Seanad Éireann - Volume 101 - 29 June, 1983

Joint Services Committee: Motion.

Professor Dooge: I move:

(1) That a Select Committee consisting [263] of 9 members of Seanad Éireann be appointed to be joined with a Select Committee to be appointed by Dáil Éireann to form a Joint Committee (to be called the Joint Services Committee)

(i) to direct and control the Oireachtas Restaurant;

(ii) to assist and advise the Ceann Comhairle and the Cathaoirleach in the direction and control of the Oireachtas Library;

(iii) to initiate and operate an information service in respect of the work of the Houses of the Oireachtas; and

(iv) to regulate and supervise the operation of the research service for Members and to recommend to the Ceann Comhairle and the Cathaoirleach any improvements in the operation of the service which may appear to it to be desirable from time to time.

(2) That the Joint Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and to delegate any matter comprehended by paragraph (1) of this Order to a sub-committee.

(3) That the Joint Committee and each sub-committee, previous to the commencement of business, shall elect one of its members to be Chairman, who shall have only one vote.

(4) That all questions in the Joint Committee and in each sub-committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting and in the event of there being an equality of votes the question shall be decided in the negative.

(5) That the quorum of the Joint Committee be five of whom at least one shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and one shall be a member of Seanad Éireann and that the quorum of each sub-committee shall be three at least one of whom shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and one a member of Seanad Éireann.

[264] This motion relates to the Joint Services Committee. Far from elevating our restaurant committee, it will be no longer an individual committee in this House. The purpose of the motion here is to amalgamate our pre-existing Library Committee and the Restaurant Committee into a new Joint Services Committee. These were two standing committees that existed for a long time. They are committees in which the equal rights of the Seanad and the Dáil are allowed for.

The proposal now is that this new committee should be nine Members of the Dáil and nine Members of the Seanad. One of the reasons why that number of 18 is somewhat larger than the number of 11 for the State-sponsored bodies is that it is specifically envisaged that sub-committees would be set up under the Joint Services Committee. The provision is to allow the committee to split itself up into sub-committees for the purpose of dealing with certain aspects of its work.

In regard to the terms of reference under paragraph (1), I would like to say that there is one point which would not have appeared in this particular form, or should I say in this particular order, if this had been drafted in the Seanad. It is inappropriate for the public image of Oireachtas Éireann and inappropriate for its purpose that the motion should list the direction and control of the Oireachtas Restaurant ahead of the Oireachtas Library and ahead of the Information Service, ahead of the Research Service. I do not think this difference of emphasis is of sufficient importance that we should amend it in the Seanad to reverse the order and send it back to the Dáil. However, I want to put it on record that if the Seanad had had the initiation of the motion the order here would have been reversed.

Mrs. McGuinness: On the principle that man doth not live by bread alone, I take it.

Professor Dooge: I would like in this connection to pay a tribute to the Information Service and the Research Service which is provided in this House. I think Senators will agree that the small number [265] of staff under the direction of the Librarian with the limited resources they have, have shown a willingness and competence to assist Members in the discharge of their legislative duties to which we should pay a tribute on an occasion such as this. I do not have any other points I wish to make on introducing this motion but, again, would be happy to answer questions.

Question put and agreed to.