Allocation of Time: Motion .

: I move:

"That in the case of the Finance Bill, 1978 and notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders:—

(1) the proceedings on the Committee Stage (resumed) of the Bill (including the Order naming the day for the Fourth Stage), if not previously concluded shall be brought to a conclusion at 6.45 p.m. on Tuesday, 20th June, 1978 by putting from the Chair the Question necessary to bring them to a conclusion, and the Question to be put from the Chair shall be `That

(a) (any amendments set down by the Minister for Finance and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill) the Bill as amended is hereby agreed to and as amended is reported to the House.

(b) The Fourth Stage be taken on Wednesday, 21st June, 1978'; and

(2) the proceedings on the Fourth and Fifth Stages, if not previously concluded shall be brought to a conclusion at 6.45 p.m. on Wednesday, 21st June, 1978, by putting from the Chair the Question necessary to bring them to a conclusion; and the question to be put from the Chair shall be `That (any amendments set down by the Minister for Finance, including any requiring Recommittal, and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill and Recommittal and Fourth Stages are hereby completed and) the Bill is hereby passed.' "

The purpose of this motion is the completion of the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill this evening at 6.45 p.m. and the Report and Final Stages by the same time tomorrow evening. I regret the necessity to come here with this time motion because I had understood that I had reached agreement with my opposite numbers, the Whips of both Opposition Parties, some two weeks ago in regard to finalising this business. Hearing Deputy Cluskey a moment ago made me fully and finally appreciate that trying to reach agreement in this regard is impossible in view of his anxiety to try to make headlines out of anything at present.

When I say I regret the necessity for this motion I say it fully conscious of the fact that I understood up to now that a sufficiency of time in the House had been given to discuss this Finance Bill fully, a Bill which comprises a great deal of tax concessions. It is one of the measures which have been exhaustively dealt with. One of the provisions that is possibly responsible for this time motion is a section of the Bill which the House has already spent 1½ days discussing. Apart from that, I want to convey initially the basic reason why the passage of this Bill at this stage as we see it on the Government's side is extremely urgent. Normally, the Finance Bill is cleared and could be expected to be cleared before the end of this month. Because of that and because of the early date of circulation of the Finance Bill this year, 13 April, it was confidently expected that it would be cleared and certain arrangements were made involving the Revenue Commissioners in regard to getting out printed notices. All this was arranged on the assumption that the Bill would have become law by the end of this month.

Up to now a record number of hours have been and will have been spent on the Finance Bill. I have been looking through the discussions on time motions previously in relation to Finance Bills and I find that the Government Whip of the day this time last year spoke about the record amount of time that had been given to the 1977 Finance Bill and pointed out that the amount of hours spent on it was a record from, I think, 1956. Peculiarly, the situation to date in regard to the present Bill is that 42 hours 40 minutes have already been spent on the Bill. By 6.45 tomorrow evening the time spent on this Bill will have reached over 52 hours. Never before in the history of the State were 52 hours spent on the Finance Bill. In view of that the suggestion that the Government are rushing this particular Bill through does not stand up to examination. I do not think any justifiable criticism can be made of the Government's present action in introducing this time motion.

Some two weeks ago arrangements had been arrived at between the Whips in an amiable manner to finish the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill on last Wednesday night, giving Tuesday and Wednesday to it. We had proposed giving today and tomorrow to the Report and Final Stages. That was agreed. The information that became available to me last week was that the Labour Whip was unable to sell that to his own party. That was quite in order. As far as relationships in doing business with the Opposition Whips are concerned, these are extremely pleasant and so I do not want to rock the boat. But I do not think I am letting the Labour Whip down when I say he reported back to me that he could not sell this to his colleagues. Fair enough. His colleagues wanted to make as much of a meal as possible out of the Finance Bill. With the amount of time given to the Bill today and the amount of time given to the Bill tomorrow the actual time spent on the Bill will be far in excess of the time spent on Finance Bills in previous years. We had a motion last year and another in 1975 having spent eight hours on the Finance Bill. We had another time motion in 1974. Peculiarly enough, the time motion last year dealt not only with the Finance Bill but also guillotined the Committee Stage of the Friendly Societies Bill, the Second Stage of a Prisons Bill and a Supplementary Estimate on Labour. In 1975 there was a similar motion, not alone was the Finance Bill covered by the guillotine, but so were nine other Bills.

I want to make it quite clear we want to get this Bill through simply and solely so that the benefits that will accrue under it can be implemented and so that the Revenue Commissioners can go ahead with the issuing of documents they have already prepared and printed on the basis of the passage of the Bill before the end of June. This time motion is not being introduced in order, according to press reports, to enable the House to recess or go on holiday from next week. I want to put that on the record here and now. Apart altogether from the Finance Bill, there are Estimates to be cleared and a number of Bills to be passed between now and the recess. In addition, we expect to have a debate on the Adjournment and the fixing of the time for that still has to be negotiated between the Opposition Whips and myself. There will be no guillotining of the time for that. It is a matter for arrangement between the Opposition Whips and myself.

I recommend the motion to the House. I do not want to spend time on it because the more time spent on it the less time there will be for discussing the Finance Bill. From what I read in the papers I understand there are Members who, having spent a day-and-a-half on section 36, still feel there is more to be said on it. There is more to this Bill than section 36. There is nothing unjustified in this motion at this stage. It is a very reasonable motion.

: "It is very upsetting for anybody who cares about this House, its status and its prestige, and wishes to see it function properly and fully in those difficult, modern times, to be confronted with the procedure which the Government are resorting to here." That is a quotation from column 1381 of volume 299 of the Official Report of 24 May 1977 and the speaker was Deputy Haughey, now a Minister in this Government. I hope that the Deputies who were so eloquent last year in their condemnation of the then Government for bringing in a closure motion on the Finance Bill will now stand up and repeat what they said last year, including the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley.

The Minister of State was very careful not to break down the number of hours spent on the Finance Bill last year. All the speakers on the Opposition benches then, led by Deputy Colley, made the point that the Finance Bill was the most important Bill to come before the Dáil and the most important stage of the Bill was the Committee Stage which needed to be teased out in great detail. After 24 hours discussion last year on Second Stage they resented a closure motion. That is exactly the amount of time we have spent so far on Committee Stage this year which, according to Members now in Government but then in Opposition, is the most important Stage of the Bill.

The real reason, of course, why they want to close the debate is that the Green Paper was launched last week, the Green Paper they expected to get an enthusiastic reception from the critics, the backbenchers of their own party and the general public, the Green Paper which has sunk like a deadweight. Instead of getting an enthusiastic reception, particularly from the backbenchers of their own party, it has got an extremely poor reception and the Government are afraid that if the Committee Stage of this Bill is dragged out the Green Paper—there are a number of amendments under which it could relevantly be discussed—will be brought into the discussion and they will have adverse reactions from their own backbenchers to many of the proposals in that Green Paper. They want, therefore, to get the House closed down as quickly as possible, with the exception of the Adjournment Debate which they cannot avoid.

We are three-quarters of the way through the amendments on Committee Stage of the Finance Bill. With the exception of section 36, every amendment and every section has been gone through as expeditiously as possible bearing in mind the interests of the public and our duty as an Opposition to ensure that the provisions of the Bill are fully explained to the people. We are three-quarters of the way through the amendments and there is absolutely no necessity for bringing in this closure motion today. In all probability the Committee Stage would end tomorrow, or the day after at the latest. The fact is the Government do not want to risk any reference to the Green Paper. Secondly, despite the 84 seats they won last June, the strength is now under pressure from some of their own backbenchers, and that pressure is going to be shown here, and so they want to force the Finance Bill through with the minimum of discussion.

The Minister of State said that the Finance Bill had come before the House very quickly after the introduction of the budget. It came exactly the same number of days, 104 days after in 1978 as in 1977. In fact, in 1977 the Bill was later than usual because of two provisions in it which, as the Minister explained at the time, involved a considerable amount of discussion between the Department of Finance and those people who would be affected by the provisions.

: Is the Deputy talking about when the Bill came before the House or when it was circulated?

: It came before the House on 10 May this year and 9 May last year. It was circulated in April in both cases and it was later this year but I am not sure how much later. The provisions to which I referred were, first, the relief of taxation, bringing it down from 58 per cent, which it had been under the previous Fianna Fáil Government, to 25 per cent for businesses which increased their employment and their output. Obviously that had to be discussed with those interested.

The second was the new proposal for farmer taxation which involved discussions with interested parties. There were no such constraints this year in introducing the Finance Bill, yet it was 10 May before it came before the House. Three-quarters through the Committee Stage the Government find it necessary to introduce a motion to guillotine this measure this evening at 6.45 p.m.

It is a reflection on a Government with such strength when they find it necessary to do this. It is a sign of their lack of confidence in themselves to debate the measure in any fair way. It is a reflection on this House if we allow democracy to be trampled on in this manner by a Government who are showing their strength in such a barefaced way.

: I am not surprised that the Taoiseach, by refusing to answer the question put to him on the Order of Business, tried to dissociate himself in the public mind from what can only be described as an abuse of the majority which the Irish people have given him. There is no doubt about the outcome of this motion. The Taoiseach enjoys an unprecedented majority of 20, and to introduce this motion at this time is clearly an abuse of that majority.

We have endeavoured, successfully I believe, to criticise constructively the measures embodied in this Bill. We have heard from the Minister of State, Deputy P. Lalor, who was put in the very unenviable position of trying to defend the indefensible. He tried to imply that there had been agreement two weeks ago to some kind of curtailment of discussion of this Bill. Approximately three or four minutes after making that implication, he acknowledged that the Labour Party Whips after consulting, as all Whips must and should do, with the parliamentary party, told him quite clearly that we were not prepared to enter into an agreement regarding the time limit on this Bill.

There are a number of features of this Bill which we find objectionable. On Second Stage and Committee Stage my colleagues gave good reasons why we objected to many of these provisions. The one to which we have most objection is contained in section 36. In a society which has an acknowledged 20 per cent of the population living in poverty, when we have had speeches over the last few months from the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Economic Planning and Development and other members of the Cabinet, when we have had a White Paper and a Green Paper clearly indicating that there would be cutbacks in expenditure which would affect mainly, if not solely, those members of our community who are in the least favourable economic position and least able to bear cutbacks, and those cutbacks will affect social welfare, housing——

: Deputy Cluskey is getting away from the motion before the House which deals only with the time to be provided for the Finance Bill and nothing else.

: You got a hint.

: Nobody got any hints. The Chair will rule on its own. I do not want any remarks like that. We are going to discuss the motion before the House and nothing else.

: I was speaking to the motion which is to curtail debate on the Finance Bill.

: And nothing else. That is all that is before the House at the moment. We can discuss the Bill later.

: The curtailment of the debate on Committee Stage includes curtailment of the debate on section 36 which abolishes the wealth tax and hands over approximately £10 million to a few thousand people in our society who between them must have a minimum of £850 million.

: The Deputy is going into detail on the Bill. That has nothing to do with the motion before the House. We are dealing with the time to be allocated for the remaining stages of the Bill.

: After Question Time and the Order of Business today, the Taoiseach refused to engage in any discussion regarding this unjustified and disgraceful motion. We now find that we are not allowed to develop our argument as to why we are opposing this motion.

: The Deputy is going into detail on the Bill and other matters which are not before the House. There is nothing before the House but the motion which deals with the time to be provided for the remaining Stages of the Finance Bill. If the Deputy keeps to that motion nobody will interrupt him.

: On a point of order, is it not true that when a similar motion was being discussed last year Fianna Fáil Deputies, then in Opposition, were allowed to discuss the Finance Bill?

: If they were, they should not have been. I am in the Chair now and I am dealing with what is before the House.

(Interruptions.)

(Cavan-Monaghan): There is a motion before the House——

: Deputy Mitchell, please. We have had enough from the Deputy over the last few weeks and we do not want any more from him now.

: On a point of order, to what are you referring?

: I am referring to the Deputy's comment a moment ago. The Deputy will resume his seat. Deputy Fitzpatrick is on his feet.

: Would the Chair care to withdraw his remark?

: Deputy Fitzpatrick on a point of order.

(Interruptions.)

: I have had to deal with Deputy Mitchell on a number of occasions in the last two or three months. It is impossible to get on with business.

A Deputy

: That is because you interrupt the Opposition unfairly.

(Cavan-Monaghan): We are discussing a motion to impose a time limit on the Finance Bill. The seriousness of this motion is related to the subject matter of the Bill and therefore it is legitimate for a Member of this House to emphasise the importance of the Bill which is being guillotined.

: It is legitimate for him to refer to the Bill but not to go into detail on it. That will be done on the Bill when we reach it.

(Cavan-Monaghan): Surely it is relevant to point out the matter that is being guillotined?

: Deputy Cluskey is in possession.

: I will speak on the motion curtailing the time allowed for discussion of the Bill containing section 36, which deals with the abolition of the wealth tax. Abolition of the wealth tax cannot be justified in a society such as ours with all its economic and social problems. For some time we on these benches have been demonstrating successfully to the public that many of the Bill's provisions are not the type of provisions that would be of benefit to our society as a whole but that they were obviously slanted towards the economically better off. A number of the provisions of the Bill, particularly those in section 36, are designed to ensure greater disparity between the less well off and the better well off members of our society. It is our obligation to point to these factors.

We consider totally inadequate the time that has been allocated for discussion of the Bill having regard especially to its controversial nature. Only 22 hours have been allowed for discussion of the Committee Stage, for instance, in respect of which there were 88 amendments. Excluding the Ceann Comhairle, if the remaining 147 Deputies wished to contribute to the Committee Stage they would have had less than 10 minutes each in which to discuss the 88 amendments. The Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach has told us that the justification for the introduction of the guillotine now is the number of important matters that must be dealt with before the recess. I have read the Order Paper and I cannot find there mention of any legislation that would need to be taken immediately. I am not aware of any intention on the part of the Government to introduce, process and conclude any matter of major importance during the next couple of weeks. Indeed, so far as their record of legislation is concerned we may anticipate the remaining weeks of this session being as poor as have been all those other weeks during the past 12 months. Clearly, therefore, the only reason for this guillotine is the awareness on the part of the Government that this party in particular and the public in general realise now what is contained in the Finance Bill.

If the Government have other important legislation to bring before the House before we adjourn for the recess there are a number of measures they could avail of. When the Minister of State was speaking about an agreement that was reached a couple of weeks ago regarding this Bill he stated incorrectly that we had agreed to a time curtailment. We did not agree to any such curtailment but we were prepared to agree to extend the sittings of the House in order to provide adequate time for full discussion of the Bill.

It is not unprecedented for a Government to seek extended sittings if they wish to bring forward legislation and have it concluded within a certain time. To have acted in this way on this occasion would not only have given the Opposition the opportunity of expressing their disagreement with the Bill but would have ensured that they were not denied the right to live up to their responsibilities as an Opposition. The Government, for instance, could have suggested sitting on additional days. Instead, all we have before us is a guillotine that is being used solely for political motives. It is not in any way intended to expedite the business of the House. The Government are acting in this way because they have been embarrassed by the Opposition's criticism of the Bill. We have been constructive in our opposition. We have justified every amendment we tabled but the Government have become over-sensitive to the reaction that our constructive approach has evoked among the public who, through us, are aware now of what the Bill really contains.

Most of the Bill's provisions are payoffs. They represent political patronage rather than measures to help further the interest of our society. It is incredible that in an economy such as ours and with all the problems we must face, the Government would wish to abolish wealth tax thereby handing back about £10 million to people who at a time described by Fianna Fáil as being a time of economic crisis, abandoned this country. There is no evidence either here or elsewhere that people of that type provide even one job not to mention thousands of jobs.

There is not much point in my continuing to speak on the motion. We know that there is lobby fodder on the Government side who will vote for the motion. Such action can be described only as a shameful abuse of democracy. The Government's action today will be seen by the people for what it is—a denial of the Opposition's right to speak adequately on the Finance Bill. However, this abuse of democracy will come home to roost ultimately on the Fianna Fáil benches.

: I wish to comment briefly on the motion. I agree with what the Minister of State has said regarding an agreement on Wednesday night last. The Minister of State must bear in mind that it was over two weeks since that agreement was entered into by the Whips and any agreement on any debate which comes before the House is not alone dependent on the co-operation of the Whips but is dependent on the co-operation of the members of each party taking part in the discussions, in this particular instance, the Finance Bill. I also want to say that I have got nothing but co-operation from the Goveernment Chief Whip, the Minister of State, and I want that to continue but my reaction to the closure motion was shock. I felt it was something which was introduced with indecent taste.

I believe the Minister of State will agree with me that there is great co-operation between the Whips for the efficient running of the business of the House. It would not be unreasonable to expect the Minister of State or his assistant last week to have had a discussion with Deputy Desmond and myself on the progress the Finance Bill was making. I also find it very hard to understand why there was not a discussion last week between the Whips as to whether or not an agreement could be reached on the time at which the discussion on the Committee Stage of the Bill would close. It was only fair to expect that, particularly if the Government had in mind the idea of introducing the guillotine on this particular discussion. I also find it very hard to reconcile the statement attributed to the Minister of State in last week's Sunday Independent. It was reported and the Minister did not deny it——

: I am denying it now. This is the first I have heard of it.

: ——that if we wanted a discussion it could continue right through the summer. If the Labour Whip has difficulty in meeting the deadline set, it is quite possible without the guillotine that, if we extended the time to 10 o'clock tonight, we could have an agreement and the discussion could end. In my opinion it was totally unnecessary to introduce the guillotine. I was not informed by the Whip's office—it is possible they were trying to get through to me on the telephone but our appalling telephone service may not have allowed them—and the first I heard of it was when I read it in the paper this morning. I was shocked. A measure of this kind does not help co-operation between the Whips. There should have been a discussion last week and we should have been informed then by the Chief Whip or his assistant that if the discussion on the Bill did not end they had no option but to introduce the guillotine. We could have had discussions and it is quite possible that we could have agreed on a time.

: The conclusion is inescapable from the lack of explanations on this point offered so far in defence of the Government's motion, that this motion represents an unscrupulous use of the massive majority enjoyed by the Government in this Parliament. We have been having a discussion on the Committee Stage of discussing section 36. There are a number of speakers from the Labour Party and perhaps from other parties who wish to speak on that rather controversial section. Apart from that section there are other amendments which have been put down in the name of this party—many Deputies wish to speak on them—which have yet to be reached in the Committee Stage discussion. We had the undertaking from the Minister for Finance in regard to certain amendments put down by us that he would give full consideration to them between Committee Stage and Report Stage.

There is not a great deal of benefit for Opposition Deputies in speaking at length on this decision of the Government to put down this motion. They have the majority and they can push it through whether or not good reasons are put forward. Obviously the Government are not very concerned about defending their action. They have put the motion down and in due time they can ensure that it is carried through by the majority they have here.

It is hard to understand the reasons behind this motion. Deputy Barry made the point that we have been having an interesting discussion on the Committee Stage and we had certain amendments which the Minister for Finance was to consider on Report Stage. It is difficult now to see him giving sufficient time for consideration of those amendments. It is making a mockery of representative democracy and of this Parliament that in an important measure like the Finance Bill discussion on it should be telescoped in this fashion when there is no need for it.

When the Minister of State introduced the motion he said that a year ago the previous Administration had done something similar. They had a very good reason because there was an election in the offing. Presumably we cannot expect such a happy release in the present situation and presumably no such intention is in the minds of the Cabinet.

: What was looming in 1974 and 1975 when the previous Administration also guillotined the Finance Bill?

(Interruptions.)

: Deputy O'Leary on the motion.

: I expect the reason for the guillotine in 1974 and 1975 was the volume of legislation which was to be put through the House at that time. Unfortunately, when one looks at the Order Paper, there is no such volume on this occasion. There is a total paucity of legislation. We know that this Government of all the talents have more important things to do at this time than legislation.

: The Government with all the talents are on the far side.

(Interruptions.)

: Deputy O'Leary without interruptions from any side.

: The Government are a Government of one talent. We have heard him over the last few days.

: They are burying him under a bush.

: He is on his own. He is a lone ranger at the present time.

(Interruptions.)

: There is only one Deputy speaking in the House. Deputy O'Leary without interruptions from any side.

: It is hard to understand what the reasons are for the haste to get this measure through because they cannot have the legitimate excuse often offered by Administrations, when forced to use the rather crude procedure of the guillotine, of a volume of legislation waiting to be put through the House. That excuse cannot be offered now because there is no legislation. It is as legitimate an explanation as any that the Government are anxious to avoid discussion on matters relating to the economy at the moment. If that is the reason for this guillotine it is understandable. I am not talking about the performance of the economy this year because it is satisfactory. There may be many explanations for its being satisfactory. It has been noted over the last few days that very little assistance has been given to the Minister for Economic Planning and Development in his defence of his Green Paper.

: It does not arise on the motion. We will have an opportunity later of discussing the Green Paper.

: It would be less than human if an Opposition Deputy did not wonder what was the reason for this inexplicable haste on the part of the Government. Is it because they do not wish to engage in an economic discussion in this Parliament? That is a legitimate speculation on the reason for putting forward this particular motion. Presumably, in discussing this motion, we will have to discuss the reasons for putting it forward. The discussion on the Bill was proceeding at a normal pace. There were some other speakers on section 36. We would they have moved on to the close of the Committee Stage. Presumably in the next week we would have gone to the Report Stage. I recall one illustration of the Minister for Finance's desire to meet us on a couple of amendments. He indicated his willingness to consider the question of a commission with regard to examining the implemenation of taxation proposals for married couples. There were other matters on which he said——

: The Deputy may be mistaken. In another matter where I undertook to do something on Report Stage the Deputy may be assured that it will be done.

: We will have to take that very much on trust. The Minister will not be here in the normal way where we could ensure that what he undertook to do was in agreement with what we pointed out. We will have to put our trust in the Minister and that is a rather risky enterprise, as some of his colleagues know.

: It has never been misplaced yet.

: The betting is not quite so good——

: The Deputy should stay on the motion before the House. The Minister's future is not under discussion.

(Interruptions.)

: The Minister is not present in the House at the moment. He is probably electioneering at this very moment.

: I have asked the Deputy to stay on the motion before the House. Other Members should not interrupt him.

: We do not know how united the Cabinet are at the moment. We do not know what divisions may be there. The Deputies opposite may not know either. In fact, when I look at their happy expressions I think they may not know. It is quite a few years before the newer Fianna Fáil Deputies find out what is going on. Many of them may spend much of this Dáil term in ignorance.

(Interruptions.)

: Order. I would ask Deputy O'Leary not to address other Deputies across the floor of the House. That does not lead to good debate.

: We cannot understand the reason for this inexplicable motion. It may be that there are some disagreements in the Cabinet and that they are anxious to have longer and more frequent Cabinet meetings during the summer months. It may be that the Dáil is interrupting such a programme. We know that the Cabinet must meet and that the Ministers must discuss events of the day and perhaps the Dáil is interrupting that process. On the other hand, perhaps there are many divisions in the Cabinet, that an economic topic such as the Finance Bill is acid to the wound and that it is necessary to terminate discussions on the matter. These are matters outside the knowledge of Opposition Deputies——

: That is pure speculation.

: That may be, but I am sure the Deputy will accept that we must look for reasons for this motion.

: It is the Deputy's imagination.

: The Deputy in possession should be allowed to speak without interruption.

: Deputies opposite were told to shut up. They were told not to open their mouths.

: Who told them that?

: If all Deputies other than the Deputy on his feet would shut up, to use Deputy Barry's words, it would help the debate. Deputy O'Leary should be allowed to speak without interruption.

: It is difficult to know the reason why the Government thought it necessary to abridge the normal debating period for this important measure. It may be that its near association with certain economic difficulties accounts for their decision. It is true that the employment targets set out in their manifesto were not met last year and will not be met this year or next year. These are facts and cannot be denied. Although the Minister for Economic Planning and Development may say that there may be full employment in 1983, at the moment the unemployment figure is close on 100,000 and it will zoom up in the winter to 120,000.

This may explain the reason it is necessary to curtail the time of Parliament to debate this important measure, to stop all debate in order to save the Government from the criticism of Members of this House. The Government have not the excuse that they have urgent legislation to deal with. There is a total absence of new Bills, although I read a reference in the newspapers today to a Bill that the Minister for Justice is anxious to put on the Statute Book. There is no major measure to be put forward by the Government that would explain their case to get the Finance Bill through in this way.

It is an unhappy expedient on the part of the Government. I have described it already as an unscrupulous use of their majority. This is their first year in office and almost two-thirds of the Deputies in the House are members of Fianna Fáil. To use this kind of procedure at such an early stage bodes ill for the future of this Parliament. What kind of procedure will they adopt in the years up to 1981? It may become the rule rather than the exception that the Government with their large majority will use the guillotine measure more frequently in the future. Commentators looking at the action of the Government should not treat it lightly or casually. It is a rather ominous sign on the part of the Government. Since they returned to office they have been anxious to show that they did not share the arrogance of previous Fianna Fáil administrations. They have been keen to suggest that they are different men and women from the people who left office in 1973. This first guillotine measure shows that the leopard does not change his spots. The self-same arrogance is there and it is showing itself in this unnecessary procedure today.

We should be quite clear on what the Government are doing. By using their majority they are terminating discussion on the Finance Bill, the most important financial measure to come before the House this year. Up to this point no explanation has been given for their action. We cannot see any reason for taking this extraordinary action to close discussion on the Bill. That is why we may be forgiven for speculating on perhaps the more serious political reasons for their action, on whether the Cabinet are divided on other matters and are anxious to adjourn Parliament. They have not given any good reason why we should support their action. Of course, they have a majority in this House and they do not have to explain anything. Certainly it suggests that in what may be a very long Dáil, because of their majority, that the kind of arrogance that was common to them in the past may be theirs again in the years ahead.

(Cavan-Monaghan): The introduction of this motion is the first example in this House of the abuse of power by the Government. There is absolutely no necessity for the motion. The Government are obviously embarrassed and conscious of the fact that they are abusing the power given to them last June. It is obvious that they have given their backbenchers strict instructions to keep out of this debate, to behave like gentlemen, not to interrupt. Even Deputy Mark Killilea had to withdraw from the House because he would get into trouble if he interrupted. There is nothing coming from the Fianna Fáil backbenchers, who have dwindled from about 30 to two, but embarrassed sneers. The Government will not succeed in pretending that they are not arrogant because the very same backbenchers who are not allowed participate in this debate, either by contribution or interruption, are abusing their power on various councils throughout the country.

: What is happening on councils throughout the country does not arise on the motion.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I do not propose to go into this matter in depth.

: The Deputy cannot go into it at all. Whatever happens at county council meetings or other meetings throughout the country has no relevance to the motion and nobody knows that better than Deputy Fitzpatrick.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I want to explain how this Government are abusing power against tradition and against party agreements. They grabbed seats on Waterford and Roscommon County Councils.

: Would Deputy Fitzpatrick return to the motion, please?

(Cavan-Monaghan): I know it is embarrassing for them.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

(Cavan-Monaghan): I was pointing out that the introduction of this motion is a gross abuse of power by a party that was given a majority of 20 by the electorate last year. That makes the abuse of power all the more serious. It is no wonder that the electorate are already regretting their verdict of last June.

Let us look at the necessity for introducing this motion. The Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach protests that it is not in order to adjourn the Dáil for the Summer Recess. If it is not in order to adjourn the Dáil for the Summer Recess, what is the objection against sitting on for a reasonable time to complete the business of the House? The Bill contains 52 sections and a number of Schedules. The Committee Stage of the Bill was going on in a business-like manner until 35 sections had been disposed of. We then reached section 36, which is obviously a controversial one. I have made my contribution on that section.

: Very enlightening it was, too.

(Cavan-Monaghan): It exposed the treachery of the Minister and his complete disregard for the good of the country when he was in opposition.

: Deputy Fitzpatrick knows that that word should not be used in the House and he should withdraw it.

(Cavan-Monaghan): As the Chair objects to the word “treachery”, I withdraw it. When speaking on the section I complained that the Minister had behaved in a way that was contrary to the national welfare. It was reasonable to expect a controversial debate on section 36. The position of the Government became intolerable in justifying the removal of the wealth tax when the Green Paper was published. They could not justify their proposal having regard to their thinking on children's allowances, farming taxation, social welfare and a variety of other things in which they are going to screw this one and that one with the exception of the people they want to relieve.

I cannot see the justification for this motion, particularly the manner in which it has been introduced. If the Government were convinced that section 36 was sufficiently debated, what was to prevent them putting the question on that section and letting the rest of the Bill be debated in Committee in the ordinary way. Instead of doing that, they see fit to guillotine the entire Bill. If they had put the question on section 36 it would have left the remaining sections of the Bill to be debated in Committee in the ordinary way. For example, I would have an opportunity of debating section 39, which proposes to reintroduce death duties in the family. I object to that proposal and I wanted to speak on it.

: If the Deputy stopped talking we might get on with it.

(Cavan-Monaghan): The Minister is very sensitive about that. For example, I want to discuss section 45, which is an innovation in that it proposes to give the Revenue Commissioners authority to disclose confidential information, an unprecedented procedure. Instead of putting the question in regard to section 36, the Government want to get rid of the Bill, lock, stock and barrel.

Does the House realise that not alone is the Committee Stage of the Bill being brought to an end today but the resolution proposes to bring the Fourth and Fifth Stages of the Bill to an end tomorrow? I object to that. Usually a week or a fortnight is given between Committee Stage and Report Stage of Bills. What was to prevent the Government from bringing Committee Stage to an end tomorrow, if they wanted to do that, and giving a week before Report Stage so that other amendments could be put down? This is certainly a breach of the powers of the Government. It is treating the House in a way in which it should not be treated.

As has already been pointed out, there are no urgent measures to be put through the House. After 12 months we have got little or no legislation from the Government. The rush seems to be to get this Finance Bill out of this House and out of the Oireachtas because the Government are embarrassed. They have become acutely embarrassed on the publication of their White Paper. There is talk in the White Paper——

(Cavan-Monaghan): —in the Green Paper about hair shirts, about clawbacks, about taxes here and there, and so on. The Minister of State and the Minister for Finance do not want to hear this, but it is a fact. I do not want to say any more at this stage, but obviously the people will get their fill of arrogance from this Government and their fill of abuse of power in the House and outside it.

: First, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, might I ask for your ruling on a point of order? What would happen in a situation in which discussion on this motion had not been completed by 6.45 p.m.?

(Cavan-Monaghan): They would put on a guillotine.

: Deputy Horgan should have been here last year.

: The Chair will deal with those matters when they are reached. The Chair does not anticipate what will happen, and would be very unwise to do so.

: Is the Deputy asking me to invite the House to put the question?

: That is completely a matter for the Minister of State. I would not dream of advising him on that issue.

: The Deputy should ask Deputy Desmond. He put the question on a few occasions.

: Deputies were told to shut up before Deputy Davern came into the House.

: Would all Deputies shut up except the Deputy on his feet? Deputy Horgan, please.

: I listened with considerable interest to the speech by the Minister of State when he introduced this motion. He is an admirable person to send in on such a motion. I declare that even unsubsidised butter would melt in the man's mouth. As we have come to expect of him, he did a splendid job in attempting to defend the indefensible. That is what this motion is. His blandness should not fool Members of the House or the public into assuming that what is involved here is only a minor piece of parliamentary surgery. What is involved here is very much more substantial than that, and it is not warranted in the circumstances in which it is introduced. I listened with considerable interest to what he said, because I was waiting to hear what reasons he would give. With all due respect to what he said, his speech was very scant of reasons. Effectively the only reason of any substance I heard was something about the Revenue Commissioners.

: Congratulations to the Deputy. He is the first speaker on the opposite side who even adverted to that.

: Who listened.

: I will wear congratulations from the Minister for Finance any day of the week. The reference by the Minister of State to the Revenue Commissioners came out almost in a mumble. There was absolutely no detail involved and no hint of what was involved. All we got was a generalised impression that the Revenue Commissioners were about to do something because they had been told by the Government to do it on the basis of certain understandings about the time business would be concluded.

It is our contention that the Government had no business to give any such understandings or undertakings to the Revenue Commissioners. The Government are now putting the blame for their own mismanagement of the matter on the broad and no doubt capable shoulders of the Revenue Commissioners. I only wish the Revenue Commissioners would have more work to do after the passage of this Bill, but the sad likelihood is that they will have less.

The second point to which I should like to refer is the lack of formal notification to this side of the House. I accept that we were notified in a general way through the Whips before the weekend that such a motion might be necessary but, to the best of my knowledge, there was no formal notification. In fact, I heard about it myself by gossip yesterday at 6 p.m. If I had left the House five minutes earlier, I would not have heard it until the news this morning. Whatever about the merits of the motion, the method of its transmission leaves a considerable amount to be desired.

As has been pointed out already by Deputy Fitzpatrick, the related fact is that we are not just talking here about a guillotine on Committee Stage of the Bill. We are talking about a guillotine on all subsequent stages, and a forced timetable for other stages. We are being asked to vote on a motion which interposes no more than 15 hours between the conclusion of Committee Stage and the inauguration of Report Stage. It is one thing to look for a week, but we are not even being given a day. We are not even being given 24 hours to consider the situation which arises at the end of the debate on Committee Stage and to make whatever political, or fiscal, or legislative response we want to make before the next stage.

The Minister of State made considerable play of the number of hours which have been devoted to a discussion on this Bill so far. He knows better than I do, I am sure, that fundamentally a Finance Bill is a Committee and Report Stage Bill, and that the division of hours as between the various stages is of fundamental importance. It might have been of more significance had the Government moved earlier to look for agreement on the conclusion of Second Stage.

The facts show that when the Government looked for agreement on the conclusion of Second Stage they got it. So far as I recall, they got it virtually the same day. There was no great problem affecting the conduct of the Bill at that stage. If the Government were seriously concerned about the timetabling of the Bill, they should have moved on Second Stage rather than now at a point when some of the most serious issues may have to be left undiscussed.

On the evidence we have before us in the printed record of the House, it seems this has been the intention of the Government all along. If I recall correctly, before the end of the debate on Second Stage the word "guillotine" was used by the Minister for Finance in a singularly provocative way which was not justified by any of the facts at that time available to Deputies.

: Having said that much, would the Deputy please elaborate on what I did say and in what circumstances?

: I have not got the Official Report with me but, as far as I recollect, the Minister was the first and for some considerable time afterward the only person to use the word "guillotine" in the House. So far as I recall, he used it towards the end of the debate on Second Stage.

: Was that not in response to Deputies over there who invited us to follow the good example of the Coalition and I said they should not tempt me to use a guillotine? Was it not in that kind of context?

: When the Minister used this word he was closing the debate on Second Stage, a debate which was being closed by agreement, without acrimony, between all parties. He chose a singularly inappropriate opportunity to use the word, and it was a somewhat provocative use of it. Not long after that the word "filibuster" also appeared from the other side of the House.

: We read that in the papers before we started.

: The Minister of State said we should not believe everything we read in the papers.

: On more occasions than one the Minister for Finance and his Taoiseach have told us in this House they are not responsible for what we read in the newspapers. I am sure he would extend the same privilege to this side of the House.

: That is where it started, in the newspapers. There was a little snippet about the Labour Party.

: The Minister pays a great deal of attention to rumours which I would have thought inappropriate in view of the attention he has lavished here on the Finance Bill to date. If one looks at the progress on this Bill to date there is no evidence for that charge. Indeed, one could argue that the different sections of the Bill so far have been dealt with fairly and adequately in relation to their relative importance. For example, it could be argued that some of the most contentious sections of the Bill were the first five. Section 1 would have gone through virtually unopposed, certainly without a major debate, if the Minister had not brought into the debate, in order to rap Deputies on this side over the knuckles, an allegation or an assertion about a certain agreement which apparently had been reached between various persons and representatives of the previous Government and then he refused to give to the House details of the alleged agreement. It was therefore inescapable he should have been asked to give that information and it was his refusal to do so that prolonged the debate on that section.

In many respects the Minister has not been the least contributor to the debate on the Bill, and some of his contributions have been extremely interesting but, particularly in relation to section 1, the whole problem was virtually entirely of his making. We debated section 2 for about three hours. It deals with separate assessments and I believe the debate on it was a valuable contribution and addition to the whole theory and practice of taxation and will be welcomed as such by anybody who reads it. It represents a matter of major importance and I do not believe we debated it for a minute too long.

Section 4, which will cost the State £2 million, was dealt with comparatively briefly, and section 5, the personal relief provision, is the core of the Bill and the section and its related amendments were the subject of a major and extended debate. It could not have been otherwise. We were talking on that section about the disposition of total reliefs worth £70 million in the current year, or £100 million in a full year. It was essential that every option should have been teased out, that anything in any way relevant to the economical and social consequences of this scheme of reliefs should have been argued. It was argued and the Minister did his own side proud in many of his contributions. He did not lose any occasion to make his points forcefully and clearly. That debate was characterised by good humour, good feeling and a willingness to accept if not correction at least the other person's point of view.

They were the main sections in the first part of the Bill. If we look at the remainder of the sections of the Bill with which we dealt, there was a discussion on income tax and corporation tax of modest length; there was a fairly substantial discussion in relation to the taxation of farmers about which there is nothing unusual —this has been the major political issue in Ireland since 1973, and therefore the debate was appropriately extended. Then, if I recall correctly, we went from section 27—tax credit in respect of distributions—to section 36, nine sections, in as many minutes.

This is an example of the attitude on this side of the House, which is to debate all the main issues adequately and fully and not to waste time on irrelevancies and on sections which could not have anything said about them because they were self-evident. We have been discussing section 36 for some considerable time, and in relation to that and to the Bill as a whole attempts were made to get agreement from this party—and I have no doubt from Fine Gael—in relation to a voluntary time limit. As an assistant Whip I can recall informing the Government Whips' office that we would not give any undertaking about the length of time to be devoted to that section or indeed to the Committee Stage of the Bill. We were simply determined to say whatever we felt we should say on the different sections and then shut up. The reason we could not give an undertaking is that there is considerable feeling about this section of the Bill, not just in this party——

: I do not think the Deputy is correct if he intends to suggest that agreement was sought from this side of the House on that section.

: The Minister is correct—the fundamental agreement was sought on the Committee Stage, not on that section. The reason we could not give an undertaking on the Committee Stage as a whole is because of the strength of feeling on this side in relation to that section. The strength of feeling in the Parliamentary Labour Party and in the party as a whole is such that it would have been improper for any of us to attempt to restrain that feeling while at the same time assuming it would be expressed within the general terms of the rules of order of the House.

The other main problem is that the majority of the amendments remaining, apart from one or two ministerial amendments, need more explanation. We are being asked to vote on a guillotine motion, but the guillotine we are deciding on now is nothing compared to the guillotine on social spending which is being introduced in the guise of the Green Paper.

: My main reason for intervening at this stage is because of my general dislike of closure motions. There is an important principle involved and I want to ensure that our rights will be preserved. Particularly in a matter as vital as the Finance Bill, Deputies should be entitled to greater latitude in their contributions. What is the need for this motion? The Bill has not been under discussion for very long. I have not intervened in it because I had not the time to do so and I would not have risen now if I were not so totally against stifling the views of Members. I do not like it particularly since the motion has come when we were discussing section 36 which relates to the abolition of the wealth tax. We all know this is an important provision. I understand the moneys obtained last year by the Exchequer from this tax were between £9 million and £10 million and that it was hoped it would have yielded an increased amount this year.

: The Deputy is not entitled——

: I am entitled to address myself to the importance——

: ——to discuss what is in that section.

: I do not want any more dictation from the Chair. I am reasonably conversant with procedure and my remarks on this are entirely in order. As a Member answering the debate about stifling discussion I am entitled to express them.

: Would the Deputy listen to the Chair? He is entitled to deal with the length of time to be taken on this.

: I am entitled to my say without unfair intervention from the Chair.

: There is no unfair intervention from the Chair. You are not going to discuss the Finance Bill on this motion. You can discuss the Finance Bill when it comes before the House.

: It is related to the measure we are discussing. I was referring to the fact that the closure motion coincided with the discussion on the wealth tax. This is an important section of the Bill because it deprives the Exchequer of funds which were available to it in 1977. If we abolish this tax it is evident that we must try to get the money elsewhere. Money does not fall like manna from the skies. If we allow this money to be kept by the people who under previous legislation were obliged to pay it, then, as Deputy Horgan pointed out, we must curtail services or obtain the money from some other source. With all due respect to the Chair and to the Fianna Fáil Party, this is a ticklish question. Everybody knows that it was these people who financed the helicopter tour of the Taoiseach in the last general election campaign.

: I ask the Deputy to get back to the motion before the House

: Deputy Colley as Tánaiste——

: If the Deputy's party could buy votes they would be in here forever. There is more to the people of this country than buying votes.

: We are discussing a motion which deals with the Finance Bill. We are not dealing with the Finance Bill now. When this motion is finished we will be back to the Finance Bill and I will give the Deputy time to deal with it.

: This motion should not be before the House and I am endeavouring to illustrate and give reasons why it should not be. I do not want to repeat myself, but I indicated that it is the right of ordinary Members of this House, elected by the people of this country, to address themselves to questions coming before the House. A closure motion prevents them from so doing. I protest against that. Whichever party the ordinary Members or back-benchers belong to, be it Government party or Opposition party, this principle is a big one which should be safeguarded. Last July 15 Members were appointed to this Government and they are now dictating terms. They have come to certain conclusions and it does not matter what this House thinks about such conclusions.

The Government have the voting power behind them and they are going to bulldoze this measure through the House. This is not democracy and I object to it as forcibly and vehemently as I can. Down through the years we had very few closure motions. I was never for filibustering in any debate. I would never stand by Members making speeches for the sake of using up time. I have always believed in trying to be as constructive as possible. I would certainly support a motion for closure if I believed that the debate on this question was unduly long or that it was a type of filibuster. Many of my colleagues in the Labour Party feel very strongly on this question and possibly Members of other parties do also. They are entitled during the passage of this measure to offer these views and to reply to the observations of the Minister and of other Members and to discuss this in the greatest detail possible.

I do not want to be accused of taking up the time of the House unduly, but the finance measure is very important. When the Finance Bill is passed it will be going to the Revenue Commissioners. There is no use in telling them what the Minister said or what was said in the Dáil. The Act will be interpreted as it is set down. Some Deputies want to make changes and this is the place to make them. Deputies want to offer suggestions and to make a concrete case which will move the Government from their stone-walling position of saying what they think we are going to get irrespective of what views and suggestions are offered from the opposite side of the House.

I ask the Minister where this £10 million is to come from. That is a fair question because the closure motion is mainly centered around section 36 of this Bill. Is it going to come from the profits of the less well-off sections of the community? Is it to come from the curtailment of social welfare? The budget proposals and the financial statement before the House as well as offsetting the increase in social welfare this year will reduce the overall costs by £2.5 million.

: The Deputy is getting away from the motion completely. He cannot continue on those lines. We are not discussing the budget or the Finance Bill, we are discussing the motion.

: We are not discussing the budget but this motion is related very closely to what I have been saying. I understand that the Government do not like debating this section.

: From whom does the Deputy understand that? Where are the jobs coming from out of the Deputy's proposals? This is all about jobs. Tell us about the jobs.

: Deputy Murphy, please, on the motion.

: The contention of Fianna Fáil is that, unless we allow these people to retain the £10 million, jobs will not be available. That is not saleable. The Minister will need to give many Green Shield stamps with that notion in order to make it attractive to the public. Everybody in this State is obliged, and rightly so, to pay his or her contribution to the Exchequer in accordance with his or her wealth and income.

: That does not arise on this motion. I ask the Deputy either to speak to the motion or to resume his seat. We are not discussing either the budget or the Finance Bill at this stage. We are discussing a time motion for the Finance Bill and the Deputy is entitled to deal with the time that any section takes. He is not going to be allowed to discuss at length all the matters he is discussing. I ask him to get back to the motion.

: The motion is a closure motion, the objective of which is to preclude Deputies from making contributions in this House. The Minister of State who introduced the motion could not make the case that anything was out of place with the contributions that were being made in this House in discussing the proposals of the different sections of this measure. The Minister of State could not make a case that they were being unduly delayed and he did not give any justifiable reason as to why debate should be stifled here. I strongly object to this type of motion. Deputies should have the right to speak in accordance with the rules and regulations of the House without the fear of a guillotine motion. Unless I was satisfied that there were very good reasons for it I would not agree with a guillotine motion even if it were brought in by my party. As far as I know we had only one guillotine motion. We should speak strongly against such motions to make sure that although the Government will pass this motion with their large majority they will not be too inclined to bring in similar motions in future. Our voices must be heard loudly, firmly and vehemently against unjustifiable closure motions. This motion does not merit support. I firmly oppose the proposal put forward by the Minister.

: It is very interesting listening to the discussion on this motion. As I pointed out, in what was probably a disorderly interjection, Deputy Horgan was the only Member from either Fine Gael or Labour speaking on this motion who even adverted to the reason for the motion.

: It did not sound like a good one.

: The Deputy at least is entitled to the credit for having adverted to the reason unlike all the others who totally ignored it.

: That reason is totally irrelevant.

: Having given Deputy Horgan the credit for that, I must point out that he missed the real point because he said that the Revenue Commissioners have no right to anticipate what this or the other House will do or what format the Finance Bill will take. That is a good, sound, theoretical point but in practice does the Deputy know what it means? It means that if the Revenue Commissioners did not do that all the people, for instance, on PAYE would today be paying tax at the Coalition rate of income tax, not the Fianna Fáil rate introduced in the last budget. Is that what Deputy Horgan thinks should happen?

: Does it mean the wealth tax would also be collected?

: Does Deputy Horgan think that the people on PAYE should now be paying income tax at the Coalition rate? If they were paying it does not Deputy Horgan know that they would be crowding around the House asking that the guillotine motion be put through as fast as possible so that they could get the benefit of the income tax rates prescribed in this Bill and announced in the budget?

: What is the difference between this week and next to the Revenue Commissioners?

: Again, I must pay tribute to the Deputy for at least adverting to what this is all about. The Minister of State explained the problem. The Bill was circulated a long time ago and the Revenue Commissioners, with my authority, anticipated the contents of it.

: My point was that the Minister should not have put them in that position.

: Then the Deputy is saying that people should now be paying the Coalition rate of income tax. The Deputy knows very well that if, for instance, married couples found that their tax allowance was £600 less than it is at the moment, they would be in demanding that this closure motion be passed and that this Bill be passed as soon as possible.

The approach to this was reasonable having regard to the length of time that has elapsed since the circulation of the Bill, and allowing for the fact that it had to go through this House and would of necessity take a shorter time in the other House as is normal. The Revenue Commissioners made their preparations on the basis that the Bill would be enacted by the end of this month. We tried, on a number of occasions, through the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, to get agreement with the Opposition on a timetable for passing the Bill which would enable us to have it passed through both houses by the end of this month. No matter how hard we tried we could not get such an agreement. Reference was made to sitting extra hours during the course of the debate and it is true that there were discussions on the possibility of sitting extra hours. The difficulty was that while we were quite prepared to consider this we could not get an undertaking that in return the proceedings on each Stage of the Bill would terminate at any time that would enable us to be sure that it would be passed by the end of the month. No agreement was forthcoming on finishing the debate no matter how long we were willing to sit. We tried to be as reasonable as we could, having regard to the constraints I have mentioned, but we could not get any co-operation from the other side. It is the Opposition's right not to co-operate if they do not wish to but they should not, when the inevitable consequence arises and we have to have a closure motion, pretend that we did not try, or pretend that we are bringing in this closure motion for reasons other than those put forward by the Minister of State.

: The Minister cannot be serious. There are 15 amendments left out of 88.

: We tried to get an agreement to finish——

: We are four-fifths of the way through Committee Stage.

: ——Committee Stage and then Report and Final Stages, disposing of all amendments, and to sit extra hours and we could get no agreement. Does the Deputy know that?

: That was the situation a fortnight ago?

: Does the Deputy know that that was the situation last week too? I am still faced with the situation here on the first sitting day this week that in the absence of this closure motion there is no way I can be certain that this Bill will be enacted before the end of the month.

: At 5 o'clock last Thursday only 15 amendments out of 88 remained to be dealt with.

: The Deputy knows that if there was only one amendment, if there is no agreement to finish, it can go on and on. I am in the position to-day as Minister for Finance that unless we get this closure motion through——

: The Minister sat through the whole Committee Stage debate and saw how reasonably it was conducted.

: Are we to take it then that Deputy Barry subscribes to Deputy Horgan's theory that it does not matter what happens about the various forms, assessments and so on that the Revenue Commissioners have to issue? The Deputy does not care about them. Does the Deputy argue like Deputy Horgan that the Revenue Commissioners have to wait until the Bill is passed and that they should do nothing to anticipate the passing of the Bill?

: Deputy Horgan never proposed that and what I am arguing has nothing to do with that.

: The Minister should not be interrupted. The Minister on the motion without interruption.

: If Deputy Barry were in my shoes which way would he do it?

: That is not the point at all. This is a typical bit of Colley kite-flying.

: It is the reality of the situation we are dealing with.

: The point is that we have dealt with 73 out of the 88 amendments to the Finance Bill and it is obvious that it would have finished today or tomorrow.

: The Minister on the motion.

: How could that be obvious? Is it not open to any Deputy to speak any number of times on any amendment or on any question?

: If it is true, how can it be obvious as to when a Bill will finish? It is all right if one is simply taking a chance and hoping it will go through by such a time and where it does not matter if it does not. Here, an enormous amount depended on whether or not this Bill went through by the end of the month.

: What would happen if it did not?

: The Minister sat here through Committee Stage and saw the reasonable attitude adopted by the Opposition.

: So it does not matter, as far as Deputy P. Barry is concerned, what are the consequences. The Deputy cannot have it both ways.

: The Minister should not be trying to put words into my mouth like that. He knows that is not what I am saying.

: Deputy Barry must face reality. The situation is as I have described. If Deputy Barry has a better solution for it than this, he did not tell us about it, and he had his chance But he did tell us about some things that are simply not true. In fact it was incredible to listen to Deputies on the other side of the House speaking in this manner, Deputies who were in the last Government. There are a number of new Deputies in the House. I am sure that if they did not know what had been going on they would not have believed that they were listening to members of the last Government, for instance, Deputy M. P. Murphy, who was a Parliamentary Secretary in the last Government pleading for the rights of Deputies; he went into the lobby on three different Finance Bills when his Government were in office, pushed them through with the built-in majority they are talking about today, and at shorter intervals than are proposed here.

: When he said he would always vote for closure motions it was quite obvious that the Opposition were obstructing. That is what he said.

: I see.

: The Minister without interruption at this stage.

: Is the Minister suggesting that there was obstruction from the Opposition benches during this debate?

: The Minister without interruption.

: Again the Minister is deliberately misinterpreting what I am saying.

: The Finance Bill in 1974, and the No. 2 Bills in 1975 and in 1977 were put through by closure motions from the previous Government. In each case the number of days on which debate had taken place prior to the closure was much less than now, in 1978. Deputy P. Barry referred to the date on which the Second Stage of the Bill was taken, The important point is: when was the Bill circulated? Is it not true that the date on which the Second Stage commenced was, to a great extent, determined by the Opposition and not by the Government because there had to be agreement to suit Opposition spokesmen? This year, as far as the interval between Budget day and the circulation of the Bill was concerned, it was 70 days; in 1974 it was 89 days and in 1977 it was 90 days. Therefore it is quite clear that the time allowed on this occasion is considerably in excess of what was allowed in previous years. The time allowed for Report and Final Stages is similar to that allowed in previous years. Indeed in every single year in which the Coalition were in power the Report and Final Stages were taken either on the same day as the conclusion of the Committee Stage or the next day, one or the other. Therefore it does not really make sense to have the kind of arguments we have been hearing.

I would invite Deputies who really want to pay any attention to what is going on on this motion to advert to the problem outlined by the Minister of State, to which I have adverted, the problem that arises if the Revenue Commissioners cannot anticipate what is in the Bill for PAYE people being taxed at the Coalition rates, or if they do anticipate them, then the consequences that arise about getting the Bill through. On any basis of that kind one can say only that what we are doing is being done as reasonably as we can, having made every effort to reach a reasonable agreement and failing to do so.

Furthermore, on the question generally of guillotines—which I do not like any more than anybody else—Deputies might at least remember that all we are proposing to apply a closure motion to is the Finance Bill, no other business before the House. We are not doing what our predecessors did—applying a guillotine to Bills which had not even been circulated.

: I am very disappointed that a Government with the number of Deputies they have to support them should come in with a guillotine motion this evening. It reflects very badly on democracy. What is the haste? Why? Their record of legislation in their first year in office has not been good. They have not introduced very much so they have not been under pressure in that respect. Therefore one must ask the question why this closure motion has been brought in this evening. Obviously it is to stifle comment on a document brought in on Friday last called the Green Paper. They say they are under pressure of time. Why did they not extend the time? Why did they not have late sittings last week and this week? They say they were not getting guarantees. That is not sufficient reason for not having late sittings and at least making an honest effort to get this Bill through the House. They have not done so. They have shied away from extended sittings. They blame the Whips for not being able to reach agreement. That will not wash. It is blatantly clear that the Government now want to steamroll—and "steamroll" is the operative word—this Finance Bill through the House, given their strength in numbers in voting in the lobbies.

: A terrible crime.

: Certainly they are jackboot tactics of the worst type. They should be totally ashamed of themselves.

: A shocking thing to have people vote for one and give one a majority.

: It is a disgrace to use it in this manner. It shows what they stand for and what they think of democracy.

: "Jackboots" is a very original word.

: Yes, that is what it is. How well they might blush in their shame, sitting there in their front benches——

: The Deputy should speak on the motion——

: That is what I am doing.

: —instead of attacking people across the House. The Deputy on the motion, please.

: I am speaking on the motion. If somebody wants to raise an issue, I will deal with it.

: The Deputy should speak on the motion, nothing else, and should not be attacking people across the House.

: I will speak on the motion. If the Chair wants to protect the other side of the House so be it——

: There is nobody protecting any side of the House. Deputy O'Brien, no more than any other Deputy, will not be allowed to attack people in the House.

: The Chair could have fooled me then.

: I may possibly have fooled the Deputy; it would not be hard.

: The Chair could have fooled me then if he is not protecting the other side of the House. They sit there now squirming in their seats because they know what exactly this closure motion means, denigration of democracy. I say: why not extend the time? Why was not the time extended last week and the week before if they felt this Bill could not go through before the end of this month? Why not extend it into next week? They did not because they were afraid of the consequences of a long debate, what it would mean, how it would show them up in their very short period in office, one year; when we can see that the chickens have come home to roost well and truly in a satirical Green Paper laid before us on Friday last.

: On a point of order, we appear to have got into a stalemate situation. Might I suggest to the Chair that the question be now put?

: I see. Again they will try to deny the time——

: Is the Minister proposing that the question be put?

: I am proposing that the question be now put because we are getting the same——

: They are getting what they do not like, a little medicine. They are getting rather nervous; they are losing their nerve so they want the question put.

: Order, please. The question is that the question be put.

: Might I inquire under what standing order this move is now being made—that the question can be put in the middle of this debate?

: I think No. 55 is the relevant Standing Order if the Deputy is familiar with Standing Orders.

: Is there a precedent—where there is a guillotine motion—for the procedural motion "That the question be now put" to be put in the centre of——

: The Chair can take motions only as they are put to him and if they are in order. In this case the Chair has no option but to accept.

: Is there a precedent for this?

: I am sure there are several. It is covered on page 41, No. 55.

Question put: "That the question be now put."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 66; Níl, 48.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Kit.
  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, Niall.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Colley, George.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Farrell, Joe.
  • Filgate, Eddie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin South-Central).
  • Fitzsimons, James N.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Fox, Christopher J.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Dennis.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keegan, Seán.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Killeen, Tim.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connor, Timothy C.
  • O'Donoghue, Martin.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond. Reynolds, Albert.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael J.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Bermingham. Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Clinton, Mark.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cosgrave, Michael J.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • D'Arcy, Michael J.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Donegan. Patrick S.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan-Monaghan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Paddy.
  • Horgan, John.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kerrigan, Pat.
  • L'Estrange, Gerry.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Mannion, John M.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Brien, William.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Toole, Paddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies P. Lalor and Briscoe; Níl, Deputies B. Desmond and Creed.
Question declared carried.

: I am not putting Motion No. 4.

Motion put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 66; Níl, 46.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Kit.
  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, Niall.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Colley, George.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Farrell, Joe.
  • Filgate, Eddie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin South-Central).
  • Fitzsimons, James N.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Fox, Christopher J.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Dennis.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keegan, Seán.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Killeen, Tim.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connor, Timothy C.
  • O'Donoghue, Martin.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond. Reynolds, Albert.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael J.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Clinton, Mark.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cosgrave, Michael J.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • D'Arcy, Michael J.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan-Monaghan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Paddy.
  • Horgan, John.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kerrigan, Pat.
  • L'Estrange, Gerry.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Mannion, John M.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Brien, William.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Toole, Paddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies P. Lalor and Briscoe; Níl, Deputies B. Desmond and Creed.
Motion declared carried.