Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
It is further proposed that Nos. 5 and 6 shall be taken together for the purposes of debate and shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 7 p.m. by one Question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments set down by the Minister for Health.
It is further proposed that the proceedings on all Stages of No. 3 which shall commence not later than 7 p.m. shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 10.30 p.m. today by one Question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments set down by the Minister for Health and the order shall not resume thereafter.
Mr. Spring: It is not agreed. At this stage I wish to inform the Taoiseach that we are not agreeing to the Order of Business because we object to the manner in which it is proposed to conduct the business of the House today. The proposal to take all Stages of the Bill is outrageous, as I informed the Taoiseach yesterday. We are proposing to make fundamental changes to the Health Act, 1970, and I believe that in doing so we should give the House an opportunity to debate the matter fully. Not only am I confident that many Members of the Opposition would wish to speak on fundamental changes in health policy but I assume that many Deputies supporting the Government would want to make a contribution in relation to the Health Act. It appears that only one speaker from each party will have an opportunity to speak. Perhaps some will not get the opportunity to speak. Consequently, we are objecting. There are major changes to be made in relation to health regulations and contributions and health charges coupled with substantial reductions in the Health Estimates. On that basis the House should have the opportunity to discuss these in greater detail. It is just not good enough that a Bill which was circulated last night is to be put through the House in a very short period.
Tomás Mac Giolla: I wish to support  Deputy Spring. We, also have expressed our disagreement with the Order of Business as set out for today and in particular with the three and a half hours to deal with the major change in the health charges. While there is an increased contribution, there are reduced services. Three and a half hours is totally inadequate for this House to discuss such a major change, one that will have such effects on people's lives. We already expressed our disagreement but the Order of Business still shows that this must be dealt with between 7 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. this evening. We cannot understand why all the time from 5 p.m. on Thursday until the following Tuesday is for some reason sacrosanct and cannot be used for the purposes of debate. There is ample time tomorrow and Friday for discussion if the time is given. We have asked that the time available for debate be extended.
The Taoiseach: I can appreciate the difficulties which Deputy Spring and Deputy Mac Giolla have in this regard. However, I feel there is no alternative but to proceed as we suggest. The whole process of the budget and the administration are up against deadlines. It is now 1 April and this legislation must go through immediately if we are to adhere to our budgetary arithmetic. All I can suggest by way of alleviation is that in the budget debate Deputies will of course have full and complete opportunities to discuss all these proposals and this legislation.
An Ceann Comhairle: I note the question, that No. 9 shall be interrupted at 6 p.m. with which Deputies disagree. In  respect of the question that Nos. 5 and 6 be taken together for the purposes of debate and shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 7 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments set down by the Minister for Health, can I ask the House if that is agreed? Agreed. In regard to the latter section of the proposal, that proceedings on all stages of No. 3 shall commence not later than 7 p.m. and shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 10.30 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments set down by the Minister for Health, is that agreed?
An Ceann Comhairle: I am putting the question that the proceedings on No. 9 shall be interrupted at 6 p.m. to take Nos. 5 and 6 and that Nos. 5 and 6 shall be taken together for the purposes of debate and shall be brought to a canclusion not later than 7 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments set down by the Minister for Health and that the proceedings on all Stages of No. 3 shall commence not later than 7 p.m. and shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 10.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only amendments set down by the Minister for Health.
Coughlan, Mary T.
de Valera, Síle.
Fitzgerald, Liam. O'Donoghue, John.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Haughey, Charles J.
Hilliard, Colm Michael.
Kitt, Michael P.
Noonan, Michael (Limerick West).
O'Dea, William Gerard. Stafford, John.
Wilson, John P.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Higgins, Michael D.
Mac Giolla, Tomás.
Mr. Dukes: On the Order of Business, may I ask the Taoiseach if he has any comment to make on the very distinct possibility that one of his budgetary actions yesterday will see this country being brought before the Court of Justice of the European Communities? I refer specifically to the measures he has taken in relation to travellers' allowances. Since there is a doubt over that and, therefore, there must be a doubt over the revenue that will come from it, is there any point in proceeding with discussion of that matter in the budget debate since we may very well find——
Mr. Cooney: On the Order of Business, may I ask the Taoiseach if he would make time available in the reasonably near future for a debate on the Anglo-Irish Agreement? The agreement has now been in operation for over a year and it would be useful if Members of the House were given an opportunity to express their views on its present position.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Again on the Order of Business, I understand that legislation has been promised to update the building by-law regulations particularly in relation to the safe use of high rise buildings. Following on the report on the Raglan House and Dolphin House explosions, may I ask the Taoiseach if we can expect legislation from the Minister for the  Environment in regard to this in the near future?
Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach if the Government have yet reached a decision on whether they wish to place on the Order Paper for debate the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Bill which was placed before the outgoing Dáil in November by the outgoing Minister for Industry and Commerce, dealing with various abuses of competitive advantage that some companies have. In a similar vein, may I ask him if it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the companies Bill which was laid before the Seanad by the outgoing Government, dealing with many abuses in the area of company law?
The Taoiseach: I will endeavour to let Deputy J. Bruton have an answer to those questions as soon as possible. I should like to say, in a general way, that the whole legislative programme of the Government is at present under consideration. I hope the House will understand that we have been rather preoccupied with budgetary matters for the past few weeks. We hope to settle the legislative programme as soon as possible between now and the summer and to let Deputies have information about it as soon as possible.
Mr. J. Bruton: I appreciate very much what the Taoiseach has said. However, I would draw to his attention the fact that a great deal of valuable technical work at official level has been done with regard to both these Bills and it would be a pity, in the national interest, if they were not proceeded with, given that some of the abuses they address require urgent remedial action.
Mr. Bell: In view of the importance of the new regulations on cross-Border trade, may I ask the Taoiseach if he would make available to Members of the House details of those new regulations and instructions to customs officials in Border areas in view of their relevance to our discussion today? Perhaps he could make those details available as soon as possible.
Mr. S. Barrett: May I ask the Taoiseach if it is proposed to reintroduce the Intoxicating Liquor Bill? He will appreciate that this is an urgent Bill if we are to derive benefit from its provisions during the coming tourist season.
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