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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 23 Oct 1963

Vol. 205 No. 1

National Loan, 1963. - Financial Business: Statement by Taoiseach.

A Cheann Comhairle, with your permission, I should like to state for the information of the House that during the recess I had meetings with the Leaders of the Fine Gael and Labour Parties at which we discussed the procedures of the Dáil for disposing of financial business and considered the changes which might facilitate its fuller discussion and at the same time, permit all financial business, including the Estimates, to be disposed of before the summer recess.

It was agreed that:

(1) the Vote on Account should be taken in the Dáil soon after its reassembly following on the Christmas Adjournment and in advance of the publication of the Book of Estimates, the topic for discussion on the Vote to be selected by Parties in Opposition. It is assumed that procedure on the Central Fund Bill will remain unchanged;

(2) that wherever feasible, Estimates should be grouped for purposes of debate and that in particular, the following Estimates should be debated together: (a) Defence and Army Pensions; (b) Special Employment Schemes and the Public Works group of Estimates; (c) Lands and Forestry; and (d) all Finance Estimates;

(3) early in each year the Party Whips will meet to select some Estimates to be circulated and debated in advance of the publication of the Book of Estimates;

(4) the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to be requested to devise a Standing Order which will provide that on the conclusion on the debate on an Estimate when a division is challenged, the division will take place at 10.15 p.m. on that day if the Dáil be then sitting, or if the Dáil should have risen before 10.15 p.m. on that day, at 10.15 p.m. on the next day on which the Dáil should be sitting at that time.

Is it permissible to make just a few observations on the statement which the Taoiseach has just made? It is no more than this — it is not unknown to the members of the House or those outside it that we hope and confidently expect that there will be a change of Government in the early future. That does not alter the fact that whoever is the Government in the Dáil at any given time, the Dáil belongs to us all and we are all mutually concerned to see that its work is done more effectively to give effect to the will of the people. I think the proposals adumbrated in the Taoiseach's statement will constitute an improvement in our ordering of business. It is with that intention that Deputy Corish and I discussed the matter with the Taoiseach on behalf of our respective colleagues. I suggest these are initial steps towards bringing our procedures up to a more efficient method. They can be only initial stages, and we may find further devices which will make our proceedings more efficient and expeditious as we go along. This is a good beginning, and I join the Taoiseach in commending it to the favourable consideration of the members of the House and of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

What happens now? Does the Committee meet?

I think the only thing required of the Committee is to draft a Standing Order regarding the taking of divisions on Estimates. This, I take it, can be conveyed to the Committee.

Is the work of the Committee over now? Have we not a chance of going back to the Committee?I think a much more radical reform than that is necessary.

These are the only matters upon which general agreement emerged. Further proposals can be discussed in the future and so far as I am concerned, at any time during the next three years while I am Taoiseach.

If you do not get it done within the next three weeks, it will not be done.