Thursday, 11 March 1943
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Norton: Before the announcement of the Order of Business, might I be allowed to raise a matter of procedure which affects the rights of Deputies to submit questions for the Order Paper. On Thursday or Friday of last week I addressed a question to the Taoiseach, suggesting to him that, in view of the fact that a new electoral register was to come into operation in June next, he might arrange that the general election would be held in the month of June. I am merely raising the question of my rights as a Deputy. A day or so after, I was informed by an officer in the Clerk's office that the Clerk of the Dáil was inclined to think that this was not a permissible question since it appeared to make the Taoiseach responsible to the Dáil——
Mr. Norton: I was not told that. I submit that as a member of the House I am entitled to be told whether the Ceann Comhairle has or has not disallowed a question of mine. I have not been told up to now that the question was disallowed by the Ceann Comhairle. I submit that, in all courtesy, a member of the House is entitled to be told whether a question is being allowed or disallowed. I have not been told that and I protest against the improper, and, if I may say so, the discourteous treatment of the question submitted by me.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Smith): I informed Deputy Norton that we wanted all stages of the Bill this week. I also saw the Whip of the Party, Deputy Keyes, and I gave him a list of the business we wanted done up to the end of May.
Mr. Norton: The Parliamentary Secretary informed us that he wanted all stages of the Central Fund Bill by the end of the month. That is an entirely different thing to saying that he wants it through by 9 o'clock tonight.
Mr. Dillon: I have no doubt the Chair will be no party to taking away an Independent Deputy's right to speak on the Vote on Account, and on the Vote on Account I am going to speak. If there is a conspiracy between the larger Parties to deprive us of an opportunity to speak on the Vote on Account, I appeal with confidence to you, Sir, to see that we are not deprived of it.
General Mulcahy: The only conspiracy entered into on the part of this Party is that we were consulted as to whether we would agree to finish the  debate on the Vote on Account and the Central Fund Bill after two days' discussion. We agreed that, as far as we were concerned, we would be satisfied to finish the discussion inside two days.
Mr. Norton: I am not saying that it would be impossible to get an agreement to conclude the debate in two days if there was any consultation to that effect but my understanding of the discussion with the Parliamentary Secretary was that he wanted this business concluded by the end of the month which is an entirely different thing.
Mr. Smith: I do not know whether I am expected to go round to every member of the Labour Party or to every individual Deputy and ask for his agreement to a proposal of this kind. I certainly made the position quite clear both to Deputy Norton and to Deputy Keyes and, as Deputy Mulcahy has explained, I was left under the impression by both these Parties that they would be agreeable to giving these two items after two days' discussion. We assumed that two days should give all interested a sufficient opportunity to discuss these matters.
Mr. A. Byrne: Arising out of the Parliamentary Secretary's remarks about going to every member of the Labour Party, I would say that at least he, in his official capacity, if he wants agreement on a certain order of business, should inform at least one of the members on these benches here. He should let us know what is proposed because we are not going to be crushed out of these debates by him or anybody else.
The Tánaiste: Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding as to what was meant by putting through this business by the end of the month. Next week we shall not be able to meet on account of the holiday.
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