The first item on the agenda is the relationship with the elected members of the European Parliament. Senator Robinson has given notice of her intention to raise the question of the relationship with the elected Members of the European Parliament.
Before calling on Senator Robinson I would like to give a ruling which will have a bearing on the discussion. Hitherto Members of the European Parliament have been delegates of the national parliament. The members of the new parliament are not delegates but are the elected representatives of the people. The various references in the Joint Committee's terms of reference to delegates do not apply to the elected representatives.
Two consequences follow from this. First, Deputy de Valera's and my own membership of this Committee would not be automatically terminated on our becoming members of the European Parliament. In practice our membership of the Committee will not continue but we will have to be discharged by the Committee of Selection. Second, there will be no obligation on this Committee to send notices of its meetings to the elected Members of the European Parliament.
Finally, it has been decided already that such services as have hitherto been provided by the Houses for delegates to the European Parliament, such as making travel arrangements for them and arranging the attendance of staff in Luxembourg and Strasbourg, will not be provided for the newly-elected representatives. It follows that the practice of the Joint Committee staff in supplying memoranda from Government Departments and other bodies will also cease. This is something that I regret, particularly since nothing has yet been put in the place of what was a very useful arrangement.
The discussion should, therefore, be confined to what is germane to the Joint Committee's terms of reference, namely, how the Committee considers the elected members of the European Parliament might be able to help the Committee in discharging its functions. Obviously if such help is required it will have to be asked for. It is important that the Committee should not appear to be seeking to impose anything on the elected members of the European Parliament. If the Committee considers it should have some special relationship with them, it is obviously necessary to consult them, but it would be premature to do so until they know what their duties in Europe will entail.
I am afraid that the majority of us have not yet the knowledge and experience to be in a position to know exactly where we stand. One course open to the Committee would be to seek a meeting with the new members after the summer recess when the organisation of the newly-elected Assembly will probably have taken some shape. The first real meeting of the Assembly will probably be in September. There will be, as members are aware, an inaugural meeting in July; but if the newly-elected members could meet this Committee sometime between September and Christmas it would be useful because the Assembly members would then know their commitments. It would then be more advantageous to have such a discussion. The Party Whips have been informed that the Joint Committee is considering this matter. I now call on Senator Robinson.