Committee Reports::Report and Proceedings - Constitution (the constitution and powers of, and methods of election to, Seanad Éireann)::16 May, 1928::Report


The Joint Committee set up to consider and report on the changes, if any, necessary in the consitution and powers of, and methods of election to Seanad Eireann has come to the following conclusions:—

Constitution of Seanand Eireann.

1. The Joint Committee recommends that the number of members of Seanad Eireann be as at present; that the minimum age for eligibility for membership of Seanad Eireann be thirty years; that the term of office of a member of Seanad Eireann be nine years and that one-third of the members be elected every three years.

Methods of Election to Seanad Eireann.

2. The Joint Committee is of opinion that election to Seanad Eireann by direct vote of the people is undesirable and recommends that the members of Seanad Eireann be elected by the members of Dáil Eireann and of Seanad Eireann voting together on principles of Proportional Representation.

3. The Joint Committee decided to recommend that for the purpose of elections to Seanad Eireann a panel of candidates be formed by a Nominating College created for that purpose, subject to the right of Dáil Eireann and Seanad Eireann to add nominations to the panel not exceeding a fixed maximum—the Nominating College to be composed of representatives of associations, organisations, or bodies representing the following interests, viz., Agriculture, Labour, Education, Commerce and National Development. In view, however, of the difficulty in finding agreement in the Joint Committee as to a satisfactory method of constituting such a College the Joint Committee decided not to proceed to consider further the details of a scheme, but to recommend that the present provisions of the Constitution as to the formation of the panel be deleted and a provision be inserted therein that the panel shall be formed in a manner to be determined by ordinary legislation.

4. In the event of Seanad Eireann having the right to nominate candidates to the panel the Joint Committee recommends that outgoing Senators, as such, should not have the right to be included in any panel of candidates which may be formed for an election of members of Seanad Eireann.

5. The Joint Committee recommends that, if the Recommendation contained in Paragraph 2 of this Report be adopted, a casual vacancy in Seanad Eireann be filled by election by the original electing body, and that the person elected to fill such vacancy hold office until the next ordinary election to Seanad Eireann.

Powers of Seanad Eireann.

6. The Joint Committee recommends, subject to the Recommendation in the next following Paragraph herein being accepted, that Article 47 of the Constitution be amended so as to remove from Seanad Eireann the power to demand a Referendum save in the case of a Bill to amend the Constitution.

7. The Joint Committee recommends that Article 38 of the Constitution be amended to the effect that:—

(a) if a Bill (not being a Money Bill) initiated in and passed by Dáil Eireann is rejected by Seanad Eireann or is passed by Seanad Eireann with amendments to which Dáil Eireann does not agree, such Bill shall be suspended. If, after the prescribed period, the Bill, in the form in which it was last passed by Dáil Eireann and rejected by Seanad Eireann (subject to any changes certified by the Chairman of Dáil Eireann to be necessary by reason of lapse of time), is again sent by Dáil Eireann to Seanad Eireann and Seanad Eireann within two calendar months thereafter fails to pass the Bill either without amendment or with such amendments as Dáil Eireann shall agree to, such Bill shall, on resolution of Dáil Eireann, be deemed to be passed by both Houses;

(b) the prescribed period shall commence on the day on which the said Bill is first sent to Seanad Eireann and shall end at the expiration of eighteen calendar months from that day unless within the said period a dissolution of the Oireachtas takes place, in which latter event the period shall end on the day of the reassembly of the Oireachtas following such dissolution.

8. The Joint Committee recommends that Article 39 of the Constitution be amended to provide that a Bill initiated in and passed by Seanad Eireann which has been amended by Dáil Eireann shall, for the passage of the Bill into law, be in the same position as if the Bill had been initiated in Dáil Eireann and shall accordingly be subject to the provisions set out in the Recommendation in Paragraph 7 above. The Joint Committee further recommends the deletion of the words, “If rejected by Dáil Eireann it shall not be introduced again in the same session, but Dáil Eireann may reconsider it on its own motion.”

9. The Joint Committee recommends that Article 35 of the Constitution be amended to the effect that if within seven days after any Bill has been certified by the Chairman of Dáil Eireann to be a Money Bill or after a Bill so certified has been passed by Dáil Eireann, whichever shall last happen, two-fifths of the members of either House by notice in writing addressed to the Chairman of the House of which they are members so require, or a majority of the members of Seanad Eireann present and voting at a sitting of Seanad Eireann at which not less than thirty members are present so resolve, the question whether the Bill is or is not a Money Bill shall be referred to a Committee of Privileges consisting of three members elected by each House, with a Chairman who shall be the senior judge of the Supreme Court able and willing to act, and who, in the case of an equality of votes, but not otherwise, shall be entitled to vote. The decision of the Committee on the question shall be final and conclusive.

10. The Joint Committee recommends that the present disqualification of members of Seanad Eireann for membership of the Executive Council be removed.

The Joint Committee recognises that the foregoing Recommendations, if adopted, will necessitate provisions of a transitory character and consequential changes in the Constitution and in the law generally. The Joint Committee does not consider it necessary to make recommendations as to these matters.



16th May, 1928.