Supplementary Estimates, 1982. - Agricultural Credit Bill, 1982: Second and Subsequent Stages.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of the Bill is to increase the maximum amount which the Agricultural Credit Corporation may borrow from £600 million to £800 million and, in line with that, to increase the maximum amount of borrowing which is guaranteed by the Minister for Finance. It is desirable to pass the Bill at this stage because of the proximity of the ACC's total borrowing to the current limit. For that reason I commend the Bill to the House.

I accept what the Minister has said and agree to the Second Stage of the Bill.

It is entirely unsatisfactory that all these Bills are being put through so quickly. It is understandable that former Ministers who vacated their Departments recently will support Bills they have brought to this stage and that the incoming Government are anxious to get them through. There are other people in the House who have not had the opportunity to study these Bills and prepare a realistic appraisal of them. It is unsatisfactory that something like six Bills and 12 Supplementary Estimates are going through in a matter of an hour or so.

The Chair will hear any Deputy who wants to contribute on any of these items.

I appreciate that. We have not had an opportunity to study any of them. We got five of these Bills this morning in the post and one when the Dáil sat this afternoon. We have had no opportunity to examine them.

I understand that the Bills are urgent and that they are being put through the House by agreement. If there is any objection to them going through the House in this way, that matter will have to be considered.

This Bill was presented on 29 October last. I had a fairly specific interest in this Bill.

Is the Minister concluding on the Second Stage of the Bill?

I am, if I may.

Does any Deputy want to contribute before the Minister concludes?

This remark can be taken as concluding or as a point of information for Deputy De Rossa.

I want the position clarified. If the Minister is giving information other Deputies may contribute. If the Minister is concluding no other Deputy can contribute afterwards.

I accept what the Minister is saying.

Wait until I get this clarified. The Minister should not conclude if any other Deputy wants to contribute on this Stage.

I want to make a point for the information of Deputy De Rossa.

The Minister is not concluding.

The Bill was circulated on 29 October. In spite of all that went on in the intervening period I have thought about it for reasons which are understandable. It is quite a straightforward Bill and it is a matter of some urgency.

Might I respectfully suggest that the Minister should make a brief intervention only at this stage. He can reserve his other and fuller remarks for his conclusion.

I will be as brief as it is possible for me to be. As I pointed out——

The Minister will be in order.

Yes, sir. There is a question of urgency with the Bill for the reason I have pointed out, that since the Bill was proposed on that date by the then Government and since it had my agreement at that time, I felt, because of the urgency of the matter, it should be on the Order Paper today and that it should be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

The Minister has not explained the grave urgency of the Bill. I also want to know why it is necessary to increase the capital of the Agricultural Credit Corporation by one-third at a time when farmers are unable to repay their existing borrowings. Are they seeking another £200 million in borrowings now? This is the type of information which ignorant Deputies like myself who were not here on 29 October, and who do not know what is going on, would like to know before we not things through.

I indicated earlier that this party were prepared to facilitate the Government in relation to these Bills and we accept their urgency. I asked the Minister on the Appropriation Bill and on this Bill if he had any Second Stage speech for the information of the House before Deputy De Rossa's intervention. I felt sure a speech should have been provided by the Minister. These matters could still have been dealt with today as the House can sit for some hours yet. We are now reaching the last item on the Order Paper and I understand the House will be sitting tomorrow. We prepared the Bills and we know they are urgent. We wanted them passed on the day of the last Dáil was dissolved but the then Opposition did not accept that they were urgent and would not facilitate the then Government. It is important that all Deputies should know what is contained in these Bills. I prepared them and I can accept them but every other Deputy should also know what they contain. That is normally done by an explanatory memorandum which some of these Bills did not have, or they are explained by a Minister is a Second Stage speech. The Minister did say a few words by way of introduction but there was no speech circulated which would have taken care of Deputy De Rossa's point.

With regard to the urgency of the measure in question, the proposal is to increase the borrowing limit of the ACC from £600 million to £800 million. It is not an increase, per se, in the capital of the ACC. It allows the ACC to borrow up to £800 million rather than the current limit of £600 million and it increases correspondingly the amount of borrowing carried out by the ACC which was guaranteed by the Minister for Finance. It extends the security currently afforded to those who lend to the ACC pari passu with the increase in the corporation's borrowing requirement.

The ACC are encountering some difficulties at present with regard to the management of the maturity of their deposits because they are getting near the upper limit of what they may borrow. This difficulty is also affecting their lending activities and the purpose of the Bill is to ensure that we do not have those difficulties in relation to the lending activities of the ACC at present because we do not want to see an unnecessary outside restriction of this kind put on the ACC's ability to finance farm credit and development in the agricultural sector. It is for that reason that the limits are being raised in this manner. It is necessary to do this now because the corporation are getting near to the limit and if we do not raise it as proposed in the Bill we could soon find ourselves in the situation where the lending activities of the corporation would have to be restricted to deal with the difficulties I have mentioned.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment and passed.