Thursday, 27 June 1985
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. 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.
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: 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?
Mr. 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.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Barrett,: 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: 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  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: 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: 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. N. 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.
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