Wednesday, 12 July 1961
Seanad Eireann Debate
Professor Quinlan: On the order of business, I rise again to raise the question of motions, because nothing has been done about them. We are being put off with promises, and today we were not even given a promise. I should like to ask is it possible to set aside some time to make some headway with these motions, many of which have been on the Order Paper since November? We sat only three days during the past month. It would not have strained the staying power or the stamina of any Senator to have sat for an additional two days  and we might possibly have disposed of all the motions.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I should like to support that and to ask a question of the Leader of the House in relation to motions. The first motion to be dealt with presumably will be a resumption of the debate on my motion which was started on April 19th. I feel that should certainly have been disposed of by now. There are at least four or five other motions of great importance which we have not even attempted to reach. We have been very patient about this and we should have a statement on it.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: In regard to the motions, Senators can be assured that if the heavy programme of Government business which we have before us is expeditiously dealt with, I shall make arrangements to deal with as many of the motions as possible.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: When we deal with this Finance Bill—and the Road Traffic Bill is on the Order Paper today also—it is proposed to deal with the Appropriation Bill, Curragh of Kildare Bill, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Medical Practitioners Bill, Health (Corporate Bodies) Bill, Industrial Grants (Amendment) Bill, Tourist Traffic Bill, Insurance Bill, Holidays (Employees) Bill, Agricultural Workers (Holidays) (Amendment) Bill, Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited (Amendment) Bill, Air Navigation and Transport Bill, two Courts Bills, Defamation Bill,  Civil Liability Bill and Local Authorities (Education Scholarships) (Amendment) Bill.
Professor Hayes: Let us be quite clear about this. The House will certainly have to transact the financial business, the Finance Bill today and at the end of the month, the Appropriation Bill. I have no complaint about that; nobody has any complaint about it. We have reached the Second Stage of the Road Traffic Bill and we should be able to conclude that, but to say that we should consider the rest of these Bills is absurd and quite unrealistic. The Dáil will be engaged on Estimates exclusively until the 21st. The Dáil must conclude the Estimates on that date so that we can have at least one week for the Appropriation Bill. We want to give the Appropriation Bill to the Minister for Finance on 28th July. That, I think, is the appropriate date, the last Friday in July. That business we shall have to do.
There have been arguments about it—I do not want to argue those points now—but to suggest that we should do all these miscellaneous Bills is absurd because the Dáil could not do them until the month of August and to suggest that we should do them is contrary to common sense and to any realistic view of what is to happen. The courts, for example have been going on since 1924. There is nothing wrong with the courts. The whole judicial position is all right. Certain changes could be made as well in the autumn as next month.
There is another point I want to put to the Leader of the House and to the Government. If there are any Bills which the Dáil concludes, this House can deal with them after the recess in  the autumn, whether there is an election or not. I do not want to argue this matter politically but the Seanad can deal with Bills within the Dáil, whether or not there is an election. The Bills can be concluded by the Dáil now and there is no necessity whatever to keep us here through the month of August and into September. The Senator knows that perfectly well. Everybody knows it. The Dáil will not stay for that business and it would be most absurd for us to consider Bills which, if they were amended, would have no Dáil to go back to. Presumably, when the Dáil goes, it will not return. Presumably, the dissolution will take place during the Recess.
I am not arguing politics but making a statement of fact. There are 14 or 15 Bills which the Dáil has not concluded and they have only one week in July to complete them, which would be impossible. The Dáil has, as a practice, a long debate on the Taoiseach's Estimate or a debate on the Adjournment during which matters relating to the Taoiseach's Estimate can be raised. I suggest that it is impossible for us to conclude the programme which has been put before us with a degree of levity and we want a serious appraisal of what we are expected to do.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: On the question of the Courts Bill, for example, I had to listen a few weeks ago to sneering and jeering from the Fine Gael benches about the delay in establishing courts under the Constitution but now that we are producing Bills to do just that, they want a further delay.
Professor Hayes: Do I not know it? The financial business must be done but the Dáil cannot dispose of these Bills until August and the Minister for Finance knows it well. If the Dáil does deal with them in August, are we expected to be here in September to deal with them in the circumstances that the Bills are coming from a Dáil which has gone for ever?
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I should like to make a point to the Leader of the House that, in my opinion, he is right in saying that these Bills are important Bills, that they are not trivial ones and, to my mind, we must not try to rush them through all Stages in the course of a few days. If they were trivial, I should say that they could well be held over, but, in either event, it would be unfair as well as unrealistic to ask the Seanad to deal with this vast list of legislation, a lot of it intricate and requiring  detailed Committee work. As Senator Hayes says, there is no point in it if there is no Dáil to whom these Bills can be referred back.
Professor Hayes: That would have been some advantage but it would not have dealt with the point I am making. On the list, there is the new Scholarships Bill, for example, which I should like to discuss at some length. It is something I have some knowledge about. The proposed programme is making a farce of parliamentary government. It is humbug.
An Cathaoirleach: To reply to Senator Sheehy Skeffington's question, the position has somewhat improved since last week. Four outside reporters, in addition to the normal staff, are on duty today. The delay in issuing last week's Seanad debates was due to shortage of staff but we expect them to be in the hands of Senators tomorrow.
|Last Updated: 15/09/2010 11:07:23||Page of 5|