Business of Seanad

I received a request signed by 30 Senators to summon a meeting of the Seanad for the specific purpose of discussing a motion on the programme for Government and the Mental Health (Involuntary Procedures) (Amendment) Bill 2008. The request complied with Standing Orders and I accordingly summoned this meeting.

In accordance with the procedures which have brought the House here today there are only two items of business before the House — the motion and the Bill on the Order Paper. There is, therefore, no Order of Business.

To assist in the orderly conduct of business, I ask the Leader to propose the speaking times on the motion and the time at which it is intended to take the Bill.

I understand completely the technical reasons there is no Order of Business today because the business has already been ordered and, naturally, I must accept this. However, I regret the fact that we do not have an Order of Business and I think most of my colleagues will also regret this fact.

I attempted to submit an important matter for the Adjournment of the House and there does not seem to me to be any necessity to curtail the wish of Members to have matters discussed on the Adjournment because we will certainly have to adjourn Seanad Éireann and I wonder why this view has been taken officially.

I am acting in accordance with precedents set.

Will the Cathaoirleach quote the precedents for me, either perhaps now or in writing?

I have ruled——

I am not aware of any precedent.

Senator Norris, I have ruled on that matter and I speak with that ruling.

I do not believe there is a precedent.

There is no Order of Business.

On a point of order——

What is the point of order?

I have been communicating with the Cathaoirleach since 9 March. I would like to make a personal explanation to the House. I believe it is within the Cathaoirleach's remit——

I have replied to the Senator's letter and he should have received it by post today.

I believe it is within the Cathaoirleach's remit. If he cannot accommodate me today, perhaps he can do so another day when the House is sitting.

I cannot accommodate the Senator. I do not order the business of this House as to when it will sit again.

Can I presume——

No, Senator, please.

——that if my colleagues give permission for me to make a personal explanation the Cathaoirleach will accommodate that request?

I am not in a position to say. I cannot order the business of the House, nor do I order it.

If my colleagues agree to it, will you accommodate it?

I call the Leader.

When I ask the Cathaoirleach a question I do not ask the Clerk a question.

I have replied to the Senator. I have replied in writing on a number of occasions in the past few days.

I have been writing to the Cathaoirleach since 9 March and he has not been communicating with me.

I have replied promptly on all occasions. I call the Leader.

That is not so. I asked the Cathaoirleach a question.

I ask the Cathaoirleach to remind the House of the long-standing tradition that the staff of this House who are held in great respect are not abused by Members. It is beyond the capacity of this House and it is completely wrong to do so.

It is proposed that the motion shall be taken immediately and conclude not later than 5 p.m., if not previously concluded. Spokespersons shall speak for ten minutes and all other Senators for seven minutes and Senators may share time, by agreement of the House, with the Minister to be called upon to reply and take questions from spokespersons and leaders ten minutes before the conclusion of the debate. It is also proposed that No. 2, Mental Health (Involuntary Procedures) (Amendment) Bill 2008 - Committee Stage, shall conclude at 6.30 p.m. It shall be adjourned or concluded, whichever the House wishes at that stage.

What are the arrangements for speaking times on the Bill?

It is Committee Stage.

Was there some question of a motion coming before the House regarding a justice matter that had to be proposed or will this be dealt with at a later stage?

I have not received any notice as yet.

I thank the Cathaoirleach.

On a point of information, in order to support Senator Cummins, can a supplementary Order Paper be issued later today?

No. I am not taking anything else. I have outlined what the Order of Business is for today.