Thursday, 5 July 1928
Seanad Éireann Debate
LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: Some amendments were handed in to this Bill this morning by Senator O'Farrell, but as they were clearly inconsistent with the principle of the Bill, I had to rule them out of order. Senator  O'Farrell, and every other Senator, will have an opportunity in Committee of discussing any section.
Sir JOHN KEANE: I rise to a point of order. Is it seemly that we should take the Committee Stage of this Bill to-day? In the case of an important Bill it is usual—and it is only proper, I suggest—to have a decent interval for the preparation of amendments. This is one of the most important Bills that we have had for some time, and it certainly is not being treated with that consideration accorded to Bills far less important. I do not think that it is according to the best traditions of the House that this Bill should be taken on Committee the day after the Second Reading.
Mr. O'FARRELL: I want to support that protest. I sent in my amendments in anticipation of anything that might happen, because anything can happen in things of this sort, and I think that we should display some sense of decorum in dealing with an important Bill to amend the Constitution. The Second Reading was passed at 6 o'clock yesterday, and quite obviously there was other business that had to be done, so that there was not time for the drafting of amendments. For that reason I objected to the Bill being taken to-day. I propose to submit some remarks in regard to a point of order when the time comes, but I submit that the Bill should not be taken in Committee to-day.
LEAS - CHATHAOIRLEACH: As regards Senator Sir John Keane's objection, this really is a Bill of very few clauses, and it is practically incapable of amendment. I do not think it would be at all interfering with the rights of minorities to take it now. If the Committee Stage is taken now the opportunity will be given for raising objections to any point in the Bill, and it certainly is not contrary to the Standing Orders to take it to-day.
Mr. O'FARRELL: I submit that it is as capable of amendment here as it was in the other House, and if in the other House people insisted on the usual notice being given I think we ought at least to observe the rules of elementary  procedure in dealing with a Bill of this kind.
LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: Of course if the House wishes it can object to the Bill being taken to-day, but it is not contrary to the Standing Orders. I submit that the Bill is really incapable of amendment, but it is for the House to decide whether it will take it to-day or not.
Mr. O'FARRELL: The Senator is, of course, quite aware that it is not proper to pass the Second Reading of a Bill of this nature one evening and to take the Committee Stage the next day. It is not the custom.
LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: I quite agree, but most Bills contain a number of clauses which would require a great deal of attention for a person to become thoroughly acquainted with them. This Bill is not of that character. I think everybody knows what its two clauses are and what they are meant to do, and for that reason I put it to you that it is consistent and not an infringement of the rights of any minority, that it should be taken to-day. But you can have a vote of the House to decide it.
Mr. McGILLIGAN: I would like to be clear as to what are the dates on which the Seanad is to meet. For instance, if the Seanad were to meet to-morrow I do not think there would be much objection to this.
Mr. JAMESON: Will the mover of the motion give some reason for it? Evidently Senator Gogarty does not understand the point raised. The mover says that we have not had time to consider amendments, and perhaps he would develop that point. We are not going to postpone it because of our convenience, but because more time is required to consider the Bill.
Mr. O'FARRELL: We have here a Constitution Bill which first appeared on the Order Paper on Tuesday. It was passed last evening at 6 o'clock, and other business had then to be taken up. We are now asked to take up the Committee Stage, which means that we have been given only the forenoon of to-day for the consideration and drafting of amendments. We had first on the Second Reading to discuss the matter and to sound the views of Ministers, as to what their attitude would be in regard to amendments, before they are put down, and I think it is quite improper to rush this now. There is no necessity for rushing it. There are many other Bills that will come on later and that it is expected will be passed before we adjourn, and we have enough work to keep us going until late this evening. We are not out to convenience ourselves, but to see that the business will be done in a proper way.
Mr. O'HANLON: I hold entirely  different views from Senator O'Farrell on this Bill, but nevertheless I think the case he makes is a perfectly reasonable one, and I think we have to consider that in all fairness to him, and particularly as the Minister has stated that there is no great urgency in the matter of hours, if the House wants to do justice to the suggestion put forward by Senator O'Farrell there seems to be no reason why it should not meet to-morrow or on Tuesday. I think the case Senator O'Farrell put forward is quite sufficient to convince us that there should be some opportunity for Senators to consider amendments.
Mr. McGILLIGAN: This is an entirely new point that has been raised— the matter of postponing it from to-day until to-morrow, as opposed to postponing it from to-day until next week. The grounds for Senator O'Farrell's objection to taking it to-day are that there has not been sufficient time to put down amendments, and that there is not sufficient time to consider amendments that have been put down. As regards the first point, I do not know what amendments will come forward, and I cannot speak on that. In regard to the second point, I suggest that it is almost an insult to the intelligence of the House to say that, having read the amendment that is down, it cannot make up its mind on that amendment. The change proposed is a very slight one. It is one that can be very easily understood, and one in connection with which arguments can be found immediately for or against.
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