Order of Business.

Thursday, 18 June 1987

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 373 No. 10

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The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It is proposed to take items Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, Nos. 18, 19 and 20. It is also proposed that the Dáil shall sit later than 5.30 p.m. today and not later than 9.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted at 9 p.m. tonight. It is further proposed that the sitting of the Dáil shall be suspended today between 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. It is further proposed that Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, shall be taken without debate and shall be decided by one question. It is further proposed that the Second Stage of item No. 19 shall be taken not later than 5 p.m. today and shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 7 p.m. tonight and the Minister for Labour shall be called on to conclude not later than 6.30 p.m. tonight. It is further proposed that the Second Stage of item No. 20 shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 9 p.m. tonight and the Minister for Health shall be called on to conclude not later than 8.30 p.m. tonight. It is further proposed that the Dáil shall meet at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow and shall adjourn not later than 5 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the proposed Order of Business agreed?

[2542]Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  On the Order of Business, I would be grateful if the Taoiseach would answer the following query. The Order of Business proposes a number of items including a limited debate on item No. 19. It is proposed that Second Stage of the Labour Services Bill, which proposes to fundamentally change aspects of training and recruitment, be taken in a limited form of debate, of only two hours. That is allied to the situation last night when all Stages of the Tourist Traffic Bill were taken in 40 minutes. It is also proposed to appoint five committees without any debate whatsoever. Will the Taoiseach say whether he honestly believes that structure of an Order of Business is in any way satisfactory? Does it not affect the rights and the obligations of smaller parties in this House to participate in the democratic process? Because of the way business is ordered there will be virtually no speakers from these parties. Secondly, does he not agree it will fundamentally affect the rights and the obligations of every backbench Member in this House who has a right to participate?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has made his point in respect of his clear objection to certain aspects of the business proposed.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  I will ask a brief question in conclusion. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly of all a point which has not been demonstrated clearly enough, it sells short the rights and the duties of the Members of this House in terms of doing, in the public interest, the job efficiently and well——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has made his point. That is adequate.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  I wish to seek clarification from the Taoiseach on two matters. I believe it is normal that Whips' meetings take place on Thursday afternoons. I would like to ask the Taoiseach if it would be in order for the Whip of the Labour Party to attend the meeting of the Whips [2543] this afternoon? Secondly, does the Taoiseach not think it is appropriate if an announcement is to be made today in relation to sponsorship in the region of hundreds of millions of pounds of the Goodman meat company that that announcement be made in this House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That aspect of the matter is not in order.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  With respect, a Cheann Comhairle, for the past four years the Taoiseach and his colleagues always insisted that an announcement should be made in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have ruled that aspect of the matter out of order.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  May I ask the Taoiseach when the Export Promotion Bill is to be circulated? I understand from an answer the Taoiseach gave last week that it must be taken before the summer recess. Obviously, it would be desirable that there would be adequate time to study the legislation before it is debated.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I will deal with the matters raised point by point. The Labour Services Bill has, in principle, been around for a long time. All we are proposing at present is to take Second Stage. Unfortunately, the Minister for Labour is not available this morning because of an illness but he will be here later in the day. Perhaps the Deputy will have an opportunity of raising his objections on Second Stage. It is a Bill the principle of which has been discussed in some considerable detail. The Deputy could discuss with the Minister on Second Stage the question of when Committee Stage will be taken.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  What is the position with regard to the two hour limitation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Perhaps the Whip could communicate with the Deputy about that matter later today. On the question of the committees, this is really [2544] only a formality. The committees were approved here recently, they went to the Seanad and they are coming back to the Dáil today so we can note they have been approved by the Seanad because many of them are joint committees. With regard to Deputy Bruton's point about the Export Promotion Bill, it is a simple Bill. It proposes only to raise the limit of funds available to CTT. I understand the Whips are discussing whether it is necessary to take it before the summer recess.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  When I asked about this matter last week the Taoiseach said there were very many complex decisions to be taken in regard to this Bill, including who should be responsible for the export promotion of beef. That was specifically mentioned by the Taoiseach. Now he is telling us it is a very simple Bill and that it is simply a question of raising limits. I appreciate the Government may have changed their minds on this matter. It is my understanding that CTT will be forced to spend money during the summer without statutory authoristaion unless legislation is enacted before then. Obviously, if that is so, it is desirable that legislation be circulated quickly.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  What I said was that the whole area is a complex one. What we propose, pending legislation dealing with the whole complexity of export promotion and sale of our products abroad, is just to do what is technically necessary at this stage.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Any other proposals would then be left to the next session?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The other proposals would be published during the summer.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  I asked about getting permission to attend the Whips' meeting today and the Taoiseach may want to reply to that question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Our Whip would be delighted to meet the Whip of the Labour Party at any time.

[2545]Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  I am talking about a meeting of the Whips of the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I cannot order meetings of the Whips.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Why not? Why is it that the Taoiseach cannot tell Deputy Vincent Brady what to do?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  As a matter of courtesy to the Labour Party I should like to say that if the Whip of that party wished to meet the Government Whip this afternoon that can be arranged. I cannot compel the other Whips to meet. My duty extends only to ensuring that the Government Whip will be delighted to meet the Whip of the Labour Party at any time, possibly over a cup of coffee.

Mr. D. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Will the Taoiseach order his Whip not to attend a Whips' meeting unless all the Whips are present? The Taoiseach has power to do that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am calling Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Mr. D. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  The Taoiseach has power to order his Whip not to attend the Whips' meeting unless all the Whips are present and I want to know if he will do that.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  This is a very repressive approach on the part of the Government; it is jackboot politics.

Mr. D. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Will the Taoiseach answer my question?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  If I ever feel like directing the Fianna Fáil Whip to do anything it will not be at the aggressive dictates of Deputy O'Malley.

Mr. D. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  In other words the collusion will continue. Democracy how are you.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  The Deputy never knew what democracy was.

[2546]Mr. D. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Now the bluff has been called, now we see him in his true colours.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  What about the Deputy's own colours; he has no colours left.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  At least my colours are steadfast.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I must call on Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  In a non-aggressive fashion I should like to ask the Taoiseach if he will make Government time available to discuss the failure of the Agriculture Ministers to reach agreement in Luxembourg early this morning.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to find other ways and means of debating that matter.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  This is a serious matter for the country and I am asking the Taoiseach to allow Government time to debate it in view of the urgency of it. The Taoiseach would be able to accede to any request if he wished. Is the Taoiseach prepared to allocate Government time?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This does not arise and I am calling Deputy Colley.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  On a point of order, I believe a Deputy is entitled on the Order of Business to ask if during the course of the day for which we are ordering business the Government will make time available to discuss an urgent matter. I earnestly request the Chair to allow the Taoiseach give a reply to Deputy O'Keeffe's request.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  A crack in the new coalition.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There are many ways of pursuing such matters in the House.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  This is one of the ways [2547] available to us, to ask on the Order of Business if the Government will make time available to discuss the matter.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Those parties can discuss the matter privately.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Do I take it that the answer is in the negative? If the Taoiseach was interested in this matter he would make time available. He is hiding behind the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle.

Miss Colley: Information on Anne Marie Colley  Zoom on Anne Marie Colley  With regard to the Labour Services Bill I should like to reiterate what my colleague Deputy Keating said about it and ask the Taoiseach to consider setting aside further time for this major Bill which affects three major agencies of the State through which millions of pounds are channelled in funds. There are many aspects to it which I would like to address and to date I have not had an opportunity to do so, irrespective of whether there was a debate on Second Stage in the last Dáil. In fact, a separate Bill was introduced in the last Dáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That matter has already been adverted to. We are having repetition.

Miss Colley: Information on Anne Marie Colley  Zoom on Anne Marie Colley  In my view it is not repetition. I should like to make the point that on Second Stage of the last Bill the Minister, when in Opposition, spoke for more than one hour but we are being offered an hour and a half today.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy may not embark on a speech now.

Miss Colley: Information on Anne Marie Colley  Zoom on Anne Marie Colley  It is important to point out that an hour and a half is allowed for Committee Stage.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has made her point. I should like to indicate that I wish to ascertain from the House the extent to which the proposals of the Taoiseach in respect of the Order of Business are agreed or are not agreed so that [2548] the Chair may clear up the matter by way of a composite motion.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  We are not agreeing to it.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I should like to raise what I hope will be a non-contentious matter which relates to the Order of Business. I have read reports in the newspapers of new committees being formed. Some Members who belong to parties other than the main parties have suggested the concept of the new committees, such as a committee on foreign affairs, and there is no question of us being satisfied to return at the end of the summer recess to find the terms of reference, membership and scope of the committees decided in advance. It would not facilitate the order of the business of the House unless we have an opportunity of debating adequately the number of new committees, their format, terms of reference and why some committees have been chosen in preference to others. That is a reasonable request.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has made his point adequately and eloquently.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  Will the Taoiseach agree that the unfortunate contentious discussions we have had this week could be resolved if he would be willing to take an initiative to review the present procedures affecting the meetings of the Whips?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has made that point.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  I did not make that precise point. I am asking the Taoiseach, with respect, if he will not consider that the best interests of the House, and the nation, will be served by getting that type of consensus rather than having this unfortunate unpleasantness every morning which will continue if we are forced down that road. We do not want to go down that road but we are being forced to do so.

[2549]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is taking up an inordinate amount of the precious time of the House on this matter.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  The House will have plenty of time in the next four months but I do not intend to be treated like this.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  In view of the significance for Irish agriculture and the food industry of the breakdown in the farm talks will the Chair permit the Taoiseach to say if he will take the initiative in impressing on other Governments the importance of those talks for us?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has ample scope for raising that matter. Deputy Stagg is offering and I should like to ask Deputy Durkan not to persist because I have already ruled on that matter.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am anxious to get a response from the Taoiseach because of the importance of this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy should desist.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I assure the Chair that I do not wish to be disorderly. I want to ask the Taoiseach, in view of his statement earlier, if it is proposed to introduce promised legislation to abolish charges for local services. I refer to the Taoiseach's statement on the matter. Since the Government were formed——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have informed the Deputy that, as far as I am aware, that legislation has not been promised and the Deputy is not in order in raising it.

[2550]Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The legislation was promised——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Are we to have a repetition of what occurred yesterday morning? I am asking the Deputy to resume his seat.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is a reasonable request. Deputy Stagg wants the Taoiseach to say whether promised legislation will be introduced.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We were told this legislation would be introduced. The Minister for the Environment promised legislation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is displaying flagrant disrespect and I ask him to resume his seat.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  This legislation was promised——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If the Deputy does not resume his seat he will leave the House.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We were promised this legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I must name the Deputy.


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