Committee on Finance. - Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Amendment) Bill, 1973: Money Resolution.

Tuesday, 24 July 1973

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 267 No. 10

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Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Ryan): Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I move:

That it is expedient to authorise such charges on and payments out of the Central Fund or the growing produce thereof and such payments out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to amend the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) Acts, 1938 to 1968 and the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Acts, 1938 to 1972.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  On the Money Resolution I want to put the record straight. I did not like to delay the Taoiseach when he announced the Order of Business but I indicated last week that this Bill, as presented originally or even including a ministerial [1593] amendment, is a breach of precedent in such Bills, Bills providing for payment of allowances to Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

It breaches the precedent set in at least five or six previous Acts of this nature by failing to provide an allowance specific for the Opposition qua Opposition. That was one of the surprises that this Bill contained to which I alluded on two occasions last week and which, therefore, I said could alter the agreement of concluding business in a set pattern by next Friday. The amendment that the Minister now proposes does not cure this breach. This being a money resolution, I think I am entitled to talk in anticipation about that amendment.

I had it conveyed to the Minister, I hope he received my message, that we were not yet satisfied with the Bill in its new form in that it made no special provision for the requirements of the Opposition from the point of view of research and information, that the proposal that will now come before the House by way of ministerial amendment is in breach of that principle and, certainly, is in breach of another principle which I will now refer to.

If the purpose of the moneys that will be provided under this resolution as spelt out in the ministerial amendment is to give Deputies allowances for clerical assistance or research services or what-have-you, then the principle breached is that every Deputy of this House stands equal in this House no matter on what side he serves and no matter in what bench he sits. The proposal in the amendment is intended to give the Opposition Deputies an advantage over Government Deputies. I think that is a principle that cannot be sustained in this House. If it is a question of providing secretarial services or information and research facilities for Deputies as such, then these ought to be provided on an equal basis.

Over and above that principle is the fact that the Opposition as a whole have to provide themselves with information, with expertise, with research services because they have not [1594] got that available to them in the manner that the Government have, that is through the Civil Service. There are two separate matters involved. The allowance for the Opposition, as such, is not to be replaced by an unequal allowance for Deputies. Deputies stand equal before this House and if an allowance is to be provided for them, it ought to be provided on an equal basis. I will say no more about that aspect of it.

There is also the question of what we regard as a breach of the recommendations of the special committee of the Employer/Labour Conference. On that score, too, we intend to oppose the Bill in its principles. I think that is enough to say at this stage about the financial resolution but I wanted to make it quite clear now that the ministerial amendment does not meet our case and that if there is any understanding or feeling in the Government that the arrangement that was come to on the basis that this Bill would contain no surprises, that arrangement is not on.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy Lynch is displaying the height of audacity in the protest which he is making here and I will explain very briefly why. The allowance to the Opposition has, over the last 20 years or so, included not merely a secretarial allowance but also a very generous allowance for research and information facilities and the proposal from the Government side of the House in this Bill is one which equals and, in fact, it can be said marginally exceeds, what the Employer/Labour Conference considered to be the norm for appropriate increase.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  This was not considered by the Employer/Labour Conference.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Employer/ Labour Conference were asked to consider what were the appropriate levels of increase in income to Members of the Oireachtas and people in the higher sector.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order, please.

[1595]Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The figure paid for research and information is a figure which is paid to the Opposition in order that it may remunerate the people who are engaged in this sphere. The figure which we are now providing in our amendment is one which is at the most generous level of increases approved for other scales of remuneration by the Employer/Labour Conference. Deputy Lynch is now adopting a line of great principle that the Government side of the House are wrong not to breach the National Wage Agreement or what the Employer/Labour Conference recommended. That is not acceptable to us and we will not breach it.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  The Minister is trying very hard to do so.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  He is in a right pickle now.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order. The Minister.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  If the avaricious brigade would “hould their whist” for a moment I would let them know how well off they are. As a result of the increases being provided for in this Bill, Members of Fianna Fáil and of Oireachtas Éireann will increase their incomes by £73,000 as Members of either House. In addition the Front Bench of the Opposition will receive as pensions from their ministerial offices a further increase of £36,000 and there is not one on their Front Bench who has not served as a Minister. It comes ill from them, who denied fair treatment to the Opposition during the past 16 years, to whinge now when their salaries as Members of the House are rising by £73,000 and when their pensions will reach the enormous figure of £36,000, a sum never paid in the history of this State——

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  The Minister should check his facts before he makes such statements.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  If the House wants the figures, I will give them. The pension [1596] to be paid to Deputy Lynch is £3,131 in addition to his salary as a Member of this House.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  And a free car.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  They can have it back any time they want it.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The former President —admittedly, not a member of the Opposition—will receive £1,993.56p; Senator Brian Lenihan will receive £1,993.56; while the same amount will be paid to Deputy Colley and to Deputy Joseph Brennan. Deputy Seán Flanagan will receive £1,816.32p; Deputy Faulkner will receive £1,629.20p; Deputy James Gibbons will receive £1,461.96p——

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Does the Minister grudge it to them?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  No, but I want people to understand the sincerity of the protests that are being made against this Government.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  How much were they entitled to already?

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Will Deputy Fitzgerald please restrain himself?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy Lalor will receive £1,461.96p; Deputy Breslin will receive £1,993.56p; Deputy O'Malley will receive £798.36p; as will also Deputies Cronin, G. Collins, Lemass and Geoghegan. Deputy Blaney will receive £1,993.56p; Mr. Caoimhghín Ó Beoláin will receive £1,993.56p as will Mr. Ó Móráin, Dr. Hillery and Deputy Haughey. Mr. Paudge Brennan will receive £912.56p and Deputy Molloy will receive £798.56p. The total amount to be paid to the Opposition in pensions, therefore, will be more than £36,000 in addition to their increased Dáil salaries plus an additional £6,000 over the combined Opposition payments received previously.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Why did the Minister stop there?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  In the face of this they say now that they are unable to accept this Bill, which will result in giving [1597] them this massive subsidy to enable them to operate in opposition. It seems to me that they are resigned to being in permanent opposition and to feather their nests in opposition in the same way as they did while in Government. It is time that insincerity of that type was exposed and I am sure it is not pleasant for them that I have exposed it now.

Ruairí Brugha: Information on Ruairí Brugha  Zoom on Ruairí Brugha  On a point of information, would the Minister please explain why he gave this long-winded reply to the point raised by Deputy Lynch?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I was about to ask that, too.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Because Deputy Lynch was inferring that the Government are being unfair and I wished to show the reality of the situation.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  This is a miserable defence of a breach of a principle.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  By a miserable man.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  On a point of order——

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The position is that I have replied to the debate on the Money Resolution and that it is not open to anybody else to speak on it now.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Are we in Committee?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Not yet.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Then, there are other Deputies who are ready to speak.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Surely the House is in Committee.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Is not the House in Committee for the Money Resolution and, consequently, I am entitled to speak a second time?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair was thinking in terms of formal Committee Stage.

[1598]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Am I not correct in saying that the House is now in Committee and that, therefore, I am entitled to speak again?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Of course.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  That is what I thought. The Minister for Finance should read the Standing Orders as well as he reads details of payments to the Opposition.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  My understanding of the position is that the resolution before the House was proposed, spoken on and replied to.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  The Ceann Comhairle has ruled that I am entitled to speak again and there can be only one Ceann Comhairle.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  It is about time the Opposition realised that.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I accept the Chair's ruling.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  It is significant, as Deputy Colley pointed out, that the Minister gave us only details of pensions that are to apply to Fianna Fáil recipients of ministerial pensions. I shall not detail, nor have I details available on, the pensions that are now being enjoyed by former members of the coalition parties.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  They are not objecting to them.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I am not objecting to the increases either. I consider that we are reasonably justified in receiving them, but the point I am making is that the principle of giving an Opposition an allowance to provide themselves with the necessary means of informing themselves so that they would be an effective and efficient Opposition has been in existence, so far as I can remember, since 1938. That principle has been endorsed in at least five subsequent Acts in this House.

There has never been a provision in respect of the Opposition for secretarial services. When we were in Opposition before and while we were in Government we provided, from contributions from our own Members, [1599] the necessary secretarial services. We are willing to continue to do that. The fact is that now both parties who form the Government want to cash in on this principle of giving the Opposition a special allowance, an allowance that has been given exclusively to the Opposition during the past 35 years or so. That is a clear breach of a principle.

The Minister, in his amendment, is confusing the issue as between allowances for Deputies, individually, and an allowance for the Opposition for the purposes I have mentioned already. This provision does not replace in any way the allowance given to the Opposition for opposition purposes but brings in another principle of giving an allowance for the same purpose to Government Deputies. But if it is not for the same purpose, let all Deputies be treated in the same way.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The Minister, in his reply to what was said by the Leader of this party, which was dealing with principles, showed his true form and may well have set, unfortunately, I believe, the tone for the debate on this Bill. If the tone of the debate on this Bill is to be that set by the Minister for Finance, then let us be clear about where the responsibility lies, because nothing that was said by the Leader of this party called for that kind of approach by the Minister.

I repeat a point made by Deputy Lynch—it was made by me on interjection— that the Minister went to the trouble of reading out the figures of what would be the pensions of former Ministers from the Fianna Fáil Party past or present if and when this Bill is enacted. If he had that information in such detail, no doubt he had the information in relation to former Ministers and a former Taoiseach, members of the Fine Gael Party. Why he should feel it unnecessary to refer to them but necessary to refer to what he did is something that can be judged by people for themselves, and the whole approach of the Minister to this matter can be judged by his performance in that respect.

[1600] However, since the Minister wants to refer to us as the avaricious brigade —I think that is what he said — it is, perhaps, only right I should say that when I was Minister for Finance I was approached by the present Taoiseach urging me to bring in an amendment to this type of legislation in order to ensure that a number of members of the Fine Gael Party would receive ministerial pensions although they had not served the requisite three years. I found myself unable to accept that either in respect of Fine Gael or any other Members, but I did not regard that approach by the present Taoiseach as being an avaricious approach. I understood why he made it and I accepted it in good faith. I would think that the present Minister for Finance would do well to accept the approach of this party as being made in good faith because if he does not he and I would think the Deputies behind him will regret it. He has an opportunity to ensure that the tone of this debate will not continue on the level that he has introduced. If it does, the responsibility will be his.

I want to say also that the Minister stated that we, in Government, treated the Opposition unfairly. I should like to know how the Minister could purport to justify that statement in the light of the facts set out in such previous legislation and referred to by Deputy Lynch. Is it not a fact, and is the Minister not well aware of it, that in the previous legislation dealing with this matter in 1968 the allowance to the Opposition was increased by three times, from just more than £5,000 to £15,000, a much higher increase than that being given to Deputies, Senators, Ministers, the Taoiseach or anybody else? Is that not a fact of which the Minister is well aware? Why then does he try to make this kind of statement which cannot stand up and can only serve to introduce a note of acrimony into this debate?

Furthermore, I would ask the Minister to explain to us how it happens that he wants to approach this in this way. He came in first to introduce the Bill. He introduced the Second Stage, with no provision whatever in the Bill to deal with the Opposition allowance, [1601] the first time this had ever happened, as far as I know, since the original legislation was introduced to provide an allowance for the Opposition. On every subsequent occasion when a Bill was brought in to increase Deputies', Senators' and Ministers' allowances, there was appropriate provision to increase the Opposition allowance. However, in this Bill there was no such provision.

On Second Stage we questioned the Minister and some of his colleagues in this regard and we made certain statements conditional on the approach which the Minister would reveal when replying to the debate. We said that the omission from this Bill as compared with every other Bill of this type seemed to be deliberate, because it was difficult to believe that anybody could approach the drafting of this Bill without looking for a decision from the Government as to what was to be done in relation to the Opposition allowance as had been done in every previous such Bill. Added to that was the fact that, as the Leader of this party said in this House, the Taoiseach was reminded of the necessity when dealing with Deputies' and Senators' allowances to deal with the Opposition allowance.

In the face of that evidence it was difficult to accept that the omission of the provision for the Opposition allowance was an oversight. However, at that stage we were prepared to base our reaction, despite that evidence, on the attitude displayed by the Minister when replying to the Second Reading debate. In the course of that debate the Minister was coming and going, presumably to and from the Taoiseach, and eventually he gave an indication that he proposed to look into the question of allowances for Deputies generally, a point that had been made in the debate by a number of Deputies, particularly on the Government side.

I want to repeat that the question of making allowances to Deputies in respect of secretarial and other services is one that requires attention and it is certainly one that could be discussed with advantage to democracy, but this has nothing whatever [1602] to do with the allowance to the Opposition, and the good faith of this Government in regard to whether they have any real concern for democracy is at stake in this Bill. So far they have demonstrated that they were prepared to bring in a Bill which made no provision for increasing the allowance to the Opposition, something never done by any previous Government. Only when they were pushed in this House did they show any signs of consciousness of the necessity to deal fairly with the Opposition, and then what has come up is in my view a trick-o'-the-loop approach to it, to quote the famous words of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, an approach that not only confuses the principles involved but introduces a new and false principle, one that says that Deputies who support the Government are entitled only to half the allowance that would be proposed to be paid to those Deputies opposing the Government.

This is clearly a wrong principle. If the Government believe that there is a case—I think there may well be a case — for providing assistance to enable all Deputies to have worthwhile secretarial and other facilities, then surely all Deputies who have not got the Civil Service available to them should be treated in the same way, and not to give twice to Opposition Deputies what is to be given to Government Deputies. That is surely a reasonable proposition and the reason the Minister has got himself into this position is that he has not seen, or if he has he has not accepted it, the principle which was clear to every previous Government which had to deal with this problem— that there is an Opposition allowance which should be adjusted periodically as Deputies' and Senators' allowances are adjusted. That is one situation. It is an allowance to assist the Opposition primarily in regard to research and information. That clearly is something that requires to be adjusted when other allowances are being adjusted, but the proposition which is involved in the Minister's amendment is a new one, one with some merit, I believe, despite the details. But, it is a different proposition. It has nothing to do with [1603] the Opposition allowance and it should not be dragged in in that way.

Of course, the practical effect of what the Minister proposes is to give a relatively small increase to the Opposition and to introduce a completely new and, therefore, additional allowance to Government parties. He may say that it is fortuitous, that it works out that way. However, that is the practical result.

I want to put it to the Minister that the principles involved here are clear and that he and the Government and the Deputies behind the Government should adhere to those principles. To depart from them will create enormous problems in practice and none of us can say with certainty where it will end but we do know that the approach that is involved is contrary to the clear-cut principles on which this House has operated in the past, and operated reasonably satisfactorily. To confuse those principle in the way the Minister proposes can only lead to trouble in the future and certainly that is not the kind of proposition that we in this party could accept.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  I had not intended saying anything on this resolution but the Minister saw fit to include my name in the list of the Fianna Fáil recipients of pensions. So, in those circumstances, might I make a few observations?

In regard to the allowance to the Opposition the Minister made a curious remark, that the increase now awarded represents the maximum that he could give having regard to the recommendations of the special committee of the Employer/Labour Conference and added that he would be happy to abide by the increases so suggested. We would be equally happy if he did so.

The fact is that there is bitter disappointment in the ranks of those who are sitting behind the Minister for Finance and among people who retired from this House, many of them on the basis of undertakings verbally given, perhaps by Deputy Colley as then Minister for Finance or by those potential Ministers who [1604] are now in Government. These people also are being unjustly treated. It is an old Parliamentary tactic that when you know you have no basis for the case you are trying to put to the House you resort to diatribe and abuse. As Deputy Colley pointed out, this is what the Minister did. The Minister gave a very excellent exhibition, indeed, of corner boy behaviour. That is not good enough when we are dealing with something which ought to be dealt with fairly and dispassionately, having regard to the fact that for many of us it is a matter of some little embarrassment to have to discuss our emoluments, salary, and so forth, here and at lenght.

I want to reject the idea that any old norm should be used to determine the amount of money which an Opposition should be allowed in this revision of legislation and I will tell you why. Arising in particular from Ireland's entry into the EEC the volume of documents relating to every department and every aspect of our social, economic and political life—the sheer volume of documentation—which is arriving on everybody's desk at the present time is staggering. Whether a lot of it is of any moment is another question but one is not inspired to know when 20 documents arrive simultaneously that 19 out of 20 are of no particular moment and that only one is important. One has to read the 20 before one can make up one's mind as to which is important and which is relevant. Therefore, for the Minister for Finance to come in here and argue that an increase from £15,000 to £21,000 for the Opposition is a generous increase—I think that is the expression he used—is, in the light of what I say, plainly nonsense. Nobody knows better than the Minister for Finance not merely that there are EEC documents in vast profusion arriving on our desks daily but that progressively over the years the scope and variety of departmental and governmental activity has been on the increase and that, therefore, the resources that have to be used by the Opposition have to be commensurately greater.

[1605] That was why, in 1968, when we were in Government and were considering what increase should be given we did not use any such rule of thumb method. At that time the volume of work was increasing on the then Opposition and we decided that we would be as generous as we possibly could and we trebled the amount from £5,000 to £15,000, as Deputy Colley has pointed out. I do not know what the figure ought to be now but having regard to the facts which I have given, the basis suggested as equitable by the Minister for Finance seems to me quite wrong.

The Minister for Finance as well as being qualified at exercising his tongue in diatribe is also qualified as a solicitor and knows something, or ought to know something, about the rules of equity. Although I should not like to quantify it, I claim that the very least amount that should be given now in the light of the changes that have taken place in the last five years would be of the order of £30,000 to £35,000.

On the other hand, I was very happy to hear that the Minister is prepared to abide by the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations in regard to salaries. People who are sitting behind him will be very glad, indeed, to hear that and if he is able to get up now and confirm that this, in fact, is his approach, then there may be a different atmosphere for the rest of this debate. There is no justification for the Minister welching on the recommendations and on his own colleagues and on all of us in public life and, at the same time, as I said in the budget debate, distinguishing between his own colleagues in this House and the rest of the Oireachtas and judges and higher civil servants who have been awarded their increases in accordance with the recommendations on the Minister's desk.

For personal reasons I was not able to be present at the Second Reading of this Bill last week but I understand the Minister took a very firm line on that occasion. From his opening remarks it seems this will continue to be his attitude. I deplore and regret that; I am sure the Minister is making a mistake just as I am sure that he is being unfair [1606] to his own backbenchers as he is being unfair to us. If the Minister would calm down and take hold of himself, perhaps it would not be too late for us to appeal to him to reconsider the attitude he has taken up to now in regard to this whole matter and consider on their merits the totally justifiable arguments put forward by the leader of this party and by Deputy Colley.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair might point out that it is normal, in the ordinary way on a Money Resolution like this in Committee on Finance, that there should be one speech but since there has been more than one on this occasion, the Chair proposes to call on those proposing to speak and then call on the Minister to reply.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  On a point of order, my understanding of the position is that we are at present in Committee on the Money Resolution. If that is correct, is it not, as I think the Chair ruled, the case that Deputies are entitled to speak in the same way as on an ordinary Committee Stage?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair is pointing out what is normal procedure in regard to a Money Resolution in Committee on Finance, that there is one speech at that time. The Deputy appreciates that is the normal procedure but since on this occasion there has been more than one speech the Chair proposes to take speakers who offer and then call on the Minister to conclude.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  While we appreciate that this has been the custom of the House, in view of the Minister's attitude in replying to the Leader of this party, Deputy Lynch sought and obtained from the Ceann Comhairle a ruling that according to the strict letter of Standing Orders we are entitled to speak as if we were in ordinary committee and in view of the Minister's attitude we propose to exercicse our strict rights on this occasion. Therefore, with great reluctance, we decline to accept the Chair's suggestion.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  What [1607] the Chair is pointing out is what has been the normal procedure in regard to a Money Resolution in Committee on Finance. The Chair is just pointing out what has been normal procedure down the years.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  On a point of order, I want to point out that the Ceann Comhairle when he was in the Chair a half or three-quarters of an hour ago agreed with Deputy Lynch in regard to this very point that Deputies were entitled to speak more than once if they so wish because the House is now in Committee on Finance which is the same as on the Committee Stage of a Bill. The Chair refers to certain practices as having operated up to now in regard to this matter. Certain practices operated in this House in regard to a number of matters up to now and we saw a very clear breach of them not half an hour ago by the Minister for Finance. As far as we are concerned, Standing Orders clearly lay down the rights of Deputies, as regards when and on what they may speak and while the present attitude of the Minister for Finance continues we shall exercise our rights.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy may be assured that the Chair is always concerned to protect the rights of Deputies.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Including the right of a Minister to reply.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Yes. The Chair protects the rights of all Members.

Dr. Thornley: Information on David Thornley  Zoom on David Thornley  I shall not detain the House more than a few minutes. I am glad to have the opportunity to intervene in this discussion on these amendments. Of course I shall vote as instructed by the National Coalition but I want to express my sympathy for, and agreement with what has been said by Deputy Colley and Deputy Flanagan in many ways. The debate has been interesting in many ways but also in many ways it has been suffused with hypocrisy on each side of the House. The spectacle of [1608] the Minister for Finance reading out the pension rights of different Members of the House does not fill me with enjoyment: it is not a very pleasant exercise in which to indulge. I hope he never finds himself in a situation in which the same exercise is undertaken against himself in return. There is an old joke in the film business to the effect that you should always be nice to the people you meet on the way up because you may meet them again on the way down. We should all have the decency and honour to exercise discretion.

In turn, on the Fianna Fáil side I find the spectacle of the dedication of the ex-Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley, to the Employer/Labour agreement enough to make me laugh. I find the sudden enthusiasm of the Fianna Fáil Party for the rights of the Opposition to have secretarial and financial facilities—since Fianna Fáil have suddenly and to their intense surprise been put into Opposition—mildly hypocritical, to put it as the understatement of the week.

Let us get down to brass tacks in this debate. I agree completely with the amendments put by the Fianna Fáil Party although presumably the discipline of this institution will compel me to vote against them if they are pressed to a vote. We are concerned here with the running of a political institution and each one of us who has the smallest modicum of intelligence understands that the Opposition operate under conditions of extraordinary discrimination. It is very easy for ex-Ministers suddenly to discover this feeling. Up to about three months ago they were sitting over there and whenever some question was presented to them the meaning of which they did not understand, they had a civil servant sitting next to them to pass them a piece of paper saying: “The answer is as follows.” Now, suddenly, when they no longer have a civil servant they have this enthusiasm for additional facilities being provided for the Opposition.

Let us get party politics out of this. If I had my way I would not really agree with these amendments: I would agree with infinitely more facilities [1609] being provided for the Opposition. The circumstances under which Deputies work in this House would not be acceptable to any junior executive in a commercial firm. The public will have to realise that. You would not get a junior executive in Guinness's to work under the conditions under which the people in this House work. This is a completely non-partisan matter on which all of us should agree.

Deputy Flanagan made an excellent point about the EEC. We have decided to join that Community. It was a decision which my party opposed, some of us with enthusiasm, some with less than enthusiasm, if I may put it that way. One way or another the people's decision was taken and we decided to accept that decision and to work our part in Europe.

We find in Europe back-up staffs who sift through documents, provide secretarial support and translation services. We do not find this in Ireland. We find the situation in the Republic of Ireland where, after our enthusiasm for entry into Europe and our endless hypocritical speeches on how we Christianised Europe in the eighth century and were going to do it again, we receive all our documentation in French. We cannot read French and we do not have the support staff to read French.

In these circumstances I should like to appeal to the Minister for Finance to take this whole concept of support staffs for the Opposition, support staffs for the Government and support staffs for Government backbenchers, which appears to be my permanent predestined role, out of the area of party controversy and to recognise that we are talking about the institution of Parliament. The institution of Parliament cannot function unless it is adequately funded and that provides for both Government and Opposition. Germany provides an absolute example of this. There are institutes which fund both the SPD, FDP and the Christian Democrats in sums which are a thousand times greater than what we are talking about here.

All we can do here is to sit and debate as to whether the Opposition [1610] should get £21,000, £29,000 or £30,000. It is absolutely ludicrous that people like the present Opposition—I know they do not expect to remain long in Opposition, such is their position because they do not find Opposition congenial to them—do not have access to photocopying machines, telex services or dictabelts. This is a non-partisan issue and as such it should be treated.

If I may paraphrase the words of ex-Deputy Martin Corry whose accent I could not hope to emulate, if this point is pressed to a division my feet will take me through the lobbies with my party but my mind says that, no matter whether it is the National Coalition sitting on the Government benches or the Fianna Fáil Party on the Government benches an Opposition cannot effectively perform unless it is funded with an effective secretarial staff. This requires the expenditure of money but if we continue on the basis that the Irish people are only entitled to Deputies who operate on a financial shoestring funded by outside extra-parliamentary activities then we are not going to provide the Irish people with the kind of Parliament they deserve.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I should firstly like to express my sadness that the Minister over the weekend did not find it possible to give some sign that he had taken to himself some of the advice which I tendered to him last week on Second Stage. That was that instead of providing moneys now by way of allowances he should have converted those allowances into pensions for the ex-Deputies or the widows of former Members of this House rather than adding it on to the allowances proper as he is now proceeding to do.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I pointed out last week that that is done not by way of legislation but by way of resolution. I will have certain proposals to make in due course in this regard.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Do I take it from the Minister that his omission on this Bill does not in any way indicate that he intends to omit doing just that?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Deputy may so take it.

[1611]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  For those and particularly for those who by virtue of nonretrospection of this beyond the 1st of July or who would have been defeated or retired at the last election and have been left out and missed out on a certain part of the increased pensions that would otherwise have been due to them? Can I expect that they will also in some way be covered? That is not evident in the financial provision before the House.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I think the Deputy will find merit in the proposals which I have to make. It would be inappropriate at this stage to be too specific.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am not aware of what is coming and, perhaps, the Minister may have got himself embroiled on the wrong point before he gave us the better news. We find ourselves in this cross-fire between the Government and Opposition based on whether or not the Opposition allowance is going to be paid in future and if so whether it is going to be paid as heretofore and whether it is large enough. Over the weekend I expected that the Government and Opposition were to get together on this matter. That is the humble opinion of one who does not belong to either side.

I expected that everything would be ironed out in this regard and that we would have had today a very smooth passage for an agreed measure, a lot of which I might not have agreed with but which would have been agreed on by the Government and the Opposition. This did not take place and I wonder why such a get together did not take place. Was that not what was envisaged when we finished the Second Stage last week? What has gone wrong in the meantime? How did we arrive at this type of amendment from the Minister, representing the views of the Government, and from the ex-Minister for Finance, representing the views of the Fianna Fáil Party?

It seems to me that an Opposition allowance is undoubtedly required and should continue to be paid. It should be raised not only in keeping with the increased burden of documentation as a result of our joining the EEC but [1612] also having full regard to the depreciation of money since that figure was fixed. Anything that is entailed in the Minister's amendment by way of providing, on a per capita basis, for the needs, secretarial and otherwise, of the Deputies, irrespective of which side of the House they are on, should be in addition or not at all. It should be equal whether the Deputies are on Government benches or on the Opposition benches.

It should also be equally available for the Independent Members of this House. Do they not count at all? Do not the terms of “abuse” or “hypocrisy” apply to both sides if neither side has taken into account that there are some Independent Members in the House who will neither gain from the Government provision that is mentioned in the amendment introduced by the Minister or by the proposals put forward by the Opposition?

On Second Stage I stated that what was needed was a back-up by civil servants. I still hold to that view rather than an allowance of so much per head if a particular party is in Government and so much more in Opposition. This service should be provided for all equally. If it was provided in that manner by way of expertise and personnel there would not be any necessity to count heads. As a Member of this House, a Deputy then would be entitled equally to those services and to a full service.

I think this is the only sane way in which to approach this matter of funding the Deputies with the secretarial and research back-up essential for all of us, irrespective of what part of the House we sit in at any particular time. The Minister should think again, even if it means moving this Bill through Committee Stage, as we might do on an undertaking from the Minister that this matter will be looked at before the subsequent stage and any amendment necessary made. Even if that means a getting together between Government and Opposition this very day, I do not see any insuperable obstacle to it being done.

The Minister should recognise that an Opposition allowance is not to be [1613] confused with what he proposes in his amendment. As a first step, and before we proceed to Committee Stage, he might recognise this fact and indicate to the House that he is prepared to continue that which has been in all legislation since 1938—No. 1 an Opposition allowance and, No. 2, this matter of aid for Deputies, which he has tried to encompass in his amendment; the latter should be pursued but in a different form from per capita payments as outlined in the amendment. If the Minister does this and the Opposition agree on that course, this Bill could be dealt with expeditionsly on Committee Stage. The Government and Opposition Whips can get together quickly and come back for the next Stage with whatever corrections are necessary in an agreed form.

I agree with Deputy Thornley that the wrangling which now appears likely to erupt—indeed, it has erupted —will not help us to provide in the Bill before us a proper sort of approach to this matter. Some speakers have said it is a delicate matter, discussing what one should be paid. I do not think it is a damn bit delicate, quite honestly, but it could be done in a more diplomatic way. Outlining who is getting what is not a commendable approach and can only result in the sort of acrimonious discussion we have heard. This could be avoided and, in avoiding it, we could get on with the business. Let us do things in a sensible, sane, reasonable way rather than try to score political points against one another. I belong to neither side and that is why I can ask for some sort of sanity to be brought back into the matter. It should not be a political football. It did become that at times in the past.

As I said on Second Stage, I remember the canvass that went on to find out if the Opposition side were prepared not to object to the Government providing by legislation that which the Opposition Parties were actually pushing. I see Deputy L'Estrange smiling. God knows, no one knows more about that particular matter than he does.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  In fairness to Deputy [1614] L'Estrange, he was always a great spokesman for the rights of Deputies.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  And still would be. There is another item I would bring to the Minister's notice. I was loath to do it on Second Stage lest there might have been a ministerpretation on my part as to how the matter was dealth with. I do not think the Leas-Cheann Comhairle—I am sorry he is in the Chair at the moment, but I must bring the matter forward—has been dealt with fairly in this Bill. I would ask the Minister to look at the differentials between one type of emolument and another to see whether what I suggest is correct. He should take into account the fact that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle very often in the past for prolonged periods has found himself taking over wholly and completely the role of Ceann Comhairle. Again, both the Ceann Comhairle and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle must be here if they are physically capable of being here. Is there anybody else under the same compulsion? Is there any other Member who must be here every day the House sits other than the two occupants of the Chair? I maintain the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is not adequately provided for in this Bill and I would ask the Minister to have a look at it again to see if something cannot be done to improve the position.

I must add my voice in support of Deputy Thornley's condemnation of the conditions under which Deputies generally are compelled to work. I can speak with greater emphasis on this. Come and visit the dungeon where I and my fellow Independent Deputy are installed. The only guide I can give is to tell you that there are two adequate signs indicating how one can get to the toilets. If anyone is interested, we are next door to them. That semi-basement room is in exactly the same condition now as it was when it was first allotted some considerable time ago. At the time there may have been no other accommodation available. It was in the middle of term and it was acceptable at the time. Nothing has been done to it since and it is a downright scandal [1615] that any Member should be asked to continue to operate from that socalled room. Other Deputies are labouring under bad conditions, but it is only natural one should raise conditions that affect one most. I shall say no more about it. The only thing most seem concerned about is how the Government side will do and how the Opposition side will do and it is left to someone like myself in between to try to ensure that you both do each other well and not do each other down and, at the same time, have a care for those who are in between so that they are not knocked down between both of you.

Sanity may prevail. Both sides may get together and try to get the Committee Stage through on an undertaking from the Minister that the position will be corrected. Consultation is a word we hear a good deal about, but there does not seem to have been much consultation in this particular matter. Perhaps it could be tried with advantage this evening and we might get some agreement on these very vital back-ups for Deputies which have been the main bone of contention here this afternoon. An Opposition needs funds to act as an Opposition, apart altogether from the individual means of those who compose it.

Finally, I suggest to the Minister that he should make the appropriate noises in the right direction and seek from the Opposition their agreement to proceed with the Committee Stage and consultation should immediately take place with a view to having agreed amendments brought in in sufficient time to enable the whole matter to be dealt with fully and finally.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  In the course of his speech, if one could call it that, on this money resolution the Minister referred to certain figures in relation to pensions of Members and former Members of this House. He used the phrase “This is what they will get under the Bill” and it may be that some members of the public might think that the figures mentioned by [1616] the Minister are increases proposed under this Bill for Members or former Members both of whom were so assiduously and disgustingly named by him.

I want to assure the House and the public that this is not so. There was a figure, to quote my own case, of £798 mentioned. The pension which I enjoy at the moment, because I do not qualify for ministerial pension, is the princely sum of £630 a year. I get an increase, it appears now from what the Minister says, of £168 a year. In all the circumstances, I do not think one could regard that as excessive, or that an increase of £168, which is shared by at least six or seven of my colleagues in the former Government justified the ranting and the screaming which we had in the performance the Minister for Finance put on here about an hour ago.

The same applied to each other person who is on the list, the so carefully edited list the Minister for Finance read out. In the case of those who, unlike myself and many of my colleagues in the last Government, did qualify for ministerial pensions, the increase would be somewhat more than £168 per annum, but it would be nothing like what the Minister for Finance endeavoured to give as the increase any of us would get under this Bill.

I missed getting a ministerial pension, in spite of the fact that I had an onerous office at a very onerous time, by about six and a half weeks. That is what one can regard as bad luck; it is the loss of a great deal of money to me, money which, even if I had got it, would not go within 10 per cent of compensating me for the loss which I myself and my family have suffered since I came into this House. Notwithstanding the fact that I lost a good deal by a period of six and a half weeks, I did not and will not go to this Minister for Finance or any other one asking that legislation be amended to bring me and the others who are six and a half weeks short of our pension in. Deputy Colley has given an instance where that was done in the not too distant past.

[1617] In relation to the pensions or alleged pensions which were read out by the Minister for Finance, there was a figure of £798 in respect of Deputy Robert Molloy. Deputy Robert Molloy has not received one penny in pension as a result of his having been a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary. I wonder, therefore, how accurate are the other figures which have been given to us in the course of that outburst by the Minister for Finance this afternoon. In his speech, the Minister for Finance stated as follows:

Deputy Lynch is displaying the height of audacity in the protest which he is making here, and I will explain very briefly why. The allowance for the Opposition over the last 20 years or so included not merely a secretarial allowance but also a very generous allowance for research and information facilities, and the proposal from the Government side of the House in this Bill is one which equals, and, in fact, it can be said, marginally exceeds, what the Employer/Labour Conference considered to be the appropriate increase.

I want to deal with each and every bit of that quotation. This question of the Opposition allowance was not referred to Devlin. It was not considered by Devlin. No recommendation in respect of it was made by Devlin. Therefore there could be no further reference of it to the Employer/Labour Conference, and the statement of the Minister for Finance this afternoon in relation to it is totally and absolutely wrong. Not one syllable of what he said was correct. In fact, I am reminded that there was an effort made by the Fine Gael Party two years ago, when they were in Opposition, to have this matter considered by the Devlin Commission, and the Devlin Commission rejected their memorandum on the grounds that the question of an allowance for the Parliamentary Opposition did not come within their terms of reference.

Notwithstanding that that has happened, the Minister for Finance has seen fit to make the statement he made here today. What is even more significant about it is not just the fact that the statement in reference to it [1618] is totally untrue but that he seeks to justify what is now being done by the Government's amendments to this Bill by saying they come within the terms of what the Employer/Labour Conference would approve of. That is the very point we on this side of the House have made from the beginning of this unfortunate and acrimonious debate on the Second Stage as well as on this one. That is what we have said to the Government: “It is your obligation to do what the Employer/ Labour Conference have laid down you should do. It is your obligation to do in relation to parliamentarians what you have done in relation to the Judiciary and in relation to the higher Civil Service.” Remember, the recommendations in relation to the Judiciary and the higher Civil Service were in the same report prepared by Devlin and were in the same report of the special committee of the Employer/ Labour Conference. In fact, as Deputy Cunningham rightly reminds me now, the wording used was the very same.

That is why we had to speak for a whole day on the Second Stage and that is why at 5.30 this afternoon we are still on the Money Resolution. We have not yet reached the Committee Stage of this Bill, because we want the Government to honour their clear, moral obligation to implement the recommendations of the Employer/ Labour Conference. That is the very argument that was used by the Minister for Finance when he said: “and, in fact, it can be said, marginally exceeds what the Employer/Labour Conference considered to be the appropriate increase.”

I now ask the Minister for Finance, and I am happy to have the opportunity of putting the question to the Taoiseach who has come in and held a long consultation with the Minister for Finance while this debate has been going on: where do we stand now in relation to the Government's views, or where do the Government stand now having resisted vehemently on the Second Stage the implementation of the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations? The Minister for Finance has stood up and sought to [1619] justify the trick-o'-the-loopery we see in these amendments that will come before us today by saying it is in accordance with or very marginally exceeds what the Employer/Labour Conference considered to be the appropriate increase. He is caught whichever way he turns. The Taoiseach, who is now in the House, should do the honourable thing and say to this House: “We will pay the Opposition an Opposition allowance in the same way as it was paid in each of the five Acts up to now from 1938. We will cut out this nonsense”—this effort to deceive originally and then this back-sliding with these long-winded government amendments that are before us today, amendments which were got together in such a hurry that only this morning we got further amendments to the amendments to try to cure the defects in the amendments.

The decent thing should now be done. All this codology and sham should be forgotten about. A properly increased allowance should be paid to the Opposition in accordance with the practice in this country for 35 years. The Minister for Finance should apply to the salaries of Ministers and of Deputies the same principles which he seeks to apply to this question of an Opposition allowance and the same principle by which he seeks to justify it. I know that what we have had to say here is not just a view of the Fianna Fáil Party as a whole. It is also the view of the great majority of those who sit behind the Government.

We have had two of them being honest enough—and I give them credit for their courage in this respect—to say they agree with us, but that the discipline is such that notwithstanding what they think, feel and know they will go through the lobby with the Government and endeavour to walk the Opposition into the ground. I would remind them that they are not just trying to walk Fianna Fáil into the ground—they will not succeed in that—they might go some way on the start of a road to walk democracy in this country [1620] into the ground. That is a very dangerous road. Where there are Deputies in this or in any other House who genuinely accept what the Opposition say and know it to be true, as has been expressed here today and the last day, the honourable course for them—and I do not invite them to vote against their own Government because I know the problems that would create—is to abstain in a Division. Unless we hear the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance recanting what we have heard already and putting an end to this deplorable and disgusting attitude, there will be plenty of Divisions in this House today, tomorrow and the day after, when people can vote one way or the other or abstain.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  There are 144 people in this State affected by this prolonged debate. There are about three million people who might be affected by the Finance Bill. The fact that so much time occupies the Opposition in dealing with this matter is a fair indication of their public interest.

I want to deal very factually with the situation. It was on that basis today that I caused grave umbrage. I am fully alive to the problem of being in Opposition because I served with my colleagues for very many years in Opposition in this House and I repeat what I said earlier today, that the Opposition as a result of this Bill will be £106,000 better off than we were when we received scant sympathy from the party opposite when in power. That is no insignificant figure.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  When I mentioned that figure I was challenged to be specific. I am specific. I was said to be mean.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy O'Malley instanced the one member of the Opposition who has not yet applied for—and may not apply for—his pension, and suggested that there were others like him. Every person I mentioned today is eligible for the pension and the pension I quoted is [1621] the one relating to ministerial office. In the last Opposition there were two such Members, but the fact remains that the Opposition front bench are somewhat shy of meeting their own backbenchers. That will show just how shallow their criticism has been.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  What has that to do with it?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  It has to do with this.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Will the Members opposite please bear themselves with the dignity that the people ask we should display in the approach to problems? The reality is this——

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  What has this to do with it?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Are the Members opposite finished with their disorderly interruptions? If they will take the trouble to read the amendments tabled to this Bill they will see that the Government side of the House are to be given one-half the allowance payable per head comparable with the allowance to be paid to the Opposition. The reason for this is—and I can understand why they are so anxious to have research facilities: they are unable to carry out basic research like looking at the legislation in this matter—that the principle of paying an allowance to the Opposition was first laid down in 1938 when it was a payment of £800 by way of an allowance for expenses. In those days it was regarded as a contribution towards the secretarial expenses of the Opposition to facilitate them in the operation of the Parliamentary system and in particular with the expense of providing assistance towards the Whips' office. In 1968, we must acknowledge, recognition was given to the necessity of providing, in addition to the purely secretarial allowances to facilitate the operation of the Parliamentary system and the Whips' office, a contribution towards research facilities.

[1622] That was why the figure was increased from £5,000 to £15,000. That principle was recognised in 1968. This assistance has been given since 1968. It does not now justify doubling it once again after a period of five years. I said earlier—and I repeat again and I say to the country—that this Government have an obligation, as we showed recently in the legislation dealing with the industrial dispute in relation to the bank officials, to ensure that the national wage agreements are not exceeded, and to give beyond the £21,000 which we are offering in this Bill to the Opposition could be held to exceed the national wage agreement as recognised very clearly in the Employer/Labour Conference report.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  There is nothing in that report about the Opposition allowance. Does the Minister know that?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  If Deputy Colley did not read the report before he left office I have read it on several occasions since.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Quote it.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Employer/ Labour Conference identified 37 per cent as the largest increase which could be given to anybody in discharge——

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Quote what you are asked to quote.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputies must allow the Minister to speak without interruption.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The figure of 37 per cent is the highest increase given by the national wage agreement since the Employer/Labour Conference report. The Opposition do not want to accept the discipline that everybody else has accepted. Last week they were prepared to say to us——

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  What about the Government backbenchers? They are going from nought to £10,000.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  ——that the £36,000 was too low a figure for Parliamentarians.

[1623]Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Will the Minister answer my question? The Government backbenchers are going from nought to £10,000.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  We are most generous in the allowance being paid.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister must be allowed to reply.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The ceiling that everybody else has been asked to accept is 37 per cent and the Opposition are receiving a very substantial increase in the allowance which is well in keeping with this figure. I want to come to what I said the other day and with all respects to Members on all sides of the House, I would like to emphasise that I was the first to say that there was a need to improve substantially the information and research facilities available to all Deputies in this House, but this must be given not on the basis of party but on the basis of membership of this House, and those facilities will be provided by this Government for all Members of this House and can be provided through the Library and through the back-up information service.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Is the Minister talking about something over and above what is in the amendment?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Yes. It is open to this House, on the suggestion of the Ceann Comhairle, to provide secretarial facilities to Members of this House, but that is to this House as a House, and that is the basis on which those facilities should be provided to all Members, and not to one party. We have complained year after year about the lack of such facilities. There were complaints to Deputy Colley about the lack of those facilities and darn little was ever done to improve them. As I mentioned last week, and I repeat today, those who are so indignant about not getting retrospection might well turn their indignation on the man who had the opportunity to provide the money to meet that retrospection, that is [1624] Deputy Colley, who, if he had accepted the principle of retrospection, should have provided in this year's Estimates £430,000 to meet the retrospection——

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  That is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  ——which he saw, according to himself, written into the Employer/Labour Conference report which he had from the 22nd December last. He was then engaged——

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  That is a lie. The Minister should not tell a lie.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Flanagan should not use that word.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy knows quite well that the procedure in the House is that a person may not attribute a lie to another Member. I am sure Deputy Flanagan appreciates that as much as everybody else. Will Deputy Flanagan withdraw that word?

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  I am, of course, prepared to withdraw that statement, but I would ask the Minister to try to have in his speech some relevance to fact.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy Flanagan mentioned he was not here on the last day when this matter was being debated. I accept that. He is then probably not aware of the fact that I found in my Department a draft of a report prepared by Deputy Colley for the outgoing Government but containing the Employer/Labour Conference report, which presumably he had read before he prepared the report. There was an endorsement on that, put on the day before the change of Government, that the Minister had not the time to deal with it before the Government changed office. He was nevertheless aware of what was in the Employer/Labour Conference report and, if he felt there was an obligation to have retrospection, he ought to have written it in, as he wrote so many other things into the Estimates which were then being [1625] prepared in his Department. He did not do that, and yet we have had the Fianna Fáil Party waxing with indignation, probably encouraged so to do by Deputy Colley, who failed to provide the money or even to indicate to the incoming Government that the money would be necessary. He now says that the money ought to have been provided.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  I will deal with this later on and I am sure Deputy Colley will also deal with it.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Would the Minister like to answer the question I asked?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  We made our decision on the basis of giving an increase comparable with the national wage agreement, and also as from the date on which the social welfare recipients in this country were getting a modicum of relief to which they were entitled for very many years past. We considered that if there was a sacrifice to be made by anybody, the people on all sides of this House were the appropriate people to make it. I am disappointed, as I am sure the country is also, that the Fianna Fáil Party have been so unwilling to make that sacrifice, to clean the slate, as it were, in relation to their past omissions and to move forward in a generous way within the ambit granted by the national wage agreement as and from the 1st July this year. That is what we are offering in the Bill and we consider that is a very generous thing to do.

I was dealing earlier, when I was interrupted, with the differential between that which is proposed for Deputies on the Government side and what is being offered to Deputies on the Opposition side. It is basically this. The present contribution to parties in this House has two components, one in respect of allowances for secretarial expenses, the other in relation to allowances towards meeting the expenses of research. The Government side will not be receiving any contribution for their backbench Members towards information and research. They will be receiving the contribution towards the secretarial [1626] expenses on a lower basis than that available to the Opposition Deputies. Therefore, both in relation to secretarial expenses and research and information, the Opposition Deputies are being treated on a basis which is twice as generous as that which is available to Members on the Government side.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Does the Minister say that is wrong?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I cannot regard that for one moment as being wrong. Once again we have Deputy Colley, whose conscience, outlook and principle changed as he walked the 15 yards across this floor. He is now suggesting it is wrong to pay ordinary Members on the Government side secretarial expenses on a level equal to that paid on the Opposition side.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  No.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I appreciate how long it takes to get things through to Deputy Colley but the reality is this. Do I have to repeat myself? There are two components in the allowance paid to parliamentary parties here, one is in respect of secretarial expenses, the other in respect of research and information. That was recognised, as I emphasised, in 1968 and is again being recognised by the increase in the contribution in this Bill to the Opposition parties in respect of both secretarial expenses and research information. In respect of the Government parties they are not receiving research and information subsidy because that is already available to the Government through their ministerial advisers and, through them, to their colleagues in the Government parties. That has been recognised in the past by the non-payment of a research figure on the Government side. Deputy Blaney, and Deputy Thornley in particular identified the increased weight of work which will fall not merely on Members of the European Parliament but also on all Members in this House. We have already launched the Oireachtas Committee to deal with European affairs and that Committee, and through it all Members in this House, will be more than adequately serviced, I hope, with [1627] all information and advice in relation to European affairs. That will not be an additional burden on any Member or any party in this House because that will be provided, as we believe it should be provided, to Parliament and not individual parties.

I hope that what seems to me a very clear statement of the principles which we had in mind when we approached this Bill might help to enliven the minds of some Members as to what we are endeavouring to achieve, that is, to give a fair increase in remuneration, which was accepted in principle as being proper in 1968. We are also moving towards providing much better research and information facilities for this Parliament. We have already had representations in this matter from the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and from the Ceann Comhairle. I am sure that before we meet again after the Recess there will be what there ought to have been years ago: a worthwhile structure of research available to all Members of this House no matter from what side they are drawn. That will be in addition, and I emphasize this, to the increases which are being offered in this Bill and which are in keeping with all our obligations to democracy and the obligations which we owe to everybody in this country to keep within the scale fixed by the national wage agreements.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  May I ask the Minister a question? I am going to ask it very calmly and I hope the Minister will listen to me very calmly. Do I understand the Minister to say that the £15,000 Opposition allowance, which is payable at the moment, is being increased to £21,000 but that the Opposition party Members, who in our case are 68 Members at the moment, will have to pay for all their secretarial services out of that together with research et cetera? Is that what the Minister is saying?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Opposition party will receive £21,000 to have the same facilities as the Opposition party gave to the then Opposition when they were in Government. In addition to that there will be new research facilities [1628] available to all Members of this House, so that there will not be a need to spend as much money on research as had to be spent on it when we were in Opposition.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  The Minister must be aware that we do not know anything about this research. We do not know how many people will be involved in it. We do not know what plans the Minister has. This is the first we have heard about it. Can the Minister elaborate on how many staff will be involved in this? Will they be working for political parties? How will they operate?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The proposals in this matter, which I recently received from the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and from the Ceann Comhairle, are being examined at the present time. If we have to compare like with like I would offer this figure. The Fine Gael Party in opposition received £10,000 for 51 Deputies. The Fianna Fáil Party in opposition will get £21,000 for 68 Deputies. The Deputy can do his own calculations as to what is fair in that situation.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  Is the Minister saying that secretarial expenses were not paid out of the allowance?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Fine Gael and Labour Parties did nothing with the money except to pay secretarial and research expenses. They had to spend it for both items but Fianna Fáil will at least be relieved of part of the research burden.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I know that it is the wish of the Chair that we would not——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Perhaps the Deputy would allow the Chair to point out the position for the information of the House. Committee on Finance is made up of three components: the Estimates, the budget and Money Resolutions. If the House on this occasion breaches what has been the standing rule in regard to these matters, the House will have to take it up afterwards. What it means is that there could and would be established a precedent where people [1629] would speak several times on Estimates and on the budget, as is happening this afternoon on a Financial Resolution.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I have a recollection that, when we were discussing the Marts Act several years ago, Deputies spoke as often as they wished on the Money Resolution.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The position is that in Committee on Finance there are the three components which the Chair has already indicated to the House. What the Chair is pointing out to the House now is that, in breaching what is the standing practice in regard to these matters, the House is leaving itself open to a breach in other respects.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It was breached in the Marts Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair cannot recollect that.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  Is it not the position that the Ceann Comhairle ruled that, according to the strict interpretation of the relevant Standing Order, Members of the House may, in Committee on Finance, speak more than once? This was the ruling given. As we pointed out earlier, normally we like to observe not merely the ruling of the Chair but we also like to respect the wishes of the Chair. Equally, we pointed out that in view of the attitude of the Minister for Finance, whose latest epithet was to call all of us ignorant, we propose to abide by a strict interpretation of the relevant Standing Order, to exercise all our rights under the Standing Order and, therefore, to exercise the right inherent in the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle a few hours ago and, for that purpose, to continue to speak on the Money Resolution.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I wish to point out that the Minister for Finance in what he has just said engaged in some of the tactics with which we are becoming familiar from the Minister. Unfortunately they do not aid rational discussion of matters before the House but, if the Minister persists in using them, I am afraid [1630] he will have to take the consequences that flow from that kind of approach.

First, I wish to point out that the Minister, in what he said originally and in what he has said just now, tried to give the impression that the question of an increase in the Opposition allowance was one on which the Employer/ Labour Conference had given a ruling or recommendation. When we challenged him to quote it he switched to saying that the highest figure recommended was 36 per cent. The point I am trying to make at this stage is that the Minister twice today attempted to convey an impression that was untrue. The fact that he did not even look for the document in order to quote from it seems to suggest he knew the impression he was creating was untrue. Even at this late stage I would ask the Minister to desist from this kind of tactic. It is slowing up the business of the House. Tolerant as we are, there is a limit to how much we will put up with from the Minister.

The fact is there was not any recommendation from the Employer/Labour Conference in regard to the Opposition allowance. The Minister said that the highest figure the conference recommended was 36 per cent. That related to an individual; it did not relate to an office employing a number of staff, an office that might have to increase the number of staff involved. The Minister knows as well as we do that the entire argument he is making is false. If he considered this was a matter on which he should have the guidance of the Employer/Labour Conference it was open to him to seek it, but he did not do so. He comes to the House and pretends he is trying to honour the Employer/Labour Conference recommendation where the conference did not make any recommendation; where the conference made a recommendation, the Minister deliberately ran away from it.

The Minister has said once again that when I was Minister for Finance I did not make provision in the Estimates for the increases provided for in this Bill. I have dealt with this before, but if the Minister persists in it I am afraid I shall have to persist in dealing with him. I now challenge [1631] the Minister to say, or to produce in this House, one current Estimate which he found when he went into office which was prepared by the previous Government. The Minister knows that the capital Estimates had been dealt with by the previous Government but the current Estimates had not. For the Minister to come here and to say there was no provision in some particular current Estimate is untrue and is misleading the House. There was no current Estimate; he could not say what provision was made since the Estimate had not been finalised. If the Minister is not prepared to accept that challenge, I would ask him not to repeat that statement again. We have had too many of these kinds of statements. We have not followed up half of them but we are getting tired of the statements from the Minister for Finance. I am warning him that, if he persists, we will follow him on every one of them.

As I have said before, we do not accept the principle that, when one is applying an allowance for secretarial assistance for Deputies, one should pay more to the Opposition than to the Government. The Minister tried to get round that one by saying that the proposed allowance to the Opposition covers not only secretarial and other assistance but also research and information. Would the Minister please explain to the House the basis for the sudden discovery that half of the Opposition allowance relates to secretarial services and half to research and information? If there is not any such basis, how does the Minister justify the argument he has been trying to make that there should be twice as much for Opposition as there is for Government.

Unless he can show that there is a valid basis — other than one he thought up in the course of the debate—for assuming that half of the Opposition allowance is for research and information, and that does not apply to the Government side, and that half is in respect of secretarial assistance, and that does apply to the [1632] Government side, then there is no justification for the proposal in this Bill to pay twice as much by way of allowance to the Opposition as to the Government. We maintain that if one is providing an allowance of this kind for Deputies, it should be the same whether they are on the Government side or on the Opposition side. We do not accept the present the Minister is trying to make to us of giving to the Opposition twice what is being given to the Government.

Does the Minister maintain that half of the Opposition allowance is in respect of secretarial and other assistance? If he tries to berate us because provision of that kind was not made in the past on the Government side, how does it happen that the Minister, with his great concern in this regard—he said he was the first to speak of it—did not seek to have paid to the Government side in the past half of what was paid to the Opposition? The truth is, of course, that there is no basis for what the Minister has been saying. What he is really trying to do is to introduce by the back door, hanging it on the basis of the Opposition allowance which has existed for years, and has been increased regularly by Fianna Fáil Governments: a method of giving a subsidy to the Fine Gael and Labour Parties, which they did not have, and which we did not have when we were in Government.

I made it clear before, and I want to make it clear again, that we are not opposed to the principle of giving secretarial and other assistance to Deputies. We believe there are a number of difficulties which need to be ironed out and talked out in the Committee of Procedure and Privileges. Deputy Blaney, for example, touched on one of them. What is the position of Independent Deputies? What would be the position of a party with six Members in the House? We had this in the past. These are only minor aspects of it. There are many other aspects which should be thought out and worked out if one is serious about trying to do this sort of thing.

None of this has anything to do [1633] with the Opposition allowance. That has been dealt with time after time in Bills such as this and the Minister does not propose to deal with it. Only under pressure did he come in with these hastily drafted amendments which, as Deputy O'Malley pointed out, have now to be amended. They were hastily drafted because the Minister found that he and his colleagues in the Government had gone the wrong way about this, and were being shown up. In order to cover up what happened he is trying to introduce an allowance for the Fine Gael and Labour Parties and tie it to the Opposition allowance, which is an Opposition allowance quite independent of what party are in Government and what party are in Opposition.

I challenge the Minister to deny that the approach of Fianna Fáil Governments in the past to the Opposition allowance, having regard to the circumstances at each time, was that the allowance should be a reasonable one. He had to acknowledge it because it is there in the statutes—otherwise he would not have acknowledged it — that in 1968 the then Fianna Fáil Government trebled the Opposition allowance. They did so in the belief that it was important to democracy that there should be a reasonably adequate Opposition allowance to enable the Opposition to obtain information and engage in research since the Government side has such facilities available to it. These facilities are available indirectly to Government backbenchers. They are not available to Members of the Opposition. In recognition of that principle, the then Fianna Fáil Government increased the Opposition allowance by trebling it.

The Minister will have to be much more forthcoming and much less personal in his attacks if he wants to make any attempt to convince reasonable people that his approach in this matter is bona fide.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the Money Resolution agreed?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  As Deputy Colley insists upon attack for attack's sake and as some of his colleagues made personal attacks upon me, I will rely [1634] upon the facts. The more I recite the facts the more I realise that they make the Deputies indignant. The increase being offered to the Opposition in this Bill in respect of what has now been acknowledged, under pressure, as an allowance paid to the Opposition to meet secretarial expenses and for certain information——

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Acknowledged by whom?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  By the Deputy just now. He has acknowledged that the present figure given in 1968 covers not merely the secretarial expenses met until then but research information.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I said no such thing. I said the Minister said it and I asked him for the basis of it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Am I to take it now that the Fianna Fáil Party are acknowledging that there was never any payment in the past for research and information?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  No. There was never any payment for secretarial services.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  They are not even aware that their own 1968 Bill called this payment an allowance for expenses. It was recited in the debates at that time as a contribution towards secretarial expenses. In 1938 people had not advanced so far as to be even conceiving of the idea of research and development services for Opposition parties. That was first acknowledged in 1968. It is there as of 1968.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Has the Minister any authority for these statements?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  There is now an offer of 40 per cent. We are voting a 40 per cent increase for them. We are being blamed because we are not making it a 100 per cent increase. I repeat that the national wage agreement, according to the Employer/ Labour Conference Report, has given a maximum of 37 per cent to Deputies.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  On a point of order, the Minister has quoted the Employer/Labour Conference. Can he give us the quotation?

[1635]Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I am saying that the Employer/Labour Conference, when asked to adjudicate——

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  On?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  On the appropriate payment——

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  For?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  ——to Members of this Parliament and people employed in the higher sectors, gave a maximum increase of 37 per cent.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Is the Minister saying——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputies should allow the Minister to continue.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We will get it out of him.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I am saying that that could be taken as the appropriate ceiling to which we should limit Members, and if they provoke me enough that is what I will limit them to.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Come on the Blueshirts.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  Now we have you. You are showing your colours.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  They are getting 40 per cent but it is not enough for the gluttons. They want an increase of 100 per cent.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  There is arrogance.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The arrogance arises on the other side of the House. The indignation is arising on the other side of the House because I will not breach the national wage agreement level of 37 per cent.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  The Minister is arrogant.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Minister has lost his temper.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  That is what is wrong with them. If we gave double the national wage agreement I would be the greatest hero in this House. [1636] We are not prepared to do that while we ask other people to limit themselves to the national wage agreement level.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Why not honour the agreement?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Dowling arose on a point of order which was not a point of order a little earlier.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Deputy Ryan referred to a 37 per cent increase. What does Deputy Ryan——

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  The Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This would seem to be a point of debate and not of order. The Deputy cannot abuse the privileges of the House by pretending he has a point of order when he has not got one.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I was blamed because I went to documentation and produced facts to support my argument.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We are still waiting for them.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  Where are they?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  When Deputy Colley and his colleagues arise to say how dedicated they are to giving full retrospection let us look again at the draft memorandum from Deputy Colley to the Government which he says indicates their approach, their generosity, and how they are keeping now to what they originally decided. This is the memorandum which contains the endorsement he had not got time to deal with before he left office. The summary of recommendations, paragraph 21, blank, blank, not one word on it; not one word, one figure, no recommendation, because he did not propose to give it or else he decided that he would leave it to somebody else to produce the £430,000 which he was not prepared to write into the recommendations. It seems to me that all the indignation on the far side, which apparently knows no boundary, because they are prepared [1637] to hold up the Finance Bill and other legislation while they are looking after themselves, ought to be pinned on Deputy Colley who failed and they are now blaming us on this side of the House because we will not provide the money for several years back that according to Fianna Fáil ought to be provided. We are giving it from the 1st July this year when the poorest of the poor first got their relief.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  The poor judges, God love us. They have not got soles to their shoes. The poor civil servants, the secretaries of the Departments, £6,000 a year. God love us!

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Now that I have heard Deputy O'Malley attacking the judiciary I am prepared to hear everything thrown into this debate. I would remind the Opposition of the fact that several commentators have recently complained about their performance. If they need all this money to help them to perform better, I do not think even double the allowance they are demanding would be sufficient even to put a respectable image upon them.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  The last time I spoke here was the first time. This is the second and the next time I will speak on this motion will be the third time. Now that I am speaking for the second time, I want to ask the Minister once again to answer a question which I put to him previously and to which I have no answer as yet. There is a proposal to pay, under the Minister's amendments which were rushed in in a hurry and which had to be amended again this morning by a special letter sent to Deputy Colley asking him politely would he agree to these amendments to the amendments because a mess was made of the first ones——

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Those amendments were made in consultation with the Opposition and at their request. They cannot have it both ways.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  We have our own amendments down.

[1638]Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  You asked for discussions and when you got that——

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  We have our own amendments down. You put down yours. There were no consultations. Who took part in the consultations? Who took part in the consultations? I am asking the Minister a question. He has made a statement across the floor of the House. It is yet a further untruth, his umpteenth in this very debate itself. I am asking him who took part in these consultations. When did they take place?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I will reply.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Reply now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy should not attribute an untruth to the Minister.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Reply now.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  Stand up and say now.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Come on.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Maybe Deputy O'Malley thinks he is dealing with some underling in a Fianna Fáil cumann but we are supposed to be operating in Parliament, with dignity, and I will deal with these matters in the way in which they deserve when I am replying.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  We are dealing with fact and truth. We require the Minister to say what consultation there was.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We will keep at you until we get the truth.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputies will direct their remarks to the Chair and not directly to any other person in the House.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I will put the question as quietly as I can once more. With whom were these consultations to which the Minister refers held? When did they take place? What was the nature of them and what was the decision arrived at as a result of them?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  It was with the Labour [1639] Party and he bought them off for £10,000.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Let him reply.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Is that remark in order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It is one of the political charges we hear about the House.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I put the question, Sir, twice at least to the Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has no control over Ministers' answers.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  But the Chair takes note, as we all do, that the Minister for Finance has made yet another statement in this debate which is totally without foundation.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  And let the record also show that Deputy O'Malley sat down to allow the Minister to reply.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  He did not.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I will sit down now. Would the Minister like to reply to the questions I asked him?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy O'Malley did not cede the floor. He threw out, in an arrogant fashion, a question and an accusation. He did not cede the floor because he remained in his seat in a sitting position. Will the Members of the House opposite give an indication at some stage as to whether they want this legislation through or whether they want it withdrawn? Do they want to discuss the Finance Bill?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Gerard C. Connolly  Zoom on Gerard C. Connolly  Answer the question.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  They have already agreed a time schedule for the business of this House this week.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Answer the question I asked you. I am sitting down.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I will answer it in my own time and in accordance with proper parliamentary procedure.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  And in your own way.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I am asking the Members [1640] opposite to give some indication as to when this circus will finish.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  When you answer the question.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  If we could get that it might be some assistance to the hard-pressed people of this country who are waiting to see this legislature perform in an adult way. The answer to Deputy O'Malley's question is that there were discussions between the Taoiseach and the Leader of the Opposition——

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  When?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  ——as a result of which the drafted amendments were exchanged.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Could I ask the Minister what amendments does he say were discussed between the Taoiseach and the Leader of this party and when does he say they were discussed and when were they exchanged?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  We are now back again to the farce of what day of the week it is.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We are getting down to the truth. Let us have the truth for once.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Rather than cross-questioning in the House, can we have orderly debate?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We could, Sir, if the Minister would, when he gets up to reply, deal with the points made but this is a typical example of the Minister sliding out from under the statements he is making.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If no Deputy is prepared to make a proper contribution, the Chair will put the question.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I was in the process of it but I sat down three times to allow the Minister to reply. The Minister now says that these amendments were, as he put it, exchanged between the Taoiseach and Deputy Lynch. I am not aware that that is so. In order to make absolutely certain I will inquire naturally at the earliest opportunity from Deputy Lynch. I [1641] think it is highly unlikely that Deputy Lynch and the Taoiseach exchanged amendments. The phrase used by the Minister “exchanged amendments” seems to imply to me that the Taoiseach said: “Here are my amendments. You give me yours. If you take mine I will take yours and we will agree on the lot.”

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  He was only codding.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  This is a very unlikely situation. The situation has been reached where the Minister for Finance, having made the previous totally untrue statement about consultations having taken place and on being pressed by me——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy ought not to attribute to a Minister of the House an untruth as such.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I did not say a lie. I was very careful to keep away from that, no matter what justification I might have had. I said an untrue statement and I think he accepts himself it must be an untrue statement. On top of that one, he comes along by way of purported explanation of that untrue statement and he makes another statement which at the moment I am 99 per cent certain is untrue and very shortly I imagine I will be 100 per cent certain is untrue. This is an extraordinary situation in a House of Parliament. We are on a Money Resolution. It is a thing that in this House normally is a pure formality. There is rarely any discussion beyond, perhaps, at the most a few sentences but in order to keep the record right and to make the position of this party perfectly clear the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Lynch, when the Money Resolution was called, got up and made a short statement setting out the position of this party in relation to certain things that were relevant to the Money Resolution. He was followed a few minutes later by the Minister for Finance who lost all control of himself. He screamed and ranted at Deputy Lynch and other Members of Fianna Fáil and begun a debate which, unfortunately, due to his subsequent basically similar contributions, [1642] has been unpleasant and acrimonious. That unpleasantness and the length of time that this debate is taking and will take is solely on the head of the Minister for Finance.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We told him that at the beginning.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  If the Minister will behave himself in a reasonable way he will be enabled to put through this legislation; but if he wishes to continue in this petulant and petty fashion, we can tell him that we have a way of dealing with such behaviour.

As well as the other questions I asked and to which I received either no replies or replies that were patently not true, I asked the Minister if he would let the House know the percentage increase for some group who were receiving zero pounds and who are now to receive £9,000 per annum which is the correct figure when one leaves out the qualified Members who appear to be Members of the Government. In 1968 and up to now Government backbenchers got zero pounds per annum but under the proposed subsidy which the Minister wishes to give them, that is, if he can walk on this party and this House, they will receive £9,000 per annum. That seems to be a rather substantial increase. Unfortunately, I have not the intellectual attainments of the Minister for Finance and, consequently, I cannot work this out quickly or, possibly accurately.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  I would be surprised to know that the Deputy had not such attainments.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I asked the Minister what was the percentage increase. Is it not in the order of 9,000 per cent? We are told by the Minister that he must comply with the recommendations of the Employer/Labour Conference in regard to the Opposition although that conference made no recommendation in relation to this matter. However, the Minister has arrived at an average figure of 36 or 37 per cent on salaries and says that, therefore, the Opposition allowance should be confined to a similar percentage.

The Minister tells us that we must [1643] stick to the letter of the law so far as the Employer/Labour Conference is concerned. I have asked him also why, if we must stick to the letter of the law —and there is no letter of the law in relation to the Opposition allowance— we do not do the same in relation to the allowances for Members and salaries for Ministers? Why is such distinction made? If, in relation to Fianna Fáil, we must be confined to this mythical 36 or 37 per cent which the Minister has concocted, why should that percentage not apply also to the Government parties? Why are they not confined to this percentage on their zero amount? I hope my questions will be answered, but it looks as if they will not. These questions are very pertinent. Every person sitting on the backbenches opposite knows they are very relevant. I appeal to the Minister, for the sake of this House and of the institutions which it represents, to have sense and to give up this childish nonsense. I ask him to behave himself as an adult human being and to act in an honourable and decent fashion.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  This is a unique occasion. During my 22 years in this House I have been present during many acrimonious debates and I have heard very bitter and, sometimes, savage words exchanged across the floor. These words were always in relation to political matters, but it is unique that on a Bill of the nature of the one now before us we should be in a situation where the Minister for Finance begins by accusing the Leader of this party of audacity and proceeds to refer to us on this side of the House as being ignorant, avaricious and stupid. You, Sir, were not present when the Minister used some of these epithets to describe us, but you were present to hear him describe us as being ignorant and to imply in regard to Deputy Colley who, like Deputy O'Malley and myself, is a graduate of the University, of being too stupid to be able to comprehend draft Bills and Employer/Labour Conference reports. As is now obvious to you, Sir, the Minister has been found out also in repeated misstatements. I join with Deputy O'Malley in making yet another [1644] appeal to the Minister to discover some better side of himself than that which has been exposed here this evening.

There is no substance worthy of examination or capable of standing up to examination in what the Minister has put forward here during this debate on this deplorable humiliating and embarrassing parliamentary occasion for which he alone is responsible and which he initiated by accusing Deputy Lynch of audacity, an accusation which no member of the public, regardless of his political affiliations would consider to be justified after he had read what Deputy Lynch said in his opening remarks at 4.15 p.m. today. No member of the Minister's party or of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs' party who is dispassionate and who reads what we have been saying here will agree with the accusation that we have been ignorant and stupid and that our leader has been guilty of audacity. I would invite the public to judge Fine Gael by their Minister for Finance and to judge us on what we have said and on our behaviour here today.

The Minister declines to answer questions which we appreciate are very difficult for him because we can sympathise to some extent with any Minister who has to come here with an indefensible brief. Those of us who have served in Government or who know anything about the workings of Government are aware that a Minister may, from time to time, find himself adumbrating a point of view with which he personally is in total opposition but because of the principle of common responsibility he finds that he must put forward the majority view. It is possible, but I have no means of knowing that it is so, that the Minister's heart is not in the work he is doing in relation to this Bill, that he was one of a minority in Government and that his personal decision was outweighed by a majority.

That may or may not be the case. All of us know it happens from time to time that by virtue of common responsibility we have as individual Ministers and Deputies to argue a [1645] point of view to which we are opposed but in which an issue of principle is not involved, but on this occasion the Minister is not merely arguing a totally unjustifiable and indefensible case but he is accusing us of unparliamentary and undignified and demeaning conduct, as well as applying to us every insulting epithet which his fertile mind delivers, and God knows he is good at it.

I was just thinking that this Government might with some justification be called a “grabber” Government. They grabbed the position of Ceann Comhairle and they grabbed the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle; they grabbed the position of Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and they grabbed the position of Leas-Chathaoirleach, and now they are grabbing the money that should be going to the Fianna Fáil Opposition and giving it to their own backbenchers.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  Their own relations.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  Fellows from the country who know the countryman's view of things know the connotation of “grabber” in rural Ireland. However, that is by the way. There will be another occasion. I totally reject the idea that our posture in this debate is unreasonable, I totally reject the proposition that our Leader was guilty of audacity in putting up the views he did in his opening few words today, and I resent the continued and repeated accusations against people like Deputy Colley, myself and others, that we are ignorant and stupid and guilty of conduct capable of bringing this House into disrepute.

I want to repeat, though I do not like doing it and I hate to be in a position where I feel I have to keep repeating, that the Minister has put himself on the horns of a dilemma from which it appears to me there can be no escape. He has said in regard to the Opposition allowance, unjustifiably in our view, and he has repeated it, that the only yardstick by which to measure this matter is that of the Employer/Labour report. If that is so, why does he decline to implement the aforesaid Employer/Labour report [1646] in regard to the matters that were specifically referred to the Employer/ Labour Conference, instead of caterwauling as he was on the previous occasion, and as he was again today, about social welfare classes, the poor and the needy? God help him if that is the level to which he has dragged himself and to which he has attempted to drag us. There is a simple question of the failure or otherwise of this Government to accept their responsibilities and I was frankly astonished that the Taoiseach could sit there for almost half an hour during the time which included the Minister's second diatribe about us.

I take it Deputy O'Malley has gone to add the 1 per cent that he needs to be able to show that what the Minister said in regard to consultation is not in accordance with what happened, and I am very sorry indeed that the Minister has placed himself in this position and that he has placed us in the situation of having to tell him that he is not sticking to facts, that his record during the past four months would suggest that his attitude to facts is, to say the least of it, cavalier, that he is prepared week in, week out, to pull out of the air or out of his imagination, and put forward to the public as true, statements and suggestions which have no basis whatever in fact. I suppose the fact that newspapers, the commentators on television and his expert PRO staff and those in other Departments are with him and behind him gives him confidence that he can continue to ignore facts, continue to put forward for public consumption statements which have no basis in fact. I have news for him. No matter what support he may have from what are called the media, the public are listening and observing and the public will know exactly what to make of the Minister for Finance when they come to get the true story on some of his statements.

The Minister was at it again last week in regard to a social welfare matter, but that is not relevant to what is going on here today. He made no attempt to reply to the statement I made earlier which was so amusingly backed up by Deputy Thornley. [1647] that is, in regard to the complexity of the documentation which is arriving on all our desks and which we are obliged to study; the volume and complexity of EEC documentation in the last year or so, is simply staggering—the mountains of paper which have to be waded through so as to keep abreast of the multifarious activities of the various committees and sub-committees and commissions and so on, on the European scene. For instance, how many civil servants in the Minister's Department are now engaged wholetime on the study of the documentation coming from the EEC? How many in other Departments are engaged solely in the examination and study of EEC documents? I know that in the Department of Lands during my time there two people were appointed full-time and more were being brought in constantly for discussion. I recall a secretary giving me a figure for the number of persons in the Department of the Minister for Finance so engaged.

I would be very interested to know the total number of civil servants now engaged wholly or mainly in the examination of the EEC documentation. Everybody will accept that the volume of this documentation almost inevitably will grow in the years ahead and that at this stage we are only beginning to dig our way. There are so many things like regional policy, land policy and so on, still in the embryo stage which will require more and more attention from Ministers, parliamentarians, officials, the public, including our own political organisations throughout the country. Certainly, a much heavier load will fall on all the Members of this House in trying to keep abreast of developments which concern us and in passing on to the public, through the units of our respective organisations, the meaning and imports of documents and the effect their implementation will have on the daily lives and habits of the citizens of this country, in particular where they happen to be our own constituents.

I, therefore, do not accept the proposition [1648] from the Minister that the increase from £15,000 to £21,000 should in any way be related to the Employer/Labour Conference. I have said this before and Deputy Thornley very cogently agreed with me. Indeed, he also said that it is important that the public should realise that the conditions under which we work here are, while now much improved on what they were when you, Sir, entered this House first, are still a very far distance from being adequate, never mind ideal, for the nature and complexity of the work a Deputy is required to do.

It might be no harm if the public were to realise that we do not have expense accounts, we do not have duty free cigarettes or tobacco or liquor or free telephones or things like that. I would not be surprised if the attitude adopted by the Minister this evening added a little more to that general attitude on the part of the public.

I said, and Deputy Thornley agreed, that it was ludicrous of the Minister to tie the increase from £15,000 to £21,000, allowance to the Opposition, to the Employer/Labour Conference. By doing so he has put himself in a dilemma. He has hoisted himself with his own petard. If in the green wood, why not in the dry? If the Minister thinks it is logical, sensible, and appropriate that he should give only this percentage increase to the Opposition, then why does he not honour the other terms of the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations? He cannot answer. I sympathise with him in not being able to answer that. He is arguing a non-arguable case. He is defending an indefensible position. Let him say that and we will give him the Bill. Let him admit that the Government have treated the Opposition shabbily by leaving out all the reference to the Opposition in the Bill as drafted. It was only after the Leader of Fianna Fáil spoke in the House about the curious omission of the Opposition allowance that steps were taken—it would appear reluctantly—to adjust the position which has not been adjusted since 1968.

For the record, it might be no harm to say that when we increased the [1649] allowance in 1968 from £5,000 to £15,000 — which was a treble increase, in my recollection; I do not say that I am right—we said: “We will be generous. We appreciate that the demands on Opposition funds have increased a great deal”. I think we said: “If they are not satisfied, we will reconsider it. Perhaps they may be able to make a case for more”. Certainly ours was intended to be a magnanimous attitude to this problem. The Minister for Finance, with utter disregard, said that we treated the Fine Gael and Labour Parties, when they were in office, shabbily. I think he used even stronger words, something like “contempt”. Shame on him if that is so. That is a further example of the tactic, when you cannot defend your position you descend to abuse, of your enemies.

That is all I have to say for the moment except again to express my personal indignation and the collective indignation of the members of this party at the Minister's personal attack on Deputy Jack Lynch, our Leader, and at his describing me personally or the members of the party as ignorant and stupid, avaricious and hypocrites. Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir. We will see. The public some time in the future will have a further opportunity of deciding whether or not the contumely heaped by the Minister for Finance on the heads of the members of this party today was in any way justified.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Dr. Cruise-O'Brien): Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  In this debate the Opposition spokesmen have shown quite remarkable sensitivity to——

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  Abuse and attack.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order. We had a very orderly discussion during Deputy Seán Flanagan's contribution. We would hope to have the same respect for the expressions of the Minister.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  I would like to know when Deputy O'Brien was ever attacked by anybody on this side of the House.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  The Deputy might ask his colleague, Deputy Flor [1650] Crowley, for example, who has used somewhat stronger terms, and more audacious terms, in relation to some of us on this side of the House.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  They just happened to be true. That is the difference between me and the Minister for Finance.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  I am not the least worried about what people like Deputy Crowley may think about me. Nor, I am sure, are my colleagues. This is a peculiar display of thin-skinnedness from people who have not been slow to “dish it out” over a good many years. If someone answers back with some sharp terms this is made a great issue as if it was some sort of lése-majesté to accuse the Leader of the Opposition of audacity. I am not sure that audacity is a pejorative term to use about the Leader of the Opposition. I think the Leader of the Opposition, or the Leader on either side of this House, requires some element of audacity— courage. I think the terms used by the Minister for Finance in relation to the Opposition on this were entirely parliamentary and no more pejorative than the terms used by Deputy Flanagan in what was, on the whole, a good speech just now in which he accused the Minister for Finance of caterwauling, and so on. What will puzzle the ordinary reader of these debates, both in the country now as the reports of these go out and more widely, is just what we are all getting so worked up about.

Mr. Nolan: Information on Thomas Nolan  Zoom on Thomas Nolan  Including Deputy Thornley.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order, please.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  I said us all. “All” includes each individual Deputy, possibly myself. Why are we so worried and so passionate suddenly on this particular issue? In all this session I do not recall the Opposition in particular injecting so much passion or displaying so much ability — and they have passion and ability, most certainly —on any other issue except on this [1651] quite small one, important enough in its implications but not one of the great major national issues about which they claim to be concerned and with which some of them certainly are concerned. They have never shown this display of combined, converging passion that they have shown on this issue.

I think the public will be somewhat puzzled on that. What exactly is it that is affecting them so strongly? I do not think it is certain expressions used by the Minister for Finance which are certainly no stronger than we are accustomed to use here. During this debate, for example, in which the Opposition are complaining about acrimony, an Opposition Deputy said that the Labour Party had been bought off with £10,000. The Chair ruled, and I am sure his ruling was entirely consonant with the rather rugged and vigorous traditions of this House, that this was just one of the ordinary political things people say. All right, but one cannot have it both ways: one cannot throw out that sort of charge and then become all huffed when somebody says you are ignorant or stupid. We are all ignorant; some of us are more stupid than others but all of us are limited. These are charges we should not take too seriously and I do not think the Opposition are taking them too seriously; they are far too intelligent to worry about being called stupid or ignorant. They are at something else, something quite different.

(Interruptions.)

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Deputy Power looks pleased. We love him; we could not do without him. What are they worried about? Is it the scale of allowances now being conceded to the Opposition? They have claimed they are shabbily treated but if they are shabbily treated with these increased allowances how shabbily were we treated when we sat over there without any of these increases and nobody complained? We did not complain and certainly the Government did not complain.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  If the Minister were depending solely on his earnings as a TD would he complain?

[1652]Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Many of my colleagues were and they did not complain. I am not all that important.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let us leave personalities out of it.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  He could write “To Leinster House and Back”.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Is it an element on which the Opposition have not laid overt stress, that the House is not getting the retrospective element in this adjustment? That, at least, would be rational but it is not on that that they have concentrated their fire, on the whole. Deputy Colley referred to it but did so under the decent veil of the recommendations of the Employer/ Labour Conference. He tried to suggest that conference required these increases to be retrospective. He did not establish that by any quotation; I do not think he could; perhaps he could. If so, let him say so; he has the opportunity to say it. I do not think that can be argued and I do not think that can be the main gravamen.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  Nobody said that.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Did anybody say it was?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order. The Minister without interruption.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  There is the question of allowances on the Government side. Do Deputies opposite really think that it is unreasonable to have such an allowance for the servicing of the activities of Government backbenchers?

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  No, but——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  I am trying to find out what exactly you are complaining about. We heard complaints made here, as I said before the Deputy came in, with great passion and an unusual display of—I shall not say unusual ability, the ability is always there but they do not always display it; on most issues that have arisen during the session they have been rather inert, even a little bit torpid——

[1653]Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  They were our measures in the main. Has the Minister not grasped that yet?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Not all of them. Not much was heard from the Opposition but suddenly we have this pyrotechnic display from the Opposition benches over just this issue. I am trying to identify what part of it has been so stimulating to their creative ability. I have failed to do so, so far. Is it the Opposition allowances? Is it the scale of them? Is it the lack of retrospective element? Is it the fact that any allowances are being given on the Government side at all? At first I thought that seemed the most plausible one but Deputy Colley now challenges me to produce any evidence that this is so. Do they accept the principle of allowances for Government backbenchers?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We have said so on a number of occasions.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  They do. I am sorry; I was here for much of this debate, including several contributions from the Deputy, but this element escaped me. I think that is instructive. Or is it something else? is it that they identify this particular subject as a good one on which to concentrate their fire for reasons of parliamentary political tactics? Could that be it?

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  Two Members of your own party support the Opposition. There is only one Member of your own party listening.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It is very possible that he supports us also.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Perhaps the Deputies have provided me with the answer to the question. They are thinking in terms of tactics.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The Minister should be careful not to insult any of his colleagues.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  I have not insulted anybody here this evening and I hope I shall not do so.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I accept that; it makes a change.

[1654]Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The Minister will have to sit down soon.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  I shall be sitting down quite soon but not because of any wish I have to indulge in trading insults. Were it not for what I would describe as the tactical factor in this debate we would be very near consensus on this, as we should be. This should be a reasonable discussion aimed at the long-term improvement of the effectiveness of Parliament. There should be concensus on both sides. I think the break in concensus was not due to any extraordinary acrimony introduced into the debate on this side. I heard, I think, all of the Second Stage debate; I did not hear all of this debate. Deputy Colley who can be reasonably aggressive when he wishes, as can several others, was being aggressive. It was not a case, as one might gather from Deputy Flanagan's remarks just now, of sudden surprising aggravation flying at the Opposition from these benches. It was not that. There was a buildup of contentiousness from pretty early on so that a matter which could have been settled by reasonable exchange has degenerated—or has seemed to up to now—into a fairly acrimonious debate.

I wonder whether, even now, there may not be a possibility of lowering the temperature for the benefit of the future working of this institution, something in which we have a common interest; and for the benefit of the country which has an interest higher than the interest we share in it.

We represent the Governmental view for the time being and believe that this will be a reasonably long time being. The Deputies opposite have another idea but the likelihood is that at some time there will be a change and that the interests which the Opposition are defending now will fall to us. We should look at this as a matter affecting not the tactical skirmish of the day but as affecting in the longer term the stability and effectiveness of parliamentary democracy.

In the shorter term also we should [1655] consider the repute of parliamentary democracy. I do not think that the public are going to be edified by a long day's journey of debate on this particular subject. I think we all ought to pause a little and reflect before we prolong this debate. I do not think that the country begrudges its Parliament reasonable emoluments or reasonable allowances. There will always be a few begrudgers here and there but, in general, the people accept this as reasonable.

When the people look at this package which the Government has presented for the approval of the House they will fail to see anything startlingly unreasonable or inequitable about it for the good reason that it is quite a reasonable package. Therefore, I hope that the remaining Stages of the Bill will not move on the premise that these are extraordinary propositions which we are defending with violent language. I do not think that is so and I do not think that it should appear so.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Even at this late stage from my vantage point of view there appears to be a case being put forward to save face. The saving of face seems to be more important than the actual content of the Bill before the House. I do not think that what is at issue, even if it could be clearly defined, is of such importance or of such complexity that it would be beyond the capacity of a representative, or a number of representatives, from both sides of the House getting together to sort it out. This should be done even if it entails an adjournment of the House for a short time.

There have been statements from both sides pushing their own point of view. I do not think that the public will understand, or appreciate, what has gone on this evening. They will not understand the display about something which we should have settled before today. As we have not settled this before now we should attempt to do so in a more harmonious manner than we are capable of doing by public debate in this House.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  It is up to the Minister; what does he suggest?

[1656]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am asking, as a follow up to the line of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on this matter, that we should try to sort this matter out. It is worth a try. What is really being perpetrated in this House this evening is a public spectacle of the entire proceedings of the House casting no lustre on any individual or party in this House. This will colour all proceedings dealing with a matter such as this on future occasions.

I thought we had got away from the old situation by virtue of the Devlin Report and later the reference of it to the Employer/Labour Conference. I thought we had got away from the days when, though we knew the increases were justified and long overdue to Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and though we in Government at that time were fully aware of the wishes of the Opposition to have such increases granted, an issue was made by the Opposition who had accepted that such increases were justified. The discussion today has completely negatived any hope there was that this might be so.

I appeal to the Government, and to the Fianna Fáil Party in Opposition, to use whatever devices are available by way of adjournment or otherwise to sort this matter out. Deputy Colley is, at this stage, perhaps on his part regretful that he did not do the job himself and thinks that he might have done it better. In seeking to improve the offerings of the Minister in some way he may be covering his own feeling of guilt in so far as not doing the job properly.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I never got the chance.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  On the other hand, the Minister, who perhaps listened too closely to what we were asking him last week, misunderstood and misinterpreted what the party in Opposition were asking for and blandly converted their desire for an increase in the Opposition allowance into what he thought was a very equitable sort of calculation that he could broadly spread over the entire House with a differential between Government party members and the Opposition. This in [1657] some way appeals to him not only as fulfilling the demands that were made from various parts of the House on the Second Stage but as more equitable than a straightforward increase of a lump sum Opposition allowance.

If that is the conclusion which the Minister has come to he is in error. Trying to justify that now may be his difficulty in the rather acrimonious atmosphere that has developed since this debate started. All of that leads me to believe that what is sought by both sides of the House is not very different in essence though the means towards the end and the manner of approach from both sides would tend to indicate a different method of approach but the end product is not very different. That is what makes me appeal to both sides to meet and sort this matter out. With the goodwill of both sides there is a way open to do a proper job in a proper manner. An hour of reasonable discussion between a representative from both sides should be sufficient to sort this matter out.

This display has not shed any lustre on this House or its activities. We are doing a disservice to the House, to the institution of Parliament and, above all, we are making it well nigh impossible on any future occasion to have any Government bring before this House any measure of a like kind. That is the greatest damage that has been done by this discussion. It will preclude any reasonable approach in future by any Government.

I would appeal again to both Front Benches to see whether or not there is a way through, a way which will enable time to be bought by some get together. I do not think the problem insuperable. I believe it can be resolved in a manner satisfactory to all in a matter of hours.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  This has been a most interesting and enlightening debate. It has revealed the fact that every Deputy is anxious to perform his legislative work more effectively. This has been evident in both the tone and content of the debate. Added to that, every Deputy realises the grave difficulties in the present system; the conditions under which he works are [1658] far from ideal. The public now realise the conditions under which Deputies have been working for so long. The conditions are more suited to the beginning of the century than to the seventies.

There is a unique opportunity here for the Minister to do something to ensure that the Opposition become an effective and vigorous Opposition. As I said on the Second Stage, you cannot have a good Government unless you have a very good Opposition. The Minister should take cognisance of that. We do not know who will be in Government in a few years time. Both sides are equally affected and I am all in favour of the Minister taking this unique opportunity to provide proper allowances for the Opposition to ensure an effective Opposition.

We should not dwell on what the present Opposition did when they were in Government. They did not provide allowances, but this is something we should not discuss. We should discuss what is needed now and we should all of us be prepared to vote for what is needed now.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I support Deputy Blaney fully in what he said about accommodation. I do not think anyone would contradict what he said about the conditions under which he tries to work. A few years ago a new building was erected. It was taken over by civil servants though it was meant for Deputies. That should not have been allowed to happen. Unfortunately, nothing was done by the legislators to rectify the situation. Something should be done about it. A Deputy should have a proper room in which to meet his constituents and do his work. At the moment there are four Deputies sharing small rooms. This is an aspect that should be considered.

I regret the acrimony that has crept into the debate and, if it continues, we will end up with revelations equal to the revelations in the Watergate scandal.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  The money is a lot less.

[1659]Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  More and more revelations are gradually coming and more and more accusations and counter-accusations are being made. This will not help. Rather, it will reflect on each and every one of us.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I do not propose to deal with a number of points made by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and the reason why will become obvious when I have finished. I just want to reiterate that, so far as we are concerned, we believe there are some important principles involved and it is for that reason we have taken the stand we have.

Secondly, like Deputy Dr. O'Connell and others, I regret the note of acrimony that has crept into the debate. I do not think the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was present at the beginning of the debate when the Leader of the Opposition spoke and the Minister for Finance replied. It was at that point that the acrimony crept in. When speaking later, I pointed out this was a grave danger. It could have been remedied at that point but, and I say this with regret, it was not.

From something the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs said I got the impression that he was suggesting that it would be more fruitful and produce a more satisfactory and, if I may use the word, respectable solution if there were to be further discussions between the Government and the Opposition. I may be putting words into the Minister's mouth, but I think Deputy Blaney got the same message as I did. If that is so, I want to say that, as far as we are concerned, we will be quite prepared to take part in any such discussions and to concur in any necessary arrangements in the business of the House. Perhaps the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs did not mean to convey that; I may have misunderstood him, but I want to make clear our attitude on this side of the House.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  For the purpose of clarification, my remarks were concerned really with the tone of the debate. I did not have an opportunity of consulting my colleague, the Minister for Finance, but I am sure he will take into consideration the point [1660] Deputy Blaney made. I have, of course, no authority to speak for him on this issue.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  Because of the way in which the debate developed today it is, I think, wise to put on record the way in which this particular debate started. This Bill was introduced last week. It related solely to the question of remuneration in regard to individual Deputies, Parliamentary Secretaries, Ministers of State and the Attorney General. The Bill did not contain any provision for an additional sum for secretarial and research services for the Opposition or for backbench Members of the Government parties. The first note of acrimony introduced into the debate was introduced immediately after the Minister had spoken when the Leader of the Opposition stated he was inclined to believe that the fact that there was no scope in the Bill for an increase in the allowances to the Opposition was not accidental but was rather deliberate. This was suggested on two or three occasions subsequently. Now, had the Minister intended it to be deliberate, he would, I believe, have continued with that sense of purpose and at no stage would he have introduced an amendment dealing with remuneration for secretarial and research services for the Opposition.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  The Committee on Procedure and Privileges had already recommended it.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  Yes, but if the Deputy looks at the Official Report he will find that the Minister for Foreign Affairs refered to the fact that, in so far as the Government were concerned, he was concerned and his colleagues were concerned and he was quite certain there should be a considerably increased allowance for secretarial services for the Opposition party and for backbenchers of the Government party. In fairness to the Minister, if we look at his reply, on the first opportunity he had to reply, to the allegations made against him, he was very generous in his attitude. He referred to the fact that he would give an assurance in public that the Government [1661] would enter into immediate and meaningful discussions with the Opposition and, if legislation was necessary to provide the funds and give effect to better services, there would be no reluctance on the Government's part to provide the necessary legislation and machinery. He went on to state he believed the charge from the Opposition that he was being vindictive should be withdrawn. Indeed, this was the first allegation in all of this debate which lacked generosity, the charge from the Opposition that the Minister was less than generous in regard to this matter.

The Minister went on to say that he believed this question of additional assistance for the Opposition, the entire question of Parliament today, the lack of services which exist within the system with the increase in work load, were matters which could be most sensibly discussed at another period. He believed it would not have been judicious simply to postpone the entire debate and incorporate this question with that of Deputies' salaries, because the whole question of Members' salaries and issues related to that would again have to be postponed. His response was generous. He said he believed the matter should be discussed by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and that he would be as accommodating as possible in assisting the Opposition in that regard.

The proof of that is in the fact that the Government did introduce amendments. Members of the Opposition, in this case, are attempting to have it both ways. They initially object to the Bill because it does not contain the increases they seek. The Minister explains the reason why he did not incorporate that in the Bill. In turn, to help the Opposition in that regard, he introduces an amendment. Then Deputy Colley this afternoon says that if we wanted to do this properly it should be talked out in the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. That was precisely what the Minister said in his opening address.

Deputy Colley then charged the Minister with introducing this question under pressure and with having it hastily drafted. If the Minister had the [1662] will to yield to the Opposition, which he obviously had, with time running out in so far as this session is concerned, of course it was done under pressure and, of course, it was hastily drafted. Time did not allow for careful drafting. The Minister said in his opening response last Wednesday that more care should have been taken in regard to this matter. The pressure from the beginning has been from the Opposition in this regard. With time running out, the Minister has attempted to be accommodating, while the Opposition has been putting on tremendous pressure in relation to precise amendments, on the question of allowances to the Opposition, and in regard to the fact that the Minister has introduced the question of further remuneration for secretarial work for backbenchers on the Government side.

The problem has arisen because the Minister's Bill as originally introduced has not been agreed to. Had the Opposition agreed to the Ministers suggestion that reasonable discussions should take place between the Government and the Opposition, that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges should consider the matter, that the recess should be used to give thought to this, then the further thoughts would have led to harmony and the consensus, hopefully, to which Deputy Blaney referred. I regret that this problem has arisen, and it would be in the interests of both sides of the House to discuss this in a relatively low key without undue reference to past events.

The last remark I should like to make is in a general sense, because it is the first opportunity I have had of making any comments broadly in regard to the Bill. It may seem presumptuous for a new Member to be unduly critical of the institutions of the House, but, in agreement with most Members who have spoken on both sides of the House, I believe there is a need for a fairly radical shake-up in relation to general assistance for Deputies. A vast amount of paper work is coming on our desks nowadays. If we want to be temperate and wise in debate there is a necessity to research topics in which we are interested. Because of our involvement [1663] in the EEC, there is an obligation on us to study to a considerable extent what is happening in Europe, particularly in its relevance to this country.

A vast amount of time and effort are involved in constituency work. Higher salaries are being paid to Members of this House—with which I agree completely because of the nature of the work and the desirability of attracting competent people to become Members of this House— but if the country is to get value for the higher salary levels, then it is necessary that those who are receiving these salaries, who have made membership of this House a career, should be allowed to work in an executive rather than a secretarial capacity. If one looks at the work we are doing and compares it with work done in other positions in the State, in Government Departments, in industry, in services and in agriculture, it will be realised that, if the public is to get value for the money expended, there should be a high level of back-up facilities to allow Deputies, in the interests of the public, to use the talents they are blessed with in this executive capacity rather than in constituency work.

We have been talking about the change in the attitude towards allowances to the political parties. I am in full agreement with that. We should be progressive in relation to facilities for individual Deputies. Having made those few remarks, I would hope this debate would continue so that some consensus might be reached on the topic we are debating.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Even though I might not agree with what the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs said his approach to the matter under discussion was reasonable and realistic. The same cannot be said of the Minister for Finance whose aggressive statements, which many speakers felt were an unfair reflection on Members, have caused an amount of concern and injected heat into the debate. There is far more at stake in this debate than finance. There are [1664] three matters involved and I do not want to confuse one with another.

They are the Deputies' increases, the increases to the Opposition and the increases to the Government Deputies. In the course of this debate I have heard the Minister for Finance express his concern for the national wage agreement. Time and again he indicated that the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations must be taken into account and that the increases must be in accordance with the national wage agreement. The Minister indicated that an increase of 37 per cent was the highest recommended. He related that figure to the Deputies' salaries and then to the Opposition allowances, and then he stopped. This Bill is in complete violation of the national wage agreement. This House has recently discussed another Bill in connection with the bankers which clearly indicated that payments of increases and improvements or variations could be in violation of the national wage agreement, and that the Government would have the power to prohibit the recommended increases to be paid by the bankers.

In this Bill the Minister seeks to pay an allowance which, to my mind, is in violation of the national wage agreement. This is an allowance which was not heretofore granted. It is an allowance to Government Deputies. It is an increase to Government Deputies as such. The amounts vary from £125 to £200 in the case of Fine Gael Deputies and £147 to £171 in the case of Labour Deputies. This is in addition to their increases as Deputies and is obviously in violation of the agreement. If the Minister is concerned about the agreement this addition, which would have been prohibited under the Act passed last week making it impossible for the bankers to pay increases and to give better conditions than before, must be seen to be in violation of the national wage agreement.

This section is a barter section. It is a section which has been inserted in order to gain the support of certain Deputies who have indicated clearly that they are in favour of suggestions [1665] made by Members on this side of the House. They will, on this occasion, go into the Division Lobby against their principles. Were they bought by the figures I have quoted? Is that the reason they will vote in support of the Government in relation to the Minister's amendments? This is a corrupt section. It has nothing to do with the Opposition allowance or with the salaries of the Deputies. It is the same type of allowance for which they would have imposed substantial fines on the bankers, or would have prohibited the bankers from paying to their employees as an addition. This is a typical Coalition Bill. This is what will go on in the Government, which is a Coalition Government. This is what we will get in the future.

Deputies are having their salaries increased by sums varying from £147 to £200 in excess of what is paid to Opposition Deputies.

Mr. Staunton: Information on Myles Staunton  Zoom on Myles Staunton  Will the Deputy take the money?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  This increase applies only to Deputies supporting the Government.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  This does not apply to me or to any Member of the Opposition. It applies only to Members of the Government party. The extra allowances which backbencher Deputies will get were referred to by Deputy Staunton, who quoted the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Minister for Finance. It is something distinct from what the Leader of the Opposition gets to provide back-up services and the services necessary to provide an effective Opposition. This is something outside that scope. It is a corrupt section and was designed as a result of barter in order to get the various Deputies to support the Minister's Bill.

No two Deputies on the Government benches spoke in the same terms. They had a completely different approach to the problem and completely different ideas. There was no coordinated effort. It was arranged that they would get in excess of the Opposition Deputies the sums indicated in this particular section. If we are to compare [1666] the provisions of the Bill concerning bank officials, which has now become an Act, with the provisions of this Bill, it will be seen that this Bill is absolutely in breach of the Employer/ Labour Conference recommendations. This will be viewed seriously by the people who made those recommendations.

The increase of 37 per cent has been related to the salary paid to the Leader of the Opposition. The Minister was challenged on a number of occasions to indicate where reference was made to a particular percentage in regard to Opposition allowances but, true to form, he did not on any occasion quote from the document from which he got his information. This is typical of the Minister for Finance, who makes rash, irrational and erroneous statements in the House and elsewhere. He has been challenged many times today. He was contradicted by some of his own party speakers in relation to some of the statements made.

In the course of this debate we hope that the Minister will have received a course of corrective training from the Taoiseach. He was sent for some time ago and may come back with some different ideas. He may approach this debate in a more realistic manner, if that is possible. I am certain that he has been instructed to lower the temper of the debate and to put it on a more realistic footing.

The desirability of having an effective Opposition has been referred to by many other speakers. The services necessary have been described. We are all aware of the vast volume of additional work which has to be done in order to meet the new and changing conditions in Europe and elsewhere, and to help Members of various delegations which will be going abroad in greater numbers now than in the past. A great strain is being placed on the Opposition to provide these services. It has been clearly indicated that Government Deputies have the advantage of being able to obtain information from the various Departments and of having it passed on to them as part of the National Coalition policy. Their members are fully briefed by the Civil Service.

[1667]Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  What does the Deputy know about briefing?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Minister now proposes to grant this additional allowance. No doubt Deputy Spring is very happy that he will be getting approximately £125 extra but he must remember if he looks at the figures and relates them to party sizes a Fine Gael Deputy is worth much more than a Labour Deputy in relation to the increases given. Deputy Spring is worth £125 while a Fine Gael Deputy is worth £166. This is a clear indication of the Minister's assessment of the two groups of Deputies.

This Bill is the direct opposite to another Bill which we had two weeks ago. If those allowances were granted by the banks tomorrow morning the Minister for Labour would have the matter referred to an appropriate body and there would be substantial fines and the allowances would be disallowed. I have no objection to seeing the conditions of Deputies bettered so that they can provide the best service for their constituents. We must ensure that one set of superior conditions does not apply to Members of the Oireachtas while an inferior set of conditions applies to workers outside. The Minister is breaching the national pay agreement and giving special allowances to Government Deputies over and above those agreed by the Employer/Labour Conference, if they ever did as he stated. We have the Minister's interpretation that the 37 per cent applies but Deputy O'Malley asked him how we could equate those increases to a 37 per cent increase. The Minister is fooling this House just as he has been endeavouring to confuse the House all day. In his efforts to do that he has confused himself. The Minister has made contradictory statements during the course of this debate but this is typical of the Minister for Finance.

The Minister for Finance tries to bulldoze his way out of a situation by fast talking. I hope, when he replies to what I have said, that he will explain how he can equate the additional allowances here to the national pay agreement and show cause for [1668] them. I would agree if the increased secretarial services granted to Deputies as a whole were outside the scope of this Bill but the Bill is completely at variance with the Act which relates to other workers. I trust the various points raised by Deputy Colley and Deputy O'Malley will be answered in a realistic and truthful fashion by the Minister.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  When Deputy Colley spoke some time ago he referred to the tone of the speech by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs who said he could not understand our attitude and if there were any difficulties why we could not solve them in a more dignified fashion, perhaps by going outside the Dáil and using the procedure of the House to iron them out. I assume that when the Minister for Finance came back into the House he was briefed on the point by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. That offer is still open and it is up to the Minister for Finance to accept our gesture. We are quite willing to have discussions with the Minister on that issue because we do not get any more pleasure than the Minister out of prolonging this debate. However, we feel that there is a very important principle involved in this.

I have been a member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges for approximately five years. I was one of the people delegated with the former Deputy Sir Anthony Esmonde and the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Michael Pat Murphy, to go on several delegations as spokesmen for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges in relation to the facilities and allowances of Deputies and Senators. The attack made on Deputy Colley was very unfair. I would not stand up here and defend him if I thought he was wrong. When he received the findings of the Employer/Labour Conference on 22nd December last he had no chance of introducing legislation into this House to implement their recommendations. The Minister for Finance could be accused of being slightly mischievious in trying to assert that [1669] it was Deputy Colley, as Minister for Finance, who was at fault for not implementing that report.

I make no apology to anybody for saying we grossly underpay our Deputies and Senators and we only provide primitive facilities for them. I know some steps have been taken to rectify this but we have a long way to go. I am disappointed when the Minister for Finance comes into this House and tries to make a political issue of this most important matter. We all realise how important democracy and the implementation of democracy is to our country.

If we ever arrive at the stage where we cannot get the proper type of men and women into the political administration, democracy will be in danger. Democracy is a very delicate plant which can easily be killed. I do not know what the Minister for Finance expected to gain from the attitude he adopted except to see some political advantage in the way he tried to denigrate members of the previous Government.

He made the ridiculous suggestion that their pensions should go some way towards financing the research and secretarial services of our party. Does he think the difference between his salary as a Deputy and his ministerial salary should go towards research and secretarial facilities for his backbenchers? I am sure he does not, yet that is the suggestion he made about the front bench members of Fianna Fáil.

As long as we continue to adopt that kind of slavish mentality in relation to our own salaries, we will not get any improvement in the situation. It is ridiculous that every four or five years we must make a big song and dance about getting what we are entitled to; no other group has to do this. I know there are difficulties in linking us to a grade in the Civil Service or in establishing some procedure whereby we would get our increases every year or every two years like everybody else in the country, thus obviating the necessity of granting substantial increases every four or five years. If we had expected an enlightened kind of administration from the new Government in regard to this matter we have been disappointed.

[1670] It is not yet too late for the Minister to remedy this matter if he really wishes to consider the feelings of Members of the House. He can still rectify some of the wrongs perpetrated by this Bill. It is my information that the backbenchers in his party were not consulted about this matter at a party meeting. I am sure if they had been the Minister would not have brought in this Bill to the House because they, like us, would very soon have made their voices and feelings known to the Minister.

On many occasions we were accused of being an arrogant Government and of using jackboot tactics. However, a government takes those accusations with a grain of salt. In the way the Minister treated the House today, I detected a certain arrogance that was not good to see in the House. I am sure if the Minister had consulted with his backbenchers he would understand the feelings not only of Deputies Thornley, O'Connell and Desmond but of all Members in the House.

I have no objection to Government Deputies getting their rights. As a backbencher in a Government party, I know that in the main we did our own research, that we were very similar to the Opposition in that regard and that we did not have any special privileges because we were members of a Government party. Therefore, I can sympathise with and understand their situation and realise it is only right that they should be treated properly. I contend that not alone is it vital for democracy to have a good, lively and informed Opposition, it is also vital that the Government backbenchers be enlightened and lively and that they have the back-up services to keep their Ministers on their toes.

If the Minister is prepared to be reasonable about this we will also be prepared to be reasonable. I do not agree often with the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs; in fact, I had to examine my conscience when I found myself nodding in agreement with some of the things he said. I thought he made a serious effort to take the acrimony out of the debate and to bring a certain amount of harmonisation of thought into it. I agree with Deputy [1671] Blaney that it is a desperate situation if we must go back to the old days, of recognising that we are entitled to an increase in salary and consulting the Opposition about it, and of waiting until the Opposition are in agreement and are not prepared to make an issue of the matter before the Bill is introduced. That was a ridiculous situation in any democracy and I hope we never see those days again.

I am under the impression that the Minister thinks that if he is seen by the public to be cutting the salaries of Deputies or of not giving them what they are entitled to have, there will be some political gain in it. Let me advise the Minister there is no political gain in this. The public would have much more respect for him if he did justice to the people who dedicate themselves to the service of the public. There is much criticism of public representatives; snide and smart remarks are made about them. This place is referred to as the “Millionaires' Club” by some of the smart-alecks outside. All I can say is that from a very small sampling carried out here two years ago a large percentage of Members had pretty sizeable overdrafts.

After the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance has probably the most responsible position in the Cabinet. It is not good enough when he tries to make a political issue of this matter. Certainly he does not represent the viewpoint of his colleagues on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. He was a member of that committee and he always got the full support of Fianna Fáil members in any suggestion in relation to improving the allowances and facilities for Deputies.

I regret very much that we should have what I can only describe as divisive debate on this issue. I am afraid it may impede the proper working of salary increases in future. For some time we have been striving to take this issue out of the political arena, and to pay Members of the Houses what they are entitled to. The vast majority of Members dedicate themselves entirely to the work of their constituents. I think it was Deputy R.P. Burke, in an [1672] interview with one of the papers, who said that he would not mind being paid by the hour at any time. Neither would I, or any other Member of the House. If we got comparable rates by the hour, we would be making very much more money than we are getting now.

It is also important that we should arrive at the stage where our politicians could live solely on what they get from politics and would not have to have second or third jobs to supplement their earnings. It is a wellknown fact that the vast majority of the Members of this House cannot live on the allowances they get as TDs. The question has often been posed: how come that they become TDs? That is a very hard question to answer. It could be summed up in the main by saying that a very large number of Members are dedicated to the public service and to improving the lot of their fellow countrymen. I know I will be accused of using a well-worn cliché but, cliché or not, I believe it to be true.

Rather than fighting and arguing here over what are pittances in relation to the whole national economy, we should be working towards having a much more sophisticated back-up for all Members of the House, and making them more financially independent so that they can devote all of their time to politics. Most of all we should be ensuring that democracy continues to work. Many people made great and perhaps not so great sacrifices so that we could assemble here in a democratic fashion and debate the affairs of the country. If that is to continue, and if we are to ensure that we attract the proper type of men to the political arena, if you like for want of a better phrase, we have to pay them.

None of us is in any doubt about the fact that day by day the role of a Deputy becomes more complicated and more onerous. Our post from our constituents continues to grow because of the wide range of services Governments are now providing. We have to be au fait with all these services. We have entered Europe and [1673] we have to be au fait with what is happening in Europe, how regional policies will affect our areas, how social welfare will be affected, how decisions taken in Brussels will affect our constituents and how they will affect us on a national level. You need very special men and women to do this type of job efficiently. The type of men and women we will be looking for in the future will not be attracted to public life if they see this kind of squabbling going on here over pittances in relation to the whole capital budget.

I should like the Minister to reconsider our amendments to the Bill. We honestly feel that they will make the Bill better and will ensure that the Opposition Deputies and Government Deputies will be able to work efficiently and well. It is not without significance that we had Deputy Thornley saying today that he agreed completely with our amendments but that, because of party discipline, he would have to vote with his party or, to quote Martin Corry, that he would vote with his feet but would feel with us in his heart. The Minister would have the appreciation of his own backbenchers if he accepted our amendments.

I know this may not be an easy thing to do in view of some of the statements made in the House, and in view of some of the accusations made against the Minister. It would not be easy for him to accept our amendments without appearing to concede to pressure but, if he examines them carefully, he will find that they are reasonable and very important. He will not lose anything in stature or in principle by accepting them. He will have the thanks of the whole House and the country if he is seen to act in this reasonable manner.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  I cannot understand why the Opposition should go to the trouble of putting down four amendments to the Bill before the House. We had the Devlin Report before us in 1971. That report was sent forward to the Employer/Labour Conference.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  We did not have the Devlin Report in 1971.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  I did not interrupt the Deputy when he was speaking. Fianna [1674] Fáil were in power up to 14th March last and they had time to implement the recommendations of the report if they wanted to, but they ran away from it.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  That is not true. The Deputy should get the basic facts right before he speaks here.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  There would be no need to introduce these four amendments if Fianna Fáil had done their job properly.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  We got the report on 22nd December. Will the Deputy tell me on what date the Dáil sat between that and 14th of March?

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  The Government were in office until 14th March.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Can the Government pass Bills without Dáil Éireann discussing them?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  On a point of order, surely the Deputy should be allowed to speak without these unruly interruptions.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  The Fianna Fáil Government had the opportunity of implementing the Devlin Report which was referred to the Employer/Labour Conference. If they had done their job—as I am sure each and every backbencher in the Fianna Fáil Party hoped they would — and implemented these proposals, we would not be here tonight delaying the House discussing these four amendments.

I am one of the longest serving Deputies in Dáil Éireann. I am starting on my 31st year. I devoted all of those 31 years to working for the people of my constituency. I have no sideline and I am hoping and wishing that this Bill will be implemented as quickly as possible. To give the Minister his due, at the first opportunity he implemented the recommendation on what Deputies and Senators are entitled to. From conversations around the House with Opposition Deputies and Senators I gathered they were all hoping this Bill would go through as quickly as possible. I cannot understand [1675] the attitude of the Opposition in this matter. Ministers of State, of course, are in a very proud position. What happened I would say is that the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil did not use their influence and insist that the then Government implement the proposals.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  You did not do it either.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  We are doing it. We are implementing the proposals now that you backed away from. I thought there would be no opposition to this measure but the Fianna Fáil Party want retrospection to 2nd December, 1972, as happened in the case of judges and other people. We want this put into operation as quickly as possible. I want to compliment the Minister on the Bill. The Fianna Fáil Party will be sitting over there for a long time unless they can form a coalition as we read in The Sunday Press last Sunday. This increase is long overdue and I want to compliment the Minister on having the courage to do it. Deputy Colley did not have sufficient courage to do it. He could have done it many months ago. Anybody who wants to remain in this House must have courage. Deputy Colley had not the courage to implement the recommendations made to him on the 12th March of this year.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  The Deputy would want to get his dates right.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  We were told here last week that this came before him on 12th March. I cannot understand the opposition to this increase. It is just a matter of form, of course. They want the public to see that they oppose everything brought in by this Government. They opposed the budget—the increases for old age pensioners, et cetera. Now they are down the country telling the people who have got rates relief and so forth that if it were not for them those things would not have come about. Last week the local rate collector called to a neighbour of mine and said: “Your rates were £64 last year, they will be £58 this year. [1676] That is all I want.” That was as much as to say: “I have reduced your rates for you.” This is the propaganda going round at present but we will counteract it and we have the time to do it in the next four or five years.

I have been 31 years in Dáil Éireann. I think I am entitled to service pay. All workers are entitled to that now. The Minister should rethink the position and pay Deputies according to their service and the work they are doing for the people of their constituencies. Some of us give all our time to the job, unlike some of the people on the other side who shout all night. Deputy Dowling drives me out of the House every time he stands up because I never heard such ballyhoo. We come here to talk sense. That is what the people send us here to speak. We do not want to put across propaganda. We come here to work on behalf of the people and not to score points.

I am very grateful to the Minister. This increase is long overdue. I hope the boys in the Opposition will get a bit of commonsense. I know everybody over there is more anxious than myself for the increase.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  As anxious.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  I have met a few of them in the last fortnight around here and they have said: “Try to get the Minister to give us a bit of back pay. Make it retrospective to 1st January or the date of the election.”

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Is the Deputy against it?

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  I am not against it. I will take it, too, if I get it. It will be very welcome. I am speaking the truth now.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Proper Labour policy.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  Which the Deputy should have adopted long ago. He would be sitting over here now. I appeal to the Opposition Deputies to let this go through. I know you are all anxious for it. Deputy Crowley said we are all on an overdraft. I am sure if he gets £80 next month it will offset part of his overdraft.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  It will not make the slightest impression on it.

[1677]Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  Get a bit of commonsense. You are just killing time here. Let the former Minister for Finance, Deputy George Colley, have a bit of sense. He should have implemented this long ago but he had not the courage. He knew he was facing a general election but that should not matter. The people of the country are getting very wise. They are more educated now and they know Deputies are entitled to be paid. I say the Minister should implement this. He has all our support.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  We have had a rather sensible contribution from Deputy Spring. He has had 31 years' parliamentary experience. He has complimented the Minister on bringing in this Bill. He spoke specifically about the allowances for Deputies but the delay is because of the attitude of the Minister for Finance to this whole question. I have heard spokesmen from the Labour Party contribute to this debate. Certainly, Deputies Desmond and Thornley and, to a lesser extent, Deputy O'Connell are in agreement with the case being made from this side of the House. I have no doubt that Deputy Spring is in agreement with it, too, but he confined himself to individual Deputies remuneration. The real issue that has been debated since 4 o'clock today is the issue of the allowance to the Leader of the Opposition for research. I join with my colleagues who have pointed out that one of the reasons for the delay in dealing with this matter this evening has been the attitude adopted by the Minister. I suppose that, being reasonably tall and of rather sizeable build, I always look on the Minister as being a small man physically but today he has proved to be a small man in other ways. He has proved that he has a mind to match his physical smallness. When Deputy Colley endeavoured to point out to the Minister that his original attitude would make the passage of this Bill difficult, the Minister had then an opportunity of adopting a more modest attitude. Instead, he accused the Opposition of attacking for the sake of attack.

On the Second Reading of the Bill, the Opposition pointed out to the Minister and to the Government that [1678] the overall view in relation to allowances for the Opposition had been overlooked completely and, as Deputy O'Malley has pointed out, we had this rushed arrangement whereby the Minister and his colleagues in the Government saw clearly that they had overlooked something which should have been built into this provision for allowances to Members in the first instance. But in an effort to bring his backbenchers along with him — it was obvious even on the Second Reading that there were rumblings of discontent among the Government backbenchers—he evolved this scheme whereby the allowances to the backbench Members of his party in respect of secretarial purposes might be used as a sop, thereby subsidising the secretarial funds. In that sort of backhanded way he was able to convince the backbenchers of both Fine Gael and Labour that here was a hidden way of offering additional allowances to them by reason of the fact that the contributions which they must make to the secretarial fund could be reduced proportionately and to use this 50 per cent of the Opposition allowance in an effort to bring disgruntled backbenchers with him.

Regardless of how the Minister may endeavour to cloud the issue before us, it cannot be said that the proposed £21,000 allowance to the Opposition measures up in any way in present day terms to the £15,000 which was provided in 1968 by Fianna Fáil to the then Opposition for research or other purposes. No amount of the belligerent type of argument, such as we have had from the Minister, can camouflage his obvious meanness in dealing with the Opposition's demand in this regard. The Minister's suggestion that 50 per cent of this money should be directed towards secretarial purposes would leave only £10,500 for the very necessary research that we must conduct.

The Opposition should not have to merely accept the explanations that may be given to them by Government representatives in relation to literature coming from the EEC. We should have the benefit of expert advice that we would commission rather than to have to assume that anything relayed [1679] to us by the Government by way of precis or otherwise is correct. I have the greatest respect for the advice that comes from civil servants in every Department, but one can think of occasions when documents from the EEC have been misinterpreted because of genuine mistakes. It would not make for good opposition if the funds provided for research by them were not sufficient to allow them to carry out their own research. In so far as this House is concerned too, it would be much more advantageous to have two different bodies of research groups —one group working for the Government and the other for the Opposition.

As Deputy Thornley pointed out, even the £30,000 suggested by the Opposition is totally inadequate to meet their requirements. In 1968, the Fianna Fáil Government trebled the allowance to the then Opposition parties. Basing an amendment on that precedent, the Opposition party could justifiably ask for a substitution of £45,000 for £15,000 in subsection (1). Obviously, the Minister for Finance is determined to endeavour to ensure that the Opposition will be deprived of the type of advice and expertise necessary to enable them to function properly as an Opposition which has become so necessary today when we find so many statements issued by and on behalf of Ministers containing so many non-facts. It is not necessary to go into the pronouncements of the Minister for Finance to illustrate that point.

There is no possible justification for the Minister for Finance to have deliberately left out provision for an increased allowance for the Opposition or for him to endeavour to overcome that omission by launching into an insulting onslaught on Opposition spokesmen. A few moments ago Deputy Spring spoke in a derogatory manner of the previous Minister for Finance because Deputy Colley did not bring in this Bill. On a number of occasions Deputy Colley has spoken on this subject and he has emphasised how important this question of Deputies' allowances is. There is no question of the previous Minister and his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil [1680] Government being in any doubt about the necessity to introduce a measure of the kind now before us. Indeed, they were extremely careful to ensure that the national wage agreement was not messed about with or endangered in any way and it was for that reason that they set up a special committee of the Employer/Labour Conference to produce recommendations. As has been explained repeatedly, the Dáil was in recess at that stage and did not meet again until after the general election. Therefore, Deputy Colley did not have an opportunity to bring in a measure to implement the recommendations of that special committee.

Today the Minister for Finance held up a copy—I should say a suggested copy: I have to be careful about this because there is such an element of doubt about the veracity of the statements of the Minister for Finance—of the memorandum which the former Minister for Finance was preparing in relation to this matter. Perhaps the present Minister feels that he could get across to the people the suggestion that the former Minister was not in a position to make up his mind. When describing the memorandum, the Minister for Finance today said that after the observations on it there was a blank because the civil servants in the Department of Finance could not fill in recommendations on a memorandum without being clear of the Minister's direction. If the Minister for Finance is suggesting that a document of that nature can have recommendations typed in by civil servants in his Department without being briefed by the Minister he is saying that it is the officials who are running the Department and not the Minister. I have never been Minister for Finance but I have enough knowledge of the civil servants in that Department to know that they would not have made such a mess of such a memorandum as the present Minister has succeeded in making.

This Bill should have been a straightforward follow-up of the 1968 Act and in drafting it most civil servants would look down through the Act and could not have overlooked [1681] making recommendations about allowances for Deputies. They would immediately see the necessity to draw the Minister's attention to the allowance for the Opposition. Therefore, it had to be deliberate policy on the part of the Minister for Finance to strike out any reference to the allowance for the Opposition in the Bill as drafted. It was totally childish of him and, going on the word of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs that it is not much of an offence to call somebody stupid, if the present Minister for Finance is stupid enough to think he can fool this House in the first place and the general public in the second place into believing that the former Minister had no idea about what the recommendations would be, then he is very stupid. He is trying to take the Opposition, Members of his own party and the electorate for a lot of suckers.

I saw the Taoiseach sitting beside the Minister for some time earlier this evening. I have seen the Taoiseach make a few grimaces from time to time but he excelled himself today while listening to the Minister for Finance. Grimaces cannot be recorded in the Official Report but I can imagine how stupid he felt when he heard the Minister for Finance addressing himself in such an insulting way to the Opposition.

Perhaps the most important contribution to this debate has come from the Minister's side of the House. Spokesmen for the Labour Party particularly made it quite clear they will vote against their consciences—not for the first time—when they go to vote with their feet in favour of the Bill as presented. It is a terrible position for Government spokesmen to have to admit that the Opposition case is justified, that having regard to precedent our case for an increase of the Opposition allowance to at least £30,000 is firmly based but, because of the machinery of the House, they find it necessary to vote against what they regard as just, in order to maintain their position and so that they will not be lashed too severely by their Whips.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  The debate on the money resolution has gone on for a [1682] longer time than is justified. In the past it has been suggested that whenever a motion to increase Deputies' emoluments came before the House it was passed very quickly. There may have been a lot to be said for that. We did not have the sort of debate that we have today. We had not reached that low level of the speeches that have come from the front bench of Fianna Fáil. I do not want to detain the House. The debate has gone on too long already. There are more important matters concerning the country to be debated in the next few days. As the people will see it, we are fighting for the filthy lucre. Prior to this they said in regard to such matters that one nodded to the other and the motion was passed.

There is a case for greater secretarial services being made available to Deputies. People in the Public Gallery who may see only two or three Deputies in the House write to the Press about it.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Perhaps we could have a quorum?

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  As I was saying visitors who see only a few Deputies in the House write letters to the Press condemning the absence of Members from the House. They get the impression that the Deputies are not in the Dáil because they are not present in the Chamber. The fact is that Deputies are in every nook and corner of the House writing letters on behalf of their constituents. That is why so few Deputies are in the House at times. Deputy Cunningham has emphasised what I say by having called for a House, proving that Deputies are readily available. Deputies are busy attending to the needs of their constituents. There is a very good case to be made for the provision of extra secretarial assistance.

The debate has reached a very low level. Seeing that the debate is about filthy lucre, it will not read well and does not augur well for the House. I would agree with the suggestion that has been made that this matter should [1683] be taken out of this heated atmosphere. If the Committee on Procedure and Privileges were to consider this matter the situation might be eased considerably.

There is a case to be made for increases. I have known men who refused to take increases. They refunded the money. Three months afterwards there was a general election and the people did not re-elect them. It is the same thanks you get for refusing to take the increase. The public took the view that the man who was no good for himself would be no good for the country. The filibustering that is going on here is holding up more important business that has to be done in the next few days. I put the suggestion to the Minister that this matter should be taken out of this heated atmosphere. I am not pressing the Minister.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I do not agree with Deputy Coogan. I do not think this problem — and it is a problem— should be taken away to any other place behind closed doors. We are making a case from the Fianna Fáil benches in justice. A completely neutral body, the employer relations committee, made recommendations to the former Government during a recess. The same recommendations were available to this Government. On these we are prepared to stand. This was a body charged with the task of investigating whether the Devlin recommendations were in line with the national pay agreement or not. The report before the Minister was that increases in remuneration of Deputies, Senators, Ministers, of a certain order and from a certain date, were in line with the national pay agreement. The Minister welshed on this.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Deputy knows there was no welshing.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  There are three features in the Bill before the House: one, the remuneration of Deputies, Senators, Ministers, Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle; two, the allowance that has been paid for a number of years to the Opposition and the third feature is the allowance [1684] which it is now sought by way of amendment to pay to backbenchers of the Government Party. The third feature was not there before. Earlier today the Minister said that the pay award for Deputies, Senators and Ministers proposed in this Bill was in line with the national pay agreement and with the suggestions made by the Employer/Labour Conference. We dispute this. He also said that an increase from £15,000 to £21,000, the increase for the Opposition, was in line, percentagewise, with the national pay agreement. I should like to ask him if he wishes, as he has indicated, to stick so strictly to the national pay agreement and the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations, where did he get the £9,000 for the first time for his own backbenchers? What is it in line with? Is it in line with anything that has been the practice before? Is it in line with the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations on this occasion when he is benefiting his own backbenchers and trying to do down the Opposition by giving a miserly increase of from £15,000 to £21,000? Surely his arguments fall on the basis that he is now proposing something out of the blue, which did not exist before and which is not in line with anything except his new line to ensure that the Opposition will not be as effective and will only be as effective as he would wish them financially to be. I think he is wronging Parliament and that the people will take a dim view of this.

The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs partly drew the curtain across the whole scene when he said this was a reasonable package. He did not use the word “deal”. He should have gone that one word further and said package deal. It is certainly a package deal cooked up over the last week by both parties in Government. Last week without doubt there was violent reaction amongst Government backbenchers over the welshing by their Minister on the retrospection aspect of the Bill. They certainly anticipated full implementation of the Employer/ Labour Conference recommendations. I understand the pressure at the party meetings was so great that the Minister decided by a roundabout, backdoor [1685] method to close their mouths by giving them an extra £200 a year in the form of an allowance which never before existed for Government backbenchers. Where did it come from?

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Certainly, the attitude among Government backbenchers has changed this week. They are not indicating the chips on their shoulders as they did last week. I can find no explanation other than that which I have given, that they were told by the Minister for Finance that for the first time, irrespective of national wage agreements, the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations, irrespective of inflation or anything, they would get this extra £9,000. Evidently, that has kept them quiet. It is a quietness purchased at an exorbitant price from the point of view of Parliament. It was wrong that the Minister should in this way circumvent the recommendations put forward by the committee and penalise the Opposition.

In relation to the other matter which he mentioned today, again for the first time, of providing some secretarial assistance for the whole House I should like to remark that I do not know how he is going to provide such assistance. I presume it will be from the Civil Service. I should like to have further information on this matter. When one considers that there is to be set up under legislation which was passed in this House last week a committee of one-third of the Members of the House to deal with EEC matters, and that this committee will have advice and secretarial assistance made available to it, I cannot see how it will be possible for him to carry out his proposal as it should be done.

There should be some place where all Deputies can go to obtain advice and information on various matters concerning our own Parliament apart altogether from the European Parliament. I think the Minister is wrong. I am aware that he has listened to many appeals, appeals which were logical [1686] and reasonable but which he refused, and I do not think that going outside of this House to any other committee would solve the issue. As a matter of fact, it is liable to delay it to a greater extent. That is all I have to say about the matter and I know that my words will not be listened to.

Mr. Faulkner: Information on Padraig Faulkner  Zoom on Padraig Faulkner  I listened to Deputy Spring some time ago again alleging that the former Government, and particularly the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley, ran away from their responsibilities in not bringing this Bill before the House. This allegation has been refuted so often that it is hardly necessary for me to deal with it again. I should like to state, however, that Deputy Colley, quite rightly, submitted the Devlin Report to the Employer/Labour Conference but he did not receive a report from the conference until 22nd December last year. As the Dáil did not sit until the following March, it was not possible for him to bring this Bill before the House. This was explained on many occasions from these benches but, quite obviously, the Government side, who appear to have very few concrete or original ideas to express in relation to the Bill, find it necessary to continue to fall back on this hoary allegation which has been logically refuted from this side of the House.

I feel that much of the acrimony which has entered into this debate was caused by the fact that the question of the allowance to the Opposition in relation to the assistance which an Opposition needs to carry out its duties properly was not included in the original Bill. It was, in my view, a cheap gesture on the part of the Minister for Finance. I regret to say that it is rather typical of his attitude not only in relation to this Bill but in relation to other matters in which he has been involved in this House.

A Deputy, speaking earlier, suggested that this whole matter was being made into a political football. In so far as we are concerned on this side of the House we are not making it into a political football nor have we any desire to do so. We are fighting for our rights as an Opposition and we are [1687] using the right we have to air our grievances in pursuit of those rights.

I have no doubt that at this stage the Minister regrets the deliberate omission of the allowance to the Opposition from the original Bill. Since 1938, as he admits, a provision for money for the purpose of research by the Opposition was included in every Bill which related to increases in allowances for Members of this House. In this case this provision was omitted. The point I should like to underline is that this omission could not have happened by accident.

I have not the slightest doubt but that prior to bringing this Bill before the House the Minister, and the Government, carefully studied the various sections of the original Bill. They could not avoid noting that this particular section was included in all of the previous Bills. Therefore, the omission was a deliberate calculated act by the Minister, and by the Government, to deprive the Opposition of their rights. At this stage I should like to refer to a statement by the Minister in which, unless my memory is faulty, he urged a case for the omission of the provision on the basis that it had not been submitted to the Employer/ Labour Conference.

It is very interesting to note that when it suited the Minister today he argued that because the Employer/ Labour Conference had stipulated that increases should not go beyond 37 per cent that the amount to be paid for research purposes to the Opposition must not go beyond 37 per cent. Therefore, the Minister, when it suits him, can argue that the original omission was because of the conditions laid down by the Employer/Labour Conference and when it suits him he can use the conditions laid down by the Employer/Labour Conference. This is typical of the contradictory arguments we have been accustomed to by the Minister.

The Minister claps himself on the back because he has increased the Opposition allowance from £15,000 to £21,000. He refers to this increase as being a worthwhile increase considering, he said, the short space of time [1688] which elapsed from the time the previous increase was given, approximately five years ago. On the last occasion, in 1968, when we increased the allowances to the Opposition parties we increased them threefold, although the time that elapsed from the date of the previous increase was only four years. The Minister has, therefore, no case when he says that an increase of £6,000 is a worthwhile increase over a period of five years when we, in fact, trebled the increase in 1964. The Minister also stated that the £15,000 was a sum which should be divided in two, one part of it being devoted to research and the other part to secretarial services. In all my time dealing with matters like this as a member of a Government I never heard anyone suggest that this money should be divided in two for the purposes stated by the Minister and I cannot understand how the Minister has suddenly discovered at this rather late hour that the sum of £15,000 being made available is a sum which should, in fact, be divided in two.

I should like to know the purpose— I was not present when it happened, but I was informed about it—of the Minister reading out the pensions of ex-Ministers. Is it the suggestion, as it would appear to be, that when he lumps together the total sum of the pensions and the money being made available for research purposes, this money should be used by the Opposition for the purpose of research? If that is the argument then all I can say is that what applies to pensions should also apply to salaries. If the Minister is suggesting that the total sum, including the pensions of ex-Ministers, which he read out here today, and only ex-Ministers, mark you, that all of that money should go towards the research funds of the party, all I can say is that he himself is at the moment getting a total of £6,000 a year as Minister and this will shortly be increased to £8,000. What is sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander and, if he suggests that the pensions of ex-Ministers on this side of the House should be used for the purpose of research, we can equally argue that the salary he draws and the salaries of his [1689] colleagues should also go for that purpose. Of course, we are only too well aware that the Minister was talking nonsense and he knew he was talking nonsense.

With regard to the Employer/ Labour Conference, the matter of an allowance for the Opposition was never discussed at that conference. The Minister has endeavoured by talking about the 37 per cent and so on to suggest that it was. He has not specifically stated that it was, but he has suggested it. The fact is, and we must underline it, it was never put for discussion or decision to the Employer/ Labour Conference and any reference to figures emanating from that conference is not relevant to this debate.

Reference has been made by many speakers on both sides to the extra work falling on all Deputies as a result of our entry into the EEC. It is essential that Deputies should have a reasonable understanding of the intricacies of the various aspects of Community development and for that purpose they need a back-up organisation. That organisation costs money and, without it, they will not have the requisite knowledge and information at their disposal.

Everybody accepts that an effective Opposition is vital if we are to have good Government. Even at this late stage the Minister should reconsider the whole matter and agree to accept the amendments we have tabled. We believe they are reasonable amendments and the Minister's refusal to accept them will be a serious blow to democracy. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs suggested that the Government and Opposition should get together and reach, he thought, an amicable solution. The Minister has not accepted that proposal. Now, in order to have an effective Opposition, an adequate sum must be provided for research. It would be a welcome change of attitude on the Minister's part if he were to decide, even at this late hour, to accept the proposals put forward here by the Opposition.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Kelly): Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The debate has been an acrimonious one. It has been [1690] strung out—I use those words not with any intention of allotting blame because it is the Opposition's right to oppose—by the Opposition and I feel I can now ask the House, that being the case, to put up with five or ten minutes from me in order to vary the sounds from the other side of the House.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  We are always delighted to hear the Parliamentary Secretary.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  May we hear him without interruption, please?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I agree with the Opposition that the Opposition need formal help and I also agree that Deputies should have better facilities. I do not know where Deputy Blaney roosts but I accept that the facilities he has are inadequate. The situation is a matter for his own conscience. He has been returned here and in that respect he does not differ from other Members and he should not have to complain, as he did today, about the facilities available to him. That is my personal view.

I do not regard the Opposition attitude towards this Bill as an entirely meritorious one. I have a very clear recollection of taking part in a debate in the other House about 18 months ago. It was a serious debate on an important Bill. I think it was the Higher Education Authority Bill. I said, as an aside, that the Government had the facilities of the Civil Service at their disposal to deal with their mail, look up facts, provide statistics, indicate lines of policy, and so on, whereas the Opposition had none of these things. The instant reply I got, not, I may say, in the course of ordinary debate but in the course of an interruption from the leader of the Fianna Fáil Government side in the Seanad that time was: “We have had enough béal bocht from the Opposition. Do you not get £15,000 a year?” That was his idea of what béal bocht was, and now that I see Deputy Colley in the House who has an obsession about the Press, he might be interested to know that the following morning the Irish Independent—not the Irish[1691]Press—carried an article which contained nothing at all about this debate except this passage between the Leader of the Fianna Fáil side in the Seanad and myself, with the large headline: “An iomarca Béal Bocht”.

I am not saying there was manipulation, but somebody in there thought that little point was worth looking up, an Irish word for “too much”—“an iomarca Béal Bocht”. That was stuck on us not more than two years ago. Too much poor mouth the Opposition was said to be showing then. Were we not getting £15,000 and was it not good enough for us? I admit that is only a marginal debating point. I do not want to saddle any of the gentlemen opposite me with that reaction on the part of the then Leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad or with the Press reaction. I do not allege manipulation or anything like that. However, that was the kind of reaction which was got then in my hearing from a senior officer and senior representative of the Fianna Fáil Party. I thought it was nonsense then and I still think it is nonsense. The Opposition, whatever Opposition it is, does require help and facilities.

Before I end I want to say something which I hope will not sound patronising or condescending towards gentlemen who have been much longer here than I have. There is one bit of experience I can claim which I think no one on the opposite side of the House can claim, that is, to have experience of Opposition before February, 1973. Money will not do everything for an Opposition. In 1967-68 or thereabouts, the party to which I belong produced a policy on education. My own association with it was minimal; I came in only at a very late stage, but a very large amount of hard work was done by seven or eight people on that policy document. While I do not want to take credit from the then Government for the changes which were made and, in particular, do not want to sneer at the memory of the then Minister for Education, I think it would be fairly admitted—and it was certainly at the time fairly generally said by political commentators that the Fianna Fáil Government educational policy and the [1692] improvements then made in education were largely inspired, if not, indeed, dictated, by the constructive piece of Opposition which had been done in Fine Gael on that occasion, and done for nothing; this is the point.

I leave it to others to decide to what extent the Fianna Fáil Government would have provided subsidised secondary education, provided improved transport facilities, or done the things which were done, without the stimulus of a constructive Opposition on that occasion. It may be that these things would have been done. It may be the late Deputy O'Malley or some other Minister for Education on the Fianna Fáil side would have done these things, but it was generally said then, and I myself believe it to be the truth, that a large part of the chapter in the improvement of educational facilities for Irish children must be written in terms of the contribution made by the Opposition on that occasion.

As I say, I hope I shall not be thought of as trying to patronise people who, as Deputy Thornley said earlier, I have only just met at a point on the ladder at which I might very easily meet them on the way back. I do not mean that at all, but it is important for an Opposition to realise— and here I speak with more experience than Deputies on the other side of the House—that the kind of thing which cuts ice with the Irish people and which interests them cannot be bought with money. Even if the Minister for Finance were to double or quadruple his offer it would not change the present Opposition to the Government benches or us to the Opposition benches unless there is another factor there as well.

I do not know whether that factor is there or not; perhaps it will be, but when I hear the Leader of the Opposition talking about setting up research units and research bureaux I have had a fairly painful experience of these efforts, to the extent that if they have not been successful it has not been because of the lack of money but because this is a small country; if you split the people who are interested in politics or in any particular subject down the middle and have 50 per cent [1693] on each side the number of those that are left and that are free enough and have enough leisure to put into attending meetings after a day's work and try to hammer out a policy document which will stand up to the scrutiny of the Press, the scrutiny of the public and the scrutiny of their political opponents is very small.

I hope I am not disappointing anybody who has spoken before me on my side, but there is a considerable amount of time and temper wasted on the opposite side in this regard. I do not think the Opposition problem is simply a money problem any more than ours was simply a money problem. If we had had £30,000 before the last election or before the previous election, it might not have had any serious effect on the election results. What is needed—I do not want to give a lecture about this—is the interest of people in trying to improve the country, and that is something which cannot be bought with money. I think it is important for the Opposition to put their pleas — which in many respects everybody on this side of the House will recognise as reasonable— into that framework.

If what they want is money for secretarial facilities, which, of course, can be bought with money—although even the most efficient private secretary and private help are hard to get with money—it should be put on that basis. But to put the thing on the basis that an Opposition cannot function without money is to fly in the face certainly of the experience of the Fine Gael Party and, I would think, that of the Labour Party as well; I am certain that the Labour Party policy documents, voluminous and well thought out as they were, were not produced through the expenditure of sums of money but through the expenditure of time by dedicated people who believed in what they said and who believed in making it as persuasive as possible.

I have not been contentious. I have tried to put this matter into a nonfinancial perspective, and I would be glad if the rest of the debate on this subject could continue on that level.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I was glad to note [1694] the tone of the Parliamentary Secretary's speech, which was in marked contrast to some of those which were made earlier today from the seat he now occupies. Perhaps if speeches in that tone were made at an earlier time today we would now be on the Finance Bill or at a more advanced stage on this Bill. We also had what one would fairly call a conciliatory speech from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs for a particular purpose. We were to some extent invited to discuss outside the Chamber such differences as there are between us on this Bill. We expressed our willingness to do so, but the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs' pleas and our agreement to those pleas, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears. We are still willing to have a civilised discussion either inside or outside this House with the Minister for Finance if he is in form to have a civilised discussion with anybody. He is not here at the moment, which puts us all at something of a disadvantage and which makes it pretty arid and academic for any of us either on this side of the House or on his own side to appeal to him to give up this pig-headed attitude which he has adopted.

I want to say, even though he is not present, that during earlier exchanges this afternoon between the Minister for Finance and myself, after I had asked him three times to tell me where and when the Government had certain consultations in relation to this Bill and to the amendments put down to it, he finally told me that there was some sort of discussion between the Taoiseach and Deputy J. Lynch, the leader of this party. The phrase the Minister used was “they exchanged amendments”. I was afraid that that implied what it is supposed to mean—that they agreed on the amendments they exchanged. I immediately pointed out that, while I had not spoken to Deputy J. Lynch about this matter, I was 99 per cent certain that there was no form of agreement between him and the Taoiseach but that I would make it my business to go away and find out and that I would confirm and make myself 100 per cent certain that that was so.

I have seen Deputy J. Lynch who [1695] tells me that there was no agreement of any kind, good, bad or indifferent, between himself and Deputy Cosgrave. It appears that Deputy Cosgrave telephoned him and after a short discussion it was quite clear to the Taoiseach that Deputy J. Lynch regretted that there could be no agreement by us on the amendments put down. It is a rather serious situation that that statement was made here today by the Minister for Finance in the course of the debate.

At that time it was only the latest in a series of statements of that kind which the Minister for Finance made here today. The Minister for Finance was forced to admit afterwards that he had no foundation whatever for the statements. He made a statement with reference to the Employer/Labour Conference and this question of the Opposition allowance. I pointed out that there was no such reference. I quoted from what he had said precisely. The Minister for Finance accepts, because we asked him to produce the reference in the report, that there was none, but still that statement was made, gaily, recklessly and negligently.

It is impossible to conduct a debate on a topic of this nature if this sort of statement is made so negligently and recklessly. This debate, which is only on a Money Resolution before Committee Stage, began five hours, 20 minutes ago. I do not know how much longer it will go on. We have got up from this side of the House — and, in fairness, I will say that Deputies on the Front Bench and on the back benches of the Government side have also got up— and spoken. We have put it quite plainly and Deputies on that side have put it somewhat more obliquely, as they are obliged to do, but the message from each side to the Minister for Finance has been the same: “For God's sake, have sense”. We are waiting. It has been a long wait of five hours, 20 minutes. I do not know how much longer it will be. Once again, in common with Deputies on all sides of the House, I am appealing to the Minister for Finance to have sense in relation to this matter.

We have almost lost sight of the objections to this Bill, What has been [1696] done is to abolish the allowance to the Parliamentary Opposition in this country, something which has been a mark of Parliament in this country since 1968, and to substitute for it some kind of complicated system which ensures that the Government backbenchers get a subsidy.

It has been made clear by Deputy J. Lynch, by Deputy Colley and others who have spoken on this side of the House and even by some who spoke on the Government side of the House that we have no objection to backbencher Deputies getting secretarial assistance. We would be glad to see it on any side of the House. An effort has been made to buy us off, as indeed an effort was made to buy off the Government backbenchers with this complicated system whereby Opposition Deputies would get twice as much as the Government Deputies. We are not prepared to “buy” that one. I would hope that the Government backbenchers are not prepared to “buy” that one either, or to be bought by it.

The statement was made by the Minister for Finance that a new concept was introduced into this question of assistance for the Parliamentary Opposition in 1968 in the last Act of this nature. The Minister for Finance told the House that this new concept was that half of the allowance to the Opposition was for research and other work of that kind and that half was for secretarial assistance and work of that kind. I looked at the relevant Act of 1968. I cannot find that distinction made in that Act. To the best of my knowledge it was not made in that Act. Section 9 seems to be the relevant section. The terminology used in section 9 is “an annual sum by way of allowance for expenses”. That is the same phrase as was used in the 1938 Act and, presumably, although I have not checked it, in each of the four Acts between 1938 and 1968. Therefore, for the Minister to say that a new concept was arrived at in 1968, whereby half this allowance was to be set aside for secretarial services, is totally without foundation. It is not correct.

I asked the Minister to show me any evidence, outside his own imagination, [1697] as to the foundation for that statement. If that new arrangement were made in 1968, as the Minister for Finance states, and if a new concept of allowance for Deputies' secretarial expenses were introduced in 1968, as the Minister alleges or suggests, then the Government backbenchers, which were the Fianna Fáil backbenchers in 1968, would have been entitled to it in the same way as the then Opposition backbenchers. The Fianna Fáil backbenchers of 1968 or, of any time between 1968 and 1973, never got a penny.

It makes debate on the kernel of this Bill, of the disagreement between us and the salient points of the Bill difficult when the Minister for Finance has been jumping up and down making these statements. We find that they are not right. The Minister has made statements “off the top of his head” and he has no justification for them at all. He seeks to justify what he is now trying to do on the strength of these statements, which we have demonstrated are palpably untrue.

This question of parliamentary allowances to the Opposition, which we regard as fundamental to democracy—and which we regarded in 1968 as fundamental to parliamentary democracy in this country when we trebled that allowance—has been talked about a good deal. It is the most dangerous aspect of this Bill from the point of view of whoever happens to be in Opposition and even from the point of view of anyone who values parliamentary democracy in this country. It is the thing that worries us and anyone who thinks about parliamentary democracy at all.

There are other aspects of this Bill which we will discuss on the Committee Stage. It is no harm to refer to them here. I have no objection in principle to one particular aspect. It is the proposal to provide a pension for the Attorney General where the Attorney General serves for three years at least and does not practise while he is serving as Attorney General. That is an excellent proposal. An Attorney General who practises full-time, other [1698] than his membership of the House, will unquestionably lose a substantial part of his practice.

It is the experience of all lawyers, whether they are solicitors or barristers, that when you lose a substantial part of your practice as a result of public service in Dáil Éireann or in the Government you will not get it back. That is one of the important facts of life we have to live with. I welcome, for that reason, this proposal to give a pension on the same terms as a Minister to a full time Attorney General. I cannot accept, and it is typical of the pettiness that seems to underlie this Bill, that it is written into this Bill that nobody except Deputy Declan Costello and those who follow him will get it. In other words, it applies only to those who took up office as Attorney General on or after 14th March, 1973.

I cannot understand the mentality that would put that in. There are men who gave tremendous service to this country as full time Attorney Generals in time of great stress and strain in the internal affairs of this country. Several of those are still alive. I took the trouble during the weekend to look back over the list and I found several of those men who would qualify for this are not alive but their widows are. They would qualify for a half pension on the same basis as a Minister's widow would. Those people are being treated unfairly. Any normal person looking at that situation would say they are being treated unfairly. But when we see what is being done in relation to the Opposition allowance, what is being done in relation to the Attorney General is a mere flea bite. It matters scarcely at all because there are only about four or five people who are ill done by by this provision.

This is a perfectly laudable provision, but when you bring it in and then say only the present Attorney General will get it, it seems to me to display an extraordinary limited vision, an extraordinary limitation on the sort of way that people who serve in public office should be treated. It would be rather futile for me to go through a lot of detailed provisions in this Bill, which I would like to talk about at some length, but we will have [1699] this on Committee Stage, whenever that is taken.

We are still in Committee on Finance on a Money Resolution five and a half hours after it began. We are like that because of the attitude of the Minister for Finance, not just his attitude in the amendments he put down but his attitude in the sort of reply he gave at 4.20 this afternoon to a perfectly civil short statement by the Leader of the Opposition. He went completely berserk, lost his head, screamed and roared. We are that way since and, notwithstanding pleadings from this side of the House, pleadings from his own side of the House and, in effect, pleadings from colleagues of his in the Government, we are still in the same position we were then and the Minister for Finance remains as adamant as he was.

During the past hour we had circulated a further list of amendments, which are described as substitute amendments, and we are told they are instead of some of the amendments on the green sheet. I have not had a chance to study these yet but I am told they make several changes. Whether they are of great importance or not we have yet to see. It seems extraordinary that at this stage, approximately five hours after the debate on the Money Resolution began, new amendments should be brought in, that they should be drafting amendments for the most part because the amendments which the Minister circulated were to say the least of it badly drafted, that he should have to circulate amendments to his own amendments, that it should be done at this stage and that still he cannot communicate in a civil or useful fashion either with the Opposition or with those on his own side who are pleading with him to have sense.

This is the third time I have asked the Minister to see sense in this respect. I asked him many specific questions up to now to which I did not get answers. I am not asking him any more now. I am not asking him to reply to the many questions I asked. I am asking him, for the sake of this country and this House, to [1700] climb down off his silly high horse and have sense.

Dr. Thornley: Information on David Thornley  Zoom on David Thornley  I will not detain the House very long but I want to address a couple of questions to the Minister. I must say that if I was bringing in a party of school children, as we so often do, to this House I would be amused at the spectacle of the House never being so full in my recent knowledge as when it discusses the question of the remuneration which it pays itself for the function it performs.

The debate which is taking place, and which causes me to address certain questions to the Minister, reminds me of certain historical associations. One is particularly apposite to my own position: the immortal words of the late Right Honourable Winston Churchill: “Abstention is like adultery. The first time is the most difficult. After that it becomes more easy.” There are also the words of T.S. Eliot in “The Wasteland”: “The worst kind of treason is to do the right thing for the wrong reason.” While I am impressed by the arguments emanating from the Fianna Fáil benches I suspect the sincerity which justifies their being put forward. Nevertheless, while I feel these new substitute amendments, which we have put before us, represent an improvement on what has gone before, I fail to understand why the Minister for Finance is not more impressed by the arguments put forward by Deputy O'Malley, even if he is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

After all, what we are concerned with here, as I argued earlier, is parliamentary democracy, not with who is in or who is out. I would remind Deputy Ryan, the Minister for Finance, that we are sitting in a circular Chamber. We are sitting in this circular Chamber for a historical reason: that the Cumann na nGaedheal Party believed that no parties, as named, should exist in the Irish Oireachtas but that a concensus of opinion should be conformed between the Members of the House and that the party system, the straightforward in-out system, should not build out. Now it appears that because the amendments in question—be they valid, be they ethical or be they morally [1701] motivated does not matter—emanate from Fianna Fáil, they are not apparently acceptable to the Minister for Finance.

I find this debate—in which we have all taken, to some extent, a considerable part—extremely distasteful and hypocritical. I would ask the Minister to go still further in meeting the points made by the Members of the Opposition. The fact that they could have when in office granted these amendments, if events had turned out differently, is totally irrelevant. The effective point is that the amendments which they seek are in essence, as far as democracy is concerned, correct and I would ask the Minister to bear that in mind.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I will not delay the House more than a few minutes. I have not been present during the course of the debate but naturally I have been informed of the content of the contributions made by Deputies and in particular that of the Minister for Finance. As I think was indicated on a number of occasions, I made a reasonable proposition to the Minister earlier on in a reasonable tone and a reasonable manner. I was astonished at the impetuous reply the Minister made and the miserable defence he made of the breach of the principle to which I referred in my opening statement.

I feel, however, at this stage that we have demonstrated sufficiently on this side of the House our abhorrence of the type of behaviour the Minister has indulged in. I feel that the great majority of those who sit behind him support in their hearts the principle we are trying to maintain in the statements we made on the Second Stage and on the Money Resolution, and it is only the Minister's intransigence that is now standing in the way of a reasonable outcome of the debate. If that intransigence persists in the course of the Minister's reply this will be the last contribution from this side of the House on the Money Resolution. The extent of our contribution on Committee Stage will depend largely on the content of his reply now.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I have listened with [1702] others for quite a number of hours to the dissertation that has gone on this evening. Whether it is that I am neither right nor left, I do not find the discussion either useful or helpful. If those inside this House could transpose themselves to the ordinary public outside they would take a poor view, as I think the public are taking, of the time that has been wasted over this matter.

It all started with the Devlin Report. The report, presumably having been considered by the then Government, was referred to another body lest the recommendations of Devlin might contravene the national wage agreement or upset the general wage structure. The Employer/Labour Conference were brought into the matter after an unnecessarily long delay. They, in turn, took their time and their findings arrived back to the then Government in December last year.

There was a very considerable delay from the presentation of the first report until the Employer/Labour Conference produced their findings in December. I do not know why it took until 12th March to reach the then Minister for Finance. However, from mid-December there was ample time for the findings to have been scanned by the Minister's advisers and to have been presented to the Minister long before 12th March. There should have been sufficient time for the then Government to have taken a decision on the matter before the general election.

I prophesied at the time, and this was well known to a number of people in this House, that if the proposals of the Employer/Labour Conference were accepted by the then Government we would not have a general election for at least 12 months. The longer the presentation and the acceptance of the report was left in abeyance the greater likelihood there was that a general election was imminent. That was how it worked out. We did not have an acceptance by the Government or any pronouncement on the findings presented in December. We had a general election which brought about a change of Government.

I can appreciate the dilemma of the Minister for Finance in his last days [1703] in office, being presented at the 11th hour with the findings of the Employer/Labour Conference and with advice from his officials. I can understand any Minister for Finance in those circumstances saying: “There is a new Government coming in, let them sort out this one.” However, that does not take away from the fact that there was a long delay during which the Government and the Minister could have taken a decision. They did not do this.

On Second Stage much emphasis was laid on the recommendations of the Employer/Labour Conference; it was stressed that if the recommendations were not implemented it would set a bad precedent for outside employers which would be detrimental to the workers' claims in the future. There is a certain amount of validity in that argument and, as we appear to have reached a stalemate here, I suggest that the matters that are contentious here have not been vetted by the Employer/Labour Conference. If we are so anxious about working the various organs of democracy within the State, including the Employer/ Labour Conference, why should we not refer these matters which were not considered previously by them to the conference? Why should we not ask Devlin to consider the various aspects of this Bill which were not part and parcel of his original report? Why was there a Devlin Report if we are putting into legislation matters which he neither considered nor reported on? Why should we expect employers to have any respect for the Employer/ Labour Conference when we do not accept all their findings and when we put into a Bill that follows their report matters foreign to what was put before them?

If I were in Mr. Devlin's shoes, or if I were a member of the Employer/Labour Conference, I should be very annoyed and would feel I had been used in a rather underhand way to try to put a face on what was proposed to be done so that the responsibility or the blame did not rest with the Government of the day.

If we are so concerned about the [1704] findings of the Devlin Report which have been scrutinised by the Employer/ Labour Conference, I suggest the best way out of the whole sorry dilemma is to refer all the contentious matters which were never considered by Devlin or the Employer/Labour Conference to that conference for their advice. How can we sit here tonight and discuss the provision of assistance for all Deputies, even on a differential basis without taking into consideration the fact that this would be an addition in real terms to the emoluments of Deputies? If the proposed emoluments were pared down from the figures in the Devlin Report to the figures we now see before us in order to conform to the national wage agreement, I would very strongly suggest that any additional emoluments or “perks”, such as are envisaged by way of financial assistance for secretarial purposes, would be at variance with the national wage agreement.

I wonder whether this has been considered at all. I wonder whether, in our enthusiasm to get this straightened out, we have blindly over-run the very guidelines which we ourselves lobbied for on so many occasions right up to last week when the Second Stage of this Bill was taken. Either we are of the opinion that the Employer/ Labour Conference were wrong in paring down Devlin's recommendations, or the proposed increases enshrined in the Bill are putting the total emoluments of Deputies outside and beyond the national wage agreement. I do not think we can have it both ways. I do not think we can make a virtue of conforming to it, having gone through the various examinations of the Employer/ Labour Conference, and then, willynilly add on bits here and there as we will, regardless of whether it is the Fianna Fáil proposed amendments, or the amendments proposed by the Minister, or his substitute amendments which issued recently.

We should consider getting on with the business which it is proposed to conclude and not shorten it as a result of the time taken up by this discussion. [1705] We should send this back to those we felt were entitled to judge its merits a year ago and, by the time we get back after the summer recess, we should have some result from them. Either that or, as I advocated earlier, and as others advocated from all sides of the House, let the opportunity be taken, without a vote being taken tonight on this Money Resolution, from the time we adjourn tonight until whatever time this business is ordered to continue tomorrow, to have consultations in a reasonable and sensible way between the Opposition and the Government. They appear to be trying to do the same thing but going about it in a totally different way, each taking umbrage at the manner in which the other is approaching it, and making all sorts of allegations across the House. I do not know what has happened. My colleagues in Fianna Fáil have undoubtedly——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Deputy Crinion is not very long in the party.

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion  Zoom on Brendan Crinion  You are out of it, anyway.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I do not mind being out of a bunch, like the Deputy, who do not belong to the party I once knew. The skin seems to have thinned on my colleagues on the front bench of Fianna Fáil. I am sorry to see that happening at this late stage in the summer term, when all the signs were that the usual prophesies of sitting into August and on into September had disappeared over one week, and seeming agreement had been reached to adjourn by the end of this week.

The approach of the Minister for Finance was not, perhaps, the most gentle. Surely the front bench members of the Opposition well know the calibre and performance in the past of the Minister when he was a Deputy. It is very hard to change from being a rasping front-bencher to being a kidgloved Minister, as many people on both sides of the House are pretty well conscious of, and nobody more so than I am. We are very very touchy. In another year we might say that it was the heat of the summer which was [1706] responsible for us being so touchy, but there has not been any heat this summer. Maybe it is the extreme cold which is getting us down. We have been behaving like school-children here today. We may feel we are scoring across the House, one against the other, but we have not been scoring anything except black marks for the entire institution over the past five and a half hours.

From my vantage point — whether Government Members get half the allowance and the Opposition get double the allowance, there is nothing in this for me or my colleague Deputy Sheridan, nor are we seeking anything from it — I would ask both sides to avail of the adjournment tonight to consider this matter. If agreement were reached it could be dealt with thoroughly and quickly. As I said earlier, it is a pity that there should be such a show of pettiness in the discussion. This augurs badly for future moves which may be required when a Government may have to come into this House for necessary increases in the emoluments of the then Deputies of the House. We thought we had got rid of this by the method adopted and proposed.

The Devlin Report on the Emoluments of Members of the Oireachtas, the Judiciary and the higher Civil Servants, was a sensible approach to getting away from the old days when the Opposition were the strongest advocates of the increases and the Government a reluctant party to the whole scene and, when the Government were moved by the pleas of the Opposition and their own back benchers to take action, the greatest problem of all was to get around the Opposition not to kick too hard against it even though they were looking for it. I thought we had left that behind us, but apparently we have not. With the type of discussion we had here today, we have set that whole effort back and in future we will find ourselves in an even greater dilemma than we did in the past in so far as increases for Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas are concerned.

There will be too long a period between increases and then the increases [1707] will appear to the ordinary public as being far too great whereas in fact, in many cases they are not. We try to rid ourselves of that but instead, at the first opportunity, we blow the thing sky high, and bang goes any good thoughts we had of getting a rational approach to these matters.

As I indicated earlier, I do not think that these increases should be paid. I am not saying that because I know everybody in the House, with very rare exceptions, is of the opinion that they should be paid and, therefore, I will get the increase anyway. That is not my line. I have seen that played too long and too often to repeat it. The question is: at what point do we provide sufficient remuneration to attract people to give public service of the nature Deputies give without making it so high as to attract people into this House only for the sake of the remuneration they will get?

This, I think, is dangerous and if we were to follow it to its logical conclusion, we should seek to have applied to all Deputies in the House what we seek to apply to members of the Government, that is, that they should be full-time and not give any of their time to any other business. If that was the proposition, then I would say that the proposed allowances would need to be doubled or trebled to give a fair return to Members of this House on the basis of the work they have to put in over the year without any time they can really call their own. That would be a completely full-time occupation, with Members of the House totally divorced from any other business. In that situation the present proposal would be far too small.

Dealing with it as it now stands and realising that this is not the case, that this is not a requirement, that the amount of time various Deputies give to the public service as Members of this House varies from individual to individual, and realising that too much given on that basis may attract the wrong type rather than, as has been said over the years, that we were not giving enough to attract the right [1708] type, I am of the opinion that the suggested increase in the actual allowances to Deputies would be far better transposed to looking after Deputies when they have retired after lengthy service or after their departure from this life to looking after their dependants and their widows. That is the way I would like to see it but I know that is not the way it is to be.

The only real bone of contention between the two elements in the House is the matter of an Opposition allowance. I think that the Opposition are entitled to an Opposition allowance. If validity is held to exist in the claim for secretarial assistance for Members of the House, regardless of which side of the House they are on, that should be an additional and separate thing entirely and should not be in any way confused with, or in substitution for, the Opposition allowance arrangement that existed heretofore. It is true that the Opposition allowance was trebled in 1968. I am one of not so many not on the Government side of the House today who were here when the total allowance to the Opposition was £5,000. I have been in Opposition on a couple of occasions before. That £5,000, I have no doubt, was of far greater value to our party, even though statisticians might show that it is near enough to being equal in the 1954-57 period than £15,000 or £20,000 would be to an Opposition party today. I say this not only because the pound has devalued so much but because the cost of staff for secretarial or research work has gone up immensely. As well as that, without the additional work thrown upon us by the EEC, the volume of work arising from the operations of this House must have increased immensely in the years since then. Add to that the additional work being piled on if any party or Member of this House is to keep up with the EEC, and indeed to catch up with it, realising that it has been in existence for so many years and that so many things have been going on among the Six before we became the Nine, and we begin to get an idea of the sort of money necessary to defray even part of the costs of an Opposition if they are to operate properly, [1709] successfully and effectively, not for their own sake but because, as is generally accepted, a Government need a good Opposition. I go further and say you can only have a good Government if you have a good Opposition. If any Government, no matter how good their quality, are there for long enough with a poor, ineffective Opposition, the calibre of that Government will deteriorate. It is not a matter of getting money to promote an Opposition in order that we can knock the Government of the day. An effective Opposition is an aid to Government. By keeping the Opposition up-to-date in every respect we get the essential ingredient of any democracy, that they are available at any given time when an election is called as the nucleus of an alternative Government. Truly, as has been said, and I hold no brief for the Fianna Fáil Party in this matter, the very essence of democracy is the support and indeed the well-being of the Opposition in Parliament.

I would ask the Minister to consider this whole matter well before finally and irrevocably closing his mind to any change. The change he has suggested here in his amendment, is to my mind, not a change at all. Perhaps it is a token that the Minister is open to change and that this is as far as his rather crusty nature allows him to go at this time in these rather thorny circumstances that have developed and the atmosphere in this House today. I do not see that the amendment makes any great difference. Perhaps I am wrong, but it does not appear to me to give anything to the Opposition that they were not already getting in the section as originally drafted. Perhaps it is merely an indication by the Minister that he is not so set in his ways that he must have his own way to the last detail and that it is an encouragement to Members of the House to press further with their arguments for changes more in keeping with the principle being enunciated by the Opposition, that is that an Opposition allowance, as such, is something that has been there for many years and that should continue and should not be confused with — however good the thought — the provision of an allowance [1710] for secretarial help for Deputies. I suggest to the House, that instead of going through with the vote on this Money Resolution tonight, it might be better for all concerned if we slept on this and had the vote tomorrow. The amount of money involved is relatively little when compared to the overall amount being provided in the Bill. It is a pity that the effort to improve the allowances to the Opposition has been confused with that of providing financial help for secretarial purposes.

At a time when there is much talk of power sharing surely there should be some sharing between the two major groups in this House on this matter. The issue at stake is not of tremendous importance. At least, it will not seem very important to the public. However, having gone this far, having given so much time by way of acrimonious discussion to our internal workings and having given a wrong exposure to the public on how we conduct ourselves here in regard to matters which effect us personally, surely we could give a little more thought to the question of having consultation on the matter instead of each trying to hammer the other.

Between now and Committee Stage I would suggest that the Minister consider the question of retrospection, a question that I have heard him saying has not been deliberated on by the Employer/Labour Conference. Surely the thoughts of the Conference on this matter should have been ascertained, because if there is any justification in the Devlin Recommendations, and I am sure there is, there must be justification for paying us from a much earlier date the allowances to which we are entitled. I am not impressed by the Minister's argument in this regard and I do not think it is wise that he should adopt the attitude that “We will not give Deputies this sort of money before we commence our higher rate of payment to the social welfare classes”. That is not an argument that would be accepted by anybody, least of all by the social welfare classes.

If Fianna Fáil are not prepared to agree that there be no retrospection and if the Minister considers that he cannot go back all the way to the date on [1711] which the judges and others received their increases, that is, January, 1972, I would suggest that both sides would spare a thought for those former Deputies who either did not go forward at the last election or who were defeated and that at some appropriate point in the Bill there might be inserted a provision to the effect that the increase in salaries, for the purpose of the pensions of those persons, can be deemed to have commenced on a date prior to the last election. I do not think this will go too far in breaching the outlook of Ministers on this matter and at the same time Fianna Fáil's point of principle in going back fully would be modified to some extent. This would merely do justice to those people who retired or were defeated at the last election, some of whom spent many years with us.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  May I suggest to the Deputy that, in view of the suggestion he made earlier, he might allow the Minister to indicate his attitude?

An Tánaiste: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Leave him alone. He is doing all right.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It is only a suggestion.

An Tánaiste: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  It is a suggestion that the Deputy could have made at about 8.15 p.m.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I made it a good deal earlier, as the Minister's colleague will tell him.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Certainly, I will make way immediately for the Minister but on the clear understanding that, if he concludes before 10.30 I will be on my feet again because I believe that if we left this matter overnight we could find a solution to it tomorrow.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Does anybody else wish to speak?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The position all evening has been that Deputies have been regarding this as a Committee on Finance and although [1712] the Chair pointed out the precedent created, the debate has continued in that fashion and Deputies have been offering.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  All I want to say is that the Shanley Committee of 1938, which first advised on this matter of payment of an allowance to the Opposition, said it should be paid to defray secretarial and other expenses and recommended that provision be made for accommodation for the secretarial staff which the allowance made it possible for the Leader of the Opposition to employ. The report said also that effective secretarial and other assistance could be provided if the money was given. That was the principle which obtained until 1968 when Deputy Haughey, in his generosity, said it was time to give a grant to the Opposition for the purpose of research. That is the reason why the grant was increased then from £5,000 to £15,000. We are now suggesting a 40 per cent increase on that which, apart from 1968, is the largest increase ever given to the Opposition. I believe that to be fair and I ask for a vote on it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I do not agree that this cheeseparing as to what is secretarial and what is research is of any concern at all. To enter into the domain of deciding what is strictly secretarial or what is strictly research could create undue difficulties and friction in future since both would in normal circumstances run side by side. It would be a rare situation in which research would be conducted without there being available the necessary secretarial assistance for the purpose of presenting us with reports, et cetera.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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