The President is engaged in the Dáil, and he asked me to inquire if it would meet the convenience of Senators to take item 3 on the Agenda before the Courts of Justice Bill?
FISHERIES BILL, 1923. - PUBLIC SAFETY BILL.
As I said yesterday, Mr. O'Higgins, and as I repeat to-day, I am very anxious to oblige Ministers, more particularly the President, as I know what his engagements are, and as I have seen even when he gives us the honour of his presence, that he is perpetually worried by messages from outside, and, therefore. I realise his difficulty and his position. But I do not think, having regard to the amount of opposition that this Public Safety Bill received yesterday on the Second Reading Stage, that it would be reasonable to ask the House to deal with it to-day, because I understand certain members of the House propose to put down amendments. I think it would be to the advantage of the Minister that he should have the opportunity of seeing these so that he should not be taken, as another Minister was, by surprise. Therefore, I would be quite prepared to fall in with the suggestion were it not that I have received an intimation that several Senators are putting down amendments on the Committee Stage.
Very well, sir; I will inform the President that the Courts of Justice Bill is now being taken.
If there is any inconvenience in that we could wait, or if the President came in he might induce the House to take No. 3. I am telling you the position as it occurs to me. but I understand that Senator O'Farrell was on his feet to object to this Bill being taken. Perhaps he might give his reasons.
The reasons are obvious. This is a very important Bill affecting the safety of freedom of the citizens. It was introduced in the Dáil on the 11th December, and it was introduced to this House on the 23rd of this month, and the Minister seeks to have it passed on the 24th. Our own Standing Orders provide that amendments to Bills shall be handed in not later than 11 o'clock on the day preceding the day they shall be discussed. This Bill got a second reading yesterday, and there was no time to comply with the Standing Orders. To suggest that we should right away proceed to discuss it in Committee is absolutely unreasonable. I think it is another case of the "taking for granted" policy of Ministers as far as this House is concerned. If it took so many days to pass through the Dáil there is no reason for taking it for granted that it should pass through the Seanad without opposition or discussion. There are amendments to it, and it is desirable that the Minister should see these amendments and that the House should have an opportunity of considering them. For that reason I should object to it coming up to-day, and even if it came up to-morrow it does not give us time to consider amendments to such an important measure.
I think the Seanad should bear in mind with regard to this important Bill that the intention is that it should come into operation on the 1st February. If the Bill is to come into operation on that date that does not leave much time for the House to discuss the amendments.
Perhaps under the circumstances Senator O'Farrell would see his way to agree that the Committee Stage should be taken to-morrow. That, I think, is putting an unreasonable pressure on the House, and I think the House has reason to complain that this Bill has been brought in so late if it is to be put in force on the 1st February. At the same time, recognising the importance of the Bill, I do not think we would be going much out of the way if we were to agree that it should be taken first thing to-morrow, and if the House would agree to that I would arrange accordingly.
I only saw the agenda when I came into the House, and I got rather a shock when I found that this Bill was on for to-day.
I hope you have recovered, Senator.
Now that you have spoken I have recovered partly. I have handed in two or three amendments which have been drafted rather hastily. I think more time should be given, but if it is agreed to take it to-morrow, well and good.
To meet the wishes of the Seanad what I would do is this: I will take any amendment to this Bill moved to-morrow, subject to its being in order, but I hope Senators will put in amendments to-day, if possible, so that members will have an opportunity of seeing them, but I will not on the Committee Stage to-morrow shut out any amendments that are in order. If Mr. O'Higgins thinks that would suit the President's convenience, I would gladly ask the House to make that arrangement.
Ordered: "That the Committee Stage of the Public Safety (Powers of Arrest and Detention) Temporary Bill, 1923, be placed first on the Order Paper for to-morrow."