: I move:
"That in the case of the Finance Bill, 1978 and notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders:—
(1) the proceedings on the Committee Stage (resumed) of the Bill (including the Order naming the day for the Fourth Stage), if not previously concluded shall be brought to a conclusion at 6.45 p.m. on Tuesday, 20th June, 1978 by putting from the Chair the Question necessary to bring them to a conclusion, and the Question to be put from the Chair shall be `That
(a) (any amendments set down by the Minister for Finance and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill) the Bill as amended is hereby agreed to and as amended is reported to the House.
(b) The Fourth Stage be taken on Wednesday, 21st June, 1978'; and
(2) the proceedings on the Fourth and Fifth Stages, if not previously concluded shall be brought to a conclusion at 6.45 p.m. on Wednesday, 21st June, 1978, by putting from the Chair the Question necessary to bring them to a conclusion; and the question to be put from the Chair shall be `That (any amendments set down by the Minister for Finance, including any requiring Recommittal, and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill and Recommittal and Fourth Stages are hereby completed and) the Bill is hereby passed.' "
The purpose of this motion is the completion of the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill this evening at 6.45 p.m. and the Report and Final Stages by the same time tomorrow evening. I regret the necessity to come here with this time motion because I had understood that I had reached agreement with my opposite numbers, the Whips of both Opposition Parties, some two weeks ago in regard to finalising this business. Hearing Deputy Cluskey a moment ago made me fully and finally appreciate that trying to reach agreement in this regard is impossible in view of his anxiety to try to make headlines out of anything at present.
When I say I regret the necessity for this motion I say it fully conscious of the fact that I understood up to now that a sufficiency of time in the House had been given to discuss this Finance Bill fully, a Bill which comprises a great deal of tax concessions. It is one of the measures which have been exhaustively dealt with. One of the provisions that is possibly responsible for this time motion is a section of the Bill which the House has already spent 1½ days discussing. Apart from that, I want to convey initially the basic reason why the passage of this Bill at this stage as we see it on the Government's side is extremely urgent. Normally, the Finance Bill is cleared and could be expected to be cleared before the end of this month. Because of that and because of the early date of circulation of the Finance Bill this year, 13 April, it was confidently expected that it would be cleared and certain arrangements were made involving the Revenue Commissioners in regard to getting out printed notices. All this was arranged on the assumption that the Bill would have become law by the end of this month.
Up to now a record number of hours have been and will have been spent on the Finance Bill. I have been looking through the discussions on time motions previously in relation to Finance Bills and I find that the Government Whip of the day this time last year spoke about the record amount of time that had been given to the 1977 Finance Bill and pointed out that the amount of hours spent on it was a record from, I think, 1956. Peculiarly, the situation to date in regard to the present Bill is that 42 hours 40 minutes have already been spent on the Bill. By 6.45 tomorrow evening the time spent on this Bill will have reached over 52 hours. Never before in the history of the State were 52 hours spent on the Finance Bill. In view of that the suggestion that the Government are rushing this particular Bill through does not stand up to examination. I do not think any justifiable criticism can be made of the Government's present action in introducing this time motion.
Some two weeks ago arrangements had been arrived at between the Whips in an amiable manner to finish the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill on last Wednesday night, giving Tuesday and Wednesday to it. We had proposed giving today and tomorrow to the Report and Final Stages. That was agreed. The information that became available to me last week was that the Labour Whip was unable to sell that to his own party. That was quite in order. As far as relationships in doing business with the Opposition Whips are concerned, these are extremely pleasant and so I do not want to rock the boat. But I do not think I am letting the Labour Whip down when I say he reported back to me that he could not sell this to his colleagues. Fair enough. His colleagues wanted to make as much of a meal as possible out of the Finance Bill. With the amount of time given to the Bill today and the amount of time given to the Bill tomorrow the actual time spent on the Bill will be far in excess of the time spent on Finance Bills in previous years. We had a motion last year and another in 1975 having spent eight hours on the Finance Bill. We had another time motion in 1974. Peculiarly enough, the time motion last year dealt not only with the Finance Bill but also guillotined the Committee Stage of the Friendly Societies Bill, the Second Stage of a Prisons Bill and a Supplementary Estimate on Labour. In 1975 there was a similar motion, not alone was the Finance Bill covered by the guillotine, but so were nine other Bills.
I want to make it quite clear we want to get this Bill through simply and solely so that the benefits that will accrue under it can be implemented and so that the Revenue Commissioners can go ahead with the issuing of documents they have already prepared and printed on the basis of the passage of the Bill before the end of June. This time motion is not being introduced in order, according to press reports, to enable the House to recess or go on holiday from next week. I want to put that on the record here and now. Apart altogether from the Finance Bill, there are Estimates to be cleared and a number of Bills to be passed between now and the recess. In addition, we expect to have a debate on the Adjournment and the fixing of the time for that still has to be negotiated between the Opposition Whips and myself. There will be no guillotining of the time for that. It is a matter for arrangement between the Opposition Whips and myself.
I recommend the motion to the House. I do not want to spend time on it because the more time spent on it the less time there will be for discussing the Finance Bill. From what I read in the papers I understand there are Members who, having spent a day-and-a-half on section 36, still feel there is more to be said on it. There is more to this Bill than section 36. There is nothing unjustified in this motion at this stage. It is a very reasonable motion.