SEANAD NOMINATIONS.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I have to explain the difficult position that has arisen in connection with the pending election to the existing vacancy in the Seanad. As a matter of fact, there is no candidate who has been duly nominated in accordance with our Standing Orders. Nomination papers purporting to nominate, were received on behalf of four candidates. One was the Earl of Ossory. I may dispose of his nomination at once by saying that he is disqualified by the Constitution, because he is not yet thirty-five years of age. He will not have reached that age until April next, so that he is disqualified per se. A nomination paper, also purporting to nominate, was received on behalf of Sir Walter Nugent. I may also dispose of him by saying that, although his papers were not quite in proper form, I have received a letter from him withdrawing his candidature on the grounds that his obligations, to certain companies of which he is a director, would preclude him from giving sufficient time to the duties of a Senator. He has withdrawn his name and is no longer a candidate. A nomination paper, purporting to nominate, was also received on behalf of Sir Simon Maddock. In his case I may say that every irregularity that could be committed was committed in connection with his nomination. Under our Standing Orders a Senator who nominates a candidate—I would ask Senators to study the Standing Orders so that this may not occur in the future, because they are really quite simple and quite capable of being intelligently understood—shall, in the notice, give not only the full name, but also the address of the candidate. It shall also contain his qualifications, and the Senator who nominates must, at the same time, lodge the consent, in writing, of the candidate to act, if elected. In the case of Sir Simon Maddock's nomination what happened was this: A letter purporting to nominate him was received from Senator Gogarty on the 13th January. That letter gave no address. It did not state the qualifications of the candidate, and it was not accompanied by any consent, in writing, on his part to act, if elected. Senator Gogarty left the country that day and went abroad. Consequently, it was impossible to get into communication with him. There was, therefore, no opportunity to rectify these errors. Even if the Senator had been here, the errors could not be rectified, because all these things must be done at the one time. The notice must comply with all these conditions at the time it is sent in. The only remaining nomination, then, was that which purported to nominate Dr. Douglas Hyde, and that nomination was defective in two particulars. It failed to give any address or to give any qualifications. Consequently, under the Standing Orders, if this matter stood over until Wednesday next, I would be compelled to inform the Seanad that I had received no nomination on behalf of any candidate. I will just read to the Seanad the Standing Orders that deal with it:—

"Within seven days from the date of the fixing of the election"—that was from the 9th December—"any Senator may, by notice in writing signed by him and delivered to the Clerk, nominate a candidate. Every such notice must contain the full name, address, and qualifications of the candidate, and be accompanied by a consent in writing over his signature to act, if elected."

Therefore, you see the provisions of the Standing Orders are mandatory, and no discretion is left to me in their interpretation or in their relaxation. That is made very clear by the next Standing Order, which says:—

"Upon the appointed day the Cathaoirleach shall read out the name, address, and qualifications of every candidate who has been duly nominated in accordance with the foregoing Order."

Therefore, if I left this matter to stand over until Wednesday next, I would have to rise in my place and say that no candidate had been duly nominated in accordance with the foregoing Order. The question, now, is how is the position to be dealt with. Technically speaking, and I think legally speaking, the election has proved abortive. Perhaps the strictest way to deal with it would be for the Seanad to pass a resolution prescribing that a new election take place, and that all the formalities be gone through. An alternative course would be for the Seanad to suspend these two Standing Orders, and to extend the time for receiving nominations up to next Wednesday. In the case of the two gentlemen whose names are before the Seanad, if that were done it would enable their proposers to bring in nomination papers in the meantime, which would be in accordance with Standing Orders, and in that way then their names would be eligible to be submitted for ballot on this day week. That, as I say, would require a resolution of the Seanad suspending the two Standing Orders and extending the time for receiving nominations up to next Wednesday. If any Senator desires to do that, I will accept a motion of that kind, and if not, I see no other alternative than to proceed with the holding of this election de novo.

Do you think, sir, it would be advisable to give notice of motion to suspend the Standing Orders, or should it be done at once?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I will take the motion at once if the House is agreeable to pass it.

If the Seanad is agreeable I will move to suspend the Standing Orders forthwith. Otherwise, if the Seanad does not wish to proceed so rapidly I will give notice to do so to-morrow. I shall take the sense of the House now as to whether I may be allowed to move the suspension of the Standing Orders.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That would be for the purpose of moving that the time for receiving nominations be extended for a week.

I beg to second that motion.

It would cause less of an innovation if we had the election de novo, instead of what might be an undesirable precedent of suspending the Standing Orders, which would be a simple process.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Of course, I am compelled to take up the position I have taken up in view of the Standing Orders. They are purely technical matters, but I have to construe them to the best of my conscience, and I was compelled to rule that none of these nominations was in order. I think there is a good deal of force in what Senator Gogarty said, that if the election has proved abortive, as I think it has, there being no duly nominated candidates before the Seanad, then of course, theoretically, it is the right of every Senator to move a new candidate if he wishes, and unless the opportunity is given to him to do that, you are more or less interfering with the privileges of the House. But I think if you suspend the Standing Orders for the purposes of this election, and extend the time for receiving nominations for another week, that would meet the difficulty. So that if a Senator did want to nominate anyone else he may have an opportunity of doing so. That would save time, and, on the whole perhaps, that would be the course most convenient.

Not knowing exactly how the nominations were coming in, I came here with a nomination on the proper day, and on arriving here I understood that a nomination had already been received for the particular person in whom I was interested, and therefore I withdrew mine.

AN CAHAOIRLEACH

Senator Moore is referring to the nomination of Sir Walter Nugent——

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

As I mentioned, the Earl of Ossory is out of it, not because it is a matter of the Standing Orders, but because it is a matter of the Constitution, and we cannot interfere with that. In the case of Sir Walter Nugent, he is out of it because he has withdrawn his candidature.

It was Dr. Douglas Hyde I meant. What about my nomination?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I never saw it. If the Senator withdrew it, it was never before me.

I withdrew it because I understood there was another one in for the same person.

Having an election de novo will not make very much difference in time, and I think it is the more desirable course. It is rather surprising to find that all the Senators who sent in nominations failed to observe the Standing Orders. I think if they had had a little trade union experience they would avoid a mistake of that character. If we put this off it will only mean that we shall have a full House a fortnight hence, instead of a week hence. But apart from that altogether, I think it is most desirable to treat this as having being an abortive election, and it will make Senators, putting forward nominations in the future, be a little more careful to read the Standing Orders than they were on this occasion.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

If that is adopted by the Seanad it will be necessary to pass a resolution that a new election takes place de novo for this reason:—Our Standing Orders never contemplated this possibility which has occurred, and they make no provision, and there is no existing machinery under our present Standing Orders, to deal with abortive elections of this kind. Consequently, it will be necessary to move a resolution to the effect that the House proceeds de novo to the election of a Senator to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Colonel Sir Hutcheson Poë.

I think that is the proper course to take, and I would move that the present election having been abortive, the House should proceed de novo to the election of a Senator to fill the place caused by the resignation of Colonel Sir Hutcheson Poë.

I second that motion.

Question put and agreed.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I want to consult the convenience of the House. I think the best thing to do would be to provide that the nominations must be handed in by next Wednesday. That is to say, that the last day for handing in a nomination paper will be next Tuesday. That will give seven days. I want Senators to understand that Tuesday will be the last day, because on the last occasion some of them thought that they had both days—the first and last days were added, so to speak, and they came in late. Any nomination to be handed in must be handed in or left with the Clerk not later than next Tuesday. Again, I would remind every Senator that in handing in a nomination he has to state in the notice the full name and address and the qualifications of his candidate, and at the same time, accompanying the notice, he has to hand in a consent in writing by the candidate, consenting to act if elected, and all that has to be done in the one notice, and simultaneously.

I think the conduct of this election is not creditable to the Seanad. In the case of the smallest or humblest local authority in the land you could go to the assessor of that body in the case of an election and present your nomination papers, and he would at once tell you whether they were in order or not. Surely, in this House there ought to be somebody, when nominations of this kind are lodged, to tell Senators who bring in nomination papers if the papers are in order or not. I hope that in the future some machinery will be set up that will prevent such a state of things as has been revealed to-day occurring again. I do not think it is at all creditable to the Seanad.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think that is a very obvious and quite natural criticism on the part of Senator Mrs. Wyse Power. May I just mention, in justice to the staff, first of all, that owing to a severe illness our Clerk was not able to be present on those days.

I am aware of that.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Our Assistant Clerk, Mr. O'Sullivan, with his usual attention and courtesy, did his best, in each case, to remedy the omission, but as I have pointed out, unfortunately, in the one case the Senator who handed in the nomination paper had left the country altogether, while in the other case the Senator concerned was available, but it was too late to get the corrections made the next day. Under our Standing Orders all this has to come in at the one time and in the one paper. Might I also say in justification of the Senators, as everyone familiar with Parliamentary elections in the old days knows, that very often candidates were disqualified by reason of defects in their nomination papers.

Who is appointed to see whether these nominations are correct or not? If the Clerk is here, well and good, I take it he would see to it; but if the Clerk is not here, I take it somebody else should be there to see whether the nominations should be received or not.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The explanation is simple. When my attention was called to this omission, I at once pointed out the defect, and, of course, it was my duty, not the Clerk's duty, to construe the Standing Orders.

If the Cathaoirleach had been present when the nominations were handed in, it would be all right.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I am not here day and night.

When is the election actually going to come off?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think it would be for the convenience of the Seanad if, on next Wednesday, in accordance with the Standing Orders, I were to fix a date. I would fix the date for the following Wednesday— that is this day fortnight, 4th February.