Order of Business.

Tuesday, 12 February 1991

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 404 No. 9

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The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It is proposed to take Nos. 7, 8, 17 and 18. It is also proposed, [2384] subject to the agreement of the House, that: (1) No. 7 shall be taken without debate and (2) Nos. 8 and 17 shall be taken together for the purpose of debate. Private Members' Business shall be No. 36.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the proposal that No. 7 be taken without debate agreed? Agreed. Is it agreed that Nos. 8 and 17 be taken together for the purpose of debate? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  In regard to promised legislation, when will the National Roads Authority Bill be circulated? Is there any significance in the fact that there was no mention of this promised legislation in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress which was published? Is he aware of statements from those concerned — who are road users — that in the long run we are losing out on EC funds because of the failure to enact this legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The best possibility in regard to this legislation is next session. I do not agree that there is any suggestion we are losing out on Structural Funds.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is outrageous.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The operational programmes for roads are fully effective and all the necessary Structural Funds will be drawn down.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the Taoiseach not aware that we are behind programme in using up fully resources available to us under this programme as far as road building is concerned and we will, by our failure to achieve our targets under this five year programme, lose out in subsequent five-year programmes as well?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I can assure the Deputy that we will not lose one single penny of Structural Funds.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  You missed the boat.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  Prior to the Christmas [2385] recess the Taoiseach intimated to the House that he would be having discussions with Deputy Peter Barry, who was then the Fine Gael spokesman on Foreign Affairs, on the setting up of a foreign affairs committee of this House. Last week he intimated that he would be having discussions, to quote him correctly, immediately. May I now ask him if he intends to have those meetings on the setting up of this committee and if they can be held as soon as possible?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I will be glad to have them tomorrow and the following day, if possible.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  May I ask the Taoiseach if he will provide this House with an opportunity to review its position on the Gulf War? We debated this matter some weeks ago and a decision was made in relation to the United Nations——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I think Deputy De Rossa appreciates——

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  May I finish my question and you can then rule it out of order if you feel it is out of order?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  In so far as the Chair is not aware of any promised legislation on the topic to which he refers I would remind him that his question is not in order.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  The decision was made by way of a vote of the House and what I am asking is if the Taoiseach will provide this House with an opportunity to review that decision in the light of the fact that a war which was launched on the basis that it would be over in three days is now entering its fourth week——

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The war started on 2 August.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  ——and we are being told by the British Prime Minister that he does not know when it will end?

[2386]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy's question is not in order.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I am sure the Taoiseach shares with me and thousands of other people throughout the country complete frustration, at the inadequacy of our criminal laws to deal with the kind of situation highlighted by today's Supreme Court decision in the Gallagher case. May I ask him therefore if he will make arrangements for the immediate introduction of amending legislation to deal with this matter to ensure there will not be a recurrence of what has happened during the past number of months?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Barrett knows from his experience that that question——

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The Taoiseach wants to answer. This matter only arose today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  ——is not in order.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I tried under proper parliamentary procedures to table a Private Notice Question on this matter. It is a matter of extreme urgency on which the Government and the Minister for Justice face a problem. I am sure the Taoiseach would like to use the opportunity to give his views on this problem and to state — if it even appears on the “C” list — whether new legislation will be introduced to deal with this matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Barrett appreciates that the question of likes, felt or attributed to some other Deputy in the House, does not justify the asking of a question on the Order of Business. It must be connected with promised legislation.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I tried to raise it by proper means.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Put down a Dáil Question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am sure [2387] if the Deputy seeks the advice of the Ceann Comhairle's office he will get it.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  It looks as if we will have to wait another five years, which is what happened in the case of the legislation dealing with the roads authority.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Arising out of the reply given in the House last week by the Minister for the Environment in relation to an announcement on social housing which I understand is to be made to local authority chairmen on Thursday next, may I ask the Taoiseach when the announcement and the details of this social housing package will be given to this House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Again, if it is not promised legislation——

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  It is.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  In recent times many Members of the House have referred to the growing tendency to make announcements, which ought properly be made in this House, in orchestrated assemblies in Dublin Castle, Kilmainham or elsewhere. If an announcement is to be made on an important issue like social housing which every Deputy in this House is concerned about, It should be made in this House. Public funds are involved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  If Deputy Howlin is making an allegation that there has been some abuse elsewhere, that does not justify him abusing the time allocated for the Order of Business to make his point which is what he is endeavouring to do.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Finally, may I ask the Taoiseach if he will consider allowing the Minister for the Environment to make an announcement on Thursday in this House prior to making an announcement elsewhere? That is a simple question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Chair——

[2388]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is not parliamentary democracy.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  He will probably make it on “Scrap Saturday”.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Chair, Deputy Quinn, always endeavours to carry out the wishes of the House in respect of rules and regulations agreed to by the House. The Chair must insist on doing so until changes are made.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  I, too, tabled a Private Notice Question to the Ceann Comhairle relating to the decision of the Supreme Court this morning with regard to the verdict of guilty but insane and I was advised that it was ruled out of order on the basis that it lacked urgency. I accept the ruling but it does not avoid the urgency of the matter. May I ask the Minister for Justice if he intends to bring before the House legislation promised on this matter in response to previous parliamentary questions when he stated he would await the Supreme Court judgment? Legislation is urgently required. At least an undertaking should be given that no one will be released from the custody of the State until such time as this House has considered the legislation, in particular a person who is regarded as being responsible for the perpetration of two killings.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  As you merely ask the Minister to confirm or deny that legislation is promised, I do not know.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Legislation, within the terms that we use here on this issue, has not been promised but naturally the matter will be urgently considered by the Government.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  May I seek clarification from the Chair——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am not going to have a debate on this matter. The Deputy has encouraged the Taoiseach to be slightly out of order by his [2389] courtesy in responding to him but we are not going to allow a continuation of that. I call on Deputy Jim Mitchell.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  On a point of order——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  What is the point of order?

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  I seek clarification of the words of the Taoiseach which I welcome——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  That is not a point of order.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  In what sense are they meant? In answer to previous parliamentary questions here the Minister for Justice indicated that the matter would be addressed by him——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy will have to use his own ingenuity to interpret what has been said. It is not a point of order. He should not have risen on a point of order——

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  I am asking the Chair for guidance——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  It is not a point of order you are raising. You alleged it was and I am asking you to resume your seat. I am calling Deputy Jim Mitchell.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  May I ask the Taoiseach if the report in The Irish Times today is correct? It indicates that the Minister for the Environment and the Government have accepted my proposal that they should amend the provisions in law dealing with postal ballots for the disabled by deleting the provision that requires that a medical certificate indicating that a person is of sound mind be furnished. Will such legislation be introduced in the present session and will it include any other provisions?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Mitchell will appreciate that what is [2390] referred to in the media does not necessarily reflect promised legislation. Legislation is not promised in the House.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  As clearly there was a prompt from the Minister's information officer, I want the Taoiseach to confirm in this House if it will be included in the legislative programme for this session and in time for the local elections.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy appreciates that it would be a sad day for the House if he reacted to every prompting, alleged or otherwise, from any Minister's secretary. I call on Deputy Gilmore.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  I have to insist on a reply in this case. I want to ask the Taoiseach directly whether legislation will be introduced before the local elections to delete this pernicious provision.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy, on his own presentation of the question, is acknowledging that legislation is not promised so far as he is asking if it will be promised. That defeats the question.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  That which is promised may not be promised. May I suggest that it would be helpful to the order of the House if you let the Taoiseach reply to my question?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  No, the Chair will not accommodate any Deputy who is out of order in inviting the Taoiseach to reply.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I seek clarification regarding the circulation of the promised Local Government Bill. Previously the Taoiseach indicated on the Order of Business that it would be circulated either this session or next session; the Minister for the Environment at Question Time last week indicated it would be circulated this session. I would like to know whether it will be circulated this session or next [2391] session. If it is to be circulated next session, it will clearly not be in time for the local elections in June.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I think I should not reply because I would only confuse the Deputy further.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is a simple answer if it is not too complicated for the Taoiseach. Is it this session or next session?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I tell Deputy Gilmore it will be one or the other.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  In view of the fact that Dublin has been designated the Cultural Capital of Europe in 1991 and in view of the Taoiseach's acknowledged interest in cultural matters, will he use his good offices to intervene in the dispute involving the RTE Symphony Orchestra and RTE Concert Orchestra? It will be a very bad introduction to this year of culture in Dublin if we do not have a national orchestra.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Currie appreciates that, notwithstanding his cultural presentation of the question, that does not qualify it for being in order on the Order of Business.

Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  I am sorry, Sir, that you do not share my concern in this matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I would be very interested at the appropriate time. Everything in its own good time, Deputy.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  Let me seek information from the Taoiseach on promised legislation. In the past decade we discussed a Bill entitled the Shannon Estuary Authority Bill on numerous occasions. The Bill seems to have got lost somewhere in the temporary little arrangement the parties in Government have. I have asked the Taoiseach about this Bill on numerous occasions. Let me ask now if the [2392] parties in Government have resolved the differences in relation to the Shannon Estuary Authority Bill and if it is proposed to have that Bill before this House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Strictly speaking, it has not been promised by this Government in this House. Nevertheless, I am sure, Sir, you will encourage me to be helpful and courteous. This Bill is still being processed but at the moment, because of very important and urgent legislation in other areas, it is not taking precedence over more important and more significant urgent social legislation.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is that a promise?

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  I appreciate the Taoiseach's attempt to be forthcoming in his reply and I am sure the order of priority he is giving to that Bill will be noted by the people in Clare, Kerry and Limerick. Has the Bill been discussed by Cabinet in recent months?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The Deputy knows we never disclose what is happening in Cabinet.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The Bill is like the Shannon River itself, flowing gently along.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Let me ask the Taoiseach if it is intended to introduce the National Milk Agency Bill this session.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  No, it will not be this session.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Let me draw the Taoiseach's attention to a commitment entered into in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress which states that the Minister for Agriculture and Food will bring forward the new National Milk Agency Bill in the next Dáil session. Perhaps the Taoiseach can inform the House whether any of the other contents of this programme have become mere [2393] aspirations rather than significant commitments given to the social partners.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That programme is the most far reaching, comprehensive programme for social and economic progress this country has ever seen.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Agreed. The Deputy should restrain his little carping criticisms.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Taoiseach should answer the question he is being asked.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Is the Taoiseach going to honour the commitment given to the farming bodies that the National Milk Agency Bill will be introduced this session?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It will be introduced as soon as possible.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  This is the commitment given to the farming authorities — that it will be introduced this session.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The Deputies opposite insist on having debates on a variety of different subjects which take up legislative time. We do our best to get legislation in as quickly as possible.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That magnificent Programme for Economic and Social Progress will be coming before the House——

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Taoiseach has no intention of keeping these promises.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  ——for debate and approval next week.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the House approving that document on the basis that the legislation in regard to the milk agency will [2394] be introduced in this session as the programme says, or not in this session as the Taoiseach says? What will we be asked to approve next week, the Taoiseach's promise last week or his promise this week?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We will have to wait and see, Deputy.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  In respect of legislation promised in the House on Thursday last, I asked the Taoiseach about the Criminal Evidence Bill and the Taoiseach — as he attempted to indicate earlier and prompted by his Whip to that effect, indicated that it was not promised legislation. I have two references from the Official Report last year when the Minister of State, Deputy Connolly, and the Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, both in answer to amendments in my name with regard to criminal evidence, indicated that a Bill would be introduced in this House and was in preparation. I can read the reference to the House if needed, unless the Taoiseach has clarified the matter in the meantime.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  No, it is not in order to read references. If the legislation is promised, not by means of any casual reference, but if it is promised legislation in the sense Deputy McCartan knows how legislation is ordered——

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  I knew that last Thursday but for some reason the Taoiseach indicated that was not promised. It was, most definitely, by his Minister for Justice and his Minister of State — I think I see the Minister nodding agreement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Chair will have to take the order of seniority for this. The Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  There may be some confusion here between two pieces of legislation, the Criminal Evidence Bill and the Criminal Insanity Bill. I will be glad to give the Deputy an update on the position of both.


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