Friday, 29 June 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Dukes: A Cheann Comhairle, I utterly reject the Order of Business placed before the House this morning by the Taoiseach. It contains not only a guillotine for today's business but also a guillotine for a whole range of business next week. There can be very few precedents for an action of this kind. There are no precedents for this kind of action in respect of a Bill with such far-reaching effects, of which two sections only have so far been debated. This is the action of an arrogant Taoiseach——
Mr. Dukes: ——who wishes to avoid proper parliamentary scrutiny of a Bill which will do lasting damage not only to our national broadcasting service but also to a great many other associated services and professions. It is the act of a power-hungry Government who want to tighten their hold——
Mr. Dukes: ——on our national broadcasting service, who want to prevent that broadcasting service from growing and developing in the way that it has in recent years in response to the enlightened policies pursued by my colleague, Deputy Jim Mitchell, when he was Minister for Transport and Communications——
Mr. Dukes: There are even a couple of Progressive Democrats here today. This Government are rushing to get this calamitous Bill through the House so that, no doubt, they can try to compress debate on other items they wish to process before the summer recess and then go into recess as quickly as they possibly can. No assurances that this Government have given can be believed. On the seventh of this month the Taoiseach said— at column 1552, volume 399, No. 8 of the Official Report:
Every Deputy in the House will have a full opportunity to contribute on that Second Stage and in due course the Committee Stage will be taken. Every Deputy in this House will be entitled to put down the amendments he or she wishes. The procedure being followed is exactly the normal procedure being followed in regard to any legislation.
Of course, what has happened is exactly the opposite to what the Taoiseach categorically said in the House. The Taoiseach and the Government have shown utter bad faith throughout this affair. They have behaved with insufferable arrogance and have shown contempt for proper parliamentary procedures. Indeed, their attitude was neatly summed up in this House by the Taoiseach only yesterday morning when he said:
That says it all. This Government do not  want to debate anything in this House. That is the reason we have this guillotine motion here today. The Bill currently before the House is a highly dangerous one. My colleagues know, I know, members of other parties in Opposition know, and even members of the Government parties know that almost every passing day brings word of some new part of the communications sector that will suffer damage if this Bill is passed. We all know — and I had confirmation of this myself only yesterday — that even the newspapers which, apparently are intended to be the beneficiaries of this ill-considered Bill, are far from being sure the benefits will actually accrue to them from it. At the most they feel that, if some revenue can be shaken out of RTE, some of it might come their way.
Mr. Dukes: That is no basis on which to pass legislation which will have a fundamental, long-term deleterious effects on our national broadcasting systems. The Bill we are now considering — now a candidate for the guillotine — is not the Bill that was published——
An Ceann Comhairle: May I say I wish  very much that we shall have an orderly debate, but I must say that what is before the House is an allocation of time motion. The adequacy or otherwise of that allocation of time motion is the question before us. The merits or otherwise of the various measures referred to do not arise at this stage.
Mr. Dukes: A Cheann Comhairle, I intend to set out the reasons why I oppose this guillotine motion. On the request just made by the Taoiseach I can assure him that I will extend to him from this seat exactly the same courtesies that he extended to the rest of the House when he occupied this seat. I might even go as far as he did; I might publish a collection of my speeches in a glossy book when I become Taoiseach.
Mr. Dukes: The Bill we are debating — which is now a candidate for the guillotine — is not the Bill that was published and circulated. The Minister himself ditched two sections of the Bill in advance of any debate. The provisions of the Bill are more draconian than the scheme the Minister outlined in this House during the debate on my party's Private Members' motion on broadcasting policy.
Mr. Dukes: That is why I will not agree to a guillotine motion. There is disagreement in the Government about this Bill. Two Ministers originally professed themselves to be quite happy with the policy set out by the Minister for Communications. Then they claimed that corners had been cut and that they were unhappy with some provisions. The Bill was then published and the same two Ministers declared themselves happy, but their spokesman on Communications undermined them almost immediately by saying that he had reservations and he still says he is not happy. We are entitled to wonder, Sir, whether the Progressive Democrats know anything at all about communications or are they, like the Minister for Energy, all at sea?
This Bill provides for a totally arbitrary and artificial restriction on advertising in RTE and on RTE's advertising revenue. These restrictions have not been motivated or justified by any considerations that have anything to do with broadcasting, with aesthetics, with audience building or with the quality of programmes on offer. The restrictions proposed are, quite simply, a penalty on success, and the worst part of it is that they will not achieve the objectives they set out to achieve. The effect of those proposed restrictions will be to make advertising space on RTE scarcer and thereafter to drive up the price. Some advertisers will be crowded out.
Mr. Dukes: Some advertisers will be crowded out. Those who are not crowded out will get less advertising for their money and less business will be done by the advertising industry and by independent production units. Jobs will be lost. The effects of the restrictions on advertising will be uneven. Smaller advertisers will be less able to compete for space than they are now, and that is bound to affect indigenous Irish firms more than others. There will be a leakage of advertising revenue to broadcasters elsewhere. In some cases decisions on advertising and on advertising campaigns will be taken out of the hands of Irish managers of subsidiaries located here and will be made elsewhere. That too will have its effect.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is prepared to give a lot of latitude in respect of this motion but we cannot have a wide ranging debate over a variety of matters. This is an allocation of time motion——
Mr. Dukes: A Cheann Comhairle, I do not intend to take any latitude. I intend to limit myself strictly to the reasons I am opposing a guillotine on this Bill and these are the reasons I oppose it. This Bill will have fundamental and longlasting effects on our national broadcasting system and it is my right, Sir, to tell this House why I oppose the motion.
This Bill does not deal at all adequately with the problem that will arise for tens of thousands of people making the transition from the service currently provided to them by way of deflector systems to the MMDS system. The MMDS system will not be installed overnight. It will take time, possibly several years, to achieve  the coverage which the Minister seems to have in mind.
Mr. Dukes: It will be very boring for the Deputy when his constituents start getting after him when their multichannel service is taken away. The Deputy can come back in here then and tell them he is bored.
Mr. Shatter: On a point of order, I have sat here listening to Deputy Dukes, and that Deputy at the back has been constantly interrupting in a way, Sir, that, if it happened on this side of the House, either myself or one of my colleagues would be thrown out of the House.
Mr. Dukes: It will take time, possibly several years, to achieve the coverage that the Minister has in mind for the MMDS system. It would be unrealistic to expect that these tens of thousands of people would easily accept the proposition that they should be left without a multichannel service in the meantime. We know that the present deflector services are illegal. We know that it would be unreasonable to cut people off for perhaps several years. The question is: how do we achieve the transition from the present situation to MMDS?
Mr. Dukes: The answer to the problem I have just raised, Sir, must surely be a transitional measure which conforms to our international obligations in relation to copyright, performing rights and so on, and the Bill before us does not address that issue at all.
Mr. Dukes: If I have anything to do with it this Bill will be before us for quite a long time. It now appears, Sir, that the Minister takes the view that MMDS will not provide complete and comprehensive coverage but it must be supplemented by UHF transmission. As far as I know — and the Minister has not given any view on this — the addition of UHF to the MMDS system threatens to cut off any prospect of providing a separate Irish language television channel.
Mr. Dukes: I have my own views, very strong views, about the intrinsic merits of that issue, but the problem is not  addressed in this Bill at all. The only reasonable conclusion that I can draw from the Minister's approach, and indeed from his silence on the issue, is that he has reneged on Fianna Fáil's 1987 promise to provide an Irish language television channel.
The provisions of this Bill have far reaching and fundamental implications right across the whole spectrum of broadcasting in this country. As I pointed out, many of these implications have not been properly considered. Neither have the powers which this Bill would confer upon the Minister been properly considered. We have no idea how the Minister intends to use these powers. He has said nothing whatever on this issue. In the absence of any statement from the Minister, or indeed from the Government, and on the basis of what they have said indirectly in this House and elsewhere, the only prudent course we can take is to be deeply suspicious of the Minister's motives and intentions.
An Ceann Comhairle: I think it will be accepted that the Chair has given a wide degree of latitude to you in making your address to us this morning but we are dealing with an allocation of time motion and I would be grateful now if the Deputy would bring his speech to a close.
Mr. Dukes: These are all reasons why I object to that motion. It may be, Sir, that in being so deeply suspicious of the Minister and the Government I am doing them an injustice. I do not know. However, they have given me no reason  to think otherwise. The record, in so far as it exists, gives me every reason to be suspicious. More than one member of this present Coalition Government has expressed open hostility to RTE. More than one member of this Government has made a public spectacle of himself in demanding coverage from RTE and we know that week after week Ministers refuse to appear on programmes because RTE will not arrange the format of the programme to suit them.
Mr. Dukes: That, Sir, is the public record of this Government's dealing with RTE, and God alone knows what the private record is. All of these considerations, Sir, confirm me in the view that this Bill needs much more detailed consideration than it has got so far or than it can get if the Government presses on with this guillotine motion.
I have a different and much more sensible proposal to make and I will make it now. It is that we continue with the Committee Stage debate on this Bill through next week, concluding the Committee Stage debate next Friday evening. The Whips should agree to allocate the time available between the principal groups of sections of this Bill so that we can be sure that all aspects of it are properly considered. Having concluded Committee Stage next Friday, we should then allow, during the summer recess, for reflection and research on the full implications of the Bill as amended in Committee. We should then, on the basis of mature reflection, return to the debate on Report and Final Stages and sit in September to do this. In that way we could give ourselves, the general public, the broadcasters and all the groups associated with them and depending upon them, proper time for consideration of the future course of broadcasting policy in this country. In my view there is no other sensible way of dealing with the weighty issues before us. I call on the Taoiseach and the Government to accept this and to put an end to their mad rush  into hasty and ill-considered action which will retard the development of broadcasting in general in this country and stunt the growth of a successful public service broadcasting organisation.
Mr. Spring: I wish to make some comments on the Order of Business for today. I have to admit they are unsavoury, given the very strange format of the Order of Business and given that it is being proposed on a Friday, despite the fact that Friday does not appear to be what you consider a priority sitting day in the course of our business. The action the Government are proposing is regrettable. I would like to think, even at this very late stage, that it is not too late to call upon the Taoiseach, the Government and the Government parties to reconsider the proposals they are putting before us this morning. There are many aspects of the Order of Business which we object to, the motion regarding the sittings and business being the primary one, but also items Nos. 12 and 18.
It is regrettable that there was absolutely no effort at consultation between the Whips in relation to the remainder of business for this session. At various times during this session we sought from the Government an indication of the legislation they wished to get through before the summer recess. The list has changed considerably from that which we received on 25 April. Some items which were considered important at that stage have dropped in priority and others which were not even considered to be urgent at that stage have obviously been brought  up on the priority list. It is regrettable that one issue mentioned in the Government legislative programme of 25 April — a debate on important matters in regard to Anglo-Irish relations — seems to have been dropped completely from the Government's list of priorities.
The Broadcasting Bill, which has been a debacle from start to finish, will continue to bedevil this House. The Government insist on defending the indefensible. This morning they are proposing to guillotine the debate on this very important Bill, a Bill that will have long-lasting and detrimental effects on broadcasting, particularly public broadcasting. They are proposing to guillotine that debate even before the Minister for Communications has the opportunity of putting his amendments to the House. In normal circumstances, it would be regrettable that the Minister would not have the opportunity of putting his amendments to the House; but in these circumstances, and given the history of this Bill, it is quite bizarre. It is difficult to understand why the Government are not facilitating the Minister and giving him an opportunity of discussing and debating his amendments before the House. Perhaps they do not want him to have to explain to the House the reasons for his amendments.
I am asking the Taoiseach, in relation to the Broadcasting Bill, to reconsider the Order of Business for this morning. As I have said, the Broadcasting Bill has had and will have an extremely difficult passage through this House. It has huge implications for broadcasting in general, and I believe it is a retrograde step. It would be far wiser for the Government, even at this late stage, to reconsider the matter and perhaps put the Broadcasting Bill into a special committee of this House to sit through the months of July and September and then bring the Bill back to the House. That would be in everybody's interests. The Taoiseach should realise he does not have an absolute clear majority in relation to the future of broadcasting in this country. It is particularly important that we should seek consensus among the parties on  whatever broadcasting legislation is put through this House at the end of the day. That would be particularly difficult but it would be worth striving for, and I think it is possible if the Government reconsider the action they are taking this morning in relation to the Bill.
Deputy Cowen was staying calm for a moment but, needless to say, we will have some more inane remarks during the course of the morning. It would not be the Dáil without those inane remarks from Deputy Cowen.
Mr. Spring: The other items which are proposed to be guillotined here this morning are of extreme importance — the Local Government (Water Pollution) Bill and the Insurance Bill, which is worthy of a full debate in this House given the major implications for Irish Life and the privatisation debate which the Government want to launch. The curtailing of the debate in this House on the Insurance Bill may have major effects on the applications which will be made to the courts to assess the asset value of Irish Life. It is unworthy of the Taoiseach and the Government to try to put that Bill through the House in a matter of a few hours.
The Sea Pollution Bill is of major importance. I welcome its introduction, but it warrants major debate because there are some glaring anomalies in it, particularly the facility to allow nuclear shipping to come into our country and excluding them from the provisions of the Bill. This is a Bill which is very necessary and long overdue. The National Treasury Management Agency Bill, which sets out a new aspect of management of our finances, is also worthy of long and detailed consideration. For those reasons I would ask that the House be adjourned this morning for a certain period of time to let the Whips meet or to let the Taoiseach meet with the leaders of the Opposition parties to try to reschedule business in an amicable way for the rest of this session.
 In relation to item No. 12, it is rather ironic that this motion should appear on the day the Broadcasting Bill is to be guillotined. On Monday next this House will sit for quite an historic occasion. Under the new arrangements which the Government put through the House some months ago, a new television agency will be in charge of televising that occasion. Windmill Lane Studios were given the contract by the Government to televise the events in this House, but it now appears the great heroes of private enterprise cannot even arrange a one day nixer without the assistance of RTE. That is regrettable and amazing. Perhaps somebody from the Government side will explain to the House why this company who were given the contract to televise, supported by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, cannot deliver the goods on the first occasion they have been called upon. Were it not for the intervention of the Minister for Communications, the contract on this occasion would have been given to UTV.
Regrettably, the ordering of business for today adds up to a major bungling performance by the Minister for Communications and the Government. I am saying for one last time — perhaps it is not too late yet — that the Government, and particularly the Taoiseach, should consider having a discussion with the leaders of the Opposition parties, or at least allow the Whips to negotiate an Order of Business for the remainder of this session. I do not understand why the Broadcasting Bill has to be passed through this House before the end of this session. Certainly, there is nothing in that Bill that requires to be put through the House before then. Perhaps somebody will explain that haste and the rush to get that Bill through, which is indefensible in relation to its progress to date. I would ask the Taoiseach to reconsider the Order of Business for this morning which we are opposing, and will continue to oppose for the rest of this day.
Proinsias De Rossa: May I clarify one or two points before proceeding? I take it that what we are dealing with is the  proposal from the Taoiseach regarding how No. 11 will be dealt with. We are not yet dealing with No. 11 as it has not yet been proposed.
Proinsias De Rossa: I would argue, therefore, that No. 11 is not properly before this House. I would argue that the motion before us is not simply a time motion, other matters are dealt within it. I would also argue that under Standing Order 28, four days notice is required to be given to this House before it can be dealt with. Standing Order 28 states:
All motions to be put on the Order Paper for any day, shall be in writing, signed by a member, and shall reach the Clerk not later than 11 a.m. on the fourth preceding day. Any amendments to such motions shall be in writing, signed by a member, and shall reach the Clerk not later than 11 a.m. on the second preceding day: Provided that, by permission of the Ceann Comhairle, motions and amendments may be made on shorter notice.
An Ceann Comhairle: The assent of the Chair is not necessary for the moving of an allocation of time motion. Neither has the Chair the power to disallow such a motion, nor the power to insist that such a motion be changed or amended in any respect. Once the motion is passed by the House he is bound by its terms. May I tell the Deputy further, the Chair has never been involved in discussions between the Whips in regard to arrangements for the taking of Government business and I have followed that practice with dedication. If the Chair were to involve himself in such discussions, he could compromise his role as an impartial chairman. I want to emphasise, therefore, that under the Standing Orders of this House, the Chair has no function whatsoever in relation to the ordering of Government business and accordingly, as the Deputy has rightly said, has not been consulted in the matter.
Proinsias De Rossa: Obviously I understand your position regarding the ordering of the business in this House. I am drawing your attention to Standing Order 28 which specifically requires the Government to get your permission if they want to submit a motion fewer than four days in advance to this House. This motion appeared on the Order Paper only this morning. It should not properly be dealt with until next Wednesday, if at all. I fail to see how the House can extricate itself from this position. The motion we are dealing with is more than an allocation of time motion, there are other matters dealt within it.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair called Deputy De Rossa in the ordinary way as the Leader of his party to participate in this discussion. He is in possession as far as the Chair is concerned. He may make any remarks he wishes on the matter, provided they are relevant, and I am entitled to hear Deputy Spring or any other Deputy on a point of order.
Mr. Spring: With respect, it is crucial to this debate. You informed Deputy De Rossa that the Government were acting perfectly in order. I would say, Sir, that Standing Order 28 is the only Standing Order that should govern today's debate, and it certainly does not. As you admitted, Sir, your permission was not sought by the Government and without that, I agree with Deputy De Rossa's submission that the motion is not in order.
Proinsias De Rossa: I would argue very strongly that the requirement in the Standing Order is quite plain, that permission from you is required in order to have this on the Order Paper today. No other interpretation can be made. You have already indicated that no permission was sought and you gave no permission because it is your practice not to engage——
Proinsias De Rossa: The Standing Order clearly states that four days' notice is required. The motion would have had to be in at 11 a.m. last Monday in order to appear on today's Order Paper. I fail to see how this House can deal with an item which is not properly before us.
Mr. Shatter: It appears that under Standing Order 30 Fridays are excluded but Standing Order 28 allows the Government to bring in anything on a Friday,  even in breach of Standing Order 28. It appears that the two interpretations are not compatible. That is the point I was trying to make some time ago. It occurs to me, Sir, if you do not know the answer to Deputy De Rossa's question — he reiterated the issue which I tried to raise with you — you should adjourn the House for 15 minutes and advise the House as to why there is a difference of approach between the two orders.
Mr. McCartan: There are two issues which arise, first, the question of whether Standing Order 28 should be applied and, second, what is the Chair's definition of an allocation of time motion. As Deputy De Rossa has indicated, there is far more in motion No. 11 than the mere allocation of time. May I invite you, Sir, as has been suggested, to consider a brief adjournment of this House to meet with the Leaders of the parties so that we can resolve these matters? From the time that you first mentioned the allocation of time motion I have looked at Standing Orders from top to bottom and I do not find any order in it that defines an allocation of time motion or indicates that——
An Ceann Comhairle: I will not allow it to be challenged in this fashion. If Members feel there is anything fundamentally wrong with my ruling, they may challenge it in the appropriate way by putting down an appropriate motion. They must accept my ruling now.
Mr. Quinn: On a point of order, it is obvious from where I am sitting that the way in which the officials are communicating with you — because of the pieces of paper that are passing backwards and forwards — shows you are not fully briefed.
Mr. Quinn: I would urge you to adjourn the House for 30 minutes so that this House is not disgraced or dishonoured in any way through no fault of your own. You are being advised by people and pieces of paper are being passed backwards and forwards. You, Sir, do not——
An Ceann Comhairle: That is unworthy of the Deputy. The Chair is entitled to consult with his officials. The Chair is quite happy about this procedure. If my ruling is to be challenged it must be challenged in a formal manner.
An Ceann Comhairle: I would advise Deputy De Rossa to proceed with his contribution on the allocation of time motion. If he or any other Deputy wants  to challenge my ruling, do it in a formal way. Let us have an orderly debate, please.
Mr. Howlin: On a point of order, since last night I have gone through Standing Orders to find justification for this motion, but I cannot find any. I assumed that the debate would be prefaced with an explanation from the Chair as to how this motion, which to most of us on reading Standing Orders is clearly not in order, is before us. Would it be unreasonable to ask the Chair to simply quote the Standing Order or precedent under which that which is clearly not in order is, in the opinion of the Chair, in order today?
Mr. Spring: ——but I feel that, in the interests of the orderly conduct of business in this House, this House deserves an explanation as to how this motion is in order. If we set out to conduct our business without that explanation, Sir, you are not doing your office justice. I put it to you, even if it means adjourning the House, as suggested, for a short period of time——
Mr. Spring: ——that we are entitled to an explanation as to how this motion is before the House this morning. In your efforts to date you have not clarified the matter one iota; if anything, we are now more confused than we were last night when we got notice of this business.
Mr. Spring: Realistically, your ruling is beyond challenge. However, I put it to you that we deserve an explanation — and if the Taoiseach or his Whip can explain it to us all the better — but, as things stand at the moment, this motion  has not been explained to us. In fairness to all of us trying to read the Standing Orders, by which we are governed, we cannot find any relevant Standing Order other than Standing Order 28. This motion clearly does not come within the terms of Standing Order 28.
Mr. Shatter: On a point of order, may I make a helpful suggestion? I think the point should be made that it is not the Chair that is being challenged but rather the Government. We on this side of the House are entitled to an explanation as to which Order we are operating under. It is unfortunate that you see us, in raising the propriety of the motion laid before the House by the Government, as challenging your position. We are challenging the Government's right——
Mr. Shatter: ——to table this motion today. This should not be seen in any way as an attack on you, Sir. I wish to emphasise that point. I ask you, out of consideration for both sides of the House and in the interests of restoring the atmosphere of debate to this House, that you adjourn the House for a short period, say 15 minutes.
Mr. Rabbitte: On a point of order, is it not the case that you are the custodian of Standing Orders in this House and that you are acquiescing in allowing the Government to drive a coach and four through Standing Order 28, the meaning of which is absolutely explicit? It requires that all motions to be put on the Order Paper be put in writing on the fourth preceding day.
Mr. McCartan: The Government, by way of this device in a most unprecedented way, are seeking to curtail debate on important issues in this House both today and next week. The least the Opposition should be entitled to do is inquire if they are in order in what they are doing and what Standing Order they are operating under——
Mr. Dukes: You yourself have said that the Government did not ask your leave to bring in this motion and that you did not give permission. That means that the rest of us must put a particular construction on it under Standing Order 28.
Mr. Dukes: I wish to say — I say this with a total concern for order, and I think all the parties on this side of the House would join with me in this — that if this matter is not resolved it is my observation, even my prediction, that we will have a disorderly passage in the House, willy nilly. One way of avoiding that is for you to adjourn the House for a short period so that you, together with either the party leaders or the Whips and the officials of the House, can consider the matter when we can satisfy ourselves as  to the proper way of going about the business which has been put before us.
An Ceann Comhairle: I repeat for the last time that I have given my ruling in this matter. I am satisfied that the matter is properly before us and if my ruling is to be challenged further it must be challenged in a more formal manner. But it must be accepted for the time being.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Spring, please do not shout the Chair down. I have had a request that the question be  now put but I do not consider that this matter has been discussed sufficiently long enough to accept such a motion. I will allow the discussion to continue but I would hope that we would utilise the time to best possible advantage in resolving this matter and examining the situation. With respect to my ruling, it stands until you formally set it aside.
Proinsias De Rossa: I raise a point in regard to Standing Order 28. We are faced with the dilemma that, while there is widespread dissatisfaction with your ruling, we are expected at the same time to approve that the motion we are disputing is correctly on the Order Paper. We could be faced with the position where the motion could be carried and we could then find later today that it was not in order. Where does that leave the House? The reasonable approach would be for the House to adjourn to examine the issues.
Proinsias De Rossa: The Government, as well as the Ceann Comhairle, are obviously bound by Standing Orders. This cannot simply be set aside by stating that in your view some other position  holds and that Standing Order 28 does not apply. How can you reasonably claim that Standing Order 28 does not apply when it says in black and white——
Proinsias De Rossa: It is completely unsatisfactory that we have reached the position where we are being bound by convention rather than Standing Orders. How are Deputies to know what is a convention and what is not? How legally bound are we by convention rather than Standing Orders? How can a convention of the House under which you claim to be acting override Standing Order 28? It cannot be done and I would appeal to you to adjourn the House and if necessary call a meeting of——
Mr. Taylor: On a point of order, I submit that you as Ceann Comhairle, like each and every Deputy in this House, are bound by Standing Orders. You have told us that time and again and we rely on you to apply Standing Orders impartially, whether they apply to the Government, the Opposition or to yourself. A Standing Order is there and any convention in direct contradiction to the Standing Order is of no legal validity. You must know that, and if you fail to apply impartially the Standing Orders of this House the only consequence can be that the procedures and practice of this House will be brought severely into disrepute. I appeal to you to reconsider the implications of what you are doing here. The precedent which you are about to set is  dangerous in the extreme to the parliamentary democracy we have had here over the years.
Mr. Ferris: I seek clarification. I welcome your ruling that this subject matter has not been adequately debated. You have accepted this motion on the basis that it deals with the allocation of time and would therefore comply with Standing Orders. How is it then that the first item on this proposal from the Government has nothing to do with time allocation but refers to the broadcasting of the proceedings of the House next Monday? Surely that raises a question about whether the motion relates to the allocation of time. I seek your guidance and clarification.
An Ceann Comhairle: I ask Deputy De Rossa to resume his speech. His attack upon the Chair will get him nowhere. I have made my position clear and I advise the Deputy to proceed to discuss the allocation of time motion in the ordinary way. The Chair has granted the House the right to do that and the time ought to be utilised more effectively.
Mr. T. O'Sullivan: On a point of order, in your response to Deputy De Rossa on Standing Order 28 you said you did not have sufficient time to familiarise yourself with its content. I respectfully suggest that you should allow yourself that time and allow matters to defuse somewhat by a short adjournment.
Mr. Durkan: On a point of order, in fairness to you and to the House, you said there were ample precedents for pursuing the discussion, notwithstanding the failure to give adequate notice. If there are adequate precedents, surely it would be fair to you and to the House to adjourn for a short period in order to examine them and inform the House. If there are no——
Mr. M. Higgins: On a point of order, I hope to be of some assistance to your position. I make this point of order despite what noises come from the back. I speak on Bills from here and I am not disturbed by this little rumble at the back.
Mr. M. Higgins: You have said that your rulings rely on all the Standing  Orders in this House and on precedent. We have accepted that again and again. Even if that were so, you yourself from the Chair have said “I wish I had been given notice”. That is correct. The Standing Orders and precedents rely on the goodwill of this House. It is part of the responsibility of the Government, and particularly of the Taoiseach as head of Government in producing business, to act in the spirit of Standing Orders and the precedents should be there. Even if the Standing Orders and precedents were there to justify this Order of Business, instead of the Taoiseach offering time to explain why he did not give you notice he suggests that we take the decision now and he embarrasses your position. It behoves you, in fairness to yourself and to the Dáil as a whole, to say that you have not been given notice but that in satisfaction of the request you will adjourn the House and come back with a considered rationale that——
Mr. M. Higgins: You are entitled to as much notice from the Taoiseach in respect of a motion as from any one of us. The Government must treat you with the same respect as you require from us. It is we who are defending your office. It is we who are defending the Dáil. To take the motion now is a short cut. To take the guillotine is a short cut. Previous tactics were short cuts, and the words “short cut” were used not by me but by a member of the Cabinet. I suggest that, out of respect to this Chamber and to your own office, Sir, and to the orderly conduct of our business, it is in all our interests to appeal to the Taoiseach to go back and give you the notice that your office deserves for his guillotine motion even if it was justified, which it is not.
Mr. Dukes: On a point of order, in the book of precedents it is stated at No. 120  that on a motion of this kind if a point of order is accepted the Chair may withhold the motion from the decision of the House. That is a precedent. I suggest to you, and I am doing this in the interests of order in the House, that it would be far better to have a brief adjournment of the House so that this and other precedents, if relevant, can be considered properly and calmly by yourself, your staff and either the leaders of the parties or the Whips and we can come back into this House and decide whether we can do business in this way and how the business is going to be done.
An Ceann Comhairle: I can only assure Deputy Dukes that both myself and my staff are completely satisfied that the motion before us is in order and if it is to be set aside it must be done in a formal manner.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have permitted this debate to continue despite a motion being put that the question be put. Again I ask the Members to utilise the time more effectively in debating this motion than in challenging the Chair.
Mr. Enright: I think you will accept the good faith of everybody on this side of the House in this matter. There is no attempt to intimidate anybody and everybody on this side of the House wants to support the Chair in its decision. You  will agree that in any decision made it is important that you quote chapter and verse of the Standing Order in question and that that Standing Order be outlined by you. In fairness to your good self, your staff and the House it is important that the proposal by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dukes, supported by Deputy Spring, in the interests of the future of this House and because of the unprecedented nature of what has occurred regarding this Bill——
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy De Rossa, I appeal to you. This debate may not go on interminably. It will come to finality and the question will be put and other requests may be put, so again I appeal to Members to discuss the issue much more effectively than we are doing now. Utilise the time more effectively.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is longstanding procedure in this House that if the Chair is challenged on such a matter it must be challenged in the proper manner. The Chair does not have to give any explanation for its rulings, but I have done so on this occasion.
Mr. Spring: Standing Orders stand for nothing unless you can tell us on what basis you are making your decision. Without that surely business cannot be conducted. The Taoiseach has been asked — and I now ask him again — to facilitate a cooling off period to consider the matter that is before the House. I ask you, Sir, and the Taoiseach — because his last intervention was totally unhelpful — to reconsider the matter; otherwise business cannot be conducted satisfactorily. There is no explanation as to how the business is before us and I believe we deserve that. I put it to you that we should adjourn to allow you an opportunity to give us the reasons for your decision. No reasons have been given. You have told us your position but you have not been able to explain it and you have not been able to give it with conviction, and no member of the Government has been able to give it with conviction under Standing Orders. I put to you that an adjournment is perhaps the only way in which we can bring order to this House and come back to do our business.
Mr. Howlin: On a point of order, the very first business we conducted this morning was your ruling out an application under Standing Order 30 and the precedent was decided a very short time ago. I attended the Committee on Procedure and Privileges meeting where that matter was discussed and it was clear that Standing Order 30 could not be raised today because Standing Orders forbade it on a Friday. You had no discretion in the matter. You said Standing Order 30 was clear and you were bound by that Standing Order. Why, if you were bound by that Standing Order 30 that deprives you of discretion, are you not also bound by Standing Order 28 which is equally clear — I submit twice as clear — because in black and white it says you may not do it without your permission? You said you were not asked for your permission. It is black and white, crystal clear and the very least we deserve is an explanation as to why Standing Order 30 must be adhered to do the letter of the law because the Opposition put it forward, but the letter of the law need not be applied to Standing Order 28 put forward by the Government. Surely those of us on this side of the House have a right to feel aggrieved if what is clear-cut for one side of the House is not clear-cut for the other. We all are elected Members of this House. You, Sir, are now being briefed.
Mr. Howlin: Members of this House have worked long and hard on the various pieces of legislation that are going to be  guillotined now. Would it be too much to ask you — I do not think it is — that each of the parties here be allowed make submissions to you for your consideration so that you can make a balanced judgment? Please allow 15 minutes in your own office for the parties here to make a rational submission in a cool atmosphere; then you, Sir, on the basis of that submission can make a decision that redounds to the credit of the House and will satisfy all the Members in it. I appeal finally to you to do that.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I am making a point of order. We have heard much reference to precedents this morning and probably it would be helpful if we looked at the precedents. This Government have tabled a motion under Standing Order 28. That motion requires four days' notice except in one circumstance where the Ceann Comhairle gives permission. It is already clear this morning that permission has neither been asked nor given. Presumably the Government will rely on the precedents, and the precedents are very obvious. On page 11 of the Rulings of the Chair there is a precedent:
Where motion for allocation of time dealt with business of a specified day and full notice had not been given for that day Chair ruled that in such case the relative importance of the motion and the question of the notice had to be weighed and permitted motion to be moved——
That is the precedent, Sir. In this situation, where there has been no request for your permission to move the motion, you  cannot give your permission. The clear precedent is such that the Chair would have to weigh the request from the Government and give his permission. That is the specific precedent. However, since they have not sought permission from the Chair, the Chair has not had the opportunity of weighing up the matter and this motion cannot be moved.
Mr. Garland: If this motion is valid, which I very much doubt, I would like to protest on behalf of the Independent Deputies to item No. 11, paragraph 9, of the Order of Business for next week, which states that three and a quarter hours will be allocated to the debate on the recently held European Communities Summit meeting. That time will be totally taken up by the Leader of the Government and the Opposition parties and there is not one minute of time allocated to the Independent Deputies. That is an absolute disgrace.
Proinsias De Rossa: May I suggest then, a Cheann Comhairle, that the only option left to us is to withdraw from this House? If we are not going to be allowed to operate under the Standing Orders of  this House what is the point of us being here?
Proinsias De Rossa: I suggest that what we are dealing with here is not a matter of precedent or Standing Orders but the Chair has suggested that he has made his decision on the basis of convention. There is no list of conventions by which this House can prove——
Proinsias De Rossa: Standing Orders clearly state permission must be given in advance before the motion is put on the Order Paper. One cannot put it on the Order Paper and then the Chair gives his permission afterwards, or allows it to be taken. It is a question that the Standing Orders rule it out unless permission was given in advance or that it was put down four days in advance. There is no other way this matter can be dealt with, a Cheann Comhairle.
Proinsias De Rossa: There are no conventions by which this House is ruled. There is none available to us and we must assume that the Chair is operating on the basis that the officials have indicated that the practice is (a), (b) or (c), but that is not the way in which to run this House.
An Ceann Comhairle: May I tell Deputies that permission is never requested either by a Private Member or by Government to move motions on short notice? Once the Chair allows the motion or the amendment to be moved on short notice, it is implied that the Chair has given the necessary permission.
Mr. Quinn: The Government are totally offside in the Broadcasting Bill and they are totally offside in regard to this guillotine motion. This House is far more important than any one particular party. I suggest, having regard to the debacle caused in the first instance by the Government Chief Whip and his advisers, that the Chair adjourn this House and allow things to come back onside with some degree of dignity and then proceed with the rest of this business. It is quite clear now, a Cheann Comhairle, that, through no fault of your own or indeed of the advisers in your office, the Government are totally offside and that a formal request should be made to you to introduce this outrageous guillotine motion.
Miss Flaherty: As a way around this which might meet the reservations of the Chair — because the Chair accepts that  his information is correct and he is satisfied with that — would the Chair allow an adjournment for members of the Opposition to have the opportunity to meet with the officials so that we could assure ourselves of the ruling? In that case the Chair's ruling would be protected and we would be given the opportunity to consult with the officials and satisfy ourselves on the matter?
Mr. Rabbitte: I support the reasonable request that Deputy Flaherty has made. Surely it must be clear to the Chair at this stage that the points raised by Deputy De Rossa have widespread support from the Opposition parties.
Mr. Rabbitte: Deputy O'Keeffe has supported this by adducing precedents in this House which support the point that Deputy De Rossa set out to make initially. Deputy Flaherty has made a reasonable request. The point was not raised initially by Deputy De Rossa to challenge the Chair. The Chair is held in respect by all of the parties in this House. The Chair is only in danger of losing the respect of some of the parties in this House if it is seen to be unreasonable in dealing with the widespread concern there is about whether this motion is validly before us today. We should be given the opportunity, as suggested by Deputy Flaherty, to assure ourselves on the matter and that the business can proceed at a later stage in the afternoon.
Mr. Dukes: May I say — I say this with every respect for order in this House — that it must be clear to you, Sir, because it is clear to me and to other Deputies on this side of the House, that until this issue is resolved, clarified and explained to the satisfaction of this side of the House and dealt with in a way that is clearly, in  conformity with Standing Orders, there will be a continuing succession of Deputies on this side of the House — this is not a threat but a forecast, which I think is right——
Mr. Dukes: It would be far better for the order of the House, for the respect in which the Chair is held and for the business of this House to have a brief recess so that we can clarify this matter once and for all. I strongly commend that to you, Sir, as the most sagacious way of dealing with this and a way which will not lose the Chair any respect.
Mr. Spring: I support that request which has been made quite reasonably. If we are going to conduct business in this House today it must be quite obvious that an hour and a half after the Order of Business should have been proceeded with some new solution has to be found. I again call on the Taoiseach. If a mistake has been made by the Chief Whip's office it should be admitted. The time is long past for admitting that.
A Cheann Comhairle, you yourself said that permission was not sought in accordance with Standing Order 28, and it must be clear to everyone in this House that without that permission the business before the House is not in order. I put it to you, Sir, that the House deserves a clear explanation of the Chair's position in Standing Order 28. We are asking  under which Standing Order the Chair's ruling is in order. I think we deserve that, Sir; and I would put it to you, Sir, that business will not be conducted in this House until we get that explanation.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: The matter can be resolved in a very short time if the Government, under Standing Orders and precedent, seek your consent, a Cheann Comhairle and make up for their dereliction of duty. You can consider the matter and give your decision. That would be the end of the matter one way or the other, whichever decision you give. That, Sir, is the obvious way to resolve the matter.
The Taoiseach: On a point of order, the Government have put the Order of Business before the House and we have heard a great deal from the Opposition benches about their rights in this matter. I suggest it is the right and duty of the Government to order the business of this House——
An Ceann Comhairle: In a further desire to get this debate on the proper track, so that we might come to a final decision in the matter, I am not assenting to the Taoiseach's request in respect of this question——
An Ceann Comhairle: ——but I want to again appeal to Members for order. I want to make it perfectly clear again that I do not want to have to repeat myself. I ask Deputies not to continually taunt me  to try to change my mind. My mind is made up in this matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: ——and I ask you to discuss it. I am not prepared to relent in this matter and I am not prepared to adjourn the House. If the House is to be adjourned it can be done by way of a motion, but not from the Chair.
The Taoiseach: On a point of order, I do not think it is open to any Member of the House other than a member of the Government to move a motion during Government time, but if the Deputy wishes to put a motion——
Mr. Quinn: The motion is now properly and formally before you, Sir, and it  is open to the House to vote on it. I suspect all the points have been made by this side of the House and we do not need to debate the matter further.
Belton, Louis J.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Enright, Thomas W.
Gilmore, Eamon. Spring, Dick.
Higgins, Michael D.
Mac Giolla, Tomás.
Sheehan, Patrick J.
Sherlock, Joe. Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine
Browne, John (Wexford).
Burke, Raphael P.
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
de Valera, Síle.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Haughey, Charles J.
Nolan, M. J.
Noonan, Michael J.
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Mr. Dukes: I regret the decision. My considered advice to you, Sir, I do not intend to be disorderly or impertinent, is that the best course of action is to have a short recess of 15 or 30 minutes so that the Opposition can go fully into the procedures that were used here. If that is not done, we cannot be satisfied with the procedures and, in those circumstances, I see no further point in continuing with the business of the House. If there is not an adjournment my party will leave the House until further notice.
Mr. Spring: It is unfortunate that we have come to this impasse in the House in relation to the ordering of business. I am amazed that the Taoiseach cannot see that business cannot be conducted  without agreement, discussion and concensus in this House. It is obvious that the Government are not interested in the co-operation of the Opposition parties and, in those circumstances, the Labour Party are leaving the House because there is no point in continuing business.
Proinsias De Rossa: What is being done here today is making a laughing stock of this House in relation to attempting to put business on the Order Paper, which is not in order. By insisting that the debate be closed on it — as the Taoiseach did on two occasions this morning — it is clear that the Government are intent on ramming this Broadcasting Bill through the House, come what may. We are simply providing a cloak of respectability for the Government by sitting through this sham. Therefore, unless we get an adjournment to discuss Standing Order 28 and its validity — and the question of whether item No. 11 is in order — we have no option but to withdraw from the House.
Proinsias De Rossa: I wish to make it clear to Minister Woods that the points I raised here this morning are a challenge to the Government, not to the Chair, and the position of the Government in putting forward a motion to this House which is not in order on a Friday morning. That is the challenge which was made here this morning and the attempt by the Taoiseach to block that challenge by proposing that the question be put——
Proinsias De Rossa: ——to prevent debate on it is another indication of his disrespect for the Members on this side of the House. There is no point in our  party continuing here for the rest of the day to give to the Government a cloak of respectability which they no longer have.
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