Order of Business.

Tuesday, 9 July 1991

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 410 No. 6

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The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It is proposed to take Nos. 6, 7 and 9. It is also proposed that statements shall be made on the European Council Meeting in Luxembourg on the conclusion of No. 7.

[1242]Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John 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?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This matter came before us on Friday last and we adjudicated on it.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On a point of order, Sir, you did not adjudicate on it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The matter of the motion of confidence referred to by Deputy Bruton is one for Private Members' Business only——

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  No, Sir.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  —— except if the Government wish to take it in their own time.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On a point of order, it is the precedent — and I can cite four examples from the past ten years — that motions of no confidence are taken in Government time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry. This matter came before us on Friday last. The House has decided on the business of this week and I will not permit a rehash of Friday's business again.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  With all respect to your office, I do not think there is any need for you to feel you have an obligation to protect the Government in this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That is an allegation that is unworthy of the Deputy and must be withdrawn. He knows me better than that.

[1243]Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John 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: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  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. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  That is not correct. The Taoiseach should read it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  For that reason I am not taking it seriously and I have no intention of giving Government time for it.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The motion refers to financial and parliamentary business.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick 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: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  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: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Some weeks ago the Taoiseach indicated that the drafting [1244] 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?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Certainly it will be published during the recess and taken next session.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay 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.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It is at its very final stages. I hope it will be published during the summer and taken next session.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim 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——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This is not a point of order; it is more a speech.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim 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.

[1245]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  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: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias 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?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The Deputy will receive it in plenty of time to be taken next session.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Is it finished?

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles 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?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That is a matter for consideration between the Whips.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  I ask this question because as the Opposition Whip I am aware that this matter has not been discussed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Try again.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Neither has there been an invitation to discuss the matter. Are we to play it out until October?

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick 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 [1246] legislation to deal with telephone tapping and the amendments to the drunk driving legislation promised in the wake of certain court cases.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  With my usual courtesy I will communicate with the Deputy and give him an up-to-date position in regard to each of these items of legislation.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Taoiseach does not answer any of my letters.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Why does the Deputy not get up and say something sometime?

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Do the Government intend to convene a meeting of the Committee of Selection this week?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That is a matter for the Whips.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John 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. V. Brady: Information on Vincent Brady  Zoom on Vincent Brady  That is not right.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  If the Deputy at this stage, after 70 years of this Parliament, is endeavouring to suggest that there is no such thing as a Whip I have to disagree with him.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John 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.

[1247]The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It is a typical sort of matter normally discussed between the Whips and I suggest that is where it should be dealt with.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Government Whip is behind the Taoiseach and he can inquire what the situation is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This cannot continue. I take it Deputy Quinn has a relevant question.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí 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?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Yes, I see no objection to that.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John 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: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  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.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  But it is part of the 1992 package.


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