It is proposed to take Nos. 1 and 2 in that order.
Order of Business.
On the Order of Business, it is five weeks now since I raised in the House the question of item No. 17 on the Order Paper which is a motion calling for a debate on the submission of the Council for the Status of Women on rape. It is also supported by Senators Mary Robinson and Alexis FitzGerald. At that time this question was very urgent. It is of extreme importance because of the many legal anomalies in the present system. I have now the support of the Labour and Fine Gael groups in asking that this motion be taken next week. That will be six weeks from the day it was first requested, when it got a generally favourable response. The motion is supported by all groups on this side of the House. I would therefore be extremely grateful if the Leader of the House could give us an assurance that this motion could be taken for debate next week.
I would like to support Senator Hussey in calling for a debate on this motion. It would be important to have a discussion in this House on the report prepared by the Council on the Status of Women. The subject matter is important. There are a number of issues raised in that report and this is the appropriate forum in which to hear the views of both the Independent Senators and Senators from the political parties. We could advance the reform of law in that area by having a debate in this House. I would hope that it would be possible to take it next week. Indeed, the Minister is here today as it happens so perhaps he could indicate whether he might be available next week for the debate.
I would like to support the last two speakers. It is an important matter which should be discussed. I certainly feel that reform is needed and obviously it is going to take some time to draft the necessary legislation.
I would also like to ask the Leader of the House whether he can give any indication as to when the motion on civil legal aid will be taken and what time will be given to discuss it. It is a topical motion and a matter of extreme concern at the moment. There have been utterances about it from the Taoiseach and from other Ministers that have not been quite consistent with each other. I would like to know when this House will have the opportunity to discuss that motion.
It is intended to take No. 17 next week and I will speak to Senator Molony about the other one in due course.