Order of Business.

Today's Order of Business is No. 1, Local Government Bill, 2000 – Committee and Remaining Stages; No. 2, Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2000 [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil] – Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage, to be taken at 2 p.m.; No. 3, statements on the position post Nice referendum, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 2, with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed ten minutes and all other Senators not to exceed seven minutes and this item to conclude when the list of speakers offering is exhausted; and business, if not previously concluded, will resume thereafter.

I cannot understand why the Local Government Bill is effectively being guillotined at 2 p.m.

Committee Stage of the Local Government Bill will resume after the statements on Nice and the debate will be open-ended. The Senator will have all the time in the world to make his points if he so desires.

I thank the Leader for his reply. The Local Government Bill is extremely important and deserves our full attention. In that context, the debate on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill was cut short yesterday by virtue of the fact—

It was adjourned until 2 p.m. today.

The debate on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill was adjourned until 2 p.m. today. The way in which the Bill is being dealt with was decided on the Order of Business yesterday and I will not allow discussion on it this morning.

I accept your ruling, a Chathaoirligh, but the House owes a debt of gratitude to Senator Ross for spotting a flaw. I will take the opportunity to do so later

The Senator can make those points later.

They will be made later.

The Leader said the Order of Business is Nos. 1, 2 and 3. I presume he meant Nos. 1, 2 and 4.

We did not have our contributions ready for No. 3 but we would been prepared to take it. I am sure Senators Ross, Norris and I would have been able to put something together. We would be happy to take No. 3 if that is the Leader's intention.

Last night we agreed to come back to No. 2 at 2 p.m. today. I slightly regret the debate was not adjournedsine die. We accept the Order of Business but the Leader indicated he would seek advice on this matter and it would be sensible to adjourn the Bill sine die and come back to it at a later date.

The Senator can make those points when we reach that the Bill later.

I cannot, a Chathaoirligh. This is an Order of Business issue and the only time I can raise it. I know the Leader is taking advice but it would be much better for the image of the House and the Government and for a variety of other reasons if the debate was adjournedsine die.

It would also be better for the Senator's own image.

I am trying to be helpful.

The Senator oozes sincerity out of every pore.

It would be in everybody's best interest to have a cooling down period in regard to this desperate legislation and to deal with it in the autumn or some other time.

Over the past number of weeks various Ministers have spoken about the need to have confidence in the market and the way it works. During that period some appalling indiscretions have been committed in the auctioneering industry. I have no interest in being negative about the general body of auctioneers but when a case arises where an auctioneer, who is supposed to be the honest broker in a sale, emerges as the buyer unknown to the seller, serious questions are raised. It is also completely wrong that reputable auctioneering firms plant people in the crowd at an auction in order to bump up the prices at the expense of buyers who have borrowed to the hilt to purchase a house or that they publish guide prices which bear no resemblance to the sale price. The Government should conduct an investigation into these practices in the interest of protecting the reputation of honest auctioneers and I would like the appropriate Minister to come to the House and explain the Government's relationship with the auctioneering industry with a view to dealing with these issues.

I will be guided by your ruling, a Chathaoirligh, but I understand a new Order of Business is before us today and we are entitled to make decisions on it as we see fit. Therefore, it is quite appropriate if we wish to propose an amendment to the Order of Business. Am I in order to do so?

I move amendment No. 1, that No. 2 be deleted. I proposed a similar amendment yesterday because the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2001, is riddled with suspect constitutional issues relating to opinion polls and other matters. Senator Ross has highlighted a loophole that none of us suspected. If my amendment is not accepted, will the Leader distribute to all Senators the advice he sought from the Department of the Environment and Local Government last night in regard to the particular matter raised? The advice should be circulated prior to the debate at 2 p.m.

Given that the matter has been in abeyance for more than 12 hours, we should also be provided with the Attorney General's advice. It is an insult to the House to be tripping along through business from A to B while the Department does not know what it is doing. It is seeking advice but the House is not getting the benefit of the same advice. Is it intended to supply the information sought by the Minister to all Senators in advance of the debate?

I support the Senator's call for an investigation by the relevant Minister into the activities of some auctioneers. We are all aware of circumstances where auctioneers act as buyers and sellers which leads to difficult situations. Some people think the practice must be stopped.

We are not having a debate on auctioneering practices on the Order of Business. The Senator has supported Senator O'Toole's call for a debate on the matter and for the Minister to be invited to the House to outline policy.

I accept your ruling, a Chathaoirligh, and I fully support Senator O'Toole's call.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform gave a commitment some time ago to debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas the report on the investigation into the murder of Mrs. Nolan in Galway. The report was published last Friday and it emerged that the authorities in the Department were warned by the local community and advised by local gardaí and the governor of the prison that the perpetrator of the crime was a danger to the community at large. It was evident that the advice was not heeded or responded to but that if it had been, Mrs. Nolan would not have been murdered. There is an onus on the Minister to come to the House. I ask the Leader to provide time today for the Minister to discuss the report in detail because it raises serious questions which the Minister and his Department must answer.

I refer to the resignations of the chairman and chief executive of Bord Fáilte within two weeks of each other. It is remarkable that the two top men in the tourism board would resign within such a short period. There must be something serious happening in that organisation and the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation should come to the House to give us an explanation.

At a time when the media have come in for considerable criticism, I welcome the coverage of the Taoiseach's victory in court yesterday in today's newspapers. The same depth of coverage was given to the outcome of the case as was given to it when it arose first. Will the Leader schedule a debate early in the new session on the media and their relationship with politics? Yesterday Senator Manning referred to the necessity for a healthy tension between the media and politics, with which I agree, but there are signs that such tension could be becoming unhealthy. In the cold light of day the start of a new term would be an appropriate time for such a debate and I ask the Leader to facilitate that.

I refer to water quality in the River Shannon which has been much discussed in the House and about which there is much concern. The Lough Ree and Lough Derg monitoring authority issued a report earlier which indicated that 25% of water discharged into the River Shannon from its various tributaries is polluted. I would like the Leader to raise this issue with the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, although it is obviously too late for us to debate it before we rise for the summer. I am anxious that the Leader should express the concern of the Seanad to the Minister.

It is particularly worrying that local authorities in areas through which the Shannon runs are being blamed more than any other group. Water treatment facilities in various towns have been allocated millions of pounds by the EU and the State for the improvement of water quality in tributaries of the Shannon. We have had long debates about this serious issue in the House and I am anxious that our concerns be conveyed to the Minister.

I also wish to propose a change on the Order of Business that No. 2 be returned to committee. The point made in the Seanad was that more debate is needed, as was proven when Senator Ross discovered a loophole last night.

Are there two leaders of Fine Gael in the House?

A decision had to be made on the hoof by the Leader of the House and the Minister of State, Deputy Dan Wallace, to postpone debate until today.

Senators Connor and Coogan should consult.

Does the Senator seek to recommit the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2000?

The appropriate time to put down such a motion is when we are dealing with the Bill.

I accept that the Chair is better informed on Standing Orders than I am.

That is the position.

The Opposition has agreed the Order of Business.

The Order of Business has not been agreed.

Fine Gael Senators agreed to it.

We did not.

Our acting leaders made no such agreement.

Fine Gael is divided on everything.

Order, please.

I am delighted to have the protection of the Chair to complete my point, which is that greater debate is needed in relation to this legislation, as proven by last night's events.

I support Senator Glennon's call for a debate on the media, which is very timely. The relationship between the media and public representatives is like a Punch and Judy show. It gives great entertainment but it does not serve the body politic in any positive way. It gives no service to the community at large.

We welcome the fact that the Taoiseach's character was formally vindicated yesterday when a notorious libel case was resolved. All genuine and fair minded people expected this would happen, but the Taoiseach's character was on hold for many people since the allegations were made. Given the widespread publicity to the groundless allegations, it is important that responsibility is brought to bear, which is why I support Senator Glennon's call. I hope the Leader will accede to the request.

Many important decisions will be taken in the House today regarding the future of local government. I ask the Leader, in the autumn session, to provide for a debate in this House on the state of repair of roads and housing estates throughout the country. In the interim, the Leader should ask the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to make funding available for the repair of such roads. The buck is being passed because, although promises are made when plans are drawn up, nobody seems to be responsible for the roads in new housing estates. Formal arrangements have to be made as those living in the houses are suffering. I hope the Leader will take the matter in hand.

As I have pointed out on many occasions, the Order of Business in this House is not a free for all. The matters which have been raised this morning are not appropriate to the Order of Business and could be more appropriately raised on the Adjournment or by putting down motions. I ask Senators to confine their remarks to matters relevant to the Order of Business. I call Senator Lanigan.

I do not know why I have been called immediately after that warning.

It is Freudian.

There is a certain irony. I am afraid I have to ask the Leader of the House, as I did last week, about people on St. Stephen's Green and Grafton Street.

That is not relevant.

The Leader should ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform what will be done about those who collect for charity and who intimidate people throughout the city centre. I realise I said that I would not raise this matter again, but theSunday Independent addressed this matter again at the weekend, mentioning Concern and Fight for Sight. The article stated that less than 50% of the money collected goes to the charities in question, which are professionally organised and intimidating. I ask the Leader to raise the matter with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and I thank the Chair for its indulgence.

I agree with Senator Coogan's remarks on the Order of Business.

Senator Coogan is Senator Coghlan's leader.

I agree especially with the congratulations extended to Senator Ross. Like Senator Costello this morning, I called yesterday for the advice of the Attorney General to be made available to the House before we proceed further. It will be interesting to see what happens at 2 o'clock, as it may well be that the Attorney General has further advice, although we do not know what his previous advice was. I will not be surprised if the Government proposes the Adjournmentsine die.

I fully agree with Senator O'Toole that conflict of practice engaged in by some auctioneers should not be tolerated and should be outlawed.

As an honorary member of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute, I assure Senator Coghlan that auctioneers operate within a strict code of practice. If any member of the institute violates the rules in any way, a Minister will not be needed as the institute will deal with the matter. We have dealt with certain situations that have developed. It is important that auctioneers uphold the high standards that have existed for many years.

We are not here this morning to discuss the standards that should be upheld by auctioneers.

I wish to make my point as I am here to represent auctioneers. I wish the Taoiseach, the British Government and all involved in peace talks at present every success. Today is our last day here and I would like if Senators would send our good wishes. We hope that the peace process continues.

Senators

Hear, hear.

I support the call for a debate on the media. We hear a lot about the integrity and honesty of the media but newspapers ran with a story that had neither a shred of substance nor of truth, as we all knew. Cameras were shoved before the Taoiseach at Arbour Hill, although we knew the allegations were wrong and that there was no shred of evidence to substantiate them.

This is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Many Senators have spoken of the integrity of the press.

Senator Farrell, please.

The press is a big organisation that wants to make money.

Hear, hear.

This is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Newspapers run the headlines that will make them the most money.

The Senator is being deliberately disorderly.

It is time to take the wool from over our eyes and recognise that the newspaper business is a big industry. It is time it worked for the general community

I ask the Senator to resume his seat.

I apologise, but I feel strongly about the matter.

I support the comments of Senators Glennon and Ó Murchú in relation to yesterday's court proceedings. The Leader of the Opposition in the Seanad, Senator Manning, was called to give certain evidence. We are approaching the summer recess if the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2000, concludes today and I wish to thank the Cathaoirleach, the staff of the House and the media. Whatever the summer or the autumn may bring, it behoves us to thank those who keep this House running.

I join Senator Coogan in congratulating Senator Ross. Yesterday was a remarkable day in the Seanad. It showed the relevance of the House and the disproportionate contribution to the events of the House from the Independent benches.

I would be happy to second Senator Costello's amendment to the Order of Business but I expect that a member of his own party would prefer to do so. If it is necessary, however, I will happily record my support for the amendment.

I thank the Senator.

I am always tactful. With regard to the item concerning the Nice Treaty, it is a great pity we have restricted ourselves to an hour and a half and that the debate is taking place so long after the decision. We should have had the debate much sooner and should have apportioned a more appropriate amount of time. The debate will occupy just a portion of the Government's Private Members' time. It is indicative of the way in which the major parties treat Private Members' Business, with flaccid motions and statements.

It was marshmallows yesterday and it is flaccid statements today.

It looks as if the principal parties have virtually no interest in this aspect of our business. I agree it would be useful, as Senator Glennon has said, to have a debate on the media but we should temper any criticisms with due praise. The coverage by RTÉ has been consistently criticised in the House and there are certain aspects of it that are not yet completely satisfactory. It is worth putting on the record, however, that there has been a new development. Recently, I have noticed on "Oireachtas Report" that the editors take an amendment, give the Minister's response and then follow the argument on the amendment by coming back to the individual Member. That makes it considerably more interesting. We should record the fact that we are aware of this and would like to see this practice continue in the broadcasting of "Oireachtas Report".

Mr. Ryan

I am not entirely sure whether Senator Norris formally seconded Senator Costello's amendment but obviously we in the Labour Party are very happy with his offer to do so. Much to my indignation,The Irish Times does not seem to have noticed that I am a member of the Labour Party. I ceased to be an Independent two years ago but The Irish Times has not caught up with the fact yet, if one reads this morning's edition.

It does not reflect the mood of the country.

Mr. Ryan

It is probably a commentary on my comparative silence. Everyone thinks I have been silent since I joined the Labour Party, so presumably that is the reason. I, therefore, formally second Senator Costello's amendment.

The wisest thing we could do is take time to read the advice of the Attorney General and Professor Hogan. We should give the media a chance to be heard by the appropriate Oireachtas committee, discuss all these issues and listen to the academics. The suppression of academic research in private is an extraordinary thing in a democracy. The idea that academics cannot carry out sustained research in the week before a general election to find out how public opinion is operating is a profound breach of the standards of democracy.

The Senator is discussing the subject matter of the Bill and I cannot allow that.

Mr. Ryan

I apologise. It is probably the academic in me that brings these things out. As I said, the wisest thing would be to postpone this debate and take a deep breath.

You have seconded the amendment.

Mr. Ryan

I formally second the amendment.

As this is the last sitting day before the recess, I wish to support Senator Glennon's remarks concerning the Taoiseach's successful case in the High Court yesterday. This welcome decision is important for the body politic. I compliment Senator Manning on his support and evidence in the interests of those who stand for election.

Will the Leader ask the Minister for Public Enterprise, Deputy O'Rourke, to attend the House in the next session for a debate on future investment in the IT and broadband sector under the national development plan? In that way we will be able to see what plans the Government has for balanced regional development in future, as well as assessing how such current development is progressing. That subject is worthy of a debate.

I would not have to raise the role and power of the National Roads Authority if we had the debate which I have sought consistently for months, as have many other Senators. It may be too late to have such a debate in October. I am appalled by the consultative arrangements for the proposed national route from Nenagh to Limerick. Hundreds of people made a simple and realistic request for an extension of two weeks to respond to two proposed routes which have caused fear and dread among local representatives in Tipperary and Limerick. Everybody was happy to grant the extension but the NRA stepped in and said "No, you can have a week", when people are on holidays. I wonder what powers the National Roads Authority has. Can we have a debate on the authority's role because it is going far beyond what I thought it was? I would expect to have such a debate when we resume in October.

I will not be proposing an amendment to the Order of Business.

That is what I like to hear.

I am seeking a debate on the media, an issue to which many Senators have referred. Legislation should be introduced to establish a body to which the media would be accountable because many matters are inaccurately reported upon in the media.

Mr. Ryan

The Senator should read his own newspapers.

Some time ago, Mr. Philip Boucher-Hayes had to apologise to a Member of the European Parliament for inaccuracies in a report in theIrish Examiner. Yesterday, I read in the Irish Examiner that the Munster Council of the GAA suspended Mr. Eugene Mulcahy, yet the council had no act or part in doing so. A body should be established to investigate such inaccuracies and reprimand those responsible for them.

The Senator has gone into great detail outlining the reasons he feels such a debate is necessary. I am sure the Leader has taken cognisance of the Senator's points.

Reports have appeared in today's newspapers concerning the sad deaths of two holidaymakers on an island off Italy. According to one newspaper, one of them got into difficulties and the other went to the rescue. I read in another newspaper that a source said a huge investigation had been launched into these deaths and that nothing had been ruled out, whether it be murder, suicide, a drugs overdose or some other horrific tragedy. That is disgusting and makes for desperate reading. It is difficult enough for the relatives.

This House has no control over the way in which reporters report stories.

I want something done. A body should be set up to which they will be answerable.

Speculation is different from reporting.

On another occasion, the Munster Council of the GAA was criticised by a good friend of mine, a Senator, over crowd control in Cork. The Munster Council was commended, so that was false reporting too.

I am sure the Senator has far more influence with the Munster Council than does this House.

I have. I am a member of the Munster Council. I wanted to defend the council when another Senator was criticising it. He only read it from the newspapers because he told me he was not at the game. The Munster Council was commended by the Garda authorities. Some 180,000 people attended ten matches with no incidents.

When schools break up for the holidays, teachers often give homework. The Leader should provide some goals and objectives to the Government during the coming months. One concerns road safety. In the past week, I had the experience of being stopped at the DART on three occasions. While I do not think there is a northside-southside bias, on the southside the stop lasted for 50 seconds, while on the northside it was for eight and nine minutes, respectively. Road rage may be a valid explanation for road deaths and I could see road rage developing among drivers who were kept waiting for seven or eight minutes. I do not understand who is in charge of this matter, although I assume it is Iarnród Éireann or CIE. Week after week, we read about road deaths, so I would like to see something done. One small step would be to reduce the possibility of road rage.

During the summer recess, will the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform re-examine the Charities Bill? I was stunned to discover that 50% of the amount one contributes to some charities may be paid in commission. If so, a solution must be found, perhaps similar to the health warning on cigarette packets, stating how much the collector receives in commission. Those are two tasks for the Government over the next few months.

Despite the Leader's heavy workload, will he ask the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources to clarify the position on the impending closure of a semi-State company's premises in Dungloe, County Donegal? After this matter was raised on the Adjournment debate in both Houses, a meeting was organised for last Saturday at which the Minister gave a commitment that no decision would be finalised until the board met next Friday and that the sea-harvesters' product would be transported to the Galway plant. Despite that, the management notified the harvesters yesterday that no more seaweed would be collected from Friday, but did not mention transporting the product to Galway, leaving them in limbo. After 30 years' service, all they received was "thank you" at the end of the letter, which is not good enough. I ask the Leader to clarify the position.

I support Senators Connor and Coogan in their proposal that the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2000, be returned to the Dáil committee. The Leader of the House should circulate among Members the legal advice, if it is available, from the Attorney General or the Department on the issue raised by Senator Ross, which abruptly ended proceedings yesterday. If it is not available now, it may be in an hour's time so the Bill would be taken uninterrupted.

I also add to the pleas to the Leader of the House to ask Ministers to introduce legislation as soon as possible in the autumn, if the Oireachtas resumes, especially the legislation on disability, which was promised for this session but has not materialised. I too support Senator Connor's proposal to return No. 2 to committee, but I accept the Cathaoirleach's ruling.

Standing Order 111 states that a motion to recommit may be made at any time during consideration of a Bill on Report Stage. The appropriate time for such a motion is then, which is why I ruled Senator Connor's proposal out of order.

I accept that and, therefore, support Senator Costello's request that No. 2 be deleted. As others have stated, it is essential that we receive the advice of the Attorney General on this matter.

I wish to raise two matters. First, I ask the Leader to draw the attention of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to the possible delay of the roads programme under the national development plan, resulting from the impasse between farmers and the National Roads Authority. This serious matter requires attention at the highest level. Farmers are entitled to compensation but the roads programme, which is the biggest in the history of the State, must proceed. I ask the Leader to consult the Minister about a compensation package which would allow the NRA to carry out the roads programme early next year.

I also call for a debate on water quality, particularly that in the Shannon basin. The Minister must recognise that the two main problems are the lack of pump out facilities for the Shannon boating industry, an issue I raised often, and the use of phosphates, which should be banned from household cleaning solutions and artificial fertilisers. It is unfair to blame local authorities and farmers since large chemical companies contribute most to water deterioration by including phosphates in these products.

Senators Coogan, O'Toole, Costello, Burke, Keogh, Ryan and Norris spoke on No. 2. The Government will relay information to me at 1.45 p.m. on the matter that was adjourned last night. The Minister will answer in the House the points raised by the Senators, particularly Senator Ross. We appreciate and thank the Minister of State, Deputy Wallace, for his hard work yesterday. He was in the House for over 13 hours, encompassing 15 votes that took up three hours 45 minutes, because of the long and serious debate.

Senators O'Toole, Farrell and Coghlan called for a debate on auctioneering. Auctioneers give great service to the country and are held in high esteem by the business community. If some break the rules and betray trust, I hope that their association deals with that speedily. Senator Farrell's views are born of experience. There can be a debate in autumn on auctioneering and all matters concerning the sale of land, including those involving other professions.

I will convey to the Minister Senator Taylor-Quinn's comments on the circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Nolan. She also made a statement about the chairman and chief executive of Bord Fáilte. We are fortunate in having these two great men working on the country's behalf during good and difficult times. I wish them well. This is an opportunity for the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation to put his stamp on change.

Senators Glennon, Chambers, Ó Murchú, Rory Kiely, Farrell and Cosgrave called for a debate on the media. Senator Glennon seeks one on the role of the media and the profession of politics. We debated this many times in recent years and should do so again. There should be a commission on media standards and the decline in truth in the news. In this context, I reiterate Senator Cosgrave's comments about Senator Manning's role as a witness in the case on the allegations against the Taoiseach. I commend his decency, honesty and integrity in giving forthright evidence before the court because of the damage that such wildcat allegations could do to the Taoiseach.

I join Senators in asking what is to be done in relation to these dreadful allegations. All one has is one's character and integrity. Public life is about trust. We are fortunate to have a wonderful Taoiseach who works himself to the bone morning, noon and night with commitment. It must have been very difficult for a man of integrity when such an allegation is made and carried in the media. Perhaps in future such allegations will be checked out in greater detail.

Senators Connor and Finneran called for a debate on water quality, particularly in the Shannon. I will pass those views on to the Minister. Last week we had statements on water quality and the time allocated was not taken up.

Senator McDonagh called for repairs to roads in housing estates. The Local Government Bill is in the House and that issue might be highlighted under an appropriate section. The point could have been made on Second Stage which was taken yesterday.

I have passed Senator Lanigan's views on to the Minister regarding people collecting money, particularly those who are organised and who get aggressive in approaching potential donors. We must be very careful and watchful in this regard.

I wish to be associated with Senator Farrell's expression of good wishes to the Taoiseach, Tony Blair and everyone associated with the current talks. There is nothing more important for both Governments then the peace talks. We all hope and pray they are successful and wish them well in the hope that the Good Friday Agreement will be enhanced even further and that everybody will give a little to finalise the various loose ends.

I wish to inform Senator Norris that there is no time limit on the debate on the Nice treaty referendum. I said that spokespersons would have ten minutes and other Senators would have seven minutes. The debate will be open ended.

Senator Chambers raised investment in the IT sector, particularly through broadband, and I will pass his views on to the Minister for Public Enterprise. I intend to leave time for a debate on this early in the next session.

Senator Jackman called for a debate on the NRA. We have had many such debates in the House. The first Private Members' debate was on the NRA, and I recall at least three further debates. I understand that the farming organisations and their leaders have been meeting with the NRA and are working very hard to find a formula. Everybody wants to see farmers getting their fair share, and as Senator Finneran said, we also want to see the national development plan being implemented. I hope progress can be made and that common sense will prevail.

Senator Quinn raised the issue of road safety and road rage. A very decent effort has been made in addressing the number of terrible deaths on our roads over recent years. I understand that the numbers being killed on the roads are in decline, for which we are very thankful. I will also pass the views of the Senator regarding the charities legislation on to the relevant Ministers.

Senator Bonner referred to a problem in Donegal and I will pass his views on to the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources after the Order of Business. Regarding the matter raised by Senator Keogh, I have given an assurance that we will have a debate on disabilities and I hope the relevant legislation will be before the House in the autumn.

If this is the last day of the session, which can only be decided on how business progresses today, I wish to thank the Cathaoirleach for the great work he has done in the House during the session, the Leas-Chathaoirleach, the Clerk and the Assistant Clerk for the kindness and courtesy shown to us, the leaders of the groups in the House and the Whips, particularly the hard work ing Government Whip. We are very grateful to the ushers, the gardaí and the press, including Jimmy Walsh who covers proceedings in the House and George Devlin from RTÉ. I also thank the sound engineers for the great improvement in sound and the parliamentary reporters who record everything that happens in the House.

Is Senator Costello's amendment, that No. 2 be deleted from the Order of Business, being pressed?

I did not catch the Leader's response. Did he say he would circulate the opinion given to the Department of the Environment and Local Government on the issue which resulted in consideration of the Bill being adjourned last night?

I understand the Leader made no reference to that matter.

Does the Leader wish to refer to it?

I understood that points were made by various Senators last night, in particular Senator Ross, and that the Minister would return to the House at 2 p.m. to respond. I am in the same position as Senator Costello in that I am awaiting the Minister's response.

The Minister has a response and is not circulating it to the House.

Amendment put.

Burke, Paddy.Caffrey, Ernie.Coghlan, Paul.Coogan, Fintan.Cosgrave, Liam T.Costello, Joe.Cregan, Denis (Dino).Jackman, Mary.Keogh, Helen.

McDonagh, Jarlath.Norris, David.O'Dowd, Fergus.O'Meara, Kathleen.O'Toole, Joe.Quinn, Feargal.Ross, Shane.Ryan, Brendan.Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.

Níl

Bonner, Enda.Callanan, Peter.Cassidy, Donie.Chambers, Frank.Cox, Margaret.Cregan, John.Dardis, John.Farrell, Willie.Finneran, Michael.Fitzgerald, Liam.Fitzgerald, Tom.Fitzpatrick, Dermot.Glennon, Jim.

Glynn, Camillus.Hayes, Maurice.Kett, Tony.Kiely, Rory.Lanigan, Mick.Leonard, Ann.Lydon, Don.Moylan, Pat.O'Brien, Francis.Ó Fearghail, Seán.Ó Murchú, Labhrás.Ormonde, Ann.Walsh, Jim.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Costello and Ryan; Níl, Senators Dardis and T. Fitzgerald.
Amendment declared lost.

Is the Order of Business agreed to?

Question put: "That the Order of Business be agreed to."

Bonner, Enda.Callanan, Peter.Cassidy, Donie.Chambers, Frank.Cox, Margaret.Cregan, JohnDardis, John.Farrell, Willie.Finneran, Michael.Fitzgerald, Liam.Fitzgerald, Tom.Fitzpatrick, Dermot.Glennon, Jim.

Glynn, Camillus.Hayes, Maurice.Kett, Tony.Kiely, Rory.Lanigan, Mick.Leonard, Ann.Lydon, Don.Moylan, Pat.O'Brien, Francis.Ó Fearghail, Seán.Ó Murchú, Labhrás.Ormonde, Ann.Walsh, Jim.

Níl

Caffrey, Ernie.Coghlan, Paul.Coogan, Fintan.Cosgrave, Liam T.Costello, Joe.Cregan, Denis (Dino).Jackman, Mary.Keogh, Helen.

McDonagh, Jarlath.Norris, David.O'Meara, Kathleen.O'Toole, Joe.Quinn, Feargal.Ross, Shane.Ryan, Brendan.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Dardis and T. Fitzgerald; Níl, Senators Norris and Ross.
Question declared carried.