Tuesday, 11 March 1947
Dáil Éireann Debate
(i) to examine and report generally, in respect of each House of the Oireachtas, on the powers and privileges possessed by it for the protection of itself and its members and to advise as to the methods and procedure which should be adopted for the effective recognition and enforcement thereof;
(ii) to advise as to whether any and, if so, what limitations and obligations should be imposed on members in regard to their activities and conduct generally (including any such limitations and obligations as might be deemed advisable in the case of members who hold Ministerial or Parliamentary offices) with a view to protecting the privileges of the House concerned or its members or to upholding the dignity and well-being of the Oireachtas and to advise as to the method by which such limitations and obligations should be enforced;
(iii) to advise as to the procedure which should be adopted for bringing to the notice of the House concerned alleged breaches of the rules governing members' activities and conduct or alleged breaches of privilege by members or other persons, as to the method for investigating any such matter and as to the action to be taken by the House concerned in any case where such breaches have taken place.
The purpose of setting up the committee proposed is, as noted, to examine into certain matters and to make a report upon them. The first task is to find out exactly and to try to state in as precise terms as possible what are the present powers and privileges possessed by the Oireachtas, and to indicate what methods are available for enforcement in case any penalties are attached for breaches of these privileges or interference with these powers. The fundamental Articles dealing with these are of course in the Constitution. Now the Articles of the Constitution are rather general in their nature and they are,  to a considerable extent, parallel to, if not almost identical with the similar provisions in the earlier Constitution. Back as far as 1924 a draft Bill was prepared to set out what were the powers of the Oireachtas in regard to these matters and to indicate measures that might be taken by the Oireachtas to defend its own rights and privileges. Nothing seems to have been done about it, for reasons I think I understand. I think they were not stated. I think I can understand why nothing was done. The same Bill again was put forward I think in 1928 and again——
The Taoiseach: From the Oireachtas staff to the Attorney-General with, I dare say, the approval of the Ceann Comhairle of the day. The same Bill I think came forward again in 1930 and shortly after we came in—sometime about 1932—the matter came up for discussion again. One of the difficulties in regard to the matter is this: that by the Constitution each House of the Oireachtas has the right to make its own rules and regulations, and a question arises, that being so, as to whether legislation is really, in such circumstances, appropriate at all.
The next question that comes up is whether such a matter, for example, as contempt of the Oireachtas can be dealt with by the Oireachtas itself. Would any attempt on the part of the Oireachtas to set itself up as a High Court of Parliament conflict with the powers which are given to the courts of justice? Whether in cases like that, if the Oireachtas wanted to defend itself and its dignity and privilege against contemptuous attack, a better way would not be to bring in a law, and let that law be administered in the usual way by the courts. So a number of matters of that sort come up for consideration and I think that before any steps are taken in that regard it  would be well that there should be first of all a committee which would sit down and examine this matter in its various aspects, consider what are the powers and privileges which ought to be possessed by the Houses of the Oireachtas and then what are the measures which should be taken for enforcing any penalties that it might be desirable to impose. That is a matter in itself that requires some examination.
The next matter that requires examination is the conduct of members. What particular type of conduct, for instance, would be regarded generally as derogatory to the dignity of the House? I think it is desirable, in so far as these matters can be considered at all, that they should be considered apart from any particular case. If we only deal with a particular case that comes up for consideration, then it will be suggested that steps are being taken with a view to the particular case in question, so that it is very much better that these matters should be considered apart altogether from any particular case. It cannot be suggested that the course that has been indicated will have any particular bearing on the result of the investigation that is about to be made.
There is also the question, if there are certain rules which in the interest of Parliament should be upheld, how breaches of these rules should be brought to the attention of the House. I remember that on one occasion Deputy Dillon protested rather strongly, and with fairly good ground, I think, that it was most unfair to bring charges against anybody in this House which that person had not the opportunity of refuting there and then. In other words, that if these were, for instance, about the private conduct of a person, anybody could bring these charges and the person against whom they were brought was put, so to speak, in the dock and if he failed to defend himself, might be regarded as being found guilty of the charges. The manner in which breaches of privilege, or breaches of the standard of conduct with it is desirable should be maintained by members of this House, should be  brought to the attention of Parliament is of very great importance.
Then, there are the other matters to which I have already referred, how they should be dealt with and what is the appropriate method of dealing with charges of the sort. The House will recollect that we had recently certain charges made against a Parliamentary Secretary and the question was how these charges were to be investigated. There was no agreement as to how that was to be done. I tried to explain to the House the only course available. It was suggested very strongly that the matter should be dealt with in another manner and left to the courts. There again it is better that the mode of examination and the method by which these charges are to be investigated should be set up as far as possible in advance, and without any reference to an individual case, except in so far as the individual case might indicate things that had to be provided for. Finally there is the question of penalty. What are the classes of penalties to be inflicted and how can they be enforced? As regards the question of conduct, there have been, for example, in the case of the British House of Commons some investigations of particular charges, and they have been generally decided with reference to some past rules that have been held to be sound and good. For example, one of the rules which were used, or which helped to govern certain decisions come to, by committees set up to investigate certain cases, was a resolution of the British House of Commons which runs as follows:—
“That it is contrary to the usage and derogatory to the dignity of this House that any of its members should bring forward, promote or advocate in this House any proceeding or measure in which he may have acted or been concerned for or in consideration of any pecuniary fee or reward.”
That is, that it was contrary to usage and would be so regarded that a person should bring forward anything with which he was connected for which he was getting pecuniary fee or reward. For example, would it be right for a lawyer in this House who was retained,  say, by a company, or by an organisation, in his capacity as a member of the House to speak in favour of the interest of that particular organisation, or if he was retained in another connection not to speak? That was 1858.
The Taoiseach: I can give the Deputy 1695 when rules were laid down as a result of a decision in certain cases, the origin of which I do not know. They were used as late as 1945 to govern the decision of a committee who held that these rules were there and were, so to speak, the law in this particular case.
The Taoiseach: I do not see what the Deputy wants. He will have an opportunity to make the point. The fact is that there are rules in the British Parliament which are known and which hold until they are changed. They have been held for a long period to govern conduct. There is no reason why in cases of that kind, in view of our experience, similar rules to govern conduct should not be made. Another one reads:—
That was something which was passed in 1695 and quoted a year or two ago as a basis for decision. The committee in that case stated that they had no doubt that the offer of money or other advantage to a member in order to induce him to take up a question with a Minister would be a breach of privilege within the principle laid down in the resolution.
We had another case here some time ago in which a Deputy made representations on behalf of a firm to the  Department of Finance. Certain facilities were given at the same time in accordance with the rights of the individuals concerned. The Deputy's representations were considered in connection with the application. The application, to a certain extent, was acceded to, and it was found in court that the facilities which were granted were abused to the extent that the goods which were purchased as a result of the facilities given for getting exchange had been sent, contrary to law, outside the country.
In the examination of the case, it appeared from the books that the Deputy, at that particular time, had business transactions which amounted to getting accommodation from the individuals concerned. It was suggested here that that was a breach of privilege and was a matter which required to be examined. As I pointed out at the time, I satisfied myself that what had happened was some accommodation between two individuals in the form of bills, which were duly paid. There was a suggestion that it was in consideration of the representations that had been made that the accommodation had been given. I satisfied myself that that was not so.
Suppose it is held, then, that a person must not make representations in a case in which he is in any way concerned, in any case in which he will have personal advantage, where will that lead us? I took the case at the time—and a certain Deputy was very indignant—of a business man here who, in circumstances like the present, in connection with quotas, let us say, would take up the matter with the Department. We will say B was the Deputy and he was a business man getting goods from A. He found A was not getting the quotas to which he was entitled by law and he made representations on behalf of A to the Department, as a result of which the Department, being convinced A was entitled to them, gave them to him, but they were immediately passed on to the Deputy who made the representations.
Could it be said that the Deputy was  acting improperly in making the representations because he was going to get direct benefit from them? A Deputy immediately said: “Oh, no; when I go as a business man to make representations to the Department I point out that I am going in that capacity and that I am not to be considered as a Deputy.” Of course, that is all nonsense. Nobody will accept that a person can split himself and go to the Department, with which he is accustomed to deal as a Deputy, and say: “Do not bother about me; it is not as a Deputy but as a business man I am speaking.”
If you take the view that a member of the House must not make representations to the Department or speak in the House on matters in which he is directly concerned and from which he is going to have some direct advantage, you are opening a very wide field and it will be extremely difficult, under modern conditions, to draw the line there.
Now, I remember, when the case of the Parliamentary Secretary was under consideration, it was suggested that that was what you got by having business people carrying on administration in the Government. Are you then going to take up the position that you must not have in the Government anybody who has business interests of any kind? If you are, it will be extremely difficult. This is a very thorny question, the question of trying to limit the activities of Deputies who are not merely Deputies but private individuals in a particular business as well. There was a great complaint made by one Deputy here when I read out the correspondence dealing with the charges made against the Parliamentary Secretary. It was said that these were charges against him as a private individual and they ought not to be dealt with here; that unless it can be shown definitely that he has done something that is wrong in functioning as a Parliamentary Secretary, then it ought not to be brought up here and it ought to be examined by the courts in the ordinary way.
These are some of the matters that require to be examined and, if it is,  possible, we should set up guiding rules in regard to the activities of Deputies who are also business men and who may have, in their business relations, contacts with Government Departments. The things to be examined are, first of all, the exact powers and privileges of the House to defend itself and its members against attack from outside; secondly, the question of the limitations that there may be to the activities of members if they are to remain as members of the House, including members of the Government or Parliamentary Secretaries; and, finally, there is the question of the manner in which, if such charges are to be made, they are to be made, the manner in which they are to be investigated, and the manner in which any penalties which it may be regarded as right to impose are to be enforced.
I do not think it is necessary for me to go into the matter any further. I am quite willing to admit, from the start, that it is very hard to get rules of conduct which will cover every possible case, but some general guiding rules can be got. Ultimately, of course, the conduct of members will be determined by their own sense of what is fit and right and proper. Even when people do what they think fit and right and proper, unless there are some rules in regard to the matter, other people will always be found anxious to suggest that what is done is neither fit, nor right, nor proper. In these circumstances then, the first thing that we need is a strict examination as to the legal powers and as to the best way in which the Oireachtas can defend itself and its dignity. On a few occasions it has been quite obvious that an organised attempt has been made to bring the Dáil into disrepute. Something took place which really amounted to a slanderous campaign——
The Taoiseach: ——a slanderous campaign in such a manner as to make it impossible to examine into it. Is the Oireachtas to be left in a position where, if a deliberate and unjustifiable attempt is made to bring it into disrepute, there is not way in which that  attempt can be judicially examined into?
The Taoiseach: On at least two occasions it was perfectly obvious that there were people in this State trying to prepare the way for the establishment of a régime different from the democratic régime which we have at the moment.
The Taoiseach: Whether it has taken place or not, it is easy enough to understand that it could take place. The point is, are institutions like this to be left in the position where they have no power of taking judicial notice of or holding a judicial examination into such matters and no means of meeting such a slanderous campaign? There is need to have some kind of protection against illegitimate attack. These are all matters that will have to be examined into. No shackles of any kind will be placed upon the committee. The committee will examine into these matters from the point of view of public interest and the dignity of Parliament.
Mr. B. Maguire: A Leas-Chinn Comhairle, there is an amendment standing in my name on the Agenda to the motion which the Taoiseach has moved and I would like now formally to move the amendment. I do not like taking precedence of the Opposition members who may wish to speak upon the matter but, if they have no objection to my proceeding, I now move the amendment.
General Mulcahy: Sir, we have listened here to-day to a most extraordinary piece of hypocrisy. The last words that the Taoiseach spoke to the country were words spoken by him at Mallow where he said that.
He was speaking of the seriousness of the economic situation in the country particularly in regard to the work that will have to be done during this spring in order to secure for this country a harvest in the autumn. I need not say that there is not a corner of the country where much could be added in grave detail as to the seriousness of the general situation. It is, therefore, an astounding thing that the Taoiseach could return to this House and ask that 22 members of the Oireachtas would undertake to sit down together to discuss the kind of “stuff” that he has spoken to us here this evening.
Last year in the opening months of a grave and, for many people, a disastrous year, when we ought to have been discussing the serious economic aspects of our situation and making preparation to meet them, we had a Bill presented to us here to improve the public health. In Committee alone 15 days were spent, one after another, asking us to sit here and discuss elaborate measures for the improvement of the public health—in the face of a brutal suppression of the facts of the existing situation. When the year was passed that measure was found to be utterly futile and utterly unworkable. We have not now a new Public Health Bill ready, but we are being asked to retire into committee to discuss public morals and to make rules and regulations for the guidance and control of public morals and the punishment of offenders.
Into what kind of committee are we asked to go? We are asked to go into a committee in which the Government Party will have an absolute and complete majority and a committee from which no report will be permitted to be published but the report of the  majority. What kind of people is the Taoiseach going to send in before that committee? A few weeks ago we had a Deputy in this House who declared, when speaking on a particular motion, that he spoke from absolute conviction.
The Opposition Parties in this House and the non-Government Parties in the Seanad are being asked now to sit in a committee—which will only be permitted to issue a majority report—with people who, after, no doubt, a long struggle to keep silence while their consciences have been suffocated and trodden underfoot, are now beginning to break out and to explain how they suffer under their suppressed consciences in this House. “You are a young man going in for politics. I will give you two pieces of advice,” said the Taoiseach to me to on one occasion. “Study economics and read The Prince.”
General Mulcahy: Oh no. I could take you to the spot, and I could nearly show you the marks of your feet up in Fitzwilliam Square. It was on the Taoiseach's way from Lincoln to New York that he said to me, while waiting in the outer hall:—
General Mulcahy: I would like to hear the Taoiseach discuss them. I am not going to ask any of the  Deputies on this side of the House to sit down in a room in which their voices can be stifled by a Fianna Fáil majority. If there is anything to be found out, then let it be found out here. It is interesting that we should be invited now to sit down to discuss what powers we ought to have to defend our own rights and our own privileges. It is an extraordinary thing that we should be asked to do this by the Taoiseach, representing a Party who were going to reduce taxation and who were going to do all kinds of things, when we have got before us the biggest Bill in the whole of our national life as a reflex of what we are going to be asked to pay to-day by way of taxation. It is an extraordinary thing that we should be asked at this hour to guard the integrity of public life here and to preserve the prestige of this institution by the leader of a Party who has trampled the consciences of its members into the state in which they are to-day. What is militating against the power and what is destroying the prestige of this House to-day? —The way in which the Government Party are treating it.
We had a cry from one Dublin morning paper a day or two ago that Parliamentary institutions are being ignored and trampled on and that announcements of policy are made outside that ought to be made in the House. We are only too well acquainted with the strong grounds upon which that charge is made. We have on the Order Paper an application for the setting up of a Joint Committee of both Houses to consider the housing of our people. We had the Taoiseach declaring the other day that, although dairying is the foundation of our agriculture, the new Minister for Agriculture has made some very important statement to him which seems to suggest that the whole present scheme of the dairying industry should be scrapped. Would not it be well to set up a committee of both Houses to discuss what Deputy Smith—in the Taoiseach's words—said to him, when he asked him had he any ideas about the dairying industry? In circumstances in which the Taoiseach could  not find words to stress sufficiently the seriousness of the situation here, are there no matters of urgency in respect of which 22 members of the Oireachtas from every Party in the House should be asked to sit down and to consult with one another except the matter of what Deputies' privileges should be and what Deputies' powers should be; the punishment that should be put on Deputies who outstep those powers; the punishment that should be put on people outside who revile and degrade our Parliamentary institutions?
The biggest force degrading our Parliament is the force which suppresses the consciences of Deputies and shuts their mouths. The next biggest force is the kind of force that held us here during the spring of last year on the Public Health Bill, dealing with urgent and important public matters and declining, and telling the Dáil it would decline, to consult with the various bodies in the country that were concerned with these matters.
Let us take the Taoiseach and add to what he says requires to be done. We first heard of this matter on the 15th May, 1946, when, in column 136 of the Dáil Debates, when Deputy Dillon was discussing the desirability of setting up a committee to investigate charges against a Deputy, the Taoiseach said:—
“... if you want to set up standards here which Deputies are to maintain, then let us have a Select Committee to indicate what are the things that must not be done, what is not in accordance with the standards; whether it is proper that professional men, for instance, coming in here, who have dealt outside with cases, should raise these matters in the Dáil. Let us have that examined in the abstract. Let us have the question examined as to whether business men who are in this House should make representations on behalf of their own firms whilst they are members of the House. Let a number of these things, in general, be examined.”
“Probably the best way of dealing with it will be by means of a motion in this House to set up a Committee of Inquiry into all these matters and to examine into the problems that arise in order to do everything humanly possible to avoid temptations to utilise those positions in an way of those who occupy public positions to utilise those positions in an improper manner. These are things which vitally concern the fundamental question of the constitution of this House and of Parliament in general.”
The question first arose on the 15th May and was referred to again on the 11th June. And why? This House had carried on, you might say, simply on the Ten Commandments since 1922—for 24 years—and no person in the House found it necessary to question the conduct of any person in the House. Then a case arose in which in the public courts it was indicated that a Deputy was receiving a certain amount of financial accommodation from people for whom he was transacting a certain amount of Parliamentary business. The next case was the charges that were made against Dr. Ward. These cases having arisen, we are asked to turn our minds away from the grave economic and financial situation that there is in the country and to sit down in solemn conclave to discuss certain things—first, interference with our powers. It is a very interesting thing to hear the Taoiseach asking us solemnly to set up a committee of the Dáil and Seanad to say the kind of interference that may be taken with Parliamentary powers and how we are to defend ourselves against it.
This Parliament is being atrophied and its power is being destroyed. Its power as, in the first place, an institution to discuss honestly and openly the public affairs of this country is being destroyed by the blanket of silence that is imposed on the Fianna Fáil benches, by the stubborn resistance that Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries can show to the desire on these benches to get information and to discuss information openly and honestly. There is no attack and there is no abuse and there is no insult to the powers of this  House coming from anywhere in this country except from the benches opposite and except under the peculiar influence of the Taoiseach who has moved this motion. He wants us to sit down with people whose consciences are tied and whose tongues are tied in here to see what our rights are, what our privileges should be here, and to see how these are to be safeguarded and upheld. Our great right and our great privilege here is to speak our minds in accordance with our consciences and any man who comes into this House surrendering his conscience surrenders his rights and in so far as he belongs to a majority Party he destroys the right and the power of this institution to do its best before God and before the intelligence He has given us in relation to the affairs of our country. That is where the main attack is on this House.
When the Taoiseach speaks of defending us against contempt of the Oireachtas, he is the great contemner of the Oireachtas in the way in which his Parliamentary affairs are managed by the manipulation of his Party. He thinks that Deputy Dillon is a useful person to mention by saying that Deputy Dillon considers that the bringing of charges against a person here might create difficulty or danger for that person if he were not able to reply to them immemediately here. That comes very well from the Taoiseach who stood in his place and charged me with having gone to Scotland and having been in touch with the British Minister for War for the purpose of getting military assistance from him to overthrow the Taoiseach's Government when it came in here. He lets that statement stand. My answer to it was so sweepingly to deny it as to feel that it did not want denial and to ask him to set up a committee to investigate any charges that were made. That attitude of contempt of the charge was not sufficient to prevent his paper the following day saying that I did not deny it. It took him a week to apologise and then do you think he made any attempt to bring the person who made that foul charge to justice in any way?
The Taoiseach can sit down and decide what kind of rules of order there are to be in relation to this  House which would either prevent such a thing happening or, if it did happen, would punish the person responsible for it. I heard the Taoiseach in this House charge Mr. Cosgrave, when he was Leader of the Government, with having run out of this country in the Black and Tan times, a charge that was as foul and as without foundation as the charge he made against me. What kind of rules are we to have in this House to punish a person capable of making such a statement as that? If the Government Party have a contribution to make to the orderly conduct of this House so far as charges against one another are concerned, if they have any contribution to make for raising the status and the prestige of this House in the eyes of the people, if they have a list of weaknesses in the conduct of this House, let them set up a committee of their own and let them write down these things and let us have a White Paper on them as the Fianna Fail outlook on these things. Then it may be worth considering sitting down and discussing them. But until we have a situation here in which we can look across to the far side and see that the men sitting there are acting as honest and courageous representatives of the people who sent them here, speaking their minds, untroubled and free in their consciences, do not ask us to sit down in committee and to accept machinery by which a majority decision of tied votes will be published as the opinion of that committee without any chance of a minority vote being heard in any way.
The Taoiseach suggests that lawyers are receiving money for coming here and getting business passed through the House; that business men are getting concessions for themselves by approaching various Departments in various ways. What about a Departmental committee to schedule and to report on the experiences of the various Departments in this matter? I suggest that this is all an ugly mass of innuendo in accordance with the kind of outlook on life that the person had who gave me the kind of political advice in 1919 to which he referred.
General Mulcahy: I am sure it is. What is the Taoiseach at that he should return from Mallow and ask 22 Deputies to occupy themselves with these things with the experience we have of the Government Party in this House, with the experience that we have of the Government's general approach to administration and the conduct of business? From the very day that the economic war caused cattle licences to be distributed according to Government patronage of one kind or another down to the day when representatives of the Government could be more outspoken and could say: “All things being equal, the Fianna Fáil Party man gets the job”, we have had a very unsavoury feeling in the public mind as to the general type of administration that is carried out here. Then a number of people were told: “Go to the labour exchange and register and you will be called”. I need not go through the various types of legislation and the various aspects of administration which played so completely into the hands of the Government Party to feather their nests in various ways. It is not necessary to do that. But the whole of that uneasy feeling and the whole of that unsavoury feeling is there in the country and it has just boiled over in connection with a few cases which have come to light.
Then the Taoiseach attempts to take the whole of that dirty atmosphere and to smear it round in all directions. Let him do it, but let him do it in a  systematic way. Let him do it by producing facts and not by innuendoes. If he and the Party stand for purity, for dignity, for rules of order and punishments, let them say what rules they stand for and what punishments they stand for and we will be prepared to discuss any of their proposals here and any of their facts here. But the fact is that until they came to sit in the seats of power over there we were able to carry on with the mere Ten Commandments. The Government's proposal, if it be an honest one, is certainly untimely.
The portrayal of the problem by the Taoiseach is certainly extraordinary. We are told that the stars are formed by the gathering of nebulae of one kind or another. The Taoiseach certainly treated us to a glorious blaze of nebulae, all intended to be rather suggestive, and I suggest that it is suggestion, trying to suggest that in various parts of the House here there are men who, if the truth were only known, are open to charges such as have been made and such as are going to be moved against members of his own Party. I suggest that that is an attack on the dignity of this House. He has no grounds in the world and I challenge him to produce a scrap of evidence for the innuendoes he is making here. Now, after we have got a Bill for £52,000,000, he has nothing better to say to us here than that 15 members of this House and seven members of the Seanad ought to sit down to discuss the extraordinary nebulae of suggestion and innuendoes which he enshrined in his speech to us here this evening.
I want to say that we do not oppose the Fianna Fáil Party sitting down and doing whatever they consider is proper in relation to this matter, that is, to outline the malpractices that are or may be going on at the present time; to outline the methods that should be adopted to deal with them; to outline the penalties that ought to be inflicted on persons who are guilty of them. I do not want to stand in the way of the Government Party. I feel it is nearly time they did it. I feel that they have a sufficient amount of experience and a sufficient amount  of information to enable them to make, perhaps, a useful and a valuable contribution to any discussion that might take place, or any committee that might be set up. But at this particular hour of our social, economic and financial problems and with the little change of heart that we find on the part of the Government in carrying on its business, I certainly would not ask any member of this Party here or any members of the Seanad with whom I might have any influence to sit down with the Deputies opposite to discuss any aspects of these matters.
I again suggest to the House that we have listened to an astounding bit of hypocrisy and an astounding nebulae of words. We have had suggestions of attacks on this House and malpractices in this House which should be spoken out straightly and honestly so that we can know whether they exist or not, but do not let anybody here think that some of the charges that are made here against members of the Government or the members of the Government Party can be covered by simply reading to the Dáil all these charges. You cannot. As I say, members have been in this House since 1922 and, so far as the conduct of this House is concerned, we have carried on without the necessity for the terms of the Bill which the Taoiseach said was provided in 1924, was considered in 1930, and looked at again in 1932. We have carried on honestly and decently and we have built up the strength of this House on the Ten Commandments. When the Government Party have constructive proposals to make with regard to the dignity of the House we shall be glad to hear them, but I know of no other way of preserving the prestige and preserving the power of this House than that the men and women who are elected by the people of this country shall come and sit in this House: shall speak in this House, shall speak out openly and shall speak out honestly. That is my attitude on this matter and, as a motion, I oppose it but, while opposing it, I invite the Government Party to set down in some kind of a document, after consultation among themselves or setting up a committee among themselves, what they have in their minds and to set it down honestly  and fearlessly. Then we can consider the matter. Until then I am not prepared to ask any of our people to cooperate with the Taoiseach in this matter, because I cannot regard the purpose as being well met.
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Little): I was astonished by the attitude of the Deputy on this question. The recollection I have is of the Opposition taking part in the work of this House on the Committee of Procedure and Privileges. Now when an attempt is being made to solve this matter, if we turn our minds back to those times, we know that we were careful that professional standards would be maintained, that lawyers would give their best service to their clients, and at the same time, do their duty in the House; that they would avoid peculations or involving their honour in any way by allowing professional work to be mixed up with their work as public representatives. On the Committee of Procedure and Privileges, I remember that the then Ceann Comhairle, now Senator Hayes, often pointed out at the time the necessity of maintaining the dignity of the House against attacks that were being made by the Press outside. The Deputy must be perfectly well aware of what was going on, of a general attack being made on the dignity of this institution.
Mr. Little: This House and public institutions have to be protected. We are only at the beginning of our career. A parliament like the British Parliament had centuries in which to establish certain standards which hold the respect of their people. We have not yet succeeded in doing that in this country.
Mr. Little: As a member of the Fianna Fáil Party I say there is never interference with them. The Deputy knows that. He was Minister in a Government which carried on government under Party discipline. The Deputy knows that what he said was untrue.
Mr. Little: Deputy McCarthy is entitled to speak whatever way he likes. If he was profoundly disturbed in his conscience as to how he voted, there was a very easy way of dealing with the matter. When I was Chief Whip, any Deputy could come to me, on a particularly serious point of conscience, and it was always considered, and any differences would be adjusted. The Deputy is not new to this House. He has been in it since 1922. He was a member of a Government and knows what Party discipline is. It is not as severe as army discipline. Every soldier knows what army discipline requires. The Deputy belongs to a Party, and, so long as we have representative government, we must have certain group discipline. That is attached to every group. It is a complete contradiction of fact to say that any attempt was made here to prevent Deputies from expressing their views. The Deputy has no idea of the damage it does outside in the minds of ignorant people to talk as he did. He went on, too, to rake up all the quarrels of the civil war. He started some old story.
Mr. Little: I am referring to statements of the Deputy about something that was said to happen in Glasgow. Statements were made that were inaccurate  and that should be forgotten. They were made in an atmosphere which, thank God, is not now in this House or in the country.
Mr. Little: The Deputy's attitude almost convinces me that he wants to cover up something. He says he will not take part in a committee which wants to establish a proper line of conduct and which would be a guide for the future. He has taken up the attitude of personal abuse and he is trying to wriggle out of taking part in the establishment of this committee. All one can say is that there must be something behind it that he wants to hide.
Mr. Maguire: Having listened to the various speeches, I was rather surprised by Deputy Mulcahy's attitude in opposing the motion and intimating that he would not participate in the committee. I cannot understand why, after this period, there cannot be an understanding as to the extent of opposition. Being an independent member, I was always against what I considered to be an attitude or mentality that would be considered small in matters of this kind.
 If the motion we are discussing would convey the impression that our people are not prepared to accept motives higher than those of prejudice or unforgiveness, I am rather pleased that I am in opposition and am no longer a member of a Party. In a democracy such as we are living under, it is still necessary to control Parties and individuals must submit, even though they are in disagreement with the Party view.
...to examine and report generally, in respect of each House of the Oireachtas, on the powers and privileges possessed by it for the protection of itself and its members and to advise as to the methods and procedure which should be adopted for the effective recognition and enforcement thereof...”
I must repeat that I am greatly disappointed at the attitude of Deputy Mulcahy, speaking on behalf of the principal Opposition Party. He says he will not have his Party participating in the setting up of such a committee of investigation. I consider that the laying down of regulations for the good conduct of members of the Oireachtas would be very beneficial. I cannot see why members of even a minority Party would not lend their intelligence and experience to the formation of any such committee. All virtues are not centred on one side of the House, and all the opposite qualities on the other, and, even if they were, then a combination of all Parties on a committee to examine the position would be all the more urgent.
I hold that it is long past the date when some regulations should be established governing and controlling the conduct of members. We cannot control limits. People have already endeavoured to control them by laws which were enacted centuries back and that are still in force here. You cannot control honour by standards other than those that were defined primarily in the principles of Christianity, in the Ten Commandments to which Deputy Mulcahy referred. These are in operation and they have been preached, forcefully at times, but invariably all  through the years and they are the principles that move the ordinary individual, however he may think. If it is necessary that these qualities be reinforced, let us set up the committee proposed in this motion and let us endeavour to interpret in our regulations the Ten Commandments referred to by Deputy Mulcahy, which embody the principles of our Christianity. These will not entirely control the members of this House, although we are a limited number, any more than the same Commandments, reinforced by Acts of Parliament through the years, have been able to enforce good conduct generally on the community.
I am sorry that we cannot have a united House in this attempt to have a committee established to draw up, in some condensed form, regulations that will control the actions of a limited number, a few hundred people. It is a terrible indictment against our whole civilisation that this proposal should now be forthcoming. Worse than all, it is a terrible indictment that, at this stage, there are to be found in this House men who refuse to participate in formulating such a committee as would prepare some standard by which we might regulate the lives of a few hundred out of our population.
I am speaking with more than ordinary interest on this matter. I am speaking because I consider that this House should set up a standard for its members in the ordinary conduct of the business to which those members are attached. Occupation, as represented by membership of this House, was never intended to mean a whole-time living. Membership carries with it all the difficulties and responsibilities of a dual occupation. To set up a standard for the members of the House is an essential thing. I believe the proposal is good in so far as it aims at that and I approve of it.
When we are setting up standards for representatives of the Dáil and Seanad, we must always have in mind that we are the representatives of the community as a whole. It is just according as the standards of the community exist that we find ourselves here, or that the community as a whole  will find itself represented here. I am representative of a certain section of the people, and so is every other Deputy, and when we are establishing standards here for Deputies it is only right, as representatives in one of the Houses of the Oireachtas, that we should set up a standard that can rightly be followed by ordinary members of the community.
I assume that under the proposal before us an examination will take place as to the proper conduct of members of the Oireachtas. We cannot do that unless at the same time we establish some system of co-operation with the public whom we represent. I assert that no Deputy should be expected to display a greater degree of honour than he is reasonably expected to receive from the community he represents. Therefore, if Deputies or Senators are subject to misrepresentation— and indeed they must be more subject than other people in a smaller or less public position—we, in turn, must demand that those who make charges against us will receive no greater privileges than we receive.
If a Deputy or Senator, actuated by motives which are just and honourable, seeks to develop the possibilities of his own constituency or of the nation anywhere, and finds himself, having succeeded to whatever extent he has succeeded, in developing national resources and obtaining employment for the unemployed in his constituency, pilloried through misrepresentation and through intrigue and, as a result, removed from connection with a body which he has been responsible for bringing into being and from the protection that he would expect to receive against malignant agencies whispering into the ears of Ministers, I say that is a dangerous and demoralising state of affairs and against that procedure all the efforts of the State should be centralised. In the proposal before us, we are asked to set up a committee of investigation to determine these things and I urge that not only the conduct of public representatives, members of the Oireachtas, should be controlled but, for reasons I suggested, that the standard of conduct here of public representatives should be the standard of  conduct of the community outside— business, agricultural, professional or otherwise—from which we derive our power. If misrepresentations take place, maligning the integrity, honour and trustworthiness of any member of the Dáil or of the Seanad, then it is the duty of those responsible for that motion to give the fullest and widest interpretation to it, to protect the integrity and the honour of the humblest individual in this or the other House. In order to do that, it will be found necessary to draw up regulations for the future conduct and to arrange to deal with misrepresentations against members. I assert that I have been one of the victims of such misrepresentations and, therefore, I hold that I am entitled to have this inquiry made retrospective. I therefore ask the House to accept the amendment.
Mr. Coogan: I am opposed to this motion also but before I give my reasons I should like to make it clear that in discussing this matter we must not confuse the personal dignity or personalities of Deputies with the dignity of this House. The privileges which a Deputy enjoys as a member of this House derive from the privileges and dignity attached to the House and let us not confuse the two things. The House in its corporate entity has certain privileges and as far as any encroachments on these privileges might take place, I am of course in favour of any measure that may be taken by the Government to preserve them but I am not aware that at the present time there is any encroachment, intended encroachment or attempted encroachment upon the House, as such. I am not aware that at the present time either inside or outside the House which is calculated at the present time to bring the House into contempt or ridicule. I am not aware that any criticisms that have been offered in the daily newspapers are calculated to bring the House into ridicule or contempt not am I aware that there is at present on foot any slanderous campaign with the object of reducing the dignity of the House in the eyes of our people. If that is the case for this motion, I say the motion fails for the simple reason that I do not think any  Deputy can point to any organised campaign with any such objective at the moment.
It is true that this matter was considered and that a number of Bills was prepared in 1924, 1928 and 1930. I have never seen these Bills and I cannot say with what matters they were concerned. So far as I am informed, they were concerned with the preservation of internal order and decorum in the House. As regards the courts, I do not know that the courts have at any time attempted to interfere with or to oust the jurisdiction of Parliament. In so far as there has been any issue as between the courts and the Oireachtas, I am not aware of it.
As I have said already, the privileges of a Deputy entirely derive from the privileges of the House and they are strictly limited in that sense. The House already in its Standing Orders has made certain provision for the conduct of affairs within the House. Amongst the provisions which it has made is a provision for the setting up of a select committee to investigate any matter which may be referred to it on any occasion including any matter affecting the conduct of a Deputy of the House. I hold that the conduct of a Deputy cannot be called in question even under that Standing Order unless his conduct is derogatory to the House in its corporate sense— that he is engaged in malpractices or misconduct of that kind which, if knowledge of them becomes public, are calculated to bring the House into odium. I submit that if any malpractices are prevalent and if any Deputies of this House are engaged in malpractices to the knowledge of the Government the simple way out is by the setting up of a select committee ad hoc to deal with the particular cases. The Taoiseach, in making the case for this motion, said it was essential to lay down certain guiding principles, but he also admitted that it would not be possible to make rules to cover every specific case and, for that very reason alone, we should not commit ourselves to a machinery which would attempt to lay down rules as to the conduct of individual members. I do not believe that any set of rules that would emerge from a committee  of this kind would be sufficiently widely drawn to cover every conceivable case that might arise.
The British take a common-sense view in these matters and on every occasion where the conduct of a member of the British House is called in question a select committee is set up. A select committee was set up to deal with the case of Mr. Robert Boothby, who was accused of using his offices to get certain frozen funds in Czechoslovakia brought out of that country for the benefit of a family and friend of his in England. It was also alleged that during the course of these transactions Boothby had taken very considerable sums of money from the family concerned. Immediately these allegations were made a select committee was set up and the matter was fully investigated.
In principle, there is no difference between the case of Boothby and the case that the Taoiseach has mentioned. Boothby had a pecuniary interest in advancing the claims of this alien family in order to get their money out of Czechoslovakia. The Deputy referred to by the Taoiseach had, at the time he carried on certain negotiations with the Department of Finance, a pecuniary interest in so far as he was receiving financial accommodation at that very time and over a long period and that accommodation was repeated on ten different occasions. During the time he was advancing these claims he had definitely a pecuniary interest. Whether or not he subsequently paid back the moneys is beside the point. The point is that at the time he was advancing the case of these people he was receiving financial accommodation from them.
Now a principle has been laid down in the British House of Commons over the centuries that no member may engage, either in the House or through his good offices outside, in any matter in which he has a pecuniary interest. Quite recently another case occurred in which a member had a pecuniary interest and introduced an amendment in the British House of Commons. On that occasion he made it clear to the Speaker that he had a pecuniary interest  but that he was not going to vote on the measure, and in that case the Speaker ruled that he might speak to the amendment provided he did not take part in the division.
I cannot see why the ordinary principles of decency and good conduct and ordinary commonsense which prevail in Westminster cannot be applied here without our drafting specific rules, as if we were a gang of thieves, rogues and robbers. I think it is deplorable that this matter has been raised in this way. If there are specific allegations made against any Deputy it is only right and proper that these specific allegations should be investigated by a select committee provided—always provided—that the allegations are not of a criminal nature, because I hold that if the allegations are of a criminal nature, the privilege of this House—or of the British House for that matter— does not extend to give any individual immunity from the ordinary criminal process. Therefore, I think that the ordinary decencies and proprieties should dictate to us what the conduct of the individuals of this House should be without our going through the farce of making rules and regulations calculated to put wings on all of us. But, as we all know, you cannot legislate to make people more moral or more honest. If there is dishonesty, either on the opposite benches or on these benches, or anywhere in the House, and allegations of such dishonesty are well founded, then I say that there is a proper and ready method of dealing with such allegations. Again, I say that we have sufficient power here. We are in entire control of our own procedure and we have full jurisdiction here without any interference from any outside authority. We have the right to set up our own procedure and to impose whatever penalties we see fit to impose without prescribed rules and regulations.
The question has been raised here as to whether or not a lawyer should or should not engage in matters in the House in which he has either a pecuniary interest or in relation to which he has already been briefed for a fee. That matter has been well settled in the British House and I do not think that we can do any better  here than follow the British precedent. There it has been well established that a lawyer may not engage in or move motions or amendments on matters upon which he has already been briefed and for which he has taken a fee. But that does not debar a lawyer—and the principle is equally well established in this connection—from raising in the House matters of a criminal nature in which perhaps he has been briefed and has appeared in court once the case has been disposed of; he is entitled to speak on these matters once the case has been settled and decided by the court.
I do not think that there is any necessity for rules or regulations to enable us to say what is the right procedure in relation to lawyers. Business men have been mentioned by the Taoiseach. It has been suggested that business men in their office of Deputy have approached Departments on matters upon which they subsequently reaped a pecuniary advantage. To-day the Taoiseach referred to them as “A” and “B”. On a previous occasion he referred to them by name. I shall quote now from column 329 of volume 101 of the Official Debates. Deputy McGilligan, in the course of that debate, said: “Is there any case known to the Taoiseach where a Deputy in this House has engaged in attempting to persuade some Department of Government to do something for a client, and that over the period in which he is trying to persuade Government Buildings to do something for a client he is getting money on loan from that client? I suggest that there is not a case of that except Deputy Briscoe's.”
The Taoiseach intervened and said: “How could I know that? Ask Deputy Dillon or Deputy Dockrell, or other Deputies who are business people, whether at one time or another, when they were making representations about their businesses they were benefiting at the time that thing was happening.” Now, I think there was a base insinuation thrown out there, that Deputies Dillon and Dockrell, and other Deputies, had gone to Departments to pursue matters to their own advantage. All I want to say on that is that it is impossible for any Deputy who has a business outside entirely to  divorce himself from the fact that he is a business man and if, in his capacity as a Deputy, he goes either on behalf of a business community generally or on behalf of a specific constituent which may indirectly bring some advantage to him later, surely that is not on all fours with the case which was under review at the time. Surely that is dragging in red herrings to distort the whole matter. Surely there is some question of principle involved here. Surely that is decidedly different from the case where a man deliberately has got financial accommodation from a constituent on whose behalf he was seeking some advantage.
Take the case of a farmer Deputy, an agriculturist, who goes on a deputation to the Government for an improvement in some agricultural policy or, perhaps, for a price for cattle, butter or milk. If the Minister yields to the demands of the deputation will not that Deputy indirectly get some benefit? Again I say there is no analogy and that these things are dragged in to distort the whole issue.
The Taoiseach has said that the committee will be entirely free, that there will be no shackles imposed upon it and that it will be free to investigate this thing upside down, inside out, and to bring in whatever recommendations it may see fit to make. Does any Deputy, knowing the manner in which the Whip operates on the Government Benches, seriously think that the Fianna Fáil members of this committee will be entirely free to give vent to their feelings and viewpoints on this committee? Will they not be as gagged in committee as they are in the House?
Mr. Coogan: I submit that this is an attempt to evade certain issues which have definitely confronted the Taoiseach and the Government, to side-track these issues, to throw a cloak around them and to waste the time of Deputies in arguing the merits and demerits of proposed regulations and by-laws.
We have had some ancient enactments quoted to us. The Bill of Rights of 1688 guaranteed that the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings  in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament. I want the House to note “any place out of Parliament”. This, to my mind, gives this House complete and exclusive jurisdiction over everything that happens in this House in so far as expressions of opinion are concerned. The Taoiseach did not refer to this aspect of the matter but I should like to know from him, is it intended that this committee should seek to find rules or regulations by which the expressions of opinion by the Deputies in this House are to be restricted or by which certain penalties are to be imposed if certain expressions of opinion are made here which the Government do not consider right or proper or reasonable? Is it intended that the absolute privilege— it is an essential privilege fought for through the centuries—which attaches to Deputies' speeches here is to be in any way restricted because, if that is the intention, it would be a deplorable departure from Parliamentary practice and procedure in every Parliament in the world, so far as I know.
Nowhere may the speeches of a member of Parliament be questioned except in so far as they may be questioned or ruled on by the Speaker, Chairman or Head of the House, as the case may be. Surely it is not intended that that is one of the functions of this committee because, if it is, we are reaching a deplorable position here. Deputies are sent here to voice the feelings and to express the views of their constitutents and any attempt that may be made here to gag any Deputy in the expression of these views would be a most retrograde step calculated to bring about a complete censorship and closure of debate. I do not believe for one moment that that is intended, but the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs did suggest that there was some intention of taking steps in relation to the Press and that is not far removed from the expression of opinion by Deputies in here.
Mr. Coogan: I may have misunderstood him but, on that point, all I want to say is that a Deputy inside the House must have the most absolute freedom of criticism in debate. Outside the House, the Press, also, must have the most absolute freedom in criticism of Government policy or Government measures. If the Minister in any way indicated that it was going to be one of the functions of this committee to suggest means of punishing the Press for any articles with which the Government of the day might find itself in disagreement, it would be one of the most retrograde steps that could be taken by any Parliament. I hardly think that that is one of the functions of this committee, but the question of encroachment on the dignity of this House has been so stressed by the Taoiseach that something of the kind may be in his mind.
We did have a case recently in the courts where an action was taken by the Government in relation to an article which appeared in a small weekly organ. It may be intended to gag publications which may be regarded by the Government of the day as being of a subversive nature. Whether or not that is the intention, we are on very dangerous ground when we attempt to gag opinion of any kind either outside or inside the House. For these reasons, I cannot subscribe to the motion.
On the question of the activities in which Deputies may engage much might be said. Again, I want to say that the ordinary decencies and proprieties ought to dictate to Deputies what activities they should or should not engage in. It is well established in British Parliamentary practice that a Minister or a member of the House may not per se engage in any business activities in relation to Government contracts. It is a rule of that House that no Minister or member of the House may act for a commission for the State or the Government, either directly or indirectly or by means of a trustee. It is well established that  members of the House who are members of properly incorporated companies are not so restricted. I do not think it is necessary to set up any procedure to regulate matters of that kind. If we are so bereft of the sense of decency that we have to contemplate the setting up of a committee to prescribe rules of good conduct for ourselves as a Parliament, then I say that after 25 years of freedom in this country we have reached a deplorable level in our national affairs. I do not think that we should attempt to prescribe rules that would make angels of us all, if we observe them. I do not think that we should try to make ourselves more honest or more dignified by rule and regulation.
Therefore, I would ask the House seriously to consider rejecting this motion, seriously to realise what they are doing and, above all, to try to remember that the Christian principles which are enshrined in our Constitution ought to be sufficient guidance for us. If we are so dishonest and so corrupt that we have departed largely from these, then we should wind up a Parliament in this country, and get somebody outside to clean up the Augean stables. If there is corruption in the public life of this country, and rumours say that there is corruption rife in the public life of this country, I hold that the criminal code is sufficiently wide to deal with that corruption. I hold that there is no necessity for regulations of this House to deal with that corruption. Above all, I hold that there is no necessity to introduce legislation to prescribe pains and penalties for corruption. We have all that done down through the years by other bodies and we have inherited those various Acts which have dealt with corruption from time to time. Surely we have sufficient of a criminal code and procedure here to enable us to deal with any acts of corruption that may arise.
I have a feeling that in this matter the Taoiseach wants to pose as the one just, white man who is going to clean up corruption, that he wants us to prescribe rules and regulations which will enable him to clean up corruption, and that he wants this committee to provide another basin in which to wash his innocent hands. I hold that the  Taoiseach and the Government are evading realities, that they are not facing up to the issues which confront us in this country. Public life has been largely undermined in this country by the system—I find it very difficult to get words to describe it; it is a system of insidious—I cannot call it bribery exactly, but it is very near it. It has been largely perpetrated by the gentlemen on the opposite benches. They have encouraged their constituents everywhere to put in for this dole and that grant.
Mr. Coogan: It deals with members who go from Government Department to Government Department on behalf of constituents and who use their good offices to get this little dole and this grant for Tom, Dick or Harry in their constituencies.
Mr. Coogan: This motion says: “To advise as to whether any and, if so, what limitations and obligations should be imposed on members in regard to their activities ...” I say that it is within the terms of the motion to suggest that this tramp from Government Department to Government Department should cease.
Mr. Coogan: I say that our people have been worked into this position, that unless they can get the good offices of a Fianna Fáil Deputy to do these things for them, they feel they cannot get the grant or the dole or the licence or the quota to which they are lawfully entitled. I say that our public life has been largely influenced by that type of thing and that it should cease. As one Deputy, I should like to see the committee, if I were disposed to support the motion, consider that aspect of public life, because I think that it is improper for any Deputy to tramp around Government Departments. I think that if he has a case to make he should make it on the merits, not as affecting an individual, but as affecting a section of the community or the community as a whole.
Mr. Coogan: There is another aspect I should like to deal with and that is the question of Government contracts. It is well established elsewhere that no member of a House of Parliament may have a direct or indirect interest in Government contracts. It is well established that they may not take or give any commission in relation to public business. If activities of that kind were to be investigated, certainly there would be some measure of common-sense  in this motion, because I feel that there is much to be done in tightening up matters in that direction.
Mr. Coogan: If that is one of the things which might emerge from the motion, it might help, but I cannot see any case for the motion in relation to the matters that I have dealt with, because, as I read the motion, it is intended to set up a code of conduct for Deputies which I submit is already there in the ordinary proprieties and decencies that should obtain in public life. It is not intended to deal with specific cases which are at present under public discussion and, for that reason, I cannot support it. I would prefer to see the Government take every specific case on its merits and deal with it as it is dealt with this way. I have referred to the Boothby case: that was in 1940. There have been many other cases since, in the British House of Commons, and in every one of these cases you will find that where a member's conduct is called in question and the allegations put forward are well grounded, a select committee is set up to investigate, and appropriate action is taken on the findings. I have in my hands here a case which occurred in 1945. It was simply a case relating to the service of a civil process on a member of the House, within the precincts of the House. A committee was set up to deal with and dispose of the matter. Another case occurred in 1945 in which a member is alleged to have betrayed matters which were discussed at a Secret Session of Parliament. That matter was immediately investigated and disposed of.
Another case in which a member of Parliament assaulted another member of Parliament, a citizen in the House, was immediately disposed of. I say these are all matters within the jurisdiction of the House and that we have authority—without in any way adding to the trappings and regula-  tions of the House—and sufficient powers in our Standing Orders to deal with any matter of that kind and, particularly, with any matter of misconduct in relation to public administration.
I think there is no case for this motion and I intend to vote against it. I wish to wind up on the point which I made at the beginning—that we must not confuse the dignity of this House with the individual conduct of a Deputy. They are two distinct matters. If for a moment, I thought that there was any movement outside this House to encroach upon the jurisdiction or authority of the House I would forthwith subscribe to the motion. If I thought for a moment there was a movement outside this House to bring this House into ridicule or public contempt, I would immediately vote for the motion but, as I have said already, I do not see where the dignity or jurisdiction of the House is being encroached upon. All that has ever been called in question since I came into the House are questions relating to the conduct of Deputies—an entirely distinct matter which should not be confused with the composition of the House and I want to stress that point of view because, up to now, we seem to be confusing two things. There is no analogy between the two and I submit that we have ample powers at present, if we care to use them, for the regulation of the good conduct of members.
Mr. Allen: The motion before the House as set out is under three different headings on the Order Paper, and we have heard Deputy Mulcahy the Leader of the chief Opposition Party in the House give us many reasons why this motion should not be passed. I think I may say that in all the years we have listened to Deputy Mulcahy here in this House he excelled himself to-day, if ever a man like Deputy Mulcahy excelled himself in anything. He went back almost to his childhood or semi-child days of 30 or 40 years ago, and told us something the Taoiseach said to him one night when standing in a street in Dublin which he quoted as a reason against this motion. The motion is under three headings—
“to examine and report generally, in respect of each House of the Oireachtas, on the powers and privileges possessed by it for the protection of itself and its members and to advise as to the methods and procedure which should be adopted for the effective recognition and enforcement thereof”.
That is No. 1. Well, I do not see why any reasonably-minded Deputy, or any reasonably-minded Party, could object to an investigation and an examination as to the powers and privileges possessed by each House of the Oireachtas for its protection and the protection of its members. It is necessary to examine whether or not the procedure which is in existence, if any such procedure is in existence, enables “effective recognition and enforcement thereof”. Now, I cannot see how any reasonable person or any reasonable Party can object to No. 1 of this motion.
Can anyone see any reason why “limitations and obligations should be imposed on members”? and if so, what? —“including any such limitations and obligations as might be deemed advisable in the case of members who hold Ministerial or Parliamentary offices.” I do not see that there can be any reasonable objection to that. There are no rules or regulations laid down, so far as I know, in the rules of this House and there is no law in existence which sets out the obligations and limitations which may be imposed on members. There is no written law whatever; there is no written code of rules; there is no written code to say what limitations and obligations should be imposed on Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries in regard to their conduct generally. Now, “conduct generally” has very wide implication and I cannot see, for the life of me, what objection there can be to examining into the necessity, if any, to impose limitations and obligations on members in regard to their activities and conduct “with a view to protecting  the privileges of the House concerned or its members...” and “to advise as to the method by which such limitations and obligations should be enforced.” There is no rule or set of rules in existence at the moment to guide on any occasion on which it might be necessary to consider the conduct of any member. There is no written set of rules and no precedent to guide the House as to what it should do in the case of any member whose conduct may be called into question.
“(iii) To advise as to the procedure which should be adopted for bringing to the notice of the House concerned alleged breaches of the rules governing members' activities and conduct or alleged breaches of privilege by members or other persons, as to the method for investigating any such matter and as to the action to be taken by the House concerned in any case where such breaches have taken place.”
I cannot see how Deputy Mulcahy and his colleagues could object to any one of these three proposals. A committee of both Houses is to be set up. That committee may find that there is no necessity for any regulations or rules and may so report to the House. In the course of his speech the Leader of the chief Opposition made a statement to the effect that no report could be made but a majority report. There is nothing in the motion to suggest that there must be a majority report. As far as I know a committee such as that could make a dozen reports. The report need not be a unanimous one. It could be a minority report or a number of minority reports. I think I am correct in that assertion. I remember committees of this House making majority and minority reports on several occasions.
Mr. Allen: The statement made by the Leader of the chief Opposition Party was that only one report could be made. He wanted the impression to go to the country that the report would be only that of the majority in both  Houses, that it would be a Fianna Fáil majority report, and that only such a report could be brought in. I believe that statement to be contrary to facts. Other statements made by Deputy Mulcahy were that members of the Government Party were gagged, that they could only speak in the House when permitted to do so. I want to deny that categorically. As a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, and with 20 years' experience in the House, I had full liberty, and so had every member of the Fianna Fáil Party to discuss any matter that their free will so directed. We have the same free will as members of the Opposition. I have never known individual members of the Opposition Party or of the Fine Gael Party to go into the Division Lobby with members of the Government. They follow their leader in the Lobby on every occasion. If they are a Party with a common policy and outlook on anything it is right that they should do so. It is right that they should follow their leader, just as members of the Fianna Fáil Party follow their leader into the Division Lobby for or against a motion. That is common practice in every Parliament where democratic Parliaments exist. I see nothing fundamentally wrong about that.
Mr. Allen: This motion does not prevent interruptions at which Deputy Morrissey is an adept. Nobody could prevent Deputy Morrissey speaking if he thought well to do so, or prevent him saying what he thought fit by way of interruption.
Mr. Allen: I am sure Deputy McGilligan will tell us that it involves free speech. I hope the Deputy will explain in what manner the proposed committee affects free speech. I am sure he will give us full information on that point but I hope he will not go back 30 years to do so.
Mr. Allen: I hope the Deputy will not have to go back to some conversation that the Deputy's leader had with the Leader of the House and use that as an argument against the motion. Deputy Mulcahy told us that the Taoiseach at one time advised him to read the daily papers.
Mr. Allen: I am sure Deputy Mulcahy never took anybody's advice. I believe the advice given years ago had  as little influence on him as it has to-day. The motion is one to which no reasonable member of the House could take exception. It is reasonably worded, asking that a committee should be set up to investigate certain matters. The committee may make any report they wish.
Mr. D. Morrissey: Neither the Deputy nor the motion are quite so simple as they seem. He said that no reason could be given for objecting to it. What is the purpose of the motion, and why is it being introduced at this time? Is it to be retrospective? If not, why not? Are we to take it that it is introduced at this particular stage, after 15 years of the present Government, because of a number of things which happened within the past 12 months or two years? There were two outstanding instances.
I suggest that the main reason for having this motion introduced by the Taoiseach is the old reason, to convey, or to attempt to convey, the impression to the country that there is only one pure man in Irish public life, that there is one man who stands alone and unsullied and that he is the only person in this country in public life who is anxious to clean up whatever mess there is there. That is the main purpose of this motion. I suggest that is really what is at the back of the Taoiseach's mind. This motion is brought in because the Taoiseach was shaken in view of what happened in the past 12 months or two years. He was afraid that the camouflage that was successful over the past 15 years  was being exposed, that the veil was being torn asunder.
I have not the shadow of a doubt that there are many people who will come to the conclusion, when they read this simple motion and some of the simple speeches made in support of it and some of the things that will be said about it at the crossroads, that there is only one man in Irish public life who really wants to make our public life pure.
The Deputy said he has been 20 years here. I have been here for 25 years and perhaps I am not quite so easily imposed upon or, shall I say, made a dupe of, as some people with lesser experience. This motion, if it is carried and implemented by two committees, upon which the Fianna Fáil Party will have a clear majority over all other Parties, will bring in recommendations which will be forced through this House and the purpose of which will be to prevent members of the Opposition from exposing some of the corruption and jobbery that is going on in Government circles. The Parliamentary Secretary smiles. Of course that is the object. Is the Party opposite concerned, has it any reason to be concerned, about any gross abuse of its privileges by members of this House other than some notorious cases of which they are well aware?
This motion is not brought in to preserve the privileges of Deputies; it is brought in for the purpose of restricting the rights of Deputies. Deputy Allen shakes his head. I am quite prepared to believe that Deputy Allen does not think that is so. I suppose the Deputy is prepared to accept without examination, without any question, anything which comes from the leader of his Party, the leader of the Government. The Deputy told us that there are no rules to guide the House, no rules to guide Deputies. There are certain rules of common decency, and I admit they have on occasion been outraged by members of this House, but I am very proud to say that the occasions were very few and far between. I do not know—the Deputy made the point himself—that there is any motion which can be framed or any recommendations made by any  committee that will prevent a member of the House from saying anything he wants to say.
Mr. D. Morrissey: I will put this to Deputy Allen: that, carefully as he may have read the motion, he has not fully grasped the significance of it. I am not blaming him for that, knowing something about the gentleman who is responsible for its drafting. But if the Deputy thinks this motion is concerned to deal only with Deputies and what they do and say outside, he is making a very big mistake. I will go further. This motion is intended to make it impossible for certain people to be members of this House and, if the Deputy does not believe that now, he will see my words borne out if and when this motion is carried and implemented. Unquestionably, there are certain members of this House whom the Government would like to see out of it and the Government are going to take steps to see that it will not be possible for them to come into it.
The Deputy was indignant because the leader of this Party said something about Deputies opposite not having full freedom of conscience, and the Deputy asserted that they were absolutely and completely free and, unlike the members of the main Opposition Party, they always vote, as should be done in  a democratic Parliament, with their leader. That is a bit of a change. The taunt we usually get from the opposite side, when we exercise the freedom which is not denied to us, is that we have no common policy and we do not follow our leader. Deputy Allen goes to the other extreme.
Mr. D. Morrissey: It is news to me, and I am sure it will be to the country, that members of the Fianna Fáil Party have spoken and voted, if and when they have ever spoken and voted, against their leaders, with one or two very honourable exceptions. I see two of them over there. To give them credit, I will say that they have spoken their minds more than once. I will say this for Deputy Allen, that he has on more than one occasion differed from the line taken by the Minister. But we now know it was not because of their consciences, but because they agreed with their leaders, that they have on every occasion spoken and voted with the leaders of their Party.
So that it will be no longer possible for members of the Party opposite to make a speech. There is one gentleman who is not here at the moment who practises year in year out speaking against the Government and voting with them. We know now that whether it is a question of foreign policy, home policy, old age pensions or teachers' salaries every Fianna Fáil Deputy who walked into the lobby behind his leader did so because he believed his leader was right. The Deputy shakes his head again. The Deputy tells me that he asserts his full and absolute  freedom of conscience to speak and act as he likes. So that when Fianna Fáil Deputies walk into the Lobby against any proposal put up here, they are doing so because they are convinced that the proposal is wrong and that the Government is right. Mind you, that will be news to their constituents because they have on innumerable occasions, to my own personal knowledge, gone out and made excuses to teachers, and to old age pensioners, to name only two sections, that they believe in the justice of their case, that they would have liked to have supported it but that they were, of course, members of a Party and they were pledge-bound to vote, act and speak with that Party. We know now from Deputy Allen that that was all nonsense, that every member of the Party was free to vote and speak as he liked.
Mr. D. Morrissey: To come back to the motion, I say that it is introduced for two reasons. The first is that the Leader of the Government may hold himself forth as the one pure person in public life, the one person concerned that Irish public life should be pure. The second reason is—and this is the most important point—that this motion is not meant to preserve the privileges of Deputies. The motion will be worked by the present Government to restrict the rights of Deputies in so far as they can do that, by motion, statute or Standing Order. So far as some of us are concerned, whether our time in this House be long or short, we shall be able, as Deputy Allen said, to say what we want, when we want to say it, because there is nothing you cannot say in this House if you know how to say it.
Mr. D. Morrissey: That is not the same thing at all. I am only warning certain people that if they think they are going to gag this side of the House by motions, committees or rules, when we feel it necessary to expose anything, then they are making a big mistake.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Kissane): Some of the Deputies opposite seem to be very concerned about what we do on this side of the House. It is a common allegation of theirs that we are not free to act and say what we like. If we were to accept the arguments of Opposition Deputies who have made reference to that, our Party would very soon crumble into pieces. It is well known, of course, that all these matters affecting public life, matters of policy, have to be discussed by the members of the Party themselves and in the end there has to be a common policy and a common outlook between them all. One thing certain is that if ever a member of this Party feels strongly on any subject, there is nothing to prevent his exercising his will in that regard.
Mr. Kissane: In any case, that is the position as I know it and I think I am in a position to know it and in a position to speak with authority on that  very same point. There must, however, always be discipline in an organisation. Just as there is discipline in an army, there must be discipline in a Party because it makes for the good of the Party. If there was as strong a spirit of discipline in every Party as there is in this, it would be all to the good. I have listened to Deputy Coogan's contribution to the debate. He suggested that the members of the Government Party who would be on the committee that it is proposed to set up, would not be free to exercise their own judgment.
Mr. Kissane: We have committees such as the Committee of Procedure and Privileges. There are members of the Government Party and members of the Opposition Party on that committee. Will anyone tell me that the members of the Government Party are not free to exercise their will and authority on that committee just as the members of other Parties are?
Mr. Kissane: All these things which affect proper procedure are important. I hold that all the members of that committee are quite free to exercise their own will and authority as they  see fit. Deputy Hughes is a member of that committee. How often has he seen members of this Party on that committee who have not seen eye to eye with one another in regard to certain matters? The same remark applies to members of his own Party who are members of that committee. It is nonsense for Deputy Coogan to suggest that the members of this or any other Party who would be on this committee would not be free to exercise their personal judgment and free will on any matter.
He also tried to draw an analogy between a deputation of business men and a deputation of farmers, and he drew an analogy between them and a single individual who would approach a Government Department. He said if a farmer accompanied a deputation to a Government Department and if the class to which he belonged derived a certain benefit as a result of that deputation that that matter would come under the provisions established by this committee. Now that is all nonsense. When a person comes along representing a class of individuals or representing interests—either his own interests or the interests of certain individuals with whom he may be associated in business—that is an entirely different matter.
I think that this motion is a very desirable one. I think it is desirable to have some procedure whereby we can know what exactly Deputies ought or ought not to do. There is, of course, such a thing in this House as absolute privilege. Every Deputy in this House has absolute privilege to say what he likes. As to whether that privilege is sometimes abused or not is another question. Sometimes it may appear to be abused. Sometimes a Deputy, because he has that absolute privilege, says things and makes statements in this House that he would never dream of making outside. But that is an entirely different matter.
Mr. Kissane: There is nothing in this motion which restricts the rights and privileges of Deputies provided these rights and privileges are used in the ordinary way. If Deputies come into this House and abuse these rights and privileges, then there is a case to be made for this motion and I strongly recommend it to the House.
Mr. Cosgrave: The reasons put forward by the Taoiseach for this motion are not very convincing in normal circumstances. In the circumstances of which this House has had experience in two recent matters concerning members of this House they are even less convincing. Other Parliaments with a longer tradition than ours have their established precedents and practices adopted over a number of years. They have their rules and regulations, as a result of precedent and practice, for the guidance and conduct of the actual business of Parliament. They have also adopted rules and regulations established through tradition for the conduct of members as members of Parliament. There are experienced systems and limitations of rules of procedure and practice in Parliament and rules and procedure for the regulation of the conduct of members as members of Parliament. These systems have been in many cases sanctioned by long tradition and by precedent. These Parliaments and, in particular, the British House of Commons, have at various times set up committees to inquire into and to examine particular cases brought to the notice of Parliament either on the motion of a Minister or on the motion of an individual member of the House, or on complaint being made by a person  outside as to particular matters or allegations made against a member of that House.
In this country our Parliament has not had the advantage of a long tradition or the advantage of precedent and practice which other Parliaments have had over a period of years and in which precedent and practice have sanctioned a particular course of conduct. I think, however, that it is generally recognised and admitted by the members of this House that we have adopted, with certain suitable modifications, the procedure and practice for the regulation of the business of the House which has governed the British House of Commons. With certain modifications, we have laid down rules and regulations in the Standing Orders of this House. Within these rules and regulations the business of this House is carried on. So far as the business of the House is concerned, Deputies function and carry out their duties in accordance with these Standing Orders.
Subject to its Standing Orders, this House has carried on now for a quarter of a century through difficult times, through periods of strong conflicting opinion in a manner which, with occasional lapses, reflects credit not merely on the country itself, but has been sufficient to uphold the procedure adopted here as an example to other countries. During that time, with occasional lapses, it has functioned satisfactorily. It is significant now after a quarter of a century that we should have a motion of this kind on the Order Paper—a motion moved by the Government—to inquire into the matters contained in the motion before the House. Not merely is it significant, because of the fact that we have had nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the functioning of our own Parliament and a quarter of a century of experience of the code of conduct which Deputies have adopted in Parliament, but it is significant that two recent cases have so disturbed the public conscience and so disturbed the members of this House that this motion should now be brought forward.
It is, I think, pertinent to examine briefly the situation which has arisen  in these two cases. It is laid down in a publication which records resolutions and practices of the British House of Commons regarding procedure that, as far back as the 2nd May, 1695, the House of Commons resolved that “the offer of money or other advantage to any member of Parliament for the promoting of any matter whatsoever depending or to be transacted in Parliament is a high crime and misdemeanour and tends to the subversion of the English Constitution.” Later on a resolution of the House was passed on the 22nd June, 1858, which resolved that: “It is contrary to the usage and derogatory to the dignity of this House that any of its members should bring forward, promote, or advocate in this House any procedure or measure in which he may have acted or been concerned with for any consideration of any pecuniary fee or reward.” I am quoting now from May's Parliamentary Practice, 14th edition. I might observe that the Taoiseach quoted from this volume earlier but he did not give the source of his quotation. Both of these resolutions are pertinent to this motion. The first lays it down that any member of Parliament in receipt of a fee, or money, from any individual for furthering in Parliament or promoting any matter whatsoever is guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour and his action tends to the subversion of the English Constitution. I am sure Deputies of this House will agree that that resolution embodies the view which this House should take on a similar matter. We had recently reference to a case in which a member of the House, while in the course of making representations to a Department on behalf of interested persons, received certain moneys.
Mr. Cosgrave: From those persons. It is a matter which I think—and I thought it at the time—might have been investigated. It is obvious that certain rules and regulations must be laid down. Such rules and regulations have been laid down, on the basis of experience, in other Houses. They should deal with the possibility of infringement of the rules or regulations or of possible infringement of the code of  conduct. In view of the experience in other Houses, we here on that occasion might have set up a particular committee to inquire into it. Not having done so on that occasion, it seems to me there is no case now to go on a roving commission to examine what are the privileges of Deputies and what is the penalty for breaches of the privileges or of the rules and regulations governing this House or the conduct of its members.
The fact that the British House of Commons has passed certain resolutions dealing with certain matters which have come to the notice of that House demonstrates that we, in this House, on similar occasions and in circumstances which could be regarded as comparable, might have adopted a similar procedure. But, for some reason or another, instead a motion has been introduced for the setting up of a Select Committee which is to report in a general manner.
Some Deputies have stated that there is nothing in the motion that does not commend itself to them, that the motion is simple. I think the Deputies are simple who accept this motion at its face value. I take the view of this matter that other Deputies have taken, that it is an attempt to whitewash this House and to whitewash the Government.
If the Government wanted to inquire into any alleged breaches or into any matters that took place then the proper procedure would be to set up a Select Committee or, if it is a criminal matter, to allow the laws to function in the ordinary way of criminal procedure. But when, after an examination of two particular cases, we find ourselves faced with a resolution of this kind, I feel that there is something at the back of it, that there is something more in the case that has not yet been ventilated.
 Vague suggestions have been made here, without any particular case being cited, suggesting that there are forces outside the House compassing the overthrow of the House or compassing a reduction in or a derogation from the dignity which should attach to the House and to its members. If there are forces outside the House or if there are these activities taking place, then it is the duty of those who know they are taking place to bring them before the House specifically and to take appropriate proceedings, whether they be criminal prosecution on behalf of the State or the setting up of a Select Committee by the House to examine a particular case. But when it is suggested here in an incoherent, rambling manner, that there are forces attempting to overthrow the House or attempting by propaganda to derogate from the dignity which attaches to the House, I think we should be furnished with the particular cases or with an example so that the House may examine it and so that whatever proceedings are necessary may be taken.
It has been said, truly, that ultimately, no matter how tightly or how fully or how carefully regulations are drawn, no matter how fully they may cover the ambit of Parliamentary procedure or the functions of Deputies, in the last resort the sanction for the upholding of the dignity and prestige and the authority of this House depends first of all on the laws that are passed but, in so far as the dignity of the House is concerned, on the maintenance by its members of a high, honourable code of conduct and a high set of standards.
No Deputy can decide for another Deputy what his standards may be but it should be possible for this House to achieve a place in the nation which will reflect credit not merely on its members but on the people who elect those members. The maintenance of that position and the upholding of the position of honesty, integrity and fairness, for which Irishmen are noted, depends on the members of the House and on their setting a high standard and maintaining the principle that no matter how influential or powerful a person  may be who infringes the regulations or its set of standards, no matter whether that person is supported in the House by a majority or not, the dignity of the House is a matter of national and not of Party concern.
This House is comparatively young as Parliaments go. It will outlive all here. Certainly, it will outlive the Parties which so far have represented at one time or another the majority of the people. The authority and the dignity of this House and its prestige in the country and abroad depend not so much on the Standing Orders or on the rules or regulations which we lay down for the guidance of members, but on the high honourable integrity which Deputies establish and maintain irrespective of how influential or how powerful any member may be who infringes them.
It has been said often that you cannot make people moral by legislation, that you cannot make people good by legislation. Never was that so clearly demonstrated as in the attempt to lay down regulations or rules or a system of procedure by the method outlined in this motion. If we are to have any examination into the procedure or practice as adopted in the House or as adopted by members outside the House in connection with their Parliamentary duties, I suggest that we must get it from an impartial, objective committee.
In view of the procedure adopted here, whereby the committee of selection is drawn in proportion from the various Parties of the House, assuming there is a minority opinion or an opinion which suggests any modification of or the adoption of a report contrary to the report which the Fianna Fáil members of the committee are in favour of, it is obvious, from previous experience, that they will be voted down. It is idle to pretend that a committee of that kind, which should examine in an impartial manner and which should report objectively on the functions and on the procedure which might be adopted here, cannot do so in those circumstances. We should establish some committee which will have complete independence of action and which will be independent of the influence of the Party Whip. The one  example that comes to my mind in connection with a committee of this kind is the committee dealing with appeals from the refusal of the returning officer to sanction certain bodies as electoral bodies for the Seanad Panel. I sat on that committee on two occasions and on both occasions the members of the committee who voted one way were all drawn from the Fianna Fáil Party and the members who voted another way were drawn from other sections of the House. Only on one occasion, and I think on that occasion the full membership of the committee was not present, was a matter carried which did not receive the support of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party and which consequently could not get a majority of the committee. If such a situation can develop on this committee it is idle and futile for any members to serve upon it. Unless we can have a committee set up to report in an objective way and which will bring in an impartial report on the proper practice and procedure here, then any committee is useless. If the Taoiseach is of the opinion that certain alleged breaches should be inquired into, it might be well for him to inquire into them himself and to inquire into the matters which have come to the notice of this House recently.
It may be of no consequence, or it may be symbolic, that in the two cases which came before the House recently the members concerned were both members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Whether that is just a matter of no consequence or whether it is symbolic I do not know. But whatever way it is looked at, it is a matter which should merit the attention of the Fianna Fáil Party to see how the circumstances developed and how such occurrences took place. If these occurrences took place amongst members of the Fianna Fáil Party, it is a matter for them to examine and inquire into the circumstances in which such matters arose. As I have said, the prestige of this House and its authority depend ultimately on the honesty, integrity and ability with which members discharge their duties. It is for each Deputy to discharge his duty to his constituents and to the House according to his conscience and it is for his constituents to see, so far as they can at election time,  that he discharges his duties satisfactorily. But, so far as an attempt is made to curb or to limit Deputies' privileges by rules or regulations, it cannot be done. You will never establish in that way the honourable, honest position which this House should occupy and which its members should have throughout the country. It is idle to suggest that you can limit by regulation or rule or control by any defined procedure or practice the privileges of members of this House.
I think this motion was brought forward merely to whitewash and to give the impression that an inquiry will be instituted into matters which have disturbed the public conscience. If these matters have disturbed the public conscience and if they affected the members of the Fianna Fáil Party or the Government, then let them inquire into them and justify themselves and their Party to the country in connection with anything that took place. So far as members on this side of the House are concerned, we have our own honest principles; we are guided by these principles and we will continue to be guided by them. We will not be influenced by Fianna Fáil propaganda either here or elsewhere concerning the dignity, the independence, or the prestige of the House.
Mr. Cogan: Two weeks ago Deputy Heskin and myself put down a motion seeking to direct the attention of the House to the present need for an intensive effort in connection with the spring work on agriculture. I think the House would be more usefully employed dealing with a motion of that kind, dealing with the awful problem that faces the country in regard to the backward condition of agricultural operations at the moment than in trying to speculate as to what the Taoiseach really has in mind in introducing this motion. We have had a somewhat involved discussion on this motion. It is a long and somewhat involved motion. In my opinion, it is a motion which should not be before the House at the present time. If this motion had been introduced two or three years ago, I feel that I would be inclined to support it. But during the past year there have been glaring cases of infringements of the codes of honour and  honesty by certain members of the Government, and one cannot escape the feeling that in introducing this motion the Government are calling on all other Parties in the House to share with Fianna Fáil in the guilt which they have incurred in connection with the actions of certain of their members. That is a position which I think Independent and Opposition Deputies would feel very much disinclined to be forced into.
This motion proposes to set up a committee to make recommendations with regard to the conduct and procedure of Deputies. Surely a committee which sets out to make suggestions and recommendations of that kind should be an independent and impartial committee. It should not be a committee upon which Deputies and Senators of the largest Party should have a majority. It should be a committee of honest, disinterested outside people who would view all these matters from a purely objective standpoint. If a proposal were introduced in this House to set up a committee of that kind, I would have no hesitation in supporting it. But I feel that this particular type of committee will not do anything to raise the prestige of this House. It will be regarded as an attempt to whitewash certain offences which have been committed in the past.
An amendment to this motion seeks to extend the functions of this committee to investigate offences or alleged offences of Deputies in the past. If that amendment were accepted, it would probably remove from the public mind a feeling that this is purely a whitewashing committee. I am satisfied that an impartial and objective committee, such as Deputy Cosgrave suggested, could do useful work in defining the rights and privileges of members of this House and of the Seanad. There are many delicate and involved questions concerning to the relationship between Deputies and the various Government Departments, the functions of Deputies in regard to Government Departments and the extent to which, individually or collectively, they may influence the decisions of Government officials. These are all matters which could be investigated with very useful effect by an objective  and impartial committee. I do not think, however, that the committee proposed in this motion will yield any useful result. I am not satisfied that even if we had a very elaborate and comprehensive set of rules governing the conduct of Deputies it would raise the dignity of this House or the prestige of this House in the public estimation to any very considerable extent. In the last analysis the position which this House will hold in the public estimation will depend upon the personnel of this House and upon the standard of duty which members of this House are prepared to set up. The dignity of this House has been lowered very considerably by the acts of certain individual members of the Fianna Fáil Party. No one can deny that. It is frequently lowered also by statements made in this House which are below the level that anyone would expect from a National Parliament. To-day I was glad to hear the Chair lay down a certain definite rule in regard to a certain very objectionable type of statement, that is, to describe another Deputy's statement as “a damned lie”.
Now, I hope that the words “damned lie” will be eliminated from the vocabulary of this House for all time and not only will that description be eliminated but the damned lies themselves will also, so far as possible, be eliminated. I think it is by experience, by precedence, especially such as was established to-day, that this House can make progress in the standard of its deliberations. There has been a good deal said and rightly said about a statement by a Deputy who declared that he was forced to vote against his convictions, or against his conscience— I do not know which was the exact phrase he used—but whatever it was it certainly did cause uneasiness amongst the general public and I have heard it commented upon by a great number of people outside this House. They say, “Well, what kind of a Parliament have you when you must go in there and vote against your own consciences? You may be right or wrong but, at least, you should do what you believe to be right. You should not under any circumstances take a position which you  know and believe to be wrong.” That, I think, is the common general opinion of the people and I think it is quite right and justifiable. Another matter which did shock public opinion outside this House to a considerable extent recently was the statement of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that four of the best members of his Party revolted and left the Party because one job, one public appointment, went to a political opponent of the Government. Now, that statement revealed a very low standard of morality in the Government Party. It seemed that because, out of the hundreds of public appointments that have been made over the past 15 years, one particular appointment went to a political opponent of the Government there was an eruption and a revolt within the Party. Now I think if that is the mentality of the majority Party in this House, it is no wonder that the people outside have not a very high opinion of this Parliament. We know that older Parliaments have set up rules from time to time governing the conduct of its members. They have tried to live up to certain standards. We are a new Parliament; we are a new independent State, comparatively speaking; we have got to establish standards, and there is no basis upon which we can establish these standards of conduct except upon the fundamental principles of Christianity. These principles cannot be improved upon.
I was rather interested or, I should say intrigued, by something which Deputy Maguire said which more or less suggested that there should be a sort of a revision of the Ten Commandments to suit Deputies in this House. That was the inference which I drew from his statement. Now, I do not believe that there can be any special guiding principles on moral questions, on questions of honour, on right and wrong for Deputies which do not apply to all citizens without exception. In matters of detail, in matters relating to administration and matters of that kind, there may be guiding rules set up but when it is a question of what is right and what is wrong every Deputy must go back to his own conscience and decide that question according to his conscience. Under no circumstances  can any Deputy depart from that standard, either on the pretext that he is forced to do it by the leader of his Party or for any other cause.
The fact that we have Party Government, and that every question of major importance that comes before the House must first of all go before the majority Party—the Government Party —does tend to lower, to a certain extent, the dignity of this House as a deliberative assembly. For example, if a contentious piece of legislation is about to be introduced it is submitted first of all to the Party which has perhaps no more than a bare majority in this House, and that Party by a majority decides in favour of the Bill. Party discipline compels the minority in the Party to support the Bill in the House. The result, of course, is that although all Opposition Parties may vote against the Bill, the majority Party will carry it, notwithstanding the fact that it is only the decision of a narrow majority within that Government Party.
Many such pieces of legislation would possibly include the Public Health Bill, the County Management Bill and Bills of that kind, which were strenuously opposed by all Opposition Parties. It is possible that these Bills were carried through this House by a minority, perhaps by one-third of the Deputies. That system is wrong. In effect, it means minority rule. It means that a minority in this House can dictate to the majority. The real force that enables that minority to dictate to the majority is, of course, Party discipline. The really effective power is that which compels the majority Party to hang together, even though they disagree fundamentally on a question.
There is need for reform in connection with this and other matters. We are not approaching the question in the right way by seeking to set up a prejudiced committee of this kind. It must be a prejudiced committee, since the majority of the members are members of the Party that has transgressed in the past. Such a committee will not solve the problem. We might get very good objective advice from an outside body, but failing that, we could deal effectively with each question as  it arises. If it is brought to the public notice that a Deputy has been guilty of conduct contrary to the dignity of this House, or to his standing as a Deputy, the matter should be dealt with and a decision taken upon it. The rules of court we know are decided by a precedent established from year to year, and a rule of this House would be more firmly established if it were based upon a decision taken on matters as they arise.
We are great people for making rules and regulations but we are not such good people for observing them. I think we would be better advised to deal with each transgression as it arises on the ordinary principle of good conduct, rather than setting out in a rambling kind of way over perhaps a period of months or years to draft rules, regulations and principles to guide this House. There is, of course, also a danger which I see in connection with the drafting of rules of this kind. It is that in any type of regulation minorities in this House may be unjustly treated. A full measure of liberty is essential in any democratic Parliament. There is a danger that a Government with their clear majority on this committee and in this House might force through legislation which might be unjust to other Parties.
Mr. McGilligan: I understand that the Taoiseach in opening the debate quoted from a resolution which hung on what the English people call the Great Revolution of 1688 with, I think, something from 1690, and the Bill of Rights. It is a long time ago, over 250 years, and it took a long time to get the decision which the British did get in the Declaration of the Bill of Rights, that there should be freedom of debate in Parliament, that Parliamentary proceedings should not be capable of being impeached in court, but that the House itself should take charge. For 250 years we have been told to keep and to hold fast to the same privilege. Now it is proposed to break in on that privilege for the very insufficient reasons presented to the House by the couple of people who dared to speak after the Taoiseach, and endeavoured to support him. It took a long time to get to the 1690 decisions. It has been there since, because it is recognised as the foundation  and privilege of Parliament, as in the public interest, not given as a special privilege attaching to members of Parliament as such, so that they could get personal kudos and personal emoluments, but because it was always thought right in the public interest that men should be allowed to speak their minds freely in an Assembly like this, and should not be under terror of legal action in court by privileged or moneyed people whom they might think it their duty to attack. That privilege was left notwithstanding that on occasions there were abuses.
After all, people came to the conclusion that it was right and of paramount public interest that serious charges of a public nature should be ventilated in public and reproductions of Parliamentary debate or any other form of expression should not be subject to criminal proceedings or to proceedings for defarmation of libel. That is the foundation upon which we were raised, and it is the foundation which the Taoiseach now tries to disturb and overthrow. People have been talking of periods in this House. I have been here for many years. I have listened to some gross abuse of Parliamentary privilege, mainly by people now in the Government. I was here on an occasion when a person who was Vice-president of the Party, and later Vice-President of the State, told us, in connection with a desperate assassination, that we know who the people were who were guilty of that murder and would not prosecute them. We sent a detective-officer to his house next day and he crawled. He had no evidence to support the wide statement he had made. At a time when public opinion was agitated over what was called the economic war the Taoiseach thought fit to assert against Deputy Mulcahy that he was in collusion with the Minister for Defence in England.
He crawled the next day, but the lie had been given a start. On another occasion when that particular assassination came under review here, a man who is now a member of the Government asked us did we expect that people would tell, that they would assist the police, that they would be informers? It was a fairly gross abuse  of privilege to speak in that way about that particular matter, but in the end it was better the privilege should last, even though there were these gross abuses, because, to everybody's knowledge, the people who uttered these foul defamations suffered more in the public estimation than the people against whom they were directed. The privilege went on and has withstood even that sort of complete, entire and deliberate abuse.
I should like to draw the attention of the House to another side of this matter. There have been very useful helps given to the state from the fact that people could say here what they liked, without fear of being crushed to the ground by heavy actions brought against them in the courts. I took the responsibility in this House of exposing what afterwards became known as the Wicklow gold matter. Does anybody say that was not a good use of a Parliamentary privilege? Does anybody deny that, with the information I had, I could have exposed myself to the risk of actions in the courts by the people who were about to feather their nests if that particular scandal had not been exposed? Remember what was on foot, a real company-promoting effort of the worst type, several millions going to be embarked, several millions collected from poor, unsuspecting, credulous people on the strength of what two or three chance people, including a Deputy of the House, had put forward. But we got that quashed. There was also the inquiry into stock exchange transactions in connection with Great Southern Railways share dealings. That had a good result.
One of the good points about Parliamentary procedure is that Dáil question, the Parliamentary question, which can be addressed to any Minister about any part of his departmental activities and by means of which light can be shed upon whatever the Departments are doing or whatever the Minister is doing. That is a useful weapon for members of a Parliament to have against members of a Government. But it is only useful if the Parliamentary game is played, if the questions are answered truthfully, if they are answered from information brought  before the Minister, which he honestly believes. That Stock Exchange Tribunal brought this out, that two questions answered by a responsible Minister were far from the truth—and that is written in the report for anybody to read.
Then we had what certainly was the occasion, if not the whole basis, of this motion, the recent Ward report. That did not arise from proceedings, or questions asked, in the House. It might more properly have it might have been better handled and they might have avoided the recent scandal of having to pay the costs, out of the tax-payers' pockets, of the two people engaged in that peculiar procedure which the Taoiseach set up. That was a useful inquiry, no matter how it started, and that is the sort of inquiry which would start from members having the right to ask questions and being able, by standing on privilege, to say, without any fear of court action, what they gathered from people, and the responsibility for saying which they took upon themselves.
It is clear that the occasion of this is the Ward matter. I think it is the basis of it. There are two points at issue. First of all, the Taoiseach likes to come before the House and the country and parade himself as the person who has been too interested in some high matter, such as cosmic physics, to notice what was going on under his eyes. When his attention is drawn to it, he then comes in with a cleansing motion. If this tribunal is only asked to report and brings in a report that he will like, everything will be happy. It will be happy to this extent, that there will not be the same leave to expose the type of Ward scandal that there was before. But by no means can it be accepted that the Ward type of scandal will not go on. In fact, it is all the more likely to go on as Parliamentary privileges weaken and members are not allowed to say their say without fear of consequences.
The occasion of this motion is the Ward report. It is the first time the Taoiseach mentioned it, and he dragged it in twice when dealing with that matter. He dragged it in when dealing with one part of that matter. The part about the undisclosed profits  was so bad that nobody who had any thought for himself would but wish the thing dead and burried. But there had to be a gloss and the gloss was this, that one part of the Ward inquiry was dealing not with the legality, but with the propriety of Dr. Ward's activities in relation to certain medical officers, and the Taoiseach said that there was some doubt as to how far a man like the Parliamentary Secretary could engage in business. That was never questioned. The fact that Ministers are here recognised as having no other form of emolument except their Parliamentary emoluments and that Parliamentary Secretaries are not tied by the same rule gave the people the understanding that there was a cleavage as between the two types of offices and what people might make arising out of their Parliamentary associations.
But this was in dispute, whether a man elected as the representative of a constituency and getting into a position of authority should use that position over those subjected to him to make them do for him what they should not have been persuaded to do for other people. That was the whole gravamen of the charge against Dr. Ward that, being the man in charge of public health, he got medical officers to accept a lower rate of emolument than he was getting from the public health post; in other words, that he farmed out the post and made a little on it. We have to get that erected into a problem, something which requires public attention, something which requires investigation and with as little debate as possible. But we want a report on the matter, and if we can get a report from a prejudiced committee all the better, because then it may bind the House and at least the surface may be kept clean no matter what goes on in the depths.
When I say the occasions for this was the Ward inquiry I do not believe it is alone the occasion. People here cannot forget what was alleged against Deputy Briscoe, when it was notorious that ten times he had received accommodation to the extent of £50 when he was helping the people who paid him the £50— that ten times he got certain advantages  through his association with Government Buildings. I suppose we have as a minor matter the fact that the Taoiseach thought that he might clean up this matter of Parliamentary vocabulary. There is a long history about the Parliamentary vocabulary. I was the victim of an attack by the Taoiseach when he wound up by remarking that what I had uttered was a falsehood. I challenged that matter and we had a discursive effort by the Taoiseach to the effect that falsehood is an objective type of statement, but to say “lie” would be entirely different because that would impute something to the person.
We left it and on a later occasion I used the word “falsehood” deliberately against a member of the Government. I was asked to withdraw and I pointed out in the House on that occasion that the word, ugly as it is, had been sanctioned and sanctified by its use by the Taoiseach in argument and had been accepted by the Chair and, notwithstanding that—and this again is on public record—on the understanding that this word was disappearing from our Parliamentary records and our vocabulary, I would withdraw, and that was accepted by the Chair on that condition. It was not accepted for long by the Taoiseach. Within a month, he was querying whether people were speaking the truth, and again he had his argument of what was objective and what was subjective and to say whether people were speaking the truth or not did not impute lying. Eventually the whole thing boiled up the other day when Deputy Flanagan was told not merely that what he said was untrue, was a falsehood, was even a lie, but that he was telling lies and that he was lying. If there is any man responsible for keeping that sort of vocabulary in this House, it is the man who moved the motion here to-day. So, of course, it is necessary, now that public attention has been attracted to that ugly vocabulary, now that public attention particularly has been attracted to the fact that Ministers may use terms which the ordinary Deputy is prohibited from using, to have a committee to gloss the whole thing over, and to have a whitewashing.  If the committee is so constituted as to be guaranteed to bring in whatever the Taoiseach wants it to bring in, everyone will be happy.
What is aimed at in this motion? I have asked for explanations from more than one member who was in the House when the Taoiseach spoke. I asked whether he had given any examples that might have shocked the conscience of Deputies or might have persuaded them that some tightening of the reins was necessary or that Parliamentary procedure had been running amok. No such example was given, I was told, but we were told that the House desires protection from forces without the House, from the Press. And this is 1947! We have had many laws restricting the liberty of the Press, but almost as sacred as Parliamentary liberty has been the liberty of the Press. In the Constitution, the Press is guaranteed liberty to state their views, not excluding criticism of the Government. Now apparently we must be protected from the Press who are doing something to weaken the authority of this House. Surely the Taoiseach knows, because he is the author of most of it, that there is in this country the most compact bit of tyrannical law that any modern State has ever enacted to protect the community, the individual members of the Government and the institutions of the State against the sort of attack that he apparently fears? Quite recently the legislation we have down here was praised in the North, by people who have been paraded by our people as tyrants up there. They paraded our legislation in this matter as a worthy example, as showing how to stop the sort of activities that might bring the State to naught.
Does the Taoiseach not know that first of all he has the ordinary criminal law open to him? There are such things as seditious libels. I am sure he would not like to embark on bringing before the independent judges of this country any of the old types of action that passed under the heading of seditious libel. As the English community became more freedom-loving, the less did these actions appear in court because it was recognised that they were against the spirit of the people over there.  Judges laughed these actions, when they were brought, out of court, with a very odd bad exception to the contrary. If the Taoiseach thinks that there is anything in the nature of sedition moving outside or anything in the nature of Press attacks which might disturb the State, if there are attacks on people in important positions in the State, he has the bench of independent judges before whom he can try his hand. What other example of breach of privilege by the Press has there been given? What outrageous articles have they written? Where has been the impact of anything they have done to undermine the foundations of the State which makes the Taoiseach come in here even to make a prima facie case against the Press to try to build up the suggestion that this House requires protection against something happening outside?
Apart from that, the Taoiseach must surely know of the vast powers he has under the Offences Against the State Act. The Taoiseach has got a definition of sedition there that will cloak him in almost anything he wants to bring if he has a scintilla of an action against anybody. The Taoiseach knows that right through that Act, there are multi-tudinous offences created and that one whole section of the Act is directed to getting a firm foundation for the various functionaries of the State and the various institutions of the State. It is well built because it has to be remarked that when the Taoiseach set about making that Act, all he had to do was to think of all he had himself done for 15 years and to guarantee that nobody else would do it again without falling foul of the criminal law. Under that Act, if a member of the Guards suspects that anybody has committed, is about to commit or is likely to commit any offence under any of the sections of the Act, or if he has any information relating to the commission or intended commission of any offence under that Act he can stop the person on the street, ask his name and address, search him and finally arrest him without a warrant. If the Taoiseach is driven to the worst—and it will be the worst—the man can be interned without trial.
If he can get any of his Ministers to sign a document scheduled to the Act,  a document already printed and only requiring signature, stating that the Minister is of opinion that Mr. X is engaged in activities likely to be prejudicial, or which in his opinion are prejudicial, to the safety of the State, all that being done, Mr. X goes to jail and he stays there until the Minister relents or until a committee including one judge, finds, not that there are no legal grounds for retaining him, but that there are no reasonable grounds. If the Taoiseach can compel a judge to believe that there are reasonable grounds for holding a man in jail, that man will stay in jail.
With all these sources of power tapped ready for his use, what does the Taoiseach fear? What has happened outside? What is it that the Press have done, or is this all speculation about what they may do? Has the Taoiseach any case based on fact, based on something that has happened in our immediate past on which he can stand and ask this House to give him some better protection in its privileges against the Press than it has at the moment?
I am told that another of the Taoiseach's objectives in this motion is to protect people who are not Deputies or members of the Oireachtas against statements that may be made against them in this House. I suggest that any move that is made in that direction is a most dangerous one. I suggest that we should get the fullest protection in all that we say against people who are not members of this House. I say that we should get it all the more in these days when the opportunity of interested dealing—interested dealing in very lucrative business—has become easier and easier and when opportunities are being given to men, through privileged appointments made by the Government and not on the basis of merit—demonstrably not on the basis of merit, but which are made for the purpose of support of a financial kind and when companies are being promoted by the Government and people who are attached to Government and under the control of Government are being associated with such companies, particularly in the terrible situation that has been revealed by the Report of the Commission of  Inquiry into Vocational Organisation. In those circumstances I think that we should be all the more strengthened in this House to deal with that situation which has developed so quickly and is still developing under our very eyes. Why should outsiders be protected against this privilege? What cases of abuse can it be alleged have occurred here in 15 years? Can the Taoiseach single out for me occasions upon which Deputies have said things harmful or derogatory of people outside this House where the Deputies have not had justification for what they did say? Is not the best safeguard that the country can have that its public representatives should be able to come in here and that, if they take on themselves the responsibility here of making a charge or asking a question which contains an insinuation against a person outside this House, Deputies should bear the odium resulting from their own conduct if their conduct is unworthy?
If a Deputy makes a statement here charging something against a person and it is found that that charge is unsustainable, that Deputy will suffer as a public man and that Deputy will suffer more as a public man than he may suffer hereafter as the result of some report of a Party committee after a Party trial and under conditions of secrecy.
I ask again, have there been abuses? What are they? Let us hear them so that we may deal with them and so that we may say, even although we want that priviliege with all its ancient historic associations and its value stressed and emphasised and proved down through the centuries—even although it is a big privilege—if there have been big abuses then we can remit our right to this privilege and we can allow ourselves to be hampered in some way in the freedom of speech that we now have in this assembly. I have heard no such case made. I am instructed that no such case was made here to-day. If that is so where is the necessity for our moving in this direction? We are now at a time in the history of the world when we have only just emerged from the worst situation ever known where two countries perfected  themselves and perfected themselves, in the main, by choking down all public criticism and by turning their Parliamentary assemblies into places where those who were at the head of Government could only be applauded but could never be questioned. Under that type of iron certain, tyranny arose and it has taken an amazing amount of time, perseverance and virtue to eradicate it.
We are now being asked, without any case being made, to set up a committee to see whether we could not give way on a privilege which, if it never proved its value, certainly proved its worth through what happened when that privilege was not being worked or used in the last 20 years. I understand that the Taoiseach saw fit to drag into the debate two classes of people, business men—particularly business men who are Deputies—and lawyers. The present Ceann Comhairle was not long in office when I approached him personally on a particular matter. I asked him whether there was any way in which a Deputy like myself engaged in professional practice might let it be known in the House when there was some measure under discussion here in which he was interested and on which he desired to speak. I queried whether there was any system under which publicity could be given to that fact so that no innuendo could subsequently be levelled against me. I received a note from the Ceann Comhairle that Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice gave the British practice in relation to the matter and the Ceann Comhairle assured me that he thought that that was a satisfactory position. That is many years ago. I read what was in Erskine May's book. Incidentally, I found a change in the last edition from the edition to which the Ceann Comhairle then referred me. It is a change that may be of significance. Deputy Cosgrave read the matter here to-night: “It is contrary to the usage and derogatory to the dignity of this House that any of its members should bring forward, promote or advocate in the House any procedure or measure in which he may have acted or been concerned”—there used to be a comma there—“for any consideration or any  pecuniary fee or reward.” As I understand it, the matter which is objected to is that a Deputy should speak in this House for fee or reward in connection with something in which he was previously engaged and not that he should speak in this House in connection with something outside in which he acted for fee or reward. In any event I am on the right side of the line no matter which interpretation is given to that phrase. I know of no lawyer who has broken that, but the insinuation had to be made. It is a very easy thing to libel a class and if one individual speaks in defence it can be said that he has missed the point but that, of course, there is somebody else in a worse case.
The Business man has also been talked about. It is not the first time in which the business man has been dragged into this discussion. The first occasion on which that occurred was the occasion upon which the Taoiseach was replying to Deputy Dillon and me when we raised the matter of a Deputy of this House having received financial accommodation during a period in which he was engaged in negotiation with a State Department. The Taoiseach introduced the example of a man who got some consideration at a time when he was using his endeavours with Government Departments to do those people some good and he tried to make the analogy between that precise case and all its attendant circumstances and the case of the business man who might go in to plead for something which might eventually affect himself and his business. I have heard no case made here against the Business man. I have heard no case made, at least, against the business man who is a member of this House. I have heard quite enough made here in speeches by members of this House and in conversation outside to make me realise that at this moment there never was so grave a necessity for members being protected by this ancient privilege under which they are allowed to speak against all people—business and otherwise. There never was so grave a need for members being protected from those men with the money bags putting the weight of their money  against the free criticism to which they are subjected inside this House and which they could crush with their money if that criticism had to be made without that privilege.
Finally, we are asked now in this motion, without any case being made, to throw this ancient privilege—which has certainly had its value proved over the years in this House and particularly in recent years—to throw that ancient privilege over for an examination and a report. To whom? To a Party Committee. Is there any doubt of that? Will not this committee represent this House? Will it not be a majority committee which will report? And what a majority! Deputy McCarthy has been brought so often into this debate that he must now feel like an old performer in it.
Deputy McCarthy spoke here on the 14th February in connection with a certain debate. May I say, and I say it to his credit and not wanting to embarrass him, that it is not the first occasion I heard him speak against Party measures promoted by the Government he supports? As well as this occasion, I was here one night and, I am sure, embarrassed him by complimenting him on the speech he made in connection with tourist development, but in this debate he thrust himself in with this phrase:
Mr. McGilligan: On that occasion Deputy McCarthy—I borrow the word —was made have the courage of the Taoiseach's convictions but not of his own. That is the committee that is going to report upon this matter—a majority of the House. Deputy McCarthy is not the only member of that Party who has said in this House that he is made vote against either his convictions or his conscience. Deputy Corry—but God forbid that I should make much use of him as a good example to this House in anything—has spoken to this House in that way. Deputy Allen I have heard making speeches which led me to expect his appearance in the Lobby against his Party but it did not happen. Other Deputies have spoken in the country. Free from this House, Deputies of that Party have said that they had voted contrary to their conscience and belief. But we are going to ask a Party committee—and it will be a Party by majority—to deal with this ancient privilege, and the Parliamentary Secretary here to-night told us and he admitted—of course, it did not need his admission—that on important matters the Party meets and the business is arranged.
Mr. McGilligan: Apparantely the object of discussion is to get a decision or maybe it is not so in that Party, that it is only to get an order. In any event people here heard Deputy Kissane  and it certainly revealed to me an acknowledgment. I think he acknowledged that these things were definitely discussed in Party. Is it too big a jump from that for me, knowing the Party and sympathising with Deputy McCarthy on his experiences, to believe that orders are given or that at least only those are selected for certain committees who have certain viewpoints?
So, we will have a committee of this House. A majority of that committee will be Fianna Fáil and I suggest that on that committee, as we know the way that Party is worked, there will be nobody allowed with a viewpoint of his own. He will either be told what to do or he will have revealed his mind, under careful tuition, as being the type that will bring in the sort of report that is being looked for and we will get then a report, and only one report. There will be no minority report. If Deputy McCarthy should happen to be a member of the committee he will not even be on record in that committee as objecting to what is done. Even if he votes against his Party and would like to sign a minority report, he will not be able to do it. There will be one report—the report of that Party majority. Why should members on this side, members of the Labour Party, members of the Farmers' Party, be asked to troop in to a Fianna Fáil Party meeting—because that is what this is going to be? Why should we be asked to troop in to a Fianna Fáil Party committee, knowing that we cannot make our own point of view, knowing that we certainly cannot even gather the signatures of a minority who will agree with our point of view?
What is likely to emerge from this committee, massed by the Party vote and producing only one report? We are probably going to have some tribunal of this House set up to deal with breaches of privileges. What will that tribunal be? Another Party committee because, if it reflects the composition of this House, it must give a majority to Fianna Fáil. The ancient privilege of Parliament, that has lasted for 250 years, will now become the play-thing of the Party.
Deputy Briscoe, certainly, hereafter can face the future easily because if,  hereafter, he decided to take ten more accommodation bills from people whom he is helping by going around to Government places, he knows that in the end he may have to face a mixed committee but that the majority of that tribunal will be his own men and he will be able to rely upon a complete verdict in his favour.
The only thing that is absent from this is a statement as to the particular brand of whitewash the committee is going to use, but that it is to be a whitewashing committee nobody can have any doubt. Deputy Cogan has made the point that if there is any sincerity behind this there will be no attempt to pack any such committee, there will be no question of having only one report. The Taoiseach should look for a multiplicity of reports so that the House, hereafter, if this matter has again to be discussed, will have the benefit of having on record divergent points of view, and can evaluate those by the people who adopted them and the arguments that are afterwards used here to sustain them. If there is any sense in this committee, there could even be given some hint as to what is expected to result from that committee, so that people could know whether in the end the ancient privilege of Parliament is to become just a Party plaything.
Remember, there are dangers beyond merely whitewashing people who ought not to be whitewashed, because hereafter if a Deputy who does not belong to the majority Party criticises a member of the Government Party in his speech he presumably can he hauled before this committee — again the Party committee — and possibly he can have penalties imposed upon him and possibly he can be suspended from the House. If that should happen with a number of people and at a particularly critical period the Government may be saved from any amount of embarrassment. That is a situation that any healthy-minded Government does not desire.
Any Government that thinks it has a good case knows that the good case appears better the more it is subjected to analysis and criticism, and the Government that is anxious about the  reputation of the House and the members in it ought to realise that the best way of meeting with suggestions of corruption and of evil is to ventilate the matter and have the whole thing inquired into, not by Party committees but by the sort of tribunal we set up in connection with Dr. Ward.
I suggest that this motion is badly based. It comes out of a transaction that has scandalised the country. It has scandalised the country in itself and more so because of the attitude the Government have taken up about it. It has only occurred to the Taoiseach as a way of avoiding some of the odium which has necessarily lit upon him personally and his whole group of Ministers for that particular transaction, but I suggest that it is wrong that ancient privileges should be abused in order to try to get people out of difficulties into which they ran or allowed their adherents to run them into. I say, further, that this motion has been brought forward without any case being made for disturbing what has lasted here for 25 years and has lasted in England for 250 years. I say that what is reasonably forecast as the outcome of this will leave this country and this Parliament in a much worse state than they are now, and that whatever reins are given freely to interested business people, to people who are trading in corruption in any way, they will have far more freedom from inquiry and criticism under the new system than they had in the past. I say finally that for Deputies, at this stage of the history of the country, when vigilance ought to be more and more demanded of them, to have themselves hampered and clipped in the way in which this motion evidently intends they shall be, is definitely weakening not merely the fabric of Parliament but, by weakening that, weakening the whole structure of the State. I think nobody, except those who are interested by their Party affiliations, will be found to vote for this motion or to attend any meeting of the committee, when it is set up.
Mr. Flanagan: I rise to oppose the motion. I notice that the Taoiseach, as usual, has some encyclopaedia or dictionary  before him. I wonder will he quote from that encyclopaedia something to show that this step he is taking to-night is a democratic one. Will he repeat the statements that he made in the past about a free people and a free Parliament? So far as I can see, this motion is a further step added to the many steps that the Government have taken towards complete dictatorship. It is not so long ago since Deputies of all Parties received a circular from one of the Taoiseach's Parliamentary Secretaries not to make representations to a certain Government Department in connection with old age pensions. Then a Minister issued instructions by circular to all employees of local authorities and to all persons in receipt of remuneration from State funds that, no matter what their grievances might be or what might be the conditions under which they were working, they were not to communicate with Deputies so that Deputies might have their cases brought forward.
Mr. Flanagan: This motion goes even further than the circulars issued to Deputies in the past. It will even prevent Deputies from expressing their views in this House. If such a committee as is proposed is established, it is a committee in which I should be interested more than any other Deputy, because I have been removed from this House at the request of the Chair and even on the motion of the Taoiseach on more occasions than any other Deputy.
Mr. Flanagan: Yes, by order of the House. Certainly, if I am responsible for breaking any of the rules and regulations of the House according to the terms of the motion in future, I shall find myself called upon to give an account of my conduct before a committee of this nature. I oppose this motion very strongly, because I object to any group of Government back benchers probing into my public or private affairs. It is a disgraceful state of affairs that a committee is to  be established for the purpose of investigating the private and business affairs of a Deputy or as to what his public or private dealings may be.
Not alone is that objectionable, but if a Deputy on this side of the House has proof of corruption of some kind or another against a Government Deputy, under this motion he will be prevented from raising the matter in the House. It will be a matter for the attention of a committee such as is suggested by the Taoiseach. No matter what statements they may have to make, Deputies who are members of a free Parliament should be permitted to express their views openly and honestly and should be in no way interfered with in expressing their views. On one occasion in this House I spoke at length on the Vote for the Department of Justice. I made a speech which I was absolutely entitled to make, because it was in accordance with the rules of debate and the Chair did not rule it out of order. The following morning I received from the Attorney-General a very impudent letter inquiring how I dared to mention his name in this House or to make any reference whatever to a matter which was under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Justice at the time. I strongly resented a State official, such as the Attorney-General, addressing a letter in such a manner to a Deputy. I believe that Deputies should be permitted to make their speeches without any interference from civil servants or State officials.
I cannot see what case the Government are putting up for such a motion as this. I was not in the House when the Taoiseach was introducing the motion, but I hope to be here when he is replying. A good deal has been said about the dignity of this House. I am afraid that the dignity of this House has been considerably lowered, that it has been brought to the very lowest depths of indecency within the last four or five years by those who are sitting on the opposite side of this House. It has been lowered by Deputies and Ministers. Not alone have Ministers lowered the dignity of this House but, when they go on public platforms, there is no knowing the depths of indecency to which they can descend  when dealing with opponents or citizens who have not their political affiliations.
Within the last week or ten days I made a statement in this House and the Minister for Industry and Commerce interjected that the statement I had made was a damned lie. It is not more than 12 months ago since at Question Time in this House I remarked that I did not believe what the Taoiseach had said. The Chair and the Taoiseach rose to direct my attention to the fact that that was an insinuation that the Taoiseach was misleading the House or telling a lie, and I think I had to withdraw my remark. It is not very long ago since Deputy Blowick made a remark in this House about a Minister's appearance when he walked into the House. Two days afterwards, Deputy Blowick, by request I believe, apologised to the Minister and to the House. On another occasion, I accused a Minister of misleading the House and the Chair demanded that I should apologise to the House or otherwise leave the House. Last week the Minister for Industry and Commerce could continue and there was no apology from him for accusing a Deputy of this House of being a liar. The fact of the matter is that there is one law for Deputies and another law for Ministers. That should not be the case. I am sorry to say that if there is anything responsible for lowering the dignity of this House it is the manner in which I believe Ministers can get away with statements which Deputies cannot get away with. There is no question of getting away with any statements: it is a matter for the Chair to decide whether a question is Parliamentary or otherwise. If an expression is unparliamentary it is, in accordance with procedure, immediately withdrawn.
Mr. Flanagan: I would be long sorry, Sir, to criticise your ruling. I think that the manner in which Deputies make certain statements in this House  and have to apologise calls for criticism because when a Minister makes the same statement he can get away without apology. I think it is most unfair.
Mr. Flanagan: The Minister should apologise. If he has any decent drop of blood in him, he will apologise. I was not in the House earlier, I was attending a county council meeting in my constituency. I understand that the Minister did not apologise but it is still not too late for him.
Mr. Flanagan: ——on which this House should be conducted. I may further point out, Sir, as far as this motion is concerned, that it is a motion which I expect will be supported by a majority of Fianna Fáil Deputies. If the Taoiseach is so anxious to have such a committee established for the purpose of investigating complaints which may be brought against certain members of the Oireachtas I am sure he would not raise an objection — to the extent that we can raise it here to-night on this motion — if it were an independent committee  of members or of certain citizens who have no political affiliations whatever; citizens who would be impartial. Take for example a number of the Circuit Court judges or some of the High Court judges. Those men would be quite as capable and, I am sure, as efficient in dealing with any complaints which might arise as the committee the Taoiseach suggests. I am afraid that if this motion is going to be adopted by this House it certainly will take from the powers of Deputies and I hope and trust that some of the Fianna Fáil Deputies who know and realise that such a motion is not in their interest will have the courage and the pluck to abstain from voting if they cannot do otherwise in accordance with the regulations and the wishes of the Taoiseach. I am positively sure that if the Taoiseach is replying he cannot make reference to the fact that this is a further democratic step. As Deputy McGilligan pointed out, there was not a word about the appointment of any such a committee for the purpose of holding investigations into the conduct of Deputies until the Taoiseach himself probably saw the manner in which Deputies of his own Party were conducting themselves. Not alone were they ordinary Deputies but Parliamentary Secretaries, and I may tell the Taoiseach that there is no difference whatsoever in the manner in which other Ministers of the Taoiseach's Government are conducting themselves at the present time. The only difference is that Dr. Ward was found out and they are not.
Mr. Flanagan: As far as the privileges of Deputies are concerned I think it is a very serious step and a step that should not be taken if legislation is passed here in this House which would in any way interfere with the rights and privileges of a Deputy. I think that it is very serious and that it should not be adopted by this House. It is not long ago since I made an attempt to ask an ordinary, simple  Parliamentary question which I believe I was in order in putting down as a Deputy. The Parliamentary question, Sir, was addressed to the Minister for Agriculture:—
“To ask the Minister for Agriculture if he would state the amount of tillage or if he would state whether a certain Deputy of this House who had a fairly extensive farm in my constituency was complying with the tillage regulations.”
And I asked further if the Minister for Agriculture would state the amount of money that this particular Deputy had received out of the farm improvements scheme. These questions were immediately ruled out. I do not know who was responsible for ruling out the question.
Mr. Colley: I think we have listened to more hypocrisy here this evening than I thought it was possible to put into a few hours. We in these benches were lectured about our consciences. Deputy Mulcahy repeated at least half a dozen times that he was the keeper of the consciences of the back benchers of Fianna Fáil. I think we are all capable of looking after our own consciences — I am, in any case — and if I want any advice about it, Deputy Mulcahy is certainly not the man I will look to for that advice. He told us that the Government were tampering with our consciences. I am a junior member of the House and if all the allegations that were made from the other side were true, I certainly should have been one of those who were brought into line, given my instructions and made toe the  line. I say as solemnly as I can that since I came into this Party, no one, Minister, Whip or Party member, has ever attempted to interfere, or to prevail on me to do anything that I did not want to do.
Some of us learned in a hard school, and some of us are wise enough to know that we are not omnipotent and that we can make errors. But we are not prepared to shove our opinions as if they must be sacrosanct. We know that we can be wrong in matters of opinion and, consequently, we are prepared to accept, just as every member of this House is prepared to accept, majority rule. Nobody has ever attempted to silence us and I doubt very much if there is a Party anywhere else that has the freedom of speech or the freedom of action that we in these benches enjoy. That is why we are able to stick together, and all the manoeuvres here this evening and all the manoeuvres in the past to try to break that solidarity will never succeed. Deputies opposite will not impress us by the exaggerations, the insinuations and the falsehoods that we have heard this evening.
The people on the opposite benches know all about everything, even things that they have nothing to do with. They know more about things than the people actually concerned. Last week we had Deputy Costello, in the fuel debate, telling us that he knew all about the corruption in the Government. He knew there was great corruption in the Government. A few moments afterwards he was telling us how he would stand over paying the cost for anybody who could bring that out. He knew all about it before, but he could not bring it out.
Deputy Mulcahy to-day threw charges of corruption and jobbery against this Party. He spoke about Fianna Fáil Party men getting jobs. Something came out here last week, after all the attacks on Fuel Importers, about one of his strong Party supporters getting a job. Was he a Fianna Fáil man? I would like to ask Deputy Mulcahy what happened in 1924, when there were 25,000 people walking the streets in dire distress. How many of them were given jobs, when there were plenty of jobs going?
Mr. Colley: Though Deputy Mulcahy may be living in a glass house, he should not throw stones. We were told to-day that we were feathering our nests. Our consciences are surely in our own keeping. I am not prepared to put my conscience into the keeping of anybody else. I am not at all upset about my conscience. It seems from the attitude taken up by Deputy Mulcahy that his conscience is very upset, and perhaps we cannot blame him if he read the obituary notice in to-day's paper.
Deputy Cogan told us about the Party that had transgressed. He said this Party had transgressed because one of its members did a thing outside his Parliamentary duties. I wonder how many people in private life would accept responsibility, if their next-door neighbour transgressed in a serious fashion? Would they take responsibility for it? There is no hesitation on the Opposition Benches to spread the blame when it suits them.
Of course, we are used to the type of prophecies made from the Opposition Benches about the calamities that will follow on the operation of this proposal. By this time the country people are well used to such prophecies. I think the greatest indication that the motion will not bring about the things that have been alleged here this evening is that these very things are so strongly stressed from the Opposition Benches. I cannot see that such things will happen. This motion seems to me to be an ordinary, reasonable attempt to put our house in order after what has happened. It seems to be an ordinary, reasonable attempt for men with consciences to try to make things right in the future.
We have had the grossest exaggeration used in connection with this motion. Judging from the speeches that have been made, I gather that the main objection to the motion is that the Opposition Party, being in a minority through the will of the people, will not be allowed to put their views wholly and entirely over on the majority Party. Several times we  have had that indicated to-day. Have the majority no right at all in connection with this matter? To listen to Opposition Deputies, it would appear that the minority view must prevail and the majority view does not matter, even though the will of the people has indicated differently.
Deputy Cogan also pleaded very strongly against Party Government. Perhaps he wants a Government of the sort that he has been in political life recently — an Independent first, shortly afterwards a Party member, again an Independent and then within a week or two wanting to get back again into a Party. Maybe he wants a Government of that sort, which will change every hour of the day. That will be good for the country surely. At any rate, I speak here without any Minister, any Parliamentary Secretary, any Whip or any other official of this Government saying one word to me or I to them. I am expressing my own views on this matter, and I have no hesitation whatsoever, in spite of all the fine language we have heard from the Opposition Benches, in supporting this motion.
Captain Giles: This debate I am sure has taught the Taoiseach that he has much to learn and, as far as I can see, the sooner he learns the better for this House. If he were serious about this motion, I do not see why he would not have consulted the leaders of the different Parties so that they could unite on a motion which we could all accept and of which we could be proud. There must be some other motive behind this motion. As a man who looks at things from a political slant, I think it is a cunning motion. It is a very suitable motion for the present moment according to the Taoiseach's ideas. So far as it has gone, it has done its stuff. At the present moment things are in a bad way in the country. The cry is for food and fuel. There is an uproar and the people have certainly much to grumble about. The Taoiseach, being a very shrewd and wily politician, always likes to introduce a red herring at the opportune moment. The motion introduced here to-day is a red herring in my opinion  and its purpose is to get the big guns on the Opposition Bench to reel off their stuff. The Press likes to seize on an occasion of that kind and we shall find big black headlines in the morning's paper: “Wild scenes in the Dáil.” Then the Taoiseach hopes that the people will be led to believe that this great man merely wishes to bring in a motion to clean up the Dáil and that the cowardly Opposition Deputies upset his plans. The people will be confounded and confused and that is all the Taoiseach wants. They have been confounded and confused for the last ten years but I warn the Taoiseach that their eyes have been opened and that they will not fall for this.
In my opinion there was no earthly reason for introducing this motion. If a man transgresses the privileges of this House — and some of them have been transgressed — it is not we, but the people's court, who will try that man. If there are such men they will be tried at the next election and if they are found wanting, the people will deal suitably with them.
It is unfortunate that a motion of this character should be introduced at a time when our people were looking forward to some pronouncement from the House that something would be done to ease the situation in the country where the people are hungry, famished and bewildered. Here we have this red herring introduced giving rise to a big debate that is not needed at all. If the Taoiseach were in any way serious about this matter, he would have consulted the heads of the different Parties as to what was necessary to preserve the dignity of Parliament. That could be done simply but the Taoiseach did not want it that way. The result is that we have this old flare up from both sides of the House. It is unfortunate and it makes one sad. We are more like a pack of school children than an assembly of serious men. Any little pick we can get out of the other fellow we must have it. If that is the way we are going to build up this nation it would have been far better to have left the Saxon where he was.
What have we done to give the people any confidence that we can do things  better than the invaders who were here for 700 years? Was our revolution a success at all? I am satisfied that things are desperately wrong in the country and I am equally satisfied that we have the initiative and the will-power to carry out the reforms which are needed if we only set about the work in a proper manner. The first thing that is needed in this country is a little more Christian charity. I do not see why we cannot solve our political controversies in a better spirit. I believe that we can have our differences, and bitterly oppose one another if necessary but our conduct should always be guided by high and noble principles. There should be certain fixed principles which would meet with general acceptance by all Parties in the House. I think that the maintenance of the dignity of this House should be a fixed principle. There is no necessity for a motion to establish principles which should be engraved in our hearts. If the Taoiseach wants a pure assembly, he will not secure it by bringing in a motion the only effect of which is to excite feelings in this House. It is by co-operation, consultation and harmony amongst all Parties that these principles can be maintained. We have four or five Parties in the House and the heads of these Parties should be consulted whenever the question of fixed principles is involved.
I am satisfied that the only reason for introducing this motion is to create bewilderment amongst the people. At the present time the people are in a very bad way and the Taoiseach, in his old cunning way, brings in a motion to distract their attention from their sufferings. The people will say, after reading the reports of this debate: “Oh, the Taoiseach is all right, the trouble is with the people he has around him.” The Taoiseach, with his usual acuteness, tries to create that atmosphere. Meanwhile the people of the country are hungry, and many of them are leaving it as fast as they can get away. That is all due to the state of politics in this country. Britain, whom we used to abuse so much in the past, is a far more dignified nation. The standards observed in her Parliaments are of the highest character and  there is very little of the nonsense we have here. There is far more common sense shown over there. I am satisfied that for a number of years past we have been a very mixed race here; we are not the people we thought we were. We are in a sorry state, and I think the blame for that rests upon ourselves. We spend too much time on little narrow issues — issues that should be completely ignored. We spend too much time in growling at each other. Our object here should be to work for the peace and contentment and well-being of the people as a whole. It should be our aim here to make our people prosperous and happy and to encourage a larger and a healthier population. There should be harmony in Parliament, and out of that harmony will come the improvements that must be effected in the lives of the people. These are the things that the people want us to do. These are the things that they expect us to do. These are the things we are not doing at the moment.
I trust that the Taoiseach will learn one lesson from all this debate, and that is, that he cannot hope to hoodwink the people all the time. If he has any more of his cantankerous motions to bring in I hope that he will consult the people of this House before he introduces them. I have a grievous complaint to make in regard to this motion. We have now spent a considerable time discussing it here, but when we have an important motion before the House dealing with agriculture or some fundamental of our life, nothing like the same interest is shown in it. What do we find then? We find about half-a-dozen Deputies in the House — nearly always back benchers on the side of the Government — a few farmers and a few Fine Gael. An agricultural motion is of the utmost importance to the country. Here in this motion we are discussing something relatively unimportant and, I think, wholly unnecessary. We have discussed the length and breadth of it. I think the people of the country have a lot to learn yet. If they do not learn within the next few years, then there is very little hope for them. If they want advancement and progress and better  services generally, then they will have to make themselves felt here in this House. It is time to stop the nonsense and get on with the work. There is a tremendous amount of important work to be done and that work can only be done by the united efforts of the nation as a whole.
I am not a mathematician, or anything like that, but I do know that if I were given certain powers in my own county I could get things done. I could bring about far more progress and make for more contentment in that county if I had the power. That can only be brought about by a united effort and by co-operation between all classes.
The Taoiseach is held in great esteem throughout the country. At one time I had some esteem for him myself. I am beginning to think now that he is one of the cutest politicians that God ever inflicted upon this country. I believe that the curse of a suffering people will come down upon his head some day. He has solved none of our problems. He has added considerably to our difficulties. He came into this House to solve our problems. We were to have reduced taxation and a better standard of living. Partition would be abolished overnight. He has done nothing but add more trouble to our already existing ones. He comes in here now with this motion. I can only describe it as a bit of “eyewash” to puzzle the people once more and to keep them from thinking. He stands up here and says: “Here am I trying to bring some honour into this dishonourable house”— dishonoured by his own Party.
I ask the people of common sense in this House not to vote for this motion. It is the people who should be the judges. Let the people decide in the next election. I am sure if they are given an opportunity they will do the right thing. Those of us in this House who have some degree of honour and some principle will be silent no longer, no matter to what Party we belong. There is very little individuality in the Government Party. It is a case always of looking to the Leader of that Party. Government Deputies speak with one eye on the Chair and the other on the  Taoiseach. No Party in this House can claim to be perfect. I am satisfied that a lot of us are just “trick of the loops”, but there are others of us who will do our duty fearlessly. We are great men at the crossroads. What do we do when we come in here? We do very little. We are little men here but we are big men down in the country. We should be just as big men here and just as fearless, and we should say here in this House what we say at the crossroads. The attitude seems to be that what we say in this House does not matter very much; what is said here will never appear in the papers and the people down in Connemara and Connaught will never hear about it.
I call on the Taoiseach to waken up. He has been through 15 years of wild political life now and he has succeeded, I suppose, to his own satisfaction, in fooling the people all the time. All round me I see nothing but misery, hunger, destruction and emigration. It is a sad commentary on the work we are supposed to do here. It is a sad commentary on the work which the Government should have carried out.
Mr. Butler: I wish to take exception to remarks made by the Opposition regarding the conduct of members of this Party — the ordinary members of this Party. I think that the worst conduct of which any man could be guilty would be to act against the dictates of his own conscience. I particularly wish to protest against any accusation that members of this Party vote against their consciences and against the accusation that the members of this Party are constrained by the Government to vote against their consciences. I think it is deplorable to see the Leader of a considerable political Party — a man who ought to have a sense of responsibility and who, by virtue of his position, has an opportunity of leading or misleading a considerable section of the people — betraying such a considerable want of knowledge as to confound conscience with opinion. I was going to say “gross ignorance”, but it may appear harsh to accuse the Leader of a  political Party of gross ignorance. It may appear harsh to accuse him of being unable to distinguish between conscience and opinion. It would be still more harsh to accuse him of dishonesty.
If the Deputy understands the difference between conscience and opinion and if he still persists in confounding these two so fundamentally different things I can see no explanation for his persistence other than that he wishes to put the members of this Party in a wrong light before the constituents for political gain. That is dishonesty. I have no wish to accuse the Leader of the chief Opposition Party of either ignorance or dishonesty. But when I try not to do so I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. It is a common saying that every man is entitled to his opinion. Certainly every man is entitled to express his opinion. I have never seen any attempt on the part of the Government as a whole or on the part of any member of the Government to prevent an ordinary member of the Fianna Fáil Party from expressing his honest opinion.
To illustrate what I am trying to get at: I have opinions on music, for instance. I happened to be an amateur musician but I would not be so bumptious as to persist in these opinions if distinguished musicians could convince me that my opinions were wrong. In the same way, I have certain opinions on paintings but I would not be so bumptious as to hold that these opinions are right if eminent painters explain to me that they are wrong. In political matters I have my opinions but I would not be so bumptious as to consider my opinions superior to the considered opinion of my political Leader or to the considered mass opinion of the fellow members of my Party.
But my opinion is a very different thing from my conscience. As a matter of fact, if I persisted in my own opinion in the face of acknowledged superior opinion, I would rather suspect that there was something wrong or misguided in my conscience, however honestly I held my opinion. Members of the Fianna Fáil Party are free to express their opinion. They have private and public opportunities of expressing  these opinions. They have a right to try to bring around Ministers to their opinion and a right to try to convince their fellow members. So far as I know it has never been held against any member of my Party who tried to do that and it has never been held against him for honestly expressing his honest opinions.
But we have in this country a Party system. I know of no effective alternative except some form of dictatorship and none of us wants dictatorship. The essence of the Party spirit is that the individual member must sacrifice his own interest or any sectional interest to the interest of the general community. Without that provision the Party system could not stand. The individual may press to have a sectional interest served, but if he fails to secure that he must act with his Party, even if he acts against his opinion. Opinion is not conscience. No honourable or just man can act against his conscience. If he is asked to act against his conscience, if he is asked to vote against his conscience he must, however regretfully, and whatever the pain involved, refrain from voting and, if necessary, suffer severance from his Party. But no one in this Party, to my knowledge, has ever acted against his conscience, has ever been asked to act against his conscience or has ever been constrained in his conscience in any way.
Mr. Byrne: Deputy Colley, a Dublin member, said that he never listened to such nonsense for so many hours as he did to-day on this motion. This debate will be remembered and will be referred to as the wasted hours of the 11th March. I thought that to-day when I came into the House I would hear something of a very serious nature on another business, something indicative of a genuine and immediate benefit for our people. Instead of coming in here and talking seriously about the crisis, about what most Deputies have witnessed in the country as a result of the blizzard, scarcity of fuel, scarcity of potatoes, scarcity of food, the House discussed a motion the subject-matter of which is the furthest thing possible from the emergency of to-day. Instead of discussing food, fuel, clothing and shelter, the House  entered into this discussion that I referred to as wasted hours. At the moment in this country there are people suffering the gravest hardships that have been endured since black '47. The House assembles here to-day and proceeds calmly to discuss a motion that nobody outside ourselves cares two straws about. The people can go hungry and naked and cold.
I have little to say on the motion. Some form of committee was necessary but I do not believe that the committee suggested in the motion is the proper one. It should be a judicial committee that we all could have confidence in, and not a Party clique, a Party committee, that will have a majority of one section of the House. I understand from the speech made by Deputy Mulcahy that that majority will have power to make a report and that no minority report will be available. That is most undemocratic, but we in this House are getting used to undemocratic things. There has been nothing of a democracy in the House, to my knowledge, for the past five years. Deputy Flanagan or some other Deputy used the words that day after day we are getting nearer and nearer to a dictatorship. This House is getting nearer and nearer to a dictatorship and we are not taking any notice of the writing on the wall. The citizens who are suffering these terrible hardships, especially in country districts that are completely snowed up, are entitled to some consideration from their representatives in the Dáil, and it was expected that on the first day of sitting after the hard times of the past fortnight something would be said on their behalf. I have not heard anything of that kind except by one or two speakers. One Deputy very properly referred to this motion as a red herring. I would describe it as a smoke screen.
The motion is a smoke-screen to cover up the blunders of the past few years and especially the blunders and the failures of the last few months. I think Deputies would be well advised to drop this kind of motion and discuss something of a more practical nature affecting their constituents. The question  of bread and butter for the people is more important than this high-falutin discussion that went on to-day. After the country has been snowed up for two weeks and people have lost their lives through the hardships they had to endure, we proceed to discuss a motion like this as if there was plenty of food, clothing and fuel for the people. I think we have failed in our duty to-day as miserably as the fuel importers have failed in their job of providing fuel for the people.
The Taoiseach: It was interesting, but I am afraid not very edifying, to watch the manoeuvres that took place to-day in dealing with this motion. I do not think that a single Deputy who opposed the motion referred to its terms. From Deputy McGilligan's attitude, one would think that we were introducing some motion to deprive Deputies of their right to free speech. It is the old dodge — if you are not able to write a composition on a subject given to you, you take an associated subject and write on it. That is what happened to-day. Instead of dealing with the question as to whether it was desirable to set up this committee or not with these terms of reference, every other thing that could be thought of to attack the Government was made the subject of discussion.
Deputy Giles asked why we would not consult with the Opposition on these matters. On many occasions, I suggested to the House that we could discuss these matters here in public if we want to discuss them. If we want to argue the merits of a proposition, we can do so in public where everybody can listen to us and where there cannot be misrepresentation afterwards of what has been said, or at least misrepresentation which cannot be immediately pointed to as misrepresentation. If we want to consult one another about a particular line of policy, here is the best place to do it.
The Taoiseach: I have thought so. In any case, I am talking about it now.  It is obvious to anybody that, if we want to discuss a matter, this is the best place to do it. If the Opposition want to co-operate, they can make any suggestions which they think are good ones. If these suggestions commend themselves, they can be adopted, and, if they are not adopted, the people will understand the reasons why they are not adopted and can judge as to whether the suggestions were good or bad. But it is much easier to talk beside the subject, as was done to-day, than to give any good reason for not setting up a committee of this kind. If the Opposition intend to vote against it, then at least they ought to talk about the committee which is proposed and the reasons for not setting it up. But they think it is much better to build up the old myth that we have a dictatorship here and that I am the most cunning politician in existence. It is much easier to try to build up a myth of that kind.
The Taoiseach: There have been six general elections during the period in which we have been in office and we have been returned time after time after the fullest debate in the country and the fullest opportunity for people to say what they liked about us; and indeed they did not stint themselves.
The Taoiseach: Deputy Mulcahy was here on many occasions when he did. It took Deputy Mulcahy 28 long years to refer to a conversation which I am supposed to have had with him in 1919, when he can only put up his word  against mine as to what happened. All I can say is that I have no recollection of such a thing. I have no recollection of holding out, either to him in private or to any young man in the country, that in politics he should model himself upon the doctrines which were expressed by Machiavelli.
The Taoiseach: I have here the debates of the Dáil, not 28 years after, but two years after this supposed happening, which show that Deputy Mulcahy seconded me as President of the Irish Republic and recommended me to the Dáil two years after I was supposed to have given this advice to young people and never mentioned Wolfe Tone or any person like that.
The Taoiseach: I withdraw it. Let anybody read what Deputy Mulcahy said on that occasion two years afterwards and ask himself whether that fits in with what Deputy Mulcahy said to-day. Was Deputy Mulcahy compelled then to speak against his conscience? Was there at that time some means of compelling him to make that declaration which is contained there, although I was the man who, a short time before, was supposed to have spoken to him in the terms which he used to-day?
The Taoiseach: Deputy Mulcahy's speech to-day was as contemptible as it was puerile. It was puerile, because he spoke as Deputy Byrne did just now —“we should not be discussing this type of motion at all. It is a waste of time. We should be thinking of the people and their hardships at the moment”— as if every time we are in here these things are not dealt with as they arise. It was not to-day or yesterday that this motion was put down for discussion. This motion arose here on account of discussions that had taken place several months ago. I was even asked by one of the Deputies on the Opposition Benches when was I going to bring the motion I promised, and yet, to listen to the Opposition Deputies, one would think that I brought this motion in at this particular time for some peculiar purpose which I cannot understand and which, it is suggested to the country, that nobody but I could understand.
This motion here is for the setting up of a committee to examine into the powers and privileges possessed by this House in regard to certain matters. In other words, to give effect to certain declarations which are in the Constitution. Deputy McGilligan, of course, was not in the House when I was speaking, tried to get some of my speech second-hand and, of course, he picked out the part which seemed to suit him best to give him a free leg to get off in any direction he wanted. He said that we propose to interfere with the liberties of members of this House. Where is the suggestion of that? Why did not he say that this particular part might lead to such and a report? If it were to lead to a report the report could be discussed. If this, or something of the kind, were the proposition here to-day, then Deputy McGilligan's speech would be perfectly in order. But Deputy McGilligan's speech had no more reference to this motion than had the reference of Deputy Mulcahy to me.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy can do his best now. It is suggested that this  committee would bring in a Party report and that it would be only a Party report. I do not think that is true. I have asked those who have had much more experience than I have had of such matters whether a minority report cannot be brought in or the views of the minorities cannot be expressed in such a report. If that is the difference between us it can be quite easily settled by making an addendum to the motion that minority reports could be received. These matters are matters for discussion. We have had May quoted to us. How many of our representatives here have read May on Parliamentary Practice or on the rules that ought to govern the conduct of members? Would it be any great loss for us, for instance, if, as a result of an examination by a committee of this nature, some of these rules were here for the guidance of our people, if guidance were necessary or at least as a criterion when judgment was going to be pronounced? There has been a great deal of talk about having a mixed committee of this sort — doing such an abstract thing as drawing up rules, without relation to any particular individual. Is it not quite obvious that a different kind of a Party committee would be altogether inappropriate in discussing the conduct of a member when he belonged to an Opposition Party? Is it not quite obvious that if you are going to have these things tried that a committee of this House is not the sort of committee to try them, and if it were brought in as a recommendation in a report of this sort, that a committee of a different sort would be set up, that it would be a thing that should be carefully examined and considered? It was suggested, for instance in the ad hoc case with which we were dealing, that the tribunal which was proposed here for examination of the charges against Dr. Ward was not a proper one. What would be suggested, in the light of what was said here to-day and the attitude of the members of the Opposition, if a committee of the House brought in the same sort of report as was brought in by the tribunal of judges, against whom nothing could be said? I would like to tell Deputy  McGilligan that the report of that committee states, in regard to the particular things which it was suggested bore upon Dr. Ward's actions as Parliamentary Secretary: “In the opinion of the tribunal, these allegations were made recklessly and without justification.”
That was found in regard to the particular thing, of all others, that affected Dr. Ward in regard to his activities and functions as a Parliamentary Secretary. Do you think if a committee of this House, particularly if it happened to be a committee in which there was a majority of Fianna Fáil members, brought in a judgment of that sort that it would not be immediately said that that was an attempt on the part of the majority of this committee to whitewash Dr. Ward or something of that sort? It is suggested that this is a whitewashing committee. What can you whitewash? It is not an examination of anything that has taken place. It is a question of an examination of things which might happen in future, and of what was right for Deputies, Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries to do. It is quite true that you cannot have a complete and absolute code of laws governing the activities of a Deputy or anybody else but you can have some guiding principles as have been evolved in Britain, for example, over the centuries. One Deputy has said that we are a new Parliament whereas in Britain they are a long time in existence and that they have built up what you might call laws made from particular instances. They have that and it is used as a rule of conduct. What is to prevent a committee set up like this saying whether the long experience that has been gained in other Parliaments of a democratic character should be put in the form of certain principles which could be used here for a guide? The committee might very well, having examined the whole situation, come back and say: “We do not think that any rules that could be put. up would improve the situation. It might be quite the reverse.” Suppose they did. One would imagine that we were going to retire now — that phrase was used — we were going to retire now,  25 members or whatever number it is of the Oireachtas were going to retire now, cut themselves off from every activity, as if it were an immediate and first-class matter of urgency. It was not put forward as a matter of urgency. It was put forward as a thing that might well be done to complete the Articles in the Constitution, so to speak. There was no time specified for the beginning or the ending of the deliberations of that committee. If set up, the committee was quite free to settle its own procedure and to deal with matters as they would arise.
But no, it was not matters of this sort that we discussed here to-day. The discussion went simply on the lines of trying to create another myth — that the Government is corrupt. We had Deputies on the opposite benches to-day using the same words that were used here with respect to civil servants a short time ago — feathering their own nests. That is not true, and those who make that type of statement in many cases know it is not true.
The moment a charge was made against the Parliamentary Secretary, a definite charge which could be investigated, it was investigated in the most severe manner that we could think of and the most severe consequences followed. It was found that the conduct of the Parliamentary Secretary was not in accordance with what would be expected from a person in his position and the real gravamen of the charge was that whilst being a law maker and engaged in the execution of the law, in the administration of the law, he was a law breaker. There was no attempt on the part of the Government to cover up anything of that sort. It was given the fullest, freest and most complete examination.
Deputy McGilligan pleads for opportunities to make charges as he will. I am not denying that in the long run, just as in other matters more or less of a related kind, in order to gain the uses we may have to put up with the abuses of privileges. But Deputy McGilligan has been very ready to make wild charges; very ready, without the slightest basis for them and quite irrespective of the harm that he  does individuals or anybody else, to make these charges. As a result of two charges there were two inquiries, two examinations. One he referred to here to-day—the question of mining. What was found in that case? It was found against him. Here, too, we had the case of the railway charges and, again, though it seemed to be levelled at the Minister and his Department, a complete investigation proved that these charges were not properly founded, were not well-founded.
Is it worth while or not to examine whether it might not be possible to have an examination of these things carried out in such a way that the procedure, in view of the harm that is done to an individual by these charges, which may be proved to be baseless, might be in some particular prescribed form?
The Taoiseach: There is not any reference whatever to closed doors. There is a reference to having some formal way in which the thing could be done and it is a matter for examination whether such a way could be found. If the committee said that a way could not be found consistent with the public interest, it would not be recommended and, whatever recommendations came along, they would have to be discussed and examined in the Dáil. If it was a proposal by the  Government to do something which would be against the public interest in preventing the free ventilation of charges when they were reasonably well founded, then some of the arguments put up here to-day would be germane.
Deputy McGilligan made certain references here to-day. The Deputy happens to know something about Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice and because he knows about it he went in advance to the Ceann Comhairle to get his opinion on certain things. Suppose a less well-informed member of the Dáil was to do something that happened to be contrary to that, acting unconsciously and simply because he did not know of this practice and the danger of it, he would be let into a position which would have been very damaging to himself. Why should not the ordinary member of the Dáil be given the sort of information which those who are learned in the law and who know about Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice and so on have as a matter of course?
I have been more than disappointed by the attitude of the members of the Dáil towards this motion. I feel it was not approached in anything like the proper spirit, but I suppose we have just to make up our minds that it is going to be like that. It does not make for consultation or trying to get agreements in private. Perhaps it is all the better for the country. Open agreements openly arrived at are very good.
The Taoiseach: And open differences openly arrived at are also good in the view of the people as a whole. As long as we are here, anyhow, that is going to be the line which we propose to follow. I have nothing further to add.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
De Valera, Eamon.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Gorry, Patrick J.
|Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
Lynch, James B.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Connor, John S.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ryan, Mary B.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
De Valera, Eamon.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Gorry, Patrick J.
|Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
Lynch, James B.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Connor, John S.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ryan, Mary B.
Dockrell, Henry M.
Doyle, Peader S.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
|McFadden, Michael Og.
Pattison, James P.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Sheldon, William A. W.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy; Níl: Deputies P.S. Doyle and McMenamin.
Question declared carried.
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