Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 19, motion re referral to joint committee for proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a proposal under the Fourth Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam concerning an agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway; No. 20, motion re referral to committee of removal of the reservation on Article 4.2.C of the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe; No. 21, motion re Standing Order 26 – Order of Business – Leaders' Questions; and No. 5, Social Welfare Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 19 and 20 shall be decided without debate. It is also proposed that the proceedings on No. 21, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion within 60 minutes and that the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed five minutes, and Members may share time. Private Members' Business shall be No. 108, motion re road safety.

There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 19 and 20 agreed to?

Unfortunately, I cannot agree to the Order of Business unless it is amended. The Taoiseach has a responsibility to make a statement to the House and to subject himself to questions from the Opposition on the Deputy Ned O'Keeffe affair. This resignation is shrouded in ambiguity. There is a direct conflict between statements made by the former Minister of State with responsibility for food and those made by the Taoiseach. We have tried to raise this issue by way of motion under Standing Order 31 and by way of private notice questions. We have been advised by the Ceann Comhairle's office that it requires a substantive motion. I would settle for less than a substantive motion if the Taoiseach clarified some of the issues by way of a statement and if he allowed the Opposition to put questions. Did he want Deputy O'Keeffe to stay or go? Did he offer to move him to another Department before Christmas? Was it an unspecified employee who put pressure on Deputy O'Keeffe to resign rather than the Taoiseach? Without challenging the Taoiseach's right to remove persons from office if he considers them unfit or unsuitable—

Like Enda.

—the Minister could come under those.

Like Enda.

The Minister should allow Deputy Noonan to speak.

Is this the Minister who was in London when the Taoiseach was up every tree in north Dublin?

Like Enda. Where was John last Saturday?

Is this the same Minister?

Deputy Noonan should not allow himself to be deflected by interruptions, and the Minister should allow Deputy Noonan to continue without interruption.

Is this the Inspector Clouseau of the Administration?

(Interruptions.)

I am not challenging the Taoiseach's right to remove a Minister he considers unsuitable or unfit for office but he owes it to the House to explain why he did it and to clear up the ambiguities which now exist. There will be no agreement to the Order of Business until the Taoiseach agrees to do so.

What about the poll? Tell us about that.

The Minister is having nightmares. Beware of the ghosts.

Tell us about the poll.

Deputy Quinn, without interruption. I ask the Minister and Deputy Shatter to allow Deputy Quinn to speak.

This side of the House has tried every legitimate way of raising a matter of enormous importance. It is so important that the Ceann Comhairle said it could only be dealt with by substantive motion. We do not agree to the Order of Business because the Taoiseach is hiding behind the Chair. It is as spineless a performance as we have seen in a long while.

That is not an appropriate comment.

Deputy O'Keeffe resigned at 4 o'clock on Friday and his statement was: "I only accepted—"

They are worried today for Deputy O'Keeffe. They wanted his head last week.

The cover fire is fairly good but not good enough. We know what is going on. An hour after Deputy O'Keeffe resigned the brave Taoiseach sent out some of his bully boys to spin to the effect that: "If you don't resign we're going to fire you." That is really strong, Taoiseach. You are some brave boy, you really are. You will not come in and make a statement. You mislead the Ceann Comhairle's office to the effect that you are going to make a statement when we are told it is an announcement, then some poor official—

I ask Deputy Quinn not to make accusations that cannot be proven.

On a point of order, that is the second time Deputy Quinn has stated an untruth and he should withdraw it.

Deputy Quinn, will you withdraw?

(Interruptions.)

The Ceann Comhairle will make a statement on the issue tomorrow and I ask Deputy Quinn to await that statement.

The Taoiseach has consistently refused to come in and answer fully those questions—

It is traditional in the House that a Member accepts if he or she accuses another Member and they deny it—

The House was misled.

—it is usual for the Member to accept—

If the Ceann Comhairle's office wants to accept responsibility for that—

—such a denial and I ask the Deputy to accept that.

—then until such time as I hear what the Ceann Comhairle has to say I will accept that but my point remains. The reason we are opposed to the Order of Business is that the Taoiseach, as in his responses to the issues concerning Ray Burke and Deputies Lawlor and Foley, was waiting and waiting for some poor unfortunate, Deputy O'Keeffe, to fall on his sword. When he did so, then the brave Taoiseach announces that if he did not the Taoiseach would make him resign.

Another untruth.

Tell us the story.

Tell us.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Quinn has made his point and should allow the Taoiseach to respond. There will not be any sup plementary questions. Deputies Noonan and Quinn got their opportunity and I call on the Taoiseach to respond. Then we will put the question.

Deputy O'Keeffe informed me at 4 p.m. last Friday that because of the events that had occurred overnight in the Public Offices Commission, he thought it better that he continue to protest his innocence and proceed to deal with the matter with his legal representatives before the commission over the coming period; for how long, neither of us know. He asked if he could talk to his family and prepare a statement and that at around lunch time or after on Saturday he would give an interview and resign. He and I agreed there would be no further talk about it. I made one comment on a request from the Government press secretary; I said I would deal with the issue. That was what I agreed with Deputy O'Keeffe. Unfortunately, the statements on Saturday morning upset Deputy O'Keeffe.

From my dealings with Deputy O'Keeffe in recent months, the position was as simple as this. Before Christmas Deputy O'Keeffe believed if the Public Offices Commission could deal with the matters quickly that he would be exonerated and that he would not have a difficulty; at one stage he believed the matter could be dealt with quickly in early January through correspondence. That was the view of the senior counsel and solicitor who were dealing with the matter for him. On the basis that he was cleared I had no difficulty in him staying in his post but as we know, things moved on. I told him that I believed that even if he was cleared by the commission, it would be better for him to move on from that Department.

As events occurred, moving him on did not arise because not only did the commission not complete proceedings, it had to move into formal session. When Deputy O'Keeffe realised—

Did the Taoiseach promise him another Department?

—this would be prolonged over a period of time he rang me. That is all that happened. In the normal tradition of the House, when a Minister of State resigns an announcement is made by the Taoiseach accepting the resignation and appointing another. There is no other intrigue in the matter.

The question is, "That the proposals for dealing with items 19 and 20 be agreed."

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.

Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Aylward, Liam. Tá –continued

Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Sé amus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Collins, Michael.Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.

Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McDaid, James.McGuinness, John J.Moffatt, Thomas.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wright, G. V.

Níl

Barrett, Seán.Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Bruton, John.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Liam.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.De Rossa, Proinsias.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Hayes, Brian.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.

Hogan, Philip.Howlin, Brendan.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Spring, Dick.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Bradford and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

On a point of order, something quite extraordinary occurred during the short recess. The public gallery was cleared and an attempt was made by officials of the House to clear the Press Gallery. Could we have some explanation of why that occurred? The gallery was full and was cleared out, and there was an attempt made to clear the Press Gallery, and some of them left.

That has already been brought to the attention of the Chair. We are having the matter investigated and will let the Deputy know. There is another proposal. I will put the proposal and then call Deputy Noonan. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21 agreed?

I cannot agree to the Order of Business until the Taoiseach makes a formal statement in the House and answers questions from the Opposition benches. His impromptu statement presents us with further difficulties.

We cannot discuss the content of a statement.

I am giving reasons for opposing the Order of Business.

We have already spent a full hour on this issue.

It is a very important issue.

The Taoiseach wanted Deputy Ned O'Keeffe to resign. We still do not know—

We will not have an analysis of the Taoiseach's statement now.

On a point of order, the Taoiseach suggested in his statement—

It is not a point of order to analyse the Taoiseach's statement.

It is a point of order. The Chair should listen to the point of order.

It is not a point of order, and the Deputy knows that.

Are the Ceann Comhairle and the Taoiseach aware that the Public Offices Commission issued a statement to the effect that the fact that Deputy O'Keeffe—

We cannot have a debate on the issue. I am calling Deputy Ruairí Quinn.

This is very unfair.

You are undermining the working of the House.

This has already been debated.

The House can now understand why, later this evening, I will press my right to raise topical matters on the Order of Business. One can see how I will be silenced if we do not change the Standing Order. One can see how the Taoiseach and the Chairman of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party will close me down.

Deputy Noonan, I would ask you to withdraw that remark. Casting a reflection on the Chair is not acceptable.

I understand, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that you were acting as Leas-Ceann Comhairle and not as Chairman of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party—

I want an unequivocal withdrawal of the remark.

—so I will withdraw the title.

Thank you, Deputy Noonan.

I wonder could I clarify something the Taoiseach said in relation to the matter we have just disposed of. When did he accept the resignation of Deputy Ned O'Keeffe? Because of the problem with the acoustics in this Chamber, many of the people in the Fourth Estate, who are charged with reporting these proceedings, were unable to hear whether the Taoiseach accepted the resignation at 4.00 p.m. on Friday or on Saturday. In the interests of accuracy, the Taoiseach might like to clarify that point and put it on the record of the House.

Might I be allowed to ask a question?

On the other matter, am I to understand the record of the House will show very clearly what the Taoiseach said? Is it in order to take item 21 at this point? Is the Chair aware that the sub-committee on Dáil reform which met to discuss what was originally a Fine Gael motion was not quorate once the Green Party Member, Deputy Gormley, left? This motion has not come through the all-party process as it is required to do and it has not gone to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. It is without precedent that the two largest parties in this Chamber would, in effect, gang up against every other party and Member to put this through.

Have you fallen out, Ruairí?

The Deputy will not talk to anyone without preconditions.

Since this proposes to change the Standing Orders, is the motion properly before the House in the first instance, having regard to the fact that it has not come through the normal, traditional procedures for changing the rules on how this House does its business?

By this time the Private Notice Question could have been disposed of and we would have made more progress. Will the Chair take into account that the item before the House will not deal with an amendment from the Green Party or with an amendment from the Socialist Party and other Independent Members? It will simply deal with one amendment. Does the Chair not agree this is a sham? I welcome the expression of solidarity from the Labour Party. I understand that if we were to have further discussion on this, we could also have an agreement with the Fine Gael Party. This item should not be taken now. The Order Paper is flawed. This will be dealt with inadequately and that will give rise to an incomplete state of affairs which will not be revisited again soon.

(Dublin West): Even at this late stage, I ask the Taoiseach to accept the amendments put down by the Green Party and myself.

Deputy, that does not arise at this stage. The motion will be debated and there will be an opportunity for the Deputy to speak.

(Dublin West): The Taoiseach might not be able to stay for the debate and he should hear the critical points as to why minorities should not be suppressed.

It still does not arise at this stage. The Deputy should await the debate. In reply to Deputy Quinn and Deputy Sargent—

(Dublin West): I ask the Taoiseach to accept the amendments put down by the Green Party and the Socialist Party.

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat while the Chair replies to Deputy Quinn and Deputy Sargent. The motion before the House is in accordance—

On a point of order, the other Opposition leaders have been allowed to ask a question. May I ask a question?

The Deputy had an opportunity to ask a question and refused it.

No, you, Sir, closed me down. You would not allow me to ask the question. May I ask a question on this matter?

When one takes over the leadership of a party, one expects to be allowed to conduct the business of the party in the manner in which one's predecessor conducted it. I was faced with a situation where a privilege extended by the Ceann Comhairle to my predecessor was withdrawn. I am not transgressing anybody's rights when I seek to restore thestatus quo ante. In response to my Green Party colleague, I have no problem seeing the debate this evening as step one of a two step change in the order—

(Dublin West): The Deputy went behind their backs to do a deal with Fianna Fáil.

—and I will support an amendment along the lines proposed by the Deputy. However, I cannot come to the Order of Business and be prevented from raising topical issues when my predecessor and his predecessor, Deputy Bertie Ahern, were allowed to do so. The House saw what happened today when I tried to raise an issue – I was closed down.

Like I was.

That is not going to happen.

The Deputy is playing to the gallery; he is even looking at it.

Deputy Noonan is well aware that the responsibility of the Chair is to implement Standing Orders. It is up to the House to amend Standing Orders and the motion before the House seeks to do that.

On a point of order, it might be of value to check the Official Record to find out who the Chair does and does not interrupt. The record will speak for itself.

Is the Deputy casting a reflection on the Chair?

I am glad. I will now respond to Deputy Quinn and Deputy Sargent, after which I will put the question. The motion before the House is in accordance with long standing precedent. Dáil procedure is governed by both Standing Orders and long established practice. In any event the motion on today's Order Paper is predicated with "notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders". The Chair is satisfied that the motion before the House is in accordance with precedent. I will now put the question—

It is not a motion.

On a point of order, there is no precedent for a motion before the House—

The Chair's ruling cannot be challenged on this matter. I will put the question. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21 agreed?

Question put: "That the proposals for dealing with Item No. 21 be agreed to."

Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Collins, Michael.Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.

Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McDaid, James.McGuinness, John J.Moffatt, Thomas.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wright, G. V.

Níl

Barrett, Seán.Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Liam.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.De Rossa, Proinsias.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Finucane, Michael.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gildea, Thomas.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Gregory, Tony.Hayes, Brian.Higgins, Jim.

Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.Howlin, Brendan.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Spring, Dick.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Bradford and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Will the Taoiseach provide time to make a statement in the House and allow the Opposition to ask questions on the resignation of Deputy Ned O'Keeffe? A number of outstanding matters are relevant to this.

It is not appropriate to go into detail on the matter. I will allow the question of whether time will be allowed, although that is not appropriate either.

I thought it would be appropriate to give reasons.

No. It is not appropriate to ask if the Taoiseach will allow time on something which is not promised. If that was the case, every Member could ask questions on any issue. That has been ruled out time and again.

As you, Sir, realise, we understood that the notification from the Office of the Ceann Comhairle that the Taoiseach could make a statement was a promise that this matter would be raised here.

I will allow the question relating to whether the Taoiseach is prepared to give Government time, but that is all I will allow.

It is unfair to the Taoiseach if I do not give reasons.

The Deputy is out of order in asking what time will be given.

This is a topical matter.

There is a motion before the House which we hope to get to before 6 p.m. One hour has been allocated to that motion and if the motion is not concluded before 7 p.m., it will not take effect until Thursday.

I will have to return to this matter on the Order of Business tomorrow morning.

In his announcement of the reallocation of responsibilities and the appointment of Deputy Coughlan to her post as Minister of State, the Taoiseach made some changes in the structure of responsibilities within the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Since all we had was an announcement, I and my colleague, Deputy Upton, understand the Government has downgraded the responsibility for food quality.

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

I know that. To facilitate your judgment when you allow me to ask the question and, therefore, to enable the Taoiseach to respond, I thought I would give some background as to why I am asking it. It appears that at a time when most of us were concerned about the damage done to Irish food and the perception of its quality—

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

It underlines the necessity to accede to the request by Deputy Noonan for the Taoiseach to explain not only why Deputy Ned O'Keeffe sought to resign but why the Taoiseach has sought to change the structures within the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at a time when we are facing a food crisis.

I have already ruled Deputy Noonan out of order. I will allow the simple question on that.

There is no change in the responsibilities which former Minister of State, Deputy Ned O'Keeffe, had on the food side in the Department. They will now be dealt with by Minister of State, Deputy Davern.

Among others.

He has the assistance of some others, but so did Deputy Ned O'Keeffe. I also said the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Moffatt, would continue to have special responsibility for food safety. I said that because I noticed in recent days that a number of people thought that was a responsibility of the former Minister of State, Deputy Ned O'Keeffe. However, that was not the case as it was a responsibility of the Minister of State, Deputy Moffatt.

That is part of the problem.

I want to ask a question about the legislation dealing with the single regulatory authority for the financial services. Does the Taoiseach agree it indicates a significant measure of contempt for this House that during our deliberations here for the past hour the two most senior members of his Government, the Minister for Finance and the Tánaiste, have been announcing this legislation, or whatever deal they have done, to the press?

A question on the legislation.

Does the Taoiseach agree that represents a significant discourtesy to the House?

I strongly support the point made by Deputy McDowell.

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

No. On a point of order, I agree with Deputy McDowell.

The Deputy can-not raise a point of order if he agrees with the Deputy.

I have answered questions from Deputies for a long time about the legislation and an agreement between the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance on the single regulatory authority. I thought they would have welcomed that. It was cleared this morning at the Cabinet meeting and it is being launched now.

The questions were not answered.

Will the Taoiseach provide time this week to take No. 56 on today's Order Paper, Statements on Iraq? What steps have the Government taken as a member of the United Nations Security Council to make known its concerns about the bombings to the UK and the USA?

Those questions do not arise on the Order of Business.

No. 56 on the Order Paper clearly provides for statements.

It is in order to ask if time will be allowed, but time has not been allowed at this stage. We cannot have a debate on it.

I appreciate your concern but I want to ask the Taoiseach one final question.

The matter will be raised by Deputy Power on the Adjournment tonight.

It is not necessary to interrupt me in this way. Is the Taoiseach aware that close to 100 children per day are dying as a result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq?

That question is not in order.

Will he take steps, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, to have those sanctions ended?

I would be in favour of such a debate if the Whips can agree a time. I refer the Deputy to the extensive statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday.

He sat on the fence.

I am aware of the serious position in Iraq. Ireland has been taking a strong view in the UN Security Council to alleviate the sanctions. The Minister for Foreign Affairs will have important meetings on this and other issues with a number of countries, including Russia and America, over the next ten days.

Does the Taoiseach condemn those bombings?

That is not in order on the Order of Business. Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Yes. When will the Environmental Protection Agency Bill and the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill be introduced? Will they be introduced before the summer?

The Environmental Protection Agency Bill will be introduced in the autumn. The Minister for the Environment and Local Government will make a statement on the other Bill.

Regarding promised legislation to amend the Electoral Act, 1997, I understand from a statement made yesterday on radio by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform – a statement also carried on the Fianna Fáil website and issued by the Minister's office – that he is under the misapprehension that his Government introduced the Act.

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business. Does the Deputy have a question on promised legislation?

Yes. The Government has promised to amend the Electoral Act, 1997. Is the Taoiseach aware that that Act was introduced by the previous Administration?

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business.

Will the Taoiseach kindly give that information to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who does not seem to be aware of that simple fact?

I call the Taoiseach on the amendment to the Electoral Act, 1997.

I am so aware. I am also aware that the expenditure limits discussed under that Act were never implemented the last time around. The Bill has been ordered for Second Stage and will be taken in the Seanad tomorrow.

(Dublin West): The Taoiseach likes to be portrayed as the champion of the small person.

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

(Dublin West): Will the Taoiseach change the Government motion suppressing the voices of small parties and nonestablishment Deputies in order that they will have the same input on the Order of Business as Fine Gael and the Labour Party?

That issue does not arise on the Order of Business.

(Dublin West): I am asking the Taoiseach about his proposals.

Does this relate to promised legislation?

(Dublin West): It relates to order in and the running of the Dáil, and the right of all Deputies to have an equal say.

The Deputy will have an opportunity to raise that matter in the debate this evening.

(Dublin West): I will, but I am giving the Taoiseach an opportunity now to stand up for the right of small people to have their say.

I raised with you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the matter of clearing the Visitors Gallery and Press Gallery. When will we receive a report on your investigation, or will you report to the House?

There is no report available, but one will certainly be made to the House.