Order of Business.

Thursday, 25 November 1993

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 138 No. 8

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Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  It is proposed to take Item 1 between now and 11 a.m. and it is suggested that there may be one spokesperson per group. Item 2 will be taken from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to allow as many people as possible to participate in the [846] debate. Ten minutes per person may be agreeable but, if not, Senators can advise me. It is proposed to have a sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and to take Item 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  I suggest that we should let Item 1 continue until 11 o'clock because there may be a variety of views on the subject. Since the Minister may make a lengthy speech on Item 2, it would be appropriate for the leader of each group to contribute for 15 minutes instead of ten minutes.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I recognise that slight rearrangements have been made to the Order of Business today and that it will be necessary to take Item 1 from now until 11 o'clock. I presume that the Minister will be winding up the debate on Item 2 coming up to 1 o'clock?

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  No.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Is it possible then to have flexibility at the end so that the debate could go beyond 1 o'clock, if that does not create a problem, because we have lost half an hour in the morning? I suggest that, if it is acceptable to the Minister and the Whips, it could go on until 1.15 p.m. or 1.20 p.m. to allow two extra speakers to contribute. It is acceptable for the first speakers from each group to take 15 minutes. May I suggest that on Item 1 each group be restricted to 5 minutes and that would take us up to 11 o'clock?

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Am I to resume that the debate will be resumed on Item 2 and, if so, when?

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  No.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Is the Leader saying there is adequate time for everybody to express their views?

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Between 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock?

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Yes.

[847]Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Well, that is why I suggested ten minutes.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  On an important matter of this nature——

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  I appreciate that.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  ——a vitally important matter, that will greatly restrict the capacity of Members of the House to contribute to this debate. While I am prepared to accept that the arrangements for a two hour debate today may be reasonable, I am not prepared to accept that the debate should conclude. I will put down an amendment to that effect.

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  It will not conclude. It can be left on the Order Paper.

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  No, that is not so.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  My proposal, therefore, that the debate on Item 2 should not conclude today, and that it should be resumed at the earliest possible date thereafter.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam T. Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam T. Cosgrave  I hope it will not be necessary to bring in a guillotine on Item 1 and that everyone who wishes to contribute will be able to do so. I agree with Senator Dardis in regard to Item 2. It has been agreed that it would be a relatively short debate today but other Members will seek to contribute at a future date.

Will the Leader introduce amending legislation to the Official Secrets Act to cover programme managers and special advisers?

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I strongly support the point made by Senator Dardis. It would not be appropriate for the debate to conclude today if Members wish to speak. We have looked for a long time for a debate on Northern Ireland although we had a debate on the Opsahl report. Everybody who wants to speak on Northern Ireland should be given that opportunity. I am quite happy with restrictions on time as the limits are fair. However, people should not be excluded from [848] taking part in this debate and I fully support Senator Dardis's point. I am not sure if he has made a firm proposal. If he has — I see he is nodding his head — I am very happy to second it.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Time should be allowed to permit everybody who wishes to contribute to do so. As a party representative I wish to contribute. We have been waiting a long time for this debate.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  That is why the Leader suggested ten minutes for party spokespersons, a considerable amount of time. The House expressed a desire for the Tánaiste to come here for a debate on Northern Ireland. He said he would be available for such a debate from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and we did not indicate to him that the debate would be longer. We assumed that from 1 p.m. the activities listed in his diary would take precedence. It is unfair for us to extend, willy-nilly, his or any other Minister's time.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  We can leave it open.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  The situation in Northern Ireland is evolving and I have no doubt that, subsequent to the Anglo-Irish summit, the Taoiseach or the Tánaiste would be willing to come to the House. I strongly suggest the proposition of ten minutes is acceptable.

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  It is not.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I agree we should have ample time to discuss this. We should resume early next week because some Members will not be able to contribute today on the basis of the time allocated.

In relation to Item 33, will the Leader allow a brief discussion on the granting of bail by the courts? It is a very important issue and change in this area would require a referendum to amend the Constitution. The European elections are being held next June and we should debate this issue in advance to ensure there is a referendum on the same day. There is no point in calling for a constitutional [849] change shortly before elections are held. We must do it far in advance of such elections and have the necessary legislation in place to allow the people to decide on a change in the Constitution to enable bail to be refused to hardened criminals. At present bail cannot be refused on the ground that such criminals will commit further crimes.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  I agree with Senator Manning that party spokespersons should be allocated 15 minutes. There should not be a finishing off point at 1 o'clock. I accept the generosity of the Tánaiste in making himself available for the debate but it is part and parcel of his responsibilities to come to the House. We will endeavour to facilitate him in every respect. This is an elected House and it is important our views go on record. I hope to contribute to this debate today. When the Opsahl report was discussed, Members kept their contributions concise. I also wish to know when it is intended to take Item 4 and what time-scale the Leader intends allocating for the discussion on this important matter.

Professor Lee: Information on Joe Lee  Zoom on Joe Lee  I strongly support the proposal of Senator Dardis and Senator Norris.

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  I was only trying to be helpful. I have no problem with allocating 15 minutes to each spokesperson and ten minutes to each subsequent speaker. The Tánaiste was here only three weeks ago. We should put the correct position on record; during the eight years prior to my term as Leader we did not have a debate on Northern Ireland. I am not justifying this, I am merely making the point.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  That is all the more reason the Tánaiste should be here today.

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  We had a debate on Northern Ireland three years ago and will have another today which will be open-ended. We are allocating 15 minutes for [850] spokespersons and ten minutes for subsequent speakers. In relation to two other points raised, programme managers are covered by the Official Secrets Act. The Second Stage of Item 4, the Road Traffic Bill, 1993, will be taken before Christmas.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  Are you saying the debate is staying open?

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  The item will stay on the Order Paper.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Is it intended to pass the Road Traffic Bill, 1993, before Christmas?

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  The Leader has not answered the question. Leaving it on the Order Paper is not the substance of the amendment. The substance is that it will be taken next week.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  A reference to next week involves a change in your amendment.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  The amendment seeks to have the debate as early as possible. That does not mean leaving the matter on the Order Paper until after Christmas.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  On a point of order and to be helpful, I think this can be accepted and we should not vote on it if possible. Will the Leader indicate that the debate can be resumed at the earliest possible time? The Tánaiste does not have to be present. Members merely wish to speak on the record.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  That is what the Leader said.

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  I have stated that. I will leave it on the Order Paper. It is three weeks since——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  In fairness, the Leader said it will stay on the Order Paper. That is the only way a debate can be held on a subsequent date, whether it is next week, two weeks' time or whenever. [851] Its timing is a matter for decision on each day's Order of Business.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  I withdraw my proposal.

Order of Business agreed to.


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