Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Financial Resolutions 2011: Allocation of Time: Motion
That notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the financial motions by the Minister for Finance shall, for the purpose of debate, be moved and grouped together in accordance with the schedule below and proceedings thereon and any amendments thereto shall, in the case of each group, be brought to a conclusion by one question which shall be put from the Chair not later than the times as indicated: Resolutions Nos. 1 to 4, to conclude at 7.40 p.m.; Resolutions Nos. 5 to 9, to conclude at 8.30 p.m.; Resolutions Nos. 10 to 14, to conclude at 9.20 p.m.; Resolutions Nos. 15 to 18, to conclude at 10.10 p.m.; Resolutions Nos. 19 to 23, to conclude at 11 p.m.; Resolutions Nos. 24 to 33, to conclude at 11.40 p.m.
No, I cannot agree to that proposal. We have before us an unusually large number of financial resolutions in connection with this year's budget, a total of 34 financial resolutions. To my recollection, most budgets would normally have perhaps half a dozen financial resolutions which would be dealt with in the period of time to which we refer. I do not have a particular objection to the resolutions being grouped for the purposes of debate but I object to the resolutions being grouped for the purposes of being voted upon. These resolutions are being introduced under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1927. I am advised that this Act envisaged that DÃ¡il resolutions in respect of measures under that Act would be decided upon individually and that a serious question would arise as to the validity of a resolution which is done on a grouped basis. I am further advised that the wrong statutory formula is used in a number of the resolutions but I am sure we can deal with this in the course of the debate. My principal objection is that in effect what is being presented to the House is a book of resolutions which really amounts to a Finance Bill, having that significance in terms of the range of measures it proposes to deal with. I do not object to having the measures grouped for the purposes of debate but it is not acceptable to the Labour Party that they would be voted upon on a group basis. The voting of the measures on a group basis will arguably cause more votes than might be necessitated. If we are voting on a grouped basis, we will be voting on groups some of whose measures we may be quite happy to agree with. If there is one proposal in a group with which we are not in agreement, it will cause us to vote against it and thereby vote against the lot. The view of the Labour Party is that we should debate the measures in groups but each of the 34 financial resolutions should be voted upon separately.
I agree with Deputy Gilmore's observations about the process. This is an unprecedented situation where a total of 34 separate resolutions are being put to the House. Not all of these resolutions come into effect as and from midnight. Quite a number of the resolutions will not take effect until January. Why, therefore, is the House being asked to group these resolutions now and to vote on them before midnight, when up to 40% of them do not come into effect until January of next year? It is a normal procedure on budget night that the financial resolutions take effect from midnight this evening but not all of them take effect from that time. As Deputy Gilmore said, the Opposition would agree with quite a number of measures.
However, the fact that they are being grouped means there will be an omnibus vote on each of the groups and effectively the House will be unable to divide on each individual resolution.
I know it is and I also know it is for the purpose of trying to expedite getting the financial resolutions through the House as quickly as possible, but it is cumbersome in so far as it will probably result in a vote on all the groupings which would not necessarily be the case were they taken on a more separated basis.
As the Ceann Comhairle has said, this is in accordance with precedence - perhaps not in more recent times, but when there were, thankfully, different types of budgets that were being considered, and we were talking about reducing rates and duties because of the surplus positions in our finances at the time. There are precedents for this in the 1990s and earlier under successive Governments. It is a means by which people can conduct the proceedings. The question was asked as to when these become effective. It is important that we give certainty on all these matters and that the House passes these financial resolutions tonight in respect of all these issues. As regards when they come into effect, people need to know and plan, and cannot hang around. One of the pillars of the argument coming from the Opposition was the need for certainty; this gives it certainty.
We are providing for focused discussion on these resolutions, some of which are not controversial at all. If, because of the grouping of the resolutions, there is one against which Deputy Gilmore wants to vote and not others, I would be in the Chair's hands as to whether he can take the one rather than the group - I am not sure that is available to him. Under Standing Orders, if we were taking the group vote anyway, the Deputy could indicate that there were three with which he was happy, but was voting against in respect of a particular resolution and that would cover him.
The Dail Divided:
For the motion: 82 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Seán Ardagh, Bobby Aylward, Joe Behan, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Niall Collins, Margaret Conlon, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, Micheál Martin, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Darragh O'Brien, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)
Against the motion: 78 (Bernard Allen, James Bannon, Seán Barrett, Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Pearse Doherty, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Noel Grealish, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Cregan and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe
Question declared carried