Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 8, 9, 1, 10, and 16. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Private Members' Business shall be No. 16 and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

Are the proposals for dealing with No. 16, Private Members' Business, satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

When will the Government publish its proposals for the appointment of judges? The Tánaiste stated on television that they would be published next week. Is that the position and, if so, will they apply to the vacancy in the Presidency of the High Court?

It is expected that the Government will be in a position to publish details next week, or earlier, if possible. They will be published as early as possible.

Will they apply to the appointment of the President to the High Court?

The Deputy should not anticipate Government announcements. He should wait for the details to be issued.

We would not dare.

Is the Taoiseach aware that members of his Government, brought this matter into public controversy? If he does not know the answer to the question, we do not know if there will be a general election.

I am sorry to disappoint Deputy Bruton but he should not anticipate Government announcements. Perhaps he should take a few tablets. The position is clear.

It would appear that——

Order, please. I now call Deputy Harney.

——that the Taoiseach is unable to anticipate the conduct of his Ministers.

There will not be a general election.

I am interested to hear the Taoiseach say there will not be a general election. Is he suggesting the ceasefire in Government is permanent?

Like Deputy Harney, I hope we will have a ceasefire from the loyalist community which is more important than anything else on this island.

There is not much loyalty around the Cabinet table.

Where are the loyalists over there?

There are a fair few loyalists on the Deputy's side.

If I was Deputy Quinn I would not raise that matter. We all know the game he has been playing during the past week.

Order, please.

It had nothing to do with loyalty. He is not the Deputy's best friend.

Sir, that was merely a point of order.

A Deputy

It was a joke.

Until I see the historic handshake, perhaps outside Government Buildings, between the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste it will be a joke

A Deputy

It may be a golden handshake.

If the briefing given to the Cork Examiner is correct, that the Minister for Justice did not tell the full truth here yesterday, that she misled the House because the President of the High Court will not be affected by the new proposals the people are being fooled by the Government because it does not propose to change anything that will affect appointments to the presidency of the High Court. That was the issue. The Taoiseach owes it to us to clear this matter up.

The Deputy is embarking upon a speech.

The Taoiseach does not seem to want to answer any questions on the tribunal or on any of the political issues that arise. Will the presidency of the High Court be affected by the new proposals?

Deputy Harney should not anticipate any Government announcements in this respect.


In view of the replies we received from the Minister for Justice yesterday with regard to the Court Officers Bill and the conflicting versions of what is expected to be in this Bill emanating from the two partners in Government, could the Taoiseach tell us which of the conflicting versions is the correct one? Will the presidency of the High Court be covered by the incoming Bill? Will any senior judicial appointment be covered by it?

I have listened to the Minister for Justice in this House. I have seen no signs of conflict. I would refer the Deputy to the Government statement and recommend that he study it. He will be well able to understand it and should not anticipate what will be in the legislation until it is published.

The Government has not agreed it yet.

Does the Taoiseach seriously think that it is in the interests of the cohesion of this Government, for what that is worth, that another weekend be spent speculating about whether or not a High Court appointment will be covered by this Bill? Does the Government seriously think that it is in the interests of the country or the normal conduct of Cabinet business that that should remain uncertain any longer?

My heart is deeply touched by the concern of Deputy Bruton for the stability of this Government. Please settle down and stop jumping up and down. There will not be an election until 1997. The Deputy does not have to worry about the cohesion of this Government; it has been working well, is working well and will continue to work well to 1997.

You are only a joke.


The Taoiseach owes it to the House, particularly in the light of the way he hyped this matter himself last Tuesday week, to tell us——

I respectfully submit we cannot debate this matter this morning.

His attitude on an election changed between Friday night and Sunday morning.

I submit we should await the circulation of the Bill and the debate which will ensure thereon, which I understand will be quite shortly.

No, a Cheann Comhairle. This issue has paralysed the Government for a month. The Taoiseach owes it to the House to tell us whether or not the new procedures will cover the appointment of a president to the High Court.

The Deputy will have ample opportunity to give vent to her feelings when the Bill comes before the House.

You are being very unreasonable. The questions I put to the Taoiseach on this matter were transferred and the Taoiseach should clarify the matter.

I have given you full rein this morning to put your point of view but you continue to make speeches.

I am asking the Taoiseach to tell us whether or not new proposals will cover the appointment of a president to the High Court.

I have already answered it three times. I will repeat it again for the benefit of Deputy Harney that she cannot anticipate what will be in Government Bills but must always await their publication.

Can the Taoiseach anticipate it?

I do not have to.

Deputy J. Bruton rose.

I had called Deputy Rabbitte.

It is on a different matter, Sir. I think Deputy Bruton wants to raise something.

Deputy Rabbitte will obey the Chair. I am in charge here.

I did not mean any disrespect, Sir. The Taoiseach said yesterday that he would be publishing a new legislative schedule next week. Will it contain legislation on Cabinet confidentiality, having regard to the manner in which the Taoiseach inspired leaks to describe how the Labour Party voted on the tax amnesty at the Cabinet and how they conducted the discussions on the tax amnesty in order to do down his Labour colleagues?

The Deputy should raise that at another time in a more appropriate manner.

Is it in order to ask if the Taoiseach proposes to bring forward legislation on this matter, seeing that he is the man who sheltered behind Cabinet confidentiality but, when it suited him to do down his Labour colleagues, broke it?

I am sorry, Deputy Rabbitte, you must desist forthwith.

We have in the Programme for Government a promise of legislation for a third banking force to merge the ICC, the ACC and the TSB. Since the Taoiseach has told us the Government is stable, has it the intention of fulfilling that commitment which was one of the important inputs to the programme from the Labour Party, or does the Government intend to sell off those institutions individually?

The Government has just received a consultant's report in this regard which it is studying. It will bring forward proposals in due course.

Is the Programme for Government still applicable in this area?

The Government is fully committed to the Programme for Government, lest the Deputy has any doubts about it.

Is the Taoiseach aware that almost 40 per cent of all crimes in this country are committed by juveniles? In the light of that, will he tell us if the long promised Juvenile Justice Bill will be introduced in this session?

I share the Deputy's concern and I can tell her the Bill is in the final stages at last.

The Taoiseach did not answer my question. I asked if it would be introduced in this session.

The Minister hopes to introduce it in this session.

In respect of the upcoming vacancy for the position of Comptroller and Auditor General, is it the Taoiseach's intention to put a motion to the Dáil next week as that appointment would have to be made before the end of next week?

Can you offer Harry Whelehan now?

I am aware of the time scale involved. I am also aware of the obligation under the legislation to consult the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts. That is being done and we hope to dispose of the matter soon.

Whose turn is it?

Is this worth two appointments or one?

On the commitment given by the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy O'Dea, to introduce legislation before the summer recess to protect longstanding residential tenants, has any such legislation been drafted and can we expect it in this session?

I do not know the exact position but I will communicate with the Deputy.

Nothing has been done.

The Minister for Health has for some time promised legislation on abortion information. Will the Taoiseach clarify if it is the case that it is not the Minister for Health who will be introducing this Bill and that it will be included in the Freedom of Information Bill? That is the impression the Taoiseach gave yesterday. When will the outstanding question on the right to travel and the substantive issue be dealt with in line with the referendum decision of the people?

The Deputy seems confused. I will try to clarify the situation for her.

Please do not.

He is like Tommy Cooper.

But he is not funny.

We should hear the Taoiseach when he rises to speak.

The Information on Termination of Pregnancy Bill will be introduced in this session and it has no connection with the Freedom of Information Bill.

Let me set the record straight. If I was confused, it was because the Taoiseach's response yesterday was extremely confusing. He indicated otherwise and the record will show that.

Is the legislation to introduce a national education and training certification board likely to come before the House this session? This is an issue that has lain around for two years. It was a cornerstone of the training policy and there seems to be a turf war between Ministers about what will happen to it.

It is not likely to come before the House this session.

Will the Taoiseach confirm whether ports legislation will be introduced during this session?

What legislation?

The proposed harbour legislation.

I thought the Deputy said "courts legislation".

Ports, not airports.

Let us hear the Taoiseach without interruption.

If it had been left to the party across the Floor no regional airports would have been built. It does not believe in decentralisation.

What about an airport in Longford?

There has been an airport in Longford for many years. In reply to Deputy Finucane, the legislation is in the final stages of preparation.