Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 11 Mar 1959

Vol. 50 No. 14

Public Business. - An Bille um an Tríú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1958—An Coiste (atogáil). Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—Committee Stage (Resumed).


In sub-section 2º of Section 2, amendments Nos. 1 and 2, as indicated last week, have been ruled out of order.

Cuireadh an cheist: "I gCodanna I agus II, go bhfanfaidh fó-alt 2º d'alt 2 mar chuid den Sceideal."

Question proposed: "That in Parts I and II, sub-section 2º of Section 2 stand part of the Schedule."

On this sub-section which is the sub-section which prescribes that members "shall be elected on the system of the single non-transferable vote", I should like to say something about the whole principle involved here: on the non-transferable as opposed to the transferable vote. It is obvious that if you have the non-transferable vote the voter gets no second choice. I am avoiding the use of the phrase "straight vote" because I think it is ambiguous, unless you take the word "straight" in the same sense in which it is applied in the phrase "a strait jacket"; it might be regarded as the "strait jacket" vote because, in fact, the voter's hands are virtually tied. He gets one choice and after that no more.

In fact, this clause, when it is referred to the people under the referendum, will, in effect, be asking the voters to allow their hands to be tied. The non-transferable vote allows for a far cruder expression of the voter's preference. All a voter can do is just "plump" for one candidate and, consequently, for one Party. That gives an expression to his vote which is far less subtle, less intelligent and less discriminating than under the transferable vote, even with a single seat constituency. At present in a by-election where the single seat constituency is the rule with the transferable vote, the voter can vote first for his first choice even if that first choice has, as yet, in his opinion, no chance of being elected but he can cast his No. 1 vote for his first choice, without the fear of the vote being wasted. He knows that if his candidate is eliminated his No. 2 vote will be transformed into a No. 1 vote.

Consequently, even in a single seat constituency under the present by-election system with the transferable vote, the voter is enabled to vote (a) for a particular tendency within a Party—to vote for a candidate more closely representing his views within a Party, or he can vote (b) for a young man as opposed to an old man, or a young man, as the case may be, as opposed to an older woman candidate, within the same Party. In other words he can express a choice as between the tendencies or age groups or (c) the voter can vote for a small Party or an Independent, with which or with whom he is in sympathy.

In Britain to-day, where they have not got this transferable vote, a voter might well like to vote for the Liberal candidate without having thereby to lose the right, if the Liberal candidate cannot be elected, to express a preference as between the Labour candidate and the Conservative candidate. I say that a voter in Britain to-day might like to register a vote for the Liberals without having thereby to lose the right to express a preference as between the other two. Without the transferable vote that cannot be done.

I would suggest, furthermore, that by such expressions of preference an election constitutes a much more sensitive indicator of shades of public opinion, and of incipient changes in public opinion, than under a system where you can just vote for one candidate and one candidate only, with the non-transferable vote. Even with the one-seat constituency, there would be a possibility of having two or three candidates presented by one Party for the purpose of attracting the elector by different tendencies within that Party.

I would see a value even in relation to a single seat constituency of having two candidates, or perhaps more, for the one seat, from the same Party, because I would see a value attaching to the electoral work for a team of Party candidates, rather than simply for one single candidate. I myself, and all those who have had anything to do with election campaigning, have felt the sense of teamwork, the spirit of solidarity, which springs from working for a team of Party candidates. Senator Lenihan— I am glad to see he is here — made the point himself in reply to a point that Senator Professor Quinlan made. Senator Lenihan said, if I remember correctly, that he had the privilege of going forward for election and being a candidate in harness with an older politician of the same Party. He said in column 1000, Volume 50 of the Official Report:—

"A lot of play has been made by Senator Quinlan about young men. I happen to be a fairly young fellow. I faced the people in two elections as a member of a political Party with older members of my Party fighting the campaign with me. I see nothing wrong with the joining of the older and younger people in the major political Parties. Surely it is in that direction we can progress in the future."

I interjected at that point: "You will not be able to in the single-seat constituency", meaning, of course, that he would not be able to run in harness with a senior politician if there was only a one-seat constituency with a non-transferable vote.

Senator Lenihan replied: "I can assure the Senator that I have the utmost confidence in my ability to deal with that situation." I interjected again and said: "You cannot go forward with other members of your Party any more." Senator Lenihan replied: "I have the greatest confidence in my ability to deal with that."

I should like to underline the Senator's attitude there, because Senator Lenihan in the first place points out, in relation to what I am now saying, the great value of presenting two or three candidates together, the value to the younger people of such a situation, and when I said that if he had not got the transferable vote in the multiple seat constituency, he would not be able to do that any more, his answer was to the effect that he will be able to look after himself! It seems to me that he is saying that he can now manage by himself, and that therefore the system of going before the electorate as a team is no longer necessary or valuable. The British army motto, something to the effect: "Rot you, Jack, I'm bombproof" seems to be the attitude of Senator Lenihan. He has had the advantage of this political apprenticeship, and now he has no further use for that ladder and is prepared to kick it away for others. I think that that is not quite fair to the younger members of his own Party and of other Parties, and I do not think that the whole purpose of running as a team has been served once Senator Lenihan has got the advantage of it. I feel it would also be an advantage for other people, and should therefore be retained.

I should now like to make the point that even if we have the transferable vote no second preference votes come into play at all, unless no candidate gets more than half the votes at the first count. If any candidate does get half the valid votes cast plus one, he is elected, and no second preference votes come into play. It is only if the candidate does not get more than half the votes that the second preferences will be counted.

I should like to ask whether we really think that a person failing to get more than half the votes should be elected, without any regard to the second preferences among the electorate? France has been quoted a good deal both here and in the Dáil. France is now supposed to have a system under which we are asked to believe that things are going well. Now, actually the French system to-day is that they hold two separate elections —one in one week and the other a week later. The way it goes is, that if any candidate at the first election gets more than half the votes he or she is declared elected and there is no second election. But if no candidate gets more than half, the following Sunday—they hold all their elections on Sundays— there is a fresh election in which all the candidates can stand again if they want to, but in which a number of those who have not done well at the first election usually stand down, saying that they are standing down in favour of certain other candidates. The electorate then vote once more on the slightly restricted number of candidates, and at the second election whether or not the top candidate gets half, or more than half the votes, he or she is declared elected.

The necessity for holding such a double election would be removed if they simply had, with their single seat constituencies the transferable vote, because second preferances need be counted only in the event of no candidate getting more than half the votes.

I should like to emphasise the fact, therefore, that in single seat constituencies the transferable and the non-transferable vote have exactly the same effect and result whenever more than half the electorate vote for one candidate. It is only when no candidate commands an absolute majority that the transferable vote comes into play at all.

I should like to give an example of the classic three or four-cornered contests in single seat constituencies. If you imagine, for instance, a single seat constituency in which 9,000 valid votes have been cast, the quota will be 4,501, and, supposing one candidate in the first count gets that quota he is declared elected and the election is over. There is no counting of second preferences at all, and there should not be, because he commands a true majority.

But supposing, as is far more likely to happen, that the Fianna Fáil candidate, say, out of those 9,000 votes gets 3,000, Fine Gael, 2,500, Labour, 2,000 and Independents, 1,500. Now if you have the non-transferable vote the top candidate there, the Fianna Fáil man with 3,000 votes in my imaginary example, is declared elected. Under this non-transferable vote system the candidate with the most votes, even though he does not reach more than half the votes, is declared elected, irrespective, in the case I cite, of the 6,000 people who voted against him as first choice. Under the transferable vote system, if even 1,501 of those 6,000 people want him as their second choice, then he is elected anyway, and he has nothing to complain about. It is only if they do not want him, even as their second choice, that he is rejected.

Surely such a result is the essence of justice. Consequently, I suggest that what the opponents of the transferable vote want is that a candidate in command of only minority support can slip into Parliament with considerably less votes than what constitute a true electoral mandate. In refusing the transferable vote system, therefore, it would appear to me that this kind of contest, the three-cornered or four-cornered one, is precisely what is wanted by the opponents of the transferable vote, by the supporters of this sub-section and by the Government. That is what is wanted by the Government, by Fianna Fáil for that very reason; that under such a system candidates without a true majority mandate will be able to slide into Parliament.

It has been said and I should like to take it up as a separate point—that the system of P.R. with a single transferable vote was foisted upon Ireland by Britain, because the transferable vote was supposed to give more representation to the Unionists at that time. It so happened that the other day I was sorting some of my father's papers, and I came across a document published in 1912 which seemed to me to be relevant to the suggestion that the single transferable vote system of P.R. was imposed upon a reluctant country by Britain. This publication is the Journal of the Proportional Representation Society for July, 1912. I found here mention of the fact that a deputation was sent from Ireland by the Irish Proportional Representation Society to British Ministers, and to leaders of various Opposition Parties in the House of Commons with a view to persuading them to include the P.R. system with the single transferable vote in our Home Rule Bill, and I quote page 49 of this document:—

"The members of the deputation were Professor Sir William Barrett and Dr. O'Connell (Dublin), the Rev. J.O. Hannay, well known as ‘George Birmingham,' Mr. Alec Wilson, J.P. (Belfast), Mr. J.J. Horgan (Cork) and Mr. E.A. Aston, Honorary Secretary of the Irish Society. Mr. John H. Humphreys accompanied the deputation on behalf of the English Society. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, who expected to be present, sent a letter regretting his inability to attend, in which he wrote:—

‘I am in favour of the principle because in the first place it will be possible to safeguard sections of the community who may fear hurtful legislation by an Irish Parliament, and, secondly, because by giving representation to every minority in the country we could secure a Parliament which would be the best possible reflex of public opinion, and the personnel of the Legislature would be the best the country could secure.'"

Commenting on the proposal Mr. John Redmond said, and I quote:—

"What we want is that the Irish Parliament shall be representative of every element in the country. We want every class represented. We want every creed represented. We want equal justice."

It is true to say that Mr. Redmond was subsequently a little bit cagey. There were, in fact, two leading politicians at the time who made slightly cagey speeches, such as one sometimes hears from leading politicians to-day. I quote again from page 49 of this document:—

"Mr. Redmond in replying to the deputation assured them that he had in no way receded from the position he took in Dublin in expressing his desire that minorities should be safeguarded. He was not prepared to commit either himself or his Party to acceptance or rejection of the scheme, but he could not object to P.R., if it was demanded by Irish opinion."

The other slightly cagey politician on this issue was Sir Edward Carson who said at page 57:—

"He was quite ready to consider these amendments on their merits, and if he was convinced that P.R. actually provided in practice for the representation of minorities, he, whose sympathies were always with minorities, would support it. He was not prepared, however, at this juncture to commit himself"

—he used the same phrase, the same politician's safeguard—

"as to what action he would take. He would carefully examine the working of the system, and his attitude would be determined by the consideration to which he had referred."

He had to wait for his instructions.

He seems to echo certain modern politicians in that, too. Now, I have quoted two politicians who were hedging in this regard, but I should like to quote what three representative Irish newspapers said.

The Freeman's Journal of April 21st, 1911, said:—

"P.R. has two undoubted advantages over other schemes for protecting minorities; it is thoroughly democratic and it is automatic in its working."

The Belfast Newsletter of May 21st, 1912, said:—

"If it were adopted in Ireland, it might go far to remove the injustice which the Protestant minorities in Leinster, Munster and Connaught labour under just now."

Sinn Féin said on January, 21st, 1911:—

"P.R. would invest every voter with absolute equality. It is the only equitable system of representation based on numerical strength."

In the light of such quotations it becomes impossible to say that this was a system imposed upon an unwilling people by the wicked British. Large sections of the people here were asking for it, and I have quoted a sufficiently representative cross-section to indicate that there was at least a large amount of opinion in Ireland which regarded it as desirable even under the Home Rule Bill.

Senator Lenihan expressed disappointment at the way in which the university representatives had come to the Seanad, and I quote from column 1003 of the Seanad Debates of the 4th March, 1959:—

"...I would have expected university representatives to come to the Seanad and to put the pros and cons, in respect of this proposal."

He went on to say at column 1004:—

"...There is a definite philosophical issue and they made no attempt to analyse it."

I do not wish to dwell at length on that, but I do sympathise with Senator Lenihan in his disappointment. We have heard a lot about the professors of this House, and I should like hotly to deny that I am a professor. I am, indeed, the only representative of the university here who is not a professor but a mere lecturer. However, I do not accept the suggestion that the university representatives— Senator Lenihan did not use the words "professors"—did not attempt to present the pros and cons and did not attempt to analyse. In point of fact if he will turn to columns 453 and 454 he will find that I in particular—and the same applies to the other university representatives—made at least an effort to analyse the case against P.R. and the transferable vote. I grant you that Senator Lenihan was more concerned at the time to discover whether or not I was reading my speech, and possibly he had not sufficient concentration to listen to what I was actually saying. However, if he has the time he might notice that at column 453 I stated:—

"The case against P.R. seems to fall under three main heads."

I gave the heads: first, a multiplicity of Parties; second, Coalitions, and third, weak and unstable Government. I shall not quote what I said, but I made an attempt to rebut each of these charges, to weigh in the balance their validity, and I said in relation to the formation of Coalition Governments that there was some truth in the Government's contention that there might be, under P.R., under the single transferable vote, a tendency to form such coalitions. I conceded the point, and I endeavoured to analyse it, perhaps imperfectly; but it is not quite fair to express total disappointment. I should not like to feel that Senator Lenihan was supremely and dejectedly disappointed, because we did not attempt to analyse the case against. We endeavoured to analyse it, even if our analysis was not satisfactory from his point of view.

I want therefore to suggest, in relation to this sub-section, that it is a bad sub-section. I want to suggest that by abolishing the transferable vote it seeks to withdraw a measure of the power that is at present vested in the ordinary voter. The ordinary voter has got a certain measure of power now. Some of that power will be filched from him by this sub-section, which will give him, in place of the transferable vote, in which he can express his preferences, a single vote in which he can merely plump for one candidate and do nothing else. Under this section he will be robbed of the right to express a preferential opinion, the right to express a graded choice, the right to register an effectively balanced and discriminating vote. By this sub-section, therefore, and indeed by the whole Bill which the people are being asked to approve of, the people are in fact being asked docilely to deprive themselves of those voting powers, this voting strength and this discriminatory voting right. Therefore, I say "no" personally to this sub-section, and I hope that the Seanad will say "no", and that the people will say "no" in the Referendum.

This section concerns the non-transferable vote, and Senator Sheehy Skeffington rightly confined himself to that issue. The allegation has been made throughout this debate that the proposal for the non-transferable vote is designed to suit the partisan purposes of the Fianna Fáil Party. It is my concern to rebut that suggestion. The only practicably way in which it can be done is by examining the results of the by-elections in recent years to see how far the non-transferable vote in those bye-elections helped the Fianna Fáil Party. With that end in view, I propose to deal with the results of by-elections in which there were only two candidates, a Fianna Fáil candidate and a non-Fianna Fáil candidate. I do not think it is relevant to the argument to go through all the other by-elections in which there were more than one candidate opposed to Fianna Fáil. We will see how this proposed system of the non-transferable vote has worked in practice and how far it has helped to perpetuate Fianna Fáil.

The first by-election I shall take is the by-election in the constituency of Dublin North-East on 30th April, 1956. The total valid poll was 32,079. Already the swing was starting against the then Government and towards the Fianna Fáil alternative Government in Opposition. There were two candidates in that by-election, Patrick Byrne, Independent, and Charles J. Haughey, Fianna Fáil. The result was, Patrick Byrne, 18,129; Charles J. Haughey, 13,950—election of Patrick Byrne, Independent. An Independent, anti-Fianna Fáil candidate, with the non-transferable vote operating, succeeded in beating the Fianna Fáil candidate, despite the fact that the swing was already moving against the then Coalition Government and towards the alternative Fianna Fáil Government.

I shall be fair about this. On 14th November, 1956, in Dublin South-West, Deputy Noel Lemass, Fianna Fáil, beat the Fine Gael candidate on the result 14,416 to 9,682. Within two months there was an Independent beating a Fianna Fáil candidate and a Fianna Fáil candidate beating a Fine Gael candidate under the non-transferable vote system. My only concern is to present in all fairness what is likely to happen under the single transferable vote system. Shortly afterwards, in the constituency of Leix-Offaly, Fianna Fáil beat Labour. The Labour candidate, Davin, was beaten by Egan, Fianna Fáil, by 23,500 votes to 18,500. That was evened up in the following by-election in February, 1957, when Moloney of Fianna Fáil was beaten by Kathleen O'Connor, Clann na Poblachta, by 18, 176 votes to 15,828.

There you have it. In the four by-elections held in the year immediately prior to the last general election where the non-transferable vote operated, and where there were only two candidates seeking election, the Fianna Fáil Party won two seats and were beaten for another two seats. Could anything be fairer? Surely the most unbiassed Senator, particularly, the Senators who have no Party ties, must admit that that analysis of the operation of the non-transferable vote should lead them to the view that under the new system there will be no perpetuation of Fianna Fáil or anything like it. Surely it will result, as it has in Britain, in certain areas, that tend to support Fianna Fáil putting in Fianna Fáil candidates, and other areas that tend to be against Fianna Fáil putting in other candidates. That analysis should lead any rational person to the conclusion that the logical development of the system we are proposing is that the people can accept or reject the candidate put forward by either the Government or the alternative Government in opposition.

Even since the last general election there have been by-elections. In particular, in the Dublin North-Central constituency, on the 14th November, 1957, there was a candidate who got in, not thanks to P.R., although eventually he got in because P.R. was in operation, but who in fact headed the poll. Sherwin, F. headed the poll on that date with 4,077 votes. He got in by various transfers because he had not reached the quota on the first count. If that was an election on the straight vote system, Sherwin, F. would have been returned in that area, in that particular by-election. Surely the case is unanswerable from the point of view that no particular Party will be particularly favoured by the deletion of that particular requirement.

There is another aspect of it to which I did not refer in my previous remarks on this Bill, that is, the question of these transfers of which everybody is so enamoured. First of all, it might be no harm to mention that while there are 200 to 300 variations of P.R. all over the world—this principle of giving exact statistical representation—there are very few that conform to our peculiar system. In fact, I think it can be categorically stated that our system of election, involving the multi-seat arrangement, with the transferable vote, does not operate for any major Parliament in the world, apart from our own. That is a statement over which I can stand scientifically.

I have conducted an examination into this matter and the position is, that you have lists systems of P.R., and all sorts of other systems, but the transferable vote system in the multi-seat constituency only operates in the method of election to three provincial Parliaments. One is Tasmania, somewhere at the toe-end of Australia; the other is Gibraltar, at the toe-end of Spain; and the third is Malta, at the toe-end of Italy. Beyond being used as a means of election to those three provincial Parliaments, the system of the multi-seat constituency does not operate in the method of election to any major Parliament.

Does that make it a bad system?

No, not necessarily. I will come to that. It is a peculiar system.

Why should Ireland not lead the world?

I am coming to the point. It is a peculiar system. I would say a very peculiar system. One has only to look at how votes are transferred, the process by which they are transferred, to see what I mean. For simplicity, we will assume that there are three candidates in the field in an election. A gets 6,000 votes, B gets 5,000 votes and C gets 4,000 votes. C's votes are transferred. He is eliminated. He gives 3,000 votes to B and 1,000 votes to A and B is elected over A.

A might get them all.

That still bears out my point. Why should C's second preferences be the operative preferences in regard to electing anybody. Why should a particular group in the country, which is so much out of touch with the majority, and which supports a particular candidate who finds himself at the bottom of the poll, have the final say in putting in, or putting out, a candidate?

What about the Six Counties?

Why, in that context, if Senator O'Leary will apply his mind to it, should B's second preferences not be transferred, and why should A's not be allocated in some manner? Would it not be far more scientific——

We are back to science.


May I draw the attention of the Chair to interruptions by a certain gentleman on the opposite side?

The Senators should treat speakers with respect.

If there are three people, A. B. and C, with 6,000, 5,000 and 4,000 votes, why should we have a crazy system—which, as I have said, only operates in these three areas—perpetuated on us so as to enable the last man's second preferences to count as first preferences in the second count?

I would, with the aid of other scientifically minded people here, be able to work out a system whereby you could have a second count by which the second preferences from A, B and C could be allocated appropriately to the particular candidates to whom the second preferences should go. But why should we have a system, which, seen from any analytical point of view, gives a priority of strength to a number of people who happen to vote No. 1 for the candidate who comes last? The people who vote No. 1 for the person who comes last get two votes.

They only get one vote.

Surely the practicality of it is that the person who votes for the last candidate, in the example I have given has two votes. The end result of that is that, on the final count, the person who votes for the last candidate has two votes.



The first vote does not count.

I think it is unanswerable. When we are talking to sensible people in the country that is a point that will be appreciated. In other words, in a particular constituency,—taking my figures of 6,000, 5,000 and 4,000—about two-thirds of the people have no choice in regard to their second preferences.

But they have their representative elected.

Why should these people be disfranchised in regard to their second preference?

Because their first preference is given full value.

We will take the situation where somebody votes for candidate A, who just reaches the quota on the first count. Assuming he just reaches the quota under the present system, a large section of the people must have voted for him. In a three-seat constituency then he must have received at least 25 per cent. of the votes on the first count, without any transfer of preferences and he got there on his own ability. With the support of the people who voted for him, he topped the poll in the constituency. In the case of this man who has topped the poll, who is the man most highly regarded by the people in the constituency and for whom their majority have voted No. 1, his second preference votes are absolutely wasted. If he just reaches the quota, not one of his second preference votes is transferred. If he gets a few votes over the quota, they are distributed. Assuming he gets 11,000 votes and that exceeds the quota by 1,000 votes, each second preference vote counts as one-tenth of a vote in the distribution of the surplus.

Nonsense. Leave that to the scientists, anyway. The Senator is wrong there.

I am sure Senator L'Estrange can advise me as to how the surplus is distributed. I was under the impression that the distribution of the surplus was calculated in relation to the quota.

The actual surplus.

If Senators wish to address questions they had better address them to the Chair. It is the only way to secure an orderly debate.

Under the present system of election, if the majority of the people in a particular area decide to put a man at the top of the poll, be it a three, four or five seat constituency, and if that man reaches the quota on the first count and if he gets more votes than the quota and his surplus votes are distributed each second preference on his ballot paper counts as one-tenth of a vote.

His actual surplus.

I know that. That is elementary knowledge of P.R. The point is that each second preference on his ballot paper is effectively one-tenth of a No. 1 vote. The man who happens to vote for some lunatic or crackpot——

The director of a sugar factory, now?

In the case of a candidate who, after the first count, is at the bottom of the poll it is not one-tenth of a vote, but every second preference vote counts as one vote.

Where have his first preferences gone to?

By virtue of his standing in the community, they have gone by the board. He is regarded by the community as a candidate who is no good whatever. Every voter who is so stupid, foolish or weak-minded as to vote for a candidate who is so poorly regarded by the majority of his fellow electors that he arrives at the bottom of the poll has a second vote of equal value to a first vote.

Some of the lunatic candidates come at the top of the poll.

That is one remark I would never have thought would come from a Liberal. I would never have expected such a remark from a man who had regard for individual rights and for the rights of the people. If the people put a man at the top of the poll then he is there by the will of the people and he is rightly there. Senator Sheehy Skeffington may describe him as a lunatic candidate or a lunatic M.P. I think he is rightly designated to be there by the people. The most practical way of designating any person to represent any area is for the people to decide who comes first. No matter what some of the intellectuals opposite may think, it is very practical and sensible. The first horse past the post wins the race. The first man to breast the tape wins the sprint race, and so on. The man at the top of the poll, in the ordinary man's way of looking at it—he may be of no consequence——

The election, therefore, is a horse race. Is that it?

In the view of 90 per cent. of the reasonable people who are looking at it, if a man tops the poll he should get in. The proposed system ensures that if a man tops the poll he will get in.

Even though he has not got a majority?

I dealt with that very explicitly in pointing out, in the case of a minority candidate at the bottom of the poll that, under the present system, if all his transferable votes count as No. 1 votes, it is a completely idiotic system. His second preferences may help materially to beat a man at the top of the poll.

I am sorry for you. You do not understand P.R.

Senator Lenihan must be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

Let us take three men—A with 6,000 first preferences, B with 5,000 first preferences, and C with 4,000 first preferences. You have there a situation in which, if the majority of C's votes go to B, then the man at the top of the poll does not get in. I think it was Senator Ted O'Sullivan who mentioned a specific example that brought that out. In the general election of 1954 there was a ludicrous situation in Galway West where three seats were available. John Mannion, a Fine Gael candidate, headed the poll and there were three seats to be filled. The man who headed the poll did not get in. If that is not a crazy system, I would like somebody to——

What about the British system?

May I draw the attention of the Chair to the conduct of some Senators opposite who are interrupting Senator Lenihan during the whole course of his speech?

On a point of order. I think it would be helpful if Senator Lenihan addressed the Chair rather than directed his remarks across the House.

It seems to make no difference whether or not he addresses the Chair.

Senator Lenihan, without interruption.

One of the hecklers on the other side of the House has induced me to come to a point I nearly forgot in the welter of notes that I have here about me. The question of the British system has been bandied about. Senator Quinlan has been calling it the "Belfast system"—that is, the straight system of voting in the single seat constituency that operates in the U.S.A., Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. People opposite are concerned to call that system the "British" system. It might be no harm to reiterate that the idea of P.R. originated in the middle of the last century with certain extreme liberal British thinkers. Thomas Hare, notably, and also a gentleman called John Stuart Mill were two prominent persons involved. These people, in a minority of one in 100 in Britain, started this notion of P.R. The Proportional Representation Society of Great Britain was founded. The whole idea did not originate in Britain or anywhere else. It started in Britain as the cult of individualistic liberal thinkers of a sect. They founded the Proportional Representation Society of Great Britain. That cannot be stated often enough. Their whole cult was that the Government and even Parliament exercising an executive function was a waste of time. The idea was to curb the power of the executive. That idea is completely outdated and is 100 years old. It comes from the laissez faire era when people were concerned with the individual and individual rights at the expense of the community. It is outdated and dead.

The same as universal suffrage?

I would say the Labour Party and Senator Sheehy Skeffington would agree with me that we welcome the intrusion of government into public affairs, which has been a feature of government and public affairs over the past two generations. I certainly deplore the whole attitude of laissez faire of the Victorian era in Britain when nobody bothered a hoot about anybody and where the best horse jumped the ditch and, if not, he lay there. That was exactly the nation to which these extreme liberal thinkers who formed the Proportional Representation Society subscribed. Things have changed a lot, and rightly so.

The emphasis to-day is on government. The emphasis is on an effective executive. That has developed largely out of those Victorian days in Britain when you had people who were in an unrepresented class, the working class, without any rights or privileges or any way to move their point of view. The result is that to-day the State largely accepts a measure of responsibility for the economics welfare of the community. That is a very good thing.

In that context the emphasis must be on effective government rather than on excessive representation. Excessive representation in the form of representation of every shade and colour of opinion in Parliament is as dead as the Dodo. It is not relevant to to-day's attitude and to the needs of this era. For that reason I think that a very bad day's work was done for this country when, in 1920, the views of the Proportional Representation Society of Great Britain were listened to by Lloyd George, not for the benefit of the society, but for some devious reason of his own and were incorporated in the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, from whence we have P.R.

The Minister has already quoted the real reason behind the introduction of this measure. In that particular Act of Parliament it is quite clear from Lord Samuel's remarks in the Westminster Parliament at the time what the idea was. It was to curb the Party that had secured a broad flow of support in the community of the day here—the Sinn Féin Party, in the 1918 election. That challenge is still open to any other Party who want to find support in the community.

The present system, which is unique in this country and peculiar by virtue of being imposed by Lloyd George and peculiar for other reasons, has given rise to a system where, if you look forward to the future, there appears to be nothing but stagnation. Just look ahead to the future and try to envisage things over the next ten, 15 or 20 years. It was mentioned in a sneering attitude in the Dáil that we were looking ahead to the future. I am glad that we are. There is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, there is something fine and noble about it. If anyone looks to the future of this country it seems to be inevitable that you could very easily have a situation where you would have five, six, seven or eight Parties none of which would be able to govern the country. We have had instances of that in the past few years. I do not wish to go over the failures of the Coalition Governments. We would have that sort of thing in a more aggravated form in future elections.

At the moment in this popular Parliament, Dáil Éireann, where is the alternative Government functioning? Do the people know to-day that there is in opposition to the present Government an alternative Government functioning for the people?

They know they have been doing nothing since they got in.

I am talking about alternative Government. Surely, people who have the mind and the community at heart would agree with me that it would be a very good thing for our community if in our Parliament to-day there was functioning an alternative Government and if the people could see in opposition to the Fianna Fáil Party an alternative Government to which the people could swing in a general election? The Bill before the House essentially enshrines the idea of the alternative Government. That is the essential ingredient in it—an alternative Government which the people can see functioning in our Parliament and to whom they could turn if they decided to reject the Government in power. I said on Second Reading that they could do something positive as well as negative. By negatively rejecting the Government in office they can positively put into power the Government they see functioning as an Opposition to the Government. That is the essential ingredient in this measure.

It is essential, for that reason, to have the non-transferable vote. The transferable vote will merely give the power to a minority group to hold the gun to the head of majority national Parties. I do not see why any majority national Party should be subjected to that.

There was a lot of talk about bargains. If the transferable vote is operating in the future, assuming even what Senator Barry postulated in regard to the single seat constituency, does it not give an undue emphasis— having regard to the figures I quoted in respect of three candidates going forward—to the minority Party that comes at the bottom of the poll? Surely that Party is in the position to hold the gun to either of the two major Parties? Does it not give undue power to that minority group to hold the gun to either Party A or Party B and to say: "Give us this; give us that and do not do this or do not do that?"

It gives power to the voters. What power does it give to the Party?

The Senator is very harmless.

Senator Barry's remarks betray an innocence that I do not accuse him of.


It is painfully obvious in this day and age that the organisers of a minority Party under the transferable vote system can go to the leaders of the two national Parties A or B and say: We want this concession for the forthcoming election and we will instruct our people to transfer accordingly. Is not that what happens?

It happens in Russia, but I do not think it will happen in Ireland.

What about the poor wheat farmers?

Down in Mullingar, where they do not grow a blade of grass, never mind wheat.

That is the major evil in the transferable vote idea. The inherent weakness in the transferable vote idea is the undue power given to a small group. It would be a better idea if that small group were wedded to or integrated into one of the major national Parties and could push its own point of view there. It was mentioned here that this idea is a British idea. I could pursue that argument ad nauseam and point out that the Seanad and Dáil are British ideas also. I will not go into that because this whole notion of being in a British system is such a weak point. I will not go into it because I have already dealt sufficiently well with the whole idea of P.R. having developed from certain minority thinkers in England. I should prefer to quote from a famous Catholic and Thomist philosopher, Jacques Maritain, who wrote in the New Republic of 1942, published in Paris, and was treating of this question of electoral systems and methods of election in politics in a higher sense than probably would be appreciated by people on the other side of the House. Treating of this question, he wrote:—

"In order to eliminate, in addition, every attempt to introduce the Trojan horse of P.R. into the democratic structure, let us note that just as the common good is not a simple sum of individual goods, so the common will is not a simple sum of individual wills. Universal suffrage does not have the aim to represent simply atomic wills and opinions, but to give form and expression, according to their respective importance, to the common currents of opinion and of will which exist in the nation."

In other words, the whole idea behind all systems of election in our Christian concept of things surely should be that it should not have a disintegrating effect. Surely in any Christian community our objective should be to see that the system is such as to bring people together towards the middle and, if you like, have your Government in office and, in Opposition, an alternative Government, both moving towards the middle rather than disintegrating towards the extremities.

Or better still, a single Party like they have in Russia.

If Senators opposite applied themselves to this point put by the greatest Catholic and Thomist philosopher of our generation, Jacques Maritain, whom I have translated from the French original——

It sounds like Rousseau to me.

The emphasis there is on an electoral system that should not be what he calls there "the Trojan horse of P.R.," should not be all that kind of emphasising of individual wills, but an electoral system rather that, instead of emphasising individual wills and individual opinions, should reflect the common current of opinion and bring people together; in other words, an electoral system that will give you a Government and an Opposition, a two-Party or three-Party electoral system that can always give the people a Government. Inherent in the idea which Maritain states there about the common good is the same thing, about how effectively the common good can be achieved. Can it be done more effectively by this measure or by the system we have had here in the past?

Will Senator Lenihan give us the reference?

The New Republic, 1942. This is an annual review published in Paris. It is a quotation which is very stimulating and very important in that it should lead us to the conclusion that what we should do in this community is to see that we develop an electoral system that will tend towards integrating rather than disintegrating our community.

That has, of course, a particular emphasis in this country where, as I have already said, there is no great philosophical difference between 95 per cent. of the people in this part of the island. I am firmly of opinion that the only minority in the real sense of the word in the island is the Unionist minority in the North-East part of the country in the racial or sectarian sense. Their only two representatives in this Oireachtas have supported this measure and the Government at all stages, and that fact cannot be emphasised enough.

Have they representatives here?

They have two, one in Seanad Éireann and one in Dáil Éireann—Deputy Sheldon and Senator Cole. Let us not start beating about the bush. Apart from the fact that these two representatives have supported this measure the real argument that should be addressed to the rest of the people down here is the fact that the measure represents this integrating effect amongst the rest of us, even including Senators beyond.

I come from a country constituency and I know family A, family B and family C. Family A votes for me, for Fianna Fáil, family B votes for Fine Gael, and family C for Clann na Talmhan or Clann na Poblachta.

Sinn Féin got a seat there too.

Yes, and I am very friendly with their principal organiser in my own area. I can point to half a dozen people who may vote for half a dozen Parties like that. There is no difference between them in regard to economic status and their objects, their objectives in life and their whole attitude towards living. The particular people I am thinking of are all Catholics of the same way of thinking, roughly of the same economic status. Why should we encourage them to create more and more small Parties to facilitate the encouragement of minority splinter groups? What is the point of it? Why should we in this community of 2,900,000 in the Twenty-Six Counties be concerned about creating a number of small minority splinter groups?

Why do you want to do away with them?

Why should we dissipate our energies like that? Is there any purpose in it? Surely the whole purpose of society, as Maritain says, is the common good.

The Senator should read Maritain on free will. These Parties arise from free will.

Surely it should be our ambition to encourage the growth of national Parties that are not sectional but get down through all strata of society and organise themselves nationally and address themselves to the people as the potential Government and put their alternative policy before the people. The argument that that will lead to the freezing of the national purpose has been dealt with already and Senator Ó Maoláin in particular pointed out the rise of the Labour Party in Britain. The change proposed by the Government presents a similar challenge to the Labour Party in this country. They can always supersede the existing national Parties and become the Government of this country if they broaden their policy from being merely sectarian. I do not think that the Labour Party as at present constituted in this part of the country has any great claim to being a Labour Party in the real sense of the word, but if they were such a Labour Party the simple fact of the matter is that they would command a far higher representation in Dáil Éireann than they have at present.

The workers are blind. They will not vote for themselves.

That is the most antidemocratic statement I have ever heard, that working-class people are blind.

Their eyes are open now.

The working-class people of this country, I am sure, will always vote for the interests of the community. They may be blind according to Senator O'Leary but not according to anybody else. In Dublin City and County at the moment, under the P.R. system that it is sought to preserve for all time in Irish public life, the Irish Labour Party has one seat out of 30. That is sufficient condemnation of their opportunistic attitude in regard to this matter as to everything else. From my own personal association with a great many trade union people I know that some of the more far-thinking of them are opposed to the attitude adopted by their present Oireachtas representatives. I know many prominent Fine Gael people who are opposed to the attitude adopted by certain of the Oireachtas representatives in this regard.

There is no such view in your Party?

We know also that a large section of the Fine Gael Oireachtas representatives were in favour of this measure and that a large segment of their supporters in the country, people who have standing in the community are also in favour of it. Unfortunately, the political wing of the trade union movement and the Fine Gael political wing have decided to pursue in the Oireachtas a purely opportunistic line of country. Their one aim at the moment would appear to be: oppose Fianna Fáil and you have got them. That attitude is being followed by the political wings in the Oireachtas purely for the purpose, to put it crudely, of "having a go" at Fianna Fáil without regard to the national interests at stake.

I hold no brief for the Six County gerrymandering arrangements but, despite gerrymandering, the electoral system there manages to produce a result whereby in Belfast City, with 16 seats, there are four Labour, one Republican Labour and one Independent Labour out of the 16; in other words, of the 16 seats in the constituencies of Belfast, Labour has six in the Stormont Parliament. In Dublin City Labour has one out of 30 seats.

I quoted the following passage on the Second Stage but it might be apposite again in this context. To envisage a national Party development does not mean that the situation would be frozen so that there would be only two Parties of a certain calibre, say, A and B. There is always the challenge to the third Party to come up and sweep the other two out. I see nothing wrong with that. In 1924, at Volume 172 of Hansard, Mr. Herbert Morrison said:—

"P.R. is a philosophy which is not unnatural to small new Parties struggling to get a footing on the electoral field, and not having much staying power or pluck to fight. It is also perfectly natural to decaying political Parties, who are doomed to extinction in the course of time, and can only retain their position by elevating the power of the minority and subjecting the power of the majority. It is perfectly natural to them, but it is not natural to strong men and women who want their country to be governed wisely and firmly, and I hope, therefore, that the House will not accept that type of Government."

Herbert Morrison took that line in 1924. In 1948 he saw such a minority Party come to power and he became a Government Minister for five years. That's the approach that should guide Fine Gael and Labour. We want to ask these people who are so cowardly to come in and accept our challenge and not to mind "isms" of any kind. Why can we all not work together?

Inter-Party Government not excluded?

I shall deal with that in a moment. I see no reason why we should work together in this famous befuddled national Government because of all the ideas that were ever a flop that is the most fantastic. The one thing I will say in favour of coalition government as it operated between 1948 to 1951 and 1954 to 1956 is that it is slightly better than national government.

The British had national government.

The coalition idea is bad enough but the national government idea is ludicrous in the extreme.

The British won the war with it.

But after the war the British decided to dispense with national government. It never operated in any community except in times of dire peril.


An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Lenihan is in possession and will the House please permit him to continue without interruption?

He means to stay in possession.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I hope I shall not have to have more attention drawn to interruptions. If the Senator is allowed to continue he will come to the end more quickly.

On a point of order. Is it intended to conclude at 10 o'clock?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is not a point of order. The Chair understands that a division will be taken at 10 o'clock. That is the understanding.

That was the understanding.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair understands that is the arrangement.

If everyone is to speak at the same length——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator L'Estrange will have to permit the Chair to conduct the business of the House.

It is hardly fair to permit one man to monopolise all the time.

I ask the favour of this House to continue speaking despite the opposition of Senator Quinlan. If anyone conducted a slight perusal of the Seanad Debates on the Second and Committee Stages of this question, they would find I am columns, or, perhaps, volumes behind Senator Quinlan. The Seanad has been bemused by the repetition and quotations ad nauseam of Senator Quinlan.

Will the Senator quote?

It is not a question of quoting the number of columns Senator Quinlan's speech occupies, but a question of enumeration, which would take some considerable time. I do not propose to spend the time of the House upon that odious endeavour.

In regard to this question of the development of the two-Party system we desire, I should like to quote from a book referred to by Senator Burke. It is Can Parliament Survive? by Christopher Hollis, M.P. Of course, at the time Hollis was a Conservative M.P. in Britain. He has also contributed to the Fine Gael monthly periodical, The National Observer. At page 48, he talks about the classic argument for Party Government and says:—

"It is a strong argument. The argument is that, provided that both sides tacitly agree to respect the essential continuity of the nation's life, provided that controversy between them is confined to issues that are real indeed but secondary and the basically important issues are either left to other hands than those of the politicians or else settled by the politicians on non-party lines, then it is a great advantage to a nation that there should be two rival teams. The rule of neither of the teams would be wholly calamitous and between them the people can make their choice. A profound human instinct demands every now and again a change of rulers. It is the great merit of parliamentary government that it provides a method by which this instinct for change can be satisfied harmlessly, constitutionally and peacefully."

In other words, Hollis is concerned to emphasise that the development of two major national Parties is a very desirable thing.

I submit that such development in this country would be very desirable. I cannot foresee whether it would be major national Party A or major national Party B but it will be a group of major national Parties agreeing basically on fundamental issues but disagreeing on secondary issues. It comes back to this point of the essentially integrating nature of our community. Most of us think about the same things, and have the same objectives in life. If there are two major national Parties cutting through all strata of society, there can be a Government and an alternative Government in opposition, producing a policy every time before an election. That will lead to a progression, whereas, at present, there are Parties more or less in a static position; there is no great change or swing and there is no chance of there being something dynamic or forward.

Senator Quinlan adopted a rather contradictory attitude on this. He said the weakness of democracy here was that aged men perpetuated themselves. He said that that was the cause of the destruction of democracy in Germany rather than what we say, the P.R. system. Surely nothing is better designed to perpetuate aged men than the P.R. system. Surely that very system ensures that there will be perpetuation of the people in office, no rejection of them and no introduction of more dynamic ideas. I have no objection to old men with progressive ideas. Dr. Adenauer is the classic example in the world of an old man young in mentality. We have plenty of old men young in mentality and ideas. Anybody young in ideas and mentality will always secure election under the straight vote system. That system will put them on their mettle, whereas the P.R. system tends to stagnation and to perpetuate things without any change or striking development.

I regarded Senator Quinlan's argument as an argument designed for the common good. In many ways he was concerned with pushing a certain point of view, but in that particular aspect he was contradictory. If he feels that Germany's destruction resulted from aged politicians, my reply is that that is a development more likely to occur under P.R. than under the system of the straight vote. In the straight vote system there will always be a dynamic to enable things to swing one way or the other, and the people will be able to exercise their choice decisively.

I shall conclude by emphasising once again that the idea of the non-transferable vote does not affect one way or other the fortunes of the Fianna Fáil organisation. I have shown that clearly in the election results I quoted. In fact, if you have the non-transferable vote in the single seat constituency, it will lead to the development of major national Parties. If Fianna Fáil do not do their stuff, they will be rejected by the people the same as any other Party. We are glad to say, as a major national Party, that we are not afraid to face up to the challenge to which Fine Gael and Labour are similarly asked to face up. If the people decide to reject us, that is the people's privilege; but we have the utmost confidence in ourselves and we feel the people will support us as they have in the past because we have always taken a national rather than a sectional or opportunist view of matters.

I believe there is some agreement that a vote will be taken at ten o'clock. As you know, I did not speak at six o'clock in order to permit the arrangement for a vote then to proceed. In view of the time taken up by Senator Lenihan, I want to say the Labour group here are not being a party to the agreement to take the vote at ten o'clock. Senator Lenihan has spoken for nearly one and a half hours deliberately to take up the time of the House.

Do I understand Senator Murphy to say that the arrangement made by the House is not acceptable to him?

My recollection is that there was to be a total of four hours for the debate on this section. In fact, the way the thing eventuated is that there was only two and a half hours gross, and Senator Lenihan has taken up more than 50 per cent. of that, to give a little margin for error.

What I want to get at is, if an arrangement is approved by the House, do we adhere to it or can any group upset it?

If Senator Mullins had been here for the last hour or so, and had seen what was happening, he would understand my objection. Time has been deliberately taken up in order to keep out Opposition speakers.

As the last speaker——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator has had his chance. Let us resolve this——

An accusation has been made——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Lenihan was perfectly entitled to speak. That is not open to discussion. If he wished to continue and move the Adjournment he was entitled to do so. Let us be perfectly clear. That is not open to discussion. What appears in the Official Report, as stated by Senator Ó Maoláin in regard to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, was:—

"...on Wednesday we resume consideration of that Bill and make every endeavour to put the question on sub-section (1º) at 6 p.m. and the question on sub-section (2º) at 10 p.m., and that on Thursday we resume consideration of the Bill and complete the Committee Stage on Thursday night."

That was the statement made by the Leader of the House.

I suggest that if Senator Mullins could lead his own team properly, or control them, this would not have happened.

The only thing in which I am interested is an arrangement unanimously agreed to by the House. There is no objection noted in the Official Report to that agreement and is it to be upset by any minority group, or by anybody?

I wish to draw attention to the phrase "make every endeavour". Senator Lenihan has raised so many points on P.R. that have to be answered that I feel that I, and other Senators on this side of the House, would not be doing our duty if we did not answer those points. I believe we have a duty to do so.

I, of course, was a party to this agreement. I said in this House:—

"That is a very desirable programme ...We would be prepared to do our best to carry it out."

I think I did my best to-day to carry out the first part of the agreement, to have the division at 6 o'clock, and I specifically mentioned, after the division and before we adjourned—at the suggestion of the Cathaoirleach until 7.30—the point that we agreed to have the second question put at 10 o'clock. But the bare making of the agreement does not mean that everybody can do as he likes. If, for example, I had allowed some of my people to speak here this afternoon for an hour, as Senator Ryan spoke, I could be told I was breaking the agreement. At the same time, I entirely agreed with the Cathaoirleach's suggestion that we should adjourn until 7.30. That gave us two and a half hours.

Surely it is unreasonable that a member on the Government side should take more than one and a quarter hours to debate the question over and over again. It is obviously unfair, when you consider that before the division Senator Murphy rose, and I understood that the Minister wanted to speak also. I thought the Minister would have spoken this afternoon and that would have been the main speech for the Government. That was not so. If Senator Lenihan desires to take up time he is perfectly entitled to do so, but I think it is quite clear that he is not entitled to do it and at the same time have an agreement carried out which was subject, of course, in the nature of things, to time being fairly evenly divided. That is clear.

We had similar cases here on a couple of previous occasions. The guilty parties then were Senators Quinlan and L'Estrange.

I do not think there was any question whatsoever of Senator Lenihan taking up the time of the House in order to obstruct other members. The only thing I can say is that if this agreement does not stand we do not know where we stand.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We should be able to resolve this without getting into greater difficulties. It is not for the Chair to decide.

If it was left to the two leaders we might be able to settle it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is a matter which the two leaders may be able to settle. Senator Quinlan will please resume his seat. Senator Murphy desired to speak before the Adjournment. He had not spoken and he gave way in order to permit a division to be taken. I have called on Senator Murphy now, from other Senators who offered to speak, because he failed to get the opportunity before. He has voiced a certain opinion and I have no control over that, unless the leaders resolve this argument. I am making no comment on the length of time taken by Senator Lenihan. He was within his rights, I agree, but I agree also with the Leader of the Opposition that if somebody spoke for a long time it upsets the agreement.

I have no method in the world open to me except persuasion to get Senator Murphy to have this question put at 10 o'clock. I think it could have been done quite easily. I was astonished, when I returned to the House, to find that Senator Lenihan was still talking. When I was absent I was endeavouring to arrange certain points about the business of the House. I assumed that we would have the question put at 10 o'clock. If Senator Murphy and Senator Quinlan object, it simply cannot be done.

On the last occasion, when no objection was raised by Senator Quinlan or Senator Murphy, this statement was made on the Adjournment of the House and was accepted by me as being an arrangement agreed by the House, that we would conclude the discussion on this and would have the division at 10 p.m. Now it appears that this arrangement is not worth the paper it is written on.

May I say that we will never get business done if the Leader of the House is going to insist that if this arrangement was made it must be met regardless of the number of speakers and the length of time taken? You cannot do that. Any arrangement of this kind is subject to fair play all round and if in a two and a half hour debate a member of the Government Party, in the presence of the Minister, whom I understood wanted to speak, takes more than half the time, that bursts the agreement.

Yesterday, Senator Quinlan took about one and a half hours. To-day, he resumed the debate and took up more time. Surely if a Senator on this side of the House speaks for rather long it is not from Senator Quinlan that any objections should come. I do not want to stop Senator Murphy from speaking, he has a right to speak, but all I am interested in is seeing this arrangement maintained and bringing the debate on this sub-section to a conclusion to-night. I have no objection, if it is agreed to by the House, here and now, to sitting until 10.30, if that would meet the situation.

Could I have the position in regard to Standing Orders clarified? If a person offers himself and is speaking at ten o'clock and moves the Adjournment, notwithstanding any agreement that is broken, has that person a right to continue to-morrow morning?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

In the absence of any agreement about the House sitting late that Senator is in possession for to-morrow morning.

In that case, there is no hope of concluding as I and other Senators will offer.

The whole attack was on the Labour Party and we have a right to answer it.

Might I suggest that Senator Murphy be allowed to speak and we might come to some arrangement?

I would not like it to be taken that we are breaking an agreement because what Senator Ó Maoláin quoted was an arrangement that "every endeavour would be made" and certainly it is not our fault that the endeavour on the other side was to keep the debate on, to keep talking. I would be tempted in those circumstances to adopt a similar line, to keep on talking up to ten o'clock and resume to-morrow, but I do not want to deprive any Senator of an opportunity of expressing his viewpoint on this section of the Bill. What I have to say will be to the point. I do not intend to delay the Seanad. I must say, however, that if the arrangement has been broken, it has been broken by the other side and it is not fair to charge us with breaking it.

We are dealing in this section with the abolition of the transferable vote and the substitution of the non-transferable vote. In that we are arranging that the candidate securing the highest number of votes in an election, irrespective of whether or not that represents a majority of the votes cast, will be declared elected. That means, in effect, that one of the methods of operating P.R. is being abolished.

I have noticed that the speakers on the Government side have been concentrating to a great extent on the benefits of the proposed new system of the single non-transferable vote in one-member constituencies. It is a pity, however, they cannot agree among themselves as to what exactly the benefits are supposed to be. They attempt to sell one line to Fine Gael, another line to Labour and yet another line again to their own supporters. Their first responsibility should have been to show that P.R. has failed in this country, that it has been ineffective.

I have not any great experience in politics but I know that P.R., the method of election in operation in this State since its foundation and deliberately retained in the 1937 Constitution, has permitted and has resulted in effective Governments being formed. We have no instance where elections under the P.R. system have resulted in a deadlock, in a stalemate, in the inability of the Dáil to elect a Taoiseach and in the Taoiseach being unable to select, and have approved, a Government.

In spite of the objection from the other side, I say that P.R. has given representation for minorities and has given effective Governments in this country. Indeed, judging from the figures that have been quoted of the number of Prime Ministers in Great Britain—the number of changes of Government there—P.R. seems to have given us better overall stability than the British system has produced in Great Britain and which is now proposed to be introduced here.

What is wrong with the P.R. method of election? I am afraid that when we ask ourselves that question the only obvious answer is that twice in the last decade it has disappointed Fianna Fáil. That has been explained by the Taoiseach and I can understand his viewpoint. He has explained that on those two occasions Fianna Fáil were, by the votes of the electors, the largest Party in the Dáil but, because of the combination of other Parties, were not allowed to form a Government. They are, therefore, disappointed in P.R. Let them be honest enough to admit that is the reason why, in their opinion, P.R. should be abolished.

What we are told about that situation is that it represented bargaining between minority groups after the election. That can be termed only political abuse. It is not a political argument. It is simply a form of political abuse. I cannot see what is wrong in Parties, separate and distinct Parties, agreeing to sit down and to work together in their own and in the common interest.

Fianna Fáil, in proposing the abolition of the P.R. system of election, want to prevent such a situation from arising in the future and, by so doing, are depriving minorities of representation in Dáil Éireann. I do not think I would be quite honest in saying Fianna Fáil are deliberately embarking on an effort to wipe out minority political Parties. What they are doing is deliberately embarking on an effort to change the system so that they can be the political Party in power and that these minority Parties cannot combine against them in the future. The result is that minority Parties, such as the Labour Party, would tend to be wiped out of the Dáil, thereby depriving their supporters of their representation.

Can we say, as was said by the people on the opposite side, that the proposed new system—the single non-transferable vote in one-member constituencies—will produce more stability than has existed up to now? Can any of us really say that there has been serious or, indeed, any instability in this State since the 1930s? We were told from the other side about the disaster of P.R. in France. We were told how France, to save itself, abolished P.R. and has a new system of election. The de Gaulle supporters were returned, in the last general election there, with an overwhelming majority by some system that they now have in operation there. Is that stability? I notice by to-day's papers that already, in the space of a few months, there has been a swing in public opinion. Recent municipal elections in France have resulted in some cities and towns, under this new system of election, in all the seats being given to the Communist Party simply because they got an overall majority and, by this new system of election, they got all the seats. What sort of stability does that produce? What sort of stability will it produce in this country?

If we consider the results of the last general election, the way the votes were cast for each Party, we shall see that in practically every constituency Fianna Fáil got more first preference votes than other organised Parties. They did not get 50 per cent. or anything like it but they got more than other Parties. Therefore, it is logical to argue from that that when those constituencies are divided up into smaller segments it is very probable that, in those smaller segments, Fianna Fáil would have the majority over other Parties—not over other Parties organised together—and that that is why Fianna Fáil do not want the transferable vote. On the basis of first preferences, with their present support, they will have more votes than Fine Gael, Labour or Sinn Féin. We can expect in that situation, if they get the same measure of support at the next general election, that they would capture practically all the seats in the new Dáil.

What sort of stability will that give? What sort of stability will it give to democracy in this country? What sort of an Opposition can there be? Figures have been used by people who know more about politics than I which show that it would probably result in Fianna Fáil getting 120 seats and Fine Gael and perhaps an odd Independent or Labour 20 between them. How can 20 Opposition Deputies form an effective Opposition? How can they build up experience in Parliament to produce an alternative Government?

Senator Lenihan said a while ago that there would be a natural swing; that some other Party would be elected at some future date with an overall majority and would form a Government. What sort of stability would it produce if, after a general election, Fine Gael, with probably 20 in the previous Dáil, were returned with 120, probably 100 of those inexperienced Deputies, with the task of forming and supporting a Government? I do not think that would be good for democracy in this country. Suppose it resulted later on in Labour coming in with a similar big majority with Deputies inexperienced in Parliament, again I do not think that it would be good for democracy. I do not think it would be good for any of the Parties concerned. Certainly, if there were such swings, it would not result in stability but that is the sort of sales talk that Fianna Fáil use to Fine Gael and Labour: "There is this system and the chances are that it will benefit you when your turn comes and you will go in with a big sweeping overall majority and be able to form a Government independent of anybody else—a strong Government." They tell Fine Gael that that is the prospect for them. They tell Labour that that is the prospect ultimately for them, also, but do they really believe that that is what they are selling to their own supporters? I do not think so. What they really believe themselves and what they are selling to their own supporters is that the new system will result in Fianna Fáil having a permanent overall majority in the Dáil for the next 50 years at least, that they will be so dug in with such a strong majority that there can be no hope of ousting them out of office in the foreseeable future.

Which tale is right? Which do they expect to happen now? They are not innocently sleeping. The Fianna Fáil people must have studied the election results. They must have studied the constituencies. They must have an idea of how the constituencies will be broken up and they must know whether it is for their benefit, the benefit of Fine Gael or Labour. It cannot be for the benefit of the three Parties. They are quite dishonest in suggesting that this will be good for the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party. What they are designing is that it will be good for the Fianna Fáil Party in perpetuity.

Again, there is the question as to whether or not the smaller Parties will be completely wiped out. Some Fianna Fáil speakers say: "No, it will encourage the growth of the small Parties. If they produce policies acceptable to the people they will naturally grow and eventually become the Government." But, a Minister of this Government, the Minister for Health, who has his head screwed on very tightly whatever else one may say about him, says it is designed to produce only two major Parties in this country—one slightly to the left and one slightly to the right of centre.

Surely that is what Fianna Fáil have in mind. Let them cease trying to sell to the Labour Party or the Labour Party supporters the idea that this is being introduced out of the goodness of the Fianna Fáil heart to help Labour get more representation and more support under this new system of election.

There is one further point I should like to make. It is in answer to the charge made by Senator Lenihan. I did not get his words down exactly but I think the sense of them was that many thinking members of the executives of the trade unions were opposed to the attitude of the Labour Party, presumably in regard to the Amendment of the Constitution Bill.

The easy answer to that is to refer Senator Lenihan to the two resolutions adopted by the congress representing the organised trade unions of this country. I have already read them to the House. They are unambiguous in opposing this change in the Constitution—the resolutions adopted by the T.U.C. and by the Congress of Irish Unions. That is the answer to Senator Lenihan. It is plainly mischievous to suggest that the executives of the trade unions are opposed to the Labour Party stand in this matter because the competent people to speak in regard to the trade unions are these two congresses. They have passed resolutions and I have already read them to the House.

I hope that the Seanad will defeat this section of the Bill as it defeated the first paragraph because I do not think it is good for democracy in this country. It would lead to Fianna Fáil being returned with an overall majority that they would be determined never to lose and to their continuing for the next 50 years or more as the Government of this country, which would be, if I may borrow Fianna Fáil's term, a national disaster.

Listening to the debates from the other side of the House for some days past, I have become more convinced that what Fianna Fáil will give us by this measure is complete and entire Party domination. Senator Lenihan was put up to-night to speak for about an hour —someone says nearer an hour and a half. He tried to persuade us that black was white. One of the things which shiver my timbers is they will be able to persuade the people down the country that what they are saying is right. If Fianna Fáil are ten or 15 years in Government it will be a Government of domination.

Some Senators may look shocked but I happened to get a cutting out of two local papers last week. Fianna Fáil in theory in the Upper House is a different proposition from Fianna Fáil being the dominant Party in practice in the country. I want to bring that out very much into the open because I am a practical politician. I have to live with them. I shall tell the House the sort of thing that happens. They will dominate every council and everything in Parliament if they are allowed to do it. These are the things they are doing in a practical manner, such as happened in Tipperary last week. Here is a quotation from the Tipperary Star:

"Vacant seat should go to Fianna Fáil, says Fine Gael Councillor. At their next meeting, 6th April, Tipperary Urban Council are to co-opt a new member to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. R. Costigan, the former Chairman of the Council."

Has this any bearing?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Walsh will permit Senator Burke to continue without interruption.

We want to talk on the high national level to-day, but I want to talk on the application stage and that is what we are interested in. The Tipperary Star went on to say:—

"This was stated at Monday's meeting. The Chairman, Mr. T. O'Donohue, Fine Gael, said: That the seat was held in this chamber by Fianna Fáil and I think it is only right and fitting that it should go to the same Party. There was a lot of trouble through the country over these co-options. Mr. O'Donnell: I think it is only fair and just."

On the same day the Clonmel Nationalist of the 7th March says:—

"Tipperary Council will co-opt from late member's Party. To fill the vacancy caused by the recent death of Mr. R. Costigan, Tipperary Urban Council will at their next monthly meeting co-opt a Fianna Fáil nominee on to the council. At Monday's meeting Mr. B. O'Donnell (Labour) said that it was only right that the vacant seat should go to the Party which was represented by the late councillor."

It is our experience in Tipperary that any time Fianna Fáil get an opportunity they try to take the cooption, and the chairman of the urban council said that although they did that he did not want to stand for it. That is one of the things I am afraid of here, that if Fianna Fáil get dominance in Parliament they will try to do the same thing as they are doing in the urban councils and county councils almost every time they get a chance, because they do not speak the same language about fairness as the rest of the people in the country seem to speak.

Senator Lenihan told us that we were going to get the type of laissez faire Parliament that John Stuart Mill was talking about, but I am afraid that he has forgotten to fill in the gap in the last 100 years of thought and that we are to get the type of new serfdom that Professor Hagan, who read a paper at the National University a few years ago spoke about. The thinkers are afraid to-day that the power of the Executive will be made so great that the ordinary individual will have no rights and no responsibilities. All this idea seems to be to give us a form of managerial Government, of State boards where the private individual has little or no rights and where the State boards will be largely creatures of the ruling Government and of the dominant class. These are the things that are troubling and will continue to trouble people. That is the practical application about which we will tell the people up and down the country, in the cities and towns and at the parish pumps. That is the sort of things that are happening. These are the applications of a dominant Party rather than the theory that has been expounded here by this political Party. I am afraid that they want no Labour Party, no Fine Gael Party and very little opposition.

Senator Dominick Murphy made a very interesting contribution to tonight's debate when he asked, if the Fine Gael Party come back in two or three years' time, or seven or eight years' time, not with 20 members but with 120 members, where are the members who will have the experience of running a Government? They cannot possibly have the experience. This Bill which it is attempted to steamroll through the country is a most irresponsible measure. Will any big powerful Government be able to control themselves if there is no Opposition in existence to bring the cold water of public opinion to bear on them? It is strong, vital and intelligent opposition that keeps political Parties in their places and makes a Government do its job in the proper way.

Take the parliamentary question in which the Government Department is brought to task and to book. Will there be sufficient Deputies able to frame the searching and intelligent questions that will get the sort of information democracy demands from the Executive? I doubt it. This measure is fraught with real danger for the future of the country. Even at this hour I hope that in some way or another we will be able to get the Government to drop it and if not we will fight them in the referendum. It is a real challenge to each and every one of us, and we will not be stopped from saying that.

I have been listening to the speeches made here and to the great concern expressed by the Fianna Fáil Senators for the Labour Party, and the attacks that they have made on the Labour Party. When they attack the Labour Party in this House they attack the general labour people outside the House and the trade unions. We are told by the Taoiseach and some of his henchmen that we will not put this to the people. There is no other way of deciding it, because in the end the Government must put it to the people. If they had the power it would not go to the people, as we can see by the attitude to-night.

Figures have been quoted for every election, but Senators did not quote the figures for the people who are not in the House. Why was this Bill brought in the year 1958-59? It is very easy to know. I have the figures here for the people who stayed out of the House and were put into camp: McGirl, 7,007; Sean Rice, Kerry, 5,582; Rory Brady, 5,506; and McNamara in Cork, 4,789. Are these people represented in the House? No. They will not get any chance to be represented in the House if the people vote to do away with P.R. We are heading for dictatorship right away, and let no one talk about anything else. There was not a word in the general election from any platform about doing away with P.R., but because Fianna Fáil got a majority on false promises, and saw the danger of a new Party coming up, this Bill was introduced. Let us be honest about the Sinn Féin men. We admire them for their courage but no one mentioned it to-night or gave them any credit.

The Labour Party is attacked because we put the Government out in 1948. What else would we do? The present Minister for External Affairs put the Fianna Fáil Party out in 1947 with his Supplementary Budget. That was the decision of the people in 1948, and the Labour Party were attacked left, right and centre because we formed the Coalition Government.

The internees have been released because the people in America and in London would not give the Irish representatives a very good reception, nor did we get it last St. Patrick's Day.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is not under discussion now.

That is the reason they are released. The Taoiseach is putting the whole country into the category of illiterate voters. They will cast their vote by writing an "X" instead of the figures 1, 2 and 3. The Taoiseach is adopting this attitude now despite the fact that he put P.R. into the Constitution in 1937. Of course the man is getting old. There is an excuse for him. He is not in touch with the people. The Taoiseach has been defeated in this House and that is a Government defeat. He should dissolve the Dáil as he did in 1944 when he was defeated on the Transport Bill by one vote, and give the people a chance of expressing their wishes. We know what has happened since 1944. The Transport Bill is a failure. Fianna Fáil told the people they would have faster trains, brighter stations and cheaper fares. We have none of these things. We have railway men being sacked, lines being abandoned and stations being closed—Lemass's plan.

There is no doubt the people have been lured away by the catch-cries about stability, believing that that will cause a reduction in rates, in unemployment and in emigration. The straight vote will heal none of those ills. I met a man down the country during the week who said he had been listening to reports on the radio about the discussion on P.R. in Leinster House, and he asked me if that would mean anything to him or the old and poor people in the country. It is a shame to see a Government with an overall majority ignoring the pressing problems which face us. I ask any Senator here: Do you think the country is all right? Do you think there is no starvation here? Do you think it is right that old age pensioners have to go to bed in the daytime and early at night because they have no fire, not being able to afford to buy fuel out of 25/- a week? Connolly died that the workers might live and I am sure neither he nor Michael Collins visualised that there would be such destitution under a native Government. The people were asked in the last election to vote for Fianna Fáil so as to put husbands back to work, so as to bring down the cost of living. Fianna Fáil deceived the people, but I do not think they will deceive them this time. The people will remember that the Leader of that Party repudiated what the Labour representatives were saying about the withdrawal of the food subsidies, but when Fianna Fáil got a majority in the Dáil they removed the food subsidies and raised the cost of living to the highest figure it ever reached. The people do not want to hear talk about referendums. The people I represent want work if they can get it. The Government have failed them. In the St. Patrick's parade abroad there will be more Irish than English or Americans, due to emigration. Yet, by this measure, Fianna Fáil are seeking an even greater majority so as to keep themselves in power for all time. Fianna Fáil can sneer at Fine Gael and Labour but both of these Parties were in Government before Fianna Fáil ever assumed office.

I should like to remind members that we meet at 10.30 in the morning to take the Referendum Bill. If there is time I suggest we should resume the debate on this section and, if possible, take a division before we adjourn for lunch.

When will the House adjourn for lunch?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Leader of the House has put a certain suggestion to Senators. We can only see what happens to-morrow.

Tugadh tuairisc ar a ndearnadh; an Choiste do shuí aris.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 12th March, 1959.