Dáil Éireann - Volume 373 - 03 June, 1987

Order of Business.

[413] The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take Nos. 2, 3, 13, 14 and 15 (Votes 48, 49, 41).

It is further proposed that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. today and not later than 11.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted at 11 p.m.

It is further proposed that Votes 48, 49 and 41 be taken together for the purposes of debate at 8.30 p.m. today and shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 11 p.m. today by one Question which shall be put from the Chair and the Order shall not resume thereafter.

It is further proposed that notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the following arrangements shall apply for the debates on the Estimates being taken this week:

1. The opening speech of the Minister moving the Votes shall not exceed 30 minutes;

2. The speech of any other Member shall not exceed 20 minutes;

3. No Member shall speak more than once in each debate with the exception of the Minister moving the Votes who shall be called on to conclude not later than ten minutes before the respective Votes conclude;

4. If a Division is challenged on any Estimate this week, the taking of such Division shall be postponed until 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 June 1987.

Private Members' Business shall be No. 23.

An Ceann Comhairle: Are the proposals in respect of the taking of the Estimates and the late sitting agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Dukes: Will the Taoiseach tell the House why the Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments (European Communities) Bill, 1987 has been withdrawn from the Order Paper?

[414] The Taoiseach: It is going to the Seanad.

Mr. Dukes: Why?

An Ceann Comhairle: I will be coming to that item in any event.

Mr. D. O'Malley: On what date is it proposed that the Dáil will go into recess for the summer and on what date is it proposed that it will resume after the summer recess?

The Taoiseach: I will convey that information to the House in due course.

Mr. D. O'Malley: Will the Taoiseach let us know if the date given to Members by the staff of the Houses, namely 26 June, is correct?

The Taoiseach: As I said, I will give the Government's decision to the House in due course.

Mr. D. O'Malley: If that is the correct date, does the Taoiseach consider that a recess of 15½ weeks is longer than is either necessary or appropriate?

An Ceann Comhairle: That hardly arises.

The Taoiseach: I am always very suspicious of latter day conversions.

Mr. D. O'Malley: I am suspicious of those who do not convert. It is protection — 15½ weeks protection.

Mr. S. Barrett: Perhaps the Taoiseach could make time available to discuss the recent rape case involving a Cavan couple?

The Taoiseach: I understand the widespread public disquiet about this and some other recent court decisions. It is my intention, subject to agreement between the Whips, to make Government time available next Wednesday for a discussion on the matter by means of statements by Deputies.

[415] Miss Kennedy: Would the Taoiseach consider redeploying staff from some other area of the public service to the Passport Office because of the lengthy delays at that office?

An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Griffin: I am very disappointed that the Chair disallowed my Private Notice Question on the pretext that it lacks the urgency required. I maintain that the imminent closure of five district hospitals——

An Ceann Comhairle: I trust the Deputy does not intend to argue with me on this topic.

Mr. Griffin: The CEO has illegally instructed the health board to close five district hospitals. I wish to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. Griffin: My question is to ask the Minister for Health if under subsections (3), (4) and (5) of section 38——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy need not elaborate now.

Mr. Griffin: ——of the Health Act, 1970, he has given his consent to any health board in relation to the discontinuance of——

An Ceann Comhairle: I hesitate to interrupt my colleague but he must know that what he is doing now is not in order.

Mr. Griffin: ——the provision and maintenance of a hospital; if so, the details of this; if he has caused or is about to cause a local inquiry to be held into the desirability of the discontinuance of the provision and maintenance of a hospital; and if so, the details of this.

An Ceann Comhairle: I hope that what [416] has happened here will not be taken as a precedent.

Mr. Quinn: It is a long way to Tipperary.

Mr. Allen: I submitted a Private Notice Question about the imminent strike by non-consultant hospital doctors. The question was refused on the grounds that it lacked urgency. I put down the same Private Notice Question last week.

An Ceann Comhairle: I was obliged to rule out that question last week. If the Deputy was sincere in respect of this matter he had ample time to put down the question for today's Order Paper.

Mr. Allen: For written reply?

An Ceann Comhairle: Please desist Deputy.

Mr. Allen: I protest in the strongest possible manner and I should be allowed to put my Private Notice Question——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy still has plenty of time to put it down.

Mr. Allen: It is starting on Saturday.

Mr. Taylor: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the matter of urgently needed medical treatment which was refused to an eight year old child, whose name can be supplied, at a Dublin hospital.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. D. Andrews: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of the pollution of Booterstown marshes in County Dublin. The marshes are under very serious threat at present and I would very much appreciate the Chair's permission to raise the matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

[417] Mr. Connaughton: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the tragic civil war in Sri Lanka and the desirability of effecting a ceasefire there.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. Shatter: In the context of the Government voting down an adoption Bill three weeks ago to provide for the adoption of abandoned legitimate children, the Minister for Health indicated that within a matter of two weeks an adoption Bill would be published. It is now three weeks since that vote. When do the Government intend to circulate that Bill?

The Taoiseach: In the almost immediate future. We proposed to take that legislation in the Seanad in the first instance.

Miss Colley: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of my Private Notice Question which was disallowed concerning the pay offer made to Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta employees which included a loan to the employees which may or may not be paid back in due course.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. Allen: Does the Taoiseach propose to introduce legislation to deal with a decision made in Youghal District Court last Friday by the President of the District Court, Justice Oliver Macklin, when he judged that the health contribution regulations made on 4 April 1979 were invalid because they were made before the legislation became effective? What does he propose to do?

An Ceann Comhairle: That is not promised legislation.

Mr. Allen: The Taoiseach himself introduced the legislation in 1979 and it has now been adjudged defective. I am [418] asking him what he proposes to do to deal with the judgment of the District Court.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am afraid we cannot deal with it now.

Mr. Allen: It is important in that it affects the status or entitlement of health boards to collect health contributions. Surely some steps should be taken by the Government to get over this judgment.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may not pursue that matter now.

Mr. Allen: May I ask the Taoiseach if there is legislation pending?

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Boland is offering.

Mr. Boland: In view of the announcement by the Minister for the Environment in the last half hour of the intention of the Government to abolish the Dublin Metropolitan Streets Commission at the end of this month might I ask the Taoiseach if it is his intention to allow time to have this matter debated in the House?

Mr. Allen: A Cheann Comhairle, surely I am entitled to an answer when I ask about legislation that has been adjudged defective. Surely we are not to sit here like dummies——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy seems to persist unduly long on matters which are not relevant to the Order of Business. I am calling the next business.

Mr. Boland: I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but I am not sure whether the Taoiseach heard my question in the other exchange in relation to another matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: I heard the question but the Chair has no control over answers.

Mr. Boland: Does the Taoiseach then [419] not propose to answer? That confirms what I suspected, that this was done on the Taoiseach's specific instructions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please.

Mr. Shatter: Again on the Order of Business, in the light of the Taoiseach stating that the Adoption Bill is being referred to the Seanad, in the light of the fact that he is now also referring the Bill on the recognition of and enforcement of foreign judgments within the European Communities to the Seanad, and in the light of other legislation being referred to the Seanad might I ask him would he not agree that it is inappropriate for this House to adjourn for four months from the end of June?

An Ceann Comhairle: I thought the Deputy had a relevant question. I am sorry, the Chair was misled. I am calling on Deputy Quinn.

Mr. Quinn: On the Order of Business, might I ask the Taoiseach when this Administration propose to introduce the National Employment and Training Authority Bill?

The Taoiseach: Almost immediately.

Mr. Quinn: In this session?

The Taoiseach: Yes.

Mr. Quinn: In this House?

The Taoiseach: In this House, yes.

Mr. M. Higgins: I should like to give notice, a Cheann Comhairle, that I wish to raise on the Adjournment the sale of Ireland's largest inland island to a non-national in the absence of any guarantee from the Department of the Environment that it will be developed in the public interest.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

[420] Mr. Shatter: Just one final question——

An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry I am now proceeding with the next business.

Mr. Dukes: I am sorry to intervene at this stage but am I to understand that you have decided, Sir, that even though there may be other questions Deputies might wish to raise on the Order of Business you intend to move on to the first item?

An Ceann Comhairle: I heard Deputy Shatter earlier; twice I heard him.

Mr. Dukes: A Cheann Comhairle, I understood that Deputy Shatter was raising a different matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: I do not know what he was referring to but on the last occassion he did not raise a relevant matter.

Mr. Dukes: With respect, Sir, you will not know until you have heard.

An Ceann Comhairle: In any event, Deputy, I have called the next business.

Mr. Dukes: A Cheann Comhairle, I am sorry — I do not wish to disrupt the House — but I do think it a little unwise to ignore the fact that Deputies may wish to raise matters on the Order of Business. Of course you must decide whether they are in order or relevant but you cannot do so, Sir, without hearing them.

An Ceann Comhairle: I have been quite liberal in the number of queries I have allowed since Question Time ended. It took us beyond 4 o'clock. I now propose to proceed with the Order of Business. Item No. 2

Mr. Dukes: With respect, Sir, I must say——

An Ceann Comhairle: I am afraid that to argue with the Chair will serve no useful purpose at this stage. I have no [421] intention of relenting on the matter of my decision.

Mr. Dukes: I do not wish to disrupt the House but I do think there is no necessary rule that there is not another matter which Deputies may properly and relevantly wish to raise on the Order to Business. I would suggest, Sir, with all the deference due to your Office, that you satisfy yourself properly that there are no other matters to be raised before you proceed with the next business.

An Ceann Comhairle: I have done that.

Mr. Shatter: The matter I wished to raise was a separate one from the other matters.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling item No. 2.

Mr. Shatter: The matter I wish to raise is a separate one from the others I raised earlier.

An Ceann Comhairle: Why did the Deputy not raise it in an orderly manner earlier? He knew the nature of the subject matter he was raising earlier.

Mr. Shatter: I attempted to raise it but——

An Ceann Comhairle: It was simply not in order.

Mr. Shatter: There is another matter I wish to raise and on which I shall be very brief. Can the Taoiseach say whether it is intended before this House adjourns, to establish any committees of this House or any covering both the Seanad and the Dáil and, if so, whether it is intended that any of these committees will sit during the month of July when, as the Taoiseach intends, this House will be adjourned?

Mr. Connaughton: No answers today.