Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fishermen's Loans.

Thursday, 27 June 1985

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 359 No. 11

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10.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry if he will make a statement on the present situation regarding the inability of fishermen to repay their loans; and the efforts he is taking to alleviate the situation.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Arrears on fishing boat loans under the BIM marine credit plan totalled £8.5 million at 31 December 1984. Most of these arrears have been accumulated over a period of years.

The Government have recognised the difficulties being experienced by fishermen in meeting their financial obligations and agreed a special aid package earlier this year. The package involves the full remission of the excise duty on fuel oil used in fishing and extra funds for marketing, exploratory fishing and harbour development together with a re-vamping of loan repayment arrangements under BIM's marine credit plan, including an increased subsidy on interest rates for a three year period. BIM are in the process of finalising agreements with the banks and individual fishermen for the implementation of the new loan arrangements.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Can the Minister give some indication of the number who have availed of the new arrangement and would he agree with the view of the fishermen's organisation that this change is totally unacceptable and not sufficient to deal with the crisis?

[2357]Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  The short reply is that the package was offered to 262 holders of BIM loans, that of these 115 accepted while 39 have not accepted for various reasons, such as having too short a period remaining on their loans. There has been no response from the holders of 108 accounts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Question Time has concluded and we shall now take the Private Notice Question.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Barrett,: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  Dún Laoghaire): On a point of order, and in this respect I am not implying any criticism of the Chair, I seek your guidance in relation to the interpretation of Standing Orders in the matter of Question Time. It was understood clearly that ordinary Question Time would be between 2.30 and 3.30 p.m. and that priority Question Time would be between 3.30 and 3.45 p.m. I understand there is some doubt as to whether the Standing Order in question allows for that, but from the point of view of the House it is important that we should clarify the position once and for all because it has been a long-established principle that Question Time is from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. In the event of questions concluding earlier than 3.30 there might be difficulty for Deputies who had left the House to do other jobs in the belief that they would not be required until a certain time. Therefore, I should like it to be established clearly that Question Time be from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. with priority questions being taken from 3.30 to 3.45 p.m., but, if there is a question of having to amend Standing Orders, I should like to have the Chair's guidance before we proceed further.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I know that the Minister does not propose speaking ex cathedra. My interpretation of the relevant Standing Order is that Question Time commences at 2.30 and concludes not later than 3.45 p.m. If what I refer to as the balloted questions are disposed of [2358] before 3.30, we move to priority questions; and if they are concluded before 3.45 we move to the next business unless some steps are taken to the contrary. The Minister is not quite correct when he says that there is a long-standing practice that Question Time begin at 2.30 and continue for a full hour. In the good old days or the bad old days, depending on one's view, Question Time occasionally did not last for an hour. My understanding is that in that event the House moved to the next business.

Mr. V. Brady: Information on Vincent Brady  Zoom on Vincent Brady  Question Time is about to conclude today at 3.38. Was it your intention to adjourn the House until 3.45 p.m.?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Not unless a Member of the House moved that the House should adjourn. My attitude in such a case would be to move to the next business.

Mr. V. Brady: Information on Vincent Brady  Zoom on Vincent Brady  It was indicated earlier, and the Government Chief Whip took the same line, that Question Time should continue until not later than 3.45 p.m. The interpretation of that would be that Question Time would conclude at 3.45 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I regard my ruling as being a matter of commonsense, because if we were to have these short adjournments the time of the House would be wasted. It is a matter for the Chair to ensure that that does not happen. The interpretation I am putting on the Standing Order is well supported by a long standing precedent.

Mr. V. Brady: Information on Vincent Brady  Zoom on Vincent Brady  It is now 3.45 p.m. and it is not our intention to waste any more time, but we should have the matter clarified.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I knew the Whips would find a way around this.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  The Government are trying to fill the time that is available.

[2359]Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  I wish to raise on the Adjournment the removal by officials of the Board of Works between 18 and 19 June of ornamental plants and shrubs to the value of £20,000— from a house at Abbey Street, Portumna.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  Jail them.


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