Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - National Wage Agreement .

Wednesday, 21 June 1978

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 307 No. 10

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5.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  asked the Minister for Economic Planning and Development if he will take steps to have the current national wage agreement renegotiated to take account of rises in the cost of living resulting from any adjustment in the green £.

[1612]6.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  asked the Minister for Economic Planning and Development if the Government will take steps to have the terms of the National Pay Agreement amended to take account of the 3 per cent/4 per cent increase in food prices recently negotiated in Brussels.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 and 6 together.

Deputies:  : Sit down.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : The national agreement is a voluntary agreement entered into by the employers and trade unions——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : On what grounds is the Chair refusing my motion?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : ——and it is not the intention of the Government to seek a renegotiation or amendment for the reasons mentioned by the Deputy.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : May I ask on what grounds is the Chair refusing my motion?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Chair is not accepting the motion.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : On what grounds?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : There is no precedent for such a motion.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : Are you sure of that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am certain.

Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): An Adjournment Debate may or may not take place next week. It is not on the Order Paper.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Deputy is simply being disorderly. Will he resume his seat? Will he have some regard for the decorum of the House?

Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): I am not disorderly. I am shocked——

Deputies:  : You should be.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Question No. 7.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : On a point of order——

[1613]7.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  asked the Minister for Economic Planning and Development if it is the policy of the Government that the terms of the national wage agreement should apply to professional fees.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : The National Wage Agreement is a voluntary arrangement between employers and the ICTU——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Could we settle this matter? There is a motion to suspend Standing Orders.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : On a point of order, is the Chair ruling?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : On a point of order I am the only Member called by the Chair.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : I want to make a point of order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Will the Deputy please resume his seat?

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : I am on a point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I want to say my last word. There will be no further discussion on this. The only point made is that the debate is not on the Green Paper. If the debate is not on the Green Paper, then I will review my decision.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Exclusively.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Most Members who are discussing this matter have not even looked at the questions.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  : How could we look at them? They are not down.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : There were 15 questions.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : I have here questions that you ruled out and I will quote what I have. It is signed by yourself to Deputy Barry Desmond and it says: “I regret I have had to disallow the Questions addressed by you to the Minister for Economic Planning and Development regarding the recently published Green Paper, Development for Full Employment. These matters are appropriate to be raised in the debate on the adjournment for the Summer Recess.”

[1614]Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): And so is everything else.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : These are statistical questions designed to elicit information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The same criteria applies to all questions. It is on the record of the House that the Green Paper is to be discussed on the Adjournment——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Are you sure?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : If it is not, I will review my decision.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  : I think you have gone a good distance——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : I am trying to pursue a point of order, Deputy Kelly. The point is that whether or not the Green Paper is to be included in the Adjournment Debate is immaterial.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : That is not a point of order.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : It is the position, and it always has been, that Deputies use Question Time in order to elicit vital information that may be used in the course of a debate. When the Chair rules Deputies may not ask questions because they are anticipating a debate that is a total disregard for both precedent and Standing Orders.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Deputy has made his statement now and he may pursue it in another place.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : I was elected to this place——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Would the Minister answer Question No. 7?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : The national wage agreement is a voluntary arrangement between employers and the ICTU to provide for increases in rates of pay and the avoidance of industrial disputes. The agreement does not apply to professional fees. It is the Government's aim, however, to ensure as far as possible that the development of incomes other than pay, including professional fees, is in line with the national wage agreement increases.

[1615]Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Order.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : The Leader of the Opposition has moved——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Deputy is deliberately seeking to disrupt the Business of the House.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  : Is the Chair implying the Leader of the Opposition comes in deliberately to cause disorder? Will you adjourn the House, please?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am calling Question No. 8.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Is my motion to adjourn the House not being taken? Will the Chair hear me on a point of order?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I am the only Member properly on his feet.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : On a point of order it is provided under Standing Orders 139 (2) that in cases of urgent necessity, of which the Ceann Comhairle shall be the judge, any Standing Order or Orders may be suspended upon motion without notice. The Standing Order provides that the Chair shall be the judge of urgent necessity and it further provides that, if such motion be opposed, the Ceann Comhairle shall permit an explanatory statement from the Members who move it and a statement from a Member who opposes it before he puts the question thereon. It is clear from the wording that I am entitled to make an explanatory statement and, secondly, that you must put the question. May I, therefore, make my explanatory statement?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am not accepting it. It is not the Chair's job——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Surely you cannot refuse to accept a procedural matter covered under Standing Orders.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Would the Minister reply to Question No. 8?

8.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  asked the Minister for Economic Planning and Development if he considers that recent [1616] increases in dividends awarded to the shareholders of the Allied Irish Banks and the Bank of Ireland, of 59 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, are consistent with the spirit of the current national wage agreement, which granted workers a pay increase of 8 per cent; and whether they are in accordance with the Government's policy of encouraging moderation in income increases generally.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : The percentage figures quoted by the Deputy relate to total dividends paid to shareholders; on a gross earnings per share basis, the corresponding figures would be 16 per cent and 23 per cent. In relating them to the development of pay it needs to be remembered that, in addition to the 8 per cent pay increase quoted by the Deputy, the national wage agreement allows for a further 2 per cent after 12 months, and it also provides for locally negotiated increases to a maximum of 2 per cent, and for productivity bargaining. Overall it is expected that after allowance is made for these increases, and account is taken of wage-drift and the carry-over of 1977 pay increases into 1978, average non-agricultural earnings will show an increase of between 14 to 16 per cent in 1978 over 1977.

Furthermore, in comparing dividend payments and earnings, it is perhaps more appropriate to look at the pattern over a few years. The average annual increase in industrial earnings over the past five years was of the order of 21 per cent; during the comparable period the average dividend increases, on a gross earnings per share basis, were 17 per cent for Allied Irish Banks and 24 per cent for the Bank of Ireland.

It would not appear from the development of the two sets of figures that the Government's policy of encouraging moderation in income increases generally is inappropriate or inequitable.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : A Cheann Comhairle, the Standing Order I quoted says that, if such motion be opposed, the Ceann Comhairle shall permit an explanatory statement.

[1617]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : In cases of urgent necessity, of which the Ceann Comhairle is the judge.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : If you are opposing my motion, may I now make my explanatory statement?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I do not regard this as a matter of necessity, let alone urgent necessity. It is not in order and I do not accept the proposal.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : I understand you are opposing my contention——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am not opposing; the Chair does not oppose. I am not accepting it. I would appeal to the Deputy in the interests of better order of the House to allow Question Time to proceed.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : On a point of order, have you had a written communication from the Government side saying that the Green Paper would definitely be included in the Adjournment Debate?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : No.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  : You are only guessing.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : In view of that, would you withdraw your ruling as you were ruling under a misapprehension?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I said that if the Green Paper is not for discussion in the Adjournment Debate, I will——

(Interruptions.)

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : What you said was that “if it was not the subject of the Adjournment Debate”. Stick to what you said if you do not mind.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : If the Adjournment Debate is not on the Green Paper I will review my decision.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Whether the Green Paper is to be the subject matter of the Adjournment Debate or to be included in it, is immaterial. Deputies are not only entitled but have a definite responsibility to solicit factual information in order to properly prepare themselves for an intelligent contribution to the debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : That is correct.

[1618]Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : You are now depriving Deputies of that right—not a privilege but a right.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Chair has the right to judge what questions are permissible——

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

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Chair never has any ulterior motive. This Ceann Comhairle is not concerned with who is embarrassed and who is not. I am going on precedent and on Standing Orders. This is not the time to press the Chair for an explanation.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Do you not seriously realise the fundamental importance of the issue we are raising?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Question No. 10.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : We cannot proceed until——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : We will debate this another time.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : In the history of this House there never was a precedent for questions ruled out of order being discussed in such a disorderly manner.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : I was making a point of order——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : We have tried in every way possible to have this matter resolved in an orderly way.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : Are you prepared to review your decision and assure us that the questions will be on tomorrow's Order Paper and will be reached by the Minister?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am not, but I am prepared to look at the situation and discuss it with the Members, as I always do, outside Question Time.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : Any decision——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I give every facility to people whose questions are ruled out of order and that is common practice. My predecessor did the same. It was never permitted that the matter would be raised at Question Time.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : A decision has been made now and if the Minister finishes [1619] his questions and Deputy Keating's questions are on tomorrow's Order Paper, they will not be answered in this House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Will the Deputy allow Question Time to Continue?

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : Yes, if you are prepared to assure me——

Mr. Allen: Information on Lorcan Allen  Zoom on Lorcan Allen  : Have some respect for the Chair.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Will the Minister be here tomorrow to answer questions?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I will.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Question No. 10.

(Interruptions.)

Question No. 9 postponed.


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