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Order of Business (Continued)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 4

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  11 o’clock

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is the proposal for the sitting and business of the Dáil on Monday, 17 December 2012, agreed to?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin No. Again, we are opposing the Government's proposal in respect of the sitting on Monday next. What is happening in this House is quite farcical. In the past week alone, we passed Supplementary Estimates in respect of health and welfare totalling €1 billion without any plenary discussion in the Dáil. Yesterday, the Government rammed through the Social Welfare Bill and no one had the opportunity to discuss, or to even articulate an opinion on, issues relating to child benefit, the removal of the PRSI exemption, the reduction in jobseeker's allowance and the many other measures it contains. There was no debate whatsoever. Today, the Government will ram through the Second Stage of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill in order to shut down the debate on a property tax that will impact on every household in the country.

A Deputy: Fianna Fáil negotiated that tax.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The House will sit on Monday and there will be no Order of Business. Again, this is perhaps aimed at trying to deflect from the core issues of social welfare and the property tax. What is happening is very cynical. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, indicated that nothing has been discussed more than the property tax. He is completely misleading the House in this regard. The Thornhill report has been in the relevant Minister's hands since July. That report provides the intellectual backdrop to the introduction of this tax.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Fianna Fáil gave us the backdrop to it.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The report to which I refer was only published on Friday last in the aftermath of the budget. There should have been a specific discussion on that report in advance of the legislation being brought forward.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Fianna Fáil provided the backdrop to the introduction of the property tax.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The point I am making here relates to the suppression of debate. What is happening here is another attempt to shut down any form of discussion. This Government promised a democratic revolution and the Minister of State with responsibility for Dáil procedures stated that there would be no guillotining of non-emergency legislation. The rationale behind what is being done here has not, despite all the smart comments, been explained by the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte. Why is this happening? Why is the House being denied an opportunity to debate this and other issues?

This is, as far as we are concerned, an extremely important matter, particularly in the context of Deputies being given an opportunity to debate the legislation in detail. I wish to put an alternative proposal whereby we could still have the sitting on Monday but that we would take Committee Stage of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012 instead of the other business that has been scheduled.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I thank the Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The legislation to which I refer will have an impact on every household throughout the country and it could also have an impact on churches, charities, etc., and we need an opportunity to discuss it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy has had a fair hearing.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I accept that what is happening is not the Ceann Comhairle's fault.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I appreciate that. I merely wish to be fair to everybody. I call Deputy Pearse Doherty.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Government is intent on ramming the legislation through with unseemly haste. What it is doing is both wrong and disgraceful.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The tax is not due to be introduced until July.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty We want to object to the way the business for Monday's sitting has been ordered. We have no objection to the House sitting on Monday. Indeed Sinn Féin called for such a sitting in order that an additional debate on budgetary matters might take place. The proposal before the House indicates that Monday's sitting will be mostly taken up by the debate on the expert group report. People want us to debate the impact of the Social Welfare Bill, which the House passed last night, and how the family home tax is going to affect their incomes.

We have all heard the clattering coming from the Labour Party benches. The scenes we witnessed earlier were absolutely appalling. Government Deputies and Ministers had the generosity to burst into laughter - in fact they were doubled over in their seats - at a question relating to how people are going to be impacted upon by the family home tax.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash Spare us.

Deputy Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler This is not "Walks along the Border with Peter Darragh Quinn".

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty There are very-----

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Hold on a second, Deputies.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty -----few families which are doubled over with laughter in their homes this morning.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash Spare us.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty They are reeling from the fact that the Social Welfare Bill has been passed by this House and that the Government plans to ram through, with little or no debate, a family home tax which is going to impose a further burden on them.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating What about Sinn Féin's twisted policies?

Deputy Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler I wonder how people in the North feel.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty We have heard about Deputies wrestling with their consciences in respect of the cuts to child benefit and the respite care grant. The families to which I refer are going to be expected to pay the family home tax.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating What about the families Sinn Féin persecuted for 30 years?

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty What is happening is absolutely appalling. There should be a sitting on Monday and we should take the opportunity it offers to debate the family home tax. In addition, there should be an Order of Business, Leaders' Questions, a Topical Issue Debate and Question Time. That is the form a proper sitting should take. What we will probably get is another glib response from the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, that will be designed to have Government's backbenchers bursting out laughing again and forgetting what real people are being obliged to endure.

Deputy Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler Deputy Pearse Doherty should not get angry.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I also wish to object to the ordering of business for Monday. I am of the view that we should debate the property tax during Monday's sitting. As Deputy Martin indicated, the Thornhill report was only published in recent days. Voluntary organisations have stated that they are being impacted upon by what is taking place and the Thornhill report states that these organisations should be excluded from the so-called property tax, which is a family home tax. The legislation should be debated in much greater detail. The Government is not allocating sufficient time in respect of it. Some 1.9 million families and households will be affected by the tax. It is the Government's responsibility to give the House adequate time to debate the Bill properly.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte In all my time in this House, I have never heard those in opposition object to leaving a gap between the end of the debate on Second Stage of a Bill and the beginning of Committee Stage in order that Deputies might have time to table amendments.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Come off it.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte As regards the request that we should meet on Monday-----

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher We should be taking Second Stage of the Bill on Monday as well.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputies please allow the Minister to reply? I gave those objecting to the proposal adequate time in which to voice their concerns. The Minister should be allowed to reply, without interruption.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley If he replied to the points that were raised, there would be no problem.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It will be a glib and trite reply.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte As regards the request for a Monday sitting, the Government was happy to respond in that regard. It is also happy to put forward speakers for the debate on Monday.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Government cancelled last Monday's sitting.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte On the previous occasion on which Deputy Pearse Doherty sought a Monday sitting, there were no speakers put forward by the entire Opposition.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath That is not true.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Not one speaker was put forward.

Deputy Pat Deering: Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering Deputy Mattie McGrath was on hunger strike.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is not true.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister is only playing games.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte If those in opposition want to remain in their constituencies on Monday next, we will still put forward speakers in the normal way.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Government does not want-----

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Those in government are afraid to go to their constituencies.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer We are not afraid. Deputy Dooley should not worry about us. We do not hide.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Minister is quite capable of answering for himself. He does not need any assistance. Deputies should settle down and allow him to reply in order that we might proceed with our business.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Deputy Martin is not correct. The backdrop to the property tax was not the Honohan report. The backdrop to it was Fianna Fáil's surrender to the troika.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It was the Thornhill report.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary Fine Gael-----

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Deputy Martin negotiated that surrender.

Deputy Pat Deering: Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering Deputy Martin should apologise.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I must put the question.

Deputy Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler Deputy Martin should apologise. He should say that he is sorry.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin On a point of order-----

Deputy Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler It is Christmas. Deputy Martin should say that he is sorry.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputy Micheál Martin please adhere to the rules of the House? This is becoming impossible.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I am raising a point of order. The Minister said-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy had his say. He is just being totally unreasonable.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I just want to-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy is not allowed to respond.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin This is outrageous. I am not responsible for what is happening this morning. The Government is driving all of this. What I am saying is that in the normal course amendments must be tabled before the Second Stage debate begins.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is not a point of order. I must put the question. Deputy Martin should resume his seat.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We were informed that we had to submit amendments by Tuesday morning last.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am putting the question.


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