Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - In-Calf Heifers .

Wednesday, 21 June 1978

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 307 No. 10

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3.

Mr. J. Walsh: Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  asked the Taoiseach the number of replacement incalf heifers at the latest livestock enumeration.

Mr. P. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. 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: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : On a point of order, I inquire as to why a series of questions tabled by me on the recent Green [1596] Paper have been ruled out of order by you, Sir. They were addressed to the Minister for Economic Planning and Development.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : 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: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : We cannot have a debate now.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael 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: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : In the last analysis it is the rights of Deputies that the Ceann Comhairle is protecting when he rules out these matters.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Under which Standing Order are my questions ruled out of order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : There are Standing Orders and precedent. I will not go into a discussion on them at Question Time.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : I am not finished yet.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I say you are.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : I am saying I am not. I want to know——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am not going to be questioned on the reasons for ruling out. The Deputy has recourse to means which have been explained already.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Is there a suggestion that the Minister is being protected? If he is it is not from this side of the House that he needs protection.

[1597]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : It is no part of the Ceann Comhairle's function to protect the Minister except in so far as he must uphold Standing Orders and the Rules of the House.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Is it not a fact that any question on the Order Paper today can be raised on the Adjournment?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : 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: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : This issue, Sir, and your comments on not allowing the questions are of extreme importance to the whole House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : There will be another place for raising it.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : When?

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : That is correct with regard to statistical questions.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Not necessarily.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am calling Question No. 4.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Question No. 4. I will not permit a discussion on this.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : We cannot permit democracy to be thrown out the door because the Ceann Comhairle wants to protect the Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : That is a very unfair statement by the Deputy.

(Interruptions.)

[1598]Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : The evidence is there.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Does the Deputy wish to raise it on the Adjournment?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : I assure the Ceann Comhairle that he said——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : This is exactly what I do not want. This is never permitted and no decision has been taken by the Ceann Comhairle that has not many predecents in past practice.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : On a point of order——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett 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: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : 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: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry 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?

[1599]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Deputy has other means of inquiring about that.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : I had no other means.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : 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. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : I certainly will.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : That is hypothetical. Question No. 4.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : It is a disgraceful attack on the rights of Members of this House. It is not hypothetical at all.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett 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?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Question No. 4. I want to make it quite clear that the reason for ruling out the questions will not be a matter for discussion at Question Time.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  : Can I ask——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am calling Question No. 4.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  : On a point of order——

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : These are not points of order.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : They are.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : They are not points of order and I am not accepting [1600] them as such. I am calling Question No. 4.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  : May I ask——

(Interruptions.)

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : There are certain rights in this House. We have a right to be heard.

(Interruptions.)


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