Death of Former Member. - Order of Business.

It is proposed to take the Environmental Protection Agency Bill, item No. 2 on the Order Paper, until 6 p.m. There will be a sos from 6 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. We will take Motion 26 on the supplementary list, the Fianna Fáil Private Members' motion from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency Bill has 109 sections, it has six Parts and two Schedules. At the moment we have 232 amendments; in fact, amendments were being received up to 5.30 p.m. yesterday. I am very pleased with the response of Senators in regard to this Bill. We had over 40 speakers on Second Stage, an indication of great interest in the Bill by Senators. I have asked the Whips to meet this evening to arrange for a further structuring of the procedures regarding Committee Stage of the Bill.

On the Order of Business, may I ask the Leader of the House if he would grant today, or at the latest tomorrow, an emergency debate on the situation as if affects the Kurds in Iraq? I realise there is an item on the Supplement to the Order Paper, Motion 44, but what I propose would subsume that and go much further and take into account the degree of aid from this country and also the need for us to take a leading role in trying to devise some way in which the Kurdish people can live in safety and security. I urgently ask the Leader of the House to see if he can grant time today, or first thing tomorrow, for that debate.

Also, arising from that, I ask the Leader of the House if he could report on the progress made towards the establishment of a committee on foreign affairs. It is a strange situation that enormous changes are being made in our status in Europe without being debated in this House. I know there is all-party support for it and many Senators, including Senator Tras Honan on the other side, have spoken out strongly on this matter in the past.

The Leader of the House, in a very helpful mood at the end of the last session, promised us a debate on Northern Ireland. I would like now to press him for a specific commitment to that debate. It is important we have it early so that our Government, taking part in the negotiations, will be seen to have as wide and broad a degree of public support as possible.

Finally, I ask the Leader of the House if he could fairly briefly indicate the business he proposes to take this session, the major Bills he expects to bring in this session.

I think the images that have been hitting us on our television screens over the past number of days regarding the devastation, poverty and deaths of the Kurdish people would prompt any Member of the House to support the call for an emergency debate on the situation in Kurdistan. I certainly wish to add my voice to the call for a debate on the situation.

I would also raise with the Leader of the House an issue which has been raised on a number of occasions by different Members during the recess, that is, the fact that it is time to have a look at the operations of this House itself. I also ask the Leader of the House if he will make time available for a discussion on the relevance and the representation in this House. Many Members have made comments on it. It is time we extended the franchise to graduates of all third level institutions, for instance, in the case of the University Senators, but also that we extend the franchise beyond the local county councillors and urban councillors in the other areas of election to the Seanad so that people in different areas of life, be it fisheries, agriculture, labour, education or whatever, would have themselves or their representatives voting and that all the people would be represented in the second House as well.

Finally, I ask the Leader of the House if he will honour the commitment he gave to me last term, and indeed previous to that, that we would have a debate on education at least on one day per session. I know that was raised with the Minister for Education and that she indicated her agreement to it. It is now clear that education is a crucial issue politically and socially and I request the Leader of the House to make available, as promised, time for a debate as soon as possible. Certainly, education has been in the news over the past number of weeks. It is now time to address politically the issues which were considered during that time.

I add my voice in support for the calls for a debate on the Kurds. Also, I ask the Leader of the House to make time available for a debate on broadcasting in view of the difficulties which are at present being experienced at the national independent broadcasting company, namely, Century Radio. Finally, I ask the Leader if he has any matters to report to us on the question of the reform of the procedures of the House, particularly matters relating to how the Order of Business is conducted.

I would like to ask the Leader of the House when it is proposed to publish the Local Government Reform Bill. It is a long awaited piece of legislation, particularly by everyone in local government. I would like to ask the Leader if it is proposed to publish it in the near future.

I would like to ask the Leader of the House if he has had any reply from the Minister for the Environment to my plea that something be done about the cratered and potholed roads of County Cavan.

It is not relevant to the Order of Business.

It is an extremely important matter and I want the Leader of the House to let us know what the Minister's position is now, if he is prepared to provide adequate funding and if he is aware——

If you have a question for the Leader of the House that is relevant to the Order of Business, please put the question.

Is the Minister aware that many of these roads look as if they have been hit by a scud missile?

That is a statement, not a question.

Obviously, the question of a debate on the situation of the Kurds will be supported by all sides without any problem whatever. I am a little concerned, however, about the question of the debate on the north of Ireland, not so much about leaving a debate but on the nature of that debate. I do not think we should have a blanket-type agreement and a debate taking place while talks are going on. There is the problem of the verbal message and how it can get out of hand. I ask the Leader of the House to think about how the debate should be structured. We should not do it in a way that would jeopardise in any way the talks that are going on at present.

To follow the people who have looked for a debate on the Kurdish situation, when we are looking for a debate on that matter we should not forget that there is another minority in Iraq who are being subjected to the same type of genocide as the Kurds. That is the Shi'ite minority in the south. We should address, not alone the problems inside Iraq related to the Kurdish minority, but also those relating to the Shi'ite minority. We should not forget either that the United Nations are not blameless in this matter. They were fast enough to act when Iraq invaded Kuwait but they have been very slow to react to the genocide that is taking place inside Iraq at present. If we are having a debate here, we should not forget the people who gave encouragement to the Shi'ites and to the Kurdish minorities to rise up.

I would like to ask the Leader of the House, as a result of the decisions taken in the European Court which were announced this morning in relation to section 31, if he is happy that section 31 should continue. I feel it should be continued as long as the people who are barred from our airwaves have no concern for human rights at all——

It is very doubtful if that is appropriate to the Order of Business.

In view of the very harrowing scenes we have all witnessed and which have been referred to already in this House with regard to the Kurdish problem in northern Iraq, we support the call for a debate on this issue. Indeed, it is a matter of some urgency. We question why the world is so slow to react to the great human tragedy that is occurring there. Ireland has a role, indeed a leading role, to play in a European sense in responding to this problem.

Secondly, since this Seanad began I have been asking the Leader of the House for information with regard to the formation of a committee on foreign affairs. My question was always in two parts: (1) when will that committee be formed; and (2) that all the Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas be represented on that committee. I want to ensure that Senators are represented on it.

I would like to raise with the Leader of the House item 1 on the Order Paper, which I have been raising since last November. I refer to The Altamount (Amendment of Deed of Trust) Bill, 1990. You will recall the Leader of the House promised us in December that, subject to getting an adequate explanatory memorandum from the solicitor involved, progress would be made in that regard in January. My understanding is that the solicitor in question in Castlebar submitted very adequate memoranda to the Leader of the House in that regard and I am disappointed it has not been dealt with so far. But, given that this is the last term in this year of the Oireachtas, I will seek an assurance from the Leader of the House that this matter will be dealt with fairly soon.

Having said that, I would like to compliment the Government on announcing the proposal to establish a foreign affairs committee. I join with my colleagues in this House in urging that that committee be established as soon as possible and that the Seanad be adequately represented in it.

I would like to support Senator Manning, the Leader of the Opposition, in asking for more discussion on European affairs in this House. That is the road I have gone down for a long number of years and I also want to make sure there is Seanad representation on this famous foreign affairs committee when it is set up.

May I comment on a remark of my colleague, Senator O'Toole. He said there was much discussion on reforming this House and the way it works and he went on live television or radio and said they were the only properly elected people in this House. Let me tell Senator O'Toole; we are the people who are properly elected, you are elected by paper cumainn.

With your indulgence, Chathaoirligh, I do not believe we represent paper boroughs. There are 20,000 voters in the University of Dublin constituency and 75,000 in the National University of Ireland constituency.

It is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The remarks of Senator Honan were not intended to invite you into this situation.

I am afraid Senator Honan cannot help being inviting. I would like, first, to welcome the fact that the Government are taking Motion 26 about Dublin's period as European City of Culture as their motion this evening. The Leader of the House will recall I asked this very question I think on the last day of the last session.

I would like to raise two items if I may and I think they will be non-contentious. One is the question of a foreign affairs committee and I add my support in regard to this item. I believe everybody would like to have a foreign affairs committee. Senators will note that Motion 11 in my name and that of my colleague Senator Ross is very detailed and very specific in dealing with the establishment of just such a committee. If there is such general universal clamour for this foreign affairs committee perhaps the Leader of the House will give time for this debate or one like it because It is most important that the Seanad should make its contribution towards the composition of such a committee before it is established. I think it is also important because we have today two demonstrations, one dealing with Tibet and one dealing with Kampuchea.

Your question is always relevant.

My final question is a proposal for an amendment to the Order of Business which, however, I will not press if the Leader of the House gives a satisfactory reply. Senators will also notice that, with Senator Costello, I have tabled a motion on the plight of the Iraqi Kurds and requiring the Government to instruct our representative at the United Nations to raise this matter in that forum. I believe I may have a seconder for this in Senator O'Toole and I will listen with interest to the reply of the Leader of the House on this important matter.

On the Order of Business, I would like to put on record my sincere thanks to the Leader of the House for taking this evening the motion dealing with Dublin becoming European City of Culture. Obviously it is a tremendous year for Dublin and there are communities throughout the city bringing forward realistic art programmes to celebrate this great event. I would like to thank the Leader for arranging to take that motion. We are looking forward to a very successful year. May I ask the Leader if it is known at this stage if the Minister will be replying this evening or next week?

I would like to ask the Leader of the House when it will be possible to have the urgent debate on the Middle East as called for by Senator Manning. I believe that our people are horrified at what we see on the television and, therefore, it is appropriate that we should have an early discussion and a message from the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the House on the situation to clearly identify in what way people here can be most helpful to aid the Kurdish population.

I would like to support the proposal by Senator Manning that we have a debate on the Kurdish problem. As my colleagues have said, we are all appalled at the atrocities that are taking place. It has been brought to us very clearly on our television screens. I believe that the United Nations and the world at large are turning a blind eye to what is happening. As a member of the board of directors of the Irish Refugee Association, which is a registered charitable association that deals with these international problems and is affiliated to the International Refugee Association and the United Nations High Commission, I believe we should be allowed to state what we feel the world should do and that modern technology should protect people rather than destroy them.

I would like to ask the Leader if he can assure the House that he will give adequate time for discussion on the Environmental Protection Agency Bill. There are 109 sections and 333 amendments and I ask the Leader of the House to give an assurance that the Bill will not be guillotined through the House.

Secondly, I would like to ask the Leader when the Local Government Reform Bill will be introduced and if it will be introduced in this House.

I, too, am interested to know when the Local Government Reform Bill will come before this House, and indeed if it will be initiated here. We must remember the majority of Members of this House are elected by local representatives and, therefore, local government reform must be considered a great priority here.

The concern of Senators about the Kurdish situation underlines once again the need for the rapid establishment of a foreign affairs committee. It is interesting that this is now the universal feeling right across the House. We will be glad to have news from the Leader of the House on this.

May I also suggest that the time is opportune for a debate on the South African situation? It is about a year since the House debated South Africa on the return of Senator Ross and myself from visiting that country. Since then there has been a dramatic change in attitudes towards sanctions and so on, particularly in recent weeks. We will also have the historic visit of President De Klerk here. I think, therefore, that would be an opportune time for such a debate and perhaps the House will have an opportunity next week to recognise the presence of President De Klerk in this country.

I would like to join with Senator Manning in his request to the Leader of the House for a debate on the North of Ireland. The matter has been raised on a number of occasions. It is proper that this House should debate the problems and the affairs of the North rather than having wide discussions taking place outside and reported on the British media, which have a slant on the problems and on the Government's attitude. I think it has reached the stage now that some of our partners in Government feel it necessary to comment outside Government. In my opinion this House could make a valuable contribution and, therefore, I ask the Leader of the House to accede to Senator Manning's request.

Adding my voice to others urging reform of the Seanad, I would like to ask the Leader what is the present situation regarding the extension of Seanad voting rights to the University of Limerick, to Dublin City University and to other relevant third level institutions. I have been raising this for some time. It is an immediate reform that can be undertaken because those institutions are discriminated against as things stand.

I join with the other speakers in supporting the plea for a debate on the appalling situation in Iraq. The terrible tragedy on the Turkish and Iranian borders leaves everybody absolutely flabbergast. Of course, the difficulty is that the cause of all that misery still exists and that is why I am rather surprised that people who were so vociferous in their condemnation of the United Nations in the first instance are very silent now.

I have a motion down.

I take this opportunity to compliment the Irish nation on their magnanimity once again. They have made an absolutely magnificent contribution to help the people there. We must acknowledge that the Irish nation has again contributed per head of population far more than any other nation in the world and I would like to put that on record.

As a co-signatory to Motion 44 I second the proposal by Senator Norris that we deal with this item first on the Order of Business. We would certainly be prepared, considering the extent of unanimity on the issue, to take on board the suggestion by Senator Lanigan that it be extended to cover the Shi'ite Muslims. Because we have seen the appalling atrocities taking place in Iraq, we would like to see the same urgency applied to resolving the situation there——

I must ask the Senator to ask a question.

——in relation to the Kurds as has been shown by the United Nations in relation to Kuwait. We would appreciate it if the Leader of the House would be prepared to accept that as an amendment to the Order of Business or, if not, that he would indicate at very short notice when that might be discussed.

Secondly, I am glad to see that Motion 44 has been put down as a Private Members' motion by Fianna Fáil. I hope the Minister will not reply this evening, as suggested by Senator Haughey, but that he will wait until the entire debate has taken place. I certainly will have a few things to say about the manner in which the cultural year has been used and the extent to which the Government have applied themselves to ensure that Dublin is a city of culture. I am not so sure that has been the case.

May I ask the Leader of the House if he will indicate to us the programme for the coming session particularly in relation to the items on which we have got a certain degree of commitment in terms of debate on education, prisons and Northern Ireland. These are matters that have been raised before. I wonder if the Leader of the House would indicate what timescale he has in mind for those debates in the near future.

Finally, may I ask whether the Leader of the House has any further thoughts of us in terms of the rescheduling of the work of the House so that current issues, like the matter we raised today regarding the Kurds or the demonstration outside the gates at the moment in relation to the Dalai Lama and Tibet, or the issue of Century Radio and the sacking of its senior journalists——

I must remind the Senator that this is not relevant to the Order of Business.

I am simply asking the Leader of the House if, considering the discussions we have had on this issue already, current affairs can be incorporated into the schedule of activities of the House.

The Progressive Democrats join with colleagues on all sides of the House in urgently asking the Leader of the House to make time available for a debate on the appalling tragedy of the Kurds on the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Iran. We can only wonder how the world can be so quick to respond when it comes to killing people and so slow to respond when it comes to saving their lives.

On a separate issue which has not been raised, may I ask the Leader of the House if he intends to make time available for a debate on European political and monetary union? We debated this earlier in the year, but there has been considerable progress since: it seems in particular that there has been movement in Britain towards greater political union within Europe and that is to be welcomed. Perhaps Fine Gael, now that they have joined forces with the British Tory Party in the European Parliament, can elucidate what the British situation might be. I join in the calls for a foreign affairs committee and I think the European political and monetary union debate could be worked in within that context.

My final question to the Leader of the House is: does he have any information as to when we may have the Competition Bill before Seanad Éireann as it will be important legislation to protect the consumer?

I would like to support fully the plea made by Senator Manning and others for the establishment of a foreign affairs committee with particular emphasis on significant developments within the European Community. When can we have a debate on the important issues of the funding and financing of local authority services and the funding and financing of the health services which are in a shambles at the moment?

I support the request for an urgent debate on the situation that exists on the Turkish-Iran-Iraq borders at present in relation to the Kurdish people. Some years ago, people claimed they did not know what was happening in Nazi Germany when the Jews were persecuted. No-one can claim that as an excuse any more because we see what is happening on our television screens every night. People claimed they did not know what was happening in Germany, that there was such evil persecution and there is a generation who refuse to believe that persecution ever happened but it did. It is happening now in Iraq. The root of the problem lies with the leader of the Iraqi people and until such time as he is removed from office that evil will exist in Iraq.

I would support the call for a debate by Senator Jackman to allow graduates from Limerick University and other third level institutions to vote in Seanad elections. Graduates from Limerick and other third level institutions have an equal right as graduates from Trinity and the National University of Ireland.

A question, Senator.

That is the question. I am quite sure that——


You will have a change on the back bench then.

I would not bank on it.

If a larger electorate were in any way to affect all these distinguished gentlemen on my left, it would cause me great concern.

Some of the faces there would hardly be acceptable to a broad electorate.

Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the Leader of the House with all the requests he gets from people riding a hobby horse and asking for various debates, none of which he can accede to. It exposes a problem we have in this House in that we have a very unwieldy structure. I suggest that we put aside one day every week for topical debates.

The Senator will have to put his suggestion in the form of a question.

I request that we have a debate on the South African situation next week to mark the visit of President De Klerk. After Senator Murphy and I returned last year we had a very constructive — although sometimes misinformed — debate on South Africa and I ask the Leader of the House to grant us a debate on South Africa next week.

I endorse what Senator Manning said and ask for a programme of legislation for the rest of the session. I welcome the Environment Protection Agency Bill and I welcome the time that has been given by the House to it today. I would like a programme which ensures that by the end of the summer we do not have Bills guillotined, debates shortened and, as a result, bad legislation going through.

Will the Leader allow a debate on the role the IDA are playing in the development of the Shannon region. I am speaking about the north Kerry area where there is a large tract of land in the Tarbert-Ballylongford area owned by the State and——

Not even by the wildest stretch of the imagination could I make that relevant.

It is quite relevant to the people of the north Kerry area.

Not all of the people of north Kerry are in this House.

Recently the Minister for Industry and Commerce announced that he was taking away some powers from the Shannon region and we are concerned about this. In particular, we are speaking about the Shannon Estuary where there is a large tract of undeveloped land owned by the State. The people in the area are very concerned about it.

I accept the Senator's interest but it is not relevant to the Order of Business.

There is a motion on the Supplementary Order Paper, motion 8, that I put down some time ago that Seanad Éireann congratulate the Taoiseach and the Government on the outstanding success of the Irish Presidency of the European Community. This matter should be debated in the House and the success the Taoiseach and the Government——

It ended months ago.

When the Leader of the House gets around to replying to all the questions put to him this afternoon, will he report on the progress being made on the committee that I understand has been set up on the reform of the Seanad? This afternoon's Order of Business is an example of the frustration felt by Senators on all sides of the House at being unable to debate relevant national and international issues. The Leader will agree that if this House is to mean anything we have to be able to respond quickly to the issues of the day, nationally and internationally. I would love to know what progress is being made.

Will the Leader of the House arrange for a debate on agriculture in view of the proposal for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy at present emerging from the Commission and the serious adverse effects those proposals would have on Irish agriculture?

I am sure the Chair and other Senator will remember that for the last eight or nine months I have been predicting that shortage of time will be used as an excuse to limit the introduction of meaningful reforms in local government. We now hear that the Minister intends to put urban district councils and town commissioners into limbo where, no doubt, they will be allowed to languish indefinitely.

The Senator must be relevant.

Will the Bill be introduced and passed in sufficient time to allow elections to those bodies to take place on 27 June if this House and the Dáil decide that they wish to defend local democracy and see more of it, not less.

That is a speech.

Will there be time for that? In supporting the appeal for a debate on the Kurdish situation I hope there will be no more political one-upmanship. I do not mean either here or in the Dáil but between the allies. It does not matter one damn whether it is the British Prime Minister——

Has the Senator a question?

I support the debate and I do hope the British, French and Americans will stop their one-upmanship and will get aid to the proper places quickly.

The Senator must have a question to ask the Leader of the House.

When will the proposed adoption Bill be brought before this House? I urge the Leader of the House to ask the Minister for Health if it could be brought in this session having regard to the anxiety of 300 adoptive parents who have brought into the country children from Romania and other countries. It is a matter of great concern and I ask the Leader to ascertain when this legislation is likely to be brought before this House.

I welcome the Leader's suggestion that the Whips meet to structure the Committee Stage of the Environmental Protection Agency Bill, particularly with a view to ensuring that the important sections are given sufficient time. Will the Leader make time available at an early stage for a debate on the escalation of crime in recent times? We have seen serious matters such as muggings, assaults, robberies, etc. It is an important issue.

Many Senators will have received in recent times a very moving letter from Father Aengus Finucane of Concern requesting that we help the people starving in the Horn of Africa, in Sudan and Ethiopia. I do not wish to take from the plight of the Kurds but it pales into insignificance when compared with the plight of the people in those areas. I ask the Leader of the House to consider having a wide-ranging debate on the problems and the famine facing the people in the Horn of Africa. As long as the evil dictator Mengistu remains in power there will be problems and perhaps we could help in some way if we spoke about them and came up with solutions.

Has the Leader of the House considered my request for a debate on the Law Reform Commission report on defamation?

It is ironic that Senator Ross should extend sympathy to the Leader of the House in relation to questions put to him which he cannot deliver on since Senator Ross is the main proposer of those futile questions.

A question, please, Senator.

Given the perceived conservatism of the Central Bank with regard to the reduction of interest rates, will the Leader of the House allow time for a debate on the role of the Central Bank? It is the regulator of financial institutions and the Government are the prime mover of the economy. There is a certain unease that the slow rate of interest reduction is causing a burden on industry and may be inhibiting job creation.

With respect to the Senator, he cannot depart from the Standing Order requirement. The Senator must ask a question.

My second question relates to employment. Would the Leader of the House consider allowing time for a debate on employment creation?

The position of the Kurds on the Iran-Iraq border is desperate. I ask the Leader of the House when we will have an opportunity to debate this tragic situation. I add my voice to those calling for the establishment of a foreign affairs committee and inquire when that committee will be established? Having regard to the serious situation in the health services, particularly in the casualty area——

A question, Senator, please.

——and in regard to people waiting a long time for operations, when can we have a full and in-depth discussion on this important subject? The position in agriculture is becoming worse as time progresses. I ask the Leader once more when can we have a further debate on the Common Agricultural Policy, the GATT talks and all associated matters? We should have a further debate on agriculture because the position has altered significantly since the last debate we had on this matter.

We had one last month.

I am surprised to hear some Senators say we had a debate last month on agriculture because they are not aware of the great difficulties that exist at present. Farm incomes are at crisis proportions for many and if this is not addressed the fabric of rural Ireland will begin to disintegrate. We had debates recently but the situation continues to deteriorate. I join with my colleagues, Senator Hussey and the Senator on the Fine Gael benches, in calling for a debate immediately on falling farm incomes.

I join with other Senators who called for a debate in regard to the Kurds. I ask the Leader of the House if he has any information on when we can expect the proposed legislation with regard to a time limit being put on decisions made by An Bord Pleanála and also with regard to third party objections.

I support what has been said in relation to the international arena but I would like to address a matter which is causing serious concern for the 40 workforce in the Laird jam factory in Drumshambo, County Leitrim, where I live. When will the Competition Bill be introduced? Will the Leader convey to the Minister the fact that his announcement during the week was welcome. The Bill is overdue and I hope the legislation will be initiated in this House as happened in the case of the Environmental Protection Agency Bill. There is a possibility that a competitor will take over that factory in Drumshambo — one example of many—and that the jobs of the people in my part of the country could be put at risk. I ask the Leader to introduce the legislation in the current term.

In view of the importance of tourism to the economy, will it be possible to have a full debate on the recent increase in rates announced by the airlines and to extend that debate to a full discussion on future trends in tourism?

I do not propose to mention each Senator individually in reply to many of the queries that have been raised. At the start of this new session which I anticipate will last for about 14 to 15 weeks, I reiterate what I said previously, legislation will continue to be a priority of the House. However, that does not mean that from time to time we cannot have debates on important issues of national and international importance. I am open to suggestions on debates of that type but that does not mean we will have a debate on whatever is the flavour of the week or the flavour of the day. I would have to think seriously before having such a debate.

The question raised by the majority of Senators was in relation to a debate on the Kurds and I fully understand why we have had so many requests for a debate on this problem. It is impossible not to feel anger and horror at the magnitude of the human catastrophe we see on our televisions and read about in our papers. I am very anxious that this House debate the matter. I anticipated this reaction from Senators for a debate and I had one almost arranged for next Wednesday but, unfortunately, at the last moment I got a call to say the Minister may not be available. However, I will discuss the matter with the Whips and I assure the House I will have a debate as quickly as possible on that matter.

Senator Manning, among others, raised the question of a foreign affairs committee. My information in regard to that matter is that it will be established during the current session. I have expressed a wish that there should be Seanad representation on that committee. I hope that will be the case.

Senator McGowan and others raised the question of Northern Ireland and asked for a debate on it now or in the near future. It would be inappropriate for the Seanad to debate this tragic problem at this time in view of the new initiative to establish dialogue in the North. It is very early days yet but I live in hope of successful talks which will bring about a lasting peace in the North. I know that view is shared by all Senators.

Senator Manning also asked, as did others, about the programme for the session ahead. It will be a lively and interesting session. There is plenty of legislation — the Presidential Establishment (Amendment) Bill, Educational Exchange Bill — that is the exchange between Ireland and the United States of America — the Irish Land Commission (Dissolution) Bill, the Finance Bill, which must be passed by the end of May, the Sea Pollution Bill, the Criminal Damage Bill, the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, the Environmental Protection Agency Bill — which we have presently and which will occupy a great deal of time — the Child Care Bill, Committee and remaining Stages. In reply to Senator O'Donovan, the Recognition of Foreign Adoptions Bill will be with us this session. We will also be taking the Competition Bill. Unfortunately, it has been issued in green form, which means that it will be a Dáil Bill and we will not get it first. Bills that are not published but which I know will come before us, include the Family Planning Bill and the Local Government Bill. Many Senators had queries about the Local Government Bill. The aim is to have it published this month and to have it completed before the end of May. There are other Bills which have not been published — the Roads Bill and Parents Bill. We have a Bill which the Minister for Labour indicated will be initiated here, the Payment of Wages Bill. Many other Bills, the amendment of the Health Act Bill, the Solicitors Bill, the Oireachtas Bill, the University of Limerick Bill and the Dublin Institute of Technology Colleges Bill are all in the pipeline.

Senator O'Toole and others asked about reform of the Seanad. This is an ongoing process. It is more appropriate that it be further debated, as it is from time to time, by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and all the points made by Senators taken on board. He asked for a debate per session on education. I discussed the matter recently with the Minister for Education and she said how anxious she was to come to the House for such a debate. That debate will take place possibly within the next three or four weeks.

Senators Upton and Cassidy referred to local government reform. Senator O'Reilly raised queries which were not relevant to the Order of Business. I have noted what Senator Harte, the wise owl of the House, said about Northern Ireland.

Senator Lanigan referred to the Kurds. I note what he said in regard to section 31. Senator Cullen referred to the Kurds and the committee on foreign affairs. Senator Staunton asked about item No. 1. As Senator Staunton knows, item No. 1 is a Private Business matter. I indicated to the parliamentary agent before Easter that we would not take it before Easter. We are now in a new session and I will give it some consideration to see if we can move it a stage further.

Senator Honan asked for more debate on Europe. She also referred to paper cumann, something I could not fully understand. Senator Norris welcomed item No. 26, as did Senator Haughey.


Order, please.

Other Senators, including Senators McDonnell and McCarthy, referred to the Kurds. Senator Naughten asked that there would not be a guillotine on the Environmental Protection Agency Bill. As I said, the proposal is that the Whips will meet this evening and go through a proper structure for an organised way of going forward with Committee Stage of this Bill. Senator Finneran asked about local government. Senator Murphy asked about a debate on South Africa, as did some other speakers. I have no proposal at this stage in regard to that matter. Senator Jackman raised the issue of reform of the Seanad and that is something that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges should discuss. Senator Costello asked for a programme for the new session. He seems to suggest that every current issue should be discussed. Unfortunately, that is not the situation. We have procedures and I have to live within them and within the structures available to me, a point fairly and squarely made by Senator Ross.

Senator Dardis asked about a debate on European political union, something I will consider. He also inquired about the Competition Bill. I have explained the position in regard to that. Senator Kennedy asked about a debate on health. I have no proposals for that at this time. Senator Ross asked about a debate on South Africa. I have no proposals for such a debate. Senator Kiely asked about a debate on the role of the IDA. I have no proposals on that matter. Senator Doyle asked for a report on the committee. She is a member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and should ask questions there. There were also requests for a debate on agriculture. We had a detailed debate on agriculture. I accept that the position changes from time to time. The Minister for Agriculture and Food, when he was in this House before Easter, went out of his way to explain the problems in agriculture and spoke for an hour at least without a script.

He took all the time himself.


Senator Fallon, without interruption.

Senator Cosgrave asked about crime.


The Leader of the House, without interruption.

Senator Cosgrave asked about crime. A committee is being set up this session. I have no proposals for a debate on South Africa. Senator Neville asked if I would have a debate on the question of defamation. I note that Senator Neville has put down a Private Member's motion. That might be the way forward. Having said that, I have examined the report of the Law Reform Commission. It is a very long consultation paper, consisting of almost 500 pages. It is an issue we should debate. The way forward is, as Senator Neville has done, to put down a Private Member's motion. I urge the Senator to make that matter the subject of his first Private Member's motion whenever his time comes up.

Senator Hourigan asked questions about health, foreign affairs and the Kurds. Senator Ryan asked about An Bord Pleanála. This is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I gave information to Senator Mooney on the Competition Bill. I have no plan for a debate on tourism.

Senator Norris has moved an amendment to the Order of Business that item 44 on the supplementary list No. 5, be added to the Order of Busineses. Is the Senator Pressing the amendment?

No. In view of the satisfactory response from the Leader of the House and in order not to waste time, I withdraw the amendment.

The proposal is that the Order of Business be item No. 2 and item No. 26, from the supplementary list No. 5, that item No. 26 be taken between 6.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. and that the sitting be suspended between 6 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. Is the Order of Business agreed? Agreed.

Order of Business agreed to.