It is proposed to take business in the following order: Nos. 9 (resumed), 4, 10 and in 10, Vote 41 (supplementary)—introduced on 4th July—18 (resumed) and 19 (resumed), together.
Order of Business.
Can the Taoiseach say, why, although the Parliamentary Secretary called to my office at 10.20 last evening and told Deputy Browne that the Wealth Tax Bill was being taken today at our request because, as he said, we had been pressing for it all day, there has been an overnight change?
There has been a change of mind.
Therefore, we must take it now that, regardless of what notice of business we receive, the Government reserve the right, as is their right, to change their mind?
This has never happened before but, things have been happening here in the past few days that have never happened before either.
I could not agree more with the Parliamentary Secretary. We have never before had the type of guillotine we have at present.
Every good businessman changes his mind so as to keep up with changing times.
The Parliamentary Secretary and the Government are inclined very much to bring this House into disrepute. Two weeks ago we had a lecture from the Parliamentary Secretary in which he castigated people for not being here on Fridays but now he is ordering business in a way that will ensure that people will not be here.
The Chair will endeavour to dissuade members from debating the Order of Business. Questions are in order but debates of any kind must be discounted.
I wish to know why I was told yesterday at lunchtime that we could not have the fisheries motion because such arrangement would not suit the Government, whereas now we are informed that this motion is to be taken today. I want to know, too, why at the same time I was told that we could not have the Industry and Commerce Estimate, whereas now this is to be taken today. Why were we told at 10.20 last evening that we could have the Wealth Tax Bill today when, this morning, that arrangement has been changed? There is a deliberate effort being made by the Government to deceive the House in the same way as they have been deceiving the country for the past two-and-a-half years.
All this sanctimonious guff about democracy and the Wealth Tax Bill does not impress me in the least. Like drunken sailors spending money, the Opposition squandered the time of the House during the past three months. They have had plenty of time to concern themselves about giving time to the Wealth Tax Bill. They were warned by me several times that a crunch was coming but now they are whinging. This Government will do their business one way or another.
It ill-behoves the Parliamentary Secretary to talk about intoxication.
I resent the Parliamentary Secretary describing me as a drunken sailor.
This is leading to disorder. I am calling the next business.
On a point of order——
I hope it is a point of order.
I think I could be described as being the last Member of the House who could be accused of sanctimonious humbug.
With respect, Deputy, this is not a point of order.
At 10.20 last evening the Parliamentary Secretary came to our room and told us that we were to have the Wealth Tax Bill during whatever time was available for it this evening. Consequently, I contacted the Deputies from this side who are dealing with that Bill and they are here today on the basis that the Bill would be taken. Is it not a disgraceful performance that we would not be given at least 24 hours' notice of this?
This is not in order.
The Parliamentary Secretary is treating the House in a disgraceful manner.
I allowed the Deputy to rise on a point of order and I am proceeding now with the business of the House. No. 9.
On a point of order——
Points of order must not be used as a subterfuge to continue this debate.
——are Nos. 18 and 19 included in the guillotine motion?
On a point of order, may I direct the Chair's attention to the provision of Standing Order No. 139 (1) which reads:
Any Standing Order or Orders of the Dáil may be suspended or modified in effect for the day's sitting, and for a particular purpose, upon motion made after notice.
On Wednesday last there was passed in this House a motion which purports to modify or amend many of the Standing Orders during a period of about three weeks. The procedure for the modification or suspension of Standing Orders is set out clearly in the paragraph I have read. It can be done each day for that day for a particular purpose. The reason for Standing Order 139 (1) is to prevent precisely what happened this week.
The Deputy rose on a point of order but he is continuing to make a speech.
This is a point of order. It is Standing Order 139 (1).
The Deputy is embarking on a speech.
I have to say something about it. I am pointing out that the reason for this Standing Order is to prevent the changing of Standing Orders, their suspension or modification, during a lengthy period by the Government using their majority for their own purpose. This Standing Order is there to protect the rights of individual Deputies and of the House as a whole. If the Government wish to modify or suspend Standing Orders, as appears to be the case, for a lengthy period, they must move each day in respect of that day and will have to state the particular purpose of any such change. You will agree that the wording of this Standing Order is perfectly clear and would take precedence over whatever motion was passed here on Wednesday and that, therefore, the timetable set out in the guillotine motion could not apply today.
The order of July 9th has been debated by the House and deemed to be in order. It has been passed by the House and, consequently, the only function the Chair has is to adhere to that order.
Is the Chair suggesting that Standing Order 139 is meaningless?
I will not argue with the Deputy.
The Deputy has no wish to argue with the Chair but I have read the Standing Order.
The order of July 9th is in order. It follows many precedents.
It is not in accordance with this Standing Order. Is it the view of the Chair that Standing Order 139 no longer has any meaning and should be repealed?
No, but there is nothing irregular in respect of the order of July 9th.
Would the Chair not agree that it conflicts with Standing Order 139?
We want to get on with the business and not to be listening to Fianna Fáil pricking and pricking around which is all they can do. They are like a flea, hopping around a bed.
The Deputy can only hear the thunder of hooves.
The order of 9th July over-rode all Standing Orders in so far as they may conflict with the procedure.
The Government have done away with Standing Orders.
Standing Order 139 makes it clear that suspensions or modifications of Standing Orders can be for one day's sitting at a time only. It is no longer in effect?
On a point of order, is it not correct that an order passed by this House in the last Dáil which was not converted into a Standing Order until this Dáil did exactly the thing Deputy O'Malley says cannot be done, namely, laid down a rule in regard to taking of votes on Estimates?
The Parliamentary Secretary was not here; he is only a blow in.
The Deputy is a blow out.
I am proceeding with the business of the day and calling Item No. 9.