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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 20 Jun 1991

Vol. 410 No. 1

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 9. It is also proposed that at its rising today the Dáil shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July 1991.

May I ask if the proposal for the rising of the Dáil until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July is agreed?

On that proposal, we would like to have some information before we agree to it. For how long do the Government intend the Dáil shall sit during July? Do the Government intend to complete the legislative programme they published for this session, only half of which has been seriously debated in this House and the other half has not been debated here? Do the Government intend to complete that programme before the summer recess? Further, may I ask the Tánaiste if it is the intention of the Government to allow the House an opportunity to discuss the results of the renegotiations between the two Government parties on the continued existence of this Government and whether other Members of the House will have an opportunity to comment on this very important and momentous discussion that is reputed to start as soon as the local elections are over?

Matters pertaining to the Order of Business and the sittings are quite in order; the latter matter is out of order.

The date for the summer recess will be announced by the Taoiseach in due course.

We would like to know if the Government intend to complete their legislative programme before the summer recess?

Clearly we are having repetition.

That is a question, even by your own exacting standards, that is entirely in order.

In order to display proper order I am calling Deputy Spring.

Always guaranteed to bring order to everything, a Cheann Comhairle. On the same point raised by Deputy Bruton may I ask the Tánaiste if he could at least give an indication to the House this morning of the legislative programme for the remainder of this session? As has been stated — I wish to stay in order — the Government produced a programme at the start of this session, about half of that legislation has been introduced to the House, and it would be in order for the Tánaiste to outline to the House the legislative programme for the remainder of this session.

Hear, hear.

The legislative programme is the one that was already outlined to the House. The Government are fully committed to push ahead as fast as they possibly can with that programme during this session.

May I ask a question about a different kind of planning? May I ask the Tánaiste at what stage is the Family Planning (Amendment) Bill? The Taoiseach indicated some weeks ago that the proposed changes were on course. As I understand it, the changes proposed are minimal. I do not understand the reason for the delay in view of the urgency to make condoms more freely available to try to tackle the AIDS epidemic that is raging through this country. Can the Tánaiste please indicate at what stage is the drafting of the new legislation on family planning and when we can expect to have it on the floor of the House for approval?

I can assure the Deputy that my distinguished colleague from my own constituency has brought this Bill to a very advanced stage indeed and it is imminent.

May I ask the Tánaiste whether it is the Government's intention to introduce a Supplementary Health Estimate to deal with the very critical problem facing haemophiliacs and also the many caring organisations that have to run up overdrafts because payments due to them are not being made by the health boards?

Is this legislation promised?

A Supplementary Estimate was indicated by the Minister in this House.

There are other ways of raising that matter.

Surely it is Government business whether they will order such an Estimate before the summer recess. We need to prepare to consider such an Estimate.

A Deputy

It is a serious matter.

Is legislation promised?

Legislation is not promised but it is intended to take Estimates before the recess.

May I ask the Tánaiste if in ordering sittings of the House after the local elections he will take account of the needs of certain Members of the House and ensure that the House does not sit at a time that clashes with the annual general meeting of the Tralee Urban District Council?

Due to the importance the Government attach to local government they will take into account the serious problems that certain parties will have because of the huge numbers elected at the local government election.

May I seek an assurance from the Tánaiste — in the absence of the Taoiseach — in relation to serious matters occurring in Northern Ireland and in regard to the proposed meeting of the intergovernmental conference? I seek an assurance from the Tánaiste that no further delays will occur in relation to this matter and that the meeting which is scheduled for next month will take place.

Clearly this matter is not relevant to the Order of Business.

In view of the latitude you have given to some other matters this morning——

I am sorry, Deputy, that matter cannot be raised now.

With respect, may I say that it is extremely important that the Government make their position very clear? I would have thought, Sir,——

The Deputy will have to find another way of raising that matter at an appropriate time.

The talks in Northern Ireland and the Government's attitude to those talks is probably the most pressing matter at this time. Is is extremely important that the Tánaiste clarify the situation that the Irish Government will not pull back from the stance they have taken in relation to the proposed meeting.

Deputy Spring, I have to rule that that is not in order now.

There should not be any need for them to pull back.

I seek your indulgence, a Cheann Comhairle, in regard to an issue I wish to raise. Exactly one month ago the Minister for Health in this House promised a report from the inspector of mental hospitals in regard to the very serious matter of the commital of a Dublin woman. Although it is well over a month since it happened, I have not had a report. I have telephoned the office and I am accusing the Minister of creating a smokescreen.

I thought the Deputy was raising something relevant on the Order Paper.

I should like your guidance——

I am calling Deputy Jim Higgins. I am going on to the Order of Business proper.

On a point of order, I am not sure how we dealt with the second item on the Order of Business. Was it agreed? I understood that Deputy Bruton objected to it.

You are absolutely correct, Deputy. I put the matter to the House and asked if it was agreed. Deputy Bruton intervened and I cannot recollect having put it finally to the House. Is Deputy Bruton in agreement with the proposal——

I do not wish to press the matter but I expressed the view yesterday that time should have been provided this week to allow us to discuss, in advance of the EC Summit, the threat to the existence of the Common Agricultural Policy. My party, as advised by the Taoiseach, requested time be provided for that, through the Whips, and the request was declined. Therefore, I do not agree with the Order of Business.

Question "That at its rising today An Dáil shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July 1991" put and declared carried.

In view of the fact that a long awaited OECD report on the Irish educational system will be published today, will time be made available to the House to debate its contents which are farreaching and obviously a precursor——

This is in relation to a report and not to legislation.

This is a precursor to the promised Education Bill.

I am anxious to facilitate the Deputy but he must not get around the ruling in respect of legislation promised in the House.

Will the matter be considered?

As it is an important report and as my colleague, the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke, is more than sensitive in relation to anything which assists in putting together a sound educational policy, I am quite sure it will get serious consideration.

The Tánaiste suggested that Supplementary Estimates would be submitted before the summer recess. In doing so, will the Minister for Finance comment on the OECD report which said that, out of 23 nations investigated, Ireland's interest rates are the highest?

The Deputy is bringing in extraneous matter.

Over the last three or four years — or indeed longer — legislation to ratify the European Patent Convention has been promised by successive Ministers for Industry and Commerce and the Taoiseach. In view of the fact that the Summit is taking place next week, at which the Community will agree on a deadline to complete the Internal Market in regard to such matters as intellectual property, including patents, will the Tánaiste give an indication whether Ireland will be able to fulfil those requirements by ratifying this convention before the end of the year in view of the fact that all these directives must be in place by 1 January 1993 in accordance with the programme?

I can positively state that it is hoped to take that step in the next session.