Tuesday, 2 November 1982
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. FitzGerald: Before I put a point about the Order of Business I should like to congratulate Deputy Spring on his election as Leader of the Labour Party. I should like to ask the Taoiseach if he will indicate the arrangements proposed for the conclusion of the debate on next Thursday of the document published by the Government 10 days ago.
The Taoiseach: Lest it be thought that I am remiss with regard to the courtesy to the Leader of the Labour Party I should like to explain to the House that at a function earlier today at which all our colleagues were assembled I conveyed my congratulations to him. The intention is that this debate should continue. At the moment on the Government side we have a number of contributions to make. I am anxious that the Ministers in charge of the different developmental sectors should have an opportunity to elaborate on those sectors and explain to the House what is involved.
Dr. FitzGerald: Do I understand from the Taoiseach that he proposes to filibuster this debate because of the by-election situation? Is the Taoiseach proposing to go beyond five days and saying that the debate will not conclude next Thursday?
The Taoiseach: No such decision has been come to but at this stage I should like to intimate to both Opposition parties that mention has been made by speakers in the debate that the proper procedure would be to refer this plan to a special Committee of the House for consideration.
The Taoiseach: First of all the Fine Gael Party always complain that we do not give the House an opportunity of debating real live issues which come up from day to day and, secondly, they have made a great song and dance about the need to have Committees of the House, to have Committee work done, but when we bring forward an economic plan and put it before the House for discussion apparently they want it given the minimum amount of consideration. When we offer them a Committee, as suggested by Deputy Bruton, and, I believe, by Deputy Desmond, to discuss the plan they do not seem to welcome that suggestion either. I am greatly at a loss to know exactly where the Fine Gael Party stand today on any issue.
Dr. FitzGerald: I have pleasure in explaining to the Taoiseach where the Fine Gael Party stand. I sought, on behalf of the party, on four occasions consultations on the assumptions behind the plan but there was no response from the Government. The assumptions behind the plan have now been published and they have been discredited by every economic writer as being absurd and having no possible reality. The idea at this stage that such a document so discredited would be referred to a committee of the House is an obvious evasion because the Taoiseach is afraid to face the House on the plan. Will the Taoiseach agree that there will be a vote on the plan next Thursday? Will he answer yes or no?
Mr. Taylor: Having regard to the fact that it was agreed by the Whips that by Thursday next an adequate discussion would have taken place on the plan and having regard to the fact that the Whips agreed that the debate on the plan would conclude on Thursday next and a vote be taken, will the Taoiseach now confirm that that will happen?
The Taoiseach: I will not confirm that that will happen. In all good faith the Government brought this plan before the House for a full discussion on what we hoped would be a non-party political basis. I want to point out to the House that if it was not for the convolution of the Fine Gael Party on this occasion the precedent on previous occasions would be followed when economic expansion programmes and plans were brought before this House and simply noted.
Dr. FitzGerald: I want to conclude this particular point. I made it clear that we sought consultations and they were refused. At this stage to propose a non-party political discussion on a plan in those circumstances is not very serious. As the Taoiseach is apparently unwilling to agree to the debate concluding after five days and as Deputy Taylor has said assurances between the Whips are apparently not to be adhered to, in these circumstances I give notice that we intend to seek a vote of no confidence in the Government and I propose a two-day debate tomorrow and the next day.
Dr. FitzGerald: With regard to that point, Sir, I take it that if you find that such a motion is in order then the motion must be taken in accordance with the Constitution and the procedures of this House.
The Taoiseach: May I point out that Deputy FitzGerald has not given me any notice of this. Presumably he has not given you any either. I suggest that we are entitled to consider the position. At the moment we are dealing with the Order of Business for today.
Mr. Taylor: May I ask the Taoiseach on the Order of Business if he will confirm that the debate which has been agreed to on the situation in Poland will be taken, as agreed by the Whips, on Thursday next?
The Taoiseach: We have an entirely new proposal now from the leader of the main Opposition party. I suggest that this is something we will have to refer either to the Whips or to you, Sir, to decide what should be done.
Mr. Taylor: The Whips agreed that the debate on Poland, which it was intended would take place last Thursday, would be deferred for one week and would take place next Thursday. I ask the Taoiseach to confirm to the House that that agreement of the Whips will be adhered to and that the debate will take place as planned on Thursday.
Mr. B. Allen: I would like to ask the Minister for Industry and Energy what steps are being taken to safeguard the 150 jobs in Irish Polysacks, Blarney, County Cork? There were 135 people dismissed there.
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