Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 30 Jun 1988

Vol. 120 No. 11

Order of Business.

It is intended to take Items Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 today and to take Item No. 2 at 1 o'clock.

I have a number of points on the Order of Business. Would it be possible at this stage to get some clear indication from the Leader of the House as to the Bills the Government wish to complete before the end of this session? We want to co-operate in every way in the work of the House but we would need to know fairly precisely which of the Bills the Government want to see finished and those which they do not so that we can order our business? Secondly, I would like to query the status of Item No. 8 on the Order Paper today — the Bankruptcy Bill, which appears here at Second Stage.

I will very quickly talk about the history of this Bill. It was introduced in 1982 in the last Oireachtas session. It went through a joint committee of the Dáil and Seanad. I had the honour to chair that committee, which had Members of this House and the Dáil among its members and debated the full Committee Stage. It is my understanding that when that Bill had gone through and been completed by the joint committee, it would then come back to the Dáil and Seanad for Report and Final Stages. That was the situation in the Dáil which yesterday completed the Report and Final Stages of the Bankruptcy Bill. On our Order Paper here it is ordered for Second Stage. My understanding is that that Bill has already gone through Second Stage in the Seanad. Is it the intention to bring this Bill right through Second Stage and Committee Stage again? There are about 200 sections in the Bill. I am not asking for a definite answer now, but perhaps the Whips could discuss this matter and we could get some definite guidance. First, the legislation has been in print since 1982 and is urgently needed. It is the first major review of bankruptcy legislation in 100 years. It strikes me as strange that we have to go through Second and Committee Stages again.

Third, on the question of the Companies Bill — the Leader of the House has indicated very forcefully on a number of occasions and with great determination and vigour that he intends to see this Bill completed in this House this session. If by the end of this session he also means the end of next week, then we will not co-operate in that. I believe that the Companies Bill has been very well debated so far in this House. It is very important. There is no way we can be rushed through the remaining 70 or 80 sections in one week.

If, however, it is the intention of the Leader of the House to have this Bill debated in September we will be most anxious to co-operate. I want to state for the record — this is not saying one thing in the House and one thing outside it — we would like to see the Seanad back in early September. We would like to see it back to discuss in a calm way legislation like the Bankruptcy Bill and I would like to put that firmly on the record at this stage. We do not want to see it rushed through in one week at the end of this session. It is far too important for that and it would fly in the face of the excellent discussions we have had so far.

I understand an all-party motion asking that the Seanad have a debate in honour of the birthday of Nelson Mandela has been submitted. It is not on the Order Paper yet. I would ask the Leader of the House if he could see to it that an hour of business next week is made available for that. Finally, a Chathaoirligh, could we have a report from you before the end of the session as to the progress of the work on the Chamber.

I should like to propose that we take the Companies Bill also — I am very unhappy with the fact that it has not been ordered today. Whereas we accept the case made by Senator Manning to the Leader of the House about the need to give it a full debate, we believe that we have a clear obligation and responsibility to get this legislation finished before the end of the session.

I notice the Leader of the House is nodding his head, as he was nodding this time last year on similar legislation which was not completed before the end of the session. We would certainly go for both points. We agree with the Leader of the House that it should be completed before the end of the session and we agree with the Leader of the Fine Gael group that it should get a full debate and be treated in the same way as it has been so far. We would like to know when in fact the Leader intends taking that particular legislation?

We have already indicated our full support for the debate on Sount African affairs to mark the upcoming 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela and we are surprised to see that that has not been ordered so far.

Recently, the Leader of the House raised the fact of having a debate on Middle Eastern affairs and gave a clear commitment that that would also be taken before the end of the session. He gave us to understand that this was a matter close to his heart, he was concerned with it and he would look forward to having a debate on it. We would like to know when it is proposed to take that?

Finally I am glad to see that the item on Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations has moved up to No. 9, near the top of the agenda one more time. Again it is in the name of the Leader of the House and I would ask if he intends having that debate before the end of the session? Guarantees were given also to my colleague, Senator Paddy McGowan, who has raised it on a number of occasions. There are items on this Order Paper which are lying there and which should be treated, and in his words "more business is done at county councils" which is quite right really.

I think we should have a full report from the Leader of the House on when he intends getting through the large number of items which are on the agenda — we feel that we should make every attempt to clear as far as possible this Order Paper before the end of the session.

I should like to propose an amendment to the Order of Business, namely that Item No. 9 be taken. We are already on the run in to the review of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in November. By the time we meet again after the summer recess it will be almost on top of us. It seems to me that no time could be more ideal than now, seeing that we are meeting at least next week and that an hour and a half of business should be set aside this week and next week. I cannot accept that the Government have any other reason for not putting this on except that they do not want to discuss these vital issues. I urge the Government therefore to face up to their own motion and I propose that Item No. 9 be added to the Order of Business.

May I just say the Bankruptcy Bill will be coming into the House before the recess and we will be taking all Stages. I should say it was not 1972 or 1982 but it was 1962 when this Bill was introduced by the Taoiseach. I should like to send a message of good wishes to him as he had to go into hospital this morning. That Bill has been in this House and the other House since 1962 and we will take all Stages before the recess.

Senators Manning and O'Toole asked about the Companies Bill. We will take a number of sections of that Bill next week. Before we come back in September or whenever, the House will have had plenty of opportunity to look at the Bill and we will spend maybe two or three weeks on that Bill in September or late August when we come back.

Is that on the record?

A forthnight's holidays is good enough for anybody.

On a point of order, we are laughing with incredulity. He has no intention of being back at the end of August. In fact, somebody here on our benches has heard that he will be on holidays during that period——


Will Senator O'Toole withdraw the end of that remark?

As we have recently made it clear we do not like the constant remarks about people not being around — which were made twice in the last week — I will withdraw all those things I have said which give offence.

The Nelson Mandela debate will take place whenever it is suitable within the next two or three days. It is up to the Chair to decide on that. It is doubtful if we can have a debate on Middle East affairs in the next couple of days, but if there is a motion put down on Middle East affairs we could take it in the next week. We will take a certain number of sections of the Companies Bill next week and then we will come back to it in September. The Córas Beostoic agus Feola (Amendment) Bill, 1988, Second Stage will be taken; the Data Protection Bill and the Bankruptcy Bill will be taken.

A motion for a debate on Nelson Mandela came to my office this morning. It is not for me to decide, but it will be on the Order Paper for the next sitting day. It will be for the House to decide then when to debate it. It is only with me this morning.

On the Order of Business, I heard just a moment ago about the Taoiseach being in hospital and on behalf of the Fine Gael Party may I wish him every good wish for a very speedy recovery?

We would also like to be associated with those good wishes. Did the Leader of the House say he intends that the House will go on holidays within the next week? We got the impression he was talking about finishing business——

All we have to do is decide today's business and then——

The Leader of the House did not comment on Item No. 9?

Item No. 9 will not be taken today but it is not being forgotten.

Senator Manning asked about the condition of the Chamber? I have been in contact with the Office of Public Works as Mr. Coughlan has, and I will have an up-to-date report before the House next week. There is a provisional time, as I was told yesterday, that we may be in as soon as February or March which would be marvellous. Some members will find quite a difference in the bigger Chamber. Is Professor Murphy pressing his amendment to the Order of Business?

Order of Business agreed to.