An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

Today's business shall be No. 18, instruction to committee re African Development (Bank and Fund) Bill 2018; No. 19, instruction to committee re Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018; and No. 39, Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages. Private Members' Business shall be Second Stage of No. 58, Microgeneration Support Scheme Bill 2017 selected by Sinn Féin.

Wednesday’s business shall be expressions of sympathy on the death of former members, Seán Ardagh and Seán Calleary; No. 19a, motion re Supplementary Estimates, leave to introduce; No. 19b, motion re Supplementary Estimates, referral to committee; and No. 39, Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 - Report and Final Stages (resumed). Private Members' Business shall be Second Stage of No. 1, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 [Seanad] selected by the Labour Party.

Thursday’s business shall be No. 20, motion re Horse and Greyhound Fund, back from committee; No. 40, Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Regulation Bill 2018 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 39, resumed.

I refer Members to the second revised report of the Business Committee, dated 26 November. In relation to today's business, it is proposed that:

(1) the Dáil shall sit later than 10 p.m. and shall adjourn on the conclusion of Private Members’ Business. The proceedings on No. 58 shall commence not later than 9 p.m. and shall conclude within two hours. In the event a division is in progress at 9 p.m., the Bill shall be taken on its conclusion;

(2) the Leaders' Question under Standing Order 29 for Solildarity-PBP shall not be taken on Tuesday but shall instead be taken on Wednesday in the Independents 4 Change slot, and the Independents 4 Change question shall be taken on Tuesday in the Solidarity-PBP slot, with no further effect on the rota; and

(3) Nos. 18 and 19 shall be brought to a conclusion after 32 minutes each, if not previously concluded. Speeches shall be confined to a single round for a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokesperson for each party and group, or a member nominated in their stead, of four minutes each per item, and any division demanded shall be taken immediately.

In relation to Wednesday’s business, it is proposed that:

(1) the Dáil shall sit later than 10.15 p.m. and adjourn not later than 11.30 p.m.

(2) the expressions of sympathy shall be taken after Leaders' Questions for a period not exceeding 15 minutes each and shall be followed by Questions on Promised Legislation. Contributions shall not exceed two minutes each;

(3) No. 19a shall be taken without debate and any division demanded shall be taken immediately. Subject to the agreement of No. 19a, No. 19b shall be taken without debate and any division demanded shall be taken immediately; and

(4) No. 1 shall conclude within two hours.

In relation to Thursday’s business, it is proposed that:

(1) the Dáil shall sit later than 7.48 p.m. and shall adjourn on the conclusion of Topical Issues;

(2) No. 20 shall be taken without debate;

(3) Topical Issues shall be taken not later than 9 p.m. or on conclusion of Government business, whichever is the earlier. In the event a division is in progress at 9 p.m., Topical Issues shall be taken on its conclusion; and

(4) notwithstanding Standing Order 140(2), neither a Private Members’ Bill nor a committee report shall be taken.

Three matters remain to be decided. First, is the proposal for today's business agreed to?

I know the Business Committee will not have had an opportunity to consider this but given the publication of the auditor's report on the national broadband plan and the procurement process just before the commencement of Leaders' Questions, there is a necessity for the Dáil to consider this report. The report is so important that there is a need to debate and analyse it. In view of the level of controversy generated some time ago - leading to the resignation of a Minister - and the number of people who are dependent on the roll-out of the national broadband plan, I ask that the Business Committee meet to discuss whether any opportunity could be found this week to facilitate a debate on the Smyth report.

I support the call for the Business Committee to be asked by the House to make time available this week to discuss the report, which is quite detailed. The report's implications are far-reaching, particularly for areas of my constituency and right across the rural communities of the west. It is appropriate that we would have sufficient time this week to debate the report.

I support the request for a full debate and I ask that the Business Committee structure it in such a way as to allow for questions at the end. I have not had an opportunity to read the report, although it has been spun for the past week. It is important we have a chance to not only read it but take advice on it, so I would not be averse to tabling a significant debate next week rather than this week if that suits Members.

I add my voice to the calls for a debate. I do not think we can move to the post-evaluation phase without having a debate on this report. I have only given it a cursory glance but there certainly appear to be quite a few contradictions in it. We have to be satisfied that those contradictions are at least addressed before we move to consider what will eventually go to Cabinet in regard to the evaluation of the tender process.

I agree that there should be a debate on the report. I ask the Business Committee not to schedule the debate so that it will interfere with the time already allocated to the Bill dealing with abortion and the outcome of the referendum on the eighth amendment. We are pushing to the wire to get that legislation passed by January and it is very important we do not cut across the time allocated in respect of it.

I would not take it upon myself to answer on behalf of the Business Committee - I will call the Chief Whip shortly - but there was considerable difficulty last week at the meeting in making time available within the schedule for the volume of work that is envisaged. I will most definitely call a meeting of the Business Committee but, before we have it, I suggest that the only likely time available this week would be on Friday if Members would like to come in.

That is helpful. Looking at the diary, I can understand why the Ceann Comhairle would say that. We would certainly be willing to facilitate that and to attend and be active for a Friday morning sitting.

As the Ceann Comhairle said, we are sitting late tonight, late tomorrow night and late on Thursday night, and there are two Bills, the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill and the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Regulation Bill, to be dealt with. Report Stage of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Regulation Bill has to conclude on Thursday and the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill will take up pretty much all other allocated time. If we are to do as Deputy Bríd Smith has outlined and not interfere with the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill, we will have to look at either a Friday sitting or taking the debate next week.

I have suggested next week in as much as we need time to take advice on the matter. I have no difficulty with a Friday sitting but there will be many Members who will not be here on Friday. I would prefer to have a full House and Ministers available to answer questions as part of a normal sitting, rather than treating this as if it were not normal business.

Can the Minister inspire us on this matter?

I am happy to facilitate the Business Committee in whatever way it decides to order the business. I assure the House of that.

We will convene a meeting of the committee later this afternoon and make the necessary arrangements and hopefully get all-party agreement as to what we will do. That being the case, is the proposal for today's business agreed to? Agreed? Is Wednesday's business agreed to? Agreed. Is Thursday's business agreed to? Agreed.