Dáil Éireann - Volume 425 - 12 February, 1993

Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take Nos. 7 and 2. It is further proposed, nothwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that in the case of Second Stage of No. 2 the following arrangements shall apply to the debate: (i) The opening speeches of the Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrat Party and the Technical Group shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; (ii) The speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 20 minutes; (iii) A Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply not exceeding 15 minutes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Are the proposals for dealing with No. 2 agreed? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton: In view of the fact that we will not have Finance questions for some time and in view of the fact that last night the vice-president of the German Bundesbank directly contradicted statements that have been made by the Minister for Finance in regard to assistance from the Bundesbank towards the maintenance of the pound in the ERM, what steps will the Taoiseach take to ensure [1454] that the Minister for Finance clarifies what could be a very serious and damaging conflict——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy knows that the matter he has referred to is clearly not one for the Order of Business. There are many other ways of dealing with that matter in this House by way of question, motion, etc. I am sorry. I will not have argument about that.

Mr. J. Bruton: My problem is that the Minister for Finance will not be answering questions for quite some time.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should pursue that matter in the normal way. My office will facilitate him in the matter if necessary.

Mr. J. Bruton: Will the Taoiseach make provision for a future debate on this matter in view of the fact that there is now a direct conflict of evidence between the Bundesbank and the Minister for Finance?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is seeking to circumvent the ruling of the Chair.

Mr. J. Bruton: This is a very serious matter affecting probity of the Minister for Finance or the vice-president of the Bundesbank.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should pursue the matter in the normal way. This is not the time.

Mr. J. Bruton: This is not a matter that can be left hanging in the air.

An Ceann Comhairle: We must follow the procedures of this House.

Mr Briscoe: Party politics.

Mr. J. Bruton: It is important in an international market that our Minister for Finance be believable. It is very serious that he has been contradicted. Deputies opposite may not take this seriously but [1455] this party does. We are entitled to have an answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: This is becoming quite disorderly. The Deputy has had a fair opportunity of putting his point of view across in the House this morning and that should be adequate.

Mr. O'Malley: In view of the fact that the Irish pound stood at 104½p sterling earlier this morning and has dropped very marginally below that to 104p and in view of the emergency that that represents for exporters and the danger of the possibility of a further devaluation, will the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance make a statement on the position?.

Mr. Currie: This is the weekend, when anything could happen.

An Ceann Comhairle: We have had quite a debate on the matter of currency devaluation.

Mr. Yates: No credibility.

The Taoiseach: I suggest to Deputy Bruton that he has Private Members' time next week if he wishes to use it. We had a full debate in this House. The Minister for Finance put on the record of this House all the actions taken by him and the authorities during the currency crisis.

Mr. Barrett: What did the Taoiseach do?

The Taoiseach: I laid it on the record of this House, but I do not think the Deputy was here. What the Minister for Finance laid on the record fully stands, that is, that the help was, as he described it then, too little too late. If one wants to look at exactly what Herr Tietmeyer said it is not in contradiction at all.

Mr. J. Bruton: He said he did all he was asked to do. What was he asked?

[1456] The Taoiseach: Read the record of the House.

Mr. J. Bruton: I want to raise a further question.

An Ceann Comhairle: I trust the Deputy will be relevant. I have to dissuade the Deputy, and all the Members of the House, that I cannot and will not permit the Order of Business in this House to be used as a mini-Question Time with Members raising anything they feel they may raise. That is not so. It must be conformed to.

Mr. J. Bruton: Has the Taoiseach yet discovered when the Bill to allow leave for adoptive parents will be introduced in view of the fact that a Minister's promise in last year's budget has been unfulfilled because of the indolence of the Department of Labour in introducing this legislation?

The Taoiseach: That Bill is being prepared at present.

Mr. J. Bruton: We know that. When will it actually be introduced?

The Taoiseach: As soon as it is ready.

Mr. J. Bruton: When will it be ready?

An Ceann Comhairle: This is not Question Time.

Ms. McManus: In view of the figures published today showing the continuing failure of many young people who are sexually active to take precautions against the HIV virus, could I ask if the Government intends to bring in this term legislation enabling easier availability of condoms which was promised in the Joint Programme for Government?

The Taoiseach: The Deputy may be assured that the Joint Programme for Government and the actions that are required under it will be taken.

Mr. Rabbitte: May I ask you, Sir, since [1457] this Government has the largest majority of any Government in the history of the State, whether you were indicating in your earlier remarks to Deputy Bruton that you intend to take a more restrictive view of the rights of the Opposition on the Order of Business——

An Ceann Comhairle: It is most audacious of the Deputy to make that rather foul insinuation.

Mr. J. Bruton: He loves you dearly.

Mr. Rabbitte: I withdraw any imputation of any such——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is merely seeking to observe normal tradition in dealing with the Order of Business and dissuading Members from raising matters that can be dealt with otherwise, by way of question or motion.

Mr. Rabbitte: The very nature of——

An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry, Deputy, but you may not argue with the Chair in respect of that matter.

Mr. Rabbitte: I want to withdraw any imputation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Thank you, Deputy.

Mr. Rabbitte: ——but I want to put the question to you that, having regard to the nature of the issue raised by Deputy Bruton and O'Malley and having regard to the immediate and rapidly changing context——

An Ceann Comhairle: Now the Deputy is getting around it another way. It will not work. I am going on to item No. 7.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir—

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton, I want to get on to the business of the House.

Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach [1458] what his proposals are in regard to the National Heritage Bill, which is promised?

The Taoiseach: The National Heritage Bill is in the course of preparation.

Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach what Minister is preparing it? Does heritage include Mullaghmore?

The Taoiseach: I thought I had made the position clear when I read out the function of the various Ministers here. The Deputy is asking an unnecessary question.

Mr Barrett: The Taoiseach did not.

The Taoiseach: Of course it is the Minister for Arts, Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht who will be bringing in the Bill.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Currie: I have received representations from County Galway about the widespread use of illegal television transmissions in that area and throughout the west. Could I be guided as to whom I should direct a question in relation to this most popular issue in that area?

Mr. Rabbitte: The Minister for Agriculture.

Mr. Currie: Should I direct it to the Heritage Minister or the Minister for Communications, as I am sure both of them will be dying to deal with that subject?

An Ceann Comhairle: My office will be of assistance to the Deputy in that regard.

Mr. J. Bruton: Separately from the National Heritage Bill, the Government has also promised and has with the Attorney General, I understand, a National Monuments (Amendment) Bill. May I ask the Taoiseach if the Attorney General has completed his consideration of that matter and if he would indicate which Minister will be introducing it?

[1459] The Taoiseach: I think the Deputy is holding up the House unnecessarily this morning. I laid the functions of each Minister and his areas of responsibility before the House and I would have thought that Deputy Bruton and his other backbench colleagues would have read it.

Mr. Barrett: Even the Taoiseach's own Ministers do not know which Department they are in charge of.

The Taoiseach: Let me repeat, for the benefit of the House, that the Bill he asked about is also within the responsibility of the Minister for the Arts, Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Mr. J. Bruton: In view of the fact that——

An Ceann Comhairle: I think Deputy Bruton will appreciate this kind of Question Time cannot go on interminably. This is your final remark, Deputy.

Mr. J. Bruton: In view of the fact that the Taoiseach is having to get prompts for his answers, it seems I am helping him to discover which of his Ministers is responsible for this legislation.

Mr. Durkan: They are also beginning to discover it.

Mr. Molloy: Chuir an Teachta Currie ceist agus ní bhfuair sé aon freagra ar an gceist. Tá deacreachtaí ag baint leis an rud seo. The Taoiseach last week was indicating the various responsibilities for Ministers and Ministers of State. The question asked by Deputy Currie does require an answer because there is confusion as to where the exact responsibility lies. I contacted Departments and they were not able to answer me. I would like to know if the Taoiseach could indicate to the House now as to where the responsibility lies in regard to the deflector issue?

The Taoiseach: Again, for the benefit and information of the Deputies, policy [1460] areas in relation to broadcasting was the responsibility of the Minister for Arts, Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Mr. Currie: Another poison chalice.

The Taoieach: They want the answer but they do not want to listen to it.

Mr. Currie: They can have that one, but not Mullaghmore.

Mr. Molloy: I want to hear the answer.

The Taoiseach: Responsibility for the area of transmission infrastructure was a matter for the Minister for Industry, Energy and Communications, Deputy Cowen.

Mr. Currie: Industry?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Molloy: The Department officials are still confused.

Mr. Yates: We need the programme managers all right.

Mr. Durkan: And some minders as well.