Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Order of Business
Today's business shall be No. 8, motion re changes to Standing Orders without debate. Government business shall be No. 3, Finance Bill 2016 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 22, Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of the Eighth Amendment) Bill 2016 - Second Stage by the AAA-PBP. Tomorrow's Government business shall be No. 3, Finance Bill 2016 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 13, post-European Council statements. There will also be expressions of sympathy on the death of former Member, Paddy Lalor. Private Members' business shall be No. 23, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2016 - Second Stage by Fianna Fáil. Thursday’s Government business shall be No. 8a, motion re Ireland’s agreement to formally ratify the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment; and No. 3, Finance Bill 2016 - Second Stage (resumed). No. 24, Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill 2016 - Second Stage will be taken in the evening slot.
I refer Members to the report of the Business Committee of 20 October 2016. In relation to today's business there are two proposals. It is proposed that:
(1) No. 8 will be taken without debate; and
(2) No. 22 will be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. tonight if not previously concluded.
In relation to Wednesday’s business there are six proposals. It is proposed that:
(1) the Dáil shall sit at 10 a.m.;
(2) the Dáil shall sit later than 10 p.m. and adjourn not later than 10.50 p.m.;
(3) the expressions of sympathy shall take place after Questions on Promised Legislation, to be brought to a conclusion after 20 minutes if not previously concluded and each contribution shall not exceed two minutes;
(4) No. 13 shall commence immediately after Taoiseach’s questions and shall be followed by questions to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and shall be brought to a conclusion after 1 hour and 45 minutes, if not previously concluded. A Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for parties or groups, or a Member nominated in their stead, may speak for ten minutes each. A Minister or Minister of State shall take questions for a period not exceeding 20 minutes and there shall be a five-minute response from a Minister or Minister of State. All Members may share time;
(5) the suspension of sitting shall take place for 30 minutes after questions to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Topical Issues shall take place on the conclusion of the sos and Private Members' business shall take place on the conclusion of Topical Issues for two hours; and
(6) No. 23 shall be brought to a conclusion after two hours if not previously concluded.
There are five proposals for Thursday's business. It is proposed that:
(1) The Dáil shall sit at 10 a.m.,
(2) The Dáil shall sit later than 5.48 p.m. and adjourn on the conclusion of the debate on Item 24,
(3) Item 8a, shall be brought to a conclusion by 12 midday if not previously concluded. A Minister or Minister or State and the main spokespersons for parties or groups, or a member nominated in their stead may speak for ten minutes each. Other Members may speak for ten minutes within the allotted time and there shall be a five minute response from a Minister or Minister of State. All Members may share time.
(4) Item 3, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. and any division demanded on the conclusion of the Second Stage debate shall be taken immediately and shall be followed immediately by Question Time, and
(5) That the Dáil on its rising shall adjourn until 2 p.m. on Tuesday 8 November 2016.
The contexts of my objection for Tuesday's business is the lack of time allowed for the Finance Bill throughout all three days. I propose that we amend the business today to sit until 12 midnight to allow for an additional two hours today to ensure that additional speakers get to speak on the Finance Bill today. I will propose the same for Wednesday's and Thursday's business when they come up.
I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I heard him say Tuesday's business. I want to raise the issue of the Private Members' Bill being brought forward tonight by the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit with regard to the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment to the Constitution, and the reported disgraceful manoeuvres of the Government in relation to that Bill. I believe the Dáil and the electorate should be very clear about what is being proposed. Contrary to news reports there is no-----
The Government is proposing to oppose the Bill to repeal the eighth amendment yet it is reported in the news by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Katherine Zappone, that the Government is not. By doing that, they are ensuring there will be no referendum whatsoever during the lifetime of this Government.
In response to the Deputy's request, the Government will not withdraw its reasoned amendment this evening. In response to Deputy Ó Snodaigh, the Business Committee agreed to schedule eight and a half hours of this week's sitting for the Finance Bill. We recognised his concerns at the Business Committee that if it was not enough, that the Business Committee would have a special sitting tomorrow and we would extend the sitting hours thereafter, but let us wait and see as to the pick-up of the people who want to speak on the Finance Bill. The Business Committee is very open to extending it, but we will wait to see what the pick-up is first.
There are two responses. The Government will not withdraw the amendment and the Government has suggested there be a special Business Committee meeting tomorrow. Is Tuesday's business agreed? Agreed. We will now move on to Wednesday's business.
I want to raise a concern I have. The purpose of the change to Standing Orders to accommodate committee times on Wednesday and Thursday mornings that did not conflict with the Dáil's business are sound and they have not changed. The debate and argument about committee business not interfering, or vice versa, stand. I am concerned and surprised that we are changing the Order of Business to have the Dáil sit at 10 a.m., which will interfere directly with the committees.
Not agreed. While I accept what the Chief Whip said about the Business Committee meeting again if additional time is required, the purpose of us coming together and having a proposal for the full week is that we do not have to come together thereafter. If additional time is allocated now it might not necessarily be taken up. I do not know how many people are offering. I know from my office looking at the number of slots available that the number of speakers from Sinn Féin is well in excess of the slots we have available. The same applies for Thursday. We are supposed to make a proposal which covers the entire week. This is why I said earlier I would have done the whole lot in one, except for the interruption. I propose an additional hour and ten minutes for Wednesday. It is not a huge amount of time, but it is as far as we can reasonably expect the Dáil to sit. I will deal with Thursday later.
As I said, the Business Committee agreed to scheduled eight and a half hours of this week's business. We have been kindly granted the extra two hour sittings on Wednesday and Thursday mornings to facilitate the passage of the Finance Bill this week, and if more people are looking to speak than there is time, we will sit again and make sure we add extra time. That was what was agreed by the Business Committee last Thursday.
Not agreed. I discussed this with the Fianna Fáil Whip and assistant Whip. When I heard it first I found it difficult to comprehend.
The Dáil rose on 21 July and resumed on 27 September. In July we were all told major works were to be undertaken to physically refurbish the Chamber, but that did not happen. Therefore, it transpired that there was no necessity for the longer than usual summer recess. It is now proposed that the Dáil should not sit next week. It is not due back until 8 November. We think this sends the wrong signal completely. I would appreciate an explanation of the rationale behind the House not coming back next week. Why is the Business Committee proposing this? We should sit next week, given the lengthy summer recess. We have issues with this proposal.
On the proposals for Thursday, the Government is proposing its first use of the guillotine on the Finance Bill 2016. While I accept the Chief Whip's comment that eight and a half hours has been set aside for the debate, that is not enough considering the eight opening contributions will take four hours. That means that there will only be four hours and 20 minutes to be shared between all other Members, Government and Opposition, to discuss one of the most important Bills brought before the House every year, given that the Minister will have time to wrap up the debate. I propose that the guillotine be lifted and that the debate be adjourned on Thursday. I have not asked for additional time on Thursday. We should deal with Second Stage at a later date, as we have done in the past.
I have obviously become the spokesperson for the Business Committee, which is interesting as I only have one vote on it.
On Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh's comments, the purpose in asking for the additional two hours on Wednesday and Thursday mornings was to facilitate the passage of Second Stage this week because we would not be here next week. Every member of the committee will be aware that when I proposed the schedule for the session between September and December, we were to sit next week, but I was overruled by practically every other member
Not on the first day the schedule was brought to the committee. A member of the committee asked where was the mid-term break and I replied that I did not believe we should have one on the basis that we had a large legislative programme to be passed between then and Christmas. I was overruled and told we should have one. I came back the following week with the schedule and rather than diminish the number of sitting days by two and a half, I added them in Christmas week. Unfortunately, therefore, everybody will be sitting Christmas week as opposed to sitting next week, but we have not lost a single sitting day.
In advance of making any point today, I checked this out. Our Whip spoke to the Chief Whip and said he did not agree with this idea. Our assistant Whip equally articulated that view.
That is what happened. Just as other Members have articulated their disappointment about this week, I am firm that it is the wrong decision not to come back next week. Collectively, the House is making a mistake in terms of the public's appreciation of what we are doing here.
Gerry Adams, Bobby Aylward, Maria Bailey, Seán Barrett, Mick Barry, John Brady, John Brassil, Declan Breathnach, Pat Breen, Colm Brophy, James Browne, Richard Bruton, Pat Buckley, Peter Burke, Joan Burton, Mary Butler, Catherine Byrne, Thomas Byrne, Jackie Cahill, Dara Calleary, Seán Canney, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells, Michael Collins, Niall Collins, Ruth Coppinger, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Barry Cowen, Michael Creed, Seán Crowe, David Cullinane, Michael D'Arcy, Jim Daly, John Deasy, Pat Deering, Pearse Doherty, Regina Doherty, Paschal Donohoe, Timmy Dooley, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Dessie Ellis, Alan Farrell, Martin Ferris, Frances Fitzgerald, Peter Fitzpatrick, Charles Flanagan, Kathleen Funchion, Simon Harris, Seán Haughey, Danny Healy-Rae, Martin Heydon, Brendan Howlin, Heather Humphreys, Billy Kelleher, Alan Kelly, Enda Kenny, Martin Kenny, Seán Kyne, John Lahart, James Lawless, Marc MacSharry, Finian McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Joe McHugh, Tony McLoughlin, Josepha Madigan, Micheál Martin, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Denise Mitchell, Kevin Moran, Michael Moynihan, Imelda Munster, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, Catherine Murphy, Eoghan Murphy, Paul Murphy, Hildegarde Naughton, Tom Neville, Carol Nolan, Michael Noonan, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Darragh O'Brien, Jonathan O'Brien, Jim O'Callaghan, Kate O'Connell, Willie O'Dea, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, Kevin O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Loughlin, Louise O'Reilly, Frank O'Rourke, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Paul Phelan, Maurice Quinlivan, Anne Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Noel Rock, Shane Ross, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Brian Stanley, David Stanton, Peadar Tóibín, Leo Varadkar, Katherine Zappone.
I find myself in the very strange position of actually getting what I asked the Business Committee for when we proposed the schedule a number of weeks ago, even though everybody else in the room on that day agreed, including Fianna Fáil.
If anybody wants to disagree with me I would refer him or her to the minutes of the meeting which are clearly on the record for everybody to see. We will now be sitting next week. We will put a proposal to the Dáil Business Committee this week to resume the House next week at 2 p.m. on Wednesday and sit on Wednesday and Thursday.
It is in the interests of all Members who are here today. The issue could come back to the House and perhaps we could have another vote. It is quite simple. The proposal is that the House will sit next Wednesday at 2 p.m. in view of the public holiday. Is that agreed?
As a member of the Business Committee, which sat last week, and agreed the business, I wonder what the point in having the Business Committee is if we are going to come in here and make a populist decision to overrule it. That is all it is; nothing else.
The Business Committee will now have a meeting to decide on the business for next week. Will we deal only with statements or something nonsensical? Will there be an Order of Business, Leaders' Questions and a full Dáil schedule? I do not know whether we will have that. It depends on what is decided with Fine Gael.
The difficulty with that, with respect, is that first of all the Deputy has seriously undermined the authority and business management of the Business Committee. The Business Committee will not sit until Thursday and, therefore, will not have an opportunity to come back to the House to ask its permission on how we order our business for next week. That is why I propose that we order our business now on the basis that we come back on Wednesday of next week at 2 p.m., and sit on Wednesday and Thursday. The decision on what business we will conduct next week will be taken by the Business Committee next Thursday. For a Deputy who is so in charge of Dáil reform-----
The Business Committee should be asked by the Dáil to meet before we take any decision on next week's business and on the adjournment on Thursday, and also take into account whether Members will attend the Brexit forum on Wednesday or can attend at all.