Wednesday, 18 August 1971
Seanad Eireann Debate
Professor Kelly: On the Order of Business, could I inquire from the Leader of the House whether he would be willing to give us any assurances in regard to the list of motions on the Order Paper? I realise that there is only one item left to be disposed of before the recess but there has been a very large number of motions on the Order Paper for a very long time. We may easily not reassemble until, perhaps, December, to judge by last year. Two motions particularly in my mind are Nos. 14 and 15 concerning the National Library and the National Museum. These motions have been on the Order Paper for the best part of a year and we are very concerned about the condition of both these institutions. I wonder if Senator Ó Maoláin could give us any assurance that early, after this House reassembles, he will get the Minister, or his representative, to come here so that these motions can be taken. So far as we are concerned, if it convinces the Minister, we would be happy to have them taken together because they are to some extent related.
Mrs. Robinson: I should like to propose an amendment to the Order of Business, namely to take No. 20 in substitution for No. 1. No. 20 is a motion put down in the names of Senator Alexis FitzGerald and myself and reads:
Might I briefly give my reasons for proposing this? As I said on Second Reading of this Bill and as I now move, it is much more important and much more appropriate that the Seanad debate the way in which our civil procedure for recovering possession of land can be improved and that we devote the time to this rather than to the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill which, it is becoming clear, is not a Bill that has anything to do with squatting. I should like to refer briefly to the statement of the Minister in his summing up on Second Reading on 11th August, 1971, at page 250——
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Could I interrupt the Senator for a moment? Is this procedure quite in accord with the motion for changing the Order of Business? Is the Senator entitled to make a speech on every occasion in which a proposition of this nature is made?
Mrs. Robinson: Yes, to illustrate the importance of taking the motion relating to the improvement of the civil procedures  prior to continuing with the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill.
An Cathaoirleach: I am afraid we cannot go into this kind of thing on the Order of Business. The Senator may briefly give her reasons for wishing to discuss No. 20, but we cannot go into a discussion on the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill on the Order of Business.
Mrs. Robinson: I was not proposing to go into the merits of a discussion on the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill and I will just paraphrase rather than read what was said. The point was that the Minister made it clear in summing up that the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill has not got anything to do with squatting as such.
An Cathaoirleach: I cannot allow the Senator to discuss the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill. If it is decided to deal with it today, then it will come up for discussion on ommittee Stage but we simply cannot discuss it on the Order of Business.
Mrs. Robinson: Very well. The reason then that I am proposing this motion is that we do need to look into the problem of squatting in private houses and people's houses being taken over while they are away. This is a matter of concern to a number of people and I know it was what moved Senator Jessop to give this Bill a qualified approval. He felt that was what the Bill was about.
An Cathaoirleach: I cannot allow the Senator to continue on these lines. This is totally unrelated to the Order of Business. The Senator is attempting to go back over the discussion on the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill. This cannot be done on the Order of Business.
Mr. O'Higgins: On a point of order, may I put it to you that the choice presented to us by Senator Robinson's amendment is as between the Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation  Bill and motion No. 20? I am putting this as a point of order. It would have seemed to me absolutely in order that, if we are presented with a choice between two items, Senators should be given reasons as to why they should take one rather than the other, even if that involves some at least cursory references to the contents of the two items between which we are to choose.
An Cathaoirleach: In answer to your point of order, the Chair would agree with that proposition, but the procedure adopted by Senator Robinson is not, in fact, a merely cursory glance at the Bill. Quotations from what has been said in the course of the debate on the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill could not possibly be in order on the Order of Business. Very brief and cursory references to the two matters in hand, No. 1 and No. 20, are, of course, in order, but they should be very brief, and they could not possibly include the use of quotations from other debates.
Mrs. Robinson: Let me briefly then state my reasons for urging the Seanad to take this motion relating to the improvement of our civil procedure, as has been done effectively in England, as I said on Second Reading. This is more appropriate because, as I see it and as I read the Minister's statements, the Forcible Entry Bill does not deal with the problem of squatting; it is a Bill aimed at subversive groups. He stressed this again and again. My answer is that, if it is a Bill to deal with subversive groups, this should be done under the Offences Against the State Act. There is sufficient existing legislation and we ought, since we have been faced with the problem, to deal with it by consideration of the civil procedure and by improvement of the civil procedure. The only way the Seanad can do this, since it does not regulate directly the civil procedure, is to recommend that the rules committee be reconvened and improve and modify the rules of the superior courts to give them more effective remedy. I think that, if the Seanad does take this motion and does pass a motion to the effect  that it is desirable that our civil procedure for recovering possession of land be improved, that the rules committee will obviously not only listen but pay great attention to it and that there will be this remedy available to citizens. A great many lay people think that this is what we are doing and we know now that is not what we are doing. What we are doing is bringing in vague legislation which can be used against subversive groups, some of which the Minister has named. Therefore, this motion ought to take preference to the Bill.
Mr. O'Higgins: On the Order of Business, now that the summer holidays are finished, and that the Seanad has plenty of time to go ahead with the business on the Order Paper, I should like to ask two questions. First of all, will we be taking a motion as usual tomorrow under the arrangement that has been agreed already with regard to the Thursday sittings? Secondly, I should like to know when it is proposed to proceed with the Committee Stage of the Courts Bill?
Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: I do not know if it is disorderly at this stage to second Senator Robinson's motion, which I should like to do, but I should like to be recorded as doing so. It seems to me the themes are cognate and the mischief is the same and that there are two different instruments to deal with this mischief. It seems orderly to take the proposal, which cannot be in dispute in this House, that we recommend an improved civil procedure. I cannot think that anyone in this House would dissent from the proposition that we would improve anything. Certainly, if it would be possible to improve the civil procedure for the recovery of possession, that would be a resolution which would be passed by this House immediately without, perhaps, debate and could take precedence without any difficulty over the Forcible Entry Bill. It cannot necessarily have any impact on it  because, even though I may oppose certain sections of the Forcible Entry Bill, the two could run together.
Mr. Horgan: I should like very briefly to support the amendment proposed by Senator Robinson. I would bow to her expertise and the expertise of Senator FitzGerald in the matter of law. I should simply like to record my conviction that any single item on this Order Paper is preferable to the Criminal Justice—the Forcible Entry Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: May I now oppose the opposition of the Order of Business? May I now make speeches equivalent to all the speeches that have been made? We have serious business to do. Unlike Senator O'Higgins whose holidays apparently are completed, there are others who have had no holidays yet. The Courts Bill will be taken after the recess. If the Senators finish the Forcible Entry Bill now, we could take a motion tomorrow. We made a valiant attempt to deal with the Army Pensions Bill last week and the Senators know what happened. As soon as the Forcible Entry Bill is finished, we will deal with the Army Pensions Bill certainly.
Mrs. Robinson: Could I ask the Leader of the House whether he is prepared to give any grounds for refusing the motion in substitution for No. 1 on the Order Paper or does this mean that he just does not favour an  improvement in the civil procedure? In courtesy, there might be some reason given for refusing a motion.
Professor Quinlan: The Leader of the House, in reply to Senator Kelly, agreed to facilitate the House by taking two motions when we reassemble. That means that effectively he is pigeonholing the Buchanan Report and the Devlin Report.
An Cathaoirleach: I would ask the Senator to sit down. He is not asking a question. He is attempting to make a speech. I have told him that no more speeches can be heard. I am putting the question that the figure “1” stand.
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