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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 26 May 1983

Vol. 342 No. 12

Business of Dáil.

Dún Laoghaire): I move:

That the order made on Tuesday allocating time for disposal of the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, 1983, be amended as follows: "That there be a sos today between 1.30 and 2.30 p.m. and that the timetable relating to when the question be put be amended as follows: that sections 1 to 46, inclusive, be disposed of by 4.30 p.m. today; that sections 47 to 65, inclusive, be disposed of by 5.30 p.m. today; that sections 66 to 78, inclusive, be disposed of by 8.30 p.m. today; that sections 79 to 82, inclusive, be disposed of by 9 p.m. today; that section 83 be disposed of by 10.30 p.m. today.

There is no change proposed so far as the arrangements for tomorrow are concerned.

We agree to this change, though we would gladly have continued with the original arrangement. However, I do not think that would have been too popular with the House or with the staff who have been under pressure. We would hope that the Minister would endeavour to deal with as many amendments as possible. There is always a difficulty in relation to the Finance Bill in the sense of trying to make more time available for its discussion. It is unfair to the Minister that he should have to be here to midnight and it is ridiculous that the major piece of legislation of the year must be packed into a few days' debate. This Bill could have been debated here a month ago.

The proposal is that the order made on 24 May stands but with the alterations as set out by the Minister of State.

Within the time framework given, is it intended to deal with sections 1 to 46, for instance, by 4.30 this afternoon, taking section by section leading up to that time or are we allowed to range over this group of sections?

I understand that the business will proceed within the timetable proposed and that at 4.30 p.m. those sections in the group 1 to 46 which have not been dealt with will be dealt with at that time by way of one question being put.

I appreciate the difficulty in which the House finds itself but the problem with the arrangement is that at the end of each group of sections, a number will remain undebated.

That is so, but it is a big improvement on what happened down through the years when there was no breakdown and when, instead of taking small groups of sections together, up to three quarters of the Bill could be disposed of without being debated.

As an individual Deputy I suggest that we must discontinue this means of handling the Finance Bill. We will have to consider critically either the idea of an all-party committee or some other system of dealing with this legislation. The way we handle it now is crazy and as an individual Deputy I object to this. It is an unsatisfactory way of dealing with finance legislation.

The Chair would venture to say that he considers what is happening now to be a big improvement on the type of procedure used in other years to bring the finance legislation to a conclusion. In this regard the Chair considers that the Whips should be congratulated.

The situation is exactly the same.

(Dún Laoghaire): The Government are anxious that Deputies be given the opportunity of debating the legislation in so far as possible and that is why the Whips reached agreement in regard to the breaking down of the sections into groups. However, much depends on ourselves. If Deputies spend half an hour at a time on a small point they will deprive other people of the right to speak on another section. We have proved by the debates we have had on various subjects in recent months that we can provide for a lot of speakers so long as people consider their colleagues. It is not possible on Committee Stage to allot a certain amount of time for each section of a Bill. I appeal to all Deputies to respect the right of other people to make their points of view.

Every Deputy should realise that we are now working within a very tight timetable and no Deputy should abuse the procedures.

Question put and agreed to.