Constitution (Amendment No. 24) Bill, 1934. - Motion of Enactment.

Thursday, 28 May 1936

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 62 No. 9

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The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I move:

“Toise an Bille Bunreachta (Leasú Uimh. 24), 1934, do chur go dtí Seanad Eireann an 12adh lá de Mhí na Nodlag, 1935, do réir rúin do rith an Tigh seo an lá san fé Airtiogal 38A den Bhunreacht, agus toisc an tréimhse de thrí fichid lá luaidhtear san Airtiogal san do bheith caithe o cuireadh an Bille sin amhlaidh go dtí Seanad Eireann, deintear, leis so, a bheartú le rún, go dtuigfear, ós rud é nár rith Seanad Eireann an Bille sin do réir an Airtiogail sin 38A laistigh den tréimhse sin de thrí fichid lá, an Bille sin do bheith rithte ag dhá Thigh an Oireachtais i gcionn an trí fichid lá san sa bhfuirm inar cuireadh é amhlaidh go dtí Seanad Eireann an 12adh lá de Mhí na Nodlag, 1935.

The Constitution (Amendment No. 24), Bill, 1934, having been sent on the 12th day of December, 1935, to Seanad Eireann in pursuance of a resolution of this House passed on that day under Article 38A of the Constitution, and the period of sixty days mentioned in that Article having elapsed since the said Bill was so sent to Seanad Eireann, it is hereby resolved that, as Seanad Eireann did not pass the said Bill in accordance with the said Article 38A within the said period of sixty days, the said Bill be deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas at the expiration of the said sixty days in the form in which it was so sent to Seanad Eireann on the 12th day of December, 1935.”

I see on the opposite benches two Deputies who, when I tried to act [1196] reasonably on previous occasions, commented on the fact that I did not indulge in long explanations of a matter which has been so fully explained already that nobody could fail to understand it, and I wonder whether I should now enter into a long and formal speech to explain why it is that this last motion should pass the House?

This question of the abolition of the Seanad has been before the country for more than two years. It has been discussed in the Dáil on several occasions, and it has been discussed almost on as many occasions in the Seanad, and I think this debate is not likely to reveal any new arguments on either side. From the Government point of view, we decided to bring in a Bill abolishing the Seanad because we regarded the Seanad in the existing circumstances as not being a help to the country, but rather a danger. We announced that opinion when we issued our programme before the last election. On that occasion I said it was our intention, if we were returned to office, to abolish the Seanad as at present constituted, and, if it were decided to retain a second legislative Chamber, that it was our intention to reduce considerably the number of its members. Any elector reading that statement could not fail to understand that our minds were made up on one point very definitely, and that was to abolish the Seanad as at present constituted. The electors, when they returned us, knew that was our programme, and as we have step by step striven to implement the other promises which we made to the electors, so did we, when an occasion arose which made it clear to us that further delay would be dangerous, bring in the Bill to abolish the Seanad.

Deputies dealing here with the matter said: “We admit that you got the permission of the electors to abolish the Seanad as now constituted, but you did not seek for, and did not get a mandate to abolish the second legislative Chamber. You said in the election manifesto that it was your intention, if it was decided to retain a second legislative Chamber, [1197] to reduce considerably the number of its members.” On a previous occasion I pointed out that we did not go to the people and say that our minds were definitely made up on the point as to whether there should be a second legislative Chamber or not; we clearly indicated that we had not made up our minds and we clearly indicated that it was open to us either to abolish it altogether or, if we retained it, that it was our intention to reduce considerably the number of its members. Now, I think that we have arrived at a point when there is considerable unanimity, both in this House and in the country generally, as to the question of the abolition of the Seanad as at present constituted. In all the arguments that have been put forward there have been very few indeed directed towards the maintenance of the Seanad as at present constituted. There is general agreement, perhaps more general agreement on this than on any other political issue in the country, that the Seanad as at present constituted should go and I am asking the Dáil here to pass the final sentence and to send it off. I say to those who are not convinced that the country would be better served by a single legislative Chamber than by two, that the door is not definitely closed.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  J.H. Thomas again.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I say the door is not definitely closed. I challenged the Opposition, on previous occasions, to indicate to us, because that is the real crux, how a Seanad was to be composed which was reasonably worth setting up, which would be a help and not a danger, and I have seen no response whatever to that challenge, except one, and that was that the Seanad should be nominated. That is a proposition; and it is not the first time that a proposition with regard to a Second Chamber of that kind has been made.

There are Senates that are nominated and continue to exist. But it must be obvious to anyone who thinks that such a Senate cannot, in fact, be a real safeguard, that it is open to attack [1198] from many directions, that the moment it strives, in a crisis, to perform the functions for which it was set up, it is bound to fall if it opposes the majority opinion at the moment. That is a very weak form of Second Chamber when a crisis comes. But I do grant that if you are thinking in the abstract of forming your ideal Seanad that perhaps would get you nearer to your ideal method than any other method that I, at any rate, have seen suggested. But if I came in here with a concrete proposition that we should establish a Seanad by nomination I doubt if many Deputies would vote for that proposition. I feel pretty certain that if you did not have the personnel nominated in advance, you probably would reject it.

As I said, if you did pass it for the time being, by the nature of its constitution, when a crisis arose the Seanad's strength would not be sufficient to make it function properly. My challenge was met in that respect and that was the answer. But it is singular that of all those who sit on the Opposition Benches, and who talked about Senates in general—many of them having defended the existing Seanad as constituted—none of them came forward with a proposition.

I renew the challenge now. We have, to-day, some hours to consider this matter and if there, are any concrete proposals the Opposition can put forward for the formation of a Seanad I promise we will give them very close consideration. But we cannot continue to leave this matter any longer in suspense. I think if we are going to have this question of the value of a Second Chamber, and the advisability of having one in our general legislative system—if we are going to have that properly and dispassionately considered, I believe it will be considered better when the old Seanad is gone than if the present Seanad were to continue.

The present Seanad was composed at a time when in the nature of things only a certain part of the community was represented in it. It was suspect almost from the beginning, and its later actions proved that these suspicions were not ill-founded. It was felt by the majority of the people that this Seanad would be a definite danger [1199] whenever the people tried to advance to the freedom that the people felt to be their right. And I believe that those, who may think that a Seanad could be composed which would usefully serve this nation, will get a better opportunity of having their views considered when the existing Seanad is gone, than when there is any question of its possible revival or reconstitution. I think, therefore, being pretty well in agreement that the existing Seanad could not continue, we would all do well in being unanimous in letting it go.

I can only say this: I hope that in the autumn we will have a measure here outlining a new Constitution. Whether that Constitution is to be based on the principle of a Single Chamber or two will depend upon whether it is possible to devise a Second Chamber which can be of value and not a danger. I have not myself —I have told the House my own view on the matter—been able to devise any really satisfactory Second Chamber; one that I think would be worth while putting into the Constitution. I have had many suggestions put before me and many of them examined and the challenge which I issued still holds. If it can be shown how we can constitute a Seanad which, practically, will be of value then certainly we will give such a proposition most careful consideration. If it cannot, then, the Constitution will be introduced with a Single Chamber Legislature. I have indicated, as far as I am concerned, that I have had a hankering after a Second Chamber, which most of us had, mainly because we visualised an ideal Seanad which cannot be attained in practice and which, in my opinion, has not so far even been approximated to.

Let us then consider this question not as a purely abstract question because in the abstract we would find probably there would be a great deal of agreement and disagreement. I do not think you would find agreement on any proposition for the constitution of a Second Chamber in any part of the House. I believe that individuals on those benches if you take them from one to one, would hold different opinions [1200] as to its constitution and that to get anything like agreement would be extremely difficult but I have, as I have said, a belief that somehow it should be possible to do it. All the arguments put forward from the opposite side only indicate the same thing, that they believe that some such Seanad could be constituted and that if it were constituted it would function. But it is not with the abstract we are dealing. It is with the practical work of government and the practical work of legislation we are dealing. We must try, if we are to be practical, not merely to argue in generalities, not merely to say “oh, the common experience of the world has been in favour of a Second Chamber,” without any analysis of the conditions in the various places. For instance, in the case of federal States there is a reason which is apparent to everybody why, in considering their formation, there should be a Second Chamber. But, in unitary States, has their origin been examined to see how far these Second Chambers have been adopted without examination, simply because they were used in other countries?

For us the question is: is a Second Chamber advisable here? I will say that the answer as to whether it is or not will depend mainly on whether you can constitute one that will fulfil the purposes we have in mind when we speak of the value of Second Chambers. That is the practical proposition to which we have to devote ourselves. If the speakers to-day instead of repeating the old statements which, as Sir John Marriott says are the commonplaces of a debating society, were to devote themselves to the practical proposition of the Constitution of such a Chamber, then we would be doing much better work than we would do otherwise.

We have already had the suggestion of nomination. I have tried on more than one occasion to work out the constitution of a Second Chamber on the basis of vocational representation, but I have found, first of all, that we are not organised in that sense here in a way that would enable us satisfactorily to choose such a Second Chamber: and, secondly, that I certainly could [1201] not fulfil the second part of the election pledge we gave if I were to attempt to form one. I do not think you can get really satisfactory vocational representation with a number as small as the number that I had in mind. When I was speaking on this question here some years ago I expressed the view that we should have a Seanad not of 60 members, but about 45 or 35 members.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Why?

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Mainly because I did not think that it was worth while to spend money on a larger number. Are we going to have co-ordinate authorities, or are we going to have a new part of the Legislature practically independent of the present one, and formed on a different principle? I have always regarded a Second Chamber—I would vote against anyone on an opposite principle—not as a Chamber possessing co-ordinate authority, but one that must ultimately be subordinate to the primary House— the one immediately representing the people—or, at least, to the people themselves. The utmost power you can possibly give a Second Chamber, in my opinion, would be to compel a vote of the people; that is, to compel the view of the people to be expressed on a certain measure.

Of course, the moment you go into that question you have all the difficulties suggested at once—that it would be abused for political purposes. The Opposition here, for instance, is supposed properly to do its duty—not to oppose. The duty of the Opposition is not to oppose. It has been stated time after time, I think, by members on the opposite benches that the duty of the Opposition is to oppose. I think that is a very negative form of its duty and that its duty ought to be to see that whatever measures are passed in this House will be in the best interests of the people.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Hear, hear.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Does that mean that they are always going to oppose? The [1202] same arguments that will be put forward to maintain that theory are going to be put forward in the Second House when the majority of the Second House happens to think differently from the majority here and, therefore, you are going to reproduce the same effects. Political partisanship is going to produce the same results in the Second Chamber as in the First Chamber. The duty of the Opposition is not necessarily to oppose. It may be to expedite, it may be to improve, but it is certainly taking a very strange and narrow partisan point of view to say that the duty of the Opposition is to oppose. Political experience now is going to tell us that, no matter what may be the ideals on which a representative Government or other Governments are formed, where there are political Parties there will be political partisanship and, ultimately, there will be voting by Parties on that basis, and not after calm and individual consideration of questions on their merits. That is the thing that you have to face. That is the course which Second Chambers are likely to run, just as primary Chambers run in that way.

I have said with regard to the second method of a vocational Seanad that the difficulty is, first, that we are not yet, at any rate, organised in that way; and, secondly, that even with the present organisation, if we were to utilise it, the number in the Seanad would certainly have to be very much larger than I had envisaged. I am not contending for one moment that that would be a fatal or vital fault— it would not. If we found that we could get a satisfactory Second Chamber by having a membership of 60, instead of 45, although there would be extra expense beyond what I consider would be advisable, that would be no fault. We are quite prepared to consider suggestions on that line, provided that they are practicable. But there is a danger in that line, because you will then be trying to constitute two separate parts of a Legislature on two different principles, and you may very well have competing authorities. In any case, I do not think that a Chamber so constituted would function according to the ideals [1203] which most of us have in mind when we are in favour of a Second Chamber.

However, all this is not immediately to the point, but, at the moment, I am simply doing it to satisfy Deputy Dillon and Deputy O'Sullivan. I regard it as a wasteful and ridiculous excess to argue on this Resolution here at all, because it has already been argued upon sufficiently, and I think that the best thing to do would be just to put it to the vote, because there is not a single mind here that is not already made up.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I hope Deputy Norton will appreciate that observation.

A Deputy:  The will of the people.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I think, after two years of argument, if we have been seriously considering this matter at all, that we can take a very good chance in thinking it is most unlikely that at this eleventh hour there are going to be any changes of opinion. I think they are all pretty well set. I am anxious that those two questions should be carefully separated—the question of the abolition of the existing Seanad, which I think is generally agreed to, and this other question, which I say is a challenge to those who hold that Second Chambers are valuable, and that a valuable one can be constituted. The burden of showing how such a Chamber can be constituted, and how it is successfully to function, is upon those who hold for the two-Chamber system, and not upon those who think that with proper modifications the Single Chamber can work fairly well.

The Norwegian system, which has been referred to, I think, at some time during the debate, is really not a two-Chamber system at all. It is simply a Single Chamber, with divisions from the point of view of practical work; it is not a two-Chamber system at all. Of course, we here could very easily, if we thought it desirable, constitute ourselves into two parts and give to each part a certain function, it being understood that final decisions lay [1204] with the body as a whole. After all, that is practically what the Norwegian system comes to. Shall I say once more that it is the duty of those who believe that a Second Chamber is necessary, and can work, to show us how they would constitute it, and what powers they would give it, instead of simply saying: “Oh, the experience of the world has been in favour of two Chambers.” That is all nonsense. The experience has got to be examined in detail. If we had here a Second Chamber which did not definitely get up against and thwart the people's will, it is possible that we, too, might continue, through sheer inertia, sending up Bills to a Second House and not bothering very much about it, but the fact that we were doing that would not be a proof either that a Second Chamber was necessary or that it was really valuable. We would be a very poor selection of individuals if we could not get someone or other, and the question is whether it is worth the nation's while to set up a body of that sort unless it can be shown to be definitely necessary.

Somebody has said that what is unnecessary in government is pernicious. Whether we say it is pernicious or not, it certainly is slowing up; we must admit that it tends to delay, and that it adds unnecessarily to expenses and so on. It can, of course, become pernicious if it so clogs the machinery that when work should be done quickly it is delayed. I propose this Resolution, and I hope, if any good arguments are put forward from the opposite side, that we will be able at the end of the evening to consider them calmly and impartially. I cannot say, of course, that there is much likelihood at this eleventh hour that we are going to get anything so new or so fresh or so valuable that it is going to change the opinions of any of us.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  I think this is the President's first active participation in the business of this House since his return. I should like to congratulate him on his return, and on the improvement in the ailment from which he was suffering. I assure him that [1205] that is a sincere expression of our opinion on that particular matter. I am only sorry for one thing, and that is that on this first occasion he should be put to the strain of participating in the debate on this particular matter. We should have liked to have avoided putting him to that strain, but, as we regard this question of a Second Chamber as vitally important for the constitutional liberties of the people of this country, I am afraid we shall not be able to save him—as we should sincerely like to do—the trouble of full participation in the debate.

There are a couple of points on which I think there is full agreement between the President and ourselves. He said, for instance, that in his view the best thing to do was to put the matter to the vote. If he had been in the happy position of being able to attend at this House for the last couple of weeks he would have seen that that is a view which is very prevalent amongst the occupants of the Government Front Bench at the present moment. That is their conception of parliamentary government, I may tell the President. Perhaps it is not the President's conception, but it is certainly that of his Ministers and of the Party. I have heard Ministers eloquently put their case before the three or four Deputies of their own Party who were present and the one member of the Labour Party who is generally present to attend to their arguments, and then say that they intend to give no information. There is that refusal again and again to give information on questions put up to them by the Opposition. The outstanding examples in that respect are the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce; we did not know whether they had the information or not. I had occasion in those instances to point to those lamentable failures —I might even call them insults to the House—as a very sad and sorry introduction to the principle of unicameral parliamentary government. That is only illustrating in practice what the thing means, and what it has always meant.

The President is not quite so naive [1206] as he would have us believe. I am glad to see that he has not lost any of his ability to pull red herrings across the track of this particular debate. I am also glad to see that he falls into the old habit of thinking he is going to stifle discussion by saying that discussion should not go along particular lines. No wonder he wants to rule out, as something quite irrelevant, the experience of the world. In his position, it is a very sound line for him to take, and a very sound line for him to try to induce the Opposition to take, because the experience of the world is altogether against him, as he has now realised after two years; there has been that advance at all events. Again, apparently we are in a unique position. The uniqueness of our position will enable us apparently to escape the evils that have followed elsewhere from their attempts at unicameral government! As I say, it is quite natural that the President should turn his back deliberately on world experience. He said, of course, that there were other places with Second Chambers where that was natural— federal systems. I suppose he had in his mind the Senate of the United States, with which place, I understand he has a certain amount of familiarity. There is a certain number of States in the United States too, that the President seems to have forgotten. Those States are not federal bodies. Have they all unicameral systems of parliamentary constitution? How many of them? He asks for an ideal Seanad, and he challenges the Opposition to put forth an ideal Seanad. If he means that seriously as a challenge, then I despair of the future of this country as long as it is under the presidency of a man who can believe that you can have ideal parliamentary or other governmental institutions. Why, the thing is absurd. Wherever any effort has been made to realise a dream of that kind, the consequences have been more disastrous than usual. You cannot get an ideal Seanad, and you cannot get an ideal First House either. I gaze upon the ideal First House! Well, there is a fair number here now, but when we are discussing important matters, three members of the President's Party, and occasionally one [1207] member—and not always even one— from his allies of the Labour Party, are present when the Minister is explaining——

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  And how many from your Party?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Deputy O'Sullivan drives them out.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  When we are discussing important matters, the only useful contributions given by the Minister for Finance on this subject are interruptions and an insolent refusal, as I have already said, to give information to the House. In the last couple of weeks the Minister has given us one of the best lessons we could get on the dangers of Single Chamber government. That same Minister gave us one of the best lessons on its dangers, and I have no doubt that the President stands behind him on that. We have had here a perfect example of Party dictatorship of the worst kind foreshadowed in the conduct of the Ministers and of the Party. I am not aware that that kind of dictatorship is anything better or any more palatable to any democratically-minded man than is personal dictatorship. I object to a demand being put forward, as a serious contribution to this debate, for an ideal form of government, whether unicameral or bicameral. That demand bastardises every democratic institution in the world. There is not a single democratic institution in the world that could stand up against that demand. As has often been pointed out, it is not in countries that have aristocratic traditions, but in the most democratic countries, that the necessity for Second Chambers has been demonstrated too often by experience. Surely, the question before us is not merely that of the abolition of the Seanad as at present constituted. If the members of the Party opposite have listened to the President, they know perfectly well that there is even a bigger question than that before the House.

Two years ago, the Government had not made up their minds as to whether there was to be a unicameral or a bicameral parliamentary constitution [1208] in this country, and the country is expected to make up its mind in three months. Is not the thing ridiculous? The President read the pledge that he had put before the people. Can anybody, listening to him reading out that pledge, suggest for a moment that he put before the people a unicameral system? A promise to cut down the number of the Seanad is an extraordinary way of saying that he is going to abolish the Seanad altogether. Nothing of the kind! Now, however, we cannot say what the mind of the Government will be in four months. They have no intention now—they may in four months, if the ideal drops down from the skies, perhaps, change their minds—but now they have no intention of having a Second House. We never said it was the duty of the Opposion to oppose. We said that it was the duty of the Opposition to scrutinise and examine proposals put forward by the Government, and it is to that that the Minister and the President object. Surely, they do not object to the voting? The President has his voting machine. That is what he has reduced the Party to. That is what the Government have reduced the Party to. That is what they have reduced their portion of the House to. When the President objects to opposition, what he really objects to is examination, for the advantage of the House and the advantage of the country, of proposals put forward by the Government. I do not know why he did not draw the conclusion, but he certainly would seem to have quite as much ground for abolishing the Opposition as for abolishing the Seanad.

We are, as the President said, at the last stage in this particular work of destruction, and it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the Constitution that is safe from the destructive hands of the present Government. Nothing is permanently safe. Take that Constitution—can anybody tell me that there is a single thing in it that has any element of permanency about it? Not even parliamentary government, not even responsibility of Ministers to parliament in the real and proper sense of the word, have any element of permanency. Our whole development in the last couple [1209] of years has been in the opposite direction and this is but a further step along that particular road. Take proportional representation. You keep the letter of it, but you have taken good care to kill the spirit of it. Here you come in and speak of democracy — of parliamentary democracy, I mean, because I admit that there may be other kinds, but my belief is in parliamentary democracy —you come in here, as I say, and speak of parliamentary democracy. You may keep the letter of it, but you are killing the spirit of it—violating the spirit of it every day. The President, to-day, avoided history and historians. I have never indulged in them in this House, but there were certain harks-back to previous wise saws that he used here, but that are no longer paraded now—this idea that the Second Chamber is either a duplication of this Chamber, like the Norwegian system, and therefore that it is not bicameral, or else it is different from this. We did not find the famous epigram of Sieyes repeated this time. At least we are advancing in that respect. He sees the unwisdom of certain authorities and the unwisdom of drawing on certain authorities on which to found his new-fangled idea of parliamentary democracy. We can hardly expect, and the President made it quite clear—I will say that for him —any respect for world experience when the Ministers and himself have so little to learn from the experience of this country itself in any matter. They are consistently deaf, and have been consistently deaf, to all warnings. I remember when, a couple of years ago, we used to have from that bench, and even from the President himself, assumed or real smiles of incredulity when people said that there was a certain danger of Communism in this country. Does the President still believe that the talk of that danger was purely moonshine?

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I believed that there was nonsense coming from General O'Duffy.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  That warning was issued long before General [1210] O'Duffy. Does the President think now that there is no particular danger in that regard? Will he still smile at the suggestion that there was that danger? And will he smile when we also tell him that there are dangers in unicameral government leading, at the best, to personal dictatorship, and, at the worst, to Party dictatorship? I wonder will that warning be received with the same incredulous smile with which the other warnings were received. I hold one belief about Second Chambers. You can criticise any one of them. You can criticise popularly elected bodies; you can criticise this Dáil and its Constitution. It is very far from being an ideal parliamentary body in any sense of the word, either in its selection, constitution or personnel. You cannot have ideal things of that kind in practical life. You may criticise the present Seanad, but I hold it has played a very important and useful rôle in the history of this State. The President has given no proof whatsoever of the alleged danger that it is to this State, or to its development—not a particle of proof. This Bill was introduced, as everybody knows—in a fit of pique on the part of the Party opposite against the Seanad, because on a particular occasion it stood up for the rights of the individual citizens of this State. That was the actual occasion of the introduction of this Bill. That is what the President calls a danger to the realisation of our ideals.

What undue clog was there on the working of the Government, or on the working of Parliament for which the present Seanad is responsible? On many occasions the Seanad was most helpful. I do not pretend that they are ideal: they are much better, they are a practical working body who have done useful work. I know that would be against them. The President and his Ministers apparently would prefer an ideal that did not work to a practical institution that does work, and any attack that is made on the existing Seanad, on its composition and its method of election, considering the [1211] useful work it has done, is one of the best tributes that could be paid to the idea of a Second House of the Legislature. Even with a perfect First House, with a perfect Dáil, which, I beg leave once more to remark is completely impossible to expect, or even to wish for, a Second Chamber is required. It would be useful in many respects, useful for purposes of revision, and for bringing fresh minds to bear on legislation. It is necessary, we hold, for the protection of the rights of citizens of this State against the momentary whims of the Government that happens to be in power, and against the whims of the majority in this House. It is absurd to think that safeguards against Governments and against majorities are not necessary. That is the very idea of Constitutions. That is why there are written Constitutions, as far as possible to guarantee and to protect with the whole force of the Constitution the rights of the individual against arbitrary and hasty action, on the part of Governments. One of the methods of doing that in all civilised countries, certainly in most democratic countries, is by having a Second House of the Legislature. But what do civilised countries matter, what do democratic countries matter? We are unique! Our circumstances are in some extraordinary way unique, just as we had an unique method of solving the problem of unemployment—which has not yet been solved.

What you want is a Second House differently elected, and differently constituted from this House; one that is not a replica of this House. Many proposals have been put forward. Is it held that any of them are ideal? I should be sorry to think so. If they were ideal they would not be worth considering. But many of them are practical, and there are very few Senates with limited authority that are not much better than having no Senate at all. Certainly the present Seanad is ever so much preferable, from the point of view of the country, to any system of unicameral Government that could be devised under the Constitution that is going to be put before us in a couple of months' time. Furthermore, there is this advantage about the [1212] present Seanad and its method of election; that the long tenure of office of individual Senators makes them less liable to Party influence than members of this House. We had a condemnation of the Party system or, at least, of its results from the President to-day, only, of course, when it takes the form of criticism of the Government. It is perfect when the boys troop in from the lobby and vote for Ministers. It is a perfect system then! That is what Parties are for! But there is much less danger of that system when you have a long tenure of office, like those in the present Seanad, and have a proportion of them retiring every three years. The further advantage you get is that, on the whole, the system works for repesentation of the settled and developing mind of the country. It was inevitable when the present Government came in that a majority of the Seanad might be opposed to them. It would be almost equally inevitable, if the present Chamber were allowed to continue, that when the present Government goes out, even in a couple of months, they might have a majority in the Seanad favourably inclined towards them. That, I hold, is an advantage as distinct from the momentary representation of the popular will that you get in the Dáil. You get a more settled trend of the popular will in a body elected like that.

The history of this Bill, and the occasion of its introduction, gives us —just as Ministers have given for the last couple of weeks—a foretaste of what is likely to happen. A promise that was made at the general election, of the type that the President read out, is not susceptible of the extraordinary interpretation that he gave it to-day. There was no effort made to carry out that promise until the Government lost its temper with the Seanad. The date need only be looked up. The haste of the introduction of the measure was a dramatic gesture to put Senators “in their place,” because they refused to sacrifice the liberties of the ordinary citizen of the State to the momentary anger of the Government. That is a foretaste of what we may expect when Ministers will have [1213] nothing to deal with except obedient followers who will follow them into the Lobby. That is not statesmanship; it is merely pique at the exercise of its duty by a Second Chamber. Despite the President's effort to show us to the contrary, we can only follow world experience, which is a very good thing to appeal to.

The existence of a Second House is necessary for the protection of parliamentary democratic rights. You may have some other systems of democracy but parliamentary democracy will not work unless you have a Second House. Let the President remember that at the present moment in Europe the outstanding dictators pretend to be great apostles of democracy. They have the popular will behind them but they have no Parliament to criticise them—shall we say, oppose them? Yes, there is no Parliament to oppose them but they are democrats, every one of them, to the core! It is only in them that democracy has been incorporated or incarnated for the first time, but it is not parliamentary democracy! Take two of them in Central and Eastern Europe. For parliamentary democracy they have nothing but contempt. The President is quite ready to follow along these lines.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  They have put their Parties into coloured shirts, too.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  You do not need to put your Party into shirts to follow you and if your financial policy continues they will not have any shirts to get into—coloured or otherwise. I might say the same thing goes for the colleague who gave us such an interesting illustration of what you mean by parliamentary government in the last couple of weeks. Not everything, that a temporary majority of the people desires, should be immediately put into effect. That is the way some dictatorships have been established, as possibly the President knows, and under a parliamentary umbrella the legal establishment of a dictatorship may follow very easily. Whether it is a Party dictatorship or a personal dictatorship does not matter. The latter, in fact, is preferable. I do not believe there is anybody in public life in this country who has it in him, who is of the timbre, to be a personal [1214] dictator; but a Party dictatorship is much easier, much more obnoxious and much more dangerous, and a unicameral system of government brings it into being much more smoothly and easily. These Single Chamber systems of Parliament have proved themselves to be instruments of a terrifically despotic power. I need not quote examples for the President. He is evidently familiar with the surroundings of some of them, judging by the quotations he gave on a previous occasion. He knows that Single Chamber government has led to degradation and tyranny in many countries. It has led to the handing over of a despotism to an individual or a Party.

Absolute power whether it be vested in an individual, a Party, or in a single House of legislature is bad. It is corruptive. It is bad for the people who wield that absolute power and bad for the people who are subject to it. Modern forms of such governments are even more obnoxious than the ancient forms. The very idea is to grab all power and to go for what is called the totalitarian State. That is inevitable. Everything we have seen for the last couple of years leads to the belief that this is but another step towards the creation of that State. The Dáil is no bulwark against tyranny. We want something more than that. The conception that there is no defence required against a Party which for a time, perhaps only for a year or two, manages to get hold of popular opinion, is fatal to all ideas of democracy and especially parliamentary democracy. What have we had here? What is the common argument we have listened to for the last couple of years on the part of Ministers? “We have been elected by the people; we should be trusted. We have the majority; why ask questions; why waste time discussing?” What is the use of the Dáil then except for the one purpose? —to come together, elect a Ministry and leave its fate and the fate of the country in the hands of that Ministry? That is not merely the logical but, still more important, the practical outcome of the particular line of argument and the particular line of conduct pursued by the present Ministry. That is what the Dáil has been [1215] reduced to and that is apparently judging by the speech made by the President what the President would like the Dáil, even more quickly, to be reduced to.

Elected Ministers must be trusted! When legislation comes before this House and when information is asked, we are refused it. The House is refused it and we are told, “The people elected us and you must trust the Ministers.” Surely, even the President must see that that is an end to the parliamentary system, an end to parliamentary democracy. That is the road along which he and his Ministers are walking, and apparently, with a certain amount of joy they are walking along it to-day. Whilst—I do not know exactly how to designate them—his other friends or half-friends, the ex-friends, the possible allies or the ex-allies in the country outside, are trying to pull down the institutions of this State by illegal means, the President and his Ministers are trying to pull it down by legal means within this House. The result will be very much the same from both sets of activities.

What is the good of our preaching respect for law and respect for our institutions when we ourselves are treating our institutions in the way we have been treating them in this House for the last couple of years? What is the good of expecting respect, what is the hope of expecting it at all events with any chance of realisation, for political institutions and State institutions, when we ourselves have so little respect for them here in this House? The Government is about to destroy one branch of the Oireachtas and one of their great arguments is the expense of that branch. When the President came to that, I realised the futility of his whole case. One of the considerations weighing with the President on this most important issue is whether a House of 60 would cost more than a House of 45. That from a Government that is so well-known for its hostility to extravagance! That is an example of the seriousness with which the matter has been treated and [1216] has been pondered over, not merely by the Government but by the President himself. We are told that it would cost a few thousand pounds more extra and in order to save that couple of thousand pounds he has brought forward this motion. That is put forward as a serious argument. Of course, we were given to understand that it is not fundamental. The President was good enough to say that he would waive that argument if he gets his ideal Constitution but, nevertheless, he puts forward as an important objection to the continuance of the Second House the fact that by its abolition, he would save a couple of thousand pounds.

Now, what have we gained by all this striking disrespect that we show for our existing political institutions? Are we nearer to conciliating the people who refuse to acknowledge the sovereign position, as we would call it, of this House? Are we a whit nearer to that than we were, say, three or four years ago? Are we advancing in that direction? Have we any gain to show for this work of destruction, even in conciliating those people? Is the conditional loyalty such as the Ministry, or individual members of the Ministry, give to properly constituted authority in this House, sufficient? Why do we not understand that our example here will naturally be copied and followed by people in a very regrettable fashion outside? We can cover it with a cloak of legality here. That is important, I admit, but it is not everything where you are dealing with the fundamental institutions of the State. Have we any reverence for State institutions? The least that we should do is to begin by showing some reverence for them ourselves.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  The President began his speech by telling us that in the autumn we should have presented to us a new Constitution for our consideration. That was an interesting revelation. I hope that when he is concluding he will lift the curtain just a little bit further and tell us whether that Constitution will be passed into law before the people of the country have had an opportunity of giving their judgment on it at a general election. [1217] As for the rest of the President's speech, I feel that he rather did it an injustice by suggesting that there could be no element of novelty in to-day's debate. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, his speech seemed to me more encouraging than any that I have yet heard him make on this topic. Unless he was talking with his tongue in his cheek, he is seriously considering the question of devising an alternative Second Chamber, and he is open to suggestions on the subject during the next few months. I only wish that he would go a little further. I wish that he would go the length of appointing some sort of commission or committee to study the subject and to make suggestions, and if I could believe that a serious, earnest effort was going to be made to devise the best possible Second Chamber for this country, I should be almost inclined to vote in favour of the proposition that we are asked to assent to to-day.

I am in favour, as I have stated on numerous occasions before, of having a Second Chamber, but I never feel less easy on the subject than when I am listening to speeches in favour of one, because the greater part of the arguments that I have heard adduced in favour of a Second Chamber in this House seem to me to be unsound Now, we have just had an argument from Deputy O'Sullivan based upon what he calls the experience of the world. I cannot help asking the question: Is the lesson to be drawn from world experience as clear as he says that it is? Is it clear that Single Chamber government must lead to tyranny? Is it clear that bicameral government is a defence against tyranny? There was a Second Chamber in Italy; there was a Second Chamber in Germany. How far did they operate in defence of parliamentary democracy?

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  They were overthrown.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Exactly, they were overthrown.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  There is a revelation now.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  On the other hand where Single Chamber government has [1218] been tried, I frankly admit that it has generally been tried in a revolutionary atmosphere. In other words, it has been tried in an unfavourable atmosphere, in countries seething with turbulence, so that whether you had one Chamber or two Chambers, or three Chambers, you would, nevertheless, have had unsatisfactory results. But where Single Chamber government has been tried among people who are naturally law-abiding and lovers of ordered liberty, is it so clear that it cannot succeed? As the President has mentioned, the Norwegian system is in reality a Single Chamber system, and the Finland system is a Single Chamber system. There is no tyranny in either of those countries. Both are extremely well governed countries, so that I do not think that we have anything to fear if the only danger facing us is that we should become like Norway or Finland. As regards other parliamentary institutions, I do not feel that the lessons of experience are as clear as Deputy O'Sullivan says they are. What about England? The House of Lords has much about it that is admirable; there are many features of the House of Lords that I would like to see reproduced in a Second Chamber; but when we consider that the House of Lords stood out against the Reform Bill, that it stood out against Catholic emancipation, that it stood out against the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and that it stood out for generations against self-government for this country, is it clear that, on balance, the House of Lords has not been rather disastrous than beneficial to the British Empire? I do not think it is at all clear.

Now, as regards our Second Chamber in this country, I am of opinion that on the whole it has been of value to the State; but I am equally of opinion that it is destined, if it remains as it is—if it continues to be elected on the system which the two front benches conspired in introducing a few years ago—to be of less and less value to the State, that it is bound to become more and more a reflection of this House, and that, consequently, it cannot be a supplement to it in the sense of providing any sort of check upon it, in the sense of providing an [1219] institution that would be less subject to Party influences than this House is.

The Opposition now speaks with enormous respect of the Seanad. But what was their attitude to it when they were a Government? An Opposition which finds that the Seanad is, on the whole, a check on the Government of the day will naturally develop a constantly growing affection and respect for that House; but, on the other hand, when the Party in office finds that the Seanad performs its duties in the way that we are supposed to admire, then the Government, whatever its political complexion, is apt to be impatient and censorious. On the last occasion on which we were debating this subject, I quoted from the Parliamentary Reports the language of Deputy Cosgrave, language of irritation, derision and menace towards some members of the Seanad because they were taking a line that was inconvenient to his Government. Now, that being so, and the two front benches having so conspired—I think the President once confessed in this House that he had taken a leading part in getting the present method of election to the Seanad adopted because he thought it would degrade the Seanad—I do not feel that, in its present form, the institution is tremendously worth preserving, and I would at any time, when sitting on those benches just as much as now, have given a vote for its abolition if I had an assurance that something better was going to be put in its place.

Of course, if the President refuses to have a Second Chamber unless it is an ideal one, we cannot get anywhere. That is obvious. As Deputy O'Sullivan has pointed out, there is no such thing as an ideal Chamber, whether it be a First Chamber or a Second Chamber.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I do not like to have the debate running on those lines. I did not suggest that you could get an ideal Seanad. What I suggested was that the arguments put forward by Deputies opposite were in favour of an ideal Seanad, which could not be got.

[1220]Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I do not know whose arguments were in favour only of an ideal Seanad but I hope mine are not. I think that any legislative assembly will have its own faults, This House has very grave faults and any Seanad we create will, doubtless, have considerable faults. The important thing is that the faults of the two Houses should not be identical—that the characteristics of the two assemblies should be sufficiently different so that they will be in some sort complementary of each other. I came across only this morning a passage from John Stuart Mill which I shall ask the leave of the House to read, because it appears to me to be very sensible. He says:

“I attach little weight to the argument oftenest urged for having two Chambers to prevent precipitancy and compel a second deliberation; for it must be a very ill-constituted representative assembly in which the established forms of business do not require many more than two deliberations. The consideration which tells most in my judgment — and this I do regard as of some moment—is the evil effect produced upon the mind of any holder of power—whether an individual or an assembly, by the consciousness of having only themselves to consult. It is important that no set of persons should in great affairs be able even temporarily to make their sic volo prevail without asking anyone else for his consent. A majority in a single assembly, when it has assumed a permanent character — when composed of the same persons habitually acting together and always assured of victory in their own House—easily becomes despotic and overweening if released from the necessity of considering whether its acts will be concurred in by another constituted authority. The same reason which induced the Romans to have two Consuls makes it desirable that there should be two Chambers: that neither of them may be exposed to the corrupting influence of undivided power even for the space of a single year. One [1221] of the most indispensable requisities in the practical conduct of politics, especially in the management of free institutions, is conciliation—a readiness to compromise, a willingness to concede something to opponents and to shape good measures so as to be as little offensive as possible to persons of opposite views and, of this salutary habit, the mutual give and take (as it has been called) between two Houses is a perpetual school.”

That seems to me to be good sense but it implies, of course, that the Second House is not a mere replica of this House. Does that offend against the idea of democracy? I maintain that it does not, because a single elected Chamber cannot be thoroughly representative of the nation. I maintain that we ought all to aim at making Parliament, as a whole, as fully representative of the nation as it can be. Anyone who is familiar with the whole process of popular elections must know that that cannot be the case with a single elected Chamber. Large numbers of valuable individuals are cut off from entering into politics altogether when entry depends upon popular election, by reason of their characteristics or by reason of their being unable to bear the expense of the election, or not being willing, for one reason or another, to form part of a Party who will pay their expenses for them. When we get into this House, do not we all know that the business of the House, as long as the Party system exists—and I am not arguing against the Party system — cannot be conducted in such a way as to be representative of the nation at that particular moment. We, as a whole, come in here with certain Party loyalties and Party ties, pledged to subordinate our opinions to the Party opinions and to vote for our Party, to see all our Party do as white and all our opponents do as black. We go on like that for a period of five years. At the moment that the general election is taking place, when Party feeling is worked up throughout the country, possibly we do come pretty near to representing the country as a whole. That is at a [1222] moment when the country is aflame with partisanship. But that soon passes so far as the country is concerned. So far as the country is concerned, the majority of the people become detached in their point of view not very long after the general election has taken place and are prepared to judge upon its merits each measure that comes up for consideration. Not so here. We must continue upon Party lines. If only for that reason — that partisanship is necessarily enthroned in this Chamber —it ceases to be, for the greater part of its existence, fully representative of the nation as a whole.

Aside from that particular difficulty of the Party system, there is, as I pointed out, the fact that such large numbers of people, such considerable classes of people of great importance to the community are, in practice, debarred from taking part in legislating for the country by the system of popular election. I suggest that it should be the function of a Second Chamber to make Parliament more fully representative of the nation as a whole. The President has challenged us once again to say how that can be done. He referred to my own arguments in favour of a Seanad appointed by nomination. I am prepared to admit that a Seanad entirely nominated might not be the best conceivable form of Seanad. I suggest that the Seanad should be partly nominated and that it should consist partly of men who enter it ex officio, so to speak, men who have served the public or the State in certain capacities, who have held certain public positions and, because of having held those positions, have acquired experience that would be of value to the legislative body. For example, men who had been our Ministers overseas, on their retirement, might automatically become Senators. So might people who had been chairmen of county councils, or presidents of Chambers of Commerce, or who held the highest positions in certain professions—law, medicine, accountancy, and so forth. You can think of many professions and occupations from whom it would be useful to have representatives in a Second House. Then we recently [1223] abolished university representation in this House, and I, for one, would be quite content that it should be abolished in this House, if there were a Second Chamber in which the special interests of education were represented by Senators drawn from the universities and the teaching profession. I do not think it is at all beyond the wit of man to construct a useful Second Chamber, and I certainly would not be intimidated by the consideration that seems to have carried so much weight with the President, that a Second Chamber, so constituted, would be larger in numbers than 45. I do not want to be offensive, but I must say that an argument based upon the desirability of keeping below the number of 45 seems to me to be nothing short of infantile when dealing with such a serious issue as this. The President has spoken of expense, but so far as I am concerned, I would be in favour of immensely reducing the expenses of the Second Chamber by abolishing the present salaries altogether, and substituting merely an allowance for each time a Senator attended, so as to cover his out-of-pocket expenses and loss of time. I do not believe there is any reason why an individual Senator should be more expensive to the State than, shall we say, a warble fly inspector. I think there would be nothing undemocratic in that. County councillors are not paid and the Seanad does not meet much oftener, if at all oftener, than a county council. It sits, I think, on an average perhaps 35 times a year, and that only in the afternoon —very gentlemanly, comfortable hours —and I think that, provided expenses were allowed, there is no reason why people without private means should not be members of the Seanad.

If the President were using his power of nomination with regard to such a body, I think he should do so with the idea of getting every variety of significant opinion throughout the country into that Second Chamber.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Try to tot up the numbers.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  There are not so many significant sections of opinion as all that. I am one of those who believe [1224] whole-heartedly in free speech, and in everybody who has something to say having the fullest opportunity to say it. I think that such a phenomenon as, shall we say, Communism, which has been alluded to in this debate, is very much more dangerous if you try to throttle it and keep it beneath the surface. I admire very much the line which the present Government have taken with regard to allowing the fullest freedom of expression to any body of people in this country who are not actually advocating breaches of the law, or the overthrow of the State. So far as they have allowed people to do that, I do not approve of their administration, but short of advocating the violent overthrow of the State, and short of advocating crime, I think people should be allowed to preach any opinion they want to preach. I think that many of the things that are supposed to be dangerous would fade away if those who were preaching foolish doctrines were given an opportunity to preach them in a place where they would have to argue them out, where the doctrines in question would be exposed to intelligent criticism, and that a good many phantoms would be laid, if, in a Second Chamber, you could get such doctrines as, shall we say, social credit, represented, explained and advocated, and possibly exposed and discredited.

While I fully agree that an ideal Second Chamber is just as impossible as is an ideal First Chamber, I would urge that it is plain to anyone who will sit down and think about it, without prepossession, without partisanship and without passion, that this House has very considerable draw-backs, and not only this House, but any elected Chamber in any country, and that it could be very usefully supplemented by another Chamber selected on another plan. What, then, is to happen should the two Chambers disagree? I think what should happen is that some delay should be caused, and delay is often of the greatest value. What is to happen in the end, if the delay continues, and they still cannot agree? Then you can have some such system as the two Houses voting together as one House on the particular [1225] matter. You can get a solution that way or some other way; these are not difficulties that are in any way beyond the wit of man to deal with, if you once accept the fundamental proposition that you cannot expect that your First Chamber, elected amid all the turmoil and excitement of a general election, and with people casting their votes out of Party loyalty and what-not, and often with a great deal of ignorance and a great deal of prejudice, will be fully representative, so that to make democracy as unassailable as possible, you should supplement the First Chamber by something constructed on a different plan. There is certainly nothing in our case here in Ireland to make that reasoning inapplicable. We in Ireland are particularly prone to throw ourselves into a partisan frame of mind, to follow a man, to pick out a hero, to shout “Up de Valera,” and then to vote for that man whatever his Party may be proposing to do. We have not sufficiently developed, as yet, at election time the habit of thinking out the pros and cons of a policy for ourselves; we have developed that habit much less than several other democratic nations. The fact that we have not, and the fact that we have got such a tendency to partisanship, such a tendency to be carried away by loyalty to a particular man, is an extra argument for a Second Chamber here.

I can see no reason why, so far as there is any argument from experience in favour of a Second Chamber, it should not apply in this country, but, as I have said, I do not find the argument from experience elsewhere a tremendously strong one, because I do not know of any Second Chamber in any country which I do not think could be improved upon. I think that if we start with open minds and a determination to do our best for the country, we can evolve here a better Second Chamber for our own purposes, and even better in the abstract, than any other country has evolved. Deputy O'Sullivan has referred to America. From what I know of American politics, I should say that almost everything in American political practice should be regarded as something to [1226] avoid rather than to copy, not because I have not an affection for America, but because I do not admire the results of their political system, whether you look at the Federal Congress or whether you look at the individual States.

One of the arguments that has been most stressed by the President in resisting a Second Chamber in this country is the existence of proportional representation. I hope the President will not look upon any such argument as that as final, because proportional representation does not have the results that were hoped from it. It does not, I think, have these results in the present and it will have them still less in the future; now that Trinity College representation has been abolished there will in future be fewer Independents in this House than there have been in the past. The success of proportional representation in bringing in representatives of minorities depends upon the assumption that the people who might represent those minorities will go up for election. But in this country they are not going up. To put the matter plainly there are not enough people in this country who can afford to pay the money for an election campaign and the field will be more and more confined to the regular members of the two big Parties or perhaps to people sufficiently closely allied to them to be helped by them financially at election times—which will mean in effect that they are under the control of one or other of the two big Parties. So that proportional representation does not do away with the need of having another Chamber to supplement this House—a Chamber in which minorities can obtain more representation than they have here.

I put forward these suggestions in a spirit of good-will towards the President. If he is really trying to work out a solution of this problem, I would urge him once again during the few months that are to elapse before a new Constitution is introduced to appoint some body of persons to study the subject and to make concrete suggestions. I feel convinced [1227] that if he does he will be doing a good deed for parliamentary democracy in this country and even for parliamentary democracy elsewhere.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  After that rather interesting lecture on the imperfections of the whole lot of us and on the imperfections of the institutions of the State I would rather like to bring the House back to a consideration of exactly the matter that is before the House and what it is proposed to do this evening. We are assembled here this evening to remove and abolish one House of the Oireachtas. The only case made for such an act of mutilation is the case made by the President. It was essentially the statement of a politician rather than a statesman. What leader of a Government in any part of the world would come before his parliament, as the President did this evening, proposing an act of mutilation, advancing no reasons why it should be done, but inviting the House, the members of the Opposition and others to make a suggestion for a better Chamber. The responsibility was on the President to convince the House that he had a case for abolishing the Chamber that we have here. His action may be a clever political action but it is not playing the game by the Parliament or by the institutions of the State or of the people outside. This subject has been debated some half dozen times in this House and not once during any of these debates has the President or any member of the Government Party attempted to make a case why the Seanad should go. We will all agree that there are imperfections in the Seanad, we will all agree that there are imperfections in the Dáil and that no work of man is perfect. But if the works of man are to be destroyed because of certain imperfections where are we going to finish and when are we going to begin to build? Remember we are mutilating, lopping and chopping up one of the great institutions of the State. We should approach our work here in some more responsible spirit than the spirit of [1228] the irresponsible boy with a Meccano set tearing down something in the hope that at some time, somehow, he may replace it by something better. That is not a reasonable or responsible attitude. I have seen too much of that in the last three or four years—destruction merely for the sake of destruction, or destruction merely for the sake of change. Mutilating the Free State does not give us a republic. It merely leaves a mutilated Free State, and all these Acts passed here one after the other in the last four years have only the effect and intention of mutilation.

The Seanad has been a great body. It has done great work. The members of the Seanad have rendered very valuable services for 12 long years. During those 12 years they have suffered very much from unfair, unjust and lying propaganda. It is the old saying—give a dog a bad name and shoot him. That is exactly what we are doing here this evening. Submerged under the solid weight of ten or 12 years of unjust slander, that body is not a very popular body. It is not a properly understood body because of the campaign carried on during those 12 years. There may have been a reason for that—Party politics and Party passion. But I am sorry that on the last day of its existence Deputy MacDermot should join his voice with others merely to contribute to the debate by pointing out the imperfections of the Seanad. The institutions of this State deserve more respect than that and they should assume more importance in the eyes of every one of us than to indulge in an act of destruction, merely in the hope that at some future date it will be replaced by something else. Is there any responsibility on the Government before they destroy to propose a plan for replacement? Is the Government to escape its functions and its responsibilities by saying: “There are imperfections in that institution and because of these imperfections we will abolish it, and if anybody here has a plan for replacing it we will be glad to hear that plan.” I think that is an entirely unworthy and irresponsible attitude to take up. The Seanad and the institutions of this State were built, I would say, in spite [1229] of the President and without the assistance of Deputy MacDermot. But nevertheless there should be some appreciation by both of the services rendered by the Seanad. The members of the Seanad gave their time and they gave their attention—as much and perhaps more so than the Dáil— to the legislation put through the Oireachtas in the past 12 years. They have frequently, in the time of the present Government and the Government previous to it, studied, discussed and amended legislation, and in eight out of ten cases the legislation was improved by the amendments carried in this Seanad. The Seanad is not, as some tried to portray it before the country, a congregation or assembly of people with little or nothing in common with the masses of people. Deputy MacDermot said the Seanad is very much a duplicate of this House.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I did not say that. I said it would become so under the new system of election and I also paid tribute to the value of the services the present Seanad had rendered to the State.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  If I misinterpreted the Deputy, I apologise; but as regards the Deputy's tribute to the Seanad and the way it was tendered— well, I certainly would not accept it as a tribute if it were directed at myself. We claim to be representatives of the people and, if we were exactly duplicated higher up, that would only make the Seanad more representative of the people. But the Seanad is fairly representative of the people and more really representative than we are, because the Party machines and the Party organisations make this House, in the main, representative of only three highly-organised sections of the people, forgetful of the fact that there are masses away outside those organised sections and the Seanad contains more representatives of those people.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Will it, in future?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I never argue with a prophet; that is a matter of principle with me.

[1230]Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Can it, on the present system of election?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  That depends on who is here, on their outlook, on what hopes they have and what type of Seanad they mean to constitute. I submit that the Seanad, either from a religious point of view or from the point of view of the various classifications of the people, is as democratic in every way as this Assembly. It is not, as in certain other countries, a House constituted of elements that have little or nothing in common with the people; its powers are very slight and very limited; it is not an Assembly that has the right or the power to throttle Dáil Eireann, to neutralise or veto the Acts passed in Dáil Eireann. It is an Assembly whose powers are limited to delaying for three months legislation passed by Dáil Eireann. Everyone of us, on both sides of the House, have distinct recollections of legislation being rushed through this House in heat, anger or panic, and I venture to say that all of us have reason to be grateful that in the past there was an Assembly with power to delay that legislation and give us time to cool our heads and reconsider our opinions.

We are rushing in a light, reckless, political spirit into this proposed action of removing any possibility of giving us time to consider what we are doing here. I believe we are making, for political purposes only, a fatal national blunder, and that everyone of us will live to regret the fact that we left this country of ours at the mercy of a political majority which can pass legislation in the evening and there will be no place where it can be delayed and no opportunity will be given to us to reconsider what we may do in passion or what we may do in heat.

My remarks are not directed at the present Government. It is at least possible that you may have a worse Government and we have to make provision for such a possibility. You may have any type of Government thrown up in this country by a temporary emotional wave. You may even [1231] have a Government that will be in no way careful of the future of the State or the welfare of the people marching in here, perhaps in panic, perhaps in passion, and rushing through in a few minutes legislation definitely harmful to the people. We are removing the only check, the only brake, the only delaying power that exists in the country. It is well for us all to remember that, whether or not the Seanad is approved by Deputy MacDermot, the only power it has over the Dáil is merely to delay for three months legislation passed through this House. Now, because its constitution is not perfect from the point of view of some people or, according to the President, it may not be in the fullest sense thoroughly representative, because it has certain slight imperfections, we are asked to annihilate it, to abolish it entirely and there is nothing to replace it except the hope that some time in the future a Seanad will be proposed by some of us that will meet with presidential approval.

I believe this matter should be approached, not in the spirit in which it is approached by the President, who challenges us to design or devise a better Seanad, but it should rather be approached by responsible representative people from the point of view that before we commit this act we should satisfy ourselves thoroughly that the State is going to be in a safer position, that there is going to be more security and more stability the day after we commit this act than the day before and if we are not thoroughly satisfied that a single-Chamber Government, where legislation will depend on the whim of a day-to-day majority, will increase the security and stability of the State, we should hesitate.

This particular proposal was never put to the people nor, in its early days, was it put to the Dáil in the way it is put here this evening. It was never suggested to the people or to the Dáil that we were about to abolish the Seanad. Politicians all the time relied on the saving phrase “as at present constituted.” That particular form of words has been entirely discarded or forgotten and both Deputies [1232] and Senators were left under the impression that the Bill to abolish the Seanad was merely part of a plan to substitute some other form of Second Chamber. A trick has been played on the public and a trick is being played on the Dáil and the destruction of one of the Houses of the Parliament of this country should not be entered into in the light, reckless spirit in which this particular work has been undertaken. We have got to be prepared to say, before we go on with this work, that no matter what Government sits in this House in the future, we are making the position of the people of the country not safer by virtue of the fact that there is no longer another assembly with powers to delay their legislation. The Party opposite, by mutilating the Irish Free State, are not making a republic.

The Parliament in this country consists of the King, the Seanad and the Dáil. The Government are removing the Seanad, but they are leaving the King and the Dáil. If there was one-millionth part of real republicanism in the people opposite, they would see exactly in what proportion they are increasing the significance of what remains. I would have more sympathy, and more respect, for a Party of thorough-going republicans who came to this House and said: “As republicans we are going to have a Single Chamber Parliament, and in order to do that we are removing the Seanad, but as republicans we are going to go the whole hog.” That type of spurious republicanism, merely showing respect for what you have, indulging in a kind of spirit of destructiveness, without either constructing anything or replacing the ordinary basis of Government by something as good or even better, is demeaning to the existing state of the country as a whole, and to republicanism as a policy. I believe that, quite aside from whether we call ourselves republicans or not, we should at least endeavour to make the best of what we have unless we have something better to put in its place.

Mr. Moore: Information on Séamus Moore  Zoom on Séamus Moore  The Deputy did not hear the promise of the new Constitution.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  I have heard too many promises for the last five years; [1233] if promises were diet, this country would be bursting with food. But if the Deputy came to build a house he would not build it on promises. He would satisfy himself as to its plan, specification, and the materials that were going into the house. He would not pay his cash, or quit his house, merely on the promise of a contractor. We have a promise of a new Constitution. That Constitution will fulfil its promise in so far as it will be a further mutilation of what we have. I am certain, without any inside knowledge, that that Constitution will simply destroy, mutilate and bore holes in what we have, and replace it by nothing better.

The Government have been four years in office now. We could make allowances four years ago for this type of reckless legislation. But the possession and responsibility of office should have steadied the members of the Government, and should have made them cautious, particularly cautious in regard to the future, and to the type of State they pass on to their successors. The Government, by their action here, are placing the country in a danger that does not exist at the present moment. They are removing one of the safeguards there at the moment, and they are making the country the plaything of any corrupt politicians that may come in in the future without any check upon them.

The action of the Seanad during their 12 years in office has been, I hold, to assist legislation passed through the Dail. In the time of the present Government certain measures have been amended, and some held up. In the case of the former Government, two measures were held up. The percentage of cases amended and held up during the time of the present Government was no higher than the percentage amended and held up during the term of office of their predecessors. The Seanad has shown itself to be an impartial examining body. It has given valuable service to two or three Governments. If the President is really honest in his desire, or what he calls a hankering for a Second House, what difference would it make, or what harm would it be, to keep the existing Second House while he is hankering after the [1234] thing he desires? He says there is no form of Second House with which he has so far been brought in contact that he thinks perfect. But if he is serious in replacing the existing House by some other type of Second House, why has he made no real effort to have any plans formulated? We have had commissions and committees by the score. Hundreds of them are appointed day after day and week after week to advise the Government on various relatively unimportant matters. Did it never strike the President, if he is sincere in the desire he expressed to-day, that he should constitute some type of all-Party or non-Party commission to explore the possibilities of replacing the Seanad by some type of better Second House? Is it merely or only when mutilating the existing Constitution that any outside advice is wanted or that outside advice is given—advice of an independent individual without any responsibility or authority.

For some two years now there is a motion on the Order Paper—a reasonable motion—passed by the Seanad, asking, in effect, that the existing Second House should remain in being until there is consideration given to the question of its replacement. If the President is sincere in his liking for a Second House, and in his desire, if possible, to discover a better type of Second House, why was that resolution never acted upon? Why was it left there as so much workless, valueless dross and no action taken? The Second House of this Parliament, by its vote, asked that such steps should be taken. What reply did they get? They have been treated with contempt, despised and left unanswered. The man from whom they received that treatment comes into the Dáil this afternoon and says he has a hankering for a Second House, but that is the same kind of hankering that a weasel has for a young rabbit—in order to destroy it. That is the only evidence we have of his hankering for a Second House. I say to the President and to the members of the Government that even now, at the eleventh hour, before this country is deprived of that slight check, they should consider not only what they are doing but the precedent they are creating. I ask them to [1235] remember that what may be a very slight check to them is at least a slight check on any Government that comes after them, and that we have not enough civic responsibility and are not old enough or well-developed enough in managing our affairs through our own elected representatives to remove any institution that will have the power of sending back legislation for reconsideration by us.

I ask the Government seriously to read the suggestions made by the Seanad, and if they mean anything by their references, seriously to consider the advisability of delaying and trying to construct on paper some Second House before they destroy the Second House that is now in existence. I know that suggestion or appeal will fall upon deaf ears. I know that within a couple of hours the bell will ring and the majority Party will vote as if they had only one mind. There are people over there who are doubtful as to the advisability of what it is proposed to do. There are many people over there who are not only doubtful, but who are convinced of the inadvisability of what it is proposed to do. The President was deliberately playing up to these people by his promise, of which Deputy Moore reminds me. If you are satisfied that you are doing a good day's work by abolishing the Seanad, why talk about hankering; why try to get the vacillating vote, the doubting man, by promising to give him some other Second House in August?

Would the country be any worse off if it had to exist from this until August with the type of machinery under which it has existed for the last 12 or 13 years? If the President is honest about that, let him keep what he has until he is in a position to lay before the Dáil proposals for a Second House. If he is not sincere, if he does not mean what he says, that the country might be better with a Second House, then I ask him to leave the House that is there until he gets something better.

But I take it the bell will ring and the majority will march in step, a single mind and a single command, [1236] and the Seanad will go by 10.30 to-night. Accepting that fact, I think it is due to the Seanad and Senators, ladies and gentlemen, people of all Parties, and representatives of all sections, that it should be placed on record here that that Seanad in its time has done valuable national work, has rendered very great service to the State, and that both the members of the Dáil and the people of the country owe a debt of gratitude to the now practically dead Irish Seanad which will never be repaid.

Minister for Education (Mr. Derrig): Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The most extraordinary thing about this proposal for the abolition of the Seanad is that, since the day the Government originally introduced the measure to abolish that body, there has been scarcely a voice raised outside this House and the Seanad itself in protest against their action. There has been no wave of opinion amongst the public. I think I might even say that there has not even been a strong expression of opinion from responsible citizens as to the dangerous course which we are now told the Government are taking. The fact is that the country is not interested in the question of the Seanad. It may be through apathy, ignorance of the question, lack of understanding of the position, but at any rate, the big fact is there that the country is not interested in the fate of the Seanad and does not care a straw what happens it.

If the abolition of the Seanad should give rise to such grave danger, if there is a possibility that the Executive or any future Executive would utilise its position suddenly to introduce tyrannical legislation, rush it through over-night almost, and have the country faced with some unprecedented position as a result of the whim of that Executive, I think it is extraordinary, if there is any grain of truth in that suggestion which has been so often made, that the country is not more interested in this question of the abolition of the Seanad. It is a very extraordinary thing that even those bodies of opinion which are conservative and most anxious as [1237] to the future and as to the dangers of very radical legislation and of very radical change, have not voiced their opinions in the matter.

It may be, as has just been suggested to me, that perhaps a great deal of the interest in the Seanad evaporated when that particular class, which was given special influence and a special position in the Seanad as originally established, gradually lost that position, and it looked as if, even if the Seanad were to be continued, its position would be considerably reduced, in fact, its influence would be almost annihilated. I think there is a great deal of truth in the suggestion that it is not interest in the Seanad which is at the back of a great deal of the complaint we hear about the action which the Government have now taken and that, in so far as it is genuine, it is simply a feeling of regret that that particular element in the country has lost the position of influence for ever that they held in that Assembly.

If the debate in the House is a characteristic display of what the public feel in the matter, it certainly is extremely disappointing. The Deputy who has just spoken has not given his own views as to what body should take the place of the Seanad. I have the feeling that the corporate idea which he represents must not have developed very far, must not have reached a great stage of development in those conclaves in the Imperial Hotel in Cork when we have not heard any theories or proposals put forward to-day as to what that particular Party would consider suitable as a Seanad, as a vocational council, or whatever else they may call it. The Deputy has not enlightened us on that question. It possibly may be the position that Deputies on the other side have lost interest in the Seanad because they felt, even if the Seanad were to continue, that their Party would no longer be in the prominent position there in which it had been in the past, and that after the next election there would be a majority—gradually increasing— of Senators representing the policy [1238] of the present Government. Perhaps that also has affected the Deputies' views and is responsible for the poor quality of the speeches they have made here to-day.

I think there is one argument with reference to the Seanad that should be definitely met, and that is the suggestion, which has not been emphasised to-day at such great length as it was on previous occasions, that the Seanad was in some way a safeguard and a guarantee that the popular liberties of the people would not be encroached upon, that it was a restraint and a check upon arbitrary acts of the Executive, and so on. The immediate cause of the feeling which exists so strongly in the country in favour of the abolition of the present Seanad is, I think, the disappointment which was generally felt among all sections of the community at the poor display the Seanad made in connection with the Constitution Amendment Act. That Act, which was one of tremendous importance, affecting the lives and liberties of the people in an unprecedented way, having been rushed through this House, the Seanad condoned the transaction to the extent of coming together on a Saturday afternoon—which, I believe, they had never done before—and passing this tremendous measure within a few hours.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Are you not glad to have it now?

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Why do you not repeal it?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  That was not the only instance of the lack of restraint and the lack of check that the Seanad displayed when the Executive Council wished to carry a measure of that nature into operation. In 1926 we had the Public Safety Act, and on looking up the records I find that in that case the Seanad—that body which we are now told is such a great guardian of the liberties of the people, and which would certainly, if it were to be retained or if something were set up in its stead, preserve the people from the dangers of some proletarian uprising, and so on—took all the Stages of the Public Safety Act in a single day. There is an example in the case [1239] of those two very important measures of the amount of restraint which the Seanad that we are now bringing to an end was able to exercise in controlling the actions of the Executive which introduced measures of that importance and of that nature. I think that those two instances in themselves are a clear proof that the Seanad did not use its powers, and did not even show the independence which would be expected of a constituent part of the Legislature—a body consisting of men who are said to have been representative of special aspects of the national life, and to be men of influence and importance in the life of the country.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That particular bit of coercive legislation is very useful to you at present.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  So far as delay was concerned there was no delay whatever exercised so far as the Seanad was concerned in connection with those two important measures. Deputy MacDermot read for us an extract in which John Stuart Mill referred to the question of precipitancy, and in which that great philosopher suggested that the argument that the Seanad was actually a safeguard against precipitate action in legislation was unfounded, and that he himself did not believe it. We have the examples here. Then we turn to another aspect of the Seanad's activities in which we see it in an entirely new light. We see a new Government coming into office, succeeding a Government that has been ten years in office. We see a Government put in by the people and having had accepted by the country a programme which, generally speaking, may be described as going a step further in the direction of securing the complete independence of this State, and we see the Seanad holding up a piece of legislation which this Government had put in the very forefront of its programme when it went to the people. That was the abolition of the Oath of Allegiance. They held up that measure—a measure of the first importance—for 18 months. The Government had come back from the people with a [1240] mandate for the abolition of the Oath, and therefore that was a measure which was of great importance in connection with the relationship between Great Britain and ourselves; a measure in regard to which I think most nationalists and most patriotic Irishmen would have recognised, whether they agreed with the wisdom of the measure or not, that it was, at any rate, necessary and advisable that we should try to show a solid and united national front, and that we should give the new Government every support, consistent, of course, with our own views and opinions, in implementing its policy.

What was the justification for holding up that measure, and for encouraging, as has been suggested, the people across the water to believe that this Government had not behind it the will of the Irish people, or even of the majority of the Irish people? The only real excuse that the members of the Seanad could give for their action was that they felt that they represented the country more truly than the Government of the day. That, of course, was ridiculous. The Seanad was simply elected by the Dáil, and was in fact selected, I think I may say, on the basis of political service to the political Parties in the Dáil, and it was absurd for them to take up the position, if they did take it up, that they represented the country more truly on this matter than did the Government of the day. The conclusion I have arrived at, and which I think most people have arrived at, is that in that particular action, and in subsequent actions which they did take in holding up legislation introduced by this Government, they were just playing Party politics. The members of the Seanad could not forget that they were placed there by a former Government, and they naturally thought that they would be doing good political service to those who placed them there if they obstructed the present Government as far as possible. There was not any of that long view, or that detached view, or that ripe judgment which we hear so much about in connection with Senates and Senators. On the contrary it was just pure [1241] Party politics. We had a Seanad tied as a tail to one of the political Parties in the House, the Opposition Party for the time being.

I do not believe that the abolition of the Seanad is going to create any extraordinary situation with regard to legislation. We have definite stages in the legislation which passes through this House, and, if the Opposition were as effective as they are loquacious in debate, they would certainly be able to effect valuable improvements in the legislation in the time provided. Administration is also carefully watched. The Estimates of the different Departments are closely scrutinised and carefully discussed when they come before the House, and there can be no question of the Government suddenly implementing a policy which is opposed to public interest, or which public opinion will not stand over. There can be no question whatever of such legislation being introduced here and rushed through this House without the Opposition being given a fairly long time to discuss it—at any rate sufficient time to enable public opinion in the country to make itself vocal, and, if it disapproves of the legislation, to say so. The example we have had recently of the Turf Bill is sufficient proof of that. We have had several days' discussion on that matter as if it were a measure of the first importance. If the length of time that is spent on measures of that kind were in any way proportionate to the value of the discussion or in any way proportionate to the value of the results, I would certainly welcome it, but I know that in actual fact too much time is spent at the present time in fruitless discussion—time that should be spent in trying to improve legislation.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  That is the spirit!

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Another little advance on that and the Minister will have abolished us all.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  That is the spirit!

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Now, the President has explained the attitude of the Government in regard to this whole question of whether we shall have a Seanad in [1242] the future or not, and personally I am not opposed to the bicameral principle. I think, however, that the people of this country do not favour a Seanad and that they will be greatly surprised indeed if, having abolished one Seanad, we are going to set up another in its stead. I regard as greatly exaggerated the fear that has been expressed of terribly radical changes coming in this country, and at any rate, even if such changes should develop, I think it absurd for anybody to suggest that a Seanad, such as we have had, is going to prevent a democratically-elected Government from carrying its policy into operation if it so wishes. Any Seanad, such as we have had up to the present, would be very foolish, in my opinion, if it came to handigrips with a Government that had a fresh mandate from the people. It would simply suffer the fate that the present Seanad is suffering. It would be simply a preposterous state of affairs if a Government, which comes from the electorate, having a policy accepted by the electorate, should be held up by a Second Chamber. I think there is nothing in all that except some distrust of democracy—a suggestion that, if the people are left to themselves, they will fall entirely into the hands of agitators who are unscrupulous and who are anxious to use them for their own ends. I think that, in this country, we have our people educated to a good standard of citizenship, even during the past 10 years, and that we have traditions and organisation in this country that ensure that any such unfortunate calamity is most unlikely. I deprecate the statements that have been frequently made to the effect that the policy of the Government is pointing in the direction of Communism, or, as Deputy O'Sullivan said to-day, pointing in the direction of the proletarian State.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The totalitarian State.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I wonder what exactly is the significance of these statements?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  On a point of correction, Sir, might I direct the attention of the Minister for Education to the fact that [1243] the words used by Deputy O'Sullivan were that the policy of the Government was pointing towards a totalitarian State.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  In any event, the statement has frequently been made that the policy of the Government is pointing in the direction of Communism. Why is it assumed, as Deputy MacDermot has pointed out, that if you have a Government operating in an entirely opposite direction and with an entirely different inclination in regard to social affairs—a good, respectable Government of the middle classes, with a good Manchester outlook and good, solid, liberal views— why is it assumed that in the case of such a Government, which would regard the poor in a manner different from that with which we regard them, the poor would have no come-back upon that Government? Why is it assumed that they would not organise themselves and endeavour to get for themselves the same treatment that they are getting in most civilised countries? I think that the fact that the Government shows it is in sympathy with the poor, and that it shows that it is doing everything possible to improve their condition, is the best safeguard there can be to ensure that the people who might fall into the hands of these agitators will be immune from them and that they will see that their own best interests demand that they should support the legitimate Government of the country and look to them for a redress of their grievances.

Now, Deputy MacDermot has also called attention to the fact that in Italy and Germany the existence of a Senate did not prevent the setting up of a dictatorship, or that in Russia, for example, where it might be alleged there is a kind of proletarian Senate at the present time, the existence of a Senate can be said to be a real check upon tyranny. If the soil is ripe and if the circumstances permit, you can have a dictatorship, no doubt, set up in different types of countries. What I want to emphasise is that the mere existence of a Seanad is not, in itself, a safeguard except to the extent that, [1244] perhaps, psychologically, it is useful in giving propertied interests a feeling that there is some safeguard there and some check, and that this hasty and radical legislation, which is feared, cannot suddenly be brought into operation without the country being fully privy to it and without the country understanding fully what is at stake. I do not think that, as regards the revision of legislation, the Seanad is of such great importance as is often believed. We have not reached the stage of having trained administrators or trained lawyers in very large numbers for the Seanad. I think that we do most of the work of legislation satisfactorily in the Dáil and that, by further modification if necessary, we shall reach the position where Bills leaving the Dáil ought to be in a complete state and not require further amendment or further attention. In any case, however, I think that the tendency of the moment is to get in economic experts into these Councils and Senates rather than lawyers and administrators, because, more and more, our attention as a Parliament is being devoted to economic affairs. Economic questions loom very largely and, in fact, our main activities are concerned with economic matters.

Deputy MacDermot stated the case for the Seanad without giving any specific reason why, in fact, a Seanad is necessary. I believe very strongly that a Seanad is no real safeguard against the wave of proletarian emotion of which Deputy O'Higgins, for example, may be afraid. If the people of the country cannot stand up against it and if the Government is not able to stand up against it, it is very unlikely that the Seanad, when the time comes, will be able to offer any substantial obstacle to its progress. With regard to the difficulties of setting up a new Seanad, I consider that they are so great as to be almost insuperable. In the first place, its powers are to be so limited that it is questionable whether men of ambition, or men with the desire to make their names in political affairs, will be got to go into the Seanad. The Deputy mentioned, by the way, that the length of time for which the Seanad could now hold up [1245] legislation is three months. That is not quite the fact, because the measure dealing with that matter has not become law. Presumably, however, if we are to have a Seanad, it will not have power to hold up legislation for any longer period. I think it would be a very serious matter indeed if, because a majority—a small majority, perhaps—in the Seanad considered that legislation should be delayed, the policy of the Government should be held up for, say, nine or 12 months. I agree that, if the Senators were elected on a popular suffrage, they would simply be a duplicate of the representation we have in this House, and that they would be no great advantage because questions would be examined from the same angle. Exactly the same political considerations would enter into the debates and you would not have that new point of view that those who have studied the question of Second Chambers seem to regard as being the most valuable perquisite of an Upper House.

For example, you would not have persons who some time hoped to get on the Front Bench going to the Seanad. I fail to see how you could ensure the popular election, if you adopt that mode of election, of individuals with the necessary training and knowledge, or with the special experience that you would like to have in the Seanad. Even if selected you cannot ensure their return by popular election. We know that actually that was the case. What is going to happen is, that men with special characteristics, special training, and special knowledge are, so to speak, going to be left out in the cold. A famous engineer, or a very earnest social worker, whose information and special knowledge might be very beneficial in the councils of the Seanad, would scarcely be carried by popular election against a local political candidate. If we could get men of that special type, men with training, experience, and judgment, and possibly specialists in administration, there is no doubt that they would have a very great influence in shaping the policy of the Seanad. It might very well become foremost and, perhaps, the chief forum, for the discussion of very important questions of public policy. [1246] But we have no proof that from the system of popular election we are going to get precisely the type of men we would consider—having examined the question in a detached spirit—most suitable for the position of Senator. As regards nomination, I do not know whether all Parties in this House would have sufficient confidence in the President or in future Presidents, to say that if the President was satisfied that his panel were the best representatives that could be got, and the ideal he had in mind, they were satisfied. I am very doubtful if you would get Parties in this House or in any future House to agree to leave that very great power in the hands of the President.

We have seen the difficulties that arose in other countries, difficulties to which the President alluded on a former occasion, that there is a natural struggle amongst political adherents to get on the panel. In Canada I read that great dissatisfaction arose from the fact that political leaders at various times confined nominations almost exclusively, if not wholly, to the members of their own political Party. Unless there was common agreement I am sceptical that we would be able to get a panel of names upon which there would be general agreement in this country. I believe the arguments are altogether in the other direction.

As regards a vocational Seanad, I think, in fact, you could not appropriate to such a Seanad or Council any special functions. You could not give them any powers to make decisions in economic affairs without interfering in the business of the Dáil and in the business of Government Departments. You could not even give them advisory powers to enable them to make representations to Government regarding economic questions. You would certainly have overlapping and cross-purposes between the Government of the day and such a vocational Seanad. In actual fact, I think a vocational Second Chamber would be confined to the same duties and have the same rights as any other Seanad. In my opinion, it should not properly have any special economic powers.

[1247] We would all like to see labour problems being dealt with by men with special experience of labour questions, men who had sympathy with the labour outlook, who, at the same time, would not forget the national point of view, and would not forget that there were other interests in the country besides the particular interests they represented; men who would see that it was in the general interest that there should be harmony between employers and employees. In the same way, the agricultural industry would no doubt claim that even at present under proportional representation, the Dáil represents urban and city areas rather more and that the policy of the Dáil and of the Government tends more, perhaps, to the advantage of urban rather than rural areas. In the nature of things the rural areas are in a special category, whereas the wheels of progress move more quickly in urban and larger centres. It would be quite impossible to organise the agricultural industry. Even if those interested in it were told that they were entitled to elect a certain number of representatives and to submit a certain number of names for the panel for nomination to the new Seanad, it would be quite impossible to bring about the necessary organisation in that industry. It would be exceedingly cumbersome and costly to create such an organisation and I think it would be almost impossible.

As regards the national language, Deputy MacDermot referred to the place of educationists in the new Seanad, and stressed the fact that he would like to see teachers, and presumably Universities, represented there. I would like to see educational interests strongly represented, but before they are represented, I should like to see them accepting the national policy with regard to the revival of the national language. I would not favour putting persons into a Seanad who did not accept the fundamental national position. I think one of the reasons why the late Seanad got into disfavour was that some members were regarded as being suspect in that matter, and were not regarded as accepting wholeheartedly [1248] the national position. Perhaps they did, but the position was not made clear. The question of the language is reaching a turning point, and it is essential, in my opinion that the Government and Parliament should make up their minds as to whether or not they want the language restored and put in the place that the Constitution of the country demands. If ever a Seanad is being constituted, and if I have any influence in connection with it, I shall use that influence to see that persons who are hostile to the national language are excluded, and that, as far as possible, the attitude towards the national language, the encouragement that has been given it, and the example of others in regard to it, shall be taken into consideration in their favour. I do not think Deputy MacDermot need assume that the Government is bound to establish a Seanad.

The case was put very fairly by the President. He asked for suggestions. Up to the present he has not received suggestions that would enable him to say that he considers there would be value to the country in the setting up of another Seanad instead of the one that is now passing out. He has not received these suggestions, and I cannot believe that the mere setting up of a committee from members of the Dáil or other persons is going to carry us any further. We are now taking a decision on the outgoing Seanad, and if Deputies feel strongly on the question, and have ideas, in justice to the future, and in justice to the country, they should state clearly what these views are, should tell us clearly how if they were setting about the task they would propose to set up this Second Chamber.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Few people after this day's performance will challenge the assertion that President de Valera is the astutest politician in the British Commonwealth of Nations. I gladly pay him that tribute and I hope to avail of this opportunity to invite the House to investigate with me the sources of the President's consummate skill with a view to forming an [1249] intelligent anticipation of whither that skilful leadership may bring us.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  You have not got a copy of Machiavelli to-day?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I have and I have also got Dr. McCartan's book which describes the length of the President's coat and the contents of his pockets when he arrived in New York. The President will remember the historic day when he arrived in New York with a copy of Nicolo Machiavelli's “The Prince” in his pocket. Even on the democratic soil of America the President was studying Nicolò Machiavelli. One could understand his studying him in Arbour Hill or in his salad days when he was emerging as a democratic leader, but on the democratic soil of America it would take a man like the President to study Nicolò Machiavelli with detachment. The President led off the debate to-day, and I do not think I exaggerate when I say that his words were coupled with mildness, courtesy, sincerity and integrity. He was a model, a most honourable and broad-minded President, to everybody's thinking. As I was listening to him, and admiring the skill with which he was handling an awkward situation, my mind went back to the night when the Bill for the abolition of the Seanad was introduced. That night there was no mildness, very little courtesy but a profound sincerity. The lock of hair was down that night. The desk was being thumped. The Fianna Fáil Party were there to a man. The President was not addressing the Chair or addressing the Opposition. He was not even looking towards the Opposition. He was whirling round waving the lock of hair at his loyal supporters. Their hearts went out to him, gasping with admiration at the personification of Ireland resurgent with his back to the wall, going to strike another blow for Caitlín Ní Houlihan, to strike another shackle from her lily white limbs.

Deputy MacDermot has apparently quite forgotten the scene he witnessed on that occasion because he said to-day that the President has apparently [1250] an open mind and is ready to listen to reasonable suggestions. I could not help thinking of another day when the President speaking with all that sincerity, mildness, and integrity which is so characteristic of him, proceeded to quote John Adams, and he said, mildly, courteously and sincerely, “Adams was no mean political thinker; he stood for a single Chamber,” and we all believed him. He said it with such blandness that no one dared to get up to say him nay, but, to the astonishment of everybody, after some time had elapsed and the President's quotation was critically examined, it was found that what John Adams had really said was, “I cannot think of a people who could be long free or ever happy whose Government is in one assembly.”

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Are you sure I mentioned John Adams?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Oh, I am never sure of anything the President says because if there was a possible method for the President to say anything, so that it could be interpreted in six different ways, he would certainly choose that way of saying it.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  There happened to be a Sam Adams too.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  If there was a Jim Adams, I am sure he would trot him out. Observe now that we are told that it was Sam Adams and not John Adams. Is there a single person in Saorstát Eireann, not to speak of Dáil Eireann, who believed that the President was speaking there the words of Sam Adams, an unknown person, comparatively alongside John Adams? Observe that there was no “Sam” mentioned by the President. We were simply told that “Adams was no mean political thinker. He stood for the single Chamber.” It is true that a Sam Adams did exist but what his contribution to human knowledge was beyond the fact that he furnished the President with ammunition for the destruction of the Seanad, I do not know or nobody knows. However, let us put it no further than this; that [1251] the President with mildness, courtesy, sincerity, and integrity, referred to Adams and left his audience under the impression that he invoked the name of that distinguished American, John Adams, for the view that a single Chamber form of government was best. He cherished in his bosom from that day to now, although the matter was discussed in the House on five different stages, and on two different stages after the Seanad had rejected the Bill, the fact that he meant Sam Adams and not John Adams. If no one had discovered that John Adams was not the author of that statement, how much longer would that secret have dwelt in the Presidential bosom?

I do not blame the President for trying to prevent this debate following along lines which would serve to strip Sam Adams of his anonymity. It would be much more convenient for him if it did not and I think no further comment need be made on the arguments which were adduced by the President than that he founds his belief on the dictum of one individual who has been disposed of in a particular way. We can imagine the predicament in which the President found himself when to escape it we find him resorting to the expedient to which he has now been driven to explain away the quotation which I have now made. The President has succeeded very largely in his purpose because the President drew from Deputy MacDermot a very interesting discourse on the comparative merits of the bi-cameral and the mono-cameral systems. He evidently created the impression on the Deputy and will create the impression in the country to-morrow that the President has a perfectly open mind on the question. The tactics employed by the President to-day have been inculcated in the Minister for Finance to such good effect that he is now the financial prophet of the Irish Times. No doubt the Irish Times referring to the President, will come out to-morrow and say that it finds that it has done this distinguished Irishman a grave injustice, that it has listened with great respect to his patient exposé and now is satisfied that he is a man who is [1252] open to reasonable suggestion and that it feels that a more moderate line will be pursued by the President. I think in so far as the President succeeds in doing that, he achieves the purpose he set out to achieve. He wants to create the impression now that the abolition of the Seanad is not a matter of very great concern to anybody, and that if there is any real necessity for its re-establishment there is no need to worry: it will be re-established, and that between now and the time he introduces his new Constitution he will be burning midnight oil turning the matter over in his mind and wondering whether he will include the chairmen of the county councils, or whether he will confine it to the College of Surgeons—that all these matters will engage his attention. But I know, and everybody else knows, that when he comes out again with his Constitution he will say that, having burned barrels of midnight oil, he was quite unable to solve the dilemma.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Predictions are dangerous.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Highly dangerous, in so far as the President is concerned, because no man can tell from day to day what the President is going to do, but I am going to make a very good shot at what the probabilities are. He will come back to this House and say that, having examined the question most exhaustively, nothing can be done, always provided that he has succeeded meantime in doing with the mono-cameral system the things that he wants to do and doubts his ability to do with the bicameral system. Now, if the President has achieved his purpose, whatever it may be, and it is difficult to know, under the monocameral system with a complacent majority in this House, then the situation will be materially altered.

Now, Deputy MacDermot held himself up here to-day, and we are all glad to salute him, as a loyal disciple of John Stuart Mill. He was much moved by the benignity of the President, but I venture to remind the House that the President has for many [1253] years been a close student of Nicolo Machiavelli. I invite the House to bear with me while I quote for it part of the political pabulum upon which the President has reared himself since he entered public life. Nicolo Machiavelli gave good advice to Presidents on how to keep their jobs, and part of the advice was as follows:—“A wise President”—“Principe” was the word he used—

“cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them.”

Now, Deputy MacDermot explained to us to-day that we are all bad, that we are all very imperfect; that we are a long way from perfection in this House, and he put emphasis on that, so that we are certainly not entirely good. If we were the President would feel bound to open his mind quite candidly to us, but he will not do that because he does not think it necessary.

“If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to excuse this nonobservance. Of this endless modern examples could be given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best. But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.... For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears [1254] him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you....

“Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.”

Do I do the President a very serious injustice if I say that a good deal of what he has done and said in connection with this measure has been actuated by the excellent advice provided by Nicolo Machiavelli? Do I do this House an injustice when I ask it to consider that if the President can find it consistent with what he considers to be his obligations to it to give quotations which, to put it mildly, may perhaps deceive, may I not suggest that, in fact, when the President expresses his open-mindedness and disinterestedness in abolishing the Seanad, that we are entitled to apprehend that a time will come when the President is taking certain steps under a monocameral system of government, that he will tell us that he did not think it necessary to warn us that he had these purposes in mind when he was doing away with the Seanad.

How many Deputies advert to the fact that to-night when this Resolution passes and the Governor-General signs it, we can, by a procedure closely analogous to the passing of a resolution, condemn a man to death overnight? There is nothing to stop you so long as the solidarity of the Fianna Fáil Party holds together. In two hours we can perfectly easily deprive a man of his life or liberty by an ad hoc enactment to that effect, and [1255] there is no course open to him to defend himself from such a fate. Who denies, who realises that we can pass a resolution here in a couple of hours confiscating the property of any individual in this State or of any body in this State, and that he has no protection?

Who will deny that, to-morrow morning, having disposed of the Seanad, the President can introduce legislation, following the American example reducing the value of our currency by half? It can be done in an hour, and will be done in an hour, if the President suggests it. That is a state of affairs that I do not care to contemplate. Who will deny that by a resolution, or by procedure very closely analogous thereto, we can abolish trade unions, we can abolish any form of popular movement in the country? We can abolish the Parliamentary Opposition. That is a prospect that I do not care to contemplate. I do not really believe that there is a majority of the Deputies who fully appreciate what this situation really means.

The Minister for Education says that it is absurd to contemplate that anything so radical or so extreme would ever be undertaken by this House, but in the next breath the Minister for Education says that he considers that any person who is not sound on the accepted national position should not be eligible for inclusion in a representative House of this Assembly. Anybody who is not in favour of compulsory Irish is ineligible in the view of the Minister for Education for inclusion in a House of this Assembly, and he says that he will use his influence as a member of the Executive Council, in the event of nominations having to be made by the President to the Seanad, to prevent anybody who is not in favour of compulsory Irish being elected to that House. In another revealing sentence the Minister for Education says he thinks already that there is a great deal too much time wasted in fruitless discussion in this House.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  Hear, hear!

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Deputy Donnelly supports the Minister. There are a [1256] good many wild men on the back benches of the President's Party who would support a view of that kind, but does this House think it desirable that that wholly irresponsible view should be allowed to prevail? Does this House view with equanimity the prospect of views of that kind prevailing after a half hour's deliberation here, because unless Deputies bring themselves to the stage at which they can contemplate that with complete equanimity, surely they must agree with us that some form of bicameral government is good, in order to ensure that there will be, as Deputy MacDermot very aptly described, that consensus of two separate minds before legislation which will affect the lives and liberties of people passes through. The analogy made by Deputy MacDermot was a most interesting one. I forget whether he drew it from John Stuart Mill or whether he himself put it before us. I refer to the analogy between the two consuls of ancient Rome and the two Houses of our modern democratic politics. It was quite possible to have two corrupt consuls. It was possible to have two consuls who would have fallen into the same type of error, but there was a very good chance that the probability of error would be very much less where the consensus of two men's opinions were required than it would be where one man's unfettered will operated. In like manner, movements of extremity to the right or to the left are much less likely where two Houses are required to concur than where one House, swept, as it may be, by passing passion, can do what it pleases.

One finds oneself in an extremely difficult position in conducting an argument with the President, because the President is always prepared to change his ground. He reminds one of the graceful antics of the will-o'-the-wisp in defending a measure of this kind. He takes on an elfin appearance and skips from tussock to tussock in the bog. He has now gone so far as to say that a Constitution will be introduced next autumn and that the question whether that Constitution will provide for monocameral or bicameral government will depend on whether a workable scheme for a Seanad can be [1257] hammered out. If the President means that literally and not in the Sam Adams — John Adams way, surely the inescapable conclusion is that he ought to leave the present Seanad, imperfect as it may be, in existence until such time as he has exhausted the possibility of devising a better body. If we are to have a Constitution next autumn, surely the only way to investigate the possibility of getting a Seanad of the kind that would commend itself to the President of the Executive Council is to invite those persons, without regard to Party, upon whose judgment the Executive Council would set a certain value in constitutional matters to sit down and examine this question at their leisure, and to report by a given date whether they have reached any agreement, whether they believe that they can reach an agreement and, if they have reached agreement, what that agreement is. Then it would be open to the President to say on behalf of the Executive Council: “Our Executive will not recommend this form of Seanad to the House. We have honestly exhausted every expedient we can think of to devise a workable House. We found it quite impossible within the Cabinet to devise such a House. We delegated that duty to a body of persons representative of every interest in the country and, after long deliberation, they failed to produce any scheme or they have produced a scheme which the Executive Council are not prepared to recommend to this House. If that is the only workable scheme they can evolve, then we are prepared to take the responsibility of recommending monocameral government.” The President does not do that. He wipes out the existing Second Chamber and he says to the people: “Live horse, and you will get grass,” or “You may get grass. When I say `grass,' I may be only speaking metaphorically or only speaking of dried grass or imitation grass or of Sam Grass, John Grass, or Jimmy Grass.” There are innocent, simple people who submit to being deceived by that because they want to be deceived. There are innocent, simple people who like to be liked and who want to say something nice [1258] and conciliatory to extract a Presidential smile. On certain occasions, it is cruel to be kind, and I should be long sorry to leave the President under the delusion that he had deceived anybody on this side of the House.

I do not believe that the President has the slightest intention of considering any proposal put before him for a bicameral system of Government between now and the time he introduces his Constitution. But if he makes up his mind that it will suit his political hand to re-establish some form of Seanad, he will produce out of his sleeve a scheme overnight and defend it to the very last ditch as the nearest approach to perfection that ever emerged from the human mind. In the meantime, Deputy MacDermot will be sedulously engaged in devising a plan for the President's edification. When he brings it to him, he will be received with the utmost courtesy and even with that irresistible charm which the President can turn on at will. The scheme will be examined at enormous length. Deputy MacDermot will be interviewed at great length and his representations most sympathetically heard. The President will assure him that he fully understands all the motives actuating him and, indeed, even his point of view, but he much regrets that nothing can be done. To the astonishment of all beholders, three weeks later the President will emerge with the Presidential plan, if it suits him, and he will defend it before all comers. That is the situation. I think it is a pity that it is so because, by accepting the mono-cameral system, we are accepting a form of government which obtains in very few civilised countries. We establish a system of government which I consider has in it grave dangers of violent extremes which might very seriously alarm and distress the Executive Council itself if they come to pass. We are passing through reasonably difficult times; we are passing through times when the President and his Party are being described by persons, who were his allies until very recently, as being so crooked that they could hide behind a corkscrew, and the President is finding it [1259] necessary to take drastic action in order to preserve the public peace.

Whether such times as these are suitable for taking a plunge, about the prudence of which, at any time, the President is himself in doubt, is something which I think the House ought to consider, because, remember, the President has told us to-day that his instinct tells him that our inclination towards the bicameral system is right, but when he comes to examine it calmly and rationally, he can find no workable way of indulging his instinct. He feels, or says he feels, the same instinctive distrust of the mono-cameral system to which we have given expression. The Minister for Education, trying to flounder after him, gave the President's case away five or six times, but the President has an hour in which to wind up, and he will sew up the rents and tears of the Minister for Education in the argument, so that we can afford to ignore his rather unfortunate intervention into the discussion. The President himself, however, says he is very doubtful whether the monocameral system is desirable, and, in fact, is prepared to go so far as to say that if a workable scheme for bicameral government is submitted to him, he will recommend it to the House.

With that admission on his lips, with our knowledge of the state of the country at the present time, he proposes to make a radical constitutional change, knowing that he is leading the country into a very dangerous position at least for the interval that must elapse between the disappearance of the Seanad and the introduction of his new Constitution. That does not seem to me to be responsible government. There are very considerable dangers of an economic and political character surrounding our people at the present time. There is no time at which stability, or the nearest we can reach to stability, in this country is more necessary from the point of view of the Government and the people as a whole. Could anything be done at this juncture more effectively calculated to make instability the order of the day than to put this country on the basis of monocameral government? I do not think there could, and I think the [1260] President is doing very wrong in taking the step he is taking now.

He has said that from no side of the House was a defence forthcoming for the Seanad, as at present constituted. The President is no fool, politically. The fact of it is, of course, that I recognise, as I think he does, that the Seanad, as at present constituted, has done invaluable work for this country, but that the tendency, and inevitable tendency, as a result of what the President is pleased to boast of as his own work is for the Seanad to become less useful in future than it was in the past. What a naive, disinterested, ingenuous admission that is—that he sought to establish the existing form of election to the Seanad in the hope that that form of election would ultimately degrade it. I wonder did he communicate that purpose to the House when he was agitating for the present form of election to the Seanad, or was that another occasion of Sam Adams and John Adams?

The President may have succeeded sufficiently far to justify what he is now doing in the eyes of his own followers. The last considerable change in the personnel of the Seanad was an enormous addition of Fianna Fáil nominees thereto. I wonder, when the President was giving the sigillum of his approval to the Fianna Fáil nominees at the last Seanad election, was he still thinking of the plot he laid when he devised the method of election for the purpose of degrading the Seanad? I hope Senator Comyn, Senator Fitzgerald and the other Senators whom the President put into the Seanad at the last election will read with satisfaction that one of the reasons he put them there was to degrade the Seanad and make it shameful in the eyes of the people. I hope they now understand the lofty purpose for which they were raised to the senatorial purple, first to make the Seanad ludicrous and disgusting in the eyes of the people, and, then, to cut their own throats and throw one another into the ash can. Certainly service in the Presidential army must sometimes be a humiliating experience. It is a tribute to his personality that he can compel his followers to eat the dirt which he considers it necessary to administer to [1261] them from time to time. But if the Seanad has ceased to command the public confidence, the President is pleased to boast that he played no small part in altering its personnel in such a way as to degrade it in the public mind.

Very well; if he has done that, and now regrets it, surely his proper course is to accept the suggestion of the Seanad of a conference of member drawn from this House and from the Seanad, or a similar proposal inviting distinguished persons of his own nomination—and in that I believe every Party will concur—to sit down and consider possible means of devising a Second Chamber? If they can put forward a workable scheme which he is prepared to recommend to the House, and if he will leave the existing Seanad there, although it is now virtually a Fianna Fáil Seanad, in the interregnum, he will find that he will get from all sides of the House whatever help he wants in overcoming the difficulty which the bicameral system seems to present to him at present, and he will avoid a period of grave uncertainty, a period of grave instability, and a period during which his hand may be forced by those who are out on his left now, and of whose activities nobody knows more than Deputy Donnelly, to do things which, if he had the check of the Seanad in the offing, he might prudently and successfully resist doing.

Mind you, there are many people in Deputy Donnelly's position and in the position of other Fianna Fáil Deputies down the country, notably Deputy Corry, who will find it hard to resist the pressure of many persons who have no desire to see this State survive, and the President may find that that pressure will manifest itself in the ranks of his own Party and that he is no longer in a position to say: “Remember, for any ameliorative legislation we have in mind, we must have the consensus of minds of the Seanad and Dáil before we can hope to carry it. Therefore, let counsels of moderation prevail; let us be content with gradual reform, carrying the Seanad steadily with us, instead of the revolutionary proposals which Deputy [1262] Corry is forced to bring forward and recommend to our Party, because his neighbours are describing him as so crooked that he could hide behind a corkscrew.”

Deputy Donnelly and Deputy Corry know that there is weight in what I am at present saying. They know how uncomfortable they feel at present by pressure being brought to bear upon them, and, if they are allowed to get within 40 feet of the President, which, I hear, is somewhat difficult for members of the Party to do, they will try to bring their pressure on him. He will keep them at 40 feet distance as long as he can, but if a sufficient number of Deputies of the Party clamour for the right to approach the august presence a little more closely and a little more vocally, he will have to listen, and then perhaps he will begin to ask himself if the monocameral system of government is so nice. How many members of the Fianna Fáil Party would resist a motion now, if Deputy Corry had the moral courage to make it, that the prisoners in Arbour Hill should be released?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  On condition that we shoved you in.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Let the President and his Party turn that over in their minds and let the President and his Party remember that it is more important to take this House into their confidence, to tell them honestly what they have in mind, than to score cheap political advantages. Let him further remember that this country is going to suffer, and suffer grievously, as he and most of his colleagues know, if the bicameral system is swept away and nothing put in its place, and that it would serve him much better now to come out plainly and honestly and tell us he is determined to have some form of bicameral government, as perfect as he can make it but imperfect as it may be, and that he proposes to maintain the existing Seanad in existence only so long as he may be waiting for a scheme which will serve as an adequate substitute. If he does that he will quiet public disquiet and he will do a great deal to ensure that stability [1263] will continue. If he does not, he may find that the consequences may be much more serious for the country than most Deputies anticipate.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  The Fianna Fáil Government and their faithful Sancho Panzas of the Labour Party are about to sing the swan song of the Seanad. Quite apart from the question of a Single Chamber or Two Chamber government, there is an aspect of this matter which I would like to put before the House and particularly before the President. I have felt, since the question of the abolition of the Seanad was first raised, it should be discussed, if possible, in an atmosphere free from Party politics, and that, in any case, it should be discussed not from the Party political point of view but in a manner which would be more in keeping with the dignity of the House and with our past traditions. The practical way in which this matter could have been raised and decided is suggested by the Seanad themselves in their own resolution, namely:—

“That it is expedient that a Joint Committee consisting of five members of the Seanad and five members of the Dáil, with the Chairman of each House ex officio, be set up to consider and report on the changes, if any, necessary in the constitution and powers of the Seanad.”

I would like to ask the President what valid objection has he raised or can he raise to that method of procedure? If it were found necessary or expedient to abolish the Seanad—the Seanad which was established by a deliberate Act of the Parliament of the country— surely it must be conceded that the time chosen to make this very serious, this very drastic change in the Oireachtas set up by the people of the country, is ill-chosen. We are passing through a relatively grave crisis. The Government are faced with a tremendous responsibility and in these matters they have my sympathy and will have any help I am able to afford them to counteract the evil influences at work against [1264] the Government set up by the elected representatives of the people. Surely this is the wrong time to introduce a measure of this kind when, as a matter of fact, all the forces of destruction are gaining encouragement, impetus and help by measures of this character, even by gestures of this character. We all know that it is easier to destroy than to build up. The Government by this Act is destroying one of the institutions set by the State, or, if you like, by the ordinary electors of this country. This, therefore, in my view, is the wrong time and the wrong occasion in which to introduce a measure of this character.

There is one reference I would make to the speech made by the Minister for Education here this evening. I think the Minister was very unhappy in his references to the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act, otherwise known as the Public Safety Act. His references were very unhappy indeed. The Minister must have been aware that that Act became law at a time when the lives of members of the Government were threatened, at a time when two men had been shot dead and when political murders, assaults and assassinaations were being committed. That fact must have been well within the knowledge of the Minister for Education when he spoke this evening. There was a necessity for the introduction of that measure then and there was a justification for it. Why, if it was wrong then to bring in that Bill, surely the continuance of it now must be wrong also. It was open to the Government in the last four years to repeal that Act. Have they done so, or will they do so, and, if so, when? The late Government earned a good deal of notoriety over the measure. They were not very popular because of it. But now, having the experience that he has had, the President knows that Government in this country is not a popular job, no matter how well it may be administered. The President now has the experience of seeing many of his old comrades in organisations antagonistic to his [1265] Government. They are engaged in an armed movement outside the gates to destroy this Government. For that reason it is highly necessary and absolutely essential that the Public Safety Act, as it is known, should be continued. I would like to hear some members of the Labour Party, the faithful allies of Fianna Fáil—when the tide is going with Fianna Fáil—give their real views on this measure. When the flood is turned against Fianna Fáil we may see some more severe tests of their loyalty, perhaps. I do sincerely hope that we have heard the last of these references to the action of the Cosgrave Government in introducing that very necessary measure, the Public Safety Act, at that particular period. Remember that Act is being continued by the Fianna Fáil Government, supported by their very faithful allies of the Labour Party.

I would point out to the Government that this policy of pulling down is certainly having very serious reactions on the people of the country. I have no doubt that the psychological effect alone on some of our younger people is very bad not only for the Government, but for the country as a whole. The morale of the younger people is bound to suffer. We had some reference this afternoon by the President to the promises he made to the electors when going before them at the last general election. He told us he was endeavouring to fulfil the promise he made to abolish the Seanad. It is certainly rather a strange thing that the President's Government cannot fulfil and are making no attempt to fulfil the other promises which they made to the electors in the course of the last general election. These promises are now known as “statements,” to use the words of Deputy Dowdall. Many of the promises made by the President and his Party at the last general election will require sustained and very strong efforts if they are to be brought to achievement. The Government need little or no effort in the carrying out of their promises to pull down and to mutilate. I would much prefer to see the President and his Government engaged in some really constructive efforts in building up something, in [1266] resisting some wrong things and in doing right things, the doing of which would require honest endeavour and sustained effort, than to see him engaged in pulling down and destroying. But that is not what is happening. We are getting none of the promises fulfilled, except the promise to pull down, which requires very little effort indeed. It is easy enough in any community to get a number of persons who have no aptitude, no will, to do anything that requires decent effort, but who will, at the suggestion of any wild man, begin to pull down and destroy. We have had sorry experience of that in our own country, and I am rather sorry to see that the President is continuing, to some extent at least, that policy of pulling down, pulling down merely to satisfy the whims of a number of people who were at one time his followers, but who. I am afraid, as a result of recent activities, are very much opposed to him and his policy now.

The President also suggested to-day that he did not consider at any time that the Seanad was an Assembly representative of the people. I was never an admiter of Second Houses or Second Chambers, but at the same time I have to admit that the Seanad in this State was one of the most representative Second Chambers in any country. How has it been constituted? We had the main industry in the country, agriculture, represented; we had the sciences and arts represented; we had the educational institutions represented and we had labour represented. Every interest in the community was represented in a vocational way.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  You should be with O'Duffy—there is your leader.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Indeed, he is not. At the time the first Seanad was chosen— and these are things that cannot be forgotten and should not be forgotten— there were many people whom, perhaps, President de Valera would have liked to see within its walls, who would not enter within its walls because they had certain rooted political objections. The President and his Party were outside these walls for some years until they swallowed the empty [1267] formula and came in. The suggestion that it is not a representative Assembly I certainly think is wrong, because the President must know that nearly all interests in the State were, and to some extent now are, represented in the Seanad.

As I have mentioned the constitution of the Seanad, I am astonished at the attitude taken up by the Labour Party. I remember well, when the Seanad elections were on, the most elaborate machinery that could be invoked was brought to the aid of the Labour Party through their nominees, and there was great excitement, indeed feverish enthusiasm, displayed by many of them to get into the Seanad, excitement and enthusiasm that can only be equalled, I suppose, by their anxiety now to get out of the toils of the Fianna Fáil Party. I remember quite well the feverish anxiety amongst members of the Labour Party when an election was on. I took part in two or three of these campaigns myself, and I know what I am talking about. The Seanad then was not such an undemocratic institution! Some of the Labour representatives who did not get elected to the Seanad, either when the two Houses were sitting together or by the ordinary method of election in the country, were people who could never be said to be very friendly disposed to the policy of the Cosgrave Government of the period.

We are told now that the Seanad must go. Even the President admitted to-day that anything he could say would not change one vote in this House. I am quite certain of that, in so far as it relates to the Fianna Fáil Party. It was said a few moments ago that the President ordinarily keeps at least 40 feet away from most of his Party, that when they are anxious to visit the great presence they must keep 40 or 45 feet away. We are told that contact between the President and the members of his Party is kept up by means of a series of runners. To these runners is communicated the President's ultimatum to his Party, and I can visualise members of his Party waiting with their hearts thumping and their mouths open for the great chief's decision.

[1268] I do hope that we will see the members of the Labour Party walking into the Division Lobby opposing the abolition of the Seanad, but perhaps that would be too much to hope, now that the Mad Mullahs and the Labour-cum-Communists are out beating the tom-toms. The Labour Party—described as the tin-whistle players in the Fianna Fáil Party—will, I expect, fall into line with President de Valera when he leads them into the Lobby.

I would like some explanation of the change of front of the Labour Party in this matter, why they favoured entering the Seanad some years ago and are now crying for its abolition. Now that the Seanad is sinking, that it is almost gone, that the flags of distress are appearing over the horizon, the Labour Party are saying: “We had better desert the ship, because the tide has changed.” There used to be an old saying that any old thing can float down with the tide, but it takes a strong man to swim against it. Let us hope that there is at least one strong man in the Labour Party who will be followed by some of the smaller Mullahs into the Lobbies and that they will vote against the abolition of the Chamber to which they pledged their allegiance in the old days and into which so many of them attempted to enter. Either that or they will take up the attitude of out-Heroding Herod in the matter of creating instability in the State. I did not take part in any of the discussions in relation to the abolition of the Seanad up to this, and I rise to-day simply to make clear what my attitude is. On such an occasion I would not like to remain away or to give a silent vote. I intend to vote against this motion.

Mr. Keyes: Information on Michael J. Keyes  Zoom on Michael J. Keyes  I do not think that the members of the House or the people in the country ever fully realised until this afternoon what a protection the Second Chamber has been to the State as a whole. I do not think we ever realised before the magnitude of the loss we are about to sustain. I feel very timorous after the speech delivered by Deputy Dillon, and as regards the speech made by Deputy Anthony, it has put me shivering entirely. We are told that immediately [1269] the Seanad goes the last shred of protection for trade unions goes with it. We are told that the President, the big bad wolf, will wipe out the trade unions almost instantaneously, and we are further informed that the abolition of parliamentary opposition follows automatically. Of course, confiscation of property comes in due course, and, lest that is not enough, we have been assured that there is nothing to prevent the Government issuing sentences of death in respect of individuals in the State. We are told there is nothing to prevent the President from putting such a dire policy as I have outlined into operation immediately the one protection represented by the Seanad is swept away.

I do not think any of us realised until now what a bulwark the Seanad has been. If we had got this statement from Deputy Dillon earlier, it might have changed our views about the matter. Deputy Anthony has given a further reason why we should not abolish the Seanad. He said that the Seanad is the one bulwark that stands between the country and the present grave crisis which is threatening and developing outside the gates. According to the Deputy, once the Seanad is removed, that great crisis will envelop the country. The Seanad, he tells us, is the only sheet-anchor that will save the nation. Again, he emphasises that the Fianna Fáil Government and their Sancho Panzas amongst the members of the Labour Party are rushing blindly to destruction. Deputy Anthony is gravely concerned about the Labour Party's attitude in this matter. He has not contributed very much to the reasons why the abolition of the Seanad should not take place, any more than has any of the speakers who preceded him. Their statements have been peculiarly remarkable for their vagueness. They have not attempted in any shape or form to indicate the useful purposes that the Seanad has served within its term of life.

Deputy Anthony told us he was never a lover of Second Chamber government, and he indicated that this was the first time in any discussion [1270] that he had spoken in favour of it. He recognised as hopeless an appeal to the Fianna Fáil Party, and recognised that he could not approach even within 40 yards of the President. But if he fails in his appeal to the President he hopes that his influence with his former colleagues of the Labour Party will induce them to take into consideration the wisdom of Deputy Anthony, the leader of the Independent Labour Party in the country, and that they will cast their vote with him. He wants to know how the Labour Party can save their faces in view of the fact that representatives of the Labour Party have participated in the work of the Seanad and that members of that Party have been members of the Seanad. The Labour Party did participate whenever they got a chance, just the same as any other Party, in putting forward candidates, and did utilise the Seanad as part of the Parliamentary machinery of this country. The Labour Party, in deciding to vote for the abolition of the Seanad, cannot see any inconsistency in their action. The Labour Party representatives in the Seanad were as capable of giving service when the opportunity offered as any men in it. But the Labour Party have not been blind to the fact that the Seanad has not served the purpose that it was originally intended to serve. The fact that some of our colleagues have been members of the Seanad has not influenced the Labour Party in taking a part which they consider to be in the best interests of the country.

Personally I have been impressed by the arguments of the President on this occasion when he pointed to the uselessness of the Second Chamber. It is because it was a useless Chamber, and because on all occasions it proved itself to be the friend of the former Government, and was always ready to indicate its hostility to any measure put forward by the present Government that the Government are taking these steps for its abolition. The President also pointed to the fact that in the course of time a change would take place, so that the Fianna Fáil Party would have a majority in the [1271] Seanad. In that event, the Seanad might act towards the measures of the former Government, if it again came into office, as the present Seanad has been acting in regard to measures brought in by the present Government. We would have a repetition of what has been happening in the Seanad since the present Government came into office. That argument has never been countered by any of the speakers we heard from the Opposition Benches. If a Second Chamber is to be established, which could perform good and useful functions in the interests of the country, that has never yet been indicated by the Opposition.

No one wants to cast any reflection upon the personal integrity and honour of the men who constitute the Second Chamber, but its constitution as a whole is wrong. Obviously it is wrong that the representatives of the people sent to this House should have their intentions and desires thwarted by a body not elected by the people, but elected by the votes of members of this House and of the other House. The Seanad in its action was influenced purely and simply by opposition to the existing Government and compliance with the wishes of the Opposition in this House in regard to legislation that came before them. Deputy Anthony did not deal with these matters. He spent most of his tirade dealing with the Public Safety Act and what he considered to be the inconsistency of everybody concerned with the Public Safety Act. But Deputy Anthony himself opposed a Public Safety Act when many people were murdered, and when no less a person than the Vice-President of the Executive Council was murdered. Deputy Anthony then opposed a Public Safety Act. Now he wonders why anyone else should oppose a Public Safety Act when another set of circumstances prevail.

With his great store of wisdom Deputy Anthony does not like the tin whistles of the Labour Party, and cannot see the wisdom of the Labour Party in this House acting as Sancho Panzas for Fianna Fáil and blindly following the Government without any consideration, as he thinks, for the [1272] interests of the country as a whole. I think we have shown great patience in listening to the speeches of the opponents of this motion trying to show why it should not be passed. A suggestion was made that the Second Chamber should be so reformed as to enable it to perform the useful purpose of a cooling Chamber and to act as a check on hasty legislation. But if there is to be a Second Chamber, might it not be possible that it should come in previous to, rather than after, the passing of legislation—to advise on immediate and prospective legislation. No one on the Opposition Benches has attempted to give advice as to what kind of Second Chamber would be useful. It is peculiar that no one on the Opposition Benches devoted himself to stating what particular kind of Second Chamber he would like. The reason is obvious. They want no change in the present House. They want the present House preserved in order to secure their purpose and in the hope that they will get back to power before the majority of the Seanad changes its complexion.

I do not believe in any of the terrible things that the Opposition say will happen if this motion is carried. I believe that the attitude of the Opposition is simply propaganda and is purely political, and is without one bit of sincerity in it. The last speaker has less reason than anyone else for the fears he expressed. He maintains his pristine individuality. He can reach within 40 feet of anyone in this House because of his long stature. I do not believe Deputy Anthony is quite serious in holding out these fears and terrors if the Seanad is abolished, as I trust it will be this evening. I do not believe that he or any other Deputy entertains the least fear that the electors of this country, with a full responsibility vested in them, will be in the least indifferent to the best interests of the people. I do not believe that any constitutional check is required to correct or control a single legislative chamber in this country. The one effective check that was in the Constitution was removed from it by Deputy Cosgrave when he was in office. When he removed from the Constitution the referendum, he [1273] removed the one really effective check upon whatever Government that might be in office. I believe that is a matter that may call for reconsideration, and I trust when we do come to consider this matter again that the provision of the referendum to the people will be restored as the one check upon a democratic House.

Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  The President, in introducing this Resolution, as President, acts because he is fulfilling certain conditions laid down by the Constitution. I notice, consistently in his speeches, that he seems to assume that he is President of the Government for the sole reason, untouched by anything else, that he got a majority of votes in the country. As a matter of fact, the effect of these votes in the country is only operative because it is declared they shall only operate in that way according to the Constitution. There is no innate and eternal merit in the people's vote. I said here often, until everyone is bored, that the people do not confer authority, but in our Constitution they, by reason of the Constitution, indicate the vessels in whom that authority is vested.

It seems to me that the eminent duty of the President when he took office, the most important office in the State, though he is not the head of the State, was to promote a condition of stability and peace inside the State and to do that by inculcating a reverence for what I will call the moral person of the State, that moral person consisting of the King, the Dáil and the Seanad. I do not think I am exaggerating in saying that the President by his action has consistently tended towards bringing contempt upon at least one element in that moral person, namely, the King or the Governor-General. Anybody in this country who thinks that he can choose between what he will venerate in the institutions of the country and what he will disregard is eminently out against the very foundations of law in this country. The laws passed in this country are passed because certain things have taken place in this Dáil and in the Seanad and they have received the Governor-General's signature.

[1274] The President, on this occasion, is proposing to abolish the Seanad, another part of that moral person. The type of argument he puts up is that the Seanad is not perfect. Of course, he dragged in reprehensible Abbés and their views and so on. The Seanad is not perfect. Any Seanad that the President institutes will not be perfect. The Constitution, as it is, is not perfect and any Constitution that the President produces will not be perfect. This Dáil is not perfect. I will say that if, in the light of the circumstances existing this autumn, the President sets himself out to get the most watertight and perfect Constitution that he can conceive he is practically bound to introduce a Constitution which will be injurious to this country.

When it is suggested that our attitude in this matter is propagandist I say that mine is not and, as a gesture of it, I will say that for the most dangerous thing in this situation that we are facing at present I have to take responsibility together with my colleagues in the late Government. When we argue between unicameral and bicameral forms of Parliament we are talking about an abstraction, a thing in general. We have to face the situation in this country as it is, and, if you like, we on this side have to take responsibility for the situation that here and now we have—that any Government Party elected at any election is given the most extraordinary power, which it is dangerous for any Government to possess, and which can be used against the people of this country.

We have a situation, or we shall have when this is passed and the Governor-General has signed the Bill, in which the Government can pass any law it likes. The whole idea of a Constitution, to my mind, is the recognition that, irrespective of any positive law, there are certain eternal laws, and there are certain rights innate in the dignity of human beings with which no Government has the right to interfere. As far as the power now to be possessed by the Government, that is to say, by the members of the Front Bench opposite, supported by their machined [1275] majority in this House, is concerned, there is no human right that is withheld from their control.

It seems to me from my experience since this Bill was first introduced the best part of two years ago, that I have seen indications that, although the Seanad had an extremely limited power even when the Bill was introduced, that power was useful. When the Bill was first introduced I spoke of the thing that seemed most important, of the fact that here we have really no Constitution. We have a Constitution Act. We have a situation where any Party which, by lies or propaganda or honesty can win at any given moment a majority in the country, are invested with absolutely uncontrolled power. The only control up to the moment has been that the Seanad could delay the operation of their proposals for a period of something less than two years. I admit, if you like, that we are responsible for having handed on that position, whether by our action or inaction, and left it in the power of the President to introduce this Bill. Whether the Bill, if it is passed here, is going to be legal is a different question.

In human experience there have been different types of government and the general one in civilised countries at present is what is called the bicameral form. The reason that countries have, either by tradition or in a written enactment, a constitution is primarily for the purpose that has been so much denounced here, of thwarting the Government. It is possible that a Government may want to bring in a Bill which is detrimental to the common good. It is not possible to conceive every circumstance in which that may happen, but a constitution tends to set out certain innate rights with which the Government may not interfere. We have not that protection here. The development of the bicameral form of government was this, that it put a check or brake upon the Government. We may come into power next year, the year after, or ten years hence.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  You are an optimist.

[1276]Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  It is quite right that there should be a limit to our power. The President says that the present Seanad is not perfect. Everybody has always known that what you aim at in government is not perfection, because it is a human institution, and that cannot be got. You look for the least imperfect form. What we have to consider is if, in the existing circumstances of the country, it is better to have a Seanad as we have it, or to fulfil the President's wish to abolish the Seanad and to leave him and his colleagues in the position that anything that at any moment happens to strike them as suitable or useful to them shall be law and inflicted on the people. The very idea of a constitution is to prevent that elementary power.

The President can say that the Irish Times and other papers are always saying: “What a sincere man he is and how patriotic; there is no fear of his doing anything likely to be against the interests of the country.” It seems to me that those ideals which are implicit so often in the President's speeches are themselves full of danger. As a matter of fact, he is not immortal and his Government is possibly even more mortal than he is, and we have to consider what is going to happen when they go. I have known him to get up in this House when Deputy Cosgrave said: “You cannot or you must not do such a thing”, and ask: “Is this Government sovereign, I want to know?” If I had been asked I would say: “From what you have in mind I would say this Government is not sovereign.” Of course, it is not. Any law made by a Government has to come under certain laws that remain for all time. The President's idea of Government sovereignty is when he is there with a majority. Time and again Deputy Cosgrave had to try to clarify the point. The President will say: “Have we the right or have we not the right?” It is evident what we are going to say. If we say: “You have not the right,” then he will say: “I always said the Treaty would not make us free.” If we say: “You have the right,” then he will say: “Why do you say I have not?”

What the President is proposing is [1277] that in this country you should put into the hands of the Government power possessed by no other Government. We have countries in Europe with what are called dictatorships. In Italy there is a constitution and there is a King, whose powers may be extremely limited, but he has certain functions. In Spain, as was pointed out here before, you have a constitution that can be changed with no great difficulty, but still it cannot be changed through ordinary legislation by any government which might have snatched power in any election, but here any government that can get a majority in the Dáil in any election has absolute power. When this motion passes to-night, the President can to-morrow, if he likes, say that there is not going to be another general election in this country for 20 years, and Deputy Donnelly and the rest will automatically vote for it. Mind you, the President will also be able to get up and, in one of those speeches which will impress one so much until it is examined to see what exactly he has clearly said, tell us that it was his patriotism, his absolute selflessness, and disregard of any Party consideration that moved him to put this forward.

We are asked to deliver the people of this country absolutely naked and defenceless into the hands of the Government. We admit that government is necessary, and the whole arrangement of modern States, as far as I can judge it, is that, while recognising that you must have some authority with power and force at its control to order the relations of the people in the country, at the same time it is recognised that just as human weaknesses operate in the ordinary people, which make it necessary to have power of controlling them, so in the same way the instruments who are going to control them are themselves human, and there must be something to control them as far as possible. You never can get perfection. The system normally is that there would be, first of all, a constitution laying down certain things which the Government cannot do, and it is usually arranged that [1278] no government by an ordinary majority in its Parliament can change that constitution; secondly, you usually have some form of Second Chamber, which is not the result of the exact point of view or the exact passion of the same people at one given moment, but which rather is independent of that, and can, again with their human imperfections, possibly disagree with the Government. All that that Second Chamber can do is to delay things being done.

A certain code of law is operating in this country at the moment, and it may be possible to improve it, but inasmuch as it has been found satisfactory up to the present, it is to be presumed that nothing very disastrous will happen if a change which some people think is necessary might have to be postponed, or might even have to be foregone for the time being. That is exactly what the Seanad can do; it can postpone. Personally, I think it should have more power; it should be able to prevent, and then, if a law which is proposed by a Government is so abundantly clearly for the country's good, whatever elaborate arrangement is necessary for the change in the constitution or for overcoming the Seanad's opposition might be applied, and would presumably win universal support amongst the people. But what does the President say? He says that he wants a perfect Chamber. One of his arguments in defence of this proposal is that the abolition of the Seanad was before the people at the last election. That is merely a cowardly attempt to shirk his responsibility. It does not matter what was before the people at the last election. He has only one thing to guide his action now, and that is what will be for the common good of the people of this country.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The word “cowardly” applied to any Deputy or Minister is not permissible.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  I am sorry, Sir; I did not mean any personal application of the word. I meant that inasmuch as responsibility rests on the Government it cannot be put on to any other people. That responsibility rests on [1279] the President. If he put something before the people in the last election —possibly to win the election; possibly he thought it might influence a few votes—he has no right to implement that unless he is firmly satisfied, in his enlightened and prudent judgment, that it is going to benefit the people here. The responsibility of a Government is something very different from that of a Party seeking election. There was an election in 1932, and we were the Government of the time up to the moment that this Dáil had met and the new Government had been constituted. But what the President says is: “This present Seanad is imperfect. I am going to wipe it away because it is imperfect. I will bring in a new Constitution in the autumn, and I may then institute something in its place if, in the meantime, I can find something that is perfect.”

We notice, of course, that even before the election of 1932 he had decided that the Seanad, as it is, should not continue to exist. After the lapse of about five years he has failed to find a Seanad such as he thinks he would be justified in proposing for acceptance here, but we are asked to trust that during the next five months or so he may be able to find something which will satisfy his mind as being perfect. But meanwhile he is asking us—and I am sure we are going to do it—to commit the people of this country to the most unlimited dictatorship known in any country in the world. The Czar of Russia, the Shah of Persia, or the Caliphs of Islam, at any period of history had not greater power than the President is proposing for himself now. There is no law, there is no change, there is no abolition that he will not have in his power from to-morrow onwards to bring about in this country merely by the vote of his own controlled majority in this House. There is nothing exempted from his power of legislation according to what he is proposing to us. If he proposes to-morrow that the Dáil be abolished, he has only to get his majority to vote for it and the Dáil is gone. If he proposes to-morrow that the courts be abolished —and we know the absolutely contemptible [1280] argument by which he tried to suggest that there was difficulty in getting rid of the courts—the courts can be abolished.

What is the idea of this Constitution being brought forward in the autumn? What is the Constitution going to be? Is it going to be simply an Act which, say, introduced on October 14th can be abrogated on October 15th? Is he proposing that he and his Party are going to lay down certain laws next autumn and that those laws are not going to be changeable by his successors? Is he going to give himself power that does not belong to ordinary Parliaments? If he does introduce a Constitution in the autumn, and the following autumn there is another Government here, is that Government going to have power to abolish that Constitution and institute another one? Is this country forever going to be in a position of absolute instability? I do not like suggesting accusations against the Government, but if the Government since it came into power has not tried to bring this State itself, this organised society and its control, into contempt, it certainly has not done much towards bringing them into veneration. The Governor-General is Governor-General by exactly the same process as the President is President. The Seanad is Seanad by reason of the Constitution, and it is only by reason of the Constitution that the President is President, not by any innate virtue in people's votes. The people's votes operate as they do operate only by reason of the Constitution.

Are we to be in this country in a state of utter fluidity? We know how this Bill was introduced. Already a Bill has been introduced limiting the delaying power of the Seanad to three months—a Bill which the Government is not now enforcing, or had not enforced so far, I think. Then, without any notice beforehand, this Bill to abolish the Seanad is slipped in. The President is to have power to impose upon the country any bad temper, any passion, any sudden whim that comes into his mind. I certainly want to see a Constitution established so that it cannot be changed unless by exceptional and very exceptional operation which would make it very [1281] difficult to accomplish, because the whole idea of a Constitution is to protect the people against the Legislature. The Legislature is necessary for the people's good, but at the same time that power, put into ordinary human hands, should be limited and controlled, and the function of the Constitution is to do that. Then we have them getting up here and talking about the people having voted and asking are the people's representatives to be thwarted in their action. Certainly, at times, it is necessary—eminently necessary and absolutely necessary— that the proposals of Governments should be thwarted. That is why the Constitution exists, and that is why the Seanad exists, although the latter exists more in the nature of a mere protection in the way of prudence.

I have seen the President here getting up and, in his speeches, saying implicitly that because he had received the majority vote in the country, not only anything he put forward should be law, but that anything he put forward should not even be criticised. Time and again there has been the suggestion that somehow or other we were guilty of treason by merely criticising certain proposals. I understand that reference has been made already to-day to the action of the Seanad in regard to the Constitution (Amendment 17) Act. Certainly that Act passed this House and passed the Seanad, received the Governor-General's signature, and became law. When this Government came into power, having denounced that Act beforehand, it then said that it was, if not actively, at least passively, so to speak, continuing the Act—that it was continuing it by merely not taking the legislative steps to abolish it. The President and the Ministers, as the Government operating that Act, said time and again that they themselves disliked it, but that the position was that some such Act was necessary, and that, as the amending of it would be too complicated, it would be better to leave the Act as it was. Strangely enough, after all these protestations of their hatred and dislike of that Article of the Constitution, and after the suggested excuse for continuing and [1282] operating it—that they did not want to tackle the problem of amending it— we now have the Public Accounts Committee being assured that the Government is actually going to amend that Act, not because it is something hateful, but merely in order to legitimise their having paid out public moneys illegally. In order to do that, they are prepared to change it.

The Attorney-General:  I think the Deputy is mistaken in that statement. It is possible that I am not speaking with correct knowledge, but I do not think the Public Accounts Committee were informed that it was proposed to amend the Constitution for the purpose mentioned by the Deputy.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  The Attorney-General may remember when the case went before him.

The Attorney-General:  I know the case to which the Deputy is referring.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  Well, I understood that the Public Accounts Committee were told that that Article was going to be changed in order to legalise those payments.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I wonder how is that related to the question of the abolition of the Seanad?

Mr. Fitzgerald: Information on Desmond FitzGerald  Zoom on Desmond FitzGerald  Well, Sir, one of the arguments that was used for the abolition of the Seanad was that it was a condemned body in that it had acquiesced in the passing of that Act, and I say that the Government, by continuing that Act and operating it, has also acquiesced in it, and that for the Government to talk of the time it would take and the difficulty that would be involved in amending that Act was irrelevant for the reason that I understand that now the Article is going to be changed for a matter of very little importance. The Government, however, has acquiesced in Article 2A of the Constitution, and to that extent they are in agreement with it. Anyway, my point was this. The President gets up and in his bland way says: “I am bringing in a new Constitution in the autumn and, although to-morrow I am going to abolish the Seanad, I may change my mind in regard to it in the meantime. [1283] If I can find a perfect Second Chamber between now and the autumn, I may institute it, and if anybody has a perfect Second Chamber in their pocket and can produce it between now and the autumn, I shall consider it.” What has he asked us to do? In the earlier stages of the debate on this question, the President brought up the action of the French Senate. Of course, all those arguments were historically misleading. What you have to consider here is this: Do we want the situation which is going to be created when this Bill passes? The President says that the Seanad is imperfect and, therefore, he is getting rid of it. But so is the Dáil imperfect and, therefore, it should be got rid of. So is the Government imperfect and, therefore, it should be got rid of. What is he proposing? He is making a change from one condition to another condition and implicit in that proposal he makes is this: that he is affirming that the condition that will exist to-morrow or the day after is better for the protection of the people of this country than the position that exists now.

What is the position? As the position exists now it is this: that the Government can introduce any legislation that it thinks fit to introduce or any legislation that suits its Party. It is certain to get its majority here in the Dáil. It may introduce legislation that is good or legislation that is bad. Everybody knows that any legislation which it is abundantly clear is necessary and good for this country is pretty certain to pass the Dáil or the Seanad, but the Seanad has the power to postpone the operation of a Bill that the Government may introduce at any time. They have the power to postpone it for 18 months. The Seanad cannot impose any new evil on the people of this country. The most that it can do is to say that the law, as it stands, will remain as it stands, and unaltered, for another 18 months. If what the Government is proposing is something very good for the country, the Seanad certainly has the power to postpone it for 18 months. If what the Government proposes is bad and if it is something that the Government [1284] and the people, after a little more consideration, recognise as bad, the Seanad has the power to prevent that proposal being imposed on the people.

The President now says, however, that the Seanad is imperfect. I ask the President now: Is the condition in this country which he is trying to bring about now going to be perfect? He is proposing this, with the Party sitting over there, with an association with a political Party known by their history to be, eminently, party politicians, and known by their actions from time to time in the last five years to be against justice. I do not claim to be alone in saying that; more distinguished men than I can claim to be have pointed out that certain actions of men in association with the Party opposite have been against justice. They have the power, however, and the President is proposing that, whenever there is anything that -he and the Executive Council consider that they want done, they shall have the power to do so irrespective of what law may be broken or irrespective of what justice may be outraged. He is proposing that by the mere fact of the Executive Council and himself meeting and deciding that a thing should be done, it is going to be done and going to be imposed on the people, and that there is not going to be even a machine which might make it possible to postpone such a proposal and allow the people time to be converted to a better opinion. If we believe that it means that nothing less than perfection is the order, we are going to have from to-morrow a perfect order. Is there any other country in the world that would accept it? Not even the ruler of Siam or even the ruler of Abyssinia had any more power than the Government will have from to-morrow.

The dictatorship in Germany, the dictatorship in Turkey, the dictatorship in Russia, and the dictatorship in Italy have not the power that this Government is calling upon us to put into its hands. There is no limit whatever to the power of the Executive Council. There is no law that it cannot pass: nothing is withheld from its control, or from its power to impose upon the people. We are told that we must [1285] accept that. The argument against it is that the present Seanad is not perfect. We are told it is not perfect because it reflects Party political affiliations. In the Seanad we have Sir John Griffith, Mr. Jameson, and various other persons. They are in it because we put them there. We put men into the Seanad, but we did not ask them what their political views were. If I remember aright we even got into communication with certain institutions here, and asked them to put forward certain suggestions. The names they put forward were supported. We did not ask them to take any Party pledge, and I think it will be admitted that those I mentioned are far from being Party hacks; are less Party hacks than the Senators who were put in by the present Government. I am not trying to institute any general comparison. The Seanad is not perfect, certainly, but if you propose to make the change, the natural thing to do would be to leave the Seanad there—just as the Government—until a new Seanad takes its place.

What we are really doing is, we are taking away the little restraint which remains, with possible effect, to protect the people from arbitrary Government action. We are changing that now into a condition in which there will be no restraint whatever upon Government action. The President has stated that as a decent man he has no intention of doing evil things on the people. What he is doing here is, he is instituting a type of State in which people who happen to receive a majority in the Dáil should have absolute control over every aspect of human life, over the interior and exterior lives of the human persons who comprise this State. That is put forward on the ground that the present Seanad is not perfect.

That was the argument with regard to the Seanad. He stated in what he read about the election that he proposed to do away with the Seanad “as at present constituted.” His argument was that this country was so over-taxed that the people required the benefit of being saved the money that the Seanad costs. What the Seanad costs is negligible compared [1286] with the increased taxation that this Government has put upon the people. His argument to people who were already feeling the effects of world conditions was: “you are hard-pressed; you want money badly; you want to have as few demands on you as possible; here is this incubus of a Seanad which is costing money; we are not enthusiastic about it and you will be saved that money.” That was coupled with the £2,000,000, and with the £5,000,000 that went to England. The President has carefully avoided any positive argument as to the perfection of the conditions which will control this State after the passing of this Bill. Anyone who takes the trouble to think will realise that for the protection of the people, even the present Seanad, imperfect as it is, is some protection. What he wants is to take away even that very weak protection. Whether that be good or evil it was there for 18 months.

Behind that, the President has constantly put forward the argument that inasmuch as he received a majority vote in this country, there must be no limit to his power. If any independent person or any churchman dares to criticise the Government, the answer is that anyone who criticises the Government or disagrees with what it does is actuated by party passion. Consequently, when that inspiration comes to mind it means that automatically he is to be given the right he is now being given. There is no dictator in Europe or Asia with greater power than President de Valera is now calling upon this House to give him. No man has a right to demand such a blank cheque. In his speech in this House he indicated clearly that he does not recognise that there is any law that should be exempt from his power. We know perfectly well what the result will be. We know that the main objections to the Seanad, because Party passions are there, are gone. He has already gained such control of his own Party, irrespective of what they may think is their duty to the people, that they are almost bound to do exactly what he tells them to do. We know that this Bill is going to be passed. We [1287] know, therefore, that we are asked to deliver ourselves and the people of this country into the hands of the Executive Council. President de Valera says that in the autumn he is going to introduce a new Constitution. Presumably, if he introduces a new Constitution his claim that not only the power—that was what I gathered —to dictate with regard to this country is to be left in his control, but perhaps to pass a Bill which, presumably, is to have the effect of restricting the power of future Governments, while he refuses to have the power of his own Government restricted.

The Attorney-General:  I should like to say that I am glad to see the last Deputy back, and to see that he has lost none of his vigorous volubility. I am sorry to see, however, that he did not take advantage of his absence to prepare himself for this debate, which he must have known for the past 18 months was about to occur at this time, and to see that he has come back and joined the old chorus of the Wailing Wall with precisely the same sort of wail indulged in when other measures dealing with analogous matters were introduced here. However, when he came in he must have felt the changed atmosphere. If he had listened to the debate I think he would have realised that a great deal of the punch has gone out of the Opposition since he left, and that they have begun to realise that the continual wailing in which they indulged has not paid somehow with the country, and that speakers on the Opposition Benches now realise that people are not frightened by the bogies which they have been so assiduous in raising ever since we took office. I read the debate on this Bill in the Seanad, and I observed that speakers there took a great deal of pains to make up their case as regards the defence that might be made of the Seanad in reference to their work, and they also went to some trouble to examine the history of legislatures in different countries. I expected that we might have got something like that when this Bill was here before, or that we might have got it this afternoon when we are at the [1288] last stage of this discussion. Strangely enough, no attempt has been made, apparently, by speakers on the opposite benches to make up their case. After all, I think that duty was upon them because to a large extent the fate of the Seanad is due to them. They are responsible for the irresponsible action which the Seanad took, and which brought upon them, not the judgment of President de Valera, and not the judgment of this Parliament, but the judgment of the country. It was admitted from the benches opposite in speech after speech— Deputy O'Higgins bewailed the fact— that the Seanad was not a popular body. That had to be admitted by the Party opposite, but, despite the change that the President suggested he was about to make when he put the abolition of the Seanad on his programme, it was argued that he qualified that when he said “as at present constituted.” It was a bold thing for a political Party to put on the forefront of its programme, the abolition of the Seanad. Apparently the people did not feel very much fear as to what would happen if the Seanad as then constituted was abolished. As the Minister for Education pointed out, this Bill has got the benefit of what we were told was of such enormous importance—delay. We were told that one of the great features of the Second Chamber was that it imposed delay. I have yet to learn why delay should be of importance in itself.

Delay per se has surely nothing virtuous in it, nothing to be sought after. I presume the speakers meant to imply that people had time to consider the position which might be created by the operation of the measure which was held up, and that the Seanad would be able to make its case in its own Chamber and would be able to persuade the Government to alter its mind, or that during the period of 18 months such a feeling would grow against the measure proposed by the Government, that perhaps a change would be brought about. As the Minister for Education pointed out, although they have had all that period, they have failed to make a case which [1289] would convince any body of opinion that the removal of the Seanad was going to produce the disastrous results which were forecasted at every stage of the Bill and which have been repeated here without any serious, substantial argument to justify them. As the Minister for Education said, the atmosphere in which speeches here this evening were delivered, reflects the opinion of the country that there is no real interest in the passing of the Seanad. One of the reasons for that is supplied in the actions which they took. I will admit that in the work of revision of Bills sent up to them, the Seanad have a very good case as to the value of the work which they have done. Nobody has denied that valuable revision work was done by the Seanad. There has, however, been one remarkable feature about the activities of the Seanad during the time we have been in office. After all, the President suspended his blow for a long time although, as has been admitted, he made it part of his programme. He suspended the blow for a very long time. He must have felt that the country demanded that something should be done to alter the position in which the Seanad was able to interpose itself between this House and the reforms which he thought should be brought about.

Since we came into office about eight amendments of the Constitution have been introduced. Four of them were held up; four were passed. A couple of those Bills, such as the Bill for the removal of the Privy Council and that providing for the alteration in the procedure as regards Money Bills, were Bills on which, if the Opposition had cared to fight them here, they might have made a case very similar to the case which they made against some other amendments of the Constitution. They did not oppose them and they went through the Seanad. They were not held up and there was no opposition. In the case of Bills held up by the Seanad, however, they got the tip from the Party opposite. The Opposition in the Seanad was rallied to a large extent purely along Party lines. It appeared to be clear from the history of the relations between the two [1290] Houses before we took office and since we took office, that there was a complete change of attitude towards this House on the part of Senators, culminating in the opposition to the Uniforms Bill. The Uniforms Bill was not an amendment to the Constitution at all. The Uniforms Bill was a piece of ordinary legislation. It was put forward by the Government at the time to deal with a situation which the Government said was serious and for which they required certain powers. It was held up in the Seanad because Senators alleged it was a Bill directed purely against the Constitutional Opposition.

I think we urged here in support of that Bill a number of arguments, arguments drawn from the experience of countries on the Continent just previous to its introduction, arguments drawn from the experience in certain countries of the way in which organisations wearing shirts or uniforms had gradually developed, had eventually seized power and set up distatorships; arguments, furthermore, advanced from the condition of affairs here. The Seanad was persuaded to hold up that Bill. What has happened? I have seen that some Senators actually argued that subsequent events had shown that they were right. Subsequent events have shown that we were right. We were right in thinking that the people did not want a movement run along the lines of the Continental Fascist, or other similarly organised, movements. It is true that the feeling in the country became so clear, and the internal divisions between the rival dictators became so keen, that the organisations practically disappeared. How on earth is it sought to be established that the Seanad was right and the Government were wrong? It was a Bill which, in my judgment, it was absurd to say was directed towards disorganising the Constitutional Opposition. However, the Seanad obeyed the whip of the Party opposite and held it up, an action which in itself was sufficient to justify the abolition of the Seanad.

A very poor case has certainly been made here this afternoon. I listened to the early part of Deputy O'Sullivan's [1291] speech. He disavowed any intention to quote from history. He has on two or three occasions told the House that, although he is a professor of history, he does not think it proper to introduce history into the House. Yet a number of the speakers we heard this evening have glibly referred to the experiences of history without quoting instances or quoting figures. We have heard the last speaker, who wandered away into the rarefied atmosphere of political philosophy, metaphysics and ethics. He examined the concepts underlying government and he then came down to earth. He only comes down to earth when he sees the President, when he sees King Charles's head. The only reality he will observe is the President. As you remember, he said that this Bill was an attempt to produce a dictatorship here, unrivalled in any country in the world, or unparalleled in any country in Europe. He ran on at such a speed through the various instances he gave that I forget most of them, but you will all remember the picture he painted of the President with his obedient followers here perpetrating the most awful atrocities upon the moral person of the State and the unfortunate citizens. He was not here when Deputy MacDermot disposed in a very few sentences of the uninformed—I am sorry to call it so—speech of Deputy O'Sullivan. Deputy O'Sullivan could have departed from his self-denying ordinance at least to the extent of giving us a few instances drawn from history. I am sure no Deputy would grumble on an occasion like this if Deputy O'Sullivan were to go into his own domain to draw forth examples in order to drive home the points which he made against the change which we are proposing to make in the Constitution here.

He was just as vague, or almost as vague, as the last speaker. “This type of thing leads to dictatorships”—that was the burden of his song, just as it was the burden of the last speaker's song. “Experience shows it,” was another of his statements. Deputy McDermot said that he had [1292] read some history on this matter, and that he was not at all satisfied that history would help Deputy O'Sullivan's argument. To refer again to the last speaker and to the picture that he painted. He spoke of the position that we are about to find ourselves in when the President becomes an absolute dictator, and prefaced that by his theoretical statement that Second Chambers have an enormous value: that they are a bulwark to protect citizens from dictatorial actions on the part of a Single Chamber; but he forgot what Deputy MacDermot had so very forcibly pointed out to Deputy O'Sullivan, that the Two Chamber system of government in some of the biggest, and what were regarded up to recently as the most highly civilised States in Europe, has absolutely failed to prevent dictators getting control.

I do not quite understand Deputy Fitzgerald's philosophy, but I gathered from his remarks that he has a strong objection to the totalitarian State. Deputy O'Sullivan actually mentioned it, and Deputy O'Higgins was another who said that he had a strong objection to the totalitarian State; but you have the totalitarian State in excelsis arising on the ruins of Two Chamber Governments in two or three of the principal States in Europe to-day. It is unnecessary for me to refer to them even by name, because everybody knows from reading his daily paper that a dictatorship far outrivalling anything approaching what the super-heated imagination of the last speaker put before us, is in actual existence in at least one of these countries, if not in three.

It has been stated, as I have said, that Single Chamber Government results in dictatorships. I do seriously say—I have said it here in this House before and at the opening of my remarks I pointed it out to Deputy Fitzgerald—that people have got used to the wailing of the Opposition Deputies. Their over emphasis and exaggeration have ceased to have any real effect; but I do think that in a serious matter of this kind, at this stage on this Bill, Deputies who speak should realise—part of their complaint is that this resolution is going to be [1293] passed—that we are about to pass into a period of Single Chamber Government. Because of that, I suggest that a little more balance and considered opinion ought to be allowed to creep into their speeches than they have exhibited since the Bill was first introduced. Their wild statements as to what is going to happen, as to what, in a very short time, may be the fate of the country are, in my opinion, absolutely improper coming from a responsible Party in this House.

Where are the instances to be produced to show that a dictatorship has arisen in recent years more easily upon the ruins of Single Chamber Government than on the ruins of Double Chamber Government? It has been shown that, in point of fact, the most stable Government in Europe to-day is a Single Chamber Government— the Government of Norway. It is not alone the most stable Government in Europe to-day, but it is the sole Government which has existed with the same type of Constitution for over 100 years. Yet it is a Single Chamber Government. It is true that when the Storthing is returned a separate committee is elected which performs some of the functions of a Second Chamber, but it is elected at the same election and is subject to the same whims that are supposed to be likely to sway the Government directed by a Single Chamber. Yet, as I say, there has been stability in all aspects of life in Norway under the sway of that Government. Accordingly, it is just as easy to say that a Single Chamber Government is likely to produce a more stable form of government in the country.

I confess that I have exactly the same feelings about a Second Chamber as the President confessed that he has. I have the feeling that a Two Chamber is the more satisfactory form of Legislature, but I have an open mind on it and I certainly am not a victim to any of the fears which the Opposition pretend to infect them. The ordinary man in the street apparently is not infected by those fears either. The Deputies opposite have failed to make the people believe in the bogies which [1294] they have raised in connection with the enactment of this Resolution.

The President has indicated that he is prepared to consider suggestions as to a workable form of Second Chamber. One of the things which strike anybody looking at the Constitutions of the different Legislatures all over the world is the infinite diversity of the type of legislative assemblies that they have. It is fairly obvious to me that you cannot lay down any hard and fast rule as to whether or not Single Chamber Government is good for every country. It may be quite good in some countries. I believe myself that a Single Chamber will work well here. The instances that I have given show that Single Chamber Government is quite good in one modern, highly-organised, highly-civilised and first-class country.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Did the Attorney-General say “instance” or “instances”?

The Attorney-General:  I have given one instance of a country in which there is Single Chamber Government.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The Attorney-General thinks that is Norway—that it has the Single Chamber system?

The Attorney-General:  Yes.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Very good.

The Attorney-General:  For that statement the Deputy need not think that I have not got some authority. I have here a book on “Senates and Upper Chambers,” written by Mr. H. W. V. Temperley in 1910.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Did you read the organisation of the Norway system?

The Attorney-General:  I have referred to the organisation of the Norwegian Chamber. On page nine of this book, Mr. Temperley says: “The association of Single Chambers with stability does not end here.” Apparently, Deputy McGilligan is going to endeavour to make some point in this connection. He says that I have given only one instance.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Not even that— that you did not even know the instance.

[1295]The Attorney-General:  I do know the instance.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I think not.

The Attorney-General:  The Deputy is, of course, prepared with his usual —

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Facts.

The Attorney-General:  With his usual campaign of suggestion. In this book, the writer is dealing with the statement then made that there were only two instances of Single-Chamber Government. Referring to one of the speakers who was dealing with the matter at the time, he says:

“No one has made more reckless reference to Federations than Lord Rosebery and, if we were to imitate him, we could discover not two but 53 `exceptions to the general protest of all civilised communities.' Let us, however, disregard altogether those examples in which Federal Governments have affected the existence of Upper Chambers in the component stages of their union; even so, we find that Single Chambers existed in six States of the German Empire and in 16 of the Swiss Union before Federation was a power. Even after excepting these, Lord Rosebery has still forgotten three unitary States in Europe and four in Latin America which possess Single Chambers. If his facts are so bewildering in their inaccuracy, we shall not find his deductions more happy. If one Latin-American State does duty for five, and if three European States have escaped his observation, it cannot be rash to question his conclusions. His implication is that a State with a Single Chamber is necessarily anarchical but that suggestion is directly contradicted by the instance of Bulgaria which has only one Chamber and which is probably the most stable of the Balkan States.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  What is the date?

The Attorney-General:  I gave the date.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  What is it?

The Attorney-General:  I am not going to be interrupted.

[1296]Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Can you tell me which Lord Rosebery is referred to?

The Attorney-General:  The Deputy might allow me to finish and I shall answer him then. I said the date was 1910.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That wipes it out.

The Attorney-General:  The Deputy does not want to know.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I am very glad to have that information.

The Attorney-General:  The author proceeds:—

“The association of Single Chambers with stability does not end here. The report presented to the Commons in 1907, which describes the Constitution of Norway, begins as follows: `In the Norwegian Parliament there is, strictly speaking, no Upper House,' the so-called Upper House is merely a Committee elected out of the Lower. Yet, in spite of the `general protest of civilised communities,' Norway enjoys an internal peace and stability which any bicameral country might envy.”

Is that correct?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Did you mention Bulgaria as an instance of stable government?

The Attorney-General:  Do not run away from the Norwegian example.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I have it all pat, but it was Bulgaria I wanted to know about.

The Attorney-General:  In a book by Mr. Lee Smith there is a statement to the same effect on page 201.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Date?

The Attorney-General:  This book says:—

“It is a modification not of a Two Chamber system but of a One-Chamber system.”

For the purpose of this debate I have given a sufficiently fair picture to show in what the Constitution of Norway consists. I have quoted two authorities, [1297] and several others could be quoted, on instances of the successful working of Single Chamber Government. When we have statements made, such as we had by the last speaker, who used the phrase “human experience,” and by Deputy O'Sullivan, who used the phrase “world experience,” pointing to the fact that Single Chamber Governments have led to dictatorships, we should get something more by way of proof than we have been favoured with.

As regards the working of the system here, we have had no attempt made to defend the actions of the Seanad in respect of the Bills to which I have referred. We have had no serious attempt made to prove that the disappearance of the House would be any serious loss to the community. It is difficult, having listened to the various speeches, and having heard Deputy MacDermot, in one of the earlier speeches, asking for proof of these wild, unfounded statements—it is difficult, at this stage, to deal with these statements which have not been justified by citation from history or by examples, from the present-day world, of the evils which are said to be about to follow this action. When Deputy McGilligan gets up, I hope he will speak with a greater sense of responsibility than he sometimes manifests in this House.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I hope I shall have more information about Norway than you have.

The Attorney-General:  The fears of the people have been played upon by Deputies opposite. One of the speakers said that you might have a change overnight in respect of currency, which would upset the whole balance of things. Changes have been brought about in currency overnight under Double Chamber systems of government in the recent experience of Europe. Under the much admired Constitution of America most radical experiments are being carried out, to which strong objection is being taken by certain sections of the people. The Seanad has operated, as I said, in the full light of day. It is an institution the workings of which were observable [1298] to every section of the community as clearly as the operations of this House. If all that has been said about the Seanad from the opposite benches be true, it is strange that Deputies have admitted here this afternoon that they are unable to produce in respect of the Seanad, as at present constituted, any evidence of favourable opinion which made itself vocal during the period that this Bill was held up by the Seanad. No case has been made based either on experience of the working of the Seanad or on history for the retention of that Chamber in its present form.

The Opposition were asked to give some idea as to how a Second Chamber should be constituted. They have placed the restoration of the Second Chamber on their programme. They might tell us whether they propose to restore the Second Chamber in exactly the same form as it now exists or whether they have thought out what shape it should take. Apparently, they have done no thinking at all about the matter. They are content to come in here, as they have done in the case of one serious Bill after another, and attempt to raise fears abroad as to the results that will flow from the actions of the present Government. The last speaker travelled a bit wide of the mark and showed that he still lives in the atmosphere of two or three years ago, and thus it carries some weight to say that this Government has committed every sin in the Decalogue and that, in fact, they have acted as dictators, have acted contrary to justice and have behaved as no proper Government should behave. We have the admission from some of the other speakers that certain sections of this opinion were quite satisfied with the way this Administration has done its work, but yet the campaign goes on, in the hope that the people would be frightened and that something would happen. There is no serious thought as to the effect a campaign of that kind might have on the country as a whole. Fortunately, as I say, the country has found them out. This business has lost its force and the Opposition stand even more discredited than they were when we took office.

[1299]Dr. Rowlette: Information on Dr. Robert James Rowlette  Zoom on Dr. Robert James Rowlette  In his opening statement the President of the Executive Council made an appeal to the House which, I think, pleased all of us. He asked that those who took part in the debate should endeavour to be practical and to avoid academic discussions. I could not but think that the Attorney-General was a little ungracious when he criticised those who spoke from the Opposition Benches, mainly on the ground that they had acceded to the President's appeal, and I thought he was a little disrespectful to his Leader in the speech he himself made, it was so extremely academic and unpractical. Early in the President's speech he made a claim, very blandly and persuasively, which requires some consideration. He claimed that there was general agreement that the Seanad, as at present constituted, must go. I think there is some confusion in that assumption, or some assumption in that statement. I think he might have said, quite truly, that there is general agreement that the Seanad might be better constituted than it is at present, that it might be amended or that it might be modified in some ways, both as regards its constitution and its powers. I think that most Deputies and most people outside who have given consideration to the matter will agree that certain amendments or modifications are desirable, but I can find nowhere in the debates in this House any justification for the President's assumption that there is general agreement that the Seanad, as at present constituted, must go. One must recognise that it is one proposition to abolish something, with the vague hope that in the future something else may be substituted, and another proposition to suggest that something in its present form is in some respects unsatisfactory and should be amended or modified, but the President in his statement has represented the latter opinion as being synonymous with the first.

He went on to say that he has a hankering for a Second Chamber and would be willing to have a Seanad, if one reasonably worth setting up could [1300] be constituted. In his further discussion of one or two suggestions which he had considered, or which had been put before him, he made it clear that he was not concerned with what was reasonably worth while, but was looking for some ideal solution, something which could not be touched by any criticism, something which would be above criticism, and he rejected the various suggestions made to him, or occurring to his own mind, because he was able to find some fault in them. He seemed to be seeking perfection in a Second Chamber, but it was pointed out by Deputy Fitzgerald half an hour ago that one cannot look for perfection in human affairs. One does not expect perfection in the Dáil and if one were to sit down to consider in what way some other body might be substituted for this Assembly, or in what way this Asssmbly might be amended or modified, all one would look for would be something which would work reasonably better than the present Dáil. One would not look for perfection, but the President seemed to demand perfection in his criticism of the various suggestions for a Second Chamber.

In a good deal of this discussion there has been an underlying assumption, sometimes explicit, but more often implicit, that in some way a Second Chamber is unrepresentative, and, in particular, that the Second Chamber of which we have had experience in this country has been unrepresentative. In what way does the representative character of the Second Chamber in this country, for example, differ from the representative character of this Assembly? It is true that, at the moment of its election, this Assembly represents in a general way, but only in a general way, the opinion of the country on certain major issues. It is impossible to say how long that representative character lasts. After the lapse of two, three or four years, there is very little evidence that it retains that representative character, even on the major issues on which it gained election, and there is no evidence at all and can be no evidence, except from one's judgment of public opinion, as expressed [1301] in the press and elsewhere, as to whether it remains representative of the opinions of the public of the country on other questions which were not major issues at the election which returned the particular Assembly.

It has been noticed that in future this House will have a less representative character, even at the moment of its election, even immediately after its return, than it had in the past. The Redistribution Act, which became law a year or so ago, takes away from the representative character of the House by taking away very much of the effect of proportional representation, on which the House has up to the present relied mainly for its representative character at the moment of election. In what way is the Second Chamber representative of the people, or in what way is it not representative? Under the former method of election, it was, at the moment of its election, equally representative with this House. It was elected by the vote of the whole country as a single constituency and most of the persons returned were elected—in the only election of the kind we experienced—not on a political issue, but on a judgement of their personal character, and, no doubt, to some extent, on their personal opinions on political matters amongst others. It was thoroughly representative of the people, and I have always regretted that that mode of election was altered, but take even what I think most people agree now is the inferior mode of election to the other House at the moment. It is still representative in character at the moment of election, and every Senator elected in recent years has been representative of the majority of opinion—political opinion, it is true, which has been substituted for judgement on other grounds—of the combined vote of the Seanad and Dáil.

It is true that there is a different tone introduced into the representation by the fact that members of the Seanad have not had to seek re-election as frequently as members of this House, and that their tenure of seats in the Legislature did not depend on a general election. That gave a continuity of representation. It is true [1302] that that representation might be a little out of date, might show a little lag behind a change of opinion in the country, but it did not establish that the House was in any sense nonrepresentative of the country. It did carry this security: that, while it might show a lag when there was a change of opinion, it still expressed in the Chamber the opinion which, at any rate, a little time earlier was strong in the country, and which must still persist even among a minority through the country.

The Attorney-General has referred to some of the functions of a Second Chamber. The first function he referred to was the revision of the legislation passed through the First Chamber. He admitted, as his colleagues have, I think, all admitted from time to time, that the legislation for which they have been responsible in this House has frequently—I think one might say almost always—in many respects been improved by the revision or reconsideration it got in the other House. Members of the Government came back here time after time accepting the amendments or the suggestions made in the other Chamber. The Attorney-General admitted that the legislation passed here had been improved by that revision. But the Attorney-General passed very quickly from that part of the functions of the Second Chamber. The revision of the legislation passed in this House is not an item that should be slurred over. The main function of any Legislature is to make laws. It is surely no light thing that laws passed by the First House are improved by the Second House. Such laws are better than laws passed by a Single Chamber system of government. By the mere fact that fresh minds are brought to bear on the legislation passed in this House and that that legislation is revised, a new atmosphere is created, even though the Second Chamber resembles closely in personnel and in politics the First Chamber. There is always the fact that under these circumstances the legislation passed is more likely to be improved in that fresh milieu than [1303] any laws passed entirely by a Single Chamber such as this House.

The Attorney-General devoted himself and his criticism of the Second Chamber, a criticism of its use either in theory and practice in this country, to the so-called checks on legislation passed here by the other House. It is generally agreed, I think, that there should be nothing in the Constitution to permit the Second Chamber to bar permanently any measure which this House agreed should become law. Such complete vetoes have become obsolete so far as the manner in which they were used by other Chambers in the past is concerned. It surely must be of some use to have a Second Chamber to give the country time to think and so save it from passing legislation which may be very dangerous when it becomes law. It is seldom that legislation is so urgent that it will not bear a few months' delay without damage to the country. It is only in times of war or in times of rebellion or in times of some civil emergency that legislation is so urgent that it must be passed to-morrow or next day. The power of delay, whether it be the delay of a few months or longer, cannot inflict grave damage on the country, while it may confer instead on the people great benefit. The delay of a few months will permit of fresh and fuller consideration being given to the measure by the citizens at large as well as by the First Chamber itself.

The President said he would be willing to accept a Seanad reasonably worth setting up if such could be resonably constituted. I submit that almost any Seanad, elected on a constitution which any reasonable body of men could put forward, is better than no Seanad at all. The revision by a Second Chamber, the groupings of minds, and the possibility of delaying panic legislation which is likely to occur after the first House has just been elected, are things that are for the benefit of the State.

Early in this debate Deputy MacDermot made reference to a Second Chamber with which we are all familiar. The Deputy made a serious indictment, a grave indictment [1304] of the action of the House of Lords in the neighbouring country in the last 100 or 150 years. Even graver attacks could be made on it than were made by Deputy MacDermot. Put it as far as you like, enumerate all the mistakes made by that Chamber and the injuries that that Second Chamber may have caused to the country of the Constitution of which it is part. Add to all that that you cannot imagine any sane man, with or without a knowledge of public affairs, sitting down and framing or devising a constitution, who could devise anything more fantastic a priori than that constitution. But how has it worked? In spite of its mistakes and in spite of its fantastic constitution, the House of Lords is a great asset to the working of the British Legislature. No responsible statesman in Great Britain at the present moment, whatever modifications he would like to see made in the constitution and powers of the House of Lords, would like to see it abolished. That confirms me in the view which I have put forward that any Second Chamber is better than none.

From the Attorney-General we heard at some length a criticism of the Seanad which was quite unnecessary at this stage in the discussion of this measure. That criticism dealt with the action of the Seanad a couple of years ago in rejecting a Bill sent up from the Dáil. One really would have thought that the Government would be glad and would have been thankful to the Seanad for having saved them from the absurdity of having passed that panic legislation. We have had from the President to-day no criticism of the action of the Seanad in the past. I know that the President was not attempting to make a full statement to-day, and I am not suggesting that he could not make a very full criticism if he had the time. But, however, we had no criticism from him of the action of the Seanad in the past. But he showed some fear as to its possible action in the future. He spoke of the Seanad thwarting the people's will. I do not know whether by that he referred to the postponing of legislation for a few months or not. To me that seems a very [1305] mild form of thwarting. But the President expressed a fear that it might be a bar to the freedom of the country. He used the phrase in connection with his promise to introduce to this country in a few months' time an amending Constitution. There are two kinds of freedom of which the citizens of a free country have to think. One is the freedom from external restraint or constraint of any sort. I do not know whether it is in that particular matter that the President fears any possible action of the Seanad in six months' time if it exists. There is another kind of freedom, and it is equally important for the citizens of the country to maintain. That is freedom from internal tyranny. I refer to the individual freedom of the individual citizen. That is a thing that comes home to him in every hour of the day and in every action of his life. That is much more practical and important in most instances than the fear of external restraint, which is in many cases a mere bogey imagined in the mind of the person who fears it or who wishes to make use of it for some purpose or other.

The Attorney-General has made little of the suggestion that there is any danger to the freedom of the citizens of this country in establishing a unicameral system of government. He has suggested, as one naturally in his position would suggest, that citizens in this country need have no fear of any attempt to establish a dictatorship, whether a personal dictatorship or a dictatorship of a Party in this House. The suggestion was that we are all good democrats, wherever we sit in this House. That may be so but, nevertheless, in any constitution it is wise to set a limit to powers which may otherwise become unlimited. With a unicameral system of government in this country under the dominance of one Party there is practically no limit to the power which the group forming the Government may exercise. They can pass any law that they think fit. They may refuse to submit themselves to the judgement of the country, either by re-establishing the Referendum or by submitting to a general election. For that matter, they need never have a [1306] general election. The Party in power may constitute themselves a permanent Parliament, only capable of being altered by a series of by-elections and, in that connection, if the majority think it desirable, such by-election need never be held. The agument of the Attorney-General is that such possibilities are merely fanciful.

I am not suggesting that the present Executive Council have any such plans in front of them; I do not think they have, but there are certain items in their history which would seem to suggest that they are not always governed by democratic opinions or by a desire to submit to democratic judgment. Their history has shown that in some cases they believed that their own individual judgments had a right to stand against the opinions of the majority of the people of the country. There are items in their past history which make one nervous that the time may arrive when similar convictions might again dominate them.

When one considers this question, one is not concerned so much, perhaps, with the persons who constitute the present Executive Council; one must have some regard for the future. In that connection we have no guarantee that people with the same degree of respect for democratic opinion, for democratic control, will take the places on the Government Front Bench of the present occupants. The country has a right to demand, and we have a right to demand tonight, that no steps will be taken which will expose us even to remote danger in relation to our democratic institutions.

The President has asked for suggestions in relation to another Chamber which might be acceptable to him. I do not think he meant that such suggestions could appear in this discussion to-day. I think he was hardly serious in believing that one could, in such a discussion as this, detail with any great advantage proposals for another House. I think he must realise that such a matter could only be satisfactorily discussed around a table where there could be full and free expression of opinion. The suggestion [1307] was made by Deputy Dillon that the President should invite a representative committee of his own choice to assist him in such a task. I believe he would be doing a really statesmanlike act if he would accept that suggestion and tell us, in his closing speech, that he is willing to do it, and so in that way attempt to find a Second House which will satisfy his own view and, to some extent, satisfy the people of the country—another Chamber to take the place of the one he is going to destroy in the course of an hour or two.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  It is now 8.45, and it has been intimated to the Chair that there is an agreement that there will be one Opposition speaker and then the President to conclude. I do not know whether there is general agreement on that. If there is not, the Chair will have to revert to Standing Orders.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  By whom was the agreement made and with whom?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Chair has no information on that matter. It has been conveyed to the Chair that there is agreement to have a speaker from the Principal Opposition, and the President will then be called upon to conclude the debate. The order up to now has been in this fashion: Principal Opposition, Deputy Dillon; Independent, Deputy Anthony; Labour, Deputy Keyes; Principal Opposition, Deputy Fitzgerald; Government, The Attorney-General; Independent, Deputy Rowlette.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I know nothing whatever about this agreement.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  May I be permitted to inform the Chair that, at the request of the Government Whip, it was indicated to us that the President would like an hour in which to deal with the various arguments brought forward. We suggested that if the President required an hour, a speaker from these benches should be given an hour. It was indicated by the Government Whip that such an arrangement would [1308] be acceptable to the Government. I was not aware whether or not Deputy Norton was consulted in this matter. These are the facts as we know them.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I wonder could we get agreement to prolong the debate for an extra half an hour or an hour?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The House can do anything by agreement.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Very well, allow the debate to go on until 11 o'clock.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  There is this point, that the House cannot divide after the hour fixed for the adjournment.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I think we will have to divide on this matter.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  We certainly will.

Mr. T. Kelly: Information on Thomas Kelly  Zoom on Thomas Kelly  Will the back-benchers get any chance at all?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Chair is anxious to give everybody a chance.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That can be done by carrying the debate over.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We have no objection if the debate is carried over to to-morrow. As it is, we have no desire, if the President so wishes, to produce any other speaker but one from our Front Bench—that would be in accordance with the agreement—but if further accommodation could be arrived at, we have abundant speakers who would be quite prepared to speak. At the same time, as we have made the agreement, we are quite prepared to keep it. Of course, if we could amend it, we would be glad to do so. Perhaps this suggestion might meet with approval—if the leader of the Labour Party will speak for half-an-hour Deputy McGilligan will speak for half-an-hour, and that will leave the President three-quarters of an hour.

Mr. T. Kelly: Information on Thomas Kelly  Zoom on Thomas Kelly  It is all very well for you to be handing out the time, but you have no right to do it.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  The most ordinary member of the House has a right to speak on this matter.

[1309]Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Let the debate be continued next week, so.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  You can have a month if you like.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Meanwhile, the time is running out.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  There is a great deal of work to be done between now and the time when the House adjourns for the Summer Recess. Also, the staffs have to be considered. Even with the greatest economy of time so far as I can see, we are not likely to be finished until the end of July.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  We do not kill a second House every day.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  We do not spend two years discussing every subject either. We have had this matter under discussion time after time.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Your back-benchers want to say something about it.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  That is all right, but the back-benchers have to consider this too, that there are staffs who have been overworked and who will have to get holidays some time. Obviously the best time to get holidays is when we have the sun shining. If we are going to postpone until next week something which could be done in the usual course to-day, it will mean putting back other business. I do not know how it happened that the leader of the Labour Party was not consulted.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We and the leader of the Labour Party are in perfect agreement. We are prepared to amend the agreement to which I have referred by giving the leader of the Labour Party half an hour, our speaker half an hour and the President three-quarters of an hour.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I am quite satisfied, but there are others in question. I do not want to limit the time of any member of the House; it is not right to do it, and it can only be done by the consent of the House.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  I would like, to-night, to kill the Seanad, if that were possible, but seeing that there are a few back-benchers who want to say a few [1310] things, I do not know whether it is possible.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  You cannot have both desires at once.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Is there a new agreement?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  There is to be half an hour each for Deputy Norton and Deputy McGilligan, and then the President will conclude the debate.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  An effort was made in the course of the speeches this evening to endeavour to say something in defence of the continuance of the Seanad as at present constituted. Deputy O'Sullivan delivered himself in a plaintive pathetic way because the Seanad was being abolished but, in the course of a pretty long speech, he advanced not one substantial argument for the continuance of the Seanad. If there was any justification for its continuance to be found in Deputy O'Sullivan's speech, the only attempt was the apparently pathetic phrase used by him that once you had a Second Chamber you automaticlly had the best power to safeguard against dictatorship and tyranny, and that kind of misgovernment which a democratic people could have behind them. But as Deputy MacDermot pointed out, and it cannot be emphasised too strongly, Second Chambers in Europe have not been a guarantee for the continuance of democracy in those countries.

Germany had a very strong and substantially constituted Second Chamber. Italy had a Second Chamber, but the existence of these Chambers was not a guarantee of individual liberty, of freedom of thought, of freedom of religious practice, of freedom of the mind and freedom of the Press. The people of these countries to-day, in the tyrannies they are enduring, are all living witnesses that Second Chamber Government as it existed in Germany and Italy, has not saved these countries from the suppression of democracy and from the setting up of tyrannies that disgraced the history of both those countries. Deputy O'Sullivan sought and other speakers sought to justify the continuance of Double [1311] Chamber Government on the ground that in Double Chamber Government you had a possible check upon the Executive Council.

Unicameral government may not be a very regular feature in the constitutions of a number of countries. But we have, at least, in the Scandinavian countries, examples of unicameral government that works well, and that gives stability to those nations. We have examples of unicameral government that have given people relative peace and tranquillity, and that certainly has not interfered with the free exercise of democracies in these countries. Yet, we had the argument from Deputies on the Opposition Benches that the only safeguard for the continuance of democracy in this country, and the world, was the maintenance of Double Chamber government, while many countries in Europe are classical examples of the fact that democracy cannot be safeguarded merely by the establishment of Second Chamber government.

Deputy O'Sullivan told us that an anti-government majority in the Seanad was a good thing. But he took good care not to produce one shred of evidence where an anti-government majority had proved of any advantage on any occasion. We are entitled to expect some justification for a statement of that kind, that the existence in the seanad of political prejudice by an anti-government majority had a good effect, and was to the advantage of the public and the community in general. What are the facts? In what way has this House or the country derived any advantage from the Seanad, as at present constituted, merely because it has an anti-Government majority? Some of us remember the year 1934. Some of us remember that mature members of the Party opposite were then stumping the country, organising a Fascist League of Youth. At that time the Party opposite were dragooning and regimenting people into the League of Youth and into the Fascist league for the purpose, as declared by the leader of that organisation, of making life intolerable to those who refused to [1312] agree to their demands. A situation like that, with its open anarchy, was preached. The social services of the country were threatened with ruin. Efforts were made to dislocate the municipal services of the country. Not only that, but the Party opposite aided and abetted the continued organisation of that anarchy, until an effort was made in this House to put down that kind of regimentation such as existed in Germany with its brown shirts and in Italy with its black shirts.

When a Bill was passed to prohibit the wearing of uniforms and that kind of regimentation, in this House, the anti-Government majority in the Seanad, actuated by blind political passion, threw it out and declined to allow it become law. They refused to allow the Government to obtain powers to deal with what at that time was the biggest menace to independence that the country endured in the lifetime of any of us living to-day.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  How much of that does the Deputy believe?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I believe if the Blueshirt menace was allowed to continue, and if it had not been killed by the egotistical leader who had been appointed to lead it at the time, it would have proved to be a public menace to this country and to the institutions of the country. Nobody knows that better than Deputy MacDermot, because he was compelled to admit, in reply to Deputy Dillon's charge about some fads, that he had to defend, though unsuccessfully, parliamentary institutions within the Fine Gael Party, though he had few friends.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I did not say a few friends. They were defended successfully and not unsuccessfully.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  By the Deputy?

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Yes, and by others.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Let us look at the Seanad's contribution at all events. In face of the menace which threatened social services and undermined municipal government, and made life intolerable for everybody who refused to yield to the Blueshirts' demand, [1313] we had this non-Party Seanad refusing to give the Government powers to deal with a menace of that kind. On that occasion the Seanad showed itself to be a perfectly reckless body, unconcerned as to the effect on government in this country, and unconcerned even with the wrecking of local government, if by any chance its action in doing so would afford aid to the Party opposite to get back again into office. But, happily, the Blueshirt menace passed. The Frankenstein that Deputies Dillon and MacDermot created, that they installed to lead the Blueshirts, simply became uncontrollable. They put the elephant into the parlour and they could not get him out so easily, and, in due course, when the elephant got plenty of room and latitude in the parlour he wrecked the parlour. I do not know whether he was a white elephant, but he certainly was a red herring for the Party opposite. They want now to try to forget that episode, to pretend that they were always democrats.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The relevance of this to the Seanad is not very apparent.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Will somebody take Deputy Dillon to one of those Blueshirt circuses and allow him to amuse himself?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  There is nothing about Blueshirts in this motion.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  What about the Workers' Republic?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is coming.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  What I am saying is obviously very awkward for the Party opposite.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  And not relevant to the motion.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I do not want to challenge your ruling, Sir, but I think I [1314] am entitled to say that a very good reason for the abolition of the Seanad is its utter recklessness in refusing to pass the Bill prohibiting the wearing of uniforms and the regimenting and dragooning of Irish youths, even though some of these were toothless and hairless. Of course, we have another example of the recklessness of the Seanad. The Party opposite will be asking, within the next month, for votes from persons resident in Dublin and telling them that the best thing they can do is to vote for Fine Gael candidates at this election. This House, in pursuance of a definitely democratic trend, particularly during the past four years, passed a Bill designed to enable persons of 21 years of age and over to vote at local elections, to give a wider responsibility to the people, believing that it is with the diffusion of responsibility, and not the restriction of responsibility, that democratic government will be maintained in this country. But the Party opposite voted against that Bill. They did not want to see youth given an opportunity of exercising its voice at the municipal elections in this country.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I thought the Deputy was dealing with the action of the Seanad.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I am going to show that when the elected Assembly passed a Bill desirous of giving youth a voice in the municipal government of the country the Seanad, in its utter recklessness, threw out that Bill passed in the popularly-elected Chamber and, by its action, showed it was acting, not on its own judgment but according to the dictates of the Party opposite. It is plain to everybody that the anti-Government majority in the Seanad was just a tool of the Party opposite, prepared to do what it wanted them to do when Cumann na nGaedheal was in office, and instructed to obstruct in every possible way when an outraged people put Cumann na nGaedheal out of office.

Deputy O'Sullivan told us that the Seanad was a protection to democratic [1315] Parliamentary rights. Of course, the Deputy did not give us the slightest evidence that the Seanad was in any way a protection to democratic Parliamentary rights, as he described them. The Seanad has long ceased to have any pretence to be a defender of democratic rights or Parliamentary government. The Seanad, which passed the Constitution (Amendment) Act, which met on a Saturday and passed it in a few hours, which did not question the action of the Executive of that period, but passed that Act tearing up every fundamental right that the ordinary citizen had under the Constitution, has long since forfeited any claim to exercise any custodianship of democratic or Parliamentary government.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  You are making the Vice-President blush.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  A very difficult thing to do.

Mr. S. Brady: Information on Seán Brady  Zoom on Seán Brady  It is impossible for the Deputy to do it.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The bulk of the speeches delivered in defence of the Seanad have been based on the theory that the Seanad is a check on tyrannical government, in defence of democracy. Let us examine for a few moments what substance there is in a contention of that kind. Suppose the Seanad was not abolished, but was allowed to continue as at present. At the next Seanad election the Government Party would have a majority of votes in the Seanad. So that the Government Party would then have a majority in the Dáil and in the Seanad, and with a Dáil majority and a Seanad majority, presumably they could do the same as if they had no Seanad, and an absolute majority in the Dáil.

That is the position which will arise now if the Seanad is abolished. In any case, it would arise after the next Seanad election, when there would be [1316] a Government majority in the Dáil and a Government majority in the Seanad, with the result that the Seanad would cease to be an impediment in the way of any legislation which the Government might desire to pass. So that if the Seanad were to continue with a Government majority there, and the Government were here with a majority, the Seanad could not, in fact, provide any effective check against legislation passed here, because, obviously, the members of the present Government Party in the Seanad would take instructions from this Government in the same way as the members of the then Government Party in the Seanad took instructions from the last Government. To that extent there will be no effective check whatever against any legislation passed in this House.

When we talk about the continuance of the Seanad, therefore, let us not base our talk in that respect on the entirely erroneous assumption that the Seanad will always be in conflict with the Government elected by and responsible to this House. The Seanad may often be in agreement with the Government elected by this House and, to that extent, the Second Chamber, having regard to the manner in which it is elected, cannot, in fact, apply any effective check on any legislation passed by this House, once you have a Government majority here and a Government majority in the Seanad. All the talk, therefore, about the mere continuance of the Seanad as such does not provide the people, in fact, with any effective check against legislation to which the people might possibly object.

There has been talk of dictatorship— that the abolition of the Seanad means the enthronement of a dictatorship here. From 1922 to 1932 the Party opposite could command a majority here and a majority in the Seanad. They were, therefore, in the position that this House would implement their wishes, and that the Seanad would implement their wishes. Were they acting as dictators from 1922 to 1932? Were they acting in the role of tyrannical dictators during that period? Was [1317] Deputy Cosgrave a dictator from 1922 to 1932? The Party opposite have not admitted that he was. I suggest that, in fact, he was not. I suggest that, in fact, his position was that of a person who had an elected majority in this House and who was entitled by virtue of that fact, whether he had a majority in the Seanad or not, to implement the things for which he received a mandate from the electors. That was precisely the position of Deputy Cosgrave from 1922 to 1932 and that, in my opinion, will be precisely the position of the present President of the Executive Council during the years when his Party commands a majority here and the Seanad has been abolished.

We get another example of the nonsense of this talk of dictatorship by a reference to the position of Britain. There you have a Government commanding a majority in the House of Commons, and a House of Lords that is willing to carry out the instructions of that Government. In Britain, therefore, you have a situation where the Premier is not merely in control of the House of Commons but is, in fact, through his Party machine, in control of the British House of Lords. But nobody has suggested that the British Premier is a dictator. He is a man who commands a Parliamentary majority in the House of Commons. It happens that the House of Lords does, because of their allegiance to his political machine, carry out his instructions there, but let us be clear at all events that he is not a dictator in the sense that we know dictators in other countries in Europe. His position in that respect is no different to the position that the President will occupy, commanding a majority here, and with no non-elected Seanad to hamper the legislation that may be passed through this House. I want to see democracy prevail here. I want to see democracy triumph here, especially having regard to the examples that are to be found in countries where democracy has been suppressed. I want to see this country continue along the road of ordering its national life and its municipal life [1318] on the basis of the widest possible franchise, believing that in that wide diffusion of responsibility there will be found the best safeguards for democratic thought and for the healthy development of the Irish nation.

We see the position in other countries in Europe where democracy has been suppressed, where freedom of thought has been suppressed, and where any efforts to stand up in opposition to the ruling caste are ruthlessly suppressed. We cannot but congratulate ourselves on the fact that because of the maintenance of democracy here we, at all events, have escaped the worst horrors that have visited other countries. I do not see any danger to democracy in this country through the abolition of the Seanad. I cannot by any stretch of imagination see the present Executive Council desiring in any way to appear in the role of dictators. Nothing that they have done during the past four years has given me any grounds for believing that the abolition of the Seanad, so far as they are concerned, is a prelude to the establishment of a dictatorship here. In my opinion, there is only one real danger of the establishment of a dictatorship here, and that danger arises from the Party opposite. We had Deputy O'Higgins in Cork during the last few days trying to persuade a lot of people there that the Corporate State was the most effective system of government that could be established in this country. The Party opposite now appear to have put up the flag of the Corporate State. Whatever the theory of the Corporate State, we all know that in actual practice the attempts to establish the corporate State in Europe have been accompanied by jailings, by suppressions, by batoning, by bludgeoning, by the establishment of concentration camps and the incarceration therein of everybody who stood for democratic thought in those countries.

The real menace to democracy in this country is not the abolition of the Seanad. The real menace to democracy in this country is to be found in the attempts of the Party opposite, aided and abetted by their Blueshirt [1319] Fascists, to endeavour to establish here a Corporate State, which would mean for the people of this country the same kind of tyranny as the same system has meant for the people of other countries in Europe where that State was sought to be established. Deputy O'Sullivan complained to-day that the Seanad was being abolished. Other speakers also complained that the Seanad was being abolished. Deputy McGilligan is going to complain next that the Seanad is being abolished, but I cannot understand the foundation for their complaint. It is not so long ago since a leader of that Party opposite declared that the Parliamentary system in this country was unIrish, and should be abolished. Now you are getting half of it going; you are getting the Seanad going. That is half of your wish gratified, and yet you are not satisfied. A few months ago we were told that the Parliamentary system was so unIrish that it ought to be abolished.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Was that when you were referring to the Workers' Republic?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  No—to Home Rule at no distant date.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We got that, but we will not get the Workers' Republic, please God.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Party opposite ought not to complain about the abolition of the Seanad. After all, has not their past leader said that they were in favour of the abolition of the Parliamentary system here; that it was unIrish; that it ought to go? Now the Seanad is going. What is the complaint? Have you not got 50 per cent. of your wish gratified already, and what is the complaint about? Have you changed your minds since the leader was deposed? Is that the only explanation of the change of attitude? I imagine that if that leader had continued in the Party, and were a member of this House, his only complaint [1320] would probably be that both Houses were not going. In any case you are getting 50 per cent. of your wish gratified now. While I could understand a complaint that your entire wish was not gratified, I cannot understand a complaint that you are dissatisfied because somebody attempts to do 50 per cent. of what you wanted done.

The whole argument on this Bill is based upon the belief that the Seanad is a check. I do not think the Seanad is a check. I think it has shown itself to be incapable of applying any effective check, and I believe that those who pin their faith to the Seanad as an effective check will find that institution just the cemetery of their hopes. The Seanad has been no check; the continuance of the Seanad will be no check. If in this country, in the near future or in the remote future, we should witness a situation where the Executive Council would be guilty of any tyrannical conduct, it is not the Seanad that will stand in its way. It is not the present Seanad that will stand in its way; it is not the next Seanad that will be elected that will stand in its way. Tyrannical conduct in this country, reprehensible and objectionable legislation in this country, will only be combated by lively democratic opinion in the country, and that, in my view, is much more valuable for the maintenance of ordered conditions in this country than the mere creation of a Seanad, an ornament which in the past 14 years has not shown itself to be the check which the Party opposite now claim it to be.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I might remind the Deputy that the half hour is up.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Yes, Sir. I would only make this observation in conclusion, that I think it is not necessary either to continue the present Seanad or to re-establish a Seanad somewhat comparable to it. I would hope instead that the Executive Council would see its way to re-introduce the referendum which was abolished by the Party opposite. In that way they would [1321] give the people a much more effective check over legislation, particularly objectionable legislation, than the people could ever get through the medium of continuing the present Seanad.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It is an interesting commentary on the whole political life in Ireland that at the end of a debate like this Deputy Norton, who commands the vast array of Labour forces in this House, should talk for so long about dragooning—a man whose life, I suppose, has been spent successfully dragooning labour men with regard to economic matters. When he talks about fears and terrors, particularly about fears and terrors of dictatorships arising from this side, I begin to wonder if the Deputy had not better take the advice of some of the more modern medical people, and find out what bogey scared him in his early life and has cast a shadow over his mature years, making him see and conjure up these terrors everywhere, even in the broadest of daylight. There is one thing, at any rate, that we may say about the Deputy before leaving him, and that is that there is not much fear of a dictatorship from him, and that is arising from this: not because there is a Seanad to prevent his becoming a dictator, but because the ordinary working-class people in this country have found the Deputy out long ago, and have given him, I suppose, the smallest corporal's squad that ever walked, and one which could be of no influence in this Parliament, judged on its merits, and which can only do a certain amount of harm in the country because it has a certain grip on the present Government, just because it is a makeshift.

I thought that some of the Deputies opposite would have given us a new approach on this matter to-night because, up to this, there have been only two types of argument: one the blunt, vulgar and audacious type, typified by Deputy Corry, who told us bluntly on the last occasion that because some judge remanded him years ago for eight days—instead of sentencing him [1322] outright—he wants to have control of the judges and to be able to tear them down from their position. That was also put in, perhaps, a less vulgar way, but in quite as blunt fashion, by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who said: “We have got the majority in this country and we have got to be allowed to do what we please.” And that is supposed to be a theory of government and, I dare say, government is supposed to be run on that theory and the whole wisdom and experience of the world are to be thrown into the scales and yet make no weight against that point of view —the point of view that just because a Party for a particular time has got a majority—even a bare majority in this House—even a majority aided by those weaklings—they should be enabled to tear down the judiciary and to wreak whatever vengeance they like on any Article of the Constitution.

That was one argument. Of course, that is not suitable to put before the people of the country, and so we got this argument, dressed up with a false show of learning, and the President, if I may say so, puts on the Vice-Chancellor's robes for the occasion and talks as if he had read or studied something about Constitutions and Second Chambers. “Adams,” he said before “was no mean political thinker. He was in favour of the Single Chamber.” He said that Adams was no mean political thinker and that he stood for a Single Chamber. He did not. He was against it. He was for the Double Chamber system of Government, and there was no authority quoted by the President which was not, in fact, an authority against himself, when understood. In any event, we have that argument divided into two. First, it was paraded here as if the argument from history was positively on the side of those who wanted to destroy the Seanad here, and we had an appeal to two magnificent characters—I suppose the first people who are noted in history as being blatantly and peculiarly anti-God, the unfrocked priest, the Abbé Sieyés, and Condorcet. We had the phrases of [1323] these gentlemen quoted by a man whose boast it is that he is trying to establish Christian democracy in this country, and even their own history denies these men any title to fame for any particular remarks of theirs that were quoted by the President.

Now that argument is more or less on the defence, and it is put up to us that we should justify Second Chambers, and we are told that we have no argument to justify the existence of Second Chambers. Why, the whole world is the argument. Is it to be thought that there is no sense in mankind in all its political communities as they exist? We were told before by the President that where Second Chambers exist they exist because of some historical reason, or else that they continue from sheer inertia. The President quoted from what he called a modern thinker —Earl Grey—and the quotation was from a book of 1853. The Attorney-General, also presuming to be modern, I suppose, quoted from a book by Harold Temperley, dated 1910, which refers to Bulgaria as the stable Government of the Balkans. We were told about Norway and about Bulgaria, and about what the Abbé Sieyés said long ago, and what Temperley said in 1910. Those who are voting for the policy of the Second Chamber here realise that since 1918 there has been a great movement all over the world. One can quite easily count the number of countries that have decided to continue with only Single Chamber government. I was asked to-night to consider the case of Norway. The Attorney-General believed that he had quoted correctly from a book about Norway when he said it was an example of Single Chamber Government. Why not tell us the system there? You had one Chamber there, and then, by a sort of skimming off process, a certain number were taken to represent a Second Chamber, but the machinery does not end there. The President said that when there was any sort of disagreement in Norway it was resolved in three days by bringing the two Houses together as one, and that then the thing in question was passed, and he asked why not do the same here. Why [1324] not have truth and accuracy about this? Let us suppose that what we may call the extra portion of the Parliament in Norway disagrees over a certain matter. What happens? It goes back, and then it is sent again to the second group, and then it goes back again to the first group, and it is only after that has been gone through that the two Houses are brought together, and even when they are brought together it will not be passed unless there is a two-thirds majority, and if it is an amendment of the constitution it is not passed even then. There has to be a general election on the question and then it has to be sent forward again and a two-thirds majority secured within two months of the election. Yet we are told that that is an example of Single Chamber Government. I should have thought that the Attorney-General, who parades himself as a University man and the head of the legal profession here, when he was going to found his argument on historical example, might just as well have chosen a good one and have told this House frankly what it amounted to.

On a previous occasion we were told about Finland. I suppose one need not mention Spain, because it is an example of what may happen with a Single Chamber Government. In Finland the President is elected at a different time from the ordinary Parliament and operates in a different way. Then we were told about what was called one of the new countries— the countries which have deliberately done away with Second Chamber Government. These were the Baltic States. It was a good example at that time because, although the three countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Esthonia, had formed themselves on one basis, they had departed from it and, luckily, we have the example of what circumstances can do. One of those countries is politically in a mess. One of those countries tried to carry on with a dictatorship. One of those countries, previous to becoming a pure dictatorship, tried to operate with a Premier passing himself off as a political party. That is one of the countries. The second has since determined to go back to Second Chamber Government, and [1325] the third is not content with Double Chamber Government, but has now five Chambers. These were three of the examples chosen by the Government when they set out to destroy the Seanad here. We are next asked by Deputy Norton and other Deputies to consider the arguments applicable to our own Seanad. What has the Seanad done? To-night I gather that the Minister for Education was tactless enough to refer to the Constitution (Amendment) Act. With the speech ringing in his ears made yesterday by the son of the murdered Lord Mayor of Cork, who was brought before that ghastly assembly, the Military Tribunal, I thought the Minister for Education would have conscience and shame enough not to refer to that particular body.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Not the slightest. I did not refer to that particular body.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Only to the Constitution (Amendment) Act, which brought that body into existence. I want the Minister to think of the event. Supposing the son of the murdered Lord Mayor had been paraded before the Military Tribunal when he was in opposition, does he not think that he would be overwhelmed by the turgid oratory of his colleague sitting beside him? Demosthenes would be raked for phrases——

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  What about the Seanad?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The great crime was the passing of the Constitution (Amendment) Act——

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  On a Saturday evening —in two hours.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  One of the great complaints that might with justice be urged against the Seanad would be, if that measure were not law, and they had not met last Saturday to make it law for you, and so to enable you to bring before it the son of the murdered Lord Mayor. You would have to make your case, as we had to make [1326] ours, and produce police reports as we had to produce them, if the Hierarchy had taken the step of banning as a sinful organisation the particular group we set out to crush, and succeeded in crushing, in the short space of four months. The crime of the Seanad is that it passed that piece of legislation. But it is no crime for the present Government to use it, and there is no shame in the present Government asking the populace of this country to dissolve the Seanad because it gave them for improper use a piece of machinery that was very useful indeed. I remember when the President used to say that it was sheer British propaganda which made anyone in this country think that the folk in it were so vicious that they could not be governed by the ordinary methods of law. His Government was not two years in office when he confessed that if he had the drawing up of the Constitution he would include, as a permanent part of it, something corresponding to the Military Tribunal. Deputy Norton supported the Government which said that. As he was reminded to-night, the tom-toms were beating vigorously calling meetings of a particular side when that measure was before this House.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Did the Deputy say that I voted for it?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Not at all. But the Deputy now supports the Government that operates it. The second crime of the Seanad was that it refused to pass the Blueshirt Bill. The Attorney-General to-night thinks that the wisdom of the Government has been shown, as the country has turned against the Blueshirts. I wonder did the Attorney-General ever consider why the Blueshirts came into existence, whether there was a possibility of freedom of speech being lost for ever, whether there is freedom of speech now, or whether it was Government activity brought it about. If the Blueshirts are not so vigorous as once they were, there is not the same occasion for their vigour, and there is not the same need for people to look [1327] to them instead of looking to the forces of the State. In fact, the only people who complained recently with regard to freedom of speech are the Communists, to whom the Government gave the right to speak openly in the streets, and then would not give them adequate protection. These are the two crimes of the Seanad. From that we slip to the general argument: What is the use of a Seanad, anyhow? Deputy Norton has torn that argument to shreds. Think of the countries where there are dictatorships, where there are Second Chambers. Did they prevent dictatorships? If not, what is the use of a Second Chamber? Might I put that a step further? Was there an attempt to uphold the independence of the judiciary on the Continent? Has it disappeared in the general mess? Why should we have any laws designed to put the judges in an independent position? Is there any liberty of speech or conscience in Germany? Because a murderer occasionally gets away with it you do not seek to dismiss judges or destroy the administration of justice. A great thing about a Second Chamber is that it forces your tyrant into the open. He has the will to do a thing, but it forces him into the open. It does not allow a dictatorship to be set up by constitutional methods. As long as a Second Chamber lasts, so long will the people be given an opportunity for seeing what is coming and to prepare themselves for the onset of the dictator when he comes in full panoply. No one says that a Second Chamber or any constitutional machinery can prevent the neurotic, who has decided he is going to have power, getting power if he has the military backing. No one thinks that any machinery will prevent that man from getting power, and because that is the situation we are asked to scrap the machinery, to say that it is no good in normal circumstances, and to say that it is no good to prevent the normal becoming abnormal. Deputy Norton has decided that Second Chambers are no good. Will he not be met with the same argument about the judges, freedom of speech, freedom of association [1328] and public meetings? Will that be met by the same argument, and will it be said that they are useless and may be swept away with the remnant of democracy that vote for him?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  More than voted for you.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Is that about me personally or about the Party?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Both.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  We have more than the mere “We are seven.” If there is to be any argument, history is entirely in favour of a Second Chamber. We are told that it is fanciful to make objections such as I have recited; that it is mere imagination to think that this Government or any other Government wanted to do away with the judges, wanted to do away with the freedom of speech, or freedom of association in public meeting. Get back about six years. Think of the tirades against the Government, against the first sin of the Seanad on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill. Think of all the laughter there would be if anyone suggested then that this Government, which was then the Opposition, might want to have an instrument of that type in their hands. That would be the expression of a lunatic. It is an actual fact at the moment. Recall when the Government came into office. What was the first activity? An obvious and most ordinary pedestrian type of layman who was Minister for Justice, with the Attorney-General scampering along in his trail, was dragged by the bellicose Minister for Defence to Arbour Hill to release all the unfortunate heroes there lodged as criminals, and they were given bacon and eggs, and with public meetings, bands and banners, they were sent to their homes. Not so many weeks ago the bands were after these young men again, but they were making their appearance before the Military Tribunal, and presumably they will get bacon and eggs, but this time it will be in jail instead of outside. If anyone gets back to that [1329] period, and gets his mind attuned to the circumstances of the period, he will realise that we have moved very far indeed in the short space of four years, when things that were then condemned are now blessed. The Minister for Education has even failed so far in tact that he can refer to this in ordinary circumstances here and still refer to what happened as the Seanad's sin.

Liberty of speech is a very precious thing. The independence of the judges is a still more precious thing. If you have not an independent judiciary, all the laws that are in existence in regard to freedom of speech, freedom of political association or any other association, are so much waste paper. If you have a judiciary that can be cowed and coerced, a judiciary who can be swayed because they can be dismissed, because their salaries and emoluments can be lowered, because they can be degraded in a variety of ways, the laws they have to operate are worthless. At the moment the situation is that a bare majority of one in this House can, by that majority of one pass legislation to dismiss any or all of the judges. We have a fatuous resolution about a four-sevenths majority, but the piece of legislation in which that is enshrined can be repealed by the vote of a majority of one in this House. The moment that happens, that very same group can dismiss every judge we have with its majority of one. What is the good of having a bench of judges which is completely at the mercy of the Executive? What is the good of having in the Constitution a series of phrases about freedom of public meeting, freedom of association and the variety of fundamental matters that are so prized all over the world? What is the good of having these, if the judicial bench that is going to interpret them, is at the mercy of a Party that would have as its majority of one, a man like Deputy Corry, who wants his revenge on the judges?

Of course, speaking in this House it is possible to say: “There is no attempt being made on the judges; there is no intention of making an [1330] attempt on freedom of speech.” This can seem a bogey. There were other matters that seemed to be a bogey at one time. How many of the Government's ex-friends, whom they are now jailing, would have thought it possible that they would have used the particular instrument against which they tiraded so vehemently at one time? Yet it is now in full and active operation. It is being used more than ever before. It is being used without any conscience. It is being used against people who can say that they were taught whatever is now thought to be a crime by the people who now form the Government. If shame does not prevent that sort of thing being done, will conscience or honesty prevent the doing of anything else? What use is one Chamber against that? The Attorney-General to-night said that there is no virtue in delay. I say that there is a great deal of virtue in delay alone. The Attorney-General further says that there is no virtue in having a Second House which is constituted by the same groups as we have in this House. Even if they were to be elected at the same election, if they were chosen along the same Party affiliations as this House, the very fact that they are working in another atmosphere, the very fact that they are given a different tenure of occupation of their seats, the very fact that they are in a measure removed from the controversies which agitate this House—all these things, small as they may seem, are at any rate things that have commended themselves to almost every country in the world.

Why should it be said that the onus is on us to prove the value of Second Chambers? The wisdom of the world is for them. The wisdom of the world failed with regard to them from time to time but, after sad experience, it came back to them. If the President will survey Europe or any part of the world, and show us a first-class country which has not some check upon the arbitrary control of a Party majority in a Single House, then he has some argument. He made the attempt before, He made the attempt by relying on a concrete instance. He made the attempt by quotations from political writers and his quotations from [1331] political writers were exposed, and exposed to such an extent that the President was so much shamed in the matter, unlike the Minister for Education, that he refrained from going to that House wherein he was exposed after the exposure took place. The parade of authority was no good. The dress of learning was too easily plucked aside. The ostentation of the scholar was shown up, and it only required for this showing-up an accurate quotation from the man on whom the President leaned for his statement: “Adams was no mean political thinker. He was for a Single Chamber.” There is not a single word of his that can be used in extenuation of the President's desire for a Single Chamber.

The other argument the President put up was that a Seanad with a small power of delay is of no value, and that the power of delay which the present Government had given them was that which was recommended by the Constitution-makers. Again the President was exposed on that by the Chairman of the Seanad and one other Senator. That was not a fact. The draft put forward by the Constitution-makers left the Seanad in an overwhelming position. It left the Dáil 90 days in which to agree and if not the Bill fell. The President misconstrued that in order to get an argument from the immediate history of the country against the power of delay. He ranged through the world and over many political thinkers, and in the end he was forced back on the unfrocked priest and the anti-God representative. On these two men he sought to found his argument, but even they were falsified by their own history. We see this argument put forward in entire disregard of every lesson of history or contemporary experience. It amounts to a gamble with national interests and it is indulged in purely and entirely for the sake of Party politics.

Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  The same as you did in 1923.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Order.

[1332]Mr. Donnelly: Information on Eamonn Donnelly  Zoom on Eamonn Donnelly  You tried it in 1923.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The judges were there and the judges upheld it. There was no power in the House to wipe out the judges, but there will be after this. That is a good example. The Seanad was there and the judges were there. There was a delaying power in the Seanad and the judges could not be wiped out except in accordance with the Constitution, but for the future they can. Deputy Donnelly thinks that a habeas corpus order would provide a remedy. Habeas corpus, as a bulwark between the individual and the Executive, need no longer exist. I have said this is indulged in purely for Party politics. Deputy Corry wants, although he has been excluded from the latter stages of this debate— and the mentality of Deputy Corry is the mentality that pervades the back benches generally on the opposite side —to be revenged on the judges. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said much the same thing: “We have got power and we are going to use it and nobody will prevent us from using it.” Yet the belief persists with Deputy Norton that this is the purest essence of freedom, the purest essence of democratic principles. There are people who will not learn from history that it is necessary to protect themselves against themselves. They neglect the lessons of history simply because they want their revenge over this business of the Uniforms Bill. The Minister for Education need not attempt to say that the sin of the Seanad was that it passed the Act which set up the Military Tribunal, because the Minister for Education would not be the Minister for Education much longer if the tribunal was not there. That was not the Seanad's sin. Their sin was their failure to pass the Uniforms Bill.

The Attorney-General thinks that the Government has been justified and that the people have now more or less dismissed the Blueshirts. The Blueshirts came to the aid of the Government and helped to get freedom of speech and liberty of meeting when [1333] these were being endangered by the supineness of the Government. They certainly can rest well content that they did their work, and if the Seanad prevented them being blotted out at a time when their work was still to be done, posterity in any event will look on them with a calmer eye than some Deputies here and will applaud them and not condemn them for their action in the matter.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  The last speaker has accused me of attempting a parade of scholarship on one occasion. I am wondering whether I would be correct in saying that the Deputy has exhibited an astounding parade of ignorance. On a previous occasion I did not think it worth while, when concluding, to justify the statements that I had made in the Dáil on that occasion. The suggestion is that what I had said was “torn to shreds” in the Seanad. I think that subsequent events have proved that some of the ex cathedra statements of the chairman of that body have been proved to be absolutely absurd, and that a number of the other statements that were made in that debate was equally absurd. The Deputy who has just sat down referred to the fact that I said that Adams was “no mean political thinker,” that Franklin was “no mean political thinker,” and that these men were in favour of a Single Chamber. I repeat that statement. I will admit that, as there are two famous Adams, it would have been better had I mentioned Sam Adams at the time. But, of course, Deputy Dillon did not even read the whole of Senator O'Hanlon's speech, and he suggested this evening that if Sam Adams existed at all he was a nonentity, and that to quote him in a debate like this was simply deceiving the people by suggesting that the Adams that would immediately occur to anybody was the only Adams that could be mentioned in that regard.

That is not true. I will admit that Sam Adams was not quite as famous as John Adams, but he was Chairman of the Senate of Massachusetts. He was one of the Committee of Three [1334] which was appointed to draw up a constitution for that State. John Adams, his cousin, had a very high opinion of him, and he was at least important enough to have a “Life” written of him. In speaking of him, the author of that “Life” said that “Samuel Adams gave a tone to the politics of America for many years.” It is true that in the committee's report there was a recommendation for three branches: a governor, a Senate, and a Primary House. John Adams, writing of that at the time in his memoirs, said that his constituents in Boston compelled him to vote for three branches. John Adams, who was the chairman, said that Samuel Adams concurred because of the fact that his constituents wished it. Now, I say that if I mention a man like that as “no mean political thinker” those who make a study of it will naturally think of such a man, and in referring to him I did not want to make any parade of scholarship. I have been so busy during many years of my life that I have not had time to devote myself to purely academic pursuits, but I do say that I have for 20 years at least been interested, one way or another, in this question, not from an academic point of view but from the practical point of view, thinking out whether for this country a Two Chamber Legislature would be useful and, if so, what type the Second Chamber should be.

Again, Franklin was a good political thinker. He had a good deal of experience. He was entrusted at that time with important missions. He was a man of the world—not a mere theorist—and he was in favour of a Single Chamber. It is said, of course, that the Legislature of Pennsylvania did not last very long, but I question whether the Single Chamber in the State of Pennsylvania was changed because it was a Single Chamber Legislature. So far as I have been able to see it, there were, I think, other defects more fundamental even than that, and that it was because of these and the fact that the Constitution of the United States, on account of its federal [1335] character, being a Two Chamber system, that Pennsylvania, after some 14 years or so, adopted the Two Chamber system.

I have not denied at any time that a very good argument can be put forward for a Second Chamber wherever there is a Federal Constitution. A very obvious purpose can be served by such a Constitution by trying to get States unequal in numbers and influence to agree to be governed as a single entity.

We also had Deputy McGilligan calling the Attorney-General to task for suggesting that the Norwegian legislature is, in fact, a Single Chamber. Well, the people of Norway and Norwegian writers are, I think, more likely to form a proper estimate on that point than are we here, because we may be inclined to turn to one side or the other for debating purposes. Professor Aschehoug in his work on the Constitution of Norway —I am quoting from Lees-Smith— (Second Chambers in Theory and Practice, pp.201-202)—gives his opinion:

“That from the hands of the electors the Storthing issues as a Single Chamber. The fact that it is divided by itself into the Odelsthing and the Lagthing cannot create any great antagonism. Generally, the fundamental political opinion entertained by the majority of the Storthing will have the mastery in each of the sections.”

I do not want to spend time quoting from other Norwegian writers, but, obviously, if they are elected at the same time, if the electors do not distinguish between the members who are up for election, if they wait until they come into their first meeting and then divide themselves into two parts that is essentially a Single Chamber. We here to-morrow could divide ourselves similarly into two sections for the partition of the work, and could come to an agreement to follow the Norwegian model and provide in that way for the revision, and so on, that [1336] is said to be necessary for legislation. But that is not what those who are pleading for a Second Chamber here have in mind at all.

We all know that, in fact, this idea of a Second Chamber is most popular where there is a fear not of interference with the people's rights by the Parliament but a fear of the people themselves. It was a fear of democracy in the broad sense, a fear of the people, that was, in the past, the main inspiration for this idea of a Second Chamber, where it was inspiration and where it was not merely a question of following out tradition, as in the case of England, or following out, more or less, an imposed system, as was the case in some of the British Colonies.

Let us be clear on this matter. I thought I could have said here to-night: “`There is one thing on which we are all agreed and that is that the sovereign power lies with the people—ultimately, at any rate.” When I was listening to Deputy Fitzgerald, I began to realise that there was quite a different mentality in this House, that there were members who would hold that the people had the right to exercise their power only in so far as that right was given to them by this Constitution as if the authority —I think the Deputy even used the word “authority”—which the people had in this regard was derived from, and given to them by, this Constitution. That may be the historical fact in certain States but we, I thought, had discounted that. No matter what side we took in this matter or in other matters, I thought we were agreed upon one thing—that the people of this State are sovereign and that their will, in the last resort, must win. That is no new doctrine. Those who have suggested to-night that there is some departure from that doctrine speak far removed from the whole of the circumstances and events and from the arguments. The funny thing is that those people who speak about that, as they speak vaguely of the experiences of the world, appear to hold, as Deputy [1337] Fitzgerald did very definitely to-night, not merely that the people had power delegated to them only by this Constitution but that there were very fundamental restrictions—more fundamental than could be imposed by Constitutions—as to what the people could or could not do.

As regards the last matter, we know that there are immoral things which it is not right for the people to do, that there are certain rights possessed by individuals the removal of which would not be proper or binding in the moral sense.

I would suggest that that is a very dangerous doctrine. I would suggest that, if there is any talk of fundamentals like those, we should clearly realise in what domain they lie, so that they may not be used by everybody who wishes to justify resistance of any kind by the suggestion that the State or the Parliament is not entitled to pass such and such a law. These are very dangerous matters, and I simply repeat that our attitude, as proved by public document after public document, has never at any time been a denial that, ultimately, the sovereign authority in this country lay with the people.

As I said, I thought we could start on that basis here to-night, and that the arguments proper to people who fear democracy would not be advanced here, that if we were to find reasons for the existence of a Second Chamber these reasons would be sought, not on the basis that the people themselves have to be checked, but that the representatives of the people have to be limited in their power. I am quite prepared to accept that proposition. I am quite prepared to say that it is possible that elected representatives will abuse their power, and, during their period of office, so far depart from the will of the people who elected them as to misrepresent the people at a particular stage. Our problem is as to how we can remedy that. How can we see that government will go on during the period between elections so that at no time will it be possible for the representatives of the people to impose upon [1338] them something which the people object to as being to their detriment? That, in my opinion, is the problem which has to be solved. I have sought for solutions of that problem. Dealing with problems of that kind, you have always the difficulty of finding who will “guard the guardians.” The only way out I can see would be direct reference to the people. How are you to get that when necessary, and only when necessary, and how are you to see that direct reference to the people will not be abused for political purposes? How are you to get some body which will decide that the representatives of the people, elected three or four years ago, have, during their period of office, ceased in a particular instance to represent the people's will, and have sought to impose upon the people something which, in fact, the people do not want?

If that difficulty could be met, then, so far as I am concerned, the problem would be solved—if I could find just this body which could be depended upon not to abuse the power of reference to the people, but use it only in the way in which it ought to be used: not to use it simply in the sense in which the Opposition attitude was stated, that “it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose.” Would the body that we would set up to guard the guardians have judgement so good and be so completely and absolutely free from Party instincts and Party desires as not to hamper the Government and not use the device of reference to the people tactically for the sole purpose of hampering the Government? I am quite willing to admit that I see a solution easily enough in regard to constitutional amendments, but I do not see a remedy in the case of measures of a different character.

In 1928, when the question of certain changes in the Seanad was being discussed, I supported the referendum. At the same time I saw the difficulties of the referendum. Remember, these new guardians of the people's rights were the people who prevented reference to the people at that time. [1339] This Seanad, which is supposed to be a protector of the people's interests, concurred. At that time, when we believed we represented the people's will in wishing the abolition of the Oath, they actually changed the Constitution, when the petition was lodged, to prevent the people's will being determined on that issue. When we sent up the Oath Bill, the same Seanad refused to pass it. They refused to pass it even after the will of the electorate had been determined. Are we to have a body of that sort in a position in which it can compel a Government to have a referendum every day or else have its measures held up? I say that that could not be tolerated. That body is being got rid of mainly because that was its attitude. Its whole attitude was one of registering on all the larger measures the will of the previous majority, even when that majority had become a minority in this House.

I have been accused of basing my political philosophy upon Sieyes, or, rather, with quoting Sieyès, as if I were speaking of his own person and asking you to take it because he was this or that. I did nothing of the kind. I quoted a phrase which has become historical and which is found in practically every book you take up dealing with the difficulties of forming a satisfactory Second Chamber. That dilemma which he propounded is there. It is there if you approach the question logically, at any rate, and, as in human life very often absolute logic is not the best guide in practice, so here in a case like this you are not looking for perfection. I did not suggest in my speech at any time that we were looking for absolute perfection. Deputy Rowlette has quoted, I think correctly, what I said. I said that if a suggestion for a Second House which was reasonably worth while setting up were submitted, I would consider it. That is not looking for perfection; it is looking for something which is worth while. His idea of what is worth while and mine do not correspond. For instance, his view is that any Second Chamber is [1340] better than none. I do not share that view. I think that if you are going to put any body into a responsible position as part of the Legislature, that body ought to function in the general interests of the State. It ought to command respect, and it ought to be looked to by the people as something which is worth while, and I think that if you have any form taken at random you are not going to have that. The existing Seanad is an example.

I do not like referring to these purely personal things as we have more important things to talk about, but it has been suggested again that in regard to the Seanad there was some question of pique. There was no question of pique when the election manifesto was written, and the time at which we chose to do it was chosen, as I said, because it was essential that the people should recognise that there was a Government which had the power to maintain order and keep the peace, and that it was not going to be prevented from using that power by political tactics such as were, in my opinion, at any rate, being adopted by the other Chamber.

Now, the important thing is what is the future to be? I believe that this whole question will be approached much more calmly and with much greater profit the moment the existing Seanad is gone. I have indicated that we propose in the autumn to bring in a Constitution. I have been asked very properly whether it was our intention to pass this new Constitution and to act upon it without reference to the people. I do not think we would be justified in doing that. I think the time has come when we can crystallise that part of the Constitution which relates to our internal affairs into something like a form that can hope to be permanent, and, in doing that, I certainly want the co-operation of all Parties and all individuals in this House. I think that if we can get that, we shall have arrived at a time when amendments of the Constitution like the 24 amendments or whatever the number is which we have at present— 17 of them by our predecessors—will not be necessary.

[1341] I think we can now, with the experience we have before us and the position we have arrived at, so far as the internal machinery of this State is concerned, crystallise the position into something which will have a chance of permanence. I do not believe in cast-iron constitutions, and I have said so many a time. There must be some way by which the Constitution will develop in accordance with the people's needs and the people's ideas, and it is necessary that there should be in any new Constitution some such provision. I believe that provision can be made, either by way of referendum, or, in certain circumstances, by way of a further constituent Assembly, but I think the time has come when we ought not change our Constitution simply by an Act of the Legislature. As I view it, the Constitution indicates the limits within which the people's representatives can legislate and can carry on government. It indicates that there are rules within which all parties going up for election are bound to work, and, consequently, I think that when the people have decided upon these rules, these rules should be changed by nobody but the people themselves, or at least with the consent of the people themselves.

Can we during the remaining period forget Party tactics and Party considerations and can we work together, so that, whatever our combined experience and wisdom may be, it will give us that type of Constitution which I have indicated, a Constitution which will accord in so far as it is put in written form with the aspirations and wishes of our people generally, a Constitution which will for that reason get respect from all the citizens, a Constitution within which all Parties will be content to work and a Constitution which would only be changed by express reference to the people themselves? That is what I hope we will do, and, as a practical suggestion, it has been put forward that we should take this opportunity to consult with some commission or committee which might advise and give its views on this matter, on the understanding that when these views were communicated [1342] to the Executive Council, the Executive Council could determine its own policy, as it could after any commission's report, and take responsibility for that policy before the Dáil and ultimately before the people. I hope it will be possible to get agreement amongst the members of the Executive Council on such a course. I believe it will. I am glad that the suggestion has come from the Opposition rather than from the Government Benches, for the reason that if I had made such a proposition, I should probably have been met with the accusation that I wanted somehow to shirk a responsibility which is primarily a responsibility of the Government. In following such a suggestion, in my opinion, at any rate, I or the Government would not be shirking any responsibility because ultimately the Government would have to choose its own course.

I think the time has come when it would be in the general interest to associate all Parties in working out our fundamental law. I hope, then, that it will be possible to meet that suggestion by coming here to the Dáil with a proposal. I did not accept the suggestion of the Seanad because I considered it would be inadvisable to have members from that House, in the present circumstances, involved in any such proposal. What I mean is members selected by that House. I considered that it would be inadvisable to involve that House or to get that House, as such, involved in any proposal. There are individuals in that House who would deserve to be considered for any committee such as that which was proposed during the debate. All I promise at this Stage is that I will consult my colleagues in the Executive Council on that proposal. I want to say that I am glad it has come from the Benches opposite. I hope we will get responsible members—at least that the members who will be asked to serve will serve on this committee.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Will this committee's labours be confined to the question of the Second Chamber or does the President mean the whole subject of the Constitution?

[1343]The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I think the more restricted the terms of reference are the better. On this particular matter I would not say there is any Party view. I think, so far as our Party is concerned, if they were canvassed individually, we would find they would differ in their views as to whether a Second Chamber is necessary at all, or as to its character, its constitution and powers. I have strong views myself as regards its powers. As regards its constitution, I have always tried to find some solution—to get some body that would be worth while, as I have said in the beginning. I think it would be advisable that any committee that would be set up would be restricted to what the constitution of the Second Chamber should be, but I do not think we should restrict them in discussing its powers too, because these powers and the constitution would be complementary.

I do not know whether we will get agreement or a decision on that matter, but I assure everybody, both here and those outside who may read the report of this debate, that the one desire of the Government is to get for our State a Constitution which will deserve respect and that will get respect. We want the help of everybody who has views on the matter. We want their views in definite form, in the form of recommendations from a committee if the Government decide to take the view that at the moment I take in the matter of deciding to establish such a committee.

Now, as to all these dangers that have been suggested, my belief is that the existing system would not save you from any of these dangers. It has already been pointed out that in the principal States in Europe you have dictatorships where formerly you had Double Chamber Legislatures, and that there is nothing in the way of fundamental dogma about a Second Chamber in representative government. In fact, generally I would say that in so far as a good Second Chamber can be found, the extent to which it will act at the moment will be unrepresentative in one sense, because in many instances, if it is going to [1344] function, it may oppose those best entitled to be called representatives of the people, and its reference back should be a reference back to the original basis of authority.

I would like to quote for the House two passages—one from Mill and the other from Marriott. Mill said:

“Of all topics relating to the theory of representative government, none has been the subject of more discussion, especially on the Continent, than what is known as the question of the Two Chambers. It has occupied a greater amount of the attention of thinkers than many questions of ten times its importance and has been regarded as a sort of touchstone which distinguishes the partisans of limited from those of uncontrolled democracy. For my own part, I set little value on any check which a Second Chamber can apply to democracy otherwise unchecked, and I am inclined to think that if all other constitutional questions are rightly settled, it is but of secondary importance whether the Parliament consists of two Chambers or only of one.”

That is the final reflection by a man who certainly has considered the question, and who himself has been in favour of the Two Chamber system. It shows that there is nothing like political dogma in the question. He does not think that the Two Chamber system is anything of a vital matter.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  But he continued in favour of it?

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  Yes. I gave that quotation to show that this man at any rate held these views. The next extract is from Sir John Marriott, who also was in favour of a Second Chamber. Here is what he says:—

“With the abstract considerations for and against a Second Chamber I am not greatly concerned. They have long since become the commonplace of the debating society. But their appeal leaves both the student [1345] and the statesman unmoved. The necessity of a counterpoise to democratic fervour; the safety which lies in `sober second thoughts'; the advisability of a check on hasty and ill-considered legislation; the value of an appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober; the liability of a Single Chamber to gusts of passion and autocratic self-regard— all these familiar arguments, and many like them, may be as sound as on the day when they were first employed”;

[1346]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I am sorry to interrupt the President, but I must put the question now.

The President: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I have finished except just to add one line more from the quotation:—

“...but somehow the salt has lost its savour.”

Question put.

Aiken, Frank.
Bartley, Gerald.
Beegan, Patrick.
Blaney, Neal.
Boland, Gerald.
Bourke, Daniel.
Brady, Brian.
Brady, Seán.
Breathnach, Cormac.
Briscoe, Robert.
Browne, William Frazer.
Concannon, Helena.
Cooney, Eamon.
Corbett, Edmond.
Corkery, Daniel.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
Crowley, Timothy.
Davin, William.
Derrig, Thomas.
De Valera, Eamon.
Doherty, Hugh.
Donnelly, Eamon.
Dowdall, Thomas P.
Everett, James.
Flinn, Hugo V.
Flynn, John.
Flynn, Stephen.
Fogarty, Andrew.
Geoghegan, James.
Gibbons, Seán.
Goulding, John.
Hales, Thomas.
Harris, Thomas.
Hayes, Seán.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Houlihan, Patrick.
Jordan, Stephen.
Kehoe, Patrick.
Kelly, James Patrick.
Kelly, Thomas.
Keyes, Michael.
Killilea, Mark.
Kilroy, Michael.
Kissane, Eamonn.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Lynch, James B.
MacDermot, Frank.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacEntee, Seán.
Maguire, Ben.
Maguire, Conor Alexander.
Moane, Edward.
Moore, Séamus.
Moylan, Seán.
Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
Norton, William.
O'Briain, Donnchadh.
O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
O'Dowd, Patrick.
O'Grady, Seán.
O'Reilly, Matthew.
Pearse, Margaret Mary.
Rice, Edward.
Ryan, James.
Ryan, Martin.
Ryan, Robert.
Sheridan, Michael.
Smith, Patrick.
Traynor, Oscar.
Victory, James.
Walsh, Richard.
Ward, Francis C.

Alton, Ernest Henry.
Anthony, Richard.
Belton, Patrick.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Bourke, Séamus.
Brennan, Michael.
Broderick, William Joseph.
Brodrick, Seán.
Burke, James Michael.
Burke, Patrick.
Byrne, Alfred. [1347]Dolan, James Nicholas.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
Fagan, Charles.
Finlay, John.
Fitzgerald, Desmond.
Good, John.
Haslett, Alexander.
Holohan, Richard.
Keating, John.
Lynch, Finian.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGilligan, Patrick.
McGovern, Patrick.
McMenamin, Daniel.
Minch, Sydney B.
Coburn, James.
Cosgrave, William T.
Costello, John Aloysius.
Curran, Richard.
Daly, Patrick.
Davis, Michael.
Davitt, Robert Emmet.
Desmond, William.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry Morgan. [1348]Morrissey, Daniel.
Mulcahy, Richard.
Murphy, James Edward.
Nally, Martin.
O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
O'Neill, Eamonn.
O'Reilly, John Joseph.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Redmond, Bridget Mary.
Reidy, James.
Rice, Vincent.
Rogers, Patrick James.
Rowlette, Robert James.
Wall, Nicholas.

Question declared carried.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.45 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 2nd June.


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