Yes, I have read the papers, and I have seen where Mr. Ben Gurion, the same as any other man who has had uninterrupted power for a long time, is trying to think how he can perpetuate himself. He is looking longingly at the British system and saying, "If I could have that, I could possibly keep my Party in power for the next 20 years." I am sure that the Jews as a nation do not regard division as a foundation upon which they can build their young nation. They regard the co-operation and understanding of all groups in politics as absolutely essential to the national well-being; they consider that all are capable of making a contribution to the common good.
Again, I was appalled by the efforts to try to make the whole debate rediculous by resorting to the secondary school tactics of putting the case to the extreme and trying to suggest that if we are sincere in P.R., we should advocate one constituency for the whole country. Senator Sheehy Skeffington answered that exceedingly well when he said that the present system combined the two essentials of giving fair representation to all sections in Parliament and, at the same time, offering a chance of having stable Government for the period. You have got to combine the two. The present system does that reasonably well and, if we are to change from that, well, there are many alternatives besides what is being proposed.
Professor Hogan has been quoted so often and with such gusto that it would be well to know what his considered opinion on this is. His considered opinion is that if we do need a further shift in the direction of majority government, to give a bigger bonus to the larger Parties, we might consider breaking down the five and four seat constituencies to three seats; or even go a little bit further and, if we are not satisfied with that, we might institute in sparsely populated regions, like Kerry and parts of Connemara, a few trial single seat constituencies but, of course, with the transferable vote. That is his opinion. I have his authority to quote it here and I hope that Senators in future will not try to mis-represent what Professor Hogan says.
Senators' quotations show one thing. They show Professor Hogan the scientist and the man who can pick the faults in both systems. When they quote they quote just the faults. Anybody can find the faults. Why not quote the faults he finds in majority government? Why not quote the fact that he is convinced that it was the straight vote or the illiterate vote, where you place your "X", that brought the Reds into Spain? That is in his book and that should be quoted. Do we want anything like that to happen?
In the single seat non-transferable vote system there is a grave danger of getting these tremendous swings. That is the view of most people who have studied the problem carefully and with whom I have discussed the matter. I am asked how one can make predictions of election results. Surely any scientist must be prepared to make predictions. He must be prepared to get his figures together to show the basis of his predictions. Anybody who wishes to differ and who has the figures is entitled to show how the matter should be interpreted otherwise.
In my own constituency of Cork we have the situation where out of 43,000 votes cast in the last election three Fianna Fáil candidates were returned. I am in agreement with that. It gives a nice bonus to the majority Party. It gives them 60 per cent. of the representation for about 47 per cent. of the votes. That is a one-third bonus— quite a substantial bonus. The others elected there were—one Fine Gael member and one Labour man. The people of Cork are quite satisfied with that representation—at least they are satisfied in so far as each group feel they have somebody to go to. Fianna Fáil have their three members. Fine Gael can approach their man, Deputy Stephen Barrett, and Labour have a first-class representative in Deputy Casey so that the people feel they are represented. They feel they have access to Parliament.
What is proposed to be done? Cork City will now be divided into five regions and the poll in each region will then be about 9,000 votes the next time. No doubt we will have a Fianna Fáil candidate in each place. Also, I take it that we shall have a Fine Gael and a Labour candidate. What will the result be? Fianna Fáil, provided they can get about 37 or 38 per cent. of the votes in any one of the places, will be sure of the seat because the rest will be distributed between the two others, Fine Gael and Labour—not to mention any Independent who may stand for election.
The situation is that in Cork, on the average, 48 out of every 100 people voted for Fianna Fáil. Could anybody tell me how you can cut— or shall I use the word "gerrymander?"—a pocket out of Cork in which Fianna Fáil on the showing in the last election would have less than 37 per cent. of the votes? I certainly am not aware of any such regions in the city. The result of this manoeuvre, then, will be that in place of the present representation for Cork City there will be five Fianna Fáil Deputies for Cork City.
I do not think that the people of Cork City, when that is explained to them, will have any doubt whatever about the justification for the retention of P.R. I do not think they will listen to any fantastic tales by anyone, whether Minister or Senator, about the injustice of P.R. Surely the concrete example of the injustice of the straight vote or the illiterate vote for Cork City will be the fact that next time there must be five Fianna Fáil representatives?
Then, of course, we have the wonderful case made that the representative will suddenly become conscious of the whole community. He will represent everybody in his constituency. He will become what you might call a coalition or inter-Party man—the same to everybody. If he is to carry out all these duties properly, on Monday night he must attend at Fianna Fáil headquarters, on Tuesday night, Fine Gael headquarters and on Wednesday night he must go back to the Labour headquarters. I do not know whether the Independent will be able to get hold of him on any night of the week.
Surely nobody is serious in suggesting that that type of representation will be better than what we have at present? I should like to go on record as stating that if they lose Deputy Casey in Cork City they will lose one of the best Deputies they have. He is a first class man. He is also a man who took long and serious steps to train himself before he ever entered public life. He is a man who has got all the social teaching. That also might be said about Senator Murphy and Senator Crowley. In other words, the Labour Party are to be congratulated on the type of men it is turning out at present. It ill behaves any Government to contemplate driving these men out of Parliament. They are a credit anywhere, whether they are in Government or in Opposition. I say that while I am identified with no Party whatsoever.
I come to my own home county in West Limerick where, in recent years, Fianna Fáil have got a fairly substantial majority and which previously was a seven seat constituency. That was cut up rather nicely. Now there is a three seat and a four seat constituency. The three seat constituency is such that it has returned, since it was formed, two Fianna Fáil Deputies and one Fine Gael Deputy. I do not object. It gives an edge to the majority Party.
What will happen from now on? At present, there are three Deputies in West Limerick. The last time there were elected there Deputy Collins, Deputy Ó Briain and Deputy Jones. Fianna Fáil got 53 per cent. of the votes and they got two seats. The others got 47 per cent. This will be divided up and there will be three Fianna Fáil Deputies returned there the next time. If the last election had been conducted on the system now proposed, it is almost certain that we would have three Government representatives and no Fine Gael representative. I do not think the people of West Limerick would appreciate that.
I could go on but I do not wish to weary the House with the election results from all the other regions. Of course, we are reminded by the Taoiseach and others that it is not fair to add together the Labour and Fine Gael vote. He would like to split it equally between the two. That is not what is happening. The split is that at least 95 per cent. of the vote from one group has transferred over to the other in the election.
Next, we have the claim, again rather extravagantly made, that the proposed change will do at least one thing: It will make every Party stand on its own two feet. That is a grand thing, that seems on the surface to be very well worth while, but is it a fact? We have only to look across the Border to see that it is not so, because after 30 years we are to-day no nearer the replacement of the Unionist Government than we were in 1929.
Senator Ryan thought that far too much was made of this because he conceives that 60 per cent. of the North are Unionists. In fact that is the highest figure I have heard conceded by anybody here who was advocating the ending of Partition. The last election results gave 39 seats out of 52 to the Unionist Party. That is 75 per cent. representation for 60 per cent. of the people, and the others, who got 40 per cent. of the vote on Senator Ryan's calculation, had to be content with 25 per cent. of the seats. He is content with the system under which a Unionist in the North requires only half as many votes to elect him as a Nationalist or a Labour man.
Where can we make progress when we have such wrong thinking on these important issues? If that is the case why do we not recognise that the Unionists are fixed in the North always and for all time, and give over satire-rattling about Partition? I was one of those at the inter-Parliamentary Union in London last year and we were, to tell the truth, a bit nauseated about two much sabre-rattling on the Partition question. The speeches made then will all have to be rewritten, because we cannot charge them with gerrymandering, as has been charged down the years. We should be honest about it, withdraw our charges and instruct our representatives in the U.N.O. and elsewhere to withdraw those charges, and to do it gracefully.
We come to the business that those advocating the abolition of P.R. want to push the whole thing to the absurdity of suggesting that we are looking for a single constituency for the whole country. But they rebel when we point out where the other system, of straight voting, can be pushed to. They rebel when we tell them where it has taken the people of Russia, Hungary, China, and everywhere else. In fact, every one of those dictatorships has its straight voting. They get the citizens to put down their X before the name of the candidate the government tells them. They are progressing recently, and feel that they ought to have the trappings of democracy, so they are, in a few elections behind the Iron Curtain, putting up a selected opposition as well. There is where the straight vote leads you.
Remember that here, while we may pride ourselves on our Christian heritage and traditions and the way we observe our religious festivals and our religion, those who are studying us, the philosophers, whose business it is to study trends, have for years called out against the dictatorial leanings and developments evident in Irish politics over the last 20 or 30 years. We have the whole period of the ‘30's when there was ruthless centralisation of government, with the county councils and corporations and all the rest being almost squeezed out of existence. You might say that they are there to-day simply to draw their travelling expenses and do what the manager tells them. It is no wonder that we have our rates and everything else at the level we have, when the local authorities will not be given the necessary function in that matter.
The totalitarian outlook is most dangerous when it is in people who are not aware that they have that outlook. That is our real difficulty here. People say "how can Ireland go Communist? How could such a thing happen?" But Douglas Hyde, who knows a lot more about the methods of Communism than anybody in this or the other House, is not so dogmatic about it. In fact, he is almost dreading the fact that it could happen.
Again, take Professor James Hogan, who has been quoted here. If you read his pamphlet, published in 1939, "Can Ireland become Communist?" you cannot be so complacent. Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. That is what we have to keep in mind, and democracy has to be hedged around with all forms of safeguards. That is why we on this side feel that we are doing our duty to the Irish nation by debating this measure fully and properly and by spending hours carrying out scientific investigations. I am proud to say that I am doing that while still putting 40 or 50 hours into my own job. I can say to anybody that I have not for one moment neglected that job. I have spent extra hours in endeavouring to make a scientific approach to and analysis of this problem. The more I analyse it the more frightened I become of the dreadful consequences that can happen.
Up and down the country there are young men, and men not so young, who are trying to find out what this is all about. No better advice could be given to those people than that they should obtain the Seanad reports over the past four weeks, go through them carefully and critically examine the arguments put up, see the answers by those opposing this motion and, above all, note the extravagant statements and the use of the principle: "If you have a bad case, abuse your opponents." These Seanad reports, in my view, present the most damning case that can be made against the present proposal. I believe that they are not by any means finished yet.
We come to the Labour Party in England. I want to make just one passing reference to it. Perhaps Senator Mullins, who is not here, and who takes such a poor view of professors in this country, might be surprised if he saw the number of professors who are in the British Labour Party and I suppose he would be amazed, too, at the fact that these are the men who hold most of the safe seats. The Party simply imposes them on the people down the country. I wonder will the present or any future Government endeavour to make more use of our universities when they do get all these safe seats.
I want to go on record as having approved very much of Senator Stanford's statement, which was reasoned and perfectly legitimate and sound, and one that should not be dismissed in the way in which it has been. His statement merely covered a possibility which he and I and everybody else hope will never arise here. However, if we have Senator Mullins referring to safeguards in the Constitution as just scraps of paper, what guarantee or protection does the Constitution give us?
I do not think young Ireland can afford to sit down and wait while some new Party grows up, like the British Labour Party, in the hope that it might obtain power here after 27 years. If that is the hope that is held out to us, that we will have Party bosses of the worst type until then, that we are going to repeat the history and follow the absolute reign for 27 years of the Unionist Party in the Six Counties then there is little future in this country for any young people.
One of the most frightening features of the single seat constituency and the non-transferable vote is the way men of ability have been squelched out in the North and in Britain. We have the recent case of Mr. Montgomery Hyde and only a few years back we had that of Dr. Warnock who, because he was a brilliant man was pushed out by the Party bosses. If they had P.R. in the North you would have far better representation for the opposition. Take the 1955 Westminster Election, where 127,000 in the four constituencies in Belfast voted Unionist, 52,000 voted Labour and 18,000 Nationalist. By the magic of the straight vote the Unionists got the four seats and there was no representation for anybody else. Does anybody here say it is a fair system that deprives 70,000 non-Unionist voters in Belfast of representation? If that is the case, everything we have been saying about Partition up to this has been all wrong.
The National Parliament has been mentioned. It is a healthy sign that there are some few in the Fine Gael ranks who are in favour of the straight vote, who have the courage of their convictions and are not tied up by Party considerations. I would be far happier about this measure if it could be shown that there are three or four supporters of the Government who are not in favour of it. This 100 per cent. support gives me the same sickening feeling I experience on seeing that Hitler or Stalin got 99.9 per cent. of the votes in an election. Such people never get less than 99.9 per cent. of the votes cast.
A great deal has been said about consulting the people. When this is being done, why not consult the people properly, first of all, by letting them have an authoritative report by impartial people setting out precisely what we might expect from any one of the half dozen changes to be made in the present system? When the people have had that report, why not consult them properly instead of giving them a package deal in which you say: Do you approve of the single seat constituency and the non-transferable vote? Surely these are two distinct and separate questions.
If we respect the people and if we regard them as the final arbiters in this, surely they have the right to answer each of these questions separately: No. 1. Do you approve of the single seat constituency? If a majority are in favour of No. 1, No. 2 could be put: Do you approve of having the vote transferable or should it be non-transferable?
From what I have read in the Cork Examiner of 25th February, the fact that what I am saying is simple logic is clear to our representatives in the United Nations. Apparently, when we go away, we can be objective. Before that assembly there is the question of the future of the British Cameroons in Africa and the question of holding a plebiscite. There are disputes in the Trusteeship Committee of the General Assembly as to what the future should be there and as to what questions they should ask those people. We do not think they are being fair to those people. They are not asking them sufficient questions. They are not putting all the alternatives before the people and so our representative, Mr. Kennedy, suggests that four choices should be offered in the plebiscite. It is accepted by us that a plebiscite is not a matter of black and white, yes or no. He wants four choices, and rightly so. These are the four questions suggested: No. 1. Should the British Cameroons integrate with Nigeria; No. 2. Should they integrate with the French Cameroons; No. 3. Should there be a continued trusteeship; and No. 4. Should there be eventual independence?
You cannot solve that problem by an X vote. You must get down to your 1, 2, 3 and 4. The people will have to be asked to vote No. 1 for the proposition they favour most, No. 2 for their second choice, No. 3 for their third, and No. 4 for their fourth. They are being asked to vote in an intelligent way, not in the way in which you treat illiterates by asking them to make their mark, to put down their X. Some have suggested that the use of the figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 is wrong. All it means in the case of the British Cameroons is that it saves going back next week and the week after and the week after that again. If you were to operate this plebiscite with an X you should say: "Put an X against your choice". The Xs would be totalled up and the proposition that gets the least number of Xs out of the four is ruled out and we are back the week after with three questions. Then we ask them to put their X to the proposition they favour most of the three. The Xs are counted up again and the question with the least number of Xs is eliminated. Finally we are down to two questions and they vote accordingly. But the simple process of 1, 2, 3 and 4, which is capable of being understood by any national schoolboy is being used to avoid the expense and delay of repetition.
All the person is asked simply is: "If we cannot comply with your first choice, what will we do after it?"
Senators are all familiar with this question of voting, whether it be for a lord mayor, a rate collector, or anything else. Four, five or six names are proposed. You put your "X" before the name you think best. Then the "Xs" are totalled up and the candidate with the lowest number is declared out. You vote again until you eventually bring it down to two candidates and then you vote between those two. All that could be done at any corporation or county council meeting in a single vote by simply asking the members to vote 1, 2, 3 and 4— it being understood that, if they cannot give them the man they give the No. 1 vote to, they will give them the man to whom they give No. 2. There is a lot of misunderstanding of that throughout the country and a feeling that a simple vote is the right thing for a simple people. Surely our people, in this day and age, are able to put down 1, 2, 3, 4 rather than be reduced simply to making "Xs".
I want to comment on the question of stability of Government. It is claimed that the reduction from multi seat down to single seat constituencies will contribute to stability of Government. I have made the point that my fear is that it will give over-stability, which is, if you wish, far worse than under-stability. You get these complete swings. It raises the question then: Have we had instability of Government or are we likely to have instability of Government in this country in the future?
We have got to look at those frightful tragedies that the proposers of this Bill have cited, where the Government, in 1933, had an election after a year; in 1938, they had an election after another year and again in 1944. Well, these actually were only examples of good political craft on the part of the Taoiseach himself. They caused no more instability here than a good bout of 'flu would have caused. All they meant was that, for three or four weeks between the declaration of an election and the election itself, the Ministers were absent part of the time from their offices. They were still there as Ministers but they were absent just part of the time. In fact, you might say it was equal to taking two weeks' holidays. They returned after the election to the same offices they had before the election. I submit that to regard such a thing as instability of Government or as preventing any action is very much against the facts.
The Minister for External Affairs has been demanding a straight answer to a straight question. Perhaps he will give a straight answer to a very straight question I want to put to him. I do not expect the answer to-day. We will give him a few days. The question is this: Will the Minister list, in each of the periods in which his Party were in Government, just three items that they were prevented from carrying through due to the fact that they had not a greater majority in the House than they had? I am asking the Minister to list just three in each period to show how these were the vital happenings that would have made all the difference to our present position. Personally, I, as a scientist, or any other person—Senator Mrs. Dowdall may laugh——