It is proposed to take all Stages of Item No. 1 from now until 4 p.m. with a sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Order of Business.
Is it really necessary to take all Stages of Item No. 1 today? Will the Leader not agree to take Committee and remaining Stages in the morning? It is not a very strong point but it would give us an opportunity of hearing the Minister's reply and studying it in full. May I ask the Leader of the House if he has any date for the taking of Item No. 6, the Report of the Industrial Policy Review Group?
Will the Leader of the House be able to express the concern of this House to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs with regard to treatment of a person's right in this country applying for asylum, in particular the case of the Liberian, Ben Marrti Doe, who may stand in some considerable jeopardy if he is returned to that country? This matter was raised at the EC debate.
May I repeat my request of yesterday to the Leader of the House that he would make time available for a debate on the Greencore affair? It is perfectly obvious now that this report has raised many more questions than it has answered.
In this morning's Daily Star I noticed a headline which said that banking charges were about to be slashed. Accordingly, I would like to ask the Leader of the House if we are about to have a banking debate and if he could let us know if the initiative which is announced in this morning's Daily Star is trying to set the climate which would make this debate a happy occasion.
As you are aware, one of the items of business going through the House at the moment is the Electoral (No. 2) Bill. I simply want to congratulate the Government on their wisdom in dropping a very controversial section from that Bill — the prohibition of polls. I think we can congratulate ourselves in this House that it was in response to forceful arguments made here against the stupidity——
We debated that Bill and we do not want a further rehash of it, as you can appreciate.
Nonetheless, I wish to point out that it is a happy occasion. With reference to the statement of the Leader of the House on 12 February that he had issued an invitation to the Taoiseach to address this House and that he hoped the Taoiseach would be able to visit us the following week, what has happened to that promised event which would enhance the status of this House?
I would like to welcome the decision by the Minister to withdraw the section in relation to a ban on polls within seven days of an election and to welcome particularly the fact that this has been in response to our request for extending the period of freedom of information to the electorate in relation to this matter.
We must have a debate on the Greencore affair. The situation is becoming more confusing by the minute. Yesterday we were looking for a debate on the issue. I would ask the Leader of the House to facilitate us in doing this on the basis of the discrepancies in the reports. Now, indeed, we have further discrepancies.
We do not want speeches on the Order of Business.
It is absolutely essential that we have an opportunity of discussing this matter at the end of the day.
I understand the House is meeting tomorrow. I would like the Leader of the House to explain to me the urgency of the matters in the Appropriation Act that it has to be debated on Friday? To those of us who do not have urgent business in Dublin at the weekend like the Members over there——
You are more than welcome.
A Chathaoirligh, as a man of long experience in this House, do you think I would fit in over there?
Senator Cassidy knows more than I do if he thinks my mother was a member of Fianna Fáil as well as my father. My mother is well able to answer for herself. I can testify to that.
At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, may I say again that I do not think we should have a debate on industrial policy to deal with the issue of unemployment. I would like to put it on the record again that we should talk about what we actually do to people who are unemployed at present, which is a separate issue from ending unemployment. We are not going to end unemployment next year. We could end what we do to the unemployed immediately if we chose to be just and honest and to confront the awful things the State does to unemployed people. There are two separate issues. I would like a debate on that issue.
I, too, would like to support the call for an early debate on the Greencore affair. While we are at it, I would like to suggest that the fees that are mentioned are outrageous.
We will not have a debate on it this morning, Senator.
I would suggest, a Chathaoirligh, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should ensure that the culprits pay the cost and not the taxpayer.
Last week I raised the matter of the change in energy policy in this country. I asked for a debate on that. Again this morning, I am asking the Leader of the House if he will afford this House an opportunity to debate the matter. I consider this to be a matter of grave national importance, in particular when it is a change in policy at a time when Bord na Móna are abandoning thousands of acres of unharvested bog. There seems to be a major conflict here. It is a matter of importance in regard to employment. We are talking about opportunities of employment at the moment. Again, I call on the Leader to afford an opportunity to this House to debate the change in energy policy and to discuss how it is going to affect the whole new policy of Bord na Móna of abandoning thousands and thousands of acres of bog.
You are making a speech, Senator. I call the Leader of the House.
Item No. 1 was agreed by the Whips. We will discuss it as the day goes on. If the Bill is not finished, we are meeting tomorrow morning. It was agreed by the Whips to take all Stages of the Bill today.
On Item No. 6 — the industrial policy debate — in about two weeks' time we will get a chance to incorporate many of the concerns of Senators on both sides of the House vis-a-vis the jobs forum, employment initiatives, unemployment and the Culliton report. We will take advice on Greencore and will come back on that issue.
In relation to the banks, I want to say to Senators that I have, as of last week, been in touch again with the Minister and his officials to hopefully have a debate on that.
I wish to make one comment on the Electoral Bill: from the Minister's comments in today's papers it is clear that he recognised the role Senators played in his decision to drop that section. The Taoiseach's visit is definitely on. It is a matter of timing and the logistics of the Taoiseach's very busy schedule at the moment.
Finally, Senator Finneran commented on the changes in energy policy. I am sure, if we can arrange it through the Whips, we will have a debate on that in the near future.