Thursday, 5 July 1928
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. DE VALERA: It would help considerably if the President would deign to give us at the start of this discussion some argument such as he pretended to give on the final stage of the other Bill. No. 13 is a Bill which proposes to extend the powers of the Seanad. It proposes to extend the powers of the Seanad by making it possible for them to hold up a Bill for a longer period than they have up to the present. We object to giving the Seanad increased powers. The line of argument on which the President proceeded in the discussion of the last Bill can be taken up in connection with this Bill just as well as in connection with the Bill on which it was given. I would have far more confidence in the protestations of the President if I had not likened it, in my mind, to what was said on a famous occasion when those who loved their friends were not to get much credit. If the President was so generous when he was talking about some people who were opposed to him,  then I would begin to give him credit for his generosity, but he certainly does not get much credit from me for being generous to a Party from which he expects to get support. He knows perfectly well that what he is trying to do by giving the power of election to the Seanad and by giving them increased powers is to strengthen his own political Party. I think the people of the country will see very easily beyond that veil of Davis which he is trying to enshroud himself in. There is no question on this side of not wishing to give to every Irish citizen equal rights here. When it was a question of doing one thing or another the people on this side showed it at least as well as the gentlemen on the opposite benches. We stand for equal rights, but we do not stand for privilege. We say that this Seanad was originally established with the idea of giving a privileged position to a certain section that they would not on account of their numbers be able to get if they were elected by the people. The method of nomination for the Seanad was intended to put them in a position they could not have secured by the votes of the people or by the votes of the people's representatives. The House to which these powers are going to be given is a House in which there are sixty members who have never to go directly for election before the people or before a body like this that would be representative directly of the people. They are going to be elected by themselves. I would like to know whether, if there was a proposition here that the Seanad should be allowed to co-opt members when vacancies existed, how we would face that proposition.
I feel that the Executive, in standing for these Bills, is not faithful to the people who elected them or to this Dáil, and is pursuing a course the result of which is going to be at some date a much bigger clash between the two Houses than it need be otherwise and which will not be in the real interest of the section which the President pretends he is so anxious about. There is no doubt about it, if a House such as is proposed in these Bills is set up and if the power, as proposed here, is given to it, that the day will come when that  House will be swept out of existence altogether. If the President was genuinely anxious instead of pretending to be anxious, if he was taking a genuine national view of the question, and I use the word in the broad sense, the view that a statesman is supposed to take, he would not proceed along this line, because he knows perfectly well that he is only putting up a dam before a tide that will rise up and sweep it away. The more the people are exasperated by this line of conduct the bigger will be the destruction when it is swept away. I do not think that that is the right line to proceed upon. We ought to start, I think, on this basis—that every person in the country, no matter what his views in the past were, is entitled to equal rights in the country. That is our standpoint. But no section is entitled to any special privileges. We hear a good deal about the majority rule. Where is the question of majority rule there, or of democracy, if this special House is to be put into a position in which it can defeat the purpose, for at least two years, of an Executive that has been elected with a certain programme?
Two years is a very long time, as everybody knows, to have a programme on which an Executive has been elected or on which a certain majority has been elected, kept from being put into action. Yet this Bill gives the Seanad if it is hostile, if there is an advance in a certain direction, national or economic, which would suit this particular House, power to hold it up for two years, and there is no choice left to the Executive which has been elected on the programme that has been held up, except to go back to the country. I promise, for our side, at any rate, and no matter who is there and who is in the position, they will go to the country for the sweeping away of that completely. I would like to know if the interests which the President professes to serve would be better served by giving them reasonable powers or by giving them powers which no one in the country will stand for their getting. Two years or so is the time that legislation can be held up by this Seanad. The President was kind enough to tell us that they  had put in a few in the Seanad who had what he called a national record. Of course, they were put in. We know always that things like that are done just to put a face on them. These are put there in order that they might be brought out by the President or whoever wants to defend the Seanad when the position is adverted to in order that the President may come along and say: “Oh, look at Mrs. So-and-so and Mr. So-and-so on this Seanad!” How many are there of the sixty? The President was not good enough to tell us that. In the vote on issues, for instance, which were the dominant national issues for four or five years, what vote did you get in the Seanad on any one of these questions? Was there a majority in the Seanad who would vote on the lines on which the majority of the members here would vote, at least the lines which I would say if we were to take the views and the opinions of those who sent the Deputies here would represent the majority of them? The majority are elected here by people who have a national outlook, directly opposed to the imperialist outlook. If there is a question of national defence as against imperialism and a vote taken on that in the Seanad to-day what way would the vote lie? Anyhow, there has been no justification by the President at all for the methods of election. Not one on the opposite benches attempted to defend the method of election by the Seanad and Dáil combined. Election by the Dáil can be defended; election by the people can be defended, but there has been no defence for spoiling the representative character of the electors by putting in a body which are not elected at all. The body you are going to elect now is a body which is neither fish, flesh nor good red herring, and it is to this body that you propose giving the powers of holding up Bills for two years. Two years. Suppose in the middle of their term of office, as I pointed out here before, that Executive proposes to introduce a number of measures to carry out a programme on which they are elected. They cannot do it if this Seanad decides to hold them up. They have to go once more to the people. We have heard what dissatisfaction elections  give to the people, how expensive they are, and how unwise it is to have these elections unnecessarily. This recourse to the people is unwise. The President did not think it unwise last year to have an election overnight.
Mr. DE VALERA: No. We considered it altogether a breach of faith with the Dáil as the President broke faith with another Dáil. It was a distinct breach of faith with the understanding here that we were to meet on the 11th October. However, we can go away from that. My objection is that you are always talking about the people. Then you say if it suits that elections are expensive and inconvenient, that the people do not want them and now this Bill makes it impossible for any Executive to carry out its programme if it does not want to be held up for two years without recourse to the people. As I say the President takes all this very philosophically because they are his friends. If he would put himself in the position of a person who was making a constitution, without any particular reference to his own or any other Party, who was thinking in general terms as to the powers a second House should have in relation to the first House and he found that the Seanad was to be composed, as is provided for now, as as far as the Dáil is concerned I do not think he would, for a moment, stand for these provisions. Nine months delay was in the Constitution up to this. That was sufficient. Why was it doubled? Has there been a single argument put forward here any more than there was a single argument for allowing the Seanad to participate in the election? There has been no argument brought forward here as to why the time should be doubled. The only argument was that the Committee sat on which the Seanad again, just the same as it is going to have in the election of a Seanad, had six votes out of twelve. In any case in which they voted together, naturally they were anxious about the interests of their own body. I see Deputies here who are as anxious about the privileges and powers of this House as representatives of the people as the members  of the Seanad on that Committee were anxious of theirs, but this particular Committee on which the Seanad got equal representation, agreed by a majority that their powers of holding up Bills should be extended, should be doubled. I, at least, thought when that proposition came before this House that this House, having some respect for its own powers and the people, would not consider that.
The Executive Council, however, adopted it because, as I have pointed out and stressed more than once, they expect that it is going to help their own friends ultimately. There is the same alliance between the present Executive Council and the majority of the Seanad as there was between the Tories and the House of Lords in the past. Just as every Tory measure was allowed through by the House of Lords, the Executive here expect that their measures will not be hampered, that there will be no blocking of their measures, and they hope that it will be a fruitful source of inconvenience to any other party that may come into power. That is the secret of the broadmindedness of the President. I have said that there has not been a single reason given as to why this period during which they could hold up Bills should be extended—not a single argument. It was said that the period of nine months was not availed of. If there has not been any occasion in the past in which the nine months' period was used why extend the power now and why make the period eighteen months? I think the only argument, or rather pretence of argument, which the President put forward at some stage of this Bill was that the power of referendum was being taken away from the Seanad. Senators themselves admitted that the power of referendum was a power which they could not use because, if they held up measures passed by the majority of the representatives here who were much more likely to be in touch with popular feeling, they would not dare to go to the people by way of referendum, so that the power of referendum was in general useless to them.
In what case is the power of referendum  being left to them? It is being left in cases where there would be Constitutional amendments. Why? Again, of course, it is the broadmindedness of the President—the broadness of the Platte river. In America they have a saying “As broad as the Platte river and just as deep.” The same river is just about six inches deep, and that saying has become a proverb. We know pretty well what the views of members opposite are. We know them intimately. We had reason to know them in the past and, whoever may be deceived by any pretence of that kind, we are not. This broadmindedness is the broadmindedness of loving your friends but not the broadmindedness of loving your enemies. It is broadmindedness expressing itself by giving a quid pro quo for the Referendum. We naturally ask ourselves to examine it. The Referendum is being taken away in cases where it could not be used, and would not dare to be used by the Seanad, but in the one case where it was thought the Seanad might use it, in view of the history of the past four or five years, it is left to them. Whenever there is a question of changing the Constitution or of the Irish people making any advance and stepping forward on these steppingstones which were the principal plank in the programme of the Executive when they came into power, then, of course, they want to make quite sure that the intimidation which they used so effectively for the last five or six years could be used again; then the Seanad can hold up in order that this campaign can be carried out in the country.
As I say, when one examines the broadmindedness of the President on matters of this kind it does not certainly go very far to convince him. The more you examine it the more you see that there is nothing in it but mere surface. We are opposed to this Bill. We are opposed to it because it gives those powers which we think should not be given. We think that the only function which the second House, with its present Constitution, ought possibly get would be the function of revision, a certain amount of suspension for a short time in order that there might be reconsideration, suspension  for a period in which the Executive Council, responsible officers of the Dáil, responsible for certain measures, would have an opportunity of negotiating or getting into touch with representatives of the Seanad in order to deal with the matters in difficulty. A longer period, however, is simply designed for obstruction. It is to put into the hands of his friends the power of obstruction against those who may not politically agree with him. That is the secret of the Bill. We are opposed to the Bill because we think that such power should not be given. We believe—and we tried to get an amendment to this effect passed at an earlier stage of the Bill—that a period of four months, in which the Seanad would have to declare its attitude in respect to a certain Bill, should be given, that a period after that should be fixed within which the Dáil would have to take action if it proposed to pass the Bill over the head of the Seanad, but that that period should not, on the whole, extend for more than nine months.
If you want to use the Seanad in order to check rash action, to give time for public opinion to express itself, a period of nine months is sufficient. Again, from the point of view of the period of eighteen months as suggested here, I have pointed out that it is most unfair to any Executive or to the Dáil to let the Seanad play and dally with a Bill for eighteen months without declaring its attitude. If the majority of the Seanad dislike a certain Bill they can go a couple of stages with it and keep it suspended without letting the Dáil or the Executive know what is going to be their final attitude for eighteen months. There is to be no redress. They hold it up. They put it through one or two stages and keep it in suspense for eighteen months without declaring their attitude towards the Bill. Even if you are going to give eighteen months before the Dáil can take action why not specify a certain part of that period of eighteen months in which the Seanad would have to declare its attitude? Four months would be sufficient. The President indicated that that might rush them. I do not think so. They ought to declare their attitude within four months and, if it was thought advisable to have a  period of suspension following, well and good. That appeal, however, appears to have fallen on deaf ears. As a member of the Committee which considered this matter, my belief is that when the matter came before it, and when the suggestion of eighteen months was agreed to by the majority their idea was that a certain time should elapse in which the Seanad would have to consider the Bill.
There is the question of the Articles of the Constitution where consideration of a Bill is provided for. There is a reference to it and in order to make that effective you have to define what is meant by “considering a Bill” or in other words make it necessary for the Seanad to take action. Certainly there has been no effort to give effect to that particular idea and that was the idea expressed in the Committee—that there was a certain period within which the Seanad would have to declare its attitude and that was to be followed by a period of suspension within which you could not take action so as to force the Bill over their heads. There are three things here in my opinion. There is first of all the period within which the Seanad should take action, the period for which there should be suspension, the period within which the Dáil would have to take action and if these three periods were added together we get not merely twenty months but possibly thirty-two months, so that a Bill may be dallying through all its stages and finally only become law, thirty-two months after the date on which it is first sent from the Dáil to the Seanad. That period is too long and I again suggest that if this were being considered by a Constitutional Assembly or by anybody who had no interest in parties, powers like that would not be given to the Seanad as it is composed at present. For these reasons, as I have already indicated, we intend opposing this Bill.
Mr. DERRIG: I have already spoken on this Bill during the all-night sitting when the House was refreshingly quiet and when there was a general atmosphere of somnolence, a kind of feeling that it did not really matter. We have a good deal of that feeling at present. We feel that after all our struggles and speeches, a certain inevitable thing is  going to happen by reason of a certain small majority that is here. The President feels so comfortable in his small majority that he has not even deigned to confer upon us, as I requested him on that famous occasion, when we were up all night to listen—he has not deigned to breathe those words of wisdom which he tells us are surging up in his bosom and he has not given us the benefit of the thoughts which are languishing in his breast.
Mr. DERRIG: This Bill is the outcome of a bargain. That fact has been stressed in this House, but it cannot be stressed too much, because before this Constitution Committee reported upon the necessity for giving something to the Seanad in exchange for the supposed wrong which we were doing to them, when you took away from them the power of the Initiative and the Referendum, if the House had had any idea that these two Houses were entirely separate and distinct bodies, that the Upper House was an amending body quite separate in its composition, quite separate in its interests, having an entirely different outlook in regard to its standpoint as regards legislative proposals, if we were of opinion that those two Chambers were entirely different, distinct and independent, and that the Seanad was just as independent in its way of the Executive as the Opposition on this side of the House is, we got a surprise because we discovered that this Seanad which has been in existence for so many years, which has been in the nature of a check and a block upon the Government, to hold up hasty legislation and to put in certain remedial adjustments which might have been forgotten by the Government even in their most anxious moments, even in their most beneficent measures, that this House which was supposed to be entirely independent of the Government, whose sole and only reason for existence was that it was there as a check over the Government, has apparently come down from its high pinnacle to pure Party politics. It has conducted apparently a series of negotiations with the Government  Party, and as a result of these negotiations a certain deal has been arranged. Everything is framed up most delightfully. The Committee meets under the presidency of the Ceann Comhairle, and the bargain is brought before us, not, of course, as any discreditable, patched up bargain between the Seanad and the Government Party—oh, no, not at all—but as a logical, reasonable, and perfectly good constitutional development.
Mr. DERRIG: No arguments worth speaking of have been brought forward by the Government to induce anybody on this side to believe for a moment that there is anything of permanent value to the Constitution of this country in this proposal. I suggest that it is purely and simply a subterfuge by which the Government anticipate a possible adverse vote of the people in the future, by which they are attempting to set up, as Deputy de Valera has pointed out, a breakwater or a dam in front of what they apparently see facing them, that is, a change on the part of the people, a desire naturally to have a change of Government and a wish to try the other Party, no matter how bad the record of the other Party may have been. That logical process, which is the foundation of Constitutional Government, is not allowed to be carried out. The will of the people which we have heard so much about, is not to be allowed to carry itself to its inevitable conclusion but we are to be tied here and there with restrictions, in one case cutting out the Referendum and with impositions, in another case, in the form of an extension of the powers of the Seanad. The extension of their powers, remember, is not alone to extend to having a suspensory veto for a period of twenty months, but it is also to extend to the degree, which has never been heard of, I submit, in any deliberative assembly in the world before, of taking the power of the purse out of the hands of the members of this House and giving the members of the Upper House what they never had before, the right to determine whether  or not a Bill is a Money Bill and in that way to endeavour to secure control over the apportionment of the finances of the country.
There were two arguments used if they could be called arguments. One was like the toleration argument which Deputy de Valera referred to, and was such an obvious, shallow idea that it is surprising that anybody could stay to listen to it, but as apparently the Government Party are content to regard it as a serious argument and as it is one of the two reasons that have been given by the President, I suppose we are naturally bound in deference to the procedure of the House, to refer to it. The other is that it is most unlikely that the Seanad will ever exercise this power which you propose to confer upon it, that it most unlikely to exercise the power, or to cause a conflict which is the same thing, because so surely as the power is exercised, so surely as the Seanad attempts to hold up practically for the entire period of office of a future Government, legislation which the Government feels they have the authority of the people behind them in carrying out, so surely will there be conflict.
The only argument of the President in reply to that is that it is most unlikely. It is not unlikely. It has happened already, not alone in the British House of Lords, but in some of the Upper Houses of the British Dominions. In the eighties, I think it was in the Victorian Legislature, the Upper House, on a purely economic question, when they felt that the interests they represented were being injured in some way by proposals that were going through the Lower House, deliberately tried to hold up legislation in the manner in which it is now proposed our Seanad should be enabled to do. All business was held up for a period, and eventually, after a struggle in which the business of the country was held up for a considerable time, victory of course lay with the Lower House.
As regards the period of reconsideration: you have done away with the Referendum and the Initiative. You have had several general elections. You are absolutely certain that the main questions of the Constitution and  of the Treaty have had a majority of the people behind them. It is not likely, with the Press so anxiously defending them, with such an amiable Government in office, which is conferring so many benefits upon them, that at the next election the people who have been so wise in selecting statesmen so prudent—some of them the ablest in Europe—will turn round and elect those who have been responsible for the destruction and spoliation of the country. But if those people who have been responsible for so much misfortune in the past are able to circumvent you and beat you in the open, in an electoral battle? Have you so little faith in the influences that are behind you, in the deep-rooted conservatism of your race, in the national apathy that is abroad at present, in the strength of the allies that you are gathering every day behind you from various quarters—allies that never were heard of in the history of our country except as being opposed to the struggle of the common people— have you so little faith in all these interests, that are gathering and have gathered behind you, that you are not prepared to leave this question of the position, the veto, and of the future of the Seanad to the open vote of the people?
On what occasions during the last election did Ministers tell the people that it would be one of their first acts to pass legislation enabling the Seanad to hold up Bills which pass through this House after a deliberation in which every interest and every Party and every section of the country can have its representation? On what platform have they told the people that it is proposed to extend the powers of the Seanad in that way? Remember that not alone are you going to give them the power to hold up legislation which would advance this country further on its way to independence, but you are giving them the power that the Upper Chamber in Victoria exercised, the power if you should at any time follow the extraordinary radical advice of Deputy O'Hanlon and proceed to set up a State bank, for example, or proceed to take charge of your currency. or to re-organise any of the other economic questions in this country which  seem to conflict with their interests, to hold up that legislation in spite of the fact that the people have sent back a Government to carry out that legislation, that a majority in this House stands for it, that it goes through all the stages of discussion here. In spite of these facts, and, above all, of the urgent and immediate necessity that there might be for carrying such measures into immediate effect, you are now without a single shred of argument, without a single decent reason being advanced in favour of it, going to hand over power to the Seanad to hold up legislation of that character.
I do not think that we are going to have a Seanad here as Deputy Law attempted to suggest which will have any analogy whatever to the British House of Lords. I do not care what panel you have or how you proceed to set it up, this future Seanad cannot in the present circumstances, with division in the national ranks, with partition present, be otherwise than a place of refuge, as the Press has so often insisted, for politicians who have ended their career in this House or outside it, who want to get a position for the next nine years, and who have sufficient influential friends to gather the requisite number of votes to enable them to get the quota to secure a seat. If you do not accept that class, I do not think that you will be able to get from the farming or business community men with sufficient interest in political affairs prepared to give up their own business and come up here. You will not get men, especially associated with business or agriculture, who, while they would be prepared to go into the Seanad, would have the national record behind them or would have public opinion behind them by virtue of their stand during the past ten years; would have such a public opinion as would make a Deputy feel that he could honourably and straightforwardly vote for them.
Mr. DERRIG: You are therefore going to be driven back upon what the  Press calls the discredited politician, or you are going to have the old Unionist minority, who are largely centred around Dublin, who have a certain amount of leisure and certain interests behind them sufficiently strong to finance them for this position. You are going to have either one of these sections or the other. I submit that it does not matter which section you have eventually represented in a predominant position in the Seanad: that that interest will not represent the ordinary Irish people. The system of election that you have passed through this House absolutely prevents those people from saying that they have democratic sanction, either by popular election or through the votes of this House, voting alone. You are going to have people who have no popular mandate behind them; people who not alone have no democratic sanction, but who cannot claim to have any special training.
As to Deputy Law's analogy between the House of Lords and the Free State Seanad, he told us the advantages of the British Second Chamber, but he failed to point out the differences. He did not tell us that in the British Second Chamber you had trained legal men of the highest attainments, that you had diplomatists who knew the British Empire inside out.
We are going to have in this Seanad of ours neither experienced lawyers nor experienced professional men of national record. We are going to have, as far as I can see, the old Unionist minority, just in the same way as we had them before. We propose to give to these people all the rights that they had when there was some need for a real check upon the present Government during the past five years, when they had plenty of powers and ample opportunities to exercise these rights in holding up legislation or amending it. We are proposing to increase their powers. We have not got anything whatever in the record of that five years to show us that the Seanad, constituted as it was during those five years, in spite of the number of amendments that they can point to, did anything in holding up the really dangerous measures like the Public Safety Act and the Treason Act, which  threatened the liberty of the subject. We have nothing whatever to show that in their attitude towards those measures the Seanad were sufficiently independent to exercise those powers to the fullest. In spite of the fact that it failed lamentably during the past five years, that no member of the Government Party has, as far as I know, stood up to defend it, to show what use it had been to the country, to show in what way it had amended or benefited legislation during those years, we are now asked, without a single argument of any kind, to pass this into law.
I submit that if you are going to do this, to continue this piecemeal changing of the Constitution, you are not going to make for the stability and security that you talk so much about. If you are going to change the Constitution, whenever the whim and caprice seize you to delete an Article here, to amend an Article there, instead of viewing the whole Constitution in relation to the future of the country, to whatever end you propose to work out the destinies of the country; if you view it in that small opportunistic manner, view the Constitution as simply a political expedient that can be changed from time to time, according as it suits the Party in power, then you are not going to make for that bedrock foundation and sense of security that is so necessary if we are to make any progress. I suggest that the Seanad will have no special training, and will have no democratic sanction. From the very fact that they will be completely divorced from the will of the people, that the constituencies will have no control over them and the supreme feeling of freedom that the Senators will have, that they are far away and above the will of the people, that it will not be their duty to appear before constituents at any time to answer for their actions, I suggest that by giving them that power, by electing them in that way, you are simply going to set up a House which may, in the course of time, arrogate to itself powers that it could not possibly have if it had been built up on a solid democratic foundation. When you elect a body of that character, which is not aristocratic,  which has no claims in the history of the country to special representation, which did not grow up there as a natural plant in the root of the soil of Ireland, but which has been built into the Constitution in this jerry-built way; when you have a body like that going to be placed in such a powerful position that it can hold up measures for two years, and when you take into consideration that this body will have no responsibilities whatever to the Irish people, that it will never appear before them, that it will be there complete and supreme for long periods of time, I wonder are you really steering towards the harmonious working of this Constitution? I wonder are you really working towards concord and harmony between the two Houses?
I submit that you are not. If you are going to have a Seanad, you ought, in the first place, to have it elected by the people. In the second place, you ought to have it elected in such a way that the people will have as adequate representation there as they have here. In the third place, you ought to see that the men you put in the Seanad do not belong to and are not affiliated to one political Party, but that they will place the whole interests of the country far above Party, that they will not, at a particular juncture, enter into an agreement for a quid pro quo between the Government Party and themselves, but that they will regard themselves as having certain obligations to all members of this House and all Parties here who have been elected directly by the people.
As this is probably the last opportunity which I shall have to speak on this measure, I desire to say that, in spite of the comfortable feeling, the comfortable atmosphere that the President and his Cabinet feel themselves to be in; that they have a majority, that they are going to carry all these measures, that everything will be all right, that the people will not know anything about it, that it will be all forgotten by the next election, that there is nobody to question their mandate or authority to carry out these acts: in spite of the fact that the road is plain before them and that with their majority and closure and guillotine  they can carry all these measures, they are not doing a thing which is going to be of permanent value to the country. They are not, as I said yesterday, going to put a real barrier in front of the Irish people. If it is the will of the Irish people that has expressed itself, according to your interpretation, during the past five or six years; if that is the will of the Irish people for fuller freedom and complete fulfilment of the national aspirations of our race; if there is anything in that it will have to go forward; you cannot tie it down or bind it: you cannot dam it in that way. It is better in the long run to let every Party, every interest, in the country, especially those that have fought and struggled for a spiritual ideal, feel that this road is open; that if we cannot agree, we can agree to differ, and that, at any rate, if one Party here cannot see in the same way as another on national questions, we are going to leave the road open and are not going to impose such an impasse in the future path of our race as is proposed in this measure.
Mr. LITTLE: The House seems to be continually trembling on the verge of a quorum and the fact that sufficient interest is not aroused in members of the House to come in here is in itself sufficiently significant to point to the way in which the dignity of this House is being injured by the methods adopted by the Government. We are left wondering what is the mind of the Government Party, what they are thinking about, and what their views are on this question. That is a Government mystery and one is inclined to call: “Cast out those dumb devils.” We are left to imagine what the arguments are which are influencing them. Even the Minister for Finance has not made his own position clear. We are left to think, perhaps, that the arguments in the back of his mind are that we are creating such a situation, playing so much into the hands of the reactionaries in the country and binding ourselves with such limitations of the powers of this House that in the end he hopes for that revolutionary situation where he will be able to go back to his original views of revolution by  violence—that kind of revolution where the bomb and the dagger will take the place of constitutional methods. It is left entirely to our imagination as to what his arguments are and also what the arguments Deputy McDonogh may have as to why this measure should be passed.
Mr. McDONOGH: The Deputy has referred to me. I may tell him that I hold as good a position in this country as he does and I am as useful a citizen to the country as he is. I do not think there is any occasion to mention Deputy McDonogh. There is too much talk of that kind and we have stood too much of it from the other side of the House, and the sooner they drop it the better it will be for them, in my opinion.
Mr. McDONOGH: Deputy McDonogh will meet you anywhere. It is time that this kind of blackguardism should stop. It is pure waste of time. The Deputy gets up after Deputy de Valera has spoken and makes an attack on me. I am prepared to meet him here or outside the House.
Mr. LITTLE: I think this is the place to meet Deputy McDonogh. He invites me to meet him inside or outside the House. I invite him to speak to this Bill and to give us the reasons why he thinks the passing of this measure is going to help the economic condition of this country, in which I know he is sincerely interested. We have great eloquence sometimes from the Government Benches. Deputy  Sheehy, on the Government side, treats us to real oratory in this House, but he has not considered that we are worthy to hear his reasons as to why he thinks this Bill should be passed and passed so rapidly.
Mr. LITTLE: I think we are entitled to know the reasons why Deputies are taking the views which they are taking. This is a deliberative assembly, and it is very careful of its own dignity, so much so that it is setting out upon new paths and forming new Standing Orders to protect its dignity. Surely we are as a dignified assembly entitled to know the reason for the path that is now chosen. I think Deputy Mrs. Collins-O'Driscoll should be invited to give her views.
Mr. LITTLE: We are in the position that we have already expressed a considerable number of our views and arguments against this Bill, and we are anxious to hear the arguments from the other side in favour of the Bill. I think it is quite reasonable that we should be allowed to ask individual members to express their individual views. We are anxious to hear them. We are anxious to hear the views of Deputy Mrs. Collins-O'Driscoll, to know exactly how this is going to be a stepping-stone to the Republic. The reason why the Treaty was originally accepted was that it was going to be a stepping-stone to the Republic, and this, I take it, is one of the changes in the Constitution that is going to turn this country from being what it is now into a Republic. The arguments against this measure have been put very forcibly. The arguments for the measure have not been put at all. We are here actually legislating away our own powers, and not only that, but we are binding the people, not merely from the national point of view, but also from the economic point of view, because  of the way in which the Seanad is constituted. It is not merely that the Seanad represents forces which are prejudiced against the development of national principles in this country and its advancement towards freedom, but it represents a class rather than the nation as a whole. It represents rather the status quo than any advance towards the fuller life for the poorest classes in the community, or a better life for the workers and for the unemployed and for those who are faced with inevitable emigration. The Seanad represents in itself a class the least sensitive to the needs of the people and they will be the greatest limitation upon the advancement of anything like real democracy in Ireland.
This is the last occasion when we shall have an opportunity of discussing this Bill. It has gone through all its stages and it has gone through them in a manner that is bringing odium on Irishmen. This whole phase has brought bitter elements of anger and hatred amongst people where up to this you had but the dying embers of the civil war. These Bills are absolutely unnecessary and the real needs of the country are being neglected in the meantime. The big economic questions are not being faced. I challenge members of the Government Party, representative men and weighty men like Deputy MacDonogh and others, to state how the economic conditions of this country are going to be bettered by the passing of measures of this sort.
Mr. LEMASS: It is again with considerable reluctance that I rise to speak on this Bill and it is due to the fact that I feel very strongly that this Dáil is taking a very hasty and very unwise action in passing a Bill without proper discussion. We have had no justification whatsoever given by any speaker on the Government benches in support of this Bill. I have examined the official records for the days during which the various stages of this Bill were under discussion. I have read every speech delivered by the very few Ministers who spoke and I have been unable to find a single argument to justify the doubling of the powers of the Seanad to interfere with the legislation of this  House. The only thing that might possibly pass as an argument was the statement made by President Cosgrave, on Second Reading, that it is no harm to give the Seanad these powers because they are not likely to use them. That was the only thing that bore the slightest resemblance to an argument that was set up by any Minister in justification of the Bill. If they have no justification for it or any reason for introducing it other than reasons about which they will not speak and which concerns principally the bargain they made with Senators, let them produce them now. It is even possible that if these arguments are strong and have any weight, they may convince Deputies upon this side of the House. We are open to conviction. We have given very carefully, and at considerable length, our views as to why the Bill should not be passed. We have placed our cards upon the table. If the Government has a hand to beat ours, let them produce it. I hope that the sense of dignity of this assembly, which has been so often emphasised of late, will compel Deputies opposite to feel that they should at least give some pretence of reason before they steam-roll a Bill of this nature through the Dáil.
It is to be regretted that members of the Government Party do not appear to be sufficiently interested in the Bill to remain in the House and listen to the arguments against it. They know they are not likely to hear any arguments for it. They are perhaps afraid that in a sudden rush of democratic enthusiasm they may commit the tremendous indiscretion of going into the wrong lobby, with the consequent, necessary tedious explanation to the Government Whips. Deputy McDonogh appeared to think that some injustice was done to him when he was asked to explain the reason why he was going to vote for this Bill. He said he was as good a man as any other Deputy here. He was right, and his vote in the Division Lobby will be as good as any vote given on these benches and will have the same effect. But the Deputy, to my mind, exercising such an important function should not give a silent vote. It is up to him and the constituency he represents that he should advance arguments  to justify the action that he is going to take. I hope every Deputy on the Government benches will consider the same thing, and consider that it is due to their constituents that they should state precisely why it is that they are going to vote for this extraordinary proposal of doubling the powers of the Seanad. Deputy John Daly has a duty to his constituents in East Cork. That duty is not discharged when he talked about the iniquitous proceeding of which he was guilty when he was a member of a Board of Guardians.
Mr. LEMASS: The Deputy is trying to put me off the track; he does not want to be nailed down, but I want to nail him down and I want him to say definitely why he is supporting this Bill, apart from the fact that the Government Whips told him to support it. Before I leave Deputy Daly and proceed to the gentleman near him, I hope that I shall get this promise that before the vote is taken on this Bill he will tell us why, in his view, the people of East Cork want these additional powers given to the Seanad. The people of East Cork cannot be very interested in the Seanad. If they are like the people of other parts of Ireland, they have no interest in the Seanad, and would prefer to see the Seanad abolished rather than give them an increase of power. But if they are interested in the Seanad and concerned with the powers it exercises, there must be some good reason why their elected representative in this House is going to vote in favour of increasing these powers. I am sure the people of West Cork, like the people of East Cork, would like to hear an explanation from Deputy Sheehy. He is not silent when important questions are under discussion in this House. This is one of the most important questions we ever discussed here.
Mr. LEMASS: That satisfies me. I know he is not afraid to stand for the arguments that induced him to vote for this Bill and, having made up his mind very definitely, I am sure he will tell us very definitely what were the reasons that weighed with him to vote for the Bill.
Mr. LEMASS: If the Deputy is merely going to express his views on this Bill in the Division Lobby and not in the Dáil, he is doing a grave injustice to his constituents, who will be anxious to know why the man they elected is going to vote for a Bill of this nature.
Mr. SHEEHY: They are satisfied with my action. They sent me here to this Dáil to stand up for the principles of the Government, and I am standing up for them. I believe their policy is right, and I will stand by it.
Mr. LEMASS: I admit I was not elected to the Cork County Council. I admit the honour that has been conferred upon the Deputy by being elected to the Cork County Council was much greater than when he was elected to the Dáil.
Mr. SHEEHY: My constituency elected me to this Dáil. In 1885, I was elected a member of an urban council in Cork, and I am still a member of it, and have been for the last 45 years without a break. Has the Deputy that record?
Mr. LEMASS: Deputies on this side of the House have indicated, as I said, clearly and at considerable length, their views on this Bill. My present purpose is to try to find out why the Government Party do not feel themselves competent to defend their Bill. Why are they relying upon Deputy Sheehy in the division lobby, and why do they not put up some argument in defence here? Perhaps the leader of the second most important party in the Dáil, the leader of the Farmers' Party, may have something to say about it. I am sorry to see Deputy Heffernan is now going away.
Mr. LEMASS: I am sorry Deputy Heffernan had to leave at this moment, but if there are any other members of the Farmers' Party present, I hope they will be able to find time to speak on this Bill, because they have, after all, the experience which other Deputies in this House have not had—the experience of the making of delicate arrangements. The delicate arrangement which preceded the introduction of this Bill is, in a manner, analogous to the arrangements which preceded their association with Cumann na nGaedheal. This Bill proposes to increase the power of the Seanad. As I  said on the last Bill, we must consider these matters all in relation to one another. We must consider the proposal to increase the power of the Seanad in conjunction with the proposal to alter the method of election to the Seanad, and we must take into consideration at the same time all the other Bills which have been introduced here. We have abolished democratic election; we have turned down election by the Dáil. We have instituted an extraordinary device for the purpose of procuring Senators, and, on top of that, we have the proposal to increase considerably, fully one hundred per cent., the actual powers exercised by that institution. It is an extraordinary provision. Is there any Deputy on the Cumann na nGaedheal benches who can defend it? There are some of them who must have thought about it, surely. Surely there is one amongst them with sufficient independence who can say that if he was convinced this proposal was wrong he would ignore the party Whips and vote against it?
Mr. LEMASS: Then they must be convinced that it is right, and if they are so convinced why do they not get up to defend it? Perhaps if we appeal to the Whips it may not be in vain. Deputy Peadar Doyle is a man with a great record in the fight for Irish freedom, as good as anybody, up to a period.
Mr. LEMASS: Up to that time. Did he, prior to that, ever think that he would be in this House voting for a Bill to give extraordinary powers to a collection of individuals like the individuals who compose the present Seanad? He did not, and if he did not he must have some apology to offer. He must have some apology why he should  take this action now and thus stultify all the previous actions of his life. Perhaps Deputy White, speaking on behalf of the Waterford people, may be able to tell us why it is that the people of Waterford are anxious for this?
Mr. LEMASS: I am sorry that Deputy White is now going away. I was saying that Deputy Heffernan has an advantage in discussing Bills of this nature which other Deputies have not got. He has intimate knowledge of the making of rather intricate arrangements—I do not like to call it a bargain—and as this Bill is obviously the result of a similar intricate arrangement we would be glad if Deputy Heffernan would guide us through the maze of arguments which resulted in this arrangement. Those who have trodden similar paths before would undoubtedly be our best guides now. Deputy White informed us that he was one of the seven men responsible for the passing of the Treaty. I wonder did Deputy White or any other Deputy who constituted that majority think when they were voting for the Treaty that six or seven years later they would be voting to give back into the hands of the same clique the power which was won from them at the time that the Treaty was being negotiated? That is the proposal contained in the Bill—to give back into the hands of the Cromwellian planter class the power which the Irish people had for fifty years been striving to take from them. Deputy McDonogh laughs at that. I remember in a previous debate drawing attention to a particular incident in Deputy McDonogh's past, and I hope we will not have to do it again
Mr. McDONOGH: You can draw attention to any incident in my past and I will not be ashamed of it. I am not ashamed of anything and I would not be wasting the time of this House and the people here as you are doing.
Mr. LEMASS: I forgot about Deputy Shaw. Perhaps Deputy Shaw will tell us why he is going to vote for this Bill? Perhaps he will tell us how industry will benefit, how employers of labour will benefit and how those interested in horse-racing are going to benefit by doubling the powers of the Seanad?
Mr. SHAW: Deputy Lemass ought to be able to explain about horse-racing because he signed a pledge to vote against the betting tax, and he has been very silent on it. He must have forgotten the pledge he signed, but I have it in my pocket at the moment.
Mr. LEMASS: We are not dealing with the betting tax, but with something more iniquitous, and that is this Bill. It proposes to give to a nominated, a self-producing assembly, powers to hold up for a period of twenty months Acts passed by this Dáil. I want Deputy Shaw to tell us why the people of Mullingar want that Bill passed. They must want it passed if he represents them, and if he does not represent them, then it is up to him to adopt the method that is open to all of us when we feel we have lost the confidence of our constituents. Is Deputy Shaw prepared to state that he has the authority of the people of Westmeath for this Bill?
Mr. LEMASS: Not merely does this Bill propose to give these immensely increased powers to the Seanad, but it proposes to do that in a manner which is very objectionable. What that manner is I would like Deputies on the far side to find out for themselves. I stated before—and this has no relation to the betting tax—that I would be prepared to bet that not two Deputies on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches understand this Bill. I defy Deputy Shaw, without looking at the Bill, to tell me what it is about. He could not, and neither could five out of the six of the Deputies on the opposite benches tell me that. What is more, if I read the Bill for them, because of the manner in which it is worded, they would not be any wiser. There is one sentence which occupies sixty lines without a stop. Even President Cosgrave went off on the wrong track and began talking about the Referendum and the Initiative, and the Bill has nothing to do with either of them. Perhaps that is the only explanation of the extraordinary silence of the benches opposite. They do not know what it is about because they do not understand it, and they have not had the moral courage to read it. It certainly requires a considerable amount of moral courage to do so. Anyone who gets to the first three lines will give up in despair.
If it is intended to increase the powers of the Seanad surely it could have been done in a more simple manner than is proposed here. What happens? The Bill is passed by the Dáil; it is sent to the Seanad. For a period of eighteen months, during which the Seanad may consider that Bill, pass it, amend it, or refuse to consider it, that Bill is with the Seanad. They may do nothing at all with the Bill for eighteen months, and, at the end of that eighteen months, if the Seanad had not considered it or passed it, or if they have passed it with amendments with which the Dáil does not agree, then the Dáil passes a resolution. Then the Bill goes to the  Seanad again, and for another period of two months the Seanad may consider it or may refuse to consider it or may pass it with amendments. If the Seanad has not passed the Bill without amendment, at the end of two months, another Resolution is passed in this House. After all that elaborate machinery has been put into operation, that Bill proceeds in its triumphal march to the Viceregal Lodge, where His Majesty's representative draws his name across it, and then it becomes law. That is the complicated and extraordinary machine set up to effect a change in the Constitution and to alter from 90 to 275 days the period during which the Seanad may hold up a Bill. That extraordinarily complicated machinery is set up, I suggest, to prevent Deputies from reading the Bill, and that machinery has been remarkably successful. I wonder could Deputy McDonogh tell us what the remaining sections of the Bill are about? I know he could not. And he is going to go into the Lobby to vote for it. He will go into the Lobby and his vote will neutralise mine.
Mr. LEMASS: Perhaps Deputy Heffernan can tell us. Perhaps he can explain why this intricate machinery was considered necessary and why this extraordinary wording was considered necessary. He will be doing a great benefit to the Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies, to his own party and possibly to the President, who introduced the Bill, if he will explain this Bill. The fact remains that here we are to have an important Bill passed by Deputies who admit that they have not read it, and who admit that they do not understand it, Deputies who do not appear to be prepared to advance a single argument to justify it. They are relying upon one or two spokesmen in their party and on the daily Press to justify what they are doing. These are the Deputies who are so concerned about the dignity of this Assembly. They should realise that they are not doing justice to the dignity of the Assembly by not reading and understanding that  Bill. I do hope that before a vote is taken we will hear a half dozen speeches from members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, giving their reasons for their vote on this Bill.
Mr. FAHY: I am prepared willingly to give way to any Deputy on the opposite side who desires to give his opinions on this Bill or the reasons which actuate him in supporting it. Before forging this other link in a chain of legislation or constitutional amendments or breakages of the Constitution, there are one or two points I would like the Deputies to consider. It is a sorry spectacle to see elected representatives of the people voting away, to a certain extent, the powers of this Assembly. I wonder if they realise the situation? They have certainly got from the Government no cogent reasons for supporting this Bill. We were told it was something of a bargain—because certain powers were taken away from the Seanad that further powers are to be given to them. It is not right to lessen the powers of this House or to increase the powers of the Seanad, particularly as the Seanad is constituted. The President to-day spoke of nationality. He maintained that those in the Seanad are Irishmen as we are. I quite agree. They are Irishmen, too, but I would remind him that it is maintained that the Saorstát is free. We believe it is not.
Mr. FAHY: Somebody on the opposite side said “Hear, hear.” I noticed in the London “Times” and in the “Irish Times,” and in other papers, a reference to Czecho-Slovakia, in which a homogeneous minority, not of the same race as the majority of that nation, wanted certain rights. It was maintained that, it being a free country, the minority should fall in with the majority of the people in their national aspirations, and that they should get neither place nor power until they did so. I quite agree that the members of the Seanad and those they represent are Irish. I would like to see them getting place and power when they definitely come out and prove that they are in sympathy with the  aspirations of the Irish nation. I presume the purpose of this freedom which some Deputies maintain we have remains the same as it was stated to be when the Treaty was passed—the realisation of a Gaelic nation, a self-contained Gaelic nation, economically free, and that the Government intends to take all steps towards realising that ideal. Will it be asserted that they will be assisted to do so by the present Seanad? If the majority of the members of the Seanad were actuated by these motives, I personally might change my mind in respect of and my attitude towards the Seanad. I fear those are not their aims.
If I refer now to Deputy McDonogh I shall do so without giving offence. We were told here a while ago that we were wasting time. I would ask the Deputy to consider whose fault it is. Was it our fault that these Constitution Amendment Bills were brought in here? When our Party came into the Dáil, we intended to do our level best for the economic salvation of the country and the national salvation too. There is no urgent reason for the introduction of these measures. Most of them could have been left alone for another twelve months. There would not have been any time wasted then, and I do not consider that it is a waste of time to try to realise the result of passing measures like these. There are many forces against the realisation of that ideal of a free Gaelic Ireland. Some maintain we are free. We maintain you are not free. However, the other part of the programme remains there. Will strengthening the hands of the Seanad and increasing their powers make for a realisation of those ideals which the majority in the opposite benches held with us some years ago, and still maintain that they do hold—a Gaelic Ireland? Do they sincerely believe that increasing the powers of the Seanad will help towards the realisation of that ideal, or that that is a forward step in advance towards the realisation of our national aims? I think if you seek first for nationality, you will get the economic salvation afterwards. They found that elsewhere. I am convinced of that. We should be sorry to waste  time here talking of nationality if it injures the nation or its economic or social progress, but I am convinced that that is the first essential. That is another reason why I oppose giving those extensive powers to the Seanad. I have no doubt they are honourable men, honest men, acting according to their lights, but, after all, their views are not the views of the majority of this nation. In taking this step you may be wasting time and, in addition to that, I maintain you are barring the road of progress for this Irish nation; you are preventing us reaching our goal, and serious thought should be taken of that before votes are cast.
Mr. HOGAN (Minister): In what I have to say I will be very brief. You have the same old shibboleths repeated by Deputy Fahy—economic freedom. There is no such thing as economic freedom. It is a question of degree. There is no such thing as political freedom; it is a question of degree. To talk about these things is merely word-chopping. He talks about national aspirations. What national aspirations? National aspiration, I suppose, means what the people want. That is how I should say it ought to be here defined. The only way to find out what the people want is to ask the people, and the people have been asked five or six times what they wanted. Perhaps five or six times is an exaggeration. To be quite accurate, they have been asked four times what they wanted, and they stated it quite clearly. It is not for Deputies on the other side to talk about the Seanad not being in line with national aspirations. The Deputies on the opposite benches are not in line with national aspirations, if you are to judge by the results of the last four or five elections. In each of these elections the Deputies went to the people and their policy was turned down each time by the people. That is simply a fact and cannot be denied.
Mr. HOGAN: That is drawing a red herring across the discussion. My understanding of nationality is the plain man of the country being as free as he can be under equal law and that no outsider interferes with him. I hope my understanding of nationality is a different one from the Deputies opposite. I think that a nation is a collection of citizens, and no nation is free unless its citizens are free, and they are not free unless they are free to go about their business and do what they want to do without undue interference from inside or any interference from outside. There is no interference from outside at present. I would be sorry to think that the Deputies believe what they say, because they cannot go back too quickly on what they have said when they repeat that we are not free and that there is outside interference. If they really believe that, then it is because they are slaves in their bones. Deputy Fahy quoted from the English “Times.” There is a point of view of the Deputies opposite. They will believe what is in the English “Times” or in any other English paper, but they will not believe a plain Irishman. That point of view is there, and there from the very beginning.
Mr. HOGAN: I am trying to deal with Deputy Fahy's point. It is not in order, but I would suggest, as this point has been raised so often, that I should be allowed to say something about it. Deputy Fahy has been quoting the London “Times” and other  English papers during these debates. I have heard what Lord Birkenhead said and Winston Churchill said, and so on.
Mr. HOGAN: From other Deputies on your benches during these debates. Surely Deputies on the opposite side will realise that England is a different nation and that it has its own interests. You do not realise that it has its own views.
Mr. HOGAN: Again I do not understand that interruption in this connection. Surely Deputies on the opposite benches realise that England is an independent country, that it is actually independent. It is a shocking state of affairs, but it is so. They have their own interests, their own points of view, and they fight to keep their own end up. They make statements which neither ourselves nor France nor Germany would accept, and it is for Irishmen to state the Irish point of view and to keep it up. But we cannot complain about Lord Birkenhead, Mr. Winston Churchill or any other people. Realise, for goodness sake, once for all, that we are independent in this country.
Mr. HOGAN: I should, but I am tired listening to this sort of thing in these debates. Surely the Deputy on the other side who is honest must realise that there can be no interference in any matter either political, economic, or social by the English with this country, that the masters are here on those benches such as they are. If they realise that Deputies will give less attention to the sections in this country. Our business is to make every man in this country an Irishman, and it is positively disgusting to listen to sectarian and sectional attacks on certain people in this country. It is not Sinn Fein and no one knows that better than the Deputies on the other side. It is not and never was Sinn Fein. There were parties in this country built up on this basis, but Sinn Fein superseded them. Here we are back to that state of affairs again. For the sake of scoring points Deputies attack sections in this country. Remember you are never going to make this country anything unless you make every man in the country an Irishman. Remember if you are afraid of a small minority in this country, if you are afraid to give them fair play the sooner you hand over the country to them the better. No section in this country has ever got more than fair play and never will, and no section will ever get less. That is my political philosophy. It will never get less and never get more. I am not a bit afraid to give, what you call, Unionists full rights and full fair play and full representation. And I go further and say that they have brought brains, ability, energy, enthusiasm and money to this country. Some Deputy stated that there never was a Bill brought to the Seanad that was improved. When I remember all the nonsense that was talked by Deputies who never were able to discuss a technical Bill, and when I remember what the people you call Southern Unionists have done for Bills like the Dairy Produce Bill, the Livestock Breeding Bill, the Land Bill; how they have improved them in detail, remedied defects in them; how they have carried out honestly and sincerely the function of a Second Chamber and when I hear these people casually and lightly referred to as anti-Irish and  having no understanding of the national aspirations of the country, what am I to say? Suppose they are not Gaelic Leaguers. There are a lot of people here who are not Gaelic Leaguers.
Mr. HOGAN: Supposing they have not Deputy Fahy's mind—I am not making any suggestion here against Deputy Fahy—supposing they have not Deputy Fahy's conception of the Gaelic State what do you think is going to change their minds? To show that a Gaelic State can not only be Gaelic but efficient.
Mr. HOGAN: That is the thing; that is the only way to do it. Nothing succeeds like success. I want to see a Gaelic State built up here honestly and you will never get everyone in the country to realise what a Gaelic State might be until the plain Irish people make a success of it and stop talking about politics and about issues that are absolutely unreal. Really when I see all these debates and all the obstruction, when all the talk is stopped, when Deputy Flinn is forgotten with all his drivel.
Mr. HOGAN: I am sorry he is not in the Dáil. I quoted him as the worst and most insincere sinner. When all that sort of thing is forgotten the one thing that will stand out of all this obstruction is that during all this time and all this opposition to these Constitution Bills there was an attack made on the conception of Irish nationalism that Wolfe Tone, Davis, Mitchel and every man who was worth anything in this country stood for.
Mr. MacENTEE: I submit then with all due respect to you that on one occasion I had to sit down because the Chair judged that the remarks I was making were not pertinent to the Bill. The Minister has spoken and attacked us and I think we ought to be permitted to answer him.
Mr. MacENTEE: We have got to confine ourselves to the Constitution amendments now under discussion. I think that the basis of the Minister's argument was that we had political freedom and such a measure of economic freedom as any other country enjoyed. With reference to that I wish to say this: that the purpose of this amendment is, and it cannot be denied on the face of it, to increase the powers of the Seanad. The Seanad already has power to hold up legislation considered by this House, considered by the Opposition of this House in the  light of the intellect with which they have been endowed, and also in the light of the experience of the past two or three weeks. It will be foolish for us to assert that every member of this House has considered legislation in that way. The members who sit on the opposite benches, as the experience of this debate has shown, receive these little green papers as if they were the inspired writings of saints and sages, and never once ventured to criticise or propose any amendment or in any way to better or improve them. They did not rely when considering the legislative proposals of this Government on their intellect or tongues; they rely on their feet to pass them through. It is the weary feet tramping up these stairs under the control of Deputy Peadar Doyle and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, those weary feet are the things that make the laws for the people of this country, not the brains, not the intellect, not the great business capacity, for example, of Deputy McDonogh or the political experience of Deputy Daly, not the agricultural knowledge of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, but the weary feet tramping up these division stairs, up to these lobbies through the twenty-four hours of a single day— it was these passed these important Constitution amendments through their most important stages. To leave that on one side, and to meet the Minister for Agriculture upon his own ground to consider this question that we are supposed to have political freedom, and that in order to secure that political freedom we have introduced amendments, and are considering an amendment which proposes to increase the powers already vested in the Seanad, the powers to hold up legislation which has passed through all its stages in this House. That legislation may be good in the opinion of some people. It may be bad, but whether it is good or whether it is bad, how is it going to be improved if it is bad; how is it going to be altered for the benefit and advantage of this people if it is bad by allowing the Seanad to hold it up, as it can do in certain circumstances, for a period of thirty-two months? What virtue is in that delay?
 The Minister for Lands and Agriculture is a very astute debater. Deputy Lemass challenged, I think, almost by name every single representative on the Government benches to justify that principle of delay. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture is the only one who has spoken from the Government benches since that challenge was thrown out. Did he say one word to justify giving to the Seanad power to hold up legislation passed by this Dáil, legislation which may be, and I am sure it is, introduced by a responsible Government dependent on the votes of these people, anxious to please these people, and to secure a majority at the next general election, legislation which the Government must believe to be to the advantage of the people? Did the Minister for Lands and Agriculture give a single reason why legislation of that nature should be held up by the Seanad for thirty-two months? You all heard his speech. I ask you to recollect it. Turn it over in your minds. Was there one single reason, and he is the only member on the Government benches, with the exception of the President, who has yet spoken in respect of this measure.
Mr. MacENTEE: I am afraid the Deputy anticipates me. I know that the portfolio for External Affairs is still vacant, but I do not think the Deputy is yet a member of the Government. I was referring to the members of the Executive Council, the controlling heads of the political Robots on the other side who vote.
Mr. MacENTEE: I know you have, but you could not hear it too often. There are people in this Chamber who never heard it, and are now hearing us —this despised Opposition who waste time—challenging the Government to tell the Deputies who are here and the people who are here and can hear them what are the great reasons of State that have compelled the Executive Council, deriving its authority mainly from this body, to extend and to increase  the powers of another House. That is the question that we are asking and that is the question that has not been answered since these Constitution amendments were introduced. We are told to stop talking and to drop politics. Who started the talking about politics? Who was it that introduced these measures into this House, when all the parties in this House—the Opposition Benches, the Deputies who sit on the Labour Benches, and the Deputies who sit on the Government Benches— were considering the Finance Bill? You can look back and read the debates upon that measure. You will see that not once did the element of Party enter into them, and the proposals which were first put forward from these benches on their merits received the sympathetic consideration of the Minister for Finance, that in fact as a result of certain amendments which were introduced it was proposed to set up a Departmental Committee to consider the whole question of the income tax. That was the feeling and that was the atmosphere that existed in this House when these green apples of discord were thrown in. That was the way we were approaching the condition of the State and considering the position of the country. Every Party in this House was anxiously co-operating for the benefit of the whole community. Then suddenly without any warning all that ceased. The Government, which includes a Minister who wants us to stop talking and to drop politics, introduced these political issues which have created ill-feeling in this House, that I believe, has not existed——
Mr. MacENTEE: I would like the Deputy not to be impertinent in making interruptions that are not pertinent.  What is the necessity and what is the urgency of these measures? We have here on the Orders for the Day something like 20 proposals for legislation; we have the Estimates for certain very important Departments, including the Votes for Primary Education, Secondary Education, Technical Instruction, Science and Art, Agriculture, Advances to Agricultural Credit Societies, Public Works and Buildings, Relief Schemes, the Gárda Síochána. Supreme Court and Public Record Office. I would like the Minister who wants us to stop talking and to drop politics to explain to the people how it is that every one of these Votes which were on the Order Paper before a single one of these Bills was introduced and should have precedence in the ordinary course of events have been removed from item No. 2 in the Order Paper to No. 23. Will he explain that to the people whom he is urging to stop talking and to drop politics? Will he explain why it is that the real business of the nation was displaced from its position of precedence on the Order Paper to the end of the Order Paper?
Mr. MacENTEE: And at the end of it all, while we are discussing this Bill, and while the President to-day has given it priority over other measures, there still remain on the Order Paper the Second Stage of the Agricultural Credits Bill, 1928, a Bill in which the Minister has a particular and personal interest. There is the Creamery Bill, 1928, down for Second Stage; there is the Bodies Corporate Bill down for the Fifth Stage; there is the Local Authorities (Mutual Insurance) Bill down for Committee Stage; there is the Trade Loans (Guarantee) (Amendment) Bill, 1928, down for Second Stage; there is the Cork City Management Bill down for Second Stage; and there is the Arterial Drainage (Minor Schemes) Bill from the Seanad. I would ask any Deputy, and those who are not Deputies, but who are here, whether such Bills are the real business of this Assembly, or whether the business of the Assembly is concerned  with the Bills we are now discussing and upon which, though the President knew there would be a prolonged discussion, he gave precedence to them over the other Bills which affect the lives of the people. The Creamery Bill will do something to improve agriculture. The Agricultural Credit Bill will do something to improve agriculture but what benefit will any farmer working on the land, toiling and slaving to pay land annuities, derive from the Constitution (Amendment No. 13) Bill? It is an ill-omened number and and ill-omened Bill.
Mr. MacENTEE: I think after I have sat down the Minister will not urge me any more to drop politics and to talk business. I am talking business, and I would ask him to explain why he gave precedence to politics over business, as he is charged with the particular care of the farmer and agriculturalist in this House. What great overriding advantages are the farmers of this country going to derive from the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 13, so that it must get priority and precedence over the Agricultural Credit Bill and the Creamery Bill? The President, I hope, will reply. If the Minister for Lands and Agriculture cannot address himself to that question, I would like the President to do so. After all, we are entitled—not only we, but others who are here—to have an answer to that. “Give them fair play. Give them no more and no less.” The Minister said that that is his attitude towards the minority. That is our attitude, only we practise what we preach, and we do not tell the people that we believe in giving them fair play, neither more nor less, and at the same time give additional power to that particular section of the people who never gave this country fair play, who cleared the land when tillage farming became unprofitable, herded the people in coffin ships, and sent them across the sea in thousands. Give them fair play, equal rights, but no more. Give fair play to the ascendancy, the ascendancy which they enjoyed by being the instrument  of a foreign Throne in this country, and we who claim the powers of citizens should give them the same powers as the commonest and lowliest citizen amongst us, neither more nor less.
This Bill proposes to give them more, to give them power which this House itself does not possess. It gives them power to hold up legislation that has been passed by this House for thirty-two months. This Dáil cannot do that. If legislation were held up during that time it would have to be introduced again, but the Seanad, who are to get no more nor no less power, can so control every act of this House that any single law passed by the representatives of the people which displeases the Seanad, whether it be for the advantage or disadvantage of the people, can be held up for thirty-two months. Will the President, in accordance with the principle which the Minister has adopted of giving them equal power, no more and no less, justify the provisions of this Bill? I ask again what is the advantage of that delay? There was some use in it when the Referendum still remained in the Constitution. There was some reason then for holding up legislation until such time as a substantial section in the Dáil or in the Seanad wish to refer the proposed legislation to the people, in order to have their final voice in the matter. Then there was some reason for giving to the Seanad power to hold up legislation, but only for a reasonable period to enable the Referendum to be taken. The Referendum has, however, disappeared. The Seanad did not want it, because they did not know the use of it. The Dáil did not want it, at least, the majority Party in the Dáil did not want it, because they did not even exercise their political intelligence to consider how important a weapon that Referendum was and what a safeguard it was to the common people. Now it is thrown aside and it cannot be used.
What is the use of giving to the Seanad power to hold up legislation? If the necessity for suspension arose from the fact that contentious legislation was to be referred to the people in order that they might finally declare their will upon it, then there was some reason for giving the Seanad power to hold up legislation. It is not, however,  proposed to refer the matter to the people. The proper, commonsense, expeditious and businesslike method to adopt is that when you have made up your mind that a thing is right, put it into force. Shun delays. That would have been more or less in accordance with the practice of the Government. They could not brook discussion on these Bills. They were so urgent that they had to be rushed through, though it is not clear what profit any one of these proposals which have been before the House for the past month is going to give to the Irish people. Notwithstanding that, they are so important they are to be rushed through this House and through the Seanad. When some other measures come along, possibly to develop our agricultural industry or some other matter that affects the bread and butter and the everyday lives of our people, they will be held up by the Seanad for thirty-two months. I ask any Deputies who have charge of any business is that the way they would run it? They tell us that all the great business capacity in the country is concentrated on the Front Bench. There are some men here who by their own intelligence, efforts and ability have built up substantial fortunes, and I ask them is that the way that they won success and competence for themselves, namely, that when they knew that a certain project was right and, having made up their minds to go on with it, they went only half-way and then decided that it was better to hold it up for thirty-two months?
I do not know whether I get the Minister for Lands and Agriculture aright, but if my ears serve me, I think he is prompting the President to apply the closure. I hope so, because then the people who are here will realise what the closure means, and they will realise——
Mr. MacENTEE: I apologise to the Minister and I withdraw. In regard  to this proposal the Minister for Lands and Agriculture at least enunciated one very commonsense principle. He asked how they were to know what the people want. He said that political freedom is what the people want. “How do we know what the people want?” I think, if these are his exact words, that the way to find out what the people want is to ask them. I suggest to the Minister that that is a very good principle, and that was the principle contained in Article 47 of the Constitution which, now under the operation of Constitution (Amendment No. 10) Bill, is due to disappear. I ask the Minister, in view of the principle which he himself has expounded in this House and in view of the advice which he has given us that the only way to find out is to ask them, will they ask them whether they want Constitution (Amendment No. 13) Bill or not?
Mr. MacENTEE: I am not. As a matter of fact, I heard the answer with regret, because I know this Party would derive considerable advantage if the people were asked whether they wanted this Constitution (Amendment No. 13) Bill or any of the Bills which the Government has introduced during the past few weeks. The Government knows that this Party would derive that advantage, and that is why they give pride of place to Constitution (Amendment No. 10) Bill, which prevented us from forcing the Government to refer these Constitution Amendment Bills to the people.
Though the Minister says “no” and though we might be expected to hear that answer with some pleasure, I say that we hear it with very great regret. We are very anxious to take these measures before the people. We are anxious to hear what they want, but the Minister who told us that that was  the proper way, was very anxious to keep the people from letting us know what they want. The one thing the Government is concerned about is to prevent us asking the people.
The Minister said something about economic freedom. I will put it the other way, and say freedom to develop economically. That is what we are supposed to have. To the fullest extent of our power, we are supposed to have freedom to develop economically under this Constitution which he is now amending, and I presume that if there was anything in the Constitution which would prevent us developing economically, that would in any way restrict our economic development—I hope the Minister is listening, even though I do bore him—I hope if there is anything in the Constitution which would prevent us developing economically that the Minister will introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution so as to remove that restriction and to give the people that power which he referred to.
Mr. MacENTEE: —almost as binding as the pledge which the President alleged he gave to the whole electorate of Ireland when in one obscure sentence in a political harrangue during the election campaign in Cork, he pledged his Party to remove Articles 47 and 48. I take it that the pledge which the Minister has given me is as binding as that.
Mr. MacENTEE: If the Minister, who is usually so prolix and who is usually so well-furnished with very specious reasons for any proposal he supports, was in this particular instance so brief and terse, it must be that he was barren of any argument which could justify this proposal. He has, himself, referred to the fact that under this Constitution we have economic freedom, and as I suppose, by virtue of this Bill, we will enjoy increased economic freedom, and as he has now pledged himself to increase that economic freedom if I can show him how he can do it by amending the Constitution, I might quote the following for him:—“That submarine cables shall not be landed or wireless stations for communications with places outside Ireland be established except by agreement with the British Government.”
Mr. MacENTEE: They are closely associated with economic freedom. I think, as a matter of fact, that as long as such a provision as that remains in the Constitution nobody can get up in this House and say that we enjoy economic freedom or that we have freedom to develop economically. There are other restrictions which prevent the free development of this country, other restrictions in that Constitution, and I would like the Minister to fulfil his pledge in respect of at least this one of them.
Mr. MacENTEE: I have been dealing with the Bill. I have been dealing with the only reasons put forward in this  debate. If reasons are put forward I am entitled to consider these reasons even if they should be flimsy and unsubstantial, and even though I should appear to wander from the Bill. Even though the arguments should be so flimsy and unsubstantial as those advanced in favour of the Bill, I am entitled to answer them.
Mr. MacENTEE: Well, as the Bill now before the House stands unjustified, I will leave this unjustified and unjustifiable measure to the judgment of any intellects on the Government Benches which are not yet dormant and I will ask them, in considering this Bill, to consider it with their heads and not to decide it with their feet.
The PRESIDENT: The speeches which have been made against this Bill satisfy me that it is a very sensible measure—a particularly sensible measure. I have taken down the words of the leader of the Opposition. I have here extracts from his statement and they do not impress me. The first is “to strengthen his own party.” That was one of the allegations in connection with this measure. The second was that it was “going ultimately to be a benefit to their friends.” The third statement, which is perhaps the most illuminating of the whole lot is, “the same alliance exists here as exists in England between the Tories and the House of Lords.” I will make a present of that very inaccurate statement to that Deputy. As I said before, these statements show that the slave mind is still active. It is in every member of his Party who addressed himself to this measure. That slave mind seeks to bring again before the people of this country the differences of the last thirty or forty years. It seeks to bring their minds back to the suggestion that they are not now a politically free people, free to express their own views in whatever way they wish. “And I go on to say that by reason of this measure a conflict between the two Houses is going to be inevitable.” A popular Government returned here is going to have its legislative proposal  held up by the Seanad. Just picture the spectacle of a popularly-elected Dáil sending up legislative proposals and having them rejected by the Seanad. Just think of that. Are there people in the Seanad who would, in a case like that, stand between the people and the laws that ought to be passed for them? Are there people who would have a right to say that they should not be swept away? More of the slave mind. Deputy de Valera eternally sees some obstacle that he is unequal to, that he is unable to combat and unable to overcome. No member of the Seanad stands for the right to come between the people and what they want. No member of the Seanad that I have heard of stands for that—except those who support the Deputy in the Seanad.
The PRESIDENT: The Deputy who last spoke gave perhaps the most lucid explanation of the utter incapacity of that party to understand this measure. The Seanad, he says, can hold up legislation for thirty-two months. What are the facts? Do the Deputies understand them? I thought I had made it plain, more than once, that a measure can be held up for eighteen months; after sixty days, if the Dáil passes a  resolution, that measure becomes law, unless with the consent of the Dáil it be held up for twelve months longer. But if the Dáil so desires, it can be held up for no longer period than twenty months. The Deputy who is so very fond of appealing to the people and who is so anxious to show that he stands for the people, will know, if he examines the Constitution, with those amendments even, that if he, with his party behind him and the people in the country supporting him, were in this place he could deal with a situation like that, if he had the courage to face up to it, the moral courage and the physical courage to face up to it—the moral courage and the physical courage that that party lacks. Those are the essentials with which you must face those problems.
The PRESIDENT: These are not catastrophic methods. No member of the Seanad would stand for that. They have a greater conception of political and economic freedom than the whole party of fifty-seven Deputies there.
|William P. Aird.
Ernest Henry Alton.
James Walter Beckett.
George Cecil Bennett.
Séamus A. Bourke.
John Joseph Byrne.
John James Cole.
Mrs. Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll.
Michael P. Connolly.
Bryan Ricco Cooper.
William T. Cosgrave.
James N. Dolan.
Peadar Seán Doyle.
Edmund John Duggan.
Barry M. Egan.
Osmond Thomas Grattan Esmonde.
Denis J. Gorey. Daniel O'Leary.
Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
John J. O'Reilly.
John Marcus O'Sullivan.
John J. Hassett.
Michael R. Heffernan.
Michael Joseph Hennessy.
Patrick Hogan (Galway).
Patrick Michael Kelly.
Hugh Alexander Law.
Arthur Patrick Mathews.
Michael Og McFadden.
Joseph W. Mongan.
James E. Murphy.
James Sproule Myles.
Martin Michael Nally.
John Thomas Nolan.
Timothy Joseph O'Donovan. Patrick W. Shaw.
Timothy Sheehy (West Cork).
William Edward Thrift.
Vincent Joseph White.
Jasper Travers Wolfe.
Archie J. Cassidy.
Martin John Corry.
Eamon de Valera.
Patrick J. Gorry.
Patrick Hogan (Clare).
Michael Joseph Kennedy.
William R. Kent.
James Joseph Killane.
Seán F. Lemass.
Patrick John Little.
Timothy Joseph Murphy.
Thomas J. O'Connell.
John F. O'Hanlon.
Thomas P. Powell.
Timothy Sheehy (Tipp.).
Francis C. Ward.
Message to be sent to the Seanad accordingly.
|Last Updated: 16/05/2011 15:24:21||Page of 19|