Dáil debates

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Estimates for Public Services 2012: Messages from Select Committees

 

2:00 pm

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Select Sub-Committee on Education and Skills has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for public services for the service of the year ending on 31 December 2012 - Votes 26.

^ Order of Business ^

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 16, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 -Second Stage (resumed); and No. 10, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 - Motion to Instruct the Committee.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the adjournment of Private Members' business which shall be No. 32 – Motorist Emergency Relief Bill 2012 – Second Stage, which shall take place on the conclusion of No. 10, and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes tomorrow night; (2) No. 9 shall be decided without debate; (3) the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 16 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.45 p.m. tonight; and (4) the proceedings on No. 10 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 60 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and who may share their time, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 16, Second Stage (resumed) of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012, agreed to?

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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Since the original draft of the Bill issued, the Bill has been very substantially amended and rewritten and what we are now looking at is a different Bill. It is not the same Bill as was debated in the Dáil last week.

We are getting less than an hour - 7.54 p.m. to 8.45 p.m. - to discuss what is effectively a new Bill with considerable changes, such as the spreading out of social welfare benefits to part-time workers over five days rather than six, which will substantially affect people's incomes, as well as a series of other major changes. It is not acceptable that what is effectively a new Bill should be discussed for less than an hour and that the Technical Group will not have a chance to speak on it at all. We will not be able to make any comment on what is effectively a new Bill. We want to protest in the strongest possible terms. This is not acceptable, and more time must be allowed on Second Stage to discuss the Bill along with the raft of amendments that change it substantially.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Fleming, who is taking this Bill on behalf of our party, has indicated to me that quite a substantial number of amendments have arrived late in the day and adequate time has not been allowed for discussion of these amendments to allow an understanding of their full implications. More time is required, given the number of amendments and the lateness of their arrival. This represents a substantive change to the Bill as discussed on Second Stage.

There is also the issue of section 4 of the Bill, pertaining to single parents and the ending of payments when children reach the age of seven, on which I still have not received a response from the Government with regard to conditionality. The attachment of conditionality to any Bill coming through the House from a member of the Cabinet, making it subject to the response of other Cabinet members to the conditions the Minister has laid down, is unprecedented. I would appreciate the Taoiseach's comments on that aspect. Is it his intention to proceed with section 4 as well as these other amendments?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I must point out that what we are being asked to agree here is the proposal for dealing with Second Stage of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. The next proposal, on No. 10, deals with the motion to instruct the committee regarding changes to the Bill. I say this in case there is any misunderstanding.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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I was going to oppose proposal No. 4, so I am seeking guidance. I do not think that 15 minutes per party is enough.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is a condition imposed by Standing Orders. In order to introduce new amendments to a Bill, 60 minutes must be given for this purpose.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Okay, but there have been-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is Standing Order 131, if I remember correctly.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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The Government has introduced many amendments to the Bill, but there are conflicting signals. The Minister is telling us she does not agree to some key elements of the Bill, yet it is being rushed through this evening. For all the Taoiseach's attempts to put down Deputy Boyd Barrett, it is totally unacceptable that the Technical Group should not have the right to speak on this, if what the Deputy says is true.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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Terrible.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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It is exclusion.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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That is reform of Government.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy was in government himself.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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If there is an objection to the item on the Order of Business, Standing Orders states that leaders of parties have the right to speak, not groups.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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There have been ten hours of debate on this already, practically.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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We have had two or three days.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The reason the motion is being introduced is that the Minister has brought in a number of new amendments that were not part of the published Bill.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, Taoiseach; there is a misunderstanding here. We are talking about the time allocated for the completion of Second Stage only. We will move on to the other item afterwards.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Why is it being taken now, anyway?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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There have been ten hours of debate on Second Stage. We can deal with the other point later.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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It is a different Bill.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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It is a different Bill now.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I must put the question.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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A Cheann Comhairle, it is a completely different Bill.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Do you mind?

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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The Ceann Comhairle will not let us speak any other way.

5:00 pm

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will have a chance in a minute to say "Yes" or "No".

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 16 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 83 (Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Joan Burton, Ray Butler, Jerry Buttimer, Catherine Byrne, Eric Byrne, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Paudie Coffey, Michael Conaghan, Seán Conlan, Paul Connaughton, Ciara Conway, Noel Coonan, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Joe Costello, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Jim Daly, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Pat Deering, Regina Doherty, Robert Dowds, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Alan Farrell, Frank Feighan, Anne Ferris, Frances Fitzgerald, Peter Fitzpatrick, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brendan Griffin, Noel Harrington, Simon Harris, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Phil Hogan, Heather Humphreys, Kevin Humphreys, Derek Keating, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Seán Kenny, Seán Kyne, John Lyons, Nicky McFadden, Dinny McGinley, Joe McHugh, Tony McLoughlin, Eamonn Maloney, Peter Mathews, Olivia Mitchell, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Michelle Mulherin, Dara Murphy, Eoghan Murphy, Gerald Nash, Dan Neville, Derek Nolan, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Kieran O'Donnell, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, John Perry, Ann Phelan, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Brendan Ryan, Arthur Spring, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Liam Twomey, Brian Walsh, Alex White)

Against the motion: 39 (Gerry Adams, Richard Boyd Barrett, Dara Calleary, Joan Collins, Michael Colreavy, Stephen Donnelly, Timmy Dooley, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Luke Flanagan, Seán Fleming, Tom Fleming, John Halligan, Séamus Healy, Michael Healy-Rae, Billy Kelleher, Séamus Kirk, Michael Kitt, Pádraig MacLochlainn, Mary Lou McDonald, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Sandra McLellan, Micheál Martin, Michael Moynihan, Catherine Murphy, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Jonathan O'Brien, Shane Ross, Brendan Smith, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín, Robert Troy, Mick Wallace)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Question declared carried.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is No. 10, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 - motion to instruct the committee, agreed to?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is not agreed.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Before Deputy Martin makes his point, I wish to give notice that in accordance with Standing Order 141, where substantial amendments are being made to a Bill, there is provision for the Ceann Comhairle to ask that a new explanatory memorandum be prepared for the Members. I have asked for this and I understand it will be made available.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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Maith an fear.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Ceann Comhairle and commend him on that action.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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You did not do that when you were in government.

Interruptions.

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was done on foot of my suggestion. Deputies should check the record.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I remind Deputy Buttimer the Ceann Comhairle is independent-----

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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We know that. We remember when Rory O'Hanlon was in the Chair.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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-----and has the best interests of the Members of Parliament at heart. Deputy Buttimer should not be so angry. I do not know why he is heckling so much or why he seems so agitated.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Being a historian, Deputy Martin should know.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Can we have some order, please?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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This represents a substantive change to the Bill. The reason the motion is being tabled is because the amendments introduced were not contemplated by the original Bill. They were outside the scope of the original Bill and that is not good enough in the context of a debate that is being guillotined on Second, Committee, Report and Final Stages. This is shoddy treatment of Members of the House by the Government on substantive issues. The motion on the Order Paper concerns "an instruction to the Committee on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 that it has power to make provisions to amend and extend the law relating to the Social Insurance Fund, employed contributors and employment contributions, supplementary welfare allowance, offences, miscellaneous control provisions and proceedings, claims and payments, jobseeker's benefit, appointments and duties of social welfare inspectors, social welfare, miscellaneous provisions on budgeting, and occupational pension schemes". This is extensive and it calls for a fundamental reappraisal by the Government of how the Bill is being treated in the House. Greater opportunity should be provided to Members of the House to give adequate time and consideration to the issues that have come before it in the substantive amendments that were not contemplated by the original Bill. It is not good enough in terms of procedure and it flies in the face of the commitment to Dáil reform and full engagement with all Members on legislation and propositions from the Government concerning serious issues that go to the heart of people on benefits and payments and their entitlements.

We have had enough stealth attacks on people on social welfare, particularly single parents. The domiciliary care issue was raised earlier and we need adequate time in the House to tease out these issues so that people can get to the nitty-gritty and the implications of what is being proposed.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Martin did not practise that when he had responsibility.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Deputy Durkan should calm down.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is a discussion for leaders of groups.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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I thought it appropriate that our Whip should deal with this issue.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will allow that on this exceptional occasion. It should be the leaders of political groupings.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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It is appropriate because I commend the Ceann Comhairle on seeking an explanatory memorandum. When this matter arose at the Whips meeting last week, a number of us were aware of the major changes being proposed to a Bill to deal with only two subjects - the disgraceful change to the entitlements of one parent families and pensions. The proposed changes are far-ranging and cover 12 areas of social welfare code. The Government Whip acknowledged that and took the opportunity to table a motion. However, rather than a motion to discuss the 12 points, in light of the Minister's concerns about the Bill in respect of one parent families, the entire Bill should have been withdrawn and resubmitted with the changes made under the title of a social welfare miscellaneous provisions Bill. We will have an opportunity to discuss this later. The opportunity is limited to one hour, which means 15 minutes per grouping to deal with 12 areas of the social welfare code. The chosen option should have been to withdraw the Bill or extend the time available.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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In accordance with Standing Order 131, where substantial amendments are being made, reference is made to providing 60 minutes. That is what is being provided.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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Perhaps our Whip can also speak-----

Photo of Pat DeeringPat Deering (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Boyd Barrett is the leader.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have the greatest respect for Deputy Catherine Murphy but she is not the Whip of People Before Profit. Deputy Boyd Barrett is the leader of People Before Profit and that is why he can speak.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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She speaks for the Technical Group.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Schizophrenia.

Photo of Pat DeeringPat Deering (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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He is speechless.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is not the Technical Group, these are party leaders.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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With respect, this is an issue to do with-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Standing Order concerns interventions with regard to matters proposed during the Order of Business. It does not concern the topic of the Bill. If Deputies want to change Standing Orders, I have no problem with that. Deputies should submit a request to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and it can be discussed. Deputy Boyd Barrett is speaking on behalf of People Before Profit.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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Is there no way I can have a substitute?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, unless Deputy Catherine Murphy has joined People Before Profit, which I doubt.

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Boyd Barrett can use mental telepathy.

Photo of Pat DeeringPat Deering (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Boyd Barrett can make it up as he goes along.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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As I said earlier and as others have said, this is effectively a new Bill. The idea that we are talking about a new Bill dealing with important matters for citizens of this country and for some of the most vulnerable sectors of society, which have been hit hard with austerity and cuts-----

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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This is a single transferable speech.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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They include lone parents, part-time workers and others dependent on social welfare. It is wrong that what is effectively a new Bill should receive less than one hour of discussion. It raises the question of what the Government and the Minister were doing when an extension of what the Bill is dealing with comes in at the last minute. It flies in the face of any commitment to serious accountability and democratic discussion on such an important Bill.

What is unacceptable in that regard is that all of the groups will not even get the 15 minutes referred to because one section of this House, effectively one third of the Opposition parties, will not have the opportunity to speak at all on Second Stage.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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We are second highest in the polls.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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I appeal to the Taoiseach to be fair, democratic and reasonable. It is not right that one third of the Opposition is disenfranchised from discussing this changed Bill.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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The Taoiseach should be fair.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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We will have had ten hours debate on Second Stage-----

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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No, four hours.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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Bille nua.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputies should allow people to speak.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is a requirement that the motion is taken to discuss amendments that were not part of the published Bill. While the motion refers to the four groups - the Government and the Opposition parties - the amendments on Committee Stage will be taken all day tomorrow and until 3.40 p.m on Thursday. They are taken in sequence and every Member is entitled to speak on those amendments, including Members of the Technical Group and Independent Members. The motion is a requirement in order to allow for the amendments tabled by the Minister to be discussed. The amendments can be discussed on Committee Stage in sequence and it is open to Members to contribute to the debate. That will take place all day tomorrow and until 3.40 p.m on Thursday.

Question put:

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 83 (Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Joan Burton, Ray Butler, Jerry Buttimer, Catherine Byrne, Eric Byrne, Joe Carey, Paudie Coffey, Michael Conaghan, Seán Conlan, Paul Connaughton, Ciara Conway, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Michael Creed, Jim Daly, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Pat Deering, Regina Doherty, Robert Dowds, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Alan Farrell, Frank Feighan, Anne Ferris, Frances Fitzgerald, Peter Fitzpatrick, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brendan Griffin, Noel Harrington, Simon Harris, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Heather Humphreys, Kevin Humphreys, Derek Keating, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Seán Kenny, Seán Kyne, John Lyons, Michael McCarthy, Shane McEntee, Nicky McFadden, Joe McHugh, Tony McLoughlin, Eamonn Maloney, Peter Mathews, Olivia Mitchell, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Michelle Mulherin, Dara Murphy, Eoghan Murphy, Gerald Nash, Dan Neville, Derek Nolan, Patrick Nulty, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Kieran O'Donnell, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, John Perry, Ann Phelan, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Brendan Ryan, Arthur Spring, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Liam Twomey, Brian Walsh, Alex White)

Against the motion: 35 (Gerry Adams, Richard Boyd Barrett, Dara Calleary, Joan Collins, Michael Colreavy, Stephen Donnelly, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Luke Flanagan, Seán Fleming, Tom Fleming, John Halligan, Séamus Healy, Michael Healy-Rae, Billy Kelleher, Séamus Kirk, Michael Kitt, Pádraig MacLochlainn, Mary Lou McDonald, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, John McGuinness, Sandra McLellan, Micheál Martin, Michael Moynihan, Catherine Murphy, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Jonathan O'Brien, Brendan Smith, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín, Robert Troy, Mick Wallace)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Question declared carried.