It is proposed to take Nos. 22, 4, 23, 5, 6, 24, 25 (Vote 8). By agreement, all Stages of No. 22, the Prisons Bill, will be passed not later than 3 p.m. Questions at 3 p.m.
Order of Business.
Nos. 22, 4, 23, 5, 6, 24, 25 (Vote 8). By agreement, all Stages of No. 22 to be taken by 3 p.m. Questions at 3 p.m.
I am afraid that you are mistaken when you say "by agreement". There was no agreement by this party that 3 o'clock would be the finishing time for any Stage. We made it quite clear to the House yesterday and yesterday evening I informed Deputy Browne, acting on behalf of the Whip, that we would not agree to any time limit.
May I say that I have a distinct recollection of you, Sir, saying yesterday that all Stages of this Bill were to be completed by 3 p.m.? I heard you put the question, "Is that agreed?" I think an order was so made by the House.
There is no question of any agreement being reached. Not only was it not reached between the Whips but it was not agreed to in this House during the discussion that took place.
I understood that it was agreed to finish the Bill by 3 p.m. and I announced that yesterday in the House.
I raised my objection to it at that stage.
Deputy Corish objected and there was no agreement.
I have here an extract from the unrevised Report and it says that you, at the end of the debate yesterday, used the following words:
The Committee Stage to be taken at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning and the Bill to conclude before 3 o'clock.
These are your words, Sir, as recorded.
It occurs to me very strongly that the fact that the Taoiseach has the extract——
Is a dirty little stunt.
——shows quite clearly to me that the Taoiseach knew this objection would be made, knew that we did not agree and is now trying to convince everyone that we did.
Deputy Keating is an expert on dirt.
May I make a comment? Deputy Crowley is the last person who should talk about dirt here in the House. My recollection, and I think my hearing is as good as that of anybody else in the House, is that yesterday it was agreed that the Bill would be taken today. The Taoiseach definitely was insistent that it should be taken yesterday and then he agreed eventually to the Second Stage being taken yesterday and the rest to be taken today. I did not at any stage hear a reference being made to 3 p.m. I am surprised to find that it does appear in the record. I was here all the time. If somebody else heard it, then I must be at fault, but I certainly did not hear it. I would suggest, since agreement has been made that we finish the Bill today, that we finish today, not at 3 p.m. In fairness to everybody. Deputy Corish did say that we were not going to filibuster. We were not going to hold it up, but we want an honest debate on it. There are points we want to get clarified.
We are quite prepared to finish the Bill today, but not at 3 o'clock.
It is unfair now to try to do that.
I cannot change an order of the House.
I do not think it could be regarded as an order of the House. Times for debates are usually arranged between the Whips and there was no arrangement between the Whips.
Unless by order of the House.
But there was no order of the House at all. There was a mumble. As a matter of fact, last night the Ceann Comhairle announced that we were resuming at 10.30 this morning. Was that an order of the House, because we are here now at 10.07?
He corrected it.
We did not agree to 3 o'clock.
When the Taoiseach says it is an order of the House, surely the Taoiseach knows that anything this House agrees to supersedes anything else? So, if the Taoiseach is not persistent in this conflict, we can now agree that 3 o'clock does not apply.
My hearing is very good. It was agreed here yesterday that we sit at 10 o'clock this morning and that we finish the Bill at 3 o'clock and the Taoiseach accepted that in good faith. I was listening to this. If there is any quibbling on my left here, they are quibbling all their lives and it is nothing new that they should be quibbling this morning.
May I ask the Taoiseach if he would be prepared to permit sufficient time for the amendments to be taken?
I want to make it quite clear that I left this House yesterday at about 4.15 p.m. under the clear impression that the order had been made and agreed to by the House. There is no equivocation about that. It was stated in the newspapers this morning that the order was so made, that the Bill would be introduced into the Seanad at 3 o'clock. I am not relying on the newspapers but since people suggest that they did not hear what was going on, apparently newspaper reporters heard it and so recorded it.
Newspaper reporters could have been told in the Whips office afterwards.
I am not relying on it. I am relying on what I heard the Ceann Comhairle say, what is written in the unrevised record of this House, written by the stenographer who was here at the time. That was as clear as could be. There is nobody in any doubt that we want that Bill into the Seanad today and passed today.
May I ask the Taoiseach if he will permit sufficient time to be given for the taking of the 22 amendments?
Just one second, Sir——
May I ask the Taoiseach a question?
Perhaps the Deputy has not any right to. I do not know
May I ask the Taoiseach——
Ask the question.
There are 22 amendments to the Bill. May I put it to the Taoiseach that sufficient time should be given for the taking of those 22 amendments? As far as I am concerned I would be satisfied if the Taoiseach would agree to that.
What about your leader?
Can the Deputy talk for the whole party? I do not know who talks for it. Sir, I want to say again that I came yesterday into the House indicating the urgency of this Bill, requesting the co-operation of the House and having in mind the passage of all Stages of the Bill yesterday. I yielded to the Labour Party's appeal to give a little more time. I yielded on the basis that I understood them then to agree to conclude the Bill at 3 o'clock today. If I had not got that agreement I would have pressed my original motion to a division in the House. I did not do so because I understood from the Labour Party that they were agreed.
I do not see any advantage in prolonging this, seeing that the Taoiseach is insisting on its going through. The fact that the Taoiseach came in with an extract from the official record——
I did not. That was passed to me.
——tells its own story, as far as I am concerned. So, we will carry on now.
I examined the record yesterday and I extracted this quotation from it and I handed it to the Taoiseach.
For what purpose? If there was agreement, there was no need to tell us.
I think I am entitled to anticipate the type of query you brought up here this morning. It was entirely my responsibility. The Taoiseach did not know anything about it until I brought it to his attention about a minute past 10 o'clock. I extracted this particular quotation from the Record.
There must be some doubt.
It tells its own story.
I think I am entitled to anticipate what goes on.