Tuesday, 9 July 1991
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. J. Bruton: Has the Taoiseach had an opportunity to reconsider his refusal — an almost unprecedented refusal — to take the motion of no confidence in the Government tabled by the Opposition? In view of the fact that the Taoiseach stated today that he proposed to discuss cuts in public spending with those outside this House but would not include Members of this House in any such discussion will he not agree that he should test whether he has the confidence of the House to do so before he proceeds to discuss it with other people?
Mr. J. Bruton: I withdraw any personal or official imputation in respect of yourself, Sir. The House deserves an opportunity when a motion of no confidence in the Government has been put down by the main Opposition party to have that motion discussed. The Government should not seek to hide behind you or anybody else in refusing to take a direct motion of this kind which affects their right to continue public business during the summer recess.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy is not correct. A number of motions of this kind have been taken in Private Members' time before. As I have already indicated to the House, I am not taking this motion seriously because it does not refer to the Government's conduct of the affairs of the nation. The wording of it refers entirely to parliamentary procedures and business.
Mr. Spring: I refer to the Government's legislative programme for this session. It would appear that many items which the Government had hoped to take will not be reached or decided on. Could the Taoiseach publish by Friday a complete list of Government business which has not been reached and give an undertaking that it will be taken in the autumn?
The Taoiseach: Such a list is already included in the Order Paper. The business which we hope to take in the foreseeable future is listed there. If the Deputy wishes to have any additional information, I will be very happy to give it to him.
Proinsias De Rossa: Some weeks ago the Taoiseach indicated that the drafting  of the new contraceptives Bill was well advanced and while he did not expect it would be taken during this session he did expect it would be published. Can the Taoiseach indicate when the Bill will be published and whether the drafting has yet been finalised?
Mr. G. Mitchell: Is the Taoiseach in a position to tell the House when the Bill to reform the powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General will be published? I understand it may be in the near future.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I want to raise a matter of procedure in relation to the motion of no confidence. All the precedents show that such motions are taken immediately, either in Government time or in Private Members' time. The Taoiseach, on spurious grounds — he is not correct in stating that the motion refers only to the conduct of parliamentary matters — has refused to allow Government time. Because of the guillotine motion there is no Private Members' time this week and therefore the consequence of the action of the Government in refusing Government time and in voting down Private Members' time is that for the first time in the history of this state——
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: You, Sir, are the guardian of the rights and responsibilities of Members. You, therefore, are now confronted with an unprecedented situation and I am asking you to consider how we, a responsible Opposition party, can confront this situation where our rights to have a motion of no confidence debated are being denied by this jackboot Government.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair has no problem in this matter. He is above and beyond it. I want to indicate again, as I did last Friday, that a Private Members' motion of no confidence in the Government can only be taken in Private Members' time, unless of course the Government permit it to be moved in Government time. That is the position.
Proinsias De Rossa: In relation to the matter I raised with the Taoiseach already, has the drafting of the Bill been finalised and approved by Government? If so, what is the delay in publication? We are going into recess by Friday and presumably we will be back some time in October. At what point will we see this Bill?
Mr. Flanagan: Three weeks ago tomorrow this House voted for the setting up of a committee on crime. Will the Taoiseach give an undertaking that this committee will sit during the summer recess? When is it expected that the committee will formally appoint a chairperson?
Mr. McCartan: I refer to a number of Bills which have not been circulated and I ask if they are likely to be circulated during the long vacation. I specifically refer to the Criminal Evidence Bill, the  legislation to deal with telephone tapping and the amendments to the drunk driving legislation promised in the wake of certain court cases.
Mr. J. Bruton: Where in Standing Orders are responsibilities of this kind conferred on the Whips? Is it not the case that it is a matter for the Government and that there is no reference anywhere in Standing Orders to any status for the Whips? Invariably when the Taoiseach says something is being referred to the Whips his Whip has no authority to deal with the matter. When it is raised at a Whips' meeting his Whip says and can do nothing.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach should address himself to the question, which concerns the establishment of the Committee on Crime. This committee cannot meet unless the Committee of Selection first meet to appoint the Members. Is there to be a Committee on Crime in being during the summer recess or not? It is a simple question which the Taoiseach should be able to answer.
Mr. Quinn: It is a relevant question in respect of promised legislation. In view of the fact that this State is about 17 months away from the completion of the internal market in 1992 and having regard to the various items of legislation to which the Taoiseach referred in reply to Deputy Spring, is it the Government's intention to publish for those directly concerned a list of outstanding legislation which needs to be addressed in this Parliament in order to give effect to the completion of the internal market? Could that be done during the summer recess to enable proper debate in the autumn?
Mr. J. Bruton: Is the Taoiseach aware that we must have a referendum to ratify the Community Patent Convention before Ireland can play its part in completing the internal market? Can the Taoiseach indicate when this referendum is likely to take place?
The Taoiseach: There are two aspects of patent law. One can be dealt with by legislation and that is already under way. With regard to the other matter I am not in a position to say when that can be taken.
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