Wednesday, 21 June 1978
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. P. Lalor: : The latest available information relates to the December 1977 enumeration when the total number of heifers-in-calf was estimated at 319,000. Separate figures are not available for replacement heifers-in-calf.
Mr. Keating: : On a point of order, I inquire as to why a series of questions tabled by me on the recent Green  Paper have been ruled out of order by you, Sir. They were addressed to the Minister for Economic Planning and Development.
An Ceann Comhairle: : While the Deputy is not really in order on raising this here, I ruled out a lot of his questions on the ground that they were anticipatory of the debate on the Adjournment. It is common practice and is precedented.
Mr. Keating: : I suggest that the ruling out of those questions is unjust and discriminatory because it is the Ceann Comhairle who is anticipating the debate. Any matter may be raised on the Adjournment Debate on these issues.
Mr. Keating: : The rights of Members of this House are very important. All I wanted was information on the Green Paper. The Minister will not be here after today to answer questions until next October.
An Ceann Comhairle: : The Deputy is being grossly disorderly in raising this matter at Question Time. If that were permitted every Deputy whose question was ruled out of order would be bringing it up here. I could not permit that.
Mr. Cluskey: : A Cheann Comhairle, the reason you gave to Deputy Keating was that his questions anticipated the debate. It is normal and in accordance with long-established procedure and precedent that Deputies do submit questions in order to solicit factual information in anticipation of a debate.
Mr. B. Desmond: : On a point of order, the Ceann Comhairle wrote to me on 21 June disallowing questions which I had addressed to the Minister as to the basis of certain calculations in the recently published Green Paper.
Dr. FitzGerald: : On a point of order, my recollection over the past number of years is that prior to the budget debate, for example, it has been the practice to put down many questions to elicit information necessary for the proper conduct of that debate and that one of the functions of Question Time has been to elicit information in advance of a debate to enable the debate to be well informed. Therefore, I am positive that the Ceann Comhairle should rule otherwise. I am wondering what precedents are being used.
An Ceann Comhairle: : I have already explained, and I should not give explanations for these things at Question Time because it is not done, but out of courtesy to the Deputy I repeat that it is the practice prior to the budget debate to permit statisical questions. Many other questions are ruled out and the Deputy must know that.
Mr. B. Desmond: : In view of the fact that the questions I put down were of an entirely statistical nature could the Ceann Comhairle give the precedents for ruling them out of order in view of the fact that there are now similar questions on the Order Paper?
An Ceann Comhairle: : It may not be raised now. If the Deputies think that the Ceann Comhairle is using some measure of ruling out questions which has not been used before they should bring it up with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
Mr. Kelly: : With genuine respect to the Chair and without wishing to offend or inflame this discussion, I put it to the Ceann Comharle that surely there is no question that could not be ruled out of order on the grounds that a debate was coming up.
Dr. FitzGerald: : Is it not the case that on an Adjournment debate it is open to the Oppostion to raise any matter? How, therefore, can any question be asked before an Adjournment debate with a guarantee that it will be answered?
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