Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17 and 3. Private Members' Business shall be No. 34, Motion 48.

The Taoiseach made an announcement outside the House to the effect that he was terminating the services of the three Ministers of State. Has that decision been taken by the Cabinet at this point? Will the Taoiseach confirm that any decision to be taken in regard to the appointment of Ministers of State or their dismissal is taken on the basis of collective responsibility with all 15 Cabinet Ministers being responsible for the decision?

The matter referred to by the Deputy is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

It is very appropriate to the three people concerned.

Do the Ministers of State still hold their office?

I am sorry, Deputy, we have specific instructions in this area.

In relation to the announcement the Taoiseach has just made, which corresponds with an announcement made by him on Friday last, may I ask him if, in the course of tomorrow's debate on the appointment of new Ministers, the former Ministers — Deputies Reynolds and Flynn — will be afforded an opportunity to address this House as to their reasons for no confidence in the Taoiseach?

The Chair has ruled on that matter, Deputy.

A Cheann Comhairle, I think you will find this matter is in order — for a change. Could the Taoiseach indicate when the family planning amendment legislation will be introduced? It has been promised for some considerable time, and time is running out for a great many people in the health area.

I have already indicated that it is hoped to take it this session.

May I ask the Taoiseach if we can now expect legislation to be brought before the House to repeal the requirement in trade union legislation for compulsory secret ballots?

Deputy Quinn. Let us have relevance——

The Deputy should not draw me out on these matters; I might be inclined to riposte in an unfriendly fashion.


It would have to do with people in glasshouses not throwing stones.

In view of the fact that the Council of Ministers, including the ECO FIN, are constitutionally accountable to this Assembly under the terms of democratic accountability, and having regard to the fact that no Irish Minister was present at that meeting, which was unprecedented, could the Taoiseach indicate whether he proposes to make arrangements with the Whips for a statement to be made about the outcome of that meeting.

There are ways and means of raising such matters in the House. This is not the appropriate time.

I think it is the most appropriate time.

No, the Whips may discuss it if they wish.

With due respect, Sir, because of the unprecedented nature of the failure of a Government Minister to be at such a meeting, I am asking the Taoiseach if he will make time available for such a statement.

That can be done by way of question also, Deputy.

Sir, are you answering for the Taoiseach, or perhaps the Taoiseach——

I am ruling from the Chair.

Are we going to have a statement?

I do not take my instructions from any side of this House.

I am asking if the Taoiseach will make a statement in respect of my question.

The Deputy has asked his question and I now call Deputy Gay Mitchell.

Perhaps the Taoiseach would like to reply to it.

Ireland's vital interests are being discussed.


Is it intended to publish this week the long promised legislation on the powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General?

I will have to consult the Whips as to when the legislation can be taken.

May I ask the Taoiseach or the Minister for the Environment when the amount of the rates support grants will be made known to county councils and corporations.

I thought the Deputy had something relevant to raise.

It is very relevant to every local authority.

The Deputy is out of order. I am calling Deputy Howlin.

I heard that Deputy Flynn signed a number of papers before he left office. Every county council is discussing this at present.

The Minister will not be in office at the appropriate Question Time to make a statement.

May I ask whether the Taoiseach will reconsider the position and make Government time available to debate the framework of issues to be discussed at the Maastricht Summit? In putting this question about the use of parliamentary time to the Taoiseach, I wish to add that there has been a great deal of reference to the importance of the Maastricht meeting. My request is very simply that time be made available so that the Dáil might discuss not the conclusive proposals but the framework of issues. Otherwise Members will be left to simply make statements after the meeting has taken place.

That is not relevant now, Deputy. It is a matter that could be discussed between the Whips. The Taoiseach may wish to intervene but the matter is not relevant.

It is, I think the Taoiseach is anxious to reply.

It pains me that the Deputy listens so little to what I have to say in the House. I have already clearly indicated that time will be made available in the House for a debate on the issues that will be dealt with at the Masstricht Summit before the Summit is held.

Have the Cabinet met to consider the position of the three Ministers of State whom the Taoiseach has said he proposes to dismiss?

I am sorry, I am getting back to the Order of Business proper.

Who is Deputy O'Malley's Minister of State at the moment?

It is Deputy Smith as of today.

Will he still be there tomorrow?

Deputy Jim Mitchell is offering.

I wish to explore further the question in relation to the rates support grant which was raised by Deputy McCormack and to which I referred. As the law fixes this Friday as the last day on which local authorities should fix their rates for next year, has the Minister for the Environment any plans to introduce legislation to extend that date in view of the problems in the Government, or will local authorities be informed this week of their position?

That matter was adverted to last week. I am calling Deputy Rabbitte.

I wish to preface my brief question by saying that I am not challenging the Chair's decision to disallow my Private Notice Question. However, may I ask whether the Chair's decision to disallow that question means that the Government have decided to challenge the decision of the Labour Relations Commission in respect of married women being reinstated in the Civil Service workforce? Will the Taoiseach, now the Minister for Finance, indicate if the Government intend challenging that decision?

The Deputy should pursue the matter in the normal way.

May I ask the Taoiseach whether the Government are concerned about the lack of access to courts as a result of the courts strike and whether he will, in his deliberations about Cabinet portfolios, consider the indifference of the Minister for Justice in that regard?

I am sorry Deputy Creed, that is out of order. I am calling item No. 14, the Environmental Protection Agency Bill.