asked the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism if he has any proposals to alter the hours or days on which the Dáil sits; 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 - Dáil Sitting Hours.
Paragraph 3.90 ofBuilding on Reality states that a new system for Private Members' Bills will shortly be considered by Government and that a new format of debate in respect of Oireachtas committee reports and Private Members' Bills is also being considered. These proposals involve expanding normal Dáil sitting times.
The new system for Private Members' Bills has been approved by the Government and has been submitted to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The proposal in respect of the debating of Oireachtas committee reports will be considered by the Government shortly and will also be submitted to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it would not be appropriate for me to give further details of either proposal until such time as they have been considered by Government and, as is the normal practice of consultation, by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
The argument holds in relation to this matter as it did in relation to Question Time. Will the Minister consider making available to me and other Deputies not represented on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges details of the proposals regarding Private Members' Bills? The Workers' Party have produced Private Members' Bills and are most interested in them.
We are consulting the Committee on Procedure and Privileges which is constituted in this House in accordance with — I think — Standing Orders and certainly in accordance with the time-honoured precedent as to its composition. It is a body responsible for procedures in relation to the House, including Deputies not directly represented on it. I know that the committee have on occasion considered proposals, suggestions and complaints from Deputies not directly represented on the committee, including Deputy De Rossa, and I am sure they will be more than happy to consider any suggestions he might wish to make on any of these subjects either individually or by his party. Formal consultation by the committee with Deputies is a matter for the committee to decide.
Does the Minister agree that new arrangements are urgently needed to provide for the debating in this House of the reports of committee of the House which are at present piling up undebated? Does he accept that the smooth running of the committee system — to which I know the Minister is committed — depends on removing that log jam?
I agree with the statement made in the form of a question. However, more time has been provided for debating Oireachtas committee reports in this Dáil than in any previous one and more reports have also been considered. There is room for improvement and that is why the Government are bringing forward proposals on that matter.
Is the Minister aware that the Committee on State-sponsored
Bodies, for example, have a report on CIE hotels which has been waiting for five or six months for debate in this Chamber? It makes a cod of the committee system if they cannot be debated in this House.
With regard to particular reports, the best manner in which to raise them is through the normal channels via the Whips. However, I will investigate the position in regard to that report and I will communicate with the Deputy.
; Could the Minister indicate when he expects proposals relating to changes in the hours and days of sittings to be introduced here?
Such changes will be made, if they are made, in respect of particular items of business for which there is not enough available time within the present sitting hours. We are not going to extend the sitting times simply for the sake of doing so; we will do it slowly, where we have certain defined and necessary business to transact. The matters which are referred to in this question would probably require additional time. However, that has yet to be finally decided.