I wonder if it would be in order for me at this moment to make a suggestion to the Minister? I think the Minister will agree that the debate, especially in the last couple of hours, has become very constructive, that a number of useful amendments have been accepted and that there are very important matters to come. If on our side of the House we are prepared to agree to expedite amendments as much as possible and to minimise discussion on them, would the Minister be prepared to permit discussion to continue from, say, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.? There is a danger for the Minister as well as for all of us that the Bill might have some defect because of inadequate attention in this House. I put this proposition to him now and I think we have shown the goodwill that would justify the acceptance of it.
Business of Dáil.
I am not averse in principle to what the Deputy suggests but I have a very practical problem in that I must go to another place this day. I will have to have the Bill tonight and it will have to be signed tomorrow. The present situation in one of these institutions is such that I cannot let it continue. It must be rectified tonight.
We appreciate that.
The Deputy will appreciate that by giving considerable precedence to the Dáil, the Seanad's opportunities are being diminished seriously.
In the past the Minister has accused me of being too theoretical but not practical enough. I was in the Seanad for four years and I have enough practical knowledge to know that we are much more likely to get amendments here.
There is a new Seanad now and the members are very intelligent.
That is not the point. When there is an element of urgency like this a Minister is always very reluctant to concede amendments to the Seanad because should he do so, he must then come back to the Dáil. With no reflection intended on the other House I think it would be to our advantage generally if there was a little more discussion in the Dáil on this occasion and a little less in the Seanad. Normally, of course, a debate in the Seanad is enormously helpful.
Surely Deputy FitzGerald must be aware that in the present situation the Government are in breach of the law and that the sooner this Bill is passed the better for the Government. Surely, then, the new coalition should co-operate to get the Bill through.
Deputy Sherwin's concern for the law is touching.
(Cavan): Would it be possible to postpone questions until 4 or 5 o'clock?
The position is that the House ordered this morning that the Bill be finished before 3 o'clock.
Deputy Fitzpatrick's suggestion would result in the Bill going to the Seanad an hour earlier and then we could have Question Time from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. if the House would so agree.
It would be preferable from my point of view to have a break now so as to enable me to consider the implications of the amendments. At the same time I would have to have an assurance from all parts of the House that I would have the Bill at a stated hour. I would suggest that if we recommenced the debate at 4 o'clock we could complete it by 5.30 p.m. The substantial amendments have been dealt with and the remainder of my amendments are only drafting amendments.
(Cavan): That is a reasonable suggestion.
Does the Minister mean that all Stages would be completed by 5.30 p.m.?
Hindsight is very valuable. That is what we suggested this morning. We have no objection to this but if it is to be completed perhaps we could have a little less talk from people who are talking merely for talk's sake.
That is an unfair reflection on Deputy Tully's party.
I have been here for most of the day.