Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 27 Nov 1958

Vol. 171 No. 9

An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—An Dara Céim (atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Second Stage (resumed).

D'atógadh an díospóireacht ar na leasuithe seo leanas:—
1. Go scriosfar gach focal i ndiaidh an fhocail "Go" agus go gcuirfear na focail seo ina n-ionad:—
ndiútaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille de bhrí go gcreideann sí i dtaobh díchur chóras na hIonadaíochta Cionúire
1. go gcuirfidh sin isteach ar chearta dlisteanacha mionluchtaí,
2. go bhfuil sé in aghaidh ár dtraidisiún daonlathach,
3. gur dóigh parlaimintí neamhionadaitheacha agus rialtas stróinéiseach a theacht dá dheasca,
4. go mbeidh sé níos deacra dá dheasca deireadh a chur leis an gCríochdheighilt,
5. nach bhfuil aon éileamh air ag an bpobal, agus
6. uime sin, leis an gcor atá faoi láthair ar an saol agus ar ár gcúrsaí eacnamaíochta, gur dochar agus nach sochar a dhéanfaidh sé do réiteach fadhbanna an náisiúin,
agus go molann sí ina ionad sin go ndéanfar, d'fhonn eolas a sholáthar don phobal, coimisiún saineolaithe a bhunú chun an córas toghcháin atá ann faoi láthair a scrúdú agus tuarascáil a thabairt ina thaobh.—(An Teachta S. ua Coisdealbha.)
2. Go scriosfar gach focal i ndiaidh an fhocail "Go" agus go gcuirfear na focail seo ina n-ionad:—
ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille de bhrí nach ndéanann sé foráil le haghaidh vótála de réir na hionadaíochta cionúire agus ar mhodh an aonghutha inaistrithe sna Dáilcheantair aon-chomhalta. —(An Teachta O Bláthmhaic).
Debate resumed on the following amendments:—
1. To delete all words after the word "That" and substitute therefor the words:—
Dáil Éireann, believing that the abolition of the system of P.R.
1. will interfere with the legitimate rights of minorities,
2. is contrary to our democratic traditions,
3. is likely to lead to unrepresentative parliaments and to arrogant government,
4. will make more difficult the ending of Partition,
5. has not been demanded by public opinion, and,
6. therefore, in present world conditions and in our economic circumstances will impair rather than assist the solution of our national problems,
refuses to give a Second Reading to the Bill; and recommends instead that for the purpose of informing public opinion an expert commission be established to examine and report on the present electoral system.—(Deputy J.A. Costello).
2. To delete all words after the word "That" and substitute therefor the words:—
Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill as it does not make provision in the proposed single member constituencies for voting on the system of P.R. by means of the single transferable vote.—(Deputy Blowick.)

To watch the spinning of a spider's web can be most enthralling. The spider never spins the web for the pleasure of the onlooker, but, listening to the Minister for Industry and Commerce last night, one realised that the spinning of his web in relation to this Bill was as cute and as cunning a performance as that of a spider. For instance, the first argument put forward by him, not for the support of the Opposition in this House, but for the support he hopes to secure in the country, was significant in that he laid particular stress on the fact that, under the present system, in some constituencies, two Deputies of the same Party may be elected. The Minister clearly pointed out the difficulty for a Party when two men are in the one constituency and that, evidently, now is to be a further reason as to why we should change the system of election in this country.

He went further, of course, and suggested that the work in the constituencies would be better done by one Deputy. Should it happen that two members of the one Party, elected in the same constituency, have their disputes, that should have no bearing, directly or indirectly, on the rights of the people in that constituency to elect whom they wish. Furthermore, when he is so anxious that one Deputy should work so hard, it is interesting to point out that those of us who are members of local authorities find the task of conscientiously and honestly doing our best on behalf of our constituents mighty hard, even where there are three Deputies in the one constituency. Each Deputy represents approximately 20,000 persons in a constituency, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce now suggests that one member, who may, as well, be a member of local authorities, will do that work in a better manner, and more expeditiously, on behalf of the people than three members catering for the equivalent number of constituents.

In making such suggestions, he has, of course, drawn particular attention to what, in his opinion, are the obvious advantages which flow from the system in Britain. In that country, under the system of one representative per constituency, it is very often a case of having an "absentee" representative, to use a word that is well known in this country. That, of course, is a matter for the people of that country, but are we to impose upon our people a system under which a Deputy will wallow in the pleasures of life in Dublin City, while representing a country constituency in the northwest, south-west, or south-east of the Twenty-Six Counties? Yet we are told that will be one of the further advantages given to the people under this system which is offered by the Fianna Fáil Government. In his cute way, he laid emphasis on the fact that he believed that in future it would be a case of the Government and a strong Opposition, perhaps the Labour Party.

I am speaking as a member of the Labour Party and I say that the Tánaiste has no right to try to tell the people whom they should have here, whether it be one Party in the name of Government and one Party in the name of Labour. In my opinion that is a matter for the people themselves to decide and should they wish to see a particular Party in Government they should have the right to elect that Party. That right is being denied to them through this Bill. This system, lauded so much by the Tánaiste last night, must remind us of the old system under which certain people had particular advantages—the advantages of owning a pocket borough. Vested interests in this country, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach must remember, can very well be provided with their pocket boroughs in repayment for the support given to certain political interests.

That happened in the past and it can happen in the future. I believe, speaking as a member of the Labour Party, but fundamentally as an individual member of this Chamber, our duty is to oppose, as far as lies within our power, the reintroduction of any provision which will bring with it the pocket borough. I know that in relation to arguments put forward by Fianna Fáil in Government and elsewhere they have four approaches to this important problem. One approach is through a person who writes as a political correspondent. That is all right with me. I notice, of course, that they are drawing particular attention to the importance of allowing the people to examine this question on its merits. It strikes me forcibly that in putting up the case the speakers of Fianna Fáil, whether within this House or at debating societies, are making no attempt to bring to the fore any point in favour of P.R. Therefore, while we in opposition are expected to play the game, while we are expected to leave the decision to the people on the merits or demerits of the case, we are also, apparently, expected to accept the principle from Fianna Fáil that they have no intention of presenting anything considered favourable to the present system of P.R.

A heading which we have been reading recently is "Give the People a Chance". We are entitled at this stage to ask: who asked for the chance? We are entitled to comment here and now on the fact that it was asked for a few weeks ago by the representatives of seven or eight cumainn at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis, inspired it is true, but nevertheless asked for. Those cumainn included one from Cork City. God protect us—rebel Cork! Of course, in that true sense of democracy so profound within the ranks of Fianna Fáil and the confines of the Cabinet of this Government, in order to facilitate the representatives of seven or eight cumainn there was no question of money. What did the spending of £100,000 on it matter? It made no difference. It gave to that minority the right of demanding and securing, if within the power of the Government at all, a legacy, which would inevitably mean the perpetuation of certain political powers over the ordinary people of this country.

I am aware of course that the results, as published, in relation to the elections of 1932-33 and 1937-38 and 1943-44 were not correct and that the statements of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste in this House were equally incorrect in relation to the elections of these periods. As I stated last night the present Taoiseach led a small group a splinter group to use his own words —in 1927. In 1932, however, when he formed the first Fianna Fáil Government he had the guaranteed support of the Labour Party. That was not enough. It is never enough for a dictator to be assured of the support of an independent group. He must have within his grasp everything that goes with power. Therefore, although in 1932 and during the years that followed, he was assured of and got the support of the Labour Party, in 1933 we had another election. He tells us, and so does the political correspondent, that the people were allowed in 1933 to give a majority and they gave it. In 1937 we again had a repeat of 1932.

What happened in 1937? Certain members of the Government were kept out of the House to make sure that, on what was considered an unpopular issue with the people in the country, the Government would come down. It was the question of arbitration for the civil servants. Again they went before the people on a false issue and again got the advantage. We all know the advantage of an outgoing Government by holding elections within 12 months. No small Party can hope to compete with an outgoing Government because the finances cannot be made available within 12 months to repeat the battle of the polls. But the Taoiseach was always cute enough to know that that was the one advantage he held—"Let us get in. Do not mind the majority. In 12 months we can crucify the political opponents." The political opponents were not the members of this House but the people who voted against the Government Party outside.

The same thing happened in 1943-44. Certain issues were again brought before the people, and before the House, on the pretext of the Government being interested in certain proposals. They went to the country in the full belief that certain issues would help them again to secure the financial backing available to a Government and that owing to the fact that all was in their favour they could again come back. That has been the history of the 1932-33, 1937-38 and 1943-44 periods. Now we are told that the people must get a chance. They are getting it. They are supposed to be getting a chance because, as I will show later on, please God, of the existence of what is so fondly termed by the Taoiseach as the important Government, the strong and stable Government.

It is important for us to remember that on the same seat, back in 1954, when the result of a by-election went against the Government, before announcing the dissolution of the Dáil, the Taoiseach made an extraordinary statement which has a direct bearing on giving a chance to the people. He said that they in Fianna Fáil would have an election when it suited Fianna Fáil, because when it suited Fianna Fáil, it suited the country. These are the people who are now telling us it is essential to give the people a chance. The policy of Fianna Fáil has been to give the people a chance only when they know it is in the best interests of Fianna Fáil to do so: other than that, never once did they give the people a chance.

There is the second approach to this question. An outstanding member of the Cabinet—and I think it is important to quote remarks at this stage which undoubtedly are in his favour, not only as a member of the Irish Government but also as a humanitarian and a wise citizen of Western Europe—as quoted in the Irish Press of November 25th, a few days ago, said:—


That is the people—

"had the duty to assist the growth of peace based on law by helping to eliminate hatred and spreading the spirit of tolerance and Christian charity."

These words were spoken by none other than the Minister for External Affairs. He it is who speaks of Christian charity and tolerance and advises all and sundry to do all they can to spread peace and avoid hatred. The same Minister a week or two ago expounded to the people in a certain part of this country—if he was really there—the vital benefits of the two-Party system. In the view of that Minister, there should be no room for more than a Government and a one-Party Opposition. I can say this much for him: he is consistent in his remarks in the House and outside it. He has made it perfectly clear that he has no time for small Parties and in another forum, he made it clear that he had no time for small States. "Keep away from the small States" were his words. The four-member Club, the almighty Powers, the Powers of destruction were the Powers he wanted to keep in with.

The Deputy should not pursue that line.

It is all cod, anyway.

I have no intention of continuing on that line, except to say it is in accordance with the expressed views of the Minister, which, to put it perhaps crudely, are: "To hell with small Parties and to hell with small States."

I suggest the Deputy should deal with the Bill and not with individual Ministers.

Sir, I am giving a quotation which clearly shows—as we are entitled to do—why a Minister wants to condemn the existing system in favour of this Bill.

The same Minister went out of his way to say that this system has been imposed on us by Britain. Without repeating statements by other members, I should ask just one question: the Bill provides for a certain system —where did that system come from? Did it come from the Brehon Laws or from the imaginative mind of the Minister for External Affairs? If the one system is foreign to us, surely the other is equally so, but in view of the fact that men like Griffith believed in P.R. long before many of us knew what it meant, perhaps we should consider that what was good enough for them is certainly good enough for us and that is the true sense of democracy.

I come now to the fourth approach to this important subject and I am glad that the Deputy concerned is present. I noticed recently that an important member of the Fianna Fáil Benches in the person of Deputy Booth said that not alone has P.R. been the curse of this country but it also has been the curse of Western Europe.

A Deputy

I thought he was a mere back-bencher?

We are all backbenchers when it is a question of the important people of the country. Deputy Booth has discovered, and has imparted the knowledge to all and sundry, that Germany, if to a degree responsible for the war, reached that situation under the P.R. system. That is a poor argument in favour of this Bill because nothing less than dictatorship was responsible for that great conflagration and it was not brought about by P.R. For the benefit of Deputy Booth whom we shall probably hear again on the subject, let us remember when he speaks in favour of this Bill and tells us that P.R. helped Communism that on the voting paper behind the Iron Curtain, there is no sign of P.R. but a list of names to be voted for and against.

We do not want that system here, but the straight vote system is the one system, whether Deputy Booth knows it or not, believes it or not, that can give us what certain members of the Government wish for—the full powers of distatorship.

That is nonsense.

Is the Deputy the Chief Whip or the chief interrupter?

When a Deputy makes a statement like that——

Go down to the Rock of Cashel and put your case.

When a man makes a statement like that, he is inviting interruption.

I shall quote Deputy Booth for the benefit of Tipperary, the premier county. Deputy Booth stated that he believes that P.R. encourages minorities to form small Parties and pressure groups.

It is a matter of opinion——

Is there anything wrong with small Parties?

Perhaps Deputy Loughman will give us his opinion on small Parties?

Let us remember that Fianna Fáil was a damn small Party in 1925——

Fianna Fáil was not there in 1925.

Will the Deputy allow Deputy Desmond to make his speech?


But he said that——

It does not matter what he says. The Deputy should be allowed to make his speech.

Will Deputy Loughman get up and tell us what he thinks?

Evidently the Chair will not be allowed to make any observation whatever. Will Deputy Loughman allow Deputy Desmond to make his speech without interruption? So long as Deputy Desmond is within the rules and orders of relevancy he is entitled to say what he has to say.

Whether it be correct or not?

That does not enter into it.

In fairness to Deputy Loughman he is suffering under the difficulty that under P.R. Fianna Fáil have only three out of four seats in South Tipperary and he wants more.

That is equally irrelevant.

Deputy Booth in this quotation said:—

"Under this system the Nazi and Fascist Parties in Germany and Italy came to power and it was through that that the Communists had got a large measure of control in European countries."

There was no question of P.R. in Russia when the blood was spilt there and during what followed afterwards. Deputy Booth knows that as well as I do.

From what paper is the Deputy quoting?

The Irish Press. We now come to the many statements made by the Taoiseach regarding this Bill. He said that Fianna Fáil had long experience. So well he might say that. They had the experience of coming into the Dáil in 1927. They had the experience of election in 1932 and of continuing on after that. I think I know why their experience taught them it was essential to have a change. The Taoiseach made some remarkable statements at the Árd Fheis and asked: “What is wrong with going to the country?”

From the Fianna Fáil point of view the answer to that apparently is that there is nothing wrong, provided Fianna Fáil are sure of a return ticket to Government here. That is the only time it is right to go the country, according to the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil.

There is another important point that should be mentioned. The Taoiseach states that the people must exercise the powers given them under the Constitution. He considers it vitally important that the people exercise these powers. We say that too. An average of 400,000 votes have been cast in elections here for those supporting small Parties and Independents. If many of these represent the votes of fathers and mothers of families, surely it must be admitted that about 700,000 people are affected? That is the point vitally important to the people's rights. But, of course, there will be no question of considering the people's rights in a new system which will mean the election of a minority Government in this country.

It is important at this stage to draw attention to some of the views expressed by the Taoiseach in regard to this important Bill. I am quoting from the Irish Press. He says that P.R. led to a multiplicity of Parties and that the people were denied their fundamental rights. He says: “They were not given an opportunity of deciding on national policy and they were not able to say in advance what the Government was likely to be.” Did the people not get an opportunity and did they not avail of that opportunity? I am referring to the 400,000 who voted for Parties other than Fianna Fáil and the strongest opposition Party, Fine Gael. If the Taoiseach is so interested in the fundamental rights of the people, surely he cannot expect to have it both ways?

Further on, he refers to the importance of elections and says:—

"Now, elections are very serious matters and if the people are to provide in the best possible way for the national interest through an election by choosing a proper policy and by choosing those who should undertake to be their Government, it is desirable that you should not have these small groups of Parties that are quite irresponsible at a time of election."

Is the Taoiseach not cutting across the cardinal points of true democracy in this country? He says elections are vitally important but at the same time he tells the people small Parties are not to be considered. That is why under the proposed new system he wants the elimination, not of small Parties, but of the political rights of the hundreds of thousands of persons outside this House who wish the presence of Independents and members of small Parties within the Chamber. I can pass over one of the meanest suggestions made—that of bargaining. That can be a dirty word, but those who use it from the Government Benches should keep quiet on it.

I do not wish to quote at length but I think I should draw attention to these points. The Taoiseach spoke here of the importance of a homogeneous Cabinet. He states that they have their individual views. He is kind to tell the people that. They have their views, but we all know and always did know that, while the members of the Taoiseach's Cabinet had their views, they never had their decisions.

That would be a Coalition Cabinet, of course.

The Taoiseach goes on to say that at the beginning of such a Government—which he terms "a mixum gatherum of a Coalition"— there was a great deal of deception of the public. At a later stage we can deal with the meaning of deception of the public.

One of the most important points in the Taoiseach's statement is where he mentions that in other countries there was this contest between the various Parties, and sometimes corruption, carried on with such intensity that they left the country concerned without a Government for a number of weeks. We know how false that is. If that is one of the points of the Fianna Fáil spokesmen, it proves conclusively they have no interest in putting a fair case before the people and is sufficient justification for the opposition of the people to voting on the referendum. Speaking of the dangers of P.R. he said the people did not know who would be Taoiseach or who the members of the Cabinet would be until the bargains were made.

What is the Deputy quoting from?

I am quoting from the Taoiseach's speech on the dangers of P.R. as reported in the Irish Press of Wednesday, October 29th last. The statement in this morning's Irish Press is a reiteration of that statement. He said the people would not know beforehand who would be the Taoiseach or who would be the members of the Cabinet. Did the people ever know before a meeting of the Dáil after an election who was going to be a member of a Fianna Fáil Cabinet under the Taoiseach? We all know there were some surprises in the formation of such Cabinets. For the Taoiseach to complain that the people did not know who were going to be members of the Cabinet is stretching the joke a bit too far, seeing that he himself had the right and availed of the right of not imparting any such knowledge to anyone, even to members of this House, until the selection of such members. Therefore, the Taoiseach must think up some better line of approach in relation to these proposals for the altering of our system of election.

The Taoiseach apparently believes in the straight vote as also does the Tánaiste as he showed quite clearly last night. The Taoiseach said that in the countries where the democratic system was most stable the single nontransferable vote system operated. They took a long time to find that out. Not until the disadvantages that accrued in Opposition became apparent did the Taoiseach realise that this method was the best. The single nontransferable vote system operating in a country not far from here did not mean anything to us in the years prior to 1920, and the single vote system in other countries gave power to certain Parties.

The Tánaiste made an extraordinary admission last night when he said he believed that the removal of P.R. and the adoption of this other system would help the removal of Partition; in other words the system that Fianna Fáil now wishes to impose upon the people is the system nearest to the hearts of those in Stormont and Westminster. The tragedy of the Taoiseach's statement of the 29th October, is that the horrors of P.R. are tied up with the problem of the simplified spelling of Irish and there is not a word of unemployment or emigration.

It is an amazing feature that when we look back to 1927 and remember the statements made by members of Fianna Fáil contesting the first election we thought they were so wise and good, and when they spoke a short while after 1927 of the horrors of the straight vote system which had been imposed on the nationalist minority in the North-East of Ireland, we believed them. We in the Labour Party, while we owed our first allegiance to that Party in 1932, agreed to support Fianna Fáil because of their determination to oppose the system which had been imposed upon the minority in the six north-eastern counties.

What has happened between 1927 and 1958? Why is it that age has shown to the fiery young men of 1927 in the Fianna Fáil Front Benches that apparently the policy of Stormont in 1927 is now correct? They cannot have it both ways. We did believe they were the Republican Party but now we realise they are a two-legged junta with the Fianna Fáil-Stormont straight vote system giving them power for ever over us and our families and those who may come after us.

Although we may differ with Fianna Fáil in many ways, some of us do agree with the statements that were made in 1942. In 1942 the Taoiseach, drawing particular attention to the importance of ensuring that the people in rural Ireland had the full benefit of their democratic rights, introduced a certain system in local government. I am not going to dwell on that now, but we believed they did it for one purpose which had a great deal of good in it, that is, to take from the hands of an individual, if such a person as a public representative was corrupt in his views, the power of acting corruptly. That in my opinion was the background to that 1942 proposal. The introduction of this new system automatically means that Fianna Fáil, on a national scale, are prepared to give an individual in each constituency such powers of corruption in future.

One of the main points put up by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste in support of the new system is that it will give this country what they term strong Government. I am entitled, I believe, to draw attention to what strong Governments have meant to this country in the past. Strong Government sounds well but strong Government in operation has proved the reverse in this country. The Taoiseach has pointed out that from a democratic viewpoint, as it were, P.R. looked good on paper, as he said, but in practice it was bad, and I am determined to show, in so far as I am able, that the system he wants, the system he wishes to impose on the people, the system of strong Government, has in the past been the very reverse of what a democratic Government should be.

In 1937, it is true that the Taoiseach did not have a very strong Government, but he was assured of an over-all majority in this House and because of that strong Government, strong voting, a special session of Dáil Éireann in 1937 made sure that a new King of England would be our foreign representative. That was not done by a weak Government but by a huge majority in this House. A strong Fianna Fáil Government introduced in 1940 the Wages Standstill Order, a strong Government in the 1940s took from the one section of the community who were paid with the least measure of fair play—the agricultural workers —their right to leave this country. The strong Government in 1947 put the Tánaiste in the position of threatening the workers with a possible reintroduction of the Wages Standstill Order. We know what a fairly strong Government in 1952 did in the Budget at that time. In 1953, the same pretty strong Government introduced the system of the means test in relation to certain grants under the Housing Acts. In 1957, a powerfully strong Government were able to put the people in the position of looking for work and not getting it by the complete elimination of the Local Authorities (Works) Act.

In 1957, the same Government made it perfectly clear that they had no intention whatsoever of giving even 1/- increase to old age pensioners, widows or orphans; but in spite of the warnings as to the difficult financial position of the country at the time, they were able to spend money on the provision of Atlantic air services.

These are some of the points which must be examined closely not only by every individual member of the House but by the people outside on the value of strong Government. We may have had a weak Government in 1948, but in that so-called weak Government was a man whose name will be remembered when each and every one of us has been forgotten, the late T.J. Murphy, God rest his soul, who proved what one man in a Government with a small majority can do. Let me say this in passing: even as a member of a political Party and as an individual Deputy, I believe the curse of this country would be the setting up of these so-called, over-strong Governments. Let it be understood that had it even been the position that the Labour Party came into power in this country, the last thing I would wish, from the point of view of the benefit of that Party and the people, would be an over-all strong Government, because over-all strong Governments become autocratic.

Deputy Booth and I can trace the origin of the misfortune, the misery and the torture in Europe and the world within the last half century. I do not want to see autocracy reign supreme over the Irish people. There are two other Deputies in the same constituency as I who have the same rights as I have, because there are thousands of people in that constituency who did not wish to elect me, but wished to elect them. Thank God, under the system prevailing, these people who wished for representation both by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael got it. That is the important feature of it.

As against that, what does this new Bill mean? We know—every Member in this Chamber knows—that if the referendum is favourable to the Taoiseach, be it in South Cork, North Cork, East Cork or any other part of the Twenty-Six Counties, the man who secures 25 per cent. of the votes in the particular area can come in here and say that he represents, not 25 per cent., but 100 per cent. of the people in that constituency. Is that democracy? Is that what the people opposite believe in? If it is, let them rid themselves of what they consider to be their beliefs in democracy, because to me it is sheer dictatorship, a system which denies the right, a right which was enshrined in the 1937 Constitution, the 1922 Constitution and in the unwritten law of Christian charity, to which the people are entitled, that is, the right to fair play.

In relation to the wording of this Bill, it is very important, I believe, to draw particular attention to the manner in which it has been determined to cut across other Articles in that Constitution. We hear a lot about personal rights. We know the importance of personal rights and in Article 40 the Constitution sets out:—

"The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable by its laws, to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen."

That is the individual; but now apparently under this proposed system while the individual as such may be protected, the individual when forming into a group will not get that protection and his rights can easily be taken from him.

Article 40 goes on to say:—

"Laws regulating the manner in which the right of forming associations and unions and the right of free assembly may be exercised shall contain no political, religious or class discrimination."

Is it not true that the essence of the measure before the House is discrimination, political and class? We were told by Fianna Fáil speakers last night that Deputy Blowick and his Party had no right to claim that they represent the farmers. We on the Labour Benches were told we do not represent all the workers. We never claimed to do so. That is the advantage of P.R., but remember that under that same paragraph I have quoted, this Bill before us, not only if it becomes law but if the referendum goes through, proves conclusively that this paragraph 2 of Article 40 of the Constitution must forthwith be removed. Otherwise, that Constitution will be nothing but hypocrisy in the eyes of those people who believed they had the protection of it.

Furthermore, I think it is right and proper to draw particular attention to Article 47, in relation to what we hear so much about now, the referendum. This is vitally important because a comparison between Article 47 of the present Constitution and the proposed amendment will show all that is behind this proposal before us for discussion.

Article 47 says, in relation to the amendment of the Constitution:—

"Every proposal for an amendment of this Constitution which is submitted by referendum to the decision of the people shall, for the purpose of Article 46 of this Constitution, be held to have been approved by the people, if, upon having been so submitted, a majority of the votes cast at such referendum shall have been cast in favour of its enactment into law."

In other words, Article 47 provides that where a referendum is put before the people, in relation to the amendment of the Constitution, a majority of one person will mean that that referendum is carried in the country. That sounds grand. That, we are told by Fianna Fáil, is a true sense of democracy. But let us now examine that same article in relation to that particular paragraph of Article 46. A majority of one carries the day. Where a Bill is presented for referendum, what happens? If the people wish to vote against that Bill by way of referendum they can do so but, in such a case, that Bill cannot be defeated by a referendum unless the vote cast against it amounts to not less than 33? per cent. of the voters on the register.

The Deputy is discussing a matter that is not before the House.

I am discussing the referendum. I want to draw attention to an omission in this Bill as against what is already provided.

It does not seem to me that the Deputy is discussing Article 16 of the Constitution which it is proposed to amend.

In this proposed amendment, there is no provision whereby one-third of the people on the register must cast their votes in favour——

The Deputy, then, is suggesting an amendment of the referendum?

That may be.

That is not proposed in this.

Last night the Minister for Industry and Commerce went out of his way to tell us——

That does not make it in order.

It is difficult, if we are not entitled to show what it means in relation to a complete majority of one-third on the register as against what is contained in this proposal.

I cannot allow the Deputy to widen the discussion to the extent of discussing Articles in the Constitution that are not before the House.

Am I not entitled to draw attention to the importance of providing, within the confines of this Bill, such regulation whereby at least a majority must be one-third of the people on the voters' register?

The Deputy has already said that.

That is all I intended to say—no more and no less. It is important, therefore, to have it remembered that what suits in one case apparently does not suit in the other. Let them get but a majority of one and they have it. In other cases, if there is a referendum, such will not be the case because it will not suit Fianna Fáil.

I believe I am entitled to draw attention to another aspect of this Bill. We are told that, because of their determination to see that everything is above board, seven members are to be appointed in relation to the carrying of what we may term the boundary question when the referendum goes before the people. I shall not dwell on the setting-up of the six members of the board—three by the Taoiseach and three, as it were, in opposition. What strikes me as most extraordinary is that should it be a case that, within six months, these six members do not agree, in the seventh month the chairman, put there by the President, will make up his mind.

I shall not say anything derogatory about any individual and, in this case, no individual is involved. However, I have yet to find a person who is born as a judge. They are all appointed and usually they are political appointments. In this case, in the seventh month, the chairman can come along with his decision and that is final unless disapproved of in this House within 14 days. But that is not a straight vote either in this House. It must be, the Taoiseach made sure, by a majority of two-thirds to upset the decision of the chairman, the decision of one man. Two-thirds of the present House, as at present constituted, means 98 members.

We know that each member represents an average of 20,000 persons. Therefore, in order to upset the decision of one man, 98 members, a majority representing 1,960,000 persons in this country, must come together. The representatives of all these people must come together in order to upset the decision of one man. That is dictatorship. What else is it? Are members of Fianna Fáil satisfied with that position? God forbid, and God forbid that we should be prepared in this country to say that the representatives of 1,960,000 persons must gather in Dáil Eireann to say, within 14 days, mind you, that we do not agree with the recommendation or the decision of one man. Majority rule. God save us!

Here is another point which it is important to clear up at this stage and no reference has been made to it by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Industry and Commerce or anybody else. I presume that when the referendum gets under way and when, in each constituency as at present constituted, the voting will take place, the results will be at the disposal of the Government. Will the results of each constituency be put at the disposal of the people within that constituency by public Press notice? Will such a result in each constituency be placed at the disposal of each Party or each individual contesting any election or will it be solely at the disposal of those who are plotting and planning to make sure that dictatorship will reign supreme for so many years ahead?

I consider it is vitally important, when this is over, that we should know which counties and which constituencies voted for and against. We are at least in the position of being able to see what the decision may be in relation to the nine counties of Ulster, and we can see that by their expressed views on the ballot paper, in at least two cases, two counties, they are completely opposed to the system under which they have to live. Is that knowledge to be imparted and given to the public in the Twenty-Six Counties through the public Press? It will be interesting to see if it is.

Finally, I am entitled to ask why is a change in the system being imposed on the people at the present time? There are many in this House, including myself, who took no part in the affairs of 1920 but at least we all did feel happy, during the years we have been Members of this House, to see the sense of harmony and trust, the sense of Christian charity, between Members and Parties in the House. Why should that not continue to exist? Why is it that, at this late stage in his political life, the Taoiseach wishes to uproot all the good work that has been done in bringing to fruition an individual sense of loyalty to our country and respect for one another?

We have clearly seen from his remarks that the Taoiseach has based his decision to abolish P.R. upon what happened to him and his Party in 1948 and 1954. Why must it be that one man must hold in his heart hatred for so many people because politically they opposed him and his Party? Are we again to be thrown into the melting pot of hatred and all that goes with it?

Pure nonsense.

God knows there are many men in the Fianna Fáil Party, with the exception of Deputy Loughman, that I have respected as personal friends, but are we now coming to the stage when we must abide with hatred in the years ahead? That is how I look at this. Members may laugh and think they are secure in their own constituencies, but nobody is secure in his life unless he has the intention to fulfil the ideals of true Christian principles.

Last night I referred to what the Taoiseach said in the debate on the Vote for his Department. I do not intend to repeat that except to say that he was so vicious, in his denunciation of those who are outside the House, when he challenged them to go before the people and told them that when the people accepted their policy they could become a Government, he became so excited that he did not wait for the bell when casting his vote. Is all this meant to be sand thrown in the eyes of the people? Is it another attempt to gull the people into a false sense of security by continuing to keep Fianna Fáil in power?

We shall have to be realistic in considering this. We shall have to be Irishmen, not Party men. We can do the people no better service than by giving them a true sense of representation, but that is being taken from them now under the aegis of this Bill. The alternative to that, in this and every country, must be an underground movement, and the opposite of an underground movement is a complete fight against autocracy, a fight against all that may hold people in subjection, or at least a large section of the community. I am not beating around the bush. I say that if the people want Sinn Féin let them elect that Party, but why must we prevent the people from doing that? Let any member of Fianna Fáil who wishes do so, but let him remember that there can be a repetition of 1918.

Who knows what the people may decide? In every part of this Chamber we may be labelled as the "Old Parliamentarians" if we agree to this. I warn the Government that there are many Irishmen employed in Britain at the present time and, should it happen in the years ahead that a recession in employment in that country took place, it may be the lot of hundreds of thousands of Irishmen to find themselves unemployed. On their return to their own small country this Bill will have opened the door for their entry into underground movements. Can we not forget everything in the past? Why must it be thrust in front of us? Why must we be made remember the terrible words that a man said in Deputy Loughman's constituency, that an Irishman must be prepared to wade through the blood of his brother?

I have listened to that too. Forget about it.

I am looking to the future. I want to see harmony between brothers. It is true there are Deputies, representing constituencies, with whom I may not agree politically or otherwise, but as I said at the outset, they are Irishmen. I do not mind what we might have heard in the past about the ascendency class, the ruling class or any class. I say that as Irish people we should be happy to work together, and we should not force on a majority of the people of this country a system which in itself will have dire results in the years to come. It is hard lines, at this stage, to see that we will have to re-examine in an open, critical manner the terrible words used by a great Irishmen, thirty-eight years ago, when he spoke of certain people, "those who have in mind personal ambitions under the pretence of patriotism." We know now that that is the goal which the Taoiseach, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Fianna Fáil Party are striving to achieve. They are trying to achieve it under the pretence of patriotism. Personal ambition is the weakness of the human being who is prepared to place his own personal position over that of a people and a country.

With a sense of humility I am entitled to draw particular attention to the system of Government and the system of election in the outstanding election in Christendom, where a majority of two-thirds plus one is required. Surely that shows how far away we are getting from any sense of respect to those who oppose us. I have tried to strip this matter of the political hypocrisy that is hidden behind it.

There has been talk of strong Government and over the recent past we can recall the statements of Cabinet members of a strong Government. One member of the Cabinet, a week or a fortnight ago, did his utmost to make the rules of the House suit his occasion to deprive the leaders of small Parties of the right to speak. We remember that one member of the strong Cabinet made it quite clear that he did not give a damn if every ship was at the bottom of the sea. We remember the statement of another member of a strong Government that he was prepared to place a field of inspectors at the door of every farmer. We remember that a strong Government imprisoned men without trial.

That matter does not arise on the Second Reading of this Bill.

Except in so far as to point out the fallacy of the statements made to this House, and to the nation by the Taoiseach in his demand for a strong Government. The strong Government under the aegis of Fianna Fáil has meant torture for many a man in this country. Let the Fianna Fáil Deputies know that, during the emergency, business people in the towns of Munster were watched to see what they contributed towards Fianna Fáil collections.

If they got their quotas everything was all right. If not——

The Deputy is going wide of the scope of the Bill.

I apologise to the Chair. I shall say this, that a prominent feature in the actions of this strong Government over the years has been their taking part in a certain procession and behind that procession were featured three words—liberty, equality and fraternity. I beg of them now to let Wolfe Tone rest in his lonely grave at Bodenstown and not insult his memory and his principles in future by their presence in Bodenstown. Finally let me say to Deputy Loughman and all those like him, in casting their votes on this proposed measure of freedom for the people, that they should remember the words of Wolsey when he regretted that he had not served his God rather than his king. Let Fianna Fáil Deputies remember that if they serve their political king and master, their future will damn them for selling the liberties of the majority of the people.

It is a hard thing to say but I say with all the force I can muster to every Deputy who votes for this proposal, and I say this as a believer in democracy and in the Irish people: "May the tortured conscience for ever haunt the guilty mind."

In opening up on his amendment yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello, called for a calm consideration of the issues involved in this proposed amendment of the Constitution.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

But after opening with this appeal for discussion of the issues involved in a calm, measured way, seeing that the results might affect the people for many generations to come, Deputy Costello started to vilify all those who dared suggest that our system of election should be changed, after consulting with the people. He described as a lickspittle of a political Party any judge selected by the President to be chairman of the commission to act under the Constitution to distribute the seats. The President will be a Party hack and so will the Ceann Comhairle; not only that, but so also will be the three members of the Opposition and the three members of the Government for the time being, who will sit with the chairman on the commission. Apparently they will be such poor human beings, with such low standards, that all they would be concerned with would be fixing the seats of the six of them and their pals.

I think we can face the future in the confidence that there is going to be a higher standard of human being in Ireland than Deputy Costello has prognosticated. We can hope that at least our people will be no worse than other people in Europe and that if we debate this affair calmly and arrive at a reasonable method of election to suit our own circumstances, we can depend in the future on the Irish people electing men who will work it reasonably well and honourably. Our people will make certain that the man who gets their votes as President will be an honourable man, one who is straight and who can pick a judge and that it would be offensive to characterise as the lickspittle of a Party the judge whom the President would select, after consultation with the Council of State in order to chair this commission.

The Opposition, in their amendment, gave several reasons why this House should not pass this Bill or give the people a chance of deciding whether they want it or not. This House cannot amend the Constitution, but we can, by a majority, pass a Bill and the people will decide whether or not they want it. Deputy J.A. Costello indicated he was not satisfied with P.R., as it operated here at present. He said there were many defects in the present system. He said: "The system of the transferable vote has operated from 1922 onwards and I have always had a conviction that there are defects, and perhaps serious defects, in the rules governing the operation of elections under that system."

It is up to us to discuss in a reasonable, calm fashion what are the defects seen by Deputy J.A. Costello in P.R. as operated here and how we can remedy them. What is the best remedy we can apply? We do not have to denounce the system of P.R. as roundly as Deputy Dillon: it is a method of election and it is in operation in several countries. They have their difficulties with it, just as we have our difficulties with it here, but it has operated in a number of countries. It has brought disaster to many, but it still operates in the same way it has operated here for the past 20 or 30 years. Do we want that to continue? Do we not want our children to have a better chance to manage their affairs more effectively than under the system that was imposed on us by the British?

I want to emphasise that it was imposed by the British. There is no use in saying that the late Arthur Griffith had any influence on the British Government to make them pass the 1919 Bill giving a P.R. system for the local government elections. Arthur Griffith, like a number of other liberal-minded people back in 1910 or 1911 with—it must be admitted—no experience of administration or government, was attracted by a number of the arguments very often advanced by those favouring P.R. But the British Government did not give P.R. in 1919 because Arthur Griffith wanted it in 1910. They set up a commission in Britain about 1910 and the commission rejected P.R. It is worth anybody's while to read the report of that commission and the reasons they gave for rejecting it. Indeed, they foretold all the weaknesses of P.R. which we ourselves have seen in our own time. Not in 1910 did the British give it, but they gave it in 1919, because the year before, under the straight vote system, Sinn Féin got a smashing majority for the independence movement.

Introducing the Bill in the British House of Commons which imposed P.R. for local elections all over Ireland, the gentleman who was responsible for the Bill, Mr. Samuels, the Attorney General, gave the reasons. In opening the debate, of course, he was "all for" minorities and only wanted to give them fair play, but during the course of the debate which at times became rather sharp, he grew so excited about the arguments used against his Bill that he blurted out the truth at the end of his speech. I would refer Deputies to column 175 of the debates in the British House of Commons on that Bill. This is what the Attorney General said. He was speaking in 1919 and the Independence Party here had won the election in the previous November.

December is correct. He wound up in this way:—

"In the general election 75 per cent. of the representation has gone over to the Sinn Féin Party——"

and looking across at the people who were against the Bill he said:—

"——are you going to throw the administration of local authorities to the bodies elected on the present franchise——"

that is, the straight system,

"——bodies which have been absolutely captured by people who call the rest of the United Kingdom ‘the enemy'."

Lloyd George had given the Attorney General his orders. He was not to allow to happen in the local elections taking place after 1919 what had happened in the previous election in the parliamentary elections. Sinn Féin was to be smashed; the Irish people were to be broken up, divided so that they could not unite for the common good. That was the reason for the Bill deliberately introduced by people who rejected P.R. in the case of Britain because it would smash and destroy British national unity and their ability to unite for the common good.

Those were the reasons the British acted as they did. I am not going to condemn P.R. as extravagantly as Deputy Dillon did in 1947. If we look up Volume 108, column 1714 of the Dáil Debates, we find Deputy Dillon said: "P.R. is a fraud and a cod." At column 1715, he referred to the obvious fraud that P.R. had become in this country. "P.R.," he said, "is the child of the brain of all the cranks in creation.""P.R.," he said, "was foisted upon us by a collection of half lunatics." In the next column, column 1716, he appeals to the Deputies to pass that Bill quickly so as to help the people to get sick of the fantastic system of P.R. and hasten the day by which we will return to the normal system designed to ensure that there shall be a strong Government representative of the majority of our people.

Did he explain the strong system?

He was looking for a strong Government, and I do not blame him.

Were his views accepted then?

I am on good behaviour to-day. Yesterday, Deputy Costello said that Fine Gael several times had a majority in the Parliament. I want to remind him that Fine Gael never had a majority in the Parliament. In 1923, which is the first time, Cumann na nGaedheal or Fine Gael had 63 seats out of 153. In 1927, the first election, they got 47 out of 153. In the second election, they got 62 out of 153. That was the last time they were in Government. They never had a majority. I think it was a very bad thing for the country that they had not, just as I think it has been a bad thing for the country that we have had over this period of years the type of Government that no one ever knew was going to last and that we had not also an alternative Government immediately ready in the Opposition. We would have made much more rapid progress from 1923 to to-day, if we had had that system of Government. But the British, for their own good reasons, imposed the other system on us to smash national unity and to destroy our effectiveness to come together for our common good, and because we were not as politically experienced as we are today—we knew very much less of the world and its affairs—when the 1922 Constitution came along, it was put into that Constitution and we know its later history in relation to the Constitution of 1937.

Deputy Costello said P.R. was accepted at that time because it gave certain minorities here the right to from a small Party and get representation. I do not like dealing with this subject but it has to be dealt with. Deputy Costello made an accusation, which was followed up by Deputy Norton, that one of the reasons we are introducing this Bill is to destroy the possibility of a minority religion here getting representation in this Parliament. I could not express my resentment of that tactic within the rules of order.

I want to say this. I have a pretty long memory. I was reared in a district in which there were Protestants and Catholics mixed up, Protestant farms and houses and Catholic farms and houses. I played with Protestant children. Occasionally, when we wanted to have a row, we told where we would like to put certain august people, but, apart from that, we grew up as friends. As a young man, I detested, and never made any secret of the fact that I detested, the lay religious political organisations, organised on one side or the other, in order to keep bigotry alive and prevent happening here what Tone wanted to happen, when Irishmen, whether Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter, would be known not by these titles but by the common name of Irishmen.

One of the reasons I do not like P.R., having now had experience of it for all these years, is the fact that it operates to prevent that exact thing happening. Under P.R., we have seen the seats of the Protestant minority here shrink to nothing. Those who are here are here because they are the representatives elected by the two big Parties. They could not get elected if they retired into a purely religious minority group trying to represent and perpetuate the idea that our main function here is to divide upon religious grounds, irrespective of our economic, social and political outlook.

Why is it that under P.R. here the religious minority of 7 or 8 per cent. get only 3 per cent. of the representation in this Assembly? In one country where I know the statistics, a religious minority of less than ½ per cent. gets something like 6 per cent. or 7 per cent. of the membership in Parliament. That is in England. Whereas here our religious minority, which has 7 per cent. or plus of the population, get only 3 per cent. of the seats, in Britain on the other hand a Jewish minority of less than ½ per cent. gets 3 per cent of the seats under the straight vote system.

I believe, from what I have seen in Britain and from what I have read about their elections, that when there is a by-election, where there is a strong minority group, both the Labour and Tory people tend to put up people drawn from that minority. That has happened on a thousand occasions. I am sorry that Deputy Norton and Deputy Costello so demeaned themselves as to make an accusation that an Irish Government would propose something to destroy or to prevent a religious minority in this country getting the seats they deserve, and getting the chance they are entitled to get.

I have seen in America also in recent months elections for all sorts of things, and the two big Parties took jolly good care that, if there was an election for several posts, each of them would have representatives of minority groups who would not have a chance of being elected on their own. The truth is that P.R., as operated here, tends to destroy a minority that is scattered all over the country. It destroys their opportunity of getting a seat here if they want to keep on representing a particular minority interest irrespective of any other interest; whereas the direct system we propose has operated in Great Britain and in the United States to make certain that the point of view and the susceptibilities of minorities are taken into consideration by the major Parties. I trust that the operation of this constitutional amendment will bring about in Ireland what Tone wanted in relation to those minorities.

I have dealt with the first point the ex-Coalition put up, that the abolition of P.R. would interfere with the legitimate rights of minorities. I have dealt also with the point that its abolition would be contrary to our democratic traditions and in fact I showed why the system was imposed upon us.

On a point of order, perhaps the Minister would address the Chair instead of the members of his own back benches.

The next point is that it is likely to lead to unrepresentative Parliament and arrogant Government. I do not know what the various groups in the Opposition have in mind about the changes they would propose in P.R. as it has been operated. We would like to hear what the Deputy Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Mulcahy, has to say. Deputy Mulcahy will have an opportunity of replying to this debate and can then make his suggestions as to the changes he would make.

What has Deputy Costello in mind when he describes the present system of P.R. as bad, therefore indicating that he wants it changed? What change would be made by Fine Gael if they had the power and were not tied by the Constitution to consult the people? Deputy Costello, when the Constitution was going through, wanted to have a vague reference to a P.R. system. As Deputies know, there are a thousand P.R. systems. Is it going to be the thousandth and first or is it going to be any of the thousand we know already exist that Fine Gael would put through if they had a majority here and were not compelled to consult the people about it?

We have always been concerned not so much with the system of election but to see that the system of election cannot be changed by a majority in the Dáil to suit itself without the people themselves accepting the change. Deputy Costello still seems to have that idea of leaving the situation, as he calls it, flexible, leaving it open to be changed by a mere majority in the Dáil. We do not want, as the Taoiseach said, to put that temptation in anybody's way. I want to know from Deputy Mulcahy if their suggested amendment were put in, leaving it vague and leaving the power of change with the Dáil, what change they would propose. Let us have it now and we shall put it into the Constitution if it is approved.

Wait till the Minister comes to point six. He is only at point three now.

There is no use in talking about passing it on to committee.

The Minister is always running away from point three.

Deputy Mulcahy will have to grow up.

Let the Minister give his reasons for the Bill.

Deputy Mulcahy may be able to cod some of his own people but he cannot cod the Irish people as a whole. In this year of Our Lord he cannot cod them into believing that the Fine Gael Party cannot draft and propose the amendments they want. What do they want? Do they want what they wanted in 1937? Do they want what Deputy Dillon wanted in 1947? Let them put in their amendments.

Deputy Costello complained that we wanted to mould the future. We have that ambition, thanks be to God. We have a pride not only in our past and in the present but we have hopes for the future of this nation, and we want our children to be as proud of it as we are. We hope to mould the future but not at an after-dinner speech in Toronto. We want to bring forward certain changes which will mould the future but at the same time we want to give the Irish people, after proper discussion, an opportunity of rejecting or accepting them. That is how we want to mould the future.

I would say that one of the reasons why anybody could call this Government an arrogant Government would be if it had attempted to mould the future in the offhand way Deputy Costello did after dinner in Toronto. That would be, I am prepared to admit, the height of arrogance particularly if it were completely contrary to what had been promised to the people and the policy that had been advocated. That certainly would be unmitigated arrogance. How can anybody say it is arrogant of Fianna Fáil, the only Party that ever got a majority under P.R., or could ever hope to get a majority? In my belief it is not arrogance to propose a change to be discussed here in this Dáil, discussed first with our own political Party who have supported us all these years in making the fundamental changes, and the national changes, that we made since 1932. How can it be said we are arrogant because we proceeded in that way? Should we have announced in another country that we are going to change our Constitution? We announced it here before our own people, the people who have been with us for all these years, who have done such magnificent work in co-operation and comradeship with us.

We bring it to the Dáil to discuss it here for as long as Deputies want to discuss it, and to discuss it, if we are allowed, in a calm and reasonable way, using arguments that will convince our people and give them hope and confidence that when this change is made, the operation of government here can be more effective for many of the Irish people than ever could be hoped for under the system which we are asking them to reject. We are asking them to reject it the first time they ever had an opportunity to reject it, to reject it because not only is it the first time they ever got the opportunity to decide on it but because very probably, if they do not reject it, it will be the last time they will have an opportunity of doing so. That is not arrogance. That is not dictatorship.

Would the Minister expand on that? Why is it the last time they will have the opportunity?

The experience has been that any system of election that tends to create a number of small Parties can never be changed except by revolution. I have studied the history of parliamentary systems and electoral systems in various countries of the world and there has never been a system of P.R. changed to the direct system, without a revolution or going as near to a revolution as they did in France recently. That is why I think it is the last time. I do not believe that in certain circumstances which we all know, if we accept it now for another ten years and put through the Bill to revise the Constitution there would be a Party here in a position to change it after ten years.

It is the Minister's opinion then that for the next ten years or more Fianna Fáil cannot get a majority under P.R.?

Well, I do not know. I am not in the prophecy business. I am giving my opinions.

You have just made a prophecy.

I have given my opinion and I may be wrong, but what cannot be contested is that up to now the P.R. system has never been abolished and the straight vote system introduced except by a revolution.

The North of Ireland—there was no revolution there when they changed it.

Let us discuss the North of Ireland. It was done in the North of Ireland because they had a law which allowed them to do it without any constitutional changes.

There was no revolution.

There were three years after 1937 when you had an over-all majority.

Three years after 1937 with a European War hanging over us.

Oh, yes. "Do not hit me with the baby in my arms."

I am quite prepared to discuss all these points at length with anybody. The system was changed in the North of Ireland because they did not like it and indeed their representatives opposed it. When the British Government wanted to apply it here Carson told them they had no right to try this here and asked them why they did not try it on Britain. It was pointed out that they would not apply it to themselves but pushed it on us over here.

Deputy Costello in this debate quoted from a book The Indivisible Ireland by Frank Gallagher and left us under the impression that what Frank Gallagher was writing about was a change in the system of election when he gave this quotation which I will read again as given by Deputy Costello:

"One of the greatest wrongs that can be done to a minority in a democratic State is to deprive it of its political rights, particularly of its electoral rights for these are so often a shield for the rest."

What Frank Gallaghar was talking about at that time was gerrymandering. He went on to say:

"The denial in the case of the North is achieved by an arrangement of the electoral boundaries."

I think it was very wrong of Deputy Costello to leave people under the impression that Frank Gallagher was talking about the change in the electoral system at that time, and that his remarks had not reference, as they had, to the unfair system of drawing the constituency boundaries. Deputy Costello has denounced this scheme of the commission that we propose to set up to decide these boundaries and these boundaries between constituencies have been decided up to now by a Dáil majority. It could be done by a Dáil majority in the normal way because I never remember any bitter debates upon the Bills to outline the boundaries here. We all agree with them by and large.

I remember once we had a vote as to whether Mayo or Wexford should get the final seat but there was no bad blood about it and by and large I believe we could be left to do it. What is important is that we should be assured that no Party ever has the temptation to do it. What we want in the Constitution, and in the Bill that will be associated with all these changes of boundaries, is a system that will give everybody an assurance that never at any time can any Government do what Northern Ireland did in regard to gerrymandering of the constituencies up there. It was the gerrymandering that everybody objected to, not the change of the electoral system.

Whether it was the P.R. system or the straight vote system, the nationalists in the North would get their due proportion, provided the constituencies were not gerrymandered. It just happens that those minorities are coherent minorities living, by and large, in limited areas. No system of election that is fair, in which the constituencies are fairly drawn and operated, could deny them their right to their proper proportion of representatives and it is the gerrymandering that we objected to. I believe that one of the things that kept us back from making further progress on Partition is this disastrous system of election that has left us so weak that we cannot use our full strength to go forward and to develop the country over these years.

We did our best to propose in this amendment to the Constitution a system of commission which would draw the boundaries in a fair way, as uninfluenced by any dishonourable intentions of government as it is possible to do. All we say is that if you do not agree with our system, show us a better one.

Our system, to explain it very briefly, is that we should get three members from both sides of the House. It is difficult sometimes to say in an Act of Parliament who is a member of the Opposition and who is not. Some people might not like to decide for themselves that they are members of the Opposition. They might like to keep it to themselves to be free to be Opposition or not.

The best system we can see—it is hard to do it by a law or particularly in the Constitution—is to leave it to the Ceann Comhairle. He will say: "This is the list of the Opposition. Get them together. Have a discussion and see if you can agree to appointing three." We do it every day here with the Committee of Selection. There is never any dispute about it.

Why should Deputy J.A. Costello condemn that system as something dishonorable—as if the only concern of the three members of both sides of the House would be to fix their own constituencies and to do the other 150 or 140 some injustice? If anybody can think of any better way of selecting these six representatives to represent the Dáil, comprising men who know the country by and large and who can give advice to a civil servant who might be drawing up this thing and say: "Look here, you cannot do what you propose. There is a ridge of mountains. There is no road and they would have to go around 20 miles. If you are making a change, you will have to keep it so that they will be a reasonably compact group and will be representative as far as possible of the same county or county borough, or whatever it may be." What better system have they to offer?

If Deputy J.A. Costello does not approve of that system of selecting these members from the Dáil, what system does he propose? We propose that the Taoiseach should select three and that the Ceann Comhairle should select three. If we left it, for instance, to the Leader of the Opposition to appoint the three Opposition members, that might not be agreed to. The Ceann Comhairle has to do this thing in the full light of day, no matter what Party he came from. I think we have found here, over the years, that the Ceann Comhairle, no matter who he was, acted reasonably in that sort of way. I think we have found, too, that the Committee of Selection that generally meets here to appoint committees —Restaurant Committees, Library Committees, Committees for Bills, and so on—never had a single dispute. Are we to think, with a commission of this House, that, if any hoofling was going on, at least one man would not come in here and expose it?

Why not allow the Ceann Comhairle to select the six?

Make the proposition. Let us have the amendments on it, but do not let us say, as Deputy J.A. Costello says, that you could not get six to do it.

The Ceann Comhairle is good enough for the Opposition but the Government Party must have the Taoiseach.

Let the Deputy make any suggestion he likes. Let him put on his thinking cap and bring in an amendment suggesting a better system that will provide that neither the Government nor the Opposition can get an unfair advantage from a redrawing of constituencies.

I do not agree with this business at all, but why let the Taoiseach select the three members for the Government?

We are not on the Committee Stage yet. If the Deputy has any better idea, I am asking him to come forward with it.

What about the chairman? Why should the Chief Justice not be the chairman?

I do not think I should delay the House very much longer. There is just one thing I want to clear up. In their desire to run away, to turn their backs and to get the people to turn their eyes away from what has happened in France recently, it has been denied and re-denied that the system of election in France was proportional. I would ask any lawyer, any newspaperman or anybody else in the country who wants to read the truth for himself, and to read the French law on the matter, to go to the Journal Official de la Republique Francaise of 3rd October, 1956. There he will see for himself that the system which has been in operation from 1945 until the collapse of the Republic altogether was one of these fancy proportional systems they had over there. It was a proportional list system and in certain cases it was not even an amended proportional list system.

They had P.R. in one part of the country and the proportional combined list system in the other. Is it one of these fancy systems of P.R. that Deputy J.A. Costello would propose in substitution for the system of P.R. that is operated here? Do Fine Gael suggest that it is the system that is being worked in France that should be put in, if they ever had the right to do it behind the backs of the people? That is what we want to know. What is their alternative to this? If they do not want the Government bound by the Constitution to consult the people in any change proposed in the electoral system, what is their system? What would they do if they had the power to do it behind the backs of the people?

From our experience, we hope this Bill will be accepted by the Irish people because we believe that it will give to those who come after us the opportunity to combine together in their common interest for their common good. Nobody proposes that we should have the complete proportional system here whereby the 147 would be in the one constituency and that a minority of 1/148th of the people should get elected. I do not believe that is the system which Fine Gael would propose because all their arguments are directly contrary to it, but we should like to know. Not even the Labour Party, in their attacks the other day, would propose the ideal system of P.R., which has been advocated a thousand times and which, in fact, operated in relation to the Seanad election, that the whole country be one constituency and that the vote be transferable for the 147 seats. Is there anybody who would propose that we should introduce that system in the interests of minorities? Will anybody say "yes"? There is no reply.

Quite frankly, I do not know what the Minister is talking about.

If the Deputy does not, I am sorry because I do not propose to go back over what I said for the Deputy's benefit. I think the others understood me. Nobody will propose that system. Deputy Dillon, who I am glad to see is here, believes—in fact, he does not like P.R., good, bad or indifferent, as far as I can gather from what he said. I will not embarrass him by repeating it.

Deputy Dillon was going to his lunch but I asked him to stay here.

I am sorry; I will not take an unfair advantage of the Deputy by capturing the poor devil.

Substantially what I said was that anything upon which the blight of Fianna Fáil had fallen was spoiled.

Indeed, the Deputy did not. As a matter of fact, it was the one time the Deputy forgot to talk about Fianna Fáil in his opposition to the frauds and cods who imposed this system upon us.

The Deputy can go to his lunch.

No one will propose that fantastic system for Dáil elections which is, as a matter of fact, in operation in respect of Seanad elections. What I want to deal with is this matter of having minority Parties. Where do we stop in that respect? Let us take the situation as it is to-day and as it might be to-morrow with one big Party and half a dozen small Parties. Why should we have a system of election that will enable six, seven or eight small Parties to go forward in a constituency advocating a dozen different policies diametrically opposed in order to get seats for the purpose of collecting them to form a Government on one policy?

I think it is a reasonable invitation to those who propose forming a Coalition Government after the election that they should unite in the public eye upon a policy, advocate it and get authority for it. If there is going to be only one policy after the election, why should there be six different ones advocated at the election? Can anybody answer me that? One of the things that the abolition of P.R. will do is that the straight vote will compel the small Parties to act straight by the people. On that issue, if they propose to have a coalition after the election, they will have to disclose in the straight system that they are going to do it. If before the election Fine Gael and Labour or Fianna Fáil and Labour or any other combination combine, they will have to arrange that the two who are going to combine after the election will not fight each other in the constituencies for the benefit of the other Party. They will have to combine before the election and be straight with the people. If it was confined to a single constituency on the single transferable vote, they could put up half a dozen, all advocating six different policies for the purpose of implementing one, if they got between them a majority.

We hope that the Irish people will be as wise in this election as they were at the time of the last referendum. I believe they will. Deputy Costello in his speech yesterday said we should not pass this Bill because the people were not accustomed to a referendum. He conveniently forgot that they had experience of the referendum in the case of the Constitution, but he said yesterday that they never had any and that that was one of the reasons why he did not like this referendum business. The people were asked to reject the Constitution for almost the same reasons as they are being asked to reject this amendment. They were told it was going to destroy all minorities in the country; that we were going to keep all the women prisoners in the house; that the President was going to be a dictator and that Fianna Fáil were going to be dictators.

The people were not fooled at the last referendum and they will not be fooled in this referendum. We would have had more experience of the referendum if the Cumann na nGaedheal people had not changed the rules in the middle of the game. According to the 1992 Constitution, there was provision that, when 70,000 people asked for a referendum, they would get it. We brought in the 70,000. They were rejected and the Constitution was changed to eliminate the referendum. We could have had more experience, if, in 1927, Cumann na nGaedheal had accepted our proposals for a referendum to give the people a chance to say whether or not they wanted the Oath of Allegiance to the British King.

However, we did get experience of a referendum on the Constitution and it is my opinion that the second experience our Irish people will get in connection with a referendum on the Constitution will be just as unacceptable to the Fine Gael Party as was the Constitution itself. But I hope that, with the passage of the years, and with the successors of the present members of the Labour Party, the Fine Gael Party and even the Fianna Fáil Party, the new type of election will become as acceptable to the generality of the Irish people and to all the political Parties as the Constitution now is.

The Minister for External Affairs concluded by saying that the people were not fooled on the occasion of the last referendum. I wonder would he like to think over that remark a bit? It seems to me that this Bill shows that the people were either fooled on the occasion of the last referendum or, else, the Minister and his colleagues want to fool them now. Remember, on the occasion of the last referendum one of the things inserted in the Constitution by the Fianna Fáil Party, and it was something which was insisted upon by them, was that the people should, if they adopted the new Constitution, preserve the electoral system of P.R. with the single transferable vote. The Minister tells us now that the people were not fooled on that occasion. If they were not fooled on that occasion, is it the intention of the Minister and his colleagues to fool them now because they are now going back to the people to ask them to delete those provisions from the Constitution, those provisions which the Fianna Fáil Government and the Fianna Fáil Party insisted should be included in the Constitution?

The Minister for External Affairs asked a number of questions. I want to ask just one question in relation to one aspect of this matter. So far no spokesman of the Fianna Fáil Party has dealt with it. The Minister for External Affairs says that, if this amendment goes through, the Parties will have to "act straight by the people before an election." I want some member of the Fianna Fáil Party—I do not care whether it be a Minister or a back bencher—to tell the House and the country why there was no whisper of this campaign to abolish the P.R. system at the time of the last general election? Why did any Fianna Fáil spokesman not "play straight by the people" during the last general election campaign and tell them they were hatching out a plan to do away with the existing electoral system if the people gave that Party an over-all majority here? Is there any Fianna Fáil Deputy who can claim that he spoke on any platform during the last general election and urged support for himself and his Party on the basis that, if they got an over-all majority here, they would steamroll through the House a Bill to amend the Constitution that they would use their wealthy organisation and their powerful newspaper support to steamroll that amendment through the country, having first steamrolled it through the House? This may be a laughing matter for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach.

I am laughing at the wealthy organisation. All organisations could be wealthy if they depended on the people, but they have not the support of the people.

He may hope, as the Tánaiste hoped, that this will wipe out the Fine Gael Party. I tell the Parliamentary Secretary that no matter what his hopes, or the hopes of his Leader may be in that direction, he will not wipe out the Fine Gael Party.

The people will.

The Fine Gael Party have resisted the present Government for a number of years, and on tougher issues than this. They will resist them now. They will meet them now, and they will beat them now. It will not be a laughing matter for the Parliamentary Secretary then. Irrespective of whether or not this goes through, the Deputy and those sitting around him will rue the day when they tried to bring in this provision to abolish P.R. This is not a matter for joking. It is not a laughing matter. I do not believe any member on the benches opposite or, at least, many of them—perhaps Deputy Booth is one of the few—appreciates the gravity of what the present Government are trying to do. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach laughs again. I hope that, before this debate is finished, we may succeed in wiping some of the laughs and some of the smiles off the faces of the Deputies sitting opposite. I am quite convinced that before this campaign finishes throughout the country we shall succeed in doing that.

This is a matter of very great importance. I have challenged the Deputies opposite to say why there was no whisper of it during the last general election. I doubt if any Deputy supporting the Fianna Fáil will have the courage to stand up before this debate ends and give an answer to that question. The implication in the speeches made by the Taoiseach— and it is an implication which I accept as accurate—is that, if there had been as much as a whisper of this proposal during the general election, Fianna Fáil would not have got a mandate from the people to do this. They would not have got an over-all majority.

The Minister for External Affairs and the Taoiseach himself have referred to the fact that this could not be done were it not for the fact that they were given an over-all majority. The implication is that they would not have been given an over-all majority if they had disclosed their intentions to the people at the general election. The Minister for External Affairs goes further and says that this is the first opportunity—and it very probably will be the last—that the people will get to vote for the abolition of P.R. Why does he believe that it will very probably be the last opportunity they will get? Is not the reason that the plan has been hatched now, that it has been brought out into the open, that the people know what Fianna Fáil want and what Fianna Fáil intend and that, if Fianna Fáil ever have to face the people again under a system of P.R., the people will be sensible enough to ensure that, whatever representation Fianna Fáil get, they will not again get an over-all majority here? Under P.R. they have succeeded in getting an over-all majority here on no less than four occasions. They had an over-all majority in 1938. They could then, without a referendum, have amended this provision in the Constitution.

That is not right.

I shall stand correction, Sir, from a lot of people but I doubt if I will take it from Deputy O'Malley.

There could not be an amendment on a major constitutional issue—only a minor amendment.

Fianna Fáil had three years, as far as I know, within which to amend the Constitution, without a referendum.

They had not.

Perhaps I shall have an opportunity of looking into that again. If I am wrong, I shall certainly apologise.

The Deputy is wrong.

I made that suggestion to one of Deputy O'Malley's leaders—the Minister for External Affairs. What was his answer? It was not that I was wrong. It was not that my facts were incorrect. His excuse was that it was not done then because there was a European War on. Alas, he was even incorrect in that.

That was for a minor amendment.

The European War did not start until 1939.

It could only be done for a minor amendment.

The Deputy will restrain himself. There is no need for the Deputy to interrupt when Deputy O'Higgins is speaking. Deputy O'Malley will restrain himself.

Deputy O'Malley is tired listening to him.

There is a remedy for that.

I know, but it is often worse than the disease.

When the Taoiseach was speaking he told us that everyone he met between 1948 and 1951 and again everyone he met between 1954 and 1957 wanted to know when the existing system would be changed. The Tánaiste told us that he had made up his mind long ago, and long ago became convinced, that P.R. was an undesirable system. If there was the public demand that the Taoiseach claims, if the deputy-Leader of the Government had come to the conclusion that the system was undesirable, I again invite any Deputy opposite to tell us why they did not say anything about it at the last general election. Why did they not disclose then their intentions in regard to P.R.?

I assert, as the Leader of the Opposition asserted and as other Deputies have asserted, that there is no public demand and there never has been any public demand for the change proposed by the Government. I do not believe there is anything like a unanimous demand inside the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Party. I believe that there are some members of the Fianna Fáil Party, particularly those of them who represent particular interests and minorities, who feel that this is a bad step to take, that it is retrograde and reactionary, and whose advice in the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Party to the Taoiseach and to their leaders was that this is a step which should not be taken. I hope that before this debate concludes some of those people will get up and will fight in the same manner for the rights of minorities as Deputy Booth fought here on the provisions of the Finance Bill.

I would remind Deputy Booth in particular that he made a very worthwhile contribution to the affairs of this Parliament on that occasion and that in the assistance which he gave Deputy Sweetman and Deputy Dillon, he, more than any other man in this House, succeeded, notwithstanding that Fianna Fáil had an over-all majority, in getting his Minister for Finance to climb down and to give way to the reasonable arguments and the reasoned demands made from this side of the House. I hope that Deputy Booth will show himself on this occasion to be a man of the same stature, calibre and character as he showed himself to be on that occasion, because he has a particular responsibility to ensure that the people who put him here will not be treated in the way in which it is feared, in any event, may be the case, if this amendment of the Constitution goes through.

There has been no public demand, good, bad or indifferent, for this. This is a political move, hatched and made by politicians, by a political Party. There was no public demand when the members of the Fianna Fáil Party decided to do away with whatever safeguards might exist for minorities in the provision of university representations under the old Constitution. There was no public demand to do away with university representation but Fianna Fáil decided to do that. There was no public demand when the system of P.R. we have was stultified to some extent by the multiplicity of three-member constituencies, which was effected by the Government. Likewise, there is no public demand now for their third step in this direction.

We heard the Minister for External Affairs—no doubt, we will hear more of this before this campaign ends— talking about the system of P.R. having been imposed by the British. I wish the Minister for External Affairs would consider the weight and purport of his own remarks. Does he realise now that he is attacking the system of P.R. as having been imposed by the British and that the only suggestion that he or his colleagues can make to the people of this country to replace the system that he wants abolished is the British system? The fact of the matter is that P.R. as operated in this country is an intelligent voting system for intelligent voters. It has been adopted by the Irish people. It has become, one might say, a distinctively Irish system. We are asked to jettison that, to throw it away and to adopt in its place the British system of voting.

"Won't Mother England be surprised?"

How is it that they did not introduce it in their own country? Tell us that. That is why we are getting rid of it, because they knew what it was designed to produce.

The Minister for External Affairs gave some quotations. He referred to some British statesman as blurting out the truth towards the end of his remarks. I am wondering if the Minister for External Affairs blurted out in the course of his remarks the real reason why Fianna Fáil want to impose this system. He says the British imposed it because the year before Sinn Féin had got a smashing majority under the straight vote system. I wonder does the Minister for External Affairs visualise that if only he could get the straight vote here, Fianna Fáil would always be confident of getting a smashing majority, because, when this matter was discussed on the occasion on which the draft Constitution was discussed in Dáil Eireann, on 1st June, 1937, a Fianna Fáil Deputy, the late Eamonn Donnelly, God rest his soul, had this to say:—

"There is no one here knows better than Deputy Norton that were it not for P.R. there would be only one Party in this House and that is the Government Party."

I do not believe Fianna Fáil will succeed in bringing that position about because I know the strength of the organisation and the Party to which I have the honour to belong. I know the sound tradition behind that Party. I know the pride the members of the Party and the members of the organisation take in that tradition and I do not believe that Fianna Fáil, doing their worst, will be able to break the Fine Gael Party or to drive it out of public life. So that, even if that is what is intended—and the Tánaiste yesterday seemed to feel that that would be the result of this move—I do not believe it will succeed, nor do I believe that either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, as the two major Parties in this country right down the years, have the right to arrogate to themselves the wiping out of any smaller political Parties, nor do I believe that any Deputy who is a member of any Party, large or small, has the right to arrogate to himself or to his Party the right to wipe out independent Deputies and independent representations.

Remember, there are two things involved in this Bill: No. 1, the proposal to abolish P.R. and, No. 2, the proposal to abolish the single transferable vote. It is possible to have P.R. without the single transferable vote and, equally, it is possible to have the single transferable vote without P.R., but what Fianna Fáil want to do is to wipe out both systems.

I think P.R. coupled with the single transferable vote is the fairest system we could get. I think it is essentially fair, essentially just, and it was accepted by all political leaders and all political Parties in this country on that basis. Before I finish, I propose to refer to some quotations to show that that is so and that I am not talking through my hat. It was accepted by the present Taoiseach; it was accepted by Mr. W.T. Cosgrave, the former Leader of the Fine Gael Party; it was accepted by Labour; it was accepted by the Fianna Fáil organisation and the Fine Gael organisation as fair and just and giving reasonable representation to minorities. It was also accepted by the Fianna Fáil tied Party newspaper.

I believe that it is the fairest and most just system we could get; but I believe that there could be P.R. without the single transferable vote. P.R. is the representation of people in Parliament in proportion to their voting strength. Even the theory of that is fair and cannot be questioned. The single transferable vote means that every person has a single vote, but that he can carry on his preferences from one candidate to another right down the line, so that if the person to whom he gives his first preference either gets elected without his assistance or fails, the voter can then express his second or other preference votes. Could there be anything fairer than that? Is there any way in which a Parliament could be more representative than that you should draw your votes and your mandate from the widest possible area of consent?

Under the system which Fianna Fáil are proposing, we are told that there is to be a single seat constituency with a straight vote. Deputy Norton and other speakers have adequately illustrated how that can work out and how it is not only possible but probable that under such a system, there may be a Government in power with a majority in Parliament but a substantial minority of the votes of the people. No one can convince me— and I am generally a fair-minded man who is open to argument—that if a Fianna Fáil Deputy is elected for the constituency in which I reside, with one third of the votes, he will properly reflect the views of the two-thirds of the people in that constituency, who do not want him and who do not want his politics. That is a fair proposition, that a person who goes in on a minority of the votes will not represent the majority of the people in that constituency.

When the Minister for Industry and Commerce and other speakers referred to Deputies getting closer to their constituents, representing their constituents, better if there are smaller constituencies and only one representative to each, they are talking nonsense. This Parliament should not be composed of a collection of political messenger boys. Deputies are sent here to do a bigger job than act as messenger boys in their constituencies. The type of representation the Minister for Industry and Commerce is talking about is messenger boy representation. I agree that it is essential for a Deputy to be able to work on behalf of his constituents and on behalf of individual constituents, and to that extent that it is necessary to have as much personal contact as may be desirable with his constituents; but it is vitally necessary that when a Deputy comes into the House, he will be able to represent the views of his constituents and be able to express those views here. The type of representation the Minister for Industry and Commerce talks about is not that type of representation: he is talking about the type of representation which will necessitate carrying out errands for constituents. That is necessary, but it it not the entire of P.R., and it seems necessary to remind some people of that.

Since I became a member of the Dáil, I have never found any Deputy who complains that there are insufficient approaches made to him by his constituents. In fact, I think there is evidence that we might be better off if there were rather fewer approaches to Deputies from constituents. Rightly or wrongly, the idea has got into the minds of a great number of our people that one cannot do anything, get anything or get anywhere, without first going to a T.D. and asking the T.D. to use influence on one's behalf. I think there is an argument, in any event, for fewer approaches rather than more.

Fianna Fáil spokesmen talk of allowing this matter to be submitted to the free vote of the people. That is nice in theory: it will not happen in practice. Every member of the Fianna Fáil organisation will take off his coat, in answer to the Taoiseach's invitation, to work for the abolition of P.R. There will be no question of Fianna Fáil supporters being allowed to dissociate their vote in this referendum from their political loyalties. They will be asked—out of loyalty to Fianna Fáil, as a duty attaching to their affiliation with Fianna Fáil—to support the abolition of the P.R. system. Fianna Fáil will use all the wealth of their organisation and all the power of their string of newspapers to ram this amendment to the Constitution down the throats of the people. Appeals have been made to keep this debate on a high level and to deal with the principles of the system involved. If the Deputies opposite consider what is involved in this, they will find themselves with very few arguments in favour of the measure.

I do not intend to be rude when I say this—I have not heard the Taoiseach make a weaker case than I heard him make yesterday when he proposed this Bill to the House. I think the reason the Taoiseach made such a weak case is that he could not make a stronger one. He did his best with the material available to him, but he found that he could not make bricks since he had not got the straw. When the Taoiseach was speaking, I was comparing the pitiable weakness of his effort with the strength of his utterances at the time he was insisting in this House that P.R. should be the system of election adopted by the people here and that it should go into the Constitution in 1937.

I am indebted to one of the publications of the Proportional Representation Society for this quotation, which deserves to go on the records of the House and deserves to be pondered upon by the Deputies opposite. In one of the society's pamphlets, No. 73, they commence with this quotation from the Taoiseach, made in September, 1927:—

"From the outset he had led Sinn Féin in accepting P.R. on the ground that it was justified. That was his view, even though the system was being introduced to destroy Sinn Féin. Now also, although the indications showed that Fianna Fáil would be the majority Party after the next election, he stood for P.R. He would never say that minorities should be denied representation and if the object of those who advised the abolition of P.R. was to wipe out minority representation, they would get no support from him."

Now, the strongest argument—in fact, the only argument—that any Fianna Fáil spokesman has been able to make to any effect in this debate is that P.R. has to go because of the danger of splinter Parties and a multiplicity of Parties in this House. Remember that every Deputy who comes into this House, and every Party that comes in here—whether Fianna Fáil chose to dub them as splinter Parties or not—comes in here with the support of a section of the electorate. The Independent Deputy comes in here because the people want him. Every Party in this House is here because a section of the people want to be represented here.

Is there any validity in the argument, so far as this country is concerned, that there has been a great multiplicity of splinter Parties? I agree, and I am not trying to make any bones about it, that unlimited P.R. certainly may result in a number of different Parties, with different views, in this House. I am not at all sure that is a bad thing, but, applying the system to this country, as we have seen it in operation, have there not been three substantial Parties in this House down through the years? We have had Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour. We have had other Parties coming and going, but the three principal Parties have remained in the House from the beginning, as they do to-day. Even if that were not so, I do not think it would become a Deputy, whether in Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, to adopt the position that other Parties should not be represented in this House.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce referred to the complexities of the P.R. system. This is the system that is known by the people of this country. It has been used here for the past 36 years or so, and the number of spoiled votes at any election is infinitesimal. There is no doubt at all that the people of this country know P.R. and know how to use it. They have become quite accustomed to voting under that system. They know the value of their votes under the P.R. system. The elector in Deputy Booth's constituency knows that in that constituency there will be two or three Fianna Fáil candidates put before him, and that he will have the right to discriminate and select as between those candidates. He knows it does not depend on any caucus meeting in Fianna Fáil headquarters as to who is to be the candidate in that constituency, the sole candidate, as it will be under the proposed new system, if it is ever adopted.

The voter under the P.R. system is more than a voter: he is an elector because he chooses not merely between political Parties but even between the candidates of one political Party. Under the English system, which Fianna Fáil want us to adopt, the elector will no longer be an elector in that sense, and he will become merely a voter who will be required to endorse the selection of a single candidate by the political Party.

The Minister, when referring to the complexities of the system of P.R., must not have had any great regard for the intelligence of the Irish people, for surely the Irish people did not require a noviceship of 36 years before understanding such a comparatively simple system as the P.R. system. Certainly, anyone with a noviceship of 36 years will understand that system, will understand it in all its degrees, and will understand the importance of every vote cast under it.

I should like to call the Minister's attention to the fact that the Fianna Fáil Party newspaper already pronounced their views with regard to the system of P.R., as to whether it was complex or not. In their issue of 24th January, 1933, the Irish Press had this to say:—

"The English Press correspondents sympathise with us in having to work so complicated a system as P.R. It is wasted sympathy, for the system is simple to understand and easy to carry out."

That was a quarter of a century ago. The Irish Press knew that the system of P.R. was easy to carry out and simple to understand. Is there any reason why, 25 years later, it should suddenly become complex, difficult to understand and difficult to carry out? The Irish Press continued:—

"It is based on an excellent idea —that we have a greater preference for some candidates than others... Under P.R. the voter not only has the pleasure of voting first for the candidate he likes most of all, but he also can vote for all the others in the order in which he likes them."

There is nothing difficult about P.R. That system has been operated here for a number of years and it has worked well.

I do not want to weary the House with quotations. Most of these have already been put on record, but I think that, in this context, it is worth while remembering again that, when he was urging acceptance of the P.R. system, with the single transferable vote, the Taoiseach said in the Dáil:—

"The system we have we know; the people know it. On the whole it had worked out pretty well. I think that we have a good deal to be thankful for in this country; we have to be very grateful that we have had the system of P.R. here. It gives a certain amount of stability, and on the system of the single transferable vote you have fair representation of Parties."

I am not trying to take any unfair advantage. I agree that on the same occasion he pointed out that, if necessary, this system could be altered, and it could be altered by the votes of the people.

What has occurred since 1937 to suggest to the Taoiseach, or to anyone else in this country, that the system required to be altered? What has happened is that Fianna Fáil have been beaten in two general elections, and that they are facing a defeat in a third general election. Is there any other reason that can be advanced as to why there is any difference now between the present position and the position in 1937? Fianna Fáil were defeated in 1948 and 1954 and they know they are facing a defeat in the next general election, unless they change the voting system in the meanwhile. Is there any Fianna Fáil Deputy who would care to contradict that assertion?


Yes, we do.

If they want to contradict it, will they tell us what has happened since 1937 to give validity to their arguments?

We will deal with that.

You will have your hands full, and you will need to strengthen your arm because your leaders have failed to give any convincing argument to the House. As I see it, nothing has happened since 1937 to render it desirable, in the eyes of anyone, to have this system altered, other than the fact that Fianna Fáil have been beaten twice and will be beaten again, if they do not in the meanwhile change the rules.

On this question of multiplicity of Parties and splinter groups I have said before, and I believe it to be a fact, that Fianna Fáil's criticism of smaller Parties and groups and their criticism of the idea of inter-Party Government is simply because they have no conception of how to co-operate with anyone. They have no conception of the idea of Irishmen co-operating one with the other, despite the fact that they do not belong to the same political Party. Fianna Fáil have done their work in that direction. I believe that the two inter-Party Governments which we established did very good work. It was work which in the interests of the people should have been done. They gave an example from the top of Irishmen working together for the common good of the people.

The Fianna Fáil organisation have succeeded in decrying the idea of inter-Party co-operation. They have succeeded—and I do not think they can be very proud of it—in making the Irish electors distrust the idea of co-operation amongst political Parties. They have succeeded in painting honest co-operation as a lust for power. They have succeeded in portraying honourable meetings between political Parties as sordid bargainings. They have succeeded in dubbing reasonable discussion at Cabinet level as intrigue and squabbling and they have managed to get across the idea that prudent consideration of any particular problem at Government level is a necessary sign of weakness and vacillation.

I wonder if the Fianna Fáil Party is proud of the job they have done in thus decrying the spirit of co-operation amongst Irishmen and Irish political Parties which was fostered by the leaders of the Fine Gael Party, in co-operation with the Labour Party, in 1948. I hope that the day will never come when we will have again the glorification of split and division. That is what is likely to happen if the Fianna Fáil campaign of propaganda against the idea of co-operation is allowed to go unbridled and unchecked. People may yet have cause to curse the day when Fianna Fáil set out on that campaign of trying to destroy the idea of co-operation between politicians and political Parties.

What I am trying to say in relation to this was expressed in a much clearer way by Rev. Canon Luce—who I understand is the Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin—in two letters which he wrote to the Irish Times, one in 1933 and the other in 1938. I think what he said is well worth while repeating and considering. In relation to P.R. he said:—

"To bring back here the English system of voting would be a retrograde, reactionary, and undemocratic step—one that would, I fear, be a step towards a dictatorship of a Party or a person. Those who desire to abolish P.R. convict themselves of desiring disproportionate representation—that is, of grasping at power without the authority of consent."

In 1938, in a letter which appeared in the Irish Times on June 23rd, Rev. Canon Luce had this to say—and I am giving only extracts from the letter; I am not claiming to quote it in its entirely:—

"P.R. has been a healing force in our midst. Old political feuds are dying; public spirit is replacing faction. Our elections are well conducted. The voice of reason is heard, and the gun is silent. P.R. deserves much of the credit; for P.R. produces contented and loyal minorities, whereas the other system breeds muzzled, sullen, discontented minorities, predisposed to doctrines of violence."

In the same letter he says:—

"Since the establishment of the Free State we have lived under several administrations, every one of them elected by P.R. Every one of them has been a strong Government, judged by the true test of strength. Their legislative output has been large, yet most of the grave measures have been carried by the slenderest majority. The scale only just turned, but there was consent behind it, and, whether we approved or disapproved, we all accepted the decisions loyally and cheerfully and made them our own; for we have been able to say to ourselves: 7lsquo;It is the will of the people, ascertained under the fairest electoral system ever devised by the wit of man'. We shall not be able to say that if P.R. goes. If P.R. goes, the feeling of enforced submission will banish the freeman's feeling of glad consent to the law which he, through his representative, has helped to make. A Government with a majority of six under P.R. is infinitely stronger than a Government with a majority of 60 elected otherwise."

Those are the views of a man who was able to express himself clearly and calmly, not as a member of a political Party, not as a person who had any political axe to grind, but a man who was of the religious minority in this country and who appreciated the value of P.R., what it had done for the people and what it had done and meant to his own religious minority. We are now being asked to trick around with and change the system that has produced the desirable result referred to in the letter from which I have quoted. We are asked to trick and monkey around with that system and to try out the English system as a new leap into the dark in this country. I do not know whether any Fianna Fáil Deputy realises what he is asking this House, or the people, to do.

Deputy Booth fairly enough, in a speech he made recently, exploded one of the arguments which has been made by one of his leaders, the Minister for External Affairs, namely, the threat that has been held out that if we did not get rid of P.R. here, we might find happening in this country what happened in Italy in 1922 and in Germany in 1933. It is time that some of the Fianna Fáil Ministers remembered that we are Irishmen; we are not Italians or Germans or Englishmen. We have been operating an Irish system which was suited to the intelligent Irish elector. Quite apart from that, Deputy Booth in a perfectly fair way in his speech, reported only yesterday in the Irish Times of 26th November, speaking, I think, at Trinity College said, according to the report:—

"Mr. Booth declared that a system of P.R. though nothing like ours, had enabled the Nazi and Fascist Parties to come to power in Germany and Italy."

It is a good thing that even now we have a Fianna Fáil Deputy pointing out to his leaders that this talk about Italy in 1922 and Germany in 1933 is the grossest nonsense in relation to the system of P.R. existing here. It is a good thing that Deputy Booth was able to point out that whatever system of P.R. they had, it was nothing like ours——

That is not the point I had in mind. I shall deal with it later.

I know it was not the point the Deputy had in mind but it is the point I am ensuring you will keep in mind in the future. The system of P.R. operated here has been fair and democratic. It has prevented, and would continue to prevent, any political Party obtaining a stranglehold on our political institutions. Not only is it fair and democratic, but it is an intelligent system which precludes, to a very great extent, the type of safe seat that you have, or may have, in countries where the straight vote works. I think it was one of the Labour spokesmen who referred to it as "the type of pocket borought" seat.

There is, I think, a real danger if Fianna Fáil get away with this that you will have created throughout the country a number of constituencies that will become safe seats, where the electors will have no option as to what Deputies will fill the seats, and where the Party bosses will be able to select their candidate and place him in the constituency, knowing that if there is a contest, that candidate will be elected, but knowing that in all probability, year after year, and election after election, there will be no contest at all. You have, in the North of Ireland, a number of constituencies where there is no contest and there never is a contest. You may have the same thing here. If that happens, vast areas will become completely disfranchised not only in one election but in several. I do not think that is good; I believe it is an evil thing and I hope that is one of the arguments that will influence the people here to resist the challenge to P.R. being thrown down by the Fianna Fáil Party.

I do not want to deal at any great length with the argument that has been very ably put from these benches in connection with the possible effect of the Fianna Fáil proposal to introduce the British system here on the question of Partition, but I should like to refer to two booklets that have been used in the fight against Partition. One is entitled: "The Partition of Ireland" and it is written by Mr. David O'Neill. On page 24 of that book, he has this to say:—

"Under P.R. strong minorities are guaranteed their full representational strength. Not only did the Belfast Government abolish P.R. as soon as it felt it had the power to do so but it rearranged electoral areas not only for elections to Parliament but for elections to all local bodies."

Another booklet published by the All-Party Anti-Partition Conference some years ago entitled "One Vote Equals Two" had this to say:—

"In the case of both local elections and parliamentary elections the system of P.R., inserted into the Partition Act as a further aid to full representation for the minority, was abolished."

It is quite clear that one of the arguments which not only the Nationalists in the North but every political Party in this part of the country were able to use against the system operating in the North was the fact that they had abolished P.R. and had done away with the safeguards that provided for minorities.

The Taoiseach referred to everyone asking him between 1948 and 1951 when he was going to get rid of this system. Apparently, people suddenly lost interest in it when he got back, but between 1954 and 1957, they began asking him the same question again. I want to say this, and I think other Deputies have had the same experience; the way it is put to me by anyone who discusses this matter with me— and a great number of people have done so—is that they ask me: "Will de Valera get away with this? Will Fianna Fáil get away with it?" They feel that the Fianna Fáil Party is trying to put something across not only the minority Parties in the House but across the people, and the impact that makes on the mind of the ordinary person is to raise the question: "Will Fianna Fáil get away with it?"

Finally, so far as we on these benches are concerned, we are not thinking of the political future of Fine Gael; we believe that is assured, anyhow, and we do not believe the fate of individual Deputies, whether in our Party or in any other Party, is a matter of prime importance, but so far as we are concerned, and so far as we can do it in the interest of giving every section of the people fair representation in their Parliament, we will use every endeavour to see that Fianna Fáil do not get away with it.

I should like to deal, first of all, with the suggestion by Deputy M.J. O'Higgins, which I think he made with a certain amount of doubt in his own mind, that the Constitution could readily have been amended within a period of three years after its enactment. I would refer him and the House to the Official Reports, Volumes 67-68, column 427. There the present Taoiseach is reported as follows:—

"We have provided for a reasonable period of three years in which, if there are any minor amendments to be made in the Constitution, they can be made by the Legislature."

I think that should clarify the position as far as Deputy O'Higgins is concerned. It was only open to the Legislature to amend the Constitution in the case of any minor amendments and an amendment of the electoral system could not be any stretch of the imagination be thought to be a minor amendment.

Deputy O'Higgins asked why no one ever mentioned the question of amending the electoral system before now. I think he inferred that no Party leader, least of all the Taoiseach, had ever suggested that such an amendment should be made. In actual fact that suggestion was made at least twice. It is hard to look up the quotations quickly, but it was made in 1938 and again in 1943. I would quote from the Irish Press of the 3rd June, 1938. Speaking at Kilrush, the Taoiseach said:—

"The more that the national fight disappears, the more the sectional fight begins. You will have little groups trying to get representation in Parliament and you will have the type of Cabinet you have in France. I have always supported P.R., so much so that I have put it into the Constitution; but I am seriously concerned with results there are likely to be."

I would just like to repeat that. Although the Taoiseach in 1938 said he supported P.R., he expressed himself as being seriously concerned with the results that might come from that system. Again, in 1943, the Taoiseach, speaking in Limerick, said, and I quote from the Irish Press of the 10th May, 1943:—

"If P.R. got them into the position in which they were going to have Coalition Governments representative of a number of different groups in the Cabinet, they were going to see, in his opinion, the end of democracy here. ‘If it ever did happen that the people of this country put a Government which would be composed of groups from various Parties into being, then, much as I am in favour of P.R., I would suggest to the people that they should end it rather than have that situation."

One of the prophetic speeches.

Amazingly prophetic. I agree with Deputy Mulcahy.

There were others.

It is grand that the Deputy and I should be so much at one on this matter. Deputy O'Higgins suggested there was something improper in introducing this Bill without making a specific reference to it in the general election. In my opinion, there is a fairly easy explanation of that, and a very natural one; namely, that at the time of the general election there were so many more important matters to be discussed and considered that this simply was not considered at the time, even within the Party. But the suggestion was made by the Deputy that it was wrong that it should now be introduced without giving prior notice to the electorate. Presumably, the Deputy has forgotten —I hope I am not being too charitable in suggesting he merely forgot— the repeal of the External Relations Act which was to all intents and purposes a very drastic constitutional amendment and which was carried out without any referendum, without any warning, without any mandate from the people and even contrary to the mandate that had been given the Coalition.

And without any opposition.

The fact remains that it was to all intents and purposes— shall we say, in my opinion and in the opinion of the average man in the street?—a drastic constitutional amendment, and the members of the Coalition knew it perfectly well. They had no hesitation about putting it through without a referendum.

And without opposition.

I do not mind whether there was opposition in the House or not. But when we are criticised about bringing in a constitutional amendment which has got to be referred to the people, the members on the other side are in no position to criticise us since we are prepared and compelled to put any such proposal before the people before any action is taken. We are not taking the people by surprise. We cannot do so. We have got to put the facts before the people before anything is done.

Again, is it not obvious that, if any such amendment had to be made, now is the time to make it? Under the Constitution, the constituencies have got to be reviewed next year. Therefore, it will ordinarily come up for review next year; and if P.R. is to be considered, next year is the time it should be put before the people. It would be useless —certainly it would be a waste of time and money—to have one review of the constituencies under the P.R. system next year and a further review if and when the referendum was passed subsequently. So that, it was obvious that next year was the time to place the matter before the people and this year the time to introduce the necessary legislation to enable that referendum to be held.

Deputy O'Higgins has quoted letters from the Rev. Canon Luce. He gave the dates of those letters but he did not stress them unduly. Surely, to quote a letter written over 20 years ago is hardly strictly relevant at this stage? Many things have happened since. I personally have not consulted with the Rev. Canon Luce on the matter. I doubt very much whether Deputy O'Higgins has consulted with him either. But such letters are completely out of date, and the Deputy is assuming that the Rev. Canon has precisely the same opinion now as he had then. He is assuming that without any evidence being given to us.

One of the reasons why I am perfectly sure the Rev. Canon will probably have changed his views by now is the fact, already mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs, that the religious minorities, now representing 7 per cent. of the community, under this vaunted P.R. system receive only 3.5 per cent. of the representation. Originally, the religious minorities were rather anxious; I think they are not as anxious now at all. But for anybody to say that P.R. gives an absolute and unconditional P.R. to religious minorities is just not a fact. I, personally, am delighted it is not a fact either. I do not want this question of religious minorities to be treated in this way. Once you try to bring religious minorities into small pressure groups, you seem to start on the disintegration inherent in all forms of proportionalism.

Deputy O'Higgins referred to P.R. as an Irish system. That also is nonsense. It has always been sponsored by a group in Great Britain and in America, but so far as I know there never has been an Irish Proportional Representation Society.

There was, back in 1911.

It did not last.

What happened to it?

They got P.R. enshrined in the Constitution.

And then they went out of business? Maybe it is time they started up again. The only active supporters at the moment are the Proportional Representation Society in London, and any suggestion that this was an Irish idea or a basically Irish system is without any foundation so far as I know.

Deputy O'Higgins also referred to a speech I made in Trinity College. I do not take back anything I said there. What I said was that there was a P.R. system in Germany and Italy. I commented on the fact that it was nothing like ours but that it had the inherent weakness of any P.R. system. That is why I quoted it and that is why I shall quote it again. I shall try to develop later the argument that it was precisely because there was a P.R. system in many of the European countries that parliamentary democracy, as we know it, collapsed and gave way to dictatorship.

I should have liked to deal with some of the points that Deputy Desmond made if I could have seen what points he was trying to make. I tried very hard but I cannot take him up on any point because I did not see it. As far as Deputy J.A. Costello is concerned, a number of points, I think, deserve comment. Deputy Costello stated quite categorically, though without any evidence, that the difficulties in France were not due to P.R. He went on to say that it would be in the worst of taste if we criticised the Governments of other countries but he concluded with the remark—I did not take it down at the time but I think this is approximately accurate—that France's difficulties were due to conditions endemic to the people.

I should like to know a little more clearly what that means. If it means what I think it means then it is a remark most insulting to the French people, indicating that it was some inherent weakness of the French people that made them do such funny things and get themselves into such horrible masses. I am not prepared to insult the French people in that way. I do not want to insult them in any way. The remark made by Deputy Costello, that France's difficulties were due to conditions endemic to her people, should either be explained or withdrawn.

Deputy Costello also referred to the need for flexibility in the Constitution. He felt we were being too rigid; he always did, I think. The danger of a flexible Constitution is that it is constantly in need of interpretation. A proper Constitution is one under which a person knows where he stands. If a Constitution can be amended from time to time by any Government or on a change of Government, the Constitution is of little value. That is why the Constitution under which we live is a fixed Constitution, for which I am grateful.

The same Deputy suggested that the proposal to adopt a straight vote system would wipe out the Opposition. I wish he could produce some evidence to support his theories, but he cannot or will not. Look at the way parliamentary opposition has been wiped out in Britain. The only sign of any decrease in opposition has been the virtual elimination of the Liberal Party through its own fault. If the Liberal Party had not joined in a Coalition with Mr. MacDonald's Labour Government they might still have held their vote, but they committed the error of joining in that Coalition and being swallowed up. They cannot blame any system for their elimination. It was a tactical error in the political sense.

Can anyone say that there is an overbearing arrogance in the Conservative Government in Britain at the moment? Only a few months ago it was fighting for its very life. It seems to have strengthened its position somewhat since then, but the outcome of the next election is anything but certain. There is always a chance of a Labour comeback just as there has been in the past.

Take the case of America. Can anyone say there is an overweaning and arrogant Democratic Party or Republican Party or that there is not a proper Opposition in America? That system has worked for years in America and the Opposition has never been wiped out. Are we going to say that that system has some inherent defects which will be apparent only in this country? Are we going to say that we are so immature, ignorant or puerile that we cannot work a system at least as well as they can in West-minister or in Washington? Why are we so full of this inferiority complex which makes us think that something dreadful will happen here when it does not happen anywhere else?

There is no conceivable reason for believing that this move will wipe out the Opposition. If there were, we in Fianna Fáil would not do it for the very good reason that we do appreciate an Opposition. It is an essential part of Government. We have stated time and time again in the past, and will stick to it in the future, that a Government without an Opposition is a danger not only to itself but to the country. I am not talking with my tongue in my cheek, and I think Deputies know that it is essential to have an Opposition.

I take it the Deputy is speaking for himself.

The leaders of this Party have always said that. Time and again the Taoiseach has paid tribute to the value of an Opposition.

When he was in opposition.

No. Let the Deputy look up his facts and he will see that many times the Taoiseach has reflected on the absolute necessity for having a strong, virile, intelligent Opposition; which will query everyone. Let us forget about that. The new system cannot, will not, and must not wipe out the Opposition.

Reference was also made to the rights of minorities. I want to try now to speak as dispassionately as I can in view of the remarks of Deputy Costello in that connection. Deputy Costello jeered at me across the House and virtually called on me to thank him and his colleagues for being allowed to live in our own country. He referred to me and my class. What did he mean? I know what he meant; the House knows what he meant but he had not got the courage to say so. His reference was to me and other Protestants. Then he realised that he was exposing the bigotry which I always suspected. I want to make it perfectly clear that I shall not have my religion thrust down my throat by him or anyone else. Neither shall I have it contended for a moment that Protestants are any less Irish than anyone else. That is a lie and he knows it.

He did not say that, of course.

He inferred very definitely that there was a direct equation between the Protestants and the ascendancy class and the pro-British element, assuming, quite wrongly, that no Roman Catholic had ever taken responsibility under a British Government, and that every Protestant had been anti-Irish, whereas, in actual fact, the Protestant contribution to the national movement has been out of all proportion to the number of Protestants in the nation.

I will not stand for that bigotry and I will not thank anyone for receiving the same constitutional rights as Deputy Costello enjoys. I have every bit as much right to them as he has and, in many respects, I think I have much more rights than he has. Having done that and gratuitously insulted me and my co-religionists, he goes on to plead for the rights of religious minorities.

I can forgive a man who opposes me, so long as he does so from conviction, but if there is one thing that gets me mad, it is damnable hypocrisy. What does he care for the rights of religious minorities? I know what he cares, but I can assure Deputy Costello that we Protestants are a proud section of the Irish nation and, being Irish, are well able to look after ourselves. If at any time we require help, or assistance, or defence, we will not go to him or the likes of him for it. Let him forget about religious minorities—we only embarrass him.

Deputy Costello also referred to certain safeguards which had been taken in Britain and America against any excesses of the majority vote system. He referred vaguely to them —very vaguely—and I think for a very good reason. I do not think he knew what he was talking about—I certainly do not. I do not know of any such safeguards under the British Constitution or the American Constitution. It may be that in my study of constitutional law, that was a blank spot. If so, perhaps somebody would enlighten me on what the safeguards are in Britain and America, against the alleged possibility of excesses.

He then referred to minority government, to the danger of minority government, which would not be fully representative of the people, which might take action which no one had authorised them to take. We have only to go back to the action of the Coalition Government in relation to the External Relations Act.

That is what you object to.

I beg your pardon?

Fianna Fáil had not the courage to oppose it.

I do not intend to argue about what Fianna Fáil did at the time. The responsibility rests with those who took the initiative.

We curbed your activitives in Baltinglass, anyway.

We never carried calves in a car, anyhow.

Wicklow decided that issue.

They decided that since.

Where is the ex-Deputy Cogan—in the Department of Health?

What about the Board of Works?

Where is ex-Deputy Cogan?

We have two to one now.

What about the amendment to the Constitution?

The Deputies opposite do not like what they are being told.

One of your emergency men has a job at £500 a year.

It is a £500 per annum reward at the expense of the State.

And it has to do with Baltinglass.

We are not discussing Baltinglass.

Perhaps you would direct your remarks, Sir, to the Minister for Agriculture.

Deputy Everett will get an opportunity of making his own speech.

He brought calves all around the country.

Calves do not arise on this.

Now perhaps we can get back——

Baltinglass is a sore spot, is it not?

You have given your emergency man a job with £500 per annum for doing your work.

Let me get back against to the point I was trying to make. I am rather confused between Baltinglass and calves.

The External Relations Act.

The repeal of that Act was not asked for by anyone, except the then Deputy Seán MacBride.

And the Labour Party.

Did the Labour Party do it, too?

Yes. They were the only Party that voted against it in 1937.

I am not going back to 1937. The point I am trying to make there is that that was a minority Government in action, a minority Government elected under P.R. You may argue that point, if you like, but very flattering reference has been made to the effects of P.R. in Scandinavia, where it is alleged that everything has gone marvellously and there is a P.R. system. If one looks at the election results in Norway in 1949, one will see that for the first time in many years, one Party achieved, under P.R., an overall majority. It might interest Deputy Corish to be told it was the Labour Party, but he probably knows that. In 1949, in Norway, the Labour Party achieved 57 per cent. of the seats in the Norwegian Parliament under the P.R. system. It is of interest, however, to point out that they received only 48 per cent. of the votes —48 per cent. of the votes, 57 per cent. of the seats. That is because, as I will develop later, the P.R. system in Norway is heavily weighted in favour of the larger Parties. Do not let anyone tell us there is any comparison with our system there. There is not.

There was one very interesting remark of Deputy Costello's—one very interesting phrase, I should say—"Whatever is said about the formation of the first inter-Party Government and very little, if anything, can be said". Why?

Because it all took place in five minutes in a room in this Parliament Building.

That is a very interesting explanation, but surely if it took only five minutes, it should not have taken more than five minutes to tell us about it.

You are told about it by the three years of work and achievement.

I am afraid if we were to judge what happened in the five minutes by what happened in the succeeding three years, we would get utterly confused—at least I certainly would.

You are confused anyway, you see.

If it only took five minutes to form that Government, I still ask, why will nobody ever tell us what happened in that room in this House during those five minutes?

The Leaders of various Parties were asked if they would come together and form a Government on certain numerical lines, and they said they would.

That, I do not think, would have taken five minutes actually, but still, why did Deputy Costello say: "Very little, if anything, can be said".

May I intrude for a second? I agree that Deputy Costello did say that, but what he implied was that nothing derogatory could be said. That is what he really implied when he said that.

He did not say it though.

It was very obvious from his remarks that that was what he implied.

That is a very curious point. To me, it was not obvious at all, except in the way that I construe it myself—that nothing could be said. "Very little, if anything, can be said"—but still I hope that subsequently someone will tell us a little more than even Deputy Mulcahy has told us, because it is a matter of tremendous interest.

It would take a long time to tell you, and we would not be in order, I think, any more than you are at the moment.

I think I am in order in commenting——

That is a matter for the Chair. Since Deputy Booth commenced he has been subjected to a barrage of interruptions. Deputies should allow other Deputies to make their speeches without interruption.

He has been asking us questions.

There is no necessity to answer them. Deputies will get an opportunity later of discussing and dealing with Deputy Booth's speech.

Having promised the public the greatest amount of discussion on this, apparently this is the way they have of showing it.

I am sure Deputy Mulcahy or somebody else will give it to us at a later date, but I am anxiously awaiting it.

May I ask what we are expected to give at a later date in this discussion?

An explanation as to those precious five minutes. The Deputy himself said it may not be in order. If it is not in order to do it now, during this debate, possibly the Deputy might tell us at a later and more appropriate date——

May I save time by saying now that I have given the Deputy all the information on what happened in that five minutes?

I think I understand the Deputy to mean that he has given me all the information he is going to give me. I can well appreciate his reason. Deputy J.A. Costello also referred to the formation of the Constituency Commission. So did Deputy O'Higgins. Deputy J.A. Costello, a senior member of the Bar, referred to the Judiciary as "Party hacks". To my mind, from a senior member of the Bar, such a suggestion was most improper. Doubtless he can do so within the rules of this House. However, that a senior counsel should refer to members of the Judiciary as "Party hacks" is not in the very best of taste, to put it mildly. He inferred that appointments to the Judiciary were made purely on political grounds. I wonder if any judges were appointed during either of his terms of office. Were they "Party hacks"? Or is it like the reference to a Party caucus— that any judge appointed by the other Party is a "Party hack" but that any judge appointed by your own Party is appointed on merit alone?

Surely the question of the appointment of judges does not arise now?

I agree to a certain extent but the point Deputy J.A. Costello was making was that a judge of the Supreme Court was a "Party hack" and therefore could not be relied upon to be an impartial arbitrator over the activities of the proposed Constituency Commission which is referred to in the Bill. That was my reason for referring to it and I hope it was relevant.

I do not accept the suggestion that a judge of the Supreme Court is an improper person for such a commission. Then, Deputy O'Higgins criticised us for including a provision that if the House wishes to upset the decision of the chairman of the commission it can do so only by a two-thirds majority. That, surely, above all things, is the most unwarranted criticism.

Supposing, as Deputy O'Higgins suggested, the House could upset the decision of the chairman of the commission by a mere majority, I am perfectly sure he would have had another way of jumping at it straightway and saying: "If the commission do not agree with Fianna Fáil they will upset the decision of the commission by their use of a straight majority." Instead of doing that, we have made it impossible for our Party, no matter how strongly we may vote on the matter. Fianna Fáil, in its present state, could not upset the decision of that Constituency Commission.

We have safeguarded the House and the electorate. We have fallen over backwards in doing that whereas we could quite easily and possibly quite properly have said that the decision will be laid on the Table of the House and, if not objected to within 14 days, shall be deemed to be law. Instead of that, we have made it impossible for any Government which we can see on the horizon, by itself, to upset that decision.

Or the Supreme Court.

It had to be two-thirds of the House, not a simple majority. It was a wise decision. By so doing, we could be held to be acting against the selfish interests of our own Party and the Government.

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a Government could have 98 seats out of 147 under a straight vote.

Put in an amendment.

Any Government could have it.

The criticism was that we were making it too hard for the House to upset the commission. I am sure there would be criticism if, as the Minister for External Affairs suggested, we made it anything you like. However, Deputy O'Higgins said we were making it too hard. I wish the Opposition would, at least on this occasion, try to get together to decide what they are trying to do. They do not.

Deputy O'Higgins criticises us for insisting on a majority of at least two-thirds of the House before a decision is upset. You say you want more. There is still time to put down an amendment and to ask for an even bigger majority to be necessary. I am sure it will be considered.

We shall leave Deputy J.A. Costello now and try to get down to a more dispassionate consideration of the whole question of electoral systems. The purpose of an election is to form a Government: I say that without any hesitation. Under the democratic system, this Government should be as representative as possible of the general stream of thought in the country.

The purpose of a Government is to govern and not merely to represent. I want to get this very clearly across because it is a very vital point. If we were to treat the Government simply as representing, on a smaller scale, the differences which already exist in the community, that would mean that we are accepting the basic tenets of anarchism. That may seem extreme, but I say it advisedly and with a full knowledge of what I am saying.

Government is not merely a matter of representation. It should be as representative as possible of the general stream of thought but if it is to be a Government at all, it can never be completely representative of every section of opinion in the country at any one time. I do not think it is ever suggested here—certainly it should not be—that Deputies in this House are here purely in their representative capacity to do exactly as their constituents would do if they were in the same place. That would be impossible.

What happens at an election is that a Deputy is put in the position of acting and taking part in government. He is elected by the electors because they feel he is the sort of person whom they would like to govern them. But a Deputy cannot be representing and doing nothing else. I do not think, in our own situation, that the electorate have ever fully understood the system. I know it will be thrown back in my teeth that the Taoiseach on a previous occasion said he thought they did or that the Irish Press thought they did. To be perfectly frank, I do not care twopence whether the Taoiseach said that 20 years ago or five years ago. I make up my own mind on things like this. I know it is a bit annoying for the Opposition who insist that we are a gang of yes-men. I make up my own mind; I have my own opinion. I am convinced that the voters do not fully know how to use P.R. on the single transferable vote and they do not use it either fully or properly.

I should like to quote the results just in respect of my own constituency which, I think, illustrate this point extremely well. On the first count, I was slightly short of the quota. I got some help from Deputy Cosgrave— very little, understandably enough. The candidate whose name appeared first on the ballot paper, Mr. Begley— my name appeared second on the ballot paper—was the Clann na Poblachta candidate. His Party was anathema to me, and I to them, so that it was reasonable enough to expect that intelligent Clann na Poblachta voters, who voted No. 1 Clann na Poblachta, would not, under any circumstances, give either me or Deputy Brady a second preference vote. The unfortunate thing was that the names on the ballot paper appeared in the order, Begley, Booth, Brady. Begley was eliminated and as a result of the luck of the alphabetical order, I scooped 429 votes and was in.

There are some stupid people in your constituency. They must be shockingly ignorant.

It was shockingly ignorant. It was the most unintelligent voting. It was gross ignorance on the part of 429 Clann na Poblachta voters which got me over the quota.

Deputy Browne will tell you that even though three names appeared on our ballot paper and were spaced very much apart, the people were very well able to vote.

They are Fianna Fáil votes.

I think we have a better control.

A much better control. When Pop turns, you all turn.

They are intelligent voters.

Can we get back to the point I was trying to make? The point I was trying to make was that nobody could say that that was consistent or intelligent voting. It was very intelligent of people to give me a fairly good number of first preference votes. That was undoubtedly intelligent voting, but I cannot say that it was intelligent voting that, having voted for the Clann na Poblachta candidate in the first instance, they should have given me 429 votes and Deputy Brady 209.

You may want them again.

I was very grateful to get them. I was expressing my thanks to Mr. MacBride only the night before last, but I do not think he quite appreciated it. If the system were being properly used, I would have had to get in solely on the Party vote.

The Party would not have got in at all on P.R.

Very possibly they might not, but that would have been very regrettable. At least I would have known who had put me in. At the moment, all I know is that 8,852 voted No. 1 and 429 Clann na Poblachta supporters went "gaga".

Could I help the Deputy?

Not at this stage.

Some other time.

I was going to suggest that sometimes a stupid electorate recognises an infernal machine and may elect a Deputy to discharge that function in the Party to which he adheres. I am not so sure that the Clann na Poblachta supporters were very amiss in their decision.

That is a tremendous help and is a tremendous gratification to my ego. The first point is that they should not have voted for me and the second point arises out of what Deputy M.J. O'Higgins said. He inferred that I had been elected as a Protestant candidate or representative. Oh, how much I wish it was in many ways because the Protestant population of Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown would then be enormous! The poll was about 60 per cent. and the votes shared by Mr. H.P. Dockrell and myself totalled 11,700. If that was all the Protestant vote on a 60 per cent. poll, there would be a shocking lot of Protestants in Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. I never stood as a Protestant candidate, although I never covered up that I was a member of the Protestant Church. I did not think of standing on religious issues. I do not ever intend to.

There are inherent dangers in this whole proportional system. I should like to stress again that there are so many variations of proportionalism that you cannot refer to it as P.R. There are almost infinite varieties of proportionalism available and most of those varieties have been tried. The first danger inherent in the system is that it encourages minorities to become pressure groups. If I were to stand on a religious issue, I would be adopting a process of disintegration which I am all against.

Secondly, proportionalism helps extremists to use Parliament as a platform and then to use parliamentary methods to destroy the parliamentary system from within. Thirdly, it encourages a multiplicity of Parties to confuse the electorate. There seems to be some doubt on that point and I should like now to deal with the question whether proportionalism encourages a multiplicity of Parties.

Some of you, I am sure, met Mr. Fitzgerald when he was over here from London. He is one of the officials of the Proportional Representation Society. He is also a member of the British Labour Party. He prefers to travel as such and to let P.R. come out in the course of conversation. He and I had a discussion lasting nearly two hours on this whole question. One of the points I made to him initially was that it would give rise to a multiplicity of Parties. He denied that categorically. He said I was working upon entirely unsound premises for which there was no foundation whatever.

I said to him half an hour later: "You are frightfully keen that we should have it but why should not you, as a member of the Labour Party at Westminister, press for it in your own Party in Westminster?" He said something to the effect that it was a great matter of shame to him that they had not been able to do it. I asked him to tell me what would happen if they had P.R. in Westminster and whether the Liberals would get representation. He said: "Certainly; we now have one extra Party in the British Parliament." I said: "Supposing you have a P.R. system, since there is a considerable Communist vote, would you have Communists in Westminster?" and he said: "Certainly, and I should be delighted that they should be there. That is where they should be. Communists should be inside the parliamentary system and not outside it."

I said: "O.K. You now have two extra Parties in Westminster.""Now," I said, "what about the Conservative Party which recently had its Árd Fheis broken up by the League of Empire Loyalists? Do you think the League of Empire Loyalists would still sit behind the Conservative Party or stand under their banner? Do you think they might break away?" And he said: "Yes, I am almost certain they would.""O.K." I said. We have three Parties. "Now," I said, "you are a Labour man. Do you think that is the only split that could occur in the Conservative Party? Is there not a Left Wing and a Right Wing element and the Right Wing element would not go quite so far as the League of Empire Loyalists?" And he said, in an unguarded moment: "I think you are probably right." So there would be four Parties.

Then I came back to the Labour Party and I said: "Look here. I do not want to embarrass you in any way, but is there not a possibility, knowing the Labour make-up, that there would be a clash and a division between the intellectual group of the Labour Party and the trade union movement?", and he said: "I hate having to say so, but I am afraid you are right."

That is almost like Gallagher and Shean.

It is too easy.


Between the two of us, we had invented five more Parties, whereas, 20 minutes before that, he had told me that the single transferable vote did not lead to a multiplicity of Parties. Of course it does. It is bound to. It always has led to a multiplicity of Parties, and it always will. One of the main snags is that, once you have a multiplicity of Parties, you have confusion of the electorate.

Only of the electorate in the Deputy's constituency.

No, I am afraid not. I have a better opinion of my own constituents' intelligence quotient than the Deputy possibly has of his. But I think that confusion does happen, particularly in a five-seat constituency where there are 12 to 14 candidates.

The Deputy has something to learn from the Fianna Fáil group of candidates in Wexford, so.

I have a lot to learn, and I am working very hard. All that confusion and multiplicity of Parties makes the formation of Governments either impracticable or impossible. Finally, it produces deadlock or a political vacuum at the top, a vacuum which can be filled only by a dictatorship.

Contrary to what Deputy M.J. O'Higgins was hoping, I should like to deal with the European situation. I hope the House will bear with me, because I believe this to be of very great importance to us. During a debate in which I took part a couple of nights ago, I was asked—I had not the time then to reply fully—what evidence I had that something dreadful would happen, if P.R. continues. May I answer the question now? What almost inevitably will happen is what has happened in other countries.

Take Italy back as far as 1913. There had been a tremendous amount of political disintegration prior to 1913, owing to the annexation of certain Papal States by the Italian Government before that time which had resulted in the abstention very largely of Catholic voters from elections, so that elections up to that time had been most unrepresentative. By 1913, a process of reintegration had set in and there was not a clash between the Church and State. That clash was forgiven and forgotten and the movement towards anti-clericalism, which had been considerable, was greatly weakened and Italy was in a very much stronger political condition round about 1913.

Then came the war. We cannot draw any conclusions from that. But after the war the first election came in 1919 and it was in 1919 that P.R. was introduced. That immediately produced a number of Parties. Previously, there were two main Parties. That broke the Parties up into smaller groups and part of the snag was that it broke them up, not into larger and smaller groups but into approximately equal groups which made combination, co-operation or coalition extremely difficult. In addition, it opened the door to the creation of the Fascist Party. With these equal groups of Parties, all very nearly equal in strength, the formation of Coalition Governments became increasingly difficult. Two Premiers had to resign owing to their complete inability to form Governments. Eventually, a new Premier was selected, Signor Facta, who was elected and agreed simply because he was such a complete nonentity nobody could find anything to disagree with him about. Anybody who had any opinion had to resign, and Signor Facta came in as a nonentity, and did nothing, but just held on to the Coalition Government and caught the little disintegrated particles as they flew, if he could. After a bit he could not, and he resigned. Back it went to the political marketplace where they bargained around and around. There were a number of prominent men any of whom could be Premier, but no one would agree to any one of them. Back to Signor Facta again, and poor Signor Facta kept on trying to resign, and he would not be let.

The only man who kept clear was a gentleman called Mussolini, who stayed outside Rome waiting for the bang which he knew was going to happen. He had already received power from Signor Facta who had armed the Fascist militia to take action against the Socialists and the Communists. Mussolini gained considerable strength, but was still the leader of a very small minority Party. He stayed outside Rome. Signor Facta was desperately trying to get the King to accept his resignation and the King point blank refused. Eventually, he reviewed the whole situation—I gather he was a man of considerable states manship—and eventually he came to the conclusion that only Mussolini knew what was going on and was strong enough to do what he wanted to do. He summoned Mussolini to come in and take over as Premier.

Look where he finished up!

This will be very impressive to the farmers of Kilfinane.

To me it is very interesting, and a bit of vital information.

Does Deputy Booth really believe what he says?

That, again, is rather an insulting remark.

I assure the Deputy I have not the slightest intention of insulting him. I merely want to know if he thinks his simplification of the Italian scene between 1913 and 1940 is a fair and objective assessment of a very complex and difficult situation? Far be it from me to suggest anything which might insult the Deputy.

I think the Deputy has met me very fairly, but, if it is as fair as he makes it out to be, I do not see why he asked the question. If I did not sincerely believe what I am saying, I would not say it.

Not at all!

Maybe the Deputy would not appreciate that, but I rather hoped he would.

Deputy Booth thinks it good enough at any rate for the farmers of Kilfinane.

Cuireadh an díospóireacht ar ath-lo.

Debate adjourned.