Thursday, 20 June 1991
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. J. Bruton: On that proposal, we would like to have some information before we agree to it. For how long do the Government intend the Dáil shall sit during July? Do the Government intend to complete the legislative programme they published for this session, only half of which has been seriously debated in this House and the other half has not been debated here? Do the Government  intend to complete that programme before the summer recess? Further, may I ask the Tánaiste if it is the intention of the Government to allow the House an opportunity to discuss the results of the renegotiations between the two Government parties on the continued existence of this Government and whether other Members of the House will have an opportunity to comment on this very important and momentous discussion that is reputed to start as soon as the local elections are over?
Mr. Spring: Always guaranteed to bring order to everything, a Cheann Comhairle. On the same point raised by Deputy Bruton may I ask the Tánaiste if he could at least give an indication to the House this morning of the legislative programme for the remainder of this session? As has been stated — I wish to stay in order — the Government produced a programme at the start of this session, about half of that legislation has been introduced to the House, and it would be in order for the Tánaiste to outline to the House the legislative programme for the remainder of this session.
The Tánaiste: The legislative programme is the one that was already outlined to the House. The Government are fully committed to push ahead as fast as they possibly can with that programme during this session.
Proinsias De Rossa: May I ask a question about a different kind of planning? May I ask the Tánaiste at what stage is the Family Planning (Amendment) Bill? The Taoiseach indicated some weeks ago that the proposed changes were on course. As I understand it, the changes proposed are minimal. I do not understand the reason for the delay in view  of the urgency to make condoms more freely available to try to tackle the AIDS epidemic that is raging through this country. Can the Tánaiste please indicate at what stage is the drafting of the new legislation on family planning and when we can expect to have it on the floor of the House for approval?
Mr. R. Bruton: May I ask the Tánaiste whether it is the Government's intention to introduce a Supplementary Health Estimate to deal with the very critical problem facing haemophiliacs and also the many caring organisations that have to run up overdrafts because payments due to them are not being made by the health boards?
Mr. J. Mitchell: May I ask the Tánaiste if in ordering sittings of the House after the local elections he will take account of the needs of certain Members of the  House and ensure that the House does not sit at a time that clashes with the annual general meeting of the Tralee Urban District Council?
The Tánaiste: Due to the importance the Government attach to local government they will take into account the serious problems that certain parties will have because of the huge numbers elected at the local government election.
Mr. Spring: May I seek an assurance from the Tánaiste — in the absence of the Taoiseach — in relation to serious matters occurring in Northern Ireland and in regard to the proposed meeting of the intergovernmental conference? I seek an assurance from the Tánaiste that no further delays will occur in relation to this matter and that the meeting which is scheduled for next month will take place.
Mr. Spring: The talks in Northern Ireland and the Government's attitude to those talks is probably the most pressing matter at this time. Is is extremely important that the Tánaiste clarify the situation that the Irish Government will not pull back from the stance they have taken in relation to the proposed meeting.
Mrs. Fennell: I seek your indulgence, a Cheann Comhairle, in regard to an issue I wish to raise. Exactly one month ago the Minister for Health in this House promised a report from the inspector of mental hospitals in regard to the very serious matter of the commital of a Dublin woman. Although it is well over a month since it happened, I have not had a report. I have telephoned the office and I am accusing the Minister of creating a smokescreen.
An Ceann Comhairle: You are absolutely correct, Deputy. I put the matter to the House and asked if it was agreed. Deputy Bruton intervened and I cannot recollect having put it finally to the House. Is Deputy Bruton in agreement with the proposal——
Mr. J. Bruton: I do not wish to press the matter but I expressed the view yesterday that time should have been provided this week to allow us to discuss, in advance of the EC Summit, the threat to the existence of the Common Agricultural Policy. My party, as advised by the Taoiseach, requested time be provided for that, through the Whips, and  the request was declined. Therefore, I do not agree with the Order of Business.
Mr. J. Higgins: In view of the fact that a long awaited OECD report on the Irish educational system will be published today, will time be made available to the House to debate its contents which are farreaching and obviously a precursor——
The Tánaiste: As it is an important report and as my colleague, the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke, is more than sensitive in relation to anything which assists in putting together a sound educational policy, I am quite sure it will get serious consideration.
Mr. Ferris: The Tánaiste suggested that Supplementary Estimates would be submitted before the summer recess. In doing so, will the Minister for Finance comment on the OECD report which said that, out of 23 nations investigated, Ireland's interest rates are the highest?
Mr. J. Bruton: Over the last three or four years — or indeed longer — legislation to ratify the European Patent Convention has been promised by successive Ministers for Industry and Commerce  and the Taoiseach. In view of the fact that the Summit is taking place next week, at which the Community will agree on a deadline to complete the Internal Market in regard to such matters as intellectual property, including patents, will the Tánaiste give an indication whether Ireland will be able to fulfil those requirements by ratifying this convention before the end of the year in view of the fact that all these directives must be in place by 1 January 1993 in accordance with the programme?
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