Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 8.

In view of the very serious development yesterday, which may result in a national bank strike on Monday, will the Taoiseach allow time for brief statements today to show the unanimity of this House in asking for more discussion and for a postponement of the strike, particularly because of the grave situation in regard to jobs?

I would remind the House that yesterday I anticipated the urgency of this matter and agreed to a Private Notice Question from Deputy De Rossa, following which we had replies from the Minister for Labour to quite a number of Supplementary Questions. This matter was dealt with as far as was possible at about 5.30 p.m. yesterday.

I appreciate that but it is important to issue a unanimous message today from this House asking for a postponement of the strike, particularly in view of the unemployment figures.

The Chair agrees with the Deputy, but in so far as such a message went out in no uncertain terms yesterday from the Deputies and the Minister, it would be only a matter of repeating the message.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Chair facilitated the House by acceding to a Private Notice Question yesterday, would the Taoiseach not agree that what was said in this House yesterday was not heard by the disputing parties? Listening to a Mr. Faulkner on the radio this morning, it appears that the impact of this dispute will be devastating. I request the Minister to find time to make a statement today reiterating the concern of this House.

On that point there is not any difficulty in bringing to the notice of anybody what was said yesterday when we debated the matter for 20 minutes and during which time we heard a spokesman from the Deputy's party and Deputy De Rossa.

I am sure the House is grateful that the Chair allowed time yesterday to discuss the banks' dispute. However, the situation has escalated considerably since we addressed them. As there is no opportunity today for Private Notice Questions, perhaps the Minister would take an opportunity to make a statement in the House. Will the Minister for Social Welfare indicate, in the event of a bank strike, if there are any contingency plans for paying social welfare recipients?

I am not going to extend the matter. In anticipation of the urgency and the gravity of the situation, I accepted the Deputy's question yesterday.

I am not extending the matter.

I indicated that notice has been taken of what the Minister and other Deputies said. In those circumstances it is not appropriate to have a discussion on this or anything arising from it.

On a point of order——

Many people are dependent on cheques for their social welfare and it will be impossible for them to be paid if the strike goes ahead.

Given the grave implications of a national bank strike, we should not be restricted too much by Standing Orders. We should be permitted a brief period to express our concern that this matter be resolved by discussion rather than by strike. I ask the Taoiseach to consider allowing time today for a brief statement from each party.

Deputy Mitchell will accept that the Chair has no option but to interpret Standing Orders as they exist. If it is the opinion of the House that Standing Orders are inadequate in responding to a situation that has arisen, that is a matter for the House. It is not a matter for an ad hoc opinion from the Chair. I have advised the House that almost the last business we had, from 3.50 p.m. until 4.10 p.m., yesterday was a question from Deputy De Rossa followed by replies from the Minister for Labour and questions from Deputy Ryan. The matter was dealt with as fully as it could have been. We are not going to reopen the issue now.

That is precisely the point, Standing Orders——

Standing Orders should be changed at some time in the future but not now.

It is the standing orders in the banks that we are concerned about which will be stopped or disrupted from next Monday if this strike goes ahead.

Deputy Quinn has the opportunity to provide, in a situation in which any similar problem arises, that the Chair can accept submissions that are made. We should proceed with the business ordered.

A Deputy

The Government would like to avail of the Chair's interpretation of Standing Orders.

The Chair is right in saying we are bound by Standing Orders, but I am asking for the Taoiseach's agreement to a suspension of Standing Orders for a period today so that we can have a brief debate on the implications of a bank strike. Will the Taoiseach agree to a debate?

The business has been ordered. If during the day the Chair is advised that there is agreement in respect of any other business, then the Chair will respond in that fashion, but the Chair will not respond now. The Chair is going to proceed with the business ordered.

Will the Taoiseach respond now?

This House must be in a position to address changing circumstances. There was a serious escalation of the problem after yesterday's debate in this House and there is to be an all out strike on Monday. Notwithstanding the role of the Minister for Labour, given the urgency of the matter, the Taoiseach should make a clear statement on the attitude of the Government to this matter.

Deputy Ryan, resume your seat please. The Deputy is not helping. He was given an opportunity yesterday to make a contribution. We will proceed with the business ordered.

On a point of order, I am sorry for pressing this point but I do so because of the seriousness of the issue. I asked the Taoiseach if he would agree to a suspension of Standing Orders to discuss this matter and I should like him to reply. Will he take this course of action or will he be inflexible in the face of this grave threat?

I have responded to that.

I am asking the Taoiseach to respond, not you.

I am responding that there is a mechanism by which that can be attended to and I can be advised later on. We will not have a discussion on it now.

Let it be recorded that the sole response from the Government benches was a grunt from the Minister for Labour to the effect of "hey, hey".

A very good response.

That is pretty facetious.

If Deputy Deasy had been present yesterday evening he would have heard the Minister elaborate and elucidate.

It is changing situation.

The Deputy is out of order.

Has the Minister anything to say? He has not.

The Deputy is a petty little individual.