Tuesday, 13 March 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take items Nos. 6, 7 and 2. It is also proposed that business shall be interrupted at 10.30 p.m. today. It is further proposed that items Nos. 6 and 7 shall be taken without debate. It is further proposed that in the debate of the Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1990, the following arrangements shall apply:
Proinsias De Rossa: In relation to item No. 7, I wish to oppose the taking of this item without debate. It is a regulation which is being brought before the House regarding health contributions. The legislation provides for this matter to be debated before it is passed in the House and if it had not been considered by this House to be important enough to be debated, it would not have been included in the legislation in this way. I am, therefore, opposing the taking of this matter without debate and I intend to challenge a vote on it.
An Ceann Comhairle: I take it then that item No. 6 is agreed. Is it agreed that item No. 6 be taken without debate? Agreed. Deputy De Rossa is challenging item No. 7 and I shall put that to the House now on the Order of Business, “That item No. 7 be taken without debate.” I think the question is carried.
An Ceann Comhairle: The question is: “That item No. 7 shall be taken without debate”. On that question a division has been challenged. Will the Deputies who claim a division please rise in their places?
Mr. Dukes: On the Order of Business, may I ask, Sir, if the Taoiseach intends  to inform the House whether allegations that Maze escapees have been mistreated in prisons in Northern Ireland have been discussed by the Anglo-Irish Conference? Is the Taoiseach aware that two convicted criminals, also Maze escapees, were set at liberty today by the Supreme Court on the basis that previous Maze escapees were mistreated——
Mr. Spring: Given the inaction of the banking regulatory authorities, the lack of resources of the fraud squad and the inaction of the director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the collapse of Merchant Banking Limited, may I ask the Taoiseach to give way and have a debate on that matter?
Mr. Spring: In relation to the business of the House it is a very important matter. It is a matter of serious public concern and the Taoiseach intimated three weeks  ago that he would consider debating the matter.
Mr. Connaughton: May I ask the Taoiseach to state what progress has been made by the ministerial group set up to assess the flood and storm damage? What became of the group? What did this group do? When will the file go to Brussels?
Mr. Quinn: On the Order of Business, may I raise two questions in regard to legislation. First, may I ask the Taoiseach or the Minister for the Environment when the Bill promised to give effect to the National Roads Authority will be circulated? Second, may I ask the Taoiseach when he expects the Building Control Bill to be passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas?
The Taoiseach: The legislation mentioned by the Deputy in his second question is going to the Seanad on Thursday. The National Roads Authority Bill is still under consideration and various aspects of it are being considered.
Mr. Rabbitte: On the Order of Business may I ask the Taoiseach if he will reply or have the Minister for Industry and Commerce reply to the remarks made last week by the President of the High Court which certainly left the impression that the Minister for Industry and Commerce had misled this House and the public on the sale of ICI?
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Rabbitte, please desist. Deputy Rabbitte will now resume his seat. The matter to which he adverts is clearly not for the Order of Business. He must raise it at another time.
Mr. Kavanagh: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of a Private Notice Question which you, Sir, disallowed, asking the Minister for Justice to make a statement on the recently reported suicide attempt in the women's section of Mountjoy Prison and the allegations that female prisoners were strip searched by male officers?
Mr. Flanagan: In the light of the failure of my Private Notice Question to gain your favour, Sir, may I ask the Taoiseach if the Minister for Justice or indeed the Taoiseach himself is prepared to make a statement before the House on the recent Supreme Court decision last week in the Shelly case which is causing considerable disquiet and confusion.
Mr. Moynihan: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment  the serious concern of the communities in Kenmare, Sneem and Waterville about the development of fish farming in their areas?
Mr. Gilmore: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the case of a five year old child who, because of the closure of the children's ward in St. Michael's Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, has had 19 antibiotics while waiting for a tonsils operation?
Mr. Creed: About two months ago I attempted to raise on the Order of Business the failure of the Taoiseach to transfer the portfolio for Agriculture and Food in the absence of the Minister for Agriculture and Food. May I now ask if the Taoiseach intends placing an agency order before the House transferring responsibility for the Department of Agriculture and Food——
Mr. Deenihan: May I ask the Taoiseach if it will be necessary to bring forward legislation to give effect to the recommendations, published last week, of the special committees set up to examine safety procedures in our major stadia?
Mr. Byrne: In view of the fact that regulations under the Air Pollution Act, 1987, have to be brought before the House to give effect to the banning, marketing, sale and distribution of coal in the Dublin area, may I ask the Minister when he intends to bring these regulations before us?
Proinsias De Rossa: On a point of order, surely it is the responsibility of the Taoiseach or the Minister to reply to such a question. This legislation has been promised. Surely we are entitled to an answer.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The  Deputy does not have to indicate to me what I know. The Deputy knows that if legislation has been promised it is perfectly in order to raise that matter but it is not in order to raise any other matter.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy appreciates that regulations are not legislation in accordance with what is specified in Standing Orders. If Deputy De Rossa wants to alter that he and other Deputies who feel displeased can do so.
Mr. Farrelly: A Private Notice Question I tabled concerning 260 jobs at Zenith Electronics, Kells, County Meath was disallowed on the grounds that it lacked urgency. Does the roof of this House have to fall in before the matter can be considered urgent? Would it be possible for me to raise this urgent matter on the Adjournment?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy is long enough here, he is a good learner and knows what is urgent and what is not. If the Ceann Comhairle has indicated that it does not qualify, the Deputy is entitled to ask, as he has done, to raise it on the Adjournment and the Ceann Comhairle's office——
Mrs. Owen: I seek to raise on the Adjournment the serious delay in seeking tenders for the replacement of a pre-Famine school, built in 1835, at Naul, County Dublin. A replacement has been awaited for 11 years.
Mr. Boylan: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the serious consequences that the adverse publicity which County Cavan received in the national media over the weekend, arising out of the failure of the Department of Finance to provide adequate funding to bring about reasonable improvements in county roads, will have for the county.
Mr. Rabbitte: I seek permission to raise on the Adjournment the revelation that the £100 million advanced by the  Minister for Finance to ICI is, in the opinion of the President of the High Court, to be lost irrevocably and the implications of having that case pursued in camera.
Mr. McCormack: On the Order of Business I would like to ask the Taoiseach when the Government will allow the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Deputy Kirk, to visit south Galway to look at the serious flood damage in that area.
Mr. Currie: I am sure, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, it is a matter of relief for you, as it is for me, that I do not wish to raise on the Adjournment the signing of the Liffey Valley Order, which was signed last Thursday evening in sudden circumstances.
Mr. J. Higgins: I seek to raise on the Adjournment the need for the Minister for Education to ensure that the regional technical college authorities in Athlone fulfil their original categorical commitment to 28 second year students doing the national certificate course in plastic engineering that they will be allowed the option to pursue the diploma course in the said faculty.
Mr. Sherlock: I want to ask the Taoiseach or the Minister for Health when it is intended to bring legislation or regulations before the House to give effect to EC Directives on food and hygiene which apparently are not being complied with.
Mr. Sherlock: On the contrary, I have been advised that it is in order to raise a question about regulations or legislation to be introduced in the House and for a reply to be given. This question, I would respectfully submit, is in order as regulations are not being introduced to give effect to an EC Directive which, as a consequence, is not being complied with.
Proinsias De Rossa: Regulations form part of legislation. Surely, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you must be aware that everything we pass here is part and parcel of the legislation of this State. Let me give one example of when a query in relation to regulations was found to be in order by the Ceann Comhairle. A question by Deputy Quinn to the Minister for the Environment regarding the regulations pertaining to multi-storey buildings was ruled by the Ceann Comhairle to be in order. That is only one example. There are dozens of more.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I have to quote for the Deputy — and this does not give me any great pleasure — the agreed Standing Orders of this House. The Deputy is aware of the means by which these Standing Orders can be changed so that time will not be wasted in raising questions on regulations almost daily, which are not allowed.
Proinsias De Rossa: I do not want to delay the House, but I am simply trying to establish the right of Members to raise questions about regulations which have been promised. The fact is that if one is going to apply a rule it should be applied equally to all Deputies.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Because the Deputy says he is not out of order does not make his actions correct. I am telling the Deputy that in my interpretation of my duties in the House he is out of order and I am asking him to resume his seat.
Mr. Quinn: In the interests of the House, and in an effort to be orderly, the House and the Taoiseach in particular, may recall that I asked when the legislation to give effect to the Government's announcement about the banning of bituminous coal would be introduced. The Taoiseach replied that legislation was not necessary because that could be done under regulation. In view of the importance of the announcement it would be in order, and timely, either today or this week if the Government would indicate when the specific regulation required to give effect to that major announcement will be published. That has implications for employment and for the domestic arrangements in many households in this city.
Mr. Quinn: I am quite happy to pursue that route but it is less informative and, frequently, because of the constraints at Question Time, questions do not elicit the information required. May I take it  that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has put forward the Chair's interpretation and not his? Is it the Chair's interpretation that the word “legislation” refers exclusively to primary legislation and that all forms of secondary legislation are not the proper subject matter of questions on the Order of Business? Is that the clear ruling of the Chair on this point?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Quinn, in anticipating me giving a positive reply to that, would be surprised if I did otherwise. The Deputy is an experienced Member of the House and he knows that on the Order of Business questions may be asked only in respect of legislation that has been promised.
Mr. Quinn: On a point of clarification, I should like to know if “legislation”, as interpreted by the Chair is confined exclusively to primary legislation? Does it exclude totally all forms of secondary legislation, including the regulation that must be introduced.
Mr. Byrne: I should like to remind the Minister for the Environment that there are 250 redundancies being negotiated on the basis of newspaper reports that there is legislation before the House out-lawing——
Mr. Garland: I should like to raise on the Adjournment the totally unsatisfactory response of Aer Rianta to the legitimate representations of St. Margaret's Community Council regarding the serious noise pollution caused by the opening of the new runway at Dublin Airport.
Mr. Allen: In relation to proposed legislation, I should like to ask the Taoiseach if the Fóir Teoranta (Dissolution) Bill is being proceeded with or being withdrawn in view of the crisis facing many industries, particularly one in my constituency, Sunbeam. Are the Government pressing ahead with that Bill?
Mr. Allen: I should like to raise on the Adjournment the question of whether the structures of Fóir Teoranta should be used until such time as the legislation dissolving that body is passed by the House. There are many industries, including Sunbeam——
Mr. Byrne: Due to the cutbacks in the Dublin Carriage Office there have been fewer inspections of taxis for the last 12 months. I should like to raise that very unsatisfactory situation on the Adjournment.
Mr. McCartan: Given that there is all-party co-operation in regard to the proposed committee on crime, I should like to ask the Taoiseach to outline the reason for the delay in establishing that important committee. When will that committee, which has been promised since the Government was formed, be established?
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