Private Members' Business. - Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 1973: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 6 March 1974

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 270 No. 13

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Question again proposed: “That section 6 stand part of the Bill.”

Minister for Local Government (Mr. Tully): Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  We have now discussed section 6 of this Bill for seven hours, 25 minutes and during the last half hour before the change of business at 6 o'clock the Fianna Fáil speakers made it quite clear that they proposed to keep talking about this section because they felt it was one way in which they would prevent the Bill from passing through the House.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  We did not say that.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I believe it has been adequately debated and I ask that the question be now put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The question is: “That the question be now put”.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I would like to talk.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There can be no debate on a motion of this kind.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Has the Minister moved something?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Yes.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I did not hear him.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The Deputy should have his ears tested.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The Minister did not move.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I submit that this subsection——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The question, according to Standing Orders, must be put forthwith without discussion.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The question is: “That the question be now put”. The Chair decides if the matter has been adequately discussed. There can be no further debate on the matter.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  This is jackboot tactics.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The question is: “That the question be now put”.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  You are breaking all precedents in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has to decide if the matter has been adequately discussed. I am now putting the question.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I am not going to start an argument but you have departed from all precedent in a matter like this. I want to say to the Chair that when a motion like this——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  May I say I hope we are still operating in a democracy?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  A decision has been taken and the Deputy cannot upset that decision.

Mr. Lynch:  It has been well established precedent that the Chair does not take such a motion when it is first put.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Of course it does.

[2259]Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  It waits for half an hour for further discussion. Normal practice has not been complied with.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It has been taken by [2260] Fianna Fáil on at least half a dozen occasions. I have the evidence here for anybody who wants it.

Question put.

Barry, Peter.
Barry, Richard.
Begley, Michael.
Belton, Luke.
Belton, Paddy.
Bermingham, Joseph.
Bruton, John.
Burke, Dick.
Burke, Joan T.
Burke, Liam.
Byrne, Hugh.
Clinton, Mark A.
Cluskey, Frank.
Collins, Edward.
Conlan, John F.
Coogan, Fintan.
Cooney, Patrick M.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Costello, Declan.
Coughlan, Stephen.
Creed, Donal.
Crotty, Kieran.
Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
Desmond, Barry.
Desmond, Eileen.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Donnellan, John.
Dunne, Thomas.
Enright, Thomas.
Esmonde, John G.
Finn, Martin.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Governey, Desmond.
Griffin, Brendan.
Hegarty, Patrick.
Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
Jones, Denis F.
Keating, Justin.
Kelly, John.
Kyne, Thomas A.
L'Estrange, Gerald.
Lynch, Gerard.
McLaughlin, Joseph.
McMahon, Larry.
Malone, Patrick.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Brien, Fergus.
O'Connell, John.
O'Donnell, Tom.
O'Sullivan, John L.
Pattison, Seamus.
Reynolds, Patrick J.
Ryan, John J.
Ryan, Richie.
Spring, Dan.
Staunton, Myles.
Taylor, Frank.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Toal, Brendan.
Tully, James.
White, James.

Ahern, Liam.
Allen, Lorcan.
Andrews, David.
Barrett, Sylvester.
Brennan, Joseph.
Breslin, Cormac.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, Seán.
Brugha, Ruairí.
Burke, Raphael P.
Callanan, John.
Calleary, Seán.
Carter, Frank.
Colley, George.
Collins, Gerard.
Connolly, Gerard.
Crinion, Brendan.
Cunningham, Liam.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Vivion.
Dowling, Joe.
Fahey, Jackie.
Farrell, Joseph.
Faulkner, Pádraig.
Fitzgerald, Gene.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central). [2261]Smith, Patrick.
Timmons, Eugene.
Tunney, Jim.
French, Seán.
Geoghegan, John.
Gibbons, Hugh.
Gibbons, James.
Gogan, Richard P.
Haughey, Charles.
Healy, Augustine A.
Hussey, Thomas.
Kenneally, William.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lalor, Patrick J.
Lemass, Noel T.
Leonard, James.
Loughnane, William.
Lynch, Celia.
Lynch, Jack.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacSharry, Ray.
Molloy, Robert.
Moore, Seán.
Murphy, Ciarán.
Nolan, Thomas.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Connor, Timothy.
O'Leary, John.
O'Malley, Desmond.
Power, Patrick. [2262]Walsh, Seán.
Wilson, John P.
Wyse, Pearse.

Question declared carried.

Question put: “That section 6 stand part of the Bill.”

Barry, Peter.
Barry, Richard.
Begley, Michael.
Belton, Luke.
Belton, Paddy.
Bermingham, Joseph.
Bruton, John.
Burke, Dick.
Burke, Joan T.
Burke, Liam.
Byrne, Hugh.
Clinton, Mark A.
Cluskey, Frank.
Collins, Edward.
Conlan, John F.
Coogan, Fintan.
Cooney, Patrick M.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Costello, Declan.
Coughlan, Stephen.
Creed, Donal.
Crotty, Kieran.
Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
Desmond, Barry.
Desmond, Eileen.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Donnellan, John.
Dunne, Thomas.
Enright, Thomas.
Esmonde, John G.
Finn, Martin.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Governey, Desmond.
Griffin, Brendan.
Hegarty, Patrick.
Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
Jones, Denis F.
Keating, Justin.
Kelly, John.
Kyne, Thomas A.
L'Estrange, Gerald.
Lynch, Gerard.
McLaughlin, Joseph.
McMahon, Larry.
Malone, Patrick.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Brien, Fergus.
O'Connell, John.
O'Donnell, Tom.
O'Sullivan, John L.
Pattison, Seamus.
Reynolds, Patrick J.
Ryan, John J.
Ryan, Richie.
Spring, Dan.
Staunton, Myles.
Taylor, Frank.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Toal, Brendan.
Tully, James.
White, James.

Ahern, Liam.
Allen, Lorcan.
Andrews, David.
Barrett, Sylvester.
Brennan, Joseph.
Breslin, Cormac.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, Seán.
Brugha, Ruairí.
Burke, Raphael P.
Callanan, John.
Calleary, Seán.
Carter, Frank.
Colley, George.
Collins, Gerard.
Connolly, Gerard.
Crinion, Brendan.
Cunningham, Liam.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Vivion.
Dowling, Joe. [2263]MacSharry, Ray.
Molloy, Robert.
Moore, Seán.
Murphy, Ciarán.
Nolan, Thomas.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Connor, Timothy.
O'Leary, John.
Fahey, Jackie.
Farrell, Joseph.
Faulkner, Pádraig.
Fitzgerald, Gene.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
French, Seán.
Geoghegan, John.
Gibbons, Hugh.
Gibbons, James.
Gogan, Richard P.
Haughey, Charles.
Healy, Augustine A.
Hussey, Thomas.
Kenneally, William.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lalor, Patrick J.
Lemass, Noel T.
Leonard, James.
Loughnane, William.
Lynch, Celia.
Lynch, Jack.
McEllistrim, Thomas. [2264]O'Malley, Desmond.
Power, Patrick.
Smith, Patrick.
Timmons, Eugene.
Tunney, Jim.
Walsh, Seán.
Wilson, John P.
Wyse, Pearse.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  May I suggest that amendments a.1 and a.a.1 to section 4 be discussed together?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  We would prefer to take them separately.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Very well.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I move amendment No. a.1:

In page 3, subsection (1) (a), line 20, after “districts” to insert “within such specified constituency”.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Section 7 provides:

(1) Where a polling district existing at the passing of this Act is not wholly situate within one of the constituencies specified in the Schedule to this Act, the appropriate officer, after consultation with the returning officer for the constituency concerned, shall, with respect to the part of the polling district situate in a constituency so specified—

(a) join it or parts of it with any adjoining polling district or districts,

We submit that the phrase “within such specified constituency” should be added to subsection (1) (a) of section 7 as it is not clear from the way in which the section is presently worded where exactly the adjoining polling district is or the adjoining polling districts are. The wording is loose. This is an attempt to deal with the situation where a polling district crosses boundaries.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I was suggesting that the words I mentioned be added in order to ensure that the section would read into the record clearly what is intended. The subsection refers to a polling district existing at the time this Bill comes into law which is not wholly within one constituency, that is, in any of the constituencies mentioned in the Schedule to the Act and that a polling district in such a specified constituency should join, or parts of it, with any adjoining polling district or districts. We submit to the Minister that—as the section reads—the polling district or districts to which it should be attached is not clear. It is not clear whether those districts are in the same constituency or in another. There could be a situation where the boundaries of three constituencies came together, with adjoining polling districts on either side which were in different constituencies. I should like the Minister to comment on the suggestion in the amendment.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The position about Deputy Molloy's amendment is that it does no harm but it does no good. If it were put into the Bill it would make no material change. The situation as it stands is adequate for the purpose. Perhaps the point which Deputy Molloy is missing is that no polling district can straddle a constituency. Therefore, the county secretary or city manager——

[2265]Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  It could straddle two constituencies.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It cannot straddle two or three, as Deputy Molloy said a moment ago; it cannot straddle the constituency boundary——

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  It can adjoin it.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It is either in one constituency or the other. People who are living in one constituency cannot vote in another. Therefore, the city manager or county secretary cannot make an order except one which lays down that they shall vote in the constituencies in which they live. It is as simple as that.

A polling district may be made up of one or more district electoral divisions or parts of one or more district electoral divisions. Some polling districts may be split between two or more of the new constituencies. The section enables the county secretary or city manager, as the case may be, to make temporary polling arrangements for these split polling districts. He will have power to make each part of a split polling district into a separate polling district; he can join each part of the neighbouring polling district, or he can join bits of each part to a number of different polling districts. It may sound terribly complicated but, in practice, it works out fairly well. The arrangements made will be subject to the Minister. The reason for this is because, in the ordinary way, polling schemes are subject to confirmation by the Minister. The temporary arrangements will not apply to by-elections held before the dissolution of a Dáil. They will last only until a new polling scheme is established for the county or county borough.

Here is an important point: no problems arose out of the implementation of the corresponding provisions of the previous revision of constituencies. For example, at the last review, seven polling districts in North County Meath, which was then in my own constituency, were split by the new constituency boundaries. There was no difficulty. The arrangements were made. Some of them were [2266] new boundaries which left portion of the old County Meath constituency in Meath; put some in Cavan and some in Monaghan, splitting areas, including the village in which I was born and reared. A line was drawn down through the centre of the Meath constituency; half of it went to Cavan and half to Monaghan. It split up the polling districts, seven different polling areas, and there was no difficulty. That was done under the existing legislation which we hope to re-enact here.

What Deputy Molloy is asking here could be accepted but it would make no difference whatever. It would simply mean the addition of words to the Bill. What is in the Bill does exactly what he suggests the new words would do. There is no point in accepting it because it does no harm or no good and the section, as it stands, is adequate.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Minister stated that a polling district could not straddle two constituencies. I do not recall that I said they would do so. What I am arguing about is that at the time of the passing of this Bill and until such time as the appropriate officer actually divides the polling district it will, in fact, straddle. This is the purpose of the section, to ensure that polling districts are confined within the constituency. Where they are being divided, this method will allow the appropriate officer to do this tidying up job.

I submit that any person reading subsection (1) (a) as it stands could be confused. Our purpose is to state exactly in the legislation what is intended, putting it in as clear language as possible and not leaving it to the imagination. The Minister submits that what we have suggested will do what we proposed it should do. The Minister has used the words that it will not do any harm. I submit that the Minister should accept it; that it is clearer, simpler, more easily understood and states exactly what subsection (1) (a) is all about. The other interpretation could be put on it—that it refers merely to adjoining polling districts and does not state [2267] that those adjoining polling districts must be within that constituency. I am sure the Minister would agree with us that legislation should be improved, using clear and simple language where possible.

Under section 6 some language was being used which we believed was anomalous and we suggested changes in it. We regret that the Minister and his party in Government felt it necessary to use the guillotine method of passing that section rather than availing of the opportunity we gave them in the House and the numerous times we invited them to give us a reasonable and adequate explanation as to why those words should be retained; why the method of direction should be retained. We maintain now that the section passed by guillotine is bad law.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We cannot go back on that section now.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I am surprised to see that the Attorney General has voted with the Minister because the parliamentary draftsmen, who are responsible for this bad wording, actually come under his Department.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is going back on a section that is finished now.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  We are convinced that we made our point clearly during the course of that debate even if it took us seven hours to get it into the heads of the people opposite.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy will stay on the amendment now.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Minister has stated that he has no objection to the words and we suggest that the House accept them.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I did not say I had no objection. What I said was that the words would not do any harm or any good. There is no point in putting in words just because Deputy Molloy feels he would like to have them; just [2268] because Deputy Molloy feels he would like to have an amendment made is no good reason for changing legislation going through the House. I should like to facilitate the Opposition if I could. In any Bill that I am handling here, if it turns out that there are matters which will improve it, I shall have no objection to including them, but I am not prepared to add words simply because Deputy Molloy would like them to go in and which I am convinced would not improve the Bill.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The Minister mentioned part of his own constituency and the way it had been affected by a similar provision to this in the last revision of constituencies. Has he looked at the effect all over the country of splitting up polling areas in this legislation?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I would suggest it does not come up for discussion under this section.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Splitting of polling districts?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Not under this section.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Of course it does.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Does this deal with the effect that the revision of constituencies will have on polling areas?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It is making provision for what will happen after the splitting up takes place, which is a different thing altogether.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Are you Ceann Comhairle as well as Minister?

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The effect of the last revision of constituencies was mentioned by the Minister, where three constituencies were involved and where there were seven polling districts affected.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I gave an example.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I will try to show how section 7 will affect another area, or an area which is being affected not by the last revision of constituencies Bill but by this one.

[2269]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We are dealing with the amendment.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  This amendment seeks to make it clear and to explain how it will be within the constituency. In the mind of the Minister it may not be necessary to spell this out, but I think it is necessary. Even at that, we are going to have problems when one thinks of the way this will operate. I have one example here of an electoral area being affected by this section which the amendment seeks to change.

There is an area in Donegal where the Six County area and the sea are close together. It is on a neck of land between Bundoran and Donegal town, which is a long stretch. When the interpretation comes to be placed on this Bill, when it becomes an Act, there will be, for some reason or other which I cannot figure out, quite a large number of polling areas along this narrow neck of land between the sea and the Border.

Through the activities of the Minister one constituency shoots right up along straddling or bisecting or dissecting—anyway, cutting up—a number of polling districts. As well as cutting up a number of polling districts, it wanders its way right and left along the main arterial road. This will set the people who have to deal with this part of the Bill, which the amendment seeks to clarify, quite a difficult problem. There is the converse section of the proposed new constituency of Donegal—by the way, that is Sligo/Leitrim running into Donegal and the other piece is Donegal running down another neck of land—where there is a problem not alone for the voters but for the people who will be dealing with the provisions of this section. This is why we seek to make it quite clear that it is within the constituency that the Minister means. It is a farcical situation. The Minister could help immensely if instead of wandering along here and coming back——

[2270]Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Which part of the Schedule is the Deputy talking about now?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  He is talking about the amendment.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  He is not talking about the amendment.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  The Minister is changing his job again and is still Minister and Ceann Comhairle.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I presume this will arise on the Schedule. This is something the section deals with and the amendment of the section will be very much a problem in this general area. It is well-known that at a point between Northern Ireland and this part of the country the Border actually runs through a dwelling house. By the delineation of the borders of both constituencies and the main roadway it is quite possible that not alone will the polling area be dissected or bisected by a constituency boundary, but also that a dwelling house——

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Is it or is it not? You know all about it. You live there and you should know where the boundary is.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I did not draft this Bill. I am asking the Minister.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  You are asking hypothetical questions.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  The Minister will have seven hours in which to reply.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I am asking the Minister. If I am wrong, fair enough, but it would be a ridiculous situation if, due to the Minister's gyrations here in this part of Donegal, as well as the Border bisecting a house, you could have a borderline between the Donegal constituency and the Donegal-Sligo-Leitrim constituency bisecting a house. The people who come to implement the provisions of the section—and we are trying to help them by inserting this amendment—will have one hell of a problem if they find that a dwelling house is bisected by the line across which the polling district straddles. I [2271] do not know whether the Minister has studied this before he drew the line or whether he was told to draw the line in a general way, but he may tell us. However, he will find that there will not be only seven electoral areas involved but that there will be quite a few. Therefore I would urge that this amendment be accepted.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  As some of the Members on this side of the House said on section 6, which we were debating at some length until it was guillotined by the Minister, this Bill, by its very nature and title, concerns the general public. At all times the language used in the Bill should be such as to be understandable, not just to the parliamentary draftsmen or to barristers or solicitors but to the layman. Deputy Molloy's amendment helps to clarify this section. Sub-section (1) reads:

Where a polling district existing at the passing of this Act is not wholly situate within one of the constituencies specified in the Schedule to this Act, the appropriate officer, after consultation with the returning officer for the constituency concerned, shall, with respect to the part of the polling district situate in a constituency so specified——

(a) join it or parts of it with any adjoining polling district or districts.

The amendment adds to that: “within such specified constituency”. Subsection (1) (b) reads:

Constitute it as a polling district and appoint a polling place for it.

Again the amendment adds: “within such constituency”.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I was making the point that Deputy Molloy's amendment clarifies the section. What we have here are legalistic terms produced by the parliamentary draftsmen whose job it is to advise the Minister on the wording of any Bill he introduces. It is our job as legislators to try to make as clear as possible [2272] for the ordinary man in the street the wording of any section in any Bill enacted here.

The amendment is particularly necessary when one goes on to read section 7 (2) where you come to:

An arrangement made pursuant to paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section—

(a) shall be subject to the sanction of the Minister,

We are going into dangerous territory when we come to items subject to the Minister's sanction. Everything we said on section 6 is equally relevant on section 7.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Through the Chair, is the Deputy relating the amendment to subsection (2)?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Yes.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  If so, he is doing great things.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  If the Minister wants to speak he may go ahead.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  No, go ahead. Just for clarification, I like to know what the Deputy is talking about.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Would the Minister not leave this to the Chair?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I fear the Minister is getting his jobs mixed up. He is inclined to think he is Ceann Comhairle sometimes. We spoke earlier about anything being subject to the sanction of the Minister because it is desirable that as little as possible should be subject to the Minister's sanction. We saw by the operation of the Minister in his amendment of electoral areas for local elections exactly what the Minister can do when left to his own devices. It is absolutely essential that we make the wording of this section as clear and as unambiguous as possible.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has made these statements over and over again.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  This can be done by the inclusion of these words “within such specified constituency” in (a) and “within such constituency” in [2273] (b). In paragraph (b) of subsection (2) again there is reference back where it says:

shall not have effect in relation to any bye-election occurring before the dissolution of Dáil Éireann which next occurs after the passing of this Act, and

(c) shall have effect until (and only until) the first scheme under section 22 of the Electoral Act, 1963, in relation to the county or county borough in which the polling district is situate comes into operation after the passing of this Act.

This whole section hinges on section 22 of the Electoral Act, 1963, and Deputy Molloy's amendment is also connected with it. We are attempting to enact legislation to redraft the constituencies and I feel we should clarify as far as possible for the electorate what is in our minds. I should like to refer to the 1963 Act, section 22 (1) which deals with polling districts and polling places and which reads:

The council of a county or corporation of a county borough may after consultation with the returning officer for Dáil elections in respect of the county or county borough and in accordance with regulations made by the Minister, make a scheme dividing the county or county borough into polling districts for the purpose of Dáil elections and elections of members of local authorities within the meaning of Part VI of this Act and appointing a polling place for each polling district.

(2) A scheme under this section made by the council of a county or corporation of a county borough shall come into operation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  A quotation would be in order but a long or very long quotation clearly would not be in order. It would be sufficient to give the reference to the House. I cannot allow the Deputy to make a long quotation.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  For the purpose of this debate and for clarification for the general public I am reading this. [2274] We are here referring to section 22 of the 1963 Electoral Act and I am trying to clarify as far as possible what is involved in section 22. It was my intention, with that in mind, to read section 22 into this debate. I feel it is necessary in the context of these amendments put down——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I do not know how far the Deputy intends to quote but if it is a very long quotation it would not be in order.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  It is merely the section of the Act which is referred to in the Bill and which I feel is relevant, subject to the Chair——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair decides that.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I am subject to your ruling, of course, but I feel it is necessary because in section 7, section 22 of the 1963 Act is quoted and I feel that for the benefit of the debate and the general public we should clarify what is in section 22 of the 1963 Act. I intended just to remind the House of what was involved in section 22. It is not a very long section.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is it necessary to make a long quotation of that nature?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I feel that for the purpose of clarification——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have advised the Deputy that he may quote but not at great length. I shall leave it at that and observe the Deputy.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Yes, a Cheann Comhairle. I was quoting section 22 which is relevant to this and I shall continue, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle.

(2) A scheme under this section made by the council of a county or corporation of a county borough shall come into operation—

(a) if, but only if, it is confirmed by order under the next subsection, and

(b) on the day specified in that behalf in such order.

(3) As soon as may be after they [2275] have made a scheme under this section, the council of a county or corporation of a county borough shall submit the scheme to the Minister for confirmation and the Minister shall by order confirm the scheme with or without modification or refuse to confirm it.

Again we come to the question of the Minister's powers to confirm or not confirm orders depending on how he feels on that day. Earlier, I referred to the way in which the Minister makes orders, in particular in relation to the local electoral areas. One is slightly suspicious of the way in which the Minister makes orders when he has gerrymandered the local election areas to such an extent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That is not relevant at all.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I am trying to illustrate the point that section 22 of the 1963 Act leaves much power in the hands of the Minister and some of us would be a bit doubtful about it. I shall go on to subsection (4).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the Deputy going to persist in quoting?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I think the relevance of the quotation was shown that time when I spoke of the fact that on this side of the House we are suspicious of any powers that are put into the hands of the Minister for confirmation or rejection. We must go on past experience of the Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am advising the Deputy that further quotation of the document would not be in order.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Am I not entitled to quote section 22 of the Act which is mentioned in section 7?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have given the Deputy a lot of latitude. I told him that he may quote but surely he does not intend to formulate his speech by way of quotation alone.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I do not like to argue with the Chair but if I want to [2276] make the case for this amendment surely, with your permission, I am entitled to quote the section which is actually quoted in the subsection itself.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Quotations are not in order. The Deputy may not seek to circumvent the ruling of the Chair. I advise him to get away from quotations.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Why?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Are all quotation out of order?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I submit that the Chair is unfair when he says that the Deputy may not quote anything.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Not at the present time——

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  What is so particular about the present time?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I will return to the amendment put down by Deputy Molloy. This section must be clarified before the Bill is passed. There are polling districts in my constituency adjoining the existing constituency, part of which will be taken into the new North County constituency. Some disstricts in the existing North County will be put into Dublin (Clontarf). There is an overlapping of polling districts from one constituency into another and polling districts in present constituencies are being changed into new constituencies. It is for this and other reasons that Deputy Molloy put down his amendment. In the light of the Minister's statement that he can see no harm in it and as he is a reasonable man, I hope he will be willing to accept the amendment. We maintain that the addition of these words will clarify the Bill for members of the general public and do away with any ambiguity. The Minister's reputation as a reasonable man would be enhanced by his acceptance of this amendment.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The electorate in this country are highly intelligent and have understood what was in Electoral Bills over the years. They realised that there were new arrangements being made in regard to constituencies, and that if [2277] polling districts were divided among three constituencies separate arrangements would be made. They knew what was involved and accepted it.

Deputy Burke started to explain the Bill with the assistance of the 1963 Act. Not alone did he confuse the people outside the House but he succeeded in confusing himself. I am sure that at the end of his speech he did not know what the Bill was all about—at least that is what it sounded like on this side of the House. This amendment would not help to clarify the position which is already quite clear. The Electoral Polling Schemes Regulations, 1964, state that a polling scheme cannot and must not straddle constituency boundaries. This puts the onus on the county secretary or the city manager not to do what Deputy Molloy's amendment says he must put in the Bill in order to prevent them from doing. This situation has been very clear through the years. The only people confused about it are the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. I have not heard anybody in the country experiencing any difficulty in knowing exactly what happened when the change of constituency boundaries was made. It always worked out right and that was that. I cannot see what all this song and dance is about. Of course, the Deputies opposite said earlier that they would try to hold up the Bill for as long as they could.

So far as Deputy Cunningham's problem in relation to the split polling district in Donegal is concerned, I do not think that it is relevant. Therefore I will not dwell on it at any length. He is trying to persuade us that the county secretary in Donegal would draw a polling line through a house and put one half in one polling district and the other half in the other. Not very many people would believe that and they would treat it with the contempt it deserves.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Is the Minister saying that that could not happen.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It will not happen. Nobody is such a fool, whether he is a county secretary or an ordinary person, to divide a polling district by [2278] drawing a line through a house and putting one half in one polling district and the other half in an other. This is what Deputy Cunningham has suggested. It is not relevant to the Bill. The Deputy should not have raised it and I should not have followed him along that line.

So far as Deputy Molloy's amendment is concerned, the situation is clear. It could be accepted but it would not do anything except add more words to the Bill and there are enough words in it already. The position is clear and has been accepted as being workable over the years and will create no problems as it is stated in the section. The Deputy should realise that and not proceed any further with it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the amendment withdrawn?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  No. As subsection (1) (a) stands, would it be possible that part of a polling district situated in one of the constituencies mentioned in the Schedule could adjoin polling districts which were situated in constituencies other than the constituency mentioned in this Schedule? That is quite possible. One could give an example of a situation where not alone would it be adjoining two polling districts in two constituencies, the one in which it was intended to be and the adjoining constituency, but they could, in fact, also be adjoining a third. We hold that the words we are suggesting are necessary to make it clear that this section says what it intends to do and the words in the subsection should state that clearly. It should not be left to the imagination or common sense of the appropriate officer to decide. The legislation should lay it down quite clearly and simply. Would the Minister agree that it would be possible for part of a polling district in a constituency mentioned in the Schedule to adjoin polling districts in more than one constituency?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The extraordinary thing about it is that for the past couple of hours Aunt Sallies have been set up by the Fianna Fáil Party for the purpose [2279] of knocking them down. It does not matter whether it adjoins them or not, the onus is on the county secretary, or the city manager, to put them in a polling district in which they can vote in that constituency.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  That is not stated anywhere.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Of course it is. What should they do? Move them completely out of the area? The Deputy must give some little bit of credit to the people who are doing these things. It has been accepted as the way to do it and if Deputy Molloy can show me in this section where this is not possible or where, by any stretch of the imagination, something like what he described could happen I would like to see it. The last time Fianna Fáil did this job they divided my village into three and they divided the polling district at which I voted into three. As a result of that there was no difficulty in moving the electors who formerly voted in one booth into the three different constituencies. We were all very mad about it but it was done and that was it. There is no difference between this and what happened before.

The discussion here tonight, if it was listened to by people outside, would tend to confuse them except for the fact that I believe the electorate are very intelligent. If one asks any man working on the street how this works he will tell you without any reference to the Bill or anything else. He knows exactly what happens but Deputy Molloy, Deputy Cunningham and Deputy Raphael Burke do not know how it works and they are suggesting pitfalls which do not exist.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Does the Minister accept that what he is saying now could not happen could in fact occur?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  No, it could not happen.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Minister cannot imagine the situation where part of a polling district in one of the constituencies in the Schedule could [2280] adjoin polling districts in more than one constituency? Does the Minister agree that that could be so?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Yes.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Why object to specifying that that part of the polling district should only join it, or parts of it, with an adjoining polling district which is in the constituency?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Why?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Because it spells it out and leaves no doubt. The Minister is satisfied with legislation by assumption. All we are asking for—and the Minister should not make such a fuss about it—is to implement this amendment because it is obvious it is going to improve the section. He has already agreed that it would make it clearer and I believe it would improve the section. For that reason I cannot understand why the Minister is so adamant that he will not allow these words to be added.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The position is that it would not improve the section. It would simply add words.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  All that is there at the moment is an assumption.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It would simply add words which Deputy Molloy would like to see in. Those words would do nothing to clarify the position. It is quite clear as it is and I do not want to accept an amendment which would put words in just because someone feels he would like to have the words he likes in but which would not make one bit of difference. It will neither clarify it nor anything else. The section as it stands is quite clear, is easily understood, and what Deputy Molloy is suggesting could happen just could not happen. It does not matter how many constituencies break up a polling area, the people will be voting for the candidates in the constituency in which they are. That is the simple fact and the section makes that possible and that is all that is required.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I should like to read the subsection again:

[2281] Where a polling district existing at the passing of this Act is not wholly situate within one of the constituencies specified in the Schedule to this Act, the appropriate officer, after consultation with the returning officer for the constituency concerned, shall, with respect to the part of the polling district situate in a constituency so specified—

(a) join it or parts of it with any adjoining polling district or districts,

The amendment says:

Within such specified constituency.

Surely that clarifies this very much and puts it beyond any doubt? As a matter of fact, it is the only way to make that perfectly clear legally on paper where one does not have any “ifs” and “buts” or assumptions. That is an economy of words, copperfastening the whole provision. For that reason I would like to see the words suggested in the amendment included. It could happen that without adding these words a legal wrangle could occur. Questions could be raised on this but the wording suggested by Deputy Molloy makes it absolutely clear what is intended in the Act. To put the matter beyond any doubt it would be better if the Minister included the words because it spells out what the subsection means.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I should like to point out that what Deputy Cunningham is suggesting is too ridiculous for words. Suppose it is left as it is, does Deputy Cunningham suggest that some county secretary would arrange for voters to vote in a constituency to which they did not belong because that is the only alternative? The suggestion Deputy Cunningham is making is that unless those words are put in there is a danger of something like this happening.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The danger is there because the subsection does not specify.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  This is not a Bill for county managers or county secretaries; [2282] it is a Bill for the public at large.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It is, of course, but there is a regulation which puts the onus on certain people. The Deputy should know that the regulations laid down here insist on certain things being done. We are talking about appointed officers who are doing certain jobs. The suggestion is that some county manager, or city manager, or county secretary, would be so “screwy” that he would, in fact, take a group of people in an electoral area because they were moved into a different constituency and instead of arranging for them to vote at a polling booth related to that constituency would move them somewhere else. If they had a vote in the constituency of Galway they would be moved to Roscommon, Clare or some other county where they have no relevance at all. That is the essence of what Deputy Cunningham has been saying and if it is not perhaps he would explain what he does mean.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Minister said he does not imagine that any county secretary or county manager would be so “screwy” as to do that, but what we are arguing here is that he could do it and he could do it under the law because that is the way the section is written. We are asking that it be specified that it must be done within the constituency to which it applies. The Minister said that, in his view, it will not affect the section in any other way. We maintain that it clarifies it, that it is specific, that is is necessary and that it does not give county managers or county secretaries the opportunity to do these “screwy” things, the examples given by the Minister. We did not say that they would but what we are saying is that they could under this subsection.

I cannot understand why the Minister is so reluctant to add three or four words to this subsection which will eliminate this possibility even if the Minister imagines that the possibility is a very remote one. Legislation can only be written once and we have only one opportunity to settle on [2283] the words and that is now as far as we on this side of the House are concerned. We are making our suggestion and we ask the Minister to accept it.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It is rather ridiculous to hear a former Minister for Local Government displaying the fact that he does not know what the regulations affecting this sort of thing are. If he knew the regulations he would know that under article 3 of the Electoral Polling Scheme Regulations, 1964, it is laid down that this is what must be done and it cannot be done in any other way. That being so, for goodness sake would the Deputies opposite grow up and not pretend that in the case of something which cannot happen without a breach of the law we should now put in something in this Bill to again say you must do it in a certain way under the regulations. Now we are going to say you must do it again in this Bill. There is absolutely no necessity for it and it is a ridiculous suggestion to put it in.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  It is good law to put it in there.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It is not and the Deputy should know that.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The Minister accuses everybody of being stupid and he says that, of course, county managers and county secretaries could not be that stupid. In reading various Acts of the Oireachtas one comes to a certain set of words which seem to be superfluous. They are there to spell out beyond any doubt what is mentioned. If the Minister is so cock-sure that county managers and county secretaries will do this job properly and will interpret what to our mind here is a very vague subsection, why then does he deem it necessary in subsection (2) (a) to say “...subject to the sanction of the Minister”?

This indicates to me that, overall, he does not trust county secretaries or county managers to do the job properly and takes unto himself the right of sanction or otherwise for whatever county managers and [2284] county secretaries may do. I suggest the Minister should accept this amendment, those few words which are concise and which have a meaning for the ordinary person. I think this amendment is necessary. It may be that county managers and county secretaries will not do anything that is wrong although the Minister puts in a subsection requiring his sanction to what they do. I again urge him to accept our amendment.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  May I ask a stupid question?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The Deputy never does.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  This one might be stupid. The Minister mentioned the last Act and he mentioned where a polling booth was split in three. This is news to me because where the line was drawn in my county the polling booths were not carved at all.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The Deputy was lucky.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  If the polling booth was north of the line whoever voted in that polling booth was in that constituency. If it was south of the line all the people who always voted in that polling booth voted there and they were in that constituency. The polling booths down my way were not carved at all. You voted wherever the polling booth was situated. If it was in constituency X and even though some of the people were geographically in constituency Y you voted in X and vice versa in the case of Y. Why could we not have that now instead of slicing up polling booths? This may be a stupid question.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It is not stupid at all. What Deputy Callanan says is quite correct. If there was a division of a constituency beside a village or town and the most convenient polling station was normally in that village or town, even though it was outside the new constituency, it might be found convenient to use that polling station for the people who normally voted in that area. Deputy Callanan is quite correct but that does not [2285] alter the argument which we have had here all night.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  It might be logical.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The Deputy will appreciate that it would be possible for 600 new voters to be in a particular polling district and that polling district be divided three ways into three different constituencies for Dáil elections. In fact, each of them might vote in his own constituency and would vote in any case for the candidates in his own constituency. What Deputy Callanan says is quite correct and it is not unusual for the polling district to be just across the border if it was the most convenient place because there might not be any other convenient place to have the polling station.

Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  What about a travelling polling booth? We already have travelling banks?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It might not be a bad idea at all. We have heard stories of ballot boxes being carried around.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  You would be buzzing around it like bees around a honeypot.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Deputy Loughnane has mentioned travelling polling booths but we have not reached that stage yet. We might have to do something like that. It is quite true that there are areas which are pretty far from polling stations. The amendment which is suggested here would not do anything to improve that. It suggests that something, which was introduced and which is good law and has operated for a long time, should now be changed. It is agreed it has operated properly until now. It must be agreed that the regulation to which I have referred which lays down who is responsible for drawing up the areas and deciding where people in a certain area will vote is correct. Yet, it is suggested that we should insert in this Bill an amendment which, as I said at the start, does nothing to improve the matter but will just simply add some words to it and will do it no harm. Deputy [2286] Molloy feels that is justification for having it done.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I feel it is necessary to have those words inserted. The other comment is the Minister's own.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  No. My comment is the considered comment of the Government and of previous Governments. Every Government connected with the drawing up of Electoral Bills in this House since the first one was drawn up considered this was the way to do it. When Deputy Molloy was this side of the House he felt that was fair and right but he now feels it is not fair and right and he would like to have it changed. Change for change sake should not be included in legislation going through Oireachtas Éireann.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  It is change for improvement.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  No, it is not improvement.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  It is.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Deputy Molloy thinks it is an improvement and I am perfectly satisfied that it is not and, in fact, would simply add on some words which, in effect, would do nothing at all. There was a reference made by Deputy Cunningham and Deputy Burke to the fact that the sanction of the Minister was required. In some peculiar way they felt that the sanction of the Minister, whether it was myself or somebody who comes after me right down to the end of the century or longer, gave him some great power because he was being asked to sanction polling stations.

The Minister must sanction all polling schemes. We might stop for a minute to consider that, to appreciate that arrangements are drawn up by responsible local officers and are then submitted in the normal way for sanction. I do not know if Deputy Burke dislikes me or if he will dislike my successor whoever that may be, but I cannot understand why he thinks this power should not be given to a Minister. This type of rather silly comment spoils a debate of this kind. [2287] We are debating a perfectly simple, functional section of a Bill which is an exact replica of previous sections.

Deputy Cunningham suggested there was a change but he did not know what was the change. There is not a change, the section has been handed down from year to year. Although the impression is given by the Opposition that only they are entitled to object to sections of a Bill if they think something is wrong, I would remind them that the Cabinet must agree on any Bill that comes before the House. On a number of occasions different Fianna Fáil Cabinets agreed on those sections of the Bill. They found nothing wrong with them. But now Deputies Cunningham, Molloy and Burke find a lot wrong with them.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  One can improve things with time.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The only thing that is wrong with them now is that the Deputy is looking at them from a different angle; instead of looking at them across the Cabinet table he is looking at them across the floor of the House. That is the only difference. This section is a simple, functional section of a Bill. It has been put in to do a job, a job that has been done well during the years. Whether we agree or disagree with the way constituencies are laid out, we must admit that the people who carry out instructions under Article 3 (a) of the Electoral Polling Scheme Regulations, 1964 have done an excellent job and this will apply also to section 7 of this Bill. That being so, is there any reason Deputy Molloy can advance that would suggest that the amendment should be accepted? On more than one occasion I have admitted it would do no good to the Bill, would do no harm if accepted, but would simply add words that are unnecessary.

In addition, we have had a number of examples of what could happen with regard to the new electoral areas which, I suggest, are not proper to this section but have been flogged fairly well by some people. We had the [2288] ridiculous suggestion of a house being divided in two. I have heard of a house divided against itself but it is the first time I have heard of a house being divided into two constituencies. Suggestions like this do not contribute towards teasing out matters affected by this Bill. I pointed out that when the arrangements were made under the last Electoral Bill numerous areas were split up in two or three ways. The people responsible found no difficulty whatever in bringing the new districts into their proper constituencies and having the voting carried out.

Deputy Callanan asked a sensible question which puzzled some people. He wanted to know how people were voting outside their own constituencies. The reason is because it was the most convenient place to have the voting carried out. This happens throughout the country but not very often. It shows the intelligence of the people who make the regulations. It is not simply a question of a country secretary, a county manager or a city manager making the arrangements himself.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  The county registrars in the last 16 years have been appointed from broken down Fianna Fáil solicitors. They are the men who have been dictating——

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  On a point of order, is it proper that allegations be made against persons not present in this House?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  They should be removed from office.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Is it correct that these allegations be made?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister to resume his speech.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  That has been my experience. I have been a long time in public life, longer than Deputy Molloy.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Will the Deputy be asked to withdraw these allegations against persons not present in the House?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  I am making the [2289] same allegations as Deputy O'Malley made about the Judiciary. What I say I can substantiate but what he said he could not substantiate.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  An tAire.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Before the Minister proceeds I should like to inquire whether you intend to ask Deputy Coughlan to withdraw the allegation he made.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  If the Deputy would wait for the Chair.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I am sorry. I thought you called the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair has often pointed out that within the House Deputies should not make allegations against people who have no opportunity to defend themselves here. This is a precedent of long standing in the House. Deputies ought not to reflect on those who have not got the opportunity of defending themselves here, particularly when reflection is on a specific person.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Are you not going to ask Deputy Coughlan to withdraw the remarks? It is usual that the Chair should correct the position by asking the Deputy to withdraw the remarks.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair has indicated that Deputies should not make allegations.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Chair is not going to request Deputy Coughlan to withdraw the remarks he made. I think that is disgraceful.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Is the Deputy reflecting on the Chair?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  No, but on the statement which Deputy Coughlan is allowed to get away with.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is reflecting on the Chair by imputation then.

[2290]Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I do not wish to reflect on your good self, Sir, whom I respect very much, but that gentleman over there has cast a very sad reflection of the integrity of this House in making such statements as he made.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair has taken note of that and has given from the Chair such advice as the Chair can give.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Then I would appeal to the gentleman in Deputy Coughlan to withdraw the remarks he made.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  We must bear in mind what was said about the Judiciary by a member of his own party.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair would advise Deputies that in regard to these matters epithets should not be flung around particularly where they are specific and where the person is identifiable.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  I appeal to Deputy Coughlan to withdraw the remarks.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Who do you think you are and who do you think you are speaking to?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  There is no gentleman there.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  An tAire.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  We had enough of your arrogance when you were over here. I will never put up with your arrogance again. You are on the losing side now and you will stay there for a long time.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  When the quorum was called, Sir, I was pointing out that the section provides that where a polling district existing at the passing of this Act is not wholly situate within one of the constituencies specified in the Schedule to this Act, the appropriate officer—and this is the important thing—after consultation with the returning officer for the constituency concerned, shall, with respect to the part of the polling district situate in a constituency so specified join it or parts of it with any adjoining polling district or districts. [2291] or constitute it as a polling district and appoint a polling place for it.

The point is that not only will the county secretary or the county manager do that but he will consult with whoever is responsible in the neighbouring constituency to ensure that the proper thing is being done. For the life of me I cannot see where other people can see something wrong with the section as it stands. My objection to accepting the amendment is that it will do no good. It will do no harm but it will do no good, and I do not believe in simply accepting an amendment for the purpose of having words added to a Bill which are not necessary. Deputy Molloy, who should have enough experience of these things, should be satisfied to accept that there is no point in trying to put something in the Bill just to have a few words changed. He has made his point. I have considered it very fully. I am satisfied that there is no merit in the proposal. Therefore I would ask him to withdraw this amendment and so enable us to continue with the discussion on the Bill.

What we are discussing here is important but it is very well dealt with and has been well dealt with for many years. Not only is it considered that the words used are the proper words, but long practice has proved that such is the case. If there were a danger, or if there were even a hint, that in any way something could happen which would interfere with the operation of the regulations as laid down, I could understand Deputy Molloy's amendment; but to propose an amendment which it is quite clear cannot improve the section simply for the purpose of adding words to the Bill is, I suggest, a waste of effort.

Some Deputies were not quite sure of what Deputy Molloy was trying to amend because they referred to subsections of the section which would not be affected by the amendment and they attempted to make a case for those subsections. It is quite clear in my mind that the regulations which are made and which operate to govern the setting up of polling stations and which are carried out by people who must [2292] do so—not may do so—are quite sufficient to ensure that nothing will go wrong. Therefore I am surprised that the amendment is being pursued by the Fianna Fáil Party. They must realise that it does not hold water.

If we wanted to deal with this in any other way, or if there were a suggestion that it spelled out something else to prevent an abuse, a known abuse, it would be easier to understand, but the section which is being discussed by the House and which Deputy Molloy is trying to amend has shown absolutely no cracks. It has worked so well that nobody has ever suggested it needed to be amended until now. I am perfectly satisfied from my own knowledge of it, and from the advice which I got, that it does not need an amendment. I do not know how widely the Official Report is read. I would be worried that people who read the report of the discussion earlier on would get the impression that there was something wrong and that this left it wide open for certain politicians to do certain things which would interfere with the right of voters to vote the way they want to.

I am sure from discussions I have had with ordinary people throughout the country that they all understand the way this works. They understand how it works and they understand why, as Deputy Callanan said, on occasion it is necessary to move a booth outside a constituency boundary. This does not interfere with the voters' right to vote for the candidate in their own constituency. That being so, it amazes me that a case is being made to have it changed. It does not seem to me that the people who have been making the case really understand how the section works. That is rather a pity. If they talked to the man-in-the-street—the people Deputy Burke talked about who might be a bit confused—they would soon get an explanation because the Irish electorate are very intelligent people and it is amazing how well they understand even more intricate arrangements than the arrangement in this section. The only way they could be confused would be by putting something else in here for the purpose of [2293] confusing the issue. We should leave it as it is. It appears to me that this is the right way to deal with it and I see no reason to accept the amendment.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Minister has advanced his reasons for not accepting this amendment. I am surprised at his approach. He says this is something which was presented to the House on previous occasions by his predecessors in Local Government. Deputy Molloy during his period in office did not have an opportunity of introducing a measure like that now before the House. Had he had such an opportunity he would, I am sure, have looked at such a Bill with new eyes.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  With different eyes.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I said “with new eyes”. I am disappointed the Minister did not look at the Bill in a new way. It is no argument against the proposed amendment to say this has been done in previous Acts. The purpose of an amendment is to improve legislation introduced here. This amendment is a simple one. The Minister referred to the man-in-the-street. The man-in-the-street has difficulty very often in understanding legislation passed here. At times I myself have had difficulty in understanding certain sections of it. Our aim should be to legislate as simply as possible and, if an amendment tabled by the Opposition is a valid amendment or one that makes the Bill easy to understand, then the Minister should accept it. Non-acceptance should not be due to the fact that the amendment was tabled by an Opposition Deputy.

Deputy Molloy's amendment is eminently sensible. I cannot understand why the Minister should ask Deputy Molloy to withdraw it. He should be complimenting him. The amendment will make the particular section more explicit. Many polling districts will cross boundaries. I am sure there are many such districts in the Minister's own constituency. Parts of these will be combined or amalgamated and that will cause confusion.

[2294] I do not agree with the Minister that the man-in-the-street will find this easy to comprehend. He will not have time to read the debate here or even the Press reports of the proceedings here. Many will not know until immediately before polling day that their polling booth is in a different area from that in which they voted on the last occasion. The amendment would help to correct that situation.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment. The Minister is lucky in having a young enthusiastic Deputy on these benches to bring these remissions to his notice. By accepting the amendment the Minister would be paying Deputy Molloy a compliment.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I am sure the Minister must have been impressed by Deputy Fitzgerald's eloquent plea to accept this brief amendment. The Minister says the amendment would not do any harm. He ought, therefore, to be big enough to accept it and let us get on with the business. In the situation adumbrated in the Bill as it stands one could argue that a person had as much right to vote for a candidate in his constituency as he has in a polling booth which is not in his constituency. This may sound specious.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It happens in the Deputy's constituency.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  It does actually. If this amendment were accepted, it would not happen.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It would still happen. It has nothing to do with this particular section—good, bad or indifferent. The next section is the appropriate one.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Let us say, if the principle were accepted it could not happen then. As the Minister rightly states, this does happen in my own area. The Minister having admitted that—and I agree that he is right—would be not then accept this simple amendment of only four words?

[2295]Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  There is no point in it.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Or do I have to start parsing these four words into adjectives, predicates, verbs, adverbs and so on?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The Deputy would have a hard task?

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I suggest to the Minister, having listened to Deputy Fitzgerald—who made a most sincere and eloquent plea to him—that he accept those four words which the Minister says will not harm the Bill in any way. Deputy Molloy desires to have this legislation absolutely watertight. Therefore, he, as the past Minister, and the present Minister could well agree on this so that we might make progress. When the Bill is finally enacted, the Minister can then be quite satisfied that, because of Deputy Molloy's ability to detect a weakness in the Bill and the Minister's gallantry in accepting his proposal. We will have a really good Bill. Then the Minister can say: “If you want a monument look around you.” This Bill would be here as a monument to his tolerance in facilitating Deputy Molloy. I would sincerely appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment and to pass on to the next section.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  As I have already done in the form of a very minor contribution to this debate, I would ask the Minister not to refer to what was done by previous Ministers. There is no reason why he should accept what was done by previous Ministers as a precedent which he feels obliged to follow.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I do not blame Deputy Power for being slightly ashamed at some of the things that were done.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  Not a bit.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  I would ask the Minister to make up his own mind; he should let in a little fresh air and show us that he is not approaching this with a closed mind. If he feels that something is good, coming from this side of the House, and it cannot all be bad, he should accept it.

[2296]Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  This section is good and it came from that side of the House.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  If the Minister adopted the attitude of a colleague of his who referred to what any reasonable man might accept or expect, he would be doing a good night's work.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I want, first, to accuse the Minister of deliberately holding up the Bill.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I want to accuse the Minister of deliberately holding up this Bill. We had an amount of discussion on the previous section and the Minister's attitude on this is identical.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  On the amendment, Deputy.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  On the amendment, the Minister has indicated that the words proposed would do no harm. Previously he indicated that a suggestion of Deputies O'Malley and Molloy was superior to that contained in the Bill.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  No, I did not.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Nevertheless, the Minister provoked a discussion by members of the Opposition, prolonged the debate and, finally, applied the guillotine.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Keep to the amendment, please.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I merely want to point out that the same tactics are being applied to this amendment. Whereas the Minister is of the opinion that the words would do no harm——

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Or no good.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  ——nevertheless, he fails to accept them. If they are of no harm, there is no reason why they should not be included. However, the Minister relies on the fact that the wording of this Bill is similar to that of a previous one. He relies on the [2297] fact that the information obtained from his advisers is superior to that of Members of the House. One must take into consideration that, in the not too distant past, a previous Bill dealing with the same problem was found to be unconstitutional.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy must keep to this amendment.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Had the same attention been given by the then Opposition to that Bill, it would not have been found to be unconstitutional.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  That is not relevant to this amendment. The Deputy must keep with the amendment.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  This is in relation to the amendment and to the arguments advanced by the Minister as to why he could not accept it. Since the Minister feels the proposed words would do no harm, surely it is reasonable that he might satisfy the Opposition in their efforts to perfect the Bill and, therefore, accept the amendment proposed by Deputy Molloy. The Minister is not prepared to accept any amendment, good, bad or indifferent whether or not it improves the Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Keep to this amendment, Deputy, amendment a.1.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It is quite obvious that in relation to this subsection the Minister will again use the jackboot because, while he considers it would not be of any harm, nevertheless he is not prepared to accept the amendment. We consider that it is an improvement, and a large proportion of Deputies in the House consider that it would be an advantage.

I hope the Minister will not provoke discussion to the same extent as was done on the previous section; that he will be more reasonable and that he will see sense in the amendment proposed by Deputy Molloy. The amendment is a very simple one. I hope the Minister will use his own judgment rather than use the argument that Bills were presented in this way in the past, that his advisers have counselled him [2298] and that he is not prepared to deviate from what he has been told. He is a good boy, doing what he is told, but surely he should listen to the Members of this House. Surely he should listen to reason and to suggestions and where amendments suggested are constructive —as he has said on one occasion— embody them in the Bill. I think the Minister is very unreasonable.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy must keep to this amendment.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy's speech is costing the plain people of Ireland about £1,000 a minute.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  They cannot say I am a cheap politician.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Having listened to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach indicating that it cost £1,000 per minute——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The amendment, please, Deputy.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It is necessary and desirable that the Parliamentary Secretary should have the Deputies in the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy should keep to the amendment.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Government backbenchers are muzzled and are not in the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Amendment a.1.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  In relation to the amendment——

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan  Zoom on John Geoghegan  On a point of order, I called for a House and you, a Cheann Comhairle, declared a House. I am not arguing with the Chair, but if a Deputy sits on the steps is he in the House?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  As a matter of fact, he is.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Amendment a.1.

[2299]Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan  Zoom on John Geoghegan  If a Deputy comes in and sits on the steps can he be counted as being in the House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  This point should not be raised at this time. There was a quorum present.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan  Zoom on John Geoghegan  Can I have a clarification?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Not at this point.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  I might run a seminar on how to be in an Opposition.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Dowling, please.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It is only reasonable that the Minister should accept this amendment. It has already been fully explained by Deputy Molloy. It is absolutely essential that the words “within such specified constituency” should be accepted.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  You do not know where they would fit.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Minister has already stated he will not deviate from the existing Bill. It is our job to perfect the legislation going through this House. If the Minister wants to prolong the discussion the onus is on him and not on the Opposition.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy should keep to the amendment.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Our job is to ensure that we improve the Bill. We are endeavouring to convince the Minister and Members of the Government party. So far we have not heard very much from them in support of the Bill. We have not been given any reason why the amendment should not be accepted. I know that being Minister is a lonely business. There is no indication from the backbenchers of the Government party that they are in any way opposed to this amendment. When the time comes to vote they will be jackbooted into the Lobbies as they have been earlier this evening. The Minister is relying on the fact that previous legislation contained like phrases and the Minister has been advised about this.

[2300]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  This seems to be repetitious.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It may be a little repetitious but nevertheless——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is an old Parliamentarian and he knows he is being repetitious and that to be repetitious is disorderly.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I do not mean to be repetitious.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair appreciates that and that is why he is asking the Deputy not to be repetitious.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The insertion of the words in the amendment would improve the Bill.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Why?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Minister himself agrees that they would not disimprove the Bill. He should consider this amendment. To suggest that the Minister should be reasonable is suggesting the impossible. Perhaps with a little prompting the Minister may see some sense in the amendment and agree to its insertion as suggested by Deputy Molloy. I would ask the Minister to give his views. In view of the fact that the amendment would not disimprove the Bill, will the Minister now accept the advice of the largest party in the House and accept the amendment proposed by Deputy Molloy?

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I will not give any further explanation. I am sorry if Deputy Dowling was not in the House until a quarter-of-an-hour ago.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I was in the House longer than the Minister today.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I have listened to the debate this evening and to the Minister's interjection that he did not see Deputy Molloy's amendment as being either a benefit or a hindrance. I am satisfied that this is merely a question of adding certain words. I suggest to the Minister that in the quietness of his office over the next weekend before we continue the discussion of this amendment he should seriously look at the amendment presented by Deputy Molloy. I think that if the [2301] Minister looks seriously and objectively at the amendment, as he is expected to do as Minister for Local Government, not alone will he accept it but he is likely to come in here with a further amendment of his own, amending the amendment by saying “within each such specified constituency”. The Minister is endeavouring to compare this section of the Bill with a similar section in the 1969 Bill, but the circumstances in this instance are very different.

Many constituencies in the Dublin area have changed. In the section we visualise the type of situation outlined by the Minister earlier where a certain part of a polling district becomes separated from the main part or becomes split or even divided in three parts with sections going into other constituencies. We are visualising a situation in which a fairly large part of an existing polling district remains in its original constituency and another part moves into a new constituency for which subparagraphs (a) and (b) make provision. In the Dublin area there are polling districts that finish up in three new constituencies, no polling district remaining in its old-named constituency, because the name of Dublin constituencies are being changed.

Therefore, I fully subscribe to the amendment which Deputy Molloy has submitted. If the Minister examines this carefully, with the benefit of advice from his officials, he will see a great deal of sense in the amendment, and he may even frame an amendment of his own so that he can claim credit for the idea. The explanatory memorandum says in relation to sections 6 and 7:

Sections 6 and 7 contain the usual consequential measures for rearrangement of headings of the register of electors and for alteration of polling schemes.

Section 7 itself makes no reference to a scheme but what is contained in the explanatory memorandum in this regard is a fair interpretation of what section 7 is all about, so that the section itself taken en bloc from the [2302] 1969 legislation does not stand. The explanatory memorandum says very much the same as the Minister has said in relation to these two sections.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We are dealing with the amendment.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am talking about the amendment. The Minister has explained to us that the section of this Bill which we are proposing to amend——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We cannot deal with the section until the amendment is disposed of.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  We cannot make sense out of the amendment unless we take the section. The Minister has explained that the brains of the Government have looked at this and has implied that we have not enough brains over here to make suggestions that would improve on it. What he is really saying is: “We never seriously looked at those two sections. We took them out of the previous Bill and assumed that that was the situation. You are very bold boys and you cast a reflection on your colleagues or former comrades by even querying it.”

It is the easiest thing in the world to rile the Minister for Local Government. That is why I deliberately waited until this very late time on Wednesday night, a short time before we finish, so that this would be the parting thought for the Minister and that he would look objectively at this matter. He sees it as being no great change from what he has provided except the addition of words. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach gives the impression that if these three words were added to this Bill it would cost £1,000 a minute until such time as the Government is changed, which will not be too long. Maybe it is understandable that the Minister does not accept the amendment because he does not want to give credit to the Opposition for bringing in a change which appears to be simple but in which there is a tremendous amount of common sense. I hold that this amendment is absolutely necessary in relation to section 1.

[2303]Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  An tAire.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I move to report progress.

[2304] Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 7th March, 1974.


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