Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Amendment) Bill, 1973: Committee Stage (Resumed)
Wednesday, 25 July 1973
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Colley: I want to place on record that we have precisely the same objections to this section as we had to section 9. Having expressed those objections and voted in support of them, I see no point in repeating the process on section 10.
An Ceann Comhairle: It may not be discussed, but the Deputy may press it to a vote at this stage if he wants to; otherwise the Chair accepts the view that No. 2 would have disposed of No. 4. If the Deputy takes that view it is quite in order.
 This amendment enables the Government, whenever they so think fit, to increase the allowances for secretarial expenses, and so on, to Leaders of the Government and Opposition Parties, by order. This provision corresponds to that already in the Bill providing for increases, by order of the Government, in the allowances for Deputies and Senators and in the salaries of Ministers and Parliamentary office holders.
Mr. Colley: I could not quite follow the Minister, but I think I understand what he said, that this amendment would enable the Government, by order, to increase the allowances provided for in subsequent sections as it is proposed to amend them. On the face of it, it does not appear to do that. I wonder could the Minister elaborate a little further to explain if the proposed amendment will have this effect.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The Deputy will probably appreciate that I am standing in for the Minister for Finance at somewhat short notice and therefore cannot fully expect to do justice to this argument in this matter. The argument is reasonably clear. It is in line with the thinking of other passages in the Bill providing for increases by order. This is the application in particular instances of this principle of increases by order which has already been discussed here.
Mr. Colley: I appreciate that what the Minister says is correct. The proposal is in line with other proposals in the Bill. What I am endeavouring to ascertain is how this amendment has that effect. It purports to insert in section 11 an additional provision on the lines of that set out in section 11. The Minister will appreciate that I am now trying to interpret this in the light of section 10 of the Principal Act which provides for the payment of an annual allowance to the Leader of the second party and the Leader of the third party.
Mr. Lalor: The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs said he is having difficulty in explaining this because he has been asked to take it at short notice. Amendment No. 5 adds paragraph  (g) to section 11. It says that an annual sum will be payable pursuant to section 10 of this Act. That is section 10 of the Principal Act. There is provision in the section itself for the Government whenever they see fit to increase the annual sum payable to the Taoiseach, to the other members of the Government, to the Parliamentary Secretaries, to the Attorney General, to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Dáil, and to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Seanad. We are now adding an annual sum payable pursuant to section 10 of the Act. In this context I presume that is section 10 of the Principal Act.
To get our lines cleared at this stage, now that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has had time to get section 10 of the Principal Act, I wonder if he could clear up this issue for us. Can he tell us whether the purpose of the amendment is clearly to enable the Government by order to increase the ordinary Deputy's allowance, because everybody else seems to be covered here, and the allowance to the Leader of the Opposition Party and, I presume, the backbenchers of the Government parties? We are most anxious to ensure that this amendment does what it appears to do. Originally the Minister completely overlooked any allowance for the Opposition party for research. I am anxious to know if paragraph (g) covers the remuneration of Deputies and the party allowance.
Mr. Colley: When the Minister intervenes will he tell me if I am correct in thinking he said previously that the effect of this amendment is to enable the Government by order to increase as appropriate the annual sums payable to the Leader of the Opposition and the Leaders of the Government parties?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: In response to Deputy Colley's request perhaps I might recapitulate. This amendment enables the Government whenever they so think fit to increase the allowances for secretarial expenses et cetera to Leaders of the Government and  Opposition parties by order. This provision corresponds to that already in the Bill providing for increases by order of the Government in the allowances for Deputies and Senators and in the salaries of Ministers and Parliamentary office holders. That is what I said.
If any Deputy opposite has been somewhat confused about what this reference to section 10 means, I must freely confess that I was equally confused until it was cleared up for me. The reference to section 10 of this Act is to section 10 of the Principal Act, as about to be amended, by section 13 of the Bill before you. If you look at section 13 you will see it sets out in great detail the annual sums to be paid to the Leader of each qualifying party.
Mr. Colley: The Minister will also appreciate that section 10 of the Principal Act deals only with allowances to the Leader of the second party and the Leader of the third party of the Opposition, not to the Leader of the first party or, in present circumstances, the Leader of the only Opposition party, Fianna Fáil. May I take it that amendment No. 7, if enacted, will include the allowances, in the present stage of the parties in the Dáil, to the Leader of Fianna Fáil, the Leader of Fine Gael and the Leader of the Labour party and that the effect of this amendment will be to enable the Government as appropriate, by order, to increase the allowances payable to the Leaders of each of the three parties?
Mr. Blaney: What puzzles me in the arrangement of these amendments,  as, indeed, has puzzled me in some earlier parts of the Bill, is this matter of predetermining, by amendment or otherwise, what is to come later in the Bill which has not yet been discussed or decided. From the point of view of your interpretation of the rules of the House, including the rules of the debate, I wonder whether this is not an inhibiting device in the sense that section 7 of the Bill is agreed and as a result of the agreement we included the last clause which reads: “This section and sections 8, 9 and 10 of this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the 1st day of July, 1973.” Fair enough, except that sections 8, 9 and 10 have not yet been arrived at nor have they been seen in their final form since all three have to be discussed, agreed, amended or deleted as the case may be. Properly that clause at the end of section 7 should have come at the end of section 10, and in that way it would be no inhibition to the debate in this House. It would be no inhibition if it had come at the end of the last section rather than at the end of the first section.
In this amendment we have something of the same nature and I am at a loss to know how we can properly determine the terms of any amendment that has a binding effect predetermining what is to come after it and if it has not got the force or predetermination of what comes after, what is the purpose of having it there at this juncture in the Bill? Surely there must be a more appropriate place for this than where it is at present.
This amendment is in the wrong place and if we agree on it we may preclude ourselves from taking the necessary and appropriate action on the sections which follow which it is set to govern. Even if the intention can be carried through what I want to get on the record is that the allowances that may be payable, depending on what is agreed on a later section, the manner on how they may be computed, the amounts that may be arrived at by whatever computation is used, whether it is the Government's formula or the formula of the Opposition, all of it  heads in the one direction and that is to aid financially all Deputies, on all sides, in Government and in Opposition, to do their work the better by providing through this money secretarial assistance and, perhaps, research officers as well. I said “all” with two exceptions. The two Independent Deputies in this House are not included in either the Government's thinking or the thinking of the Opposition. While I could and might yet make a very full and comprehensive case as to why these allowances should be paid in respect of Deputies of various parties, including the Government parties, the whole basis of that argument would be and must be based on the need for such assistance. The bigger the party the more they find it impossible, with their collective resources to provide themselves with secretarial assistance and research facilities; how, then, does it appear to all the members of those parties that it should be possible for an Independent or a group of Independents to provide themselves with any useful information by way of research or provide any secretarial assistance except at extreme cost? I am not seeking money for this particular chore but I do think the manner in which Deputy Sheridan and myself are being ignored and omitted is a negation and a complete contradiction of all the claims that all the parties can make, have made and will make, as to why they should get allowances to provide secretarial assistance and research facilities.
Either those arguments are true and if true those allowances are justified; if they are true and are justified then they are justified one hundred times more for the individuals in this House than for the parties, and the bigger the party the less the justification. I do not think the House can dispose of this whether by agreement or otherwise without having a thought about whether they are genuinely concerned about the input Deputies may be capable of making in this House aided by research and secretarial assistance as a result of the provision of public moneys to help them to do so. If they ignore those who belong to no party in this House then I make them a present of whatever  the House may decide in its wisdom to grant by way of allowance to each of the Leaders of the parties. If we are to have the case made on the basis of need and of the usefulness if this need were fulfilled they cannot ignore the most extreme examples in the House, namely Deputy Sheridan and myself, as the people who most need this and are least capable of providing it because our number is two, not 52, not 42, not 32, or 22, just two. If the big parties require money, including the Government parties with all the assistance that being in Government can bring in its various ways to the backbenchers of the parties composing it, and if the Fianna Fáil Party with their 68 members need money to provide the information that will make them more useful members of this House, and if there is no proper provision made for the two Independents—as the position is at present but may not always be so—then it is a hollow, contradictory operation on the part of the majority of the Members of this House. They cannot have it both ways. They either provide for those in the most vulnerable position and if they do not concede that, they cannot honestly make an argument that the bigger groupings require this money in order that they may be able to do it. If it is conceded that it is correct and just that provision should only be made for organised parties you are saying that though we were all elected by the electors of our various constituencies——
An Ceann Comhairle: I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy but his remarks would be more appropriate to amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 9. I would ask the House to agree that they form a composite proposal when we reach that stage.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is concerned about unnecessary repetition. If the House is agreeable, we can discuss amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7  and 9 together but Deputy Blaney has interposed into these amendments already to a large extent.
Mr. Colley: I may be able to assist what the Deputy wishes to achieve even if it does not conform with the principle that he is enunciating. I intended suggesting that it would be better if we took amendments Nos. 6 and 7 together and, indeed, No. 9 also. Strictly speaking perhaps they should not be taken together but it is clear that to discuss them separately would involve repetition of argument. If Deputy Blaney agrees, perhaps we could take together those amendments suggested by the Chair—Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 9 and then the Deputy would be in order in what he is saying.
Mr. Blaney: I understood the Chair to suggest that what I am discussing now would be more appropriate to the following three amendments and that those three should be taken together, this one having being disposed of. However, it makes more sense that all four be taken together.
An Ceann Comhairle: Therefore, I suggest that, as a result of Deputy Blaney's remarks, we take amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 9 together as they seem to form a composite proposal. They are now in order for debate.
Mr. Blaney: In a sense that takes me back to where I came in, that is, to the first point I was making which was the arrangement of sections or amendments in a way that seemed to predetermine what follows. This amendment should be numbered 9 instead of 5, and so on. However, since all four are being taken together and not having available to me the research facilities that are available to the larger parties, I must desist at this stage in order that I may consider to a greater extent what is contained  in the following three amendments. What I have been saying is that, without making any plea whatever on behalf of either my colleague, Deputy Sheridan, or myself, or for any other Deputy of the future who may belong to a group that is not on the register of political parties in this House, are we to take it that although we are elected in no less a manner than any other Member of this House, that our rights and our privileges here should be less?
I assert that what is now proposed, although it may be based on a precedent of the past, is a denial of the rights of individual Members who do not conform to the procedure laid down in relation to the registration of parties or who, even if of a party, are not sufficient in number for the purposes of these allowances. If the proposed increased allowances in respect of research and secretarial assistance are justified, they must be justified in respect of every Member and not merely be facilities afforded to party leaders for the benefit of party members in carrying out their work. It would not be right if, indeed, it were constitutional, for this House to provide for assistance only to some members. That would be a denial of the rights of individual Deputies regardless of the extent of the majority by which the provision might be enacted. Even if the provision were to be agreed to on this occasion by the two Independents, it would not mean that it was right. There is a case to be made for the provision of extra financial help in respect of research and of secretarial help for each party but there must be equal treatment. The fact that the anomaly existed in the past is no reason why it should continue in the future. Neither is the fact that in the past there have been parties of a certain size only on the register any case for continuing the discrimination in respect of individual Deputies. I can see the difficulties involved in implementing what I suggest but neither the formula suggested by Fianna Fáil nor that suggested by the Government is right.
Mr. Colley: Before dealing in substance with these amendments  which I propose to do later after I have given the Minister an opportunity to reply to Deputy Blaney, I wish to make it clear that so far as this party are concerned we agree with what Deputy Blaney has been saying but I would remind the Deputy that our stance on this matter has been, consistently, that for many years there has been an allowance for the Opposition and that we distinguish sharply between that and the proposal which the Government have now to provide an allowance in respect of secretarial assistance to all Deputies in the House, subject to the qualification that Deputy Blaney has pointed out.
Our attitude is that the allowance to the Opposition which has been in existence should continue to be in existence and should be appropriately increased and that there is a good case to be made for the provision of secretarial assistance either directly or by way of an allowance to enable it to be provided for all Deputies.
We believe that the proposals put forward by the Government in this regard are defective from a number of points of view. One of the points in which we think they are defective and that they were rushed in is precisely the one made by Deputy Blaney. We do not think it is correct that if there is to be a new arrangement, a new allowance for secretarial assistance on both sides of the House, any Deputy should be excluded. Deputy Blaney is talking about the present situation in which he and Deputy Sheridan are the only non-party Members of the House and I think he is right to make that case. Nevertheless, under the amendments as they are before the House we could have a situation in the future in which there could be a party consisting of six Deputies. Indeed, we have had in the past a party with a smaller number than six Deputies. Under the amendments proposed by the Government such parties and such Deputies would not benefit. We think this is wrong.
We feel that there is a clear distinction to be made between what is known as the Opposition allowance  and the new proposals the Government have here. If one approaches it on that basis, which we think is the right basis in principle, one sees very clearly the injustice which is involved in the Government's proposals as pointed out by Deputy Blaney and as I have tried to point out, which could arise in a future situation and where the example might be even more glaring of a party of six Members who would not benefit in any way by these proposals. It would seem to me that if they have any sense at all the proposals should be directed to providing assistance for every Deputy, no matter on what side he sits. I am making that point now because I want to make it clear that as far as we are concerned we agree with the point made by Deputy Blaney and it is one of the grounds—by no means the only one— for our objection to the proposals contained in the Government's amendments.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: With reference to the statements which have just been made, I think Deputy Blaney made two important points. One was more or less technical and procedural and based on the question of the propriety of passing an amendment to a section which has yet to be carried. The point is well taken and should be taken into account in consideration of the drafting of any future legislation here.
We are coming to the end of the session. This measure is felt on both sides of the House to have a certain amount of urgency. Some imperfections which I would accept exist, have to be condoned if we wish this legislation to pass, if we do not simply intend to protract our present session or postpone this measure until the next session. I do not think any of us really wants to do those things.
I would regard the technical passage of Deputy Blaney's statement as admonitory and I think the admonition is good and well-founded. On the second point he made concerning the two Independent Deputies here, I personally cannot speak here for the Minister for Finance on this point; I can only speak a little personally here  when I say that I think it is well-founded and will convey it to the Minister for Finance with that view.
I would say both in relation to what Deputy Blaney said and what Deputy Colley said that this measure is not intended to be a final and totally correct solution of the whole complex problem which I would remind all Deputies has been somewhat neglected in the past. I am not about to say that the present Opposition always neglected it. I think in 1968 they took a far-sighted and magnanimous measure in this respect. For some years past it has been neglected and I think this is catching up on some of this.
These amendments and this Bill are a sensible measure of justice for the improvement of the efficiency of Parliament. They have their imperfections and Deputies opposite, and Deputy Blaney, acted rightly in drawing attention to the imperfections but we on this side of the House regard both the amendments and this Bill as being honestly framed as a contribution to a step in the right direction. We would all welcome in future the assistance of everybody in the House and I would hope in future at some time when we are not at the ragged end of a session, with more consensus than we have had hitherto, we may plane away the uneven parts and try to do justice both to everybody in the House and to those whom we represent. Therefore, I am not commending the amendments or the Bill to the House as a final settlement but as steps that need to be taken now and which I hope we may be able to take this evening.
Mr. Colley: Before I make the substantive contribution I want to be clear on this. I appreciate the position of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs sitting in for the Minister for Finance. I appreciate that there are certain difficulties which face him in that position. Nevertheless, I am sure he will appreciate our point of view if at this stage we find ourselves in the position that the Minister who is dealing with the Bill expresses a certain amount of sympathy with the view we express but, if I understood him right, also indicates  that, no matter how convincing the arguments we put forward, he does not think he will find himself in a position to agree to changes. I am not sure if I am not going too far when I say that.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The Deputy is quite right. At this stage, sitting in for a colleague, I obviously cannot agree to changes in this measure. What I can agree to is to convey to my colleague and the Government to which I belong the substance of what has been said, my own views about what has been reasonable in what has been said and to repeat that this Bill and these amendments are part of an ongoing process, not a final thing.
Mr. Colley: I appreciate that, but the Minister will appreciate that from our point of view it is a thoroughly unsatisfactory situation that we should debate at some length these complicated amendments and make what we believe to be valid points, but all the time in the knowledge that no matter what we say and no matter how convincing we are to the Minister representing the Government in the House at the moment, it will make no difference.
Mr. Colley: Not now. It is this Bill we are dealing with. I am making a suggestion which is not in any way intended to create difficulties but rather to try to be helpful. I wonder would the Minister consider some short adjournment of the House at the moment. Perhaps on this side of the House we could avail ourselves of the adjournment and it might also give the Minister for Finance an opportunity to come back later, when we can deal with these amendments. Our position is really quite unsatisfactory in the present circumstances.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I appreciate the spirit and the substance of what Deputy Colley has said but the Government's position essentially is that these are amendments, this is the Bill, and this is what we are putting to this House now. We are rather late in the process of discussion here and I am afraid I  do not find myself in the position where I can agree, on behalf of the Government, to an adjournment, or recess which might suggest a willingness to accept amendments. I have no reason to believe that we are prepared to accept amendments at this time.
It is late and we may find ourselves sitting very late tonight but there have been opportunities for discussion when it might have been hoped that agreement could be reached on the Bill. I do not think that we are going to be able to reach the kind of agreement on further amendments that Deputy Colley has in mind on this Bill now. The point I am trying to make is that we regard this as a measure of justice and efficiency, a step in the right direction, a reinforcement of the basis of Parliament but it is not final.
There will be more to be done and I hope that more can be done in the next session with the agreement of the Opposition. I hope that we may work out, and perfect in the future, a process of consultation in these matters.
Mr. Callanan: I did not intend to intervene in this debate at all because I am new here and whether the salaries of Deputies are important or not I would not know. To me this is the most important section of the Bill and for this reason I think that the suggestion of Deputy Colley has a lot of reason. The section of a Bill which gives an allowance to an Opposition to do research in this day and age when we are a part of Europe is the most important part of any legislation of this type. To me a Government is as good as the Opposition but the Government have everything at their disposal to carry out such research. The Opposition have no such facilities.
The statement of Deputy Blaney to me is plain honest justice. It is the first time, I understand, that an allowance is to be given to Deputies. Personally, I do not think that we could get away with the excuse tonight, if we pass this, that, just because we were in a hurry, we could exclude two Deputies from an allowance for secretarial and research work. I do not see why the two Independent Deputies should not get an allowance just as the backbenchers  on the Government side and the Opposition will receive an allowance.
This allowance is very important because the ordinary Member of this House is not in touch with the everyday happenings in the European Parliament. It is most important that every Deputy in this House should know what is going on in Europe. He cannot do that type of research without having some kind of framework to do it.
That is what the Opposition allowance, and the allowance for the Government backbenchers, is meant to be for. It should equally apply to the two Independent Deputies. I feel that there should be a short adjournment to enable both sides of the House to reach agreement on this matter. If this allowance is passed now it will mean that individual Deputies will have an allowance and the Independent Deputies will be excluded. At the outset, it was understood that an allowance was being provided for the purpose of establishing a secretarial and research organisation to help the Opposition in contributing to debates of the House. This is a most important section because I believe that the Treaty of Rome, as it was framed, will be outdated in about four years now that the Community consists of nine countries.
Mr. Cunningham: Of course these amendments do not provide allowances for Deputies. These amendments provide allowances for the Opposition. This situation existed for a number of years but this section goes further and says that certain sums will be given to the Leader of the parties in Government. This is a new feature.
On this side of the House we want to make it clear that this is what used to be the Opposition allowance. In so far as the Government parties  are concerned it can be, and may well be, an allowance to individual Deputies. I am sure that with the leaders and other members of each of the two parties occupying positions of Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, and having the resources of the Civil Service in their own Departments at their disposal, they will not, and should not, and I am sure cannot, avail of the £9,000.
I am sure also that these people will not be used to get the benefit of a higher category. The amount of the allowance graduates upwards as the number in each party increases and for this reason I hope that the Taoiseach, and other members of the Government, are not thrown in for the purpose of getting a higher Government allowance.
Mr. Cunningham: I am making the case that this is a Government allowance, an allowance to Government parties. It is a new feature in view of the fact that what was up to now an Opposition allowance has suddenly become a Government Party allowance. Therefore, I presume that seeing that there is no need for research, for central office or any of the facilities which are freely available in large measure in each of the Departments of State to the Leaders of these parties and to the Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, the Leaders of those parties can say: “There is a sum of £5,000, divide that among our 20 Deputies.” Each one of the Deputies can have access to a portion of this allowance.
This is still an Opposition allowance for the Opposition but for the Government backbenchers it is a hidden increase in salary and, therefore, a contravention of the national wage agreement, a contravention of the suggestions of the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations to the Government. I feel very strongly about this point because the Minister did not implement the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations  although he says he is implementing them to the letter. As well as that, he goes outside of that and gives a hidden increase to Government backbenchers while refusing to increase the Opposition allowance to any great extent except from £15,000 to £21,000 because he got there a percentage in line, or so he thought, with the Employer/ Labour Conference recommendation. This was not even considered by the Employer/Labour Conference. It is a subsidy by the Minister to his own backbenchers, without any reference to anybody. This is a serious matter. This is something at which every employer in the country will look when there is a question of a national wage agreement. By adopting the subterfuge adopted by the Minister and giving perks, which are not included as remuneration, employers and employees will in future negotiate not for an increase in wages and salaries but for an increase in fringe benefits. If the Minister gets away with what he is doing, he will be setting an example to the whole country. What the Minister is doing is providing large fringe benefits for his own backbenchers. The members of the front bench do not require financial assistance for secretarial and research work and the Minister is cutting across the principle that heretofore operated, namely, that the Opposition must have these facilities.
There is a case, it has been made on both sides of the House, and let the Minister do the thing honestly and above board. Individual Deputies out of their own incomes have to pay for ordinary day-to-day working as representatives of constituencies. Let the Minister do what he is doing for all individual Members of the House. But let us not cod ourselves. This is not a benefit for Deputies as individuals. As far as we, on this side of the House, are concerned the money provided will be expended by the Leader of our party on research and secretarial work. It will not be available generally.
This is a matter which should be referred to the Employer/Labour Conference in the same way as the other allowances for Deputies, Senators and  Ministers were referred to that conference. This is in breach of the recommendation on which the Minister has insisted during the course of this debate that he himself is relying and keeping in line with the recommendations. He is not doing that. He has made sure that any shortfall will not affect his side of the House. We, the Opposition, are getting the thin end of the stick. This is a Government decision and this is why the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs knew it was a waste of time yesterday adjourning the House and having a talk about the whole thing.
Mr. R. Ryan: ——notwithstanding all the taunts and misbehaviour of the Opposition, which Deputy Jack Lynch had the cheek this morning to call dignity. I want to identify it now and ask Members opposite to give a demonstration of the professed dignity of the Leader of the Opposition. I was also going to show, by quoting chapter and verse at this late hour of the night, when, I suppose, the possibility of reporting is diminished. I could have intervened this morning when he broke in, breaching every tradition of this House, in an effort to turn a mere reporting of a decision of the House, an official technical matter, into an opportunity for making a statement in the hope that that would instigate The Evening Press into giving maximum publicity to his mean and unfair charges dressed up in the guise of so-called polite remarks.
Mr. R. Ryan: With an air of injured innocence Deputy Lynch this morning rejected the statement from me that he was engaged in a filibuster. We are now 11 hours later, and how much further have we advanced in this debate? Very little. We have heard repetitious speeches from members of  the Opposition, which translated into actuality mean they are whinging because they are not getting more money into their pockets, and all the parliamentary business of this State has been held up while they do a false song and dance beneath the stance taken by Deputy Lynch that he has been statesmanlike, that he has been injured in his reputation, in regard to what he is trying to do for the country. It is all based upon a totally false statement by him. I am not accusing him of being deliberately false, because I am quite aware that during most of his occupation of this House he has operated with the assistance of people passing him notes, and without that assistance he is a negligible Member of this House.
The truth is that the basis of allowances paid to the Opposition in this House is rooted in the Shanley report of 1938. That report was the basis of all expenses paid until 1968, and that is the one basis that Deputy Lynch now says is not the basis upon which the Opposition gets any allowance. I mentioned this last night. I am not sure whether Deputy Lynch was here. He was probably at home asleep. He does not participate very much in this House except to come in at the times his Press officers tell him is the most influential time to go in and make an impact.
Mr. R. Ryan: I am not concerned with the view of the Opposition about what I say. I happen to be telling the truth. Deputy Lynch said this morning that the Opposition got no secretarial allowance, never did get a secretarial allowance; they got an allowance for the Opposition as such. What did the Shanley report of 1937 say?
Mr. R. Ryan: I inadvertently made a mistake but apparently in the Fianna Fáil lexicon that means it is a lie. It is the 1937 report of the Shanley Committee of Inquiry into Ministerial and Other Salaries. It could be purchased at the time of publication for one shilling in the Stationery Office. If the Deputy wants it, let him go and get it in the Library. Page 36 reads as follows:
The provision made from public funds for the Leader of a party in Opposition to the Government should not be in the nature of a salary but would be an allowance of a sufficient amount to enable such a person to defray secretarial and other expenses.
It says on page 37 that the allowance was to be in the nature of recoupment of secretarial expenses. It also said that there should be accommodation in the Oireachtas building for secretarial staff for the Leaders of the Opposition to enable them to employ people if the allowances recommended were to be made. Again, it says that the allowances were for the purpose of providing effective secretarial assistance.
The sole reason for the petulance of the Opposition about the proposals in this Bill is that the basis of the Opposition allowance was not to meet secretrial expenses. It always has been and is to this day in respect of secretarial allowances. The only addition to this secretarial allowance—and it is an addition—was one given in 1968, when Deputy Haughey, exhibiting more generosity than is now apparent in the front benches or even in the back benches of the Fianna Fáil Party, said that it was time to give a payment for research facilities for the Opposition, and they were given it, for the first time in 1968.
Mr. R. Ryan: I am not going back on it. I am adding 40 per cent. The Government are giving a 40 per cent addition to the expenses given in 1968 for secretarial expenses and research. That is not enough. They want 100 per cent. They want more than anybody else is being given for secretarial and research employees since 1968.
Mr. R. Ryan: Before 1968 it was for secretarial expenses only. In 1968 they got secretarial expenses plus research facilities. We are continuing those research facilities by giving a 40 per cent increase——
Mr. R. Ryan: The research facilities are now available to the Opposition, and their complaint now apparently is that, while the former Opposition—a divided Opposition, two parties in Opposition—worked with £15,000 until the 14th March this year the present Opposition are in  some way suffering a disadvantage when a 40 per cent addition is given by this Bill. I do not think I have been in any way unfair, in any way reckless, in any way excessive, when I said that Deputy Lynch was displaying the height of audacity when he was looking for a 100 per cent increase in respect of secretarial and research facilities which are already available to the Opposition. We are giving them an increase greater than the increase which the Employer/ Labour Conference considered to be the norm for Deputies, the maximum to be given to anyone operating within the Parliamentary system. We are giving that and, because we are giving it, we find ourselves chastised by Deputy Lynch as being impatient, mean and angry. I do not know what Fianna Fáil mean by generosity, unless their definition is to milk the taxpayer in order to give them as much in Opposition as they had when they were in Government.
Mr. R. Ryan: That is the essence of their anger and annoyance. They expect to receive in Opposition as much as they received when they were in Government and their responsibilities are now less. They are receiving from us precisely the same sum in respect of secretarial facilities and research facilities as they gave, and considered proper, plus a 40 per cent increase which is more than the cost of living or wage increase since 1968. We believe that is generous.
In addition, we do not expect the Opposition or the Government members to carry the cost of understanding and interpreting and servicing the European Parliament, or the interpretation of European directives and proposals and legislation and decisions in the workings of this Parliament. We will set up an independent office, independent of all parties, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour. Maybe this is why the Opposition do not like it. We will provide an independent office with independent staff to service all Members of this Parliament—a staff which will not be beholden to any party, and will be  available to advise and assist, with information and full research facilities, all Members of this House.
We believe this is the proper way to give such assistance. There is no justification for the suggestion from the Opposition that they need more money in order to do European affairs work. We are doing what they failed to do. We will provide, in this building, a European office to which any Member may resort irrespective of whether he or she is a member of the European Parliament or a member of the European Affairs Committee. The services will be available without political taint or political obligation. That is the way every parliament should be serviced and that is the way this Government believe Parliament should be serviced.
To sum up, we are giving a 40 per cent increase to the Opposition to cover the research and secretarial services which are acknowledged on the record as being their right and already available to them. We will not breach the national wage agreement by going beyond that figure which is the limit of what can be tolerated. Opposition Members, including Deputy Dowling, said the Government were breaching the national wage agreement. We are doing no such thing. We will not allow Members of this Parliament, any more than the bank officials, to go beyond what the vast majority of workers in this country have accepted as appropriate discipline for themselves. Even if this House sits until 2 a.m. tomorrow or right through for many months to come, we will not allow the Opposition Party, by deliberate filibuster, under the auspices of the Leader of the Opposition, who sends in his filibusterers while he withdraws, after making his state of his party statement at the commencement of business, to breach the national wage agreement.
I expect these words bluntly, deliberately and carefully stated, will set the members of the Opposition in a tizzy of indignation. How they conduct themselves, or how they react to the truth written into the records of  this House since 1938, is their business. They cannot escape from the facts. They are getting the facts of what the Opposition had in the past, what they made available to the Opposition in the past. They are getting a 40 per cent addition on what they gave to the Opposition without, as I again would like to point out, providing one penny in this year's Estimate to meet the cost from 1st July onwards, not to talk about the so-called retrospection of back pay they were hungry for early today. I will conclude on this note. Deputy Lynch said this morning that there was only one issue concerning him. He chastised the political correspondents in the Press gallery.
Mr. R. Ryan: He is not one of the Press gallery, or are you suggesting he is? Deputy Lynch this morning attacked the Press and, in particular, he attacked the Cork Examiner and the Cork Evening Echo for misunderstanding, or failing to understand, the unity of the opposition to this Bill. He said his opposition to the Bill was only on the basis of our not giving a 100 per cent increase in the Opposition allowance. We have spent over 11 hours today, with the exception of Question Time, and most of yesterday, listening to arguments about retrospection which had nothing to do with what Deputy Lynch said today. I do not blame the Cork Examiner, the Cork Evening Echo, the Evening Herald, The Evening Press, the Irish Independent, The Irish Press, or The Irish Times for failing to understand what exactly is getting under the skin of the Opposition.
Mr. R. Ryan: They have properly understood it, because they will not get any more than anybody else in the country, that is, more than a 40 per cent increase of what was allocated in 1968. They are particularly annoyed that we will not meet the bill which George Colley failed to meet because——
Mr. R. Ryan: Deputy Colley, if he was an anxious then as he pretends to be now to meet these bills he would have provided the money when he was in office instead of leaving it to us to meet his so-called obligations, and then imposing upon us the obligation to tax the people to pay Fianna Fáil's bad debts. We had to do enough of that to meet the debts which could not be escaped if the reputation of this country was to be maintained as a solvent country in the international sphere. We will not tax the people to meet the bad debts of Fianna Fáil in relation to the payment of parliamentarians.
Mr. Allen: What was the percentage increase the Opposition got in 1968 from Deputy Haughey, the then Minister for Finance? If the Minister has not got the information to hand perhaps he could find it for me.
Mr. Lalor: At that stage sitting in for the Minister for Finance was his colleague the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. He listened to the contributions made by three or four spokesmen. His reaction to the contributions made by the various Deputies was 100 per cent opposite to the reaction we have had from the responsible, with a question mark, Minister. In fact, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs said in relation to the contributions made while he was here that he agreed that there was a great deal of merit in the points the various spokesmen made. I am deliberately avoiding allowing myself to be worked into a tizzy, as the Minister said. He anticipated this side of the House would come back roaring because he feels he can roar us down and make many close to false allegations.
He has made another of his unparalleled attacks on the Leader of this party. The quality of the Leader of our party, as opposed to his own qualities or lack of qualities, is quite evident and I do not think there is any need for me to comment on it. It certainly does not arise on the amendments we are discussing. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs confessed that this legislation is presented by the Government in an effort to do something before the end of this session to meet the requirements of the people in this Chamber. He indicated that if the House would let this legislation through the Minister for Finance would be back again in the next session to try to clear up the anomalies and the various other matters which were, as he saw it, justifiably raised. I do not think it would be possible. It would probably need another Bill to make up for the breaches of the national pay agreement in this measure. The extraordinary thing is that parallel with that in sections 5 and 11 there are provisions to enable the Government, by order in the future, to make the necessary adjustments. This is why our opposition to various sections and amendments arises.
The Minister just now in his aggressive,  abusive, derogatory address to the House and in his effort to castigate the Leader of this party, has gone out of his way to talk about how generous he is and how in line with the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations this Bill is. The Employer/Labour Conference did not discuss the Opposition allowance. The Minister says the increases are in line with the maximum that the Employer/ Labour Conference considered could be offered to any individual. He is endeavouring to twist this. Deputy Allen did not succeed in extracting from him an answer in regard to the situation whereby an increase of 200 per cent was given in 1968 for research purposes. A sum of £10,000 was given to the Opposition parties at that time on top of £5,000, if he wants to follow his shambling report and indicate that the existing £5,000 that was there up to 1968 was for secretarial expenses. A 200 per cent increase was given in 1968 by the Government to the Opposition for research. As I see it, the impression the Minister creates is that 50 per cent of the £21,000 was decided as the figure for the Opposition, without any reference to the Employer/Labour Conference which he is so anxious to quote when he is dealing with the allowance for the Opposition, but which he refuses to quote when he is dealing with the allowance for the Government party. The reason is that he has not been able to work out the sum as requested by Deputy O'Malley last night as to what percentage that is and in what way that agrees with the Employer/Labour Conference. The fact is that out of the £21,000 one could assume that £10,500 is there for secretarial purposes and £10,500 for research. That is £10,500 to the Leader of the Opposition party for research against the £15,000 which the Fianna Fáil Government in 1968, five years ago, when costs were not as high as they are now——
Mr. Lalor: The Minister said a few moments ago that up to 1968 they  had £5,000 for secretarial purposes and that in 1968 the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, gave them an additional £10,000 for research.
Mr. Lalor: And the Minister is helping me to make the point that five years later one could logically assume even an illogical Minister for Finance would not suggest that £21,000 in 1973 is the equivalent of £15,000 in 1968.
Mr. R. Ryan: If the Deputy presses me I will say it was not necessary to refer it to the Employer/Labour Conference. Anybody could have done the mathematical calculations but if you wanted an excuse to postpone a decision then you referred it to the Employer/Labour Conference.
Mr. R. Ryan: No, we would have made up our minds and if it was referred to one body, one body would have decided it. We would not have asked one body to work for years on end and then thrown out their work and referred it to another body because we had not got the guts to make the right decision.
Mr. Lalor: The Minister invited the cross-questioning. I was speaking about the comparative costs of research in 1973 as against 1968 and the £21,000 which could be devoted to research as against £15,000 in 1968. As a reply the Minister tells us about a new service that he proposes to provide in relation to the dissemination and explanation of information in connection with the EEC. I indicated last night that we feel, despite our admiration for the Civil Service, that we need a research unit of our own.
I am afraid we could only set up a very poor unit on £10,500 and any such unit would be expected to provide us with background information on the EEC as well as information in regard to other matters. Any back-up services that might make for effective Opposition are being sabotaged deliberately by this action of an aggressive Minister for Finance. It is stupid of the Minister to adopt this attitude because after the next change of Government he, too, will suffer from that lack of back-up services, that is, of course, if he is retained by the Leader of his party and if he is re-elected by his constituents.
Mr. Lalor: Amendment No. 7 is not one of the amendments that has been brought in for the purpose of clearing up some technical hitch although we have had several such amendments from the Minister already. The effect of this amendment would be to insert a new section before section 12. This necessity has arisen because the Minister overlooked the question of allowances  for the Opposition in the first instance.
Oddly enough, although I am not a particular admirer of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, when he was speaking it occurred to me that if it had been he who was piloting this Bill through the House, it would have gone through last week. He said that the Bill was framed honestly as a contribution to progress and fairplay. There was no reference in the Bill as framed to any allowance for the Opposition. I do not know whether this was excluded deliberately so that the objection might be raised on Second Stage and that the Government might find this backdoormeans of introducing a subsidy for the backbenchers of their own parties. Deputy Cunningham referred to this possibility but Deputy O'Brien objected to Deputy Cunningham claiming that the introduction of this subsidy for backbenchers was in breach of the Employer/Labour Conference. Of course it is in breach of the recommendations of that conference because it transpires now that the allowance paid previously to the Leader of the former Opposition party was used for subsidising secretarial services for the Fine Gael Party. It is obvious that the fund proposed now is for the same purpose. Deputy Lynch reminded the House this morning that Fianna Fáil members fund their own secretarial service. The additional emolument proposed for the backbenchers of the Government parties should be referred to the Employer/Labour Conference, as Deputy Cunningham pointed out.
I have endeavoured deliberately to avoid becoming perturbed by the Minister for Finance who came in, after what he told us was his first refreshment since 3 o'clock, and tried to aggravate the position. After the Minister's efforts during the past fortnight to aggravate us, we have become immune to any such effort by him but it might be no harm if he were to check on what was said by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, a Minister who, this evening, could have done business here because he accepted, almost without reservation, that there was a great deal of merit in everything being said  by us but implied that we should speed the passage of the Bill through the House because everyone wants his few “bob”. He promised a remodelled version of the Bill in the new year but why can the Minister for Finance not let us have a new Bill now?
Mr. Moore: The Minister is suggesting that we are endeavouring to breach the national wage agreement but, as Deputy Cunningham pointed out, under this Bill the backbenchers of Fine Gael and Labour could receive an extra subvention. A simple calculation would indicate that they could gain to the extent of £3 to £4 per week over and above their new salaries. Therefore, we suggest that the Minister is in breach of the national wage agreement.
Recently when the Minister for Labour was putting through his Bill in regard to the remuneration of bank employees it was obvious that he was blocking every loophole of this kind but here we have the Minister for Finance proposing to give the Government backbenchers an increase of the order that I have indicated. Apart from breaching the national wage agreement, he is encouraging other groups, such as bank employees, to breach the agreement also. It is not too late for the Minister to defer debate on the Bill but if he is not prepared to do that I suggest that he refer the terms of the Bill to the Employer/Labour Conference so that they might adjudicate as to whether these terms are in breach of the national wage agreement. This is a very important issue especially at a time when a third national wage agreement is about to be negotiated. It is very wrong that the Minister would give an impression to the negotiators of that agreement which might be such as would lead either to a bad agreement or to there being no agreement at all. If that happens the Minister will be the person to blame.
Mr. Esmonde: I am sure that is so but it was directed to a remark I had made. It was a remark in peace to try to assist Deputy Cunningham and prevent him climbing again the hills of Donegal in this House, unnecessarily. I pointed out to the Deputy a point which seems to have been overlooked that there is a definition of a qualified Member for the purpose of assessing the numbers that qualify for certain specific sums. I may be wrong. My education may be far more faulty than the last speaker's but an allegation is being made here that the giving of these sums in relation to the number of qualified Members in a party could give rise and possibly would give rise to a hidden subvention being given to the backbenchers of a Government party.
Mr. Esmonde: I personally regard that as a very dishonourable allegation because I would not have part or parcel of that type of conduct. Furthermore, I should like to point out that £3 to £4 per head is not there on simple mathematics. Divide 14 into £1,500.
Mr. Esmonde: I am talking about No. 7 which is now before the House for discussion. I cannot see where the Deputy got his figure because this was related to the numbers of Deputies and the amounts being provided in accordance with the size of the parties. I have to point out again that it is qualified Members. That means for the use of backbenchers. May I point out to Deputy Moore that where there are 14 Members in a Government party there is £1,500 available and where it is not a Government party there is £3,000 available.
Mr. Esmonde: I have listened to a great deal of nonsense here. There is a refusal to look at the words “qualified Member” in relation to this amendment. If the Deputies on the far side of the House read the amendment carefully, they will find their allegations are utterly irrelevant.
An Ceann Comhairle: May I at this stage ask Deputies if they would agree to dispose of amendment No. 5 so that we may make orderly progress section by section. Deputy Colley may agree that amendment No. 5 must now be regarded as having been adequately discussed.
Mr. Colley: I think the Leas-Cheann Comhairle was in the Chair when it was arranged to take these amendments together and he will recall the argument being made by Deputy Blaney in relation to amendment No. 5. Deputy Blaney is not in the House at the moment. I would feel that if Deputy Blaney came back and found that we had taken amendment No. 5 separately he would feel that he had had sharp practice operated on him.
An Ceann Comhairle: We would not wish to have sharp practice in the House. The Chair was anxious to make some ordinary progress with the amendments and to take the early amendment and dispose of that.
Mr. Dowling: I regard this as being the pay-off section of the Bill for the backbenchers of the Government parties. My reason for saying that is that statements made by many backbenchers of the Government party yesterday and today indicated quite clearly that while they were in sympathy with many of the amendments we had down and with the views expressed by members of the Opposition  they would have to support in the Division Lobby a Bill in which they did not believe. We had Deputy Enright's outburst in which he indicated that Opposition Deputies were endeavouring to drive a wedge between the front bench members and the back bench members of the Government parties. That was a clear indication of a division of opinion between the Government and their backbenchers. This is the pay-off section. Deputy Moore is quite right. If one examines the figures one finds that per backbenchers of the Government parties, taking it across the board, it would mean £125 to £200 in the case of the Labour Party and £166 to £171 in the case of the Fine Gael Party. The Minister for Finance referred to the 35 per cent embodied in the Employer/ Labour Conference recommendation. How does the Minister for Finance account for this particular allowance section? There is no way of assessing to what extent this section is in breach of the national pay agreement and the Employer/Labour Conference recommendation but it is substantially in breach of the Employer/Labour Conference proposals.
It is a pay-off section. No doubt, it was put in in order to ensure the support of Government backbenchers because we know they were in revolt against many sections of the Bill and many of the amendments put down by the Minister. In order to woo the backbenchers and ensure their support in the lobbies the Minister decided that there would be a pay-off. This is the pay-off. A very important precedent is being created here, a pay-off for the Minister's own backbenchers. This is typical Coalition Government type barter where people can put the gun to the head of the Minister and tell him that unless he is prepared to concede to them they will not give him the type of support he requires.
Mr. Dowling: The Opposition allowance is different to the allowances that are now embodied. As a member of the Committee on Procedure  and Privileges I am aware that over the years the question of a separate allowance and of back-up services for the Deputies, not alone the Government Deputies but Deputies who have not the full availability of the Civil Service, was discussed. The Civil Service is available to the Government and Government policy is percolated back to their backbenchers with the result that the backbenchers have the necessary information on all matters.
That is one of the reasons why in the past we were told it applied only to the Opposition who had not got the availability of the Civil Service for research and other work. The backbenchers on the Government side have available to them many avenues of information which are not available to Members of the Opposition. It is necessary to ensure if we have a viable Opposition that the necessary finances are made available to that Opposition.
We all know the amount of debate that went into this in order to get the Minister to move. However, he only moved after consultation with Members of his own party, and his own groups, and when the gun was put to his head. It was only then that he embodied these payments to Government backbenchers. This is probably only a start of many pay-offs which we may see in the future. It is a complete breach of the national pay agreement and contrary to the opinions expressed in the recent legislation, the Banks Bill, which prohibited an employer paying additions of any type or improving conditions of the workers.
In that Bill the situation is completely the opposite to this Bill. One Minister brings in legislation which is, in many ways, opposing the legislation which we have before us now. The Minister has spoken so often about the 35 per cent limit which he could not exceed, but how does he apply this 35 per cent to this particular section, this pay-off section for backbench Members? We have seen other pay-offs in other sections of this Bill. I felt that another pay-off was included in the section which provided for the payment to the Attorney  General. The Attorney General was given certain concessions which were demanded by his supporters because he could not be fitted into the Cabinet. Maybe the Minister conceded to this pressure unwillingly but, nevertheless, he conceded.
From the confusion of thought of the Minister in relation to and in reply to many of the questions put by speakers on the Opposition side, we found that while the Minister endeavoured to confuse Members of this House that, at the same time, he had confused himself. He was so confused on occasions that he gave erroneous information. When he was challenged to present facts he had no answer or necessary material. Because of the erroneous statements made he would not allow himself to be drawn on any matter and never did produce the information or give quotations from any particular documents.
This is completely undesirable. It has been foreign to this House for some time that there would be pay-offs in legislation to Members in order to get them to support Bills. I believe this is just the start of many pay-offs which we will see embodied in legislation in the future. It is a very serious matter and one which will give rise to considerable thought outside of this House. When people examine the circumstances of payments, I am quite sure they will see the real meaning.
In relation to back-up services for Deputies, there has been an amount of discussion over a period of years in relation to the inadequate services. The library service and other services should be available to deal with the ever changing position in this country in relation, in particular, to our membership of the EEC. This applies right across the board to Deputies of all parties and if an effort was made to meet these inadequacies it should have been done on a general basis because the Members of the Opposition are entitled to additional services.
However, this new allowance is a payment, in cash, to parties but how they will dispose of it is another matter. Members of the Government party clearly indicated that this was  an allowance for Deputies. If it is an allowance for Deputies to me it means that it is a further allowance which is in excess of the national pay agreement and any breach of that agreement is a serious matter. If the Minister wishes to pursue this course of breaking the national agreement in the various sections of the Bill it is a clear indication of the lop-sided thinking. If the Minister felt that allowances should be made because Deputies were hard pressed, he could have fully implemented the question of the application of salaries as recommended by the Employer/Labour Conference to meet this great strain that has been on Deputies over a period.
If the Minister was logical in his approach, he would have decided that this payment would be made on the basis suggested in the recommendations of the Employer/Labour Conference. If the Minister feels that Deputies are so hard pressed that they require an additional £171 per annum, surely this is a clear indication that the full implementation of the salary scale suggested should have been applied.
The Opposition allowance was available previously but for a very different purpose. This new measure has been introduced in order to ensure Government support in the division lobbies because without this pay-off section the backbenchers of the Government would be in revolt against the Minister. Many of the Government backbenchers have clearly expressed the opinion that they were going in to vote in favour of this Bill against their will and that makes this particular section all the more distasteful. I hope the Minister will reexamine the case and, if he feels there is a genuine case to facilitate Deputies, it should be applied across the board rather than to a particular section.
The Minister must give an explanation as to how he will arrive at the 35 per cent related to the national pay agreement and the additions here to backbenchers of the Government Party because this means that, in addition to their salaries, they will now be paid out  of public funds additional amounts ranging from £171 up to £200.
Mr. O'Malley: I want to draw the attention of the House and of the Minister to some of the details of amendment No. 7 in the name of the Minister. I do not want to be taken as accepting the amendment or the principle underlying it, but I have to face the reality of the fact that in this day and age, when a Government makes an edict, all those who belong to the parties comprising that Government have to obey that edict and vote for it, no matter how strongly they disagree with it. Having to face the reality of that situation, I can only assume that the likelihood is that this amendment will be enacted. If it is enacted, it will give rise to enormous difficulties. In particular, it will give rise to enormous difficulties in any year in which there is a general election and in which there is a change of Government as a result of a general election. I say that because there is a concept introduced in this amendment of what are described as qualified Members. Qualified Members are people who did not hold what is defined in Part IV of the 1938 Act as qualified offices and qualified offices mean offices which are either ministerial or secretarial and they in turn are defined. That concept of qualifying office has since 1938 been extended to include the offices of Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle as well as Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and will, under the proposal in this Bill, include the Attorney General, if the Attorney General is a Member of the House on the operative date.
Let us cast our minds back now to 1st January last. At that date there were 14 Ministers, each of whom was a member of Fianna Fáil. There was a Ceann Comhairle who was a member of Fianna Fáil. There were six Parliamentary Secretaries all of whom were members of Fianna Fáil. They are not qualified members for this whole year for the purposes of this amendment. If they are not qualified members, we have to deduct the total, which comes, I think, to 22 and, as a result, the Fianna Fáil Party, which  has at the moment 68 members, is 68 minus 22, which is 44. Therefore, instead of getting £21,000, which the Minister says he is awarding in his generosity, we will, in fact, get £12,000, which is the amount applicable to a party that has between 35 and 44 qualified Members. I would be obliged if the Parliamentary Secretary would correct me if I am wrong because this is a very serious matter. Will he tell me whether I am right or wrong? If I am right, I will have to pursue the matter. Does the Parliamentary Secretary accept my interpretation?
Mr. Colley: Might I suggest that we delay for a moment to give the Parliamentary Secretary, who is sitting in for the Minister, an opportunity of consulting with the officials and finding out what the precise situation is?
Mr. O'Malley: Unfortunately, the Parliamentary Secretary does not seem to know from Adam what the whole thing is about. This is a very important matter. Prima facie it would appear I am right. The Fianna Fáil Party, now in Opposition, will have to deduct from the list of qualified Members 22 people who were Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries or Ceann Comhairle on 1st January, 1973. This is a very serious matter in this year. It will arise with considerable seriousness in any year in which there is a general election that results in a change of Government.
Mr. O'Malley: It should, in fact, be 46. It brings us into the next category but we are still £6,000 worse off. That is a detail. The principle remains. Could the Parliamentary Secretary help us? If he cannot, would he send for the Minister?
Mr. O'Malley: There is the converse because on 1st January last Fine Gael and Labour were in Opposition and none as of that date was a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary. There was a combined total of 67 or 68. Assuming they are all back—they are not all back—for the purposes of this argument, that brings them up to a figure way above what apparently is the Minister's intention in this amendment. While we are waiting for the Minister to come in or for the Parliamentary Secretary to talk to the Minister or to the officials——
Mr. O'Malley: I am glad to hear that. We might as well draw the attention of the House to this. It was, I think, done earlier in the debate, but it is no harm to draw attention to it again. The Minister told the House that this Bill provides these very liberal allowances for all and sundry, Opposition and Government backbenchers. He repeated that a couple of times in my presence. The fact of the matter is there is not one line in the Bill about providing allowances to the Opposition. It was only as a result of the speeches made by Deputy Lynch, Deputy Colley and others on this side of the House, and by Deputy  O'Connell, Deputy Desmond and, I think, Deputy Thornley on that side of the House, who said it was not good enough that this should be omitted, that the Minister now comes along with his amendment, not to give an allowance on the basis on which it was given since 1938, but a new-fangled thing which works in in some way the Government backbenchers. There was nothing in the Bill, and this is significant, in relation to the Opposition, even though there was a clear entitlement to it, and it was only because we spoke up and pointed out what the Government were trying to do that this now appears and because happily we were supported by decent backbenchers on the Government side in the Labour Party. When the Minister comes along with this amendment, it appears to have been drafted in such a hurry that already we have had what were described as amendments to amendments, which have now been incorporated on the second green sheet, which has a note on top of it to say it is in substitution for something else.
They apparently noticed one set of errors that they made in this amendment No.7, but they do not appear to have noticed the other one. We have a Minister in the House now, and the Tánaiste is here. Perhaps he will be able to help out since the Parliamentary Secretary will not venture any opinion.
Mr. O'Malley: ——seems to indicate an extraordinary contempt for this House. I am standing here trying to fill in time by making pleasant remarks. I have put a very important point to the Minister. The Minister is not here. He  is being represented by a Parliamentary Secretary who has no opinion to offer. He has four officials beside him. When is the Minister going to come in?
Mr. Briscoe: I wish to make one point. I cannot understand why the value of Deputies of particular parties can vary so much. According to this Bill, a Labour backbencher is worth £136 a year extra, and a Fine Gael backbencher is worth £158 a year. I would imagine that Deputies of both parties do an equivalent amount of work and I fail to see the reason behind this kind of legislation.
Mr. Briscoe: The reason I called this quorum is that I hoped some Labour Deputies would come in, because this is very important from their point of view. I asked a question as to why a Fine Gael backbencher was worth more than a Labour backbencher. If they have studied this Bill at all they will have worked it out that a Labour backbencher gets £136 a year as a secretarial allowance, but that a Fine Gael backbencher gets £158.
Mr. Briscoe: There are 11 Labour backbenchers who qualify for this £1,500, and when you divide 11 into £1,500 you get £136 each. The Fine Gael Party have 38 backbenchers and when you divide that into £6,000 you get £158 each. I thought that the  Labour Party should be aware of this and how high they rate in the esteem of their partners in the Coalition.
Mr. Briscoe: Deputy Moore had his argument with Deputy Esmonde. I did not refer to a figure of £3 or £4 a week at all. That is another Deputy's argument. I am going on the figures I have worked out. It is a very simple calculation and if each Deputy will get a pencil and write down the figures, he will find that 11 into £1,500 goes 136 times approximately.
Mr. Briscoe: As we have stated all along, both the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party now have the full back-up services of the Civil Service. They can now ring up a Department and find out current policy through their Ministers. They will have scripts sent to them; they will have copies of speeches. They will find, perhaps, that life is that much easier. In spite of that, they have been given an extra allowance. In opposition one finds things are not quite as simple as that.
Mr. Briscoe: I am delighted that the House obviously agrees with me and that the Government agree with me that in Opposition one has to do  a considerable amount of digging. We pay a lot of lip service to the idea of an effective Opposition, but an effective Opposition should not be shackled. We should be given certain rights. One of the rights given to Oppositions in the past was an allowance for research and information. The figure was £15,000 in 1968 and it is being increased in this Bill to £21,000. The Minister is now telling us that what we do with it is our own business and that it is not necessarily for research and information services but to pay for our own secretarial services if we so wish.
This shows the vindictiveness of the Minister for Finance towards the Opposition. He should take note of the fact that the Opposition received the votes of 624,000 people. When the Government attempt to scorn the Opposition they are also scorning possibly 624,000 people. They should bear that in mind. This is absolutely disgraceful.
Mr. Briscoe: This is a discriminatory piece of legislation and it even discriminates against the Labour Party who are part of this Government. They sit there and they are willing to take it. I wonder what their feelings will be when they have time to think about it. The Minister will not reconsider. I know him to be inflexible. The incorrectness of his action in endeavouring to give Government backbenchers an extra allowance through the back door will not go unnoticed by the public after it has time to sink in. I have been asked does a Government backbencher get more than an Opposition backbencher and I said they get exactly the same. That is no longer true. A Government backbencher gets——
Mr. Briscoe: The allocation of money to the Leader of the Opposition in the past has never been used for the secretarial services of our party nor has it been used, I am quite certain, for the secretarial services of the Fine Gael Party or the Labour  Party. It would be interesting to hear how this £15,000 will be distributed. Will it be distributed to each Deputy or will it go to the Leaders of the parties to be distributed? It cannot go to the Leaders of the parties because they do not qualify. As far as I can see, it will probably go to each Deputy. I will be looking forward to hearing how the Minister intends to distribute it.
Mr. R. Ryan: Everything the smart members of the Opposition have adduced in the course of this debate underlines what I said last week. I was accused by the Leader of the Opposition, who likes to draw about him an atmosphere of taking a benign and considerate approach to everything, of being vicious and unfair because there was no provision in this Bill to deal with these problems. The more we discuss them the more the problems the Opposition throw up. The more the Opposition justify——
Mr. R. Ryan: I have noticed throughout this debate that I scarcely utter a dozen words before Deputy O'Malley erupts. I hope he will get medical advice to deal with his complaint. I do not know what it is.
Mr. R. Ryan: Not at all; it is going wide of the mark. It is high time that Deputy O'Malley had some regard for the Chair and made his remarks through you, Sir. I would be sorry if you were the victim of the missile. It is time Deputy O'Malley cooled down.
 Every argument advanced on the opposite side underlines what I said, which was that there was no easy solution to the many requests voiced from the Opposition for a total re-arrangement of the basis upon which individuals and parties are remunerated. The Taoiseach, one of the wisest men in this House, indicated as much to Deputy Lynch some time ago when Deputy Lynch approached the Taoiseach informally on this matter. We indicated a willingness to deal with these problems. Knowing the anxiety of all Members of the House to get at least their basic remuneration dealt with before we went into recess, we introduced our Bill. Then with a great show saevo indignatio we had Deputy Lynch rising on his high horse last week and accusing the Government of being unfair to the Opposition.
The more the Opposition draw attention to the difficulties of framing fair legislation, the more they justify us in not having a provision in this Bill originally to meet their gluttony to get a 100 per cent increase in the Opposition allowance. I readily admit that Deputy O'Malley has raised a valid drafting point.
Mr. R. Ryan: When posterity comes to consider this debate it will be found that the number of interruptions from the avaricious Opposition exceeded the number of interruptions in any other debate in this House. The demand for the amendments to this Bill came insistently from the Opposition.
Mr. R. Ryan: Members of the Opposition know well the immense skills of the parliamentary draftsman's office and they also know the pressure upon those officials. They know that you do not get the best draftsmanship when you have the Opposition at the other end of the telephone demanding: “When are they coming?” All the amendments to this Bill since Second Stage were at the insistence of the Opposition.
Mr. R. Ryan: It is worthy of recording now, because there have been varying and conflicting views amongst the Opposition, that we were accustomed to this since the budget. Several members of the Opposition, including Deputy Lynch and Deputy Colley, have indicated that they do  not object to secretarial assistance being given to Deputies.
Mr. R. Ryan: At the insistence of the Opposition Party who were the first to come to us whinging and crying and complaining that there was no provision in this Bill for anything except the personal remuneration of Deputies. We knew that the personal remuneration of Deputies was urgent. We are aware that they have been left at the end of the queue for five years. We have drafted amendments.
Mr. R. Ryan: That was the only suggestion made. We had offered an increase from £15,000 to £21,000, and all that was said was: “Is there any hope of giving us any more? We are not objecting to what you are giving to the Government side, but could you give us more?”
Mr. R. Ryan: When it was indicated that what they were getting was more than generous in comparison with what everybody else had to abide by, because of the national wage agreement, there was silence, and there was no further communication from the Opposition other than the false indignation expressed here yesterday and today while all the more important business of the nation, including the Finance Bill, could go to hell as Fianna Fáil tried to hold up the business.
Mr. O'Malley: You sent Deputy R. Burke and Deputy P. Barry to the Taoiseach. Say you made a mistake and we will adjourn for ten minutes to let you get instructions, instead of all this abusive waffle.
Mr. R. Ryan: They are talking about abusive waffle. They like to pretend that they are addressing the Chair. If they are addressing the Chair, I trust that they are not accusing you of that. If they are addressing me directly they should not be doing so.
Mr. R. Ryan: I am very sorry for assuming that the Deputies opposite were complying with Standing Orders by addressing the Chair. Apparently they were not. The draft which I had all the time here—I was simply laying the ground for it—now I see the experts have gone out—would be to amend it by providing that the subsection would read that “in case there are 14 or less qualified members of the Party on the 1st day of January in a particular year, or, in any year in which there is a change of Government, the date on which the Government is appointed by the President” and it would seem to me that that might meet the reasonable last minute demands of the Members opposite, who had since last Friday to come forward with their objections on the sections as drafted, but apparently did not consider doing anything about it until this late hour. I have given the alternative amendment to the House. Those who pretended to want it absented themselves——
Mr. Colley: On a point of order, I submit that unless the House agrees it is not in order to discuss or consider an amendment which has not been circulated. We do not propose to consider an amendment on this vital matter without the fullest opportunity to examine and consider it, having regard to the mess which has been made by the Minister who brought in this amendment against our advice and not, as he tried to make out, at our request.
Mr. O'Malley: I would point out to the Chair that except by leave of the House an amendment needs 48 hours' notice. We will have to consider it in the light of the situation that now  exists. Perhaps the Opposition will agree to some shortening of the 48 hours to perhaps 42 hours or 36 hours, whatever would seem appropriate to us. A factor in deciding whether we reduce that notice to 42 hours or 36 hours or whatever number of hours seems appropriate to us is the attitude of the Minister himself. It is a relevant factor to be taken into account. To say the least of it, the attitude of the Minister for Finance has been somewhat ungracious.
Mr. O'Malley: If he had the decency to get up and say: “We made a very serious error in this amendment. We are sorry about it, and will you let us amend it?” he would be likely to find a far more favourable reception to this request arising out of the dilemma in which he now finds himself. Before he came to the point in his speech where he agreed that there was a serious and fundamental error running through the whole amendment, we had an overture or prologue of five minutes of venom which was totally unnecessary and untrue. The untrue part of it does not surprise us any longer after what we have had. We have now reached the stage at 11.10 p.m. that as a result of the thorough examination of this Bill and of the amendments to it we have discovered a most fundamental error. If that thorough examination was not given to the Bill by us this error, which the Minister admits exists and invalidates his whole amendment and the whole principle of what he has been talking about for two days, would not have been found out and a most serious situation would exist.
We have been criticised as an Opposition for going through this Bill line by line, going through it, as we did, with a fine comb but we have more than justified our opposition to the Bill and our close examination of the Bill by what now comes to light. The one thing on which the Minister was pinning his flag in seeking to justify the whole Bill has now been  found to be fundamentally defective. The disappointing thing, although it is not surprising, is that the Minister is not even gracious enough to say it. We have a long round of abuse.
Mr. O'Malley: It is a lot more than a technical point. It has destroyed this Bill and has destroyed the Minister's and the Government's whole approach to it. We have discovered this at 11.10 this evening.
Mr. O'Malley: We are waiting now to have these amendments circulated to us but they will have to be fairly extensive so that we may have an opportunity of considering them and deciding on what our position is to be. Obviously, a major amendment of this nature cannot be circulated in a matter of minutes and I suggest to the Chair that the House adjourn now until such time as we have got the amendment and have had an opportunity of considering it.
Mr. R. Ryan: What its intention was is one matter but what it does is a matter with which you can live but so far as the year 1973 is concerned, the Bill stands as it is stated and if the Opposition consider that there is benefit  in it for them, they can vote for it while if they consider that there is a disadvantage in it for them, they may vote against it. If they persist in the line they are adopting whereby they will not accept an oral amendment offered, having accepted already an oral amendment on an earlier stage of this debate, the decision is theirs but we will not agree to an adjournment of the House: rather, we will proceed with the Bill as drafted.
Mr. Colley: Since this matter will be very important afterwards, I wish to make sure that there is no misunderstanding as to what the Minister is saying. First, he referred to our having accepted an oral amendment earlier. That is true but it was in relation to a minor matter which concerned the insertion of the words “or Seanad Éireann”. The matter before us now is fundamental to the whole approach that the Minister has been adopting for days past. As I understand it, and I wish the Minister to make this very clear to us, what the Minister is saying is that, although he knows now and we know that the effect of this amendment would be to deprive this party of a substantial portion of the Opposition allowance which the Minister said he was giving and, at the same time, to give to the Fine Gael and Labour Parties substantially more than the Minister said he was giving to them, we can vote on it and take it or leave it depending on whether we think it is to our advantage. Is that correct?
Mr. R. Ryan: ——an amendment which will retain for them the benefit they require but they are deciding to rely on a rule of procedure although they have the choice either of agreeing in a gentlemanly way to an oral amendment which would be to their advantage or of relying on procedural rules.
Mr. Colley: I want to ensure that there is no misunderstanding here. Deputy O'Malley did not say that we would insist on 48 hours' notice. He said that the length of time we would insist on would be determined to some extent by the attitude adopted by the Minister. I wish to make it clear that the flaw in this amendment is fundamental and that any attempt to amend it will have to be examined carefully.
When one considers that there is this fundamental flaw in it and that what is before us contains amendments to the amendments it is only reasonable that we should consider very carefully any further attempt to amend the Bill. We must do this so as to ensure that we do not get an even worse situation than has emerged now. In those circumstances we insist on getting, in writing, the amendment the Minister proposes and we insist on being given an opportunity to consider that amendment. If the Minister is not prepared to meet us on this, we will withdraw from the House.
Mr. R. Ryan: I am prepared to facilitate the Opposition in giving them time to consider the amendment having regard to the fact that they were unable to detect from Friday last until this moment what they call a flaw.
Mr. R. Ryan: One would have thought that they might have been concerned, at least privately, to work to their own advantage instead of relying always on public show. If they require  time to consider the amendment which we will put in writing if they so wish——
Mr. R. Ryan: So long as they are good enough to request this instead of insisting on it, I am only too happy to oblige but I will regard their insistence as a reasonable request in view of the mood in which they are at the moment. Therefore, I suggest that we adjourn until 11.30 p.m.
Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Ryan): I have explained to the Members of the House the scrivenery difficulties in which we are at the moment. I have also indicated the general tenor of the amendment. I respectfully suggest that the House might adjourn, until, say, midnight, by which time I would say the difficulties in scrivenery and communication would be overcome. It would also be an opportunity for the Opposition to consider the amendment not being suggested.
Mr. R. Ryan: I think 12.15 would allow more than ample time. I would be surprised if the scrivenery will take longer than that. It is well advanced. I would be disappointed if we did not receive it in the next 15 minutes.
Mr. Blaney: It would seem, according to what I have been given to understand by the Minister, as if some Members of the House have got some verbal knowledge of what is proposed to be contained in the amendment. It is now suggested that we should adjourn in order that they would get the amendment in writing in formal form. Who will get this and from where?
Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Ryan): Since business was suspended, I have circulated the amendment to the original amendment which I think meets the points made by the Members of the Opposition. This would have the effect of ensuring that at any given time the assessment would be made of what the remuneration would be according to the number of people in the party at any particular time. We have adjusted the amendment to read that the parties would be paid at an annual rate, that the rate would be an annual rate and that it would relate to the number of people at any given time. The phraseology which we have used, as I am sure Deputies Colley and O'Malley will understand, is well known in the legal world—it is that one identifies the situation for the time being. That, I think, gets over the difficulties which were legitimately raised in relation to the time of assessment of the state of individual parties.
I might say in passing that if we had not acquiesced in this amendment the effect would have been that the parties now in Government would have made an immense profit and the disadvantage would have flown to the Members opposite. Our readiness to acquiesce in this, I would hope, will now be acknowledged and set off against what I identified at the beginning as rather churlish criticism of us who have also exhibited our generosity in this regard. At the very commencement of the debate we emphasised that there were immense difficulties, and it was because we were aware of these difficulties that we said time was needed for discussion and it was made known to the Leader of the Opposition. There was no unwillingness on our part to deprive the Opposition of the valid and adequate allowance and we would have been more than willing to make this retrospective if only sufficient time had been given for the kind of adult discussion that ought to have taken  place between Members of this House. The opportunity for those discussions was denied to us and notwithstanding all that, and working under immense pressure, we have now arrived at this amendment which I trust will be acceptable to the Members opposite.
Mr. J. Lynch: I have heard of people making virtue out of necessity, but trying to make virtue out of one's own deliberate mistakes or deliberate omissions is something new on me. Let the Minister be assured that we extend no virtue to him in bringing in this amendment. It is an amendment to a section which was already amended before it appeared before the House. The amendment was brought in not at our insistence, not at our request, but on the Minister's own initiative. Let that be quite clear.
Now that Deputy Cosgrave is here —I will not go back into the history of the two conversations we had about this matter, about the matter of the Opposition allowance—I think he will agree with me that any suggestion made by the Minister for Finance that there was an agreement between us as to the content of this amendment is not correct, to say the least of it. There was no agreement and I am sure Deputy Cosgrave will agree.
Mr. J. Lynch: Having said that and, I hope, having established that it was not at our insistence this amendment was brought in but as a result of what we regard as hasty drafting by the Minister, we now find ourselves in this position: in the short time that we have had to examine this amendment we have discovered a number of defects not only in the amendment but in other parts of the Bill as a result of this amendment. The first defect I would refer to is  the use of the words “for the time being”. The Minister said that he used the words “an annual sum”. As we see it the word “annual” is being eliminated and later on in different paragraphs of the subsection, the words “per annum” are introduced instead.
Mr. J. Lynch: The system has been in the form of monthly payments in relation to the Opposition allowance. Having imported the words “for the time being” it is necessary to ensure that the sums be paid at a given time or times because at a particular time, if the period were long enough between payments, the situation in a particular party might alter seriously and adversely in relation to that party. If, for example, a member of the party with barely 14 qualifying members died or the qualifying members increased, that would have a material affect on the payment. In certain cases there could be overpayment or underpayment. No doubt, underpayments could be easily cured but there is no provision for the return of overpayments. I need not elaborate on that. We regard that as a fundamental change and not only that but it requires amendment of other parts of the Bill and of the amendments to the Bill. It will require a consequential amendment to section 7 which the House has already passed and of which this amendment, as drafted and circulated takes no account.
It will also require an amendment to amendment No. 5 which is at present before the House. This is very imprecise drafting. We know well that hasty  drafting of this nature can lead, as it has led in the past, to serious consequences. In our preleminary examination of this amendment not only have we discovered the defect in the amendment itself but also the need for consequential amendments arising out of the amendment now proposed. In all these circumstances, it seems to me that the best thing for the Minister to do would be to take the Bill and the amendment back and let himself and his advisers examine it and bring it back to the House at, say, a particular time next Friday. We could then discuss it in a reasonable way so that we would be sure we knew what we were doing and that the Minister knew what he was doing. The fact that there are two consequential amendments is an indication that what the Minister is now doing is something the consequences of which he has not envisaged. I suggest that the Minister take the Bill back and we can have another look at it at, say, 3 o'clock or 4 o'clock on Friday.
Mr. R. Ryan: All I can say is that Deputy Lynch has underlined what I said at the beginning, that this matter is riddled with difficulties. He chastised us last week because we had not provisions in the Bill to meet these points; now he is saying that the thing is riddled with difficulties. He is trying to play it both ways. He abused us because we were being careful about it, adopting a line of advantage. He was entitled to do that but recognising the difficulties he would now project himself as an injured party who was being savaged by a Government that was denying justice to the Opposition.
He comes in tonight at 12.30 during an extended sitting to say that there are difficulties that have not yet been visualised. We have seen many difficulties all along the line and we prepared amendments to try to meet the insistence of the Opposition that they should get certain benefits for themselves. The more we tried to meet their deadlines the more difficulties they have tried to raise. I shall now try to deal with some of these trivial difficulties which Deputy Lynch has suggested tonight.
Mr. R. Ryan: He says, for instance, that there is now provision in this which governs the payment of these allowances monthly or otherwise. I would invite him to show me any provision in any of the existing legislation which provides the means of payment. The truth is that there are no provisions in any existing legislation which requires the payments to be made monthly or in any other sequence or in any other proportions so that the very argument he is throwing up here is shown to be totally without foundation unless, of course, the whole proceedings at present existing are irregular and, if that be so, as his party have claimed responsibility for so much of past legislation the blame lies on them, but they cannot have it both ways.
The amendments we are bringing in here tonight will ensure that the Opposition party receive a 40 per cent increase on the allowance now paid to the Opposition. We think there has been enough waste of parliamentary time, enough obstruction of the business of this State by the 68 Deputies opposite anxious to look after their own pockets.
Mr. R. Ryan: I do not believe there ever has been a Bill of this kind in which a Government moved with so much speed to try to meet the complaints, genuine or otherwise, of the Opposition. We have done everything conceivable to meet every reasonable objection they have raised.
Mr. R. Ryan: At this hour they are now requesting that the final proceedings of this session should be brought to an abrupt end for no other reason than that they should be assured of more money into their pockets before the Dáil goes into recess. I have noted earlier, and I record again, the indignation of the Opposition always rises in accordance with their greed. We have given very fair concessions—a 40 per cent increase on the Opposition allowance. The Opposition are now much better provided for than the Opposition were which defeated them on 14th March last, much better provided for in regard to——
Mr. R. Ryan: ——personal remuneration, allowances given to the Opposition, and the research facilities which are now going to be provided for all Members of this House irrespective of their political allegiance. As the question of pensions is touchy for the Members opposite, I will not repeat that Members of the Opposition are receiving over £30,000 more in pensions than were available——
Mr. R. Ryan: These amendments were brought in at their behest. When they do not get a concession they grumble. When they get a concession they grumble and they jeer. They are very hard to please. If this Bill has done nothing else it has justified its introduction because for the first time since 14th March we see a Fianna Fáil Opposition at last working. I suppose it is better to see them working even in their own interests if they will not work in the national interest, which they have not been doing for months past.
Mr. J. Lynch: Here is another typical example of the Minister trying to disrupt reasonable argument in the House and failing to meet the reasonable case put to him. I did not mention  one word about the merits of this Bill in the course of my remarks. I spoke only about the amendment, its inadequacies, the fact that it contains a fundamental change in the Bill as presented to us, and the amendments already presented to us. I pointed out that the new amendment is an amendment of an amendment, in that the Minister brought in the amendment in the first instance and had it amended even before he introduced it. I point these things out in the spirit of trying to ensure that the House knows what it is doing and that when it passes legislation it is legislation that we know will ensure what the Minister desires to ensure. It does not do that, because already two consequential amendments, at least two— that is what we discovered in our short scrutiny of the amendment—are required to which the Minister did not even advert. Instead, he indulges in the same kind of acrimony as he indulged in at the commencement of the Committee Stage of this Bill yesterday morning. He should do as I have suggested.
Mr. J. Lynch: Is the Minister suggesting I was not entitled to speak until such time as attention was drawn to what was contained in Standing Orders? I do not want to be acrimonious about this but this amendment was not suggested by us. We suggested that the pattern of previous Bills providing for increases in Oireachtas allowances and Opposition allowances should be followed and that if this new provision, this new principle of allowances to Deputies as such was to be imported into the Bill that this should be discussed separately. It was the Minister's attempt to compromise the issue that has led to the mess in which he now finds himself. I suggest that he adopt the course that I originally suggested. This Bill, as a result of this amendment, is fraught with technical dangers, with legal problems that we see  to arise now and others that we may not have seen on our preliminary perusal of the amendment.
Mr. J. Lynch: It took us almost two days to get the Minister's eyes off the newspapers he was reading and on to the Bill he was trying to put through the House and to come to what was in the Bill. Ultimately we had to tell him where the main defect was. He did not see it himself. Now we are telling him that there are two more obvious defects that he ought to see himself. I am telling him they are there.
Mr. Colley: Would the Minister take our word for it? We have already pointed out the clause. Would he take our word that what we are saying is correct? The wise thing to do is to take time and let his advisers examine it. I am reasonably certain there are other consequential amendments besides the one we are pointing out which we discovered on a very quick perusal.
Mr. Blaney: The first thing that would be required for those of us who have not been let in on the secret as to what this new amendment does that the previous amendment did not do, would be for the Minister to give us a run down on the net effect and, if it is not technically perfect, at least what is the intention behind it? Wherein does  the new advance that has been made lie, to such a degree that the Opposition do not seem any longer to condemn the proposals?
Mr. Blaney: This is something I would like to get clear. I referred earlier to the procedure that was adopted in section 7 and said that it would create inhibitions later on in the discussion on this Bill. I had not envisaged this arising in this way but it was quite obvious that there was part of section 7 that could only bring about this sort of dilemma, that if you amend what you propose to do, that you had predetermined by a clause in an earlier section that is passed, you hamstring the House in its discussion and in its liberty to make changes. This has happened now. Allowing that that can be amended and that the other imperfections that have been detected and those that may yet be detected were amended, is the amendment as such and its intention acceptable in principle to the Opposition?
That is one question, but not one I can readily ask the Minister. I can ask him what is the difference between what was there and what is now proposed in the most recently circulated amendment? I should like to be clear where the net difference is. Perhaps the Minister might elucidate what his intention is in the proposed amendment. There are many things I want to say about it afterwards. In the meantime, could he clarify what is in his mind? Maybe from the Opposition we might get some indication as to whether they are still four square behind the concept that the Minister has either in this or in his earlier amendment and whether they intend to push on with their amendment. Could I have from the Minister, for my edification and information, what is the net difference? How much extra does it mean in any particular case? What advantage is it?
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputies will be afforded every opportunity to express their own views and we will seek the same protection for them. The Chair will seek the very same protection for all Deputies without exception. The Minister, without interruption, please.
Mr. R. Ryan: I am getting accustomed to this. In this debate one dozen words from me evokes an eruption of catcalls from the Opposition. That is something they might like to look at between now and four o'clock on Friday next for a start.
Mr. R. Ryan: The amendment, as originally drafted, provided that the time of assessment on the size of the party every year would be the 1st January. The point was raised that this did not take into account changes which could arise, first of all, in the numerical strength of the parties at different times, nor did it take into account the possibility that there could be a change of Government within a year. Therefore, we have amended the amendment——
Mr. R. Ryan: ——by providing that instead of making the assessment on 1st January in any particular year it could be made at any particular time and that the rate to be paid to a party would be equivalent to whatever the annual rate would be for a party of that size. The effect of that is that the Opposition party would receive £21,000 as against £15,000 if the amendment had not been made. You could understand why the Government are naturally in some difficulty in understanding why they are not grateful for receiving an extra £6,000. If they would prefer the Bill to go through without this amendment we have no objection if they want to vote accordingly.
Mr. Colley: Really one would have thought that at this late stage in this debate the Minister might have learned something. It is now pretty clear that he is congenitally incapable of learning anything. He has walked himself into one mess after another on  this Bill apparently with his eyes open. I want to reiterate that we urged from the beginning that the correct approach to this matter was to introduce a Bill on the same lines as was done on four different occasions in the past and to provide, as was done before, for an allowance for the Opposition and to provide an appropriate increase in that.
We also said that this Bill, as introduced by the Government for the first time made no provision for an increased allowance to the Opposition. When we complained about this the Minister rushed off and, not at our request, but apparently on his own decision or at the request of his own backbenchers, he introduced an amendment which was designed to introduce a completely new concept under which additional assistance would be given to all Deputies, other than office holders, to assist them in secretarial work. We said that this was a completely wrong approach.
Mr. Colley: We said if they felt this new concept was worthwhile we thought it should be discussed at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges because we could see a number of difficulties arising. Some of them we referred to earlier and Deputy Blaney also referred to them earlier. We felt the problems should be ironed out. The Minister for Finance did not do that. He produced an amendment, which we did not ask for. We opposed it and we still oppose it. The Minister decided not to follow what was done in the past but to rush in an amendment at the last minute. He then amended the amendment, which is what we have before us this morning, and then when Deputy O'Malley pointed out a fundamental flaw in his amended amendment he has come back with what looks like 37 new amendments to the amended amendment.
For the benefit of Deputy Blaney, because I do not think that the Minister was anxious to explain to him  what was involved in this, let me point out that, under the Minister's amended amendment before he went at it a third time, because of the provision that the assessment of the numbers in parties would be made as at 1st January of the year in question, in particular this year, the position would be that all the members of this party who were office holders. Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, or Ceann Comhairle, would be excluded in calculating the amount due to this side, whereas conversely in the case of the Fine Gael and Labour Parties those who are now office holders would not be excluded and the net effect would be a substantial reduction in the amount paid to the Opposition and a substantial increase in the amount paid to the Government party.
When this was pointed out the Minister, with a great deal of his usual bluster, and abuse, attempts to suggest that we were responsible for this amendment. He wanted us firstly to accept across the floor orally an amendment without notice but we insisted that we should get it in writing and be given an opportunity to consider it. His own version of what he wanted us to accept orally was 37 further amendments of the amended amendment.
With regard to the version we have before us now, as Deputy Jack Lynch pointed out, there is a problem arising because of the use of the words “for the time being” here. I do not think that we ought to spend too much time on it except to point out to the Minister that there are problems. Let me say to him that when he talks about other legislation providing for the payment of an annual sum as was provided here that that is what he was talking about before but he is trying to compare that with his amended version which is payable at a rate of so much per annum. This is a completely different thing and if the Minister thinks about it, he will realise that to make this kind of amendment work it will be necessary to specify a particular date in each month on which the calculation is made and, perhaps, the same, or another date, on which  the payment is made. If the Minister thinks about it, he will see that that is so.
As has been pointed out by the Leader of this Party, after a quick perusal of this amended amended amendment, consequential amendments are necessary. One of them relates to section 7, subsection (2), and the other relates to amendment No. 5 which is at present before the House. I feel certain that if the Minister's advisers get an opportunity to examine the Bill further they will discover some further consequential amendments arising out of this.
I again urge on the Minister the wisdom of the course suggested by the Leader of this party that at this stage discussion on this Bill should cease and resume at some agreed time on Friday. In the interval the Minister, and his advisers, would have an opportunity of discussing the consequences and so would we. The wisdom lies in that course. Surely the fact that we could immediately point out to the Minister two consequential amendments arising out of this is fair enough indication of the wisdom of what we are suggesting.
Mr. Blaney: I am thankful to the Minister, and to Deputy Colley, for clarifying this matter in so far as they see it from their opposite sides of the House. What matter is it, what difference will it make if the content and the intention as expressed in this amendment, and the amendment before that, and what was in the Bill originally, is unacceptable to the Opposition? Why go to the trouble of perfecting that which is non-acceptable? Is there any merit in it after the hours that have already been spent uselessly in trying to reach agreement by discussion?
More than 24 hours ago I made a strong plea, and a lengthy one, which I repeated asking that there should be an adjournment so that there could be consultation. The wisdom of that must now be evident to all in this House. Consultation was badly needed at that time.
Mr. Blaney: The Deputy certainly did. That this consultation did not take place is now fairly evident as having been a bad mistake. What seems to have been an even greater error is the fact that a week earlier when Second Stage had concluded that the consultation, which I understood was to have taken place did not, in fact, take place. I was amazed to find that this did not take place to any worthwhile degree, if at all. I discovered since that there was some consultation, or an exchange of views between the Taoiseach and the Leader of the Opposition, but this did not lead to any sort of general assessment or agreement as to what might be acceptable to both sides of the House.
We have reached the stage now where we have a proposition by way of an amendment from the Fianna Fáil Party specifically setting out not only increased payment to them as an Opposition but stating very clearly in terms of being an allowance to the Opposition with no counting of heads or anything else.
On the other side, we have a new approach by the Government, that of counting of heads and arriving at different figures related to the number of heads in any particular party at any given time and with clear differential in relation to the per capita payment that will fall due to Members of the Government party or parties as distinct from those for Opposition parties. We also get confirmed for us that any Opposition allowances in the past deriving firstly from the 1938 Act were at that stage, and until the 1960 Act, clearly pointed in the direction of providing secretarial assistance to the Opposition party or parties.
For the first time a new dimension was added in 1968 when in addition to financial assistance for secretarial payments or the hiring of staff financial assistance was provided in order that the Opposition party or parties should have available to them research facilities and being able to pay for these services. From 1938 until 1968 we had an Opposition allowance for  secretarial purposes and from 1968 to date we have had an allowance not only for secretarial but for research purposes. Now we have the present Opposition who were the Government party in 1968 and who initiated this research and secretarial financial assistance now seeking to continue that which they established in 1968 in the form of their amendment. The Government proposal is a totally new departure. That is that not only should there be allowances but that they should not only go to the Opposition but also in lesser measure and, indeed, as to 50 per cent rate, to the Government parties. This clearly indicates that there now can be added, if either of these two amendments are passed, in the increase that is proposed in them, added on a per capita basis, if you like, to the award that has already been outlined in an earlier section in line with the proposals from the Employer/Labour Conference. If you add these allowances spread over the Deputies of the various parties they will undoubtedly put the whole thought of conforming to the national wage agreement absolutely and completely out of gear.
We cannot surely try to delude ourselves and those outside that what is proposed in either of these two amendments is other than an additional income to the Members of the parties sitting in this House. I do not mean that they will get it doled out to them every month at so much per head. Not at all. This means that by the additional amount the parties will receive as a result of these payments, whether in Government or in Opposition, there will be a lesser call on the pockets of the members of the various parties, calls they would have to meet if this were not given to them. I see this quite clearly as an additional emolument to the members of the parties in this House and, if the recommendations of the Employer/Labour Conference are not to be flouted, this surely cannot be agreed to. I cannot see it in any other way.
Do not let the Minister or anybody else come back and tell me this is something that Members of the House  are getting but that it is not going to the Members of the House for their personal benefit; I say that it is to their personal benefit because, if it were not, they would be paying much more by way of party subscription, something which all members of all parties have had to pay traditionally all down through the years. Under this measure, if they get so much from this, they will not have to pay so much to their own party and, that being the case, it is an actual addition to the allowances of Deputies, though we may call it allowances for the Opposition. But that is a misnomer according to the amendment. It is an allowance to all the parties in this House and the fact that it is confined to the parties and to none who do not belong to a party proves the point that I am making and it can and truly must be regarded as an additional amount being paid over and above the limits set by the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations as presented to the last Government and now proposed to be put into operation by the present Government. If there is to be any semblance of conforming to the recommendations of the Employer/ Labour Conference, which are trotted out by both sides when it suits them, then we should face up to the fact that will emerge if this measure is put through, whether as amended by the Minister or by the Opposition.
These additional amounts will infringe the limits set by the Employer/ Labour Conference, as they see the position to be in conformity with the national wage agreement. I am not saying now that the national wage agreement is something against which this matter should have been measured at all, but the fact that it was referred to for their perusal and their recommendation ties the hands, I submit, of the House to conforming to the recommendations, whether or not we agree the recommendations are right. There are quite a number of them with which I do not agree but, if we are going to conform, then, as the Minister said earlier today, there is a pattern to which we must keep and  that is the pattern laid down by the recommendation of the Employer/ Labour Conference designed to keep us in conformity with the national wage agreement.
This particular section, as it stands, or as it may be amended, will bring about a situation wherein the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations will be publicly flouted and circumvented. If that is what the House intends to do, then it would be far better to face up to that situation, unshackle ourselves of the conformity into which we have been driving ourselves, making a virtue of necessity in talking about the recommendations of the Employer/Labour Conference. We should drop the sham and do what we think is the right thing to do and not be calling on the national wage agreement to support our case under one section and ignoring it in another section merely because it happens to suit our book. There has been a great deal of this double vision, this contradiction in terms, on both sides in regard to this measure. The display we have had here during this debate vindicates my belief that any increase in the allowances to Deputies would be better diverted into providing proper pensions for Deputies' widows and dependants.
Mr. Blaney: I am merely referring to the display we have had here over the last two days, wasting time which becomes ever more valuable as the summer wears on each year. Surely the display over the last few days is relevant.
Mr. Blaney: I am not going back to an earlier section. I am trying to indicate that what we have arrived at in the small hours of Thursday morning, having started this particular stage on Tuesday afternoon, plainly and clearly indicates, as nothing else could, that the allowances proposed in  this section, not to talk about earlier sections, are out of place, that they are shown to be unmerited, as is borne out by the display in this House, and, if this applies to the earlier sections with even greater force, that is something upon which I cannot comment at this particular point of time.
It appears to me that the only matter in issue here is whether or not, by utilising this particular role, the Government in office, the framers of the legislation now before us, can get a financial advantage to accrue to their backbench Members—that is, those outside of the immediate Government and Parliamentary Secretaries—in the guise of giving increases in conformity with the national wage agreement, as recommended by the Employer/ Labour Conference while, on the other hand, the Opposition are seeking in their own way as a result of this same document recommending that various allowances be increased, to get more allowances for the Opposition, with no tags attached. I think that fairly interprets what is proposed in this amendment. The holy cow of research, the great volume of EEC documentation, and the increasing volume of work emerging in this House and the institutions associated with it, all these things are trotted out by both sides to show that they want the money for a very good cause, and the cause is to better inform the Deputy members of their respective parties so that they may contribute with greater understanding on all the matters that come before this House.
If members in both the Government and Opposition parties are so convinced and enthusiastic about the need and the justice there is in both their claims for these increased moneys, how do they reconcile that with leaving two sole Independent Deputies without any provision whatsoever being made for them? It is not an oversight, because I would remind Deputies that I drew this to the attention of the House several days ago. Why should these other Deputies, because of the smallness of their numbers, be left in a far worse position to provide for themselves either secretarial or research facilities than any of the bigger parties if they  never got a penny under this section, whatever way it is amended. A great deal of hypocrisy has emerged from this discussion, and I believe that it is seen clearly for what it is outside this House, and it does not apply to one side of the House more than the other. It is a question of “I'm all right, Jack,” so long as each side gets what it wants, which is more than they have been getting in the past and more than they are entitled to at present. Their display in the past few days shows without any shadow of doubt that anything we are going to expend here would be far better expended in taking care of those who may be defeated in this House—who have given service——
Mr. Blaney: Let us confine ourselves to these particular allowances proposed in the amendments to the section, in the Opposition amendment and the Government amendment to their own amendment. They would be better spent in improving the pensions of ex-Members of the House, their dependants, widows and families. That would be a far better thing in the long run than all this hoo-ha we have heard ad nauseam for the last day and a half. Then we have the Minister at the same time indicating that, in addition to what has now been provided for research for the Opposition, on the one hand, a new sum has been provided for Government backbenchers that has never been provided in the past, that there will be set up a State agency to inform Deputies of all parties, on top of their own information and research, on various matters. The Minister did make the suggestion that this office was being set up to inform the Independents in the House, who will get nothing from this Bill no matter what amendments are passed. As somebody said earlier, a virtue is being made of necessity: you set up facilities for 141 Deputies and you can then point out there is some advantage in it for the two who have no service at the moment and for whom no provision is made in all  the amendments that have been enumerated.
The Opposition are not prepared to accept the intention of the Minister no matter how well expressed or no matter how well amended. They want half price for the back benchers in the Fine Gael and Labour Parties and full price for Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil say: “Let us have an Opposition allowance which is double what it was before and cut out all the trimmings.” In other words, they want their own version. If that is the case, why waste the time of the House in trying to perfect something that is unacceptable? They have made no bones about being against the proposals over the last day and a half. If they are not prepared to accept them, why go through the motions?
Mr. Blaney: I could. I am going to finish, for the time being at any rate. I may have to get some matters clarified before the adjournment or should I say the interruption of business at 2 o'clock. However, I shall be glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition on this matter. No matter which amendment goes through, it makes no difference to me, but it shows the hollowness of the concern of both front benches about improving facilities for Deputies in order that they may contribute better to the House, because they ignore those who do not belong to their parties. However, leaving out all the pros and cons of the amendments and the amendments to amendments, there is one version which will give to the Opposition an amount which will be for research and for secretarial assistance and, for the first time, will give half-rate moneys to the backbenchers on the Government side. As I understand it, Fianna Fáil categorically reject that. If it is not, as I suggest, totally objectionable to Fianna Fáil, I have been labouring under a total misapprehension and maybe agreement is still possible.
As I said earlier, I believe agreement could have been reached on these  matters long ago if only an hour had been given by a couple of sensible people from both sides of the House, but, instead, we are going through this sorry process of disagreement. I would suggest again at this late, or early, hour that there should be a get-together on this matter rather than an adjournment which we have had twice already, so that something can be produced by the Minister. Surely a solution could be found through consultation with a view to finding if this amendment, in any form, is capable of being accepted by the Opposition.
The Taoiseach: If I might intervene at this stage, in view of the late hour and the fact that it is not likely that this section of the Bill will conclude tonight, I suggest that we might adjourn further discussion of it until 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock on Friday. In the meantime, the amendments can be considered and we will deal with the Finance Bill tomorrow.
Mr. J. Lynch: That is acceptable to us. What I was going to say when Deputy Blaney put a question was that it appears that the obstinate and intransigent attitude of the Minister towards our proposals which sought to maintain a principle which has been long established—an attitude in marked contrast to the attitude adopted by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs when he sat in on behalf of the Minister and when, I understand, he said that there was reason in the case the Opposition were putting but unfortunately he was not able to yield to it—will obviously prevail by reason of the numbers the Minister can command in support of his provisions. At least in so far as he wants to put his provisions through the House, let us in the name of political sanity be sure that what the Minister wants to do is done properly. I am glad the Taoiseach has made that suggestion and I gladly endorse it.
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