Seanad Éireann - Volume 130 - 12 December, 1991

Order of Business.

Mr. Fallon: It is proposed to take Item No. 2, The Criminal Damage Bill, 1990 and to complete Second Stage not later than 4 p.m., the Minister to reply not later than 3.45 p.m. and to have a sos between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Mr. Manning: That is agreed. On the Order of Business I would like to raise a matter which may not be relevant but I will abide, as I always do, by your ruling. In the course of some research on a different matter I came across a cutting from the Irish Independent of December 1935 discussing the differences between the two Houses of the Oireachtas. It stated:

The Senate is different to the other House because it is more sober, more reasoned, the speeches are better prepared, they are more high-minded and they are shorter.

I am glad, a Chathaoirligh, that things have not changed.

Mrs. Doyle: I wonder does the Cathaoirleach agree with all of those points.

Professor Murphy: On a point of information, was it not the Seanad that was abolished?

Mr. Manning: That is right.

An Cathaoirleach: I certainly did not realise Senator Manning has been here since then.

Mrs. Hederman: I want to ask the Leader about a point that was raised yesterday under the statement on the role of the Seanad. In his reply the Leader said it had been agreed that a report will come [1615] to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges in the first instance. On a point of information, what report will come to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges?

Dr. Upton: For those of us whose aspiration it is to get to the other House, it looks like the prospects are downhill all the way from here.

Will the Leader of the House make time available for a debate on homelessness? There is a very disturbing report in today's newspapers which states that there has been a huge increase in the number of homeless people in the last year. There is an extra case of homelessness each day and two-thirds of teenagers who are homeless are housed in inappropriate accommodation. I urge the Leader to make time available for a discussion on this very important matter.

Mr. B. Ryan: I support Senator Upton and specifically ask the Leader to find out if the appropriate sections of the Children Act dealing with the obligations of health boards to accommodate homeless children have been brought into force and, if they have, how much money has been provided to the health boards to enable them to carry out their obligations; and, if they have not, when will they be brought into force?

Second, I want to mention a point raised by Senator Raftery yesterday. This is something we all forget too easily and I will keep reminding the Leader: after Christmas we should have a long, openended debate on unemployment.

Third, can somebody tell us officially as soon as possible what we are doing next week? Half the world seems to know we are meeting for four days but nobody has said it on the record as far as I am aware. I do not recall hearing it yesterday. If I missed it, which is possible, can the Leader tell me what business he hopes to do on each day next week?

Finally, was that a guillotine I heard coming down on the Criminal Damage Bill at 3.45 p.m. this afternoon? I am not quite sure; our Leader chooses his words carefully.

[1616] Mrs. Doyle: Will the Senator be here at that time?

Mr. B. Ryan: That is not a matter Senator Doyle should address to me. I do not count her absences or presences. I am flattered that Senator Doyle might miss me.

An Cathaoirleach: It is based on affection.

Mr. B. Ryan: Of course, that is why I am so flattered. May I ask the Leader to outline for us what business it is proposed to take next week, and could he tell me whether that was a guillotine I heard coming down at 3.45 p.m. this afternoon?

Mr. Fallon: An allocation of time, not a guillotine.

Mr. B. Ryan: The Leader does choose his words very carefully, a Chathaoirligh, so if he wants to call it an allocation of time and I call it a guillotine he will know what I mean and I will know what he means.

Mrs. Doyle: In view of the particular emphasis placed by the Agriculture Commissioner, Ray MacSharry, on the future of agricultural research in the context of Common Agricultural Policy reform when he addressed the EC Committee in Dublin last Friday, and in view of the fact that we now have an agricultural scientist in charge of the Department of Agriculture, Deputy Michael Woods himself, could I ask the Leader if we can expect a little more sensitivity in dealing with the business of Teagasc under the new regime and, in particular, if it is considered now by his colleague the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Woods, that the job to which Mr. Joe Rea was appointed has been effectively done, and could we look at an alternative incumbent for that post?

Mr. Neville: I ask the Leader of the House for a debate on our return after the recess on the Law Commission consultation paper on the crime of libel. This [1617] is a very important and complex document. This is an area that is very suitable for discussion in this House and it is very important that we should give some time to discussing the recommendations.

Mr. R. Kiely: Time is not being wasted today on the Order of Business, but on other occasions the Order of Business has gone on for an hour. I remember when I was first elected in 1977 the business was ordered in two or three minutes. There are many items which are not relevant to the business of this House brought up on the Order of Business which is contributing to the time wasting. We have important matters to deal with in this House and we should stick to them——

Mr. B. Ryan: Do not stick up for the GAA now.

Mr. R. Kiely: Let the GAA do their own business.

Mr. Fallon: I have noted Senator Ryan's comment and I do not propose to reply.

Senator Hederman asked about the role of the Seanad and she asked what report. My understanding, and I think the understanding of most of the members of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, was that when this debate concludes a summary would be prepared of what aspects of the report were best suited to the House, the Committee on Procedure and Privileges would meet to discuss them and endeavour to bring them into operation if that were possible, or perhaps set up a separate all party committee of the Seanad, whatever they wanted to do. Initially the views of the Senators would be noted, brought to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and they would be taken from there. That is as I understand it and that is the position as it stands. It was Senator Norris who spelt it out as I understood the situation some two weeks ago.

Senator Upton and Senator Ryan asked about a debate on homelessness. Obviously it is something we can examine [1618] for the New Year and I will do that when we return after the recess. Senator Brendan Ryan asked for a debate on unemployment. I said yesterday it was suitable for the Appropriation Bill which we will be debating next week, followed by further debate in January.

I have noted what Senator Doyle said It is my experience that the Minister, Deputy Woods, deals with all matters very sensitively.

Senator Neville asked about the Law Reform Commission report on the law of libel and I support him. This is a report that would be very appropriate for debate in this House. I have a particular interest in it myself, as Senator Neville probably knows; it is something I will look at in the new year. I have noted carefully what Senator Kiely had to say.

My apologies to Senator Brendan Ryan. He asked about next week. The Criminal Damage Bill is with us now, and we will continue to debate it next week; we will have the B & I Line Bill, the Patents Bill, the Appropriation Bill, the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill and the Milk (Regulation of Supply) (No. 2) Bill; and there is a question mark over the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Amendment) Bill. I am not sure if we will have it next week.

Order of Business agreed to.