Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Electoral Amendment Act, 1961.

1.

asked the Taoiseach on what legal authority he stated in the Dáil on 7th March last that for the purposes of determining the constitutionality of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1961, the Census on 9th April, 1961, may be ignored.

It was in reply to inquiries by Deputy Norton regarding the time available to the Dáil for the consideration of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1961, that I made the statement on the 7th March last to the effect that the 1961 Census might be ignored.

Will the Taoiseach also remember that when he was questioned as to the constitutionality of the 1959 Act he said that it was his opinion that it was still drafted in accordance with the Constitution? He was proved wrong by the High Court.

That is still a matter of opinion.

It is a matter of a decision of the High Court which the Taoiseach did not challenge.

May I ask the Taoiseach on what legal authority he gave that decision?

My reply related to the time available to the Dáil for consideration of the Bill and not to its constitutionality.

Surely the Taoiseach did have legal advice?

As to the time available for consideration of the Bill? I did not require it.

The Taoiseach will appreciate the position in which this Parliament will be placed if another court declares the new Bill unconstitutional. To safeguard ourselves, would the Taoiseach say whether it is intended by him or by the President to test the constitutionality of the current Bill before the next general election comes around?

That appears to me to be a different question.

The Taoiseach, in reply to Deputy Donnellan, I think as reported in Volume 998, said something which related only to one view. Then he went on to give an entirely different view. On what legal authority did he give that view to the House?

The statement had reference to the time available to the Dáil for consideration of the Bill and to nothing else.