Finance Bill, 1981: First Stage.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to charge and impose certain duties of customs and inland revenue (including excise), to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provisions in connection with finance.
—(Minister for Finance).

I suggest that the Second Stage be taken on Tuesday, 31 March, subject to the usual agreement between the Whips.

On the Order of Business, am I not in order in asking the Taoiseach if he will agree to a debate on a matter of urgent public importance?

The Deputy is not in order. On a number of occasions I have stated what is in order on the Order of Business. What I said previously, and what I am adhering to, is that it is in order to raise matters on the order read out by the Taoiseach, on the matters on the Order Paper and on legislation promised. I am not going to change that.

That has never been the rule of this House.

I have made that statement on several occasions——

——and it has not been accepted by the House.

As usual the Taoiseach sings dumb.

Would the Minister for Finance suggest a date for Second Stage?

I suggest 31 March, subject to the usual agreement between the Whips.

What "usual agreement"?

(Interruptions.)

Is that agreed?

They will be in writing and under seal from now on.

Surely they must be afraid of the over-kill sometime?

(Interruptions.)

Nothing based on agreement between the Whips can occur after the event of last night unless confidence is restored and I do not see how that can be.

I think the general election in the offing is making the Deputies lose their nerves.

(Interruptions.)

Go up to the Park——

If you can afford the bus fare.

Be quiet, Deputy Deasy is sitting behind you.

(Interruptions.)

On item No. 3 the First Stage of the Finance Bill, which naturally this party will be opposing as it confirms many unjust and increasing——

The Deputy cannot make a speech.

Why not? They do what they like.

I want to ask the Minister when he intends to publish the Bill.

Mr. G. FitzGerald

On 24 March.

In view of the fact that the Minister is moving the First Stage now, why does he not arrange for publication at an earlier date?

The Taoiseach, in answer to a question some weeks ago, indicated to an Opposition spokesman that it would be circulated on 24 March and, in accordance with normal practice. I moved the First Stage this morning.

Does the Taoiseach intend going to the Park this evening?

The Government could not even afford the bus fare.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Spring said he will drive him up.

(Interruptions.)
Second Stage ordered for Tuesday 31 March 1981.

I am calling item No. 8. Order: Deputy McMahon.