First, I should congratulate the new British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his deputy, Nick Clegg, on forming a government in Britain and I wish them the best of luck in their onerous duties. I pay tribute to the departed Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, particularly for his interest in Northern Ireland and for the work he did there.
For years, Deputy Bruton, in particular, has pointed out the lack of clarity, discussion and debate about the way we prepare budgets in Ireland and that the entire system is a charade where government does its business internally, the budget is presented and there is little analysis or discussion beforehand and no prioritisation of the allocation of money. It is a failure of the House over the years because of Government control that budgets are presented in the nonsensical way they have been presented for many years.
I note that this morning the Minister for Finance gave instructions to Ministers to find within their Departments contributions that will amount to €3 billion of cuts in the economy for presentation in the budget later this year. I also note reports that the European Commission is to publish legislation, which will essentially mean foreign ministers for finance will have first sight of the Irish budget before it is discussed in the House. This would amount to handing over sovereignty and the running of our country to somebody else. Does the Taoiseach agree with this proposition that is being put forward? Has he signed up to this? Is he of a mind to continue in the traditional way where no discussion takes place on the budget beforehand? Is he also of a mind to sign up to a proposal like this, which would be contrary to the Lisbon treaty that many people fought hard for and which would amount essentially to the handing over of sovereignty of the Irish State and the running of Irish affairs to peer groups, depending on their political whim, within the Council at any time?