Order of Business.

Friday, 5 July 1991

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 410 No. 5

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The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It is proposed to take No. 9.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  I beg your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to move a motion under Standing Order 143 to rescind those sections of the Time Allocation Motion of Thursday, 4 July 1991 which deal specifically with Estimates in order to provide for a separate debate on each of the spending Estimates before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have to tell Deputy Flanagan that I cannot allow a Private Members' motion to suspend Standing Orders to be moved in Government time. This is in accordance with long standing precedent.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  May I ask the Government to give consideration to allowing this motion in the interests of parliamentary democracy and the ordering the business of this House in keeping with the long standing tradition of providing time for a proper debate on the spending of £6.7 billion? Members on this side of the House, and Government backbenchers, should be given the opportunity to scrutinise the Estimates and ask questions of the various Ministers.

[990]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy may not elaborate now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I find it difficult to take this proposal seriously.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Taoiseach would.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Dictator.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I am afraid the Opposition are playing a sort of parliamentary game.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  That is what the Taoiseach thinks of Parliament.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The position is that the Government have leaned over backwards to facilitate the Opposition in regard to this matter.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Rubbish.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let us hear the Taoiseach without interruption.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  In the Government of which Deputy Bruton was a member, Estimates were frequently put through this House in a very short period of time.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  By agreement, and not en bloc.

A Deputy:  One by one.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  On this occasion the Government first proposed that the normal practice be followed, but in deference to the wishes of the Opposition parties, which I understood at that time included Fine Gael, we agreed to a different form this time because Deputies opposite were anxious to discuss the general financial situation. In order to facilitate such a discussion the Whips agreed, perhaps with the exception of the Fine Gael Whip, to this new procedure——

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Government are [991] prepared to breach the terms of the Constitution.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  ——and extended the time to 21 hours.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  It would not matter if the Government extended it to 21 weeks.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The Opposition parties also sought a debate on agriculture, which has been granted.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  After what happened last Thursday the Government had no option but to grant it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  They also wanted a debate on European union, which has also been granted. I believe the Government have been generous to the extreme in trying to facilitate the wishes of the Opposition in the handling of parliamentary business.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Government are breaching the terms of the Constitution.

Mr. J. Bruton rose.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I must assert that the business of this day was determined by the House yesterday and, consequently, I cannot at this stage entertain any extraneous matter. However, I will hear Deputy Bruton briefly.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  This is the first time in the history of Dáil Éireann that the Government have asked this House to agree to all the Estimates for public expenditure en bloc in one debate without any possibility of individual Estimates being scrutinised or Ministers being questioned on them.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  This is not acceptable to my party as Deputies on all sides of the House will be denied the opportunity of querying individual Ministers about the Government's intentions for cuts in [992] spending once the Dáil has been sent safely on its holidays.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  Fine Gael agreed with those cuts. What is the difference in their policy?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Fine Gael believe it is essential in the interests of parliamentary democracy that there be individual scrutiny of Estimates and questioning of Ministers.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Bruton, the views expressed now are ones which can be expressed during the course of the debate on the Estimates. I am now asking the Minister for Finance to move the Estimates in question.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Sir, I have not concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Perhaps the Deputy was not listening to me.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I have a question on the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Order of Business is as the Taoiseach announced.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On the Order of Business, the Fine Gael Party have tabled a motion of no confidence in the Coalition Government. On most previous occasions when motions of confidence or no confidence were tabled — October 1974, October 1976, July 1982 and February 1986 — the Government of the day immediately provided Government time for a debate on the motion. In view of the fact that the main Opposition party have tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government, may I ask if the Government will provide time so that this motion can be taken quickly?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  No, Sir.

(Interruptions.)

[993]Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Now we have the jackboot——

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  This is the difference.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I have to say again that I regard this motion as nothing more than parliamentary gamesmanship. It is not a serious motion and does not address itself, as normal votes of no confidence do, to the Government's behaviour, the conduct of the economy or the nation's affairs.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  It does.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  It is too close to the knuckle.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  This motion of no confidence put down by Fine Gael refers exclusively to the handling of parliamentary business.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It does not. The motion refers to financial business——

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am now calling on the Minister for Finance to move the Estimates.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  May I make a point of order?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair will not entertain any points of order when he is on his feet and dealing with the business of this House.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Before I am totally muzzled by the Government, may I, as a Member of this House, make a point of order? That is all I am asking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let us hear it.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I appeal to you as our Chairman to say whether it is accepted [994] practice in every parliamentary democracy that the tabling of a motion of no confidence is given precedence over other business? Do you not accept that the attitude of the Government will mean that this motion of no confidence will not be taken for four months?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That is not a point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It is not a matter for the Chair as to whether a motion of no confidence shall be taken or not. Usually it is taken in Government time but, of course, it may be taken in Private Members' time.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  They have abolished Private Members' time next week by way of their guillotine motion.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  Fine Gael agreed not to have Private Members' time next week despite the fact that The Worker's Party denounced this proposal.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  The Deputy betrayed his people.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am now calling on the Minister to move the Estimates.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I will hear no further points of order. The Order of Business is clear and was determined this morning. Members cannot raise points of order on it.

(Interruptions.)


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