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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 30 Jul 1970

Vol. 68 No. 17

Business of Seanad.

A number of amendments have been put down by Senator McDonald. I do not think there are any more. In order that these amendments may be circulated a suspension of sitting for approximately half an hour will be required.

We are talking here about the Horse Industry Bill but I consider this as galloping legislation. We have sat here since 10 o'clock yesterday morning and it is now proposed to have half an hour adjournment before we deal with the Committee Stage of this Bill. I feel that as an arm of the Legislature which we are it is impossible to deal with the Committee Stage of this Bill at this hour and to give opinions on amendments. We have certain commitments to the people we represent and the community at large. It is unfair to ask us to continue in this vein at this hour of the night. It is equally unfair to rush through legislation in the rampant manner suggested.

We are not rushing anything. The charge that we are not able to deal with legislation is moonshine. I have been sitting here since the debate began and the only person to take a real interest in it is Senator McDonald.

I am nearly dead.

Any Senator interested in the Bill and who wanted to have it dealt with properly and quickly would have done something about it during the day.

That is an unfair comment.

None of the Senators has the slightest interest in it.

That is most unfair.

I have sat here all day expecting to finish this business. I am damned if I am going to give way at this hour whether I have to sit here until 6 o'clock or not. I have kept Members on this side here all day. There are certain rights and privileges which Members of this House have and certain rights and privileges which the staff of the Oireachtas have. I want to tell Senators who are new to this House that for many years we have been faced with the same dilemma. Every time August comes around we are thrown a load of Bills by the Dáil. We are supposed to get rid of those Bills by sitting here during the month of August. This year we on this side of the House made up our minds that we are getting out of here before the 1st August. We are going to make every effort we can to do so.

I do not accept that statement.

This will give us a rational operation of Bills for next year so that this dilemma will not arise again. I suggest, a Cathaoirleach, if this cross talk ceased and we concentrated on the Committee Stage of this Bill we could be finished inside an hour. Senator McDonald is the only person genuinely interested in it and possibly Senator Belton.

I want to say something about the remarks being made by Senator Ó Maoláin. I hope on reflection he will agree with me that very great tribute is due to the work which Senator McDonald has put into this Bill. The excellence of his preparation and the work he has done in connection with this Bill is evidenced in his Second Reading speech. I want to make it quite clear as Senator McDonald himself will do that he was speaking on this Bill as the Fine Gael spokesman on agriculture in this House. In what he said he was representing the views of Fine Gael Senators. He was representing those views partly as a result of the work done by other Fine Gael Senators and other members of the Fine Gael Party at Fine Gael agricultural committee meetings. I would like Senator Ó Maoláin to withdraw the suggestion that other Members of the Fine Gael Party are not taking an interest in the Bill. Quite apart from the very excellent and comprehensive contribution made by Senator McDonald there were, I think the Minister was good enough to acknowledge, a series of worthwhile contributions made by Senator Denis Farrelly and Senator Andy O'Brien. Were it not for the desire to try to facilitate matters and allow in particular Senator McDonald who has done such tremendous work on the Bill and wants to move amendments, it is quite certain that many other Senators on this side of the House whether they are city or country Senators would have contributed to the debate. I would strongly resent any suggestion that there was any lack of attention or lack of concern with regard to this matter by Fine Gael Senators.

I should like to say that in part of what he says I support the Leader of the House. If there is something he can do to prevent a avalanche of work coming from the Dáil at the end of July I am quite sure the Leader of the House will have the co-operation of all Senators. The Leader of the House made a suggestion which he may not have intended to be interpreted in the way I interpreted it. He said we were held up here by the contributions made during the day. I do not think there was anything said about the Tourist Bill that could have been left unsaid. I have been in attendance all day with a few exceptions when I had appointments outside and I have contributed to the best of my ability on the discussion about the proposed setting up of a Horse Industry Board. As Senator O'Higgins pointed out a good deal of the work was done by Senator McDonald but it is also true to say that the Senator got some assistance from those of us who formed a committee on the subject.

I must express my regret to Senator O'Brien and to Senator Farrelly. They made worthwhile contributions, as did Senator McDonald. When the House began its labours the day before yesterday I indicated that it was the intention to finish all the business on the Order Paper so that the House could rise this week. I see no reason why Senators should be surprised at this. This is not the first time we have had a late sitting in this House. We had many late sittings particularly at this time of the year. In an effort to facilitate Members with holiday arrangements, we have had late sittings in order to finish the job. I have not made arrangements which would take me away even if I had to sit here until next week. There are Members who have spent the whole day here in the belief that we were going to finish this Bill and they could then leave late tonight or first thing in the morning. I do not think it is fair to alter the arrangements. In view of the fact that Senator McDonald and other Senators admitted that there were only a few points in the Bill on which they had any questions I cannot see why we could not finish this Bill in an hour and go home.

Senator Ó Maoláin knows that I could have spoken on this Bill and on the Tourist Bill but I did not wish to delay the House.

I accept that.

Senator Ó Maoláin excludes me from the general context of his statement?

Yes, and I possibly should have excluded Senator O'Higgins.

Last night we finished the Finance Bill at 12.15 a.m. approximately. Are we to deal with a Bill which will form part of the legislation of this country for future years at this hour of the night? If we told anyone outside the House that these are the conditions under which we were discussing this particular legislation they would laugh at us.

They would not.

I am not a person who obstructs. We should order the business in a better way than we are doing now. I do not mind whether we sit tomorrow or next week but I feel that people, at this hour of the night, are not competent to legislate. This is what we are trying to do. This is my objection to what is going on.

I appeal to the Minister on this. It has taken the Minister four years to bring this matter from the presentation of the report in June, 1966, to the introduction of the Bill. I cannot see why we cannot leave the Committee Stage of this Bill until October or November. It will not make that much difference. There are 34 sections and, being optimistic, they could not be dealt with at the rate of one a minute. We feel we can improve this legislation. This type of legislation will not be before the Oireachtas again for many years. It is important that if we are going to help this industry we should do a good job. Why rush the business along? One cannot deal with 34 sections quickly.

The Senator is not going to make a long speech on the 34 sections?

If the senator wants this we certainly will.

If you are doing it for "pig"——

The question is: "That the Bill be considered in Committee of the whole House today."

What time?

If the motion is passed, I will ask the Leader of the House to propose that we sit at 1.45 a.m.

The motion is ambiguous.

The motion is in the correct form in accordance with Standing Orders.

What time today?

Could we adjourn for ten or twelve hours?

The motion is:

"That the Bill be considered in Committee of the whole House today."

What time today?

It would be necessary to suspend the business. The Leader of the House will propose resuming at 12.30 a.m.

I do not want to enter into a dispute but this is rather hard on the staff of the House.

It is a matter for the Members of the House to decide.

The indefinite description of "day" should be clarified so that the staff, if they are going to be here for some time, can make arrangements to notify their homes. Before the House decides whether we will continue today there should be a clarification as to what "today" means.

Could it be today at a particular time?

The question is:

"That the Bill be considered in Committee of the whole House at 12.30 a.m." It may be a little later if the amendments are not ready. Is that motion agreed?

This is rampant legislation.

Question put and agreed to.
Business suspended at 12.20 a.m. and resumed at 12.30 a.m.