In Committee on Finance. - Constitution (Amendment No. 20) Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

Wednesday, 4 October 1933

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 49 No. 17

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Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  The purpose of this Bill is set forth in the long title, “to transfer from the Representative of the Crown to the Executive Council the function of recommending under that Article the purpose of the appropriation of money.” The main function of the Article as it stands is to give control over financial provisions to the Executive Council. Before any measure can be introduced in the Dáil that involves a charge upon public funds, as the law stands, it is necessary that a message should be received from the Governor-General signifying agreement; in fact, recommending the proposal. Of course, that is given on the advice of the Executive Council. It preserves for the Executive Council the control which is necessary if our budgetary procedure was to be of any real value. Private Deputies are debarred from bringing in any measure which would involve a charge on the public funds, unless the assent of the Executive Council has been obtained for the financial proposals. This Bill puts the legal function where the real constitutional power lies. The constitutional power lies with the Executive Council, and the purpose of the change is to transfer the legal function also to the Executive Council. I do not think there is any necessity to recommend it to the House. It is generally wise to get rid of unnecessary forms. In reality, the power lies with the Executive Council, and the proposed amendment will make that clear to everyone.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  No objection is felt on these benches to this Bill. It does not appear that it conflicts with any of our Treaty obligations, or with any honourable obligations of any sort. As the President has put it, it would [2114] seem to be a matter of little or no practical importance, indeed a mere matter of form. I take it that the same thing applies to the other Constitution Amendment Bills that come next for consideration. There is a considerable difference of tone between the manner in which this Bill has been recommended for our acceptance and the manner in which these Bills were first proclaimed to an excited audience—I think, at Arbour Hill—as breaking off some of the fetters that weighed upon us here in Ireland. It is apparent now to everybody that no fetters are involved in the matter, and that these much flaunted Constitution Amendment Bills are really trivial and should not excite the smallest enthusiasm in anyone. If the gentlemen who have just been thrown out of the Gallery for their objection to the treatment of the Republican prisoners in Mountjoy, had remained to hear the finale to these Bills, their resentment would not have been in any way assuaged by the terms of the President's speech.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11th October.

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