Seanad Éireann - Volume 92 - 31 May, 1979

An Bille um an Seachtú Leasú ar an mBunreacht (Forais Árdoideachais do Thoghadh Comhaltaí de Sheanad Eireann), 1979: An Dara Céim. Seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Election of Members of Seanad Éireann by Institutions of Higher Education) Bill, 1979: Second Stage.

Tairgeadh an cheist: “Go léifear an Bille an Dara hUair anois.”

Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Education (Mr. Wilson): This Bill is the first link in the chain of legislation for the reorganisation of university education. The object of the Bill is simple—to remove an obstacle which stands in the way of introduction of Bills dealing specifically with such reorganisation.

It is proposed to dissolve the National University of Ireland and to establish independent universities at Dublin, Cork [299] and Galway. Article 18.4 of the Constitution stipulates that three members each shall be elected to the Seanad by the National University of Ireland and by the University of Dublin. If one—or both—of these two named universities ceased to exist it could be argued that the arrangement for the election of members to the Seanad in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (i) and (ii) of section 4 of Article 18 would automatically lapse in so far as it related to the particular university in question.

In this connection, we must consider: (i) the alternative arrangement, if any, which should be made for the election of members in substitution for those members who would otherwise be elected by the institution which ceased to exist: an amendment of the Constitution would be necessary for the purpose of allowing such an alternative arrangement to be made; (ii) would it be permissible, in the absence of an appropriate amendment of Article 18.4 of the Constitution, to enact legislation which would have the effect of altering the provision in that section of Article 18 for the election of members to the Seanand? (iii) Could Article 18 of the Constitution be invoked to prohibit the dissolution by law of a university mentioned in Article 18.4?

It is in the context of these considerations that it was decided to introduce this Seventh Amendment to the Constitution Bill to enable legislation to be enacted in due course dealing with university reorganisation. As I explained in Dáil Eireann in the debate on the Second Stage of the Bill, the details of such reorganisation will be set out in the relevant legislation and discussion on it will take place in the debates dealing with the promotion of the legislation. The matter does not arise for detailed debate in connection with this Bill.

There were certain complications associated with the drafting of the present Bill. In addition to making provision for the possibility of the introduction at a future date of an alternative form of election of Members to the Seanad by new universities and other specified institutions of higher education it is necessary [300] to provide for considerations such as the following: (a) the preservation of the eligibility of existing Members of the Seanad elected on the university franchise during the period from the date of the acceptance of the referendum proposal and the end of the period for which the Members had been elected; (b) the occurrence of a vacancy in the relevant university panel necessitating a by-election before the total legislative process had been completed—I know that the university representatives are in full health and I will not refer to that; this process would deal with the revised arrangements for university representation in the Seanad following acceptance of the referendum proposal; (c) the synchronisation of legislation for university reorganisation with the arrangements to be made by law for alternative provision for representation in the Seanad of university and other higher education institutions.

The particular form of drafting to provide for the considerations which I have referred to was adverted to during the debate on the Committe Stage in the Dáil. I stated that it was also necessary to take account of the fact that there must be freedom of choice for the date for a general election. In theory and in practice the Government should be free to call a general election at any time and this possibility has to be provided for in the legislation. The Constitution and the laws of the land are important. Eventualities have to be covered regardless of how limited the possibility. The form of the drafting was considered carefully during a long period and I am satisfied the amendment as presented is as suitable as could be devised.

Further legislation to be introduced after acceptance of the referendum proposal to amend Article 18 of the Constitution will comprise Bills as follows: (i) Bills to dissolve the National University of Ireland and to establish new independent universities, to be introduced by the Minister for Education; (ii) a Bill to provide by law for the election of six Members to the Seanad by the institutions of higher education specified by law. This Bill will be introduced by the Minister for the Environment.

[301] It would not be appropriate for me to enter now into a detailed discussion of the provisions of these Bills to which I have referred, nor am I in a position to do so. The time for such discussion will be when the relevant Bills are being debated in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The present position is that the National University of Ireland (NUI) has three constituent colleges, University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC) and University College Galway (UCG). It is proposed that NUI will be and that its constituent colleges will become independent universities at Dublin, Cork and Galway. St. Patrick's College, Maynooth and the colleges of education, St. Patrick's, Drumcondra, Dublin, Our Lady of Mercy, Carysfort, Blackrock, County Dublin and Mary Immaculate, Limerick and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, are recognised colleges of the National University. The proposed legislation dealing with university reorganisation will also determine the future status of these colleges.

The legislation dealing with the election of Members to the Seanad by the institutions of higher education after the NUI has been dissolved, and new independent universities have been established, will set out how such elections will take place. It will be in the course of the debate on the relevant legislation that the appropriate arrangements to be made for these elections will be discussed. The aim of the present Bill is to allow the maximum flexibility to the Legislature in the provision which may be made by law for the election of Members of Seanad Éireann by the institutions of higher education concerned. A Member or Members may be elected by such institutions grouped together or by a single institution.

Mar fhocal scoir, mar sin, is mian liom a rá gurb é is cuspóir leis an mBille seo ná caoi a thabhairt chun dul i mbun reachtaíochta le haghaidh an córas ollscolaíochta a ath-eagrú. Tá glactha leis an mBille ag Dáil Éireann agus is é atá á iarraidh anois ná go n-aontódh an Seanad leis in am chun go bhféadfar an reifreann ina leith a thionól ar an lá céanna—5 Iúil seo chugainn—agus a [302] thionólfar an reifreann i dtaca leis an séú leasú den Bhunreacht.

Molaim an Bille agus iarraim go n-aontóidh na Seanadóirí leis.

Mrs. Robinson: This is a Bill to amend the Constitution, but it is also an enabling Bill which allows for the possibility in the future of redistributing by law the six university seats at present divided equally between the National University of Ireland and the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

I will begin by welcoming the decision to retain the six university seats in the composition of the Seanad. There was a possibility that the Government, faced with the proposal for very radical reorganisation of the university structure in Ireland, might decide to propose the abolition of the six university seats and the redistribution of those seats in some other way, either by enlarging the panel system or by creating a new constituency. This would have been a very unpopular decision.

In welcoming the retention of the six university seats it would be appropriate, when discussing this enabling Bill, to examine why university Senators have played such a significant role in this House down through the years. Undoubtedly, they have made a very worth-while, constructive and very memorable contribution which is out of proportion to the numbers in the House. If we recall some of the earlier university Senators—the trouble with recalling some of them is the problem of omission—but if we think of the contributions made by people like Dr. Owen Sheehy-Skeffington, Professor Stanford and Professor George O'Brien, we must see the different role that the Seanad can and should play and has been assisted in playing by the university Senators. One of the reasons why they have made a memorable contribution is because the constituency they represent is significantly different from either the Dáil constituency or the Seanad panel Members constituency. Because I know that my colleagues from the National University constituency will be contributing [303] in this debate I would like to speak about the Dublin University constituency which I have had the honour of representing now for almost ten years.

The first thing I would say is that on a simple democratic head count Trinity, with just over 8,000 electors, is overrepresented in comparison with the National University constituency with an electorate of over 40,000. There is no doubt at all about that. I would not argue for or support a proposal for the retention of three seats for Trinity in a future organisation of the universities. We do not have a precise proposal before us today, and I think that the major considerations must be left until there is a proposal in the light of the reorganisation of the universities. What I would like to do is to try to identify some of the traditional values inherent in the Dublin University constituency as I have known it and to see whether these are values which we ought to try to retain in whatever reorganisation or redistribution of the university seats may come in the future, or may be proposed in the future.

I would like to begin by noting the strong sense of loyalty to the college and interest in the college of the graduates of Trinity. This is a very remarkable feature of the electors in the Dublin University constituency. Some of them live in this part of the country, some of them in Northern Ireland and quite a considerable proportion of them outside Ireland, in Britain, in the United States, Canada, far away places like Australia, India, Africa and continental Europe. Yet they retain a very close interest in and loyalty to the university. This is reflected in the returns during the elections, and perhaps I should refer to the returns in August 1977 which was the last Seanad election: in the university constituencies the electorate for the University of Dublin was 8,007 and the total poll was 5,528. That, I believe, is a remarkably high turn-out for a constituency for which the campaign is by a postal vote and when one considers that a significant number of the graduates now live outside this island. This is something to be recognised and in itself [304] to be valued and, if possible, we must try to ensure that we retain this strong sense of interest and identity of graduates of Dublin University and also of the other university colleges.

The second feature of the Dublin University constituency that I would like to refer to is the way in which it has encouraged independence of thought and the willingness of its representatives to speak out on sensitive issues, to champion minority causes, to have the courage to look into dark corners and to have the courage to stand out against sometimes a rather panicky move, as when there is a pressure for the introduction of emergency legislation. At such times you find that university representatives take a longer view, stand out sometimes against a very strong tide and argue for values and are appreciated by their constituency for arguing these values. In other words, the only fault that a representative of the Dublin University can make, I believe, is to settle for conformism in politics and to try to present conformism to the status quo and to move with the majority on all issues. That, I think, is the one think which a very tolerant constituency would not be prepared to tolerate.

Once again, this is a very useful contribution in our political system. It is fair to say that the Irish political system, both in the Dáil and the Seanad, tends to be too narrow and conformist. There are various reasons why this is so. We look at our parliamentary tradition and we see an absence of a strong and effective backbencher tradition. We see relatively little private Members' initiative, but this has increased in recent years. We see on the whole, especially in sensitive areas or on minority issues, an unwillingness to speak out on the floor of the House even though a number of Senators or Deputies will assure you privately that they agree with you. I am thinking of such issues as divorce, for example, or indeed the contraceptive debate. It reveals the very strong conformism, the unwillingness to take a stand, the unwillingness to pay a price for a stand taken and the unwillingness to face reality. Another issue would be the very grave and serious problem of the sharply rising [305] numbers of Irishwomen going to England for abortion. This is not an issue which would be likely to be raised in the narrow confines of our political system.

The university Senators have a very useful and very constructive role to play in ensuring that we do not ignore such issues, that there is an independent voice speaking out on them. I am thinking of the way in which Dr. Owen Sheehy-Skeffington championed causes such as the need to stop corporal punishment in our schools. He took on a very heavyweight lobby in doing that. There are other examples that one could think of. The only example of a Private Members' Bill that was passed throughout the history of the Parliament was an initiative by Professor Stanford in the Bill for the prevention of cruelty to animals. This was subsequently taken up by the Government and passed through the Dáil as well. It was the only successful effort initiated by a university representative.

I believe the Seanad has benefited from the independent initiative, the independent voice and the independent sense of priorities of university Senators. We had a recent example of that in the way in which Senator Hussey proposed in this House the motion on the subject of rape. Once again, that is a subject that would be at least unlikely to be moved as a motion by a political party; perhaps it is more likely now, but certainly the initiative, when it came, came from a university Senator who got support from this side of the House and then the motion was debated. It was very useful and a very concrete example of the kind of role that can be played.

When we come to consider the way in which the university seats will be redistributed when there is university reorganisation, we should try to see whether it is possible to highlight and perpetuate these kinds of values and the difference in the traditions of the colleges. In a sense the best way to do it is to try to encourage the graduates of our third-level institutions to have this independence of mind themselves in their approach to their representatives to seek to have university representatives who [306] are not going to be the same in their approach as the other persons elected to the Dáil or Seanad who are going to have this capacity to speak out and take a stand on issues and to do so at least partly because they know that their constituency would support the stand even if they did not support the particular viewpoint. This I think is a distinction that is not made often enough in the Irish political system. It is a distinction which requires almost a pluralist approach to politics; the particular freedom of somebody representing a constituency who knows that a substantial number of constituents may disagree quite strongly with a view but will respect the fact that their representative has expressed that view and will support the right of the representative to speak out and represent that view. This is a value we should treasure within the system.

One of the unique features of the Dublin University constituency is the fact that a significant number of the electors live in Northern Ireland. They came to Trinity College for their education; they returned to live there; they are on the register of electors and they vote. They vote because they have a continued interest in the university itself, because they cherish and welcome this link with the political system down here and they very often follow quite closely the debates in the Seanad to see what kind of issues were put forward or what kind of stand was taken by their representatives. Also, the representatives of Dublin University are invited to meetings of the Trinity College associations and also to a significant number of other meetings in places like Belfast, Coleraine, Derry and Enniskillen. We have all been much more frequently than perhaps some other Members in this House to meetings in Northern Ireland, either directly organised by graduates of the university or because we had been already for a meeting of the TCD Association and got to know people who invited us in another context. I think that this kind of mobility, this relevance in visiting Northern Ireland, is something that we ought to cherish and indeed strengthen. In that connection I would like to refer to the proposal that Deputy Horgan made in the Dáil when this Bill [307] was being considered in the other House, that the Minister should think of the possibility of opening the election of the six university seats to university graduates of the Northern universities, of Queen's University in Belfast and of the university in Coleraine and perhaps other third-level institutions.

The Minister seemed to throw cold water on this proposal when it was mentioned by Deputy Horgan, but I understand he subsequently had a letter, a copy of which was sent to Deputy Horgan. It is a letter that is worth putting on the record of this House because it is the voice of a graduate of a Northern Ireland university seeking to be an elector in a future reorganisation of the six university seats. It is not a very long letter and it is as follows:

Dear Minister,

You are reported in the Dublin morning papers of 24 May as stating that you “did not think that graduates of Queen's University had ever expressed a wish to be included in the election for Seanad Eireann. I am a graduate of Queen's University and have been resident in Dublin for the past 11 years. I have on several occasions suggested to your colleagues in the Government and in your party that it would be appropriate to enfranchise graduates of Queen's University who are resident in the Republic. It surely is an ambiguity that whereas Article 2 of the Constitution in effect regards persons born in any part of Ireland to be citizens of this country, graduates of universities in Northern Ireland who are resident in the Republic are not permitted the same degree of political involvement as graduates of other Irish universities. You are reported as stating there is no clamour for this franchise. If, however, your party is the party of national justice why, I wonder, do you need to await that clamour? In addition, my own view is that such a step, which would in effect be seen as giving full citizenship rights to natives of Northern Ireland also graduates of Northern Ireland universities who happen to be resident in the Republic, [308] would be at the very least an initial step in helping to soften the suspicions of the northern majority towards your Government.

Yours sincerely

H.M. Robb.

That, I think, is a viewpoint that the Minister should consider when he comes to make proposals to us in the future about the electors for the six university seats, however they may be distributed.

Another important value of this Northern Ireland representation among the electorate of Dublin University is the number of schools and school children who come from the North to visit the Houses of the Oireachtas. I have on many occasions been approached by headmasters or teachers of children in Northern Ireland to know whether I could arrange a visit of 10, 20 or 30 boys or girls or mixed groups from Northern Ireland coming down here to visit the Houses of the Oireachtas to see how the Parliament here works. I remember on one occasion about three years ago bringing a group into the Dáil. We had visited the Seanad and discussed it informally. The Dáil was not sitting at the time. We visited the empty chamber and one little student from Northern Ireland asked me where the Prime Minister sat. I explained that the Prime Minister was called the Taoiseach and that he sat down there. He said, “Does he carry a gun?” I felt that there was a certain amount of general education to be done in talking about the approach to parliamentary democracy here in the South.

The question reflected the need for this kind of contact, the need for mobility and, indeed, the absence of a parliamentary forum at the moment in Northern Ireland. They do not have a local parliament to bring the school children to. The school children do not have this perception of a local democratic forum, and it is important that they be encouraged to come and visit the Oireachtas here in Dublin. Indeed, school children from here should be encouraged to visit the similar institutions in the North, educational institutions, important buildings, museums and so on in the North. One way of encouraging [309] this flow has been the Northern representation in the Dublin University constituency, the fact that there are a significant number from Northern Ireland who play an active role and who take their position as electors seriously and try to relate it to their lives in Northern Ireland and to the kind of links which can be formed with this part of the island.

A final characteristic which I would like to mention in relation to the Dublin University constituency is its tolerance and generosity as a constituency. It was generous to Noel Browne after his defeat in the Dáil in 1973, enabling him to play a vigorous role in this House from 1973 to 1977. It has been generous to Conor Cruise O'Brien and it has been particularly generous to me because, having been elected as an Independent representative and having found that my own political commitment had changed and evolved and deepened in the time in which I represented Dublin University, when I took the decision to join the Labour Party and to take the Labour Whip this clearly was a decision which did not please some of the Dublin University constituents. It did not meet with favour from those who feel that university Senators should be independent of any party whip, or take an independent stand. Yet in the 1977 Seanad elections I was returned by that constituency to continue in this House. Whatever may happen in the future I think the one legacy I will always carry from the Dublin University constituency is the need on issues of real importance in principle to retain the independence of approach and, if necessary, to pay the price of that. That is the most important legacy that one could get from a constituency which is tolerant and generous towards those who represent it but which does not like either conformism or hypocrisy or subscribing to a view for the sake of trying to please rather than trying to make a thoughtful contribution.

As far as the method which the Minister may decide upon is concerned, I think it would be better to wait for some detailed consideration of that. My view would be that the approach in this [310] Bill is right. It is right to seek the maximum flexibility because there is a great deal of evolution and change in the whole third-level area and in the university structure in Ireland.

I note that in his speech the Minister leaves very vague the future of certain colleges, and I wonder if he can be more specific about this in his reply. He refers to the fact that St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, and the colleges of education, St. Patrick's, Drumcondra, Our Lady of Mercy, Carysfort, and Lady Immaculate, Limerick, are recognised colleges of the National University. The proposed legislation dealing with university reorganisation will also determine the future status of these colleges. Perhaps the Minister could tell us when he feels he will be in a position to table the proposed Bill for university reorganisation and whether he can clarify very important matters like, for example, the status of Maynooth and the general organisation of the university structure. If the Bill is likely to be presented within the next calendar year, then it would be helpful if we could know a little more. I would appreciate if the Minister could deal with this point in his reply.

Mícheál Cranitch: Is mian liom fáiltiú roimh an mBille seo. Mar a deir an tAire Oideachais ina chuid cainte, is é is cuspóir leis an mBille ná caoi a thabhairt chun dul i mbun reachtaíochta le haghaidh an chóras ollscolaíochta a atheagrú. Dár ndóigh, más maith is mithid. Le tamall fada anois, is léir do gach éinne a dhéanann macnamh ar an scéal agus ar chúrsaí oideachais sa tír seo gur lán mhithid atheagrú a dhéanamh ar an gcóras ollscolaíochta, nó mar a tugtar air go minic anois, oideachas de chuid an triú leibhéil. Ní raibh mé ag súil leis an mBille go ceann tamaill ach, buíochas le Dia, níl san Bhille seo ach an tosnú, mar a déarfá. Leanfaidh Billí eile an Bille seo agus beidh seans níos fearr agam dul níos doimhne i scéal an oideachais agus, go háirithe, i gcás oideachais ollscolaíochta.

This Bill is the first link in the chain of legislation for the reorganisation of university education. The object of this Bill [311] is quite simple, “to remove an obstacle which stands in the way of introduction of Bills dealing specifically with such reorganisation”. Other Bills will follow and I look forward when the time comes to speaking at some length on the whole question of education.

The present position is that the National University of Ireland has its three constituent colleges, Dublin, Cork and Galway and it is proposed that the NUI be dissolved and these constituent colleges will become independent. There is another very important factor in the build-up also, that is, the recognition of what we used to call the training colleges, now called colleges of education and Maynooth also, as part of the university structure. The proposed legislation dealing with university reorganisation will also determine the future of all these colleges.

What is the purpose of a university education? What should be the purpose of education at university level? John Henry Newman comes to mind immediately. I am sure that if the good man were alive today he would certainly get a severe shock if he came face to face with the type of philosophy, or lack of philosophy, one can experience from some of the people who go through these educational institutions. Senator Robinson spoke at some length regarding Trinity, her own alma mater. She rightly said that many of the alumni of that college when they came to Seanad Éireann made very worth-while contributions. Nobody will deny that. Certainly university Senators from National and from Trinity made very worth-while contributions here and we all enjoyed them and learned much from them. On the other hand, far from having a monopoly of wisdom or even ordinary understanding, some of these contributions fringed almost on the point of being bizarre. Unfortunately they showed a complete lack of understanding of what life is all about and particularly what are our needs in Ireland, culturally, socially, economically and especially so in the context of our becoming more active as Europeans. Nobody should think that the fact of representing [312] one of the university colleges gives any Senator here a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom. Very often we get contributions here from what are commonly called the real backbenchers and there is more wisdom, understanding and more concern in what short contributions they have to offer than we get in a long speech which, unfortunately, is very often removed from reality.

I welcome the Bill. It is the start of a number of Bills coming along to bring up-to-date the whole university structure in this country. It is badly wanted. We are going through extraordinary times. We want the best thoughts, and the best thinkers. We want the very best for our young people, more and more of whom are anxious to get into third level institutions. They have got a good foundation in national and secondary schools. We want now to see that they get every opportunity to develop their talents so that they can make their contribution to the development of our nation as regards its culture, its economic development and its basic Christianity.

Dr. West: Any amendment to the Constitution needs to be taken seriously. This one particularly concerns us, the university representatives in the Seanad. I am sure that there will be individual contributions from all, or nearly all, of the university representatives giving their individual points of view and reflecting the loyalties of the graduates from the colleges which elect them. This individual loyalty is important. Far be it from me to belittle a contribution from a non-university Senator, but on the subject of loyalty Senator Cranitch did make a distinction. History records that in his own case his loyalty was unimpeachable; in fact, he nearly gave his head in a hurling match to win a Fitzgibbon Cup medal for University College, Cork. These individual loyalties which university institutions generate and which we are expected to reflect are important.

As the Minister knows, the university question in Irish history goes back many years and in a sense is a reflection of Irish history itself. University representation is originally a British idea. I am [313] not sure whether it has been part of parliamentary systems in parts of the world other than in the Parliaments in Britain and Ireland. In the Dáil it was referred to as an anachronism by Deputy John Kelly. An anachronism it may well be, and Deputy Kelly does a very valuable job when he points out, as he frequently does, that we should not slavishly follow the British model in our administrative or political life. However, one must not be too ruthlessly logical because anachronisms may, in fact, have some value.

There are many anachronisms in Irish life. Besides university representation in Parliament one could regard Nelson Pillar as an anachronism. I hope Deputy Kelly does not intend the same fate for the university representatives as happened to Nelson Pillar. We have to live with these parts of our history and we have to judge issues on their merits. If they are worth preserving we should preserve them and if it is not worth preserving we should change them irrespective of whether or not they date back to the British regime in this country.

Representation for universities in the British Parliament goes back to 1603 when Oxford and Cambridge first got seats in the House of Commons in Westminster. In 1613 Dublin University was granted two seats in the Irish Parliament in College Green by letters patent of James I and after the Act of Union during the passing of which one of the Trinity representatives voted for and the other voted against. This representation was reduced to a single seat in the Westminster Parliament and this continued until 1832 when the representation was restored to two seats. Dublin University had two seats in the Westminster Parliament until the foundation of the Free State.

The list of names of the Trinity representatives contains names of many distinguished men. The one that stands out politically is Edward Carson for the indelible mark he left on our history. He was a university representative from 1892 to 1918. The Re-distribution Act of 1918 gave one seat in Westminster to the National University of Ireland and to [314] Queen's University Belfast. The first two representatives elected were Eoin MacNeill for the National University and Sir William Whitlaw for Queen's University, Belfast. Eoin MacNeill did not take a seat after the 1918 election and he withdrew with Sinn Féin members and, in fact, sat in the first Dáil in Dublin.

After the passing of the 1918 Act the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge each had two seats in Westminster; Queen's University had one and the universities of London and Wales also had one seat each; the combined English universities apart from Oxford and Cambridge had three seats; the combined Scottish universities had three seats giving a total of 12 university seats in the Westminster Parliament. An interesting fact is that the multi-seat constituencies were worked on a proportional representation basis. Thus there was proportional representation in the Westminster Parliament at that time. After 1922 all but Queen's University continued to return a member to Westminster until the Westminster university representation disappeared in 1950. Queen's University returned four members out of a total of 52 seats to Stormont. It was a feature of the Queen's University representation that not all the Queen's University representatives were party members, in fact, a couple of distinguished Liberals or Independents represented Queen's University in Stormont.

The roll of the Second Dáil, held on 16 August 1921, lists three four-seat constituencies for the National University of Ireland, for Dublin University and for Queen's University, Belfast. Only the National University members are marked present at the first meeting of the Second Dáil, but the Trinity representatives shortly afterwards took their seats. During the Treaty debates, when the Constitution of the new State was being debated, Mr. Cosgrave referred to university representation. He made it clear that university representation in the Seanad of the Free State was part of the agreement with the southern Unionists that had been underwritten by the British Government. In the Dáil [315] Debates for 1922, in Volume 1, column 355, he referred to the Letters of Agreement with the southern Unionists and I quote:

The Senate to consist of 60 members, of whom two are to be selected by the National University of Ireland and two by the Dublin University. If the Six Counties remain in the Free State there would also be two members added from the University of Belfast.

Perhaps this gives some added weight to the suggestion, which Senator Robinson has made now and which Deputy Horgan made in the Dáil, that we should consider representation for the Northern universities when we are talking about a possible reorganisation of university seats.

The history of obtaining representation for the NUI is very interesting. It took a considerable time and I would like, briefly, to put it on the record. I quote from a speech by the former Deputy Paddy McGilligan, from the Dáil debate on the Constitution (Amendment No. 23) Bill, 14 June 1934, at column 426, Volume 53. Mr. McGilligan summarised the history of the efforts to obtain representation for the National University in the Westminster Parliament in 1918 and I quote:

The late Archbishop of Dublin, who was also Chancellor of the National University, raised the cry in the first instance. He raised it at the time that the Representation of the People Bill was before the British House of Commons. It was pointed out that representation was provided for Trinity College, Dublin. The Archbishop of Dublin summoned the people interested in the matter, and summoned everybody believed to be interested in the matter, by a letter which he wrote to the Press in the year 1917. In that letter, he gave many cogent arguments why representation should be given to the National University. He wound up his letter and his exhortation by saying that he did not want this letter to be taken as meaning other than what it [316] stated—that he wanted university representation for a particular university and did not want, on the contrary, that the representation which Trinity College had should be taken from it. He specifically said that he did not want to deprive that venerable institution of a privilege which it had enjoyed for over 300 years. His influence and authority gave great impetus to the movement that was, all the time, growing in favour of university representation.

Impelled by that letter, the graduates' association then in being, called a public meeting. That meeting was attended by men of eminence in practically every walk of life. Even the list given by the newspapers of those who attended showed that so far as professions were concerned all the distinguished people who had come out of the Old Royal University or out of any of the constituent colleges established from time to time under other university systems were present or represented. The present President of University College, Dublin proposed the main resolution which was carried unanimously. It was carried unanimously by a very important body. Lest it might be said that there was some sort of selfish interest involved, I must point out that the senior students then in University College, Dublin took the matter up. The agreement of the students elsewhere, and the Students' Representative Council in the Dublin College at that date, headed the delegation. All those agreed that such representation should be demanded that it was a thing worth having and a thing worth agitating for.

The then president of the Student's Representative Council and some others delegated for the duty, visited whoever were the leaders of Sinn Féin then free. Sinn Féin accepted this principle on university representation. In the meantime, the measure was being fought in the House of Commons and the Irish Parliamentary Party took up the matter. The Bill had gone a certain stage when owing to their exertions it was referred to the Speaker's Committee on which, I think, four Irish Members served. The result of their endeavours was that the [317] committee reported back in favour of the inclusion of representation for the universities on a wider scale than previously.

The quotation illustrates the fact that for a considerable period there was agitation to have representation for the National University in the Parliament of Westminster which was eventually obtained in 1918. When the Constitution was being debated in 1922 an amendment was proposed to the Draft Constitution by Professor McGinnis in the Dáil to the effect that university seats should be transferred from the Seanad to the Dáil. This was opposed by the leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party, Thomas Johnston, but it was accepted without a division and, in fact, the university seats were transferred from the Seanad to Dáil Éireann in 1922. Article 27 of the Constitution reads as follows:

Each university in the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann), which was in existence at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution shall be entitled to elect three representatives to Dáil Éireann upon a franchise and in a manner to be prescribed by law.

During the discussion of this amendment when the Constitution was being debated it was pointed out that this would result in people who were resident in a constituency and also university graduates getting a dual vote. In fact this was made illegal, dual voting was prohibited and the university seats appeared in the Dáil instead of in the Seanad. They were there until 1936. On reflection it would appear that it would have been more suitable to have those seats in the Seanad. In 1934, Mr. de Valera's Government introduced an amendment to the Constitution which was designed to abolish university representation—the Constitution (Amendment No. 23) Bill—and the debates on this Bill are particularly interesting. My quotation from Mr. McGilligan's speech was from that particular debate —the debate to delete university representation and the usual arguments were trotted out for and against. The crucial one which the Opposition made [318] was that on constitutional issues the three Dublin University Dáil Deputies generally voted against Mr. de Valera and of the three NUI representatives two were supporters of Fianna Fáil and one of the Opposition. By abolishing the university seats in the Dáil it turned a slender majority of one, which he had at the time in the Dáil, into a larger majority of three.

That Bill was rejected by the Seanad by 30 votes to 15 but after the statutory period it was then passed again by the Dáil and became law on 23 April, 1936. By that time Mr. de Valera had abolished the Seanad as well, so there was no question of transferring the Dáil representation to the Seanad.

I would like to refer to one other item that came up. A lady representative of the NUI, Mrs. Concannon, who was a supporter of Mr. de Valera, voted to abolish herself. In Volume 53, at column 1498 of the Official Report she said:

Deputy McGilligan has made a serious charge against me. He has accused me in the third person plural of having “almost abolished myself by my performance in this House”.

That was technically correct. At column 1499 she writes her political obituary as follows:

On the contrary——

Mr. Wilson: Like the phoenix, she rose again.

Dr. West:

——I hope that when the period of my political life shall have been ended by the maturing of this Bill, I shall pass from the light of the House to the outer darkness with this to my credit, that the recording angel, whether on the floor of the House or elsewhere, shall have no word to set down against me that might add to the bitterness that is all too permanent in Irish public life today.

Mr. Wilson: She came back.

Dr. West: She did, but at that time obviously a phoenix-like resurrection was not in her mind. She does also, during [319] the course of that debate, refer to herself as Mr. de Valera's absolute majority and, in fact, she was because there was a majority of one in the Dáil. At that time both the NUI and Dublin University constituencies were small, they both had an average of about 1,000 electors per seat whereas the average Dáil constituency had 11,000 electors per seat. They were defended vigorously by the Opposition and by the university representatives on the grounds that they added to the Irish political life in so many ways. My own feeling is that if they had been, as originally proposed, in the Seanad, then perhaps this abolition would not have occurred. but, of course, the Seanad as a whole was abolished.

Mr. de Valera responded quickly to some of the criticism which was made during the course of the debate on the amendment of the Constitution and 11 days after the Seanad had been abolished he appointed a commission to consider whether them should be a second Chamber and, if so, what sort of shape it should take. He confessed himself to be more or less neutral on the matter. The commission reported and when he devised his 1937 Constitution the university representation was back with six seats in the Seanad—the situation which pertains today.

During the course of the debate on the 1937 Constitution when Mr. de Valera was referring to university rspresentation he did refer back to the agreement that had been made with the southern Unionists, that there should be representation in the Seanad and in the Dáil Debates, Volume 67, column 58, he said that his attitude had been determined by the suggestion that “we had not completely implemented our word in some particular way”. This is a reference to the Letters of Agreement with the southern Unionists which stipulated university representation in the Irish Parliament.

To come to the current situation and the legislation which the Minister has presented us with I would like to make some of the points which have been ably made by Senator Robinson. The key to the university members' contribution is [320] their independence. The situation at present is that four of the six representatives are not members of political parties. The Minister referred to this in the Dáil debate. He said that there was nothing wrong or disloyal or demeaning in being a member of a political party. Certainly I do not want to give that impression. Far be it from me to do so. I have at various times been a member of three political parties one of which is the Democratic Party in the United States. I may not have been a legal member of the Democratic Party in the US but I worked hard for this party in an election in New Mexico and my illegality was never discovered.

I was also, incidentally, a member of the Los Angeles GAA at the same time. That has never been discovered or used to my discredit. Far be it from me to say that being a member of a political party is wrong. Political parties are a natural part of the democratic system as we know it. The value of university seats is that they provide an independent view and they offer an avenue for election to the Oireachtas for people who may not be members of parties but who have an interest in politics and have an independent view. As I understand it at the moment, four of us are not members of political parties. Two of our representatives are members of a political party and from what I can gather only one of those two takes a party whip.

Professor Murphy: And the other is an absentee.

Dr. West: I am not quite sure what Senator O'Brien's position is. The person taking the whip is Senator Robinson who is a very distinguished university representative. I do not agree with her position and I would be depressed and dismayed if the political parties took over university seats. I think that would be a bad move and in some sense Senator Robinson has weakened our position but she is a very distinguished university representative indeed and has her own style of independence even though she is a dedicated party member.

I believe that the case for the retention of the university seats stands and falls on [321] the fact that the six seats provide an avenue for independents to be elected to Parliament and that they have a special contribution to make—a contribution which is widely recognised. There are a few other independent Members of the Dáil or the Seanad. There are also party members in this House who are very independent in their views. They are loyal party members who can always give their own personal view. The Seanad is richer for that. There are also Independent Members of the Dáil. Everybody knows the difficulty of an non-party member getting elected to the Dáil or even to the Seanad except by means of the university seats. That is their real importance.

Senator Robinson has referred to our contribution here. The university representatives have contributed effectively to the delicate areas involving private morality where Church and State conflict. We have a bad record in this country for the passing of Private Members' legislation which is a pity because there is an opening in these areas for Private Members' legislation. We have a poor record and although we as university members have made a number of attempts to pass Private Members' Bills we have not succeeded in recent times but we have succeeded in changing the climate of public opinion. This will eventually help the legislation in this area to proceed. We have done an important job in raising these difficult and delicate issues and I hope that they have been raised in a sensitive way. That is one particular contribution which university members have made.

I would like to give two other examples. In my eight years as a Member of this House there have been 34 discussions on the Adjournment. These are often erroneously referred to as “Adjournment Debates”. They are not debates. They are Adjournment discussions. We do not have a Question Time here and minor matters can be raised on the Adjournment. Of the 34 discussions on the Adjournment, 30 of them have been initiated by the university members. That is something to be proud of and they cover a wide range of topics and I shall just mention a few. Wood Quay [322] was raised, to his eternal credit by Senator Martin, in 1974. That was before the real controversy had blown up. Dublin's taxi service or lack of it and the depletion of our salmon stocks, Loughan House, the dumping of chemicals in our off-shore waters, the state of map collections in the National Library, the need for oral examinations in modern languages at leaving certificate level, and the recent debate on the Glen of Imaal were other matters raised. These are all topics which have been covered and as I said of the 34, 30 of them were initiated by university members.

My final example of the specific usefulness of the university Members concerns the way in which they may interact with the political parties. A tribute is due to the Whips of the political parties because there has been a very good working relationship and the political parties have been able to work with the university representatives to the benefit of the whole Seanad in raising issues which could not have been raised because of their political content by the political parties without generating a good deal of steam. To give two examples, the Northern Ireland debate which we had this time last year was a first-class debate. Any citizen of Northern Ireland who read that debate could not but he reassured somewhat about the attitudes of the Republic. It was an excellent debate and it was a non-political debate because it was specifically raised by three university Members who were not members of parties and they phrased their motion in an non-political way. So everyone was able to contribute to an open-ended debate which could only do good. That is one example. The other, of course, was the Wood Quay debate which we had more recently. Again an excellent debate, which showed this House at its best. Again the motion was put forward in the name of the three university Senators who are Independents. As a result there was not the political flavour which the motion would have had if it had been raised by Opposition Members or by Government Members. Again it was an open-ended debate and I think it was a first-class debate on a very important issue.

[323] The Whips deserve credit, particularly in the case of those two motions. The parties allowed us to get in when, perhaps, it was the turn of a party. They realised the importance of these debates and there was co-operation in all directions. It has been a feature of this House that there has been co-operation, particularly at present. On the present legislation the Minister correctly underlines the fact that it is simply an enabling Bill, and as such it is difficult to argue against it.

I should like to point to one real danger if this referendum is successful—there are a number of other considerations which we need to keep in our minds also. I should like to dwell on the weakness of the situation if the referendum is successful, and it really is a matter of timing. The Minister in the Dáil and again in the Seanad, referred to the need for synchronisation of legislation for university reorganisation with the arrangements to be made by law for alternative provision for representation in the Seanad of university and other higher education institutions. I welcome the opportunity to give representation to graduates of other degree-awarding institutions beside universities. That is a positive and definite step forward, but there is a problem of timing. If we pass this amendment to the Constitution, even though we have the Minister's word for it that legislation to reorganise the Seanad seats will not be introduced before the substantive legislation to reorganise the NUI, there is nothing but the Minister's word to hold him to that. He could, tomorrow, decide to banjax us all and create one big enormous constituency and jam all the university fellows in there, saying: “that will quieten them; give them 70,000 constituents and see how many of them survive”.

Mr. Wilson: Now, I know what the Senator is thinking of.

Dr. West: I will be saying something in the Minister's favour in a moment. That is the worst possible situation, but it becomes a possibility as soon as this [324] legislation is passed. All we have to put against that is the Minister's word that he will not do this. I take him at his word, and I believe him. I am certain that he will not do this as Minister for Education. I accept that he will first bring in the reorganisation Bill for the NUI and will simultaneously introduce legislation to deal with the Seanad seats problem; but Mr. John Wilson, TD, may not always be Minister for Education. There are all sorts of possibilities ahead of him. He could end up as Taoiseach; he could be European Commissioner; his party may not be in power for the duration; he might be promoted to a Department other than the Department of Education; he could be moved sideways to a Department of equal ranking to that of Education or he could be made Minister of the Department where nothing ever happens, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. One never knows what is going to happen. We have his word, but his word is not binding on future Ministers for Education. This is a real danger. Somebody, once we have passed this, could immediately introduce legislation which would reorganise the Seanad seats. That would be an unwise thing to do and would meet with stout opposition from many quarters, not least because it prejudices the case.

The need for this legislation comes from the fact that the Government—as did the previous Government—intends to reorganise the national university. As the Minister knows, there are some stinging nettles to be grasped in order to bring that legislation into effect. I would welcome the reorganisation of the National University but I know it is an extremely complex and difficult problem. Provided there is not another onslaught on Trinity College, I would welcome the establishment of universities in Cork, Galway and Dublin, but I would depend on my colleagues in the NUI to make their choice in the matter. I doubt if Cork, Galway and Dublin are going to see eye to eye on the whole subject. It will be a case of hammering out some sort of agreement. My feeling is that the date of introduction of that legislation is a long way off.

Senator Robinson asked the Minister [325] to say something definite about this. Can he give any date? Has he any vague target in mind? The Minister did say during the course of the Dáil debate that he hoped to introduce this legislation in the lifetime of the current Parliament. I do not know how far the discussions in his Department have gone but to me, looking at it from the outside, there does not seem to be a great deal of progress or impetus in this direction. It is a difficult political issue. The history of the Irish university question is, in many ways, a microcosm of Irish history. Even this final step—it would be very much a final step—of setting up independent universities in Cork, Galway and Dublin will be a difficult and delicate operation. There is the question of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. I do not intend to use that as a red herring, but it is a very difficult question. That has to be dealt with, and I know that there are likely to be considerable disagreements and disputes about it. The other NUI colleges are going to have their own independent views on the way new universities should be established and it could be many years before this legislation emerges, even in draft form. When I looked for ways of amending this Bill I was anxious to get it down in some legislative form, rather than just have the Minister's word, that the legislation to change the Seanad seats around will not be introduced for the NUI legislation. In the first case, it would prejudice the legislation dealing with the Seanad seats. There are various possibilities clearly about Cork, Galway and Dublin, but the question of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, is very important. We must have this absolutely definitely on the table before we make any decision about how the university seats should be reorganised. That is important, and it is essential that somebody does not come around and deal with the university seats in the Seanad prematurely. We have an opportunity to discuss the various possibilities now but, clearly, the NUI Bill must come first before one can deal with the university seats. That is the substantive Bill. The Bill dealing with university seats will be a consequence of that decision to split-up the NUI.

[326] I welcome the Minister's intention, which is much to his credit, to retain six university seats. Of course, I would like to have seen an increase in the number of seats, which would have made the sums rather easier when it came to dealing with independent colleges or independent university institutions. It seems that five into six will not go. There is no way in which one can give equal representation to each of the new university institutions which would have been the ideal solution.

In that sense it is a pity the Minister did not try to round the numbers up rather than down and give us a couple of extra seats which would make the job easier when the legislation dealing with the Seanad seats comes before us. My feeling is strong on this matter. The loyalties of the graduates in the various institutions are of great importance. All of our university institutions—if one can call them that—Trinity College and the various NUI colleges—have a distinctive character of their own. That character is displayed in the sort of representatives who are elected by these institutions. This is worth maintaining.

On the question of the principle as to whether one lumps all the seats together into one mammoth six-seater or whether one tries to apportion the seats between the various institutions, I am firmly in favour of the second method even though it is difficult for the following reason. It is a simple matter of mathematics. The constituency at present is more than 50,000 and is rapidly increasing. As the institutions are growing the output of graduates is increasing annually at the rate of several thousand. At the time of the last election the register would have been 50,000 but that is much more now and at the time of the next election it will be 60,000. If one adds in graduates from the NCEA it will quickly get to a constituency of 70,000. That means that for one election hence it will be 70,000. The biggest Dáil constituency is 77,000 and we will soon be, if this is the proposal, a constituency bigger than any Dáil constituency which would have the effect of completely ruling out the electoral chances of Independents unless they were very wealthy and [327] could afford to canvass. Even though the regulation provides for free postage, the actual mechanism, which every politician is aware of, of getting electoral literature printed—if one is appealing to a graduate audience one has to do it reasonably well—is very expensive. A candidate must get envelopes printed in a special way—litir um toghachan —with one's name on the top to be part of the canvass. There is also the business of addressing 70,000 envelopes. The cost for an individual would be prohibitive and would rule him out. I find it tough enough going with my electorate of about 10,000 now, and the candidates in the NUI, as Independents, with a 40,000 electorate have a real cross to bear. They can say more about this than I can. I am sure they would agree that if they were faced with a 70,000 constituency essentially the seats would go to very wealthy candidates or to those with party support. Two or three years of one's Seanad salary would be gone before one started.

That is the sort of magnitude we are talking about 70,000 electoral addresses and the same number of envelopes and having to pay for them, something which members of parties do not have to do. It would mean either restricting election to the very wealthy or giving the seats to the parties because only people with party support could deal with that technical question, the problem of a canvass of 60,000 or 70,000 electors. Even though it is difficult and means reregistering NUI graduates as graduates of the new universities and trying to apportion the seats in some sort of way, the method of apportioning them between the university institutions is infinitely preferable to lumping them all together in one six-seater.

I would only argue for the retention of university seats on the basis of the fact that they produce Independents in our political system. They have provided a regular avenue for the election of Independents but if seats are lumped together essentially that is giving them to the political parties. I have no axe to grind with political parties, but Independents play an important role and that [328] role should be maintained. I am sure everybody basically agrees with that. My feeling is that we are respected and our views—while people may not always agree with them—are respected and given some credence.

Another point in my constituency—Senator Robinson stressed this—is the Northern connection. The Minister in the Dáil made a very good point when discussing this Northern connection, and the importance of it, the point that there is a great deal of cross-fertilisation North and South in academic life. There is inter-change of external examiners, and in sport the universities always acted together. It is interesting to know that in the most divided of the sports, association football, where we have all this controversy about a united Irish team, that we have an All-Ireland University team I was president of the Irish Universities Soccer Association for some years and we won the home countries championship three years in succession with two of Dublin's most prominent Gaelic footballers playing as our two centre backs. They were the strength of the team, and we won the championship so convincingly that England eventually dropped out.

In the university sense there is not really a Border. That is strengthened by the number of Northern graduates of Dublin University and the NUI. A considerable number attend the universities here and the number is growing.

I am glad to recall that after a number of years during which the Northern entry to Trinity declined, it went up this year by 25 per cent. That is very encouraging. If one wants to get university students from the North where they have the choice of all the British universities, one has to go and recruit. Over three or four years I visited more than 25 Northern schools and asked pupils to consider the possibility of going to a university in the South, in other words, asking them to fill up the new CAO form as well as the UCCA form. The CAO form deals with all the universities in the Republic while the UCCA form deals with all the universities in Britain and Northern Ireland. I have asked students to consider this because it gives them [329] another option. I have had a very good response. The Northern people are seriously considering this as an option and it is heartening to record a 25 per cent increase in 1979 of Northern people coming to Trinity. I imagine the same will be found in the NUI. We were worried in Trinity about this but the change is very encouraging. This Northern link is important.

The Trinity poll has always been consistently high and there is an interest in the North in our Seanad elections. For example, I have appeared quite often on UTV, particularly on issues of family law, because of my independent views. I have never been asked to appear on RTE. However, there is a definite interest. In the last election there was a good deal of very vigorous canvassing done in Northern Ireland by the Trinity representatives. There was a very high poll and a good deal of media coverage given to it in the North.

The fact that Northern people have a stake in our electoral system is important as we hope there will be more coming together between the two parts of the country, this is something that should not be lightly thrown away. My feeling is that if we lump all the seats together in one constituency we will find a great falling off in Northern interest in the election. They, like graduates everywhere, have a loyalty to their own institution. That is a praiseworthy thing and something to be preserved. It gives us a definite link. Senator Robinson described some of the opportunities we, as Trinity representatives, get to go to the North. They are enjoyable visits and one makes a very real contribution as a Member of the Seanad by going up and talking to people all over Northern Ireland. Certainly, the opportunities I have got I have valued highly. With further understanding and goodwill, only good can come out of these contacts. Such contacts should not be lightly thrown away.

When talking about the university position it is true to say that we are privileged by the fact that having a constituency of people who have got an important qualification in life means that we do not spend our time filling up blue [330] cards or doing minor jobs that every Senator and TD spends his time doing for his constituents. The sort of contacts we get from our constituents are generally interesting and are on important issues. University graduates are pretty well able to look after themselves on matters of minor administrative detail and the contacts one has with one's constituents are generally about substantive issues and legislation going through Parliament. That puts us in a good position. We are free of some of the chores that politicians have to face if they want to remain in Parliament. That gives us an advantage, and another great advantage is the fact that as most of us are actively working in universities we have a great body of knowledge and expertise to draw on. This is useful to the Seanad when we are discussing technical legislation, whether it is nuclear power or off-shore oil. We can easily get advice and expertise on almost any subject that comes up in the House. This helps to make a first-class contribution.

Criticism was made, again by Deputy Kelly on Second Stage in the Dáil, of the failure of the Government to take the opportunity to reorganise the Seanad when doing something about the university seats. The whole question of the value of a second Chamber to our parliamentary system was raised. The Seanad has a real value but this is often not appreciated. I noticed, for example, that there was an important debate yesterday on the Finance Bill when important arguments were put for and against but not one line of the debate was carried in any of the three morning newspapers. That, perhaps, is a reflection of what people outside think of the Seanad—I hope it is not.

Dr. Whitaker: The Irish Independent did.

Dr. West: I am sorry. I stand corrected and I have not checked the Cork Examiner which is one of our national dailies; perhaps Senator Murphy knows about it. The Seanad plays a very valuable role because it gives an opportunity for looking at legislation a second time. It is worth having and we can make a case, an extremely strong one, [331] for its retention. The point was raised that when the university seats were being reorganised, at least they had an advantage over the other seats in that the Seanad was constructed as a vocational body originally. That was the intention in the 1937 Constitution. It is clearly stressed in the Constitution that the members of the panels are to be representative of vocations. In fact, we are the only Members who are directly elected. The point was made by Deputy Kelly that it is a pity that the other panel elections, at least one of the sub-panels, is not directly elected by the vocational bodies, the trade unions or the other interest groups involved. That is a pity because it would strengthen the Seanad if this was done. I would welcome more direct elections. However, we do have the advantage of having been directly elected and that strengthens our situation. I should like to stress what I see as the danger of the situation, the possibility——

Acting Chairman (Séamus de Brún): I must remind the Senator that he is going somewhat outside the scope of the Bill. I would ask him to please confine his remarks closer to the matters in the Bill.

Dr. West: This is very much directly in contact with the Bill, it is the problem of the timing of the legislation. If this legislation is passed and the Constitutional amendment is successful, then a government can immediately, without any reference to changes in the NUI, alter the situation of the Seanad seats. That is a considerable danger. I accept the Minister's word absolutely but his word, as he knows, is not binding on his successor. He will not be in his position forever.

One wants more than just an assurance from him that this will not be done. It would be useful for us to have some idea of the time scale. These time scales about the introduction of future legislation are as far off the mark as opinion polls before elections. Nobody could hold the Minister and, it is impossible to hold a government, to a projected time scale, but it would be helpful [332] to us if the Minister, when replying to Second Stage, would give us an indication of how far along the line the NUI Bill is, when he hopes to introduce it and at the same time introduce the consequential legislation which would make the changes in the Seanad representation of the universities.

Mr. Mulcahy: I do not propose to make a long contribution on this Bill, which I welcome. I should like to raise a number of points. One of the things that has appalled me about the legislative and administrative system since I became part of it at the legislative level is the slowness of it. I cannot help thinking back to 1969 when the Steering Committee of the Regional Technical Colleges, of which I was Chairman, recommended the setting up of the National Council of Education Awards. It is now ten years since then. We have today in our society bottlenecks and constrictions impeding the development of this country. One of them is the inadequacy of the third-level education system. We must move more quickly on these things. I am very pleased to see now that the Minister is bringing this enabling legislation through and that he has other legislation in the pipeline to reorganise the university system. We have talked about it for too long; now we need action.

When thinking about constrictions and obstacles I am thinking about the over-emphasis in our education on the academic side rather than on the technological side. We mentioned this before in this House when debating other Bills. It is becoming clearer every day that the lack of expertise in production engineering and in mechanical engineering is going to be one of the main obstacles to the development of our industrial base. The educational system must react more quickly to the needs of society in modern times. The urban populations of the world are doubling every 15 years and the rest of the population every 30 years. This is the dimension and in my view nearly 10 years have been wasted by not getting on with the reorganisation of the third-level system. Some of the problems that we have are due to legislative and administrative [333] inertia and lethargy.

I would hope, now that Fianna Fáil have been in power for nearly two years that we would have all of this cleared up in the next two years. I wish the Minister the best of success in doing so and would hope that the academic system which, in its own way, has the most vicious of industrial relations problems will accept these changes and co-operate with the Minister in the work that he is doing. The nation needs it, the young people of the country need it, we all need it.

Professor Murphy: One welcomes this Bill if only in the first place because it means that the legislation for reforming university structures is imminent. The chopping and changing of minds on that issue have been going on for far too long. So this Bill is welcome if only because it means that legislation will be brought in for implementing the decisions on new structures for universities.

The National University of Ireland in particular has been under sentence of death for so long now—and the odour of mortality is palpable in Merrion Square—that it is time, in all decency, to administer the coup de grace. The present Bill then is consequential and secondary and one would have preferred a more detailed Bill. I have read the text a number of times and it strikes me as being extremely vague and complex. One wonders how the Government are going to recommend this referendum—which is a very arcane aspect of Parliamentary structure—to a people who are much more interested in getting the country moving again. It will pose the problem to the Government, I suggest, of a derisorily low poll. Of course, it avoids trouble, too, in that if more detailed proposals had been put in the referendum it would have invited trouble from people interested in third-level representation which will now, in the event, be avoided since the future Bill will be taken in the Oireachtas alone.

Let me hasten nonetheless to welcome the decision of the Government which is implicit in this Bill, the decision to retain university or third-level representation in the Seanad when the Government [334] could as well have decided to abolish that representation and there would not have been any popular clamour against such a decision. So I will give praise where praise is due unless there is some devious and Machiavellian strategy which I in my innocence do not suspect. Much of the credit is due to the Minister himself who is on record as having been personally in favour of retention of the principle of university representation in the Seanad.

Friends of mine tease me about representing a rotten borough. Indeed there is a case to be made against what many people would see as elitist representation. Then it could be argued with equal validity that the 43 Seanad seats are also rotten boroughs and particularly so since the original intention of what the Seanad should be has been stultified by party politics. That brings us into a much larger area of the role of the Seanad as a whole which is outside the scope of the present Bill.

Naturally, a university Senator is in rather an embarrassing situation when he lauds the principle of university representation in the Seanad, when he makes an apologia for the value and significance of university seats. Nevertheless, as other Senators have said, it is a matter of historical record that the representatives of the universities have made an invaluable contribution to the quality of debate in this House and therefore in the nation at large over the last several decades. Occasionally, of course, they have made asses of themselves. Here one thinks of the lamentable occasion in the debate on The Tailor and Ansty in this House in the early 40s. But when they have made asses of themselves it simply proves that they are human.

Not alone in Ireland but in Western democracy generally it is a very good thing indeed that academics should make their contribution to public debate. I would like to see much more of it here. In view of the tragic events of the last ten years in this island it is remarkable how few academics have expressed any opinion at all. So this is a valuable feature then of the democratic process. But it seems that the value of the seats in the [335] Seanad has always been in direct ratio to the independence which the representatives maintain of party politics. I understood Senator West to say that his defence of the principle of third-level representation is also in the context of his assessment of the independence of the representatives. In other words, if the constituencies became party politicised they would not be worth defending. This is not to disparage party politics which, in its functions of articulating and mobilising public opinion and of supplying governments indeed, is central to the whole parliamentary process. Nor does it follow that parliamentary members of political parties are mere ciphers, so much fodder for the division lobby. I should like to state here that long before I became a Member of this House, as a university teacher I took every opportunity to correct the all too prevalent cynicism which seems to be endemic in Irish people about party politicians, and since I have come into this House and have watched the two Houses I must say my high opinion of party politicians has been increased. So that is really not the point. But most people would argue that the Independent presence in the Oireachtas is also a part of the parliamentary process and a worthwhile part of Irish parliamentary politics since independence. In the other House it has been noticeable that the number of Independents has been in constant decline for the last 20 years. There seemed at the last election to be an upwards turn in the graph—and I actually plotted the graph on one occasion—but that upward turn is more apparent than real. The general picture then is that, because of the streamlining and expense of modern politics, the Independent is rapidly going to the wall. This Bill, with its implicit promise of retaining an area of independence in the Seanad, is therefore doubly welcome.

We worry about the details, which we must await. The details may not favour the present incumbents, but we must welcome the decision in principle. In regard to the decision also to democratise university representation—to spread out what is a privilege, [336] indeed a privileged franchise—from the traditional type academic institutions to the growing number of third-level institutions, nobody can have anything but welcome for the principle involved in that.

It seems to me, as I have suggested already, that the value of this area of the Seanad is threatened if Independents become party-politicised. It is regrettable for example that, for all the University of Dublin's fine record of supplying a healthily dissident voice in this House, party politics have taken over two of the three representatives of that university.

Incidentally, may I say I listened with some interest to Senator Robinson, who attempted, as far as I could see, to make a special case that Trinity—or the University of Dublin, to be more precise—is supplying a special kind of contribution to this House which distinguishes it and, by implication, makes it superior to the contribution of the National University.

Dr. West: I do not think she said it was supenor.

Professor Murphy: The implication is that the independence of thought, the championing of minority causes, the strong sense of loyalty of the graduates, was somehow a Trinity thing—the record will show that she said that. But that is a very hard case to maintain in 1979. All praise indeed to the role which the University of Dublin representatives have played in this House. But Trinity is no longer either a Protestant institution or exclusively a liberal institution and I suggest that the kind of independent contributions on matters like Church-State relations and on Northern Ireland are more valuable when they come from a representative of the majority university. Without taking in the slightest from the contribution the University of Dublin has made in the past, there is no longer any reason to give that university any special or favourable treatment in the matter of representation or in any other matter. It is now fully a national university, as indeed its distinguished Provost has recently described it, and therefore it should take its chance in the matter of [337] the distribution of seats and so on on equal mathematical terms with the other institutions in the country.

I am not so sure what I think of Deputy Horgan's ideas about taking into account the interests of Northern Ireland graduates and bringing them somehow into a new representation in the third level seats, because the whole idea of giving this kind of legal recognition to irish unity is fraught with dangers. It might be welcome indeed in certain areas in Northern Ireland. In other areas, with equal certainty, it would be regarded as another divisive step, another assertion of jurisdiction, even of an academic kind, over Northern Ireland. So, whatever the legal difficulties, there are also certain psychological difficulties in the way of considering what seems at first sight an admirable sentiment.

Could I ask the Minister also to give us the kind of assurance which Senator West was looking for in depth? After all, this is the time to talk to the Minister. It has only occurred to me in the last hour or so, though it is frustrating not to have details about future representation, that this is the time to have the Minister's ear. Could I suggest to him that the idea of a single constituency for this kind of third level representation is really quite horrifying for those of us who have some experience of contesting the already very large NUI constituency—it has 40,000 voters on the register. The prospect of trying realistically to canvass 60,000 of 70,000 people is daunting in the extreme. Candidates must be given a fair chance to canvass and, apart from that, there is much to be said for regional representation and the kind of distinctively regional voice one gets from different institutions. Also of course, if there is one large constituency, it will become relatively easier for the party machines to try to infiltrate that constituency. In the NUI election of August 1977 to the Seanad it was notable that a number of candidates did run on a party ticket and they put out very expensive literature indeed. For some reason, perhaps because a party which attained such a smashing triumph in the Dáil election was not overly concerned about picking up a few extra seats, the party candidates who ran [338] specifically on a political party ticket did not show very well at the polls. The Minister is the kind of man who would appreciate that. Of course, he must look after his own party and its interests; but also in the long term interests of democracy and of this House he should use his good offices to counsel his colleagues against moving into this independent area.

The other question I would ask the Minister, arising out of sheer curiosity if nothing else, is: when does he think the Bill is going to be brought in?

Apart from that I would like to end with a note of a recent personal experience of being some months in the United States. When I said I was a Senator they asked me embarrassing questions about whether I had got leave of absence, for example, from the Seanad as well as from the university but they were full of genuine interest and were intrigued with the notion that there should be this kind of representation in the Seanad. In their own State Legislatures they would be very glad indeed to have a similar principle. So let me end on a note of congratulation to the Minister, taking the Bill at its face value, on using his own personal influence to decide the Government to retain this important area in this House.

Mr. Lambert: Since the advent of parliamentary democracy political theorists and philosophers have wrestled with this difficult problem of securing some form of representation for the minority. From an early stage it was readily apparent that the exercise of simple majority rule is insufficient, and we have only to look to the Northern part of this island to realise this. Alienating the minority from the centre of the political system, especially when that minority is a permanent one, results in a society cleaved in two and a house divided against itself.

Here we have made a sensible choice: the power of the Dáil, freely elected by the people, augmented and—in theory, at least—tempered by this House, a vocationally orientated body. The reservoir of views, the wealth of specialist experience drawn from all walks of life [339] represented in this House is indeed impressive. At times one could only wish that the Government would exploit the talents represented here to a greater extent.

Over the years the contributions of the Members of this House returned by the universities have been particularly impressive and challenging. Others amongst us may not have always agreed with what they have said, but at least they have brought novel and penetrating views to bear on the subjects which have been discussed and confronted. So many questions have been raised, as Senator West has illustrated, that it has added to the thinking within the community. It is fair to say that their contribution always has far outweighed their numerical strength, although I would agree with Senator Cranitch that no group has a monopoly of intellect or wisdom.

It is with some disquiet and misgivings that I look upon the proposals now before us regarding a change in university representation within this House. It is quite possible that within the terms of the changes proposed Trinity College, Dublin, could permanently forfeit its representation here, and I share all the reservations expressed in depth by Senator West on this matter. As a graduate of that college I am proud that it has provided this House with a long line of hard working and impressive Members, many of whom have been referred to by Senator Robinson. With its worldwide reputation for scholarship Trinity College holds a special position, not only in contemporary Ireland but in the country's history. I stress contemporary Ireland because it certainly is playing its part in the cultural evolvement of our country; in fact in the visual arts it is foremost in the promotion of contemporary art in this island. So, the Government would do well to consider long and hard the consequences of excluding Trinity in any way from the scheme of university representation and participation in this House in the future. If the Government embark on such a course, we must keep in mind, as has already been touched on, that this could be represented and construed in [340] Northern Ireland as an attempt to circumscribe the rights of a minority in the Republic. It will not have the many people, who like myself visit there on a regular basis, participating in some of the organisations up there to sustain the growing co-operation and goodwill between both parts of this island on so many fronts.

If change must come, then let it come gradually. Of course, on purely numerical grounds a case could be made for redistributing some of the Trinity Seanad seats to the National University of Ireland and few could disagree that other colleges of third level education should be accorded access to the Seanad. But within any extensions I support the view that a way should be found to preserve representation from Trinity College. In the same way the Dáil seats are redistributed in the light of demographic changes, there is also a case for re-allocating the university seats to reflect the size of their respective electorates. But within such new arrangements a way should be found to ensure that at least one representative of Trinity College is guaranteed a Seanad seat.

Mrs. Hussey: I speak as one of the newer university Senators and perhaps I am not as ready as some, as I see from the general acceptance around me, to accept the status quo which we are talking about copperfastening. I am quite sure that the various suggestions that I shall make will offend all political parties in this House and no doubt I will offend my fellow university Senators as well.

I would like to repeat a phrase that Senator Lambert has just used when talking about gradual change. It seems to me that there is never any change in Seanad Éireann and I think it is about time there was some change and some drastic change. For that reason, among others, I am very sorry that the Seventh Amendment comes before us in such a hurry, and this has been mentioned earlier today. The Sixth Amendment came before us in equally as much of a rush. We should have an opportunity to get down to real debate about the Constitution instead of stop-gap amendments which clear up some little point [341] which obstructs some other piece of legislation. We really should be considering the Constitution itself. I am going to take this opportunity, since we are amending an Article of the Constitution, to discuss other amendments of that Article that we are amending. I deprecate the haste with which we are being asked to put this Bill through and I deprecate the fact that it avoids opportunity for wider debate.

I appreciate that on the 5 July we are going to have a referendum, which I understand is an extremely expensive operation. Therefore, it is very neat to fit this one in with the other because it will save us all a lot of money. However I think that these are all excuses for haste which do not hold a great deal of water.

Having said all that I welcome the intention expressed by the Minister to carry out the long overdue rationalisation of the university structures which have been talked about for a long time. But successive Governments have always fallen at the first fence, which was the constitutional provision of Article 18 which precluded any movement in this area. I believe that there were other reasons facing other Governments and this Government for delay, which I might touch on later on. But to the extent that this Bill begins that process of the restructuring of university administration and progress of the university system it is to be welcomed.

I am glad that the Minister mentioned specifically in his speech some of the constituent colleges, including St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, St. Patrick's College in Drumcondra, Carysfort college and Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. These are all excellent institutions and I particularly feel, in the new administration of universities, that the excellent small university which exists in Maynooth should get special consideration. I believe the students there are very lucky to have such a fine small university in such a fine setting with a generally very high academic standard from the clerical and lay staff. In fact it would be very fitting to have a sort of mini Louvaine in Kildare which this university could well become. I am sure [342] this Minister will be making an effort, which his predecessors failed to do, to come to grips with the very disorderly situation which exists with regard to the funding of a college which hires and fires people with no relation to justice. I am very glad that the Minister mentioned in his speech and in a radio programme last week that Maynooth College will have to be legislated for. Students and staff can only benefit from the clarification of that situation.

The second reason that one welcomes amendments to Article 18 is that questions have arisen for some time now about the actual distribution of six seats among the existing universities. My Trinity College colleagues recognise the anomalies in the situation which gives three seats to an electorate of 8,000 and the same number to an electorate of 41,000. The reasoning behind that was very clear and very admirable when it was started. There is no doubt that the graduates of Dublin University have elected extremely distinguished Members of this House. The contributions which they have made were no small part of the attempted development of Ireland into a modern European democracy. It needed many strands of opinion in public debate and it got some very valuable ones from the people who were elected by Trinity College.

It is interesting that the competition for the three seats was always fierce at every election, with a high poll, as has been mentioned earlier on. Great interest was always demonstrated by the Trinity electors in having this representation in Seanad Éireann. They have had that good representation up to and including the present Seanad. The performance of two out of their three representatives has been very distinguished and energetic in this Seanad in different fields. One of the most outstanding women politicians in this country has been given to us by the electorate of Trinity College. All Irishwomen should be grateful for that.

An Cathaoirleach: It is now one o'clock and usually the Seanad adjourns for lunch at this time.

Mr. W. Ryan: We should not adjourn [343] for lunch because most people are anxious to get away early this evening. Of course, the person I would have most sympathy for is the Minister, because he has to remain here all the time. I suggest we continue on through lunch and try and get the business completed as early as possible this evening.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: I would have thought some prior notice of this remarkable proposal might have been given to other parties. My complaint, which is considerable, might have been muted at being faced with the proposed amendment of the Constitution which we have got to get through. If we are to get it through on empty bellies and be starved into submission, I certainly protest against this.

Mr. Wilson: There is a Greek proverb which says a fat belly does not make a subtle intellect.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: Maybe that is what I need. It is most unfair. We extended our debate last night to facilitate the Minister for Finance so that we would be able to take this at some leisure today. I cannot understand why it was not with us weeks ago. I do not like the drafting. There is no way I am pleased with that. At least we should not be excluded by physical pressures.

Dr. West: I support Senator FitzGerald strongly. There are a number of other speakers and this debate could go on for some time. I would be worried that the poor Minister would be weakening by three o'clock if he has not something to eat.

Mr. Keating: This side of the House in the matter of ordering the business has never been unreasonable, but normal courtesy would have required, if this sort of proposition was going to be made, that we be consulted. I cannot sufficiently deplore the acting leader of the Government side standing up and saying it without any warning whatsoever. We had a very long day yesterday with the requirement that the Bill be enacted [344] there and then, and now we are having the same thing. This further pressure is deplorable. I object to it.

Dr. Martin: I do not feel the same passions as have been expressed from the front bench of the Opposition. I would cleave more to Senator West's humane concern for the Minister's constitution. That is in the very best traditions of Trinity College representation here. On that basis I say we should have a short lunchbreak.

Mr. W. Ryan: In view of the objections I suggest we adjourn for 45 minutes. I would like to make it clear to Senator Keating that I did consult the Opposition Whip on this matter.

Business suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 1.50 p.m.

Mrs. Hussey: Before lunch I mentioned some reasons why I welcomed this Bill. One was that it gives us an opportunity to grasp the nettle of establishing a clear and auspicious future for Maynooth College. Secondly the reorganisation of universities in general is very essential. I also mentioned that the Senators in the past and the present from Dublin University have served this country very well. We must reflect, as we discuss this Bill, on ways of ensuring that Senators continue to come to this House from that very distinguished college because it symbolises a tradition which was always a very vital strand in Irish history as well as making a modern contribution to our debates.

The NUI seats are basically the reasons why we are discussing this Bill at all—the existence of the National University of Ireland is standing in the way of reorganisation. Some of us in this House have a great deal of knowledge of the NUI electorate and the whole system of election. It must be made quite clear at this stage that there has not been apathy among NUI graduates about the election of their representatives here. They have, in fact, shown enormous interest in using their vote in the Seanad elections, and this is contrary to general opinion. It is, unfortunately true that the register of voting and the machinery for [345] keeping that register up to date have been grossly inadequate. I do not blame the NUI registrar or the staff in the NUI office——

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator is going a little wide of the Bill.

Mrs. Hussey: I accept that, but we are talking about the NUI and the system of election of university representatives. The representatives of the NUI in this House are university representatives and they have been elected on a register which, presumably, will also come into question when the new legislation which the Minister has mentioned several times comes before us. The fact remains that 50 per cent of the NUI graduates have been disenfranchised over the years. I hope that in future arrangements this will be rectified.

Forty one thousand voters are on the register, and everybody who has been involved in that election will tell one that a great many of them are no longer with us and others have moved from one address to another. A complicated system exists in order to get one's vote. This is relevant in a new election system in a constituency which is intended to be even bigger than the present one. The complicated system requires one to get a form, fill it in, and return it——

An Cathaoirleach: Perhaps the Senator would wait until the future legislation on that matter comes along.

Mrs. Hussey: I hope that the Minister might be able to listen to some of us on future legislation at this point. When the legislation comes before us, we may be discussing a fait accompli. I will leave that subject and hope that the generally held view that the NUI electorate were indifferent about their vote could be shown to be not true. The fact that there was a 50 per cent poll was a miracle under the circumstances.

I do not intend to comment on the contribution made by NUI Senators in the present Seanad except to say that it has been very much in evidence. There have been very distinguished Senators in the past representing the National [346] University. This is why I welcome the intention in this Bill to keep higher education representations in this House. Taken together, the group of six Senators from Trinity College and the NUI have made an impression on the Seanad, as was said earlier today, out of all proportion to their numbers. This is why we should pause before we consider copperfastening the present situation. We should look at other things that one could do when amending the Constitution regarding electoral representation in the Seanad. We could consider what further or slightly different amendments could be made which would broaden the direct election element in the Seanad while still keeping its vocational character.

One cannot discuss education representation in the Seanad without regard to the manner in which some of the panels return their representatives to the House, which are covered in Article 18 of the Constitution. It is valid to discuss as has been discussed before in this context, whether political parties have gone too far with their control of the system. At present we have 16 Senators who came from the nominating bodies' sub-panel of the panel elections to this House. In 1973 it was also 16. That leaves 33 Senators in the House who came from the Oireachtas sub-panel, who as we know, are politicians nominated by politicians and elected by politicians. There is nothing wrong intrinsically with that if it is not overdone.

We have a situation, where we have maximised the political side of Seanad Éireann and minimised the vocational side. We should consider ways of changing the proportion of senators who must come from the two sub-panels. I would like to see more nominees of bodies like the Irish Countrywomen's Association getting into this House. At present, the dice is very much loaded against them.

We should remember that we have an unused article of the Constitution, Article 19, which would allow us to provide for direct election to the Seanad of other Senators in substitution for the same number from the corresponding panel of candidates. This also provides us with an opportunity to widen the vocational element [347] in the Seanad and at the same time to make it more democratic. The Seanad has a very definite role to play. I am a believer in the bicameral system. It is a valuable forum which would be enriched from an input from slightly different methods of election from the ones we have at present.

Seanad Éireann, as we are all aware, has very minimal powers which basically amount to a delaying factor if it rejects certain kinds of Bills. That is the main power it has. I do not believe that those powers should be increased. If we are talking about widening the university vote to include other institutions of higher education, we should look at ways that we could widen the direct election factor and bring in other areas as well which are covered in Article 18, which we are intending to amend.

Without any constitutional referenda at all, we could use Article 19. It is in order at this occasion to mention the existence of Article 19, and to draw to the attention of the Government that it exists, to include other groups. This very day, we have a departure occurring not far from here, the introduction of a new radio channel, which will be aimed directly at the youth of this country. They could be given representation in this House, through certain organisations, by using Article 19. Other groups could have be given representations in this House under Article 19 as well. We should involve the maximum number of vocational——

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator should refer only to Article 18 on this Bill.

Mrs. Hussey: I felt I would just mention the fact in case that we had forgotten that Article 19 existed. In regard to the actual amendments in question at present, we are being asked to do the bare minimum—to allow the Government to legisilate on the six university seats. This would juggle them about in a manner which may seem fit when the legislation comes in, leaving the other 54 seats as they are. I have said already that I believe the Seanad should [348] be more fully democratised and I am very glad at the idea of bringing other institutions of higher education into the direct elections system. I have also said that I believe that the representatives of the universities have done a very good job. I would like to see the number of seats to be elected by graduates of universities and other institutes of education dramatically increased and I would also like to support the view that we must, if at all possible, attract Northern Ireland people to interest themselves in the second House of the Oireachtas.

I believe that widening that representation from universities all over this island would invigorate and enliven this Seanad and such an influx of new people would be very much welcomed. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how one can go about widening that directly elected element and I believe that because of the system we have of directly nominating 11 seats filled by the Taoiseach's nominees that is limiting us greatly in what we can do. This is part of Article 18. In particular, I am thinking of section 3 of article 18. The provision in that section was made obviously for various reasons, one of which was to ensure a majority for the Government of the day, among other reasons, to bring in distinguished people who would grace the Seanad and would make valuable contributions, and perhaps also people who would not normally enter the process of election.

I believe that these reasons are largely out-of-date. The Seanad has very minimal powers and I cannot see why we have to have an in-built Government majority because it has such minimal powers. I do not know why we imagine that if we had more directly elected people they would always, or even often, obstruct Government legislation. Why do we imagine that they would often or always side with the Opposition? I believe that it would be healthier for this House to have a freer hand with legislation.

The second reason falls on sheer democratic grounds. The word has been used this morning in this debate that the university representation in this House is élitist. I believe that there could not be [349] anything more élitist than the 11 Members of the Seanad who are directly appointed by the Taoiseach. I am not for one moment denigrating the contribution made by the present holders of these 11 seats but I realise that the House would be stronger and more attractive to the people if those 11 had been elected to the House directly by large vocational groups or by other methods rather than coming here by the Taoiseach's nomination.

I am suggesting that we go further in this Bill than the minimal amendments to Article 18 as it appears before us and that we should amend other sections of the article, notably sections 3 and 4 in order to create 17 seats to be distributed among the universities and all the third-level institutions of the whole island. I believe the 17 seats should be distributed between the institutions in a manner which will be laid down by law and that a suitable distribution would be nine seats for the universities of the whole island and eight seats for the institutions of higher education of the whole island. This could be organised so that there could be a continuing, definite voice from Dublin University. I am sorry that there is no university representative here directly from Galway which I believe would be valuable. I think it would be also very valuable to have a representative from Maynooth, particularly if it develops as I hope it will. We should make a strong effort to have an input from the Northern Ireland people. The Northern Ireland dimension has a great deal of relevance if one considers that there has been a certain amount of debate about federalism and future structures in this island involving federation. Senates in other countries have a very strong federal element in them.

I would like to support other Senators who have mentioned the fact that constituencies will have to be realistically sized so that it will be possible for a continuing independent presence there. At present the NUI constituency is almost impossible to cope with. The new constituencies should be of a reasonable size. I can assure the House that I have put these suggestions down because I feel extremely strongly that this House [350] needs to be modernised, that it needs to be democratised and put in touch with the people. For this reason I will be putting down amendments along these lines on Committee Stage.

With the four new approaches that I have briefly touched on I think this House would more truly fulfil its vocational role and would give presently excluded areas of society a voice in Irish political life. We should look at the numbers which come from the sub-panels and at the way we could use Article 19. Thirdly, I think we should consider the abolition of the Taoiseach's nominees and the expansion of the six university seats to 17 all-Ireland seats directly elected by the universities and third-level institutions.

Finally, I would like to say that I do not think that the people of Ireland, when they think about it, which is very rare, are happy with the way the Seanad works. This House is an irrelevance to a great many people. At worst it is an anachronistic institution which many people may feel should be abolished. I do not agree it should be abolished but in 1979 with the kind of evolution we are undergoing we should take definite steps to make Seanad Éireann a more positive force in Irish politics. One could do this by involving many more of the population in the various election systems, without impinging on the universal franchise which elects Dáil Éireann. We would be taking a step in the right direction by doing this. I am tired of defending the Seanad from media attacks and attacks when I speak at public meetings and I think more seriously——

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator appears to be widening the scope of this debate.

Mrs. Hussey: I was trying to give the reasons why I was putting down those amendments. My amendments have the same reason behind them as the reason we should be broadcasting proceedings of this House. I hope the Government will give serious consideration to the concern that I feel about the future of this House and I put these ideas [351] forwards with a positive and constructive attitude.

Mrs. Cassidy: I wish to thank Senator Hussey for her recognition that the Taoiseach's nominees have not been content to sit in selected silence. I had not intended contributing to this debate at all but I am prompted by the nostalgia which surrounds my own memories of my university days to comment upon what I think was a very important point made by the first two speakers in this debate. First, I will refer to Senator Robinson, and in passing may I compliment her on the hat which she assumed today. It suits her much better than the other one she wears and I wish she would wear it more frequently. Secondly, I refer to Senator West. They referred in their speeches to the independence of university Senators and the need for such independence in a House which has become increasingly political and which was described recently by a young Member of this House as being nothing more than a glorified debating society. Having said that, they also seemed willing and anxious that university representation should be shared by members of Northern Ireland universities. I think that if we are serious about building bridges between the two traditions in this island we should take this suggestion very seriously. This is not a debate on which one can go off into cultural dissertions, although we are very hot on culture in this House, but I wonder when we talk glibly about the shared traditions of this island are we aware of what I would describe as the cultural schizophrenia which is suffered by many of us who do share both traditions. For example, to me integration has always implied that the lesser cultural tradition has been submerged in a superior one, superior only because it has a language of its own. If we talk about the contribution made to American political life by Irish emigrants we are, of course, talking about President Kennedy not President William McKinley. Would it be such a very strange thing to see in Seanad Éireann a representative from Queen's University or from the New University [352] of Ulster? The Minister's colleague, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, has shown the way in appointing a citizen of Northern Ireland to the RTE Authority, a man who has confessed that he does not even receive RTE although that may not inhibit him in the carrying out of his duties. If we are serious about building bridges this suggestion which the university Senators have made in the House today, and which I hope is shared by other Senators whatever their political persuasion, should be very seriously considered.

Dr. Martin: I will be brief because most of the points that should be made about this Bill have been made. The Bill is primarily an enabling Bill and to that extent the substantial debate will take place when the new legislation about the universities comes through and when the allocation of those seats is made. I just want to make a few general points, first recognising the necessity of the Bill and stressing our gratification that the Minister has so readily conceded the importance of the contribution of the independent Senators from the universities.

Senator West's talk which took in so many important historical dimensions to the Bill set the whole thing out in proper perspective. I had the same experience as Senator Murphy. When one goes abroad and describes what the Seanad is about, that it is made up of vocational groups, that the Dáil is elected by universal franchise but that we have this marvellous body with expertise from the farming community, the trade unions, the managers, the captains of industry and so on, foreigners are very impressed. Actually they are so impressed that frequently I do not disillusion them and tell them that, in fact, even though this is the idea, alas, the method by which this extremely expert body is assembled is powerfully influenced by political activity in the corporations and county councils and that in the end it turns out to be a fairly good body of human beings but by and large is not as purely vocational as it sounds. Enough chauvinism remains in me at times like that to say that we have a good system where we have the university franchise [353] on the one hand and on the other hand we have the various vocational groups, the trade unions, captains of industry and the farming interest all represented so that we can build up industrial relations.

However I find it necessary to say that actually the one vocational group that is absolutely truly representative of the spirit of the vocational panel is the university panel because by and large it has not been the creature of the political parties. Like Senator West, I regret the fact that two of the Trinity Senators are Members of the Labour Party. There was an ambiguity about one of them but Senator Robinson takes the Whip of the Labour Party. I find that regrettable. However, her contribution in this House and in the public life of the country has been so dazzingly impressive over the years that one has no difficulty in making an exception to almost any rule for her. I suppose if I were to say that certainly in my time in this House, and even looking the Acting Chairman in the eye, Senator Robinson has been the best university Senator to sit here, or even the best Senator, I do not think that I would be indicted for hyperbole. That is all the more reason why I regret that political parties should impinge on these seats. I think independence is what recommends them to most of us and to the public. If I were to join a political party I would resign my seat but I would do so at a moment which would not cause the country any expense. I think that it is a very important aspect. That is the point that this extremely able young Senator from Trinity, Senator West, made this morning when he was talking on this subject.

For instance, the debates that we had on the North, on Wood Quay and the one that Senator Hussey brought up on rape were debates which I think could only have been brought forward by Independent Senators. They were welcomed by both sides of the House because there was very profound concern about those issues on both sides of the House. They were debated in an non-political way and the people who introduced those debates—I am thinking of those three in particular—introduced [354] them in such a way as to eliminate all possibility of polemics or point-scoring. They were very mature and good debates and we should have more of that kind. I think the Minister has recognised this, and recognised it quite handsomely, because it is quite clear from the terms of this enabling Bill that he intends to retain the university seats.

There are a few points I want to make in relation to them. The first one is that I would ask the Minister to think very deeply before committing himself to a formula for the allocation of those six seats. I will not traverse the ground already covered by Senator West with regard to the invidious complications of a very large constituency. If the constituency gets larger and larger so that there is a hundred thousand by the end of the century it will be totally unwieldy and there is the danger of it also being invaded by the parties. In the foreseeable future the parties will not succeed in doing that because, as many people pointed out, curiously enough the graduates of both Trinity and UCD, well certainly the graduates of the NUI, do not seem to favour party people. People who have gone on a deliberate party ticket have not done very well there for some reason. That is interesting to see.

I would not support Senator Hussey on abolition of the Taoiseach's nominees. I have no strong feelings on that. In fact, if the Taoiseach always managed to appoint 11 as good as the present 11 I would tend to say, “stick with that system”. The House is élitist and that is good. That is the purpose of the thing. It is an Upper House and that is as it should be. There is nothing wrong with that. It also has specialist structures built into it.

Therefore, I have always found it regrettable that UCG has not been able to get a Senator in here each time, because it represents a lot of things. It represents the West and it represents the Gaeltacht to a great extent. Cork always has had a Member and that is an interesting point. It looks as if there will always be a woman elected from now on, if not two or three or four. A Cork woman would be absolutely unbeatable in this context.

[355] The point I want to make is that if you have six seats to distribute you could distribute them in this way, and I would favour this. I think Trinity should get two, three is accepted but Trinity with its very specific cultural identity and traditional background is entitled to two seats, and I would give two seats to the new university of Dublin. UCD will be called the National University of Dublin or National University, Dublin. Even though it is much bigger than Trinity, it is twice its size. I would be quite happy if it had only two. One should go to Cork and one should go to Galway. That absorbs six, and I would suggest to the Minister that, perhaps, one other seat should be created and that one seat shall go to the graduates of the NCEA. It would leave Maynooth, but then Maynooth at the moment is in a transitional situation and it deserves sympathy and support. I was glad to hear what Senator Hussey said. She spoke in a most enlightened and sympathetic way about Maynooth. Maynooth is going through the kind of transition that lots of institutions have to go through in their time, and one has to be patient and let them work out their destiny as they will. They have all the signs of becoming a most distinguished small university, the Louvain of Kildare, and I would support them in that.

I think that there is an administrative temptation. The Minister will be under a lot of pressure from his administrators to do something neat, say, one constituency of six seats, and forget about it and let them fix it up any way they like after that. It would defeat the purpose of this. Let me put in this way: if it is to be one large global constituency it is entirely possible that UCD could get three or four seats in that situation. It is entirely possible that Trinity might even lose the services of the Acting Chairman. Now that would be a tragedy of a kind that we would prefer not even to contemplate.

Professor Murphy: Is this in order?

Acting Chairman (Dr. West): Yes.

Dr. Martin: If there is some way of [356] doing something other than merely the global constituency—some thought should be given to that—I would be happy to give two to Trinity, two to UCD, one to Cork—they have never got more than one—and one to Galway—they very rarely have had one at all. That would be very nice; it would be culturally interesting, it would be very, very interesting indeed. The NCEA would not necessarily have to get one; there is another way out of it because if they wish they could amalgamate with whatever university is in their area. Of course, PR will be the system. I am not saying that UCD would swamp Trinity anyway. I would not cavil if UCD got two seats and Trinity got two seats. That would seem to be quite equitable.

With regard to the dismemberment of the NUI, I do not think there are great difficulties there. Each of the constituent colleges is very impatient to defederalise; Cork and Galway equally with UCD. UCD has always wanted to but Cork and Galway are equally impatient and enthusiastic about the notion of defederalisation. I do not think there is a big problem there. Having put that suggestion to the Minister, that a really all I want to say. I welcome the Bill but I do urge him—I know he is a very busy man—to give a good deal of thought as to how these seats are to be allocated.

Lady Goulding: Regrettably I missed Senator West's talk on this subject. I only want to add my agreement with Senator Cassidy and Senator Hussey about the Northern universities being granted at least one seat in the Seanad. I think this is very important. There was just one thing I would like to mention. Senator Hussey kept mentioning democracy and democratisation but surely democracy is up as well as down and down as well as up. She was talking about how the universities add so much, which they do but I think we should think of the grass roots, the people who should be in the Seanad.

Mrs. Hussey: It is Article 19.

Lady Goulding: Unfortunately, I was never a graduate of any university. I had [357] to leave school at 17 to earn 37s 6p per week so I have a little knowledge of grassroots which people think I do not have for some reason or other. A person who is a graduate adds a lot to the Seanad but there are others of us who have not had the good fortune to go to university who possibly can in some way add something for those who have not been so fortunate.

Mr. Keating: I can, first, bat off a series of comments of a general kind quite quickly. We are amending the Constitution yet again. Let me use this opportunity to say that I persist in thinking it is a dreadful Constitution, a hindrance to the development of this country and that we ought to have a new one and not be doing it piecemeal. Secondly, I object to this Bill being rushed through for the sake of getting a 5 July deadline to be bundled in with another one so that there will not be a minuscule turn-out. That is a bad way to proceed. Thirdly, I object to it because it is vague, it is trivial and it is giving carte blanche to people to whom I personally am not prepared to give carte blanche. If I had power to deny it to the present Government I would do so, but I do not have that power. I make those three observations at the beginning but would add two others.

I disagree profoundly with Senator Martin but at least he said a true thing which is that the Seanad is élitist and that the university seats are élitist. He added, “and that is a good thing” but I would have to add, “and that is a bad thing”. I have difficulty in approving of the idea of university seats at all, but as Bernard Shaw said to the man who was booing, “who am I among so many?” It is going to happen anyway. We have to be very careful about the stratification in our society, and I will come on to that in a more specific way when I try to set down some guidelines as to what I think ought to be done with the seats that are available.

I will not purport to tell the Minister this number for that place or that number for the other place. That will come at the end of a process of deliberation and he is going to do it in the light of [358] his own opinion and advice anyway. But what I would like to do is to think aloud as to the sort of guidelines that I would hope to see considered. First, I think there ought to be proportionality in the allocation of seats between institutions. In fact, if one accepts the principle of university representation at all, if one accepts the principle that you are entitled to another vote because you have had the good fortune to go to university, then I could see 30 or 40 years ago, 40 years ago in fact, the argument that particular institutions that represented a particular strand in our life should get special consideration. The nation is so consolidated now that I doubt the wisdom of picking out special sectors. I am talking specifically about Trinity College. Trinity has been many things in a long history. It is a place I know reasonably well, having been on its staff from 1960 to 1977. It is now consolidated into the life of the country and the old divisions and old attitudes in its regard have lost a great deal of meaning. It is no longer an Ascendancy University, or a predominantly Church of Ireland, or even a Protestant University in the wider sense. It is simply a part of the life of the country. I have great doubts as to whether one ought to perpetuate and reaffirm old divisions which are no longer relevant. We have grown out of that.

I would like to see proportionality in the allocation of seats. Any allocation of seats is a compromise and a trade-off, but what I would very much like to see—and here I agree with other Senators—is regionality. Most specifically, I want to see some regionality west of the Shannon—firstly, because Galway is a very interesting university; secondly, because it is the nearest thing to a university of the Gaeltacht; thirdly, and this, to me is the most important of all the reasons, it seems to be the Irish university that best understands its relationship to the whole of the catchment area from which its students come. It understands its relationship to the cultural needs of that area, but also the economic needs —indeed, quite specifically the industrial, the agricultural and all the sociological needs. It is a very interesting place and I should like it to have a voice [359] in the Seanad. This is such a vague Bill that, unless one reads it with a lawyer and with other assistance, one does not know what the Minister intends to do. I know he has some legislation pending and that the substantive debate will take place when that legislation about universities comes. Since the Minister is thinking of that and since we are discussing this Bill, it is appropriate to say that the most important requirement of all in the allocation of Seanad seats for people who have attained third level education is equality.

That leads me to the question of whether you have a binary system, as we currently have, or a unitary system. I often concur with Senator Mulcahy's more practical thoughts. I shall paraphrase what he said and hope, thereby, not to distort his thought—that our third level education is completely distorted towards the literary, the medical, the legal, and away from the technological and scientific. We have a binary system, with very gravely disadvantaged people in places like Kevin Street College of Technology and the Institute of Higher Education in Limerick. I want to see a unified system where everybody receiving third-level education, of whatever kind in whatever institution, is part of a single system enjoying the same salary structure, enjoying the same access to public moneys in regard to buildings, enjoying the same access to moneys in regard to research and, indeed, enjoying the same rights to elect people to the Seanad, as part of their general equality.

What do we need to do at third level in Ireland? We need to compensate for the defects of the past. If we look to the land reforms, after people got to own their own land, then they got a drink shop and after they got a few quid out of the drink shop they wanted a son a priest, a doctor, a lawyer. That thumbnail sketch indicates a great deal of the evolution of our third-level institutions. It is so sad that they so seldom wanted specialist engineers, or training for management or scientists of an applied kind, or agriculturists, or people who would use the pinnacle of present [360] knowledge about the sea, and so on.

If that characterisation of our third-level education is true, and if we wasted vast resources in the past producing respectable professions for export instead of less respected skills for domestic development, there are lots of ways of redress. I hope that, in the contemplated legislation, the Minister will do this very difficult thing. I have been an academic all my life in the university strand of the binary system and do not for a moment underestimate the difficulties of this sort of equality, but we shall never have the shift towards the skills which change the world and away from the skills which describe the world, which are presently what we are so good at. We will never have the shift to skills that actually seize nature and transform it for our people until we have the courage to have the unitary system at third level. To have Senators representing the much larger constituency than just the traditional university is essential. It gives them the equality of status. It gives them a dignity they do not currently possess. Although I am a university person, I am not a university Senator in the sense of how I got elected. I was so interested to hear the university Senators disposing of what they called the university seats, as if they were the possession of the people who had gone to the older institutions and had got the older sort of training. Senator Martin said that if the NCAs wanted something else they could make arrangements with the universities. I thought that was élitist and patronising. He is not here to hear me say it, but no doubt he will see it in the Official Report. That is an example of what being élitist is.

When the Minister comes to do allocating and when, more importantly, he comes to introduce desperately difficult legislation, I hope he will solve something that in my Government we started to try to solve and then we backed away from it, to my great regret. I hope he will face the issue of the unitary system. I hope he will put all those hitherto disadvantaged skills and professions in the technological and scientific and practical area on a par with the doctors and the lawyers. I hope he will make a start in that direction by some sort of [361] equality of third-level power to choose Senators.

I am as concerned about the North as anybody and as concerned about the two traditions in this country as anybody but we must put ourselves in the position of Northern Unionists whose people are offered a seat in the legislative institution in another country. Desirable or not, a Northern Unionist will look on that as a presumptuous effort at a covert sort of amalgamation of the country, which will upset and depress him very much. That suggestion, though interesting, has two sides to it. There is a very considerable negative side to it because it pretends that more than half a century of evolution and a whole lot of legal structures do not exist. To my regret, they do exist.

My most central hope is that the Minister will look to what I have called equality among all the third-level people in the selection of Senators. By so doing, he will face up to the central issue of third-level education, which is the ending of a binary system, not of two equal strands but of one dominant and one exceedingly disadvantaged strand. I do not believe that the other strand—the technological, scientific and practical strand—can be made the equal of the university. I believe that real democracy requires that the Minister face the fact that in the end we must have a unified and unitary third-level system.

Professor Conroy: This Bill is basically an enabling Bill to permit the holding of a referendum relating to the Constitution. The results of the debate that has been held are very important. There is a very important aspect to it, to which Senator Keating has, indeed, adverted but on which few of the other Senators have spoken so far. This is that we are making a very, very radical and basic change indeed in the tradition of election to the Seanad and to what have been described as the university seats. We are now, under Part II, permitting other institutions of higher education in the State to participate in the electoral process of the Seanad, or at least offering the opportunity of making appropriate arrangements for this to happen.

[362] The Acting Chairman lucidly and fully described the historical background to the establishment of the university seats and, I think, mentioned the word “anachronism”. It is indeed an anachronism and is very difficult to justify on any democratic grounds that those people who happen to have graduated from two particular educational institutions in this State should, because of that, have the particular privilege of electing Members of this Upper House. I can give very practical examples of this. Up to recently a doctor qualifying from my own institution would not have had a vote; if he happened to go to one of the other two institutions he would have had a vote. If someone happened to take certain other high professional skills, such as accountancy, unless he was also, at that stage, a graduate of one of those two universities, he did not have a vote for this House. That is an anomaly in itself. There is also the obvious anomaly of having, in effect, two votes, which situation has been changed in Britain; the university seats have been abolished. It was suggested at some stage or other that the fact that Britain has abolished something or instituted something does not necessarily mean that we should follow. We should keep the good while getting rid of the bad. Anomalous though the situation has been, and difficult though it is to justify on democratic grounds, nonetheless in the history of this State those elected from those two universities have played a most useful and valuable part in debates in this House and, indeed, generally in our political life and that is possibly a justification for having a small number of such people. I find it totally unsensible to suggest, as Senator Hussey has, that this number of rather undemocratically elected people should be very considerably enlarged. They have played a very valuable role and the Bill which we are discussing would seem to increase the likelihood of this role becoming a permanent feature of our Upper House, rather than that the university seats would be abolished, as has happened in Britain.

There is another aspect to this which Senator Keating has so ably discussed, and that is the general attitudes to what [363] is or is not a university. We have tended here to have a very narrow view of a university and to regard it basically as an art college, or a college dealing with certain particular professions. It is high time that we got away from this attitude and this Bill gives us the opportunity to recognise that other institutions of higher education, other than specific certain bodies which traditionally in this country have been called universities, should have a closer association one with another. I well remember when I was secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers the discussions which were being held at that time on what was a university and particularly a university in an Irish context. It would be a most valuable advantage if we got away from the very narrow attitude which has prevailed in the past and this Bill will be a great help in this direction. I do feel, however, that detailed discussion should be postponed until we have the appropriate Bill before us for discussion. As representative and a professor in another institute of higher education in this State, I very much welcome the Bill.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: I will make a very short contribution indeed. I feel myself to be a rather over-used Arabic letter on a rubber stamp and I do not feel equal to developing the dissent that I want to express from what, in particular, Senator Keating has just said and with which Senator Conroy agreed. I reserve my comments on that for a more considered delivery by me. My position on that may, indeed, be without any support in the House. I do not include the Minister in that; he might understand what I would be groping to express; I would feel his sympathy there.

I accept completely the need for technological development, increased emphasis on technological education. That is quite obviously economically necessary but that that should be done at any risk at all to academic training seems to me to be very dangerous. If we are to take up the words used by Senator Keating about the distinction between the skills which describe the world, as distinct from the skills which change the [364] world, there are an enormous number of aspects of that particular categorisation. “The skills which describe the world” is a very inadequate description of all the skills that are involved in the sciences other than those that are applied in particular technologies, and the skills that change the world can change the world in a very odd way indeed unless the skills to make the description and to analyse the direction in which the changes being made are, in fact, being developed.

The justification for the university representation we had, in having Independent Senators, has been emphasised. I am not so sure that the people who have come in here through the electoral colleges have not sometimes displayed, and felt, more independence than some of the university representatives, indeed, in many cases more than all the university representatives of this Seanad and earlier Seanads. They seem to me Independents in most constituencies, in other words, to be particularly dependent on their responsiveness to points of view that are within their constituency. We who have to search the heights and depths for the strange votes we get have, in an odd way, because of the variety of these votes and the differences in that electoral college, a curious independence that we know we have and we can use. I think the greatest value the Senators have is this ability which they, to a degree, exercise in expressing a free point of view. They can to a degree educate us, perhaps not as well as they should but they can educate us, and that is good for the political party system which is the most important single element of the whole political debate. The real value, however, is that they can occasionally beat the Government who are in power. If all six of them happen to be irritated at the same time for, perhaps, six different reasons the Government could possibly be beaten. That is the most valuable asset about these Senators. It makes the Seanad, in a mad sort of way, something more than a rubber stamp.

It is unfortunate that the Seanad so rarely does the job that it ought to do. The skills that change the world could [365] take some time to have a look at the legislation which changes the world and to have a look at some of the sections in the legislation which change the world—the sections in Bills like this one, which is going to change the Constitution which, whether you like it or not, whether you want to tear it up or not, is a practical affair with which we have to live. I dissent very much from Senator Keating's proposal to abolish the Constitution and in that regard, I quote Lord Macauley whom, naturally, I found in my hip pocket as I was coming in:

He would doubtless remember that the world is full of institutions which, though they ought never to have been set up yet, having been set up, ought not to be rudely pulled down, and that it is often wise in practice to be content with the mitigation of an abuse which, looking at it in the abstract, we might feel impatient to destroy.

That happened to be in my pocket, to be delivered on the Finance Bill, but I shall use it on this Bill.

Mr. Wilson: That would need a comment from Aristotle.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: Over to you, for Aristotle.

Minister for Education (Mr. Wilson): I want to thank the Senators for their stimulating contributions. I must say that I consider about 80 per cent of the discussion was about something that was not before the House, namely the allocation of the six Seanad seats between the various institutions. At times, the Chair, very gently as behoves the geist of this House, called attention to this, but we seemed to move on, time and time again, to the allocation of the seats. I suppose where the concern is greatest, there the mind rests.

First of all, I should like to comment on some of the remarks made by Senator Robinson. Practically her whole speech was connected with the desirability of university or third-level representation in this House. This had already been decided in fact, and the very amendment suggested to the Constitution indicated that the preservation [366] of the representation had already been decided. Senator Robinson went on to talk in particular of her own institution—the University of Dublin—and talked of the values of loyalty, independence of thought and the fact that significant numbers came from Northern Ireland; she also made a plea for representation or, at least, franchise for Queen's University, Belfast and the New University of Ulster.

As Senator Murphy has already said, loyalty and independence of thought are not the monopoly of any single institution. Independence of thought you may find in a political club down the country, from a person who has not been to any post-primary educational institution. You will often find it with people who are involved in farming; they are very independent-minded and very quick to give their views, whatever about the language. It may not be as polished at times as they would wish, or as anyone else would wish, but I do not think that you can predicate independence of thought merely of any one institution, nor can you predicate loyalty of the graduates of any particular university or school.

I would not agree that the graduates of the two universities in the six counties of north-east Ireland should have a vote in the election of the Members of this House. I said in the Dáil that there did not seem to me to be any great clamour for this, and I take the point made by Senator Keating that it could, in certain circles, at least, be regarded as irrelevant condescension. People might say, “What kind of favour do they think they are conferring on us?” I do not think it is significant.

Senator Robinson read out my private correspondence and if I were picking any Senator in the House to read my private correspondence I should pick Senator Robinson. However, I should have been very pleased if the person writing to me had sent me the letter before he sent the copy to her. I cannot quite understand—having checked in my office—how Senator Robinson got a copy of a letter which was written to me, before the letter was delivered to me. I am sure that whatever method was [367] chosen to deliver it to Senator Robinson could also have been chosen to deliver it to me.

The Senator urged on us the importance of the flexibility of the method of election. I agree that we have not, as yet, decided on the method of election and again, as I pointed out in my opening speech, it is a matter of the Minister for the Environment in his Bill to decide on the method of election of the six Senators. The recognised colleges were mentioned by me in my opening speech also and Senator Robinson asked me when I would have the legislation ready. It is my intention that there will be no undue delay in the presentation of the legislation to the House. Admittedly, that formula “no undue delay” could come under somebody's suspicion. I want to tell the House that I would hope to be in the process of putting the legislation through the Oireachtas within the next 12 months. I was asked that question by Senator Robinson and she mentioned the calendar year.

Dúirt an Seanadóir Cranitch gur thaitnigh an Bille leis, agus dúirt sé “más maith is mithid”. Sin an tuairim atá agam féin. Ní raibh sé éasca an Bille seo a chóiriú nó a chur in eagar agus in ord chun teacht roimh an Oireachtas. Tá súil agam nach mbeidh na Billi eile chomh casta agus go meidh comhoibriú le fáil agamsa ón Dáil agus ón Seanad. Dúirt se go mbeadh díospóireacht níos doimhne againn amach anseo nuair a mbeidh na Billí eile faoi chaibidil againn anseo, agus beidh, agus tá fhios agam go mbeidh díospóireacht fiúntach againn anseo, mar gheall ar an mór-Bhille.

I am pleased that Senator Cranitch is determined to make a contribution to the debates that are coming up in relation to the Bills.

We had a long and interesting contribution from Senator West. I was a little perturbed the first time he mentioned the Minister's word but when he came back two or three times to it, I began to feel, in so far as it is possible to feel resentment in this highly civilised atmosphere, a little resentment that he indicated on a number of occasions that [368] my word was not my bond. At one stage he must have felt that he was doing that himself. I would be very worried if the Senator thought I was playing games in introducing a Bill to amend the Constitution, and if he felt that my statement that this was an enabling Bill to enable me to get on as quickly as possible with the legislation was not genuine, then I regret it. However, I want to assure him that I am fully intent on carrying the legislation to the Oireachtas in the very near future.

Senator West pointed out what has happened at various periods with regard to the representation either in the Dáil or the Seanad by the universities. He pointed out that Mr. de Valera had gained political advantage by the abolition of the Dáil representation in the thirties. A Senator made the point that I, perhaps, for my party could gain political advantage by abolishing the university or third-level representation in this House now. I felt that, as has been said here—I fully agree with it—that the contributions by the representatives of the universities in this House have been well worth while and would be a loss to this House if the whole system was scrapped. It is interesting to note that the full thrust towards the abolition of university representation in Britain was a Labour Party one, a Socialist one, on the grounds that it was élitist, it represented the areas of privilege in that society and so on. It is interesting also that representatives of the University of Dublin are Members of the Labour Party here, one of the paradoxes of history.

In the Dáil I said that being a member of a political party is not reprehensible. Senator Murphy also referred to this. While I agree that Seanad representatives should not be forbidden from joining a political party, when they go before their electorate they should reveal that they belong to a political party. It is not fair after the election for them to join a political party. Senator Martin said that if it came to a time when he would have to join a political party he would resign his seat. It is true that not an inconsiderable number in all political parties at the moment feel that university representation should be abolished. I do [369] not hold that view although I held it at one stage. I believed in the British situation, that it was what its opponents claimed it to be.

Senator West made the point that out of 34 discussions on the Adjournment 30 were initiated by university Senators and that is proof enough of the opinion I hold, that their contribution to the House has been a worthwhile one. He returned to the idea that the date of the introduction of legislation by me would be postponed, that it is very far off. He said that the whole process is distant, difficult and delicate. I want to assure the House again—I am only doing this because Senator West returned to it time and again—that difficult and delicate as it may be, it is my firm intention to have the legislation before the House in the reasonably near future.

With regard to the number of seats, I do not accept that there is any need for an increase in the number to represent the universities. With regard to the size of the constituency, strictly speaking this belongs to the debate on the Bill that will be introduced by the Minister for the Environment. Senator West referred to the difficulty of fighting in the very large constituency. He said he had a constituency of 8,000 but that the new, enlarged constituency could very well involve 70,000 voters and therefore, the private individual would have difficulty fighting the election because it would be too expensive without getting party support. He felt this would introduce the political parties into the arena. I am not conceding that this would necessarily be a bad thing. It is part of my thesis that belonging to a political party is important and in no way disqualifies a person for any particular role in ordinary life or in politics. It is an illusion to think that because a university candidate in the Seanad elections has party support the party will bear his expenses. I know for a fact that that is not so. The thesis was that, if the constituency was very large, was not divided up and allocated to the various institutions, this would spell the death of the Independents.

I do not accept that. This discussion belongs to the Bill which will decide how the six Senators will be elected. I will [370] keep in mind the views expressed by the Senators on this matter. It will be a question of either allocation to individual institutions or specific areas or one constituency electing all six. In this regard Senator Keating referred to the importance of proportionality and the importance of regionality.

The Northern connection was stressed very strongly by a number of speakers. I am on record as having said that that connection was a very important one. It is a connection which Trinity College, Dublin, and University College, Dublin and University College, Galway, to a lesser extent, have had over the years. It is very important that this should be maintained. I was pleased to hear Senator West say he had been in the North of Ireland and visited about 25 schools encouraging students to go to his university. I expressed agreement in the Dáil with that kind of activity because nothing but good can come of it for our students and the students from Northern Ireland who come here. It is a rather different thing to say that one college has that link and that it has a monopoly of that kind of interest. It is argued at times that because of this link certain arrangements should be made with regard to representation, but I do not accept that, due mainly to the changing circumstances in, for example, Trinity College, Dublin.

Dr. Martin: I should like to tell the Minister that Senator Conor Cruise-O'Brien has just announced that he has resigned his Seanad seat and given as his reason the fact that this Bill is designed to muzzle Trinity. He wants Trinity to be given the opportunity to elect somebody in a by-election. I thought this might be an opportune moment to give this information.

Mr. Wilson: I am aware that Senator O'Brien has resigned his seat but the reason given by Senator Martin is not the reason given on the midday news. The reason given on it was that he could not attend to his duties in this House because his duties as Editor-in-Chief of The Observer newspaper precluded him from being here when he should be here.

[371] Acting Chairman: It would be preferable if we did not refer to this matter during the debate on this Bill. It is still a matter of speculation.

Mr. Wilson: I take Senator West's point that the type of constituent whom Senators from the universities represent is one who has expertise and that expertise should be imparted to the representative and available to the House. That is an advantage of such representation. Senator Mulcahy complained of the law's delay and pointed out that ten years ago he advocated a council for educational awards and it has taken that time to come to the Oireachtas. He was pleased that we have the legislation in the pipeline. It is difficult to prepare legislation and go through all stages. We have been working on this amendment of the Constitution for some time and several drafts were prepared, assessed and rejected until this draft, which has its own difficulties, was finally agreed by Government. It is true that there are delays. Senator Mulcahy referred to the lack of certain skills in our society. I do not know exactly how it relates to this Bill except that we want reorganisation of third-level education to expedite the provision of mechanical and electrical engineers and so on that are needed for the development of our economy. That Senator pointed out how urgent this was and said that demographically our urban population was doubling every 15 years and rural every 30 years. He said that this made the reorganisation for third-level education and the passing of this legislation a matter of some urgency.

Senator Murphy welcomed the Bill if it was to be a precursor of other legislation. He hoped there would not be very much delay about that. I am using this amendment of the Constitution to clear the way for the legislation in this whole area. It is purely a utilitarian Bill, one that will enable me to go ahead with the Bills giving independent status to the universities. He welcomed the decision to continue the university representation also and said he had some difficulty at times to defend his position when people said he represented a rotten borough or an élitist group. The point was well made that the other 43 Members are, to a certain [372] extent, élitist in that they are chosen on panels. They have to have certain expertise to get a nomination on those panels. We are generally in agreement that the Seanad representatives contributed to the good name of this House and substantially to the debates in it. I was pleased to hear him say that some Seanad representatives made asses of themselves and thus proved that they were human. He instanced, in particular, the debate on The Tailor and Ansty. Certainly, if that is a way of proving humanity it was proved in that case. The Senator agreed that it should not necessarily debar anybody if he joins a political party, that party politics does not deserve the cynicism that is conferred upon it in our society. He stressed the importance of independence in the university field and wants to retain this as an area of independence. However the electors decide in the future I am sure that the fact that people are university representatives will put iron in the soul, the iron of independence of view.

I was pleased to hear most people welcoming the democratising of the vote in that it is being extended. I would be very sensitive about using any word which would sound like condescension in this regard. I hope that those who hold degrees, assessed and awarded by the NCEA, will play a greater role in the election of the six Senators in future. A number of Senators made the point that somehow or other Trinity College was a special case. I agree that this cannot be maintained any longer. In fact, it was at a meeting which I had with the heads of universities that the Provost of Trinity College said that he had as much claim now to the title of head of a national university as any other head in the country. That is so and it is well that it should be so.

Senator Murphy asked for an assurance about the single constituency but as of now I cannot give him that. With other Senators he stressed the importance of regionality. I will keep all those suggestions in mind when advising the Minister for the Environment on his Bill. Senator Murphy asked me a straight question about when the Bill would be brought in. I have already covered that as far as I can. I regard that [373] as a matter of urgency. The word “urgency” takes on colour in the legislation process but it is very difficult to make speed in the ordinary sense of the word.

Senator Lambert made a point about the wealth of talent available from the universities, with one of which I agree. University Senators have deserved well of the Seanad. That Senator said he would regret if Trinity forfeited representation in the new arrangements. I differ from the Senator, and others, on that point. There is not any longer a need to regard Trinity as some special kind of preserve. It has taken its place in the university life of the country and is distinguished for its scholarship and its sponsoring of modern art but there is no way in which it is any more identified with any minority any more and that is good for the university and the country. I do not think Trinity College will lose representation in the House no matter what system of election is finally decided on.

Senator Hussey regretted the haste with which the Bill was brought before the House. My regret is that it did not come before the House sooner but, were it not for my haste, it would not have come before the House now. This has been mooted for a long time but it was difficult to draft the Bill. The same Senator hoped for the development of Maynooth College. I mentioned earlier that the status of that university would be established in the forthcoming legislation. I am not sure that her suggestion of a mini-Louvaine in Kildare is an apt one because Louvaine has had sturm und drang in its time of troubles, civil strife and dissention over language problems which I would not like to import into the quiet lands of north Kildare.

Senator Hussey also suggested a different distribution of seats and referred, in particular, to three Senators representing an electorate of 8,000 in the University of Dublin and three for a 40,000 electorate in the National University of Ireland. She said that she was aware why the allocation was made at the outset but I do not think she was correct in her view. In fact, at the time the allocation was made there would not [374] have been that great difference in the numbers. Trinity, in fact, started with more on its register of electorates than the National University of Ireland and the NUI has expanded greatly since then. Senator Hussey went on to deal with the register of the NUI. The last time I saw that register it was a series of booklets and it was difficult to know which was out of date. The register may have been rationalised and put in one book since then.

Mrs. Hussey: It is in one out-of-date book.

Mr. Wilson: I accept that this is a problem that will have to be faced when the electorate is being decided on for the six Senators under the new legislation. I invite Senator Hussey to send me a memo with regard to the register. In fact, I wish to avail of this opportunity of asking Senators who have particular interests either about the allocation of seats, the getting of the register together, or the organisation of an office to prepare the register to send memos to me.

I would not find it acceptable that there should be 17 seats instead of the existing six. Senator Cassidy, supporting Senators Robinson and West, referred to the Northern Ireland universities and the desirability of those universities having a vote in the election. I take her point about cultural schizophrenia and she mentioned Kennedy and McKinley. We would like McKinley to come to Dublin to the university and if that happens, as it is likely to happen in the case of Kennedy, then McKinley will have a vote in the election.

Senator Martin regretted that some of his colleagues from the universities took the Whip of a political party. His thesis was that independence was the most important thing as far as a university Senator was concerned. I could not accept the thesis that if a person joins a political party it in any way diminishes his or her value in a House like this. However, the person concerned should clear such a move with his or her electorate. He appealed to me to give a thought to this before committing myself [375] to a formula for the election of the six Senators. I am doing this and I issue an invitation to people who have views on the matter to communicate with me. He went ahead—I do not know whether it was relevant on this Bill or not—to suggest allocations. I do not intend to comment on that at the moment.

Senator Goulding referred to, and recommended strongly, the idea of the Northern universities involvement. I have already stated that I would not be able to accept that suggestion. Senator Keating came in in more pugnacious mood than other Senators in the House, lashing the Constitution and calling it a dreadful one but, quoting Bernard Shaw, he said on another occasion, “what effect can we have when there are so many people opposed to us?”

It was not rushed. I made the point that a considerable amount of thought went into it. There was considerable difficulty to be overcome. I repudiate the suggestion that the Bill is a vague one. It is quite clear what it is about. I reject the idea that it is trivial. It does not give carte blanche to me because the legislation which will flow from or be made possible by this amendment, will come before the Dáil and Seanad for full discussion. I look forward to a full discussion in this House. I know it will be a worth-while one.

Mrs. Robinson: When are we likely to have that opportunity?

Mr. Wilson: If the Senator had been here she would have heard me answer that about three times. I answered the Senator's question in her absence.

Mr. Keating: The Minister mentioned it three times but there is a doubt as to whether he answered it.

Mr. Wilson: What kind of answer would Senator Keating like to get? Would he like me to say November 1979 at 3 p.m.? Senator Keating was himself a member of the Government and he knows perfectly well that kind of answer is not possible.

I have referred already to the [376] guidelines for the allocation of the seats. Senator Keating is very keen on proportionality and on regionality. Both those suggestions will be kept in mind as well as the suggestion by Senator Martin and others. Senator Keating also referred to the importance of the technological area and of course supported me in extending the franchise to the graduates of the technological colleges. He said he wanted the same access, the same buildings and so on, for the non-university technological sector that the university sector is getting. I do not agree that the same access and the same buildings and so on, should be provided but I intend to have better access and better buildings and more money for research in this area. I intend to dedicate myself to it.

I agree with Senator FitzGerald when he says it is not just a black and white situation when we are talking about the skills that change the world and the skills that describe the world. Perhaps the skills that describe the world have made just as many radical changes in people's conditions as have the ones Senator Keating characterises as the ones that changed the world. Uncle Tom's Cabin perhaps did as much for a whole society as did The Spinning Wheel and The Rights of Man and Das Kapital. All of these were descriptive but they did not end with description merely. They flowed over into the world of reality, men's lives and general development.

Professor Murphy: The Fianna Fáil Manifesto?

Mr. Wilson: The Fianna Fáil Manifesto is a very good example.

Dr. West: Could it be compared to Uncle Tom's Cabin?

Mr. Wilson: I was carried away; a wave of euphoria flowed over me as a result of the intervention by Senator Murphy. One point that everyone seems to forget in this regard when making a dichotomy which is not real is that technology is well embedded in our university system as well. It is well entrenched there already in the university system as well as in institutions that [377] are not in the universities. We should keep that in mind.

Senator Conroy did refer to what he said was a radical change in our thinking. There is a radical change in our thinking expressed in this Bill when we refer to other institutions of higher education because in fact—and in no condescending fashion—it is simply extending the franchise to people whom we regard as of equal importance in our university system and it is along the road that Senator Keating wants us to travel. Senator Conroy referred to anomalies, the anomaly of a graduate of his at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland not having a vote up to comparatively recently when they made a liaison with University College, Dublin, the National University of Ireland. The anomalies were there and to some extent we are abolishing some of the anomalies in so far as we emphasise the importance of third-level institutions other than the universities.

I have already commented on what Senator FitzGerald said in relation to technological development not being at the expense of the development of the other fields of higher education. It is not fruitful to think in terms of dichotomy and I have always maintained that a full man requires both elements. A debate was started many years ago by C. P. Snow on this whole business of the two cultures. It can be maintained that they are two aspects of the same culture and that there is no full man who does not participate in both.

One thought that struck me was in relation to the use of words. Senator West referred to a man called Carson, alias Carsoni, who was a university representative. It was interesting to see how words change their meaning as the universe of discourse changes because Senator Robinson when she was speaking talked about the particular virtues of the University of Dublin and she talked of loyalty. In a different universe of discourse, bringing in the representative Edward Carson, loyalty means something quite different in that context from the general context in which it was used by Senator Robinson. Independence of thought in that particular context [378] is quite different as well. The universe of discourse often changes the meaning of words.

I want to conclude by thanking the Senators who contributed to a very stimulating debate. About 80 per cent of it was about a different Bill altogether; it was about the Bill which the Minister for the Environment will bring in to decide on how the six Senators will be elected on the university panels, how the seats will be allocated—either a single constituency or with some seats adhering to individual institutions—but I cannot say but that I was intrigued and enthralled by the debate in the House.

Dr. West: On a point of clarification, I referred to the Minister's word. I did not make myself clear, obviously. I never doubted that the Minister would keep his word. What I said was that in the event of another Minister taking over his role that in relation to legislation I did not think the Minister's word would be binding on his successor. That was the point I was trying to make.

Cuireadh agus aontaiodh an cheist.

Question put and agreed to.

Aontaiodh na Céimeanna eile a thógáil inniu.

Agreed to take remaining Stages today.