Wednesday, 22 July 1987
Seanad Eireann Debate
Mr. Lanigan: It is intended that we break from now until 5 o'clock. Since many Senators were interested in having the time for the motion extended, it is intended to take it at 5 o'clock, notwithstanding anything under Standing Order 41. The motion will conclude not later than 8 o'clock. I expected that we might have been able to take the motion immediately but there are technical reasons as to why we cannot take it which have nothing to do with the Government side. The intention is that we take Committee and Remaining Stages of the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Bill at 8 o'clock and take the Adoption Bill tomorrow morning.
Mr. Doyle: I must protest at this change in the Order of Business. We spent the longest time ever — 40 minutes — discussing the Order of Business today. We said we were going to take items Nos. 1 and 2. For some reason, best known to the Leader of the House, No. 2 is not being taken now. I was in possession when this Bill was before the House last Thursday and I have waited around today to continue my contribution. I find it unusual that we are going to take the Restrictive Practices measure which was not even mentioned on the Order of Business today by the Leader of the House. Some explanation should be given to the House for this sudden change in the Order of Business, with which I totally disagree. I want to make the strongest possible protest against it as it is an inconvenience to Members. The Order of Business is set for the day and its purpose is to determine what the House will debate. If we are extending the time for the motion on education, and I agree it  should be extended, it should not start earlier than was anticipated. The normal time for starting this motion is 6.30 p.m. There is something unusual about the Order of Business as it is now. It is not the one that was ordered today. I ask you, as Cathaoirleach, for your ruling on it.
Mr. Lanigan: I am surprised that Senator Doyle is upset because he has to wait around. The House is sitting and I did not think that anybody was waiting around. On the Order of Business this morning I said that items Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 were going to be taken today and that the only item I would give a time for was the matter of the motion. It could happen that we will take the Adoption Bill later tonight. If Senator Doyle wishes we can take it at 10 o'clock tonight; I have no objection to that. I was quite prepared to take the education motion immediately, which is an anti-Government motion, and to give an extended time to it, but because I wanted to give an opportunity to the Seantors who proposed the motion to get in, it was agreed that we would take it at 5 o'clock.
Mr. Doyle: The reason we are not taking the Adoption Bill now and the reason it is proposed to take a break is that the Minister for Health or the Minister of State are not available at this time. That is why we are going on with this conniving and I object strongly to it. I ask for a ruling by you, a Chathaoirligh, on this matter.
Mrs. Bulbulia: I support my colleague, Senator Joe Doyle. I happened to be in possession on the education motion before it was adjourned. I was visited just now by Senator Willie Ryan who informed me that the debate would start immediately upon the conclusion of the Abattoirs Bill. I rushed here because I am determined to speak on this motion and did not want to risk losing my place, which would happen if I was not here. I have just come from a meeting of the Joint Committee on Women's Rights and  purely by accident I met Senator Willie Ryan who informed me of the change; otherwise I might quite reasonably and legitimately have arrived here at 6.30 p.m. expecting the debate to start at that time. Senator Lanigan kindly told us that he would allow an extension of this debate and one normally thinks of an extention as being something that occurs at the end of a debate rather than at the beginning. There is an element of sharp practice in this because those who very much wish to speak on the education motion might not have been available at 4.30 p.m. or at 5 o'clock and it is less than fair.
Mr. Lanigan: If the House wishes, we can start this debate immediately. I have been endeavouring all day to find members of the Opposition parties to seek their co-operation in attempting to get the Order of Business organised. One reason the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Bill is not being taken now is that I have not been able to contact our Senator who has put down a number of amendments to it. Because of that we had to reorganise the Order of Business. I do not want the Restrictive Practices Bill to go ahead because of the Senator's absence. If the House wishes, I will be strict in the ordering of business and I will not afford to people who put down motions and who are not present in the House the opportunity to disappear. I will not allow the argument to be put back on this side of the House. We have tried to accommodate the House all day. The leader of the Fine Gael group and the leader of the Labour group have been contacted. We were unable to contact the leader of the Independent group because he is not available. We tried to contact various members of the Independent group, one of whom has put down amendments on the Restrictive Practices Bill. We can go ahead without her but that is——
Mr. B. Ryan: I have some sympathies with the Government party. At the risk of provoking a massive row, I did not agree that the education motion would be taken at 5 o'clock. The row is not between me and the Leader but between me and my colleagues, if they are not here at 5 o'clock. I had to tell the Leader of the House that I could not agree to it because I was unable to contact anybody. I am very sorry, I was not going to get involved in the controversy. I could not agree because I had not the authority to do so. I have sympathy with the Leader of the House and with Senator Doyle. I feel the same as they do about the Adoption Bill. As regards the motion in our names, I could not agree to it beginning at 5 o'clock because I was not authorised to do so and I am very sorry if I gave the Leader a different impression.
Mr. Doyle: Why must the House adjourn until 6 o'clock? It is now 4.30 p.m. Why not take the Adoption Bill now, the second item on the Order of Business, which the Leader of the House said this morning would be taken?
Mr. Lanigan: If the House disagrees I am quite willing to leave this over until 6.30 p.m. and to have the debate from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Since there is controversy we should adjourn until 6.30 p.m. and take the motion from 6.30 p.m. until 8 p.m. with no extension.
Mr. B. Ryan: I cannot accept two equally unpalatable alternatives. The last information I got from Senator O'Toole was that the Government group had agreed to an extension of the time and a restriction on the speaking time. That is the way my colleagues in the Independent group chose to order their day. Independent Members are not under the control of the Whips and, therefore, there is no way I can be sure they are here. I am not saying that I do not want to start at 5 p.m. I am simply saying that I cannot agree to it. I am not accepting responsibility which I am not authorised to accept. I have enough responsibilities without accepting those. If I could contact people I am certain they would agree to start at 5 p.m. But, as I have no guarantee they will be here, I cannot agree to it.
Mrs. Bulbulia: The Leader of the House kindly indicated that he would give an extra half an hour to this debate if those contributing to it each spoke for ten minutes. It would be a satisfactory compromise if we commenced the debate at 6 p.m. this evening until normal concluding time.
Mr. Lanigan: We should take Committee Stage of the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Bill now irrespective of the fact that the Member who put down  the amendments is not here and take the motion at 6.30 p.m. as planned.
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