Tuesday, 4 February 1992
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take Item No. 12. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that: (1) Questions for oral answers shall not be taken on Thursday next; (2) Questions shall not be taken next week.
Mr. Spring: It is most unfortunate that Dáil business has to be interrupted in this way because of internal problems in the Fianna Fáil Party. It should have been possible to have had the Fianna Fáil internal matters resolved without interrupting the Dáil.
Mr. McCartan: The position of The Workers' Party, as conveyed to the Government Whip, is that we can see no reason why Questions for oral reply have to be suspended next Thursday. Two reasons were advanced to me for this. One suggested that there would be a meeting of the parliamentary party and  the other was that the Minister might be involved in canvassing. Those reasons should not interfere with the proper conduct of the business of this House. Questions have already been tabled and if the Minister has pressing matters to attend to I do not see that there is any reason why the Minister of State could not deal with the Questions and impart the information to which we are entitled. For those reasons we object strenuously to what is proposed.
Mr. J. Bruton: Would the Taoiseach not agree that for today's purposes, all we need to do is make a decision with regard to whether Questions are taken on Thursday and the following Tuesday? Would the Taoiseach agree that there is no need to make a decision at this stage as to whether Questions will be taken on next Wednesday or the following Thursday?
The Taoiseach: I agree there is no particular need to make the stipulation about Questions next week, but I understood it was agreed between the Whips. The idea there was that next week the House would wish to have plenty of time to discuss at length the very important motions that will be coming before it and it was on that basis that it was suggested Questions would not be taken next week. I accept the reasonableness of Deputy Bruton's proposal, if he is not agreeing to this, although I understood he was. If the Deputy is not agreeing to it there is no need to make a decision now.
Mr. J. Bruton: It is fair to say there is a certain degree of disagreement in the House about the matter. The sensible thing to do would be to simply agree that we will not take Questions on Thursday and next Tuesday and that we will leave the decision as to the following Wednesday and Thursday for decision at a later time.
Mr. Spring: On the Order of Business, have the Government made a statement or do they intend making a statement in relation to the failure of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to rule out unequivocally the possibility of the Conservative Party talking to the unionists in relation to a Government after the next British election? The matter was raised in this House last week. Have the Government made any statement on this?
The Taoiseach: It would not be wise of me to give any reply to the Deputy on the basis of newspaper reports. My understanding of the situation is that that suggestion has been rather vehemently denied.
Mr. Howlin: On the Order of Business, in view of the statement over the weekend from members of the Progressive Democrats can the Taoiseach say if the Roads Bill is proceeding at Second Stage as it was introduced in this House, or is it being withdrawn for amendment?
The Taoiseach: I must give the same reply to Deputy Howlin which I gave to his party leader. It would be most unwise of me to make any decisions on the basis of newspaper reports. There is a propensity these days, I am afraid, for Members of this House to speak rather wildly and loosely to the newspapers.
The Taoiseach: Business will be ordered by the Government in the normal way and any suggestions as to amendments to legislation or to the legislative programme will be brought before this House. I would strongly recommend to the Deputy that he does not pay the  slightest attention to these vaporous reports he reads in the newspapers.
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