Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 25 Sep 1985

Vol. 109 No. 1

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, in that order. I might indicate that the introduction and circulation of the Private Members' Bill under No. 1 will not be opposed. I might also foreshadow that if No. 2 is agreed to in respect of the debate on agricultural aid being extended to five hours, the proposition would be that time be taken from 7 o'clock to 10 o'clock tonight and from 10.30 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. tomorrow.

Is the Order of Business agreed?

On the last day before the recess the Leader of the House gave his word that No. 32 would be taken first today. I also understood that No. 10 was to be taken today. What is the situation with regard to the Broadcasting and Wireless Telegraphy Bill, 1985? Is it now being withdrawn from this House or what is the House doing with it?

I understand it is the intention of the House to sit tomorrow, specifically, I gather, to discuss No. 6. Could the Leader of the House give us any indication of the timetable of the Government on the debate of the Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown and how long he intends this to sit in this House? Have we a timetable for finishing this, for it to go to the Dáil? The issues of divorce and of marriage breakdown are in serious danger of losing impetus unless we show some sense of urgency in the House of pushing this through.

I just want to draw the attention of the Leader of the House to motion No. 2. Is it not agreed that instead of 25 minutes we now have 15 minutes?

When I come to it, I shall mention that point.

I would join with Senator Ross in questioning the time to be given to No. 6 on the Order Paper and I hope this will be dealt with tomorrow and as quickly as possible. In addition, I gave notice to the Cathaoirleach that I wished to raise a matter on the Adjournment. I left it into the office before 11.45 a.m. today and I wonder what has happened to that. It was a matter with regard to the education of a profoundly deaf child. It would suit me perfectly well to have it on the Adjournment tomorrow, a Chathaoirligh, if that is wished.

I am informed that you were told when you handed it in that it was late for today and that it would be considered for tomorrow.

I was not informed of that but I am quite willing to have it tomorrow.

That is the situation and there is another motion in from Senator John Browne.

This is a matter of considerable urgency as the education of this child will depend on decisions made.

We will consider it.

On the Order of Business, may I refer to Bills in Progress on page 186 of the Order Paper? The Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983, Committee Stage has been set for 6 November 1985. I thought the Leader of the House and I both understood that that was to enable sufficient time to elapse in order that the Government would be able to publish their own proposals on this issue. I distinctly recall the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment speaking here on this issue, assuring us that the Bill would be published within days. Approximately 90 days have passed since the Minister of State spoke. We now have a new definition of "within days". Possibly it could be 180 days. Does the Leader of the House have any information on this? There have been suggestions that there are disagreements at Cabinet level about it. I would like to know what these terms may be taken to mean — days or years?

A number of points have been raised. First in response to Senator Cassidy on item No. 32, I did understand at the time we discussed this last that it was a matter of urgency and of getting a nomination in for this year's prize but since, I understand, that it would be a matter for next year and I understood that there was a degree of all party agreement. I thought it had now been overtaken by events, but certainly if the House wishes to discuss it, we can arrange to discuss it at an early date. I apologise if I did mislead the House in regard to the matter. We could discuss this among the Whips.

In regard to item No. 6, I did indicate that it was proposed on item No. 5 to complete the debate by 12.30 p.m. tomorrow, and to devote tomorrow afternoon to a further discussion of item No. 6. The question of when the debate in the Seanad would conclude is a matter for Senators and not for the Leader of the House.

In regard to item No. 34, in reply to Senator Brendan Ryan, all I can say is that I do not know of any disagreements in Cabinet in regard to the Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983. If I did I would be unlikely to announce them to the House.

Does the Leader of the House share my frustration?

I can assure the Senator that I have repeatedly indicated the desire of the Seanad that this Bill should be published in order to allow the Seanad to compare the Bill with the Private Members' Bill and the Seanad to then do what it wished. My latest representation was made this morning. The date fixed for the Committee Stage of the Bill was 6 November in order to allow the Government to publish the Bill. I am not going to be so foolish as to talk about days or weeks, or anything like that. My information is that the Government Bill will be published before 6 November. I may have fallen into the trap that numberous Ministers of State have fallen into——

——but my information at the moment gives me no reason to believe that the Government Bill will not be published before 6 November.

Item No. 10?

Sorry, on item No. 10, again no later than today I raised the question with the Department as to what was the position in regard to the Broadcasting and Wireless Telegraphy Bill, 1985. I have had no reply to it and possibly I will have more information next week.

I understood that it was coming in today and we all understood that it was. Why was it withdrawn?

Could I make a comment?

I wonder if there is a misunderstanding which I would like to clear up for Senator Cassidy. He said he understood that the Bill was coming in today. The Bill may well have been ordered for today, but the ordering of Second Stage for a particular day means that the Bill cannot be taken before that day. It is not an agreement by the House to take the Bill on that day.

Dealing with the alterations to the House, can I assume that there is now going to be very limited public seating in the Seanad? I certainly would regret that.

That is quite correct. We all regret it. At the same time, we can recall most Senators talking about the ceiling falling down.

I accept that. I was not aware that the Public Gallery would be abolished. I am thinking, in particular, of schools.

The Committee on Procedure and Privilege have made the decision on this.

Is the Cathaoirleach in a position to say how long more the work in dealing with the restoration of the ceiling will take? It does seem strange that the work on the scaffolding took place only in the last few days and the House has been in recess for two months.

That concerns the Office of Public Works.

I think the Office of Public Works should give some explanation to Members of this House in relation to that.

Order of Business agreed to.