Before I announce the Order of Business, I would like to put into context for the Seanad the debate that is going on in the other House and in the media in relation to legislation. Several pieces of legislation that have been announced in the past few days will not be coming to this House; the idea is that they be dealt with by the relevant Dáil committee. It is my intention and that of the Chief Whip to ensure where possible that in respect of legislation coming before the House each Member will have ample opportunity to discuss it. I suggest that Second Stage debate of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, 1993 should commence now and continue until 8 p.m. but I would like to make it clear that if there are Members of the House who still wish to contribute at that time, the House will be able to extend its sitting hours. I am suggesting also that 30 minutes for spokespersons and 20 minutes thereafter be provided for this debate.
Order of Business.
I appreciate the fact that the Leader of the House is not being infected by this rash of "guillotine-itis" that has burst out in the other House. I hope he will continue in this way for the rest of the session and thereafter not apply that word whose name cannot be spoken in this House.
I would like to thank the Leader for indicating that if there are sufficient people to speak they will be taken by extending the time beyond 8 p.m. I would have preferred an open debate with no time limits but I think I can make do with half an hour on this matter. I would also have been happy with a free vote but this is a question for the individual parties.
The Leader of the House referred to legislation and said it will be dealt with by Dáil committees. Does this mean it is going to by-pass this House? It would be regrettable if Senators did not get the opportunity to deal in detail with this kind of legislation, I note the Leader did not specify which Bills were involved, so perhaps he could reassure the House that we will have a full debate on these matters. Can he also tell us what Bills are involved, if he has that information; I will understand if he does not.
May I also ask when the Leader proposes to take Item 6 dealing with developments in the European Communities? It would be useful for us to take this dedate soon because I know a number of us wish to make comments, even if it is stretching the margins a bit, with regard to the question of EC funding. I say this not to create any difficulties for the Government, but because I believe strongly that the maximum pressure applied to our own Government, and whatever political difficulties we can create here, will increase and strengthen the hand of our negotiators in Brussels in this important matter.
I hope time will also be found before the end of the session for Item 21 dealing with East Timor, because the violation of human rights continue there. Of the seven people who managed to escape a recent massacre, four made their way to the Finnish embassy and three to the Swedish embassy. The Finns, regrettably, handed them over to the occupying power——
A question to the Leader, Senator.
——and a debate would provide an opportunity to put prsssure on the Swedish Government not to follow the same pusillanimous line. May I also ask if an opportunity will be given to have a debate on the American strike against Baghdad because it is something many of us in this House regret, and particularly the unjustified civilian casualties that were inflicted in this illegal raid?
Last week I raised the issue of having the Cahill plan for Aer Lingus discussed in this House and, with your permission, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, I again ask the Leader of the House to give time for such a debate this week. Following a meeting some of us had in Shannon with Mr. Cahill last Friday, quite a number of factors emerged that are a matter of serious concern for Aer Lingus and the national interest in relation to the accountability and the accounting system within Aer Lingus, the lack of marketing and research and the other work that should have been done by the company. It is vitally important that this matter be discussed urgently, and I ask that time be provided for that.
My point to the Leader of the House has less to do with the length of time for each individual debate, although that is important and welcome, and more to do with the length of time we have to prepare for debates. I am concerned about the amount of legislation that I gather we are going to deal within the next few weeks. It will be a busy time and it seems important to me that we would have time to prepare in advance of, as well as between, each Stage. I urge the Leader to do all he can to insist on the publication of the Bills ahead of time, as well as the length of time between each Stage so we have the opportunity to debate it. This has not always been so in recent times and I urge the Leader to insist on it being so in future.
I would like to join Senator Norris in requesting that a debate take place here on foreign affairs matters, and in particular concerning the role of the United Nations and its members in taking unilateral decisions on their own behalf. In the latest case, the United States has decided to take out an area of Baghdad in retaliation for a possible assassination attempt on a former President of the United States. I wonder if during that debate we could have an explanation why, when President Kennedy was assassinated in the United States, retaliation was not taken against the state in which he was killed.
You will have to check with the CIA.
I welcome the statement by the Leader that each Member will be given ample opportunity to discuss legislation, and I hope that in the weeks before this session ends we will not have reason to remind him of that statement. The Leader made the point that some Bills will be going to the special committees. Not all of them, however, will be going to the special committees; therefore, will he indicate which Bills he expects to take here in the coming weeks? For instance, this week we have the defence Bill which is not going to a special committee. Are we going to dispose of this under the word that cannot be mentioned by Senator Manning or anyone else?
I would like to support Senator Taylor-Quinn in her request for a debate on the Aer Lingus plan. I ask the Leader of the House to allow time for Item 19, as he promised to do, in view of the continuing and increasing concern about the attacks on tourists, 14 of which have occurred in the past week, in Dublin. To date the number of attacks on tourists is 20 per cent ahead of last year's rate when there were 1,200 attacks on tourists in Dublin. I remind the Leader of the House that he promised time to debate this issue and I ask him to confirm when this will take place.
May I ask the Leader of the House about another of his promises? He said we would have time to debate the Opsahl report before the end of the session. Has he allowed time for this because I would like it to be debated before it becomes an historical document? The last debate in this House on Northern Ireland was extremely useful and a debate on this document could also be very useful.
A number of speakers have requested details of the legislation that will be coming before the House. It is important that we know exactly what items will be going into committee. I presume the Government has not made a final decision yet about what will or will not be dealt with in the Dáil. The Leader may not be able to give this information today; if not, will he try and get it over the next few days?
The other item, that I also mentioned last week, is in regard to the extension of the disadvantaged areas scheme. I ask the Leader of the House to arrange a full debate on this matter. As the Leader is aware, the Minister for Agriculture set up an appeals committee and I understand it has completed its work. If this is so, the Minister should come into the House and discuss the contents of that report. I understand the Minister has given assurances that he will provide details of the appeals committee to the IFA in Offaly. I am sure other people in the country would also be anxious to have this information.
I ask the Leader of the House about the report on the Kilkenny incest case. We were promised a number of weeks ago that it would be dealt with and it seems to have been forgotten.
My understanding is that the legislation which will not be dealt with in the House in the next ten days is the Matrimonial Home Bill, 1993; the Irish Aviation Authority Bill, 1993; the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 1993; and the Road Traffic Bill, 1993. I understand they will go into Dáil committee and will not come before this House until the autumn. To clear up Senator Quinn's point, this will give us plenty of time to get involved with those over the summer months.
Regarding the Order of Business, the Adjournment will take place at the end of business. In trying to organise today's business, and with regard to the many hours that Senator Norris has accumulated on today's legislation, I thought that 30 minutes would be sufficient.
Regarding Item 6 which Senator Norris and Senator Lanigan mentioned, it may be possible to have a debate on European affairs between now and the summer recess. In answer to Senator Henry, I understand that the Tánaiste has agreed to come to the House in regard to the Opsahl report and I hope that will be dealt with between now and the summer recess. Regarding Senator Taylor-Quinn's point, I will make contact with the Minister to see if a debate or discussion on the situation at Aer Lingus can be arranged. Finally, we are still asking the Minister to make time available for the Kilkenny incest report. I hope that will be dealt with between now and the summer.