The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re Electoral Act 1997 (section 53) Order 2004 and the Presidential Election (Reimbursement of Expenses) Regulations 2004; No. 2, Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Bill 2003 — Committee Stage (resumed), to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business and to conclude no later than 12 p.m.; No. 3, Commissions of Investigation Bill 2003 — Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 12 p.m. and to conclude at 1 p.m.; No. 4, statements on the Barron report, to be taken at 2 p.m. and to conclude at 4 p.m., with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed ten minutes and those of other Senators not to exceed eight minutes; No. 5, National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004 — Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 4 p.m. and to conclude no later than 5 p.m.; No. 6, Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill 2004 — Committee Stage, to be taken at 7 p.m. and to conclude at 8.30 p.m.; No. 7, Equality Bill 2004 [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil] — Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 8.30 p.m. and to conclude at 9.15 p.m.; No. 8, International Development Association (Amendment) Bill 2003 — Second Stage, to be taken at 9.15 p.m. and to conclude at 10.15 p.m., with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and those of other Senators not to exceed five minutes and the Minister to be called upon to reply no later than five minutes before the conclusion of Second Stage; and No. 24, motion No. 18, to be taken from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be a sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
No. 1 concerns an order and regulations in respect of the expenditure limits for presidential elections in the same manner as for Dáil elections, as provided for under the Electoral Act. Where limits are proposed to be introduced, it is required that a draft order be laid before each House of the Oireachtas for positive resolution. As any presidential election, if held, would take place in October and the election period would commence before the Houses resume after the summer recess, this approval needs to be obtained before the summer recess. The amounts are based on the constituency amounts. A note on the matter will be made available to Senators. There is a tradition that we do not discuss presidential matters in either House.
With the permission of the Cathaoirleach, I will make a short statement on No. 8 and another matter. No. 8, the International Development Association (Amendment) Bill 2003, is a Bill from the Department of Finance to enable Ireland to contribute advance loans to the poorest developing countries at an interest rate of 0%, to be paid back over a long period of 35 to 40 years. The Bill is a very fine measure and is approximately four pages long. Bearing in mind its purpose, we have spoken to the leaders of each group about it. Ireland makes a contribution to the fund in question, as do all the countries in the developed world.
I will not take up too much of the House's time raising the second matter. We were requested to take a Bill at 10 p.m. tonight, which I would not do. Apart from the need for us to have a sense of reason, it would be very unfair on staff to take it at that hour. We did it once and it did not work out. I made a sort of promise to myself thereafter that we would not engage in this late night caper. It is not a good idea to take a major Bill of 39 pages at 10 p.m. and process it within another hour the next day. I was receiving conflicting messages on this matter so I went to see the Taoiseach yesterday. I waylaid him when he came out of the House and spoke with him at considerable length. I have learned many matters which are very interesting.
I want Senators to know that the Minister for Transport never contacted me. He never telephoned me. I prefer to be straightforward and I want to tell the tale as it happened because one hears different versions. There is a huge amount of spinning at present. I prefer to be straightforward and honest about the matter. If someone wants to take up the issue on the Order of Business, that is fine. I never received a telephone call or any communication from the Minister for Transport. His office was in contact with my office — Senators know who that was. I regard those interchanges as undesirable.
Be that as it may, I spoke with the Taoiseach and we had a very good discussion. He agreed that it would be ridiculous to rush the Bill through at 10 o'clock tonight and again tomorrow. We will take it next week. I apologise to you, a Chathaoirligh, and through you to the House and to the staff. We had thought that summer was here and we could go on our way. That is not so.
For many years this House was railroaded and regarded as a place where legislation was rubber-stamped. It was thought that Senators were not up to much. I thank Senators for their forbearance in the matter. It is a mark of our sense of authority that we would not allow the Bill to be taken tonight. I do not intend, on my watch, that kind of behaviour to be——