May I remind the House that Standing Order 20, under which any motion to set aside Standing Orders for the purpose of a late sitting must be made, provides that any such motion must be moved by a member of the Government and that it must be moved before 3 p.m. on Thursday. It appears that the motion which was moved did not comply with either of these conditions.
Business of Dáil.
Surely if there is agreement of the House, and I understand a Minister, who is a member of the Government, said there was such agreement——
There was unanimous agreement.
As far as the Chair is concerned, there was what I thought to be an informal understanding. Now, however, this has been challenged and the provisions in the Standing Orders must prevail.
Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle say who is challenging it?
The Parliamentary Secretary, who is the Government's Chief Whip.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary agree that a Minister agreed to this arrangement?
Earlier, the discussion was entirely informal and there was no formal motion. Now that the Parliamentary Secretary, the Government's Chief Whip, has raised the matter in a formal way——
There was no intimation by the Chair when this question was discussed earlier that a previous arrangement had been made. This morning when the House first met, the understanding was that it would rise at 5 p.m. and this matter was not adverted to at all.
The Chair pointed out at the time that there had been no motion to sit late. There was informal discussion and a tentative agreement. Now, the matter has been brought formally to the notice of the Chair by the Government's Chief Whip and the Chair has no option but to defer to Standing Orders.
Surely, when there is agreement between the three main parties and when this is sanctioned by a Minister, that should supersede Standing Orders?
Standing Orders, in the ordinary way, cannot be superseded except by formal resolution.
There was a tentative agreement which could be taken to being tantamount to a formal agreement.
Nothing was said about the agreement being tentative. An agreement was reached and it was announced by the Chair. It was endorsed by a Minister and I do not think any Parliamentary Secretary has the right to come in here and interrupt business in this fashion.
He was sent in.
The Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that Standing Orders would be infringed. The Chair pointed out this matter at the time: that the motion was not moved in time, that this motion should have been made before a certain time and that the motion was not properly made. The House must agree that the Chair must follow the matters contained in Standing Orders.
Was the Chair aware that a tentative agreement had been made by a Minister on behalf of the Government?
All the Chair was aware of was that there was a general discussion between Members and that there was some kind of tentative agreement.
Which is now being repudiated by the Government.
I am not aware that any member of the Government took part when this informal discussion took place.
Yes. There were two members of the Government here.
In any case, at this stage we had better proceed to deal with the number of questions we can dispose of.