An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú ar an mBunreacht, 1968: An Coiste (Atógáil). Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1968: Committee Stage (Resumed).
Thursday, 25 July 1968
Seanad Eireann Debate
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: We have now come to the consideration of subsection 2º of Part I and subsection 2º of Part II. The Chair wishes to point out that subsection 2º and amendment No. 1 will be discussed together. There will not be a discussion on the amendment and a subsequent separate discussion on subsection 2º.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The form of the amendment is to delete subsection 2º and replace it by a substitute subsection. If both section and amendment are discussed together, the question to be put at the end of that joint discussion will be: that subsection 2º stand part of the Schedule.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator should understand that, strictly speaking, the whole of the Schedule should be debated as one part of the Bill. The House is being convenienced by the splitting of the Schedule for debate purposes. This is an unusual procedure.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Subsection 2º and the amendment will be discussed together and at the conclusion of that debate, the question will be: “That the subsection proposed to be deleted stand part of the Schedule.” If that is carried, the amendment will not be put. If that proposition is defeated, the amendment can then be moved and voted on.
Our colleague on the university panel, Senator Stanford, has indicated his wish to have his name included with those of us who have tabled this amendment. It means then that the whole Independent panel here who have taken part in this debate are standing together on this amendment and I think in that case our view and our approach—I find it rather difficult with regard to Senator Cole, who is quizzing as to whether he should be included in the Independents or not; we will leave that to the House to decide——
Professor Quinlan: I am doing it at the request of Senator Stanford and I expect that he will be here to lend his support to this very desirable provision. In moving it, the House might reflect  back to 1959 when the university panel moved together and issued a very strongly worded condemnation of what was then being done, and we like to feel they played a very big part in enlightening the public on the issue. Now we are coming together again to raise the present issue. The amendment seeks to ensure that the alternative to be put to the electorate will be that of the single-member transferable vote system. It is first the single-member constituency and then that the vote should be the single transferable vote, in other words, the by-election system as operated to date.
In moving this, speaking personally, I am not in any way abating one whit my support for the proportional representation system, and my advice to the electorate is to hold fast to the freedom they have and to hold fast to the system that has served them so well, but we are interpreting the public mind, in common with all the newspapers of the country, bar the Irish Press group, when we say that the only other system the public are interested in as an alternative to the present system of proportional representation is the by-election system, and, indeed, if the purpose of the Government were really to find out what the people wish and to be guided by them, they would have given the public a choice of three systems, the present one, the by-election system and the non-transferable or the “straight” vote system. They would have given a choice of all three and it is legal quibbling to suggest that they were held by the present legal position from doing so. No such restraint is provided in the Constitution.
The Constitution in Article 47, in dealing with the referendum, this very sacred and prized possession of any democracy, makes it possible for the Government to consult the people on any proposal. The only distinction made is if the proposal seeks to amend the Constitution, the course taken at present of actually presenting a Bill to the public has to be adopted. On the other hand, if the Government wished to say there are three possible systems, our present one, the by-election system and what is now called the “straight  vote” system, they could have posed the question and ascertained the majority opinion. I believe there would have been agreement by all Parties and by all Independents with this course. There would have been an acceptance then that whatever clearly expressed preference emerged would be accepted by all and the necessary legislation at the stage of writing it into a Bill and presenting it for formal endorsement for changing the Constitution would be then treated as a formality.
That is the democratic way but unfortunately it has not been accepted. Therefore, we have to make the best of what we have got. The best of what we have got is that we have a Bill which will pose two systems to the people: the present system or another. It has been clearly demonstrated by all leaders of public opinion speaking on this, by the vast weight of public opinion in newspaper articles, by discussions and television interviews that the public do not want the choice presented to them in 1959 to be offered to them again on this occasion.
They have rejected the straight vote or the straitjacket vote. They do not want this right of preference taken from them. They are interested in and many have been impressed by arguments for better local representation by means of more manageable constituencies. Many are interested in that and I believe would vote for that if they had the transferable vote. Indeed, many commentators seem to hold that there would be a majority in favour of the by-election system.
Professor Quinlan: I am in favour of proportional representation but I am sufficient of a democrat to believe that the people should have the choice they really want and that the referendum should not be perverted in the present way. If we are forced only to give a choice between two systems, we have to give the one we have and we should give the most likely to be accepted of the other. Indeed, if we were in doubt about that, surely the previous choice has been offered and rejected and rejected at a time when  there was far more credence in it, when we had the personality of our President pleading for it, than now. Again, I repudiate any suggestion by the Minister or anyone else that at any time I yielded to anybody in my admiration for Mr. de Valera as a parliamentarian. Our best memory in this House has been of his conduct here as a parliamentarian. You can read the debates: you can read of his conduct on the Committee Stage debate here.
Professor Quinlan: Thank you. We wish to give the people a choice that means something—in fact the two systems the people know. They know the system we have and how it operates. They also know the system that operates in by-elections. They are keen on comparing them. If we are to act here as interpreters of public opinion, we can say without fear of  contradiction that this is the choice the people want. Indeed it would be very much in balance as to which they would choose. I hope they would choose the proportional representation system, but if they chose the other, I believe it could be made workable also because the essential feature of it is the transferable vote. This means that it would rule out all forms of back-stage deals. In other words, there would be no role any longer to be played by the blocker candidate who would just come in simply to prevent some candidate being elected.
In the single-seat constituency, if you have two Parties, say, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, or if we take a Fianna Fáil area where the candidate is in his home town, if a local Independent, or preferably an Independent with no leanings towards Fianna Fáil, were prevailed on by Fine Gael to go forward on his personality, he would probably get sufficient votes out of the home region of the Fianna Fáil candidate to prevent the election of that candidate. The final results might be say 8,000 votes for the Fine Gael candidate, 7,500 votes for the Fianna Fáil candidate and 2,500 votes for the blocker candidate.
Professor Quinlan: If the blocker candidate were in the field, then you could examine his preferences but it is reasonable to expect that the majority of his votes would have gone to the candidate who had the greatest affinity, local affinity and a certain affinity of political outlook. Consequently that candidate would have been elected.
What is the alternative? The alternative is that the Party threatened would go to the candidate who is about to make a nuisance value of himself and there would be back-stage deals which would buy off this man and keep him from being a candidate, thereby securing the election of the Fianna Fáil candidate. That is not right or proper and it introduces an element of bargaining into political life which is all wrong. Of course, between political Parties with three Parties up,  it would lead to the same type of deals. In other words, if you have one major Party like, say Fianna Fáil, with 40 per cent of the votes and the other two have 60 per cent between them, if those two Parties share a common feeling that the Government had been too long in power and that they should put them out, do you think this situation is not likely to breed certain local deeds?
All this would be obviated by having the ability to transfer votes. If the vote can transfer, one need not worry about a neighbour going up because he has his own personality against yours but you have your Party and there is the national question as to whether your Party should be the Government, against which he offers nothing. Consequently, you are away ahead at that stage. If the vote were transferable, you would welcome him in the field and let him run; there is no need to make any suggestion to him. He is entitled to run and try his strength. In the last analysis, if he does not get sufficient votes, the votes will be transferred and the final election will come down to a conclusion between the two. I like to think that in any Party convention—at which I have never so far had the pleasure of being present——
Professor Quinlan: ——in selecting a candidate for a by-election, we would have an announcement in the paper of the names of four or five people who are considered to be possible candidates—a couple of relatives and a couple of others. That is reasonable enough. That is democracy. If you are electing a captain of a hurling club, again, there is a difference of opinion as between three or four nominees. The supporters gauge their strength and, as in the American Presidential campaign, there is a tally as to the number of votes one's candidate is likely to get. As the convention date approaches there may be a feeling that one candidate may not make the grade and therefore it is decided to insist  that there shall be one vote taken in the convention and no more. Six candidates have, therefore, to face the vote in the convention. One gets 25 votes out of 100, one gets 21, another 19, another 18, another 17, and another 15 and the man who gets the 25 votes is declared elected.
If you want a straight vote, non-transferable, then I challenge the Parties, whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour, to show that henceforth they will operate their conventions in the same manner and that the first past the post is the candidate that will be offered to the electorate in each constituency. Of course, they will not agree to that and I do not think they should because the 25 votes that a man gets when there are six in the field does not mean that he is the best candidate for the constituency.
Professor Quinlan: The day that Senators can show me returns from a Party convention where the straight vote has been operated in selecting the candidates is the day they can say they are sincere in advocating the merits of the straight vote.
Professor Quinlan: I do not take the system of proportional representation. I take the system of electing a person at any convention. The system is that the supporters of the various candidates gauge their strength. One finds that there are only 10 or 12 supporters for  one candidate out of a hundred and, therefore, that he cannot be elected, and he withdraws. The voters then look around and are free to vote for someone else. That makes a field of five. Again the assessments go on until the fifth man drops out and so on until it is recognised that there is a front running candidate and when the vote is taken at the convention it is between two.
Professor Quinlan: ——not alone in this country but in America. In all cases this idea of six candidates going up for chairman and the top of the six being elected just because he got 25 out of, say, 100, just does not happen. There is no sense in that. There is the transferring that takes place, which is an ordinary human approach to the problem.
Professor Quinlan: That transfer of votes is what is done under the transferable vote system except that the transferable vote calls for a more genuine and more honest assessment of the candidates than is available in the  type of withdrawal that I have suggested because in the case of withdrawals the candidate withdraws but tries to drive a bargain as to how his votes will go and with his knowledge of how the others have voted he can assess who is likely to succeed and he can climb aboard the best rolling bandwagon. In the case of the transferable vote, the voter sits down in the privacy of the polling booth when he is filling out the form and considers genuinely and honestly what candidate he favours most, whom would he like to support and, if he is not available, which one of the others would he like to support. That is the ordinary democratic process. It is the process of living together. Consequently, that should be the choice offered to the people.
If we wanted to see the evils of the distorted results the non-transferable vote system gives, we had the classic example recently of the BGA elections which were conducted on the non-transferable vote system. In those elections one Party got about 70 per cent of the votes and the other, spearheaded by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, got 30 per cent.
Professor Quinlan: Although they got 30 per cent of the votes, they got only six seats. Lo and behold, one of the shell-shocked survivors of that catastrophe has been so mute in the House since then that he has not yet come out of his fox-hole. I refer to Senator Willie Ryan, who succeeded. But even in his success, we had the distortion of a system which showed a success with 80 votes while poor, esteemed Deputy Corry with 420 votes could not make it. That is a providential warning to the Government Party as to how iniquitous this system can be.
Professor Quinlan: Before the adjournment, I was making a plea that, as the Government are insisting that only two choices can be given to the people, one of which must be our present system, the only second choice that makes sense is that of the by-election system. While I do not for a moment hold that that system is comparable with or preferable to PR as we have it with our three-seat constituencies, I still believe that the people are asking to be given this choice as expressed through their representatives or through the press. The clamour from the press for this has been very remarkable and has been expressed just as strongly by the provincial newspapers as by the dailies. It is unrealistic for the Minister to picture that all these are in one grand coalition against him and his Party. That is not so. All these papers, I think, would enthusiastically welcome the Minister's belated conversion to the transferable vote.
I think I got an admission before lunch that the political Parties, especially the Fianna Fáil Party, have no intention of using the straight vote technique to select candidates in single-member constituencies if that unfortunate position arises. They would not believe that in a situation where you have five or six candidates proposed, the candidate who got 25 out of 100 votes should be selected automatically. They go through the ordinary democratic process of selection just as we have gone through it in selecting the captain of a hurling team or the president of a graduates' association or any such selection of one person. We have always used a form of transferable vote. If you think back you will see that is what happens. You have been engaged at certain stages in these processes and you have talked about it and tried to get the candidate who got the greatest measure of agreement. I have never seen a report published from a Party convention selecting a candidate for a by-election where the candidate had not got a clear majority of the votes cast. I do not think it should be accepted here and I appeal to the Minister: if what you are trying to impose on the country you believe is  not good enough for Party conventions, that is a sorry state of affairs.
Even at this stage the Minister would show himself worthy of his engineering training if he were to acknowledge the superior claim for inclusion in the ballot of the transferable vote. All political commentators believed that the Government would take this course and the redoubtable commentator, Backbencher——
Professor Quinlan: ——said, in his wisdom, that the Government would do a slight somersault in behind Fine Gael and the Labour Party and accept the by-election and would win the referendum based on that.
Professor Quinlan: He has not acknowledged his mistakes. He is much less keen and anxious to acknowledge his mistakes than even the Minister and that is saying something. It is far too serious a national situation to continue on the present course which can only lead to catastrophe and a major catastrophe for the Government Party, especially for the Minister who is piloting this Bill.
Professor Quinlan: That may have good effects because “out of evil cometh good”, and if it does lead to a return of the Minister and his Party to democratic methods and an appreciation of democratic institutions and also an appreciation by them that no minority rule should be accepted in committee or in Government, then the long hours we have put in here may bear some fruit. At this stage I make one last 5 minutes to 12 appeal to the Minister——
Professor Quinlan: ——I appeal to the Minister to show some appreciation of the will of the people and give them the type of choice they desire or, perhaps better still, to withdraw the two Bills altogether and really go to the people in a proper referendum and give them the choice, 1, 2 and 3. I could then pledge my own support and I believe I could pledge the support of my party of Independents that whatever the will of the people would be we would accept it and endeavour to make it work.
The following referendum would be merely the rubberstamping of a decision that had been obtained from the people by proper and legitimate use of the referendum. If we cannot have that course, if it involves too much loss of face by the Minister, he should be prewarned and should give the people the choice they want and save his Party from the ruin that faces them.
Professor Jessop: I wish to support this amendment. I do not want to embarrass my colleague, Senator Quinlan, but I do not regard myself as being a member of any Party. A “party of Independents” is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. However, I am supporting the amendment and in doing so, I should not like to be taken as agreeing with Senator Quinlan's idea that this was a second best, that best of all, we should have proportional representation and worst of all, of course, the straight vote. I believe that if I were concerned in a debate in which I had all three systems to judge between, proportional representation, the transferable vote, and the so-called straight vote, I could see myself coming down in favour of the system that this amendment is set out to support.
I say that for two reasons: first of all, I think the average person is happier if he is not faced with an absolute, out-and-out choice. Most of us having to consider such questions have some doubts in our mind, and we would like to be able to express those in terms of preferences rather than as yeses or noes; in other words, shades of opinion rather than black and white. I think also there is substance in the argument that in a constituency where there is a multiplicity of interests, it would be  very difficult to get a single person to represent all these. I am not talking about political interests in the sense of Party political interests; there are other types of interest to do with political advantage in the more general sense, in the sense of the good of the people, which must be pressed by different sections of the constituency and which one single person could not embrace in his own personal experience.
It would be better, of course, to have more than one person representing the constituency. If a voter has to look at a list and ask: “Which of these will represent my interests best?”, then he should have a choice and be able to say: “If A cannot look after me, then perhaps B can do it. He belongs to a different party but he has the right kind of interests,” and he expresses this in the form of a preference. For these reasons I feel myself strongly in support of this amendment.
Mr. O'Kennedy: If ever Senator Quinlan faced himself with a political miracle, he certainly did so today in proposing this amendment. Whatever might have been the possibilities for the Norton amendment in the Dáil, it is very clear that the Quinlan amendment in the Seanad has no prospect of success, not just because the Fine Gael Party are against it, not just because the Labour Party are against it, and not even because the Fianna Fáil Party are against it, but because, believe it or not, Senator Quinlan himself is against it. In the face of all that united opposition, it would take nothing short of a miracle to achieve the result which Senator Quinlan seeks here today.
If Senator Quinlan is serious that the Parties should adopt at their conventions the system of election which he favours for the country, then we can look forward to great confusion at political conventions from now on at Fianna Fáil level, at Fine Gael level, and even at Labour Party level, because they have now announced from now on they will put up at least two candidates wherever their prospects of securing one seat seem reasonable. So much for the Senator's consistency: if you believe in it for the convention, you must believe in it for the national  system and vice versa. I am not aware that any Party uses PR for its conventions, and if there is any inconsistency, it lies with the Opposition Parties, according to Senator Quinlan's thesis, because they appear, on the one hand, to support PR, but on the other hand, at their conventions they do not adopt it. However, that is a matter that Senator Quinlan can work out with the Opposition Parties of whom he is so ruggedly independent.
This amendment refers to what is called the single transferable vote, and I think Senator Ryan, on the Second Stage of the Third Amendment Bill, pointed out this would be more properly referred to as the single partly transferable vote. We had a little dissertation this morning on emotional and evocative terms such as “straight vote”, although I think it is equally fair and appropriate to say that this is not a transferable vote in the fullest sense of that word. It is partly transferable in that, as the Minister, Senator Ryan, and many other speakers have pointed out here, the only transfers that are effected are those of candidates who happen to be at the lower end of the poll. The supporters of the continuing candidate can have no chance under the system of effecting a second preference. As Senator Ryan pointed out also, those who are really in favour of the transferable vote system should also propose a system of evaluation of the preference votes for every candidate, not just for the lower ones, so that the votes of all the electorate and not a selected portion of the electorate would be taken into account. The same objection applies to the PR system of election. The transferable votes are again transferable in a very limited sense of the word. It is for that reason amongst others that I would oppose this system.
In my own particular view, a more cogent reason for opposing it is the firm belief that it would lead to a situation that the Opposition Parties for the time being, whoever they might be—and Fine Gael and Labour still cherish the hope that at some stage Fianna Fáil will hold that status—will join forces at each general election to defeat the Government Party. That is  one of the facts of political activities. Their basic intention would be to get rid of the Government. We have seen this in by-elections and no blame to the Opposition for that intention. That is the reason they are there. The result would be that if at each general election we would have the Opposition Parties combining to defeat the Government and far from the stability which in many ways, possibly not absolutely, is a desirable virtue—there must be some degree of it—we would have constant changes of Government leading naturally to an interruption of Government policy after almost every election.
These are matters which should arouse our opposition to this measure, even that of those who think that to defeat the Government at some time is desirable, but it is equally desirable that for a reasonable period the Government should be allowed to formulate programmes, push them through, and be judged on them. I think this highly desirable situation would be in much greater jeopardy under the single-seat transferable vote system.
Apart from that, I should like to say to Senator Jessop that, while he made reasoned arguments in favour of consideration of this matter, one of the matters which apparently he is concerned about is the difficulty of getting one person to represent all the views in a constituency. I think Senator Jessop will agree that in the final analysis, after a candidate has been elected, he is still the only one to represent the wishes of a divided electorate. Whether the candidate is elected under the straight vote or the single seat transferable vote system, we still have the regrettable situation, so far as Senator Jessop is concerned, that one man with one mind and one personality represents what might be a divided electorate. This may or not be. What is true if this is one of the defects of the straight vote, if it is a defect which I do not accept, is equally true of the single-seat transferable vote system. Accordingly I join with Fine Gael, with Labour, with Fianna Fáil and even with Senator Quinlan in opposing this proposed amendment.
Dónall Ó Conalláin: Is maith liom a thabhairt faoi deara go bhfuil na hóráideacha ag dul i ngiorracht agus tá fúmsa leanacht den dea-shampla. Sé an fá ar chuir mé m'ainm leis an leasú seo go mbraithim gurbh é an cuspóir is tábhachtaí atá rómhainn i leasú seo an Bhunreachta ná Dáil-cheantair aonair a chur ar fáil. Ceapann an tAire gur mó go mór an maitheas a thiocfadh as Dáil-cheantair aonair a chur ar fáil, is cuma cén sórt vótála a bheadh ag gabháil leis, ná as Dáil-cheantar ilTheachta. Mar sin, táimid ar aon intinn faoin méid sin. Agus más é sin atá uainn nach ceart dúinn gach dícheall a dhéanamh chun an cuspóir sin a bhaint amach agus chun a chinntiú go mbainfear amach é?
Ach má cheanglaítear an Dáil-cheantar aonair leis an vóta díreach, sé mo bharúil láidir go mbuafar ar an dtairiscint. Cuimhnimis go bhfuil breith tugtha ag pobal na hÉireann ar an dtairiscint chéanna seo 9 mbliain ó shin agus cén fhianaise atá ann go bhfuil pobal na hÉireann tagtha ar mhalairt intinne faoi ó shin i leith?
Táimid ag iarraidh orthu anois a rá agus a admháil go ndearna siad a mbotún 9 mbliana ó shin. Creidim féin nach féidir a bheith ag súil le haon fhreagra eile uathy an turas seo ach an freagra céanna a thug siad naoi mbliana ó shoin.
Ach tig linn rogha nua a chur chuchu an turas seo agus creidim féin go nglacfaí go réidh le tairiscint nua ina mbeadh an vóta ion-aistrithe á cheangal leis an Dáil-cheantar aonair. Anois ní hionann sin is a rá gur fearr nó gur cothraime liom an vóta ion-aistrithe ná an vóta díreach ach tríd an vóta ion-aistrithe a chur chuig na daoine is fearr go mór an seans go mbainfí amach an Dáil-cheantar aonair. Tá sé chomh símplí leis sin.
Leis an dtairiscint mar áta sí tá chuile sheans go bhfágfar muid leis an sean-chóras agus leis na hoilc agus na díombuanna ar fad atá ag roinnt leis. Níl a fhios ansin cén fhaid eile a fhágfar muid faoin gcóras sin mar is ar éigin a d'fhéadfadh Rialtas ar bith  leasú ar an mbonn céanna a chur chuig na daoine nó a chur ós cómhair an phobail agus a rá gur diúltaíodh dó fé dhó taobh istigh de 10 mbliana. Má theipeann ar an iarracht seo beidh sin le rá—gur diúltaíodh don tairiscint seo faoi dhó taobh istigh de dheich mbliana. Ní bheadh sé de dhánaíocht ag Rialtas ar bith tairiscint den chinéal seo a chur arís faoi na toscaí sin. Mar sin, tá faitíos mór orm nach bhfuil á dhéanamh againn leis an dtairiscint seo sa riocht ina bhfuil sé ach ag buanú an tsean-chórais. Anois níl sé ró-dheireannach fós an t-athrú a dhéanamh agus ar mhaithe leis an aidhm is tábhachtaí a bhaint amach, sé sin, an Dáil-cheantar aonair a chur ar fáil, d'iarrfainn go dúthrachtach ar an Aire glacadh leis an leasú seo.
Mr. O'Quigley: Senator O'Kennedy has achieved the impossible here today and has thrown his hat into the ring as the potential leader of a national Party. He has found himself in the position of being able to reconcile Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, Senator Quinlan, and everyone else. That is a great achievement and goes to show what can be done——
Mr. O'Quigley: ——when people set their minds to it. The difficulties of the Fianna Fáil Party, in trying to get rid of proportional representation, arise from the fact that history and the facts of the case are all against them. It is necessary, unfortunately, to repeat some facts which have been distorted, and which continue to be distorted, by spokesmen from the Government benches. It is quite clear that the Fianna Fáil Party suffer from some form of national inferiority complex which is not shared by a majority of people in this country. We had the Minister for Education, Deputy Lenihan, recently telling the Daily Telegraph that the revolution of 1916 was a mistake. We had a distinguished Member of this House, a former Minister of State, much respected by all and well loved by all of us, who yesterday wanted us to go the further distance of adopting  the British system in relation to our constitutional position. He said we ought to get rid of our Constitution altogether, tear it up, throw it out, and not be bound by any Constitution. It is necessary to point out that, that way, lies anarchy and total power for any Government, without the courts intervening at any time to restrict the Government in arbitrary powers.
We have the further example of the national inferiority complex from which Fianna Fáil now suffer in that they want us to go over, holus bolus, to the British system of voting. They think that, because proportional representation was adopted by Arthur Griffith and put into our Constitution in 1922 by a committee of experts of the Provisional Government at that time who examined all the Constitutions of the world and took from them all that was best—because we did that in 1922 and because we did it again in 1937 — that is not good enough because it is not what the British have. Therefore, we are being urged to take what the British regard as best, that is, their system of elections, which I shall shortly demonstrate does not cure the evils to which Fianna Fáil say the present system of proportional representation gives rise.
Let it be said quite clearly again that the 1922 Constitution provided for the election of Members to Dáil Éireann upon principles of proportional representation. There was a variety of systems, any one of which might have been adopted.
Mr. G. Boland: They did not get a chance to read it at all. It was the same morning as the election. How could they reject it when they did not get a chance to study it? It is ridiculous talk by Senator O'Quigley.
Mr. O'Quigley: ——was, in fact, amended by ordinary legislation. Senator Yeats has been interrupting me. I am sure he will have an opportunity of speaking at a later time when he can make his contribution——
Mr. O'Quigley: When Fianna Fáil came into office in 1932, and got an overall majority in 1933, they had the power then to amend the 1922 Constitutions by ordinary Act of the Oireachtas. They amended other sections, but they did not amend the provisions of Articles 26 nor did they then amend the Electoral Act of 1923 which provided for the particular form of proportional representation which was to be used in implementation of the procisions of Article 26 of the Constitution of 1922. No—there was nothing wrong with it in those days. A simple Act of Parliament could have changed that in the same way as a simple Act of Parliament abolished this Chamber, to suit the wishes of President de Valera in the 1930s.
Mr. O'Quigley: There was nothing wrong with proportional representation up to that time. Then, when it came to 1937, President de Valera found nothing wrong with proportional representation. So far from finding anything wrong with it, he put it into the 1937 Constitution—and there is no doubt that that was not put in because of pressure from the British Government.
Mr. O'Quigley: The 1937 Constitution was then framed, after careful consideration, by President de Valera. Not alone did he not leave it to the Oireachtas to decide from time to time the particular form of proportional representation which might be used but he solidified the position in the 1937 Constitution. He decided we would not have single-seat constituencies and said no constituency should have less than three seats. He then wrote into the 1937 Constitution that the system of proportional representation should be by means of the single transferable vote in multi-seat constituencies—and there was no British Government then with its gun to the head of the Irish nation to compel him, and the whole of the Fianna Fáil Party, to adopt proportional representation. That was done by a sovereign people who, as they say, in the noble Preamble to the Constitution “Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution” for the regulation of their affairs as a sovereign people——
Mr. O'Quigley: ——in examination of the provisions of the 1937 Constitution, as was our duty and our right. Eventually, that Constitution was put to the people and adopted by the people as the Constitution—for which I have every respect and every affection.
Mr. O'Quigley: The 1937 Constitution was adopted by the people, having been recommended to them by the Fianna Fáil Party and Deputy de Valera, as he then was. On that occasion, Deputy de Valera, looking back over 15 turbulent years of the young State, had something to say of proportional representation—and it bears repetition. He said at column 1343 of Volume 67 of the Dáil Debates:
The system we have we know: the people know it. On the whole it has worked out pretty well. I think that we have a good deal to be thankful for in this country; we have to be very grateful that we have had the system of proportional representation here. It gives a certain amount of stability, and on the system of the single transferable vote you have fair representation of Parties.
I think we get, probably, in this country more than in any other country, better balanced results from the system we have. If you take countries where proportional representation exists, you get better balanced results than you get in the other countries.
We have heard a great deal about Hitler and Mussolini's Italy, and so on. He said that we get the benefits of PR in reasonably balanced legislation here, better than in any other country which he had read about or knew about. Do  not forget that from the point of view of the Fianna Fáil Party, they have always claimed that Mr. De Valera was a statesman of international renown. When he was speaking in 1937, these were the words of an international statesman, a man of wide vision, great experience and great renown. These are the words which for Party political purposes they want to get rid of. If this was a communist country, they could rewrite the Dáil Debates and try to rewrite history as it was done after the deposition of Stalin and Khrushchev.
Mr. O'Quigley: You are very good at going back to 1925. In 1935 we had another renowned statesman, the ex-Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass and the former President and former Tánaiste, the late Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly, who in the debates on the 1935 Electoral Bill, were extolling the value of PR——
Mr. O'Quigley: ——to bring together in as terse a fashion as is  possible with the numerous interruptions, all the arguments and facts relating to PR. However, I will go on to 1959 and leave Deputy Lemass and the late Mr. O'Kelly, then Minister for Local Government, extolling the virtues of proportional representation and saying that as long as we had it, there would never be gerrymandering. I take it that when you have single-seat constituencies, you can gerrymander whatever way you like. In 1959, after all this repeated affirmation of PR in 1937 by Fianna Fáil, by the international statesman, now the President, Mr. de Valera, this issue was put to the people and the people decided that PR was a system they knew and wanted to retain. What is the position in 1968?
Mr. O'Quigley: Ten years later, when we have had PR for 46 years, there has been no demand except the organised demand in the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis but apart from that, there has been no spontaneous demand from the people for this change. The Minister has clearly told us that the whole press of the country is against Fianna Fáil and because of that we in Fine Gael, and I suppose the Labour Party, have been given a present, by the Minister, of the whole press except the Irish Press group, because they are now the coalition press. In some magical way according to the Minister, we have been able to control them and to get them to write editorials and to get political correspondents to write articles condemning the Government. This applies not only to the daily newspapers but to the weekly papers as well. The whole press is against them and the fact that they and all the organs of public opinion are against them is a fair indication that this proposal to abolish PR is brought before Parliament and is to be put to the people, not because there is any demand or any need for it but because it suits the particular difficulties of the Fianna Fáil Party at present.
It is well to recall that on the last occasion when a similar Bill came before Parliament, the great fear and  the whole complaint was that the continuance of PR would breed minority Parties and give rise to coalition government, consequent instability and great difficulty in putting through programmes for economic expansion. This is what the present Taoiseach had to say when he was concluding the debate here in the Seanad when the Bill had already been defeated on the Report Stage and was about to be defeated on the final stages in 1959, at column 1667, volume 50 of the Seanad Debates:
I believe that this whole problem is bound up with our economic future. I am quite prepared to concede that PR, as it has evolved at the present period at any rate, has not hindered this Government in the slightest in implementing a broad programme of economic expansion. Not only has it not hindered the Government but the Government has given proof that they are carrying on with that programme. It is possible, however, that against the background to which I have referred and in the changing political scene in this country, we might in the years to come see a situation arising whereby many small groups representing minority interests will have a say in government far in excess of that to which they are entitled.
We must pause here to consider what has happened since 1959. So far from there being a multiplicity of Parties and small groups and so far from the Government being hindered  in putting through their programmes for economic expansion, the contrary has been the case. I do not think any member of the Government will say that the Government have been hindered, because of the existence of proportional representation, from putting through their First Programme for Economic Expansion and neither can they blame proportional representation for the breakdown of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. They blame the latter upon external circumstances. It is not proportional representation that has caused difficulties. None of the difficulties which arose arose as a result of proportional representation. Proportional representation has not hindered the country's advance and, if the country's advance has been hindered, then that is due to the failure of Fianna Fáil to devise proper policies for the country.
That was the view in 1959 and I have not heard very much talk in the course of this campaign against proportional representation about the multiplicity of small Parties. The Minister for Local Government has devised a new set of excuses which have as little reality and as little to commend them as the set of excuses devised in 1959. So far from proportional representation creating a multiplicity of small Parties, the fact is that the small Parties we did have have gone out of existence.
Mr. O'Quigley: Clann na Talmhan has gone out of existence. The National Labour Party and the Irish Labour Party mended their differences and have come together to form one Labour Party. Sinn Féin is no longer represented.
Mr. O'Quigley: ——and, as often as the Senator repeats it, I shall have to reply that it is an ignorant statement. The facts produced in Appendix 11 of the Report of the Committee on the Constitution in 1967 show quite clearly that, under proportional representation, we have been left with three Parties—Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil. No matter what Fianna Fáil try to do and no matter what system of election is devised, there will always be three Parties—Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, though the hope is, of course, that Labour will ultimately be eliminated.
Mr. O'Quigley: Mark you, when the Labour Party jointed the inter-Party Government in 1947 to 1951 and in 1954 to 1957, they remained independent. They were not swallowed up. They are still independent and they always will be. The fact that people join in partnership for the benefit of the nation does not mean they are being swallowed up. In that context, what I find extraordinary about the present Fianna Fáil Government's condemnation of coalitions is the fact that, at the same time, this country is supposed to be seeking membership of the Common Market. What is the Common Market but the Grand Coalition of all time? The Council of Ministers in the Common Market countries will decide what laws we will pass here, irrespective of whether or not we like those laws. We are supposed to be trying to join the Common Market. That is a coalition and the Fianna Fáil Party by the constant condemnation of coalitions are certainly  providing astute observes of the political scene here with plenty of ammunition to use against Fianna Fáil, if they are the people trying to get us into the Common Market; apparently they do not think it is possible for groups of people to work together in harmony. If they find it impossible to work in harmony with their own, how much more difficult will it be for them to work in harmony with groups of foreigners?
Mr. O'Quigley: If the people do not choose to elect, though they have the power to do so, a Fine Gael Government, then I, for my part, will be quite happy to work with the Labour Party in an inter-Party Government.
Mr. O'Quigley: Mark you, the present Taoiseach did not think so badly of inter-Party Governments in 1959 because he had this to say about such Governments. I am glad the Senators opposite have prompted me to read this. It is column 1668 of volume 50 of the Official Report of the Seanad:
There is criticism of the manner in which the inter-Party Government decided to go to the country. I do not withhold my ensure from them for  that, but, mark you, the present Taoiseach thought well of the performance; he was then Minister for Industry and Commerce and he knew something about the strides that had been made in industry by the inter-Party Government. He thought well of the inter-Party Government.
As I say, the present system has not, in fact, produced a multiplicity of Parties. Neither has it produced a multiplicity of Independents. At the last general election, the Independents were practically wiped out by the electorate so that, at this stage in our political development and at this stage of our political maturity, the electorate themselves have found that they do not want small Parties, even under proportional representation, and they have decided that they do not want very many Independents. They have come down in favour of three political Parties and that is likely to be the pattern, although Fianna Fáil would like, under the straight vote system, to get rid of the Labour Party. It is only a very short hop from that to what they have in Soviet Russia and what they had in Nkrumha's Ghana. It is only a very short hop to the idea of just two Parties and another very short hop to the idea that one Party is obstructing the whole system of government. The argument then goes that it is a waste of time having an Opposition. Immediately the one-Party system evolves. It is a very short hop from two to one and, judging by the speech made by Deputy Lemass, which I read the other day, that seems to be his outlook too: there will always be only one Party in government and that will be Fianna Fáil.
Mr. O'Quigley: And, of course, a fortiori under the new system. It might be as well now to have a look at the British system of voting, a system so much beloved of the Fianna Fáil Party. Recent history has shown that it is neither a fair nor an equitable system. It does not necessarily produce stability. I do not know of any phrase in the English language which approximates to the long-standing phrase that we have in Irish “Cothrom na  Féinne”, but the idea of “Cothrom na Féinne” is deeply-embodied in the Irish people and PR as it so turns out is the very thing that gives that fairness and that equity which has long since become a characteristic of our people. It seems to me to be wrong to say that at any time the government in power should be the products of the votes of a minority of the people. That seems to me to be essentially undemocratic. It may produce a Parliament which can work but it seems to me to be wrong to say that a minority of the voters can decide who will be the Government. That is the way the system that is organised in Britain operates.
One has only to look at the election results for 1964 and 1966 in England to see the position. These results I have taken from page 21313 of Keesings Contemporary Archives. We find that in 1964 the Labour Party got 317 seats with 44.2 of the votes. The Conservatives got 303 with 43.4 of the votes. The Liberals got 9 with 11.1 of the votes, which is a quarter of what the Labour Party got. Republican Labour got 1.3, and then there was the Speaker. In 1966, the Labour Party got 363 seats with 47.9 of the votes. Conservatives got 253 seats with 41.9 of the votes. Liberals got 12 seats with 8.5 and Republican Labour and others got 1.7. The interesting thing there is that a minority of the voters, 44 per cent in 1964, were able to return a Government. That may be a means of getting a Government but, to my mind, it is undemocratic that the minority should have the right to choose the Government.
The other interesting conclusion to be drawn from those figures is that, even with the straight vote or with the British system of election in 1964, they did not succeed in getting stable government or in getting a working majority, because out of a total of 630 seats, the Labour Party got 317 and the Conservatives and Liberals together got 312, that is to say, the Labour Party had a majority of five out of a Chamber of 630, which is much smaller than one seat out of 144 in this country. That is supposed to be the  system that is designed to give stability but it was not a very stable government from 1964 to 1966 because it went out in 1966 and it then got its present majority.
Having done that, it is very interesting to see where further the straight vote leads. I do not know to what extent the Fianna Fáil Party will accept these findings I am going to give them, the findings from the recent Sunday Times poll which was reported in the Sunday Times of 21st July. They make very interesting reading. The Sunday Times poll was designed to find out from the people which of four alternative types of government the people interviewed would favour. These were the results: To continue with the present Government, 22 per cent; a Coalition Government, 30 per cent; Government under Mr. Heath, 15 per cent; Conservative Government with somebody other than Mr. Heath, 22 per cent.
Mr. O'Quigley: The interesting thing about this particular poll, to all intents and purposes the same as the straight vote system, is that in Britain with the British system of voting, having these fine swings from Labour to Conservative, the majority of those interviewed preferred Coalition Government.
That is the kind of product you get from the straight vote. The Minister for Local Government says: “That is not a majority”. Of course it is not. That is the first past the post system: that is the straight vote result. Is anybody going to say that that is truly representative of the wishes of the British people at the present time? That is the kind of system the Fianna Fáil Party want foisted on the Irish electors.
Mr. O'Quigley: I want to say something else about PR and I think that this is a matter to which the people of this country should give very serious consideration. Of course at the present time we have in France a system of election that gives strong government and it has given an overall majority to General de Gaulle and Monsieur Pompidou who has now been thrown out. However, people selected Monsieur Pompidou apparently and somebody else determined that he should not be there, that it should be somebody else. That is the way the French work it. They have a strong Government and we have seen the results of strong government there. Let there be no mistake about it—and I do not mind making this prophecy here—I have no doubt in my mind—this of course is based on two contingencies, one being that PR would be abolished—but if PR were abolished, I have no doubt that within a matter of ten or 15 years by reason of the fact that you will always have a majority of the people not voting for the Government Party, because that is the way the straight vote system would work, and by reason of our history, you will find disturbances similar to and perhaps much more violent than those which occurred in Paris. We had a lot of that in this country from 1922 to 1947. We got rid  of it in 1947 when we took the last step on the road to complete independence as a sovereign people and got rid of the External Relations Act.
Mr. O'Quigley: I want to say that the great merit PR has established in our history and in our circumstances is that, as I said on the Second Stage, and it bears repeating, whenever there is any group in this country dissatisfied with the state of affairs and that is when they ought to form a political Party, they have some chance of getting representation in Dáil Éireann under proportional representation. Under the other system, they will have no chance whatever. We did have here in the election of 1957 four Sinn Féin representatives elected in four different constituencies. They never took their seats in Parliament but they exercised their right and the people exercised their right to elect them, and once they did not function and the people saw it was useless electing them further, they elected no further Sinn Féin representatives. We have had no trouble to speak of from that element of our society since 1947. There has not been a shot fired at a policeman in this State since 1947 and since 1947, the Ministers of State can go around in State cars without detectives in cars before and behind them.
Mr. O'Quigley: That is something proportional representation has brought and continues to bring, domestic peace and tranquillity to the country, which is the first purpose according to political theorists and indeed practical politicians for which the State exists. The most important service this country has, apart from the setting up of our courts, is that we have a police force and a defence force so that we can be protected without aggression and disturbance in our ordinary daily lives, and proportional representation is a system that enables dissident elements in this country to remain quiet.
You can always say to them: “If you have a point of view, put it to the people. You got four of your members in in 1947.” Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talún got in and eventually as time went on they faded away. I do not want to say any more on this particular amendment.
Mr. O'Quigley: I have not spoken yet on the amendment. I can say that we have taken our stand for proportional representation in 1968 where we stood in 1959 and we believe that the best method of election in this country, the best system of election, now that we have had it for 46 years, is proportional representation under multi-seat constituencies and that being our view, we are not concerned with the second best.
Mr. Rooney: I should like to intervene very briefly on this point, in relation to the amendment we are discussing. We must acknowledge the fact that the system proposed here would enable a Deputy to be elected by a majority of the people. He would not be elected unless he had secured some 50 per cent of the votes or unless he was the last candidate left, not having reached the quota. In the same way under proportional representation, a quota of votes is laid down and no candidate except the last can be elected or can secure election until he reaches that quota which in that regard is a majority.
That is the difference between the system of the straight vote and the system of proportional representation, or the single-seat constituency with the transferable vote. In the case of the single-seat constituency with the transferable vote or in the case of proportional representation a minimum target mut be reached before a Member of Parliament is elected. In the case of the single-seat constituency with a transferable vote, it takes at least 50 per cent of the votes and anybody who gets over 50 per cent of the votes in the process of counting must be regarded as a person having secured a majority of the votes.
The straight vote system would enable a person to be elected by a minority of the votes. I pointed out that in Great Britain, as would be the case here if this system were adopted, there are many Members of Parliament in the House of Commons elected with less than 33? per cent of the votes. That could not be regarded as a majority of the votes. Remember, in a straight vote system there is no quota or minimum number of votes to be secured in order to be elected. It is a case of whoever gets the largest number of votes, and it does not require that the largest number of votes should be a majority of the votes. Any system that requires majority decisions is a fair system. It is a democratic system and that is why the system of proportional representation or the single transferable vote is much fairer than the proposed system.
Irish people are fair-minded. They  believe in majority decisions and at every club meeting up and down the country when matters have to be decided, it is by a majority of the club members. You would not have a situation in clubs—they would give up soon—in which any minority in that club were to get a decision in their favour if they were not a majority of the members voting. For that reason, and by reason of the fact that we have taken our stand in relation to the system of voting which we know at the present time, that is, the present system of proportional representation, that is the attitude of Fine Gael now. We have not closed our minds to the possibility of a better system of election but we are in favour of whatever system will ensure that majority decisions will be reached and that people who are elected will be elected either with a majority or with a pre-determined quota to ensure that they will have reached that particular level before being regarded as getting a decision, whether it be a decision of a club, as I have mentioned, or whether it be a decision in a constituency containing 30,000 or 40,000 men, women and children according to the area of the constituency concerned.
The new system proposes an average number of 20,000 persons. I have no objection to the number of people that might be decided on in a constituency, but what I do object to is that a minority of that community would have the power to send a representative instead of the majority of that same community.
Mr. K. Boland: Is dócha go bhfuil sé ar aigne ag daoine eile labhairt ar an leasú seo agus b'fhéidir go bhfuil sé ar aigne ag daoine labhairt mar do labhair an Seanadóir O'Quigley ar an mBille ar fad agus gan tagairt dá laighead a dhéanamh don leasú ach de réir deallraimh, sa treó sin atá an Seanad ag dul faoi láthair, sé sin, an díospóireacht a bheith ar an mBille ar fad in ionad an leasú a phlé. Ar eagla go ndearmadfar go bhfuil leasú ós ár gcomhair, tá mé ag ceapadh go bhfuil sé chomh maith dom tagairt a dhéanamh dó mar de réir deallraimh ní bheidh a thuille tagairt don leasú atá  ós comhair an tSeanaid fé láthair. Is deacair freagra ceart a thabhairt ar an méid atá ráite cheanna féin mar do labhair cuid de na Seanadóirí ar an leasú agus labhair cuid eile acu, cosúil leis an Seanadóir O'Quigley, ar an mBille i gcoiteann.
Tugtar cead dom i dtosach tagairt a dhéanamh don mhéid adubhairt an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin. Mar is eól dó, aontaíom leis gurab é an rud is tábhachtaí atá in intinn an Rialtais, agus im intinn féin, go háirithe, ná na suíocháin aonair a chur ar fáil. Siad na mí-bhuntáistí a bhaineas leis an gcóras atá ann fé láthair an rud is tábhachtaí ar an leasú ar an mBunreacht dár liomsa. Ní hé sin le rá nach bhfuil tábhacht ag baint leis an gcóras toghacháin chomh maith. Ins an gcóras atá ann faoi láthair tugtar móran vótaí do dhaoine áirithe agus ní tugtar ach an t-aon vóta amháin do dhaoine eile. Ar chaoi ar bith, tá mé ar aon aigne leis an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin gurab é an suíochán aonair an rud is tábhachtaí. Dob é a bharúlsa gurab fhearr an dá rud a dheighilt ó chéile, sé sin, an córas ionadaíochta agus an córas vótála.
Conas d'fhéadfaí é sin a dhéanamh? Ní fheicimse slí ar bith chun é a dhéanamh. Tá an córas ionadaíochta agus an córas vótála leagtha síos sa Bhunreacht faoi láthair. Ní fheadar an bhfuil an Seanadóir ag moladh an dá rud a bhaint amach as an mBunreacht —gan ach córas an tsuíocháin aonair a chur isteach i dtosach agus gan rud ar bith a rá faoin gcóras vótála, sé sin, ligint don Oireachtas an cheist sin a réiteach nó b'fhéidir í a shocrú i Reifreann speisialta amach anso. Ní léir dom slí ar bith eile chun an rud atá ar aigne ag an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin a dhéanamh. Deir sé go bhfuil an córas atá molta sa leasú ag teastáil ona daoine ach níor theaspáin sé gur mar sin atá an scéal. Ní dóigh liom gur féidir é sin a theaspáint, go bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann gur mar sin atá an scéal.
Mr. K. Boland: Tá ach ní scríobhann ach duine amháin na haltanna seo sna nuachtáin. Níl iontu ach daoine  aonair, ní ionadaithe poiblí féin iad. Níor labhair ionadaí poiblí amháin i bhfábhar an chórais seo go dtí anois sa Seanad. Ní raibh duine ar bith sa Tigh eile, sa Dáil, i bhfábhar na tairiscinte atá ós ár gcomhair anseo. Tá sé fíor gur mhol an Teachta Ó Neachtain leasú ach dubhairt seisean nach raibh sé i bhfábhar an córais seo ach cheap sé go raibh seans níos fearr ann go gcuirfí na suíocháin aonair ar bun dá mbéadh an córas vótála seo sa tairiscint. D'admhaigh sé go raibh a fhios aige gurab é an vóta díreach an córas ab fhearr.
Mr. K. Boland: Deir an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin gur dóigh leis go bhfuil sé seo ag teastáil óna daoine ach caithfidh sé a admháil nach bhfuil ansin ach a thuairim phearsanta féin. B'fhéidir go bhfuil an tuairim cheart aige. Nílim a rá nach bhfuil ach ní fheicim slí ar bith chun é sin a chruthú ach tré vótáil a dhéanamh. Ní féidir vótáil a chur ar siúl maidir leis an dá thairiscint seo, sé sin, idir suíocháin aonair agus an vóta díreach agus idir suíocháin aonair agus an vóta ion-aistrithe. Níl slí ar bith chun é sin a dhéanamh. Ní féidir ach rogha a dhéanamh idir dhá chóras, de réir mar a fheicimse é, idir an córas ionadaíochta agus an córas vótála a chéas sa tairiscint agus an córas ionadaíochta agus an córas vótála atá sa Bhunreacht faoi láthair. Níl a fhios agam an amhlaidh gur maith leis an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin, mar adúras, an dá rud a bhaint as an mBunreacht agus gan ach an córas ionadaíochta a chur ar ais, sé sin, nach mbéadh sa Bhunreacht ach go mbéadh Dáil-cheanntair ann in a dtoghfaí Teachta Dála amháin, gan tagairt ar bith a bheith sa Bhunreacht don chóras toghacháin.
Is dóca go bhféadfaí é sin a dhéanamh agus dá ndéanfaí amhlaidh, is dócha go mbéadh sé de chead ag an Oireachtas socrú a dhéanamh faoi an gcóras vótála nó d'fhéadfaí Reifreann eile a chur ar siúl ina dhiaidh sin ag tabhairt seans don phobal rogha a dhéanamh idir an vóta díreach agus an vóta ion-aistrithe.
Mr. K. Boland: B'fhéidir gurab é sin an caoi is fearr ach de réir mar a fheicimid é ó thárla go bhfuil an dá rud leagtha síos sa Bhunreacht fé láthair luíonn sé le nádúir go leagfaí an dá rud síos sa Bhunreacht arís sa Reifrinn. Ach más amhlaidh go nglacann muintear na tíre leis an dtairiscint seo ní fheicimse nach féidir seans a thabhairt dóibh rogha a dhéanamh idir an córas vótála, an vóta díreach, agus córas an vóta ion-aistrithe amach anseo tré Reifreann eile más gá é agus má theastaíonn sé Ó cuid mhaith de na daoine.
Níl aon fhianaise ann go nglacfaidh éinne leis an vóta seo ach cuid de na Seanadóirí go bhfuil an leasú á thairiscint acu. Níl siad uile i bhfábhar an chórais seo. Mar adúbhras níor labhair Teachta ar bith sa Dáil i bhfábhar an ruda seo. Tá a fhios agam go ndubhairt an Seanadóir Ó Conalláin gurbh é seo an rud a bhí ag teastáil óna daoine. Dá mb'fhíor é sin cheapfaí go mbeadh cuid de na Teachtaí ar aon chuma i bhfábhar an ruda seo. Dubhairt an Teachta Ó Neachtain féin sa Dáil go raibh sé i bhfábhar an tsuíocháin aonair. Dubhairt sé nach raibh sé i bhfábhar an leasuithe ach go raibh sé sásta glacadh leis chun córas an tsuíocháin aonair a fháil.
Mar is eol don Seanadóir Ó Conalláin, is é mo thuairim féin gurbh é an suíochán aonair an rud is tábhachtaí ach nuair nach bhfuaireamar aon treoir, cuirim i gcás, ón Coiste ar an mBunreacht faoin gcóras toghacháin seo ní h-ionadh go gcuirfí an córas ab eól dúinn a bheith ar an gcóras is fearr ós comhair an phobal.
Mr. K. Boland: Níl aon tslí ann chun trí rogha a chur ós comhair na ndaoine sa reifreann céana. Ní féidir ach Bille a rith agus a fhiafraí an bhfuiltear i bhfábhar an Bille nó nach bhfuiltear. Mar a dubhairt mé, má ritear an Bille seo, má ghlacann na daoine leis, is féidir seans a thabhairt i réifreann eile, más gá é, athrú a dhéanamh ar an gcóras vótála.
 As I say, in replying to the debate so far there is a certain amount of difficulty because some Senators have dealt with the amendment, whereas others like Senator O'Quigley, have insisted on making Second Reading speeches. Before we get completely into a Second Reading debate, I thought I should at least deal with what had been said on the amendment which I understand is what is, in fact, before us.
Senator Quinlan puts himself forward as the great interpreter of the public mind and up to now has been saying that what we should be trying to do is interpreting the public mind and that we should act in accordance with what the public wish. He himself says that this is what the public wish, that they want single seats and what is called the transferable vote but still he says he is not in favour of it. According to his own words, he is not in favour of what the public want.
Mr. K. Boland: The peculiar thing is that not one public representative has said that he favours the transferable vote until, today, two Senators have expressed themselves as being in favour of this system—Senator Jessop and An Seanadóir Ó Conalláin. Senator Quinlan himself whose name is down to the amendment says he is not in favour of it.
Mr. K. Boland: Therefore, we now have on the record, of the two Houses of the Oireachtas, two people as being in favour of this system. I do not know how Senator Quinlan establishes, despite that, that the majority of the people want it. I cannot see any way of deducing that the majority of the people want this from the fact that  only two Members have so far expressed themselves as being in favour of it. Senator Quinlan says that the people should have three choices, but the fact of the matter is that there is not any way in which the people can be given three choices. The people can only be asked at a referendum whether they are in favour of the proposals in the Bill and the Bill must surely propose to substitute for the present constitutional provisions in connection with the electoral system some other provisions and cannot propose to establish two separate systems of election and representation. The people can only be asked the question do they approve of the proposals in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill and the answer can only be “yes” or “no”. There is not any way of choosing between three proposals on the basis of answering “yes” or “no”.
Senator Quinlan suggested that the proposals could be submitted under Article 47 subsection (2) to the people, but these proposals are confined to Bills that come within Article 27, that is, Bills which the President cannot sign until there is what we call an ordinary referendum, that is, a referendum not dealing with an amendment of the Constitution. Article 47 subsection (2) cannot be used to ask the people to express preferences between hypothetical choices as a kind of gallup poll. When a Bill is the subject of a referendum under Article 47, if the people veto it it cannot be signed by the President, and if the people do not veto it the President signs it and it becomes law. It must be obvious that this machinery could not be used as Senator Quinlan suggests in order, as I said, to have something like a gallup poll.
There is not any way, then, of giving the people three choices. In any case, even if there were, the only possible result would be that it would split the vote of those who wanted the advantages of single seats and I am inclined to suspect that it would be in the hope of doing that that Senator Quinlan put his name to this amendment. He would like to have three different proposals so that the votes of those people who see the advantages of single-seat constituencies and the disadvantage of  multi-member constituencies would be split between the two. In fact, it cannot be done.
The fact is quite clear when Senator Quinlan says that he is putting forward the suggestion because it would have a better chance of defeating the system that he is in favour of. I do not think that even Senator Quinlan could expect us to believe that——
Mr. K. Boland: ——that he wants the present system to continue; that he believes that our proposal has little or no chance of replacing the present system but, in order that the system that he says he wants retained would have a reasonable chance of being displaced, he wants this proposal to be put forward. I think the fact is clear that Senator Quinlan realises that the proposal we are making will be accepted and he would like to find some way of splitting the votes of the people in favour of single-seat constituencies and in the realisation that what we propose is going to be accepted he is making a last desperate effort at least to hang on to the system of voting which discriminates as between voters. I think his references to the election of a captain of a hurling club, to the selection of a candidate at a convention and so on, are just intended to be funny because, of course, there is no comparison whatever between that and electing the Dáil Deputies who represent different policies or, at least, pretend to represent different policies. There is no question of a different policy at the election of a candidate at a political Party convention or at the election of the captain of a hurling club or any of these other things.
I fully agree, as far as I am concerned, the obtaining of single-seat constituencies is the principal thing but that does not mean that there is no importance attached to the system of voting. I agree that the actual system of voting is relatively unimportant and personally, if I thought that the obtaining of single-seat constituencies would be impossible with the proposal for the straight vote but would be certain with  the proposal for this system of voting —unfair, undemocratic and discriminatory as it is—then I would certainly be in favour of the course of action that would result in the advantages of the single-seat and would ensure getting rid of the evils and dangers of multi-member constituencies.
But I do not see that that is the position. I agree the main objective is to get the advantage of single-seat constituencies and get rid of the disadvantages of multi-member constituencies. Since this was a matter for the Government and since there was no indication given from any source, from the informal Committee studying the Constitution or any other source, we naturally put forward what we believe to be the best system of election. It is the only one that is democratic, which treats each voter in exactly the same way and which is fair to everybody, both to every voter and every candidate of a political Party.
The straight vote part of the proposal does something very important in itself. It proposes to establish for the first time here the democratic principle of one man, one vote. It proposes for the first time here that every voter should be treated in exactly the same way, that every voter should have the same consideration paid to his opinion as is paid to every other voter. This contrasts with the present system which discriminates in a completely arbitrary and unjustifiable way between voters. Without carrying out any intelligence test or any test of responsibility on the individual voter, it takes certain groups of voters and allocates to them multiple votes—as many votes as they want practically—the total number of votes being controlled only by the number of candidates who choose to offer themselves for election.
It encourages irresponsibility in the exercise of the franchise because a person can decide to vote for one candidate after another, even though that candidate has put forward no realistic proposals for the conduct of the nation's affairs. He can do this in the knowledge that the system is so rigged as to ensure that, whatever else happens, his vote is going to be continued  to one of these candidates after another until eventually it is allocated to a candidate who is able to secure some reasonable amount of support for his proposals from the people. As I pointed out before, there is no justification whatever for this. This vote is finally allocated to a candidate, not on the basis that the voters decided he was the best candidate on offer, or that his policy was the best on offer, but many times it is allocated to him on the basis of an opinion that he is the second worst of all those on offer to the people.
Mr. K. Boland: I assure Senator O'Quigley I will deal with Senator Rooney's contribution to the debate. But the point is that the present system of the transferable vote discriminates between the voters on no democratic grounds. It may be that if there was some way of establishing the degree of intelligence or of responsibility of each individual voter, there might be some reason then for allocating differential voting power to different members of the community. But it is not practicable to do that. There is no way of finding these things out. Therefore, the only fair system that can be adopted is to give every person's vote the same value. This system does not do that. It discriminates against the majority. That, I have no doubt, is what led Deputy Dillon and other members of the Fine Gael Party to refer in such disparaging terms not only to the system but also to the people who devised it in the first instance.
Senator Quinlan says that this proposal was demanded by the people. I have pointed out that not one single public representative supported it until today when two Senators supported it, and Senator Quinlan was not one of them. It is not that public representatives  did not get every opportunity of doing so. I agree that certain newspapers have been advocating this for some considerable time, but there is no evidence that the people asked for it through the press as Senator Quinlan said. Certainly, the public representatives got every opportunity. Admittedly, the proposal has been mooted in the papers since long before the Bill was actually introduced. As Senator Quinlan says, it has been strongly advocated in the papers. Any arguments in favour of it have been well and truly put. If the people wanted it, the public representatives have had reasonable opportunity of finding that out and complying with the wishes of the public.
In addition to the fact of its being mooted in the newspapers, there is also the fact that Deputy Norton's amendment was put down while the Second Stage debate was still proceeding in the Dáil. That debate dragged out for some considerable time. There was a period of time between the conclusion of the Second Stage and the start of the Committee Stage. Due to the delaying tactics of the Opposition, there was some considerable time before the amendment was actually reached in the Dáil. During that time these newspapers, these organs of public opinion, were representing to the people that Fianna Fáil were still open to accept this. Therefore, if there was any desire on the part of the Opposition to agree with what Senator Quinlan says is public opinion, they got ample opportunity of doing it. If there was any desire to obtain agreement, there was certainly plenty of time for that to be indicated.
But there was not any attempt. As far as we in Fianna Fáil are concerned, we made up our minds on this from the very outset. We put forward our proposals, and they were naturally the same as those we had in 1959. There was all this speculation throughout all that time and yet not one single public representative expressed any support for the proposal contained in this amendment. Senator Jessop and Senator Ó Conalláin argued for the system in principle. I recognise that that is a genuine expression of opinion, just as  it is our opinion that the straight vote is the best system. These Senators must realise that they are the only two Members of either House to express this view and that even the proposer of the amendment here does not agree with it himself and neither did the proposer of the amendment in the Dáil agree with it.
I do not think there is any reason to believe that this is the choice of the people. There is no evidence of that. It is a system that discriminates in a completely unjust way against the majority and nobody has attempted to controvert what I said on the Second Stage and say why it is that some people whose candidate is not deemed to be elected should get a second, third, fourth, fifth and perhaps tenth vote for other candidates whereas other voters who voted for a candidate not deemed to be elected get one vote only. Nobody has attempted to explain what sin against democracy they committed that they should not have the same attention paid to their views as to those of others.
Mr. K. Boland: They are not. These are people whose candidates were deemed not to be elected but who, because they committed the crime of agreeing with more of their fellow constituents than any others, were given one vote only although others were given as many as five separate votes for different candidates or at least their votes were allocated to the candidate for whom they voted and to four or five other candidates also.
For instance, there was the Wicklow by-election. I appreciate there were six candidates and it may not be too easy for Senator Rooney to follow what happened in that case but I gave a simple example where there are three candidates and invited anybody to tell me why a certain number of voters should be selected and given two votes in that case. I showed that if every voter was treated in the same way, if their votes were treated in the same way, if the votes of the majority were  not down-graded and treated as those of second-class citizens entitled only to one vote while others were entitled to multiple votes, that if the same consideration were given to everybody, it would very likely be established that there was a majority in favour of each of these three candidates. That would be an absurd result and you can get that because the assumption on which the whole process rests is absurd, that assumption being that a preference indicates the same degree of support as an actual vote. Of course it does not. It does not mean the same thing and Nos. 2, 3, 4 or 5 do not mean the same thing even for each voter who puts down the figures. Nobody knows what they mean. In some cases they mean absolutely nothing. It is a trick in order to allocate the votes that were cast for one particular candidate to another candidate. It does not establish that there was a majority in favour of any candidate and if a reasonably fair investigation is carried out it would be found that there was a majority in favour of more than one and that could not be. You get a silly result when you start off with a silly, unjustifiable assumption.
Mr. K. Boland: No, we are using a reasonably intelligent system of voting for the job that has to be done—to select out of a number of candidates, all of whom have the same policy, the man or woman the voters consider best.
Mr. K. Boland: It would make the proceedings shorter if they did, but I might not enjoy it as much. If candidate A gets 4,000 votes, B 3,500 and C 3,000, according to the rules of this system those who voted for candidate C are given a second vote and their votes were treated as if they were votes for somebody else. The division of the 3,000 votes could go 1,000 to candidate A and 2,000 to candidate B leaving candidate A with 5,000 votes and B with 5,500. The proponents of this system of the transferable votes now  say: “It has been established that there is a majority in favour of one of the candidates, candidate B, because we have now given him 2,000 votes that were cast for C and the people have given him 3,500; whereas we have given candidate A 1,000 votes cast for candidate C and the people gave him 4,000, and this allocation of C's votes to A and B proves there is a majority in favour of B.” Of course, it does not prove any such thing, but you get this ridiculous result because we make the ridiculous assumption that a preference vote of any degree is equivalent to an actual vote and because preferences are taken into account on a discriminatory basis.
As a result of this transaction, we now have the position that there are 4,000 unidentified, anonymous people who voted for candidate A and found themselves in the majority group in the constituency, and as a result of the machinations of this system, that candidate has been declared not to be elected and another candidate who got a smaller number of votes has been deemed to be elected. What I want Senators to explain to me is what sin against democracy these 4,000 people committed that they should be treated as second-class citizens and that their votes should not be entitled to equal consideration with the votes of the 3,000 who voted for candidate C? Is it not the same thing? Their candidate is deemed not to be elected.
Mr. K. Boland: But there are not two; there are three and each is entitled to stand. What I want to show is that there is no reason to believe that would be the result but in any case there are three and each was entitled to go forward. Nobody is entitled artificially to reduce the number of candidates and give the people a choice between only A and B. They  are equally entitled to have a choice between B and C or between A and C. If it was decided to give the same consideration to the votes of all members of the community it would be necessary to investigate the second preference of the 4,000 people who voted for candidate A who has now been “deemed” to be not elected and obviously these could go 1,500 to candidate B and 2,500 to candidate C so that we could get another result of 5,000 votes for B and 5,500 for C proving, according to the ridiculous rules of the system, that there is an overall majority in favour of B and that there is also an overall majority in favour of C, which of course is nonsense, and you get this nonsensical result because the assumption on which it is based is nonsense.
It might be said we have established that there are more people in favour of B than A, and that there are more people in favour of C than B; therefore there are more people in favour of C than A. Of course, that has not been established at all because only some of the people have only been given two choices. The 3,500 people who voted for B have been treated as second-class citizens. Their candidate has now been “deemed” not to be elected and their votes have not been given the same consideration as the votes of C and A, and if they were, it could happen that 1,500 of those votes would go to A and 2,000 to C, and we then have the third result of 5,500 being in favour of A and 5,000 being in favour of C. Therefore, we have established that there is a majority in favour of them all. As I said on the Second Stage, maybe these were three estimable candidates and the people did like them all and would like to have them all, but the Constitution says they can only have one. Therefore, there must be some way of deciding which one they may have and the only practical and fair way, the way that treats everybody the same, is the way we propose.
If you like to go on the assumption that it has been established there are more people in favour of B than A and more people in favour of C than  B, we then find there are more people in favour of A than C. You could go round in circles like that forever. That, of course, arises out of the fact that the whole thing is based on the ridiculous assumption that a preference of any degree is equal, as an expression of support, to an actual vote, which is nonsense. Three candidates were entitled to stand. The people were entitled to choose one of them, and the only way in which they can choose between them is the way we propose. There is another possibility, of course; what they call the Borda system of attaching notional values to the preference votes and totalling them all up, but as I pointed out before the people just would not use that because they would see that by giving a preference vote to anybody else they would be voting against their own candidate.
The only practical question to ask the people at election time is: which of the candidates do you prefer? Count the votes and accept the result as the people express it. There is no way a returning officer and his staff can decide that there is an absolute majority in favour of one candidate if the people have already said that there is not. It is all right for Senator Rooney to say that there should be a majority in favour of one candidate before he is elected, but what can you do if there is not a majority, if the people insist there is not? This is not a theoretical thing at all. As I showed in the Wicklow by-election, there were 10,343 people discriminated against in this way, including 9,788 people who found themselves in the largest group of opinion in the constituency.
Because of the discrimination inherent in this system of the so-called transferable vote, these people who voted for a candidate who was not elected were given one vote only, whereas some of those who voted for candidates who were deemed not to be elected were given as many as five votes. That is discrimination, and it is not based on any democratic principle, because it is discrimination against the majority, whereas my understanding of democracy is that it is the majority view that should prevail. I pointed out from the results  in the Wicklow by-election that if an effort were made to give the same treatment to all voters, to act in accordance with the fundamental principle of one man, one vote, that then it would have been established that, in addition to there being a majority for the Fine Gael candidate, there was also a majority for the Labour candidate.
Mr. K. Boland: In the by-election in East Limerick, of course, the same thing applied. Despite the maximum possible Coalition effort; despite the outside assistance of the two nonpolitical organisations that the Coalition Parties employed, the farming organisation and the anti-language organisation; despite the full-scale effort of the highly subsidised British Proportional Representation Society on their behalf, and despite the fact that, in addition to the two Coalition candidates, Labour and Fine Gael, there was also a candidate standing on behalf of a British political Party; despite all that, it was not possible, even with this discriminatory system, to secure the defeat of the candidate for whom the majority of the people voted.
Mr. K. Boland: They went fairly close to it, and after the election the Labour people had a complaint. Their complaint was that although they had done their work in the Coalition more thoroughly than Fine Gael, Fine Gael had let them down by not compelling their voters to transfer their votes to the Labour candidate.
I quite agree that there was no reason whatever why the votes of those who voted for the Labour Party candidate should not have been considered in the same way as the votes of those who voted for the Fine Gael candidate. The mere fact that there were a couple of hundred more of them was no reason why they should get less consideration than those who voted for the Fine Gael candidate or for the Liberal candidate; and if they were  treated in the same way it might have been established that their work for the solidarity of the Coalition was more effective than that of Fine Gael, and fiddling around with the votes after the election in accordance with the rules of this system might have succeeded in allocating sufficient of the Labour Party candidate's votes to the Fine Gael candidate to elect him as they claim would have happened. I quite agree they were just as much entitled to that consideration as were the Fine Gael people. However, because this is a discriminatory system, because it only allocates this multiple voting power to a small section of the voters, this was not done, and so this charge of the Labour Party that they were more solid for the Coalition than Fine Gael cannot, in fact, be established.
Senator Rooney says it is essential that there should be a majority of the votes for the candidate to be elected, but if the people say there is not a majority, there is no way of establishing there is.
Those are all the Senators who dealt with the amendment. Senator O'Quigley made a Second Stage speech, in which he dealt with PR in general. He dealt with the 1937 Constitution. He dealt with the 1922 Constitution. He also dealt with the Civil War, with the establishment of the Border, and so on. I suppose Senator O'Quigley will be disappointed if I do not co-operate with him and go into all these things once again, but I know that certain Senators do not like to have these things refuted, and maybe for the time being, at any rate, and in view of the possibility that they will not be raised again, I shall postpone dealing with them, although this may offend Senator O'Quigley. If he wants to raise them again, or if he wants me to deal with the question of the 1937 Constitution, I will be only too happy to oblige.
Mr. K. Boland: If he wants the 1922 Constitution to be dealt with, or if he or anyone else wants the question of whether this is the British system to be dealt with, I am quite prepared to deal  with it. I will refrain from doing so at this stage although I must say I should like to, and we still have some time to go before teatime.
Professor Quinlan: I want to give one very simple example of the machinations of the non-transferable vote. In passing, I want to remark that it was rather strange that in the 1959 campaign and debate, Mr. de Valera at no time invented or claimed any of the absurd discrimination in the PR system which the Minister ascribes to it. He said he wanted to change it. He gave his reasons, and they were solid but did not carry sufficient weight with the electorate. The Minister's absurdities discredit him and what he stands for.
I will go back to the simple little example I have worked out. We have here a Party convention selecting a candidate for a by-election. Of course, being committed as Fianna Fáil are to the non-transferable vote, or the straight vote, we would expect them to use the straight vote in selecting candidates in each constituency. That is the least the electorate might expect from them, so we proceed now to a constituency in which there are four candidates under general consideration. The Minister is good at algebra so I shall follow him. We have candidates A, B, C and D. In the days before the convention, when the canvassing is going on for votes, and there is talk about who will support whom, the agent of candidate B, who has a pretty good intelligence system, ticks off how the votes are likely to go at the convention and arrives at this estimate of the situation: A will top the poll with 30 votes out of a total of 100; B will be second with 25, C just behind him with 24, and D last with 21. They are all striving very hard to get the nomination, so what does B do? Remember this is the straight vote. B gets hold of a friend in A's area with rather similar interests to A and he gets him to go forward.
Professor Quinlan: The result of this little manoeuvre, a slight little manoeuvre like the one used to keep rockets going around on course, and A is now down to 22, B has 25, C 24, D 21 and the stooge candidate E eight. B has now achieved his objective. The espionage of C is better and he learns of this little manoeuvre and he evaluates what is taking place. C sees his chance. A is finished. C has now got to jump ahead and he gets a real stooge candidate who can get only two votes and his own. So stooge candidate F goes forward, is proposed and seconded. He gets three votes and the final result is A 22, B 22, C 24, D 21, E eight and F three.
Professor Quinlan: If someone outside a political Party like myself can see how this could be done, one wonders if this happens in the green wood, what happens in the dry? This could also apply to the appointment of a rate collector. No sensible body of men would carry on like that. In a sensible body of men, the relative strength of the candidates is assessed and when a candidate sees he cannot hope to get enough backing, he retires. There are candidates retiring every day in the Presidential election in the United States and ultimately the selection of candidates will be between two and then one will be elected. That is the democratic process. We have all taken part in it, whether in Party conventions or in the election of a chairwoman in a local branch of the ICA— and Senator Ahern should know a considerable amount about that—or the election of the chairman of a branch of the NFA, or in an election in  any group. We have taken part in elections to the university Senate. If three or four candidates were put up, unless one got a majority of the vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes was eliminated and there was another vote between those remaining until ultimately one was elected.
Professor Quinlan: No amount of talk by the Minister about discrimination or thimble-rigging will convince the ordinary people that there is anything wrong with this approach. Up to now a person was asked: “If the person of your choice is not available, whom do you want to support?” That is the democratic process. That is the way it goes and the way it will go after the referendum. I make no apology here for insisting that the voters should be given a choice. I can see the position of the political Parties who are committed to the retention of PR. They are opposed to a system which is obviously unfair and unjust and could lead to rule by a 40 per cent minority. On the one hand, I should not like the Government to accept this amendment but, on the other hand, I have sufficient respect for the people to say that they should have been given a choice of all three.
Professor Quinlan: If we are going to be committed to two in this Bill, they should be given the two most likely at the present time and therefore the second choice should be the transferable vote. From my point of view, it has the merit of avoiding this type of thimble-rigging situation I have outlined; it has the merit of avoiding pacts, and so on. But it has not the proportionality and the respect for reasonable fractions of opinion that is ensured for us by proportional representation. I cannot claim to be a lawyer. Neither does the Minister.
Professor Quinlan: We both, I think, got a sound engineering training. Therefore,  we should consider that we should be able to make a reasonable layman's approach to interpretation of the written word. As it stands here, Article 46 of the Constitution, dealing with amendment of the Constitution, lays down that every proposal for an amendment of this Constitution shall be expressed to be “An Act to amend the Constitution”. You must have an Act to amend the Constitution. On the other hand, Article 47 deals with any other proposal that is not a proposal to amend the Constitution.
There is nothing laid down in the Constitution as to the form in which this proposal must be submitted to the people. Indeed, it says at 4º: “Subject, as aforesaid, the Referendum shall be regulated by law”. In other words, there is no obstacle whatsoever, except a sheer lack of democracy, that prevents the Minister and the Government from putting a simple question to the people in the following manner: “Mark, in the order of your preference, 1, 2, 3, the following electoral systems: 1, proportional representation and multi-seat constituencies; 2, the by-election system; 3, the straight vote system.” There, you will be using just the simple 1, 2, 3, to enable you to decide, first, which system has the least support from the people and then you are down to a choice between the two remaining systems and that choice is decided by looking at what the people as a whole have said about their preferences between those two systems, and so you get your result.
If the Government had approached it in that way, I have not the slightest doubt that all political Parties would have agreed to accept the results, coming from such a question to the people, as binding. The resulting referendum, which would have to be, in other words, the findings of the people would have to be enshrined in a Bill and that Bill would then have to be put to the people for acceptance.
Professor Quinlan: The Parties would have accepted that as a formality. The people would have made known their wishes and this  would merely be a formal carrying into action of their wishes. I invite the press and I invite all others studying this to look and examine Articles 46 and 47 of the Constitution to see whether these in any way inhibit the Government from putting the question as I have said it should be put and as everyone concerned with the maintenance of democracy and the strengthening of its greatest arm, that is, the referendum proposals, would wish the question to be put.
But, meantime, if we are to have a choice of two, the best and the second best, I do not see anything inconsistent in my saying I consider that the transferable vote in single-seat constituencies avoids some of the worst features of the non-transferable vote and, as such, is, in my view and in the view of all the leader-writers in both the weeklies and the national dailies— apart from the Irish Press group—the more desirable system to have. Consequently, I do not think there is any need to say any more except that I leave it to the House.
Mr. Yeats: I was somewhat entertained, if a little startled, by Senator Quinlan's revelations as to the methods by which they elect the President of University College, Cork. I presume he was talking about——
Professor Quinlan: No, Sir, I made no such suggestion but, in any appointment I ever took part in, no candidate was appointed unless he received the majority of the votes concerned and the lower candidate was eliminated.
Mr. Yeats: If Senator Quinlan was not talking about the election of a President of University College, Cork, he certainly was not describing anything that ever took place at a Fianna Fáil convention, or could. I note that Senator Garret FitzGerald is leaving the House. I hope he will not depart for any length of time because I propose to discuss his electoral statistics.
Mr. Yeats: ——I think it is only fair to say something about this amendment to which the names of five Senators have been put. I shall be brief because I am anxious to reach the topic of statistics as propounded by Senator FitzGerald. I see he is now leaving the House again.
Mr. Yeats: It seems to me that there is no advantage whatever in this suggestion of having what is called proportional representation in single-seat constituencies. In the first place, it is I think quite clear that, in a single-seat constituency, the transferable vote is not proportional at all. You can elect only one candidate in a constituency and the question of proportions simply does not arise. The question of minorities getting representation in Parliament in accordance with their political strength does not come into the matter. Indeed, the all-Party Committee on the Constitution accepted this point when one of the matters they referred to the Attorney General for his consideration was this question of the use of the term “proportional representation” in Presidential elections. They pointed out—I think rightly— that it is probably an error in the Constitution to describe this as proportional representation since, clearly, the question of proportional representation does not come into it: only one man can be elected. It is the transferable vote all right but not what we think of as proportional representation.
I think that, with one or two exceptions, we have heard here today all  those who spoke for this amendment do so as the lesser of what they think of as two evils. They want single-seat constituencies and yet they have a sort of hankering after proportional representation or, as in the case of Deputy Norton, they are afraid the desirable prospect of single-seat constituencies might be lost if this compromise proposal were not put through. I do not think that anyone, with a few exceptions, looks upon this as particularly desirable. It might be no harm to point out that just as I am prepared to concede that there are people on the other side of the House who genuinely, sincerely and honestly believe in the advantages of PR, equally it might be admitted that we on this side of the House genuinely, sincerely and honestly believe that in the interests of the country the straight vote would be a more desirable form of election. I sincerely believe this and this debate would proceed with less bickering and backchat if this fact were recognised, just as we are prepared to recognise that there are on the other side those who are sincerely in favour of PR.
The great advantage to us of the straight vote is that it tends to create a two-Party system. You have a single-Party majority Government and sitting in the wings is an alternative Government in Opposition who can be brought into power when the electorate so decide. It does not necessarily always create a two-Party system. In the 1920s in England when the Labour Party were coming into power, it was gradually displacing the Liberal Party and you had three Parties competing with each other, but once the Labour Party displaced the Liberals, the Liberals disappeared and you had the two-Party system which is normally created under the straight vote system. That is a great advantage. You would lose that with the single-seat constituency with PR and you would have a permanent three-Party system and in time you might even have a four-Party system.
One of the main reasons why some people support this amendment is that they fear this suggestion that under the  straight vote system, Fianna Fáil would get some 98 seats with, as happened in the last local elections, some 40 per cent of the poll. This suggestion was made in particular by Senator Dooge and Senator FitzGerald on the Second Reading of these Bills. To me this has always seemed an outrageous and ridiculous suggestion. I pointed out several times that in no straight vote country has it ever happened that a Party with only 40 per cent of the vote got the equivalent of 67 per cent or two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. It has not happened and it could not happen in the circumstances in this country.
Mr. Yeats: Senator Dooge made some quite clear statements on Second Reading. He said that he had made a careful and scientific study of the last local election results and had tried to estimate what the results would have been, had it been a straight vote election. On that basis he worked out that Fianna Fáil would have got 98 seats. The other point is that the Fianna Fáil proportion of the total votes in the 1966 local elections was just under 40 per cent and therefore we have been told here and as everybody outside has been told——
Mr. Yeats: We have been told that with less than 40 per cent of the vote, Fianna Fáil would get 98 seats, and the suggestion has been made that Fianna Fáil are trying to cement themselves in power with a system of election to give them a vast majority even with a quite low proportion of the votes.
Mr. Yeats: The Senator did try to backtrack a little when I made the point. How did Senators FitzGerald and Dooge arrive at their figures? It is not merely a question of figures for the local elections or what might have happened if it had been a straight vote.
 Senator FitzGerald on numerous occasions has referred to the fall in support for Fianna Fáil from one local election to another and from one general election to another. How did these figures originate? Basically, the Senators computed their figures simply by eliminating from their reckoning all the votes cast except those cast for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. Senator Dooge on the Second Reading, at column 1248, volume 65 said:
in the estimate I made I may say that rather than take all the votes which were cast in the local elections in any electoral area, in the vast majority of cases I only took the votes cast for the three major Parties.
I missed this when the Senator was speaking and when Senator FitzGerald was speaking I interrupted to say that this suggestion that Fianna Fáil would get 98 seats with 40 per cent of the vote was just ridiculous and I asked how did they arive at this conclusion. He said that all the votes for smaller Parties were to be forgotten about. I expressed amazement, not to say incredulity, and Senator FitzGerald said that the Independents would more or less cancel out. If that were true, it would be a reasonable policy to adopt, but of course anybody who has anything to do with elections knows that the usual practice is—and I am not talking now about the reasons for this or whether it is good or bad—the Fianna Fáil voters vote for Fianna Fáil candidates and not for anybody else.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: The Senator will appreciate that the statement I made was that Senator Dooge's calculations had been based on the assumption that the Independent votes would divide in less proportion, in relation to local elections
Mr. Yeats: Senator FitzGerald's statistics relate only to Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. This method of computation might be justified if Independent votes go equally to both sides. If Senator FitzGerald is inexperienced in elections, he may not appreciate the facts with regard to Independent candidates, but he could have asked someone in his Party, with long experience, or he could have checked his facts. I do not know why he did not check—it seems an elementary precaution—before deciding on a fundamental point of this kind. He obviously did not check his facts or, if he did, he ignored the results.
I have done an investigation of the so-called Independent voters and the basic point is how his supporters would vote if the Independent candidate were not there. The method of computation is not completely reliable because the later preferences under proportional representation are not necessarily a very accurate representation of the voter's feelings. However, over a large number, the discrepancies probably work out very well and preferences can give a reasonably accurate idea of the feelings of the people who cast them. In the 1965 general election, of all the preferences handed on from various Independent candidates Fianna Fáil got 21.5 per cent, or one-fifth. This is a very consistent pattern. In the 1961 election Fianna Fáil got 24.6 per cent; in the 1957 election, Fianna Fáil got 22.6 per cent. The total number of electors involved was 168,965. It is a large number and it is a fairly accurate representation of the position. Surprisingly enough, in 1965 Fianna Fáil got more preferences proportionately from Labour candidates than they did from the other Parties' candidates—22.4 per cent instead of 21.5 per cent. In 1961 the discrepancy was even greater; Fianna Fáil got 35.5 per cent from Labour candidates as against 24.6 per cent from the other smaller Party candidates. If there were any rhyme or  reason in this statistical exercise of Senator FitzGerald, he should have eliminated Labour candidates before he eliminated the other candidates.
These figures show quite conclusively that Fianna Fáil supporters in general vote for Fianna Fáil candidates but Opposition supporters may vote for Fine Gael or Labour or, from time to time, they may vote for some of the smaller Parties or for Independent candidates, as indeed they are encouraged to do by the existence of proportional representation; that is one of the purposes intended to be served by the system. People who support a particular group may vote for Independents or smaller Party candidates and hand on their votes to other candidates of the two bigger Opposition Parties, if they wish to do so. I can understand Senator FitzGerald and Senator Dooge omitting Independents on the specious ground that it all comes out in the wash and it comes to the same thing on both sides, but I cannot understand the justification for eliminating the smaller Parties. Why were Clann na Talmhan omitted from all reckoning? Clann na Poblachta? Sinn Féin? National Progressive Democrats?
Mr. Yeats: Oh, yes. The Senator was telling the Minister why he was bringing in the straight vote; it was because of the disaster about to befall Fianna Fáil and the Senator described this curve from 1957 to 1961 to 1968. “Curve” is a great word.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: The curve is related to the ratio of seats to  votes—a quite simple calculation. The Senator is confused. There are no curves in the graph. It is a straight line. Fianna Fáil are falling in a straight line.
Mr. Yeats: It is a graph; it is not a trend. It is a graph which proves itself almost before you have investigated it. However, for the purpose of this graph, curve, straight line, downward trend in the Fianna Fáil vote, in order to produce these figures, Senator FitzGerald not merely eliminated the Independents, who I have shown overwhelmingly hand on their preferences to Fine Gael or Labour, but he also eliminated all the smaller Parties in the last three general elections—Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta, Sinn Féin, National Progressive Democrats. There may be some others. These, apparently, become what can only be described as “non-Parties”. Their candidates are “non-candidates”. The people who vote for them are “non-people”. They have simply ceased to exist, as far as Senator FitzGerald is concerned.
I do not want to impute motives unnecessarily but the result of this exercise is, of course, to increase the Opposition vote from election to election because these smaller Parties— Sinn Féin, Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta and Independents — in 1957 got 16 per cent of the total vote, whereas, in the last general election, they got only 2.9 per cent of the vote. The result of that is, of course, that the acknowledged Opposition vote — Fine Gael and Labour—goes up and Fianna Fáil goes down, which was, I take it, the purpose of the exercise. One gets some quite clear results, however, when one remembers that the 16 per cent who voted for these small groups and Independents in 1957 still go on voting. They have not ceased to exist. According to Senator FitzGerald's statistics,  they are non-people, but, for practical purposes, they are there. They vote for other Parties.
Take the situation in which the same candidates are involved from election to election, thought not always in the same Party or under the same ticket. I will give an example of the statistical complications that can arise in such a case. Take Deputy Seán Dunne, the Minister's colleague. In 1961 he stood as an Independent. Of course Independents are non-people, not recognised in Senator FitzGerald's statistical gallery. Therefore the votes cast for Independent Deputies in 1961 were not counted. They did not become part of the graph, curve, straight line, what have you. However, in 1965 Deputy Dunne stood again as a Labour candidate. That is a recognised Party and his votes are duly counted.
We have the opposite progress taking place in the case of Deputy Joseph Sheridan of Longford-Westmeath. In 1957 he stood unsuccessfully as a Fine Gael candidate. His votes were counted because Fine Gael are a recognised Party by Senator FitzGerald for statistical purposes. In 1961 he was elected as an Independent. He is now a non-person, a non-candidate; his votes cannot be counted. In 1965 he stood as a successful Independent. Once more his votes will not appear on the statistical record of Senator FitzGerald.
The next case we have is Alderman George Russell of East Limerick. In 1957 he stood as an Independent, a non-person. In 1961 he stood again as an Independent and again his votes cannot be counted. However, in 1965 he stood as a Fine Gael candidate. Now all is well. His votes are counted.
In the same city, we have Deputy Stephen Coughlan. He was unwise enough to stand first as a Clann na Poblachta candidate. That was a non-Party. His votes cannot be counted. However, he recovered and in 1961 and 1965 stood for the Labour Party and his votes were duly counted.
The late Deputy Donnellan was elected in 1957 and again in 1961 as a Clann na Talmhan candidate. Of  course that was a non-Party and his votes could not be counted. However, in 1965, his son, John Donnellan, stood and was elected as a Fine Gael candidate and his votes appear on the graph.
Deputy Thomas O'Hara of North Mayo stood in 1957 and 1961 as Clann na Talmhan. That was a non-Party. His votes could not be counted. In 1965 he was elected for Fine Gael. This is all right so he had his votes counted.
I am sorry Senator McQuillan is not here at the moment because he might be interested to know that when he stood in 1957 as an Independent, his votes do not appear on Senator FitzGerald's graph. They were not legitimate votes: they could not be recognised. In 1961 he stood as a National Progressive Democrat candidate. This, I need hardly say, was a non-Party and the votes could not be counted. However, when he lost his seat in 1965 as a Labour candidate, his votes were duly counted.
Mr. Yeats: He has had a varied political career but it is as nothing compared with the varied statistical complications he has caused Senator FitzGerald. He was elected in 1948 for Clann na Poblachta, a non-Party. His votes could not then be counted; they just did not exist. In 1951, he stood as an Independent, and once more the 8,000 votes he got just could not be counted. However, in 1954 he stood and lost his seat as a Member of the Fianna Fáil Party and it may be some consolation to him to know that on that occasion his votes could have appeared on any graph Senator FitzGerald would have been preparing. In 1957 he was once more elected as an Independent, but his supporters were non-people, his votes could not be counted. In 1961, he was elected for the National Progressive Democrats. This being a non-Party, his votes could not be recognised. In 1965, he lost his seat as a member of the Labour Party. It may be some consolation to him to  know that his votes now may be counted.
This is a curious situation. Dr. Browne stood for election in all six different times. On four occasions he was elected and twice he was defeated. On each of the four occasions on which he was elected, Senator FitzGerald would not recognise his votes and on the two occasions when he was defeated, his votes are recognised and appear on the graph. This is statistics gone mad. This is the kind of way in which Senator FitzGerald and indeed, I am afraid, Senator Dooge, are able to prove that Fianna Fáil will get 98, 100 or 120 seats in straight vote elections.
The purpose of this exercise is curious. It is an almost incredible exercise, effectively to prove that black is white, to prove that water runs uphill and more specifically to prove by means of curves and graphs that an increase in the Fianna Fáil poll is in reality a decline. We had been given for example, several times during the course of this debate figures by Senator FitzGerald to the effect that the Fianna Fáil vote had declined between the general elections of 1961 and 1965 from 50 to 49 per cent. This is a swing of two per cent against Fianna Fáil. I do not expect anybody to take my figures so I go to the Appendix to the Report of the Committee on the Constitution and there of course find what we know already that in 1961 Fianna Fáil got 43.8 per cent of the total valid poll. In 1965, they got 47.7 per cent of the total valid poll; in other words, there was a swing to Fianna Fáil of eight per cent. By means of these graphs, these curious statistics which casually disregard all candidates who do not come within the holy of holies, the statistical canons of Senator FitzGerald, Senator FitzGerald is able to prove to his own satisfaction, and he hoped, to ours, that the swing to Fianna Fáil between those two elections of eight per cent was in reality a swing away from Fianna Fáil of two per cent.
Of course the same thing was done with regard to the figures he produced for the first time in my hearing yesterday for the last two local elections. He  said that in the one before the last Fianna Fáil got 49½ per cent of the votes, and in 1966, only 45½ per cent, that is, a swing of eight per cent. Of course both those figures are wrong. In reality, of course, the Fianna Fáil proportion of the total poll at the last local elections increased, by some relatively small fraction, but none the less increased. However, this increase is transmuted by this statistical magic into an eight per cent swing against Fianna Fáil.
It is in this same kind of way that we get the totally false suggestion that Fianna Fáil at the recent local elections, if they were fought on the straight vote system, would have got 98 seats. The method of calculation is essentially the same. Independents, Clann na Poblachta, Sinn Féin and all the rest are non-people, just not recognised for statistical purposes and this estimate of the straight vote result is therefore on the basis that Fianna Fáil in that number of prospective single-seat constituencies would get a majority of 1,000 or 2,000, or whatever the figure may be, over the nearest candidate from Labour or Fine Gael.
Of course the distortion involved in this kind of exercise is increased when it comes to local elections because there are of course more independent candidates here. The number of votes cast for Independent and small Party candidates at the last local elections was 151,000. I take it there may be one, two or three cases in which candidates were recognised for those statistical purposes, but the vast majority, the great majority, of these 150,000 people who voted for independent candidates and the smaller parties simply became non-people and ceased to exist as far as Senator FitzGerald is concerned.
It will be clear, I think, that this is bound to make a fundamental difference in the situation as propounded by Senators Dooge and FitzGerald with regard to the 98 seats. The presence of such independent voters who would not be voting for independent candidates in a general election or a straight vote election of any kind would have the effect of reducing and in many cases eliminating the alleged Fianna Fáil  majority in these areas. This is clear. The 98 seats are in fact vastly more than Fianna Fáil can possibly get in any election when they get as low as 40 per cent of the poll. It is certainly at least 50 per cent higher than the correct figure. I am talking about what would happen in a 40 per cent poll by Fianna Fáil. I would certainly anticipate that in any general election Fianna Fáil would get a much higher proportion than that.
I am dealing with the situation here of the 40 per cent poll and the allegation that Fianna Fáil would get 98 seats in such an event. That has been repeated and repeated and it is time something was said about it.
As Senator Dooge stated, in the vast majority of cases these Independent candidates and the candidates of the smaller Parties such as ratepayers, and so on, would not run in a general election and we have to consider, therefore, what the effects might be on the result under a straight vote election. I have a few cases here to show the type of situation which arises, and which were simply ignored by Senator Dooge, and I take it, also by Senator FitzGerald. I have one area where Fianna Fáil had 2,630 votes and the nearest party was Fine Gael with 2,583 under a straight vote, a majority of 47. That is one of the 98 seats, but there are also 1,029 of those non-recognised votes cast by non-people.
For practical purposes, whatever Senators Dooge or FitzGerald wish to do with statistics, they must recognise that these people do exist, and would be voting in a general election. We must also recognise, and the figures I have produced show, that the great majority of those 1,029 would vote for Fine Gael rather than Fianna Fáil, so that “majority” of 47 would disappear.
In a Cork city area, Fianna Fáil got 2,678 and the nearest Party, Fine Gael 2,657 under a straight vote, a majority of 21. There were, however, 1,507 for Independents, which have been ignored. There again, this so-called straight vote majority is an illusory one. There is another area, in which Fianna Fáil got 2,531 votes and Fine Gael 2,296, a  suppositious majority of 235 but there are 1,735 unrecognised others also voting who must be considered.
Mr. Yeats: It is Monaghan area, the county of Monaghan. That is 1,735 votes which is more than enough to overwhelm this meagre imaginary straight vote majority. In Killarney area, County Kerry, here is an interesting one: Fianna Fáil 4,774, the nearest Fine Gael 4,356. That is a notional majority of 418 but there are 2,839 votes for Independents and other Parties. This is an interesting case because in this particular case the election showed that there would have been no Fianna Fáil majority, because they transferred in this case enough votes to Fine Gael to give them three seats as against two for Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: This is Killarney, County Kerry. Last year's local elections figures are different. One of our figures are wrong. It may well be ours. My figures are different. There may be a misprint.
Mr. Yeats: I am making a general point. Senator FitzGerald will say that there is a wider scope. I picked these areas out to make the point to show that it is utterly illusory to talk about a notional straight vote majority and ignore sometimes large numbers of Independent voters or votes of small Parties who would not be there in a general election, and who could eliminate that majority.
The next I get on to is Bray—Fianna Fáil 2,624, Labour 2,324, others 1,594 which is more than enough to give Labour a majority. There is a similar situation in Dublin in Area 11. Fianna Fáil 4,413, Fine Gael 4,393, a majority of 20 but there were 3,118 votes for other candidates. Those are only selected titbits, one might say, from the results. In fact, in no less than 61 areas there were votes for Independent candidates and other Parties, none of them recognised by Senator Garret FitzGerald's statistics, which exceeded in number the so-called straight vote majority of Fianna Fáil in these areas. Of those 61 cases, in no less than 36 cases the votes of the Independents were more than double this so-called straight vote majority. It is reasonable to suggest that in cases where the vote of the Independents was more than double the so-called straight vote majority of Fianna Fáil, it is highly  probable that the majority would be wiped out altogether.
There were a further 25 cases where those votes amounted to more than three times the total of the so-called majority. In those cases we can be absolutely certain that there is no majority. I am not attempting a scientific assessment. I base those figures on returns from the newspapers. I would prefer to get the official return of the figures. If Senator FitzGerald says there are only, say, 23 areas where the Independent vote was three times the majority, I will accept that, but there is certainly a very large number of areas where beyond any possible shadow of doubt, there is no straight vote majority for Fianna Fáil and the straight vote majority alleged, originates entirely in an utterly faulty statistical analysis which omits 151,000 voters from the reckoning. They are simply people not counted in this extraordinary reckoning of Senator FitzGerald and Senator Dooge.
On those figures alone, so far from Fianna Fáil gaining 98 seats with 40 per cent of the poll, the most likely result would be that they would get somewhere in the 60s but there are other factors one ought to consider. One of those, of course, is the number of Labour candidates. I am not trying to do down the Labour candidates. I am trying to assess this in a realistic way. There are many cases in the local elections where Labour candidates stood who clearly would not stand in a general election. There are Labour candidates who got two per cent, three per cent or four per cent of the total poll and even up to ten per cent, and in such cases it would be futile to run under the straight vote in a general election.
Some of the people would vote for Fianna Fáil who had previously voted for Labour candidates but clearly the bulk of them would go against the Government and for Fine Gael. This would narrow the majorities and in some cases eliminate them altogether. Of course, the extent to which this factor would apply would depend on the co-operation between Fine Gael and Labour. It would be quite possible for them to co-operate quite closely so that  Fine Gael would retire from contesting a constituency where Labour was much stronger and Labour would retire from a constituency where Fine Gael was much stronger. If they did this to any great extent, it would increase the number of seats where Fianna Fáil would fail to gain a majority. With 40 per cent of the poll, Fianna Fáil would probably get between 50 and 60 seats under the straight vote.
Mr. Yeats: I do not want to be misunderstood. That is on the so-called calculation placed before us in this debate that with 40 per cent of the votes, Fianna Fáil would get 98 seats. I think I have proved that Fianna Fáil with 40 per cent of the votes, certainly in Irish conditions with the present relative strength of Fine Gael and Labour, would get something between 50 and 60 seats, depending on the amount of co-operation. I am certain that Fianna Fáil in a general election would get more than this.
Fianna Fáil, consistently during the past 40 years, have polled far less in local elections than in general elections. In a general election, I expect we would get 47 per cent, 48 per cent or 49 per cent of the total valid poll. I do not know about the number of seats. That would depend on the extent of the co-operation between the two main Opposition Parties. To get 98 seats in Irish conditions, bearing in mind the relative strength of Fine Gael and Labour, Fianna Fáil would need to win a much higher proportion of the total valid poll than they have ever won, or any Party has ever won in this country. It may be possible to get 98 seats but only on a vastly higher proportion of the total poll than Fianna Fáil have ever had. We got 52 per cent in 1938. In order to get 98 seats, you would need to get nearly 60 per cent of the votes. Certainly you would need to get well over 50 per cent. To say we would get 98 seats with 40 per cent of the poll is nonsense.
Mr. Murphy: Between them the Labour Party would be squashed out. I am only going to deal with this point. Senator Yeats asked us to accept that all the people on this side sincerely believe it was in the interests of the country that the single-seat constituency system should operate and that we should have a two-Party system, the Government Party and an alternative Government. Let me say I am not prepared to accept that all the people on the other side are motivated by a sincere duty that what is proposed is good for the country. I believe quite a few on the other side, and quite a few Fianna Fáil Deputies, do not believe in what is proposed here, do not believe it is right that a second attempt to abolish proportional representation should be made.
This probably reflects the views of their supporters throughout the country. Equally, I believe there are people on the other side, including the Minister, who equate the good of the country with the good of the Fianna Fáil Party, that it is the same thing. They are motivated by this. I will accept Senator Yeats's word that he himself sincerely believes the two-Party system is good for the country. He spent a lot of time now disproving Senator Garret FitzGerald's figures and attempted to prove his own. It seems to boil down to this. He was arguing that Senator Garret FitzGerald's estimate of the 98 seats for Fianna Fáil was an exaggeration, that it was too many, and that in fact Fianna Fáil would not get so many seats, that Fine Gael would get quite a big share of the seats.
Mr. Murphy: He forgot about Labour. Of course, this is the whole crunch of this issue. He said he believed in the two-Party system. I do not imagine even Senator Yeats is so sincere in his belief that he wants the two-Party system if that means eliminating  Fianna Fáil. I do not believe that this would be the reason he has been trying to prove that Fianna Fáil will get so many seats, that in fact they will not get that many because Fine Gael will have a greater strength under the system than Senator Garret FitzGerald was saying, and Labour will be eliminated.
Mr. Murphy: And we, in order to balance this up, to make this a fine, workable system, should dissolve ourselves and go in with Fine Gael and that would give strength to Fine Gael to make them an alternative Government, that they would be in some way a balance to Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Murphy: Fianna Fáil would probably get 70 or 80 seats and the Fine Gael Party then, if we dissolve ourselves and go in with Fine Gael, would get the balance—a nice, tidy arrangement. We are invited to do it by Senator Yeats.
Mr. Murphy: We have no intention of being eliminated by Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. We fight this issue. We think it is quite undemocratic for any combination of a majority to take away the rights of a minority. That is a  Nazi Germany sort of thing, that if you get a majority, you can take rights from a minority. We are a minority that have existed in this democratic State. We insist on our right to continue in existence and we will not accept the invitation of Senator Yeats or Fine Gael to eliminate ourselves.
Mr. Murphy: I am challenging this. I cannot see in a democracy that, in combination, a majority can, simply by being a majority, take the rights of a minority. That is not right. They cannot change the rules. To my thinking, that is not proper democracy, for example, simply because we have a majority of dark-haired people or people going bald, like myself, we cannot say to Senator Garret FitzGerald that we do not like his mop of hair, and decide simply by a majority to eliminate him because we think his hair is untidy. I do not mean this in a personal way. But the Labour Party is untidy, in this grand design of Senator Yeats and should be eliminated.
We are not going to be eliminated. We fight this issue. It is not right simply to say it will tidy up the situation and will be a grand thing to have a two-Party system, a Government Party and an alternative Government, that this is for the good of the country. It may be the Senator's idea of the good of the country but any such idea of eliminating a minority simply to tidy up the issue is an injustice. Perhaps this may be an exaggeration but the thinking behind it is the same thinking as Hitler's. He wanted to tidy up the general situation, to make them all nice people, to eliminate the Jews because they were Jews. It was untidy; they had no right; and he had a majority, and a very substantial majority, of the German people behind him but simply because he had a majority did not make it right. It was still an injustice. I say this is an exaggeration——
Mr. Murphy: ——but the thinking is the same. It is an exaggeration but  the thinking is quite the same, that simply by some sort of combining and getting a majority, you can take the rights of a majority. That is wrong and an injustice. That is not what we understand as the function of a democratic State and what Fianna Fáil are after here is to try to tidy up the issue, eliminate the Labour Party and then we will all be nice. Fianna Fáil will be in power; Fine Gael will be sufficiently strong to provide a decent—conservative, maybe—Opposition and we will all carry on and it is too bad about these poor Labour people—they are gone; they are part of history.
Mr. Yeats: I want to say about two words on this question. I hope Senator Murphy will take my word for it that in my remarks on this whole question of elections and what the results would be under the straight vote, and so on, I was interesting myself in the number of seats Fianna Fáil might get. I would not worry particularly who gets the other ones, whether Labour or Fine Gael or the others. I am not really terribly interested: perhaps I should be but I am not. However, I can assure Senator Murphy of one thing. I am not madly anxious to see the Labour Party or any Party eliminated. What I am anxious to ensure is that if the Labour Party want to nationalise the banks or dispossess widows from their farms or have any other policy of that kind, they are entitled to have that policy and to put it into force, if, and only if, they get a majority of the people to support them; but what I want to avoid, and I think all of us should want to avoid, is a situation where a minority of 15 or 20 per cent was able to force policies on a Government that the 80 per cent did not want. The Labour Party and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil or any other Party are entitled to put any policies they like before the people and to put them into force if they can get majority backing for them but what is utterly undemocratic and what has led in other countries to dictatorships is the situation where a tiny minority, be it 3, 4, 5, 15 or 20 per cent, can force on a Government that they are backing in a coalition policies which the 80 per cent of the population do  not want. That is all I am trying to avoid.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Senator Yeats has put forward some views which I have to deal with. I had not proposed to intervene at this stage but he will agree that it is proper that I should, as briefly as I can, not wishing to prolong the debate.
First of all, there appears to be some confusion between two bases of calculation. One is a graph which shows the Fianna Fáil share of the valid vote declining over a period. This is subject to some element of distortion in so far as the size of the non-Party vote, that is, outside the three main Parties, has varied and in so far as the distribution between the three main Parties, when these groups disappear, had they not been there at that time, would have been differentiated and not in proportion to the first preferences of the three Parties. This would not be taken into account and it is fair to treat Senator Yeats's remarks seriously.
There are two things I want to say. Senator Yeats made a statement— I did jot it down but I have lost the paper— that in the 1965 general election Fianna Fáil got 21.5 per cent of the preference votes of Independents. I should like to ask Senator Yeats a question which I am sure he will answer. In making this calculation, he was using the 1965 general election in which these preferences of candidates other than those of Fianna Fáil, Labour and Fine Gael are passed on. In all three cases could he tell me whether he included in these the votes passed on from Sherwin in Dublin and from Morahan in Mayo South?
Mr. Yeats: I only included them in cases where the votes passed on at the time when both Fianna Fáil candidates and Labour or Fine Gael were in a  position to receive them. In a couple of cases in which Fianna Fáil and a couple of cases in which Labour or Fine Gael were left alone—in neither case did I count them.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Senator Yeats confirms my view that in calculations of this kind he does endeavour to be fair but I simply cannot agree with his result. The figure I get on exactly the same calculation is that of the votes passing on to the three Parties, 35 per cent went to Fianna Fáil and not, as he said, 21.6 per cent. The only question is whether perhaps he is including votes passing on to Independents in his calculation. That would be double counting because those votes are again passed on when those second Independents are eliminated.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Excuse me; follow my line of argument and make your own judgment. My calculation of the votes in the 1965 election, based on when Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael and Labour candidates are in the field, is that 35 per cent must pass on to Fianna Fáil. In 1965, the proportion of all votes going to Independents was 2.9 per cent. If, therefore, we compare the results on the assumption which I used in that graph, that the votes of the Independents are distributed proportionally between the three Parties, you take out these votes and divide the Party votes by the total of them. The answer you get is 49.1 per cent for Fianna Fáil, 39 per cent for Fine Gael and 15.9 per cent for Labour.
I accept Senator Yeats's point that there is some differential distribution of the votes of Independents. If you distribute them in proportion to the way  they were distributed at that time, the answer you get is 47.7 per cent for Fianna Fáil, 35.5 per cent for Fine Gael and 16.1 per cent for Labour. The effect is to produce figures which, rounded to the nearest whole number, are identical with those in the graph. This would not necessarily have been so at earlier elections. I freely admit that. As regards the general election of 1965, the Independents' vote was so small that you could distribute it to high heaven and it would not make any difference to the final result. Therefore, the comparison made in the graph is not arguable in respect of 1965.
Mr. K. Boland: Senator Quinlan made a further contribution to this debate and referred to what he described as the machinations of the non-transferable vote at Fianna Fáil conventions. Obviously, he has no idea of how a convention is conducted since what he describes could not happen. We have a better organisation than that. I notice that he made no attempt to show why some people should be discriminated against, in the manner I showed, and treated as second-class citizens, not entitled to the same consideration as is given to the votes of some of their colleagues. He describes the system we propose as being unfair and unjust but what it does is to treat every voter in exactly the same way and give every candidate and every political Party exactly the same chance. This is what the Opposition object to. This is the system which will require every candidate and Party to stand on their own feet, the system under which it will not be possible to continue the present practice of putting up candidates who cannot get any support from the electorate but are brought in on the surplus of other candidates who can.
In his quotation of Article 47, the Senator did not even quote the Constitution correctly. He omitted to say “...every proposal other than a proposal to amend the Constitution, which is submitted by referendum to the decision of the people shall for the purposes of Article 27 hereof be held to have been approved by the people  unless vetoed by them in accordance with the provisions of the foregoing subsection of this section”. He omitted the reference to “... for the purposes of Article 27 ...” I think the fact that he refuses even to quote the Constitution correctly is sufficient comment on his arguments.
Regarding Senator Murphy's allegations that Fianna Fáil Deputies are not in favour of this proposal, the fact is that there is 100 per cent unanimity in the Fianna Fáil Party in regard to this proposal. It may be that there were some who originally had doubts about the likelihood of its being passed, but, as time goes on and as we see the fears of the Fine Gael Party that their supporters and their members are gradually coming round to the views held by the Leader of the Party and those prominent members of the Party who still, despite all the reasons there are to the contrary, retain some confidence in the possibility that at some time in the future there may be sufficient backbone in the Party for them to have some future as a political Party under the clearer circumstances we propose to establish, we find that any of those in our Party who had some doubts about the likelihood of this proposal being successful at the outset are just the same as Fine Gael: they are beginning to appreciate that as time goes on it becomes more and more certain that the people will provide themselves with this electoral reform.
If Senator Murphy chooses to look on the role of the Labour Party as that of a permanent minority, that is his business. If he assumes that in these circumstances it is inconceivable that the Party should continue to exist, that is a matter for himself, but in that he is expressing an opinion contrary to the opinion expressed by the Leader of his Party and by others such as Deputy Dunne who claimed to believe, at any rate, that the Labour Party will continue to exist, irrespective of the electoral system.
Senator Yeats, I think, has shown that consideration of Senator FitzGerald's forecasts even on the basis on which he alleged these forecasts were made, are unjustified, but of course the basis itself is completely unrealistic.  To attempt to make a forecast of what would happen under a system in which there would be 144 single-seat constituencies on the basis of results in electoral areas that bear no relation or cannot bear any relation to what the single-seat constituencies would be and which are greater in number than 144, is absolute nonsense, even if you ignore the fact that it takes no account whatever of the personalities who would be contesting these different single-seat constituencies.
In the county of Carlow, for instance, which could have, at most, two seats, there are four electoral areas and the population in these areas varies from 6,048 to 13,180. In Cavan, where there are three seats at present and where there cannot be any more than three seats, there are four electoral areas, varying in population from 10,390 to 16,644. In County Clare, where there are four seats, there are five electoral areas varying in population from 10,528 to 22,321. In Cork, where there are 12 seats, there are only seven electoral areas, and they vary in population from 18,412 to 38,502. In Donegal, where there are six seats, there are five electoral areas varying in population from 13,112 to 28,154. In County Dublin, where there would have to be at least ten seats, there are only six electoral areas, and these vary in population from 26,410 to 51,772. In Galway, where there are eight seats, these are only five electoral areas, and the population varies from 20,595 to 44,549.
In Kerry, where there are six seats there are four electoral areas, and the population varies from 19,402 to 37,923. In the county of Kildare, which could not have four seats without some addition, even under the Third Amendment of the Constitution proposals, there are four electoral areas, and the population varies from 12,397 to 19,860. In Kilkenny, where there would be three seats, there are four electoral areas varying in population from 11,594 to 21,718. In Laois, where there would be, at most, two seats, there are four electoral areas, and the population varies from 7,431 to 17,712. In Leitrim, where there is not sufficient population for two complete seats, even under the Third Amendment of  the Constitution proposals, there are four electoral areas and they vary in population from 5,613 to 10,331. In Limerick County, where there would be at most four seats, there are five electoral areas and the population varies from 14,478 to 18,391. In Longford, where there would not be sufficient population for two seats, there are five electoral areas varying in population from 3,603 to 8,201.
In Louth, where there are three seats, there are five electoral areas and a variation in population from 5,497 to 23,424. In Mayo, where there are seven seats—there would not be sufficient population for seven seats—there are six electoral areas and the population varies from 14,667 to 26,857. In Meath, where there are three seats, there are five electoral areas and a variation in population from 10,701 to 17,695. In Monaghan, where again we could not justify three seats, there are four electoral areas and the population varies from 8,455 to 15,092.
In Offaly, where there could be at the most three seats, there are four electoral areas and the population varies from 10,371 to 16,522. In Roscommon, where there could be only three seats, there are four electoral areas and the populatiton varies from 10,521 to 20,183. In Sligo, where again three seats could not be justified, there are four electoral areas and the population varies from 7,446 to 21,040.
In Tipperary North Riding, where there are four electoral areas and where, at the most, there could be three seats, the population varies from 8,941 to 17,873. In Tipperary South Riding, there are five electoral areas and the population varies from 10,633 to 16,374. In Waterford county, which would justify at most two seats, there are four electoral areas and the population varies from 7,547 to 12,912. In Westmeath, where there is not sufficient for three seats, there are four electoral areas and a variation in population of from 8,020 to 19,379.
In Wexford, there are four electoral areas—this is the first county where the number of electoral areas equals the number of seats—and the population varies from 19,556 to 23,432. That  appears to be the only county in which Senator FitzGerald's exercise would be in any way appropriate.
Mr. K. Boland: In Wicklow, there are three seats, four electoral areas, and the population varies from 8,430 to 22,264. In Cork city, there are six electoral areas and there would probably be six seats, so that this is probably reasonably suitable also. In Dublin city, there are only 12 electoral areas, but three would have to be approximately 25 seats, so it is obvious that the whole operation that Senator FitzGerald went through——
Mr. K. Boland: There is no deduction that can be made from the results in the local authority electoral areas that would be applicable, even if you ignored the fact that the issues are different, that the personalities contesting them are different, and so on, and even if you ignore considerations such as Senator Quinlan mentioned as to who is marking whom. These things are all relevant and Senator FitzGerald has no way of taking them into consideration. Certainly the electoral areas can bear no conceivable relationship to the single-seat constituencies which are likely to be formed except in a couple of instances. Any attempt to base forecasts on assumptions based on the results in the local electoral areas is ridiculous.
If Senator FitzGerald and his Party are happy in the belief that the local election results in Dublin city, when there was no question of the Government of the country involved and where personalities like the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Seán Lemass,  Deputy MacEntee, Deputy Vivion de Valera, Deputy Noel Lemass and others were not involved, give some indication of the results of a general election I suppose it would be unkind to try to bring Senator FitzGerald back to a sense of reality. This reference is, of course, to his prognostications in regard to future results under PR. Similarly, his attempted forecast of what would happen in regard to the single seats, without having any knowledge whatever of the constituencies, or who is marking whom, or what candidates would be contesting individual constituencies, which is, of course, a very relevant factor, is equally ridiculous. Indeed, an attempt to do that is the height of folly and would not be expected from anyone except someone like Senator FitzGerald and Senator Quinlan whose contact with real life politics is minimal.
Senator Yeats has shown that, even ignoring these very relevant considerations and humouring Senator FitzGerald by considering his forecasts made on an inadequate basis, they are still not justified. Considering any comparison with what happens in Britain is equally irrelevant. There is a difference in the populations in the constituencies to the extent of 450 per cent there whereas here, even under the proposals made in the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, the divergence from the national average cannot exceed one-sixth.
Mr. K. Boland: This operation which Senator FitzGerald and his colleagues have been going through may be very entertaining and I have no doubt it is a very stimulating mental exercise, but it has no reference to practicalities.
I still maintain, in regard to the amendment, that it is not democratic, if there are a number of candidates properly nominated, to rig the electoral system so as to arrange for an artificial and unjustifiable choice between one of the possible pairings of the candidates. If this is to be done the public  are at least entitled to choose between each possible pairing and not one selected at random. Indeed, if this were done, it would show up the system for the farcical system it is.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I regret that I was late back after the tea interval, not because this involved the House in having the benefit of listening to the Minister but because of the apparent discourtesy of not being here to continue my speech.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I was dealing with points raised by Senator Yeats, points of criticism which are worthy of comment, because he was talking at a serious level. I think his points should be answered, and answered fully and fairly. I propose to recap on the system adopted by Senator Dooge in his calculation. As I mentioned earlier, I did not do the calculation in relation to the so-called straight vote. My calculation was confined to the alternative vote which cross-checked very closely with that of Senator Dooge, Professor Chubb and Dr. Thornley. I have no responsibility directly for the straight vote calculation beyond checking the manner in which it was carried out and, as is to be expected from someone of Senator Dooge's stature and academic standing, it was thorough and soundly based. The method adopted in dealing with the Independents has been oversimplified by Senator Yeats. This may, perhaps, be our fault for not explaining it more fully, although I thought Senator Dooge explained it fairly and fully in his introductory remarks. There were in the local elections something like 140,000 Independent votes. We seem to be a little bit at odds as to the precise number. Senator Yeats makes this 150,000.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: For all Parties other than Labour we got 138,000 and Senator Yeats got 153,000. Let us call it 140,000. The order of magnitude is agreed and, as I think  Senator Yeats will agree, the precise figure is not vital for this purpose. What Senator Dooge did was to take one particular group in respect of which the preferences are well known and well established, where the bias towards Fine Gael is strong and where failure to take account of this could indeed be criticised. That is the rate-payers' group. Their votes were allocated with a very strong margin of preference for Fine Gael, giving a 40 per cent net advantage to Fine Gael. A similar operation was not carried out in respect of the votes from other Parties which did not go towards Fine Gael so we were being most careful not to bias the calculation in any way unfairly in the direction Senator Yeats is worried about.
Some further Independent votes were also taken into account because allowance is made for the election of several Independent TDs so that some of these votes are used in that way. The number of Independent votes which were not in fact used in the calculation —and which were not ignored in Senator Yeats's words—which he will agree is statistically the same thing as distributing them pro rata was about 105,000. What we are talking about— and the margin of error relates to this —is nine per cent of the total vote. I think the total vote was something under 1,150,000 and we are talking now of how we treated 105,000 of those votes, that is nine per cent. The simple answer, as Senator Yeats will appreciate on thinking it over, is that it almost would not matter what you did with nine per cent of the votes because, as each Party must get their share, the variation between the shares on such small amounts cannot be very great.
In fact what we did was to assume they would go pro rata to the Parties in the order of the magnitude of the Party vote. Senator Yeats argues that this was unfair and introduced a bias into the calculation. That is arguable. He may have a point. Let us consider it and see how big the bias is. I think it is arguable for this reason: while, in a general election there is an established pattern under which the Fianna Fáil share of the Independent preference is small, though not as small as Senator Yeats suggested—the figure  was about 35 per cent in the general election in 1965 on a more accurate calculation—the Opposition Parties tend to get the major share. I would have thought, from my knowledge of the local elections, the position as regards Independents, and how their votes are distributed, that the bias against Fianna Fáil amongest the voters who support Independents is less marked in local elections than in general elections. There are many local candidates, the votes from whom are distributed pretty evenly between the Parties. There are also rather more, shall we call them, Fianna Fáil Independents—people who were not adopted possibly by the local Party. This happens in all elections but, in local elections, it is more liable to happen than in general elections.
I think that any study of preferences in local elections would show that the bias against Fianna Fáil, amongst the Independent voters' preferences passing on, is less marked than in a general election. However, for the sake of this argument, I would accept Senator Yeats's point and I would ignore that fact completely, giving full credit for these particular votes passing on, as they did in the general election of 1965.
Let us consider, now, what the outcome of this calculation is and the enormous difference it makes to the results of our calculations. We have, on my rough calculations, a starting point of the first preferences in the local elections roughly as follows, giving or taking a few thousand. I have rounded them off. There will be the odd error. We disagreed about the Killarney result before tea. A careful comparison of my figures with those of Senator Dooge shows that, from the typed figures I was supplied with, the Fianna Fáil candidate was wrongly allocated to Fine Gael. Senator Dooge's figures agreed with those of Senator Yeats. There are bound to be these errors. In local elections, there is the difficulty of establishing the Party affiliations and, in the tabulation, errors can occur. But, allowing for that, the totals I get are as follows, when they are rounded off: Fianna Fáil, 460,000; Fine Gael, 380,000; Labour, 165,000; Independents,  140,000; total, 1,145,000: we need not worry about some thousands either way.
When we take into account the distribution of the ratepayers' votes and the fact that we allowed about 10,000 Independent votes for the election of a couple of Independents, the distribution we get of the Party vote, allowing for that, before there is any arbitrary allocation, turns out roughly as follows: Fianna Fáil, 475,000; Fine Gael, 385,000; Labour, 170,000, with 105,000 votes which we allocated arbitrarily in the same proportion. With these 105,000 votes, when we allocate them arbitrarily in this proportion, the result we get is something like this: Fianna Fáil, 525,000; Fine Gael, 425,000; Labour, 187,000—call it 185,000. That, in other words, is the result we came up with, assuming that these votes of Independents were distributed pro rata to the Party strength and the Party vote. If Senator Yeats feels this is unfair, I would point out that I am accepting it for the sake of argument to see where it leads us. That gives Fianna Fáil 46 per cent; Fine Gael 37½ per cent and Labour 16½ per cent. That is the picture we came up with as a result of this calculation.
Senator Yeats holds that this is unfair. I suggest, therefore, we distribute these Independent votes in the same way as they were distributed in the general election of 1965, in the cases where they are distributed, where Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour candidates were standing in the 1965 general election. The distribution I got from that allocation is as follows: Fianna Fáil, 35 per cent of the Independent and small Party preferences passing on; Fine Gael, 43 per cent; Labour, 22 per cent. Let us distribute those votes in that proportion. We find that the answer is as follows: Fianna Fáil, 512,000; Fine Gael, 430,000 and Labour 193,000. That gives us the following percentages: Fianna Fáil, 45 per cent; Fine Gael, 38 per cent and Labour, 17 per cent.
In other words, the net result of the whole effort that Senator Yeats has put in, the net result of the bias he said we introduced — if it were true that  Independent votes were distributed in a local election in the same way as in a general election—would be to introduce an error of one point in the percentage of the vote. This suggests that we have underestimated the decline in the Fianna Fáil support. We said that Fianna Fáil support fell, between the general election and the local elections, from 49 per cent to 45½ or 46 per cent. Senator Yeats said Fianna Fáil lost more votes, that they are down to 45 per cent. He may be right. That may be the result. I think he is a little unfair to Fianna Fáil if he thinks the swing from Fianna Fáil was nine per cent: I think it was seven per cent. Let us split the difference and reach eight per cent with a small tolerance of one-sixth.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I have now adjusted the comparison in accordance with Senator Yeats's prescription. It is changing the rules in the middle of the game to say that the comparison cannot be made.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Let us move on from the graph to what Senator Yeats had to say on the subject of the distortion this could introduce into our calculation that this share of the vote in a general election would yield Fianna Fáil 98 seats. The share of the vote giving Fianna Fáil, he thinks, 45 per cent of the Party vote which, if you allow for the fact that, in a general election, there are Independent votes, would mean their share of the total vote would be about 43½ per cent. We are saying that, with 43½ per cent of the Party vote—say, 44 per cent of the total vote—Fianna Fáil would get 90 to 100 seats. Senator Yeats challenges this. If Senator Yeats is right, and taking his figures fully and taking no account that Fianna Fáil may do better, we put down a bias of about 15 per cent of the Independent vote in the local elections. We put down Fianna Fáil as getting 45½ per cent and Fine Gael  38 per cent of the Independent preferences——
Mr. McGlinchey: How many of the elected Independent councillors, half of whom you say were elected by Fianna Fáil votes, voted for the Fianna Fáil candidates for the chairmanship of the local authorities in this country? Would that be worth while finding out?
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I would not want to discourage Senator McGlinchey from this useful research, the results of which he might communicate to us in the next Session. My concern now is the performance of the voters rather than that of the votees. What the votees do, when elected, does not always satisfy the voters. It would be very interesting and perhaps Senator McGlinchey on some section on which it would be relevant, although I cannot imagine which, could give us the benefit of this research, or guesswork as the Minister would call it.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: This is about the 121st occasion on which the Minister has abused me. I think I am running a record. I will go back over the records and see how many score of such references there have been. The point I am trying to make here is that the bias we are said to have introduced is about 15 per cent. We were giving Fianna Fáil 7½ per cent margin and Fine Gael an 8 per cent margin—a 15 or 16 per cent difference.
The alleged bias is one of the order of 15 or 16 per cent and in order for this to affect the results, it would be necessary for the Independent vote to be six or seven times the size of the majority so that 15 or 16 per cent of it  going as a net benefit to one Party rather than to another would distort the result, as Senator Yeats tried to tell us, if the vote were six or seven times the size of the majority. I have thus taken account of the maximum bias that might be introduced into this system.
I think I have cleared up any misunderstanding there may have been and answered the point. It is possible that there is some bias here; it could mean an over-estimation of Fianna Fail's share of the votes in a local election by one per cent but this is not a terrible offence and I am prepared to plead guilty to having committed that crime, in an effort to be fair. If that is the case, it could introduce distortion into the result and instead of Fianna Fáil getting 98 seats with that share, they would get something less. Senator Yeats will be able to tell us when his research discloses in how many cases the Independent votes were six or seven times as large as the majority.
Having dealt with that, fairly and justly, I hope, the House will agree that we have endeavoured to disclose the basis of our calculations and we have made no case which we are not prepared to back up with documentation and figures and, having done that, we can do no more. If that fails to persuade them, then we have done our duty, and if despite our efforts to persuade them from this project, for their own benefit, and if instead they are going ahead, I hope they will not complain if when the referendum is defeated, they find themselves facing a general election in a rather unhappy position. Certainly we will have very little sympathy for them at that stage, after all our warnings.
In conclusion, on the question of the alternative vote versus the straight vote, I have no doubt that the alternative vote is superior to the straight vote. The Minister's extraordinary argument about people not getting the opportunity to exercise preferences is one which is logic standing on its head. Let us take a Fianna Fáil convention, such as the one to which Senator Quinlan referred, and of which I have very little knowledge, but let us assume that the way the votes go is that the Colleyites get 40 per cent and the Haugheyites  and the Bolandites might get 30 per cent each or 29 or 31 per cent and although the latter are in the overwhelming majority and although the Colleyite candidate's position in the Party is a minority one, they might let him in as a candidate if they both stand. If this was repeated throughout the country, think of the consequences for the Fianna Fáil Party. What do the Bolandites and the Haugheyites have to do? They either have to go ahead contesting these conventions on the straight vote and find the Colley candidates sweeping the country or do a deal and pull out. A very harsh choice for them to face. I do not think it is fair to put them in that position. Think of the consequences in Dublin NorthEast alone in these circumstances.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: ——the Senators will be able to correct me— is that if a candidate is not elected, someone at the bottom is eliminated and another ballot is held. Am I right? Is that the case? Or if somebody does get 40 per cent, do they simply accept him? Is that the way it is, that the simple straight vote ballot is used to select a single candidate for a by-election? I am waiting for an answer.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: They are not able to answer me. This is very distressing. Perhaps Fianna Fáil Senators are on a more elevated plane and are more removed from the hurly-burly of conventions than Fine Gael Senators are, or Labour Party Senators.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Fine Gael use this as the most convenient system. They use the system of the successive ballots, which I think is the best system. It is not a transferred vote but you have a series of ballots. The French have this system and it has advantages over the alternative vote but it does involve having a succession of elections. If you have six candidates, as you had in Wicklow, for a single seat, the eliminations could take a long time and you could have six elections in six weeks which would be worse even than the long counts about which the Minister told us. A system under which you might have election after election is a little inconvenient and for that reason the alternative vote has been adopted. It is imperfect but it is good enough for us.
The Minister was worried about the case where you have three candidates and the Fianna Fáil candidate is ahead but still has not got a majority of the votes. It does not enable Fianna Fáil supporters to say which of the two candidates they would prefer and this means that the man who is elected, whether he be Fine Gael or Labour, may not be the man whom the Fianna Fáil people would prefer to see elected. I quite agree there must be certain cases in which the difference between the Fine Gael and Labour candidate is so fine that, if the Fianna Fáil voters could, by the system Senator O'Kennedy proposes to us—an interesting but, perhaps, unduly complex one—express their preferences, they might push the lower of the two Opposition candidates above the highest candidate.
It is a pity the cumbersomeness of the system does not enable Fianna Fáil supporters to express this opinion and adjudicate between Fine Gael and Labour candidates. It is a pity this should happen. I can quite see that it  bothers Fianna Fáil quite a lot. Any system that does that does bother them and, therefore, it is not fair. If Fianna Fáil voters could express their preferences, it might well be that they would put our candidate ahead of the Labour candidate. That might even have happened in Limerick, but we did not press for this. We are prepared to accept that, where we are without the benefit of the Fianna Fáil preferences, Labour may get ahead of us. Labour are not straining at the leash to get hold of these Fianna Fáil preferences to get ahead and we do not care if, on occasion, someone gets in who is not quite the person who should have got in if every preference were counted to the very end.
I do not think it is a national tragedy if, to the displeasure of Fianna Fáil voters, a Fine Gael man is elected instead of a Labour candidate. Nothing is perfect in this imperfect world. Indeed, the perfect may easily be the enemy of the good, and the Minister, in his search for perfection, is throwing out a system that is reasonably good and introducing a system which is demonstrably bad and a system which is demonstrably dangerous and we do not see why that should be done. That is what I feel about the alternative vote; it is demonstrably superior to the straight vote.
On the question of the amendment, the issue put before us by certain Independent Senators is that we should, in fact, prefer to either proportional representation or the single seat and spot vote, the single seat with the alternative vote. That is not a proposition which commands much support at the present time, for various reasons. It is clear none of the three Parties support it, I suspect for different reasons. It is a system which has certain merits and, if we had to choose between it and the single-seat spot vote, then we should not hesitate as to which we should choose because the bias it introduces into the ratio of seats to votes is much more moderate. It would have the effect of giving some clear majorities, but not the vast majorities the spot vote would be liable to give, and, for that reason, if we had to choose, most of us on this side of the House, including the  Labour Party, would choose the alternative vote.
The choice happily is that we are able, with the help of the people, to hang on to the present system, a system which many think is preferable. I do not think—I have said this frequently—we should exclude the possibility of changing the system. I see certain merits in the transferable vote system: I have said so. I am disappointed the Minister has not researched the articles I wrote and tried to demolish the arguments. I will give him the references, if he likes. I have said there are certain theoretical merits in the system and it is worth considering, but such a change should not be made without the agreement of all Parties and, if one Party feels such a change would discriminate unfairly against it, then it is the duty of the other Parties, of Fianna Fáil as well as Fine Gael, not to indulge in an operation which is designed to benefit one Party at the expense of another. By all means let us reform the electoral system and change to another system, if it is a better system, and if it does not discriminate unfairly against another Party, but there is nothing in the present system so bad, so evil or so incapable of being worked satisfactorily that it forces us to change to another system which is not acceptable to all Parties.
Therefore, despite the siren temptations held out by the Minister, and despite the temptations of being in government on our own the second next time, which the Minister has promised us, with an assurance backed by forecasting I have never claimed, we remain unconvinced. I have some feeling as to what the result of the next election might be, but I am afraid I cannot follow the Minister in forecasting the second next with any certainty. I would like to feel the Minister was right, but I would much prefer the probability of Fine Gael being on their own after the next election, given the right system. I do not think we can accept the Minister's assurance, or necessarily accept his assurance, that his only consideration is giving Fine Gael the chance of becoming the Government. I think we are allowed to have some sceptical  doubts in that connection. Accordingly, as this change is not agreed, and as its introduction would have the effect of preventing the people, by a reasonable swing, changing the Government at the next election, which they intend at present to do and I believe they will hold to that intention, and as the effect of this amendment would be to put Fianna Fáil into office for another term after 12 years of office, I am against it.
I am against it because I do not think any Government is much good after the first ten years, or so. I suspect the change of Government in 1932 was in many respects beneficial to the country. The people in office were becoming tired. They had carried the terrible burden of the Civil War, and after, and I believe the change of Government at that particular juncture will be viewed by historians as a good thing, though it was not regarded as a good thing by those who were defeated on that occasion, and they include my father. I believe the change in 1948 was a good thing. I believe it would have come much sooner but for the War. I am quite clear now that a change of Government at this juncture would be a good thing. I believe the effect of the proposed change in the electoral system would be to lower the percentage Fianna Fáil would need to get a majority and therefore the effect would be to put them back in office for a period of up to 17 years. That is something I am not prepared to contemplate.
I stand for the present system. This is not a good moment to change it. There may have been a case for changing in 1959 to the alternative vote. Had that been proposed and had it been agreed by Labour and Fine Gael, it might have been a useful change, but I am not prepared to make a change at this point in the country's history, when Fianna Fáil have been in power for 11 years. That approach would hold good, irrespective of what Government had been in office for the past 11 years. I am not prepared to make this change without the support of all Parties. Although I see some merits in the proposal of the five Independent Senators, for those reasons I am against it.
Mr. E. Ryan: In my opinion, there is some justification for having the transferable vote in a multi-seat constituency, but not because of any intrinsic merit in such a system. There is a great deal to be said against it. For practical reasons, I think it would be difficult to manage the multi-seat constituency without the transferable vote and it is not, therefore, so objectionable in the present system. To bring this basically unsatisfactory and illogical vote—the transferable vote— into the single-seat constituency seems to me to be ridiculous. There is no justification whatsoever for it. It is an illogical system; it is unjust; it is unfair. Anybody who can see any justification for a system under which some get a second chance and others do not get a second chance must be deficient in some respect. It passes my comprehension how anybody could regard such a system as either a logical or a fair system of voting.
We have had the question of A, B and C so often that I do not propose to go over it all again, but it seems to me that Senator FitzGerald, speaking a short time ago, missed the real objection, or seemed not quite to understand the objections to the transferable vote because he gave as an example the fact that the system used in conventions was much the same system and, consequently, if you accepted that as being reasonably practical, you could not object to the transferable vote.
Of course the system used in conventions is completely different. It is different in a fundamental way and consequently it is not by any means as objectionable as the transferable vote, because if you take the situation where you have certain people voting for A, B, C and D and where A only has something less than half the votes, the point there is that the people who are supporting A, if they see how the voting is going and if they realise that A is not going to make it, on the second vote can change their vote. Therefore, they have a second choice and this fundamental objection to the transferable vote does not apply to the system which applies in conventions and so on where the last candidate is eliminated. The fundamental objection  to the transferable vote which I have, and which most people have, is the fact that most of the voters do not have a second chance and the voters who are lucky enough and ill-judged enough to pick the last candidate have a second chance.
Nobody, to my mind, can justify that situation. If you are going to have a preference vote, a transferable vote, the only possible way in which it can be operated is to have the system where everybody's preferences are effective and you give a lower valuation to second, third and fourth preferences and add all the votes for all the candidates and find out who gets the highest total. This is a fair system. It might be a rather difficult system but at least it would be fair, and nobody would get less than a fair vote and neither the candidates nor the voters would be discriminated against in any way. There is no logical reason and I repeat, there is no logical reason, why under the present transferable vote system, the people who vote for the candidate who gets lowest on the list have a second chance and the people who vote for the person who gets the highest get no second chance. It is not logical: it cannot be justified on any grounds. It may be that people, for political reasons, feel that in the present political scene the transferable vote is best for them or best for their Party, but if we are discussing this purely objectively as an electoral system, there can be no justification for it.
Apart from the fact that we are discussing the system and that I have expressed my disagreement with the system as being basically unfair and illogical, I certainly think that the way this particular amendment is worded is quite ridiculous because we are talking about introducing proportional representation into a single-seat constituency. How can you have proportional representation in a single-seat constituency? When we think of PR, we think in terms of having, say, a five-seat constituency. We think in terms of, say, Fianna Fáil getting maybe 45 per cent of the votes, Labour perhaps 20 per cent, Fine Gael 20 per cent and Independents 15 per cent, and we think of Fianna Fáil getting two seats and  each of the others getting one. This, in a rough way, represents proportional representation for the supporters of the various Parties in the constituency. When you have a single seat and if you presuppose for a moment that the voting is on the same pattern and you have 45 per cent of the people in the constituency who want Fianna Fáil, and roughly speaking 20 per cent who want the various other people and as a result of transfers you might find that a candidate who started perhaps with 20 per cent or even less gets the seat how can anybody suggest by any stretch of the imagination that this is PR?
Mr. E. Ryan: I would not be supporting this if I thought the Constitution was correct in every way. I think there are defects in the Constitution. There are the two we are dealing with and the fact that you can describe electing one person in a single-seat constituency as proportional representation. I think it just does not make sense. As I was saying, it could be that somebody who started with 20 per cent got the seat and the 45 per cent of the people who voted for somebody else are not represented at all. This could not be proportional representation. However, that is merely a question of definition which is not very important but it adds to the illogical aspect of the amendment we are dealing with.
 Not only do I consider the transferable vote in a multi-seat constituency to be a bad one, I think in a single-seat constituency it is quite ridiculous to impose it in view of its various defects. However, I am not voting merely on the basis that I think the transferable vote is a bad one. I am voting on this on the basis that the “straight” vote is a good one and is the best one and the one which shows most clearly what candidate the people want in a constituency, particularly in a single-seat constituency.
One thing this system will force the elector to do is to really face up to reality, to face up to the facts of the election and to pick the candidate that he really wants and not to be laying long odds on on all kinds of other candidates, voting for a man because he is a favourite son, because he lives nearby, because he a good footballer, or something like that. We all know that at the moment people very often start off by saying: “Even though I want so-and-so to be elected I am going to give a vote to such-and-such a person. He will not be elected anyhow.” He goes on down the list and probably gives his third and fourth preferences to the person he really wants to see elected.
This is obviously not facing up to reality. It is not genuinely making a decision. It is making several decisions. It is voting for people that you really do not think will be elected, that you do not want to be elected. It is going through this farce of giving first, second and third preferences to people you do not want to see elected. I think that if the person knows that there is going to be no second preference, no second choice, no question of eliminating people and distributing surpluses and all this kind of thing they will face up to the real issues in the election. They will face up to the real question of who is the best candidate in their particular constituency, who they really want to elect. They will have to make a much harder decision and a more realistic one. They will have to vote for the person they really want and not give votes to people just because they live nearby and so on.
 I think it is an excellent system. I think it will ensure in a general election that there will be a good swing against a Government who have lost the favour of the people, lost the support of the people; that there will be a swing in favour of an Opposition that has shown itself capable of taking over government. It will give it a chance to become the Government, and become the Government with a decent majority, a chance to carry on and to form a strong Government, a Government who can really put their policy into operation. It is a healthy political situation and one worth having and much better than the kind of stalemate situation we have had in the past and certainly much better than the extraordinary and thoroughly unhealthy situation that has arisen in many continental countries that have PR, which have on many occasions for months not been able to form a Government because of the impossibility of transmitting public opinion into a definite strong Government.
I am very much in favour of this and in favour of the fact that there should be healthy swings one way or another, even if one of these swings puts Fianna Fáil out of office. No matter how good Fianna Fáil are, people will turn against them and if people put them out of office, I have no objection. I think it is a good thing, as Senator FitzGerald mentioned, that a Party should go out of office now and again to reappraise their policies and their personnel and have a new look at themselves outside government. I have no objection to that but I think the Government in power should be in a good healthy majority and realise when the time comes that it will go out with a bang as well as it came in.
It has been suggested by Fine Gael, in particular, that Fianna Fáil are in favour of this proposal because, and only because, it will benefit them. It will benefit Fianna Fáil and certainly having evaluated this system, they dealt with it purely as an electoral system and if they come to the conclusion that it is a good system in an objective way, the best system for the country, would it not be ridiculous for me to expect any Member or any Party to vote against it or not in favour  of it? Would it not be ridiculous to be against it merely because it was against my own Party? I am not going to say I will vote because I think it will benefit my own Party. That would be illogical. I think it will be good for Fianna Fáil most of the time, not all the time, because sooner or later Fianna Fáil will go out with a swing but Fianna Fáil have faith in themselves as a Party. They have faith in their ability to form a Government and to govern. They have faith in their ability to get the support of the people most of the time and for that reason they are willing to accept the disadvantages as well as the advantages of this system.
Fine Gael are pretending they are against this system because they do not think it is a good system, because they say it is not in the interests of the country, because they say, among other things, that it might adversely affect the Labour Party and they would not stand for that kind of thing. Really I have not heard more hypocritical humbug in my life as I have heard from Fine Gael speakers over there crying about the fact that this may adversely affect the Labour Party. I do not think anybody in the country, least of all the Labour Party, is convinced by that hypocrisy. Fine Gael are against this proposal because they have not got the confidence in themselves that Fianna Fáil have. They have no confidence in their ability to form a Government at any time in the future. They do not believe that at any time in the future they will get the support of the people to enable them to form a Government. Consequently, they are in favour of PR because PR is a system that lets Parties down lightly, that lets Parties that are on the way down down lightly. It cushions the shock of inevitable decline. That is why Fine Gael are against the system. That is why they are waging this campaign because they have no hope that they will ever be in a position of taking advantage of the swing of the straight vote which would swing them into office. They are only looking forward to the decline of the Party and they want that cushioned as much as possible, and their whole campaign stems from this anxiety. They will not  face up to the facts, because of the effects this will have on their Party and because of the fact that they want to take life easier and gradually decline under the PR system. If they face up to that by stating why they are against this, if they really state and admit it themselves, they may well conduct a more effective and more successful campaign against this proposal.
Professor Quinlan: I should like to say that having listened to the debate and having raised the points that require to be raised on the single transferable vote, in order not to weaken the common effort against PR and in order not for any one moment to convey that I have any doubt or hesitation between them at this stage of the proceedings, I wish, by leave of the House, to withdraw the amendment standing in my name and to face the issue in the defence of freedom and the defence of the minority who have the right to exist in this country.
Professor Quinlan: I understood that the procedure was that no separate decision would be taken and that we having moved the amendment, would be prepared to take a decision on the section but we certainly would not for one moment say that the decision on the amendment would prevent the putting of the section.
|Brennan, John J.
Cole, John C.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Egan, Kieran P.
Flanagan, Thomas P.
Honan, Dermot P.
|Martin, James J.
Nash, John Joseph.
Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
Ryan, Patrick W.
Teehan, Patrick J.
Conlan, John F.
Davidson, Mary F.
Dooge, James C.I.
FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
Murphy, Dominick F.
Ó Conalláin, Dónall.
O'Quigley, John B.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
Prendergast, Micheál A.
Quinlan, Patrick M.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators McDonald and Rooney.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist.
Question put and declared carried.
Mr. O'Quigley: Táimíd ag feabhsú. Tá biseach ag teacht ar an scéal.
CUID III AGUS CUID IV.
PARTS III AND IV.
An Cathaoirleach: Parts III and IV will be discussed together.
Tairgeadh an cheist: “Go bhfanfaidh codanna III agus IV mar chodeana den Sceideal.
Question proposed: “That Parts III and IV stand parts of the Schedule”.
Mr. O'Quigley: This is an improvement on the corresponding article in the existing Constitution and, accordingly, we have no objection to it, except that it is keeping bad company.
Cuireadh an cheist agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis.
Question put and agreed to.
 CUID V.
Cuireadh an cheist: “Go bhfanfaidh Alt 3 in a chuid den Sceideal” agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis.
Question: “That section 3 stand part of the Schedule” put and declared carried.
Cuireadh an cheist: “Go bhanfaidh Alt 4 in a chuid den Sceideal” agus faisneiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis.
Question: “That section 4 stand part of the Schedule”, put and declared carried.
Cuireadh an cheist: “Go bhfanfaidh Alt 5 in a chuid den Sceideal” agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis.
Question: “That section 5 stand part of the Schedule”, put and declared carried.
Mr. O'Quigley: Is there not an amendment to section 5?
An Cathaoirleach: No; to section 6.
Mr. O'Quigley: I wonder if one might have an indication at this stage as to what, in fact, we are now being asked to agree to. Is it the whole of Part V or is it the different sections of Part V?
An Cathaoirleach: The different sections, section by section in Parts V and VI.
Mr. O'Quigley: It is time that was made clear.
An Cathaoirleach: Amendment No. 2.
Mr. O'Quigley: Are we going through the different sections in Part V?
An Cathaoirleach: We have come to section 6 in Parts V and VI and we have come now to amendment No. 2.
Mr. O'Quigley: Have we not got to amend Part V as well as Part VI? looks at Part V, page 8, section 6, subsection 2º, line 26.
An Cathaoirleach: If the Senator
Mr. O'Quigley: Have we taken the different sections of Part V and Part VI? They have been called out without my hearing them and certainly without the House agreeing to them. However, if it is now in order to move amendment No. 2, I shall do so.
Tairgim leasú 2:
I gCuid V, leathanach 9, alt 6.2º, líne 26, “le tromlach dhá dtrian” a chur isteach i ndiaidh “rith”; agus i gCuid VI, leathanach 11, alt 6.2º, líne 41, “by two-thirds majority” a chur isteach i ndiaidh “passed”.
I move amendment No. 2:
In Part V, page 8, section 6.2º, line 26, after “rith” to insert “le tromlach dhá dtrian”; and in Part VI, page 10, section 6.2º, line 41, after “passed” to insert “by a two-thirds majority”.
This is an amendment to section 6.2º in Part V and to section 6.2º in Part VI of the English version. What we are proposing here is to provide that, where the Commission has made its report, whether that is the report of the entire Commission or the report of the chairman in default of agreement at the end of a period of three months, when the report is laid before Dáil Éireann it can only be amended by, not the simple majority that is contained in the Bill, but as is proposed in the amendment, by a two-thirds majority. In other words, what we believe is that if this Commission which is so much lauded by the Minister and which has much to commend it, makes its report and if it is not acceptable, it should not be subject to amendment by a simple majority of the Dáil; it should be subject to amendment by a two-thirds majority of the Dáil. I think in that we are following precedent because this is a rather special effort by a Constitutional Commission which is made up of six members of the Dáil who will have been chosen as to three by the Taoiseach and as to the other three, in such manner as may be determined by law, from the Opposition and it may well be that in default of agreement between the members of the Commission the  Chairman, who will be a judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court will have to make up his own report.
For the purpose of annulling this report, we believe that it be not a simple majority, which is too easy and which means in effect that it would be very easy to amend the report of the Commission and, in effect, would mean that the ruling Party in the Dáil will be able to gerrymander, notwithstanding the fact that all the paraphernalia of a Commission has been provided by the people and has made its report. As the Bill is now framed and as it is proposed to amend the Constitution, it means that the work of this Commission, which is supposed to be independent, can be set at nought and the constituencies effectively and finally determined by a simple majority of Dáil Éireann. In effect, what that means is that if the Government of the day having a majority in Dáil Éireann do not like the way in which the Commission has drafted the constituency boundaries, the Commission's work is set at nought and a simple resolution of the Dáil amending the report can then determine the constituencies in a way in which they cannot be determined at the present time because even at the present time it requires a full Bill going through Second Stage, Committee Stage and Report Stage in Dáil Éireann and, let it be said, subject to review in Seanad Éireann, to determine the constituencies. So that the last position, which has been so well diagnosed by Senators on this side of the House, will be worse than the first, and, in fact, the constituencies for the future can be determined by a simple amendment to a report passed by a simple majority of Dáil Éireann.
It might seem to some people unreasonable to suggest that it should require a two-thirds majority of Dáil Éireann to annul the report of the Commission. In this context, it is of interest and I think of value of recall that in the proposal to amend the Constitution in 1959 it was provided that a similar resolution amending the report would require to be passed by not less  than two-thirds of the members present and voting. If that was right and proper in 1959, there is nothing which has happened since then to say that it is wrong today.
Mr. Dolan: Did you agree with it then?
Mr. K. Boland: That is an awkward question. His words are there, printed.
Mr. O'Quigley: Did we agree with it then?
Mr. Dolan: The two-thirds majority?
Mr. O'Quigley: What we agreed with in the context in which this Bill was being presented to the people—we did not like this Commission at that time——
Seán Ó Donnabháin: You like it now?
Mr. O'Quigley: Wait now—what we believed was that it was better for Dáil Éireann to go through the process of a Second Stage, a minute examination on Committee Stage but we have no guarantee, knowing the way in which this particular Government operate, that any particular length of time will be allocated to the debating of this resolution. The Government may decide that they will allocate 12 hours, eight hours or one day or whatever they like. We believe that if the resolution is to be amended, it should require a two-thirds majority because, as it is now framed, what this Bill means is that a simple resolution of the Dáil can determine the constituencies for the next 12 years. To vest that power in Dáil Éireann, with no right of review by the Seanad, is, to my mind, handing over too much power to the Dáil in a matter so important as the framing of constituencies for Dáil elections. Accordingly, I commend the amendment to the House.
Mr. K. Boland: Senator O'Quigley mentioned the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958, which included a provision to the effect that the support of not less than two-thirds of the Members present and voting would be necessary to amend a resolution  of the Constituency Commission. What he did not tell us was that this provision, just the same as the provision for a Constituency Commission itself, was strongly criticised by Opposition speakers in both Houses on the grounds that it gave virtually absolute power to the Commission and effectively left the Dáil with no say in the matter. We are being criticised because, as is being alleged, we made no effort to obtain agreement. I have been pointing out all the time in these debates that it is not possible to interpret the minds of the Opposition Parties and bring in any proposal to coincide with their viewpoint as interpreted by their previously known attitude. Of course, their previous attitude is not relevant. All that is relevant is that everything brought in by Fianna Fáil must be opposed. The only measuring stick they apply to anything brought in is that, if it is proposed by Fianna Fáil, it must be opposed by them.
In 1958, when the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill was being debated, they did not want the Commission at all. They objected to it and put down an amendment to remove it from the Bill. But, if there was to be a Commission, then they wanted the Commission's decision to be amended by a simple majority of the Dáil. Unlike some other things, we did not try to meet their viewpoint completely, as far as it was known. We decided a Commission was desirable in these circumstances when there was going to be a complete recasting of constituencies, when there was going to be a system of 144 single-seat constituencies instead of the present 38 multi-member constituencies. We decided it was only reasonable and fair that there should be an impartial Commission set up to delineate these constituencies. We decided, whether the Opposition liked it or not, we would propose the establishment of a Commission and that this should be inserted into the Constitution.
On the other hand, we decided we would go part of the way with the Opposition and that this time we would concede their demand that the Constituency Commission's decision could be amended by a simple majority of  the Dáil. Of course, we pleased them with neither thing. This time, however, contrary to all expectations, instead of wanting no Commission, when they succeeded in getting the fairly simple proposal split into two separate proposals, they wanted two separate Commissions and separate provision made in the Constitution——
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Minister is now going somewhat wide of the amendment, which is concerned about what happens to the Commission's Report when it goes back to the Dáil.
Mr. K. Boland: I have made my point. We did not succeed in interpreting their minds correctly and, lo and behold, we were not correct in the other change either. They have to oppose this because it is introduced by Fianna Fáil. Although last time they wanted the Commission's decision to be amended by a simple majority at a time when we proposed it should be amended by a two-thirds majority, this time when we concede their point to them and suggest a simple majority, they want a two-thirds majority. Senator O'Quigley was one of those who in 1959 argued in the following terms. I think he has the Seanad Debates there and he will find this in volume 50 at columns 406, 407 and 410. He said that the people:
... will be deprived fairly effectively of any opportunity to express their view in Dáil Éireann because the report of the Commission can be set aside or modified only by a two-thirds majority of the Dáil.
He went on to say:
The Commission I want set up is a Commission that will inform and recommend, not a tribunal that will decide.
In other words, he wanted the decision to be made, in effect, by the Dáil. In the Dáil also Deputy T. F. O'Higgins, who was one of the Deputies who sponsored the amendment proposing the removal of the Constituency Commission altogether, also advocated that the Commission's decision could be set aside by a simple majority of the Dáil. As I pointed out before, it is completely  futile for the Government or anybody else to try to interpret the minds of the Opposition Parties on any subject under the sun. We took their views into account and complied with them in so far as we felt it was reasonable to do so. Now we find that they have decided to change their opinion. They are not satisfied yet.
Mr. Rooney: We are always a step ahead.
Mr. K. Boland: The funny thing is that these Parties who change their minds overnight, in accordance with whether a proposal is favoured by Fianna Fáil or not, still argue that it is unreasonable to expect that the electorate could possibly have changed their minds in the short space of nine years, although they have had much more experience of the evils and dangers of the present system and have seen how similar systems have resulted in the inability of countries in Europe to form a Government at all. It is unreasonable apparently to think that the ordinary people who do not take an active part in politics could have changed their minds in view of these things, but Fine Gael can change their minds overnight in accordance with whether a proposal is favoured by Fianna Fáil or not and without any reference to the merits of the proposal.
There is no point in trying to reach agreement with the Fine Gael Party. It is quite obvious the whole objective is to try and get a minor amendment— I agree this would be only a minor amendment—accepted in the Seanad for the sole purpose of trying to postpone this for another while in the hope it will come so near to the last date for a general election that it will not be practicable to have the Referendum before the general election at all and so give Labour and Fine Gael one last opportunity of forming a Coalition behind the backs of the people.
Mr. O'Quigley: We all realise by now that the Minister has the great advantage of having a Civil Service behind him——
Mr. K. Boland: He has a memory.
Mr. O'Quigley: ——which he as Minister directs to go around and look up every quotation ever made by everybody about anything. I suppose he finds that entertaining.
Mr. K. Boland: No, it is Senator Yeats who does that, not the Civil Service.
Mr. O'Quigley: He is living in the Celtic Twilight. The Minister conveniently forgets——
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Chair is intrigued by the fact that voices have been coming from all quarters of the House in the last few moments. Could we have Senator O'Quigley on the amendment?
Mr. O'Quigley: Hearing strange voices in the same way as the Minister has been seeing and hearing strange things, things that Senator FitzGerald never said. The truth is that in 1959 we did not want the proposal to abolish PR or the Commission and this House did not have either of them because they threw out both.
Mr. Rooney: We had a majority.
Mr. O'Quigley: But now our duty, as we see it at present and in the light of the very valuable report—in spots— of the all-Party Committee on the Constitution which reviewed the whole of the Constitution, is to establish that it is desirable to establish a Commission and, if it is to be the type of Commission we believe it should be, the precedent for that Commission should be set out in this Bill in a proper way. We know this Bill will be defeated but that is not a reason for not trying to amend it. If Fianna Fáil were right in 1959 I do not understand why the Minister is complaining if we think as we do now on this particular aspect of the matter.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is the amendment pressed?
Mr. O'Quigley: Yes.
Cuireadh an Cheist: “Go gcuirfear isteach na focail a tairgeadh” agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú leis.
 Question: “That the proposed words be there inserted”, put and declared lost.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The question now is: “That section 6 in Parts V and VI stand part of the Schedule.”
Mr. O'Quigley: On this I must take issue on what has gone on before. I do not know what the Chair was putting to the House, whether the Chair put subsections 1º, 2º, 3º, 4º and 5º of Part VI beginning on page 8 of the Bill.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: At the commencement of the Committee Stage the Chair read out the course which it was proposed would be followed. An interval was allowed for consideration of this and then the House agreed to a certain course of action. It is acknowledged that the procedure was an unusual one and the Chair has throughout the debate tried to facilitate Senators in every way possible. The order of the House in regard to the manner of discussion still stands.
Mr. O'Quigley: I do not know what that is intended to mean but I want to say this. When the vote finished here this evening there was unruliness and disorder on the opposite side of the House to the extent that the Chair had to sound the gong and call for order.
Seán Ó Donnabháin: Not on this side.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is the Senator raising a point of order?
Mr. O'Quigley: I am raising a point of order to know where we stand.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: On section 6 of Parts V and VI.
Mr. O'Quigley: I want to take issue on that and to say that we were afforded no opportunity of dealing with sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Part VI contained in the Bill. There was a number of points I wished to raise in regard to the Commission.
Mr. K. Boland: Does the Senator want to go backwards?
Mr. O'Quigley: The Minister should try to conduct himself now and again.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator is complaining about sections 1 and 2 of Part V which do not appear to exist.
Mr. O'Quigley: I am talking about sections 1 and 2 of Part VI and there are sections 1 and 2 of Part V. They do exist. That is the Irish version. I admit it is very difficult to follow this Bill but despite that we must do the best we can.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The position is that Parts V and VI start with section 3.
Mr. K. Boland: And the Senator wants to deal with sections 1 and 2.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: There are no sections 1 and 2 in Parts V and VI.
Mr. O'Quigley: I do not understand this business at all because, as I understand the Constitution, it consists of articles and sub-articles and when you begin to talk to me of sections you are introducing terminology that is foreign to the matter. The Constitution is made up of a number of articles and sub-articles and therefore it is irrelevant and wrong to refer to them as sections or sub-sections. That is where I misunderstood the situation, that is if these sections were ever put.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: So far as the Chair is concerned sections 3, 4 and 5 have been put to the House and agreed to.
Mr. O'Quigley: In my respectful submission they have not been put to the House. I did not assent to them or dissent to their passing and they certainly were not put ordinarily.
Mr. K. Boland: The Senator said they were an improvement.
Mr. O'Quigley: No, I said Part IV is an improvement, which it is. I said that, as compared with the corresponding section in the Constitution, it was an improvement. But I also said it was in bad company.
Mr. Murphy: Could the Chair help the House by re-reading what we agreed to? My recollection is that we agreed to take Parts V and VI together. Part V commences towards the bottom of page 6 and Part VI commences towards the bottom of page 8. That is what we are now dealing with. We take them as a whole and not in paragraphs.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: In fact what was read out at the commencement of the Committee Stage said in regard to the other Parts, for example in regard to Parts III and IV, that they would be discussed together but in the case of Parts V and VI each section would be taken separately.
Mr. Murphy: The sections were not put to the House.
Mr. K. Boland: Yes, they were; 3 and 4 were put.
Mr. Rooney: They were not.
Mr. K. Boland: That is a reflection on the Chair.
Mr. O'Quigley: Is it not the normal procedure when dealing with an amendment, whether it is a subsection of a Bill or not, that you take the amendment first and that if we are dealing with Parts V and VI, we take amendments to Parts V and VI? I was at pains, when the debate started on this section, to point out that there was an amendment to Parts V and VI and the record, I trust, will show that.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The amendment was to section 6 of Parts V and VI and, accordingly, the Chair disposed of sections 3, 4 and 5 before calling the amendment on section 6.
Mr. O'Quigley: That is the standing procedure. That was not done. I called the attention of the Chair to the fact that there was an amendment to Parts V and VI.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: If the House feels there was a misunderstanding here which is obstructing the debate and if the House decides that a discussion might now take place on the  sections 3, 4 and 5, the Chair will not stand in the way of the decision of the House.
Mr. E. Ryan: I do not think it was envisaged that there should be a separate vote on each section but, as I understand it, that each section could be debated separately and that if, as has happened, nobody raised anything on sections 3, 4 or 5 and as the mover of the amendment to section 6 stood up to move that, I think it was taken, whether formally put to the House or not, that nobody wished to say anything on 3, 4 or 5. The misunderstanding has arisen, I think, in that Senator O'Quigley understood that the amendment would be taken and following the amendment, that there would be discussion on Parts V and VI as they stand. When moving the amendment he did not appreciate that any sections of Parts V and VI were disposed of.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Chair is concerned to keep order in debate but also to facilitate Senators and if the House now wishes—otherwise, the only remedy open to Senator O'Quigley would be to put down amendments to those sections on Report Stage and discuss them then— there could be a debate now on Parts V and VI as a whole. This would be a variation of the earlier order that they be taken separately.
Mr. O'Quigley: I would have long since finished and the Minister would have disposed of the two or three small points I want to raise.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is the House agreeable that, having disposed of the sections, we now vary the procedure and debate Parts V and VI as a whole and at the conclusion of this debate, a single question will be put that Parts V and VI stand part of the Schedule?
Mr. K. Boland: No. That is not the way the rest of it was done.
Seán Ó Donnabháin: That would open the whole discussion on it again. We could be here for another fortnight.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: If we proceed the way we were proceeding, there would be a discussion on sections 6, 7 and 8.
Mr. K. Boland: The same could have been done on Parts I and II. I refrained from replying when Senator Quinlan wanted to withdraw his amendment—although it was not his amendment, as there were other Senators associated with it—in order to convenience Senator Quinlan. If we are going to go back in order to convenience Senator O'Quigley, we should also go back to Parts I and II to convenience me.
Mr. O'Quigley: Heaven forfend. I would agree to anything rather than subject myself and everybody else to that.
Mr. E. Ryan: We made this arrangement earlier and I think we should stick to it. If Senator O'Quigley really wants to raise something on one of the earlier sections, I certainly would not object to it if you, a Leas-Chathaoirleach, are willing to rule in his favour.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: In the interests of expedition, the Leas-Chathaoirleach will call on Senator O'Quigley and will probably not listen to him too carefully for the first three minutes. First of all, we shall dispose of sections 6, 7 and 8.
Cuireadh agus d'aontíodh Altanna 6, 7 agus 8 i gCodanna V agus VI.
Sections 6, 7 and 8 in Parts V and VI put and agreed to.
Tairgeadh an cheist: “Go bhfanfaidh Codanna V agus VI in a gcuid den Sceideal”.
Question proposed: “That Parts V and VI stand part of the Schedule.
Mr. O'Quigley: I do not want to detain the House except to make two or three small points which I think are of some importance. In the first part of Part VI, that is, the provision dealing with the Constituency Commission, we provide for the appointment of a chairman and the selection of six members, three to be appointed by the  Taoiseach and three to be determined by law from among the Opposition. What I am concerned about in this— and I think this is of crucial importance in the operation of this Commission—is that nowhere in this article or elsewhere in the whole of Part VI will one find any provision that the expenses of the Commission shall be determined by law. There is nowhere any provision to the effect that the Commission will have its own independent staff or that it will have any staff to enable it to do its work in drawing up the constituencies. I would be anxious to know what will be the position, whether it will be short staffed or not staffed at all; and, if it is not going to be staffed, whether it will have some say in the selection of the staff or will have to take the staff which is given to it. If the Commission is to operate independently, effectively and efficiently, it ought to be able to have the staff which will have the confidence of everybody concerned, not least of the Commission itself.
Secondly, in regard to the members of the Commission, I observe that any member of the constituency commission may resign his office by placing his resignation in the hands of the chairman of Dáil Éireann. But it is always proper form in legislation to provide that in such a situation the vacancy may be filled by co-option. I do not find any such provision in this Constituency Commission. If the interesting situation develops where a judge who was the chairman of the Commission said: “A plague upon both your houses; I cannot do anything with you”, and resigns his office, I do not see any provision here that a successor can be appointed forthwith, In that event will there be a lengthening of the time; will he have his three months and one month to resign, or what happens if he dies while he is Chairman of the Commission?
These are matters which should be provided for when we are amending the Constitution. If these are minutiäe which cannot be dealt with in a general document such as the Constitution, the Constitution should enable these matters, which are substantive matters, to be determined by law. Those are the  few matters I should like to have dealt with, and perhaps the Minister would give his views on them.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Minister, on Parts V and VI.
Mr. K. Boland: It is quite true we have not provided, and are not proposing to provide, in the Constitution the manner in which the expenses of the Constituency Commission will be dealt with. I think that most Members of the House will agree that we would have a very peculiar Constitution if we were to insert in it matters of detail about the staffing of various bodies. Of course, all matters concerning the Commission can be dealt with by law and the law cannot be enacted except by going through the two Houses of the Oireachtas. There will have to be a Bill brought into the Dáil and brought from the Dáil to the Seanad in regard to the Constituency Commission. Similarly, with regard to the resignation of members, it would seem to be ridiculous to insert details like that in the Constitution. The law will provide that where a member resigns he will be replaced by somebody who will be selected in the same way. If it is the chairman, he will be selected in the way in which it is provided that the chairman will be appointed, if it is one of the Government members, he will be replaced on the nomination of the Taoiseach; and if it is one of the Opposition members, he will be replaced in the way in which it is provided Opposition members will be appointed. I think any normal person will accept that and will say it would be ridiculous to insert all these things in the Constitution.
We were warned on the last occasion by no less a person than Deputy John A. Costello of the undesirability of cluttering up the Constitution with too much detail. In attempting to interpret the mind of the Fine Gael Party in regard to the desirability or undesirability of cluttering up the Constitution with too much detail, I do not think it would be unreasonable if we accepted what Deputy J. A. Costello said as being their view in regard to this  matter. It is ridiculous to suggest that all these details should actually be inserted in the Constitution. A law will have to be passed with regard to the setting up of the commission on the constituencies.
Mr. O'Quigley: I suppose the Minister will in time learn something about the Fine Gael mind.
Mr. K. Boland: I doubt it.
Mr. O'Quigley: He seems to find great difficulty in interpreting it.
Mr. K. Boland: I do not intend to try.
Mr. Rooney: Ah, do try.
Mr. K. Boland: There is not any such thing.
Mr. O'Quigley: If there is not any such thing, why refer to it?
Mr. K. Boland: I was assuming there was. Obviously there is not any such animal.
Mr. O'Quigley: The Minister of course does not know——
Mr. K. Boland: See section 7.
Mr. O'Quigley: ——the provisions of the Constitution as well, perhaps, as some people who were not around when it was drafted. He will find in the present Constitution that the President “shall receive such emoluments and allowances as may be determined by law”. That is Article 12, sub-article 11.
Mr. K. Boland: There is nothing about clerical officers.
Mr. O'Quigley: So it is proposed to appoint clerical officers only to the staff of the commission.
Mr. K. Boland: Nor departmental secretaries.
Mr. O'Quigley: It is provided in the Constitution in relation to the very transient commission known as the Presidential Commission that it can aot in the absence of the President. That is Article 14 of this ridiculous Constitution  to which the Minister refers. There is provision for what is to happen in the event of the chief justice being unable to act, and in the event of the Deputy Chairman of Dáil Éireann and the Chairman of Seanad Éireann being unable to act. It may be ridiculous to have put these things in the Constitution but they are there, and it seems to me that if you want the commission to be independent we should put in a general provision that matters relating to staff and the filling of vacancies, and so on, should be determined by law, so that if something arises there is provision to fill the gap created by such things as deaths. I am glad the Minister can be lighthearted about some things but I believe this is a legal requirement and it is necessary in the section.
Mr. K. Boland: I suppose it is only natural that lawyers who have discovered the potential of the Constitution with only 50 Articles as a source of income would like to see the scope in this direction still further increased. May I direct the attention of Senator O'Quigley to the fact that section 3, subsection 2º of Part VI provides that a Constituency Commission shall consist of seven members appointed by Dáil Éireann and its form and manner are described there. The next section we shall be discussing, section 7, provides that any matter whatsoever relating to Constituency Commissions or constituencies may be provided for by law.
Mr. O'Quigley: It does not provide for the filling of vacancies.
Mr. K. Boland: We did not include the law about the Constituency Commission  in the Bill but the Bill provides that such a law shall be enacted.
Mr. O'Quigley: Where?
Seán Ó Donnabháin: Section 7.
Mr. K. Boland: “Subject to the provisions of this Article, any matter whatsoever relating to Constituency Commissions or constituencies may be provided for by law.”
Mr. O'Quigley: That is what I asked the Minister to point out earlier. He did not know.
Mr. K. Boland: I did. The Senator wanted to go backwards instead of forwards.
Mr. O'Quigley: The Minister does not know what is in his own Bill.
Mr. Rooney: Senator Ó Donnabháin found it.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Are there any points which Senators wish to raise on Parts V or VI?
Cuireadh agus d'aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: It is now necessary to put the question formally:
“That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill.”
Cuireadh an cheist: “Gurb é an Sceideal is Sceideal don Bhille.”
Question put: “That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill.”
Do rinne an Coiste vótáil.
The Committee divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 11.
Brennan, John J.
Cole, John C.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Egan, Kieran P.
Flanagan, Thomas P.
Honan, Dermot P.
Martin, James J.
Nash, John Joseph.
Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
O'Reilly Patrick (Longford).
Ryan, Patrick W.
Teehan, Patrick J.
Conlan, John F.
Davidson, Mary F.
FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
Ó Conalláin, Dónall.
O'Quigley, John B.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators McDonald and Rooney.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas taréis glacadh leis an cheist.
Question declared carried.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: In accordance with the procedure previously agreed to, it is now necessary formally to pass sections 1 and 2.
Cuireadh an cheist: “Go bhfanfaidh alt 1 in a chuid den Bhille” agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas taréis glacadh leis an cheist.
Question “That section 1 stand part of the Bill” put and declared carried.
Cuireadh an cheist: “Go bhfanfaidh alt 2 in a chuid den Bhille” agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas taréis glacadh leis an cheist.
Question “That section 2 stand part of the Bill” put and declared carried.
Cuireadh agus d'aontaíodh an Réamhrá agus an Teideal.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Tuarascíodh an Bille gan leasú.
Bill reported without amendment.
D'órdaíodh Céim na Tuarascála don Mháirt, 30 Iúl, 1968.
Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 30th July, 1968.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.40 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 30th July, 1968.
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