Guillotine allows 'one minute 20 seconds' per amendment


A GUILLOTINE on housing legislation allowed just one minute and 20 seconds for each of the 170 amendments to be dealt with, Labour whip Emmet Stagg told the Dáil in repeated criticism of end-of-term deadlines.

The House was to deal with the report and final stages of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, published in July last year, to create a modern framework for social housing.

Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton also rejected the guillotine – the imposition of a deadline for the passage of legislation in the House – and said the Dáil was “entitled to debate the amendments properly”. He said “flashing guillotines everywhere is unhelpful to Dáil business”.

Mr Stagg said “the guillotine will allow one minute and 20 seconds for each amendment tabled. Our assembly is supposed to debate and correct legislation.”

The Kildare North TD said it was “not for the Minister to say that something is urgent legislation and that the Government is fed up listening to the Opposition’s discussion of it”.

He added they were “constitutionally required to do it. What the Government is doing is unconstitutional, because there’s no case for the guillotines”.”

He said it was not the function of the executive to make law and tell the Dáil to rubber stamp it in a couple of minutes.”

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said the Bill was initiated and discussed extensively in Seanad Éireann. It has been before the Dáil since the new year”

Mr Stagg: “Some 100 new sections were stuck into it one week ago. The Minister should not pretend that the Bill has been debated for a year.”

Mr Lenihan said many of the amendments were technical “and do not fundamentally change the core issues, which have been extensively discussed.” He added: “the Constitution provides that all questions in the House are determined by a majority of the Members present when voting”.