Seanad Éireann - Volume 1 - 12 December, 1922

VOTE OF THANKS TO GOVERNOR-GENERAL.

Mr. THOS. WESTROPP BENNETT: Ba mhaith liom cead do Cheith agam chun an rún do mholadh. I should like very much to be given permission to propose a resolution. Some little time ago we listened, in the Oireachtas Assembly, to the Speech of the Governor-General. I am sure it filled us all with pride and thankfulness to see him there in the first instance, and secondly the programme of legislation which he outlined seemed to be an admirable one for the advancement of the condition of the country. I was in a more particular manner struck by his allusion to the question of Land Purchase, because I feel that the conclusion of Land Purchase is one of the many pressing and essential problems for the maintenance and furtherance of peace. I move, formally, that the Seanad return thanks to the Governor-General for his speech and approves of the legislative programme of the Government as outlined therein.

Mr. J.C. DOWDALL: I second that.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: You have heard it proposed and seconded “That this Seanad returns thanks to the Governor-General for his Speech, and approves of the legislative programme of the Government [21] as outlined therein.” If any member wishes to say anything on the subject before I put it he is free to speak. If not, I shall put the resolution as I have read it.

Mr. J. DOUGLAS: Might I suggest that the Adjournment should be moved so as to enable members of the Seanad to consider the programme which has been put before us in the Speech of the Governor-General, and, if necessary, to continue the debate, possibly giving portion of the time of each day if that were necessary, and to see whether there might be amendments to this that the Seanad would like to consider? I think it would be rather the desire that we should not hastily pass a resolution of that character.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Well, Mr. Douglas, I suppose you have no objection to the first part of the resolution— that the Seanad returns thanks to the Governor-General for his Speech.

Mr. J. DOUGLAS: Certainly not.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: There should be no delay about that I think, With regard to the second part, your suggestion is that this Seanad should have time to debate the various legislative forms sketched out in that Speech?

Mr. J. DOUGLAS: My suggestion was that the Seanad might have an opportunity of considering it further, as it has only just heard it read, in order to see whether it is the desire to debate any of the points.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Would it meet your purpose, and that of your colleague who has seconded the motion, that it should read:—“That the Seanad returns thanks to the Governor-General for his Speech”?

Mr. BENNETT: If it is the wish of the Seanad, I am perfectly content. Otherwise I should ask you to put the full resolution.

Sir HUTCHESON POE: In view of the fact that we are approaching Christmas and that probably most of us will be anxious to get home I think it would probably be impossible to discuss and debate the various proposals outlined in the Governor-General's Speech with any advantage just at present, and [22] under these circumstances I would ask Mr. Douglas to allow the resolution, as originally drafted, to stand. I think it would be better at this particular time of the year, because we could not give it the attention otherwise which, under the circumstances it would be very desirable to give it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: May I make a suggestion which I think would meet the position of all parties; that instead of saying, “The Seanad returns thanks, etc., and approves of the legislative programme,” the resolution read in this way “That the Seanad returns thanks to the Governor-General for his Speech and for the legislative programme of the Government as outlined therein.” That does not necessarily bind you to approve of it, I take it.

Mr. BENNETT: I quite agree.

Mr. DOUGLAS: My only object was that I do not disapprove of it personally but I felt, as we might be setting a precedent, that it should be possible, in this House as in the Dáil, when an Address comes from the Governor-General forecasting the policy of the Government to debate it. That was my only reason for raising it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: I do not think you need be afraid of anything we do to-day creating a precedent, because we are acting under very great difficulties; as you know it is rather an experiment and I should think that it is possible it will have the effect of teaching us some things to avoid rather than things to copy. However, so far as being a precedent you need not be in the least alarmed.

Colonel MOORE: After all, it is only the 12th of December, and I think we need not be in such a hurry to get back for Christmas. We could put in a few days' work.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: If you leave out the word “approves” and take the resolution as I have suggested, that will not prevent you, on an adjournment of the Seanad, from discussing the legislative programme; but if you only pass a resolution distinctly approving of the programme it would be rather out of place for you afterwards to disapprove of it or perhaps even to discuss it, and [23] probably if you pass the resolution now in the form I have mentioned you will leave yourselves free to discuss the legislative programme later on.

Mr. T. McPARTLIN: There are a number of us here against it because we do not know what the proposals are. We did not hear them, and we do not know anything about them. We are not prepared to pass a vote of thanks for something we know nothing about.

A SENATOR: You had an opportunity of knowing about it.

Mr. T. McPARTLIN: No matter; that is the position we are in, and we are voting against it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: May I suggest to the member that while I sympathise with him in the position in which he is placed by not having been present, at the same time I think it would be an ungracious thing on our part if we did not pass a resolution somewhat in the form that this conveys. It does not bind you to ratifying or adopting or approving of the programme, but merely means an expression of your thanks to the Governor-General for his Speech, and for the statement he made, and I think it would be probably more consistent with our own dignity and his position if that were allowed to pass without any division of opinion.

Mr. T. McPARTLIN: There is no doubt, I suppose, about the vote being passed whether we like it or not, but we must vote against it, because, as a Party, we object altogether to the position of Governor-General. We did not intend to hear his address and we do not intend for the future to hear his address, and therefore we will vote against it.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Does Mr. Bennett then desire his motion to go forward?

Mr. BENNETT: Yes, Sir; with the slight change you have suggested.

Question put:—“That the Seanad returns thanks to the Governor-General for his speech and for the legislative programme of the Government as outlined therein.”

Agreed.

[24] AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Does any other member wish to move a resolution?