Seanad Éireann - Volume 149 - 04 December, 1996
Business of Seanad.
Mr. Cregan Mr. Cregan
Mr. Cregan: I have a message to read to the Seanad. I am directed by the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications to relay the following message to Seanad Éireann:
To allow the enactment of the Telecommunications (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1996, as a matter of Government policy. The Minister fully supports this policy and wishes to see all Stages taken to a conclusion today.
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
Mr. Mooney: This matter was raised on the Order of Business. Concern was expressed because of remarks attributed to the newly appointed Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications as regards the main subject matter of this Bill, the strategic alliance. There was an inference that he might look at this legislation. The Opposition felt that some space was needed to clarify the position and the Leader of the House was amenable to that point of view.
The Minister of State indicated at the outset of the debate that he was awaiting a letter of clarification which Senator Cregan read. This short paragraph, which effectively confirms a Minister's responsibility in the collective responsibility context, is technically correct. It is interesting that it was signed by the Secretary of the Department rather than by the Minister, which may be convention.
I am concerned about this matter. I am uncertain whether we should proceed with Final Stage until the Minister comes into the House. I do not intend any disrespect to the Minister of State, Deputy Stagg, who also took this debate in the other House. He has been magnaminous, co-operative and responsive but a new Minister has been appointed. The former Minister, Deputy Lowry, was closely identified with this legislation, specifically the establishment of a strategic alliance which will have medium to long-term effects on our telecommunications industry. Irrespective of the collective responsibility  enjoyed at Cabinet in relation to Government policy, if a Minister brings their own ethos to a Department and its implementation of policy, perhaps this House and this country might be better served. This Bill might be strengthened if the Minister comes into the House and makes a statement on the issue.
Seanad Éireann 149 Business of Seanad.