Business of Joint Committee

It is becoming the practice that the Opposition members keep this committee going, which is not acceptable given that Government members are off doing constituency business or something else. I am putting the Chair on notice that in future I propose to call for quorums unless the attendance of Government members is reasonable. Obviously, it will be very disruptive if we have to stop proceedings, but I am not prepared to continue with only the Opposition members present. I hope the Chair will convey that message to the appropriate people.

I apologise to the Chair in advance, because I must leave to go to the Chamber. The Ceann Comhairle is very anxious that I attend for the Order of Business every morning. However, I will return after it.

Good man.

The minutes of the meeting of 27 October 2010 have been circulated. Are they agreed? Agreed.

I propose that we go into private session and return to public session for our discussion on social welfare benefits. Is that agreed?

Chairman, I have been asked to substitute for a Senator who is unable to attend. Before we go into private session, may I ask a question about the forthcoming budget? The role of this committee will be very important to social welfare recipients. Will the Chair indicate if the committee has communicated matters relevant to the budget that were brought to its attention to the Departments of Social Protection or Finance and if the Departments have interacted with the committee?

We will discuss the work programme at a later stage. The next item is correspondence.

Surely I am entitled to ask a question. Will the Chair respond to my question?

We will deal with the matter raised by the Senator under any other business. Is that okay?

Yes. Thank you, Chairman.

Is it agreed to go into private session? Agreed. The joint committee went into private session at 11.10 a.m. and resumed in public session at 11.15 a.m.