Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 3, 9, 10, 11 and, subject to the agreement of No. 10, the Report and Final Stages of the Stock Exchange Bill, 1994.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) No. 3 shall be decided without debate; (2) Subject to the agreement of No. 11, the proceedings on the Report and Final Stages of the Finance Bill, 1995, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion tomorrow not later than 12.45 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall in relation to amendments include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance; and (3) Private Members' Business shall be No. 20 and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

Is the proposal that No. 3 shall be decided without debate satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with the Finance Bill, item No. 11, agreed?

They are not agreeable to me or my party in their present form because very important amendments have not yet been circulated to Members of the House. I ask the Chair to vindicate the rights of Members of this House. It is not proper that serious and fundamental measures are being withheld in the context of a guillotined debate. If we agree to guillotine the debate on the Finance Bill and at the same time allow the Minister for Finance to circulate important amendments to the Bill after the debate has begun, we will do ourselves less than justice and let down our constituents and the people who elected us to this House.

I, too, believe it is unreasonable to allow this to happen. Last week the Whips successfully agreed that Report Stage should be debated over two days and I acknowledge the Taoiseach agreed to that on the Order of Business last week. However, this morning he has asked us to accept on the Order of Business — before Members have ever seen them — that only those amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance be passed. I understand, probably better than most, that amendments to the Finance Bill can be tabled at a late stage but in all the Finance Bills in which I have been involved, both in Government and Opposition, I cannot recall a similar situation arising. While the newspapers have given us some of the background to the amendments, in general we do not know what they involve. In 26 hours from now we will be asked to pass the Finance Bill, 1995 with one of the most fundamental changes in tax law for practitioners. I am not arguing whether that is right or wrong, but the principle of being asked to accept such amendments on the Order of Business is wrong. In fairness to Opposition parties, I ask that this provision in the Order of Business be withdrawn, but if it is not it should allow for amendments in the name of the Opposition and the Government to be accepted. I ask that justice in this House be upheld by the Chair.

The Chair has heard the views of the Deputies and when I hear the Taoiseach's remarks I will put the question.

This timetable has been agreed by the Whips of both Opposition parties and 80 amendments have been published, which are available for discussion over the next two days. An amendment to one section will be published today. As Deputy Ahern has acknowledged, it is commonplace for amendments to be produced at this stage because of the fact that, under our Central Fund Act, there is a strict timetable with deadlines for the enactment of the Finance Bill of a kind that do not apply to other legislation. Hence the Government is forced into a situation of having to produce amendments in response to representations made during the debate at a late stage. If the Government were to produce all its amendments before the debate took place, the debate would be meaningless so obviously we must wait——

We heard all the arguments last week.

——to hear the debate to produce the amendments. There is a total of about 40 ministerial amendments and 40 Opposition amendments which will all be dealt with in the course of the two-day debate which the Opposition parties sought and which we have agreed to. The provision in regard to the amendments put down by the Minister for Finance being those that will be taken in the event of time running out is a standard provision, as the House is well aware, that appears in all time allocation motions. Once the Opposition Whips agreed to the concept of a time allocation motion for this, which is necessary because of the timetables that apply under the legislation and the Constitution for the enactment of the Finance Bill, by definition they knew they were agreeing to a provision of this kind. The mock horror that is being generated at this stage is just that.

We are doing well.

These provisions are entirely normal and reasonable. I hope we can proceed and not lose time which is necessary for debating the amendments that have been already tabled and the amendments that will be tabled later today.

A Cheann Comhairle——

No, Deputy. I have heard your view and the view of Deputy McDowell.

This was agreed between the Whips.

On a point of order——

There will be ample time to debate the pros and cons of the Finance Bill. I am putting the question——

On a point of order——

A Cheann Comhairle, I ask you to protect my rights in this House.

On a point of order——

Sorry, I am not hearing a point of order now.

(Interruptions.)
Question put: "That the proposals for dealing with the Finance Bill be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 59.

  • Ahearn, Theresa.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bhamjee, Moosajee.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Bhreathnach, Niamh.
  • Bree, Declan.
  • Broughan, Tommy.
  • Connor, John.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Hugh.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowley, Frank.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Avril.
  • Dukes, Alan M.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Brian.
  • Fitzgerald, Eithne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gallagher, Pat.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McDowell, Derek.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Mulvihill, John.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, John.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Walsh, Eamon.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Keogh, Helen.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Moffatt, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Noonan, Michael. (Limerick West).
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barrett and B. Fitzgerald; Níl, Deputies D. Ahern and Callely.
Question declared carried.

On a point of order, Sir, on Committee Stage of the Finance Bill it was agreed that section 153 now section 171 would be recommitted on Report Stage and this would mean that Members could speak more than once. That is not covered by this order.

Please desist Deputy.

This is a point of order.

It is not a point of order. The Deputy is seeking to make a speech at this stage and that is quite out of order.

This is a point of order. I am not discussing the merits of the section, but it was agreed on Committee Stage that this famous section would be recommitted on Report Stage.

I cannot be expected to arbitrate on a point of order arising from committee work.

This point is not covered by the order of the House.

Yesterday, the Finance spokespersons received the white sheet of amendments for Report Stage, and we are not arguing about that, and this morning they received the list of amendments printed on green coloured paper and we are not arguing about that. The point at issue is that we have just passed a motion which states that former section 153, now section 171, the most controversial section which makes a fundamental change in tax law may not be debated on Report Stage and we may not know its wording. The Government could not agree on it during the past few weeks and are now ramming it through the House.

Members are seeking to have a debate on certain important aspects of the Finance Bill. That is not in order. There will be ample time to discuss all these factors concerning the Finance Bill if Members do not erode precious time.

There will not be ample time.

It may not even be reached.

It was stated that the Whips agreed to the procedure followed this morning.

The Deputy does not know as he was not at the meeting.

They did not agree to a procedure whereby the Opposition would sign a blank cheque and agree to anything the Government proposed.

Were you at the meeting? How do you know?

I consulted with my colleague.

They should tell the truth.

Deputy McCreevy raised an important point. On Committee Stage, the Minister expressly agreed and told me and Deputy McCreevy that the matter would be recommitted on Report Stage so that there would be no question of one Member making a speech.

I advise Deputy McDowell——

I am trying to tell the Chair what happened.

——that it is quite in order, as I am sure the House knows, to recommit certain amendments during Report Stage. The arguments Deputies McDowell and McCreevy are engaging in can then be entered into. Recommittal is quite in order if the House so decides.

(Interruptions.)

Will the Minister now agree and indicate that he is standing by the agreement to recommit the matter. The Minister should be given an opportunity to tell the House that he is standing by his word.

I have given the Deputy every opportunity——

This was agreed.

What about your word? The business was agreed at the Whips' meeting.

I just want to hear him say it.

It was agreed on the basis that we would have something before us to discuss.

The Opposition did not ask at the Whips' meeting for the recommittal of the sections or for a grouping.

The Minister already agreed to it.

The Opposition are perfectly entitled to want that and, if they did, they should have asked for it at the Whips' meeting.

We took the Minister's word.

On a point of order, the Whips' meeting took place before this agreement was made.

Order, the Taoiseach is replying.

The ordering of business is a matter for the Government Whip to prepare and for me to propose. If the Opposition parties want to change the order in item No. 2, of which they had notice in advance of today's Order of Business, they should have proposed an amendment to the order before the House.

That is what I would have done if I was in their position. They did not do so. The order has now been passed unamended.

We were not allowed to. The Government rammed it through.

This issue has now been decided by the House and, unfortunately, cannot be reopened.

(Interruptions.)

I am hearing no more of this matter.

The Chair ruled that there is no question of the matter having been decided.

The Deputy may no longer obstruct——

I am asking whether the House is at liberty to recommit this section for a committee style debate tomorrow.

Of course, the House can do that.

Will the Minister agree to stand by his promise? He gave his word.

What would the Deputy know about his word?

Is the proposal that Private Members' Business shall be No. 20 and that the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 tonight satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Will the Taoiseach consider giving Government time over the next week or two for a debate on the newspaper industry pending a decision by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment on the report of the Competition Authority? Deputy O'Rourke and I met the management, unions and staff associations of all the newspaper groups except the provincial ones with whom I will meet shortly. They have pointed out that the Competition Authority proposes fundamental change and that some issues which could have a long-term effect on the newspaper industry will be dealt with in the decision. I am asking for Government time to enable us put our views in a comprehensive way in the House.

Does this relate to promised legislation?

No commitment.

I would be happy to answer that question in the normal way but it is not in order.

Asking for Government time is in order.

Of course it is.

I must disagree with the Deputy. As he is well aware. I have consistently ruled on such matters.

The Taoiseach is refusing to answer.

I am abiding by the rules of the House. If the Deputy wants to request a debate perhaps the Whips can discuss it.

They cannot agree.

Make the request.

The Minister for Justice indicated she will bring forward proposals and, if necessary, additional legislation to deal with the importation and trafficking of drugs. How does the Taoiseach justify the fact that although the Criminal Justice Act, 1994 allows the High Court to restrain the assets of criminals involved in drug trafficking during an investigation and after the seizure of drugs, only two orders have been made to the High Court by the DPP?

Is not the debate on that issue still before the House in the Deputy's name?

There is promised legislation.

You get more publicity at 11 a.m. than you do at night-time.

We are not getting an answer. Why has this legislation not been invoked by the DPP?

There is an urgent matter on which the Government has given numerous promises but there is no sign of any legislation. It is particularly important to people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and that is the power of attorney Bill. When will that Bill be brought before the House?

This Bill is at an advanced stage of preparation and I expect it will be available in October. In reply to Deputy Ahern's earlier question, which was not in order, if a request is made through the Whips I will be quite happy to look at it.

InA Government of Renewal there is a commitment to amend the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924. The Government brought in legislation to create two new junior ministries but I do not think that is what it intended when the programme was being agreed. When will that legislation be brought forward? It is not on the list of promised legislation.

That legislation is at an early stage of preparation and is being considered in conjunction with the strategic management initiative. At this stage it is impossible to say when it will be produced but I expect it will be next year.

When will the proposed amendments to the Finance Bill be circulated? I remind the Minister for Finance that he has only a few hours left in which to include Salthill in the special traditional seaside resort tax incentive.

I have already spoken to the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. Deputy Michael Higgins, about it.

There are rumours that my campaign has been successful but I would like to see the details of the outcome.

The debate on the White Paper is on and off. The Taoiseach may smile but members of my party wish to contribute to the debate. It is totally unsatisfactory and a shabby way to treat such an important document. It is a joke. It is used as a filler on a Thursday afternoon when there is no legislation before the House.

The last time I inquired about the Harbours Bill the Government was at sea on the matter. I understand from informed sources that the sea has become rough and it is war at the moment. Will we have the Bill this year?

The Bill will be published this week.

When will Committee Stage of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Bill be taken? Are we about to witness the prevarication and procrastination which marked its publication? If so, why?

That Bill was referred to the responsible committee.

It was not.

It was. I suggest that the Deputy consult with the convenor on the relevant committee representing Fianna Fáil who will give him the necessary information.

I suggest the Taoiseach should ask the chairman.

The Deputy should do his homework.

When is it proposed to introduce the fraud offences Bill so that the Garda will have some legislative assistance in the prosecution of white collar crime? The Government has no proposals to help the Garda in tackling violent crime——

There can be no elaboration now.

As the Deputy will know from his period in the Department, this legislation is at an early stage of preparation. It will be ready towards the later part of the year at the earliest.

The Garda will be delighted to hear that.