Friday, 25 June 1982
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take the business in the following order: Nos. 3 and 10. Within item No. 10 the following Votes will be taken: Votes 38, 39 and 28 and the Supplementary Estimate for Vote 28. By agreement, the Supplementary Estimate for Vote 38 being introduced today will be debated with Votes 38 and 39.
Mrs. Fennell: Will the Minister for Justice be making a statement to the House about a court case in Dún Laoghaire yesterday in which a rapist was released because a request for a ministerial order  to the Minister, Deputy Doherty, with regard to the custodial care of this man was not answered? Has the Minister anything to say about it? Does he intend to make a statement to the House? It is a very serious matter.
Mr. Boland: I wonder if the Taoiseach could give the House some indication of the planned progress of the remaining Stages of the Finance Bill? When it is anticipated that the remaining Committee and other Stages will be taken?
The Taoiseach: I would like to be able to facilitate the leader of the Opposition in this regard because yesterday we went to great trouble to pair him so that he could go and dine with some Conservative  backbenchers in London and apparently the Opposition hauled him back here totally unnecessarily. So we would like to take that factor into account when arranging the Business for the next sitting.
Mr. Boland: I presume it is the same consideration which the Government have for the Taoiseach's engagements next week that means that the Finance Bill is not being taken on Tuesday, or is there some other reason?
Mr. Boland: It is all very well for the Taoiseach to make facetious remarks about pairing arrangements when they do not involve him. As the Taoiseach knows very well he also was looking for a pair. Perhaps the Taoiseach would also indicate to the House what arrangements are being made to give full consideration to the very great number of remaining Estimates which have to be taken before the end of this month?
The Taoiseach: All these matters are subject to agreement between the Whips. We would be very anxious that when these agreements are made they would be adhered to. The discussion on the Estimates can take place. We have already provided these Friday sittings for the purpose to facilitate the Opposition. On the question of pairing that the temporary leader of the Opposition has raised, I want to point out that we did pair Deputy FitzGerald yesterday but he decided that he did not want the pair; he wanted to come back here to participate in the events.
Mr. Boland: Just to clarify the situation, an active and present member of the Opposition was then paired instead with a member of the Taoiseach's party who had suffered a bereavement. There is no point in trying to muddy the waters here now.
Mr. Boland: I wonder finally whether in view of the fact that at our request the Committee on Procedure and Privileges has now been established, any arrangement has been made for an early meeting of the committee?
Mr. Quinn: I have a question on the Order of Business, but I also have a point of order. For the last two to three weeks the visitors in the gallery have had great difficulty in hearing what is going on in this House. I do not know if the House is aware of it. The sound system is——
Mr. Quinn: On the Order of Business, I would like to ask the Government if the Minister for Social Welfare, in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment, has drafted the regulations yet in relation to the private rented dwellings legislation so that those tenants who will find themselves unable to pay the rent that the District Court may set after 25 July will be entitled to get assistance from the Department of Social Welfare? The legislation did provide that regulations would be drafted by the Government and that the Minister for Social Welfare will be responsible. In view of the fact that the House will be adjourned probably  until the middle of October, and many of these cases hopefully will come into the courts from September onwards, can the Government give us any sight of what those regulations might be or have they done anything about them?
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): As soon as the cases are cleared by the procedure of the court which will meet for the determination of the rents, payment will be arranged by the Department of Social Welfare. We have already set in train a certain number of staff and arrangements to meet the requirements.
Mr. Quinn: Am I right in assuming it is normal practice that when such regulations are drafted they are laid before this House and Deputies are entitled to see such regulations either in their completed or draft form?
The Taoiseach: We are anxious to facilitate Deputies in this matter but I do not think this is appropriate for the Order of Business. If there are regulations to be made, they can be made at any time and laid on the table of the House. If Deputies then wish to raise them here, they may do so but that does not interfere with the effectiveness of the legislation in the meantime.
Mr. Quinn: I do not wish to be disorderly but the House will recognise the legitimate problem that arises here. Would the Government make available next week to the relevant Members of the other parties whatever draft proposals may be made?
Mrs. Fennell: On a point of order. As spokesperson for women's affairs I have a duty and responsibility to raise issues of vital importance to women. It has been impossible to raise one of the most important issues, that is, the district court clerks' dispute. This has caused grave problems for women who want to take barring and maintenance orders and it has caused problems for women who are  not able to take maintenance orders because they have been refused supplementary welfare from the Department because they have not gone through the normal legal process. Three times Deputy Spring and I attempted to raise the subject in this House. People are getting in touch with their elected representatives all the time but there is no way this matter can be raised here. I ask the Chair to let us know the ruling on issues which are sub judice, the reason I was given for not being able to raise it on the Adjournment. This is a very important issue for many women and the Minister is playing ducks and drakes with the most vulnerable group in our society. I am justifiably angry about what is happening.
The Taoiseach: I must point out at this stage that the Government have gone to considerable trouble to provide Fridays for the discussion of Estimates. Opposition parties have always insisted they want more time to debate Estimates. At some considerable expense to the taxpayers and at some considerable inconvenience to Members, we have arranged these special Friday sittings to discuss Estimates.
The Taoiseach: Fifteen minutes of that time has already gone on these matters. If this kind of thing continues, we will have to consider whether we will continue to provide Fridays to discuss Estimates.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach must realise there are some matters which are very relevant to the Order of Business and it has not been clearly defined what can or cannot be raised on the Order of Business. I accept that Deputy Fennell's efforts in this direction are being frustrated and I will try to discuss this matter with her. I wish I had an  answer for her but I am not responsible when a matter becomes sub judice.
An Ceann Comhairle: No, I did not. I said you might try to discuss it on the Estimate for the Department of Justice but I have no control over a matter which becomes sub judice.When a matter becomes sub judice you are precluded from raising it in this House.
Mr. Spring: Surely the point of sub judice applies to a specific case, not the general issue? The point at issue here is the fact that the Minister for Justice has not come into this House to make a statement on this very important matter. I ask him to make a statement on it.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to seek other means to raise this matter because it cannot be discussed on the Order of Business. I have been very  lenient in allowing the Deputy to mention it here, but I cannot help her any further.
Mr. J. Mitchell: There is an industrial relations problem in the courts which is causing great distress. This is not a party political matter. There are many women suffering because of this impasse. This matter was anticipated because Deputy Spring and I raised it many weeks in advance of the legislation coming into effect. We are anxious to know what the Minister is doing to resolve this problem. I note he is not here today but perhaps he would make a statement on it next week.
Mrs. E. Desmond: When is it expected to have legislation before the House to give effect to the report of the Task Force on child care? Several weeks ago the Minister said he hoped it would be available in the current session.
Minister for Health (Dr. Woods): Several weeks ago I said I hoped to have this legislation drawn up in time for the next session. This is very extensive legislation as the Deputy is aware and will be available at the beginning of the next session — I hope it will be ready by the end of July.
Dr. Woods: Yes. The Government have taken a decision in principle to transfer adoption from the Department of Justice to the Department of Health but that will require legislative changes and a fair amount of administrative arrangements with the Adoption Board. These matters are being pursued.
Mr. Ellis: I would appreciate if the Chair would deal with the press-seeking acts of Deputy Fennell on the Order of Business every day for the past three weeks. She is no more worried about women's rights than anybody on this side, because we are as worried about them——
Mr. Harte: About a fortnight ago with the permission of the Chair I raised on the Adjournment the serious situation in Donegal regarding housing loans. About 150 people had their loans sanctioned by the Donegal County Council but the council find themselves in a position of  not having any money to pay the loans. I was assured by the Department that money would be made available. I was in contact with the county council this morning, who have been told in the past fortnight that money has been made available by the Department of the Environment, but they have not received it yet.
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