Summer Time Order, 1948—Motion for Approval.

Wednesday, 14 April 1948

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 110 No. 6

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Minister for Justice (General MacEoin): Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I move that Dáil Éireann approves of the Summer Time Order, 1948, made by me under the Summer Time Act, 1925.

The period of summer time, which is [685] at present fixed by the Summer Time Order, 1926, is due to expire on Sunday, the 3rd October. The new Order proposes that the period should be extended this year to Sunday, the 31st of October. In accordance with Section 3 of the Summer Time Act, 1925, the Order will not come into operation unless it is approved by a resolution of each House of the Oireachtas.

As Deputies are no doubt aware, an Order was made in February of this year providing for the introduction of summer time in Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the 14th March and its extension to the 31st October. When this became known, I considered the position, and I recommended to the Government that a similar Order should not be made here. As a result, however, of representations made to me subsequently by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Great Northern Railway Company and other bodies, I decided to make an Order providing for the extension to the 31st of October and I now put the Order to the House for consideration.

It will, I think, be obvious to everyone that there is an advantage in our time being synchronised with the time observed in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. When the Summer Time Act, 1925, was passed, power was given to the Minister for Justice to vary the period of summer time, for the sole purpose of enabling our period of summer time to be synchronised with the British period, which had not been definitely settled at the time of the passing of our 1925 Act. The Summer Time Order, 1926, was made for this purpose, and up to the war our period of summer time was always the same as in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The post office, transport organisations and the public generally benefit from synchronisation. The Great Northern Railway Company, whose lines cross the Border at several points, find it very difficult to provide adequate local connections when there is a difference between the times observed here and in Northern Ireland. There is also, of course, the necessity for special time-tables for a short period.

[686] I expect, however, that there will be differences of opinion in regard to the desirability of the extension, and I consider that the question is one on which every Deputy should act on his own responsibility. Accordingly, with the approval of the Government, I propose that the matter should be left to a free vote of the House.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not want to do the Minister for Justice any injustice but I am not quite certain that I heard him correctly or, if I heard him correctly, that I quite apprehended the meaning which he intended to convey. I gather from his remarks that, having considered this matter, he was definitely of opinion that it was not in the general interest that an Order should be made making our time conform to the British summer time. For that reason, he recommended to the Government that an Order, which hitherto it had been usual to make, should not be made this year.

When the Minister was speaking—I want to be quite fair to him and want to be fair also to myself and I do not want to be charged with misrepresenting him—there was quite a din coming from the lobbies and therefore I had some difficulty in hearing quite clearly what the Minister said. I have stated what I understood him to say, that in his considered opinion prior to the 14th March of this year, it was not in the general interest of this State that the Order which it had been customary to make in regard to summer time should be made; but that, subsequently, representations were made to him, either by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce or by the Associated Chambers of Commerce—I did not quite catch what he said—and by the Great Northern Railway Company and, as a result of those representations, he changed his views, or at least the Government, having considered the representations made to him and made, perhaps, through him to the Government, decided that the policy which the Government had adopted should be reconsidered and reversed and that an Order assimilating our time here to British summer time should be made in the near future.

[687] I think that puts the Dáil in a rather extraordinary position, for two reasons. First of all, we have the Minister for Justice saying that he is making this Order against his better judgment, but in deference to the wishes of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and of a railway system a very large part of which operates outside the territory now under the jurisdiction of this State. I think that no Minister should come to the House and submit anything to it which is contrary to his good judgment. It is essential to our constitutional position that no Minister should present to the House anything which he himself does not firmly believe to be in the public interest. I do not want to be personal to the present Minister. I assume that he did not realise what was implicit in what he said. I think that the first requirement of a Minister under our Constitution is that, when he comes to the House with a proposal, the mere fact that he introduces it is a guarantee that, in his considered wisdom and opinion, it is the best course for the Government and the State to adopt.

The Minister is not in the same position which some Deputies have thought themselves able to take up in this House, of saying that because of Party Whips and one thing and another they were compelled to vote against their convictions. The Minister must be firmly convinced that the course which he proposes or submits to the House is a proposal which is in the public interest. If he is faced with a proposal which he thinks is not in the public interest then I think he ought not submit it. I do not want to be unfair to the Minister and do not want to take advantage of him, but this constitutional point should be stated very firmly. I do not think he should remain a member of an administration which imposes upon him an obligation of submitting to Dáil Éireann some proposal in which he does not believe.

A Minister who is in the Government and who is not immediately and personally responsible to Dáil Éireann for a proposal which he puts before that body is in a rather different position, [688] because he need not have brought, and perhaps he is not called upon to bring, to the consideration of proposals submitted by his colleagues the same careful judgment and detailed consideration as he is bound to bring to those proposals which he submits to the Dáil and for which he makes himself in a particular way personally responsible. A Minister can acquiesce in proposals of his colleagues which he has not fully sifted for himself, but it is a very different matter when a Minister is presumed to have considered proposals and to have come to a certain conclusion about them—an adverse conclusion in regard to them—it is a very different matter for that Minister to submit them to Dáil Éireann.

The next point we ought to consider is this. It has been urged here in this House several times that proposals to synchronise our time here, during particular periods of the year, with the British time are not in the best interests of the agricultural community. I have never myself been convinced that there is very much in that. Perhaps that is because I have a city man's point of view. I approach this problem of summer-time very largely from the point of view of those who have to dwell in the cities and who, because of that, have not the same opportunities for fresh air and out-door relaxation as people who dwell in rural areas have. Therefore, like most city people, I am predisposed to regard the introduction of the expedient of making us all get up an hour earlier during the summer months, from the city and urban dwellers' point of view, as being a beneficial one and to support it generally.

I make no concealment of the fact that I am not opposing in principle the proposal which the Minister has introduced, but my position is not the position of many members on both sides of this House. There are members of the Farmers' Party, there are Deputies who claim to represent the farmers and the rural population, and they will probably approach this from the point of view of their own particular peculiar interest as agriculturists. If they do so, what is going to be the position? [689] Surely the Government, in deciding that this matter should be submitted to the House, must have come to a corporate decision in relation to it? After all, if the Government have decided that the Minister's previous recommendation should be overthrown and that Dáil Éireann should be asked to approve of the Order which he has made, they must have come to that decision on the basis that it was in the public interest, that it was in the interests of the community as a whole that this particular step should be taken. Surely every member of the Government must share in the responsibility for that decision. Otherwise, what happens to the doctrine of collective responsibility?

The Minister has said that this matter is going to be left to a free vote of the House. Does that mean that the Government is not going to vote on this matter as a unit? Is the Minister for Lands, say, going to go into a different Lobby from that of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Minister for Health or the Minister for Education? If so, then I think the Constitution is in a fair way of being violated. The Constitution prescribes that the Government shall be bound by this principle of collective responsibility. That means that the Government must act in unison and concord in public and in private. There cannot be any evasion of that constitutional principle. There would be that evasion if the Minister for Lands and, say, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, who is a colleague of his in the Clann na Talmhan Party, were to go into a different Lobby from that which would be entered by the Minister for Justice, who is putting this proposal before the House.

I am assuming in that connection that, since the Minister for Justice has submitted the proposal and has signed the Order, he will vote to uphold his own signature. If, however, the Minister for Lands votes for the Minister for Justice, are we to assume that the Minister for Lands now believes— because he did not always—that it is in the interests of the rural population that our time should be assimilated to [690] British summer time? If so, it would be interesting to know what argument the Minister for Justice adduced or, since it was not the Minister for Justice, as he was convinced of a contrary course, what arguments other members of the Government adduced in order to convert the Minister for Lands to the point of view which is expressed in the Order which the Minister for Justice has made.

We are told this whole Government is an experiment. I hope the experiment of what is euphoniously known as an inter-Party Government will not result in a violation of what is a fundamental principle of the Constitution. Whether this will be left to a free vote of the House or not, one assumes that at least the Government will go into the Division Lobby as a unit, as a corporate authority, responsible collectively for the general administration of the affairs of this State.

But perhaps another consideration arises here in this connection. Whips are put on not to coerce men to vote against their will, but to indicate to the members of Dáil Éireann, and particularly those who are accustomed to support the Government Party, what the Government's considered view is in relation to any proposal. The reason, of course, for that is perfectly obvious. The Minister for Agriculture seems to find this somewhat laughable.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Dillon): Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Not only laughable, but grotesque.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The assumption is that where matters affecting the general population are submitted to this House, the Government has, first of all, carefully considered those matters in all their implications and, by reason of the careful, deep and searching consideration which they have given to them the Government are presumed to be in a position to give leadership and guidance to the other members of Dáil Éireann who have not had the opportunities for consideration which members of the Government have had.

The Government are presumed to have examined these matters fully and [691] in great detail and to have come to decisions which are well founded. It is also well known that members of various Parties who are not in the Government, whether they be in the Opposition or in the Government benches, are not in the same position as are members of the Government to examine these things fully. They have to be content to take their views and their opinions upon these matters at second hand if they are to come to sound decisions, because they have not had the opportunity and the facilities which are available to the Government in order to weigh these issues. It is for that reason we have this institution of Party Whips.

When the Party Whips are put on it is a clear indication to every member that the matter has been carefully considered by the Government. That is why the Party Whip is there—not to drive people into the Division Lobbies against their better judgment, but to indicate to members that the matter has been carefully considered by the Government and the Government are satisfied that the decision they have taken is one which should be adopted in the public interest by every Deputy.

Our approach, however, to this question of whether the Whips will be put on or not will be conditioned by the confidence we have in the Government of the day.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Whether or not the Whips are put on is not under consideration.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think it is implicit in the decision we have to take.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  We are discussing the Order that is on the Paper and not whether the Whips are put on or not.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Is it in order for the Deputy to repeat himself at least ten times?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Minister for Justice indicated that the Government Whips would not be put on. I am criticising the attitude adopted by the Minister for Justice and I am explaining [692] to the House, in so far as I can, why I think it is a very bad principle to adopt and why I think it should not be adopted by the Minister. I think the Government ought to stand or fall by the Order which the Minister has made.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy has been given a great deal of latitude. Whether a free vote will be accorded is not under discussion; what is under discussion is the Order that is on the Paper.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  What is under discussion is not merely the Order but the terms in which the Minister recommended the Order to the House. He has recommended it in terms which indicate that he is not confident the Order is in the best interests of the people. If it were, then the Party Whips would be put on.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am not concerned with whether the Party Whips are on or off. That is not a matter for discussion on this Order.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Surely, I am entitled to deal with the speech which the Minister for Justice made when he was introducing this Order? I did not raise this question as to whether Party Whips were on or off. It was the Minister for Justice himself who raised that issue. I submit that he has put that issue in debate——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy has raised the issue as to whether it is justifiable for the Government to say that Party Whips are on or off. The Deputy is raising the general question. If he raised a particular instance as to whether Party Whips should be on or off in respect of a particular matter I could understand that it would be relevant. But the Deputy is raising the matter in a general fashion.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Surely, I cannot discuss a specific instance unless I point out why this system of Party Whips was introduced. The Party Whip is in the nature of a standard bearer. He says that the Government takes its stand on this ground——

[693]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am not prepared to hear the Deputy any further on the matter.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Party Whip is in the position where he——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am not prepared to hear the Deputy on this matter discuss the general principle as to Party Whips.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  On a point of order, if the Deputy will not accept the ruling of the Chair, will you send for the Captain of the Guard to deal with him in the proper way?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Chair will do what it considers desirable in the circumstances.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I know that Deputy Davin believes in the mailed fist. It is the Captain of the Kremlin Guard he would like to send for. Remember, the Deputy had affiliations with Moscow.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Your colleague sitting beside you had closer affiliations and knows more about it than I do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy MacEntee.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I submit, Sir, that I am entitled to ask the Minister for Justice to reconsider the decision he has announced to the House. The Minister for Justice has stated that this matter will be left to a free vote. I submit that that decision——

Mr. Lehane:  Obviously the idea of freedom does not appeal to Deputy MacEntee.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I submit that that decision should be reconsidered. I think that any member of a Government should be in the position that when he or his Government brings before the House a far-reaching proposition—and this, after all, is a proposition which affects the economy of the whole population of this country, because we are told that it will make it more difficult for the farming community to carry on their avocations, while it will be beneficial to the interests of the townspeople as a [694] whole—the Government, or the Minister, responsible for that far-reaching proposal should stand or fall by it. The Minister ought at least to say that the Government has carefully considered all the implications of the proposal and has come to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of the people and the State. Having come to that conclusion and, being firmly rooted in that faith, the Government should stand or fall by that decision and should not try, as the Minister for Justice does on this occasion, to shuffle out of his responsibilities. That is why I think the decision taken by the Minister in this regard is a wrong decision. We can have no ordered authority here and we can have no purpose unless the Government is prepared to stand up to its responsibilities.

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  You will have no progress at any time then.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We can have progress at any time, and we have 16 years' experience of it. When things were awkward, we did not try to shuffle out of our responsibilities.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy has already been ruled out on this motion.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Surely you cannot leave out as irrelevant to this, or any other motion, submitted by a Minister the intention of the Government to stand by its responsibilities. I think that would be contrary to the whole purpose, nature and character of this House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy is endeavouring to discuss the general principle as to whether there should or should not be a free vote of the House. I ruled that discussion out. The Deputy is now endeavouring to repeat himself in different words.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Are we to take it then as a definite ruling of the Chair that if a Minister comes to this House, submits a proposal to it and says: “I am not going to stand or fall by this proposal; I am leaving it to a free vote of the House”——

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  That is freedom.

[695]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I want this to be quite clear and on record—are we going to be debarred from discussing the merits or demerits of that attitude? Are we going to be told that this is——

Mr. M. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Table a motion.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Are we going to be told that the Minister who proposes to leave a matter to a free vote of the House, and who is thereby trying to relieve his Government of the obligation of responsibility to this House, is not to have the attitude which he takes in that regard either criticised or examined? Is that the position now?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy MacEntee is endeavouring to discuss the general principle as to whether or not there should be a free vote of the House. I have ruled that such discussion is out of order. What the Chair will rule on matters that arise subsequently is not for me to anticipate.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Then, Sir, I do not intend to prolong——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  You what?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not want to be obstructive.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You are nothing else but obstructive.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  A very important issue has been raised on this matter. I know that people who have no regard for our Constitution and those people who opposed the Constitution and took up arms against it——

Captain Cowan: Information on Peadar Cowan  Zoom on Peadar Cowan  Which Constitution? Is it the Constitution of 1922?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is not the Constitution of the Vanguard.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  The Constitution of the blackguard.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Constitution that was freely accepted by the Irish people.

Mr. M. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  This is entirely irrelevant.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I have [696] already warned the Deputy that I will not hear him any further on the question as to whether a free vote of the House can be considered.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Put him out. That is what he used to do when he was Minister. He put me out.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy O'Leary will resume his seat.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Put him out. He is not a Minister now.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The question as to whether I am or am not a Minister is completely irrelevant.

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

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I am a member of Dáil Éireann.

Mr. Palmer: Information on Patrick W. Palmer  Zoom on Patrick W. Palmer  For the time being.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  And I am doing my work as a member of Dáil Éireann to the best of my ability—perhaps unsuccessfully—to preserve the principles of the Constitution.

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

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I understand I am not entitled to discuss this matter in general terms under your ruling. I think, however, I am entitled to submit that this is a motion which some people would accept with reluctance. Some will vote for it, others may vote against it. Some, as I have said, will accept it with reluctance. Surely, I am entitled to say that in a matter of this comprehensive character where a Minister submits such a far-reaching proposal to the House the Government and the Minister ought to stand or fall by it and, whatever else they do, they should not leave it to a free vote. They should say: “The Whips are on; we have raised our standard in this matter; we feel it is in the best interests of the people that this Order should be made and confirmed by Dáil Éireann and if Dáil Éireann in its wisdom wishes to differ from the conclusion to which we have come, we will not accept that decision because we do not think that it is in the interests of the people; therefore, we will put ourselves unreservedly in the hands either of Dáil Éireann or of the country”. I [697] know there are a number of people who favour this idea of a free vote. Remember, however, that the people outside this House have their rights also——

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  What do you mean by that?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  ——and if a free vote is an attempt to prevent this matter being referred to the people, should the decision upon this Order be an adverse one and contrary to that which the Minister has taken, then I think the people will call us all to account and particularly call those who endeavour by this subterfuge to evade their responsibilities in regard to it.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Dillon): Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  That was a silly and disedifying timewasting performance, but I subscribe to the doctrine laid down by Deputy MacEntee. So long as he is a Deputy of this House, it does not matter how silly he is, he has a right to be heard, and it is no matter for derision that any person should be an ex-Minister of State in this country. I would sooner be an ex-Minister in Ireland than a Minister in any other Government in the world. In so far as he is that, he is entitled to the respect of his fellow-countrymen as any man who has attained that distinction in this country is so entitled. But when I hear Deputy MacEntee throwing cartwheels up and down Dáil Éireann along the lines he chose to follow to-day, instead of becoming annoyed I become amused. He has always been a silly man, and, thank God, he has the right and always will have, please God, so long as he is in this House, to be just as silly as he wants to be. He has always been a brazen man, but he continually amazes me by the grades of brazenness that he can reveal.

Mr. de Valera:  Are we having personalities at the beginning of this discussion?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  When Deputy MacEntee was the Minister of the Leader of the Opposition he himself, on the Redistribution Bill, invited this House to a free division without the Whips on——

[698]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Now——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  ——and gave this glorious demonstration of indecision that while every other Deputy in the House, whether yea or nay, recorded his vote he stood at the foot of the steps and could not make up his mind to go either way——

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The difference is one of essential character.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  ——and gloried in the affair. We are told that the matter of extending summer time from the 3rd to the 31st October is a proposal comprehensive and far-reaching down to the very foundations of the Constitution. As compared with that, membership of Dáil Éireann does not matter a straw because our free division shortly before the last Parliament ended related to the question of what group of our people would elect a Deputy to this House. The highest privilege that citizens of this country could have was what was to be determined—was it to be voters in Wexford or voters in Mayo—and Deputy MacEntee was the Minister responsible for the whole process of our distribution. He had spent months with the best experts in the country re-casting the constituencies all over Ireland to preserve the fundamental principle in any sound democracy, namely, that parliamentary representation would be proportionate to the numbers of voters in that constituency.

Mr. MacEntee rose to leave the House.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Come back.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Wait a while.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I will be back.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I do not blame him. In his position I also would want a cup of tea. I am often told that one of the most distressing features of the post civil war period in the United States of America, in the 1860's, was that the coloured people after they had been released from slavery not infrequently were the first to protest if they were witness to a master saying “please” to his servant, and would cry out against the scandal that the master [699] should say “please” to his servant and not follow his usual course of reaching for the whip. To me there is something pathetic in Deputy MacEntee's exhortation to the Minister for Justice to reach for his whip. “Flog them into the Lobby as we used to do. What is this new doctrine of asking men to vote according to their consciences? Tut tut, tut tut.” Is this a deliberative assembly? Is it criminal or unconstitutional to ask the Deputies of this House to determine any question? Is there anything disedifying in saying that the material difference that it can make to anybody in this State as to whether summer time ends on the 3rd October or the 31st October is not fundamental? Certain sections of the community may feel very strongly about it owing to their peculiar and special interests. Others may feel strongly about it in another sense, and, in all probability, in the middle stand the vast majority of the citizens who do not take any strong view one way or another. Well, here are their representatives. The Minister for Justice, I think with commendable prudence and setting what I dare to describe as a most desirable example, comes to Dáil Éireann. We have nearly forgotten that such a thing was impossible because, if I may use the new title of the distinguished Leader of the Opposition, “the boy from Manhattan” that made good abroad, he did not believe in that kind of thing. If you were a member of his Party, you did what he liked and liked it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I suggest that the Minister should come to the motion now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is the motion. There is going to be no flogging of Deputies into the Lobby after this. It is not necessary. We invite the Deputies on this side of the House and on the far side of the House just to make up their minds. They need not be in the least afraid. They will not be drummed out of their Party. They will not be sent for and interviewed by our hierarchy, growing more and more terrifying as they go up. Nothing will happen at [700] all. When they have recorded their votes according to their belief they can go back and sit in the seats and just carry on.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Marvellous, marvellous. It is wonderful.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We are trying to reeducate the Deputy back into that approach. It will take time but we will be patient. Therefore, I strongly press my associates on this side of the House to be a little patient with members of the Party opposite. Freedom is heady wine for those who have been long immured in the prison of Fianna Fáil. It intrigues me how infectious the follies of Fianna Fáil can become. It was none the less pleasantly nostalgic to hear Deputy MacEntee, drawing himself up to the full height of his capacity, saying: “We are menaced by doom if we have a free vote in this matter”. Is it unparliamentary, Sir, to make the same reply to that threat in this House as it was my privilege to make in the country: “Doom be damned”. There is no danger in acting as free men in this country, thanks be to God. And let us at least conclude on this co-operative note—that whatever the remote past history of this country may have to tell, the fact that it is possible to say to-day that this is a free country and we are free men and free to vote the way we think we ought to vote is a proud claim for which no individual Deputy in this House can claim the credit but for which all of us who have taken some part in the public life of Ireland for the past 25 years can claim some credit, however small the individual share may be. It is the exercise of that freedom which should exhilarate us now rather than make us tremble as Deputy MacEntee appeared to tremble under the awful doom of being free.

Mr. Keane: Information on Seán Keane  Zoom on Seán Keane  Listening a moment ago, for a time I was perturbed that the foundations of this State were going to be shaken. Were it not that I knew something of the history of the Deputy who gave us this dissertation on Ministerial privileges and on Ministers' actions, I should certainly feel somewhat nervous. However I am not a bit surprised at the Deputy who is now [701] so very perturbed because of the dangers which he foresees to democratic principles in this country. Any Deputy who was responsible for the famous memorandum which deprived salaried officials of county councils——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the motion before the House.

Mr. Keane: Information on Seán Keane  Zoom on Seán Keane  Very well, Sir. I have only to add a few words then. Thank God the day has arrived in this assembly when the vicious system that prevailed here, practically since the inception of the Oireachtas, has been abolished. We come here as the elected representatives of the people and we are entitled, by virtue of the confidence reposed in us, to do what we think is best in the interests of our constituents. I am sure everybody will appreciate the gesture of the Minister for Justice in allowing a free vote of the House. In a way, that is only in keeping with the statement of the Taoiseach that, as far as the Whips were concerned, for the future everybody would be entitled to his own opinion and to express his own views on any Bills brought before this assembly. He said that every Deputy could vote according to the dictates of his own conscience. I hope, Sir, that we shall have many more votes of that kind in this House. If we have, we shall have better administration and less victimisation and the people will be delighted with the revolutionary change that has come about in the procedure of this House.

In conclusion, I would advise the Deputy to examine his own conscience with regard to what is the free right of the Irish people. He was one man who deprived them of it and now he is concerned that if the Whips are taken off, the Constitution will be violated. The Constitution of this country is there, established by the free vote of the people, and we shall carry on and arrive at whatever decision we think best by a free vote in this House.

Mr. Cogan: Information on Patrick Cogan  Zoom on Patrick Cogan  On this motion we are discussing the awful subject of time but the awfulness of that subject did not deter the ex-Minister for Local Government [702] from wasting a considerable amount of the time of this House in denouncing the principle of a free vote. I am glad that that principle is now accepted by the Government, that it will be a guiding principle in this, the Thirteenth Dáil, and that this Dáil will be what its predecessors have not been in reality. It will be a deliberative assembly in which each member of the House will exercise his freedom to make his decisions on questions of importance as they arise. That is a question which has hardly been touched upon up to the present.

I have never been able to accept the suggestion that it is absolutely essential that our time here should coincide with the time kept in the neighbouring State. In other years, as we all know, there was a differentiation between the time observed here and in Great Britain and everything went on quite normally, notwithstanding that differentiation. Even for the last couple of years, there was a difference of an hour between the time observed here and in Great Britain and yet that did not in any way interfere with rail services, shipping services or air services. The question we have now to decide is whether this adoption of summer time is a benefit to our people or not. I am of the opinion that it is no benefit whatever. We are mainly an agricultural country. We are mainly a people who depend for our existence upon nature, upon the time the sun rises and the time the sun sets. Because of that, I think we should keep as close to nature as possible and as close to the time dictated to us by the rising and the setting of the sun. We all know that there is very little that farmers can do with hay in the early hours of the morning or in the late hours of the evening. These are facts which no legislation and no Government Orders can alter.

We know in addition, and it is a very important matter, that the rural community do not recognise official time to any great extent. They ignore it to a very great extent but this ignoring of official time creates a difficulty and hardship which is that in many rural areas children are compelled to attend school according to the legal time, notwithstanding the fact that it is ignored [703] in their homes. That means that the children have got to rise an hour earlier than they should be expected to rise having regard to the hours kept in their houses. That constitutes a hardship in rural areas, an unnecessary hardship. There are very many other difficulties created by co-ordinating our time with that of Great Britain. I think we should stand in this matter on our own and that we should accept the time dictated by the rising and the setting of the sun.

I am glad that the Minister has established a new precedent in giving Deputies an opportunity to decide the matter for themselves according to their own wishes. I raised this matter on several occasions while Deputy MacEntee was a member of the Government without receiving any favourable hearing. We have now, however, a Government that is prepared to give a favourable and a reasonable hearing to every matter that is raised in a reasonable way. It is a pity that Deputy MacEntee should have intervened in what could have been an interesting and constructive discussion like a cracked gramophone record, and repeat over and over again the awful calamities that would befall this country if the Party Whips were not put on for every matter that came before the House.

I think Deputies who succeeded in getting elected to this House have at least come to the use of reason and are capable of making decisions for themselves. They do not require to be shepherded into the Division Lobby as Fianna Fáil Deputies were shepherded when that Party was in power by nurses in the shape of Party Whips. Therefore, I recommend that Deputies should not favour this motion. This is an agricultural country. Then let us give agriculture priority in settling matters of this kind. If we do, we will adhere to the laws of nature and to the time set for us by the rising and setting of the sun.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  The Minister has raised a point here that may have far-reaching consequences. If the Government from time to time are not prepared to stand over something that they [704] do, all they have to do is to have a free vote of the House. I submit that that is a very nice way out for the inter-Party Government to take. I submit that every good solid Government, whether in this country or in any other country, when it takes a decision should be backed by the Party that is supporting it. A free vote of the House may be all right in small cases like this, but it may have far-reaching consequences when other legislation comes up from time to time. I should like to say in answer to the last speaker that the Fianna Fáil Party were never pushed into the Division Lobby at any time. We are a democratic Party and each Deputy could express his views how and when he wished. We discussed matters before we came in. We had to support our Ministers and we were loyal enough to do that.

The Minister for Agriculture referred to Deputy de Valera as “the boy from Manhattan.” It would have been a very bad day for this country if that boy from Manhattan had not come to this country. At least he has contributed more to this country than the Minister for Agriculture will ever contribute or can ever hope to contribute. When the Minister for Agriculture wanted to involve this country in the war the boy from Manhattan was there to answer on behalf of the Irish people together with the other Parties in this House. I am sorry to have to deal with personalities but, when these things are referred to, we have to answer them. When the Fianna Fáil Government was in office and a decision was taken by any of the Ministers, they were manly enough to suggest to us, after debating the matter in our own private counsels, that we should support them. As I say, this is a very fine way out for this inter-Party Government. It is going to give them a wonderful opportunity at all times of saving themselves from a critical position.

Minister for Defence (Dr. O'Higgins): Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Might I ask if the Deputy objects to a matter being left to a free vote of a free assembly?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Government is supposed to be collectively responsible [705] to Dáil Éireann. If the Government are not prepared to shoulder their responsibility, they ought to get out.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Dáil Éireann is the Government.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Dáil Éireann is not the Government. The Deputy ought to read the Constitution.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  If the Deputy is not prepared to answer, he should not interrupt. Does the Deputy object to a free vote of the House?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I say that in a matter of such grave public importance as this the Government ought to have the manliness to stand or fall by their own decision; that they ought not to seek to get out of or evade their responsibility in that regard.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  We have heard the Deputy ad nauseam on that point. I put the question to his colleague: Does he object to a free vote?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Of course his colleague need not answer.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  This is a very simple matter. It is a question as to whether we will extend summer time in this country beyond the existing legal period. Summer time will come into force in a few days and, ordinarily, would end on the 3rd of October. This Order simply extends that time from the 3rd to the 31st day of October. The Minister for Justice is satisfied, after having heard representations from various people, that it is——

[706]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Minister took a hasty decision in the first instance.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  I was exactly five days in office. If the ex-Minister had given me the opportunity a few months earlier I would have been able to give the matter further consideration, but, unfortunately, the ex-Minister and the country chose the time to put us in and I had to do the best I could. I sympathise with the ex-Minister in his difficulties. I have them now anyhow. As I say, this is a very simple matter. I shall be quite candid. The situation was this: Deputy MacEoin, as a country Deputy, was opposed to summer time, but as Minister for Justice he had to correct his views and to take the public interest as the supreme test. I am asking Deputies to accept my view. The Government subscribe to that view without any question.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Then put the Whips on.

General MacEoin: Information on General Seán MacEoin  Zoom on General Seán MacEoin  Time after time a request was made by me to the previous Government to take off the Whips. I am putting into practice the democratic principles which I always upheld. Therefore, as Minister for Justice, I am asking the House to approve of this Order. I do not propose to deal with the constitutional situation which the ex-Minister has dealt with. I simply put the Order before the House for approval. I stand over it and I ask every Deputy, not only the members of my own Party, to support it.

Question put.

Aiken, Frank.
Beirne, John.
Belton, John.
Blowick, Joseph.
Brennan, Joseph P.
Briscoe, Robert.
Browne, Noel C.
Browne, Patrick.
Byrne, Alfred.
Coburn, James.
Colley, Harry.
Collins, Seán. [707]Dockrell, Maurice E.
Donnellan, Michael.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Dunne, Seán.
Esmonde, Sir John L.
Everett, James.
Fagan, Charles.
Finucane, Patrick.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Flynn, John.
Giles, Patrick.
Halliden, Patrick J.
Hickey, James.
Hilliard, Michael.
Hughes, Joseph.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Keyes, Michael.
Kinane, Patrick.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Larkin, James.
Lehane, Con.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
Lynch, John.
McCann, John.
MacEntee, Seán.
MacEoin, Seán.
Commons, Bernard.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Costello, John A.
Cowan, Peadar.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Davin, William.
Derrig, Thomas.
Desmond, Daniel.
De Valera, Eamon.
De Valera, Vivion.
Dillon, James M. [708]McFadden, Michael Og.
McGilligan, Patrick.
McQuillan, John.
Madden, David J.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Morrissey, Daniel.
Mulcahy, Richard.
Norton, William.
O'Gorman, Patrick J.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.).
O'Leary, John.
O'Sullivan, Martin.
Palmer, Patrick W.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Reidy, James.
Reynolds, Mary.
Roddy, Joseph.
Rooney, Eamonn.
Sheehan, Michael.
Sheldon, William A. W.
Spring, Daniel.
Sweetman, Gerard.
Timoney, John J.
Tully, John.

Allen, Denis.
Bartley, Gerald.
Beegan, Patrick.
Blaney, Neal.
Bourke, Dan.
Brady, Brian.
Breathnach, Cormac.
Breslin, Cormac.
Buckley, Seán.
Burke, Patrick.
Butler, Bernard.
Cogan, Patrick.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Davern, Michael J.
Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Flynn, Stephen.
Gilbride, Eugene.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Harris, Thomas.
Hogan, Patrick.
Keane, Seán.
Killilea, Mark.
Kilroy, James.
Kissane, Eamon.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lahiffe, Robert.
Lehane, Patrick D.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
McGrath, Patrick.
Maguire, Patrick J.
Moylan, Seán.
Murphy, Timothy J.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Grady, Seán.
O'Reilly, Matthew.
Ormonde, John.
O'Rourke, Daniel.
O'Sullivan, Ted.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Ryan, James.
Ryan, Mary B.
Sheridan, Michael.
Smith, Patrick.
Walsh, Thomas.

Question declared carried.

Motion, accordingly, approved.


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