Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 8 and 9; No. 9 shall be taken at 12.30 p.m.

It is also proposed, subject to the agreement of the House, that business shall be interrupted at 12 midnight.

It is further proposed that, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the proceedings in Committee on No. 8 up to and including section 21, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 12.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment.

Private Members' Business, which shall be No. 21, shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m.

May I ask first whether the proposal that business be interrupted at 12 midnight is agreed? Agreed.

Are the proposals for dealing with item No. 8 agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal that item No. 21 — that is Private Members' Business — be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 this evening satisfactory? Agreed.

About two weeks ago the Taoiseach indicated in the House in private meetings with the Opposition Leaders that he had made available to them the wording the Government had in mind for the amendment of the Maastricht Protocol. It appears from a statement on the part of a Minister of State that in fact a number of alternative wordings at present are being canvassed around Europe by the Government and not just one wording.

I must dissuade the Deputy from making a speech.

I appreciate that, Sir. Does the Taoiseach propose to make available to Members of the House copies of the alternative wordings the Government have in mind so that people in the House can be consulted as well as those outside the country?

First of all, I want to reject the word "hawking"— a Fine Gael invention. But, for the benefit of party Leaders, I said that when we had arrived at the stage at which it would be appropriate to update the party Leaders I would do so. My office will be in touch with party Leaders today to let them know where we are at at this stage.

Would it be correct to say that this could not be described as consultation?

This should not give rise to argument.

It is crisis management.

They do not know the meaning of the word.

I am calling Deputy Spring.

There appeared to be a general acceptance of the urgency to deal with the consequences of the Supreme Court judgment in this House a fortnight ago. Since the Taoiseach has said that there possibly would be some consultation with party Leaders today, I would appreciate it if he would inform this House what the Government are doing, and pursuing, in Europe. There was a second aspect of this, that is in relation to legislation, as put forward by the Supreme Court in relation to our obligations in this matter. May I inquire of the Taoiseach whether the Government have taken a decision and whether there will be legislation introduced in this House to regulate matters?

Is there legislation promised in the area?

Not promised.

Deputies John Bruton, Spring and De Rossa rose.

Is there to be no legislation?

We are being told there is to be no legislation.

For the benefit of the House and in order to be helpful, I should say I make it quite clear two weeks ago that the Government were approaching this matter at two different levels. One was to correct the position in relation to the freedom to travel on the part of citizens of EC member states; that was number one.

Second, I said the Government were also considering whether legislation or a referendum, one or the other or both, was appropriate. I said that was a separate matter that would be dealt with at length because it is a very complex one to which there is no simple or easy solution. The Government are concerned to ensure that on this occasion we get the matter right, that we get the correct answer, if that is humanly possible to get, and we will not be bounced or rushed into any immediate choice.

While realising that consultation is a new process for the Fianna Fáil Party, it is only right that we should advert to the fact that in this House yesterday specific questions were asked of the Taoiseach in relation to what was taking place in regard to the Maastricht Protocol when the Taoiseach refused to answer.

Sorry, it was ruled out of order.

We are now told——

I want to dissuade Members from the notion that we can discuss these matters now. We are on the Order of Business solely.

——by a Minister of State in the newspapers that a number of alternative wordings——

Has the Deputy a question appertaining to legislation promised in the House?

I have a question appertaining to the fact that the Supreme Court of this State made a decision with regard to abortion——

The Deputy will find a more suitable way of raising that matter.

——and the Government are not only failing to do anything about the matter in the House but are also failing to carry through the consultation which the Taoiseach promised he would carry through.

I call Deputy Quinn.

May I ask the Taoiseach——

Please, Deputy De Rossa.

I want to ask the Taoiseach——

The Deputy has been making a speech for some considerable time. It is not in order.

I am trying to get information from the Taoiseach which he refused to give me in the normal way at question time yesterday.

I did not.

Deputy De Rossa, please desist. I am not going to have a rehash of yesterday's business. Deputy Quinn.

The Government were flushed out last night.

When we raise the matter through the normal channels we still do not get any information.

May I ask the Taoiseach if it is his intention to give time in this House to enable us to discuss alternative wordings to the Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty before other European Governments have a chance to discuss it in private? In other words, will the Members of this House, elected to represent both the male and female citizens of this Republic, have an opportunity to discuss the revision of the Protocol before foreigners see it?

As I said two weeks ago, I will keep the leaders of the Opposition parties updated in relation to the state of play.

The Taoiseach has not done that.

When that process has been completed we will then decide when a debate is appropriate.

That is not good enough.

That is what I said two weeks ago, and I have not changed one iota of that statement.

The Taoiseach is keeping the other European leaders informed.

Would the Taoiseach agree that Opposition leaders are not being kept updated if they have to discover through the papers, by virtue of an interview with a Minister of State, that alternative wordings are being canvassed in Europe and only one such wording has been made available in any form to the Opposition leaders? The Taoiseach should not give the impression that there is consultation in this matter when there is not consultation in this matter. The Government are acting entirely on their own account in this matter——

Discussion on this matter is not in order now.

So far as I can see it is not in order at any time.

I repeat it is not in order now.

In regard to promised legislation, perhaps the Taoiseach would confirm to the House that it was indicated to his Government by the Attorney General that this issue cannot be adequately addressed in the Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty and that it requires a referendum. That is what the Taoiseach is afraid to tell us in this House.

Deputy Jim Mitchell was offering.

A Deputy

The Taoiseach is speechless.

I was hoping the Taoiseach would answer Deputy Shatter's question before I put my question.

He does not have an answer.

Both the Taoiseach and his predecessor promised the House several times that a housing Bill will be introduced. Will there be a housing Bill before Easter or will it be on the Statute Book before the summer recess?

Or ever?

I answered that question yesterday. I said that the housing Bill has been agreed by the Cabinet and would be published on either Thursday or Friday.

Where are the houses going to be built?

The housing policy is a disgrace.

It is absolutely disgraceful that only 55 houses will be built in County Donegal this year.

The social housing policy is a farce.

Only 38 houses will be built in County Kildare.

I wish to seek some information from the Taoiseach in relation to the long promised Green Paper on Education. Last year the then Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke, informed us that a Green Paper was about to be published. The former Minister for Education, Deputy Davern, also informed us that it was about to be published. I now see that the Green Paper will be delayed for a number of months. Perhaps the Taoiseach can explain why the Green Paper will be delayed yet again.

I never said — I do not think anyone did — that the Green Paper would be delayed for a number of months. I said that the Minister for Education was availing of the opportunity, as previous Ministers for Education did, to acquaint himself with the Green Paper and make changes to it. At my request attention will be drawn in the Green Paper to the development of an enterprise culture in our society which will be started at school level. When the Minister has completed his deliberations in this regard the Government will make a decision and the Green Paper will be published. It will not be a matter of months before it is published.

Will it be published before Easter?

It will be published as soon as possible.

(Limerick East): May I ask the Taoiseach when the Finance Bill will be published?

We expect to publish the Finance Bill during Easter week.

May I ask the Taoiseach to outline to the House the position with regard to the proposed committee on employment? A statement has been made that a committee are to be established. I understand from newspaper reports that there are difficulties in agreeing the terms of reference of that committee between the Government, the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party. Would the Taoiseach agree——

This is not an order now, Deputy.

The Taoiseach may be anxious to make a statement on the matter. Would the Taoiseach agree to have a meeting of party leaders in this House to try to resolve once and for all the difficulties which appear to exist?

The matter is being discussed by the Whips.

Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Unfortunately, discussions between the Whips do not include all party leaders.

This should not lead to argument. Deputy Jim O'Keeffe has been called.

Will the Taoiseach explain to the House why the draft terms of reference of the long promised foreign affairs committee have not been made available to the Opposition? Are we again in the same position where promises will not be kept? Will the Taoiseach say when the committee will be set up and, in particular, when the draft terms of reference will be made available to us?

The promise is almost a year old.

I answered that question on the Order of Business yesterday.

What is the answer? What commitment is the Taoiseach giving to the House? Why do we not have these terms of reference?

Deputy O'Keeffe must now desist.

I have been trying to push this issue for four years and I am getting the same reaction from the Taoiseach as I got from his predecessor.

May I ask my former colleague, the Minister for Health——

Nostalgia.

——if he has completed his deliberations on the revision of the family planning Bill, if the revisions have been circulated to the Cabinet and when the proposed revisions to the already circulated family Bill will be taken in this House?

Put it into the Maastricht Treaty.

His deliberations have not yet been completed.

I wonder why. Is Senator Hanafin a consultant?

I must advise Members that I am proceeding quite promptly to the Order of Business proper. I will hear a brief question from Deputy De Rossa and a final question from Deputy Bruton.

A Cheann Comhairle——

I will facilitate Deputy Belton also.

I seek some clarification from the Taoiseach in regard to the discussions he says are taking place between the Whips on the employment committee. How much more time does he intend to give to these discussions? How soon can we expect a proposal on this committee to be brought before the House in view of the serious crisis in unemployment?

We are having repetition now.

Not very long.

I should like to point out to the Taoiseach that people holding cheques for reactors under the TB eradication scheme — they are co-operating with the scheme — are not getting their money.

I should like to facilitate the Deputy but the matter is not in order now.

I should like to ask the Taoiseach what the Government are doing about this urgent matter.

I am sure Deputy Belton will find a suitable time to raise that matter. Deputy John Bruton, for a final question.

This is a very urgent matter.

I appreciate that, Deputy, but it should be dealt with in the proper manner.

He is looking for a reaction from the Government to these reactors.

What action does the Minister for Agriculture and Food intend to take——

Please, Deputy.

Some time ago on the Order of Business the Taoiseach indicated that he would arrange for consultation through the Whips about the possibility of a debate on the Government's submission to the Rio de Janeiro conference on the world environment. May I ask the Taoiseach if he has made any progress in providing for such a debate, if the Government will publish their submission which I understand has been discussed by other Parliaments well in advance of this very important conference and if he will indicate at what level the Government will be represented at this conference?

I will consider what the Deputy has said and the Whips will take up the matter of allowing time for a debate.