Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 5 May 1959

Vol. 174 No. 11

An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—Tairiscint (atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Motion (resumed).

Thairg an Taoiseach an tairiscint seo a leanas, Dé Céadaoin, 29 Aibreán, 1959:—
DE BHRÍ go ndearna Dáil Éireann, ar an 29ú lá d'Eanáir, 1959, an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, a rith agus a chur chun Seanad Éireann, agus gur dhiúltaigh Seanad Éireann dó ar an 19ú lá de Mhárta, 1959,
Go gcinneann Dáil Éireann ANOIS AR AN ÁBHAR SIN leis seo, de bhun ailt 1 d'Airteagal 23 den Bhunreacht, go measfar an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, mar a ritheadh ag Dáil Éireann é, a bheith rite ag dhá Theach an Oireachtais.
The following motion was moved by the Taoiseach on Wednesday, 29th April, 1959:—
THAT WHEREAS the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, was, on the 29th day of January, 1959, passed by Dáil Éireann and sent to Seanad Éireann, and was on the 19th day of March, 1959, rejected by Seanad Éireann,
NOW THEREFORE Dáil Éireann, pursuant to section 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution, hereby resolves that the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, as passed by Dáil Éireann, be deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Athchromadh ar an díospóireacht ar an leasú seo a leanas ar an tairiscint sin:—
Na focail uile i ndiaidh an fhocail "go" sa chéad líne a scríosadh agus na focail seo a leanas a chur ina n-ionad:
bhfuil an Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958, tar éis beachtaíocht thromchuiseach leanúnach a tharraingt i nDáil Éireann, gur dhiúltaigh Seanad Éireann dó, agus gur cúis imní agus easaontais i measc an phobail é,
Go gcinneann Dáil Éireann ANOIS AR AN ÁBHAR SIN leis seo gan beart de bhun ailt I d'Airteagal 23 den Bhunreacht a dhéanamh go dtí go bhfaighfear tuarascáil ó Chomhchoiste de Dháil Éireann agus Seanad Éireann, a cheapfar chun scrúdú a dhéanamh ar iarmairtí sóisialacha, polaiticiúla agus eacnamaíocha na n-athruithe so chóras togcháin atá beartaithe sa Bhille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958 — an tuarascáil a bheith le tabhairt ag an gComhchoiste tráth nach déanaí ná an 29ú lá de Lúnasa, 1959.
(Na Teachtaí Seán Ua Coisdealbha, Risteárd Ua Maolchatha).
Debate resumed on the following amendment thereto:—
1. To delete all words after the figures "1958" in line 2 and substitute therefor the words:
"has given rise to serious and sustained criticism in Dáil Éireann, has been rejected in Seanad Éireann, and has caused disquiet and division among the people,
NOW THEREFORE Dáil Éireann hereby resolves to postpone action under section 1 of Article 23 of the Constitution until a report shall have been received from a Joint Committee of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, appointed to examine the social, political and economic implications of the changes in the electoral system proposed in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958 — the Joint Committee to report not later than the 29th day of August, 1959.
(Deputies John A. Costello, Richard Mulcahy).

The Taoiseach, with his well-known, strong political reputation, asserts he is concerned with the right of the majority to rule; that, in turn, has translated itself in his mind into the fallacious corollary that coalitions are bad government and are dominated by the minority. In his opinion, the smallest minority in such a government can dictate policy. That reasoning appears to be, at one and the same time, both fallacious, ill-thought out and careless. The record does not bear him out.

We have, first of all, the record of other countries where coalition Governments have proved successful. I shall mention two — Sweden and Switzerland. The type of democracy in operation in those countries has allowed the various Parties to form coalition Governments and go back to the people from time to time, answerable to the people at all times for their actions; and those actions have either been ratified by the people or the decisions have been repudiated by the people.

I shall not suggest that our two coalition Governments here were successful. They were, in fact, inefficient. In so far as they attempted to solve the problems of unemployment and emigration and provide effective social services and so forth, they failed to do so, but failure can equally be laid at the feet of the main Party today, the Government Party, the Taoiseach's Party. So far as I can see, it comes down then to a question of relative inefficiency. Coalitions are inefficient; so also is single-Party strong Government. I do not think the Taoiseach's argument therefore is a sufficiently good reason for deciding that the electoral system must be changed in order to avoid a possible repetition of coalition government.

In the assessment of the strength of a minority in a coalition Government, or the likelihood of a minority controlling such a Government, we can look abroad in the first instance; we can also examine the record at home of the two coalition Governments which were composed of the various Parties in this House — Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta, the Labour Party, Fine Gael, Independents. I should like some Government speaker to defend the Taoiseach's proposition that minorities dominated our two coalition Governments. Certainly, in my single experience, that does not hold true.

The Labour Party must admit that their achievements in the first coalition Government were relatively slight. There was one outstanding success attributable to the late Deputy Tim Murphy. I refer to the dynamic and successful housing drive initiated by him. Indeed, I often think he does not get sufficient credit for his achievements in that direction. But we must all agree that, irrespective of whether it was a coalition Government or a Fianna Fáil Government which held office, the housing drive would have gone on at approximately the same rate. The need was there. Most Parties have from time to time stated that they were in favour of slum clearance.

The Taoiseach might say that that housing success was as a result of a minority drive. I do not think that is true. Indeed, I know it was not true because I know there was unanimity in the Cabinet. It was unanimously decided to allow the Minister for Local Government to go ahead with housing as quickly as possible, and money was put at his disposal for that purpose.

On the other aspects of Labour policy, I think Labour must agree that in relation to the traditional aims of Labour everywhere — full employment, a very much broader and better planned economy, social services and educational services — very little was achieved during the period of the first Coalition, so little that no very substantial progress was made towards the achievement of Labour aims in general.

I do not think it can be said that Clann na Talmhan dominated the first coalition Government. Certainly the Minister for Lands made strides in reafforestation. The Land Commission went on working as usual at their relatively slow tempo, a tempo which remains uninfluenced irrespective of what Minister is in office. On the whole, the reafforestation programme was a successful and satisfactory one. It was automatically continued by the Fianna Fáil Government which succeeded the first Coalition. That proves that it was not a policy imposed by a minority group on the first coalition Government. Fianna Fáil accepted the target of 25,000 acres when they took over. Clearly that policy was not injected into the coalition Government as a result of minority pressure group activity.

Similarly, it is not possible to sustain that charge when laid at the feet of the Party to which I belonged at the time, the Clann na Poblachta Party. I often wished it could have been sustained. Prior to the election, one of the points which Mr. MacBride publicised in relation to his programme was that which proposed that we should break the link with sterling. Whether or not that was wise is wholly unimportant now. We are not discussing the merits of policy. We are discussing the question as to whether or not minorities dictated to the majorities in our coalition Governments. I am not an expert in these matters, but I believe that an opportunity arose during the period of office of the first Coalition, in relation to devaluation. That seemed to me to be an occasion when, if we wanted to break the link, we would have been reasonably justified. However, no such thing occurred.

The External Relations Act is an old story, and I do not want to rekindle the fires which are long since dead, but I do not think anybody who knew the facts really believed that that decision was imposed on the Fine Gael Party against their wills at that time, as a result of any individual dictation by the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr. MacBride. I do not think it can be said that the then Minister for External Affairs dictated policy which was unacceptable to the Fine Gael Party. It was well known that Clann na Poblachta stood for the admission to this House of the Northern Members of Parliament. They remained outside.

The only other charge which, I think, has been made, is in relation to the repatriation of our sterling assets. It is only fair to history, to the Clann na Poblachta Party, and to Mr. MacBride, to say that his advocacy on that point in the election was a suggestion that there should be a repatriation of sterling assets, but he did add this proviso: "their reinvestment at home for productive purposes, productive capital investment". There was a dissipation, if you like to call it so, a spending, of our external assets on too many consumer-type goods.

There was the question of the expenditure of the Marshall Aid money. Ideally, that should also have been deployed to the maximum degree in order to stimulate agricultural production, to provide some form of stimulus for industrial production so as to increase employment and the national wealth. Again, I think that money was not used in that way, but I honestly do not believe that can be held against a minority, particularly against Mr. MacBride, who spoke widely on that subject before the election. The decision to spend that money in what was not perhaps the wisest possible fashion cannot be attributed to him. Anybody who examines the record of the then Minister for Finance, Deputy McGilligan, and anybody who knows him at all well, or anybody who has knowledge of him here in this House, understands that he is not a person who can too easily be imposed upon. Consequently, he is the man whose whole record, with the exception of the early Shannon Scheme——

I do not think we should discuss a particular Deputy on the amendment.

In so far as there is a charge that the coalition Governments were dominated by minority opinions and had to take their decisions——

We cannot discuss a particular Deputy. It is entirely irrelevant to the amendment before the House.

His record here and his record in public life have made it clear——

I cannot allow the Deputy to proceed on a discussion of a particular Deputy. He will have to discuss the amendment.

The record of the Deputy and his Party have justified to the onlooker the assumption that no proposition for the expenditure of that money in any way other than the way in which it was spent — an attempt to stimulate private enterprise and private capital by the making available of consumer goods to the public generally — would influence them. That has been the traditional policy of the Fine Gael Party and it was a direct result of the carrying through of that policy in the face of opposition from the minorities—the Clann na Poblachta minority and, I suggest, the Labour minority, but certainly the Clann na Poblachta minority — which led to the dissipation of our external assets, or the spending of our external assets on consumer goods of which there has been so much criticism.

I need not dwell on the fact that the Fine Gael Party is not a Socialist Party and neither was the then Minister for Finance a member of a Socialist Party. Consequently, any suggestion that capital might be made available in a way which would enable industries to be started, or money canalised into circulation, or that the Marshall Aid money or our external assets could be made available for these purposes, was something which simply could not arise, so long as a majority point of view dominated the Government. Clearly, the end result shows that it was the majority which dominated practically every aspect of policy which was considered, every important aspect which was considered seriously at that time by the Coalition. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is not what we are discussing at the moment.

I should like to reiterate that the important point is that the minority did not dictate, as far as I can see, and anybody with reasonably objective eyes, or mind, who examines the matter for himself must see that the decisions arrived at in all important matters were the decisions of the majority in that Government. I shall not discuss the matter of my attitude to the health service beyond a passing reference that clearly I did not dominate that. I did not make the final decisions on the questions of health policy. No matter which aspect of Government policy is examined, I defy anybody, any member of the Government, to show where the minority opinion dictated policy to the majority in that Cabinet.

Of course, one of the consequences of that was that the smaller Parties suffered, by virtue of the fact that they could not get the policies, which they had put forward to the people, enforced on the majority in the coalition Cabinet. If you examine the history of these smaller Parties who composed the first Coalition, you will see there has been a progressive decline in their numerical strength and in their political standing in the country. Far from having enhanced their position by joining the Coalition, by not getting their policies put into operation, they paid the penalty to the electorate at subsequent elections, due to the disillusionment of their followers because the promises they made were not carried out.

As I say, the main point is they did not succeed in imposing their will on the majority in the coalition. In fact, the small Parties got smaller and the big Party got bigger. I think that is probably one of the greatest dangers to small Parties in coalition Governments, but that is not the Taoiseach's case. He is not concerned with the fate of small Parties. If they wish to take a considered risk and go into a coalition, that is their affair, but it is a calculated, considered risk, extremely dangerous from their point of view. It can be justified from time to time by political considerations, by an anxiety to achieve a particular limited objective with a view to taking action at a particular time and pursuing one's other objectives in another way.

As far as I know, nobody has in any way attempted to answer the charge that the proposed British system, the Six County system, will leave us liable to minority government because of the fact that, under that system, the Party getting 34 per cent of the votes, opposed by candidates getting 32 per cent and 33 per cent, can be returned as the Government. One can get a minority Government under the British system and, in practice, it has been shown that this is so. If the Taoiseach is genuinely worried about this question, I think that, first of all, he should examine his premises very much more carefully than he appears to have done and, secondly, he should examine his proposition to introduce the British system here and see whether he is agreeable to the likelihood that we shall have minority Governments under that system. If minority government is the thing he really objects to, it seems to me he should reconsider his decision to introduce the British system.

It is possible that one can get more efficient government under the proposed British system, but, if the Taoiseach is solely looking for efficiency, then he can suggest to us that we have the Party list, the single list system as they have in Russia. There they produce the one list of candidates and you have no choice at all, and a more efficient one still is where they have strong dictatorship. How far is he prepared to go in his pursuit of efficiency? How far is he prepared to vitiate the democratic ideal to which he has for so long declared his unquestioned allegiance.

It seems to me that under the British system he will encourage the development of the pact arrangement. Because Fianna Fáil can count on over 40 per cent of the votes in a constituency, the Opposition will be faced with arranging a pact. The more candidates they put up in such a constituency, the more likely is the Government candidate to be returned. A realistic politican must face this question and the only way out is to arrange for an agreement, or pact, in which Parties ideologically opposed to one another will have one thing in common, the keeping out of the Government candidate, the Fianna Fáil candidate.

I believe that is very undesirable, should it develop, and I do not think we have any reason to believe that it will not. We shall get arrangements whereby the Opposition Parties combine and a single individual will be agreed upon in a particular area where he is most likely to be elected in opposition to the Government candidate. You will have Fine Gael agreeing to allow a Labour Party candidate go forward in an area where there is some Fine Gael support but much more Labour Party support, or a Fine Gael candidate going forward in another area with Labour Party support. Presumably the candidates, if they have, say, Labour support, will have to put forward a Labour type pact. If the candidate is a Fine Gael agreed candidate he will have to put forward a Fine Gael type pact. Consequently, presumably, the Labour supporters will not support a Fine Gael candidate and the Fine Gael supporters will not support the Labour man. The candidate will hope to be elected on the group of Fine Gael or Labour votes that happen to be there. That is, it seems to me, a likely product of changing over to the British system of voting. We have seen it happen elsewhere.

Thus where a Party is putting forward only one candidate we deprive the electorate of the opportunity of choosing between more than one Party candidate, as the individual voter can do at present. We will present the elector with a candidate who has been decided on by the political Party which feels it has a safe seat. That is on one side and on the other we will have the Opposition Parties coming together and deciding to nominate an individual who will possibly win the seat for them even though he may not belong to the parties to the agreement. The public will then be faced with a candidate who has been chosen for them by a group representing the Opposition Parties.

I do not think the Taoiseach will achieve what appears to be his main declared objective, which is to try to get an agreed policy for fighting the election, amongst the Opposition Parties. If such agreement were possible then clearly there would be no need for more than one Party in the Opposition group. It is the purpose of a political organisation to try to fight for the greatest part of its political objectives, to ask public support at each general election for the strength to implement the greatest part of its political policy. I do not believe that there can be that agreed policy, that declared policy, before an election. It is quite possible that there will be an agreement on ten points, 12 points, 15 points, or whatever the number may be, between the Opposition Parties but this would be something about which the public would be left completely unaware until after the election. There is nothing to stop that happening.

I do not think that is an improvement. I do not think the Taoiseach will suggest it is an improvement on the arrangements to which he takes such strong objection, the agreement on a ten point policy after the election rather than before it. I do not think he is going to achieve his objective by changing the election system. I think he is placing the blame where it does not belong at all.

There was one other consideration which I should like to put before the Government. It arises out of the question of the minority control under the proposed British system. As I said is is conceivable that by some remarkable rearrangement of political forces in the whole country, a strong Socialist Party could emerge, to which I suppose most of the Deputies here would strongly object. Assuming something of the nature of an extension of the Six County Labour Party into the Twenty-Six Counties, if that were possible, forming the nucleus of a strong left wing organisation in the whole of the country, it is conceivable that in a reasonably short period you could get a minority Socialist Government. From the Taoiseach's conservative point of view, things look particularly rosy for a considerable time but things have a habit of changing rather rapidly in the political scene, as I am sure he knows very well.

It is conceivable that this could happen and certainly it is something that I would welcome. I would be very glad to see the various aspects of progressive Socialist policy put into operation — the welfare society, the welfare State, educational services, health services, State industries on a large scale, the co-operative movement in rural Ireland, and so on. While it is true that one could get that development one could also get the evolution of a strong right wing organisation with all the evils associated with it. Would the fact not be something worth considering, that in a Coalition, if a conservative majority feels that it is being menaced by a progressive radical minority, it has always the remedy that it can refuse to implement a radical policy and cause the resignation of the minority which is trying to impose its will on it? We then get the disintegration of the Government but we also get the end of those particular policies, or at least those policies cannot be put into operation, whether they are extreme Right or extreme Left.

Within a short period a Coalition can disintegrate and with that comes an end to the dangers of which the Taoiseach seems to be so afraid. But where a Government have been elected as an extreme Left minority Government, or an extreme Right minority Government, they have five years during which to operate and they cannot be displaced. There is no way short of a revolution in which they can be dissuaded from putting their policies into operation. Therefore, while there are serious defects in a Coalition type of Government — nobody knows that better than I do, and I have proclaimed it on many occasions — at the same time, in certain circumstances there appear to be some slight safeguards associated with Coalition Governments. I do not think any intelligent politician, who really believes in the point of view which he professes, could try to hold that he would sooner work in a multi-Party Government than in a single Party Government. In order to achieve even limited objectives, the realisation of limited objectives, which is probably better than not realising them at all — half a loaf is better than none — in the national interest, I suppose there can be occasions which would be different.

There is a further overriding safeguard in this question of the Parties being influenced by minorities, or not honouring their pledges to the public, or making extravagant promises which they either cannot or will not fulfil in office. These charges have been made by the Taoiseach from time to time against the coalition type of Government. They can be made equally well, of course, against a single-Party Government.

There is always a safeguard, in our system of periodic elections, in that we are all answerable to public opinion. To the reasonably objective mind, it is clear, as it is to any person in politics in Ireland, that small Parties take a very considerable risk when they join in the coalition type of Government. However, it is something which can be justified from time to time, always with the proviso that you are in a position to go back and justify whatever actions you take. Whether you are in the minority group or the majority group within a coalition, that is a very considerable safeguard. The overriding factor is still true. There is no doubt that the coalition type cannot — on account of the obvious underlying strain which must arise in the circumstances, in a multi-Party Government — be as efficient as single-Party Government.

The prospect appears to be, if P.R. is abolished, that the Opposition will be faced with a series of pacts or be relegated to Opposition for the rest of their lives. It will mean that there will be fewer and fewer young people tending to come into politics, and more and more of the other type of Government. If they did take what I consider a retrograde position, to enter into pacts in order to be returned, it is possible that this decision could be frustrated quite easily by small minority groups representing minority interests of one kind or another, which could seek to split them by putting up candidates in different areas, refusing to accept the electoral pacts. They could split the Opposition vote and in that way allow a Fianna Fáil Government to be perpetuated.

There is the other rather more sinister thought, that it might suit the Government, whichever it was — Fianna Fáil, presumably, being the major Party or organised Party—in suitable areas to put up candidates, or encourage candidates to go forward, in order to split the Opposition vote, and ensure that their candidates would be returned. Politics being what it is, I think this is quite a reasonable suggestion, quite a reasonable proposition and quite a reasonable likelihood. Therefore, we would then get, instead of the evolution which the Taoiseach suggested of a strong Government and a reasonably strong Opposition ready to take over government when the people change their minds, the fragmented Opposition and the one-Party-Government for as long as one can see ahead.

One of the most remarkable advantages of P.R. has been the freedom from the very wide swings of policy which have taken place in Britain under the system there. The position here is likely to be slightly more frightening in that regard, because of our historical development and the fact of the Treaty and the subsequent Civil War causing an utterly unnatural division of our people. Our political development has not followed that of other countries. Consequently, one does not get the pockets of voters — traditionally Conservative, Labour, Liberal, Radical or Socialist — which you get in other countries.

There are relatively few of what can be termed "safe seats," in the British sense, in Ireland. In Britain, the Tories have 200 safe seats, Labour have about 200 and they fight about the rest. The election is as to who will win the marginal seats. Indeed, it is another example of a minority, under the British system, controlling policy. Both major Parties are there and are trying to get the support of the voter. They depend on their own safe seats in their own areas, but the marginal seats will decide whether they have a Labour or Tory Government after the election.

The swing here is likely to be very much wider than in Britain because of the fact that there are, I understand, only between 30 and 40 safe Fianna Fáil seats and about 20 safe Opposition seats, so that if there was a 7 per cent. swing in the electoral opinion it could mean that the Government Party would lose over half of its seats. I do not say that would be a source of great regret to me but it is a fact the Government members should bear in mind. This may work to their advantage in the early years but it will certainly work both ways in time. As can be seen from Great Britain the marginal swing amongst the electorate can give the most diverse policies in any society.

On the one side in Britain you have the policy of the nationalisation of steel and other industries and the expansion of a welfare society, and on the other side you have the Tories trying to cling to their way of life. Certainly a few years ago nothing could be more diverse than the political attitudes of those two Parties. The Taoiseach might get a certain satisfaction from the fact that the contest for the marginal vote has tended to bring the Right to the Left and the Left to the Right. I do not know what the objective is here. If there were a Left it might be understandable.

I should like to draw the attention of the Taoiseach to a recent speech by the President, Mr. Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh, in which he spoke as a most experienced public man and as President of Ireland. He went on to talk about the achievements and the objectives of the men of 1916, but he also said:

"I want to say emphatically that one authority and one authority only in this country has the duty, the responsibility and the right to declare and to dictate national policy. The Government of the Sovereign Republic of Ireland is a Government elected freely and in the most democratic way by the whole people in liberated Ireland."

I believe he is right. The Government, whether we agree or do not agree with its policy, is the Government elected by the majority. However, if the majority of the people from time to time prefer a less efficient form of government, a coalition type of government, we should be prepared to abide by their decision.

It is unfortunate that the Taoiseach is allowing the referendum to be held on the same day as the Presidential election. He seemed to express the opinion that it would be most undesirable that they should occur on the same day. He is reported very recently, in the Irish Independent of the 27th April, 1959 as saying:

"A referendum is more important than a general election. It is a question of the fundamental law of the country which is the foundation of our whole political system."

I agree with the Taoiseach. This is the most important step we could take since the Constitution was established. Seeing that the Taoiseach understands its significance and importance I am surprised that he would permit this issue to be clouded by any other issue. It is a complicated problem in relation to which many of us in the House have had our own difficulties and our own personal debates. The Taoiseach has the opportunity under the amendment to this motion to submit the whole question to a commission and benefit by the advice of a reasonably objective body of people. The people could then give their decision in a referendum, as he wishes, in isolation from the emotional complications which must inevitably be associated with his standing for the Presidency.

Practical politics indicate that every member of the Fianna Fáil Party will turn out to vote for the Taoiseach as President. Probably some of his worst enemies will turn out also and vote for him. That cannot be said about the members of the Opposition in respect of their candidate who is merely the candidate of a single section of the Opposition. It has been carefully calculated by the Taoiseach that, having got his electorate out to vote in the Presidential election and in the referendum, they will vote as he and his Party wishes. In that way he is more likely to get a response to his appeal than is the Opposition. Admittedly that is a credit to him but it leaves the position deliberately confused to have the two issues decided on the one day.

I do not know if there is any purpose in dwelling further on these points but I do believe the referendum which involves the alteration of the voting system, will not be carried out in the best possible conditions to elicit the clear, carefully thought-out uncomplicated beliefs of the people. It is clear that the Taoiseach will not change his decision to have these two elections on the same date. Therefore, it would seem to me that there is an opportunity left to the Opposition. It is possible that the Opposition may think more highly of the national interest and welfare and feel that this referendum is of such transcendal importance that there is nothing else to compare with it in importance; that important as the Presidency is to them, it is completely overshadowed by the question of the referendum and its implications for every one of our people in the years ahead.

I wonder if the Opposition candidate, General MacEoin, appreciates that by going forward as a candidate for the Presidency, he is playing completely into the hands of the Taoiseach? Without a doubt, on balance, presumably the Fine Gael Party have a right to the choice of candidate for Presidency in their term; but would it be possible that they might now decide to ask General MacEoin — a man who has made many sacrifices in the national interest in the past — would he be prepared to make this very great sacrifice at this time in the interest of the nation?

The question of the Presidential election does not arise.

Unfortunately, A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, it very much does, in so far as the two issues are to be decided on the same day.

Nevertheless, there is nothing before the House except the Third Amendment of the Constitution, which does not deal with the Presidential election.

In closing, I should merely like to appeal to General MacEoin to consider whether history will not judge that, strange as it may seem, it will not be the Taoiseach, who is amending the Constitution, but General MacEoin by insisting in going forward.

I think Deputy Dr. Browne has not yet made up his mind what he really wants to get out of an election. Indeed, there are a number of others like him. If we want to get true democracy, that is, rule by the people, the people have to be consulted in such a manner that they can indicate their will. That is best obtained by having two groups of Parties opposing each other in the country and offering alternative policies to the people. It is not true democracy to establish the rule of the bosses or leaders of very small Parties; and wherever the proportional representation system has been adopted and allowed to run not, you eventually get to the point where you have a very large number of small Parties, no one of which has a chance of ever becoming a Government on its own and, if it is to take part in government, has to join with five or six, nine or 10 or, in certain cases, even 20 others in order to set up a Government. If that happened here — and it could happen here as it has happened in other countries — that all our Parties rotted, split and splintered until we had 20 or 30 small Parties, all of nearly the same size and none of them representing more than 10 per cent. or 12 per cent. of the voters, we would be driven into permanent coalitions. The people would have no choice as to what coalition would be set up after an election or, when that coalition would fall, what type of coalition Government would replace it.

The proportional representation system leads to the dictatorship of the small Party leaders, who have given the people no chance to declare their will on Government policy. It was interesting to hear Deputy Dr. Browne talk about the coalition Government of which he was a member. I thought the Fine Gael excuse for breaking their word to the people on the External Relations Act was that they were forced into doing it.

That was never said.

Deputy Costello in his election addresses, and others of them, nailed the flag of Empire to the mast; and I thought they were forced by Clann na Poblachta to change.

Quote, please.

Whether Deputy Dr. Browne is right or not, the fact remains that the proportional representation system resulted in a number of Parties coalescing to form a Government on a policy the people knew nothing about. Deputy Dr. Browne talked about "wild swings." We had the wild swing of Fine Gael on that very important issue without the people having been consulted and without their having the slightest idea of what would happen. No such wild swing ever occurred in Britain. There you have two large Parties and the strange thing is that when the Labour Party came into power in 1945, they did not go too far to the Left. They nationalised coal and everybody recognised that had to be done if the industry was to carry on and get the capital required for the development of the mines.

Even in Britain there were not so many rich men who could afford to take a risk in developing some of the very poor mines which were left. The railways were nationalised; so was steel, but the social services were not very greatly changed by the Labour Party and when the Tories came back they did not change them. There was no wild swing in policy. The railways were not denationalised nor the coalmines. There was no cut down in social services — in fact, there was an improvement in some of them. The one thing that was denationalised was steel and it was obvious to everybody at that time, even to a number of the Labour Party themselves, that they had gone too far in nationalising steel because steel is a multiple industry.

There are one thousand and one kinds of steel and steel products and it is an industry which does not lend itself, as other mass production industries do, to nationalisation.

They are going to renationalise it.

We shall see. I am not entering into that. That is British politics. The fact is that there was no really wild swing in British policy. If one takes external policy at that time, in 1945 there was a great deal of opposition to the Government's policy in Greece by some of the Labour people but immediately the Labour Government came in, they carried on the British policy in Greece although they had criticised it. There was no wild swing because both Parties must look to the centre ten per cent. and if they ignore that ten per cent. and go too far either to the Right or to the Left without carrying that ten per cent. with them they are looking forward to defeat.

The great difference between the proportional system and the direct or straight vote system is that in the case of the latter it is the centre minority, the minority in the centre of public opinion in any country, that tends to make its influence felt. In the proportional system undoubtedly the very small, extreme Parties make their influence felt. In a Coalition Government it is any Party, however small, whose support is necessary to maintain the Government that must get its way or the Government must break up. That in fact happened, as Deputy Dr. Browne knows, in the Coalition in which he was a member in 1948-51. It happened again in the Coalition that was brought to an end in 1957.

We think if there is to be a minority which is to have an influence and effect in a country, it should be the reasonable section that are tolerant, that are prepared to look objectively at the policies offered by the various Parties and make a decision irrespective of how they voted in the past. In that way you get real national unity, the only type of unity that is valuable because you get with it a tendency to educate the people to act co-operatively in the national interest and so avoid these wild swings and avoid encouraging very small groups, either on the extreme Right or Left, to talk violently or propound policies that never have any chance of being put into operation and have the very disastrous effect of disturbing the discussion of the true and practicable problems of life.

Deputy Dr. Browne and others have spoken during this debate on whether or not it is right to ask small groups or large groups who have no hope of becoming a Government on their own, to unite with another group or groups in order to get the alliance elected with a view to forming a Government. What is wrong then with asking small Parties to unite on a policy that they would put into operation if they are elected? If they are elected without agreeing on a policy beforehand they must, as we know, agree to some policy that they will announce when setting up a Ministry. It might be a very woolly declaration of policy; the most concrete evidence of policy is perhaps the Ministers appointed by the Coalition. Indeed, some very disastrous appointments were made in Coalitions——

T.B. sufferers would not agree with the Minister.

——and we are still feeling the effects of them. One of the reasons the Coalition did not break up earlier was that they had agreed that they would keep together no matter what disagreement there would be among them. They did keep together and avoided a general election as everybody knows. But what is wrong in asking small Parties who are going to coalesce to tell the people that and allow the people to judge as to whether they want one coalition group or another?

Under proportional representation there is no knowing what form the unifying process will take until after the election: under the direct vote system the unifying process has to take place, not covertly as Deputy Dr. Browne said, but openly because otherwise the pact cannot be made effective. If the extreme Right and extreme Left Wing Parties want to coalesce after an election, as happened in 1948, they will have great difficulty in securing this under the straight vote system. I am quite prepared to admit that, and it is one of the things we are attempting to prevent. They would have great difficulty in persuading the extreme right wing voters to vote for an extreme Left candidate in a particular constituency in order to destroy a centre or middle-of-the-road Party like Fianna Fáil. The direct vote system would prevent that as the pacts would have to be made openly and the tendency would be not to have Coalition Governments straddling the whole political field from extreme Right to extreme Left, but — if we are going to have coalitions — to have associated or nearly-related Parties combining to form coalitions, Parties that have more or less the same policy and the same outlook.

Not only was the idea expressed here many times that it was wrong to demand an open election pact before the elections but the same thing was also said in the Seanad and it was said much more violently than it was said by Deputy Norton here in the Dáil. Deputies will remember that, on the Second Reading, Deputy Norton said, as reported at Column 1077 of Volume 171:

"If you elect one member in a single member constituency on the single transferable vote then two Parties can make a deal and their combined votes will put out the other person."

He went on to say:

"It is because even that door is closed that I am more convinced than ever that this Bill is a political hoofle."

Deputy Norton thought that the direct vote system would prevent the deals from being postponed until after the election. He did not want that. He wanted to be in a position to make his deal and not to let the people know anything about it until the election was over.

Senator Hayes expressed the same idea in other words. Speaking of this election pact system, under the direct vote, he said:—

"That is the idea. You must bargain beforehand, give individuals the power to blackmail."

It is not our intention to give individuals or small Parties the power to blackmail but if they are to have the power to blackmail it should not be left until after the election. Their influence should be exposed. The people should be told what types of coalition are open to them and not be blindfolded and kept in the dark until the election is over, all the small Parties elected and the intriguing and the bargaining commences. If the P.R. system were to continue, what would happen to Fine Gael?

The Minister is worried.

Deputy D. Costello wants it to move "openly and firmly to the Left" and said it in Deputy Dillon's presence and Deputy Dillon got up and said that that was dynamite and spoke about the delusion under which Deputy D. Costello was labouring. He rejected the idea that Fine Gael should move "openly and firmly to the Left". I wonder what exactly was Deputy Dillon's objection. Was he objecting that Fine Gael should move openly to the Left? Did he not object to their moving firmly if they did not move openly? He did not disclose his mind.

If Fine Gael split on this—whether they would move to the Right or to the Left and whether they would do it openly or covertly — it could all be done under P.R. and nobody would know until after the election whether they were going Right or Left. They have a right to tell the people which way they will go. We would know them by their friends. If they will have in the back of their minds that they will go openly to the Left or firmly to the Left after an election they will disclose it by having to make bargains with the Party that also has that idea in their mind — that they will drag Fine Gael to the left.

If they intend to go to the Right they would have to make bargains with those candidates who stand openly and firmly for the Right. If P.R. continues and we cannot get information from Fine Gael as to whether Deputy D. Costello's or Deputy Dillon's ideas will prevail, nobody will know where Fine Gael will go in another Coalition. They cannot know. It would be very useful that the people should know because, strange as it may appear, voters have opinions on that matter, even if Fine Gael have not.

The Fine Gael Party has wobbled around quite a bit, going Right and Left on alternate days. The straight vote system would prevent them from taking that sort of exercise, that galloping from extreme Right to extreme Left every time it suits their book as a Coalition. It would make them declare exactly in what direction they want to move and would move if the people elected them.

Another principal objection to P.R. is that it allows all that sort of hoofling to go on; it encourages it. We cannot afford in our circumstances — a small country with a lot of work to do and having to protect ourselves — to have a Government which conceals from us where it is going from day to day. Such a Government cannot have the respect of the people. It has not the moral authority to impose its will, if it is necessary that its will should be imposed in the national interest. It has to get the agreement of every fiddle-faddle small Party that is a member of the coalition.

Deputy Dr. Browne said that the direct vote system would bring the Right to the Left and the Left to the Right, that is, that it would have a unifying effect. I do not know whether or not he realised fully the truth of what he says, but that is exactly what the direct vote system does. It creates a broad national unity. People cannot go too far to the Left. The Parties cannot go too far to the Left or they will find themselves losing the centre vote. Neither can they go too far to the Right or they will lose the centre vote. We saw what happened in France. Anybody who saw the French Assembly saw the spectacle under P.R. of the country being so split and splintered, and particularly the reasonable people of the broad middle third, that no effective work could be done. There was the French chamber and this huge block of extreme, violent Rightists; on the other side, on the Left, another enormous block of extreme, violent Leftists, each group screaming and shouting at the other, and the reasonable people in the centre could not be heard.

That is the effect that the proportional system has. It encourages these people to put the hat in the ring and to keep it in the ring. In a five-member constituency one of these extremists can drive four-fifths or five-sixths of the people up the wall. As long as he creates a violent minority, they will follow him and give him their votes. The proportional system has that dividing effect and it would have it here. It would have had it here long ago only that Fianna Fáil stood steadfastly against it. We were not prepared to accept membership of a Government in coalition. We refused it. If we had succumbed to that sort of temptation, even for the motive of keeping the other people out, if we did not want to go in ourselves, we would have a very different situation to-day from having Fianna Fáil as a majority Party and several small Parties opposed to it. We would probably now be well down the line, like Fine Gael, and, instead of having half-a-dozen Parties, we might have several dozen.

One of the big arguments used at the beginning of this debate six months ago, which, as far as I can see, has been dropped, was that the straight vote system meant that minorities would be wiped out and that the purpose we had in mind in bringing in the proposal was the crushing and the tyrannical oppression of minorities. In the long debate in the Seanad and in this House, several times I have asked those who made that allegation would they put in an amendment to make certain that real minorities, very small minorities, would have a chance of election. I pointed out that, under the system we had, in order to secure election in a five-member constituency, a minority candidate would have to secure 16? per cent. of the votes; in a three-member constituency he would have to be sure of 25 per cent. of the votes before he could be elected.

There was one minority that Deputy Costello referred to and suggested that we wanted to crush. It is only seven per cent. of the country and it has no chance of being elected at the present time in any constituency on its own. Nobody has said that there should be a system of proportional representation that would give a seven per cent. minority ten seats, for sure, if they wanted to combine and if they thought it wise to combine and fight an election as a minority in their own interests. You can have a single constituency for the Twenty-Six Counties. You can have 157 seats in the constituency. The quota would be 1/157th plus one. So that any minority that had one vote out of 157 could secure election. There was no amendment at any time put in to that effect, to secure that a minority of one in 157 would get elected and that a minority of seven per cent. would get ten seats.

There was a rather closer debate in the Seanad and I was able to keep after them. I challenged them and, finally, I got them to admit that they did not want any smaller minority to be elected than could be elected at the present time. They were content to carry on the three-, four- and five-member constituencies and, therefore, they were content that no minority of less than 16? per cent. in any constituency could be sure of getting a seat on its own.

There is a great number of identifiable organisations and groups in the country that have nothing like 16? per cent. The Vocational Commission heard evidence from 230 different organisations and groups, many of whom, I am sure, if they had an opportunity of electing a member to the Dáil, would put forward a candidate. If we had a single constituency with 157 seats, any of those groups that had three-fourths of one per cent. of the people in its favour could return a member to the Dáil, but Fine Gael do not stand for that. Although they prate about their anxiety for minorities, they do not want any smaller minority to be sure of getting a seat than can get it at the present time.

As far as I can see, the Opposition groups have got so lazy that they do not want to get a majority for themselves and they do not want to let anybody else get a majority. They are quite content if they can amble along, having an election every few years, and they are perfectly satisfied if Fine Gael get 20, 30 or 40 seats and Labour get ten or twelve, and some other small groups have five or six. They can all get their places in the Ministry. They can demand. They do not have to bestir themselves; they do not have to evolve a policy, put it before the people and defend it. They can delay putting forward any definite policy, knowing that, in the swings, Fianna Fáil is bound to go out of office sooner or later, that the pendulum is bound to swing away from Fianna Fáil and that they can get into office without bestirring themselves or putting themselves to any great trouble.

Once the direct vote system comes into operation, the groups on the other side, the Opposition, will have to make up their minds where they want to go, what their policy will be, and there will not be the rather scandalous position of the major Opposition group having two of its principal members going out to the public, one advocating that the Party should move firmly and openly to the Left and the other saying, "Hush. That is dynamite. Do not say it openly and do not say it firmly." We should try to get rid of that sort of mentality and make Fine Fael and all the other Parties make up their minds in relation to the policy they will support and make them go to the people with a specific policy.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle has pointed out that the Presidential election is not open for discussion here. Now, if the people have to come out to decide one issue, which is both simple and straightforward, it would be absurd to put them to the inconvenience of coming out another day to decide another simple and straightforward issue. It is more sensible to give them two separate ballot papers and be finished with the matter, saving half the expense two separate elections would involve, and all the trouble and inconvenience.

I believe that, in their hearts, Fine Gael wish to see this change made. They want the direct vote system. In the past, when they were not so immediately up against voting in the Dáil, all their statements went to show that they saw the deficiencies in P.R. They realise the disastrous results which can ensue. If they could vote privately, they would vote for the straight vote system. If it suited their political book to express themselves openly, they would admit that they agree the straight vote is the right system.

It cannot be too bad a system considering it has maintained order in the United States for over 200 years and kept the people together. If there had been proportional representation in the United States, with the 101 different racial minorities, religious and other minorities, there would have been permanent civil war. The one thing that has kept the United States going forward in an orderly way is the fact that they have had to make up their minds as between the two great Parties——

There is no parallel.

——and those two great Parties make it their business to take care of the minorities. Indeed, they can do for the minorities something that the minorities could not do for themselves. The big Parties can ensure that every minority will get reasonable treatment. If the minorities had to defend themselves by electing their own representatives, they would create a great deal of antagonism and would find themselves isolated. The straight vote system has kept the United States together and kept it going forward. It has kept Britain together also and saved Britain from having her Parties splintered into the same number of groups as there were in France or Germany.

At the end of the last war, in 1945, if proportional representation had been in operation, the Communists would undoubtedly have won quite a number of seats in the British Parliament, just as they won quite a number of seats in the French Parliament. They might not have had the 25 per cent. they had in France, but they would certainly have had 15 per cent. The Labour Party would have split, just as its counterpart in France split, into Radicals, Socialists, Christian Socialists and all the rest of them. The Tories would have been split just as their counterparts in France were split. As well as that, there would be one or two Liberal Parties. The straight vote kept Britain strong when France was shaking. It is a system which has operated very well in Canada.

Would the Minister tell us how it is operating in Ulster?

It does not operate in Ulster. There is no election system operating in the Six Counties. The fact of the matter is that there is a group in the Six Counties prepared to use any and every means to stay in power and keep everybody else out. When there is a Government prepared to declare one vote equal to two or three on the other side, there is no system of election which will give any minority results. It was, of course, the same under P.R. as it is today under the direct vote.

I have been trying to get an answer from the Labour Party as to what they would do in the event of the referendum being defeated, P.R. maintained and Fianna Fáil without a majority in the subsequent election? I have asked them what they would do? Would they combine to form another coalition Government if, by combining with Fine Gael, they could get a majority? I have not yet succeeded in getting an answer to that question. It seems to me that, if the Labour Party were really open in this matter, they would say: "We are the Labour Party. We accept what our Congress decided." As everyone knows, the Labour Party conference held on 20th June, 1957, solemnly decided, as the published report shows: "The Labour Party will not again take part in an inter-Party Government but will remain in Opposition until it achieves a parliamentary majority." I could not get anybody in the Dáil or Seanad to say that that was Labour Party policy and would be their policy in all circumstances, particularly in the circumstances I have hypothecated. They would not say that was their policy. It is significant that they are not prepared to commit themselves to act here in accordance with the policy decided by their organisation.

There was another question I put to both Labour and Fine Gael: if the Labour Party and Fine Gael get a majority after the straight vote comes in, will they subsequently introduce legislation to abolish it? After putting that question on a number of occasions, I finally got a Labour Senator to say: "I am speaking only for the Labour Party and the answer is ‘Definitely, yes'". Then I went on to say: "That is good but what about Fine Gael? If we adopt the straight vote and if Fine Gael get a majority, would they abolish it?" The leader of the Fine Gael Party in the Seanad then said a very interesting thing. Senator Hayes said: "I have often been asked before if I have stopped beating my wife and my practice is not to answer." So the Fine Gael Party regard any suggestion that they should go back to the P.R. system as equivalent to accusing a man of beating his wife or making some other nasty accusation — to suggest that there is any possibility of their going back to P.R. if we succeed, as we will succeed in getting the straight vote adopted. I congratulate them on their good sense and I know that their supporters down the country would also regard it as a very nasty suggestion that having changed over to the straight vote system, we should go back to P.R. The people will show how they regard that suggestion in the referendum by making certain that the straight vote system will be adopted by a very handsome majority.

I shall not continue longer. I shall have many opportunities in the country to deal with this matter, but I am very glad it has been discussed so fully in the Dáil. As Deputy Costello said when introducing this amendment, it has been very fully debated and everyone realises the issues involved. It is just a rather foolish suggestion that after the whole matter has been discussed so fully in the Dáil and Seanad and throughout the country, we should set up a Dáil committee to discuss it again for another few months. Who are we to appoint to the committee? —people who have already discussed it, members of the Dáil and Seanad — it is to be a joint committee — people who have already been discussing it during the past six months. It would be a waste of their time; and they could be doing something more useful than going back and rehashing the debates we have had here. We are not likely to convince each other and we are not likely to get Fine Gael to express their minds more openly in a small committee than in the Dáil. The best course of action is to pass this Bill finally through the House and let the people decide what they wish done in the matter.

I realise that so far as speaking here is concerned, in view of the attitude and the mentality of members on the opposite side of the House, I would be as well off if I were in North Tipperary speaking to the four walls of an empty house, because the Fianna Fáil Party consists of one mind; there is only one man and one mind speaking for the whole Fianna Fáil organisation, and when he says a word, the organisation falls in 100 per cent. behind him. When I say 100 per cent., I mean the Fianna Fáil members of this House. I do not think the people down the country, even those of the Fianna Fáil way of thinking, will be 100 per cent. behind the Taoiseach in the referendum.

It is amusing and at the same time surprising to sit here, as we have been sitting for the past few months, and to watch Deputies on the opposite side making the case why P.R. should be abolished when one knows the part they have played in the Fianna Fáil Party. I have wondered if they were dummies in the past. I was a member of the Fianna Fáil Party for a long time myself. I have followed their organisation very closely and I have read every debate that ever took place at a Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis. I have never yet heard one Deputy or one member of the Party raise his voice against P.R. Whether Fianna Fáil were in government or out of government, not one member in the House, or in the county councils of which they are members, raised his voice to say that P.R. was unjust.

We are told it was a Party decision that P.R. should be abolished and that the decision was carried at the Ard-Fheis, but every intelligent reader knows that the Taoiseach made a statement prior to the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis that he was in favour of the abolition of P.R. When the Ard-Fheis was held, there were serious objections to it, and, if my information is correct, some people had to be put out of the hall when it was actually mooted. Even some of the Fianna Fáil members of the House are utterly opposed to the abolition of P.R. but the Party discipline is so strong that if one Deputy for one moment used his own judgment, or acted in accordance with his own conscience, and spoke his mind in the House or in one of the Party rooms, he would not be a member of the Fianna Fáil organisation 12 hours later.

That is not so.

I am making my own statement here. It is open to me and to any other member of the House to say what we think. I am speaking of people who are members of that organisation who told me they were thrown out of the Mansion House for objecting to the abolition of P.R.

Can the Deputy give their names?

Tell a more credible story than that.

I have been here since 3 o'clock and there were no interruptions until now.

Why do not Deputies opposite get up and speak for themselves?

In fairness to Fianna Fáil members, they are the best people in the world to sit and listen to the various speakers, so long as the speakers are not hurting the Fianna Fáil organisation and so long as they are not telling the truth, but when one starts to speak the truth, the back benchers of the Party are sent in here for the sole purpose of interrupting new Deputies like me and trying to knock us off our track. I have the statement here and I shall use it, and I shall use the names of the people on every platform——

I doubt it very much.

I made the statement that the Taoiseach, since he enshrined it in the Constitution, neither inside this House nor outside it, said one word against the working of P.R. As a matter of fact, it is on the records of this House that he has praised its working. Let us be quite honest about it. I hate to hear various speakers on the far side of the House, people who claim Republican records and who would be insulted if you said, or even thought, they were anti-Republican, talking about P.R. and the straight vote. They do not mention the British vote, or what is more important, the Stormont vote.

The Stormont Government had P.R. up until 1929 but, when the Catholic or Nationalist minority combined to get into a position to form an active opposition, the Stormont Government in their wisdom — as the Taoiseach now does in his wisdom — proposed the abolition of P.R. and abolished all opposition so far as the Six Counties were concerned. What have you at the present time in the Six Northern Counties of Ireland? You have a great number of uncontested seats, constituencies in which members of the Labour Party and members of the other Parties know there is no use putting up candidates under a system of election by which no one can be elected unless he gets the biggest proportion of the votes.

What will be the position in any constituency down the country under the Taoiseach's proposed system?

What will be the position in North Tipperary, South Tipperary, Meath or any other constituency? Let us take the position in North Tipperary, my own constituency, under the straight vote system, the British system, the Stormont system. The Taoiseach is too Republican to use the description "the Stormont system" and he is trying to gull the people down the country that he is still Republican. He is as much Republican as the Prime Minister in the Six Counties is, but he does not say that.

Let us say that four Parties contest the three-seat constituency of North Tipperary and Fianna Fáil get 8,000 votes, Fine Gael get 7,000, Labour get 6,000 and the Farmers or Sinn Féin get 5,000. Under the straight vote the Fianna Fáil candidate will be elected with 8,000 votes though the opposing Parties secure 18,000 votes.

When the Deputy got in——

Deputy Tierney should be allowed to make his speech without interruption. Deputy Tierney is one Deputy who never interrupts anybody in this House.

Thank you very much, Sir. I have yet to interrupt someone in this House but, as I have pointed out, these Deputies have been sent in deliberately to knock me off my track, but they can be quite sure they will have a hard time doing it.

Fianna Fáil helped the Deputy come in.

I was very lucky to get in, but under the new system I shall not get in.

Nor under the other one either.

While I am here I shall speak the truth.

The Deputy should try to speak the truth.

I was sent here to represent the people in my constituency and to speak my mind. Whether there is a combined opposition — I do not mind whether it is Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael — no one in North Tipperary or Dublin will prevent me from speaking what I think is right. The more these Deputies shout at me the longer I shall stay on my feet. I shall stay on my feet until 11 o'clock to-night, if necessary. Let them interrupt or let me continue my speech. I was pointing out that the Fianna Fáil candidate with 8,000 votes would be elected in North Tipperary. That is the Stormont way, no matter what the Taoiseach says, and there will be 18,000 people in North Tipperary — and the same position will obtain in South Tipperary, Meath, Laoighis-Offaly or anywhere else — with no representation whatever. That is not majority rule. That is not what people fought and died for. They fought so that the people could be represented in this House.

Speaking in Monaghan a few days ago the Taoiseach let the cat completely out of the bag when he said that under P.R. at the present time Fianna Fáil were unlikely to get a majority in this House again. I thoroughly agree with him. We remember the promises that were made during the last election, promises made off every Fianna Fáil platform and outside every Church gate —"Housewives get your husbands out to work." For two years they have been in office with the biggest majority ever secured by any Party. There are a lot of things to be said against too big a majority. They have been in office for two years without any opposition from any part of this House that could do them any harm.

The question of election promises does not arise on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

I was trying to make the point, in my own way, that the Referendum Bill was introduced solely with the purpose of taking people's minds away from the promises made during the last election. I believe that after two years Fianna Fáil know well that they will never be a Government again, under P.R., at least for a long time, and that their only chance of holding the reins of Government is by abolishing P.R. I believe that 60 per cent. of the people, and maybe 70 per cent., will vote solidly against the abolition of P.R. I have met some of Fianna Fáil's strongest supporters — I am sure Deputies on the opposite side have met them too—who say they will vote for the Taoiseach to be President but they will not vote for the abolition of P.R. They are people of Republican sentiment who put Fianna Fáil into this House.

I want to ask the Taoiseach does he think this would be an Irish Parliament, representing the Irish people, if there was no such thing as a Labour Party, no such thing as a Farmers' Party and no such thing as a Clann na Poblachta Party — Republican-minded people — in this House, and that the farmers and workers should have no one to speak for them? Of course we shall be told that in their own way the various Parties represent those particular groups, that in Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil you have farmers and you have workers and that these Parties represent the people I mention. Does anybody in his sober senses not realise that a member of the Government Party is not allowed to say anything, good, bad or indifferent, that is not in agreement with the views of the leader of his Party? There are no such people as farmers in the Fianna Fáil Party and no such group as a Labour group. There is only the one group — Fianna Fáil, first and last. I think that the farmers and the Republicans — whom we have always produced, and please God always will — and Labour should have somebody to represent them.

During the past few months, various speakers on the Fianna Fáil side of the House have asked why we are trying to talk out this matter. I am wondering why Fianna Fáil are trying to rush this Bill. It is the most important Bill. I hold, that has come before the people for many years. It is a Bill which should not be confused with anything else so that the minds of the people will not be distracted from the serious issue before them. I believe that the Taoiseach, by putting his name on a ballot paper for the Presidential election which is to be held on the same day as the referendum, hopes to get away with the referendum.

My reason for speaking this evening is in the hope that my few words may reach some of the people in my constituency and if those people pause to think, I shall have done a certain amount of good. The Taoiseach and the various Ministers have made the case that P.R. is bad for the country. They pointed out the evils that P.R. brought upon the country, but they never mentioned that only for P.R. the Fianna Fáil Party would never have become the Government. They did not mention that they had to coalesce with another Party in order to form a Government. I notice that the Minister is smiling but I do not mind because this is the truth. The Party of which I am a member helped the Fianna Fáil Party to form the first Government. Is that not inter-Party Government? It is a sin for Labour to coalesce with Fine Gael, but it is not a sin for Labour to coalesce with Fianna Fáil. Let us be quite clear about that. I do not hold it against the Labour Party but we did help to put Fianna Fáil in as a Government. It was no sin at that time but it is a grievous sin now.

The Taoiseach stated that P.R. is bad for the country but he has not done away with, and he does not intend for the present to do away with P.R. for the Presidential election — for which he is a candidate — and he does not intend to do away with P.R. for Seanad elections or local government elections. Why? In my belief, the simple reason is that if Fianna Fáil succeed in abolishing P.R., through the referendum, they will do away with P.R. for the Seanad and local elections. They are frightened of making the announcement, so far as the Seanad and local bodies are concerned, lest local bodies should start passing resolutions calling on the people to support the retention of P.R. I am sure the Government have gone into this matter very carefully. If my information is correct, I believe that if they succeed in abolishing P.R., the Seanad and local elections will be next on the list.

The Minister for External Affairs was troubled about the cost of holding the Presidential election and the referendum on separate days. I am delighted that at last Ministers and the Party opposite have started to worry about expense. Last week, arising from a question by Deputy O.J. Flanagan, we learned that it cost roughly £16,000 or £17,000 to send a couple of men and a couple of ladies over to the United States of America. Mind you, the cost of a referendum would not be so——

The Deputy is just as low as Deputy O.J. Flanagan.

That matter has nothing to do with the motion before the House.

Could the Deputy at least quote the correct figures?

I am casting no reflection on the President. I believe the President deserves and should get the respect of members of this House and of every member of the community. As I said, I still think that the cost of £11,000 of sending to the United States——

The Deputy will not be allowed to enlarge on this subject.

Particularly when he insists on using imaginary figures.

I am delighted that the Minister is taking the expense of the referendum into consideration. We have to consider, however, that in reply to a question tabled earlier in the year, the Taoiseach said that it would be undesirable to have the Presidential election and the referendum on the one day. Of course, at that time, it was not quite clear whether or not he would be a candidate in the Presidential election. Since then, it has become clear that the Taoiseach will be a candidate and it is now desirable that the two elections should be held on the same day.

I appeal to all members of Fianna Fáil, both inside this House and outside it, to put the country before Party and to vote against the referendum. As I said, it is very difficult to speak on a motion, when you know it will be carried by a large majority and that the people who will carry it are not even bothering to listen to debates or troubling themselves to come into the House until the bell rings. I am not saying that only in regard to Fianna Fáil.

The Labour Party is not too well represented.

The Labour Party are holding a meeting at the moment. There is only one representative out of 12 here, but when you take 12 Fianna Fáil Deputies out of 78, we are better represented than Fianna Fáil.

It is not the Labour Party's duty to keep a quorum, but that of the Government.

That question does not arise. The Deputy should disregard the interruptions.

I appeal to all outside the House to vote against the referendum. P.R. has worked down the years and gives a Government representative of all sections of the people. The Stormont system, as the years go by, would drive Republican-minded elements underground. If in any county at present they feel they have good support, they know they have a chance of getting a quota and being elected.

This Bill passed Dáil Éireann on January 29th and was rejected by the Seanad and it has been sent back here. The very fact of its being sent back answers the question which Deputy Tierney has just posed, as to why this referendum is doing away with P.R. for the Dáil elections but not for the Seanad, the local elections or the Presidential election. The Seanad has been made impotent by the Government now in power. It was created by the present Taoiseach and the Constitution was drawn in such a way that the Seanad could not have any holding power worth while on a Bill.

The same thing can be said of local authorities. By the County and City Management Acts, their powers have been taken away and transferred to the central authority in Dublin. As regards the Presidential election, I leave that to yourself, as the jarvey said.

I have been present for a great deal of the debate and have taken much interest in it. One thing which stood out all the time was the absence of the Taoiseach from the House. At least in the closing stages on January 29th, when there was the usual arrangement with the Whips that the Taoiseach was to get in at a certain time, and when it was known that the leaders of the Opposition — Deputies Costello, Norton and Blowick — would actually close the debate for the Opposition, I thought that the Taoiseach would have been present. I thought that to be the way a Bill like this should be carried through the House, that the closing speeches for the Opposition should be heard by the Leader of the Government and that he should reply. Instead, the closing speeches were made by the Opposition, and the Taoiseach came in five minutes before he was due to speak, and did not deal with any of the points put up by the leaders of the Opposition. A Bill of this importance should have had more attention from the leader of the Government.

Certain references were made by Deputy Aiken this evening. Of course, all evil comes from P.R., according to him, and all evil will be driven away when it is abolished. Also, everything is fine in Britain. We were given an instance of how they kept together, when we heard of the wonderful unity achieved in America since the American Declaration of Independence. I would not think any comparison could be made between Ireland and the United States of America or England. If he had read well into his history, he might have noticed that the greatest Civil War in the whole world, with the greatest loss of life and treasure, was fought in America. I do not say the straight vote caused it, but if they had a transferable vote and the people had come to the conclusion that it was not a split vote when three candidates went for the one seat, it would not have happened that the majority of voters thought they had been cheated out of it and went to the hills. Maybe that is one of the questions of history. We are told by Deputy Aiken that there can be no bargaining without P.R. and no intriguing.

I wish those Deputies engaged in conversation would cease it or leave the House.

Conversation should certainly be carried on outside the House, not inside the Chamber.

For the record, a cutting from the Manchester Guardian of the 14th April, 1959, says that the Bolton Tories have renewed their pact with the Liberals. It is headed: “Renewing the Pact”, and shows that there can be such bargains. Yet we are told that there can be no bargains at all under the straight vote.

Another point of view from Bolton is given in the same paper the next day, the 15th April, under the heading as follows:

"Political Murder of Bolton Liberalism.

Mr. Ronald Haines, the prospective Labour candidate for Bolton East, said yesterday that the decision of the Bolton West Conservative Association to restore the pact with the Liberals at the general election, was no surprise. He went on: ‘Let the Liberals in Bolton not delude themselves. This is not a political pact. It is a conspiracy for the inevitable political murder of Bolton Liberalism. When the time is ripe, the Tory Party will dispatch the Liberals without any scruple. Meantime, Bolton Liberalism stands in the shadows like some submissive animal wating for slaughter not knowing the hour — which will come — when their present allies will turn executioner and administer the fateful blow.'"

It is surprising that this is happening over in happy England.

Major de Valera

That is before an election, when the people have their choice; it is not bargaining after they have cast their votes.

This is rather wonderful. We have Deputy Vivion de Valera up from the fastnesses of his family paper. I want to tell him something about that. It was the Minister for External Affairs who conducted this Bill through the Seanad, and he appears to be leading on this question. He said the Opposition would not put a policy before the country before the election as Deputy Vivion de Valera would want them to do. What about the policy the Taoiseach propounded at Belmullet on the Friday night before the election in relation to maintaining the subsidies? That is the policy the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, propounded down in my constituency on the same Friday night. Instead of adhering to that policy, they repudiated it and brought in legislation contrary to their promises.

That does not arise on the motion.

The Minister for External Affairs raised this point.

The point he raised was that the policy should be adumbrated before the election.

He also told us that Deputy Declan Costello said the other night that Fine Gael should go to the Left, and asked what we thought of that. Fianna Fáil may tell us what should be said before an election but I have yet to see where it was stated in the Fianna Fáil Party policy, if they had any before the last election, that they intended to vote in support of a debate for the admission of Communist China to the United Nations. If that was not galloping to the Left I do not know what it is.

That does not arise.

He had gone so far Left at that time that we could not see him. I come from the constituency of Waterford where a famous election was held in 1846.

A Deputy

I thought it was 1918.

This was a very famous election.


Deputy Lynch on the motion and the amendment.

This election was contested by Thomas Francis Meagher. I do not know whether his name conveys anything to the gentlemen opposite. It was also contested by a Mr. Winston Barne and another gentleman on the nationalist side. The two nationalists together polled nearly double the votes of the other candidate and the other candidate beat them. This is what the straight vote will do. I have often seen it commented on in great historical writings that our people were so easily beaten at the polls in those trying and stirring times. When Meagher and his comrades were not able to get Parliamentary representation for themselves and for the people, we know what they did.

Not for that reason.

Let that be a lesson to the Fianna Fáil Party. They had to put some young men behind wire the other day and are trying to make sure that if these young men contest an election they will have no chance of winning. I was hoping the Taoiseach would be present so that I could appeal to him that, in the twilight of his years, he would show more tolerance and accept these amendments. I was told the other day that it is said about a great community that they usually do the right thing in the long run. I was hoping that the Taoiseach would do the right thing in the long run instead of doing what he thinks is the right thing, destroying the P.R. system of this country.

The Minister for External Affairs cried down this amendment in the name of Deputy Costello. He said this question had been debated sufficiently in the House and that the members would only be repeating what had been said already. I would say there are many members who have not spoken a word on this Bill or on the amendment and speaking on the subject would give them an opportunity of taking part in the Parliamentary work of the country. It would also show that the Taoiseach had some regard to the opinion of a great number of the people.

The fact that this Bill has been opposed with such tenacity and that it has been defeated in the Seanad shows the Taoiseach how much opposition there is to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. The Fianna Fáil Deputies ask: "Why not let the question be put to the people?" The principal reason we on this side of the House have discussed this matter at as great a length as we could is that we find we have to say a thing nine or ten times here before it is published, if it is ever published. We have not the advantage of owning a newspaper. I have heard things said over there; I have read them in their polished and veneered state in the Irish Press of the next day, and I realise the enormous advantage it gives that Party over there to go to the country on this referendum.

The Irish Independent will look after you. The Deputy need not worry.

The Independent is as independent as its name.

It is a Fine Gael organ. That is definite.

I wish what Deputy Calleary says were true and that I could say for the Independent what two people in his Party could say for the Irish Press.

The question of the newspaper press does not arise on this.

I was about to say that if I owned the Independent——

We should all be delighted.

I wonder would you be delighted——

I should be delighted if the Deputy would keep to the motion.

I have seen the distortion of Deputies' speeches. I have seen it in the House. I have heard members of the Front Bench actually reading what somebody over here might have said on this matter, but not finishing it; and it would be faithfully published in that way. We had no way of chasing the hare once the hare was started.

The people down the country have got the idea that Deputies are neglecting both this and the earlier debate. One of the principal reasons why Opposition Deputies left the House one morning was that only a Minister and one Deputy were on the Government benches. What we are commenting on all the time is the continued absence of the Taoiseach — I have mentioned this twice already — from these debates. I do not expect him to be here all the time — that would be physically impossible — but he should be here for at least some portion of the day and should be here——

As often as Deputy Costello, for instance.

I notice that whenever the Taoiseach is moving a motion or a Bill, Deputy Costello is in his place; but when Deputy Costello was closing for the Opposition on 29th January, when Deputy Norton was closing for the Labour Party and Deputy Blowick was closing for Clann na Talmhan, I noticed that the Taoiseach was absent from the House and only came in when they were finished.

Might I draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that we are discussing a motion and an amendment to it?

I thought you would give me about half as much latitude as the Minister for External Affairs was given.

Even his own Party cannot control him.

Not even the United Nations. Looking at the results of the 1954 election, the loyalty of some Fianna Fáil Ministers to their Party is astounding, especially the loyalty of the Minister for Health. Maybe he knows a better way of gerrymandering the constituency than anybody else. I am referring to the working of P.R. in the Dublin South-East constituency in the general election of 1954. On the last count, Deputy Dr. Noel Browne had 5,974 votes and the then Mr. Sean MacEntee had 6,190 votes, waiting for the transfer of O'Donovan's surplus of 299. Deputy Seán MacEntee got 201 Fine Gael Votes and that elected him by 118. God help us. If we could only find those 201 unfortunate people! It shows you that when these people had elected their own man, if they preferred one man before another, under P.R., they had the power to make that selection. That is good, even though I might not agree with it; and in view of the clashes between the Minister for Health and myself in the House, that is saying something.

If this issue goes before the people, it is to go before them boxed up with the Presidential election. I have no doubt, especially during the past week and the past few days, that the Government will get the greatest surprise they ever got when the votes are counted. I know that a large number of the members of the Government Party are themselves convinced that they will be beaten on the P.R. issue.

Major de Valera

Maybe if we return now to the proportional representation issue, we might find some more substantial ground on which to argue. I do not think it can be controverted that this matter which we seek to refer to the electorate — a change in the electoral system — is a matter of some importance. I do not think anybody who faces the problem honestly will deny that it is one that should be very carefully considered and argued. Frankly, I think it is a pity that from time to time during the course of consideration of this matter we have been distracted perhaps from the basic issues.

It has been admitted by those who advocate this change that the system of proportional representation has, on the face of it, its appeal, and has even, in itself, an appeal that can be argued to the point of at least indicating an experiment with it. It is always easy to be wise after the event, but, looking back, it is perhaps significant that some of the deeper political thinkers of the years when proportional representation was first mooted, had doubts about its feasibility and about its alleged advantages. But no doubt these people at the time would have been dismissed as unduly conservative and unduly wedded to the system which was known.

However that may be, we are now talking about the system which is not only coming before us, for those who wish to be its protagonists, on its natural appeal, but we also have a system which has been tried; and I think that it is on the basis of practical experience with the system that one must judge its merits. I am at some pains to make that preliminary point because I think in a matter of this importance it is a pity that we should go up by-ways off the high-ways and miss the main point of this issue before us, particularly as it seems to me to be a fit matter to come before the electorate.

These remarks are merely by way of introduction. The essential point I should like to make here — I do not intend to go over all the ground again — is this: an electoral system is something that is ancillary to your constitutional system as a whole; it is a piece of machinery, if you like, or part of the machinery to make that constitutional system work. The case I would make against proportional representation fundamentally is this: it is not suited to the constitutional system which we have and which we are working and that has now been proved by experience.

In saying that, I am not to be taken as dismissing proportional representation as having no merits at all. I am not to be taken as saying that in a proper setting — in a constitutional system, for instance, that would suit it — proportional representation might not have its merits, but I am saying that in the constitutional framework we have and the constitutional operations of Parliamentary Government as we operate it and have it, an electoral system based on proportional representation has been tried and in fact has been found wanting.

At this point I might mention the case of Switzerland which, with other cases, was quoted. Switzerland is beside the point. There is a completely different constitutional set-up there to that which we are operating and where there is a different design altogether, a different electoral system may work. Actually that is an argument beside the point because what we have to face is that we are operating a constitutional system in which we have a Parliament elected directly by the people and government is by Deputies elected by the people. The Government is, in fact, a committee, if you like, an executive council—that word was once used here — of the elected delegates of the people. That may seem trite but it is an important and fundamental point.

We have an Upper Chamber with its own powers that do not immediately come into the picture and we have a head of State with certain reserved functions; but the fundamental thing about our Constitution is that the country is to be governed by a Parliament elected directly by popular vote. Deputies are elected to Parliament which when elected, governs the country by means of a Government appointed from its Members during the term of that Parliament's life.

I shall take the logical arguments first and then we can come to experience. In our own system reason will quickly indicate that if you are going to operate on that system you require to secure in Parliament a sufficient majority to support the Government. I do not think any of us will contest the necessity for stability in Government. But something more than mere stability is needed. A Government should be sufficiently supported to carry out its office of government and should not be unduly dependent on dissenting factors to enable it to carry out its functions as a Government and particularly to carry out a policy, because no Government or, in fact, no group that seeks to do anything, can be effective in the sense of achieving some definite results, especially beneficial results, unless it operates on the lines of a definite policy.

It stands to reason that if you have, as we have, a Government elected by the Parliament and dependent on that Parliament's support, immediately the Government loses the support of a majority in Parliament it is down. If you have that system you must try to ensure — because it is a desirable thing to have in Parliament — stability of support for that Government to enable it to be strong enough and to last long enough to carry out its functions as a Government. That seems to be just elementary logic but I submit it is the kernel of the problem here. The trouble about P.R. is that if you have the constitutional framework we have, where a Government is dependent on a majority in Parliament and you try to combine it with proportional representation the result is unsatisfactory.

As I have tried to indicate, a priori you can foresee that the result is likely to be unsatisfactory when you reflect that the inevitable result of P.R. is not to give solid majorities or clear cut blocs in Parliament but to give a multiplicity of small and different Parties. With that pattern it is quite clear that the commanding of a sufficient majority to support stable government in Parliament is an unlikely thing. If time permits I can easily answer the criticism that has been levelled that Fianna Fáil secured it at certain times. The answer to that can be given and I propose to give it, but I do not want, at this stage, to depart from my main argument. Whatever the merits of P.R. may be in another system, whatever its academic and abstract merits in another system, when we apply it to the Constitutional system here, the type of system we are working, it is likely to be unsatisfactory and later I hope to prove that it has proved to be so in our experience.

In that respect, it is rather significant to my mind that the British Parliament, the British constitutional system with its long experience and long history, has not tried this system out. While the system has been experimented with in various forms all over the world it has not been tried in Britain where you have the same type of system as we have here, where Government is responsible to Parliament and dependent on Parliament. It is also significant — I want to answer this point again because it comes up so often and I am not going to read something into anybody's motives; I am going to restate the fact — that proportional representation for Ireland actually came — and you can have any arguments you like about it — in Lloyd George's Act of 1920. I do not care what interpretation is put on it. The fact is that the British introduced it for Ireland in the 1920 Act and it was carried over into the Constitution but it was never tried or introduced in Britain itself. That is a fair comment for the purpose of my argument. So much for what one might call the general reasoning of the case.

At the risk of repetition let me again make the point that it is not a question of the merits or of the fairness of P.R. as against the straight vote. I freely grant that taking the two systems in the abstract and regarding them academically there is a great deal to be said, merely arguing without relation to the framework in which they are to operate, in favour of P.R. But what I say is that this is a problem, not of an abstract electoral system but it is a problem of an electoral system as part of a constitutional machinery designed to make the basic and fundamental parts of Constitutional Government work under the Constitution as it is. Therefore, in this country with the Constitutional set-up we have, and its particular forms of constitutional institutions, P.R. is not the suitable machinery. Academically and theoretically, you can easily arrive at that conclusion, as I have tried to indicate.

I am not altogether convinced, however, by completely academic arguments and I think one should look at this from the practical point of view and ask what has been the experience, without bitterness or recriminations. We should attempt to find out what is the basic reason for certain facts being as they are. Before that, one has to find out what the facts are.

I mentioned Switzerland and I said that in a place like that one has to consider the Constitutional background. There are two other cases which are worth commenting upon as historic facts. One is the effect of P.R. in Germany where we had the fall of the Weimar Republic and the advent to power of Hitler when he had considerably less than a majority in the House. His advent to power is generally ascribed to and often blamed on the system of P.R. Secondly, the conclusion of the drama was similar in the case of Italy.

These two cases should be something to ponder on for those who allege dictatorship as a fruit from the direct system. It is a strange fact that a country which has operated a Constitutional system very like ours for a very long time with the direct vote has universally been regarded as almost a model of democratic Government over a number of centuries and that the two very clear dictatorships can directly be associated with the electoral system of P.R.

I have not come near to home. What is the position in regard to home? We had P.R. in this country. We have had it for 40 years. Its origins are beside the point. I have merely made the remark on the fact, which I do not think can be controverted, that it is a very significant thing that, right from the start, you have had people in positions of responsibility commenting adversely on the system — the comments of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in 1927, for instance. The two elections of 1927 are in point. Comments at various periods afterwards are in point. But, more than comment, there is the fact that in practically every case it took two elections to give you any degree of stability. However, that particular fact of the argument has been gone over.

I want to come to something I mentioned earlier. People will ask — I think even Deputy Corish asked on one occasion: "What are Fianna Fáil worrying about? Did they not do very well under P.R.?" I have heard that remark. There is no doubt that Fianna Fáil were a Government over the years and in some cases had a majority under P.R. Let us examine the circumstances and see why.

If one looks at the record one will see that the fundamental reason for that was not either in the Constitutional system which, in essence, as far as Government is concerned has not changed, or in the electoral system. It was due to the fact that because of historical circumstances there were two big, clear-cut blocs in this country. After 1922, after the Civil War, it was inevitable that you had in a country like this, two clear-cut antagonistic blocs. At the start they were characterised as the “Free Staters” and the “Republicans”. That was a clash. That was an opposition of directly conflicting views that overrode all other considerations and left the two protagonists one opposite the other and the other smaller political considerations did not matter. That was the situation in its inception.

In itself, it was quite enough to secure that clear-cut issue of opinion in the country, where people voted either one way or the other way, to safeguard for the time being the country from the worst evils of P.R. which only show up when the issues become less definite. When you add to that initial start of clear-cut issues the fact that when Fianna Fáil came into the immediate Parliamentary political arena it had a strongly contrasting policy to the Cumann na nGaedheal, later Fine Gael, Government in power.

You had on the Fine Gael side — or the Cumann na nGaedheal side as they were then — the stand on the Treaty, the stand on Empire relations, the economic theory of close Empire association and all that it entailed; in social matters, a certain conservatism; in monetary matters, highly conservative and, in social and economic matters, one would say conservative; in regard to agriculture, a definite view on which reliance was mainly placed on relations with Britain.

There was an absolute contrast to the Fianna Fáil point of view which started off by being completely Republican and completely the opposite, politically to the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. Basic Constitutional changes were the target. Where one Party was desirous of maintaining the status quo, economically, the other Party had the idea of self-reliance, self-sufficiency at home as far as possible, industrial development, tillage and balance of agriculture, advanced, for that time, progressive social legislation, and so on.

There you had the two sides, the antagonism of the giants, if you like. In that situation it is natural that you would have clear-cut voting. People voted either one way or the other and, as I have pointed out, there was perhaps even a large traditional element in that. It is not surprising therefore that the evils of P.R. did not make themselves very manifest in those early years. But, mark you, even then a Government sitting on this bench, Cumann na nGaedheal, would stress the weakness of coalitions and the weakness of P.R. as leading to coalitions and that it took even in 1927 — only five years after the Civil War with two completely contrasting political, national, economic and social policies in two big blocs already there and established by tradition — two general elections to secure the Cosgrave Government in 1927.

Now let us move on. For the period 1927 to 1931 there was considerable activity in this country. There was a large body of opinion veering over on the economic side, certainly, to some of the views that were advocated by Fianna Fáil. I think it safe to say, without going into the details, that in 1932 there was a majority in this country desirous of change. In 1932, however, the position is that the first change of Government took place. When the Fianna Fáil Government came into office, it only did so with the support of another Party, the Labour Party.

There was some inhomogeneity there. At the same time it was not a coalition Government. The Labour Party supported the Fianna Fáil Government and were not themselves participants in that Government. I should like to pay this tribute — because I think it is a tribute to any Party—that in those days they shared in abolishing the Oath to the British Crown in spite of Cumann na nGaedheal and a Seanad that held it up. That tribute should be paid to the Labour Party, no matter how we differed from them since.

It only goes to show the point that I am making out here, that you had a clash, symbolised, perhaps, by the Imperial Crown on one side and the dream of the Republic on the other and, thereafter, flowing from it, the other oppositions of economic and social policy. It was another year— it was in 1933 — before Fianna Fáil got its over-all majority. It got its over-all majority, not through the normal workings of proportional representation, but through the extraordinary situation which had been forced on the country at that time.

I often wonder if students of history of that time will not feel that the economic war and the pressure which Britain put upon us at that time was, if not prompted, encouraged by the fact that we had an electoral system here that made it hard for any Government to have a clear majority, an electoral system that would favour the malcontents. It is a significant thing that it was after 1933, when we got the clear over-all majority, on the basis of Ireland against England, in that case, that that particular phase of the economic war started to ease and the pressures on this country eased.

If you want a pointer to the weakness of proportional representation, look at that time and look at the combination of circumstances, where an external power, seeking to put pressure on you, can hope to rely on fifth column activities at home and to whip up people who do not agree with you at home, whether willy or nilly, to cooperate in their part, coupled with the temptation to people at home to exploit an electoral system to gain support, irrespective of what other issues are involved. I think that is a fair lesson of 1932-33.

The period 1933 to 1937 was one of stable government, progressive government and achievement. Again, I shall not go into the details but I do not think that fact can be controverted. Again, in 1937, in spite of all that, you had an indecisive result. You had no Party elected that could command a majority in this House and you had a period of uneasiness again until the 1938 general election, which gave an over-all majority and, fortunately for this country, we were able to face the war with a majority Government, secure in their command and support of a majority in Parliament, and that could not be shaken internally. I have often wondered, if the Government that faced the war of 1939 had been in the same relatively weak position as the Government of 1932, whether we could have negotiated the first years of that war as fortunately as we did.

We then come to 1943. Incidentally, for those people who talk about democratic government and who say that people want to have dictatorship, and so on, the constitutional provisions for having periodic elections will still rule. In 1943 they ruled sufficiently for us to have a general election in this country at the height of a world war. Again, all the symptoms appear. You have all this bargaining, coalition talk, all this manoeuvring, that P.R. fosters even in the middle of a war. You have, then, an indecisive result and again a period of uncertainty and again it had to be that it went back to the people in a year and again the people gave an over-all majority in 1944 and we successfully negotiate a war and its aftermath up to 1948.

If one examines that story impartially, the case for proportional representation, even on that, is damned, but the fact is that we got by. We got by because of the clear-cut issues that were there. But, after the war, the situation was different. These issues were gone. Even Fine Gael had thrown up its anglophile and Empire worshipping policy and all that it entailed. Even Fine Gael, although they fought the general election of 1948 as the conservative Party, threw it over and it is then we have the world of coalition. That has been thrashed out here over and over again. I am reluctant to do it because it brings us, shall I say, into the field of political acrimony that I am anxious to avoid in this debate but I do not think my friends opposite can quarrel with me if I try objectively to point out this fact, that each one of the various Parties before the 1948 election advocated different policies, particularly Fine Gael and Labour; they were opposite policies. "Opposite," I think, is a fair word. They come together in a coalition. Fine Gael throws over a lot of its policy; Labour completely fails to implement any of its policy; and, in the meantime, a number of things happen. First of all, you have some retrograde steps like the killing of the air lines and the chassis factory in Inchicore — a few steps like that.

The declaration of the Republic.

Major de Valera

I leave you that one.

I know you will.

Major de Valera

Then you have a number of cases where you had all the talk about external assets but in fact the squandering of them and, finally, you have that coalition Government breaking up in internal disorder. I am merely dealing with the facts. This is not argument. It has often been argued. The fact is that the 1948 Government did not carry out any of the policies its Parties advocated. It did not secure any progressive advancement for the country and it finally broke up in internal disorder with dissension and recrimination — a classical pattern.

We have had the same thing happening again in the 1954 Coalition. Again it blows up, not from this side of the House, but from that side of the House, after the country had faced into a period of crisis, and in a period of crisis. I am not trying to deny that there were external factors. Do not let me be guilty of the same sin of enthusiasm as I have heard others on that side of the House being guilty of, when taking about external factors. These are all relevant to the situation. Let us keep to the fact. It blew up because of internal disagreement within its own ranks, the supporters of the Coalition in this House, which caused the then Taoiseach to run to the country at a time when the country was in crisis internally and externally and it is rather interesting to recollect that this Party was returned with its greatest over-all majority in that period of crisis. That is, again, what one would expect.

If things had been normal and there had not been a crisis, I doubt that Fianna Fáil or any other Party would have been returned with an over-all majority. The reason Fianna Fáil were returned was because, when the electorate looked around in the desperate situation in which they found themselves in 1957, they could find no other solution, or no other hope of a solution, than to turn to Fianna Fáil; and they turned to Fianna Fáil and returned the Fianna Fáil Party to power with quite an extraordinary majority.

Under P.R.

Major de Valera

Yes, but under extraordinary circumstances.

Where was the solution?

Fianna Fáil were returned because they promised to solve the unemployment and emigration problems.

Major de Valera

It was because coalition Government had left the country in a complete mess in relation to finance and everything else. Finally they disagreed internally——

Fianna Fáil were elected on the promises they made.

Major de Valera

That was, indeed, a classical example of coalition Government.

Get cracking.

We always enjoy the Deputy's fairy stories.

Major de Valera

I wish some of the things I am telling were fairy stories. Unfortunately, the people have had to pay for Deputy Larkin's fairy stories.

The Deputy's Party were to do away with emigration and unemployment. That is why you were elected, brother.

Major de Valera

I should like to know for what the Labour Party was elected.

I am telling the Deputy why he was elected.

Major de Valera

The damage was done under the coalitions. If the opportunities there in 1948 and in the post-war years generally had not been squandered, if the confidence of the people had not been utterly destroyed under the second coalition in 1955 and 1956, we might have today a happier story to tell and fewer problems to solve.

"Wives get your husbands back to work."

Does the Deputy believe what he is saying?

Major de Valera

Whether we like it or not, the lesson is there. First, reason and, secondly, historical analysis are there to prove that P.R. is not in fact suited to our system. Both have shown it to be unsuited.

It took the Deputy a long time to find that out.

Major de Valera

Whatever the theorists may have to produce and whatever models, mathematical or otherwise, the politico-scientists may show, the fact is that this system of proportional representation has been tried in the laboratory of practical politics, exhaustively tested here and elsewhere, and found to be both deficient and dangerous.

But there is another consequence. We have experienced a number of the evils flowing from coalition Government in this country but not all. I do not know what Opposition Deputies are getting so hot about; I am casting no aspersions whatever on people's motives.

I should like to endorse what the Minister for Industry and Commerce said. I believe Deputy Corish and the other Deputies in the coalitions had as good motives as anybody else. What I do not approve of is a system that throws incompatibles into a situation in which they cannot work successfully. I do not hold our Party out as a Party made up of "Simon Pures", or anything like that, but the fact is that the biggest Party in this Dáil refused absolutely to join in any coalition and, because of our refusal, we have forced a certain pattern of pro and con which would not otherwise be there. It is well known there was an attempt to bring us in, even before the last general election. What kind of Dáil would we have if we were all in this game of musical chairs?

May I ask the Deputy a question?

Major de Valera

When I have finished.

Will the Deputy answer it?

Major de Valera

No. As is so often remarked here, the Deputy is entitled to make his own speech. By all means, let him answer my points then. What would this Dáil be like if every Party in it was involved in a game of political musical chairs? How long would Government last? What would happen between elections? For ten years that situation was averted because the largest Party would not play musical chairs. Supposing all Parties joined in the game, where would we be? It is for that reason that I think it is better for the country, and better for us, that the system should be changed and we should have the straight vote.

Remember, we are not the only people concerned about this. Deputy Costello, Deputy Dillon and some of the Labour Deputies have had occasion to stand up for politicians and politics; they have pointed out that political activity is an honourable one and politicians give honourable service to the community. Why have we been driven to the point at which we must defend our political institutions and our politicians? I refuse to believe that, as far as our people are concerned, we are any worse than others. It is again the system. If our public institutions have tended to fall into disrepute, I blame the system. If one tries to find out wherein the fault lies within the system, then I maintain it lies in proportional representation.

It is laughable to listen to the various interpretations of what Fianna Fáil Deputies think, how we do this or how we do that. It is a remarkable thing that, despite the weaknesses from which Fianna Fáil Deputies are supposed to suffer, no Fianna Fáil Deputy has ever been bought from this side of the House into a Coalition.

I have outlined the history of proportional representation. We have had coalition Governments within the last decade. How long is it since the people were in a position to have an important issue referred to them? Answer that question and you will have immediately the reason why Fianna Fáil have decided to advocate a change in the system now. Is it realised that 1944 was the last occasion, before 1957, in which there was a chance of referring a matter of this kind to the people? From 1948 to 1957 there was no clear majority here which could have put through the legislation necessary to bring a referendum to the people.

Sir James Craig said the very same thing.

Major de Valera

I am saying it now.

And the Deputy is wrong. There was an election in 1944 and the Dáil lasted until early in 1948.

Major de Valera

I am talking about the people. The last time the people elected a Government with an over-all majority was in 1944. In 1944 there was a Government in power which had the ability to refer the problem to the people. From 1947 until 1957 there was no time at which there was a Government competent to put the issue to the people because there was not an over-all majority. In 1957 a Government was returned to power with a majority which enables it now to put the issue to the people.

Reflecting on the history of proportional representation, as I have outlined it, and looking at the danger inherent in the situation, I ask Deputies opposite was there not an obligation on the Government to give the people a chance now of deciding this issue? By all means, argue the contrary but let us not fail in our duty, having this opportunity, which, on all showing, is not likely to recur, of referring this issue to the electorate. Would we not be failing in our duty if we failed to do so now? Patently it was up to us to make up our minds what our attitude should be. There is the simple answer to those who ask why is it being done now. We had a duty to discharge. That is the reason I fail to understand the mentality of those who profess to be the guardians of democracy and the guardians of the people, but who bend their endeavours, and put all their energies, into trying to prevent the people from deciding a matter of such fundamental importance.

Will the Deputy answer my question now ?

The Deputy who has just sat down posed a question and answered it by saying that if Fianna Fáil did not do what they are now doing, they would be failing in their duty, because they have an over-all majority and are in a position to do it. That would appear to be correct. The question I want to put is: who asked them to do what they are now doing? There has been no expression of opinion from any section of the community, any local organisation, any urban council, any county council or any private body, that Fianna Fáil should do what they are doing. It is sheer nonsense for any Deputy of that Party, or for any Minister, to come into this House and try to put it across this Parliament and the country, that they are doing their duty by doing what they are doing, because they have never been asked by anyone to do it. I should be glad to hear any Minister who has not spoken, or any responsible Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party, telling us who asked them to do what they are doing.

The Chief.

It is just over three months since the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill left Dáil Éireann on 29th January. It went to the Seanad, and on 29th April, the first possible day on which, within the Constitution, it was in order for him to do so, the Taoiseach reintroduced it to Dáil Éireann and, as he is entitled to do, I suppose, under the Constitution, sought to set aside the vote of the Seanad.

The leaders of my Party, acting in what they believed to be the best interests of the country—and no single speaker so far by any argument whatsoever that has been adduced, has shown they should not have done so-have reasonably suggested that, because of the controversy that has raged over this action on the part of the Government, it should be referred back for consideration by a commission. No speaker from the other side of the House has attempted to give any argument whatsoever as to why Deputy Costello's and Deputy Mulcahy's amendment should not be accepted. It is simply the same old story. Apparently somebody has asked Fianna Fáil to introduce this electoral system. The great unsolved mystery of the age is: who asked them? That is the only answer we get, although we talk and debate here. I consider the debate to have been one of the best and most constructive we ever had in this country, but there has been no attempt to answer any argument—just the old story of "instability in Ireland" and "they have been asked to do it".

It is just three months, as I have said, since this Bill left us and in that time it has been widely debated in the Seanad. I think it is germane to the issue to draw attention to the fact that the Seanad was set up electorally, constitutionally and otherwise, by a Fianna Fáil administration and by the present head of the Fianna Fáil Party. Every Deputy must know the political alignment within the Seanad, the way in which the seats are filled, and the different spheres and schools of thought in that Assembly.

It is a recognised fact in parliamentary institutions in any part of the world—even where they have the straight vote like the British system, to which our friends opposite are so devoted, or the P.R. system, or what is known as the alternative vote—that the second chamber or the higher chamber is one of the estates of a free, democratic and sovereign people, to act as a brake or a reviewer of legislation, and particularly legislation as vital as the legislation we are dealing with at present.

One would have imagined that after the extensive debate here, the reports in the newspapers, the symposia and debates which have taken place throughout the country, and the general consensus and volume of opinion which has been growing against it, when the Taoiseach came in here last week and opened this debate, he would have devoted more than seven minutes to opening a debate as vital as this, and to what actually the position is as he sees it. He simply came in here and in seven minutes by the clock—3½ in Irish and 3½ in English; he said substantially the same thing in both languages—he simply told us he was acting in accordance with the Constitution.

As I say, he is entitled to move that it be deemed to have been passed by both Houses. In effect, what he said was: "No matter what the Seanad thinks, I do not care. I have made up my mind and the Government have made up their minds." He did not say anything about the Party. He omitted to mention the Party at all, and I do not suppose they got much consideration one way or the other. He said, in effect: "I propose to disregard what they said." As I say, he may be acting within the Constitution, but it does not seem to me to be a reasonable approach, to bring the Bill back to the Dáil after the extensive debate which took place in the Upper Chamber, particularly when one considers the membership of that Chamber and the way the members are elected to it.

There are 11 nominees of the Taoiseach in the present Seanad and it is an undoubted fact that at no time since the enactment of the Constitution and the setting up of the Seanad has a vital Bill such as the Bill before us been rejected by the Seanad. It is reasonable to assume that those 11 Senators would vote for a constitutional change such as this or—shall I put it another way—a major act of Government policy. In fact, they did vote. They voted to the last man and, shall I say, woman. These eleven——

I have intervened before when reference was made to what the Seanad did, on any occasion when a measure came back from the Seanad. It is quite undesirable to discuss the decision of the Seanad on a motion of this kind coming back from the Seanad. It is entirely undesirable to discuss the constitution of the Seanad. The Seanad is an integral part of Oireachtas Éireann and Senators are quite entitled to reach their own decision. To comment on their discussions and their decisions here is entirely undesirable in respect of relations between the two Houses.

Would the Chair mind indicating to me how far I may relate my remarks to the Seanad?

The Deputy is proceeding to discuss the constitution of the Seanad. I have intervened before to say it is undesirable to have such a discussion. I am asking him not to proceed on that line.

I appreciate that but I am not quite clear where exactly I am at fault.

The Chair may not be cross-examined in that fashion. The Deputy is proceeding along a line which is quite undesirable in respect of a decision of the Seanad. The Seanad is entitled to reach a decision and it is undesirable to discuss the constitution of the Seanad or its decisions. It is an independent body of Oireachtas Éireann. We would find ourselves, in half an hour's time, debating the entire discussion in the Seanad, and what the Senators said, and what they did not say.

Would it be in order for the speaker, or any other speaker, to talk about the sections of the community whose representatives voted for or against the Bill ?

I am not saying it is not quite regular to stress that the Seanad reached a certain decision in respect of this measure. I am not making any remark in respect of that, and I did not interfere as long as the Deputy confined himself to that. When he proceeds to discuss the constitution of the Seanad, what Senators said, and how they reached their decision, I must intervene in order to maintain the independent status of the Seanad in respect of this House.

Can Senator's speeches not be quoted ?

Senators can quote Dáil speeches.

I know nothing about that.

I am not trying to cross-examine the Chair. I have had the same experience as Deputy Esmonde is experiencing now.

Are we to be prevented from quoting Ministers when they speak in the Seanad?

The statements of Ministers as members of the Government can be discussed, wherever they are made.

Am I allowed to discuss the Seanad at all ? We have a Bill here which has been rejected by the Seanad. I am not criticising the Seanad for rejecting it. I am just trying to make the case that it is their constitutional right to do so, and I was glad they did so. I was moving up to that point and I take it the Chair is objecting to my explaining how the Seanad is elected.

I merely intervened to save the Deputy from proceeding along wrong lines, as far as order is concerned here. He was proceeding to discuss the decision of the Seanad, to discuss how they reached the decision, and to discuss the remarks of members of the Seanad.

Is it not a fact as a result of the decision of the Seanad——

I do not know what the Deputy is asking me.

I have no desire to be out of order. Let me put this to the Chair: I maintained in my opening remarks that, in my opinion, there is no desire whatsoever for a change in the electoral system. One is perfectly in order in making that point. The point I am trying to bring out is that the Seanad is representative of a very wide forum of national opinion. It is an Upper Chamber, acting as a brake on the legislative assembly, and the Taoiseach did not think it worth his while to refer to the fact that the Senators had, in their debates, disagreed with the fundamentals of this Bill. That is really all I am trying to make and nothing else, so I shall continue. There are in the Seanad three professors from the University of Dublin, and three professors from the National University of Ireland, who must be considered to be entirely independent in their outlook.

Major de Valera

Another coalition.

Are we not proceeding to discuss the personnel of the Seanad? The Deputy has referred to three professors.

The Minister for Health mentioned six.

Somebody else may not have the same opinion of these Senators as Deputy Esmonde has, and we shall have a discussion of the personnel of the Seanad. That surely is quite undesirable.

Major de Valera

It is a N.U.I.-T.C.D. coalition.

Order! Deputy Esmonde, on the motion and the amendment.

With respect, again, I am the last man who would wish to argue with the Chair. I have heard this widely discussed in this debate already. A Deputy the other night referred to the suggestion that these professors had made.

I was in the Chair when a speech was made regarding six professors who signed a statement, which was not part of the proceedings of the Seanad. It was a statement made outside the Seanad, and made by Senators in their personal capacity.

I bow to your ruling, Sir. I am simply saying there are six independent men who I consider to be entirely independent in the Seanad, and that they represent a high sphere of education in this country, a very high standard of education which, no doubt, Deputy Vivion de Valera himself reaches in his flights of eloquence and oratory.

And they have no shares in the Irish Press either.

And they voted against this Bill. It was an indication to this House, and a lead to the country, as it were, that there was a certain group representative of totally different shades of opinion in the educational world who did not consider it was fundamentally in the interests of the State to have the electoral system as drastically changed as it is proposed to change it in this Bill. Those people are not only representative of themselves but they are elected representatives, and elected representatives must always take cognisance of facts.

How do we Deputies carry on public business? How do we do the things we believe to be in the interest of the people? Do they not elect us? Do they not send us into the Dáil? We are advised and instructed by them and, if we are good Deputies and good public representatives, we listen to what they have to say. The point I wanted to make is this: an independent opinion is a valuable thing, an extremely valuable thing. An educated and a higher degree of educated opinion is even more valuable, not necessarily in social matters, not necessarily, though very often, in economic matters, but—in a fundamental matter affecting the whole life and future of the nation—one that we should be glad to get, and one that we should be glad to hear.

Those people, those independents, were elected by three very important facets in Irish life—the teaching profession, with so many representatives within the confines of the Fianna Fáil Party, and in this Party, too, as well as the Labour Party—the clerical profession, both shades of opinion fully represented in their profession—the engineering profession, the medical profession, and all those higher spheres of educational life in the country.

It does seem to me that for the Head of the Government to come in here and speak for only a couple of minutes without making any reference, one way or the other, to how the Bill had come back here, or why it had come back, or without trying in some way to refute the arguments growing up not only here but throughout the country, was hardly treating this House to the consideration which it is entitled to expect to put it mildly. As well as that, I asked the Taoiseach about three months ago, before the debate started on this measure, if he had had any advice, or if any suggestion had been made to him by any outside body, that the step he was taking was desirable from the country's point of view. He said that he had not. He said that on such a fundamental issue as this he did not think that that was necessary. He thought it was the duty of Dáil Éireann, as the overriding political authority in the country, to decide the issue. In other words, he said: "It does not really matter what anybody else thinks; we have decided to go on with it and we are going to go on with it." Where that ties up with my present argument is that 43 of the Senators who expressed this opinion in their vote, think it is fundamentally unsound. That is something with which I fully agree.

The Senators are elected by the Dáil, by the county councillors and by Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford Corporations. The people they send to the Seanad are representative of every shade of political opinion. As I have said. Senators are public representatives in the same way as we are. Public representatives have to do their duty, but they must take advice from those who elect them. They must listen to the views of those who elect them. That is the fundamental democratic principle of a free people and a free Parliament. Surely, when the Senators took the action they did, and which they were entitled to take, they must have had—in their case, perhaps, even more so than in ours—opportunities of consulting those who had elected them because they are elected on a limited franchise. In other words, was it not an intimation to the Head of the Government, to his Ministers and to his Deputies that the step which is now being taken by them is one that is not acceptable ?

What happens in Dáil Éireann, of course, is within the power and the province of the Government to control. They have got an overall majority. They have what can be described as a strong Government. They have realised the first ambitions of Deputy Vivion de Valera, who has taken us through the history of Ireland this evening. They have got the over-all majority now. They are the majority in Dáil Éireann under the Party system; and those who sit behind, as Deputy Vivion de Valera has told us, are all united in one single thought. They have been told to vote for this by the Government. The Taoiseach tells us that not a single member of the Government has changed his mind. That is a very frank admission but, in effect, it means that nothing that anybody can do or say will change the mind of the Government now. That is the strong Party system. That is why we have this measure before the people.

Do Ministers know what is going on in the country? Have they any idea of the opinions of the people? I do not think so. I think I might say, with respect, that the Minister for Lands would hardly make some of the speeches which he is making up and down the country if he were fully conversant with the minds of the people. However, that is outside the issue in this debate. What I want to bring home is that you have got a Government living in a narrow circle surrounded by economic and civil service advisers telling them what to do and they are bringing before the country something which is fundamental to the life of the whole nation, something that will change our history completely and absolutely.

In spite of all the opposition that they have met, in spite of the heart burnings of some of their own Deputies who are not too happy about the system, they are determined to go ahead with it. Deputy Costello and Deputy Mulcahy brought in this amendment and it would be easy for the Government to accept it but they will not accept it for the simple reason that they will not listen to anything; they will not even listen to their own people. I have not had a dictaphone in the Party room but I am sure that all the Fianna Fáil Deputies have not all being sitting silently in the Party room and saying "Hurrah" to everything Ministers say. In effect the Government will not accept anything and if a sort of semi-revolution broke out I do not believe that they would accept that. They have just made up their minds that they are going to go ahead with this.

That brings me to the Taoiseach's remarkable speech. The Taoiseach devoted only seven minutes in Dáil Éireann to introducing this very important and fundamental measure. He spoke at much greater length in Monaghan and some Deputies have said that he let the cat out of the bag there. I have very great respect for the Taoiseach's intellect; he does not make statements at political meetings unless there is a motive behind them. When that speech was made as anybody knows who knows anything about political life, there was a "hand-out" beforehand. In other words, it is a verbatim report of what he intended to say. The Taoiseach knew that that would appear in the papers. Strangely enough, it appeared only in the Irish Independent. Time has now elapsed and there has been no denial and no suggestion of misrepresentation.

In the early part of this campaign Fianna Fáil had a whispering campaign —a tour de force of the organisation —in County Wexford, as Deputy Corish knows as well as I do. The early whispering campaign was: “We must change the electoral system because Dev. wants it.” That was the whispering campaign everywhere. “He is going to retire, to leave public life, and he wants to leave something behind pro bono publico, to get security and stability within the State. He wants to see that there will be a strong Government in the country.” That was the whispering campaign.

After a bit, there were some doubting people. It was not only Fine Gael and the Parties in Opposition that began to doubt: "Are we doing the right thing by the Irish people?" Whether the Taoiseach wins or loses the Presidential election, my guess is as good as that of anyone else. When he leaves public life, he wants to leave the situation in good order. For a few weeks the Irish people will be inclined to think of things politically, though they are not very interested ordinarily. When they heard the arguments and began to think over things, and the voice of Opposition began to be raised, it began to be doubted also—was it right, even "for the sake of Dev", to do all that, and then it began to appear that there was considerable risk that it would be defeated. Hence the words that he spoke, as reported in the Irish Independent on Sunday, April 26th, at Monaghan: “He hated making any changes in the Constitution.” I wonder. “He would not have proposed this change only that it was found necessary for the nation's wellbeing.” You see, it is still “Dev” wants it. Then I quote further: “It was because Fianna Fáil could not count on obtaining an over-all majority in any future election under the present electoral system.” I hope Deputy Vivion de Valera is listening to this. It says “that they decided to allow the people to decide by what form Dáil Members should be elected in future.”

The second half of that paragraph has two meanings to me. I am stupid, of course. I may be wrong in these things, but perhaps there were not the cheers of enthusiasm ringing through the Fianna Fáil Cumainn throughout the country. The boys were not coming out, the money was not coming in for the elections, there were not that verve, drive and tour de force in the Party to carry the referendum. So this is the rallying call; it is no longer “Dev wants it”, but “it is in the interest of Fianna Fáil to keep Fianna Fáil going”. That is another reading into the situation. The only part that puzzles me is that they decided to allow the people to decide by what form Dáil members should be elected in future. I thought they were asked to do this. I have heard several members say so. Let me be fair—they have told us who asked—but I thought the reason they were introducing this fundamental change was that somebody asked them to do so.

Deputy Vivion de Valera gave us a great discourse from Irish history, from Sinn Féin down to today. He told us many things about public life. He told us that we broke up in confusion. He told us that we had to go to the country. They went to the country very often themselves and they may have gone in confusion as well. They went to the country twice and were beaten. That is really the test. If Deputy Vivion de Valera did not tell us, perhaps the Minister for Lands will tell us who asked them, as that is a great mystery. That is a crucial point. I believe we are entitled to know that. We have had months of Parliamentary debate here; we will have the expense of the referendum and the disorganisation of our political life. Surely the Irish people are entitled to an answer to that simple question: "Who asked for all this, other than that it was born in the minds of the Fianna Fáil Party?" The answer seems to be there as well in the speech at Monaghan by the Taoiseach.

The Minister for External Affairs, a senior Minister, speaking this afternoon, had more to say on this and he dealt extensively with America and Britain. I myself believe that he believes every word of what he says. He seems fond of the British system. He told us at great length how one must work and make the arrangements beforehand and that, under this absolutely "sea-green incorruptible" system, all the arrangements are made beforehand, the Parties will break up and fly into each other's arms, there will be only two Parties in the country and an era of political stability unknown in the world. Did it ever occur to the Minister for External Affairs that they have had coalitions in the Parliamentary system? If he read his Parliamentary history, he would know that at one time there were three Parliamentary Parties in Britain and there were several coalitions there under those systems.

There are quite a few countries which have a straight vote and have coalitions as well. There are countries which have P.R. and have coalitions and they have stable Governments, too. You have Austria. Austria has had a coalition of the Right and the Left three times. They have gone to the polls and three times they have reformed the same coalitions. The Government there has given stable government and perhaps, of the smaller countries, it is one of the most prosperous in Europe. The Minister for External Affairs is very interested in the American system and tries to draw a parallel between the United States of America and this country. I did not think it was a good parallel. His argument was that if the United States of America had P.R., with all the variations of races that are there, government there would be impossible.

Surely one cannot compare the United States of America to Ireland. Ireland happens to be one of the oldest, nations in the world. We have had settlers here. Probably I would be considered one myself, though my people came in 700 years ago. We have not had many settlers. We have more of the real old Irish in Ireland today than of any other particular section. How we could be compared with a modern State from an electoral point of view I fail to conceive. In the United States of America, you have descendants, of perhaps only one or two generations, of every country in Europe and outside Europe. There are black, white and coloured races. There is absolutely no comparison whatsoever. On the whole American Continent, from North to South, you have the system to which Fianna Fáil is so devoted. We call it the British system and some of my colleagues call it the Stormont system; but in every country of North and South America they have the straight vote.

There are many countries in South America. Even Deputies who do not study foreign affairs know that the political stability which exists in the South American States under the straight vote is not a desirable one. Do we not see constantly in the papers about disturbances breaking out there? The majority of those races are not variegated; they are all one race. Usually, they are either Spanish or Portuguese. It is not like the case of the United States. There is one democracy left in South America, that is Uruguay. Every other State under the straight vote has developed into a dictatorship. The end of the matter is the way they change a Government there. There is no need for me to tell this House how they change it. I am not suggesting that would happen in Ireland, but what I am pointing out is this. It is good for the Deputies on the back benches to hear this as they probably have not been allowed to think very much on this matter; they have been rushed into it just as we have.

Any change that takes place in South America is a revolution. I am not suggesting that will happen here but the last time we had the straight vote we had trouble. We had a sweeping over-all majority for the Sinn Féin Party who won every seat with the exception of a few northern seats. This was referred to by Deputy Lynch who represents Waterford. There was some close voting in some other constituencies; we did not do too badly in Wexford but nevertheless we were beaten. However, a new Party came into existence without any Parliamentary experience. That is one of the tragedies of Irish public life. You had a split in Sinn Féin and from that grew the political line-ups that exist today.

Deputy Vivion de Valera argues that it is bad for splinter groups to grow up, but this split that I speak of occurred because there was this over-all majority. You had this predominant Party in power with no Opposition. They had no Parliamentary experience and from the split that occurred there developed splinter Parties. Those splinter Parties were entitled to develop. I am no LeftWing politician. I suppose I could be regarded as being a Rightist here, though I naturally believe in social benefits, and so on. However, I believe a Labour Party has every right to exist in Ireland. Labour plays an important part in any society. In the first debate we had on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill I heard speakers from the other side pointing out that it would be to the advantage of the Fine Gael Party to absorb Labour. We do not want to absorb anybody. We are not ambitious like that. We are prepared to stand on our own, to fight our own battles, but we recognise the right of other people to exist. If any Party in any free country can get sufficient support from the people under the electoral system to send a member to Parliament, they have a democratic right to do so. Under the P.R. system we had that right and we have had no major disturbances or upheavals. Ever since we have had P.R. in Ireland we have had political peace although we may have had our differences.

Some Deputies may not like what I am saying but I am saying it because I believe it to be true. Under the P.R. system people are entitled to form a Party and play an important part in the political life of the country. Deputy Vivion de Valera—I am sorry to have to refer to him so often but he made a very forceful speech this evening and raised many points—does not like coalitions and does not like compromise. He seems to have a one-track mind in that respect. In politics you have to compromise. Everybody has his point of view and it is natural that those who represent the trades union section of Irish political life would have some contribution to make within our councils here.

When ex-Deputy James Larkin was a member of the Dáil he used to state very forcefully the views of Labour, its set-up in our society, the views of trade unionists, perhaps somewhat extreme views at times with which I myself was not in full agreement. However, he was listened to with respect here and though we may not have agreed with him he made a vital contribution to Irish political life because he educated those listening to him. We got to know the point of view of those he represented. They do not want that on the opposite side. They want a system whereby you have two Parties. They say you must get together before the election to form a Party. A pistol is put to the heads of the prospective candidates representing all sections in Ireland: "If you do not come together and form into one Party you will have no chance of being elected." They say: "What chance have you under the system?"

Why should people be forced to come together before elections to declare a policy? In no spirit of acrimony, as Deputy de Valera would say, do I ask, if they declared a policy before the election, have they fulfilled that policy? To put even the best complexion on it from their point of view, when any political Party that is in opposition offers a policy to the country how do they know they will implement that policy? It is absolute nonsense to suggest that the only way to secure political representation in this country is for people to come together before the election and state a policy. That is the argument that is being put forward all the time by those on the other side of the House.

The Twenty-Six Counties, the part of the country under our jurisdiction at the moment is politically poles apart from any other country in the world. It is an agricultural country and a rural country in the fullest sense of the word. There is the City of Dublin and the urban districts surrounding it where the vote would be largely industrial, a mixture of industrial, professional classes, bankers and so on. But in the main you have in Ireland rural constituencies and rural conditions. I have always held the view that the future of our country politically depends to a major extent on control of our political institutions from rural Ireland.

If this new system were accepted so that you have one-member constituencies and one man being put up by the political Party it means you are gradually going over to the system under which the British nominate and choose their candidates. Modern politics being what it is, with the change to full franchise and the change in political circumstances over the years, political Parties tend to have control over their followers and over those they select to send to Dáil Éireann. I do not think many Deputies need be under any great illusion as to whether, if they were not members of a political Party, they would enter Leinster House with "T.D." after their name. Most political Parties are run or controlled by a central group, usually functioning in the capital city.

I propose now to refer to the British parliamentary system and to draw a parallel between these two countries. The reason I do so is that I know the Fianna Fáil Party are strenuously engaged in endeavouring to tie us up as much as possible with the political outlook of Britain and their voting system. I know a great many British Members of Parliament—Labour, Liberal and Conservative. It is most unusual to find a British parliamentarian who lives in his constituency, or even one who ever had anything to do with his constituency before he was elected.

The system in Britain is that—and this might be useful to some of the Deputies if they lose their seats and want to start afresh in another land under the new system—if you want to go into politics you join the political organisation in Britain and eventually if you are able to speak—and I am sure all my friends opposite are—and give a good account of yourself, you can get chosen as a Parliamentary candidate and you are given what is known as an unsafe seat to fight, which you do. You fight it three or four times. Then you have done your bit by the Party; you are then chosen by the Party and foisted on a constituency in which you probably never have been in your life and in which nobody knows you. You are sent down as the Party hack of that political Party and you are elected as such. That is the straight vote system that exists in England.

Of all the British Members of Parliament I know, I have met only three or four who live in their constituencies or are natives of their constituencies. Mostly, they are Conservatives; and they have lived there and have been elected there for, perhaps, the past 30 or 40 years. This system I have described to the House is now fully effective there. Remember, if Fianna Fáil have their way, if they wish to liquidate the Labour Party, to liquidate Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta, or what is left of it, or any other Party that may come into existence, and have the two-Party system, very soon we will have the parallel of Britain.

I ask rural Deputies to consider this. You will have aspiring young politicians in the city of Dublin who want to get into public life and represent a constituency. Nothing is easier. They join the central executive of the big Party. They support the big Party in every way they can. They fight a hopeless seat for the big Party and then they will be foisted on rural Ireland, somewhere where nobody knows them, or just by name maybe. They have no interest in the people; they have no understanding of the conditions of that constituency but they are foisted on them as their Deputies.

Will that make for efficiency in Irish public life? I am asking the Fianna Fáil Deputies to answer that. Whatever one may think of Fianna Fáil Deputies, most of them work hard. They answer their letters; they go to the local affairs; they know what is good for their constituency; they have a particular interest in their constituency; they work, not alone, but in conjunction with other Deputies, as we do in Wexford. If anything is wanted for the good of Wexford and we are written to about it, we are a nice, kindly sort of people and we go along and do the best we can—Deputy Corish, Deputy Browne, Deputy Alien. the Minister for Finance—the five representatives. We have the pressure and force of five Deputies of all shades of opinion seeking to enhance and improve the conditions in the constituency we represent and of the people who sent us to Dáil Éireann, and our particular force is that we are representative of all shades of opinion. When the matter comes to the Minister for his consideration, the five Deputies in Wexford and in the adjoining constituency, three Deputies of all shades of opinion—Deputy Everett, Deputy Brennan and Deputy O'Toole —can state their case. That is a part of the proportional representation system—particularly important for rural constituencies—we shall lose. We are asked to become Party hacks. We are asked to sink all our individuality, all the close, happy relations that exist between a Deputy and those who elect him.

Furthermore, in a constituency such as mine, Deputy Corish probably does as much work around Gorey, where I live, as I do myself; and I try to do as much work around Wexford, where he lives, as he does. I do not suppose I succeed, but I try anyway.

I shall watch the Deputy.

We work in harmony for the good of our constituents. In future, they will divide up the constituencies. I may try to be elected again. I may be elected again —that is immaterial to the issue—but the constituency will be divided up and Deputies will be forced into one are provided they are allowed to stand for that constituency by those who are controlling the Party. I want Deputies to pause and think on that. Those are some of the real, fundamental changes which will be forced on the country. It has not a background for it. It is altogether foreign to our tradition and our nature.

I cannot see why the Government cannot accept this amendment. Is it that they are afraid of losing face? Is is that they want to rush this election with all the indecent haste they can to make sure that they can get it on the same day as the Presidential election so that the people will come out and vote? Do they not know in their heart of hearts that there is no real wish or desire that the country should be disrupted in this way? There have been no reasonable arguments to support this except the continual cry of instability. To say that Ireland is unstable politically is a direct insult to the Irish race. Politically, our history has been a hard one. Over many centuries, we have had to fight to achieve the political and democratic freedom we have today.

I think we have proved to the world that we can settle our own affairs without any interference politically from outside. Our political system is the admiration of other European countries and also of many people in Britain. It is a truly democratic system. I should prefer to see the Government introducing a measure to broaden democracy here. P.R. as it stands now—and that is why Deputy Dillon has been so much misquoted in the 1937 debate—although it is P.R. where you have more than two members in a constituency, is not really a fair test of P.R. when there are so many three-member seats. It boils down to the fact that any Party that gets 51 per cent. of the votes can get two seats in such a constituency.

We had a better and fairer application of the system before—and I think Deputies should dwell on this— throughout the most trying time in our political history when the Civil War took place and when disaffections grew up, not only among Parliamentarians but among families. The P.R. system existed then and we maintained ourselves as a stable and democratic country. Other countries have a slightly more democratic system but there are not many of them. What is proposed here now is a retrograde step, one that we shall regret. Personally, I do not feel the Irish people will accept it. It has done good in only one way; it has aroused some further interest in our political affairs and institutions. It may be that we are at the cross-roads of political life and that there will be many changes in the future. We may have a different alignment of Parties. The day may come when even Fianna Fáil will be looking for a coalition. Strange things happen. We may even be facing the disintegration of the Fianna Fáil Party which I always have felt is a sort of coalition covered over with a gloss through which we outside cannot see.

I would earnestly ask the Government to accept this amendment. They will not lose face by doing so. It is envisaged now that the Taoiseach will leave public life. I do not want the House or the people to think from that that he will win the election. There will be changes in the future and when you change from one era to another there is the possibility of political instability. I suggest to the Government that the easy way out is to accept this amendment. It would hold things up only for another three months. This day 12 months ago had anybody heard even a whisper that P.R. was going? Now the corpse laid to rest by the Seanad is being disinterred at the first opportunity and paraded before the public again. By accepting the amendment the Government would gain prestige. They have been stating that this is the only time they can do it and that it is their duty to do it. I would remind them that even though the Taoiseach leaves them and the coalition manages to carry on over there among themselves, they will still have an over-all majority and they can do this at a later date.

I think it is foolish to rush political changes. Had this fundamental change in the Constitution received any approbation outside Dáil Éireann, —I am inclined to think it received a good deal of illwill even inside the House—had it received the goodwill of the Irish people other than the Irish Press—which we do not mind-there might have been some justification for pushing ahead with this indecent haste. It is not yet too late, and perhaps the Government would take thought again and remember that they are about to change a Constitution which they themselves set up, with all the advantages weighing heavily on their side. Perhaps they would consider adopting the amendment and at least give the people a chance of having the facts properly reviewed and put before them instead of trying to rush the people, who have become disinterested in public life due largely to broken political promises, into something they do not want. Give the people a breathing space. In doing that, the Government will be doing a better day's work for Ireland than I think they have done in the last three months.

I should like to congratulate Deputy Esmonde on a remarkable achievement. I do not know when I have heard anyone speak for so long and say so little but he has proved himself to be a staunch defender of proportional representation. He has filled a very noticeable gap in the ranks of Fine Gael and at least he has been able to achieve the record of producing four colleagues to support him which is more than anybody else has been able to do on that side of the House.

Is the Deputy calling for a House?

I shall call a House for the Deputy now. He is looking for an audience and we will get him one.

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

I am glad we have at least produced one extra member of the Opposition as well. I should like to speak as shortly and as relevantly as I can in meeting some of the points made in this debate so far. I should like to refer, in the first place, to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy J.A. Costello, as reported in Volume 174, No. 9, at column 1321. It is interesting to see the approach of the Leader of the Opposition in this connection when he refers, as Deputy Esmonde also did, to the speech of the Taoiseach at Monaghan. At that column, he quoted the Taoiseach as saying he "would not have proposed this change only it was fundamentally necessary for the nation's wellbeing." Deputy J.A. Costello continued:

"I could understand that as an exercise in political flapdoodle because a political Party always tries to persuade a gullible electorate that whatever they do is for the national wellbeing."

That is an interesting interjection by the leader of a political Party. He admits—presumably from his experience—that he tries to persuade a gullible electorate that whatever he does is for the national wellbeing. From our side of the House, that is not so. In this case, we sincerely believe that this proposal is for the nation's wellbeing.

The Leader of the Opposition then went on to quote the Taoiseach as saying that it was

because Fianna Fáil could not count on obtaining an over-all majority at any future election under the present electoral system...

That is a very reasonable statement to make. I should like to examine it a little further. The Taoiseach said that Fianna Fáil could not count on an overall majority. Surely it is obvious. that, if Fianna Fáil could not count on an overall majority, nobody else could either? That is the essential part of that whole statement. If Fianna Fáil could not get an overall majority under P.R., nobody else could either. If nobody else can get an overall majority, then we are forced inevitably into coalitions and that is the basis and always was the basis of our whole case. It is not simply a matter that Fianna Fáil wants always to be in power. It is a matter of realising the facts of the situation. P.R. has favoured Fianna Fáil to a great extent, but, inevitably, the formation of a single Party Government will become increasingly difficult and eventually impossible.

At column 1323 of the Official Report, the Leader of the Opposition continued:

I think the people are entitled to know why, when the Taoiseach took this strong stand in 1937 saying that not merely was he going to enshrine the principles of proportional representation in the Constitution but to copperfasten a particular system to the exclusion of all others, the libraries of Europe were not availed of then.

I am amazed that, in spite of all the arguments. Fine Gael has so persistently failed to see why the present electoral system was enshrined in the Constitution. Let me get it perfectly clear even to those who are here at the moment.

Our principle has always been that we feel that the electoral system should be enshrined in the Constitution so that only by a referendum can it be altered. The Fine Gael view has been equally insistent that it should be kept out of the Constitution so that it can be altered by whatever political Party is in power at the time.

It was there before the Deputy was heard of.

That is a clever remark.

Deputy Giles is quite right. It was always in the Constitution and we insist that it always shall be there. It has been the constant endeavour of Fine Gael to get it out of the Constitution and put it into the hands of the Legislature. That is something we shall not stand for.

In the last resort, we say that it is the people themselves and the people alone who shall decide what the electoral system shall be. The alternative is to have the electoral system being changed backwards and forwards by political Parties purely for their own sakes. That is inherently dangerous and we oppose it. As reported at column 1328, the Leader of the Opposition made a point which was made by a number of speakers subsequently:

I want to repeat what I said in concluding on a previous occasion. There was no public demand for these proposals.

Once again, may I make clear the difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on this matter? Fianna Fáil in power are the Government which leads and governs the country. They do not go touting around the countryside asking people "What do we do next?"

"Get cracking." That is what you should do.

That is exactly the point. We invented that slogan ourselves and did not wait for somebody else to tell us——

What about all the people who have to emigrate?

Deputy Coogan must allow Deputy Booth to make his speech without interruption.

Deputy Coogan's interruptions are foolish and full of emptiness.

We make our own policy and put it before the people and they can accept or reject it. Fine Gael go around asking people: "What do you think our policy should be?" We had an example of that only last week when, at an official Fine Gael meeting, a leading back bencher was put up to fly a kite and a leading member of the front bench was put up to shoot him down. Now Fine Gael are waiting to see whether or not the kite was worth flying, whether the Party should go Left or Right. Deputy D. Costello and Deputy Dillon are the Deputies in question. That is typical of the whole situation. They are waiting to find out which way will get them more votes. That is not Fianna Fáil policy and, thank God, it never was.

After going to Left and Right ?

That is not an intelligent interruption. It has no basis whatever. I am sorry it irritates people if I make these points. I can understand it, but, at the moment, we are faced with a Fine Gael Party who are the leading Opposition, one of whose main contentions is that we should have asked the people what they wanted us to do. We shall not. We shall tell the people what we intend to do and if the people do not like it, they can throw us out. A Government must govern and lead and not follow. So, let there be no doubt in anybody's mind on this point. We do not say that it was in deference to public opinion that we took this action, because the average member of the public has far too many things on his mind for him to worry about the niceties of an electoral system.

Hear, hear—unemployment and emigration.

Exactly. I am so glad that we are getting such a measure of agreement on this but, in view of the fact that we are agreed that there is a number of very personal problems that have to be dealt with by the individual electors, we cannot expect them to advise us as to what we should do about the electoral system. We believe in taking the initiative and putting the matter clearly and fairly before the people.

Now we come to Deputy M.J. O'Higgins. I should like to refer to a sentence of his speech, at column 1349:

It is significant—and the significance of this should not be lost on the Government—that only two out of the nine or 10 Deputies who were elected to this House with independent status could be found who had a word to say in favour of the Government's proposal. So that, in so far as this House by its composition was capable of expressing independent views on the Government's motion, those views have been overwhelmingly against the Government's proposal.

That, of course, is a complete distortion of the facts and Deputy O'Higgins, if he had looked into the matter more carefully, would have seen that. The Independents who spoke on this matter, with the exception of the two who supported the Government, expressed themselves as having one concern above all others and that was whether they would be able to retain their seats. There was no question of principle involved so far as they were concerned. They stated quite clearly, quite fairly and quite openly, "We object to the alteration of the electoral system because we will never get back again if the system is changed".

There were two Independent Deputies who supported the Government and both of them spoke on the principle which was at stake. They supported the Government regardless of their own interests, regardless of what their political future may be or how it may be affected. They stated quite clearly that they were influenced solely by the fact that, in their opinion, it was essential in the national interest that the system should be changed. So, let it be clearly understood that it is a misinterpretation to say that all the Independents except two were against the Bill and to draw from that the inference that independent opinion was against the principle. Independent opinion was, quite wrongly, against the proposal because most of the Independents thought they would never weather the storm but the Independents who took a really independent and enlightened view made it perfectly clear that they supported the straight vote.

Keep on in that strain for a few minutes.

I think I would be guilty of repetition if I did and I should prefer to go on to another point.

I should say you would.

I want to say what I have to say once only and not to take up too much time. Deputy M.J. O'Higgins went on at column 1357 to make comparison between a speech of the Minister for Health and a speech by the Minister for Lands. He quoted the Minister for Health as saying that P.R., in whatever form it was applied, was the system which tended to make for boss control. He compared that with a speech by the Minister for Lands, in which he said that the great advantage of the single vote system lay in the fact that Party discipline, always essential in effective Government, would be maintained.

He professed to see a fatal contradiction in those two statements. I cannot see the contradiction at all because I do not regard Party discipline as being in any way the equivalent of boss control. Boss control is where someone at the head simply issues instructions but Party discipline is where a Party argues a case out amongst its own members and accepts the majority view. That is Party discipline, where everyone has the right to express himself fully at a Party meeting, to try to convince the majority that he is right but, at the same time, if he cannot do so, he accepts the majority decision and votes with the Party. There is no comparison at all between boss control and Party discipline.

Deputy M.J. O'Higgins, at column 1359, referred to the particular case of Deputy Dr. Browne. This is a particularly interesting case because the point Deputy O'Higgins was trying to make there was that Deputy Dr. Browne would never have been elected as an Independent under the straight vote system. I think that is probably untrue because at the time of the last general election there was a considerable body of opinion that respected Deputy Dr. Browne because he was such an uncompromising Independent. He had been independent of Clann na Poblachta and then showed himself to be independent of Fianna Fáil and then people thought he was such a thundering Independent that they would vote for him as an Independent.

The curious thing now is that we find Deputy Dr. Browne proving himself to be a perfect illustration of one of the greatest evils of proportional representation because he is now creating a political minority before our eyes. He has done that, first, by creating a political Party even though he was elected as an Independent. We now find he is the leader of a political Party and whom he thinks he represents at this stage I cannot imagine. I do not think he even represents his colleague Deputy McQuillan. The point is that we now see Deputy Dr. Browne really representative of no one and trying to create a political minority whom he can claim to represent. It is unfortunate, at least, that Deputy O'Higgins should have brought him into the struggle or argument because he is a case in point which can prove one of the intrinsic weaknesses of the whole system.

Deputy O'Higgins, in column 1362, produces the same old argument that I get so weary of listening to:—

You can get a result where one candidate, representing one of the major political Parties, gets 11,000 votes. Another candidate representing another major political Party can get 10,000 votes and a candidate of a third Party can get 9,000 votes. Under the system which the Government is now asking us to adopt the person who secures 11,000 votes becomes the sole representative of that constituency although there were 19,000 votes cast against him.

Please, could we try to get clear the essential weakness of that argument, that 11,000 votes are cast for Party A and they get in with 19,000 votes cast against them? The alternative is to get Party B in. Party B got 10,000 votes for them but they had 20,000 votes against them. So, there were 1,000 more votes against B than there were against A. Or, should we get Party C in, with 9,000 votes for them and 21,000 against them?

It is a complete illusion to say that anyone who does not vote for you votes against you but, if it is wrong to get in with 11,000 for you and 19,000 against you, it is even more wrong to get in with 10,000 for you and 20,000 against you or to get in with 9,000 for you and 21,000 against you. That is a fanciful argument. It should be dropped. It is an awful waste of time.

Would the Deputy mind if I asked him a question?

Not at all.

What influenced the Government to retain proportional representation for the Presidential election? Would he relate his argument to what the Government decided in relation to the election of President?

No, because that is entirely irrelevant to the motion before the House and the amendment proposed by the Deputy's Party.

The Presidential election is not in order in this debate.

I want to be relevant as far as possible. I would be glad to meet the Deputy on another occasion and we can have fun together. Deputy O'Higgins asked a question of Deputies on this side of the House, at column 1363:

I want to pose this query to the Deputies opposite: Is it possible to have effective government if you do not have fair representation?

That again is the same double question, "Have you left off beating your wife?" We had that one already this afternoon. "Is it possible to have effective government if you do not have fair representation?" It depends what one means by fair representation. If one means having every faction represented, my answer would be: "Yes, it is possible to have effective Government without fair representation." But I regard fair representation as representation of the main streams of political thought and not of every trifling and self-seeking faction and minority.

He went on: "Is it possible for a Government to be effective in the full and true meaning of that word if that Government is not backed by a fairly representative Parliament, a Parliament which fairly represents the people?" My answer to that is, under the proposed system, the Parliament will be fairly representative, that is, representative again of the main streams of political thought, not of every trifling minority.

He goes on then to the question of wastage of votes; any vote which does not elect a candidate is wasted under the majority system. Of course, a very considerable number of votes are wasted under P.R., too. I have discussed this whole question at a number of debating societies and clubs around the city and one of the questions I often put is: "How do you elect your own committee; do you elect it by proportional representation?" I find they never do. They have found that the best way of electing a chairman is to select one or two candidates and whichever candidate gets the most votes gets the post. They may select one, two or three candidates for secretary, and the same for treasurer, but there is no question of voting, one, two, three. An election of that sort is perfectly democratic. It is regarded as perfectly satisfactory. People do not feel aggrieved if their candidate does not get in. It is purely a question of the man who gets the most votes getting the job. The election is regarded as perfectly fair in that context. I cannot see why it should be regarded as unfair in its wider connection.

Mention has been made of the six University Senators who made an independent statement after the debate in the Seanad. The points they made were quoted by Deputy M.J. O'Higgins at column 1366. These Senators stated:

(1) It would lead to an excessive Government majority with an Opposition almost as powerless as the present Opposition in the Six County Parliament.

Now, what on earth led them to believe that? You must remember that these are gentlemen of great academic qualifications, but of little or no political experience. What investigations they made, they did not state, but it is very typical of the University mind to deal with this matter at a purely theoretical level. That, however, does not stop them unfortunately from pontificating and saying quite categorically that it would lead to an excessive Government majority. I am not prepared to accept that from any University professor of classics, mathematics or anything else. I do not pay any attention to that sort of expression of opinion until the person who adumbrates it is able to show how he has been brought to that conclusion. The reference to the powerlessness of the present Opposition in the Six County Parliament shows more clearly than anything else the complete misconception under which these people have been labouring right from the start. The powerlessness of the present Opposition in Northern Ireland is purely because there are not sufficient voters to give them more power. That is the beginning and the end of it.



In Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh and South Armagh! The Deputy wants to defend that method! And gerrymandering!

I am not defending the system. I know no more and no less than Deputy O'Donnell about the gerrymandering.

Deputy O'Donnell knows quite a lot about it, take it from him.

Maybe he has experience of gerrymandering, but that is very little to his credit. The fact is that the Unionist Parliament in Northern Ireland is supported by the great majority of the electors. It is most inconvenient, but let us face it.

By the great majority of the Irish people?

The Deputy is trying to put words into Deputy Booth's mouth.

He may be trying to put words into my mouth, but I am trying to put ideas into his head—a much more difficult job.

The Deputy will not put ideas into my head. Go back to the Unionists, the Deputy's own kith and kin.

From that initial misconception, these University Senators go on:

This would result in intolerant and dictatorial Government and might ultimately evoke as a reaction an organised extra-parliamentary Opposition.

Why on earth would this result in intolerant and dictatorial government? There is no evidence given whatever to show why. It is purely a statement out of the air from people with no political experience. I am not prepared to discuss with people on that basis.

It would cause division and Party strife...

Has it done that in any other country using the system? The answer is: "No".

In Northern Ireland.

It has not caused division and Party strife in Northern Ireland, and the Deputy knows it. Party strife and division have been there all the time.

They have not been there all the time. The Orange Lodge was there all the time, and the Deputy is backing them up.

The Deputy must allow Deputy Booth to make his statement.

Deputy Booth is defending the Orange Lodge.

Deputy Booth must be allowed to make his statement without interruption.

It is the right and left turn again.

We are not going to abet China, anyway.

The right and left turn.

Would the Deputy allow his own colleague to speak?

He is getting afraid of what he will say.

There are some people who think they are doing a great day's work for Ireland when they twist the facts in relation to Northern Ireland. It would be a better day's work, for the Deputies opposite in particular, if they would do a little study and find out what the facts are.

It would depend on what books we would read.

The Deputy must restrain himself. He is continually interrupting. I give him final warning. He will have to allow Deputy Booth to make his statement from now on without interruption.

One must face facts. I only wish the Deputies opposite would do that. It is much easier to refuse to face the actual situation, but that will get us nowhere. That is precisely what these University Senators have done. If the facts are inconvenient, they either twist them or ignore them. Their fourth point is:—

The single seat constituency would inevitably narrow the voter's choice at elections and would greatly increase the power of political Parties as such. This would undoubtedly lower the quality of Dáil representatives.

There, again, you get this pontification with no evidence whatsoever to support it. Their final point is:—

The proposed system sets the stage for class warfare between town and country...

On the basis of these entirely unsubstantiated statements, they call on the Government to pause and think a little longer and get somebody else to advise them. Thank heaven, we do not do things that way. We get our facts first. We draw up our policy. We announce it clearly to the people and we put it through. The intervention on the part of these Senators has proved singularly unhelpful and smgularly unproductive.

We come then to Deputy Dillon, who spoke at considerable leangth. I refer the House to volume 174, No. 10, column 1426. Deputy Dillon said:—

"All I said was that the system of proportional representation had broken down, and anyone with any foresight or sense would know that the moment Fianna Fáil got their hold on it they would break it down."

Apparently Deputy Dillon still stands over that. He feels the system of P.R. we have is not P.R. at all but that it is a sham, a cod and a fraud. Possibly he is right, but if so, I cannot see why he is defending it so hard. He is right to some extent, that it is not the perfect system of P.R. because the perfect system is a single country constituency, the whole country in one constituency; the smaller the constituencies get, the less proportional the result is.

I was particularly interested in the pamphlet issued by Tuairim which was sent to us today. On page 4, the comment is made that “our system of P.R.... represents a kind of compromise between P.R. properly so-called and the British system. For this reason it displays neither all the virtues nor all the defects usually attributed to P.R.” That is a very fair comment, that P.R. in Ireland is becoming steadily less and less proportional. We have already been getting nearer and nearer to the majority voting system, and we have been doing that by Government legislation. Now we come to the final step which is far too big a step to take otherwise than by a referendum. The Government could, with their present majority, wipe out all the four and five member constituencies, and reduce them to three member constituencies, which would reduce the proportionality still further. The Government have decided in their wisdom that this is the time to take the last and final step to which we have been moving steadily for the past few years through the removal of the very large constituencies with very many Deputies for each constituency.

To that extent, I am in agreement with Deputy Dillon and it is interesting sometimes to find yourself in agreement with him. He agrees that the present system has been adjusted and modified and is now far from perfect.

"Debauched" is the word he used.

How right he is and yet it is this debauched system which he is now trying to convince us is worth defending. It is difficult to find out what he is defending, and I do not know how you could "undebauch" a system—I suppose it would be like trying to unscramble an egg—but if the system is debauched already, it should be changed. Yet Deputy Dillon has no suggestion to make except a kind of tentative one that we should get the single member constituency with the single transferable vote.

Or a commission to inquire.

That is not a suggestion at all for altering the system. Deputy Dillon himself has pledged his faith in the single member constituency with the single transferable vote which is sheer nonsense. You could have three candidates going for election and the Fine Gael candidate getting 18,000 votes, the Fianna Fáil candidate 15,000 votes, and the Labour candidate, 12,000 votes. You can chop and change around with the second preferences, but supposing the Fine Gael man gets in, he is a Fine Gael man, and he cannot be three-quarters Fine Gael and one-quarter Labour. A man cannot divide himself. He must be one thing or another and he cannot be a proportional T.D., so the single member system under P.R. is just nonsense. If you want confirmation of that, get in touch with the Proportional Representation Society who will agree it is absolute nonsense. You can have proportionalism so long as you have different T.D.s representing different groups but you cannot have one bit of a T.D. representing a group, and another bit of him representing another group. He can represent only one group at a time.

It is interesting to see in this leaflet that it states categorically that the purpose of an electoral system in general is to enable the people to elect a parliament. It is a most balanced leaflet and it states definitely that what you are doing by any electoral system is electing a government. That appears to be a matter which is overlooked by many of the Opposition speakers who appear to consider that representation is the main thing.

At column 1428 of the same volume, Deputy Dillon went on to pay tribute to Mr. W.T. Cosgrave and his Ministers in the early days. I am informed, and I believe, that though many of the personalities involved in the early Governments were genuinely in favour of P.R., Mr. Cosgrave and several at least of the members of his Cabinet very soon became very suspicious of that system. Certainly Mr. Blythe, who is still with us, leaves no doubt in any mind that he is strongly opposed to P.R. in any shape or form. Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald, another leading member of the Cosgrave administration, was similarly outspoken in his denunciation of P.R. I shall not go into the rights or the wrongs of the tributes paid to Mr. Cosgrave by Deputy Dillon, but it is interesting that he certainly does not appear to have pledged himself finally and irretrievably to the P.R. system, and that many of the members of his early Cabinet did not do so, either.

We now come to a very tragic interlude in Deputy Dillon's speech which shows up the terrible weakness of the whole position. Deputy Dillon was trying to show the inherent weakness of Fianna Fáil and he felt called upon to take as an illustration of this weakness an extract from the memoirs of Deputy Briscoe. He launched into a rather involved argument on the propriety of putting military despatches into a baby's nappie which was at the same time occupied by a baby. I do not think anyone could see the relevance of that, but its intent was to show the depths of depravity to which Fianna Fáil could fall. I myself do not see anything wrong with a baby's nappie. I have handled too many of them. But, in spite of that, there was this confused argument in favour of the proportional representation system.

Deputy Dillon went on to make a personal attack on me and to infer that I was a coward. I do not mind, really, because I do not put any great store on what Deputy Dillon may think of me at any particular time but, then again, I think it shows the weakness of the situation when you are forced into personal abuse of that nature. I could be equally rude to Deputy Dillon but I do not like to be rude with old men and I do not want to waste the time of this House with conduct of that nature.

In general, we found a complete lack of ability to produce cogent arguments in favour of the proportional representation system. We, on our side, have tried to go into the whole matter dispassionately. Many of us read fairly extensively and studied the whole implications of the point at issue and we have been forced to the conclusion, simply by the facts, that the majority system results in moderating extremes whereas the proportional representation system results in disintegration. It is quite obvious, as the Minister for External Affairs stated here today, that you get extremes, maybe of the right and of the left, both sides competing for the votes of the central Party and both sides, therefore, being drawn towards each other. Under the proportional representation system you get a small floating vote between each Party and, therefore, you have direct encouragement for the Parties to split still further amongst themselves. It means that added encouragement is given for everyone to develop their own peculiarities to their heart's content and that is inherently dangerous.

Speaking previously on the Bill I referred to a speech in the Italian Parliament by Signor Alessio in 1919 when P.R. was being brought in there. I quote him now:

What is the effect of P.R.—to create not a majority but a union of minorities, often incompatible with one another, their ideas in mutual contradiction.

Again I do not say that what happened in Italy is bound to happen here, but I do say what happens in other countries should be a lesson to us, and there is no argument produced to show that what happened in other countries cannot happen here. Disintegration has always been encouraged by this system.

In Britain P.R. has never been supported, except by a Party which is in decline. The Liberal Party opposed it strongly when it was in power and it was only when, through bad political strategy it lost its power, that it suddenly espoused proportional representation in a despairing endeavour to get back. Sir Winston Churchill, after the war when suddenly the electorate turned against him and went towards Labour, found it was a good idea to consider P.R., but he got back under the straight vote and he dropped P.R. like a hot potato. I do not blame him. It is only Parties in defeat or disintegration that would consider such a system as that.

Sir Austin Chamberlain, quoted in the Daily Telegraph of October 13th, 1936 stated:

"This scheme used to be the monopoly of a few cranks, very distinguished men in some cases but always unable to work in harness with other men, unable to make the concessions which are necessary, I do not care whether in politics, in business or in life, if men are to get en together and help one another..."

And he continues:

"I protest against embarking on a scheme which sets sectional interests and little cliques above the broad genuine opinion of the nation."

The 1937 Constitution was being drafted around that time.

And P.R. was included.

It was a very interesting point that had not escaped me, that 1936 comes before 1937.

I now come to a quotation from 1956, which comes after 1937, and in this case I would refer to Pravda. Pravda is often quoted here but the reference is to the Irish Press. On this occasion I wish to refer to the genuine Pravda published in Moscow on March 7th, 1956. It is a quotation from the paper of that day, quoted in The Living Republic by Prof. Hermens. There was a very interesting article in Pravda entitled “The Possibility of Using the Parliamentary Path for the Transition to Socialism,” an article by a leading Italian Communist, Togliatti. The point which he was trying to make was how to use Parliamentary democracy to destroy it, and his article stated, inter alia as follows:

"However, the achievement of universal suffrage in many countries has not yet given the opportunity to the popular masses to have in Parliament the number of representatives which would correspond to the real number of the electorate voting for them. In order that this might occur it was necessary to achieve the establishment of a system of P.R. for if a majority electoral system operates the minority cannot be represented in accordance with its actual strength; its representatives splinter into small groups in Parliament and sometimes disappear altogether."

This Italian Communist was making it perfectly clear that if you wanted to get Communism going in a country, avoid the majority vote, the straight, direct, relative majority vote and go for P.R. all the time and that gives Communism a chance.

That is exactly confirmed by the experience in France after the war. When the electoral system was under consideration in that country it was the Communists who clinched the issue and forced P.R. on France in the 1945 and 1946 elections, for the obvious reason that they knew that under the majority vote they could not get the control they wanted. They got P.R., they forced it through, and they got the control in 1945 and 1946 which brought France to her knees.

One of the main differences between democracy and dictatorship is that dictatorship is much more efficient as a government because it is much more ruthless but, under P.R., there is a terrible danger that the power of democracy to govern, or even the resolution to govern, will be so seriously damaged as to be practically non-existent. If representation is given exclusive consideration it means that the power to govern and the resolution to govern simply disappear. We have had comment about minority government, and here again we have had some interesting comments by Deputy Dr. Browne this afternoon.

I should like to develop that a little further because I have always contended that the two Coalition Governments which we have had in this country were excellent examples of minority Governments. I have spoken on a number of occasions, in debates and symposia around the city in recent months, and I have spoken with Mr. Seán MacBride so often that I know his speech as well as I know my own, and he knows mine. Just for fun it was suggested I make his speech and he make mine on the next occasion but on each occasion I have stated categorically in my address that the Coalition Government was whipped into formation by Mr. Seán MacBride and his little Party, and Mr. Seán MacBride has never denied it. He just smiles happily and acknowledges that he was the controlling interest in both Coalitions in the first of which he was a member, and in the second of which he was the Grey Eminence behind the throne. The Fine Gael representatives in this House have not denied it either.

Today Deputy Dr. Browne could say he did not think on the whole it could properly be said that the decision to repeal the External Relations Act was dictated by Mr. Seáa MacBride. Deputy Dr. Browne was a member of the Government: he was a Minister at that time. He must have known, or he should have known, but in actual fact, he cannot say where the responsibility for that decision rests, or rested at that time. That, again, is an excellent example of one of the main arguments we have against the proportional representation system and its fatal facility for producing coalition Governments.

Nobody can now say who decided to repeal that Act. I say, from outside, that it was Mr. Seán MacBride who decided. Deputy Noel Browne says he does not know, even though he was a Minister at the time. Mr. Seán MacBride thinks be decided. Some Fine Gael speakers will not say ‘yes' or ‘no'. That is exactly why we object to coalition Government because you cannot place responsibility squarely—

Who decided to abolish P.R.?

Of course. Deputy Haughey consulted me before hand.

Deputy Booth and his colleagues were clamouring for it and the Taoiseach did not think.

Let us disregard Deputy Haughey's interjection which was purely bravado.


The point is, if Deputy Casey is interested, that this matter was on the agenda of a Party meeting for months.

And you did not reach it.

The Deputy would not understand but it is a fact. We shall not go into it now. The main point I am trying to make is that the coalition Governments were, in fact, minority Governments. They did not represent any stream of majority political thought. They were either doing what Deputy Norton wanted and the Labour Party wanted, but what everybody else was opposed to, but did not dare go against Deputy Norton because he had agreed to support them in something else with which the Labour Party did not agree and in the background was Deputy Seán MacBride and Clann na Talmhan.

The Deputy ought to take up fortune-telling as a sideline. He would do better at that than on p.r.

No; you do not have to look into a crystal.

Look into your heart.

You cannot have elements as different as Fine Gael and Labour were at the time, coalescing in any happy way. It is only now that Deputy Declan Costello has become a friend of Deputy Noel Browne and has gone socialist that he has moved in Deputy Norton's direction at all. Actually he appears to have gone past him on that occasion. In the original coalition, there was no agreement on anything and they did not represent any reasonable proportion of the Irish people. They represented only small sections at any one time.

Reference has been made repeatedly to this question of Northern Ireland. I know it annoys people and I do not give twopence whether it does or not. Let us get down to facts. In Northern Ireland, before the abolition of P.R., the figures were: Unionists, 35; Nationalists, 11; Labour, 4; Independents, 2. In the first election under the straight vote, the figures were: Unionists, 37, a gain of 2. The first thing you have to learn from that is that there was not a sweeping overall Unionist victory when the straight vote system came in. They had a gain of only two seats. The Nationalists, after the abolition of P.R., got 11 seats again, so that the Nationalists were not affected in the slightest. Labour dropped from four to one-that, I think, was probably their own fault. The Independents rose from two to three. Therefore, the Unionists gained two from Labour and the Independents gained one from Labour. That proves that there was no overwhelming victory for the Government Party and also that Independents were not swept out, which is something which is constantly being said here.

Now let us have a look at the last election, in 1958. The result was: Unionists 37, exactly the same. Now, we are told that if the straight system is introduced, the Government Party will become stronger and stronger and will sweep out the Opposition. In actual fact, the Government's majority is precisely what it was in the first election after P.R. was abolished.

What about the uncontested seats?

Who were the Independents? Were they not Unionists ?

I think they were.

Unionists, 37. The Nationalists have fallen from 11 to seven. Labour have gone up from one. to four and you get four virtual Independents. One man called himself an Idependent; another man called himself an Independent Nationalist: a third called himself Independent Labour; and the fourth called himself Republican Labour. Therefore, in actual fact, you have four Independents instead of two under P.R.

We are constantly told, as a main argument against Partition, that the people of the Six Counties are Irishmen and not foreigners. I stand over that. We must never regard them as foreigners or different from us in any way. This is what the effect has been on them, that the system has not changed parliamentary representation in any noticeable degree whatever.

What about the uncontested seats ?

What about them ?

What is the cause of those?

It is perfectly obvious and Deputy Lindsay knows that the cause is largely a religious difference. The people in certain streets go to Mass on a Sunday morning and the people in certain other streets go to one of the Protestant churches. You can run the line definitely by which church which people go into and arrange the constituencies accordingly. People do not change their politics any more frequently than they change their religion. In a Protestant area, which is a Unionist area, there is no use going up as a candidate if you are a Nationalist

If there were three seats, you could easily have two Protestants and one Catholic.

You might and you might not. Anyway, that is not relevant.

It is very relevant.

Under P.R., there was almost precisely the same representation as under the straight vote. That is hard fact. The speakers opposite generally do not like nets; they prefer to swallow statements issued by the Proportional Rqxesentation Society. One Party, Clann na Poblachta, issued a leaflet giving the official figures for the last election in South Africa to prove how unjust it was. The figures given were not those for the last election. They were also quoted in the Irish Times as saying that the South African Government at the moment is completely unrepresentative and only; supported by a minority. That is because they have swallowed the I propaganda of the Proportional Representation Society in London.

I have warned people frequently to look at those facts and to get them straight. I do not support the South African Government, but let us make it perfectly clear that the Government got 647,000 votes against 503,000 votes for the Opposition. A majority of 144,000 of the electorate of South Africa elected the Government. These facts are inconvenient so they are not quoted. I am trying to get down to the facts as far as possible and to confine myself to the facts—to facts and principle. We are dealing with a matter of principle here. We are doing something which we believe to be in the national interest. We are trying to end a system which has been of more benefit to Fianna F&il than to any other Party.

It will not be any longer.

We have more to lose than any other Party. Fine Gael ould never form a Government under P.R.; Labour could never form a Government under P.R. Personally, I should much prefer to see a Labour Government in power, or a Fine Gael Government in power, than another coalition Govonment which would cause confusion similar to the confusion caused on the. last occasion and a similar loss of oonfideooe in parliamentary institutions. The straight vote will give an opportunity to Labour, or Fine Gael, or any other political Party to build itself up-as the Labour Party did in Great Britain -and form an alternative government Fine Gael, however, have no faith in themselves, and unless and until they produce a policy, I do not blame them for wondering whether they should be Socialist or Conservative, or whether they should support the language or sweep it out You cannot carry on if you do that. You may Call down under any system. But any Party which has a policy, which has conviction and leadersnip can make itself the Government of this country under the direct majority voting system.

It would be far easier to get rid of Fianna Fáil under this system. We hope it will also be easier when the tide turns again to get rid of the Opposition and take over again, but it does mean that changes in political thought are registered more quickly and possibly in a slightly more exaggerated form, but they do take effect. It is of interest that a change of one per cent in the vote in the 1950 election in Great Britain would have completely reversed the result of that election, whereas under P.R. a change of one per cent would mean a change of only six seats. That means a Government must be more careful and considerate towards minorities and towards the centre Party. There is less danger of a Government becoming dictatorial under the proposed new system.

We do not consider for a moment, and never did consider, that we would have to wait for public opinion to advise us in this matter. We have considered it very fully at our Party meetings. We have had a full and open debate in this House for a very long time indeed. It has been discussed in the Seanad without anything bang added to our knowledge of the problem. We are absolutely oonvinced that further discussion by a so-called independent committee could do nothing. Even the appointment of a committee in itself would lead to endless argument. Who at this stage of the discussion could be called indepeadent? Even the Supreme Court judge who is to preside over the Constituency Commission has already been denounced as a Party hack. You cannot have independence of judgment on that except you have people to deal with the matter at an academic level who know nothing about the hard facts of political life. If you hand the question over to mathematicians and professors of this and that they may produce a theoretical system but it will have no practical value whatever.

This matter has been debated fully. It has been considered in detail by this House and by the Seanad. It was rejected finally by the Seanad by a narrow majority simply because of the luck of the draw as to who got 'flu. The fact remains the Seanad did approve the principle of the Bill although it was not finally passed by the Seanad. However, it was not as if the Seanad swept it out; it was purely a matter of chance and the wrong man got 'flu. Every possible argument both for and against has been advanced and it only remains for us to give the people an opportunity of coming to a decision. No one can say we have rushed the Bill because we have taken months over it. We have allowed the Opposition to talk almost endlessly on the subject. We do not want to rush the Bill but we do want to get a decision within a reasonable time before people become tired of the whole question as they will if we continue talking about it.

Some of the speakers at this stage have taken the line that they want to appeal to Pharaoh, and by that I mean the chief of the Fianna Fáil Party, that he should relent, that he should soften his heart, that he should listen to a plea not to force this Bill through in the form which he desires, that instead he should take counsel, seek wise advice and delay further action till be has got some additional information which may or may not change his mind.

I do not want to waste any time in such futhe and frustrating appeals to the Taoiseach. Long experience in this House has taught me that once the Chief makes up his mind and once the Chief's tongue is committed there will DC no recantation. Once the Chief is committed to go into battle it is the Function of the braves to learn the war-cry as quickly as they can, to get on the vermilion as soon as possible. Whether they understand the issues involved or not does not matter. They are braves. Their function is to do what the Chief says. They must do battle for him even though it means perhaps political extinction for tfiem &s well. They are encouraged to be brave when they go into battle, to fight gallantly because the Chief has decided that that is their destiny, that that is their function because they occupy seats in this House.

I do not propose to waste time on that futhe appeal to the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach will get his medicine from the people on the 17th June and I think some people will be glad if the Dáil Reports are burned on the 19th June if they read some of the speeches they made here and contrast them with the result of the referendum. I listened to Deputy Booth here this evening and the only thing I can say of him is that he is a zealous brave. He is late in political life here. He is a newcomer to the Fianna Fáil Party and I warn the rest of the old-stagers there, the veterans of other wars, that he has a zeal that must be watched, because the old veterans will be cast out. This new Deputy's zeal shows that if there is anybody nearer to the Chief that one person is Deputy Booth.

Thank you very much.

Deputy Booth indulged in an apologia, such as I have never heard in this House, for the Six County Government. He told us—and Lhe Taoiseach should be interested in this—that the voting in the Six Counties was on a religious basis; Catholics voted that way and Protestants voted the other way. Catholics and Protestants do not vote on that baas in any other country in the world. If to some extent they are driven to do that by malicious propaganda in the Six Counties it is because of the gentlemen for whom Deputy Booth was apologising this evening.

I was not apoiogising for anyone.

Of course the Deputy was.

f course he was Deputy Booth can feel easier that his speech will lay balm to the heart of the gentlemen who control and manipulate the Six County Parliament. He tried to make an apology for what is done in the Six Counties. Is it not strange that in some constituencies there has been no contest for more than 25 years? There are two Governments in the world that have not changed since 1922; one Government is the Russian Government and the other Government is the Orange Government in the Six Counties. Deputy Booth's friend. Lord Craigavon, can feel satisfied that he is as firmly implanted in power in the Six Counties as Mr. Khrushchev is in Moscow.

He is dead.

Maybe the methods are different but the results are the same.

He is dead.

Well, his successor. As Fianna Fáil Deputies know only too well:"The King is dead, long live the King."

The Deputy should get his facts straight.

The facts are straight. I am sorry that I should annoy the Deputy. But that fact cannot be denied -that two Governments in the world have remained unchanged since 1922, the Russian Government and the Six County Government for whom Deputy Booth apologises here this evening.

Deputy Booth said he could not find anybody except the Opposition to recommend a continuation of P.R. Maybe this quotation will interest him. In 1933, this statement appeared in an Irish newspaper after the election of that year:

The P.R. system is simple to understand and easy to carry out. It is based on an excellent idea, that we have a greater preference for some candidates than for others. Under P.R. the voter not only has the pleasure of voting first for the candidate he likes most of all, but he can also vote for all the others in the orderin which he likes them.

There is an interpretation of P.R. which appeared after the general election of 1933. That quotation is the view of the Irish Press on the merits of P.R.

I could not care less.

I am not asking the Deputy whether he cares less. He can think as little as he likes of the Irish Press. It is not my function to defend it, but that was what it wrote in 1933. Instead of going back to Mr. Churchill and Mr. Chamberlain, whose quotations the Deputy appeared to have in such fulsome abundance, he could have looked at the Irish Press files for 1933 and see there that they recommend P.R. to the people because, says the Irish Press.“P.R. has all these virtues”.

They turned out to be wrong.

I agree that a lot of the things the Irish Press publish are wrong, but they will have to do a bit of explaining on this.

I said I would not waste time appealing to the Government to change their mind on the Bill. I think the people will change the Government's mind on the Bill. But this is still a deliberative assembly, and the function of those who believe in a democratic system of government here is to defend that system of government in circumstances in which the issues can be made clear to the people, so that the people will have an opportunity of deciding what they can do, or what they should do, in order to maintain democratic government here. What is the purpose of this Bill? If one were to listen to Deputy Booth, one would think that Ireland was in its last agony, that life was ebbing out. that the end of the nation was in sight and that only a major operation in the form of the abolition of P.R. would save the historic Irish nation. That was the logical end of this Deputy's fanciful speech here this evening : P.R. was the beginning and end of all our misfortunes. It was not original sin ; it was P.R. All our defects start from P.R., and if we get rid of P.R., then, according to this simple Deputy, everything in the garden will be all right.

Is it not a pathetic commentary on the Deputy's views to reflect on the fact that some of the most progressive countries in Europe, countries with populations about the size of our own, have been able to adopt the system of P.R. for parliamentary elections, have survived under that system for more than 50 years, and have no intention of changing their electoral system from P.R. to the Six County method ; and that these small countries still adopting P.R. have been able to give their people a standard of living incomparably higher than we have been able to give ours? These are countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. Their people are not fleeing from the land and from the country generally at the rate of 50,000 a year. In these countries, they have not ten per cent. of their insured population unemployed. In these countries, they have standards of productivity and employment which have been the envy of those who write O. E. E. C. reports. They have been able to do that notwithstanding the fact that they were tested in the crucible of war and tested under circumstances that meant at the time their virtual economic annihilation. They have been able to keep P.R., to keep the democratic system of election, and they have not found it necessary to follow the British and the Six County Government to maintain stable parliamentary conditions in those countries.

Notwithstanding all the tripe that some long-haired professor wrote in some book about the way to create Communists in some countries, the plain fact of the matter is that there is virtually no Communism in any parliamentary sense in these countries I have quoted which have adopted the P.R. system.

Such as the six I have quoted. The Deputy can do an exercise and see me strength of the Communist Party in these countries, as reflected in the last elections. The plain fact of the matter is that we could continue parliamentary P.R. here; we could continue the system of election we have known for nearly 40 years, and it would not prevent us giving a decent living to Irish men and women now driven overseas, nor would it prevent us from developing our economic resources in a manner that has been possible and in no way inhibited in those countries where P.R. still thrives.

I think that is a sufficient answer to the one-sided and lobsided view which Deputy Booth sought to put before the House this evening. In my view, there is only one purpose behind this Bill, that is, to rivet the Party opposite in power for as long as possible. They know they will not win the next election under P.R. I advised the Taoiseach to go to the Park, get a dissolution and have a general election.

Why should he ?

Because he knows he will get a good hiding, if he does. That is reason No. one. The sole purpose of this Bill is to keep the Fianna Fáil Party in power, to keep them there as long as possible. They know they cannot win under P.R. What they hope to do, however, is to substitute the British method of the single nontransferable vote. In that way, they hope to be the largest Party after the next election and to be able to control the reins of government. Because, of course, this Bill is balanced in such a way that at the next election, the Fianna Fáil Party will get 35 per cent. of the votes; three or four other Parties between them can get 65 per cent. of the votes; but the Party who get 35 per cent. wins the seat and sends the member back to Parliament. Those who get 65 per cent. between them, but do not get more than 35 per cent. for one candidate, will lose all representation in that constituency, and they have to be content in future to be represented by a Fianna Fáil Deputy.

I should like to hear the Deputy break his silence.

I shall give the Deputy plenty of explanations.

I hope the Deputy will. He is a rare speaker, almost a vintage speaker. I hope to have a chance of sampling his wisdom here this evening or to-morrow.

The Deputy is not a vintage speaker, anyway.

I was saying that under the method which Fianna Fáil have engineered in this Bill, it will be possible for a Party to get 35 per cent. of the votes in an election and still win the seat in that constituency, and that even though other Parties poll 65 per cent. in the aggregate, they will have no representation whatever. That Deputy, with 35 per cent of the votes, will come back here and be the sole representative for the constituency. He is supposed to represent not merely Fianna Fáil, but also Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and Sinn Féin.

Any time any of those constituents who voted for those latter Parties want any matter dealt with, they must go, hat in hand, to the Fianna Fáil Deputy. If he knows how they worked and voted at the previous election, I can well imagine what will happen their complaints and how much he will work for them to embarrass the Government into righting the wrongs of his constituents. But that is what Fianna Fáil want. "It works in the Six Counties," they say, "and it should work down here. It has kept the Six County Government in office since 1922. It will not do the same here but it will keep us in office long enough, until old Father Time calls us home and we need not worry any further as to what will happen."

The Government tell us the purpose of this Bill is to give political stability. Fianna Fáil have been in office for 20 years out of 27. Nobody said they wen an unstable Government. It would be a daft thing for anyone to say. They functioned here and put through legislation and there was no evidence of instability. They themselves never said they were unstable and if anybody else were foolhardy enough to say so, Fianna Fáil immediately came down on them like a ton' of bricks. Why then should they say that to abolish P.R. would bring about stable government? We have stability, and we had more stability, iodeed, in the actions of our Governments than many other countries in Europe have had over the past 27 years.

But, of course, Fianna Fáil regard political stability as a delightful euphemism for keeping Fianna Fáil in power. Political stability, in the Fianna Fáil concept, means the political stability which enables Fianna Fáil to enjoy proprietary rights in the matter of government, permanent entitlement to sit on these benches, permanent entitlement to control the destinies of this country. That, in the eyes of Fianna Fáil Deputies, may be good reason for the abolition of P.R. but are the 1¼ million electors up and down the country satisfied that P.R. which has been sheet-anchored here for nearly 41 years should be abolished to gratify the political whims of Fianna Fáil? Are they satisfied that it should be abolished to keep Fianna Fáil in power by another method when they know they can no longer remain in power under the proportional representation system?

I claim for the P.R. method of election that it is a fair method, the kind of method that attracted the Irish Press to commend it; that it gives representation to substantial minorities, not minorities of three or five or seven per cent. of the electorate. Under our method of Parliamentary election, in the great majority of constituencies, that is, the three-member constituencies. a successful Deputy must get 25 per cent. of the votes cast and that is not an insignificant majority. In the four-member constituency, he must get 20 per cent. of the votes cast and these are not an insignificant minority, ft is because P.R. gives these people the right of representation where they represent 20 or 25 per cent of the electorate that I think P.R. is a fair method of ensuring that Parliament represents a reasonable cross-section of the people.

Deputy Booth sought to give the impression that any handful of people could form a Party and get representation here. We know that in the three-member constituency, a Deputy must get 25 per cent. of the votes and that really means, in fact, that he must hold his own there with the two larger Parties, if he is to get the third seat. If there are four Parties, he must hold his own with the two larger Parties and beat another Party before he can get representation. It seems to me to be a distortion of the meaning of words to pretend that anybody who can claim to represent 25 per cent of the electorate in a constituency constitutes an insignificant minority.

I also claim for P.R. that it gives in this House a proportion between the votes cast and the members elected. With proportional representation gone, 35 per cent. of the people in a constituency, and in every constituency, could conceivably dominate the entire Dáil, or where there are only two Parties contesting a constituency, any Party which got 51 per cent. of the votes would get the seat and in every other constituency, if it polled a similar percentage, those represented by the 49 per cent. of the electors would have no representation whatever. I do not think that is a democratic system of election. It suits the Six Counties ; for other reasons, it suits the British; it has nothing to commend it to our conception of democratic Parliament. If Fianna Fáil, with the abolition of P.R., could secure minority representation but still could come out of an election as the largest single Party, then it could dominate this House and the Government and carry on for quite a period of years until the people realised what was happening. That is the sole purpose behind this Bill.

I claim for P.R. also that it is a stabilising factor in elections. With P.R. you do not have election hysteria; you do not have frenzied election results; you do not have violent swings to the left at one time or to the right at another. You do not get all that yeastiness which is rarely for the good ef any, country. In other words, we do get a balanced representation in Parliament which gives balanced results, balanced consideration of legislation and, on the whole, a balanced front vis-á-vis the people as a whole.

I quote this for the last time. When, in 1937, the present Constitution was being put through the House, the Taoiseach . said he was putting P.R. into the Constitution. The Minister for External Affairs, when he makes one of these airy-fairy flights into the origins of dictatorship, says that P.R. leads to dictatorships. If that is true, it is a shocking reflection on the Taoiseach because, in 1937, when Hitler's heel was planted on nearly half of Europe and when his counterpart, Mussolini was parading in Rome, dictatorship was at a premium in Europe, but in spite of that, the Taoiseach put P.R. into the Constitution and put it there as a safeguard against the breakdown of democratic parliament and democratic government. If the Minister for External Affairs is right in saying that P.R. leads to dictatorship, then the Minister is indirectly charging the Taoiseach with having put P.R. into the Constitution as a short way to dictatorship.

I do not believe that the Taoiseach did that then. I do not believe it was inserted in the Constitution to lead to dictatorship. I reject entirely this fatuous advice by the Minister for External Affairs.

I believe the Taoiseach put P.R. into the Constitution genuinely as a bulwark against the dictatorship which was then rampant in Europe and I believe he was right when he did it. What did he say at the time? The House should know. Referring to P.R., he said :-

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

That is the Taoiseach. He now says, in effect:" No, no. Tear the whole thing up. I made a mistake. It is all wrong. It was a dream but I have now wakened up. Forget all about it. I am alive and in my senses now."

Then he said:

"I think we probably get in this country more than in any other country better balanced results from the system we have. If you take the countries where P.R. exists you get better balanced results than you get in other countries. I think we get the benefits of P.R. in reasonably balanced legislation here better than in any other country I have read about or know about."

Ten years earlier, when this question of P.R. was being mooted here in Ireland, he said 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.

Nothing has happened in my view since 1937 to justify an abandonment of these sentiments, of these cogent reasons why P.R. should be embodied in the Constitution. No attempt has been made by anybody on the Fianna Fáil benches to show that the Taoiseach was talking through his hat when he uttered those words then. I believe he was right then. I do not know what metamorphosis the Taoiseach has undergone to induce him to come here now and plead for the abandonment of a system which he commended in such measured tones in 1937.

I think the Fianna Fáil Party would be well advised to stand where they stood in 1937 but they now abandon that. They want to get rid of P.R. I want to say candidly, and to go on record unchangingly in support of the view, that I believe the change in the mind of the Government is brought about because they feel they cannot win another election under P.R. They must get some other method of election then, as the Six County Government did with such success in the Six Counties.

Why should they suddenly come to that opinion ?

I do not believe they will succeed. I believe I shall have the painful pleasure of relieving the Deputy of the very generous odds he gave me the other night on the results of the refrendum.Nothing has happened in this country since we last voted on the old single non-transferable vote and under the new basis of P.R. which justifies any change whatever in our present method of election. Every person under 60 years of age to-day in this country knows no other method of voting than the P.R. method for Parliamentary elections.

Except a member of a trade union.

They are used to that method of election. The Taoiseach says:-

"The system we have we know. The people know it."

Although we know the system, and the Taoiseach says the people know the system, yet, without any request from anybody, except this idea which was conceived in the Taoiseach's own brain, we are now to tear up the method of voting which we have had for nearly 40 years and to get back to the British system and the Six County system.

Although the debate has gone on for months, no cogent argument has been adduced from the Fianna Fáil benches to justify the change. Every local authority which discussed the matter voted for the retention of P.R. Every debating society that discussed the matter voted for the retention of P.R. Virtually the whole of this House, other than Fianna Fáil, voted for the retention of P.R. In the Seanad, everybody voted for the retention of P.R. except the Fianna Fail Party and those who were the Taoiseach's nominees there. So far as free public opinion is concerned, it has voted in favour of the retention of P.R.

The case, if you could call it a case, of the votes which have been cast for the abolition of P.R. has come only from the Fianna FáU Party. Indeed, the case made by some members of that Party gave me the impression that they would have a private celebration if this referendum were defeated.

We have been told by some of the speakers—I think chiefly by the Minister for External Affairs—that P.R. was a British system of election and that it was imposed upon us in 1918. P.R. has been in operation in many countries in Europe for 70 years. It has been in operation in Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, the Scandinavian countries, for from 50 to 80 years in all, according to the country. It was not imposed there by the British. It was recognised there as an enlightened system of election. In fact, so far as the Continent is concerned, the British system of election operates only in the two dictatorship countries of Portugal and Spain and also in France. The rest of free Europe operates the P.R. system. As I said earlier that system has not prevented them from giving to the people a better code of social services, better stability in employment, higher wages and economic development such as we have not yet touched in this country nor indeed do we see their State of economic development even in sight. It is nonsense, therefore, to say that P.R. is a British system of election.

In 1922, we could have put in any system we liked into the Constitution. Nobody has asserted otherwise. So far as the 1922 Constitution was concerned, they could have put any system of election they liked into it.

That is what the Deputy says but he knows the position that obtained in 1922 just as well as I do.

The position did not demand that we should put P.R. into the Constitution. Come up to 1937. In 1937, we need not have put P.R. into the Constitution. We could have gone over to the British method and emulated them in this matter just as we have done in some other respects. We could have followed the British. We could have said "We are in doubt and we will de what the British do; they are always right." We could have done that in 1937.

We did not do it in 1922. We did not do it in 1937. In 1922 and in 1937 we deliberately put P.R. into the Constitution and now we are taking it out. Why? In one of these temporarily angry moments, the Taoiseach told us during this debate, when he-was driven into a corner by argument, that he had no complaint against P.R. at all, meaning that, so far as P.R. is concerned, he is not blaming P.R. for our difficulties. What he does is to say that P.R. enables Parties to win seats and that when the Fianna Fáil vote is low at election times these Parties combine to put Fianna Fáil out of office and he says, "That is something I am not going to allow."

If Fianna Fáil cannot win themselves and the other Parties get together to give the country a Government, as a country must have a Government at all costs, and they take the Fianna Fáil Ministers out of the Front Bench, the Taoiseach does not like that. He does not mind P.R. but, if P.R. gives these results, then he has to make war on P.R., not because it is bad in itself, but because P.R., if it is not strangled, will probably create in future a situation in which Fianna Fáil may be unhorsed, as they were in 1948, and as they were again in 1958. That is an unforgivable sin. That is a reserved sin with the Fianna Fáil Party. You can do what you like with P.R. but, the moment you shift the Fianna Fáil Government, you can never get forgiveness and anything that brought about that result must have war made on it with all the ferocity and relentlessness that the Fianna Fáil Party and the Taoiseach can generate in the course of the war.

Deputy Booth, before he left the House, spoke about this last chance we had of getting rid of P.R., preventing the extinction of the Irish nation and removing it from its death agony which he alleges is brought about by the continuance of P.R. That is a gross exaggeration so far as Deputy Booth is concerned. P.R., as I said, has enabled other countries to do for their people much more than we have been able to do for our people. P.R. has been able to give these other countries a chance of building up their economies, improving the standard of living of the people and making all their citizens first-class citizens.

We did not use P.R., nor did we use our national intelligence, as these other countries have done, with the result that, whilst they have adopted the P.R. method of election to their Parliaments, they have been able to go before the O.E.E.C. in Paris and to claim there that their economies have reached the stage at which they are prepared to enter either the Common Market or the Free Trade Area whereas the way in which we have frittered away our time has given us the doubtful honour of going to Paris to plead, every time we go, that we are one of the four underdeveloped countries in Europe, after nearly 40 years of Irish self-government. P.R. has not kept us back and did not keep the other countries back. Our misuse of our own powers and the strife that has been endemic to this country since 1922 have been a greater retarding influence on our economic development than anything else of which we know.

Deputy Booth made a speech here which will beget for him the applause and the compliments of his friends in Stormont. They abolished P.R. for the purpose of strangling the Opposition there. They have done it in such an effective way that in many constituencies there has been no contested election since P.R. was abolished in the Six Counties. That has been the result there. We condemned the Six County Government when they abolished P.R. and said it was undemocratic for them to do so, that it was not giving fair representation to a substantial cross-section of the people. That condemnation was made by the present Government Party. The Six County Government, while still in office, have lived to see the wheel run its full circle and the Taoiseach, who, as Deputy de Valera, condemned the Six County Government for abolishing P.R., has now put through this Parliament, himself, a Bill to do the same thing in the Twenty Six Counties and for the same reasons, to try to strangle the Opposition, which was Lord Craigavon's objective when he abolished proportional representation against the protests of the Taoiseach.

Fianna Fáil then said that it was unjust to abolish P.R., that it was unfair to abolish P.R. and that the Six County Government was then sowing the wind and would reap the whirlwind. They have done that since. Does anybody here believe that, with our chequered career, our turbulent past, with all the things that blow across the Irish political sea, with a democracy that is not as old as many democracies in Europe are, which has not the political maturity that democracies in Europe and elsewhere have, it is desirable and that it will promote the national well-being to stir up this whole question of Parliamentary representation and to do it at a time when all our energies ought to be bent on solving the more vital problems, the deeper and more fundamental problems, which threaten the very existence of the nation today? We worry as to how the people will vote at the next election. We care nothing for the 50,000 men and women who will clear out of this country every year between now and the next general election. It matters nothing where they go or when they go or under what conditions they leave. The main thing is to let the handful of survivors decide on a method by which they can re-elect the Fianna Fáil Party in three years' time.

Maybe it could be said that proportional representation has its weaknesses. Maybe we have not the best method of proportional representation. I am not saying that we have. I am not saying that we have not. I am not committing myself one way or the other on that issue. But, even taking the view of those who say they do not like proportional representation because it has certain imperfections, is the remedy for the situation to tear up the whole system of proportional representation? Is the only remedy to say: "Let us destroy this system and find another system"? Surely it would be more intelligent to study the imperfections in the system, to see in what way these could be remedied. If a man has a piece of agricultural machinery, a motorcar or a watch, and sees something wrong with it, he does not immediately destroy it and cast it aside and buy another piece of machinery. What he does is to examine the defects and seek to repair them. If there are imperfections in P.R., why do we not examine them and try to eradicate them while keeping the basis of that democratic system of election which has stood the test of time in the small democracies of Europe?

There has been issued today a publication by Tuairim, which has examined the proportional representation system. Some of its comments are interesting. I hope the Minister will read page 6. There, it says, referring to the disadvantages of P.R. in other countries:

"Government speakers say that such a growth is inevitable and point to the experience of European countries, particularly Germany (1918-1930), Italy (1919-1922), and France. In all these countries, the Government says, P.R. produced a multiplicity of small parties, leading in many cases to governmental instability and ultimate chaos. Some governmental speakers have gone so far as to suggest that P.R. was responsible for the failure of democracy in Germany and Italy and the rise to power of Hitler and Mussolini.

The report of this research group goes on to say:—

"The reputation of P.R. suffered after the end of the first World War because of its adoption by some European countries which were fairly new to democracy and in which democracy subsequently failed. It is true that von Papen blamed P.R. for being, in part, responsible for the breakdown of democracy in Germany. But the fact that Germany had lost the first World War, the great inflation which ruined the middle classes, the struggle for power between the Communist and Nazi parties, and the Great Depression must have been far more important factors. Similarly an interpretation which seeks to blame P.R. for being, to any serious degree, responsible for the turmoil of Italian politics between 1919 and 1922 is also naive. There were more Parties in Germany before P.R. was introduced than when Hitler came to power, and in Italy there were much the same number of Parties before and after its introduction."

Talking of France, which was dragged into this debate in the beginning but for which Government speakers lost their enthusiasm as the debate progressed, this research group say:—

France has long been notorious for the instability of her government. During the years 1870-1939 she had more than ninety different Governments, compared with twenty in England during the same period. Yet this instability had nothing to do with P.R., for France did not adopt P.R. until 1945. The electoral system adopted in 1945 was retained only until 1951. During these six years the number of political parties actually decreased but, of course, six years is too short a period to provide reliable evidence of the effects of an electoral system.

Then, after this careful survey of the whole scene, the research group go on to make some sensible observations. I shall quote them as they appear in the pamphlet.

We have all read them.

I want the people to read them:—

The reader may feel that both our present system of P.R. and the proposed system, i.e. the single-member constituency with the nontransferable vote, have their drawbacks and dangers and that something between the two might be preferable to either.

We feel that, to a degree, the Government's proposal represents a leap in the dark. We have tried to predict what is likely to happen should the Government's proposal go through but, of course, we cannot be sure what will happen and neither can anyone else.

It is a nice indication of stability, is it not?

For that reason some of us think that the process of step-by-step modification of P.R. carried out by the Government in the past should have been continued instead. In this way the effects could have been seen at each stage. Since the Government thinks that larger government majorities are necessary, and that it should be more difficult for small parties to get representation, it could have abolished the four-member and five-member constituencies, making all the constituencies three-member constituencies. It could have done this without a referendum, and this measure is still open to it should its proposal be defeated in the present referendum.

The pamphlet goes on to say——

I feel that the quotations are overlong.

They are very appropriate, Sir. I should like to call your attention——

They may be appropriate, but it is not in order to give extensive quotations.

I have no doubt, Sir, that you remember the lengthy quotations given here by the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Health, quotations not from Irish authors. The ones I am quoting are all from Irishmen. The quotations given by the Minister for Health and his colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, were all from French authors and American authors, all brought in in a heap one evening. They were allowed to quote, and I think I should be entitled to quote here in our own Parliament what Irishmen have to say about P.R. since other people were allowed to get away with quoting Frenchmen, Americans and anyone else they could think up from the ends of the earth.

The Deputy may not lecture the Chair in that fashion. There is no question of letting Deputies or Ministers get away with anything. The Standing Orders are there and they apply to every member of this House. The Deputy has been here long enough to know that lengthy quotations are not in order.

That is so, but what I am pointing out is that I have by no means quoted as much as the two Ministers referred to, both of whom used books by Frenchmen and Americans in favour of the abolition of P.R. I say that this report by Irishmen——


Deputy Loughman will have an opportunity of speaking and he should wait for his opportunity and not sit there cackling like an old wornout hen. I want to give one more quotation, and then I shall finish. The research group says:—

Further, it appears probable that whether the people decide in the referendum to retain P.R. or reject it, the resulting system may be with us for a long time. Anyone who has studied the two electoral systems, or has even read this very much simplified discussion, will agree that the decision facing the people is an extremely difficult one. For these reasons we think it a pity that the people were not given the benefit of the advice of a commission before being asked to make a choice.

There is the view of a competent reasearch group. They have put the case for the abolition of P.R. They have put the case against the abolition of P.R. They have brought out matters which require consideration by the electorate. In their conclusion, they say that this is a very important matter and the people ought to be given as much information as possible, not by way of ex-parte statements from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour, but by way of help, guidance and advice from an impartial commission which would strip the issues bare and enable the people ultimately to decide in what way they should vote.

If, however, you take the report from another point of view, you find that those responsible for its compilation are of the opinion that, if one does not know where one is going, if one carries the proposal to abolish P.R., if one cannot see the future, then one is taking a leap in the dark, a leap in relation to which this competent and non-impulsive research body says, rightly and prudently, one ought to proceed slowly. Even if one does not like P.R., or the results which P.R. bring about in the way of disgracing the Fianna Fáil Party, nevertheless no authority should abolish P.R. at one fell swoop, as the Government propose to do.

As I said at the outset, the Irish Press has commented on P.R. as a system simple to understand and easy to carry out. The Taoiseach, the controlling director of the Irish Press says: “The system we have, we know. The people know it. It has given us very good results.” These are two powerful and compelling reasons for retaining P.R. and no single cogent argument has been produced on the Government side of the House to indicate why we should abandon the method of election which we have known and trusted and which has given us relatively reliable results for nearly 40 years.

There is only one reason for this Bill, that is, to keep the gentlemen opposite in power. They have developed a proprietary sense of Government and they want to stay there as long as they can and any method that will keep them there is a method of election which commends itself to them. I shall not appeal to the Government to do anything on this. I am quite satisfied now that we have used this forum for a prolonged period to strip the issues bare for the people, who now know the facts and the conspiracy to cheat them out of their democratic system of election has been exposed. The people now know that the proposal is to filch from them the right which they have had for nearly 40 years. If I am any judge of the temperament of the people at present, especially when construed against the background of the long stretch of broken election promises by the Fianna Fáil Party, this referendum will get short shrift when the 17th June comes around.

I thought that at some stage in Deputy Norton's speech he would give some reasons why the people should not have an opportunity of voting on this measure. After all, that is the purpose of this Bill, to enable the people to pass judgment. That is what we are asking from the Oireachtas, that the people be given an opportunity of making up their minds as to whether we should retain P.R. or abolish it. Deputy Norton and other Deputies know that no matter how long we talk here and no matter what we say, or what arguments we develop, the final decision must be given by the people. We have every confidence in the judgment of the people and we are prepared to allow this question to go before them and we shall accept the decision of the people. It is on those grounds that we are debating the Bill and have been doing so for the past six months.

Deputy Norton gave several quotations in the course of his speech and he dwelt on the question of the single transferable vote as if the single transferable vote without the multiple member constituency made the slightest difference, or even as if in the multiple member constituency, the single transferable vote made any difference whatsoever. I hope to prove to the satisfaction of the Deputy that the single transferable vote makes no difference whatever in general elections. I shall take ten counties of Ireland—the entire county of Tipperary which consists of two constituencies and the eight that surround Tipperary —and I shall prove to the House that if instead of using Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, the electors marked their papers simply with a cross, there would be no change whatsoever so far as this House is concerned in the Party representation. By that system of marking a cross before the name of the person, 36 of the 37 members would have been elected. I shall not repeat the actual figures, but I want to get on the records of the House the election results in these ten constituencies at the last general election.

I start with my own constituency of South Tipperary. In that constituency, there were four seats at the last general election. Deputy Davern, Deputy Breen, Senator Crowe and I were at the top of the poll on the first count. Deputy Mulcahy was 49 votes under Senator Crowe but he was elected. That is the one case in the 37 in which the transferable vote effected any change, but it did not effect any change in Party representation.

In North Tipperary, Deputies Fanning, Mrs. Ryan and Tierney were at the top of the poll on the first count and they were the candidates who were elected. Waterford is a four member constituency and the order of the election was Deputies Kenneally, Ormonde, Kyne and Lynch. They were the highest on the poll at the first count and they were the four elected.

Carlow-Kilkenny is a five member constituency. The five elected were Deputies Medlar, Crotty, Gibbons, Humphreys and Hughes, in that order. They were the five highest on the poll on the first count and, as I said before, if a cross were put before the names, these five would have been elected. They were elected notwithstanding all this talk and blather about the transferable vote.

Leix-Offaly is another five member constituency. The five elected there were Deputies O.J. Flanagan, K. Egan, P. Maher, T.F. O'Higgins and N. Egan. They were the five at the top of the poll on the first count and they were elected.

South Galway is a three member constituency. The three at the top of the poll were the late Deputy Beegan, Deputy Carty and Deputy Miss Hogan. They headed the poll on the first count and they were elected.

For the purposes of the election, Clare is a three member constituency as the Ceann Comhairle is deemed to have been elected. The three at the top of the poll were the Taoiseach, Deputy Hillery and Deputy Murphy. They were the three elected.

In Limerick East, Deputies O'Malley, Clohessy, Russell and Carew were the four at the top of the poll and they were elected ultimately. The transferable vote made no difference. I have included Limerick West in this list because I listened to Deputy Jones a few nights ago talking about the transferable vote. In that constituency, Deputies Jones, Collins and Ó Briain were at the top of the poll and were ultimately elected. The last constituency I want to take is East Cork where Deputies Barry, Corry and Moher were at the top of the poll on the first count and were ultimately elected.

These are the results in ten constituencies: two are five member constituencies, three are four member constituencies and five are three member constituencies, and they represent, as Deputy Norton said some time ago, a real cross-section of the people. There were no less than 800,000 of a population represented there, and the transferable vote effected a change in only one case out of 37 Deputies. If anybody wants to see the figures I have them here with me.

Another point made during the debate was that the straight vote would limit the choice of the people but I want to show that, far from limiting the choice, the advent of the single-member constituency actually increases the choice of the electorate when voting takes place. I am looking across at Deputy T. Lynch and as an example I will take his constituency. During the last election four seats were contested and, taking it that four seats will be contested in the next election under the straight vote, the number of candidates will be eight. There were six candidates in Deputy Lynch's constituency on the last occasion but now there will be eight so that far from limiting the number of candidates, or the choice of the people, they will get an increased choice.

Take my own constituency of South Tipperary. There were seven candidates for four seats on the last occasion but in the next election there must be eight candidates, if all seats are contested singly. In East Cork you had six candidates for three seats and I cannot make any claim on those figures. In West Limerick you had five candidates for three seats and you will have six under the straight vote. I could work right through the list to the end, and could show that, whereas we had 71 people offering themselves for election to the people in 37 constituencies, we would have at least three more under the proposed system of election.

The Labour Party amused me by their opposition to the straight system. I fail to see that the Labour Party have prospered under proportional representation and, in fact, it amazes me that they are so much in love with it. Of the 37 Deputies elected in these 10 constituencies in the last general election, two were Labour representatives. If that gives a fair cross-section then Deputy Norton, at any rate, has no reason to be satisfied with the system. Of course, Deputy Norton sometimes when he talks with such verbosity, looking down from his eminence on people like myself, forgets that I remember a time when his Party had over 22 members in it. Somehow it is a tribute to the intelligence of the people, or else it denotes his want of ability as a leader, that they are in the rut now. Because they cannot see that they could benefit under the proposed system they are afraid to take a chance.

There was much talk about the Constitution and why we did not abolish P.R. at the time of its enactment. At that time we had exactly the same line-up as we have now opposing us. Practically every Party in Opposition, and nearly all the Independents who were opposed to us at that time, urged the people to vote against the 1937 Constitution and there is no doubt they are doing precisely the same thing now. I would like to put one little point to them. If we had proposed to abolish P.R., as well as introduce the Constitution at that time, the chances are we might not have succeeded in having the Constitution passed because there would have been another axe to grind. They would have said we were going to establish a dictatorship here.

Sure you did.

At that time we had no great grievance as far as P.R. was concerned. There was no necessity to change it. As Deputy Vivion de Valera pointed out to-day, since 1944 we had not a majority in this Parliament strong enough to put this Bill through the House, that is, until the last general election. We could not carry a Bill through without the kind of obstructive opposition which we have experienced. Indeed, some of the Opposition Deputies complain that we are holding the Presidential election on the same day as the referendum, forgetting that they are the architects of that position. When we introduced this Bill we intended to have a decision reached on the referendum during the past month but the Opposition Deputies continued to talk and talk, until we were sick listening to them, and until it became absolutely necessary we should have the referendum postponed until it fitted in with the Presidential election. If they have any objection to that they have only themselves to blame for it.

Deputy Norton made a great point that all the debating societies in the country and some of the county councils, were in favour of the retention of proportional representation. Deputy Costello made the same statement, but he included University Professors, University graduates and people of that kind, holding debates and symposia at which they were all in favour of proportional representation. Why would they not be in favour of proportional representation? These things were organised by the people who were in favour of P.R.

That is wrong.

I will give instances to the Deputy.

I can give several instances.

I attended a meeting of the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce a fortnight ago and we had an application from a man in Cork asking us to make arrangements so that Miss Enid Lakeman might come along to talk about proportional representation. When the Chamber were considering that, I put this proposition to them. I said: "I have no knowledge of Miss Enid Lakeman. I understand she is a lady from England and she has come over here, perhaps on behalf of the Labour Party. I do not know who pays her expenses or makes her arrangements. Certainly, I have no knowledge about that, but the one thing I do know is that she is going to talk in favour of proportional representation. If this Chamber makes arrangements to have this lady give a talk from that point of view, I am making formal application to the Chamber to allow me, with the limited knowledge I have, to talk against her arguments at a further meeting." I was not going into a debate with her.

Why not ?

Deputy Norton quoted Miss Lakeman against a number of people.

Why adopt the British system here?

That is worn out.

I was in politics when the British system, as it is known, was in operation here. I was able to vote in the 1918 election.

How many times ?

At a time when we had to go down to Wexford with sticks.

You came down to bully the people.

I attended a meeting of the Proportional Representation Society in Enniscorthy in 1919, and since then I have had an interest in proportional representation. I might claim—though the Deputy might think it is a boast—that I at least understand the system, and I have broken it down in study.

On what you have been talking about tonight—the figures you have given tonight?

The figures I have given are cast iron. I was talking about the effect of the single transferable vote——

In a five-seat constituency.

I was coming back to the British system, to the "cross" system. Fianna Fáil, when electing their Executive, use the same "cross" vote and Fine Gael use it, I think, when electing their Executive, a particularly important body in Ireland.

Is the Deputy sure ?

You do not use proportional representation when you are electing your Executive. The Labour Party is the same.

The Labour Party does not.

When you are electing your Executive you use the "cross."

We do not.

I was so informed.

The Deputy was misinformed.

All I have to say is that I was so informed by trade unionists with whom I had a discussion.

The Labour Party uses the P.R. system.

Cuireadh an díospóireacht ar ath-ló.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 11.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 6th May, 1959.