Seanad Éireann - Volume 87 - 23 November, 1977

Order of Business.

Mr. E. Ryan: It is proposed to take Nos. 1, 3, 2, 4 and 5 in that order. Although we are taking No. 3 before No. 2, it will be necessary to pass No. 2 first so, assuming we are willing to take all Stages of No. 2, I will be asking the Seanad not to take the Fifth Stage until No. 2 has been passed. This for technical reasons.

Mrs. Robinson: I assure the Seanad this is not for publicity purposes. I have raised on the Order of Business for the past three weeks the question of the urgency of the need to establish a Joint Committee on European Community Secondary Legislation. The Leader of the House appeared sympathetic as a former member of the Joint Committee to the need to establish the committee and undertook to look into it. However, I see the Government have not tabled the necessary expediency motion to establish this committee.

The Parliamentary Labour Party have discussed the matter and it has been decided that the Labour group will table the necessary motion and it will be tabled this afternoon. Could I ask the Leader of the House if time could be given as a matter of priority to discuss this motion so that the Seanad can do all that is required of it to establish this joint committee? It is not a discretionary committee. The joint committee have a statutory obligation under the European Communities (Amendment) Act, 1973, to examine and report to both Houses on Irish ministerial regulations implementing [353] EEC legislation. They have 12 months in which to recommend the possible annulment of any of these regulations and then a motion can be passed by both Houses annulling it. Six months of that possible 12 months have gone without any joint committee in operation. There is no scrutiny of Irish ministerial regulations as required by the European Communities (Amendment) Act, 1973, and there is no scrutiny of draft directives, draft regulations, or programmes for legislation at the European Community level which vitally affect us. I have tried, by raising it in successive weeks, to encourage the Government to get around to tabling the required expediency motion and I am afraid that, if we do not take an initiative now in the Seanad to discuss this and pass the necessary motion, and have a similar motion introduced in the Dáil, this committee will not be in a position to meet before Christmas. I would ask the Leader of the House if he would undertake to have time given for debating this motion either tomorrow or at the first opportunity next week.

Dr. West: Could I ask the Leader of the House if any agreement has been reached by the Whips concerning the taking of motions which are now accumulating on the Order Paper? This is a matter we have raised on a number of occasions. It is obviously a matter which has to be agreed between the Whips and the sort of agreement one would hope would emerge would be that the Government and Opposition parties and the Independents would, in rotation, get an opportunity to have one of the motions tabled in their names taken. It is a matter for agreement and it needs an initiative from the Leader of the House to get the Whips to meet and agree on this. Perhaps he could say something about it.

Mr. E. Ryan: In regard to Senator Robinson's request, until I see the motion I am not in a position to give any undertaking but, on the other hand, I should like to tell the House that I have expressed the concern of this House in regard to this committee to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and [354] he has assured me that he will have completed his consideration of the terms of reference by next week. So I am hopeful that the committee will be set up in a matter of the next week or two at the outside. In regard to the question of motions, it was intended to take Motion No. 12 today or tomorrow, but Senator Keating asked that it not be taken because I understand he is not available. That will be taken next week if the mover wishes it to be taken.

In regard to motions generally, I said earlier that it would be appropriate to ask the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to consider this question and to agree on the times when they should be taken, the length of time which should be given to them, and so on. The Committee of Selection are sitting this evening and I hope it will be possible to have a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges next week. That certainly should be one of their first considerations. As soon as they have considered it, I will have a formula which will enable us to take motions regularly.

Order of Business agreed to.