Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 6 Mar 1968

Vol. 233 No. 2

Private Members' Business. - An Bille um An Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Second Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
Go scriosfar na focail go léir i ndiaidh "Go" agus go gcuirfear ina n-ionad:—
"ndiúltaíonn Dáil Éireann an Dara Léamh a thabhairt don Bhille ar an bhforas gur togra atá neamh-dhaonlathach go bunúsach an togra sa Bhille suas le 40 faoin gcéad de bhreis ionadaíochta sa Dáil a thabhairt do roinnt saorá-nach thar mar a thabharfaí do shaoránaigh eile."
To delete all words after "That" and substitute:—
"Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that the proposal in the Bill to provide some citizens with up to 40 per cent greater representation in the Dáil than other citizens is fundamentally undemocratic."
—(Deputy Cosgrave).

I was dealing with the two main proposals in the Bills before the House at the moment, but I have not dealt with one of the matters referred to in the Bills, that is, the question of the Commission which is proposed to draw up the boundaries of the constituencies. As the House knows, the Government have put forward certain proposals in this regard. I have seen that Deputy Corish referred to this as a fraud. That is what I think he called it.

That is right.

Last night Deputy Treacy used some stronger terms in referring to it. I asked Deputy Treacy if he had any constructive suggestion to make in regard to the composition of the Commission, or how this problem of delimiting the constituencies should be tackled. He did not have any suggestions but Deputy Dunne, apparently answering on his behalf, said: "Leave it the way it is." Apparently he would prefer that the constituencies would be settled as they are at present under the responsibility of the Minister for Local Government. It seems to me that if Deputies wish to oppose the proposals in regard to the Commission, there is an onus on them to suggest an alternative and, in their view, a better way of dealing with this problem.

As I indicated when I put the question to Deputy Treacy, the Government are more than willing to listen to any constructive suggestions as to how this problem should be dealt with. Certainly, if anyone can suggest a better or fairer or more reliable method of doing this than that which the Government propose, the suggestion will get sympathetic consideration from the Government. I do not think that so far we have had any constructive reaction to this proposal, and I do not think that Deputy Dunne really meant that he would prefer, if these proposals are accepted by the people, that the constituencies should be delimited under the authority of the Minister for Local Government. Frankly I do not think that anyone, including the Minister for Local Government, would welcome that arrangement.

Again, I should like to plead that in the whole discussion on this question we could do a great deal to clarify the issues for the people if we approached it in some kind of constructive way and if we ceased misleading the people by grossly exaggerated statements as to what is involved in this proposal. The question of the Commission is a very good example of whether we are entitled to complain, so far at any rate, of the performance of the Opposition Parties who could, I submit, reasonably be expected, if they are dissatisfied with the Government's proposal, to suggest what, in their view, is a better one.

I should like to remind the House that in any election under our system of government two objectives are being attained. One is the election of a Government and the other is the election of representatives of the people. Under a Presidential system of Government such as that in the United States of America, they do not have the problem which arises for us because they can, and frequently do, elect a President from one Party and elect Congress or the representatives of the people with a majority from another Party. Under our system of government, the Government are elected by Dáil Éireann and, so far as I can ascertain, there is no great demand for a change in that system. So long as we have it, we are trying to achieve two objectives in any general election, which are, as I have said, the election of a Government and the election of representatives.

If one considers what is involved here, one will realise that to some extent those two objectives are opposed to each other in the sense that the most efficient method of election, if your only objective is the election of a Government, is almost diametrically opposed to the most efficient way of carrying out an election if your objective is merely to elect representatives. We are trying to do both. Therefore, any system we devise which is trying to achieve both these objectives at the same time will of necessity be some form of compromise and will be less than ideally satisfactory in dealing with either of those objectives.

At the same time, our present system is weighted and unduly weighted in favour of the election of representatives to the undue detriment of achieving the objective of electing a Government. We have in fact been fortunate in this country, on the whole, in the manner in which our system of election has worked.

Hear, hear.

Nevertheless, we cannot deny the fact that an analysis of the results will show that, in the main, we have had either minority or coalition Government. It can be taken from that that the objective of electing a Government is not being achieved in the general elections we have been holding. In the main, it is not being achieved, and it has only been due to certain accidents of history, and to the good sense of our public representatives, that we have not had very considerable difficulties in the past as a result of this failure on the part of our electoral system.

I think that anyone with any feeling for democracy would hesitate to recommend a system of election which would be very effective in electing a Government but which would operate to deprive minorities of representation in Parliament.

Hear, hear.

The case is made that our system of PR with multiple member constituencies caters for minorities. I wonder does the evidence support that? After all, we have in this House at the moment only three Parties. It is true that on occasion we have had quite a number of Parties, but it is also true that in the course of time, various new Parties which started up either disappeared or were incorporated in one of the bigger Parties. This would seem to indicate, in so far as this claim for PR with multiple member constituencies is concerned, that it ensures representation in Parliament for minorities as such, that is, separate representation for them, that it is failing to do this. Indeed, if you compare the situation in this country with that in Britain, you will find that under the straight vote system which they have there, the representation of religious minorities in Parliament is very much greater than it is here under PR.

I think it is pretty clear by now that it is not only open to minorities to work through existing political Parties but that it is more effective for them in achieving their objectives to work through existing political Parties rather than endeavour to form Parties of their own thereby being compelled to contest elections separately, and with a very limited degree of success, with the result we have seen over the years here; their Parties disappear and disappear fairly quickly.

I do not think it justifiable to argue that our system is a necessary protection for minorities, if by that we mean that they should be enabled through it to obtain separate representation in Parliament, when, in fact, the record shows that this is not what happened and that in other countries where the straight vote system operates, minorities are more adequately represented in the larger Parties than they are in this country, in so far as you can identify minorities here.

There is another aspect of this which I think should be referred to, that is, the extent to which the voters in this country who have had the PR system for so many years in fact operate on the straight vote principle. I would regard people who, in a by-election under our present system plump for only one candidate or, in a general election, people who vote only for the candidates of one Party as people who are endeavouring by their votes to operate the straight vote system. All the proponents of the PR system argue very strongly that to work the system effectively, one should vote for all of the candidates on the ballot paper in the order of one's choice but, increasingly in recent years, it is becoming obvious that our voters are not doing this and there is reasonably good ground for believing that in the fairly recent by-election in Cork city, 60 per cent of the voters plumped in their votes. If this is so it seems to me to indicate that, whether all the voters concerned realise it or not, they are in fact opting for the straight vote system.

I do not want to stir up unduly difficulty between the two Opposition Parties but I think it is a bone of contention between them as to whether or not there is an obligation on their respective supporters, having voted for their Party, to vote for the other Opposition Party. I shall leave that argument to them. The point I am making is that a sizeable number of the supporters of the policy of the Opposition Parties will not go along with this; they just will not use the PR system. If you add that sizeable number to the very high proportion of Fianna Fáil supporters who will not use the PR system, you will find a very sizeable number of the voters of this country—possibly more than half; I am not sure of the figure—who even though they have the present system do not want to use it.

There are various reasons for this but it seems to me that what we are really concerned with here is: what is the most effective system we can have, suited to our conditions, to ensure that we have a worthwhile and dynamic political system and with, in my opinion, the essential feature of democracy whatever system of election you have, and that is a clearly identifiable and credible alternative Government? It is my contention that we do not have that here today and that we never will have under PR, except when Fianna Fáil are in Opposition. When that is the case, we have an Opposition which is sufficiently large and sufficiently active to present to the people a viable alternative to whatever other Government is in office, but when Fianna Fáil are in Government, we do not have this and I believe that no matter what efforts may be made by Fine Gael or the Labour Party we never will have this so long as we have the PR system because that system is designed to prevent the growth of Parties or, alternatively, to foster the reduction of Parties.

What would, under the straight vote system, count as a landslide in an election records very little in the results under the PR system and I believe that the effect of this is to create a feeling of stagnation to some extent, and also a sense of frustration in many people. They need not all be opponents of Fianna Fáil to feel that way about it. Nobody, no matter what his Party, likes to feel that our system of election, and consequently our whole system of politics, is such that it is forced into a permanent mould which people cannot in practice change, even though they might be able to do so in theory. I suggest that it is because of the clear realisation of these facts that Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Flanagan and other members of their Party clearly accept that the proposals which the Government are putting forward are proposals which, having given consideration to them, they would favour if the matter were entirely in their own hands.

It has been suggested in very exaggerated terms that the effect of these proposals being enacted by the people would be not alone to give Fianna Fáil an overwhelming majority but to give them a permanent majority. I do not know what kind of reasoning goes into this but anybody who thinks that Deputy Cosgrave or Deputy Flanagan wants to see a permanent Fianna Fáil majority here should have his head examined. Of course, they do not want to see that, but they see very clearly and realistically that the only way in which the country can be given a real alternative to the present Government is by adopting the proposals which we are now putting before Dáil Éireann.

As I have said, I am human enough not to want to see my Party going out of office, but nevertheless there are more important things than Party interests and this applies to all Parties in the House. I believe it is in the best interests of the country and its future that we should change the electoral system in order to ensure a more dynamic political system of organisation, with greater possibility of change and consequently a greater reaction on the part of our political Parties to movement within the community. I believe that this is certainly in the best interests of our country and, in particular, it is in the best interests of our young people, because, as we all know, if we have the straight vote single-member constituency in a constituency at the moment which has, say, five seats in which, let us say, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael at present put forward perhaps three candidates each and Labour two candidates, each of the Parties would, in fact, have to put forward five candidates. This gives the opportunity to young people who are interested in politics—and they are the kind of people the country needs—to go before the electorate, an opportunity which they find it very difficult to obtain under our present system.

It does not mean that all of them will be elected. Some of them may go forward in areas where they have not a hope of being elected, but it gives them an opportunity to go before the people, put forward their ideas and establish both to their own satisfaction and that of their Parties whether or not they are of the calibre we should look for in Members of Dáil Éireann. I believe this is one of the most important aspects of these proposals which the Government are putting forward and that the young people of the country when they ponder on the opportunities which these proposals create for young people and on the frustration which can be, and is being, engendered under the present system, will give their wholehearted support to these proposals and, in doing so, they will not merely be doing it out of a sense of self-interest, out of a sense of giving themselves, personally, an opportunity, but out of a sense of what is good for this country and what is good for the kind of society we are trying to create in this country, the kind of society in which there will be movement, in which there will be an inter-play of ideas freely expressed and in which people who have worthwhile ideas will, by advocating them sufficiently well and with sufficient determination, have some hope of having these ideas accepted and put into practice rather than having to make them conform to a particular mould into which political life in this country is being forced by our present system of election.

For all of these reasons, I urge Dáil Éireann to support the proposals being put forward and I urge Deputies who cannot support the proposals to base their case on the realities of life in Ireland today and of what we think life is going to be in another generation, not on the past and not on exaggerated claims about what is involved in these proposals and what is likely to be the result of their enactment.

I am obliged to concede that the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce has been urbane, able and persuasive. I always feel when I am listening to the Minister for Industry and Commerce speaking that I am listening to an honest man. He will forgive me if on this occasion I must express a reservation but I cannot withhold my admiration of the case he has extremely well stated. I hope to controvert it even more effectively than he has presented it.

We are not debating in our consideration of these two Bills Holy Writ or the revealed truths of religion. I entirely agree with the Minister for Industry and Commerce that what we are debating at the present moment is how best, in our circumstances, in our country and with our people, to enable the Irish people to choose a representative democratic Parliament whose first duty is to elect the Government of this Republic, bearing in mind the fact, which I am certain is present to the mind of the Minister for Industry and Commerce but is often absent from the mind of many others, that that Government will govern our people by the authority of God and, whether we agree with the Government or whether we disagree with them, that is an aspect of the situation that every responsible citizen of the country, young and old, must bear in mind.

One of the vital facts of life, of life yesterday, of life today and of life so long as freedom survives has been over-looked by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that is, that in a free society the Government of the day must not only be physically able to enforce the law, but must be in a moral position to enforce the law if that enforcement is to be effective. In the last analysis— and these are harsh words—the legitimate Government of this country, chosen by this Dáil, has a right to say to everybody: "You are guaranteed your right to roll out your barrel if you do not like the Government of the day and make your case to your neighbours, and, if you can command a sufficient number of their votes, you are entitled to take over the Government, but there will be no government by mob law, and if you attempt to intimidate the legitimate Government of this country by mob law, force will be used to resist it and, if necessary, the Army will be used to invoke the supreme sanction if that be required to establish the authority of the Government." No Government in a free country can do that if they do not find themselves in a moral position to do so.

I agree with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, we must look forward, but I think it would be a grave mistake not to look back, for history has a lesson to teach us. The last time we debated this question in Dáil Éireann there were 100 men incarcerated on the Curragh without trial, interned by the then Government; and there were four Sinn Féin TDs who would not come into the House. The moral right of the Government to hold these men in detention was the fact that they were the popularly elected Government of the country. They were the legitimate Government of the country who thought it was necessary for the protection of public order so to hold these men. These four men themselves had sought the public suffrage and had secured seats in the House. They were entitled to come here and make their plans as a Party until the way was open to them ultimately to take over the Government, if the majority of their fellow-citizens desired they should.

There are quite a number of ways to elect a free democratic Parliament and various views can honestly be held as to which is the best. But one thing is certain: changing the rules to eliminate minorities is the worst of all options. I do not deny that the Minister for Industry and Commerce sounded persuasive when he spoke of his indifference to Party interests, his certainty that in the long run, both for the welfare of the Oireachtas and the country and the rising generation of young men and women who want to enter public life, the single vote system commended itself to him. I notice that he did not fall into the trap into which many other promoters of this Bill have fallen, that is, to protest that the PR procedure of voting is too complicated for ordinary people to understand.

How many people in this House realise that not one per cent of all the voters in the country today have ever voted any other way? Here there are nine Deputies. How many of us know a man or a woman who has ever voted with a cross in this country. Nobody under the age of 71 has done it, and there are very few under the age of 80. I have never voted with a cross since I first cast a vote in Ireland. I never voted with a cross in my life from the first election I ever voted in down to today. I voted 1, 2, 3, 4, down to the end of the ballot paper.

When I recalled that on the last occasion we debated this issue there were 100 men in internment on the Curragh and there were four Sinn Féin TDs who would not come into Dáil Éireann, and that that fact gave the Government the moral position from which they could justify internment for the public weal, that may have sounded unrealistic to some of the younger Deputies here. That is because they do not look back. I was in this House the day the Fianna Fáil Party came in here having dwelt in the wilderness for seven years. They were dragged in kicking and screaming and praying to God that their hands would wither before they ever signed the Oath, and then they signed it. They came into this House a minority, and they got into this House as a minority through the instrumentality of proportional representation. In an astonishingly short time I walked through that Lobby myself to establish that minority as the legitimate Government of this country. Remember that the bulk of them had been on the barricades. The bulk of them believed that there was no way in which they could make their voice heard or have their feelings respected in this country except by civil war. I saw them come into this House with their pockets bulging with revolvers, and one old gentleman down in the Lobby in the telephone box assembling a machine-gun. I see them now lolling on the Government Benches in mohair suits. I am not sure which costume I would prefer to see them in—the old hairy tweeds and the knickerbockers and the revolvers bulging in their pockets and their eyes blazing with the light of fanaticism. At least they believed in something. At least it was a passionate desire to serve, albeit they sought to serve principles which were illusory. I cannot say that they create the same impression on us today, but it is noteworthy for younger Members of this House to realise what a metamorphosis can be achieved by this now repudiated system of proportional representation. Stripped of all the verbiage, the plain fact is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill is a sordid plot to destroy the Labour Party.

And yourselves.

I think that is a very silly thing to do. At the present time there is a substantial body of our people who support a minority party and who feel that they have the fundamental right to be heard in this House and to be represented and who openly declare that they aspire to control the Government of this country not through violence but the vote. Do we want to send them to the barricades? Do we want to slam the doors of this House in their faces? I do not agree with much of what the Labour Party, on occasions, stand for. However, I think it is a salutary thing that the Minister for Industry and Commerce when speaking here today said to them: "I notice in recent elections that a very large body of our people do not seem to want PR because they do not vote PR. They plump." I see sitting on the benches of the Labour Party at this moment a member of the Labour Party who advised the supporters of the Labour Party not to use PR. I think it was profoundly wrong for that Party——

Apart from being misrepresented.

He said they ought vote for their own man and then stop.

We did not say that.

Perhaps I misunderstood, but that is what I understood him to say. I think he was wrong but I would cheerfully die in defence of his right to say it, either here or on the hustings. What I think is particularly admirable is that in spite of the impression his words were calculated to create he is here through proportional representation and as far as I am concerned he is welcome. So long as he represents a quota of our people he is a Deputy of this House with all the rights and all the privileges and all the obligations of every Deputy from the Taoiseach down to the most junior member of the Oireachtas. I say "from the Taoiseach down" because it is by our vote that he is appointed, that he is nominated to the President for the position of Taoiseach from whom he gets his appointment, but it is our vote that makes him Leader of the House. These are two offices he combines in one person and for the honour of each of which all of us should be jealous.

I mentioned a moment ago the fundamental question: where do minorities belong? Are they to belong here or on the barricades? I was much struck when Deputy Seán Lemass appeared in reminiscent mood on Telefís Éireann some time ago. He told the story of the dilemma in which they found themselves in the old Party which preceded Fianna Fáil. He said: "We collected all the lunatic fringes, everyone who had a grievance, everyone who had a straw in his hair, they all began to congregate around us, until suddenly Mr. de Valera and I and a few others made up our minds that this would get us nowhere and it would be better to go into the Dáil." And so he told the story of how a minority of a minority went to the hustings and turned their backs on the barricades finally and came in here as a minority. Sometimes we hear some of our colleagues and you would imagine that at any moment they were going to draw from their bosoms the Red Flag and raise it above our heads, or possibly produce the small red book of Chairman Mao and threaten us with its contents. Sometimes I begin to wonder if some of them have not assumed the role of Ho Chi Minh ambassadors at large but that does not alarm or affront me.

God be good to the late Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly. I heard him from these benches roaring like a lunatic. "Murderer, murderer, murderer", and yet he lived to shed distinction and charm upon the office of President of the Irish Republic. I heard the present Minister for External Affairs, and I can see him now in a mustard coloured suit that was hairy and ill-made——

The Man of Aran.

——and in which he glowingly described to us in detail how he burned a train with John Jameson whiskey. Of course he thought it was magnificent. Look at him now—he is in a perpetual state of shuttling to and fro across the Atlantic and the marvel is that he does not circumnavigate the globe. He is an elder statesman. That is due to the genius of our people and it is something of which everybody in public life has reason to be proud and it seems almost incredible to foreigners today who visit this country that the country was, a short 45 years ago, racked with a civil war. They cannot believe that out of such a history there has arisen stable Parliamentary institutions in which the voice of every minority is heard. Of course. minorities come and go in this House; is that not the way it should be? If they are good minorities they grow to be large Parties; if they are not they vanish away. They create coalitions, they amalgamate with others, they come in as Independents, as I did, and join a Party; they sometimes leave that Party if they feel their consciences bid them, but they return to join their colleagues as soon as circumstances will allow, the better to serve the common cause. We see Independents coming and going. I name no names but I have seen them in my time come in and sell their souls for a few penny rolls and lumps of hairy bacon to be vomited up by those who bought them and thrown on the scrap heap in contempt to be given scraps of meat you would not give to a mangy dog. I have seen the Fianná Fáil Party try to buy out others. But there is one common thing. the public find them out. Sometimes they are here for three years, or for six years but ultimately the public find them out and every time one is found out public life is the purer, stability is the stronger and institutions are the better for we have found again that fraud cannot long survive. The presence of minorities in this House has never dismayed me.

Most civilised countries in Europe and elsewhere have government drawn from a coalition of Parties. The interesting thing is that the only continent in the world in which it is true to say they have had a single Party government for a century is South America and there was not a single Government in it that has not been overthrown less than 15 times by force of arms. They all have the same non-transferable vote—let us not go on calling that the straight vote because it is really the crooked vote—but they all have it. The only continent in the world in which the single non-transferable vote has been a permanent feature of public life for a century is South America and in almost every case these countries have been the homes of bloody revolts and intolerant dictatorship.

Now, the Minister for Industry and Commerce most graciously asks the question, having protested that he thought of nothing but the public weal: If this system of proportional representation is of benefit to the Fianna Fáil Party how can the Opposition not agree with me, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that we would be foolish to get rid of it? I do not think the system of proportional representation has any part in it. I think they have used it most successfully to introduce a stable system of Government, with a due proportion of change in the electoral scene, which preserved stability and, at the same time, avoided that very sense of frustration to which the Minister for Industry and Commerce referred, the feeling that the people under this system could not change their Government.

I am pretty certain that but for a speech made by Deputy Corish in Tullamore during the last general election Fianna Fáil would have been put out of office. I have no doubt whatever that his announcement in Tullamore that he would have no part in an inter-Party Government persuaded very many thousands of people to say: "If the Labour Party are not prepared to play then there is no use voting for Fine Gael or for Labour". I think it would be a good thing for this country if Fianna Fáil had got out of office. The burden would have fallen on me and I should have found it an intolerable one to bear, or very nearly intolerable, but I would have got on with the job and certain members, some younger and some older, of the Labour Party would have found me very difficult to get on with and many of my colleagues might equally have found them difficult But if we were not able to provide the country with good Government and place the national interest above the interests of our respective Parties, then the people would have put us out and put Fianna Fáil back in again. And that is something that would not have caused us desolation.

I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce is right; it is a good thing for democracy to have change and change about. It is good for a Government a long time in office to be for a time in opposition. I think we manage to achieve that under the system of proportional representation and it is for that pragmatic reason that I am concerned to defend it. I am not proposing to the House that this is an unalterable law of God or of Holy Writ. I am defending proportional representation in our system, under our conditions, for our people on no better ground than my own personal experience of the public life of this country. It does not produce landslides. It is not subject to the same abuses that the single non-transferable vote is open to. But it can be made to work as a useful method to enable the people of our country to secure a stable government, which is always in the moral position to say to any minority, whether it is represented in this House or not: "We are the legitimate Government of this country. We will deploy all the resources of the State to protect your right to speak in public, within the law, but, if you seek to organise a mob, to challenge the authority of the legitimate government, we are in a moral position, and we are in a position physically, to control you and to prevent any such attempted takeover."

I often think, when we dwell on such things, that we should remember with affection and admiration the man mainly responsible for building that up, at immense personal cost to himself, because we can never deliberate on issues of this kind without remembering that it was the late William T. Cosgrave who built here a stable State from bricks consisting of revolutionaries, reactionaries, Protestants, Catholics and, perhaps, not the least recalcitrant, of all the Fianna Fáil material which he had to bring into this House and which he ultimately forced to accept the responsibility of government.

I have partaken in ten general elections. No single one of them failed to produce a stable government.

How many produced a majority?

That does not matter. No parliamentarian with any understanding of how parliament works doubts that you can have a perfectly stable government in a parliament of 144 with 70 or 71 Deputies. And it is a good thing for a Government to feel that, if they are inclined to go berserk, they arouse the universal indignation of an outraged Opposition to combine against them. That is salutary. Mark you, I think Deputy Booth will find that now that the chance of by-elections has given his Party an absolute majority in this House that will tend to drive them berserk. I think these two Bills are symptoms of this madness. Do not forget that when this committee was sitting Fianna Fáil had not got a clear majority in Dáil Éireann and, if rumour speaks truly, even Deputy Seán Lemass said, behind the closed doors of the committee: "I think it would be foolish to put the issue of proportional representation to the people again, they having decided it only nine years ago". And Deputy Colley, Minister for Industry and Commerce, presiding said: "I think that is the general opinion of us all." And they passed on to the next business. But, since that, Fianna Fáil has secured a clear majority in Dáil Éireann, whereupon the same men come forward with these Bills at this time because they argue, I think foolishly, that by this device they can virtually eliminate the Labour Party from the political horizon of this country. I think that is all wrong.

I think it is completely wrong.

I think it is illusory to say we have not had stable government. We never had a clear majority in this House except twice since I came into it. Yet, we have had stable government.

Who said we had not?

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Colley.

I was dealing with the theme the Minister for Industry and Commerce elaborated. One of his reasons for the present proposal was that it was essential to secure stable government. The single non-transferable vote, he said, tended to do that and to eliminate irrelevant Parties. I see my old friend Deputy Corry here and I know well what his trouble is. I remember speaking in this House 20 years ago after one of the redistribution Bills of the Fianna Fáil Party and pointing out that, if you were a pure devotee of the system of proportional representation, you should maximise the number of five-seat and seven-seat constituencies. I said that, like everything else Fianna Fáil touch, they corrupted this system and sought to maximise the number of three-seat constituencies and thus turn proportional representation into a cod.

I believe that our present system is a pragmatic device to produce what is good. We do things in this country for our own people and for our own requirements and we make them work. That is what puzzles me about Fianna Fáil, that they cannot see that. I told this to the lady who is an expert on proportional representation, a Miss Witherspoon or something like that; I told her that I was not interested in the theory that it was necessary to have seven-seat or five-seat constituencies in order to provide the best results. We have worked out a system to give the results that are best for our people and our country, to give representation to minorities and to provide stable Government. It is all cod to be talking to me about the pure theory of PR. I am not interested. I am interested in a pragmatic system of election which will produce an Irish Parliament and provide our people with stable Government.

I know from my own experience that that is what we have got and now we see the attempt suddenly to throw it away for the purpose of adopting a scheme which operates satisfactorily in no other country in the world except in Britain and the United States of America. I will have a word to say about that later because it has been made a subject recently of a Supreme Court decision in the United States. I want the people to see and know on such authority as I dispose of that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill is nothing more than a sordid attempt on the part of Fianna Fáil to wipe out the Labour Party. I find myself frequently in disagreement with the Labour Party but I do not want to see them wiped out. It would be a bad day for this country if that should happen and I will do nothing to achieve that end. Therefore, without hesitation, I advise the people to vote "no".

Happily I find myself in the position that I want them to vote "no" twice. I recognise that a good deal of confusion and difficulty will arise in this matter. I cannot find in the context of any of these Bills the words that will appear on the ballot paper on which the people will be asked to vote "yes" or "no". I am not certain if the words do appear in these Bills.

Surely on the last occasion there was a subsequent Bill.

Can the Minister for Justice tell me?

Yes; there was a subsequent Bill last time.

So there will be a subsequent Bill that will set out the words and I am now in the happy position of being able to advise the people to vote "no" to both questions. When we come to the Third Amendment of the Constitution we find that it is designed to make a rural vote count more than an urban vote. There are powerful arguments for both sides of that question. I have lived all my life in rural Ireland. I was born and reared in Dublin but for the last 45 years I have lived in the congested areas and for 35 of those years I have represented congested areas in this House. I think the voice of those areas needs to be heard. I think it is vitally important that they be adequately represented. There is a powerful argument for saying that reasonable territorial constituencies should be drawn up and a certain minimum representation given to them all.

Deputies like Deputy O'Connor of Kerry spoiled the case for that by overstating it. He was offering me proof to-day that he is writing 500 letters a day. I need no proof of that. I am sure he is a very diligent Deputy, misguided though his political beliefs may be. There is a powerful case that you should make a certain geographical division of the congested areas, which have now become the deserted areas, and see that each such receives some representation in Dáil Éireann. This has been tried in the United States in the light of experience there. You had that situation throughout the southern states of the United States. In States like Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and even in Texas there has been a tendency over the years for the people to drift into the town.

When I went to work in America 44 years ago 40 per cent of the people were in the cities and 60 per cent were on the land. To-day 82 per cent are in the cities and 18 per cent on the land. In that changing pattern of population there has been no change in the representation of the state constituencies and in many of the southern states the same number of representatives in the state assemblies are representing about 14 per cent of the population that used to represent 60 per cent because the states would not change. They claim that there was no power under the American constitution for the federal Government to change that. That issue has now been tried in the Supreme Court of the United States and it has been established that the principle of one man one vote must reign supreme. Apparently the States have now been required by the Federal Government to carry out the necessary re-allocation of representatives so that each constituency will be represented on the basis of population rather than of territory.

I, in my experience living in America, saw the absurdity of the municipality of New York dominated and distorted by a rural majority which was elected by constituencies drawn 100 years ago in the State of New York. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that I have seen the municipality of New York sink into something approximating to chaos because no political Party in the State of New York can persuade the rural voter in the State of New York to permit the State Government to give the municipality of New York the financial resources without which it cannot hope to resolve the problems such a vast conurbation of people involves. I have seen States in the Southern States of the United States of America presented with growing urban problems which have strangled them because the country people have taken up the position— understandable, however misguided it may be—that if the swells living in the city want things let them blooming well go and pay for them themselves. One of the roots of the present race relations problem in the United States has been the constant refusal of rural minorities to provide the money requisite for education.

You may say these things will not happen here or ask how do we make them relevant to our situation. The relevance is this. You must stand on some principle if you are not to have all sorts of irrelevant questions seeping in. There is one principle which can be made common cause for all. That is that in respect of every citizen of the State entitled to vote his vote should be of equal weight and value wherever it may be. The moment you depart from that principle you are walking out into quicksands of which there is no end. The interesting thing is that the Fianna Fáil Government have themselves seen the quicksands into which the Third Amendment threatens to throw them and so have rushed to provide a very special machinery in their Bill to provide against the possibility of constituencies being formulated for ulterior motives.

Does anyone seriously believe that any such machinery can possibly be made to work? I do not want to draw a sordid picture of bargaining and back-scratching going on between the Deputies of this House in such a Commission as is here proposed to be set up for the redistribution of the constituencies. But this House is composed of human beings and nothing is more certain of us all, whether we be men or women, boys or girls, if we have no principle to guide us we shall drift inevitably towards the lowest common denominator of human kind. It is a hard rock of principle I seek on which to stand for my own protection as much as the protection of everybody else. In formulating electoral policy I can find no solid rock on which to stand once we step off the principle of one man, one vote. I can only hope in a Parliament so elected there will be enough wisdom to be found—and I think there will— to recognise that justice needs to be done between all sections of our community wherever they live and however they live if they belong to Ireland. I am sure it is safer to trust in that than to create a whole lot of false constituencies where a vote is worth two votes in any other constituency. I do not want to see a rural constituency in Ireland represented by two Deputies here in comparison with a more populous area such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Drogheda or Dundalk represented by only one. I do not want to see in our assembly two classes of Deputies—one the poor one who comes in representing half as many as the rich one who can claim two votes for one. Mark you, I think it is a bad thing.

Nobody ever proposed that—two votes for one.

Three for two.

There is the danger. The moment we step off the rock, we begin to slide down. Now we are presented with the alibi that they never said two for one, that all they said was three for two. One does not want to tell improper stories but there is the old story of the citizen guilty of a peccadillo, who had to plead “Peccavi, but it is only a very little peccadillo.” But it was St. James who sounded the note of warning: “He that contemneth small things shall fall little by little.” The Deputy should bear that in mind. It most aptly illustrates whither we are going when we leave the solid rock of one man, one vote. Deputy Booth says: “We never said two against one, only three against two.” Would you glance over your shoulder at the hardy old warrior from East Cork? Ask him how many he should send up. Every vote in East Cork should count for two or three.

Dead ones and all.

I can find no solid ground on which to take a stand between Deputy Booth and Deputy Corry and the advocates of one man, one vote.

Poor fellow.

The Deputy would want to be a master architect for that.

I do not deny that my views here going back a long time——

Including what you said in 1947.

I have tried to cover that. I am not going to be exasperated by the Minister for Justice into departing from my prudent resolution not to cover old ground or to recall past memories for the purpose of exciting recriminations.

I think we have had a useful discussion here——

The Holy Season of Lent.

I am not feeling in the least like the Holy Season of Lent. Only for whose son the Deputy is he would draw a very tart reply from me, Holy Season or not.

Go ahead.

We have had a useful discussion and I think we are getting the best of it.

The Deputy is getting the most time.

That is simply because we have the most to say.

That softened your heart.

The cheat whose hand has been pinned to the table coram populo is seldom eloquent. For him it is just one long yell. I do not blame Fianna Fáil for being distressed. We are not simply arguing here. We are arguing in the presence of the people and that is as it should be. We are going to win this argument. We are going to win the referendum. I am not terribly excited about that. I think it will be good for the country and I think there are a great many people in the Fianna Fáil Party who in their hearts agree with me.

And they will vote that way, too.

That could be. They themselves see something unseemly, something unsuitable in these two Bills. They are right in feeling that. I want to diagnose their sickness for them.

It is malignant.

No, they will recover. The people will cure their sickness for them. The sickness that has come upon them is the absolute majority Fianna Fáil have now secured in this House. I have seen them suffer from that sickness before and I am happy to reassure Deputy Corish that the people cured them of it. May I conclude by observing to Deputy Corish, with whom I once had the privilege of serving in office, that we could have cured them not many years ago but for his speech in Tullamore.

A fair offer across the floor of the House.

What does the Deputy mean by a fair offer?

I understood Deputy Dillon was offering a Coalition. Maybe it is just a union.

I am saying that, if we got a majority against Fianna Fáil in this House, I believe every rational Deputy would look at the other and say: "Anything rather than Fianna Fáil." If it ever comes to pass, I think it would be for the good of the country. Make up your minds to this. If you succeed in assassinating the Labour Party and its individuality by this device, you are settling for ever more into a Coalition pattern just as they have in America. The democratic Party in America is a Coalition of the Left confronted by the Republican Party Coalition of the Right. So in this country you will have a Coalition more or less of the Left confronted by the many members of the Fianna Fáil Party. I could not vote for a Tory in England, a Republican in the USA, or Fianna Fáil in Ireland because the paper would burn my fingers before I got it into the ballot box.

It is a good play.

It is true. There are not many members of the Fianna Fáil Party——

The ink would sizzle in the pen.

——who would not find themselves very cheerful in the role of Tory on the GOP tomorrow morning, and very becoming they would look whether it was mohair or dark grey flannel they were wearing.

Or bainín.

The bainín days are over. For the benefit of this country, I advise our people to vote "No" and "No", and I invite them to do it with their eyes wide open. When they give that vote, they will declare before the world what they think of Fianna Fáil and I think it will have a purifying effect upon our public life and a chastening effect on the Fianna Fáil Party and, I hope, produce a new and better Government for this Republic.

I have no doubt whatsoever about the outcome of the referendum. It is my view that the proposals of the Government will be defeated. However, many people appear to be concerned about the future of the Labour Party. Some would suggest that, if the Government's proposals are carried, this would mean the elimination of the Labour Party. I am prepared to concede that there is a possibity that in the first election, and perhaps the second election, under the system proposed by Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party would not increase its numbers. Therefore, the proposal might hinder for some time the growth of the Labour Party. Under any system— and I think the Government know this better than anyone else—in present circumstances and with a more enlightened electorate within a reasonable time, there will be, and there must be, a strong Labour Party in this House. In any case, let no one be concerned about the Labour Party because we can look after ourselves as we have in the past.

There have been many other attempts to stultify the growth of our movement, some dirty and some not as cleancut as the proposals made by the Government now, but we have resisted all those efforts to stultify the growth of the Party. The evidence in recent elections, by-elections, local elections and general elections indicates the views of the electorate so far as choice of Party is concerned. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, like many of his colleagues and some sections of the press, continued this campaign to discredit the electoral system under which we have worked for such a long time, this system which was so lauded—I do not propose to give quotations—by various prominent members of the Fianna Fáil Party and by prominent members of the Fianna Fáil Party in the past who babbled about stable government and the democratic system of election.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce would have us believe that the people do not use PR. Some people accuse the Labour Party in particular of not using PR properly. As a matter of fact, the Minister was getting on so well this evening and appeared to like his speech so much that he went so far as to suggest that, so far as the Party were concerned, there were 60 per cent plumpers—or did he say 60 per cent of the voters who did not continue their votes? If the Minister had done his homework and had examined all the results of the last general election, he would find that the people in fact did use PR to a very large extent and used it intelligently. I have some examples here which I propose to give to the House.

In the constituency in which we shall have a by-election tomorrow week, there was a valid poll of 25,167 and the non-transferable papers, not defective, were 138. In my constituency where the valid poll was 10,000 higher, 35,515, the number of non-transferable votes was 1,100. In Waterford, where the valid poll was 27,203, the non-transferable votes were 88. In Sligo-Leitrim, where the valid poll was 33,480, the non-transferable votes were 491. In North Tipperary, where the valid poll was 26,766, the non-transferable votes were 338. Somebody may say these are rural constituencies and that this is not the overall picture, but in Dublin South-East, the valid poll was 28,812 and the non-transferable votes 454. In Dublin North-East, the valid poll was 53,477. This was the famous constituency where the count went on for some days. The non-transferable votes totalled at the end of the 10th count, 524. In Dublin North-West, with a valid poll of 28,322, the non-transferables were 395. This was the pattern in every one of the 38 constituencies in the last general election. Let nobody therefore try to tell me that the people do not understand PR or that they did not use it effectively in the last general election. It may well have been that in the first few years in the 1920s people did not really understand it and use it effectively but, in 1965, when we had our last general election, the people did, in my view, use it very effectively.

There are allegations that the Labour Party advocate plumping for their own Party and their supporters do not usually vote down the whole ticket. That is entirely wrong. If there is a percentage of voters voting for Labour who do not carry on their preferences after their own Party, I would say that within the Fianna Fáil Party and the Fine Gael Party the percentage is practically the same, small though it may be, of people who do not continue to vote the ticket, but, over all, the picture is certainly not as bad as the Minister for Industry and Commerce has painted it. The non-transferable votes after nine, ten, 11 or 12 counts, as I have demonstrated, are very small in number compared with the valid poll.

That does not mean that those were the only votes that did not show a preference. It means they were only some of the votes that were non-transferable.

I could have analysed those as well and talked about the elimination of Mr. So-and-so in the Rathdown constituency and again it would have shown the very small number of people who did not continue their vote after voting No. 1.

Yes, and No. 2, but not all the way down.

Fianna Fáil stop after one, two and three. They never use their preferences.

I know that, as far as my constituency is concerned, they usually have three candidates and after one, two and three, they stop. One wonders somewhat at the attitude of the various people who have spoken for the Government in this debate, and particularly the Taoiseach. They are worried about the Opposition.

We want to make you a Government in spite of yourselves.

The Minister for Justice and the Government have enough to do to look after themselves and their supporters without trying to interest themselves in the affairs of the Opposition.

If you are not interested in being a Government, that is your business.

Do not come that act.

They are showing a fantastic desire to become an Opposition.

We regard it as irresponsible by the Government to introduce these proposals at all, particularly in view of our economic circumstances. This controversial issue has been introduced in the middle of a Dáil term. I bet the Minister for Justice did not mention this in the last general election and never told the people in Leitrim-Roscommon, or wherever he stands, about it. I could guarantee that, if there were any, there were fewer than one dozen people who suggested to Deputy Lenihan that the electoral system should be changed.

What about the Fine Gael people?

I am not concerned about the Fine Gael Party: I am concerned about the Fianna Fáil Party in this matter.


We wonder whether the Minister for Justice attends Government meetings regularly, since he usually seems to be out of touch. I appreciate that, in 1963, he was Parliamentary Secretary and therefore did not have access to or audience in the Cabinet. He was so brash in Athlone one night as to assure the people that only luxuries would be taxed, but there is no excuse for him in present circumstances when, as Minister for Justice, he told the viewers on television that this would be a package deal with the two issues rolled into one.

That was what was suggested at first. The Taoiseach made that quite clear. This is democratic practice.

Perhaps the Minister for Justice could give us some sort of assurance that, if their proposals are defeated by the people now, they will not come up again for another 30 years?

Not at all.

You cannot give it?

Not at all.

Deputy Seán Lemass went further on 28th November, 1929, when he said that the verdict of the people would be accepted. What did he mean? For six months?

There is a new generation now.

There is a new generation of boys here all right, very much a new generation. In respect of this electoral reform, you had so much regard for Deputy Séan Lemass, ex-Taoiseach, that you actually put him on the Constitution Committee. For what? To make a fool of himself?

Nonsense. People who were 12 years of age in 1959 now have votes. We are interested in them and they are interested in making a better Ireland of this country.

Can we have this from the Fianna Fáil Party: will they keep putting this to the people every ten years until they get the decision they like?

To let people decide is the democratic procedure and it is used regularly in Switzerland.

They have a different system in Switzerland. They have a system of proportional representation.

We do not mind. If the people decide against it, that is the people's business.

There are a lot of other issues that you could put before the people.

Let us ask the people; let the people decide.

This was not an issue in the last election and the peculiar thing about it is that it should coincide with the abandonment of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion.

Is the Deputy trying to impede the people in making their decision?

This is another gimmick by the Minister for Justice and some of his colleagues. I do not deny the people the right to make their decision on this proposal. All that I as a public representative and all my colleagues want to do is to make sure that the people are fully apprised of the facts.

This is not what the members of the Fianna Fáil Party want to do. There is a very great platform for this in the Wicklow and Clare by-elections.

The Deputy is not trying very hard down there.

The Taoiseach suggests that this should not be an issue and should not be talked about from the public platforms.

You are not trying very hard: I do not know why.

The Minister is only wasting his time there.

After the Minister's 94th interruption, may I say that it seems that this is merely a gimmick introduced by the Fianna Fáil Party because—I give them credit for this— it is the political talking point. Unfortunately, it is the political talking point. We would prefer that Dáil Éireann would now be discussing the various economic issues that are vital to our people. I would prefer to be talking about the 66,000 now unemployed and about whom we will not have an opportunity of talking in full, say, between this and the Budget. We would like to talk about the proposals of the Government for their Third Programme of Economic Expansion, their failure to increase the national income—all these things that they suggested could be done in the Second Programme. There is very little talk now from any of the Ministers of the Government as to the number of new jobs needed in the country or of the promise of the Fianna Fáil Party that in every year during the operation of the Second Programme there would be 11,500 new jobs created.

Surely we cannot discuss this on an amendment of the Constitution?

With all due respect, what I am trying to demonstrate to the House, and particularly to the Minister for Justice, is that it is impudence and arrogance on their part to have this Dáil and the people of the country preoccupied with an issue or proposals which they rejected a short 8½ years ago and I am accusing the Government of introducing these two proposals as a gimmick, a diversionary gimmick, so that the people and Dáil Éireann will not talk about the things that really matter.

The by-elections can decide that. That is separate from the referendum.

The by-elections will decide a great many things.

They can decide the real issue.

The Taoiseach said that we are making PR an issue. Does the Minister agree or not that this should be an issue in the Wicklow by-election?

The Deputy cannot have it both ways. It does not matter. We will win anyway.

He tells us it should not be.

I am easy about it. Let it be an issue, if you like.

You are an off-handed gentleman. Apply yourself to the unemployment position in Limerick where people are starving.

That does not arise on these two Bills. Deputy Corish.

We understand the Government's motives for the introduction of these proposals at the present time. It is obvious from the speech of the Taoiseach that no longer can they get support on the plea, for example, that they are a Republican Party. This plea, which was very successful for them for a very long time, is now regarded by the Taoiseach as being worn out. Now he believes they are not going to win the political game and wants to change the rules in order to suit himself and the Party. No longer can they get large blocks of votes on that plea or by aggravating— and this has been done over the past 30 to 40 years—the political bitternesses that started in 1922. This is the way the Fianna Fáil Party have got their votes and their majorities in various elections since 1927.

That is not true.

They realise, and the electorate certainly realise, that we are now moving into an era when social and economic issues are put first. This is the way it should have been for a long time and people should not have been elected on the basis of past loyalties or catchcries of "Up de Valera" and "Up the Republic". This is the way they have been elected for quite a long time—something the Labour Party have tried to get away from, in particular in the 1920s and 1930s, by putting to the people economic issues and not trying to get votes on the basis of where one was in 1922 or 1923.

Do not be going back to that. Is this the progressive Party, going back to that again?

This has operated up to this and is still operating to some extent and the Minister more than anybody else knows this.

I have never referred to it in my life.

The Minister may never have made a public speech about it but I have a fair idea of the mind of the Minister. The Fianna Fáil Party must see the logical development of politics in this country but they have been somewhat illogical. With all due respect to the two Parties who regard themselves as the major Parties, they were founded out of bitterness, but there is now evidence of the emergence of a strong socialist Party. I do not know what the idea of the Fianna Fáil Party is; I do not know what the idea of the Fine Gael Party is. Deputy Dillon seems to think that this would mean the elimination of the Labour Party. How the Fianna Fáil Party stand in this, I do not know, but the Taoiseach has said that he wants two Parties. He has never put his finger on one or the other for extermination or survival.

It is up to the people.

Would the Chair please stop the Minister from interrupting?

Deputy Corish.

The Minister ought to act like an adult.

This proposal suggests that a majority Party would have more seats than they were entitled to by votes. The Minister for Justice certainly must understand that, in view of the various examples that have been given as to the results that there could and would be under the straight voting system. As I said in the beginning, they believe that by this proposal they may harm the Labour Party but they will do much more harm to the political, economic and social development of the country if they attempt by this method to stem the growth of the Labour Party. Of course, they have never expressed any basic philosophy or any ideology. This is the Party who have ruled by regulation, not arising out of any policy—government by rule and regulation and, if you like, by majority decisions of their Party in Dáil Éireann on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis.

We have been told that stability will be ensured under this system. To the Fianna Fáil Party, in my view. That means a Party who want to ride roughshod over the people with a huge majority and to, as they do with even a slim majority, bestow favours on their favoured friends. In other times they tried other devices to ensure that the Labour Party would not grow. I know that Deputy Lenihan is, as he boasts, of a younger generaation, but surely he must remember 1942 and 1943. He must remember the campaign of people like Deputy MacEntee and other people in the Fianna Fáil Party.

This is 1968.

You still have him.

Think of the future.

I am thinking about the future. He starts this gambit here again. What I am trying to demonstrate to the Minister is that they have tried by dirt and filth to stem the growth of the Labour Party and are now trying it by this method. I do not think the Minister for Justice would be at all impressed if one were to talk about the merits of proportional representation. It does, indeed, give a choice between Parties and policies which have a possibility of being represented in Dáil Éireann. It allows the voter a choice, not alone between Parties, but between individuals also. As has been suggested by the Taoiseach, he wants to see in any constituency maybe only two candidates and two Parties in Dáil Éireann. PR ensures proper representation of organised political opinion in Parliament—and that I do not think the Minister for Justice could deny. The idea of having minorities represented here seems to be anathema to the Fianna Fáil Party. I certainly would subscribe to the view expressed by Deputy Dillon when he talks of the rights of minorities to be represented here in Dáil Éireann. If we are to have the situation where fairly large minorities are not to be allowed under this system to be represented here, we must put up with it, but if, through frustration or otherwise, these minorities should take other action, that will be the responsibility of the Government, and particularly of the Minister for Justice.

The Taoiseach and the Minister for Industry and Commerce have made references to minorities as if they had no right to exist. This country now seems to be settling down to a certain pattern but we should not push it to the extent that after the next general election, or the one after, there will be only two Parties here. We have had the Clann na Talmhan Party, the Clann na Poblachta Party and the National Progressive Democrats, of which there were only two members. These disappeared from the Irish political scene but we should not push that pattern to such an extent that our system of election will ensure that only two Parties will be represented in Dáil Éireann.

If these people group themselves into Parties legally, there should be no attempt made to deprive them of representation in the Dáil. I hold no brief for the Liberal Party in Great Britain but it is ludicrous to think that, while they get ten per cent of the votes, while they represent ten per cent of the people, they have less than one per cent representation in the British Parliament. I do not see why there is all this talk about instability. Fianna Fáil should be the last people to complain about that. Even when they got less than 50 per cent of the votes under proportional representation, they got a majority of six.

It suited us grand.

If it did, why do they want to change the system?

We want to give the Opposition a chance.

Do not be talking nonsense.

You are power mad.

The people will tell you all about it.

Could somebody expand on the Taoiseach's comment when he said that a change was now desirable because the Civil War had divided us in the past? Is this not a shocking admission, that up to now the Civil War differences have operated in this country to the detriment of Parliament and political life?

There was no question of detriment. What he said was that it has polarised political thinking.

This was encouraged by Fianna Fáil and always was.

You lived by it.

I lived by it?

You would not have the courage to take a gun in your hand.

The Taoiseach suggested that PR was a complicated system but it has been all right up to now. Surely the Taoiseach does not suggest that we should adopt a simple system of voting because our economic problems are not more simple of solution than they were? I do not believe that a two-Party Parliament would at all represent the views of large sections of the community. If the Government's proposals are passed, even if it were suggested that the Labour Party would be eliminated, surely it is not suggested that the point of view of the country generally would be represented by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael?

Let the people decide that.

They decided it eight years ago.

Let them decide it again.

This is the height of hypocrisy.

Deputy Boland will rue the day he forced you into this position.

It is said that the straight vote is a simple form of voting. It is a simple form of voting but do the Government suggest that it is a democratic method of electing representatives to Dáil Éireann?

Of forming a Government.

There is two-Party government in the United States.

The initial exercise is the election of a Deputy. It is only in the Anglo-Saxon countries that the straight vote is used and it almost invariably leads to a two-Party system.

Our system operates in Tasmania.

A two-Party system is what the Government seem to want. That is a short step away from a one-Party system and it will be suggested to us in about ten years time that they should present us with a list of Fianna Fáil candidates and that we should be told to vote for or against them.

There is the straight vote in the United States of America, the greatest democracy in the world.

That is not the straight vote. I do not know what it is; I do not understand it. It is an Anglo-Saxon country and they use the straight vote, but not in the same manner as in Canada, New Zealand and Britain. May I suggest that, if the Government Party want the two-Party system now, in ten or 15 years time we might get a proposal to vote for or against the nominees of the Fianna Fáil Party. Do the Government think that two Parties in this House would adequately represent the wide range of political opinions in the community? I do not think they would. If we have a two-Party system here, the minority will be frustrated because they will be required to vote for one of the candidates or not vote at all. It would be far better that we should retain proportional representation and allow the voters to carry down their preferences rather than put them in the position of being able to vote for only one candidate or not voting at all. A straight vote is not the best merely because it is British.

It is not the worst either.

I say proportional representation is the best.

Put that to the British Labour Party.

I do not think Fianna Fáil have the same relationship with the British Labour Party as they have with Captain O'Neill.

Put it to the British Labour Party when you send them fraternal greetings.


Let us not forget that Captain O'Neill is an Irishman.

That is the voice of an honoured Labour Party member and of his father before him.

We are told we are preparing for Europe and the Minister for Industry and Commerce today suggested that we should have——

It is 1980 now.

——a productivity year. The Minister for Justice may not know about that, perhaps he was not at the Cabinet meeting, but we know about it because it was announced here. The Minister suggested we should intensify our efforts to prepare for entry into free trade in the European Economic Community. We are told we should attune ourselves to the practices of Europe and gradually become as European as we can, to imitate them in as many ways as we can. The Minister contradicted me on this, but let me repeat that most of the countries in Europe employ the system of proportional representation.

Not at all.

Can the Minister for Justice tell me which one of the countries within the EEC employ the straight vote system?

The European Parliament of the EEC.

Will the Minister tell me if there is one country in the EEC which uses for its electoral system the straight vote?

They do not use it.

Not as proposed here; there must be a clear majority.

And Germany is going over to it.

If we are to become a member of the EEC, we will have members in the European Parliament——

Which is elected on a straight vote system.

The members for the European Parliament in this country will be elected under proportional representation.

That is the first I heard of that.

The Minister does not know a lot about what is going on in the Government.

There is no question of anyone being elected——

Anyone who goes to the European Parliament will have to be elected under PR.

That is a new proposal. I do not where the Deputy got that. He had better quote his reference.

This is disgraceful. Behave yourself.

I am being asked questions. Certainly the direct vote system is the system of election to the European Parliament.

If representatives are to be sent to the European Parliament, they will be elected on the system of PR. I suggest the Minister gets his advisers to check that for him. They are handy enough to him.

I know that.

The Minister did not know about the package deal.


Do not say things like that without authority.

The people will have to know how the straight vote works. Some members of the Fianna Fáil Party likened this to a horse race and suggested that the first past the post gets the first prize, and that is that. Perhaps this is what they mean when they refer to stable government. Let me give an example which I am sure is familiar to the Minister for Justice because in the last campaign in 1959 I met him in an hotel in Athlone——

You did indeed. It is very good of you to mention it.

Let me show how undemocratic the straight vote is in a particular situation, which I am sure would not be the average situation; take a constituency where there are 12,000 votes and three candidates. Candidate X gets 5,000 votes, Y gets 4,000 and Z gets 3,000 votes. Does the Minister for Justice suggest that the person who gets the 5,000 should get the seat, in view of the cat that there were 7,000 who did not say positively they wanted him, in view of the fact that 7,000 people could be against him and in view of the fact that 7,000 people would be unrepresented in Parliament?

They would not be unrepresented; the elected TD represents all.

It could even be worse than that.

I have always tried to do that and I hope Deputy Corish does.

I am not talking about the little chores, the messages and things like that; I am talking about a point of view. The Taoiseach thinks it extraordinary that somebody who headed the poll should be defeated. Why not? He did not get sufficient votes. In the example I have quoted, of the person who gets 5,000 votes in a constituency where there are 12,000 votes——

That is a hypothetical situation.

Let me give another hypothetical situation. You have ten candidates—and this is possible because you have six candidates in Wicklow and five or six in Clare —in a constituency where there are 10,000 votes. It would be possible for the first candidate to get 1,001 votes and for the remainder to get 8,999 between them. This is not nonsense.

The Deputy was very good up to now.

Is the Minister suggesting that this could not happen?

It is so theoretical.

The Minister is lowering the standards of the House.

Deputy Corish is asking me questions.

I suggest that in such a constituency, where one candidate gets 1,001 votes, he should not get the seat, leaving 8,999 unrepresented in Dáil Éireann. Of course, the tolerance issue is the biggest fraud of all the proposals contained in the second Bill. We are told, and this is the old Act we had in 1959, that a Commission will be appointed which will decide the number of seats for Dáil Éireann within a margin of between 20,000 to 30,000 of the population and they will fix the national average for the constituency between 20,000 to 30,000. The Commission is to be comprised of three members of Dáil Éireann nominated by the Taoiseach and three from the Opposition. It is not clear whether the Ceann Comhairle will nominate those three or whether the Opposition will agree between themselves who the three should be. The Commission will be presided over by the President of the High Court or by a judge of the Supreme Court; it does not make any difference, because the Commission is all cod.

It is suggested that if the national average were fixed at 20,000, in one constituency there could be such a tolerance that there need only be 16,670 in that constituency—it could be one-sixth less than 20,000 but in another constituency it could be one-sixth higher than 20,000, which would mean a constituency of 23,330. It would mean therefore that in one constituency there would be 16,670 and in another 23,330. We do not believe in this; we believe, as we have always believed, in the idea of one man, one vote, and we do not believe there should be this difference of 40 per cent as between one constituency and another. This could lead to gerrymandering.

There is no point in telling me that this will be decided by the Commission and it will be presided over by an eminent judge. This Bill also proposes that Dáil Éireann may terminate the appointment of a member of the Commission. This means that a simple majority of the Fianna Fáil Party can decide that Deputy Michael O'Leary is not fit to be on the Commission, or Deputy Paddy Belton, or Deputy Esmonde, or Deputy L'Estrange, or Deputy Corry. Do the Government believe this is a fair proposal? Do they believe that the Fianna Fáil Party with a majority of one, two, three or four, should have power to remove a member of the Commission?

It goes a little further. The quorum is four. These must present their report with regard to the tolerance and the fixation of the boundaries within a period of three months. A simple majority report is sufficient. This is presented to the Ceann Comhairle, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann, and it is laid before the House for a period of, I think, 14 days. Within that period, it can be amended by Dáil Éireann. A simple majority in this House, a majority of the Fianna Fáil Party, can decide to change a constituency in any part of the country, can decide that the population tolerance should be changed. That can be done by a majority of one vote of the Fianna Fáil Party. It means, in actual fact, that the Fianna Fáil Party, the ruling Party in this House, have the power to decide how many people will be representative of a constituency and what the boundaries are to be. They can, as I said, remove any Member if they do not like him, whether he be from Fianna Fáil, from the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party. Of course, if the Commission fails to make a decision in respect of the constituencies or the population tolerance, the Chairman can present the report. I have the greatest respect, as far as the law is concerned, for the members of the judiciary, but one must remember that most of these are political nominees. They will not be there in a judicial capacity on this Commission. Does the Minister suggest they will be?

Some of them appointed by us are members and associates of the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party.

I said that most are political appointments and they will not be acting in their judicial capacity on this Commission.

The Deputy knows well how fair I have been in that respect.

I am not casting any reflection at all on the Minister. I am talking about the system of appointment, which is the prerogative of the Government.

We have appointed in recent years prominent members of the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party to the Bench because of their ability.

I am telling the Minister they are political appointments because the Government have the power to make the appointments.

And rightly so.

I do not think it is right. I think we should consider a change in the system. What is the Minister saying?

The Deputy knows well what I am talking about in this respect.

I am not objecting to what the Minister has done. I am objecting to the system which has obtained here since 1922.

An excellent system.

I do not think it is.

It could not be bettered.

Does the Minister agree that, in effect, the determination of the constituencies and the population tolerance can be done by the Government?

Do I have to ask Deputy O'Leary's permission now?

The Minister is asked a question. Be civil and answer it.

Is it not a fact that the Fianna Fáil Party can decide this?

He cannot answer the question. Go to the back of the class.

I do not know whether Members of the House agree with me or not, but this is my interpretation of the Bill.

I quote from page 10 of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968, paragraph 5.2º, if that is the correct way to describe it.

The Commission's report shall be signed by the Chairman or other member so directed by the Commission, and no minority report shall be presented.

Immediately after the Commission's report has been presented, the Commission shall stand dissolved.

As soon as may be after the receipt by him of the Commission's report, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann shall cause the report to be laid before Dáil Éireann.

If, within the next fourteen days on which Dáil Éireann has sat after the report is laid before it, a resolution amending the report is passed by Dáil Éireann, the report shall be amended accordingly.

Am I reading something into this that is not in it? It suggests to me that the report is given to the Ceann Comhairle and laid before the House. Then, if the Government, or any Member of the House, wants to challenge or amend it in any way, they or he can so propose an amendment, but the only Party who can carry it are the Party with the majority and I am suggesting, therefore, that as far as the fixing of boundaries and tolerance are concerned, the Fianna Fáil Party, in fact and in effect, can do this.

If we wanted to do that, we would not establish a judicial commission.

It is a fraud.

Do not get hysterical. Listen to Deputy O'Leary and behave yourself.

Does the Minister deny that what I said is true?

Listen to Deputy O'Leary and behave yourself.

Is it right or wrong? Can Dáil Éireann amend the report of the Commission?

If we wanted to do what the Deputy says, we need not set up a commission at all.

It is only a facade— that is all it is—an air of respectability.

Does the Deputy think we would lightly discard the recommendations of a Commission like that?

Fianna Fáil have the power to do it; they have the majority to do it.

The people put us here with that majority. That is their right and privilege. Let the Deputy upset the people's will if he wants to. We will see how he does it in Wicklow, but he does not appear to be trying.

We could romp all over the country like the Minister if we had two State cars, a driver and free petrol.

Why are Fianna Fáil afraid to exhibit their candidate? There is a rumour going around that their candidate does not like to be seen in public.


They have been trying to knock her into shape all day in Telefís Éireann for tomorrow.

I should like now to refer to this famous or, shall I say infamous, Constitution Committee. I remember when it was first proposed that this committee be established. I was written to by the then Taoiseach, now Deputy Seán Lemass, who asked that the Labour Party would participate in a commission in order to examine the Constitution with a view to seeing whether it could be amended and also to examine our public institutions, our procedure in Dáil Éireann, etc., etc., etc. It was suggested at that time that there should be other than Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas on that Committee, that people should be drafted from the Incorporated Law Society, the various other professions and the Civil Service. My Party was of the view that, if this examination was to be carried out, in the first instance, it should be engaged in by Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. To this Deputy Lemass agreed. I do not know what the attitude of the Fine Gael Party was, but we believed we were right in our attitude. Deputy Lemass gave me, as Leader of this Party, the impression that this was to be a genuine examina-of the Constitution.

We welcomed this examination not alone of the Constitution but of our procedure in Dáil Éireann, the workings of Departments of State, the role of civil servants. All these were to be examined and discussed with no commitment to any Party or to any individual in order to get the overall view of public representatives as to what changes ought to be made. Our people went into that Committee in good faith. We had Deputy James Tully and Deputy Seán Dunne on the Committee. I must confess I was warned by members of my organisation, not members of the Parliamentary Party, that this was a ruse by the Fianna Fáil Party to try to get us committed to the idea of changing the electoral system from proportional representation to the straight vote. I, because I believed Deputy Lemass, suggested that this was not so, and that, if there were to be changes made in the Constitution and in our public institutions, the Labour Party should participate. As I said, we did so in good faith.

I discussed the proceedings with a few representatives of the Labour Party on that Committee and they were able to do this because they got permission from the Constitution Committee to consult with the leaders of the Parties, with Deputy Cosgrave and myself. I was kept well informed as to what was happening. I was told that there was a discussion about our electoral system, that there were different systems proposed, some good, some bad, some outlandish; as a matter of fact, some of the outlandish ones were proposed by prominent members, but I was told it was unanimously agreed that the straight vote was out, that it should not be mentioned and that one of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party on this Committee considered that as it was an issue which had been decided in 1959 it should not go back to the people again. Other matters were discussed, matters that were of more importance, I suggest, than this system which nobody asked for except certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party.

They discussed the name of the country. I think it is necessary that we should change the name of the country to Ireland. As far as the Constitution is concerned, the name of the country is Éire. This was one of the suggestions which was agreed to unanimously by the members of the Committee. The consensus of opinion was that we should make it clear in the Constitution that the area of jurisdiction of Dáil Éireann was the Twenty-six Counties, pending re-unification of the whole Thirty-two Counties. This is a desirable change. I remember a Ceann Comhairle one evening being there where the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Deputy Jones, is when we talked about the Industrial Development Act. I think it was some member of the Clann na Poblachta who proposed that County Fermanagh should be included in the under-developed areas. Of course, the amendment could not be taken. Under the Constitution we were entitled to legislate for Fermanagh but the Chair refused the amendment; he was very embarrassed, and so was Deputy Aiken who was then the Minister in change of the Bill. This is one of the desirable changes that should be put before the people for decision.

Another matter which was discussed at the Constitution Committee was the desirability of having a President. There were some who thought there was no necessity to have a President. I do not say that that is the overall view in the country. It may be a minority view, but there are people who believe we should not have a President, who think this should be combined with the Office of Taoiseach or that there should be some other arrangement.

There was also a discussion as to whether or not the Seanad was a useful body. Many people believed it was not. I will not say they were in the majority or in the minority, but this was the sort of discussion that took place. As far as my Party is concerned, we believe there should not be a Seanad. We believe the Seanad serves no useful purpose. However, it is part of our Constitution that we should have a Seanad. Would that not be something the people might like to express an opinion on?

Another matter which was considered by this Committee was whether or not there should be a vote given at 18 years of age. I believe it should, but the people will not be allowed for another 20 years to decide whether or not this should be allowed. There are many arguments in favour of giving votes to people at 18 years of age. We could give a litany of the responsibilities they have: they pay taxes; if they join the Army they have to go out and fight if they are ordered to do so. There are hundreds of arguments as to why they should have the vote, but, because we are going to mark the year 1968 with a referendum, we shall not have one on this question for, perhaps, another seven years.

The first referendum was, I suppose, that on the Constitution which took place in 1936. I will admit that in 1936 we had this political bitterness to which I referred, apart from the merits or demerits of what is contained in the Constitution. There were good things in the Constitution. I suppose the majority of them would be accepted. There were other things in it that could be and were objected to at that time. But again it was a question of wanting a package deal and one had to say "yes" or "no".

I do not think we are approaching this whole question in any sort of democratic way or adult way and I do not think the Minister could blame us for believing that there are ulterior motives in what the Government are doing. Their solicitude for the position of the Labour Party does not impress anyone. If the Constitution is to be changed, let us change it in other respects as well. If we are going to imitate the Six Counties and employ the straight vote, why should we not imitate the system in the Six Counties whereby those people who emigrate to Great Britain are given a vote for a period of two years or while they are on the register? Why do we not give a postal vote in such circumstances?

These are much more important questions than this question that was decided by a majority, even if a slim majority, of the people in 1959. We believe and we have good reason to believe that this Constitution Committee was a cod and a fraud. Indeed, the Minister for Industry and Commerce as Chairman of that Committee has the neck to suggest that Deputy Tully and Deputy Dunne would resume the second part of the examination of the public institutions and procedure here in Parliament. Once bitten twice shy. If they think they are going to get the Labour Party to participate in this fraud, they are very much mistaken. I thought the Minister, Deputy Colley, was sincere——

He had that name.

I thought he was sincere in his approach to this Committee. As a matter of fact, we wondered at the urgency of it; he came into the committee room and at 6 o'clock one evening wanted the reports of the discussions immediately. He was not concerned about votes at 18 years of age or the usefulness of the Seanad or the election of the President. He wanted to have something to put before the Government, believing that the reports would give justification for changing our voting system. As I say, we were codded in this, but we are not going to be codded twice. We were codded as far as the famous Health Committee was concerned, the one that was established by Deputy MacEntee and that went on for years and years.

If the Government want to make this a parliament, they will have to have a little more regard for the Opposition, not necessarily for Deputy Cosgrave or myself or any of the personnel of the Fine Gael or Labour Parties. They seem to be so concerned about the Opposition now that they will have to show this in a better way than they are doing in the arguments they are using here. We concede that they have a majority. We concede that they can outvote us on any issue whether singly or combined but, if this Parliament is to be regarded as a parliament, if people are to have respect for public representatives, there must be greater respect shown by the members of the Government not alone for people in benchers as well and this has not been benchers as well, and this has not been shown.

That is our business.

It is not your business. The Minister is a public representative, a servant of the people.

The people put us here.

They put you there to behave properly, and you are not doing a service; I am not concerned with the service or disservice you are doing to the Fianna Fáil Party but I am concerned with the disservice you are doing to the nation in, as has been mentioned, your announcements opening a petrol station or a small meeting of a local cumann in Roscommon or down in Ballydehob.

I think we must be impressed with the speed with which the British Government responded to something that happened within their Commonwealth, the hanging of those three unfortunate coloured people in Rhodesia. There was a statement immediately. They did not wait for Cáirde Fáil or a dinner of Taca. The Minister knows only too well that in order to get any information from the Government, we have to put down questions and questions. The difficulty is that four and sometimes five clear days have to elapse before we can get any information from any of the Ministers or from the Taoiseach, say, when we know he has vital information to transmit to the nation with regard to the Common Market or his talks with Mr. Wilson or with Mr. O'Neill.

I regard the Fianna Fáil Government as the most arrogant Front Bench I have ever seen and I have seen them here since 1945. I am not concerned about the disservice they are doing to the Fianna Fáil Party but the disservice they are doing to the nation. If, as they say, they are concerned about the Opposition to such an extent that they want to change the system of election, they would want to demonstrate their solicitude for the Opposition in more ways than trying to impose on the people a system of election that is undemocratic, unfair and unjust.

I agree with much of what Deputy Corish has said in his remarks about the Labour Party. I cannot see in Cork county—and I am a fairly good judge—that there will be any change as far as the four representatives of the Labour Party are concerned. I cannot see Deputy Mrs. Desmond losing her seat under either PR or the single seat; neither can I see Deputy McAuliffe nor Deputy P. Murphy losing their seats. I cannot see Labour losing a seat in Cork city either. I give them that above board. My reason for being in favour of the straight vote is one and one only: I do not give two hoots whether it is PR or what kind of representation you have, I will be here anyway.

As long as I wish. Listening to Deputy Dillon speaking, I had the utmost sympathy for him. I had the utmost sympathy for a man like him comparatively young in age. I know some people are old at 30, and Deputy Dillon has come to that stage. I remember him coming in here, a fine, arrogant young man. The first thing he did was to vote for "Dev" as Taoiseach. Then he was shifted over there and you could see in later years that the "nut" was not too sound. I will give you the gospel according to St. James.

Would you quote President de Valera?

I am quoting the Official Report of 12th of November, 1947:

Personally, I think proportional representation is a fraud and a cod, and that it ought to be abolished. I believe in the single member constituency, with the transferable vote ....

That is a different thing.

The quotation goes on:

The rag-tag Constitution that we have provides for proportional representation. I suppose that, until we can change that, we have got to abide this as well as the many other evils that have been foisted upon us by the incompetent Government that we have got ....

Proportional representation is, in fact, as we all know in our hearts, the child of the brains of all the cranks in creation. So far as this country is concerned, it was tried out on the dog. I doubt if any other sane democratic country in the world has put it into operation in regard to its Parliament.... It was foisted upon us by a collection of half-lunatics who believed that they had something lovely that would work on paper like a jig-saw puzzle, but like all these crank ideas in operation, it has resulted here in an election in 1931, an election in 1932, an election in 1938, an election in 1939, an election in 1943, and an election in 1944.

That is the statement made in this House on 12th November, 1947, by Deputy Dillon. That was his opinion at that time of PR before the brain went on him.

The Deputy did not tell us what the President said before the brain went on him.

You shut up.

"The system we have we know."

That is Deputy Dillon's opinion of PR—"The child of the brains of all the cranks in creation." Could anything be stronger than that? "Foisted on us by a bunch of half-lunatics." We saw Deputy Dillon get up here today, a poor old man, old every way you look at him——

He is 20 years younger than you.

A man is as old as he feels. Poor old James looks old and feels old. Think of the poor old man getting up here 20 years afterwards and forswearing every single word he said there. You have Deputies on both sides of the House who believe one way or the other. I do not believe that the dangers Deputy Dillon saw in 1941 and 1942 exist any longer. I do not believe if we had a minority Government in the morning it would be shifted. Every Deputy knows that it now costs anything between £1,000 and £1,500 to get in here. I saw one "eejit" down in my own county who spent £3,000 the last time and did not get in.

He was Fianna Fáil and you beat him.

I am giving examples. All that troubles Deputies when they come in here is to take damn good care they can stay here.


There are changes over there, too. There is not a single man on those benches who was here when I came in here first.

You are fossilising.

If the Minister for Finance had his way the last time, you would be gone.

I will give some advice to the Deputy. I have seen this worked out. I have seen poor devils disappear out of this House when a division was called. I have seen people pack up their bags and go home when they thought a division was in the offing in case by any chance they might get into Government. We all know that and we might as well be honest and admit it. I have seen them clear off time after time.

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

Since I lost the trend of my speech, I will fall back again on the Gospel according to St. James. He said:

Therefore, I advise the House to vote for the Bill so that we may provide our people with an opportunity of getting sick of this fantastic system and hasten the day by which we will return to a normal system devised to ascertain the will of the people and, at the same time, devised to ensure that when Parliament meets after a general election there shall be a strong Government representative of the majority of our people with full authority to rule until the lapse of the life of the Parliament...

That was Deputy Dillon on 12th November, 1947. Could anything be stronger than the words he used about PR: "... the child of the brains of all the cranks in creation"? Could anything be stronger than that? That was Deputy Dillon's description of PR I should not say a word about it. I will be 41 years in this House next June. Therefore I cannot say anything very hard about it. We should examine the grounds of the objections. Speaking of Cork county—and I cannot speak for any other part of the country—the Labour Party would get back their four representatives from Cork county under the proposed system. I know the four Deputies concerned and it does not matter what Party they belong to. They are four representatives who are doing their work. I do not know who was responsible for drawing up the map of the constituency I represent here.

Deputy Blaney.

Deputy Blaney does not drink and the man who drew up this map must have been in delirium tremens for the previous three months. I can account in no other way for the lunatic who drew it up.

He was drunk with power.

He was alcoholic.

When I saw the map and realised what I had to face, it nearly made me old, and I would be sorry if that happened. It was the exact constituency which was complained of in 1927 when I took it over first. They added on a hook, an extra 40 miles from Mallow to Rockchapel, to the Kerry boundary, to make it good looking. That was my constituency.

Wait until the Deputy sees the next one.

Compare that with the position of the gentlemen who represent Dublin city. In 1961 I had to go to a place called Newmarket about 40 miles from me. I had to stay in an hotel for three days while covering that side of the constituency.

Did the Deputy go there since?

A Dublin Deputy can get on a bus and pay a 4d fare and it will take him from one end of his constituency to another.

How long ago would a 4d bus ride do that?

He can pay a 4d fare on the bus and land at one end of his constituency and another 4d fare will take him back to the other end.

Not for 4d in Dublin today.

I should like to know what it costs Deputy Coughlan or Deputy Corish each year to travel their constituencies, and was this taken into consideration in the fixing of the salaries? There is such a thing as paying a man according to his work. A person who can get into a bus and pay 4d and land at one end of his constituency surely should not be entitled to the same amount of money as the man who has to travel 100 miles to the end of his constituency, as I have.

Since we are talking of constitutions let us examine this matter and see where it leads. There is argument about changing the representation in big urban areas as compared with rural areas but we know the difficulty of the representative in a single-seat constituency. I am quite happy in my constituency and I believe that in 40 years' time I shall still be able to look around here. I believe this change will give us a better Deputy.

Better than what?

Better than at present. I believe that, if a Deputy has an area with a population of 30,000, he has to mind it and, at the end of five years, he will not be able to run to the other end of his constituency for his votes where they would not know him.

They will send down a man from Dublin.

The Deputy who is pinned down and has a population of 20,000 to look after must do his job for those people and, if not, he will be out in the next election, whether he is Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour. You will not have to wait for free elections to discover the fellow who is dodging. That is why I say you will get a better Deputy who will do his job better. He will be able to travel through his constituency in a day at most and will be able to look after it in a day. He will not have the trouble such as I have seen in the case of some Deputies—I gave one example in Adare —of leaving home for two or three days and going to another portion of the constituency and working there for that period. No expenses are allowed by the House for that kind of work. That Deputy gets no more than the man who has to take a 4d bus ride. That is the difference between the city constituency and the rural one. There is no comparison between a Deputy in Dublin city, in Cork city or Limerick city and a Deputy elected for a rural area.

I have a pretty close knowledge of Deputies in my own county and I have seen how things work out. For example, I know that Deputy McAuliffe is as hard working a Deputy as any in this House. He has worked hard and built up his constituency and he will hold his seat in any portion of that constituency that is marked out. I can say the same thing for Deputy M. P. Murphy and also for Deputy Mrs. Desmond.

Has the Deputy drawn the line yet?

I am the happiest man in the world. Wherever they draw the line, I shall still be there. In the local government elections, 90 per cent of the votes are cast for the man and not for the tag in his ear.


If this proposal works out to its logical conclusion, I have given my reasons why I think you will have a better Dáil The change will bring a levelling out. I admit that with the change you will have a different position because, on present day methods of working, the larger Parties will get the advantage.

When you had John Moher, he was a help to you.

When I had, Labour had one seat of the three. Labour lost a seat to John Moher.

That was in a by-election.

No, but in a general election.

You have Jerry Cronin to do all that constituency.

Your new curate.

I always have a curate. I had two curates the last time.

You are a fine old parish priest.

I would say this to Deputy Corish that on my side of the constituency, as I call it, that is, the Cobh-Midleton-Youghal end, we have working in the town of Cobh 1,400 men who would not give a hoot if all the farmers went down with the flood.

Or the Beetgrowers' Association.

You have the same thing in Midleton and also in Youghal. Will Deputy Corish explain to me who represents Labour there, apart from myself?

Deputy McAuliffe.

I am talking of one side of the constituency. There were six county council seats contested there as late as last June and, of the six, Labour got none.

Debate adjourned.