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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 28 Jan 1981

Vol. 326 No. 2

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take business in the following order: Nos. 6 (resumed), 7, 8 and 5. Business will be interrupted at 3.30 p.m. to take item No. 5 and the order will not be resumed thereafter.

Could I ask the Taoiseach in view of the statement made yesterday by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer that Britain is considering joining the EMS if consideration has been given by the Government to our position?

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

It does, if I am allowed to conclude. Will the Taoiseach consider making a statement to the House in the coming week?

It does not arise.

I am asking the Taoiseach if, in view of this very serious development which could have disastrous consequences on our already disastrous economy, he will make a statement to the House in the coming week.

I am aware of the case the Deputy is making but it does not arise on the Order of Business.

If the Chair cares to look at the record he will find that there is a long established precedent for this type of question being asked and being answered on the Order of Business.

I must support Deputy Cluskey on the principle involved here. The right of the Opposition to ask whether the Taoiseach will make a statement on a subject is well established and cannot be extinguished by any Ceann Comhairle.

I am sorry, Deputy. I have given a ruling on this matter and we cannot discuss it.

Surely as a Deputy I am entitled to ask the Taoiseach if he would make a statement on any matter.

In those circumstances any subject could be raised and people could be asked to make any possible type of statement.

I am asking a specific question about a matter which is very obviously of serious public concern.

I am sure this matter could be discussed by the Whips.

I am sure the Taoiseach could answer me if you would allow him.

How could the Whips discuss whether the Taoiseach will make a statement to the House about the EMS? That is not reasonable.

I have ruled that this matter cannot be raised now. I have made a ruling on that and we cannot discuss it.

There is a matter of very fundamental principle involved here. It is a right which has been exercised by Deputies since the establishment of the Dáil. Surely you are not thinking of dispensing with that right.

I am not. I have stated on a number of occasions what I believe is in order on the Order of Business.

Can you give the criteria on which you have ruled this matter out of order?

I have pointed out on a number of occasions that on the Order of Business matters which are ordered for the day can be discussed, matters which are on the Order Paper can be discussed, and legislation which the Government have promised can be discussed.

Are you suggesting to me that on matters which we may wish to have on the Order Paper and matters of urgent national importance we cannot ask the Taoiseach or any Minister if he is prepared to make a statement?

I have already explained exactly what I feel is in order on the Order of Business. I have done that on several occasions and I have found that this is a procedure which was followed previously.

I submit that it was not. I have been in this House for 11 years and in all of that period it has been the constant practice to ask if the Taoiseach will make a statement on a matter of public importance and it is for him to say "yes", or "no", or that he will consider it, or that it can be discussed by the Whips. To have this ruled out by the Ceann Comhairle is something new and without precedent. I think you are exceeding your rights in the matter.

I do not feel I am.

In order to try to avoid any conflict with the Chair I will refrain from pursuing it now, but I will ask the question again tomorrow morning to give the Chair time to consider it.

(Cavan-Monaghan): Perhaps I might make a short submission to the Chair. There is a long established precedent in the House whereby Members of the Opposition may ask the Taoiseach to make time available for a statement on matters of national importance. Whether or not that is in accordance with Standing Orders, it cannot be denied that it is in accordance with precedent. As I understand it, Deputy Cluskey is now asking the Taoiseach if he will comment on this matter of national importance. This is a matter of fundamental principle. If Deputy Cluskey is not proceeding with it now, I should not like to have a precedent established that Deputies are precluded from asking the Taoiseach to comment on matters like this. The Chair should look up the precedent.

I want to make it clear that the reason I am not pursuing it now is to try to avoid any conflict with the Chair. I am respectfully asking the Chair to consider the importance of this whole matter. I will raise it again tomorrow morning.

As I see it, any Deputy could decide that any matter was important and he could raise it in this fashion every day of the week.

I would ask the Chair between now and tomorrow morning to have examined the number of occasions on which this has happened and been allowed over the past ten years. If he gives us that information tomorrow morning we will make up our minds. That is a reasonable request.

Is it intended to circulate the McKinsey Report to Deputies and the trade unions concerned?

The report will be circulated in due course in the normal way.

Can the Taoiseach give us any indication of the time involved?

There will not be any undue delay.

Will the report be circulated before a final decision is taken by the Government?

Yes. I would think that this report is of such fundamental importance and significance that it would be desirable to have it published so that it can be the subject of public debate before final decisions are taken.

I asked the Taoiseach that question because I received a letter this morning in reply to a letter I sent to the Minister for Transport,. The letter I received did not indicate what the Taoiseach has just stated. I welcome the Taoiseach's statement.

In view of recent developments, could the Taoiseach tell us when the report of the Restrictive Practices Commission will be made available? I am talking about the Restrictive Practices Commission's report on under-cost selling.

I have no notice of that question but I shall look into the matter and communicate with the Deputy.

It is a matter of great urgency.

It is another matter which does not arise on the Order of Business.

It would be helpful if Deputies would give notice of matters they intend raising.

I have given notice of the statement I am seeking.