would be helpful to the Committee. If there be any truth in that allegation, let Deputy McGilligan appear before the Committee and prove who is cognisant of these alleged facts and let him satisfy the Committee that he is cognisant of the existence of these facts, and that the statements he made are true, because that is the whole question. The whole question involved in this matter is whether the statements made by Deputy McGilligan are true or false and whether they were justifiable under the law. Let Deputy McGilligan submit to the examination of the members of the Committee some evidence that will, at any rate, convince them that there was some foundation for the allegations he made and some substance in the charges he made in this House.

If Deputy McGilligan is to be a member of that Committee, however, does not everybody know that the one thing that cannot be done is to cross-examine him—the man who has been the prime mover in the whole thing— about these allegations? Perhaps that is the reason why the Opposition, for the first time, want to run a coach-and-six through all the rules of procedure in order to make a Deputy a member of the very Committee before which the same Deputy should prove to its members the truth of the allegations he made in this House. Of course, the Deputy says that he did not make any allegations, but at any rate, the purpose of the Committee is to inquire into his insinuations or into the impressions which the Deputy wished the public to form as a result of his statement.

What have the rules of judicial procedure and fair-play to do with this inquiry? Absolutely nothing! If this Committee were going to examine the facts in a spirit of impartiality and in a spirit of judicial inquiry, I agree that it would be grotesque to put Deputy McGilligan on such a Committee, and I hold that it would be equally grotesque to put the Minister for Industry and Commerce on it. As things have developed, however, I would be perfectly satisfied to see both Deputy McGilligan and the Minister for Industry and Commerce on that Committee, because it is not going to be an impartial Committee. It was the Minister for Industry and Commerce himself who decided what would be the spirit of that Committee. The Minister decided that the question to be decided was going to be a Party issue and that he was going to treat it as a Party issue and as nothing else. The Minister for Industry and Commerce also decided that he was going to frame the terms of reference in a way that this Party here strenuously objects to. The fact of the matter is that this Committee is going to perform only one function: and that is to collect and present a body of evidence. The chances of an unanimous report, in view of what has occurred in the meantime, are absolutely nil.

I might remind the Deputy that one of the powers of the Committee is to send for papers and documents.

And do not forget it!

What is the object of the Minister's remark?

Just to put you off.

I say that all that this Committee is going to do is to collect and present evidence, (and evidence includes oral testimony as well as documents) and that that can be better done if the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Deputy McGilligan are members of the Committee than if they were not members of it. If the Committee had a genuinely judicial character, it would be otherwise; but, as it is, I see no reason why the Minister and Deputy McGilligan should not be members of the Committee. Consequently, I see no reason why the Opposition should not be given its right, by the precedents of this House, to nominate its own members on such a Committee. I suggest that it is for the Opposition, and not for the Government, to judge whether it is proper to make a particular nomination or not.

I have always regarded the Fianna Fáil Party as very cunning politicians and I certainly have no reason to change my mind to-day. We have the whole machinery of Government and the whole machinery of the majority Party in this House devoted to trying to make an issue an artificial issue which, in fact, is not the issue. We have them one by one standing up in this debate to argue whether in fact it is desirable or undesirable to have Deputy McGilligan a member of a particular Committee. The issue that is to be decided by the House to-day is a far graver issue and a far more serious issue than whether an individual, or any particular group of individuals, should sit on any committee. It really is whether, in fact, the normal system of Party Parliamentary control is to be trampled under foot and whether the ordinary courtesies and the ordinary decencies that exist between political opponents and opposition Parties in a country's Parliament are to survive or not.

The Minister for Finance tells us that Deputy McGilligan was not allowed on that Committee because public opinion would be shocked. In all honesty, must it not be admitted that if we were likely to do anything that would shock public opinion, the last hands that would be stretched out to save us would be Fianna Fáil hands, and even of the Fianna Fáil hands, that the last of all would come from the Government Front Bench? That is not the honest reason why Deputy McGilligan is objected to. We have the Attorney-General, a trained lawyer — trained in Parliamentary quibbling, I regret to say—getting up to finesse about judge and witness and prosecutor, with the cloak of impartiality around him, but his particular line was much too glib to deceive anybody by the cloak he wore. The Attorney-General understands better than I do what constitutes a witness and what is admissible as evidence. The Attorney-General knows very well that the particular type of evidence which Deputy McGilligan tabled here was documentary; that his whole case was based on a document; that that document is available for this Committee of Inquiry, with or without Deputy McGilligan; and that beyond that particular document, there was no statement made by Deputy McGilligan that could be regarded, even remotely, as evidence.

The Deputy is ruled off this Committee because he is a man with a particularly clear and searching mind and because he is a man with an intimate knowledge of the particular Department we are dealing with. The Deputy is ruled off that Committee not because public conscience would be shocked if he were on the Committee, but because public conscience would be shocked by what he is capable of bringing out if he were on the Committee.

He can bring it out as a witness.

Every time the Party opposite is ashamed and discredited, we have the asinine guffaws, the unhappier they are the louder the laugh, and the worse their case, the more the interruption. But I am entitled to speak here free from interruption, and I am entitled to give my opinion, and the empty inane guffaws from over there show the anxiety of the Party opposite to attract attention even to a guffaw rather than that attention should centre around the gravity of the situation which is to be inquired into by this tribunal.

Let us here, and let the public outside, consider how the Parliamentary majority is to be used. The precedents established here lay it down that the only Committee of the Dáil that is in existence normally which is to inquire into the work of public Departments will of necessity always have a majority drawn from the Opposition and a Chairman drawn from the Opposition Party. The only Parliamentary Committee normally in existence whose function it is to inquire into the work of Government Departments was established under a clean régime, and the safeguard of the public was that the majority of that Committee and the Chairman of that Committee would be drawn from the political minority of this House. We are here faced with the situation that certain documentary evidence has been produced in this House, and if that evidence is substantiated and the obvious deductions from that evidence proved to be correct, the House is called on to inquire closely and intensely into a Government Department, in order either to prove or to disprove the existence of what amounts to as grave and as big a scandal as ever was heard of in the history of this State. How do we depart, in the first place, from all normal, clean precedent? We, first of all, use our majority in this House so that anything will be inquired into rather than the statements made here, and we will not inquire into that Department, in spite of the fact that we had the cheap, bombastic——

The terms of reference have been fixed by this House and they stand. What else should go before that Committee was argued when these terms of reference were being argued and may not be reverted to now.

The Chair is saying exactly what I was saying.

The Chair did not so understand it.

The terms of reference were fixed by this House by a majority. That is step No. 1. Step No. 2 is to secure that the majority of the Committee to inquire into the charges will be again constituted by and from the majority Party, and step No. 3 is that the man most calculated, in the opinion of this Party, to bring all that is behind the scenes to light is precluded from serving on that Committee by a vote again of the majority. Heretofore, as I said, ordinary Parliamentary decency laid it down that when there was an inquiry into a Government Department, irrespective of the magnitude of the Government majority, the majority of the members of the Committee and the Chairman of the Committee would be drawn from the political Opposition. That was the greatest safeguard the public had and democracy in this country had.

What about a judicial committee?

I am speaking of the Committee to inquire into public expenditure, public administration. What safeguard would the people have if the Party constituting the Government were the Party that would control the Committee of Inquiry? Would not any impartial man say that that is all fudge, all bunk? We heard a lot of loose talk from lawyers and others opposite with regard to the same body being judge and jury and prosecutor and, incidentally, in the dock. How best can you achieve that than by securing that the majority Party which constitute the Government will be the Party to inquire into the Government when suggestions of maladministration are made? You can unquestionably pack the Committee, as you are doing, by virtue of your majority. You can unquestionably get your packed and nominated Committee to enquire into your own deeds, by virtue of your majority. But I would urge you that if there is anything in the Minister's offer, which has not so far been carried out or honoured, and if you faced up to your obligations and your responsibilities as members of the Government, as guardians of clean precedents in the past, and as the people responsible for establishing precedents for the future, even at this stage you would give back the right that always existed here— the right of the political Opposition to put forward their own nominees on Parliamentary Committees. If by virtue of your majority, by virtue of your strength here in this House, you secure that a Committee nominated by yourselves will enquire into your own deeds, the harm you are doing is not going to begin and end with the vote to-day. You are establishing precedents that will pull this country and this Parliament lower and lower, and when a thing tends to fall the force of gravity increases the rate of the fall.

On Tuesday evening last, the Minister for Industry and Commerce introduced a resolution into this House—which was carried— that a Committee of Inquiry be set up to enquire into certain allegations which had been made by Deputy McGilligan as against the Minister himself. By virtue of that decision in the House the Selection Committee was called together last evening to select that Committee of Inquiry. We met, and, according to Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy Dillon, we trespassed on the right of the Opposition; we proceeded to nominate the people who should represent them on the Committee of Inquiry. That certainly is not so. We met in Committee Room 91, and the Opposition submitted four names. Three were accepted, unanimously, I think, and the representatives of the Government Party—I as one of them —did object to the name of Deputy McGilligan. On the motion of Deputy Smith—seconded, I think, by Deputy Kelly—the ex-Minister for Justice, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, was put on the Committee of Inquiry instead of Deputy McGilligan. We have in no way interfered with the rights of the Opposition in sending their proper number of Deputies to act on this Committee of Inquiry. I want to give my particular reason for voting against the selection of Deputy McGilligan as a member of this Committee. I looked at the terms of reference by which this Committee of Inquiry will be bound, and they are such as, in my opinion, to make it a practical impossibility for Deputy McGilligan to act on that Committee. The Committee was to be set up to investigate certain allegations made by Deputy McGilligan, as against the Minister for Industry and Commerce or his Department.

Deputy Cosgrave tried to make a point here this afternoon. I always have great respect for any point made by the leader of the Opposition, and I certainly agree, too, with Deputy O'Higgins as regards the gravity of the circumstances which surround this inquiry. Deputy Cosgrave said this is the first time that a Committee of Inquiry was set up by the majority vote of the Selection Committee. That may be, but it is also the first time that a Deputy of this Assembly accused a responsible Minister of State of corruption, because that is what it amounts to. Does Deputy Costello, for instance, suggest for one moment, or does any responsible Deputy on the opposite benches suggest for one moment that the man who made that charge against the Minister for Industry and Commerce should act as one of the Committee of Inquiry? Is it not obviously a case where he should act as a witness? The terms of reference give that Committee power, as all the Deputies have admitted, to bring before it all the necessary persons and documents. I certainly agree with Deputy O'Higgins that there is a certain amount of gravity attached to this case, but that is all the more reason why Deputy McGilligan should appear as a witness instead of being there as one of the members trying the case.

Deputy Mulcahy referred to our packed majority on the Committee of Selection. Deputy O'Higgins, I think, said the same, and, of course, Deputy Dillon said, "by virtue of your packed majority." When the Committees of this House were being selected every Party in this House got its proper quota in every Committee. There is not a packed majority. We have not one Deputy on the Selection Committee more or less than we are entitled to, and neither has the Opposition. I think there is not one Deputy in this House who will not admit that that is so. We have been accused of treating the Opposition unjustly. We put on the ex-Minister for Defence, Deputy Fitzgerald; we put on the ex-Minister for Justice, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney; we put on the ex-Attorney-General, Deputy Costello. Surely to goodness that is a good enough representation for the Opposition, not to mention Deputy Coburn, and if there is anybody in this House who thinks for one moment that Deputy Coburn cannot keep his end up at a committee meeting, or at any other kind of meeting, I would tell that Deputy that he is living in a kind of fool's paradise. My reason, as one member of the Selection Committee, for voting against Deputy McGilligan as a member of the Committee of Inquiry is because he is the gentleman who made the allegations in this House, and the onus of proving whether they are true or untrue rests on the shoulders of Deputy McGilligan and on nobody else. He will have his friends there as members of this Committee of Inquiry. Surely his interests will be properly guarded. Surely there is not such difference between Deputy McGilligan's status in the Opposition, and the status of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, who was once Minister for Justice, that all this hub-bub should be made? If we were to allow it to go out from this House that a Deputy of this House could make, against a Minister of State, charges sufficiently grave to warrant the setting up of an Inquiry, and that one of the members of that Court of Inquiry was the man who made the charges, in my opinion we would figure as a laughing stock before the public. For that reason, I certainly did vote against the selection of Deputy McGilligan as a member of the Committee.

There is one other matter to which I want to refer. Deputy Cosgrave adverted here to the presence of Deputy Briscoe at the meeting of the Selection Committee. Deputy McGilligan is also a member of the Selection Committee. He was not there; that is quite true. Deputy Briscoe was there; that is also quite true. Deputy Briscoe said that he would leave the meeting on account of being one of the principals in this case. "Not at all," said Deputy Dillon—Deputy Mulcahy can support me in this—"we have not the slightest objection to your presence." Notwithstanding that, Deputy Cosgrave comes along here this evening and attempts to make a point out of that, whether or not it is in support of the packed majority argument, I do not know, but, certainly, I do not think that the presence of Deputy Briscoe at that meeting should be made a point of, more particularly in view of what Deputy Briscoe did last evening at the meeting of the Selection Committee.

I do not think there is anything else I have got to say in connection with this matter. Speaking for my colleagues as well as for myself, I may say we went in there to select the best Committee we could select. We had our own nominees there and we put them forward. We objected to Deputy McGilligan for the reasons we have given, and we substituted for him on the Committee the ex-Minister for Justice, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. We did not take one person away from that Committee to which the Opposition would be entitled from the point of view of numbers. Notwithstanding that, we have been accused by one speaker after another on the Opposition Benches of trying to load the dice, trying to take our majority from the House to the Selection Committee, and then to the Committee of Inquiry. Surely the Opposition do not put it up here as a reasonable argument that the Government which runs the country and which is in a majority here should not, in ordinary fair play, have that majority reflected in the sub-committees set up by the House? Was it not the same in the days of our predecessors, and will it not be always the same in Parliamentary life? Why make such bones about this majority of ours?

I say advisedly that in order that this matter may be fully and freely investigated, in order that the last ounce may be got out of every witness, in order that we may have every document, in order that the case may be brought out fully in public, in order that everybody connected with it may be fully examined and in the very interests of Deputy McGilligan himself, it would be much better to have him as a witness rather than to have him sitting on the Committee as one of the judges. That is my main reason for voting against him—I have no other. It was with the sole object of getting the very best out of this Committee that I voted against his being made a member. I sincerely hope when the Committee has concluded its labours that we will be further on both as regards procedure and as regards other matters to which I will not advert at the moment.

I do think the arguments put forward by members of the Opposition are very unworthy, particularly in relation to a case of this kind, which is unprecedented, when a responsible Minister has been deliberately charged by a member of the Opposition with corruption. I consider it very bad tactics, very ill-advised, that they should, under cover of other arguments, try to make a farce out of a Committee that it is intended should probe this thing to the uttermost.

Committee Room 91 will become as famous as Committee Room 15 in the British House of Commons, judging by the tremendous upheaval our objection to the procedure that took place there yesterday afternoon has caused in the Fianna Fáil Party. If the suggestion of the Chairman of that Committee had been carried out, namely, to give to the House the statement that they could achieve no agreement, it would be something for the House to discuss in decency and fairness. The Chairman of the Committee distinctly stated at the outset——

What the Chairman stated may not be restated here. The report of the Committee of Selection is before the House, and a motion to refer back for reasons stated. That is the subject-matter for discussion.

I bow to your ruling. As a member of the Selection Committee on the Fine Gael side, let me say that we decided to propose, nominate, or elect, I do not know which is the right word, four names, and we put these four names forward as of right, and that right was denied us. That is the main subject of the debate here to-day —the denial of that right. No matter on what side of the House one may stand, it must be apparent that the main issue is that a majority denied a minority its right on that Committee. As a member of that Committee, in all fairness, I could not but oppose the Committee of Inquiry submitted by the Government representatives, introduced by Deputy Little.

But you have your vote.

That is not the point. It was all our four or none. We were denied the right to put our four names forward. Is that fair? I contend it is not. It is no use getting into a circle over accused or accusers, prosecutors or witnesses or judges. The main issue is that we were denied our right as members of the Selection Committee. We were not allowed to put forward the four names we wanted to put forward. I will not enter into this debate further than that. I leave it to the House to decide was it or was it not fair play.

One day last week when a motion was before this House for the appointment of a Select Committee, I drew the attention of the House and the Minister to the fact that the Minister and the Government had completely misconceived the issue before them on that occasion. It is quite apparent from each and every one of the speeches that have come from the Government Benches that they have again completely misconceived the issue that is before the House on this motion and the motion to refer back the report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. Deputy O'Higgins has, in my view, put the real issue that is raised by the present motion. Deputy Donnelly completely showed his hand and showed the conceptions of the Government in this respect. Apparently, he was quite unable to appreciate the issue before the House, because he said:—

"Have not the Opposition good enough representation on this Committee of Inquiry?"

That is what Deputy Donnelly asks, showing that he conceives this Committee to be a Committee on which the Government will have a majority which will decide in favour of the Government's point of view. He says that as the Government have a majority in this House, why should not the subCommittees of the House be reflected by way of numbers; in other words, why should not the Government have a majority on every sub-Committee of the House.

It always has been so.

He again puts the case, not meaning to put it, that every sub-Committee should be in a position to decide in favour of the Government. But even that is not the real issue that is before the House. The question of the numbers that the Opposition are entitled to on every Committee is not the real point at issue. We have never made any complaint that we have not got our fair representation on the Committee of Selection, that we have not got on the Committee of Selection the number of people we are entitled to have in accordance with the rules and traditions of the House. We have not made that complaint, but we have made complaint and we do complain in connection with this motion in relation to the precedent that has been established over the last 13 years, that the nominees of the Opposition on the Committee of Selection have the right to say who their people will be on any committee selected by that Committee of Selection. That is what we complain of—not that we have not got four or five members on the Committee of Selection. We have our proper numbers there, but for the first time, as the leader of the Opposition has stated in this House, and he has stated it without contradiction—for the first time in the history of Parliamentary institutions in this country, the Opposition has been denied the right which was established by tradition and precedent to nominate the persons whom they wanted to represent them in the Committee of Selection set up by order of this House. This is the first time that that right has been denied the Opposition. The right was granted to the Opposition by Deputy Cosgrave when he was President of the Executive Council of this Parliament. He could, if he liked, have established the principle which Deputy Donnelly appeared to think is the proper principle—the principle of majority rule.

It has always been established.

Deputy Cosgrave started the practice that the Opposition had the right, without reference to the wishes of the majority either of this House or of the majority of the Committee, to nominate the Deputies whom they wish to represent them on that Committee. That procedure started by the late Government was fostered and maintained through the whole period during which they were the Government of this country and that practice was handed over by them to the present Government. The question before the House now is not whether Deputy McGilligan is the accuser or the accused. The question rather is whether the decencies of parliamentary life and the decencies of parliamentary institutions which have grown up in this State during the last 13 years are to be set aside, because, as will be obvious, the present Government want a majority who will decide in their favour in advance and prejudge the issue. We are not pleading to have Deputy McGilligan put on the Committee to be set up. We are not pleading for that, but we do claim the right—which has been established for the past 13 years by practice and precedents—to nominate who is to represent us on this Committee. I could give any number of reasons showing that Deputy McGilligan is the proper person to be put on that Committee to represent us, and I could give these reasons from the discussions that have centred around the facts in this House. But I do not intend to do so. Even the Government themselves do not know whether Deputy McGilligan is the accuser or the accused.

Read the terms of reference.

In the very opening of this debate the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs got up and said he objected to Deputy McGilligan being put on this Committee because he was the person who was the accuser. He was followed by the Attorney-General who objected to Deputy McGilligan being put upon this Committee because he is in the rôle of accuser. The Attorney-General thinks Deputy McGilligan is the accuser and so does the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. But the Minister for Industry and Commerce has no doubt about the matter. According to him, Deputy McGilligan is the accused and he is going to make him the accused. Deputy Cleary interjected that he is the accused. So you have the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Deputy Cleary deciding that he is the accused and the Attorney-General and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs quite satisfied that he is the accuser. They do not know themselves what he is. One thing the Minister for Industry and Commerce is determined to achieve and that is that he is going, by the majority of his own nominees, to make Deputy McGilligan the accused and put him into that position irrespective of whatever anybody else thinks. He tells us that the fact that Deputy McGilligan was put on this Committee would shock the public conscience. The public conscience has been sufficiently shocked already and it will be more than shocked now by the precedent proposed in the course of this debate to be set up. The question is as to whether the public interest has been preserved or maintained or whether it has been prejudicially affected by the transactions that have gone on in connection with this matter. I pointed out on the last day that it was a matter of the public interest and not the reputation of whoever happens to be at the moment Minister for Industry and Commerce. That is a fact that the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the back benchers on the Government side do not appreciate. They do not appreciate the vital issue here. That vital issue is whether or not the decencies of parliamentary institutions are to be maintained. The Minister for Finance went as near as he could to saying that I ought to be put off the Committee as well as Deputy McGilligan. He gave out his mind on the subject; he said he objected to Deputy McGilligan going on this Committee "because he is the man against whom the investigations of the Committee will be directed." I took a note of his words. That is what the Government Party want to do. They want to direct their investigations against Deputy McGilligan. I know as much about this transaction as Deputy McGilligan knows. I ought to be put off this Committee just as well as Deputy McGilligan is being put off it, but I make a present of that point to the Minister for Finance. He can put me off with the greatest possible pleasure and they have as much justice on their side for putting me off as for putting Deputy McGilligan off.

Deputy Costello made no insinuations.

I stand over everything that Deputy McGilligan has said. I stand over every statement he made, and I say this further to the Deputy——

Not on the merits of this case.

Therefore, Deputy Costello is a biased member of the Committee already.

I wish to say to Deputy Cleary, and I was about to say it in anticipation of the remark he made that I would approach the consideration of this matter with an open and impartial mind; I refrain from putting any adjective in front of the remark that has fallen from the Deputy. Deputy McGilligan exercised his right and discharged the duty he was bound to discharge as a public representative in this House. That was the duty I would have to discharge if Deputy McGilligan had not done it. That was the duty of bringing before this House certain facts which raise a prima facie case of a public scandal. According to the Attorney-General and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Deputy McGilligan is in the rôle of accuser; according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and Deputy Cleary he is in the rôle of the accused. The real thing is that Deputy McGilligan is in the rôle of a man who does what he conceives to be his duty by his constituents and by his country as a public representative. The Government have made up their minds that they are going to make this a Party issue. That has been stated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. We have no desire to ruin anybody or to throw aspersions on the public or private activities of any Deputy or Minister in this House. But we do think that certain facts brought to light in this House require investigation. They do not require to be cloaked over and whitewashed in the way the Government are trying to cloak them over and whitewash them. The members of this Party have a free right to put whom they will on this Committee. It was perfectly ridiculous for the Attorney General to argue otherwise; he was the only member on the Government side who struck me during the debate as having any sincerity in the matter, but it was ridiculous for him to have deluded himself into the belief that this was going to be an impartial investigation. The whole atmosphere from the Government point of view, surrounding this Committee at the present time, is an atmosphere of Party, and there is about as much chance of getting an impartial consideration of the facts and circumstances from that Committee as there would be from the Minister for Industry and Commerce himself if he were the sole judge. The public conscience will be shocked by the action of the Government in connection with this matter. What hope have the public of getting the facts from the sort of Committee they are seeking to set up?

What confidence will the public have in any report that this Committee will bring in? What is the use of pretending that this is going to have even the shadow of a pretence of being an impartial judicial inquiry? If the Government have nothing to fear from the facts brought forth by Deputy McGilligan, if they are not afraid of a full public investigation, why not put Deputy McGilligan in the place where he can best find out these facts?

A Deputy

The witness-box.

Are they afraid of being cross-examined by Deputy McGilligan?

A Deputy

Do not get excited!

During the course of this debate I was looking at some of the members on the Government Benches who are going to form this Committee and anything more unjudicial I have never witnessed in my life. I watched the Parliamentary Secretary——

The matter before the House is set forth in the motion to refer back. The reason assigned is that the chief Opposition Party were not allowed to put on the Committee one of the four members they nominated. The characters or actions of other members of that Committee are not relevant.

I certainly did not intend to reflect on the character or actions of any member of that Committee. I was dealing with the suggestion of various members of the Government Party, including the Attorney-General, that this Committee should be an impartial Committee and I was pointing out the various interjections which have been made, some of them by members of this Committee——

That is a reflection on some members of the Committee. The Deputy should not assume that the Chair is exceptionally dense.

I would be very loath to make any such suggestion. In case you, Sir, think I was making any such suggestion, I will pass from it. It is perfectly apparent, I submit, that this Committee is being set up as a Party Committee, and that Deputy McGilligan has been put off this Committee for the purpose mentioned by the Minister for Finance, that he is the man against whom the investigation of the Committee will be directed. That is what they want to do. They want to do what the Minister for Industry and Commerce said on the last occasion—they want to hang something around his neck. That is why they do not want to have the former Minister for Industry and Commerce, who knows this Department, who knows every intricacy of the Department better than anyone in this House, including the present Minister, in the place where he can find out the facts of this case. That is why they do not want to have him in a position to cross-examine the various people who will be brought forward. I put it to this House, therefore, that the action of the Government in refusing to allow Deputy McGilligan to be a member of this Committee is one which will reflect and bring discredit upon themselves— that would not matter very much—but it will bring discredit on this House and the Parliamentary institutions set up in this country and the traditions of Parliamentary government established in the last 13 years.

The Parliamentary Secretary to conclude.

I should like to say a word——

There is really only one point to be made and that is this, that I was bound as Chairman of the Selection Committee——

The Parliamentary Secretary is not concluding the debate as two other Deputies have offered to speak.

I will sacrifice what I have to say in order to conclude the debate at once.

There is no rush about it. This is an important question.

There has been a lot of repetition and a terrible waste of time. I am prepared to sacrifice anything I have to say.

I have only a few words to say, but if the debate is to be concluded now I do not mind.

This debate has been going on for three days and it is time that the House came to some conclusion upon it. I move that the question be now put.

Because the Parliamentary Secretary has not the courage to reply to the debate.

There is nothing to be said. It has been said over and over again.

A Deputy

That is a rotten suggestion.

I am accepting the motion that the question be now put.

We are opposing that.

Question put: "That the Question be now put."
The Dáil divided: Tá 61; Níl 32.

  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Ward, Francis C.

Níl

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lavery, Cecil.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.
Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 32; Níl, 61.

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lavery, Cecil.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers—Tá: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Amendment declared lost.
Question—"That the Ninth Report of the Committee of Selection do lie upon the Table"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 30.

  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Ward, Francis C.

Níl

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • O'Mahoney, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lavery, Cecil.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Traynor and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.