Wednesday, 29 June 1988
Seanad Eireann Debate
Mr. Lanigan: It is intended to take items Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, and to come back to 4 and 5, and we will take item No. 7 from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and resume business ordered from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the debate on item No. 1 shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 11 a.m. by putting the necessary question from the Chair.
Mr. Manning: No. First, I do not think the Order of Business as given to us this morning is in any sense realistic. There are six to seven major items proposed to be taken today and there is no way we can agree to that. I do not know why the Leader of the House insists on giving us these as part of the day's work when there is no realistic way they can be got through. Secondly, I will oppose the putting of the question on item No. 1 at 11 a.m. This is thoroughly bad legislation and only last night in the debate did it emerge what a bad piece of work it is. It is an entirely restrictive set of regulations which will ensure that virtually nobody will be in a position to apply for and get the special restaurant licence, so not  alone will we be opposing its conclusion at 11 a.m., we will be opposing the regulations also. Furthermore, I would like the Leader of the House to give us some indication in regard to what business it is intended to take between now and the recess so that the Opposition parties can plan their programme in an orderly way and so that we will not be faced with an avalanche of legislation pushed through at great speed at the end of the session. There is no reason for us to adjourn this week or next week; we want to do our duty properly; we want to see that the legislation is treated properly; we will fully co-operate in that, but we are not going to have things rushed through.
Mr. Ferris: I want clarification from the Leader of the House. I have no objection to all the items being listed. It is being very optimistic but provided we have set the time to adjourn at 10 p.m. we will adjourn at 10 p.m., even if we have not reached all the items that have been listed. There is nothing wrong with listing them for safety, because there is a lot of work to be done. However, I object to the closure motion on item No. 1, particularly as the Minister promised, when he brought this legislation before the House, that both Houses would have the fullest facility to discuss these regulations and that they would not come into force until the Members had had an opportunity to discuss them. Any one who wants to may check, but that is exactly what the Minister said. Perhaps we might be finished but I would be loath to have a guillotine motion on it.
Mr. J. O'Toole: The Independent group are very concerned about the restaurant licence legislation. I certainly feel that it would be inappropriate to guillotine that motion. It is a very complicated and bad piece of legislation and we will be saying why during the debate.  We would certainly ask the Leader of the House to reconsider his proposal to finish the discussion on it. We also feel that it will be impossible to cover those seven items today before 10 p.m.
Mr. Norris: I agree with what has been said from this side of the House. It does seem to be unrealistic, but one would not wish to curb the optimism of the Leader of the House. However, there is a much more serious objection and that is that there appears to be an attempt to impose a guillotine on the first item because we will have only about 20 minutes if he closes at 11 a.m. I think it is very bad procedure to announce a guillotine in advance of a debate when we were promised a full debate.
Mr. Ross: What I have to say could possibly be irrelevant, if the Leader of the House has changed his mind about item No. 1. As the person in possession on item No. 1, I feel extremely guilty about this because I spoke for about 40 minutes last night on this motion, having no idea that the guillotine was going to be imposed. I am in possession and I am only half way through my speech; I am only half way through the regulations. It is appalling legislation and I only realised this last night. It would be quite ridiculous to let this go through on the “nod” and I would ask the Leader of the House — I know there are more Senators who wish to speak — to allow this to take its natural course.
Mr. B. Ryan: I wish to be associated with my colleague's remarks. As a legislator, I do not think I have seen anything so embarrassing come before this House as these draft regulations. The idea that it will be nodded through on a rushed vote would compound that embarrassment. These regulations are an embarrassment to everybody in both Houses of the Oireachtas. They need to  be substantially re-thought. We need the time at least to put on the record our objections to these embarrasments. It would be very offensive and very wrong to attempt to curtail the debate.
Mr. Ross: On a point of order, that is the division bell for the other House and we had trouble with this last night. We are not even going to get started if the Minister is not here, because he will have to go to the division. Perhaps the Leader of the House would take that into consideration.
Mr. W. Ryan: I take responsibility for suggesting that we finish this at 11 a.m. today. Last night I listened to Senator Ross for 40 minutes talking about saucepans and frying pans. I do not know why they should be brought into this debate and I hope that if he is going to speak today for 40 minutes he will talk about something else. We have listed seven items for today. There is no question of them being rushed through. We may have time in between Bills and that is why we have seven items. There is no question of rushing anything through but if we are going to continue for a very long time on item No. 1, it means that it is going to completely upset the Order of Business. I am sorry if I suggested that last night. It is all very fine for people to come here and say they do not mind if we sit next week or the week after, but that is not what they tell me outside. Everyone wants to get finished as soon as possible.
Mr. Lanigan: The Whip, Senator Ryan, has put the situation regarding item No. 1 in perspective. These are draft regulations that are coming before us and I appeal to speakers to be relevant to the Order and not spend, as Senator Ross did, 40 minutes speaking on matters not totally relevant to the Order. The draft regulations are not an embarrassment to this House, the Orders are relevant to the restaurant licence regulations and I do not feel they are unrealistic or that we should worry too much about an embarrassment.
There is no suggestion that we are  going to rush anything through today. I have listed a number of items. There is no suggestion that we are going to finish any of these items today, but they are listed. As far as the sitting is concerned, some of the Senators, as Senator Willie Ryan has said, who suggest that we are rushing business through here might not be here the week after next, or in two or three weeks time when we will still be sitting. Senator Bulbulia asked yesterday about the Bankruptcy Bill. The Bankruptcy Bill will be before us before we conclude business for this session. The Tobacco Bill and the Córas Beostoic agus Feola Bill will also be taken. We will be taking the Tobacco Bill tomorrow. The Companies Bill and the Bankruptcy Bill will be concluded before this session finishes.
Mr. J. O'Toole: On a point of order, I suggest to the Leader of the House that people want the legislation to be taken properly. This is the third or fourth time in this session that a comment has been made “that they will not be here later on, tonight”, or whatever. This side of the House provided a fair share of the speakers yesterday — most of them, in fact. It is unfair to make that comment. It is untrue. Secondly, a regulation which will not allow vegetarian restaurants to apply for this licence is an embarrassment to this House because one of the requirements is that meat be served.
Mr. Norris: I would like to invite the Leader of the House to withdraw his unjustified slur on my colleague, Senator Ross, when he made the allegation that his speech yesterday was irrelevant, particularly in view of the fact, as I understand it, the Leader was not present during that speech and the principle of Occam's razor therefore comes into operation.
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