A Government TD has hit out at plans to reform the Dáil, saying it was decided by party leaders and has excluded backbench TDs.

Labour's Joanna Tuffy was speaking after Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore introduced changes to the running of the Dáil, including an earlier start time of 9.30am and plans for more scrutiny of legislation.

Mr Gilmore said they were common-sense measures and represented a step in the right direction.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the changes were a facade and said today's brief debate on them was a disgrace.

He said the Government wants to get rid of the Social Welfare Bill next week to shut down dissent and this proves it is not committed to Dáil reform.

Earlier, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett defended how he allocated speaking time in the Dáil yesterday following criticism from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

In a heated exchange, Mr Barrett rejected claims by Mr Adams that he was prevented from speaking on the Budget.

The Ceann Comhairle said that he divided speaking times based on the size of the political parties and that he also took into account the increased number of non-aligned TDs.