Election of Chairman

Clerk to the Committee

The first item is the election of a Chairman. I ask for nominations for the position of chairperson.

I do not know how this fits into all the arrangements that are going to take place but we need a Chairman for the time being and I nominate Deputy John Paul Phelan, who is highly qualified. He has been in the Seanad for two terms and this is his second term in the Dáil. He has a degree in economics and finance, so he is fully qualified and his knowledge in this area is excellent. It gives me great pleasure to propose Deputy John Paul Phelan. I am not sure whether this is a permanent chairmanship because I do not think there has been agreement but somebody has to chair the committee for the time being.

I second that nomination.

Clerk to the Committee

Are there any other nominations?

May I make a comment?

Clerk to the Committee

Yes.

I will not make a nomination. As I understand it, we are looking for a Chairman of the temporary committee and within five weeks or so there will be a permanent committee and the Chairman of that will be decided by the d'Hondt mechanism.

Clerk to the Committee

That is correct.

It is my view and that of Fianna Fáil that this committee, as in the permanent committee, should be chaired by the Opposition but it appears as if it will be decided by the d'Hondt mechanism and may or may not be an Opposition Member. That is not what we are deciding today.

Clerk to the Committee

No.

Our party will not contest the position, but I make the point that our view is that, in principle, the budget committee should be chaired by a non-Government representative.

I agree with that.

The clarification is that it is for a period that could extend beyond five weeks and the committee does not cease after five weeks. Is that correct? Will the budgetary committee, as established by this committee, fall under the d'Hondt system? I agree with Deputy Michael McGrath, with the caveat that the budgetary committee should be chaired by a member of the Opposition who has not entered into an arrangement with the Government to facilitate budgetary matters.

The Deputy should not worry. I was not looking for a job.

Clerk to the Committee

I wish to clarify for Deputy Pearse Doherty that this is temporary. The Dáil, in its order of 5 May, gave us 35 days to report back on the blueprint that will form the budget committee. This is, therefore, a temporary committee, which does not fall under the D'Hondt system. We must elect a Chairman and report to the Dáil sub-committee within 35 days. The current deadline is 29 June. As with many things, if it is not possible to meet that deadline, we will have to go back to the Dáil and report that. However, the plan should be that we will work towards 29 June. That said, the committee is purely a temporary measure.

Is it 35 days from today?

Clerk to the Committee

No, 35 days from last Thursday when the Ceann Comhairle announced the names of the members of the committee. As there no other nominations, I call on Deputy Phelan to take the Chair.

Deputy John Paul Phelan took the Chair.