Order of Business.

Wednesday, 3 June 1992

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 132 No. 17

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Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Before I give today's Order of Business may I suggest to the House that either tomorrow Thursday or Friday we would, by agreement, have statements for two hours on Maastricht. I suggest this to the leaders of the other [1923] parties on the basis that I believe the House would be better informed by waiting 24 hours and we would have better statements. I hope that meets the requirements of those who have been in touch with my office regarding the situation.

The Order of Business for today is Item No. 1, the Fishery Harbour Centres (Amendment) Bill until 4.30 p.m., if that is agreed; from 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Committee Stage of Item No. 2, the Electoral (No. 2) Bill, 1991; and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Motion 46.

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  I thank the Leader for the arrangements he is making for a debate on what is happening. I am one of those who do not believe that the skies will necessarily fall in because of what happened yesterday in Denmark. I think it is worth waiting a day or two until events have settled so that we can have a better informed discussion, and I am glad he has acceded to the request.

I also wish to raise the question of statements on Common Agricultural Policy reform. There are a number of speakers from this side who would like to get involved in that, and perhaps the Leader would leave that open ended rather than what was proposed originally.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I welcome the Leader's rapid response to the request for a debate on the fallout from the Danish decision. I had put in a section 29 motion, but in the light of the Leader's very amenable position I am happy to withdraw that. Could I ask that the debate might be for three hours and and that there could be a limit of ten minutes on each contribution? Also, if there is a ministerial response, that response should not be counted as part of the time of the debate, because there is a possibility that many people would wish to speak on this. Perhaps the Leader might consider holding the debate tomorrow rather than Friday so that the maximum number of people could participate.

Dr. Upton: Information on Pat Upton  Zoom on Pat Upton  I, too, welcome the initiative [1924] taken by the Leader in making time available for this debate tomorrow. I also support Senator Norris when he calls for a limit of ten minutes on the time for each speaker. As far as I am concerned, that is adequate to make the points which should be made. It seems perfectly obvious that nobody in this country appears to have given any real consideration to what the implications of a “no” vote in Denmark would be, and it seems that broadly speaking that is true of what is happening in Europe as well.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  We are having a debate on the matter, Senator Upton.

Dr. Upton: Information on Pat Upton  Zoom on Pat Upton  Thank you, a Chathaoirligh. On an entirely different matter, may I ask the Leader what is the position in relation to the Control of Dogs Bill and when can we expect it to be debated in this House? I would also like to know what is the position in relation to the Bill to enact the provisions in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress to make grants available to mature students at third level.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy  Zoom on John A Murphy  May I support Senator Norris' suggestion that the debate be held tomorrow rather than Friday to ensure maximum attendance——

(Interruptions.)

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy  Zoom on John A Murphy  Let me correct that — to ensure my own participation.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Honesty is a virtue.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy  Zoom on John A Murphy  I also support the suggestion for a ten minute limit which is adequate in the limited circumstances of our knowledge at the moment. Finally, may I ask the Leader to ensure that whoever is in the Minister's chair will give us the most up to date and authoritative legal opinion of where we stand now about the nature of the exercise we are going to undertake on 18 June.

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  I, too, would like to [1925] express appreciation to the Leader of the House for providing time for a short debate on the Maastricht problem.

I appeal to the Leader to provide an early opportunity for the House to debate the famine situation in a number of African countries. We have had a motion on the Order Paper for a considerable length of time. With all the other pressing problems in the world it is quite obvious that the people who have the facilities and the means of alleviating the massive starvation in a number of African countries are otherwise engaged. We must again bring to the attention of the EC, and indeed of the United Nations, the plight of those starving millions.

Mrs. Hederman: Information on Carmencita Hederman  Zoom on Carmencita Hederman  In regard to the Electoral (No. 2) Bill, we have had little short bites at it each time. There is, I hope, no truth in the rumour I heard circulating last week that a guillotine is going to be put on it. Could we have a reasonable time to debate it at some stage? It makes it difficult to debate the Bill if we just get an hour here, an hour there and a hour and a half somewhere else.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I support Senator Hederman in relation to the Electoral Bill. It is important that we get an opportunity to discuss it in depth for a substantial period. Today the proposal again is that we have an hour and a half for it. A good reasonable time to debate the Bill would be in order.

I welcome the proposal by the Leader of the House to hold a debate on Thursday or Friday on the Maastricht problem. It was the intention of the Labour Party to seek the suspension of the Standing Orders today so that the matter could be discussed at length. Now that he has voluntarily offered us a period for debating it I would like to see that extended for three hours and indeed a time limit of ten minutes for each speaker. It would now seem that the Maastricht Treaty on European Union is without legality, null and void——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  We are not having [1926] a debate on it now. The Senator can make his point during the debate.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is extremely important that we have an opportunity to debate the matter.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  That is being organised.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is important also to ask the Leader of the House for an opportunity of hearing the definitive legal opinion when we debate the matter so that we will know the Government's position after they have consulted with the heads of Government in Europe. We would then find out precisely the legality of our Referendum Bill and the proposal to hold the referendum on 18 June. It would seem foolhardy——

Mrs. Honan: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  A Chathaoirligh, he is making a speech.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  Senator Honan, I am in the Chair and I will deal with that. Incidentally, the Senator is making a speech.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am merely finishing the sentence. It seems foolhardy that we should proceed with the referendum——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  You have gone too far, Senator Costello. You will have an opportunity tomorrow to contribute to the debate.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——if it is impossible to ratify the Treaty because it no longer exists.

Mr. McKenna: Information on Tony McKenna  Zoom on Tony McKenna  I compliment the Leader of the House for arranging to hold a debate on the Maastricht situation tomorrow. I agree with the other speakers in suggesting that ten minutes be the maximum for contributions.

I wish to raise an entirely different matter. It may not be appropriate to raise it now but exceptional circumstances always arise. I refer to a former Senator of this House who has had an outstanding [1927] achievement. I ask the Leader of the House to convey our sincere good wishes and congratulations to former Senator Brian Friel on a magnificent international achievement with “Dancing at Lughnasa”. It has reflected magnificently on this House.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  May I join with the other speakers in welcoming the opportunity to speak on the Maastricht Treaty and the situation that has now arisen. I ask the Leader to have that debate tomorrow. It would be helpful if legal opinion that may be made available to the Government today on where the Treaty stands was made available to us in this House before we commence the debate. I also agree with other speakers that ten minutes restriction will ensure that as many speakers as possible will get the opportunity to contribute. It is important that the Government give a very clear indication to the Irish people of their intentions——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  You are making a speech, Senator.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  I am drawing my remarks to a conclusion. One of the reasons I wanted to say this is because I was awoken very early this morning by my Danish mother-in-law, who is involved in politics in Denmark. I want to send a message back to her that we have no intention of following the Danish lead in voting “No”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Doherty  Zoom on Seán Doherty  It is not appropriate on the Order of Business.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I welcome the decision of the Leader of the House to have a further discussion on Maastricht in the light of the new situation in which we now find ourselves. I join with my colleagues in asking that the contributions be confined to ten minutes but I appeal to the Leader to allow more than two hours. On that last occasion there were a number of Senators who wished to make a contribution but were denied the [1928] opportunity of so doing because of the restriction of time for the debate — I think it was also two hours. I ask him to confine it to ten minute contributions but to leave it openended after that so that every Senator who wishes to make a contibution can so do. I also ask him to delay the debate until Friday or even next Tuesday because there is a strong possibility, in my opinion, that the Government may come around to the opinion of postponing the date of 18 June——

Mrs. Honan: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  No way.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I made some points here previously and I was howled at, but since then I have been proved right. I may be proved right on this one also.

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  I thank the Members on the opposite side for their agreement to have a debate later in the week. Three hours is no problem for the debate, ten minutes per person can be arranged and also we will ensure that the Minister's time is not included in the three hours allowed. As the Foreign Affairs Ministers are meeting tomorrow I suggest that we should wait until Friday. Since some Senators have suggested that we should have the most up-to-date information possible on the situation, I think we should wait until Friday. If that is agreed, we would start at 2 p.m. on Friday and go on for three hours. I am sure that all the Senators who have Friday appointments could make other arrangements since this is the most important issue this country will face.

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  Could we leave it to the Whips?

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  The Whips can arrange that. Since there is to be a meeting tomorrow by waiting until Friday this House would be in the position of having the most up-to-date information and of having a very good debate.

With regard to the statements on the Common Agricultural Policy tomorrow, there is no problem; I have already [1929] agreed that that would be carried over until next week. As regards having the Control of Dogs Bill before the summer recess and the Electoral Bill, I hope, with the agreement of the Whips to have three to four days next week to clear this. Hopefully, the Electoral Bill will be in the Dáil the week after the Maastricht vote. Have no fears about any rumours you may have heard. It will be on the Order Paper next week and be taken for at least three days and possibly four.

Order of Business agreed to.


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