Thursday, 10 December 1970
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to lake business as follows: Nos. 20, 21, 22, 23, 7, 8 and 24; Questions at 2.30 p.m. The House will sit today from 10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. and tomorrow from 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dr. FitzGerald: Arising out of the Order of Business I wish to raise the question of the disappearance from the Order Paper of item No. 1 on yesterday's Order Paper. This item was not taken. I rose on it but as the debate had not concluded on Mr. Corish's speech, I was not able to get in.
Dr. FitzGerald: I am sure the Chair will be the first to agree that this House, in respect of any Bill, should, if it wishes to do so, have the opportunity to raise a question and oppose the Bill on the First Stage but if we cannot hear it being moved, we cannot be aware that it is being moved. Later, I did hear you call No. 4 but I did not hear item No. 1. I wish to lodge a protest and to ask that in any case in which a Member of this House cannot hear a Bill being moved that the Bill be put on the Order Paper again.
Dr. FitzGerald: May I make a point that it is a matter for the Chair to ensure that the business of this House is carried on, that people can be heard and that people have a right to carry on business in an orderly way? If the Chair fails to ensure that, the blame does not lie with us and we are entitled to ask you, if you were unable to maintain order and allowed the business to proceed despite that, to ensure this item is put on the Order Paper again.
Mr. Cluskey: Last night after the House had adjourned, the Taoiseach, both personally and through his Whip, offered us a full-day debate tomorrow on the question of internment provided that we abandon our position in relation to the Prices and Incomes Bill.
Mr. Cluskey: As it would not be possible to sacrifice one piece of democracy in an effort to defend another, we would ask the Taoiseach if he would be prepared to have the debate tomorrow. In turn, we would be prepared to sit for any extra hours that might be lost.
The Taoiseach: During the course of the debate yesterday I suggested to the Opposition that a debate on the Government statement of last Friday could be included in the Adjournment Debate at the end of the present session provided that the legislation now on the Order Paper will have been passed by that time. I mentioned that openly in the Dáil yesterday. Apparently it was not acceptable.
Subsequently, I did convey directly to Deputy Cluskey the offer that we  could have a debate tomorrow provided that by next week all the legislation that the Government wished to put through will have been passed. I did not suggest any abandonment of any principle by anybody. That offer still stands. It is reasonable that the Government are entitled to ask the House to have the necessary legislative provisions put through this House at the proper time when there is a statutory limitation on the necessity for such legislation. Both offers are still open —the first one having been made openly here yesterday and the second both to Deputy Cluskey and to the leader of his party.
Mr. Cluskey: Will the Taoiseach not agree that we were prepared to facilitate as far as all the business on the Order Paper was concerned with the exception of the Prices and Income Bill? We are not prepared to sacrifice the interests of the workers——
Mr. Cluskey: The Chair's ruling yesterday was to the effect that the powers were not in operation. I recall that when major strikes were about to take place but had not actually become effective, debates were allowed in the House. Therefore, I find it difficult to detect any consistency in your ruling of yesterday.
The Taoiseach: May I clarify the situation? The Labour Party are trying, in some way, to put me in a false position. I did not refuse a debate here yesterday. There was a specific motion on the Order Paper from the Labour  Party which you found did not comply with Standing Orders for the purpose of providing a debate. That was the Chair's decision and I had no function in it. However, I did make the offer to which I have already referred here openly, and also the other one to the Labour Party directly. I want to repeat that both these offers are still open.
Mr. Cluskey: The Taoiseach's statement yesterday to the House was that there was too much legislation to be dealt with. We are now prepared to sit any extra hours that are necessary to compensate for the time that would be lost in discussing this major issue.
The Taoiseach: Otherwise we shall sit up to Christmas Day, but it is not desirable we should do that. By offering hours to compensate for whatever hours would be lost in a debate does not mean there is any undertaking from or indication by the Labour Party that the necessary legislation would be put through before the Recess.
Mr. Tully: Is it not a fact that, even without the debate for which we are asking, the Taoiseach has no guarantee that the business before the House will be finished before Christmas? Has it not always been the case that there will be certain items which the Government will abandon at the last minute? Why not be sensible about it? Let the Taoiseach name the ones he wants and, as Deputy Cluskey says, we shall sit all night, if necessary, to give him the time.
The Taoiseach: It is not unreasonable in a democratic society that if a request is made by one side a request would also be made by the other side  and both be acceded to. This is a matter of procedure by the House. The Labour Party want it both ways. They want to have a debate on a matter that you. Sir, have ruled they are not entitled to have——
The Taoiseach: We are prepared to do that provided they accede to my reasonable request. I mentioned the measures we required and I shall repeat them now: the Finance (No. 2) Bill, the Decimal Currency Bill, the Transport Bill, the Exchange Control Bill and the Prices and Incomes Bill.
Mr. Desmond: Is the Taoiseach aware that in relation to the Prices and Incomes Bill he is placing the Labour Party in an impossible position? The Irish Congress of Trade Unions are about to ask him, in view of their special delegate conference tomorrow on the proposed national wage agreement, to withdraw the Prices and Incomes Bill to enable that conference to take place in a calm atmosphere in which there can be rational discussion. You cannot have it both ways.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The Taoiseach said just now that the refusal to allow a debate on this matter stemmed from your ruling. Sir, and not from his decision. We would accept that, but we should like to know what the basis for your ruling is, for your extraordinary interpretation of section 29. You ruled that nothing definite had happened. Something definite has happened. The European Commission on Human Rights at Strasbourg have been informed of our impending derogation from the Convention on Human Rights.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: No, Sir, you did not. You said nothing definite had happened. That was not true. As a matter of fact, definite things have happened. The Taoiseach made an important statement which has been the subject of widespread comment.
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