Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 5, 11 and 1.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that: 1. No. 5 shall be decided without debate; 2. On the conclusion of No. 11, the Second Stage of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1992 shall be taken today, and the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the debate: (i) The opening speech of the Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokes-persons nominated by the Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left Parties shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case. (ii) The speech of each other Members called on shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case. (iii) A Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply not exceeding 25 minutes. Private Members' Business shall be No. 33, motion 46.

Is the proposal that item No. 5 be decided without debate satisfactory?

Item No. 5 is the following motion which appears on the Order Paper:

That Dáil Éireann approves the terms of the Treaty on European Union signed at Maastricht on 7th July, 1992, copies of which were laid before Dáil Éireann on 7th July, 1992.

I contend it is not appropriate that a motion of this kind be taken without debate, particularly in view of the fact that this Government, in their handling of the whole Maastricht affair, totally mishandled, for instance, the response to the Danish rejection of the Maastricht Treaty——

We cannot debate that aspect of the matter now.

What did the people say? Are they not important?

I am afraid the Maastricht agreement is not open for discussion now, Deputy. The Deputy may indicate a brief opposition to the proposal, no more. The subject matter of Maastricht — its pros and cons — does not arise now.

I am explaining, a Cheann Comhairle, why I am rising in relation to item No. 1——

That is quite in order, Deputy.

There is a motion before the House that item No. 5 be decided without debate. I am entitled to speak on that. I will speak very briefly to explain that the Government have mishandled this whole affair. The fact is that without doubt Denmark will seek to renegotiate the Maastricht Treaty——

The Deputy will have ample time to ventilate his views on that subject. This is not the appropriate time to do so.

I am explaining to the House that the likelihood is that Denmark will seek to renegotiate what we are being asked to approve here today without debate. My final point — as has been stated by virtually every party in Opposition here — is that every single opportunity to bring down this Government should be taken. On that basis I propose not to oppose this particular proposal but to propose——

I am putting the question: "That No. 5 shall be decided without debate".

A Cheann Comhairle, may I make a suggestion?

Deputy Quinn, I had been on my feet putting the question. It is not good enough to interrupt at that stage.

The Deputy might assist.

Is it very pertinent, Deputy?

It is right to the point, Sir. Might I suggest that the House agree to take item No. 1 first, with its attendant debate and then when that is voted on, take item No. 5 without debate. In that case we would have the argument first and the conclusion subsequently. The result would be the same and the point made by Deputy De Rossa accommodated.

Very logical.

Is the Deputy proposing that all Stages be taken?

I am saying that if we reverse the order or sequence the same procedures would apply.

I do not have a problem with that.

May I seek clarification as to precisely what is being proposed by the Labour Party? Are they proposing that the Government be let off the hook on this issue?

I am proposing that this Assembly respond to the results of the referendum; that we debate in the normal manner — in the procedure set out by the Ceann Comhairle and agreed by the Whips — item No. 1. If, at the conclusion of item No. 1 we are in agreement, then we take item No. 5 without debate. That is what I am proposing.

Let us deal with the mattersseriatim. I must put the question again — in respect of item No. 5 —“that the item be taken without debate”. Agreed?

It is not agreed. Vótáil.

Will the Deputies who are claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Rabbitte, Byrne, McCartan, Gilmore and De Rossa rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen, I declare the question carried. The names of the Members who claimed a division will be recorded in the Journal of the proceedings of the House.

Question declared carried. I must now ask if the proposal for dealing with Second Stage of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1992 is agreed? Agreed.

Having regard to the earlier agreement, for the information of the House. Item No. 5 will be taken without debate at the conclusion of Second Stage of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1992.

May I suggest that we have just seen the revelation of all the sham fighting by the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party.

(Interruptions.)

If there is nothing to be raised on the Order of Business I will proceed to our official obligations here, and deal with item No. 5.

Have the two parties forming the present administration yet resolved their differences and if they have not, how long does the Taoiseach intend to allow the present political uncertainty, which he has single handedly created, drag on?

Deputies

Hear, hear.

There is no legislation promised.

I did not promise any legislation.

Do you want someone to write out an answer for you?

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Spring.

How long will the Taoiseach allow this nonsense to continue?

A Deputy

Come on Taoiseach, speak up.

(Interruptions.)

Let us have orderly procedure. Deputy Spring, please.

(Interruptions.)

Come back Charlie, all is forgiven.

There are two matters which I would like to raise on the Order of Business.

Does the Taoiseach not have a single page answer to that question?

Will the Taoiseach take steps to clear up the absurd confusion that now exists? Will he agree to publish the letter sent by the tribunal of inquiry into the beef industry, in the course of its normal work last Friday, to the Department of Industry and Commerce and to the Insurance Corporation of Ireland, copies of which letters I believe were also sent to the Chief State Solicitor's Office? It would be in everybody's interest to have these letters published and we would understand the context of the statement made by the Leader of the Progressive Democrats this morning. Will the Taoiseach publish the letters and take steps to clear up the political confusion? I wish to inform the Taoiseach that I am tabling a motion of no confidence in the Government and I want the Taoiseach to provide Government time to debate it.

There should be no reference to the tribunal. Although it was established by resolution of this House it does not give the Dáil a right to comment or impinge upon the proceedings of the tribunal. In so far as the Chair is concerned, and it has been consistent in this regard, the proceedings of the tribunal are, in accordance with long standing precedent,sub judice.

A Deputy

Can we refer to a temporary little Taoiseach?

(Interruptions.)

If the Taoiseach wishes to reply, I will certainly give way.

With all due respect, the attempt to maintain that we cannot mention the tribunal in this House, when this Government are hanging by a thread——

No, Deputy, I will hear no mention of it. I am in charge of the proceedings of this House and there is a Chairman in charge of the proceedings of the tribunal and they should not impinge upon one another.

With all due respect, it is a farce not to be able to mention the tribunal in this House.

A sub plot in the farce going on between the two Government parties are the referenda due to be held on 3 December. Will the Minister for the Environment sign the order today or not?

The Deputy can be assured that the Minister for the Environment will take the appropriate action in relation to the referenda.

(Interruptions.)

If Deputies do not want an answer they should not bother asking questions. Can I finish what I was saying? The Minister for the Environment, I assure the House, will take appropriate action as he always does. Deputy Barry need have no worries in this regard.

(Interruptions.)

I am entitled to expect a straight answer from the Leader of the Government as to what they are going to do. Will the Minister sign it or not?

Do not hold your breath.

(Interruptions.)

Please, let us have no argument.

Try telling that to the other side.

I asked a reasonable question and it is the duty of the Taoiseach to give an answer to it in this House. Will the Minister for the Environment sign the order today, which is the final day, to allow the referenda to be held on 3 December?

That question has already been asked. We cannot afford the luxury of repetition.

He has not answered it, a Cheann Comhairle.

Answer the question.

I am calling Deputy Spring.

In case the Deputy has any worries, I can assure him, and the House, that the referenda will take place.

On what day?

Deputies

When?

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Spring has been called.

(Interruptions.)

I want an answer from the Taoiseach in relation to the letters I mentioned. Will he ensure that those letters are published in the interest of this House and of the Tribunal? Secondly, will the Taoiseach take a motion of no confidence in his Government this week?

The Taoiseach should not be hiding behind the Chair.

There is no need for me to do that. The Chair has already made it abundantly clear as to what is and is not in order in this regard. I do not have to hide behind any letter or anything of that kind. The Chair has made a decision in relation to the question the Deputy asked.

The reference was to discussion in the House.

I will take it a stage further: I will inquire and take counsel on the matter. I do not have any problem because I do not have anything to hide. In relation to requests for time for discussion of any motion, these are matters for the House. To answer Deputy Spring, if a motion is tabled, it will be responded to.

This cannot continue. I call Deputy Barry, assuming he has a relevant question for the Order of Business.

I do not wish to prolong this issue but I think I am entitled to an answer. This House passed legislation to hold three referenda on 3 December. In order to hold those referenda it is legally necessary for the Minister for the Environment to sign the relevant order before midnight tonight. I am merely asking the Taoiseach for an answer in regard to whether that will happen.

We have had this question three times already.

(Interruptions.)

And I have answered it twice already.

We cannot get a straight answer to any question.

No professional sacrifice is required.

(Interruptions.)

May I ask the Taoiseach if he will repudiate the scandalous remarks by the Tánaiste when he condemned the work of the tribunal as a charade?

I have ruled out any reference to the tribunal. I am sure Deputy Rabbitte heard me give that ruling.

(Interruptions.)

I am asking Deputy Rabbitte to resume his seat or leave the House.

I am seeking permission to raise a certain question.

On a point of order——

The Taoiseach has had a rather tough time during the past couple of weeks. I do not know if everybody else in the House is as concerned about him as I am but I am somewhat worried about a rather pained and wincing look on his face. I will just ask him how his fundamentals are today.

(Interruptions.)

I can assure Deputy Mac Giolla that, having reached the princely age of 60, my fundamentals are in excellent shape and I hope they will be for many years to come. I am celebrating my birthday today.

(Interruptions.)

On a point of order——

Perhaps, Deputy Rabbitte, as an ex-member of the management committee of The Workers' Party, would take the opportunity to acquaint the House with the information he has as to the veracity of the evidence produced last week in relation to that party.

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

It is my understanding from an ex-member of that party that the Deputy could let us know a great deal more than he has revealed.

(Interruptions.)

That matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I call Deputy John Bruton.

Does the Taoiseach have any intention of tabling a vote of confidence in his Government this week?

There is every confidence in the Government.

I have every confidence in myself if that is what Deputy Bruton is asking though Deputy Bruton may not have——

(Interruptions.)

This is what is called politicking across the Floor and that is quite in order but I will deal with matters at the appropriate time.

Does the Taoiseach not agree that this continuing uncertainty is doing harm to the country, to the interest rate situation and to those seeking employment? Does he not consider that he has a responsibility to clear this matter up once and for all by putting down a confidence motion in his Government and, if he is not prepared to do that, to depart the scene?

(Interruptions.)

For the information of Deputy Bruton and the Members of the House, I received a letter today at about 11.50 a.m. during a very busy Cabinet meeting at which a great deal of Government business had to be transacted and was transacted. I have not had an opportunity, as I am sure Deputy Bruton will appreciate, of giving due consideration to the important matters raised in that letter. The Cabinet meeting concluded at approximately 1.45 p.m., I was here for Question Time at 2.30 p.m. and since questions concluded, I have been here on the Order of Business. When I have an opportunity — as I hope to have shortly — I will consider the very important matters raised in that letter. I am very conscious of the aspects of the situation raised by Deputy Bruton and I will respond at the appropriate time.

Is there more than one page in the letter?

On a point of order, is it not right and proper that this House should be informed as to who asked the Chairman of the tribunal to adjudicate between the lies being told by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Industry and Commerce?

Deputies

The Deputy should withdraw that remark.

(Interruptions.)

It was in order——

I ask Deputy Boylan to resume his seat or leave the House.

I am entitled to ask the question.

The Deputy should withdraw the remark he has made.

Deputy Boylan, I thought, had learned by now——

I am entitled to ask the question.

You are not entitled to ask it, you are being very disorderly, as you must realise. I do not know what your motivation is. I call Deputy Enright.

If the Deputy used the word "lies" against me as Taoiseach I would ask him to withdraw it.

He is not man enough to do so.

If the Taoiseach had been listening, I said it was right and proper that this House should be informed as to who asked the Chairman of the tribunal to adjudicate as between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the matter of who was telling the biggest lie. I am not accusing either of them, I am just putting that question.

(Interruptions.)

The Deputy used the word "lies" and I ask him to withdraw it.

Order, please. Will the House allow me to deal with this matter? In so far as Deputy Boylan has indicated that one way or another a Member of this House is telling a lie, he is obliged to withdraw such accusation. Therefore, Deputy Boylan, should withdraw the remark.

I referred to statements that were made this morning in relation to a request to the Chairman of the Beef Tribunal to adjudicate——

The Deputy is being unparliamentary.

——between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Boylan should withdraw the word "lie" against any Member of this House——

I have not made such an accusation.

——or leave the House.

Who then is telling the greatest untruth?

I take it, then, that Deputy Boylan has withdrawn the word "lie". The Deputy has indicated that he has withdrawn the word "lie".

(Interruptions.)

The Chair, being in a privileged position might comment that if the people we represent were to listen to us today they would hardly be impressed. I call Deputy Enright.

In view of the constitutional position regarding collective Cabinet responsibility, can the Taoiseach say whether the Minister for Energy and the Minister for Industry and Commerce had permission to absent themselves from the Cabinet meeting this morning?

Deputy Enright is out of order and will resume his seat.

Does the Taoiseach intend to continue to hold Cabinet meetings without the presence of the two Ministers in question?

Deputy Enright, please resume your seat.

In view of Deputy Boylan's retraction, would the Taoiseach not retract what he said about Deputy O'Malley, thereby sparing the country what will be an unnecessary election?

That is uncharacteristic of Deputy McGahon.

A Deputy

It is common sense.

The Chair regrets to note that Deputy McGahon should lower his standards.

What type of standards are you referring to?

In view of the fact that it is now November I would like to ask the Taoiseach if the Government have made a decision as to who will be the next European Commissioner from Ireland?

A Deputy

Perhaps he will do the job himself.

This month is November, today is November 3, my 60th birthday. Deputies should at least wish me a happy birthday though you are not all invited to the party.

Appoint yourself as a birthday present.

Would the Taoiseach consider going himself?

I have already said in this House that the matter of the nomination of a commissioner will get due consideration. I spoke with President Delors in that regard at the Birmingham Summit. He and I know when he requires notice of the nomination and it is not required for a little time yet.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Bruton, I thought you might agree with the Chair that we have had enough of what we have been having for the past half hour or more and might proceed to what has been organised.

Have the Government yet decided the date for the three constitutional referenda?

I have already answered on three occasions as to when the referenda will be held and I have said that appropriate arrangements are being made.

What is to be the date?

Answer the question.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, since the Taoiseach has informed the House that today is November 3, can he say if he has any plans to learn from the mistakes of Guy Fawkes on the basis that November 5 is in two days' time, and what plans he has to blow up his own Government?

I would refer Deputy Flanagan to the horoscopes where he may read what they say in regard to me.

A Deputy

Is that how you make your decisions?

I hope they do not rock the boat with two sets of papers.

I am sure the House will agree, after Deputy Flanagan's explosive interruption, that we have had enough and should proceed. Has Deputy Shatter a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Like Deputy MacGiolla, I also have concerns about the Taoiseach's fundamentals. In the interest of maintaining reasonable standards in public life and having regard to the strain apparently the Taoiseach is under, I would ask him to resist the temptation to use four letter words, in their totality or otherwise?

Deputy Shatter, the basis on which you sought to intervene was not correct or in order, what you said was different from what you had initiated. I am sure you can find a legal word to put on that. We will now move to item No. 11. Deputy Lyons is in possession.