Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 5 and 6. By agreement, and notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, if a division is challenged on the motion on the national economic and social plan or any amendment thereto, this week or next week, the taking of such division shall be postponed until 5 p.m. on Thursday, 18 October. Also, by agreement, there will be no Private Members' Business today and the interruption of business will take place at 7 p.m.

On the question of agreement on the Order of Business, there is no such agreement so far as Deputy Mac Giolla or myself are concerned. I do not know if other Deputies were consulted about this arrangement. I am proposing that the words "Also, by agreement, there will be no Private Members' Business" be deleted and that item No. 58 be substituted. That is the motion calling for the restoration of food subsidies. It should be kept in mind that there are Deputies here other than those who make up the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour Parties.

I am putting the question that Private Members' Business be not taken today.

I have indicated that we propose that No. 58 be taken.

The Deputy may not do that.

While I agree with Deputy De Rossa as to the importance of the question of the abolition of the food subsidies being brought before the House for decision at the earliest possible moment, I should like to point out to the Deputy that we have a motion down to that effect. We will have an opportunity to vote on that motion when it is before the House. Because there is a major debate on the entire economy during which the question of the abolition of food subsidies can be debated fully, we are prepared to leave over our Private Members' motion on that matter until such time as the major debate on the economy has been concluded.

I am surprised at Deputy Haughey coming to the rescue of the Government on this issue.

Somebody has to try to rescue them.

The position is that The Workers' Party have not had an opportunity of moving a Private Members' motion in this House in the past two years so this is an ideal opportunity for the House to allow us to debate the motion dealing with food subsidies. There is only an hour and a half involved so I am sure any reasonable Deputy or party would not deny us that right. You have not indicated why I may not seek to have item No. 58 debated this evening.

You may oppose the motion I am putting but you may not move a Private Members' motion.

Under what Standing Order am I precluded from moving that item No. 58 be taken this evening?

It is the Government proposal that there be no Private Members' Business this evening?

On a point of order, this is the first occasion on which I have heard the Chair indicate that there should be any motion against what is proposed in Standing Orders. Are we to have a new order of the House? We have been told on numerous occasions that when the business is announced it is not being put in the form of a motion but in the form of a statement to the House of what is proposed. How, then, can you be presuming to accept a motion which in effect is challenging the Order of Business?

I am putting to the House a proposition that formed part of the overall Order of Business.

With respect, I submit that you cannot do that. We have been told here on at least two or three occasions in the past year that we may not challenge the Order of Business, that the Order of Business is not put to the House but you seem to be purporting to put the Order of Business to the House.

That is understandable in the case of Fianna Fáil who would be involved in arranging the Order of Business but we are not so involved.

Items Nos. 5 and 6 are motions and the Deputy may not challenge the remaining part of the Order of Business.

Are you now changing your ruling? Under what Standing Order are you ruling my proposal out of order.

Perhaps The Workers' Party Deputies would have a quick parliamentary party meeting on the matter.

At least the full party are here.

Standing Order No. 82 reads:

The Order Paper shall be confined to Questions, Private business and Government business on Thursdays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Government business or Private business, as the case may be, shall be interrupted between 7 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. to take private members' business: Provided that a Member of the Government may move, without notice,

—as had been done already by the Taoiseach—

at the commencement of public business on any Tuesday or Wednesday, that, on that day or during the period specified in the motion, specified Government business, or Private business, as the case may be, shall not be interrupted if under consideration at the time fixed for taking private members' business. Such motion shall be decided without amendment.

Therefore, it is proposed in the Order of Business today to set aside Standing Orders. Consequently, that must be agreed by the House and we have the right to challenge a vote on it.

I am putting the question that——

, Dún Laoghaire): You are creating a very serious precedent for this or any future Government. The Order of Business is only announced by the Taoiseach. It is not put to the House and to do so would be to create a very dangerous precedent.

The question I am putting to the House is that no Private Members' Business be taken this evening. I am entitled to do that. It cannot be amended.

If you put the Order of Business to the House you will be breaking a long standing precedent.

The Order of Business is that we take Nos. 5 and 6.

The Order of Business is the Government's business. The talks that transpire and the agreements reached in relation to the Order of Business are only informal. They do not come within the ambit of Standing Orders.

The Order of Business today is that items Nos. 5 and 6 be taken. The question I am putting to the House is that there be no Private Members' time this evening.

I submit that you may not do that, that that proportion of the Taoiseach's announcement about Private Members' Business is part of the Order of Business and as such may not be put to the House. That is the impression we have been under for some considerable time in accordance with what has been laid down by the Ceann Comhairle but if the procedure is to be changed we should like to hear all about it.

I am putting the question to the House to clarify the situation that, as we have indicated, there will be no Private Members' Business this evening. I am asking for a vote on it in order to clarify the matter.

To clarify the position, I announced the Order of Business and as part of the Order of Business I announced that, by agreement, there would be no Private Members' Business today and the interruption of business would take place at 7 p.m.

It is the whole Order of Business and it cannot be taken in bits and pieces.

What the Taoiseach is proposing——

That is why I said at the conclusion of my statement "Is that agreed?"

Deputy De Rossa is not agreeing with it.

I am putting the question, "That there be no Private Members' Business this evening".

I rise in the hope that the Chair may have second thoughts. The Chair has just said that, having put the Order of Business, he asked if it was agreed and because it was not agreed the Chair is now proceeding to put a question. Practically every day a question arises on the Order of Business but ultimately we are reminded it is only a statement, not a motion. Therefore, while there may be an expression of disagreement, you cannot have a proposition on a vote arising out of the Order of Business.

The Order of Business today was items Nos. 5 and 6 and that cannot be contested.

The other point is that Deputy De Rossa has challenged the proposition that there will be no Private Members' Business this evening and I am putting that question to the House.

I want to be clear on what the Chair is about to do because it is a matter of fundamental importance to us on this side of the House. We have, often reluctantly, accepted the situation that we cannot challenge the Order of Business. Am I to take it that the Chair is saying to us that only a part of what the Taoiseach reads out is the Order of Business and that some of it, even though he reads it out as the Order of Business, is not the Order of Business? Is that what the Chair is telling the House?

For the assistance of the House I shall read out Standing Order No. 25. It states:

Every sitting of the Dáil shall be governed by a printed Order Paper which shall be prepared under the direction of the Ceann Comhairle. The Taoiseach shall have the right to determine the order in which Government business shall appear on the Order Paper and, by announcement at the commencement of public business the order in which it shall be taken each day.

It cannot be put to the House.

Private Members' Business is not Government business and that Standing Order does not govern Private Members' motions.

I wish to point out to the Chair part of the road the Chair is now travelling. If it is now a question that the House can vote and decide on whether Private Members' Business can or cannot be taken, then it is open to the Government of the day at any time by virtue of their majority in the House to stop Private Members' Business being taken and that, I suggest, is an absurdity. It is completely against all the traditions of this House.

It is now 4.05 p.m. and I am putting the question.

In the 19th Dáil that happened regularly and Private Members' Business was a rarity.

On a point of order——

I am putting the question.

I am entitled to raise a point of order.

I am putting the question. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

On a point of order, was this printed sheet approved by the Ceann Comhairle this morning as the Order of Business under Standing Order 25?

We have a say, too.

That sheet was prepared and put to the House by the office of the Chief Government Whip.

I take it that I am also entitled to raise a point of order? If this paragraph is not part of the Order of Business and we are entitled to vote on it — which I believe we have the right to do — do we not also have the right to amend it?

I read out Standing Order No. 82. It cannot be amended.

That is what I want to clarify.

It is clarified now. Does the Deputy wish me to put the question?

I am putting the question: "That Private Members' Business be not taken today". Will those claiming a division please rise in their places.

Deputies Blaney, O'Connell, Gregory-Independent, Proinsias De Rossa and Tomás Mac Giolla rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen in accordance with Standing Orders I declare the question carried and the names of those who rose in their places will be recorded in the journal of the proceedings of the House. I am calling Item No. 5.

It is now past 4 o'clock. Is it in order to give notice to raise a matter on the Adjournment?

It is too late.

Would the Taoiseach clarify his reference at the Ard-Fheis at the weekend in which he said that anybody who tried to insist that we must be a Catholic and Gaelic State would certainly have no sympathy from him? I should like him to clarify that situation.

We have dealt with the Order of Business and matters arising thereon. I am now calling item No. 5.

I should like the Taoiseach to clarify that statement at the Ard-Fheis——

I am sorry, Deputy, we have had a fair innings already.

Mr. O'Keeffe

——because generations of Irish people have enjoyed it for hundreds of years——

I am sorry, Deputy, I am calling on the Minister of State.

On the Order of Business——

No, we have left the Order of Business.

How have we left it?

Do not ask me how we have left it; it was a pretty tough job but we have got out of it.

(Interruptions.)

As far as I am concerned there was a bad mistake made today on the Order of Business. I cannot see how we have left it because the normal practice is that when it is finished we are allowed to ask questions. Has that practice gone as well?

I am sorry, I am moving on to item No. 5.

So we are not allowed ask questions any more on the Order of Business.