Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 10 and 4, Votes 42 and 43, and that No. 4 shall be taken at 3.45 p.m. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) Votes 42 and 43, shall be debated together and shall be decided by one question, which shall be put not later than 5 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the debate: (i) The speech of the Minister and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael and Labour Parties shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and the speech of each other Member called on shall not exceed five minutes; (ii) A Minister of State may be called on a second time to make a speech in reply; (iii) A Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon not later than ten minutes before the conclusion of the debate to make a speech in reply, which shall not exceed ten minutes; and (iv) In the five minutes preceding such reply, Opposition spokespersons may request the Minister to clarify specific issues during the course of his reply; (2) The Dáil shall meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 4 p.m.; (3) In respect of tomorrow's business, which shall be Votes 26, 27, 28, 29, 38 and 39, (i) Votes 26, 27, 28 and 29 shall be debated together and decided by one question, which shall be put not later than 1.30 p.m.; (ii) Votes 38 and 39 shall be debated together and shall be decided by one question, which shall be put not later than 4 p.m.; (iii) The aforementioned arrangements for debate in respect of Votes 42 and 43 shall also apply save that the speech of the Minister and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael and Labour Parties shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case and the speech of each other Member called on shall not exceed ten minutes, and (4) Any divisions demanded tomorrow or on any Estimate today shall be postponed until 6.20 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 June 1992 and shall be taken in the chronological order in which they are demanded.

Are the proposals for dealing with Votes 42 and 43 today agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and adjourn at 4 p.m. agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with Votes 26, 27, 28, 29, 38 and 39 tomorrow agreed?

Tomorrow, under the order before us, it is proposed to deal with the Estimates for the Department of Education and for the Department of Foreign Affairs. In view of the need for a full debate — which has not taken place — on the implications of the Danish referendum, tomorrow's debate should be confined exclusively to Foreign Affairs to enable Members who were not allowed to speak yesterday an opportunity to speak on this matter. To achieve that I propose that we delete reference in tomorrow's order to Votes 26, 27, 28 and 29, the Votes for the Department of Education, hereby leaving only the Department of Foreign Affairs' Votes to be dealt with tomorrow. Consequent on that I propose that paragraph (1) of item (3), which refers to the Department of Education Estimates, to be deleted, leaving us to deal tomorrow with Votes 38 and 39, the Department of Foreign Affairs' Votes. A full debate tomorrow on that matter would be extremely valuable and would allow many Members, who were concerned about not having an opportunity to speak yesterday, to do so. A further consideration is that the Minister for Education will not be here tomorrow to take the debate, which is fortuitous, and will help the Government to agree to allow the Department of Foreign Affairs' Vote to be the sole Vote taken tomorrow.

I find myself in some difficulty in respect of the type of amendments being put to the House. I should remind the House that it is the Taoiseach's prerogative under Standing Order 25 to list the items of business to be taken each day. Any amendment to delete an item of business announced by the Taoiseach is not in order. What the House may do, has been doing, and has a right to do is to amend any proposal of the business by modifying the arrangements for taking that business. However, to delete the business or any part of it as announced by the Taoiseach is not in order.

Because it is the Taoiseach's prerogative under Standing Orders.

The House has every right not to agree.

The Deputy will find that I am right in that regard. The House is supreme in all matters. The Taoiseach's prerogative is well recognised in this House.

The royal prerogative.

In deference to your ruling, Sir, which I accept, I propose that the discussion on Votes 26, 27, 28 and 29 be taken tomorrow without debate. The debate could take place later, thereby allowing the sole business to be debated tomorrow — as distinct from being taken — to be Votes 38 and 39. It would facilitate my proposal and would allow the Estimates for the Department of Education, which would be technically taken tomorrow, to be debated at a later stage and this would comply with your ruling.

I am trying to live within the Taoiseach's prerogative. I support the reasonable suggestion made by Deputy Bruton and, to save time, the Taoiseach should agree to it and leave tomorrow for discussions on the extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves in relation to Maastricht.

I fully support the excellent proposal made by Deputy Bruton, particularly in view of the developments overnight where it is clear that the European Commission at least is attempting to isolate Denmark. It is important for the House to put on record that our Government will not seek to isolate Denmark or to gang up against them with the Euro bullies. It is important to debate these issues in the House.

In line with the continuous demands from the Opposition parties to signal well in advance a programme for debating the Estimates, we have done so. In relation to the points raised by the various leaders this morning about an opportunity to debate, they will have an opportunity to do so for two-and-a-half hours tomorrow. In line with the commitment I gave the House yesterday, I will ask the Whips to arrange for a further debate next week when we will all be better informed. That will ensure a better balance and it will be more appropriate then.

Deputy J. Bruton rose.

It should not give rise to debate now.

I yield to no Deputy in this House in my support for the Maastricht Treaty. However, the Government should, in the interests of a speedy and effective passage of the Maastricht Treaty, allow as full a debate as possible as quickly as possible. "As soon as possible" is tomorrow, not next week. Therefore, my proposal should be accepted by the Taoiseach and I propose to continue with it if the Taoiseach is unwilling to accept it.

Tomorrow there will be an opportunity for 18 speakers to participate in the debate. It is interesting to note that the full time was not taken yesterday by at least one speaker in the debate, even though some Members had said that the time allowed was totally inadequate.

That is petty.

In respect of the proposals for dealing with Votes 26, 27, 28, 29, 38 and 39 for tomorrow an amendment has been made by Deputy John Bruton.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand".
The Dáil divided: Tá, 68; Níl, 53.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowley, Frank.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Lee, Pat.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dempsey and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies Flanagan and Howlin.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I am obliged to put the main question again: "That the proposals for dealing with Votes 26, 27, 28, 29, 38 and 39 tomorrow be agreed". Agreed.

I have put the question in relation to postponed votes. Is the proposal that divisions called for today and tomorrow be postponed until Wednesday next agreed? Agreed.

The Taoiseach was questioned in the House yesterday about when Ireland would introduce legislation to comply with a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. He indicated that this legislation was low on the priority list of the Department of Justice in regard to law reform. I want to inquire about this priority list. On 7 May the Minister for Justice said that he had the following items of legislation in preparation: the Extradition Bill, a Bill on juvenile Justice; a Bill on the confiscation of the proceeds of crime; a Bill on criminal insanity, a Bill on suicide and another on the miscarriage of justice. Can I take it that the legislation to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights comes seventh on the list after those six items, or can the Taoiseach indicate exactly what is the order of priority as far as this list of legislation is concerned?

The items I mentioned yesterday are top of the priority list. Thereafter we will decide the priority as we go along. Other Bills mentioned by the Deputy are at different stages of preparation.

I do not think that matters raised on the Order of Business should lead to argument. I must dissuade Members from beginning to argue.

Is it not the case that the Taoiseach said yesterday that there was a priority list? Obviously, if there is a priority list that is a list in order. He is now saying that perhaps there is not a priority list, that these things are decided as they go along. Which is it?

That is not what I said at all. I said quite clearly that the two items the Government wanted from the Department of Justice — the first being the home ownership Bill and the second, the White Paper on Marital Breakdown — were top priority as far as the Government were concerned with everything else taking its place in the order of preparation and as advanced by the relevant Departments.

May I seek some clarification from the Taoiseach? I now understand that there is the prospect of a debate next week, but the statements of the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday contained absolutely no attempt to inform us of the legal position in relation to the conflict and difficulties we now face in regard to the referendum on 18 June. Will the Taoiseach assure the House that on the next occasion this matter is debated in the House we will have a statement from the Government as to the exact legal status of the Maastricht Treaty in the aftermath of its rejection by the Danes?

I said yesterday, and I repeat, that we will keep the House and the people of the country informed of all information as it comes into our possession. I might remind the Deputy and the House that I have said on a number of occasions that if other parties opted not to stay with the mainstream of European development and integration, it was open to the other eleven or ten parties to sit down and agree the same provisions that exist in the Maastricht Treaty, or a new treaty, call it what you will. I said that that was an option available to the other member states if they so wished. Indeed, I might say to the Deputy that it is politicians who have built Europe and not lawyers.

May I pursue that somewhat further because, irrespective of whether we politicians have or have not authority, we are bound——

I wish to dissuade Members from arguing their cases on the Order of Business.

I will try to avoid argument. Surely the Taoiseach must realise that what will be before the people on 18 June, Part I, is that the State may ratify the Treaty on European Union signed at Maastricht on 7 February 1992 and may become a member of that union. In the wake of the Danish decision, effectively that union cannot be complete without the Danes. Surely the Taoiseach must accept that all we will be doing now on 18 June is that we will be giving a signal that we are in favour of European integration but that it must be in some other form?

Clearly, we cannot have a rehash of Maastricht this morning.

Deputy Spring is making the wrong assumption that the Danes will not ratify the treaty. He is not entitled to make that assumption, nor is anybody else.

There is a solution.

The Taoiseach's statements in this House increasingly surprise most people. Surely the Taoiseach is aware that this State is based on our Constitution, that politicians are obliged to comply with that Constitution and that whatever political decisions we take must be in line with that Constitution established by the people?

I am glad the Taoiseach agrees with that.

Let us move on to the Order of Business proper.

I wish to make a further point. In view of the Danish decision taken in their referendum would the Taoiseach not now agree that to proceed with a referendum here on 18 June would be to engage essentially in what would be the most expensive opinion poll we have ever undertaken?

I am sorry if the Deputy does not understand it.

Would the Taoiseach not agree that there is a legal solution to this dilemma along the lines I indicated in my contribution on the subject yesterday? It would be helpful if the Government, and indeed the heads of other Governments, were to meet and state authoritatively what legal course will be followed? Would he agree that the continuance of bland assurances without well-argued legal explanations creates unnecessary uncertainty? Would the Taoiseach agree that he would be well advised — either he himself or, preferably, in conjunction with the heads of the other eleven member states — to state clearly how the Community intends to deal with this problem legally, as I believe can be done?

It is a matter, first of all, for the Foreign Ministers at their meeting today. When that meeting has taken place we will ascertain what progress has been made and what direction the Community propose taking thereafter. In so far as we are concerned, the provisions of the Treaty are what matter. As I have said already, it is politicians who take the decisions, with lawyers and legal people following in order to facilitate those decisions.

I might seek some clarification on the Programme for Government, in particular the position in regard to legislation in the area of extradition. As Deputy John Bruton said, the Taoiseach indicated that there was a Bill in preparation with regard to extradition. Would the Taoiseach say whether it is intended to introduce one comprehensive amending, Bill? Furthermore would he say whether the Government have abandoned the interim measure dealing with section 5 of the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, which was to allow for the extraterritorial trial of Irish citizens who commit crimes in other countries as opposed to extradition? That was indicated in the Programme for Government as an interim measure apart from any other amending legislation. Would the Taoiseach please clarify the position in that regard?

A general scheme is being prepared in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy.

I raised two matters. Will the Taoiseach clarify whether he proposes to introduce two Bills, one being an interim measure or one Bill proposing a general amendment to the existing legislation?

These are all technical matters that can be clarified in many other ways.

A Cheann Comhairle, surely I am entitled to have the matter clarified on the Order of Business?

Yes Deputy, and the Chair is giving you every opportunity to do so.

I sought to have this matter clarified and I understood the Taoiseach was seeking advice on it.

It is intended to introduce the interim measures that we spoke about.

A Cheann Comhairle, may I seek your guidance on a question of mine which was disallowed? I raised a question on the anticipated cost of the State's legal fees in relation to the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Beef Industry but you, Sir, ruled this matter assub judice.

The Deputy will have to appreciate that it is not in order to challenge the Chair's rulings in this fashion. If he wants any elucidation or clarification on my ruling, my office is at his disposal, but he may not do so in this manner in the House. It is most disorderly.

Is the Deputy not a member of the parliamentary party? He can ask the Taoiseach. Do they not send the Deputy notice of the meetings any more?