Business of Dáil: Motion.

I move:

That notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, or the order of the Dáil of this day, the Dáil shall sit later than 10 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 11 p.m. The Second and Subsequent Stages of No. 8a, the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2007, on the Supplementary Order Paper, shall be taken at 10 p.m., and the following arrangements shall apply: (1) the proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 45 minutes; speeches shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, Labour Party and Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, which shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; and the Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply, which shall not exceed five minutes; and (2) the proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 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 Health and Children.

Is the motion agreed?

Very important legislation is being brought before the House for discussion at 9.05 p.m. There is only an hour to discuss it and we object to this.

Presumably these are exceptional circumstances; otherwise we would not be asked by the Government to take this legislation tonight. It is a cause of acute concern that the party spokespersons received no notice of it until this evening. I have not seen the legislation and it does not take very much probing to realise its far-reaching implications. We are not being allowed any time to tease it out or ask pertinent questions. I am very uneasy about the time being allowed by the Government Whip.

If it is essential that the legislation pass through both Houses tonight or before the opening of business tomorrow, a more adequate timeframe ought to be allowed in which to put questions to the Minister — there cannot be an adequate one given where we find ourselves. It may well be that she can reassure this side of the House. The legislation has implications for existing jobs, future entrants to the market and the entire medical insurance sector. The time provided by the Government Whip does not allow for elucidation of any of these issues.

I, too, have concerns over the time allowed for the debate. If the legislation is so important, we should have suspended all other business, thus allowing a longer period in which to discuss it. Rushed legislation such as this has a habit of biting back in the future. I hope this Bill will not be such legislation and that the judgment to rush it through in this fashion will stand to us.

As a matter of courtesy and respect to the Members of the House, we should have been informed about this much earlier. It is not a good way to proceed.

I thank the Deputies for their comments and understand their position. I, as Chief Whip, brought this matter to the attention of my fellow Whips as early as possible. The Minister for Health and Children will outline the background to the Bill. The Government has decided that, in order to protect community rating, which keeps health insurance affordable for older and sick people, it is necessary to proceed as outlined. I accept it is emergency legislation but governments have responsibility at times such as this to act appropriately. I ask the House to wait for the Minister to explain the position in detail.

Is the motion agreed?

It is not opposed.

Question put and agreed to.