Thursday, 18 June 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: 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.
Mr. 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?
Mr. 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——
Mr. 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  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?
Mr. J. 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: 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.
The Taoiseach: Perhaps the Whip could communicate with the Deputy about that matter later today. On the question of the committees, this is really  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: 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: 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.
The Taoiseach: 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. J. 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.
Mr. J. 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?
Mr. 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.
Miss 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.
Miss 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: 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  the Chair may clear up the matter by way of a composite motion.
Mr. M. 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.
Mr. 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?
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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?
Mr. 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——
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