asked the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism if he has any plans to change arrangements in the Dáil relating to Question Time; if all parties in the House will be consulted before any such change is made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers - Question Time Arrangements.
Paragraph 3.91 ofBuilding on Reality states that a new system of Parliamentary Questions aimed at making Question Time more relevant and up to date has been approved by Government and will be submitted to the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
The detailed proposals of the new system are at present before this committee. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the details until such time as the matter has been dealt with by the CPP.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the normal practice of consultation in cases like this is to bring the matter before the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
The Minister is aware that not all parties are represented on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. In view of this, will he make copies of the proposals available to Deputy Mac Giolla, other Independent Members and myself?
Those proposals are now before the committee and it is for them to decide on that question.
I assume that the Minister still has copyright, so to speak, on these proposals and, in view of the fact that they will affect every Member in the House, it is reasonable to expect that every Deputy should have an opportunity to consider them before they are formulated into definite proposals.
Obviously, any change in Standing Orders will have to be debated in this House and all Deputies will have an opportunity of contributing in such a debate. However, the committee have been looking at this, bearing in mind the points made by the Deputy in regard to Members not represented on the committee. At this point the committee are not at a stage where they are in a position to enter into consultations.
We are discussing a situation in which three of the parties in this House have an opportunity of putting their views in relation to the proposals before they are shaped into legislative proposals. It is grossly unfair, if not undemocratic——
The Deputy may not make a speech.
——that other Deputies who are not represented are excluded from this process of consultation. The Minister has a responsibility to make the proposals available so that we may consider them.
The committee are now in possession of the proposals and they have been doing some work on them. The matter, therefore, is for the committee to decide as they are the body essentially charged with the responsibility of representing the interests of all Members and consulting with them in such manner as they think proper. The committee have also considered the question of how to take into account the views of Members not directly represented on the committee but have not yet reached a conclusion on the matter nor, indeed, on the proposals.