Committee on Finance. - Financial Resolutions (Resumed).

Wednesday, 13 May 1936

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 62 No. 2

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Debate resumed on Resolution 14:—

That it is expedient to amend the law relating to Customs and inland revenue (including Excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I was informed that the Government desired to dispose of the Turf Bill Resolution. Are we to take it that the Budget is now to be discussed?

Parliamentary Secretary to the President (Mr. Little): Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  There was no such suggestion.

[227]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Very well. There is perhaps nothing more disarming in an imprudent man than a public confession of his own folly. The Minister for Finance yesterday was engagingly frank when he told us that what it took him three-quarters of an hour to elaborate in his first Budget was pure folly and nothing else. He suggested that his political adversaries should take his gold ounces to gild their oratory. I prefer frankly to admit that I am disarmed by the Minister's confession of folly and I am quite prepared to join with him in interring his gold ounces with many of the other follies to which he has pleaded guilty in the course of his public life. I would like to ask this question: whether in the same mausoleum we may deposit other follies of his colleagues. Let us take one: the 66 to one ratio of President de Valera.

The Minister announced in his opening statement that national expenditure will amount to £35,000,000. If I multiply that by 66, and I am charged to do so by President de Valera, before we consider any definite commitments into which this country may enter on that calculation, the Minister for Finance is asking us to undertake an annual expenditure of £2,310,000,000 in the same year that the British Government introduces its war Budget of £900,000,000. So that when Great Britain is rearming to meet possible complications that may arise on the Continent of Europe, this country is called upon to undertake to spend £3 for every £1 Great Britain contemplates paying out. And if I add to that sum of £35,000,000, to which the Minister for Finance pleads guilty, the additional sum of £4,000,000 which the Minister and his colleagues have imposed on the people of this country in concealed taxation, through the cereals legislation, sugar beet legislation, pigs levy, and under a variety of other heads to which Deputy Cosgrave referred in another place and on another occasion, we arrive at the astonishing conclusion that the Government calls upon this country to provide a sum for annual expenditure in the Twenty-Six Counties of £2,574,000,000 while our impoverished [228] neighbour is in a position to equip her army, her navy and her air force, in addition to meeting the ordinary charges for normal expenditure, with a sum which is less than one-third of what the President and the Minister for Finance considers proper for the Irish Free State.

Perhaps the Minister for Finance will tell us that the 66 to 1 formula is to be put into the gilded security of the tomb built for his own follies. If he should tell us that is so I shall undertake to see that we shall cease to refer to the 66 to 1 formula in the same spirit and consign it to the same place as his gold nugget performance.

This Budget is an extremely interesting document from many points of view. For once the Minister abandoned his gilt oratory and also his golden diction. For the first time his Budget contained a useful survey of many economic problems and saved us a great deal of the hyperbole to which we have become accustomed when he rises to speak. But all pretence about reduction of taxation is now gone by the board. It has been consigned to oblivion with Deputy Dowdall's other statements. We understand now definitely and for all time that the label of “a Deputy Dowdall's statement” must be pinned on that promise. It is useful to know that that promise is dead and damned for ever.

The pretence about reducing the number of civil servants is gone. Is there a Deputy sitting on the Fianna Fáil Benches who has not made the welkin ring at the cross-roads of his constituency about the intolerable burden that the growing number of civil servants was on the overladen back of the taxpayer? Is that fraud gone the way of the golden nuggets? Are the Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party prepared to get up and disarm us with the same frankness that the Minister for Finance has employed? These two pretences will not give rise to any material anxiety in the minds of anybody. But then we come to the jettisoning of something else to which the people of this country attached very great importance when last called upon to cast their votes in a general election. Every hoarding in this country was plastered in 1932 and 1933 [229] with solemn pledges from the Fianna Fáil Party that they had a plan to abolish unemployment. I remember very well that one poster told us that employment was going to be found for 86,334 men under a Fianna Fáil Government. Lest the hoardings should not be sufficiently eloquent to carry conviction to the minds of the simple people of this country, President de Valera set sail for Killorglin and delivered himself of the following statement on the 9th February, 1932:

“We have a cure for unemployment such as no other country has, and do not let Mr. Cosgrave make you satisfied with the present position.”

What was the “present position” which the people were warned against being satisfied with? The “present position,” when President de Valera spoke in Killorglin, was that there were 29,331 unemployed persons in this State.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Registered as unemployed.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  And the triumph, after four years of the administration for which President de Valera is responsible, is that there are 136,858 unemployed. Would not the people of Killorglin have been much wiser to be satisfied with the position for which Mr. Cosgrave was responsible than to place their faith in the promise of a leading politician who assured them that he had a cure for unemployment such as no other country in the world had? On the 11th April of the same year, President de Valera, speaking at Ennis, said:

“Every Department of State which is in a position to help towards the solution of the unemployment problem is engaged in doing that.”

It will not surprise the House to be told that, eloquent as the President became on those occasions, there was one, at least, who vied with him and tried even to outshine him. That person was the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who said that not only had he a cure for unemployment in this country but that, within the four shores of this country, he intended to [230] make a substantial contribution to the solution of the unemployment problem of the United States of America—that he was going to bring the unemployed of America home across the ocean to fill the positions which would be crying out for candidates when he would have an opportunity of running the country for a short time. Subsequent conditions rather damped his ardour. But let no one imagine that that gallant campaigner was for long to be suppressed by these deplorable events. The same Minister rose in this House a few days ago to announce that he confidently looked forward to the day when he would employ 50,000 men cutting turf on the bogs of the country and establish in the turf business an industry second only to the agricultural industry in importance in this State.

These declarations sound strange when set beside these remarkable words contained in the Budget statement of the Minister for Finance:

“If we are to attack unemployment earnestly and sincerely, we must take a long view of it as something which is going to be with us year after year and which, year after year, has to be provided for out of the current resources of the community.”

He did not go on to add: “That problem, which was so grave as to make it necessary for me to issue that warning in my Budget statement, has been much mitigated by the fact that thousands and thousands of young men and women are going over to Great Britain every year and getting employment there.” This problem, for which, at Killorglin, President de Valera had a cure; this problem which was to be abolished and which was to create a vacuum which would draw people back from America has now assumed, after four years of Fianna Fáil administration, such proportions that we must look forward to its recurrence year after year. It is a problem which is kept within its present scope only because as many boys and girls are going to Great Britain now as ever went to America at the highest period of emigration during the last 20 years.

[231]Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  How do you account for the increase of population, then?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Deputy will have an opportunity of intervening at a later stage and giving us the benefit of his knowledge. I shall then listen to him with the greatest attention, but at present I ask to be allowed to proceed with my speech. We, who are in the turmoil of politics, are familiar with irresponsible follies of that kind. Some of us fully understand that it is necessary for President de Valera and the Minister for Industry and Commerce to fool some of the more innocent occupants of the back benches of the Fianna Fáil Party. It is necessary to instil into them Dutch courage to enable them to go down the country and face their constituents. It is necessary to say to them, as has been often said, “Live horse and you will get grass.” But when we reach a stage at which the Minister for Finance has got to get up and warn the country that all that talk was for no other purpose than to fool their own supporters and supply them with the courage which events would not justify, we face a much graver problem. I want to say to members of this House on both sides that if it becomes an established practice of our public life that responsible, democratic leaders are to proclaim from public platforms to the people facts which they know are not true——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Facts?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  ——or make statements, to use Deputy Dowdall's formula, which they know are not true, or make promises, which is the term most of us employ, which they have not the slightest intention of fulfilling, a far graver consequence will ensue than the discredit of any particular Party. If that becomes the established practice of our public life—and I know there are Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches who believe you ought to fool the voting public in order to get into office—I want to warn them that the disillusionment will not only destroy their Party but destroy altogether democratic institutions in this country. If you once persuade the people that [232] all the men in the public life of a democratically-run country, such as we have, are liars and frauds, the people will turn in despair to some other form of government. Having once turned to that form of government, they may discover too late that they are not able to turn back. That is a catastrophe which I should be long sorry to see brought upon this country. If the weapon of falsehood countinues to be used in the public life of this country, a dictatorship from the Left or from the Right is going to prevail here. Once that is established, democratic institutions will not be restored in our lifetime. When the time comes for restoration, they will be restored only by a sanguinary revolution such as I do not wish to live to see in this country.

The fact is that all Parties in this State, so far as I am aware, share the view that no individual in a Christian State should enjoy a surplus until all have been provided with enough. They honestly believe that once the minimum requirements are forthcoming for everyone, then the surplus should be available to individual enterprise and individual ability. That is probably common ground. My suggestion to the House is that a first essential for realising that ideal is the exercise of commonsense, and prudent foresight in national economics. I charge the Fianna Fáil Government and Party with deliberately living from day to day without any regard for the future solvency of this country, with emulating the example of any fool who wins a sweepstake and proceeds to go on a drunken spree, and does not give a hoot for what will happen when the proceeds are gone. I say that if that drunken spree continues, this country will pay, and pay bitterly, for it in the long run. The form of payment which alarms me is not the loss of any particular individual's property, but the fact that having created social services upon which a considerable body of the people have been taught to depend, the means whereby to maintain them will suddenly fail, and these people will find the battle of life ten times more difficult, after the [233] social services have failed, than they felt it before these services were forthcoming.

I ask the House to pause and consider the state of our national finances, as they are at the present time. When I speak of social services, I ask the House to think only of one item out of many, and that is the housing problem. Rural housing is at present absorbing an enormous quantity of money. It is money well spent. The House heard Deputy T. Kelly explain to his own Government the reason why housing in Dublin was not progressing as fast as was wished, because there was no money available for the work that ought to be done. I ask the House to bear in mind how much money will be necessary to complete the work of housing that requires to be done, if the minimum of comfort is to be provided for the people. Tax revenue and non-tax revenue amounts this year, according to the White Paper, to £35,000,000, including money borrowed. Hidden taxation, to which I have already referred, amounts to £4,000,000. In my opinion that is an extremely conservative estimate. Taking the two together I do not believe I over-estimate when I say that the total burden the nation is called on to bear this year is £40,000,000 sterling. The deadweight national debt was referred to in the Minister's Budget speech of two years ago. He then congratulated himself on having reduced it to a figure £5,000,000 less than it was when he took up office. Yesterday he stated that the deadweight national debt is now £5,000,000 in excess of the figure it was when he took up office. That means that the deadweight national debt has increased in the last two years between £10,000,000 and £11,000,000. That may be due to the fact that the Minister is at last admitting, in his own mind, liability for certain sums that he did not choose to refer to as deadweight debts, but the fact is that the net debt of the nation is between £10,000,000 and £11,000,000 greater than it was two years ago. A figure appears in the White Paper where sinking fund is referred to, and there we find a sum of £354,950 this year, while £700,561 was provided last year. [234] I believe that may arise from the fact that new sinking fund conditions may apply to the converted loan, as compared with those attaching to the First National Loan, which the Minister recently converted. I ask the House to observe that the national debt deadweight has increased between £10,000,000 and £11,000,000.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Where did the Deputy get the £10,000,000 or £11,000,000? Will he be good enough to give the House statistical foundation for his assertion that the deadweight is now between £10,000,000 and £11,000,000?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Greater than two years ago?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Yes.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The figures upon which I base that calculation are those of two years ago, when the Minister will remember congratulating himself on having reduced the dead weight debt by £5,000,000 below the figure it was when he came into office. Yesterday the Minister, having carefully cast up the figures, and having made a comprehensive review of the debt position, said he was obliged to inform the House that the deadweight debt to-day was £5,000,000 odd greater than it was when he took up office. If it was £5,000,000 less two years ago than it was when he took up office, and if it is more than £5,000,000 in excess to-day, I say there has been deterioration in the debt position of £10,000,000 or £11,000,000, between the Minister's 1934 Budget speech and the Budget speech he delivered yesterday.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy has made an unqualified assertion, that the dead weight position increased by £10,000,000 or £11,000,000. It is obvious now that that is based on a hypothesis which will not bear examination.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Minister said it.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Let us lay down this rule: the Minister spoke for 2¼ hours yesterday, very properly without interruption, going through extremely complicated figures with the full assistance of a very large staff of expert technicians. [235] It is my disagreeable duty to go through that forest of figures without any such assistance, and I am not in a position to conduct arguments of that character at every stage. I base the statement on the Minister's statement. If the Minister's calculations are wrong, my statements are false. If the Minister's calculations are right, my statements are right. The Minister on both occasions was reading from manuscript which was carefully checked by highly competent experts, and I have no reason to believe that consciously or unconsciously they deceived the House. On his statement, the deadweight national debt has deteriorated to the tune of £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 in the last two years. At the same time, the sinking fund arrangements have been altered from £750,000 per annum to £350,000 this year. I say that that is an item that calls for explanation when the Minister is dealing with the deadweight debt position. It was one which should be dealt with in greater detail than in fact he did deal with it.

The foreign assets of our banks are, as far as I can judge, the only really reliable thermometer of national wealth and, as revealed by the Currency Commission Report, they are down by £11,000,000 in the last five years. It has to be borne in mind that that not only means that wealth represented by securities held abroad has diminished, but that the diminution has materially affected our invisible export position, because the interest on these investments coming to this country was a valuable contribution to the invisible exports, and helped to balance the visible adverse trade balance which is characteristic of our trading accounts.

The Minister for Finance will, of course, argue that a certain part of that £11,000,000 has been simply utilised for the purpose of financing Irish industry. I should be interested to hear if he can give us any reliable figure in that regard, or if he can give us any interpretation of the shrinkage in our foreign assets. I should be glad to hear on this question whether our foreign assets, representing very [236] largely securities of one kind or another, should not have appreciated materially in the last five years with the normal appreciation which all securities have experienced, or whether in fact they have been left by the banks at the same figure throughout the depression and recovery. Are the figures appearing in the Currency Commission's report reliable for the purpose of ascertaining whether, in fact, there has been any loss of that kind to the community as a whole? If, in fact, our foreign assets have decreased by £11,000,000 then, in my opinion, it is a matter which should engage the serious attention of the Minister and on which the House should ask every reassurance from the Minister in the form of a statement that whatever tendency there was for them to decrease has been stopped or, in fact. has been reversed.

In arriving at the amount of the dead-weight debt, the Minister said that the biggest Exchequer asset was a sum of £12,841,000 represented by advances to the Local Loans Fund. I should first say that this statement must be qualified by the knowledge that in regard to £5,432,000 of this sum, there is a dispute proceeding with Great Britain. Great Britain claims a very considerable part of that sum, and the Fianna Fáil Government claims that it is not due. Let us assume that that sum of £12,841,000 is an Exchequer asset. Does not the Minister agree with me that the realisation of the asset largely depends on the capacity of the people to pay their rates and on the capacity of occupants of municipal houses to pay their rents? If the economic condition of the people progressively deteriorates, then, I suggest, that item deteriorates with it. It is something that the Minister should bear carefully in mind, more particularly when he realises that during the last three years the very local authorities who must provide the service of that sum of £12,000,000 have themselves increased their own indebtedness by £6,000,000 sterling, every penny of which, practically, they have been spending in building houses or in promoting sewerage schemes or drainage schemes of one kind or another.

[237] It is becoming the practice in this House to pass open-handed Acts of Parliament without our ever asking ourselves what are the ultimate liabilities in which the State is involved by these Acts of Parliament. When we come to examine the debt position, the economic foundations on which the country is standing, would it not be well to ask ourselves what is the ultimate liability which will accrue under the Military Pensions Act, for instance?

We have disposed of about 150 applications. I understand there are thousands of applications in the Ministry of Defence, all of which must be adjudicated upon, and in due course paid, all of which must become an annual charge on the Exchequer of the country. The Minister sought to arrive at a figure for our ultimate liability under the Land Acts. Who can say what the ultimate liability under the Land Acts will be? Every acre divided now is going to be a debt, an annual charge on the public purse. The 50 per cent. reduction in annuities means that land division has ceased to be economic and becomes a charge, not only in respect to improvements which may be carried out, but becomes an annual charge in respect to the 50 per cent. reduction in annuities.

Who can guess at what point land division is going to stop? Who can guess, even if he is acquainted with the mentality of the Fianna Fáil Party, whether land division will ever stop or how land is going to be distributed in future? Who will dare assert that we have an absolute guarantee that all the annuities charged on lands at present being given to some of the persons who have been adjudged suitable to get land by the Land Commission will ever be paid? Certain we are that half of the land annuities are going to be an annual charge. Should not we, in all prudence, think that it is quite possible that a considerable percentage of the total land annuities will come back as a charge on the Exchequer, that a great many people who have been put on the land will find themselves unable to pay what they have undertaken to pay under their purchase agreements? I have referred to the liability that is going [238] to accrue in the matter of housing. Any man who would dare set a final limit to what may be necessary in the matter of housing, not only in Dublin, but also in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and other cities throughout the country, would be a brave man. There is enormously expensive work to be done if we are to reach anywhere near the stage when we shall be in the position to say that everybody in this country is fairly housed.

In reference to these existing facts, let us examine the sources to which the Minister or any Minister sitting in his place must ultimately look for his revenue in the years to come. The agricultural industry provides for about 80 per cent. of the people of the country. At this hour, with expenditure rising as it never rose before, when the burden of dead-weight debt is rising, the price of live stock is one-half what it was five years ago. How many Deputies in this House keep present to their minds this fact, that in 1931 the value of our live-stock exports, not including live-stock products, was £18,327,000? The value of our live-stock exports in the year 1935 was £7,316,000, a decrease of £11,011,000. If, we take all live-stock products together, and these form, and will forever form, the foundation of our agricultural industry, our exports thereof in 1931 were £27,185,000. Our exports during the last year were value only for £13,154,000, a decrease of £14,000,000. Materially, more than 50 per cent. of our total exports of agricultural live-stock products have vanished. While that is proceeding we are cheerfully marching on with our banners flying to undertake an annual expenditure unprecedented in the history of the State.

Now, I have dealt first with agriculture. Let me draw the attention of the House to certain figures which I do not think have ever been brought under its notice in this form before. Our total imports in 1930 were £56,776,000, and our total exports £44,945,000. That left an adverse trade balance of £11,831,000 on a total trade of £101,000,000. In 1931, the year before Cumann na nGaedheal went out of office, there was a substantial fall of £6,000,000 in our imports and of [239] £8,000,000 in our exports. That situation was reproduced in almost every nation in the Commonwealth of Nations to such an extent that all agreed that an economic conference was necessary to see what one could do to help the other to redress that most undesirable development. A conference at Ottawa was held, which we had every right to take part in and to which the Vice-President, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Minister for Agriculture went. They came back empty-handed. The other members of the Commonwealth went back to their respective homes with substantial concessions, and a brief reference to their trade returns for the years 1931 and 1932 will show that nearly all of them began to recover the ground that had been lost between 1930 and 1931, and that the Irish Free State was the only exception, because, by August, 1934, our imports had fallen from £50,460,000 to £39,131,000, and our exports had fallen from £36,340,000 to £17,934,000. The one thing that had gone up dramatically was our adverse trade balance. It had gone up from £14,000,000 to £21,000,000, and was then substantially in excess of our total export trade.

Many Deputies on those benches will say “Ottawa could have done nothing for us.” But Ottawa did something for us—the Ottawa that we staged ourselves, the Ottawa in which no one but civil servants took part, the Ottawa that had its existence in what has become known as the coal-cattle agreement. It was a miniature Ottawa embarked on four years too late, and embarked on with the courage characteristic of the Fianna Fáil Party, willing to wound but afraid to strike, knowing the right thing to do but lacking the moral courage to do it. As a result of that, the year afterwards our exports rose by £2,000,000. If courage had been taken four years before at Ottawa and a sensible trade arrangement made, might we not face the financial prospects before us with far greater equanimity than we can under existing circumstances?

Let Deputies bear in mind that the [240] national expenditure per annum at the present time requires our total exports for two years to pay the expenses of one year's government. Let us see what the Minister for Agriculture had to say about a very much less serious situation than this in the glorious days of 1931, in the happy days before he was kicked up the stairs by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, kicked down by the President, and as Minister for Agriculture was kicked out the door by the Minister for Fisheries. The present Minister for Agriculture, when speaking at Ballyfad in September, 1931, said: “The farmers and agricultural labourers have to carry the country on their backs, and they have to maintain an expensive and extravagant Government which costs something like £30,000,000 a year.” Those were the days when beef was worth 39/6. The farmers to-day have to carry a Government, which is just £10,000,000 per annum more costly, on beef that fetches 25/-. The farmers have to carry that Government on their backs.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce said the Customs duties would operate to wipe out Customs revenue, because he told us that they were primarily designed to prevent the entry of foreign produce into this country altogether, but instead of that taking place the Customs duties of this country, which yielded £8,257,000 in 1932, in 1935 yielded £10,223,000, an increase of £1,966,000. Who is paying the Customs duties? Is it not the farmers and the agricultural labourers who are carrying the country on their backs, and who will deny that a great deal of merchandise has been effectively kept out of the country not only by tariffs but by quotas and monopolies? Who will deny that such commodities as are produced within the four shores of this country under that system are substantially dearer than those which the people bought in an external market heretofore, so that the farmers and the agricultural labourers, who were staggering in 1931 under the policy that Dr. Ryan, as he then was, described as an extravagant Government, have now got to carry on their backs, with 14/- per cwt. less for [241] their beef, a far more extravagant Government, a greatly increased tariff revenue, and an enormously increased cost of living, as a result of the protectionist policy carried to insane extremes by the Administration responsible for the country at the present time?

I wonder do the Minister for Agriculture and his colleagues ever examine their consciences? At least, I believe that the Minister for Finance is beginning to examine his. I welcome that development, because we have said pretty often from these benches that the tragedy for us in this situation is that if the folly of Fianna Fáil succeeds in wrecking the country they will wreck us with it. We cannot get out. If we could get out we might be able to speak more calmly and with greater detachment of the problems that we see growing up about us in a country in which we are fated to spend our lives either in poverty or comparative prosperity. The fact is that until we recover our markets for our agricultural produce— that kind of agricultural produce which can be economically produced here—we cannot grapple with unemployment. We cannot grapple with that problem by providing doles and public assistance. We can only do it by providing remunerative work for the people. Unless we succeed in doing that, this country will go the road that Newfoundland has gone.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy said that last year.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I did and I now repeat it. It took ten years to sink Newfoundland. She is safe now, not in the bosom of Abraham but in the bosom of Britannia. I suppose there is no use warning a man who is in the process of spending a sweepstake prize —who is just emerging from Mooney's bar. To talk to him then would, I suppose, achieve nothing, but one does hope that in the hazy fog which enshrouds his mind something will penetrate, and in the moment when the fumes of drink have gone out of his head he may think, and in that moment be saved from the catastrophe that threatens him. It is our duty to [242] repeat these necessary warnings if this country is to be saved, which, as the Minister knows, have more weight than many of his less enlightened colleagues know or understand. We have got to provide our people on the land and our potential labourers with work, and work is no good from the community point of view unless there is some community profit in it. I fully recognise that, as a stop-gap to avert hardship or suffering, it may be necessary to employ people on unremunerative work rather than to put them on outdoor relief or to pay them for doing nothing.

But, taking the long view to which the Minister for Finance was pleased to refer when he proceeded to face the fundamental facts of this financial situation that confronts us, unremunerative work is no good, and I say now that remunerative work can never be provided for our people unless and until agriculture is restored to a remunerative basis. At present there is no branch of agriculture which can be carried on on a remunerative or economic basis except such branches of agriculture as are in receipt of a bounty from the Government. I say that that is living on your own tail and cannot go on indefinitely. Unless our agricultural industry can be put upon a foundation which will enable it not only to earn money for the individual farmer but wealth for the community as a whole, to produce out of the land more than the land had in it before the labour of our people was expended upon it, then I say this country is going to collapse. I believe that with the extraordinary market opportunities which we have in Great Britain we are in a position to provide our people with a higher standard of living than any other people in Europe enjoy, but unless those market facilities are exploited to the last farthing that can be got out of them, then we are going to have to deny our people many of the things that we think people should have in a Christian democratic State.

I know the Minister is pleased on occasion to say that this is merely crying wolf. I doubt if he says that now with the same conviction as he would have said it on the day when he [243] talked about gold nuggets. I think he has learned a lot since then. It has cost this country in the order of £50,000,000 sterling to teach him, and it looks now very much as if the wild men of this day and generation are going to kick him out of office, when we may be faced with another £50,000,000 to try to teach the leaders of the I.R.A. that you cannot send money round and round and it comes out here. If the leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party have been taught common sense, we spent an awful lot of money on it—more than I would ever have sanctioned in anticipation—but, having spent this money and having suffered the loss, if we have put £50,000,000 worth of sense into the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, I do not grudge it. But I want to say one thing, and I say it in no spirit of exaggeration, and I know that what I am about to say may not commend itself to certain of my colleagues in this House, who will perhaps charge me with speaking in a sectarian spirit. It is not meant in a sectarian way. We have a certain pride in the fact that we are a Catholic country. We used to be proud of the fact that among Catholic countries in Europe we were one of the oldest and one of the most loyal to our conception of Catholic philosophy. Spain used to be looked upon as one of our sisters in that faith. She has gone over to the basest form of tyranny, and to a type of government which is most inimical to all we believe in, a type of government which permits violence, outrage and desecration throughout its territory. Italy was another country which we, as a Catholic nation, were proud to describe as a Catholic nation. Italy has made the name of Catholic nations a by-word in the world—Italy, in the name of Catholicity and Christian philosophy, carrying poison-gas and liquid fire into another Christian people in North Africa.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That is a long way from the Budget.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  No, Sir; it is not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I should like to hear the Deputy explain the relevancy.

[244]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Those two countries have failed in the fulfillment of what we believe Catholic philosophy can contribute to the theory of government in the world. Those two countries have made the very name of Catholic nations stink in the nostrils of every honest man in the world. I want to ask this Government are we who are a Catholic country, we who on both sides of the House and in all parts of the country believe that Catholic philosophy can be made effective in public life and in everyday government going to operate it in such a way as to make it clear to the world that there are three possibilities as a result of that experiment—one, anarchy; the second, highway robbery with gas and flammen-werfer as the weapons in the highwayman's hand; and the third, futile bankruptcy? If that is our contribution to Catholic philosophy in public life, then I think we will do a very poor service to something which I believe all of us hold dear. We have common ground, and I have stated it in a word —that everybody in this country should have enough, and that then a surplus should be available for individual effort and individual genius. I am afraid— and I believe the Minister himself is beginning to get a little afraid—that by continuing a policy of attrition, destroying the only remunerative industry left to us, and by rushing ahead in national expenditure as if we were more prosperous than we ever were before, we may imperil the whole future of such ideals as are held common in this country.

I urge him, before he allows that policy to proceed unchecked, to realise whither we are drifting while there is still time to mend our hand and consolidate our position in order to advance more surely in the future, and above all, realising his responsibility as Finance Minister in this country, to make it clear that our contribution to the development of Catholic philosophy in public life in the world will not be the most ignoble and the most futile of all the disasters that have come on that political experiment, by sinking in senile bankruptcy into the unwelcome bosom of a country which we traditionally regarded as the enemy [245] of everything Irish, a country we have always denounced as being anxious to destroy us. Newfoundland had Great Britain to turn back to; we have nobody but ourselves. Newfoundland enjoyed the expenditure of oceans of money on Government enterprise while the main industry was allowed to wither, but the day dawned when the expenditure had to stop, not because the people of Newfoundland wanted to stop, not because they wanted to withdraw from the poor anything they had given the poor, but because they discovered that their main industry had collapsed, and that they were no longer able to finance it. I apprehend that in this country we are going to travel the same road, and when we reach the same disaster we will find ourselves in grave jeopardy of bankruptcy which we are unable to control, and anarchy growing therefrom, by which democratic institutions will be overthrown. We want to avoid that, and I would direct the attention of the House to what I consider to be the dangers inherent in the Budget situation of the present time. I want to draw attention to those dangers frankly and fully now, because I believe it is possible to correct them if we have a common purpose to that end in mind. If we have not, I do not believe that anything can save the country from disaster except, perhaps, the overwhelming defeat of the Fianna Fáil Government at the next general election.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  We can all remember the promises made by Fianna Fáil and the statements made by them when they were in opposition in this House. When they were in opposition they said that the people were groaning under an intolerable burden of taxation. That was in 1931-2 when the cost of administering this State was £22,000,000 Their plan at that time was that they would reduce that taxation by £2,000,000, that they would relieve unemployment within 12 months after they got into office, and that they would keep up the social services. After their four years in office, we are here to-day discussing this Budget, with taxation increased by £8,000,000, with unemployment more rife than [246] ever it was before, with poverty and misery and want rampant all over the country, with home assistance higher than ever it was, notwithstanding the effects of the widows' and orphans' pensions scheme and other schemes which were supposed to relieve it, and Fianna Fáil still say that, in 1936, after increasing taxation by £8,000,000, £30,000,000 is within the capacity of the people to bear.

In this Budget, there is no reference to the agricultural community. Deputy Dillon has dealt at length with the conditions under which the agricultural community are living, and God knows they need relief, and there will be disappointment all over the country when this Budget statement is read. In 1931, before Fianna Fáil started this mad economic war, the agricultural community were in a position to meet their demands. They had a ready market for their surplus agricultural produce at a good price. What is the position to-day? Taking the figures of average prices in the Irish Trade Journal, we find that, in 1930, the price of wheat was 8/- per cwt.; in 1931, it was 6/11; in 1932, when Fianna Fáil came into power, it was 8/5; and, in 1935, as a result of the wheat policy of the Government, the farmer is getting the wonderful price of 9/3. The price of oats in 1930 was 6/9 per cwt.; in 1931, it was 7/3; in 1932, it was 7/7; in 1933, a year in which Fianna Fáil were in power, it was 5/4; in 1934, 7/7, and in 1935, 6/7. In respect of other farm produce, such as barley, potatoes and so on, the prices in 1930 and 1931 were better than they were in 1935.

Then we come to cattle. We had, for calves, not exceeding one month, in 1930, £3 4s. 6d. per head; in 1931, £2 17s. 3d. to £4 4s. 9d., and in 1935, 17/9. I fail to see where any calf under one month realised the 17/9 because there was nothing beyond 12/6 paid for them. Pigs and store and fat cattle suffered in like manner and the prices are considerably lower than what they were. The price which the farmer has to pay for producing these has increased. One of the great things which Fianna Fáil promised to the farmer when they were introducing their wheat scheme was that he [247] would have cheap offals for feeding. Professor O'Rahilly, in his pamphlet issued in 1928, stated, on the question of offals:—

“It might be even better to prohibit altogether the export of offals. The millers would, I fancy, readily agree to this, provided import was also prohibited or the flour tariff was also applied to offals. Having decided to recommend the rejection of a flour tariff, the Commissioners did not think it necessary to discuss these details. But the question is exceedingly important, if only for the fact that we have here a tariff which can be made to benefit our chief producer—the farmer. The gain to our farmers would be over 40,000 extra tons of offal and a saving of £170,000 on the price.”

What is the position to-day? Instead of saving £170,000 the farmer has actually lost £170,000 in the price of offals. Offals to-day are dearer than they were at any time in the history of this Free State, and still the farmer is supposed to pay the increasing taxation put upon him as a result of Fianna Fáil policy. There is no relief for him. The price of feeding stuffs, such as maize meal mixture, bran, pollard, flour, has increased and all the other things he has to buy— household utensils, kettles, pots and pans, farm implements and machinery —all have increased in price. They are manufactured in this country under high protective tariffs, and they have all added to the farmer's cost of production, and still he is left without any relief from the burden of taxation which has been placed upon him.

As has been admitted by the President, by other members of the Executive Council, and by Fianna Fáil in general, the farmer has been in the front line trenches since the outbreak of the economic war and he will be very disappointed to find he is not getting some relief. There is no increase in the agricultural grant in this Budget, and in the matter of unemployment, instead of a decrease, there is an increase, because, with unemployment growing and with the Minister's scheme for relieving it, he is [248] placing an additional £825,000 on the local bodies for the purpose of assisting employment. I hold that unemployment is a national problem and should be dealt with nationally, and that the over-burdened ratepayers and the over-worked local authorities should not be asked to take over schemes for the relief of unemployment. They may be able to prepare schemes, but they certainly are not in a position to put up the money, because anyone who knows the conditions in the country to-day knows that the agricultural community are not able to bear any further burdens. They are not able to bear the burdens on them at the moment, and I say the unemployment problem should be tackled in a big, broad, national way.

It is a serious problem and a problem which Fianna Fáil have now realised to their cost cannot be relieved in a day, a week or a year. There has been no easing off in this matter, notwithstanding the fact that, in their latest pamphlet, issued when they were looking for funds for their organisation, they state that they have set the wheels of industry working in 700 new factories and have found permanent employment for thousands. We cannot see where there is that permanent employment for thousands, because there is no easing off in the situation, and if those 700 factories are unable to do better than they are doing, and unable to absorb more of the unemployed, it would be better if they never worked. Agriculture is the biggest industry and would absorb more of the unemployed than any other industry, if we had an outlet for our produce, but the foolish policy of Fianna Fáil in starting the economic war has deprived us of that outlet. If they would even now take their courage in their hands and settle the economic war, and give the farmer an opportunity of disposing of his produce in the most convenient and best market, it would ease the situation.

They have tried alternative markets, but I think they have not been a success, and whilst the home market is always recognised as a very useful adjunct to have, when the home market absorbs all that we produce it [249] leaves us just as we were, and we are not anything better off. Every man, whether he be an agriculturist or a business man or whatever he may be, is always looking to produce an exportable surplus that he can dispose of. We had an exportable surplus of agricultural produce in this country, and we had the best market in the world— a market that every country in the world is looking forward to. We have that market at our door, and we have been deprived of it, with the result that the farmer is not in a position to make ends meet.

Dealing with the home assistance question—to come back to it once more—the agricultural community and the tax-paying community had hoped that, with the introduction and passage of the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Bill through this House, home assistance would be very much relieved. Well, the contrary is the fact, and the widows and orphans and the poor and the needy, and everybody in the State, has to contribute his share to supply widows' and orphans' pensions. What is happening in a case like this is that the Government deal with questions of that sort in a halfhearted and measly way, and do not meet the situation as it should be met. If the widows and orphans did get decent pensions paid through State assistance and otherwise, home assistance would certainly decrease considerably. Now, the Minister, in his speech yesterday, was very pleased with the return from the duties and taxes on beer and spirits. He said that it was a healthy sign of the times to see that the people were consuming more liquor and spending more money on it. Well, I do not know, but if there has been an increased consumption, I do not think the agricultural community have contributed towards it. There is, of course, the increase of officials and pensioners and so forth, who have a good deal of spending power and who have very little responsibilities on their shoulders. I suppose they are able to consume, perhaps, more liquor and tobacco, and to patronise the cinemas and sports and plays and other things of that sort. Deputy Dillon said that if the mad policy of Fianna Fáil continues [250] the people will pay dearly for it. I fear that the people are paying very dearly for this madness at the moment, and that if it does continue it will be the most costly experiment that was ever carried out in any country.

With world conditions improving, as they have been improving, and with the world's markets better than they have been for a long time, it is a pity that we here in this country are deprived of the means of existing in a reasonably decent way by the foolishness of the Fianna Fáil Party in keeping this economic war going. There is at present, in the English market, as good a price for cattle as there was for many years. We have an increased demand at home for cattle at the moment. Again, it is the law of supply and demand that has caused that increase in price. The coal-cattle pact may have been some help to us in enabling us to export a little more to the English market. In reply to a question yesterday by Deputy Desmond, the Minister for Finance said that the amount paid out in bounties on calf-skins during the period from the commencement of the bounty scheme to the 9th May, 1936, was £228,013, and that the number of calf-skins on which export bounty was paid in the period was 400,701. He said that the total number of calf-skins inspected and passed to date during the present year was 95,520. If we had that number of cattle in this country at the moment—and the market is there for them, and for more of them—what a different position the farmer would be in. He would be getting the competitive market price that is going in the English market. He would be getting the good price. What a different position the farmer would be in. What a different position his workingman would be in; what a circulation of money there would be all over the country, and what happy, prosperous and good conditions we would have. If the Minister and his Party could only visualise such a condition of things, come down off their high-horse, and come back to realities, conditions in this country would not be as they are, and the Minister would not need to bring in a Budget, as he [251] did yesterday, of £30,000,000 to keep this State going. Unemployment would be relieved, and everything else would be in working order. Everybody would be happy and contented, with world conditions improving, as they are and as they have improved.

There is another matter to which I should like to refer, and that is the question of housing and the policy at the moment of introducing a Turf Bill. Under this Turf Bill, I understand that everybody—householders and so on— will be compelled to purchase a certain quantity of turf.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  A Bill which is actually in course of passing may not be discussed on the Budget.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  I was going to ask, Sir, what effect this Turf Bill would have on our cattle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  For four days the agricultural position, the economic war, the surplus of cattle, and the alleged dearth of cattle, were discussed. The matter for discussion on the Budget is taxation, expenditure, and financial policy, and other matters only in so far as they are affected by and connected with financial policy. The Turf Bill is certainly not in that category.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  In relation to our export of cattle, Sir——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy will have an opportunity on the remaining stages of the Turf Bill.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Very well, Sir. Well, take the question then of the housing scheme, and the houses that have been built under the Fianna Fáil régime. I do not know how many houses they have built, but I am afraid that the fireplaces in those houses will not be suitable to burn turf. They are not built for turf burning, and that is one of the drawbacks to the——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  To the Budget?

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Yes, to the Budget, and to the country.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  On a point of order, Sir. With all respect, I think [252] your ruling is drawing Deputy O'Donovan away from the line of argument he wants to pursue, which is that there is no evidence given, but rather to the contrary, that any steps that are going to be taken by the Government in the coming year will improve the cattle situation for the farmers or improve our relations with Great Britain in respect of our market there. I submit that the absence of any sign that any improvement is going to take place in that direction is a matter that ought to be taken cognisance of here in the light of the very big financial burden that farmers are going to be called upon to maintain.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Surely Deputy Mulcahy ought to be allowed to make Deputy O'Donovan's speech.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I intervene in order to prevent a ruling on a net point of apparently pushing Deputy O'Donovan along to a line that may be a little bit artificial.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  A line that Deputy Mulcahy wants to get him off.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Deputy O'Donovan.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  The importance of the cattle trade to Irish industry and to the agricultural community is so great that I was anxious to refer to it, but I am not going to mention it any further. I am not going to go minutely into figures. The Minister had such juggling with figures, and was so actively ringing the changes that we really do not know where we are. He has put a tax of £825,000 for the relief of unemployment on local authorities. In view of that alone, one must protest against the Budget. It is a pity that the sons of Adam in this country should not be given an opportunity to progress when all other countries in the world are improving and progressing. Instead of improving and progressing we here are going the other way; we are going backwards as a result of the Fianna Fáil policy.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am not at all surprised at the difficulty Deputy O'Donovan found in making his speech to-day. Of [253] course, we expected what we got from Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon is never at a loss for words; he will always find some argument for the purpose of condemning things; he would even condemn the Angel Gabriel if he promised to take him straight to Heaven, simply because he might stop by the wayside. Deputy Dillon complained about the £11,000,000 we dropped. He forgot that in our exports of agricultural produce the Cumann na nGaedheal Government dropped some £13,000,000 and they were still paying £5,000,000 a year towards the land annuities.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Your Government paid £5,500,000 last year.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Deputy Morrissey will have ample opportunity to make his own speech. Deputy Dillon attacked us, first of all, in relation to land division. He did not know where this division of land was going to wind up. The division of land will wind up when we have all the ranches, that are at present idle, under cultivation and our people planted on them. If that is any information to Deputies opposite, I make them a present of it. We make no apology to anybody for that. My only objection in the case of land division is that it is going too slowly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy told us all that on the Land Commission Estimate.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  It was merely a passing reference. I am not surprised at the small numbers brought in here by Deputy O'Donovan's Farmers' Party when I observe the type of representative that has come in after the election and when I listen to Deputy O'Donovan's statements. We recently had an example here of how rural representatives can help one another by sticking together. Deputy O'Donovan came in here looking for support in connection with the Flax Bill and he got support all round. Instead of attacking the unfortunate people on the poor and bad land who have only turf to fall back on, Deputy O'Donovan should have adopted a different attitude. He alluded to the increased taxation and asked where had it gone to. Has [254] Deputy O'Donovan voted here against the spending of any of those millions on housing, old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and unemployment assistance? He has not. He dare not go back to his people and tell them he voted against those proposals.

We had to come in here to make up for the inactivity of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. During their period of office the labourers, for whom Deputy O'Donovan has expressed such great sympathy, were left without a house. For ten years the small farmers in Deputy O'Donovan's constituency could not execute repairs to their houses, because the then Minister for Local Government took care that none of the Housing Bills he brought in would be extended to help out the small farmer or the labourer. We had to make up for their inactivity over a period of ten years. We had to tackle the problem of insanitary houses all over the country and we had to provide houses for those who needed them. I believe that within the next two years the housing problem in rural areas will be practically solved. It takes money to do all that, but we have a Government here with sufficient courage to say that in the case of every house built for a labourer they are prepared to give 60 per cent. of the cost, to be paid out of the increased taxation about which Deputy O'Donovan is growling.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It is not paid out of taxation.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Yes.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It is paid out of loans—it is left for somebody else to pay.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Notwithstanding all the years Deputy Mulcahy was Minister for Local Government, he cannot point to one house built in the Free State for an agricultural labourer.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Nonsense. Go down to County Cork and you will find them. The Deputy is wrong in saying that this money is being paid out of taxation. It is being paid out of loans, which are left to others to pay.

[255]Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Acres and acres of land taken over in 1912 and 1913 were left lying there until 1933, when Fianna Fáil came in and built houses on them. The people gave the Cumann na nGaedheal Government their answer when they kicked them out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy must address the Chair.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  And tell the truth.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Deputies opposite objected to old-age pensions at the full rate and widows' and orphans' pensions. We are devoting millions to that purpose.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  What millions are you devoting?

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  Who is paying it all?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Your Government cut 1/- off the old-age pensioners—anything was good enough for them when you were in office.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  I did not object to the widows' and orphans' pensions.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Did Deputy O'Donovan suggest anything like that from 1922 to 1932, when he was keeping the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in office by bargaining with them after every election? There were bargains when nine and ten and 16 votes were sold over to the Cumann na nGaedheal Party after every election. Did Deputy O'Donovan suggest at that time that the agricultural labourers wanted houses? Did he suggest that one portion of the price of the support of the Farmers' Party was that these small farmers down the country would get a grant of £40 towards the reconstruction of their houses? He did not. He wanted a job as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The country knows what it had to pay for the jobs. It knows it too well.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Yes, and Deputy Mulcahy got his answer. They were all given the boot. Deputy O'Donovan, when referring to the condition of the farmers, did not leave out the economic war. But the economic war would [256] have been finished two years ago were it not for the action of Deputies O'Donovan and Mulcahy and the other Deputies on the Opposition.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Good man.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Who would have dreamt that when a struggle was on between this country and England you would find Deputies of the Opposition advising the British Government?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy is not in order.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We have been told, Sir, by Deputy O'Donovan that the bad position of farmers is due to the economic war, and I am pointing out that the economic war would have been over two years ago were it not for the advice of Deputy Blythe——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  As Deputy Corry has already been told, that matter is irrelevant.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  What about the Republic now?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We will get the Republic, and we will make the Deputies on the Opposition fight for it. We will get it, and the devil thank them.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  And Deputy Corry will fight behind the ditch.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We will get you all out on it. What is wrong with the Deputies opposite is that the country has prospered too well. Things have gone on too well for the country. That is what is wrong with them. Last year we were told that the Budget would never be balanced and that the country could never do it, but that there would be a deficit this year. Where now is the deficit? We heard all those speeches last year. The land annuities campaign is now finished for good. The Deputies and their followers are paying up. The leaders were bad. The leaders who told the farmers that——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I must warn the Deputy against returning to a discussion that is out of order.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  That is what is wrong with this Budget. That is the complaint [257] the Opposition have to make. We have Deputy Dillon to-day talking of the loss of the cattle trade. The Deputy ignores facts, and he can do it. He is one of the few Deputies in this House who can sit over there as a leader of the new Cumann na nGaedheal, and, like Pontius Pilate, wash his hands and say: “I had nothing to do with those sins of the past. I only came in here the other day.” But Deputy Dillon ignores the position of the farmers at the time we came into office and their condition for three years previously. That position, however, was realised right, left and centre all over the country. Years before we came into office we had Deputy Carey moving at a meeting down in my constituency that the annuities be held over and not collected because the impoverished condition of the farmers at that time rendered it impossible for them to pay. It was impossible for the farmers, under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, to pay their land annuities in 1929. That fact is there on the records of this House, and it can be read by anybody. Deputy O'Donovan complains of the price of oats. But he is one of the Deputies who comes in here morning, noon and night complaining bitterly because this Government found a market for 760,000 barrels of oats last year. That market was found by this Government through the admixture scheme. The Deputy is one of those who come in here led away by Deputy Dillon's clap-trap protesting against that scheme.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  The Deputy had better not be bluffing now.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Well, that is the kind of nonsense we hear here. The collection of the rates and the collection of the land annuities are much better than they were this time 12 months. People are spending more. Deputy O'Donovan says that the spending is being done by only one particular class of the population. The Deputy says that the agricultural community are 80 per cent. of the population, so that, according to that reasoning, 20 per cent. of the population are responsible for this enormous increase in revenue. If that is so, then it is only 20 per [258] cent. of the population who are responsible for all the smoking and drinking that has caused the increase in the revenue. If that is so, 20 per cent. of the population are responsible for subscribing for the taxation that is now going to the farmers. We can congratulate ourselves therefore that we are screwing out millions in revenue from 20 per cent. of the population—from the people who are not farmers. According to the Deputy, these are the people who are contributing more and spending more to help the country out in doing all the things that had been left undone in the previous 12 years.

The farmers did get something in this Budget. The cattle levy is completely wiped out. We did not wait to announce whatever little bit we were going to give in relief of taxation until the Budget day and then announce it with a flourish of trumpets. We gave relief when it was needed. On 1st April we wiped out £142,000 or 50 per cent. of the cattle levy and we are wiping out an additional £95,000 in this Budget. The farmers are gaining altogether £238,000 out of the extra liquor and extra tobacco and the rest of it that has increased in revenue. The farmers are gaining by the motor cars, the tax on petrol, and so on contributed by 20 per cent. of the population who have nothing to do with agriculture. I do not see what Deputy O'Donovan really has to complain of. I know that the Deputy complains of an increase in taxation. But the increased revenue from taxation has gone to the poor, to those who were unassisted and ignored for ten or 12 years. Deputies opposite had no interest in them and never bothered about them. People may die of starvation in this country but it is not the duty of the Government to look after them. That is what we were told, but now they are being looked after. Deputy Morrissey may smile. I admit they are not getting enough. But they will get more according as the country becomes more prosperous and it is becoming more prosperous. I am glad that we, as farmers, need not look altogether to Britain to take whatever [259] Britain gives and thank her for it. If Deputy Dillon has his way, this will be stopped. The Deputy has informed us that whenever Irish people are foolish enough—I do not believe they will ever be so foolish as to return the Opposition to office—I do not believe they will ever be so foolish as to put in that Party as a Government, but the Deputy says that when they will he is going to abolish the beet factories and the wheat-growing. I do not know whether Deputy O'Donovan stands for that or not. I suppose his flax scheme will also get the knife when Deputy Dillon comes into power. The farmers have now got a decent market for their wheat and they have not come too badly out of beet growing, when we compare the position of the English farmers with the farmers here. The English farmer has to pay a fixed wage of 37/6 per week to ploughmen in the beet growing area and 32/- to ordinary labourers, and he gets 35/- per ton for his beet and no pulp back.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  He must be making a fortune out of it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We did better than he did. The English farmer is growing beet at that price. The Irish farmer is getting 6/- per ton more for beet than the English farmer, and the English farmer finds it pays him to grow beet at that price. That is the slavery that Deputy Dillon alludes to in every speech that he makes. These are matters which Deputies opposite have not considered. When Deputy Dillon spoke of the reduction in exports one of the things he ignored was the £1,500,000 that we were paying for Chinese bacon in 1931. We were bringing in £1,500,000 worth of Chinese bacon which was, apparently, considered good enough for the Irish farmers and labourers. That market has also been put into the possession of the Irish farmer. He has that market altogether to himself now; no foreigner can send in any bacon to compete with him. These things are completely ignored by the Opposition. They do not care about them, or bother about them.

[260] There was also the position in regard to the farmers' sons who are being provided for now under minor relief schemes and otherwise, which was not done before. An enormous amount of money has been provided for that this year. Above all, we have to provide extra money to plant the people on the land when the ranches are divided up, and we are going to see that that is done. We have had complaints and moans from opposite directions, one side bemoaning that we are spending too much, and the other that we are not spending enough. Deputy Dillon warns us about paying all this money in widows' and orphans' pensions, and that kind of thing, when we cannot afford it, and says we should not do it. Deputy Mulcahy previously said that we should not have this rural housing at all, that we are spending too much money. It was all a mistake, he said. The houses built by their grandfathers should be good enough for the farmers, according to Deputy Mulcahy. All these things have been changed. The Government will see that proper housing accommodation is provided for the poor. They will also see that the farmers will get an alternative market at home for everything they produce, as far as it can be given to them.

When Deputy Dillon speaks of economic prices I wonder what does he mean? There was not a single article produced by the farmers in this country in 1931 at an economic price. There was not a single article that could not be imported cheaper—beef, mutton or anything else. We are going to see, as far as we can give it to them, that they will have a market. We are spending £2,700,000 in export bounties. A large portion of that money had to go during the past two years to seeing that the farmers got an economic price for milk and butter. Deputy Mulcahy went into the Lobby and voted against the farmer getting anything more than 2d. a gallon for milk. He thought 2d. per gallon was enough for the farmer. He challenged a division and brought his regiment into the Lobby against the Government's proposals. We had to spend an enormous amount of money to keep up the price of milk. If we had said to the farmer: “We will pay [261] the British tariff on the butter going into Great Britain and let you get the British price for the butter,” there would not have been a milch cow left in the country except for supplying milk to the towns, because the price paid in Great Britain for butter for the past two years would not give the farmer anything more than 2d. a gallon at the creamery.

Deputy Mulcahy thought it was enough for the farmer and marched his regiment into the Lobby to vote against the Butter (Price Stabilisation) Bill. His tune all the time was that people have to pay 1/4 and 1/5 per lb. for butter. To whom are they paying it? To the farmer who, he says, is broke and for whom he has pity. The Opposition wants to see the farmer brought lower. The trouble with the Opposition is that the farmer has survived, that he is getting out of the wood. The farmer is better off than he was. I know that the unanimous hope of the Opposition for the past three years was that the farmer would be wiped out. He is not; he has recovered, thanks to the fact that there was a Government here to look after him and which has helped him out. If anyone wants a barometer as to the position of the farmer he need only look at the way in which the rates and annuities came in last year as compared with the previous year.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Why is more money being kept back from the Cork County Council then out of the grants?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Because in their wisdom they decided last year that they would not pay.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  That has nothing to do with it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Because they decided that they would contribute nothing and because Deputy Mulcahy and others thought that all the Cork people were fools. Deputy Mulcahy and others thought that whenever there was any kick to be given or any people to be got into trouble it should be the Cork people.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  They are a simple people.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  You said, “We will try [262] Cork with it.” You tried Cork with it, but you made one mistake in Cork and that mistake beat you—you thought you could lead from behind. The general in the battle led from behind. The general who told his dupes: “Do not pay, let your cattle be seized and sold for 10/- or £1” when he was nailed himself, took out his cheque book and wrote a cheque in payment on the wheel of his motor car. That is what happened in Cork.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy must address the Chair and deal with the Budget.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  His objection was to paying a second time.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Your game is over. You had to kick out poor O'Duffy. I do not see a blue shirt over there now, even for the Budget.

Mr. Keating: Information on John Keating  Zoom on John Keating  An artificial farmer says queer things.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Minister is wearing blue, but he does not look blue—not to-day, anyway.

Mr. J.M. Burke: Information on James Michael Burke  Zoom on James Michael Burke  You are a true blue.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  That is a summary of the statements we have heard from the Opposition in connection with the Budget. I am glad that the position has improved to such an extent, and that all our statements in regard to it say that we have improved the situation. The situation has improved enormously.

Mr. J.M. Burke: Information on James Michael Burke  Zoom on James Michael Burke  Who are “we”?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Government. Deputy Dillon also compared the unemployment figures of 1932 with those of 1936, just to show how badly off, and how much worse off, we are to-day. But Deputy Dillon ignored the fact that 30,000 people who sailed out every year from Cobh to America are no longer going. They are at home now, and employment has to be found for them, and is being found for them despite the efforts of Deputies opposite. There is no good talking to some Deputies, because there are none so blind as those who will not see. That is the [263] position of Deputies opposite. They are anxious for only one thing, and have been praying for that one thing for the last three years, and now they find themselves beaten. They were very anxious to see this Party put out of office; and, in order to see this Party put out of office, they were prepared first of all to see the ruination of the farmers in the country, and secondly, they were prepared to do anything, even to line themselves up with the British, if that could be accomplished.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  It is always interesting to listen to Deputy Corry, because one usually gets from the Deputy statements which seem to convey the real mind of the Government Party. He is not so well able to hide the facts in most of what he says as some of his colleagues on the front bench are. We have it now clearly from Deputy Corry that the farmers in this country are better off than ever they were since the Treaty was signed. That is the Deputy's statement. The Deputy asked us to get a thermometer—these were his own words—and try to take the temperature of the farmers. I suggest to the Deputy that if some of the farmers of this country were listening to the statement he made, and if he then tried to take their temperatures, he would get such a shock that he would not recover from it for the next ten years. I challenge the Deputy to come down to different parts of the country and repeat that statement. He does not believe it himself. The Deputy criticised Deputy Dillon's statement about the slavery under the beet scheme.

The Deputy proceeded to show that the farmers in this country are getting very good prices for their beet, and ought to be making substantial profits; that they are paying infinitely lower wages than in Britain. But the same Deputy, as a member of the Beet Growers' Association last year, threw back with contempt the price offered for beet by the Government. He said it was 9d., the price of a pint. He described, in language stronger than Deputy Dillon ever used, the price then offered for beet. But Deputy [264] Corry, speaking here, under the eye and with the advice of the Minister for Finance, is a different man from Deputy Corry meeting his colleagues assembled round a table in the Beet Growers' Association.

The Deputy tells us the farmers are better off than ever. He says the benefits of increased taxation have gone to the poor under this Budget. Will the Deputy tell us what these benefits are that have gone to the poor? Will the Deputy, when considering this Budget, throw his eye over last year's Budget and relate it to the Budget of this year? The direct benefit to the poor under this Budget is ¼d. in the lb. off sugar. Assuming that that benefit is going to be passed on, and that is a very big assumption, what does it mean? It means at the highest a benefit of from 1d. to 1½d. per week to the average workman's family, and that is on the assumption that the reduction in duty will be passed on. The Minister, apparently, is surprised at the statement I have just made.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No! No statement by Deputy Morrissey would surprise me.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Let me tell Deputy Corry and the Minister if they do not know it, although the Minister should know it, unless his memory is short, that there are many people who buy sugar in such small quantities that the benefit cannot be passed on. I would like to know how the benefit of the ¼d. per lb. reduction is going to be passed on to people who buy in less than ½ lb. quantities. When Deputy Corry referred to the benefits to the poor will he remember this—I know he does not want to remember it—that last year the poor of this country were called upon to bear a heavier share of taxation than ever before? Does Deputy Corry remember that this ¼d. on sugar was put on last year, and that 4d. per lb. was put on tea? Does he remember that as a result of the Minister's activities, in regard to the wheat subsidy, flour was increased 8d. per stone? Does he know that there was 5/- per ton put on coal last year, and although that has been taken off does he know that because we are tied [265] to a monopoly coal is costing 10/- per ton more to-day than before the coal-cattle pact?

Does the Deputy know that there has been an increase in the price of other commodities? Does he know that the poor are paying considerably more for their butter than they used to pay? Does he know that cinema prices were increased last year? The Deputy would say, perhaps, he is not interested in cinemas, but it must be remembered that these cinemas are the recreation of the poor. It may be held that they are not a very high form of entertainment, but it is the main form of entertainment that the poor of this country are able to enjoy to-day. Let the Deputy remember that, when it was protested from these benches, last year, that the necessaries of life were being taxed, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance told us that it was because they were necessaries that they were taxed. He told us that it was because they are necessaries that you get the money.

The Deputy knows quite well that the farmers of this country are not only not better off than they were five years ago, but that they are definitely worse off. Very few people know that better than Deputy Corry. I suggest to him that he is allowing his sense of loyalty to his Party to take precedence over the actual facts of the situation.

Let us remember that, on top of the heavy duties and the added and increased taxation on the necessaries of life, practically all articles used in the household which are bought in small quantities—the poorer the person the smaller the quantity and the heavier the cost—have been taxed. It was by heavy taxation on these articles that the Minister got his £10,250,000 last year from Customs duties. As a result of the Government's activities —I was going to call to my aid the members of the Labour Party in this connection but, unfortunately, they are not present—over the last two years the wages of the head of the ordinary household—the workman— have been reduced in purchasing power by from 5/- to 6/- per week. That is making a low estimate. Deputies and Ministers talk about strikes. [266] You must have strikes when you have the cost of living soaring, because an attempt must be made to keep wages in step with the increased cost of living. According to Deputy Corry, we are to be grateful to the Government for placing a greater burden of taxation on the poor than was ever placed on them before.

Reference has been made to the widows' and orphans' pensions. The contribution which the Government is making to the widows' and orphans' pensions scheme represents a very small part of the tremendous increase in taxation. Social services have been mentioned. So far as one of the largest items of social service is concerned, £1,500,000 has to be found because of the Government's failure to carry out the very definite promise they made. Rather than boast of that, they should be ashamed of it. They have to provide £1,500,000 for unemployment assistance because the Government did not carry out the definite promises made by the President, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and most of the other members of the Party opposite. We are told that the country is prospering and that because the Minister succeeded in producing a surplus this year—if he did—we are to congratulate him. If there is a surplus, he got it by taxing every one of the necessaries of life and, particularly, those used by the poor. Then we are to receive the Budget with open arms. So far as the poor are concerned, the relief they get under this Budget will be, at the most, from 1d. to 1½d. per week, in the reduction of the price of sugar. I ask Deputy Corry to keep in mind the additional taxation imposed last year. The Budget, we are told, shows that the country is prospering. It is a peculiar state of affairs that, side by side with increasing prosperity, we have had the numbers of unemployed mounting week after week. They have been reduced during the past few weeks only by the operation of a Period Order. The Government thought it necessary this year, in order to save certain moneys, to double the period. Reference has been made by Deputy Corry to the number of unemployed [267] in 1931 as compared with to-day. I am not one of those who ever held, nor do I now hold, that the registration figures of 1931 gave us the actual number of unemployed. I do not think that anybody ever held that. I know the figure was considerably more than the registered figure. The nearest we get to the figure is in the last census. That was the figure used by the Party opposite in their speeches here, in their speeches in the country and in their propagandist literature. That figure was 76,000.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  When was that figure available?

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Does the Minister not remember using that figure?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy said we used it in certain circumstances.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  You used it here.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Will the Deputy tell us when the figure became available?

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Somewhere about 1928.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy will be surprised to hear that the employment census return was not available until 1932.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That does not alter the argument.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It shows what reliance is to be placed on the Deputy's statements.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Where does the Minister think he is getting by that statement? I am giving the figure upon which the Minister and his colleagues relied. The peak point of unemployment was represented by the figure in the 1926 census, which was 76,000 odd.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Which figure was made available in 1932.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  When it was made available is beside the point. It does not affect my argument. The Minister does not want to have this figure brought out, because it blows sky-high some of the arguments used by himself [268] and his colleagues. The figure was 76,000 odd, and nobody ever suggested that that was an under-estimate. Rather was it agreed by practically everybody in the House that it represented something over and above the number of those who were unemployed in the ordinary sense of the word Let us assume that every man and woman of the 76,000 were genuinely unemployed and available for work. The Fianna Fáil Party told us, in the year in which the Minister says the figure was made available, that they were going to provide by the creation and expansion of a few industries employment for over 84,000. That figure was before them then. To show that they accepted that figure of 76,000 as representing the maximum amount of unemployment, they said there would not be a sufficient number of unemployed in the country, and that they would have to send to America and take back some of those who emigrated. Unfortunately, they have not had to go to that trouble. Before this Period Order came into operation, the figure published by the Department of Industry and Commerce of those signing the register and declaring themselves available for work was 147,000—the highest figure reached since records of the number of unemployed commenced to be kept.

Side by side with that we are told that the country is prospering, that the farmers are better off and that the workers are getting the benefits of taxation reductions. Does Deputy Corry think that the people are going to swallow that statement? The Minister, at least, has come down to realities and has thrown overboard the President, who told us on one occasion that he had a solution for this problem, a solution such as no other country had. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, when he was Deputy Lemass, and speaking at York Street, Dublin, stated that they would abolish unemployment in 12 months. When speaking here on Friday last he said he would put between 40,000 and 50,000 men to work in the turf industry. The Minister for Finance has faced up to this fact, that so far as the Government is concerned unemployment, like the poor, is going to be always with [269] us. The Minister said that provision would have to be made for unemployment year after year, so that the famous plan is thrown overboard and buried at last; the plan that deceived thousands of the unemployed into voting for the Party opposite and putting them where they are to-day. They know that quite well. We have been told that the Government is going to create an unemployment fund of £2,500,000. I want to say that so far as that sum will give employment I welcome it, and I am prepared to give the Government every credit for it, as far as it will go. But the Minister could not do that without trying to make capital out of it; without trying to make it appear to be a much greater contribution from the Government than actually it is. The Irish Press this morning has a big heading, as if the £2,500,000 was being given as a Government contribution. I think that if the figures are analysed it will be found that the net extra sum to be provided by the Government is little more than one-third of what the local authorities are expected to provide.

The Minister also told us that they expected to save, as a result of the number of men who will get work under this scheme, £550,000 in unemployment assistance and unemployment insurance benefits. I should like the Minister to go into a little more detail as to how he arrived at that figure, and to give us some idea of the number of men it is hoped to put into employment this year. If the Minister was able to arrive at £550,000, he ought to be able to give the number of men concerned, and not have the unfortunate unemployed led away again by the writer in the Irish Press talking about the abolition of queues outside labour exchanges. I hope the money will be spent this year, but I have my doubts. If it could be spent it would not be sufficient to abolish the queues outside the labour exchanges. The Government knows that quite well. However, I agree with the principle and I welcome the Minister's statement. I do not blame the Government for not being able to solve completely the unemployment problem during the last four years. I never expected that [270] they would. I will go further and say that it would be impossible for them to do it, with the best will in the world. But that does not get behind this, that they deliberately asserted that they would do it within 12 months, for the purpose of deceiving these unfortunate men and their dependents into voting for them. We know the state in which they have left them.

As far as the general position of the country is concerned, I can say from experience, from information brought to me in different ways, from my contact with the people, from meeting farmers and ordinary workers in conversation, notwithstanding anything the Minister might try to show in his Budget or how highly he may try to colour it—and I admit he is very good at that—and no matter how emphatic Deputy Corry may be here, the people are not as well off to-day as they were five years ago. The workers are not as well off as they were then. The figures published by the Department of Industry and Commerce prove that. These figures give the wages of agricultural labourers as being 3/- per week lower than they were in 1931. In my opinion that is a very modest estimate of the reduction that has taken place. I stated in this House some time ago that there were agricultural labourers working in County Tipperary for a wage as low as 5/- a week with their board. That statement has been challenged in certain places. I want to repeat it and to emphasise it. I know what I am talking about and I can produce the proofs. I say further that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of farmers who cannot afford to pay even 5/- a week and to board labourers. I am not saying, and I never did say, that there are not farmers paying far more than 5/- a week to labourers. There are. When Deputies on the opposite side talk about the employment given on wheat and beet schemes to agricultural labourers, I refer them to last week's issue of An Phoblacht which contains a letter from the secretary of an agricultural labourers' association dealing with the wages paid to labourers who are employed in pulling and thinning beet. I do not usually indulge in the luxury of reading An Phoblacht.

[271]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Maybe you write some of it.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  I will leave that sort of thing to the Minister. I will say this, that there are fewer fairy tales even in An Phoblacht than in the Irish Press and they are not as far removed from realities as those in the Irish Press and that paper does not blazon on its front page “Truth in the News.”

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Before making a few general remarks on the Budget, there are one or two particular points that I want to ask the Minister to be good enough to elucidate when replying to the debate. One is the estimate for surtax and supertax. I see that he estimates for a reduction of £123,000 in the yield of surtax and supertax for the current year, as compared with last year. I should like to know why he expects that reduction. The other matter is the corporation profits tax. I have mentioned this tax each year since I came into this House without yet succeeding in drawing from the Minister any sort of explanation of the principles on which it is based. It seems to me to be fundamentally unfair and unjustifiable, and I ask the Minister, if he can, to explain what sort of basis exists for it in principle, and whether it does not, in fact, operate as a concealed income-tax, bearing upon a shareholder in an Irish corporation unfairly and in a discriminatory manner as compared with shareholders in a corporation elsewhere— for example, in Great Britain. I see that the amount brought in by the tax is substantial. But that fact alone is not enough to justify it. If the Minister has to admit it is inequitable, surely he ought frankly raise the money by increasing the income-tax all round, instead of maintaining a tax which has an unjust and discriminatory effect.

Turning to a few general remarks which I want to make, the first question that arises is the size of the Budget. Much has been said about the staggering total which it reaches. I was brought up to consider that a revenue of £10,000,000, raised from the whole of Ireland, was grossly excessive and far beyond our capacity to bear. [272] The value of money admittedly has decreased since that time and, quite automatically, one would expect a higher figure nowadays. But the decrease in the value of money, of course, is nothing like sufficient to explain the difference, and so my whole instinct when I came into the House and when the first Fianna Fáil Budget was brought in—and indeed in relation to the Budgets brought in by the Minister's predecessor—was to say that it imposed a burden on the country which was beyond the country's capacity to bear. All of us who were interested in Irish nationalism and in Irish nationalist propaganda were taught from the cradle to regard British taxation in that way. Our whole case for the charge that we were overtaxed by Great Britain was based, not on the allegation that Great Britain took more out of the country than she spent in the country, but upon the allegation that, compared with other countries of our population and our size, we were called upon to bear a burden that was too heavy, having regard to the country's capacity to pay. I have been lately looking through some economic pamphlets of Arthur Griffith and others, and I say that anyone who wishes to attack this Budget or previous Budgets on the ground that it must, in the nature of things, be beyond the capacity of the people to bear this taxation, can find ample justification in theory from the works of Arthur Griffith and other propagandists in days gone by. But I am afraid, if we are to be candid, we must admit that these views were wrong. We must admit that this country is able to bear a larger burden of taxation than we had, in fact, thought possible.

Deputy Dillon has told us again to-day that we are on the verge of bankruptcy and has addressed his most solemn warnings to us on the ground that we are behaving like a man who has won a prize in a sweepstake and is tottering from publichouse to publichouse in the effort to spend it as quickly as possible. I do not know that any of us in this House is really in a position to throw stones about having made prophecies that [273] have failed to be fulfilled. I think we have probably all done it at one time or another. Certainly I have spoken in gloomy terms on more than one occasion about where Fianna Fáil expenditure was leading us.

But one has got to face facts, and I must say that to me it is a pleasant surprise that notwithstanding taxation which filled me with foreboding—and which would have filled me with foreboding if there had been no financial dispute with Great Britain or nothing in the economic policy of the Government with which I disagreed—this huge expenditure has gone on, and still revenue is coming in satisfactorily. I think it is only fair to congratulate the Minister and the Government on that buoyancy of revenue of which the Minister spoke in his Budget statement. Of course it can be exaggerated; it can be overstated, but there it is. Prima facie evidence of our speeding towards bankruptcy does not seem to be there so far as the revenue figures are concerned. It was said by Deputy O'Donovan that our position is appalling as compared practically with every other country in the world. I cannot agree. So far as the fiscal position is concerned, the position of our treasury, there are not many countries in the world with which I would be willing to change places. Even some British Commonwealth countries, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who have been much more sensible than we have been as regards trade relations with Great Britain, cannot point to an actual treasury position that is superior to ours. In other words, as regards the financial position of the Government, there is at least as much evidence of impending bankruptcy in Canada, Australia, or New Zealand as there is in the Irish Free State. Consequently, I, for one, have been forced to revise my ideas about the amount of taxation that it is possible for this country to bear. One has to live and learn.

At the same time I do believe that much of this taxation is regrettable, and would be unnecessary if the Government had not plunged into the economic dispute with Great Britain. [274] The Minister for Finance has said that it is a denial of all democratic theory, or some such phrase, for anyone to criticise a Government's expenditure or a Government's taxation unless he is prepared to make suggestions of economy. I do not know where he has been picking up his notions as to what is usual in democracies because, as far as I am concerned, I know of no democracy where Oppositions are in the habit of doing anything of the kind, nor do I think in the history of this State have Oppositions felt themselves under any such necessity. It is asking too much of human nature that those who one day will be called upon to face their constituents should blame the Government for spending money because the man in the street or, at any rate, a large number of men in the street, like to see Government money being freely circulated and resent attempts at economy. The only form of economy that I see recommended by Oppositions in some countries—and by no means in all—is expenditure on armaments, which does not form a very big feature in our Budget. So that I, at any rate, who am in favour of old age pensions at 65, who am strongly in favour of raising the school leaving age—both of which schemes are going to be expensive—and who am also in favour of derating agricultural land, do not candidly feel that I can blame the Minister for Finance on the score that he is spending too much, except in so far as part of the expenditure would be unnecessary were it not for the financial dispute with Great Britain.

The Minister is making provision in this Budget for increased expenditure of a kind with which we all sympathise, for tackling the problem of unemployment. He has told us how a committee has been cogitating for some years past to try to discover suitable public works on which money should be spent with a view to reducing unemployment, and as Deputy McGilligan pointed out in his speech yesterday, the result of their cogitations does not appear to be very great. Their suggestions are of a hackneyed character, with little novelty in them, and not very much hope for the future so far as we can judge.

[275]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It was utility, not novelty, that we were seeking.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  I quite agree, but, after all, the material for spending money on such schemes was already present before the Departmental Committee was appointed at all; and if the committee was appointed, it was in the hope that they would think out something new, something more fruitful than had been thought out hitherto. I am not blaming the committee for their failure to produce anything very sensational. But I venture to offer an alternative, or, at any rate, a supplementary suggestion for the relief of unemployment over and above what that committee had had to offer, and that is that the Minister should employ any surpluses which he finds in his possession in settling the financial dispute with Great Britain. We are constantly being chided for not making concrete suggestions for a settlement of this dispute. I have made such suggestions often before, and I again make a suggestion now. Out of the £5,000,000 per annum which the British are at the present moment collecting by means of tariffs, some £1,750,000 is paid back to people resident in the country who are holders of Irish land stock, or R.I.C. pensioners. Would it not be a sensible plan to offer the British to pay them £1,750,000 a year in settlement of their claim of £5,000,000 a year, provided they stop collecting that £5,000,000 a year by means of tariffs on our agricultural produce? And, besides being sensible and advantageous from the narrow financial point of view, would it not be likely to be an enormous advantage from the unemployment point of view, seeing that the farmers would derive such greatly increased prosperity as a result of getting better prices for their produce, and would be able to give infinitely more employment at better wages than they can at the present moment? I make that suggestion to the Minister in all sincerity and friendliness to ponder on.

As I say, I do not think that any of us can afford to throw the first stone about prophecies that have gone wrong. They have been made on all sides of [276] the House, and I admit that I have made some myself. Of course, the statements that the Fianna Fáil Party made before they came into office seem to me more grotesque and monstrous than any slight errors that I have made! I do not think that I went further than to say that the general financial and economic policy of this Government was such that it must end in using up our reserves, and in making it impossible for social benefits to continue. That statement was far from being devoid of truth. In so far as the financial position of the country is satisfactory, to whatever extent it is satisfactory, I do not believe that any member of this House can deny for a single moment that the increased prosperity across the water has had a great deal to do with it, resulting in better dividends for holders of British securities and in better prices for our exports than would have been obtained if that prosperity across the water had not returned. Nor do I think that any honest Deputy can deny that the financial situation would have been infinitely worse than it is had it not been for the coal-cattle pact of 1935 and the new trade agreement with Great Britain in 1936. We who prophesied disaster from the Government's general financial and economic policy had no right to assume that they were going to depart so drastically from the ideas that they had previously expressed; we had no right to assume that they would do years later a part of what they failed to do at Ottawa; we had no right to assume that they would practically drop all pretence of an economic war with Great Britain, and that, instead of trying to injure the economic life of the British people, we should, in fact, be doing everything we could to ease it, and that, on the other hand, the British, subject to the collection of the particular sum which they claimed is due to them, should have departed from their more hostile attitude of a few years ago, and should be willing to enter into agreements with us for the benefit of our trade as well as theirs.

It is not profitable to exchange reproaches about past statements and [277] predictions, but what it is profitable to do is to see what are the real lessons to be learned from the present situation. If anyone were to regard this Budget, so far as it is satisfactory, as being a justification of the doctrine of economic self-sufficiency, he would obviously be entirely wrong. You cannot say that a Minister for Finance, who is drawing £10,000,000 of his revenue from Customs duties, is the Minister of a Government that is carrying on a policy of economic self-sufficiency. These notions have been thrown overboard, in fact, and they ought to be thrown overboard quite honestly in theory also. I am in favour of the industrial policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I believe that he is doing good work by the bulk of his tariffs in the way of building up industries here, but I decline to regard the policy that he is pursuing as being a policy of economic self-sufficiency at all. It is never going to go to that length, and, in the nature of things, it cannot go to that length, because we cannot in this country possibly produce the enormous amount of raw material that we require. We have got to go on importing from overseas, and, as a corollary to that, we have got to go on selling our produce overseas. Economic self-sufficiency for the Irish Free State, or even for Ireland as a whole, is entirely out of the question, and should not be the basis of the policy of any Party in this country which claims to have a commonsense programme to put before the people.

In so far as the Minister for Finance is prospering, he is prospering because he is not tied down to nonsensical theories of that kind. He is prospering because the Government no longer considers that the live-stock trade is something immoral, something un-Irish, something anti-national, something that diminishes the population. The Government are beginning to realise that a high cattle population is something which, instead of fighting against a high human population, should go along with it; that, in fact, the production in this country of the largest amount of live stock that we can possibly sell is in the interests of all the citizens of this country, and is [278] in no way in conflict either with other forms of agriculture or with the success of an industrial policy.

The great blot on this Budget is that it does so little for the farmers of this country. The great blot on this Budget is that the Minister has not realised the necessity of doing something fully as dramatic for the benefit of the farmers as he is attempting to do for the benefit of the unemployed. I again put it to him that if he, along with his colleagues, had taken steps to settle the financial dispute with Great Britain on reasonable terms he could have contributed alike to the relief of the unemployed and to the restoration of the prosperity of the farming community.

He has congratulated himself on having achieved his results by what he calls staying “within the system,” by refusing to be lured into Communism or State Socialism or any other kind of heresy. I congratulate him on that circumstance, but I wonder what the Labour Party have to say about it? I hope that when their spokesmen, who have hitherto been conspicuous by their absence, come to comment on this Budget they will be a little more honest and a little more outspoken than they have been in the past about the sort of system into which they wish to lead this country. It is not only within an orthodox economic system that the Minister for Finance has remained; he has remained within another system also, the system of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I think that in conclusion I shall remind the House, and especially the Minister and his colleagues, that if a Minister for Finance in this country had to produce a Budget on the basis of a separation from the Commonwealth, on the basis of the exclusion of our goods from Commonwealth markets, and on the basis of the exclusion of our people from Commonwealth employment, that Budget would present a very much gloomier aspect than the present one.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Last evening I read with great interest, with a certain amount of uneasiness, and with a certain amount of amusement, the Minister's voluminous document in [279] introducing this Budget. I would certainly wish to express my admiration for the English language as used by the Minister, to congratulate him on his command of language and phrase, and, at the same time, to commiserate with him on what appears to me his inadequate grasp of finance. The Minister apparently spoke in jaunty tone, showering bouquets on himself, but when one examines the whole document to ascertain why he is so jubilant and why he congratulates himself, it boils down to this—that he congratulates himself on the fact that he is the man who abstracted from the people of this country some £10,000,000 more per annum than was ever abstracted before his time. From that voluminous document there were two words missing, words which were frequently on the lips of the Minister in the past. From one end of that document to the other the word “economy” or the word “reduction” did not appear. It is not very many years ago since most of us listened to the Minister in this House when he spoke from those benches, and when there was a Minister over there seeking to abstract something in the neighbourhood of £23,000,000 from the people of Ireland. The two Ministers sitting opposite me at the moment were the most vehement and noisy in their protestations that such a demand was inhuman, that it was more than the capacity of the people of the country could bear, and that the result of such abstractions from the people of the country could lead to nothing but misery and unemployment.

We had, of course, their suggestion that, without interfering in even the slightest degree with any one of the social services, the trimmings and trappings of State gave scope for immense economies, that without interfering with the pay of any single policeman or soldier there was a field for economy running into millions, by reducing or curbing the numbers, that every farmer in this country rightly looked on civil servants as parasites, and that the number of such civil servants should be drastically [280] reduced. I do not know whether those phrases were thoroughly insincere, merely the glib phrases of dishonest politicians, or whether they were meant in all sincerity, but they seem to be forgotten absolutely and completely now. It seems to be the height of sound administration nowadays to increase expenditure in all directions, to inflate the numbers in every single Government service and Department, to increase the number of soldiers, to increase the number of policemen, to increase the number of civil servants, to demand of the community that those further huge sums should be found, and to claim that that is not a hardship upon the people. We all remember the long statement, pages upon pages of it, dealing with the injustice of expecting the population of this country to carry taxation something in the neighbourhood of £7 odd per head of the population. We had that compared with the yield in Britain, and with the capitation taxation in the North of Ireland, and this Twenty-Six County State carrying taxation between £6 and £7 per head of the population was held up to the gaze of the world as the most unfortunate tax-crippled State in the whole world.

As I say, all that was either sincere or it was so much cheap humbug. If it was the latter, can we place any more faith now in the words of the same individuals merely because they have changed their position in this House? If all those eloquent statements made in 1928, 1929 and 1930, are now to be discarded as the cheap fudge of politicians who did not know what they were talking about, have we any reason to believe that those men have changed so much in character that we can place any more reliance on their statements merely because they are facing in a different direction in this House, or have we come to the point where it will be admitted that all those phrases and statements were so many insincerities, merely voiced in order to fool the people and that, in fact, the people were not over taxed, that in fact the people were too lightly taxed and that, in fact, the capacity of our people to bear taxation was 50 per [281] cent. above the figure we ever touched in those times; that it was not at all unreasonable to ask the people to put up millions more for an increased number of police, an increased number of soldiers and an increased number of civil servants and various officials all over the country; that now we are approaching something like what we must regard as normal expenditure in a country of this size, this wealth and our population; that £30,000,000 is a sum that can be conveniently found; that some £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 more than what was found in the past can be comfortably found now; and that all these prophecies with regard to the 50 per cent. lower scale of taxation as being likely to produce unemployment and economic distress were not only untrue but intended deliberately to mislead? I am inclined to think the reverse; I am inclined to think there was a lot of truth in the statements made by Ministers when they were here; and I am inclined to think that there is every evidence of the truth in the figures given to us by the Minister, that, as a result of the very rapidly increased taxation on the people of this country, we have experienced the economic distress that was foretold when taxation was considerably lower, and that we now find ourselves in a position in which, in order to grapple with the fringe of unemployment, we have to find such a staggering sum as £2,500,000 for expenditure in one year.

I am not going to quibble with regard to the actual number of unemployed now, or last year, or four years ago, but the figure which is hitting us all here in the eye is that we have to be prepared in this year to spend something like £2,000,000 by way of unemployment assistance, something in the neighbourhood of £1,000,000 in the direction of home help, and, in addition to that, a sum of £2,500,000 to create work and wages. Now, the wealth of a country, to my mind, can be sized up by the capacity of that country to absorb into employment the able-bodied population of that country without any artificial aids, and the index figure of the industrial strength and economic activity of a country is [282] its employing capacity without any artificial aids, without relief works, without State aids and without special grants. I believe that, in proportion to our wealth and in proportion to our population, when you take a figure in the neighbourhood of £5,000,000 as being the minimum required for a gesture and an effort in the direction of relief of unemployment, you see the depths to which this country has sunk, and I congratulate the Minister and his colleague on at last having had the courage to face up to the real situation.

Time and again in the past 12 months, when Deputies on this side pointed out the real serious, menacing distress that was growing up throughout rural Ireland because of the inability of farmers to pay wages, we had the Minister for Industry and Commerce and others scoffing and saying: “Oh, that is not so. Employment is actually going up. Unemployment is disappearing little by little. We are within measurable distance of employing the last unemployed man, and we are within sight of the point when we will call home the exiles from abroad to lend a hand, as there is so much work in the country.” That is another phase, another period, of humbug passed; it is another milestone on the road towards common sense, manly facing up to the situation. We have at last the admission of the fact that the amount and volume of unemployment in this country is huge, gigantic, menacing and dangerous, and, realising that, and appreciating that, apparently long before the Minister realised it, I welcome this effort, big and all as the moneys involved are, or any effort in the direction of finding work. I believe that efforts in the opposite direction would, in the long run, become a curse over the country, and that the only sensible lines along which to grapple with unemployment are the lines of finding work, no matter if the cost is much greater than the cost of finding money without work.

Money for idleness is a very demoralising road for any country to travel. Money for idleness, carried on for a period of five to ten years, would [283] ultimately demoralise the whole of a generation. You develop a race of work-shys, a race of people who do not want work as long as they can get a miserable pittance without work. The Minister's own statement was pathetic in so far as he indicated, whether with knowledge or not, that we are approaching that point, that there were many indications that a spirit was developing where unemployed people were not anxious, or even willing, to work. I did not think we would reach that point so rapidly. If the statements contained in the Minister's speech yesterday are accurate and are based on knowledge, I think demoralisation has been very rapid, and that any effort, no matter how severe it may be on the people, is justified, if it is an effort in the direction of getting people work and devoting money to work rather than to idleness. While not claiming to be in any way experienced in finance, and far from claiming to be an expert, I am rather puzzled to know how we can expect to procure X-number of millions more money by way of taxation out of a people at a time of acute economic distress; when trade, by any particular test we apply to it, gives very ample and clear indication that it is shrinking; when our export trade, beyond anything else, is dwindling and dwindling year by year; and when we have lost in that direction alone an annual sum somewhere in the neighbourhood of £20,000,000. When a people are experiencing such losses, I cannot see that that is the time and that those are the circumstances to expect them to be able, without very great sacrifice and very dangerous reactions, to contribute substantially more to the Exchequer.

The Minister may say that the yield from tobacco and from beer and spirits has gone up. He may put one explanation on that. He may deduce certain things from that, and he is entitled to put his own interpretation on it, but it is certainly open to another interpretation. There is no question of doubt that, if idleness is increasing, if through unemployment there is a great increase in the amount of idleness, [284] naturally, the idle man smokes more than the man busy at a job, and as long as there is a “bob” going, the idle man will drink more than the man who is working hard—far more. You have more time for smoking and more time for drinking when you are idle, and that is certainly an explanation or interpretation that should not be passed over lightly because, in spite of the Minister's jaunty deductions from revenue on the one hand, we have his admission, on the other hand, that unemployment has become a really serious menace in this country, and we have official figures, one after the other, all pointing in one direction: that unemployment is going up and that wages are going down. We have the official publications indicating that within the last few years the wages of agricultural workers have gone down, on an average, by about 3/- per man per week.

Those wages have gone down because the employer has not the money to pay better wages. No man in this country, or in any other country that I know of, works merely to keep himself warm. Labourers here and elsewhere work for wages, and the nearer wages approximate to what can be got without work, the less stimulus or desire there will be to work. Wages have gone so low that, certainly for a man with dependents, they approximate to the amount he would get if he were out of work. The money is not there to pay the wages, and men are going out of work. If the State can become by some miracle a huge, big employer, and if the people in bulk are able to put up the wages, then it is all to the good; but I cannot reconcile an attempt to abstract a sum like £30,000,000 from the people at a time when unemployment is increasing, when trade is shrinking, and when national debt, local and central, is going up by leaps and bounds.

If there were something happening behind the lines to equate that or to keep our financial position as strong as before the new debts are incurred, then it would be all right, but behind the lines what is actually happening? About 70 per cent. or 80 per [285] cent. of the wealth of this country is sunk in the land, and within the last five years we have had something like a catastrophic drop in land values. The value of land per acre or per holding has fallen to an extent that nobody in his wildest moments would think possible. The way I look at that is this: That it may be considered good policy for the Land Commission to walk in and buy 1,000 acres of land at one-quarter of the price that land would have fetched five years ago. The short view may be that that is good policy, but if you march into any county and buy 1,000 acres of land at a quarter of the price it would have fetched five years ago, what is the effect? The effect is that every acre of land in that county falls by the equivalent. Multiply that all round, and you will find what is happening, and what has happened, is that by depreciation in the value of land by the Government action in reducing the profits to be made from the land, and, on the other hand, the taking of land at a contemptible price, the value of land in the State as a whole has been drastically reduced. As I said before, the wealth or the capital value of any State is the wealth of each individual in it added together, and with 50 per cent., 60 per cent., 70 per cent. of our people hard-up against it, without a sufficient income barely to maintain their families in the necessaries of life, the wealth, and consequently the credit, of the whole country must become impaired. It is no answer to that to point to 100 or 200 economic war profiteers in the City of Dublin, when you have hundreds and thousands of farmers and labourers reduced either to actual distress or comparative poverty.

There is one other matter in connection with this Budget on which I should like to touch and which I mentioned before. We have a Budget here, on the one hand showing an expenditure of £30,000,000, and on the other hand showing revenue of £30,000,000, and at the end of the combined tables we have an estimated surplus of £8,000. In the middle, however, we have a deduction, in round [286] figures, of £1,000,000 for over-estimation—£1,000,000 for over-estimation in £29,000,000. Now, such an allowance for over-estimation would be admissible and reasonable, say, 10 years ago, 12 years ago, or eight years ago, when every Department was new and inexperienced; but every year that goes by, the margin of error in the direction of over-estimation, should be less and less. It is very late in the day to be accepting—certainly, without comment—an allowance for a margin of error of £1,000,000 in £30,000,000. That percentage should be coming down every single year. The Department of Finance and the various officers in all the Departments should be getting towards the point when an estimate of expenditure can be regarded as something like a reasonably clear indication of what the expenditure will be. The disappearance of an item as big as £1,000,000 would make a very big difference to any Budget statement, present or past. Speaking as an ordinary Deputy who does not claim to be an expert in inaccuracies, I think it is expecting too much from us to place any real reliance on a type of State document that makes provision in the limited finances of this country for a mistake to the tune of £1,000,000.

In the whole of the Budget statement, and in the whole future as shown to us by that Budget statement, I think one of the outstanding characteristics is its omission to give relief in any direction. We might as well just look at the thing as it is staring us in the face. There is not one of us who is prepared to go to any agricultural labourer and say to that labourer “Although your wages are down to a figure you never experienced before in your life, and the cost of all your provisions is up to a figure you never expected it to reach, nevertheless the Minister has taken a farthing off the lb. of sugar and if you go to a theatre you will get a seat for a halfpenny less.” There is not one of us prepared to go to a farmer saying “You are paying more for the necessaries of life than ever you expected to pay; the value of your land has gone down to the extent of 75 per cent.; you pay four hard-earned pound notes on [287] your finished beasts when you send them to England, but nevertheless your missus will be able to buy sugar for a farthing a lb. less and, when you go up to Dublin in order to pay the tax on your bullocks, if you go to a cinema you will get a seat at a halfpenny less.”

I think, after the oppressive taxes that were imposed for the last two, three and four years, that if we are going to talk about reliefs, then there should be real reliefs; in other words, an effort should be made to give some real relief to the sections of the people who are hard pressed. If there is a sum of money available for relief, then it should be expended by relieving taxation on the necessaries of life rather than by relieving the amount of taxation on amusements. The reliefs in this Budget are farcical. The gesture of pointing to any relief in this Budget is an insult to anybody who is finding it hard to carry on. The prices of every commodity used in the way of food, furniture or clothing are increased; there are taxes on every commodity. For any Minister in a £30,000,000 Budget to talk in terms of taking ¼d. off the lb. of sugar and ½d. off a seat in a cinema is the sheerest nonsense. The Minister made reference here and in his broadcast statement that they did not wait for the Budget to give all their reliefs, and that they had given direct relief to the extent of £350,000 by remitting the coal tax, which he and his colleagues have claimed credit for.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Nobody else could take it off.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  That was no credit to the Minister or anybody else. There was an immense amount of discredit for ever imposing such a tax. When it was imposed the Minister came into this House with a hang-dog look on his face, and he convinced us, with all the power of oratory which he can command, that it was not a revenue tax, that he did not want to get a penny out of it, that it was a tax to keep out of this country the hateful English coal. He comes here three years afterwards and he says: “What [288] a fine fellow I am! I have given up £350,000 of revenue which I have received from the coal tax.” There is no credit in the removal; there are three years' discredit in the imposition, and if that is the only kind of relief he has to talk about or shake hands with himself about, then I think silence would be more becoming.

There are two real problems in this country. You are attempting to tackle one, and I am glad of it, and I congratulate you on it. You have two really big, growing problems in the country. One is the increasing unemployment. You are attempting to tackle that. The other is the approaching pauperisation of the agricultural community. You are side-tracking that; you are shirking it. There is this difference between the two, that unemployment is a world problem, and even though it has increased rapidly here within the last three years, the fault may not lie over there. It is a world problem, a universal problem, and you are trying to remedy it here as best you can. The other is a domestic problem; it is a situation created by your own actions, by your own foolishness, by your own recklessness. It may be you were justified in the beginning by starting such a state of affairs as this economic war, that you were justified at least in the hope that it was the type of war that you might carry on with success. The coal-cattle pact was a confession that that could not be done. Behind the lines of this war farmers and their families are going broke. There is no money for the labour entailed. Facts, or the fringe of facts, were faced in the coal-cattle-cement pact. You have the figures from this side and the other side to show that the farming community are paying every penny that was ever paid before. The obstacles and the impediments to full brisk trade between the two countries are not now over a question of principle or a question of money. This trouble is kept on merely over the question of whether the money will be paid through that channel or the other channel. You faced up to the unemployment situation. You have faced it boldly. Is it too much to ask or too much to expect [289] that an equal degree of courage, an equal amount of frankness, would encourage you to do likewise in the bigger problem?

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  Deputy O'Higgins seems to have been greatly puzzled as to how this rather large sum of money could have been collected from a nation that he states is going through a period of great depression, a nation, he went on to say, that is fighting an economic war brought on by the present Government. He seems to believe that there is nothing facing the country but disaster as long as this thing continues. Deputies opposite have the old weakness of expecting bankruptcy to-morrow or next week or next month. That, of course, is an old failing. Deputy O'Higgins spoke about the position of agricultural labourers at the present time. He told us of the great hardship that exists amongst them. I do not deny that a great deal of hardship exists amongst agricultural labourers, but I am of the opinion that not altogether as much hardship exists now as existed during the time when he was a member of the Government Party. Some seven or eight years ago actually in the town of Navan the unemployed workers on the land besieged the county council. There were numerous parades of the unemployed all over the country. No such thing occurs to-day. Of course, the Deputy may state that it is because most of those people, or all of those people, are supporters of the present Government and that they would grin and bear any hardship before attempting to demonstrate their nakedness or their difficulties. But that is not the case.

Deputy O'Higgins has failed to examine the position as it should be examined. He talked about the land. He talked about the great depression that the Fianna Fáil Government has brought about in land. Now the banks and all those people are constantly stating that land is going up in value and that it has gone up since we became a Government. There was one year since we became a Government that land became depressed but it was not more depressed than in the last [290] year of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government's period of office. The figures given by the Minister for Lands here the other day were very illuminating. Perhaps Deputy O'Higgins did not hear those figures. In case he did not hear them I will give him those figures now. Those figures indicate, roughly, the same position as exists in everything else. There is decidedly an upward trend. That upward trend is quite obvious to the person who goes around, opens his eyes and looks at things in the City of Dublin and in the countryside generally. It is obvious that there is a wave of prosperity developing here that never before obtained. Now here are the figures as to land prices. They are the figures prepared by the Land Commission. In 1928 the price of land was £9.2 per acre. That was the appeal price. In 1929-30 the price was down to £4.5, in 1930-31 it went up to £5; 1931-32 it reached £10.7; in 1932-33 it dropped to £5.8; in 1934-35 it was £6.5, and in 1935-36 it is £9.6. That is practically a higher figure than the figure for 1928. I take it that there is not much of a mistake about those figures. Those are appeal prices and they are pronouncements of the decisions of the judge. I think there is hardly any necessity to question them. I think there is nobody here or anywhere else who will deny that that is a clear indication that there is nothing at all wrong with this country and with its normal development.

It is quite true that amongst the farming community there are certain classes of farmers who have been extremely badly hit. That class may continue for some time to be badly hit. For instance, the present price paid for young stock is not any advantage at all to the class known as cattle feeders or to the graziers. The cattle feeder or grazier has to pay more for his raw material and he is not getting much more for the beef, so that his position is undoubtedly a difficult one. I do not think it is possible for any Government to have the whole community right at the same time. We may talk about all this money being collected and about the hardship it imposes on the taxpayer. The taxes [291] imposed on anything in the line of luxury have very definitely increased and I am quite sure show an indication of further increase in the future. But the main point about which I would like to hear is what we are doing with all that money and what did the late Government not do with the money they collected? There was little effort made to relieve any of the towns or villages and to give them any semblance of sanitary accommodation. We have done and are doing quite a lot in that direction. Practically speaking, there was not a single house built during the period of office of the late Government. To-day the country is studded all over with new houses. In every village in the country a sanitary scheme has been set up, or is about to be set up. Some thousands of houses that were dilapidated and that were falling to pieces are to-day repaired. We have adopted a new system altogether. The late Government went in for a purely free trade system. Our system is a protectionist system, and the incidence of taxation is totally different in the two systems. Of the money collected from the people now, there is hardly any leaving the country. Almost every penny of it must remain here, and as long as that obtains there is not any danger of the State going down. There is every indication that the State must develop.

What did we take over? We took over a country more or less like a prairie. The houses were more hovels than anything else. The social services were perhaps in the initial stages of development. A few of the main roads were highly done up, and the surface was in splendid condition, but the by-roads and the main roads were not attended to. It was impossible to get any such thing as a boreen or an ordinary small road repaired. For years I had been asking to get one particular road repaired. It never was done, and we were told it could not be done then. It is done now, and it is quite a passable road, and there are 15 or 16 ratepayers living along that line. They can get the priest or the doctor in when they need him, and their children can go to school. That [292] would not be done in the time of the late Government; they had not the money to do it. We needed money to do it, and fortunately we are well able to get it without doing any harm to anybody. We hear no complaints from the people outside. All the complaints come from the Deputies on the opposite benches. Every person to whom I speak is satisfied that the country is developing along right lines and that there is some indication of Christian principles being applied in the government of the country. The people are satisfied that for whatever money is spent reasonably good value is being got. The lamentations about the export trade and other trades are to a large extent nonsense. Export trade is to some extent important, but export trade is not the beginning and end of all things. The people want some degree of comfort and they want some degree of civilisation. After all, this Government, even though it has collected big sums of money, is giving to the people some degree of comfort, and it will continue to give to the people of this country some degree of comfort and culture—things of which in the past they were greatly in need.

We are told that we did nothing in the line of benefits. We gave benefits to families. The Minister in his Budget granted relief in respect of children to fathers whose incomes were of a certain amount. The late Government did not attempt to do that. I made several appeals, but it was not a bit of use—they would not dream of introducing such a measure. The whole outlook of the late Government was that the people were not anywhere, the children were not anywhere. They did not get milk or anything else. I saw babies in the County Meath brought up on some of this trash that comes in in tins. There was plenty of milk to be procured, but no effort was made to be procure it. What surprises the Deputies on the opposite benches is that the people are not in rebellion against the Government. They are not and they will not be, and they never will be against any Government that works along the lines we have worked along—and those lines are merely Christian lines—giving to people the [293] rights and advantages that should go to them.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  It is rather lamentable to hear a speech such as we have just heard delivered. I was very sorry for Deputy O'Reilly, who does know a great deal about this country. I have said in this House before, and I repeat it, that he is probably the only Deputy on the Fianna Fáil Benches who understands the first thing about farming. It is very lamentable to hear him trying to speak obviously against the grain, endeavouring to speak in the capacity of an advocate. I am afraid that Deputy O'Reilly, when speaking his true, innermost mind, is a very much stronger and more effective speaker than Deputy O'Reilly as an advocate pure and simple. He will pardon me for saying that his speech was not a very effective effort. Let us examine a little bit of his advocacy. The labourers, he admits, are badly off in Meath—not worse off than they were before. How does he prove that? He says that on one occasion there was a demonstration of unemployed labourers in Meath, and therefore the employed labourers were better off. That is the type of logic that Deputy O'Reilly uses. We are dealing with the question of employed labourers, as to whether the men who now have work are better off now or as well off now as they were five years ago. In order to show that they are better off now Deputy O'Reilly says that there was a demonstration by the unemployed.

The Deputy says that land is not depressed in price. What is his evidence? He wants us to believe a thing that every Deputy who lives in the country knows to be incorrect. Everybody knows that land is depressed. Go to any auctioneer in any part of the country and ask him what price he is getting for land now and what price he was getting a few years ago. Let Deputy O'Reilly go to any auctioneer in Meath or certainly in the part that I know best, the West of Ireland, and ask what fall there has been in the price of land. Let him ask any auctioneer if there is not a difficulty now in getting persons to buy holdings of land where he had ten or [294] 15 people running after them a few years ago. The Deputy brings up as conclusive evidence the price given for land by the Land Commission on appeal. I wonder is he serious about that argument? The price given by the Land Commission on appeal is not the usual price of land all over the country. I should like Deputy O'Reilly to consider how many cases come before the Land Commission; how many cases the Appeal Tribunal decide in a year. Will he give us that figure?

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  As many as they get.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  How many do they get? Do they get a couple of hundred? I would be inclined to say myself that, on an average, they do not get much more than a couple of hundred in a year on appeal for value.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  Not if they pay the right price.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  That is what I certainly would be inclined to say. How is that to be a test? Let me say there is an appeal about a very large farm in Meath of 400 or 500 acres, and that for land, which a few years ago used to be set for grazing at £5 or £6 per acre, they give about £20 per acre. They may have several of these in a year. Of course, the average price goes booming up. Let me say that they buy a 400 or 500-acre farm in another part of the country for which, possibly, they do not give more than £1 or 30/- per acre, because it is mountain. How on earth are you going to strike any average between the two or to say that the Land Commission prices are any index? I ask Deputy O'Reilly to be serious when he speaks to the House again. If he were quite honest with himself, he knows a great deal too much about farming to humbug himself with an argument of that nature.

The Deputy also talked about the present good price of young stock. If you compare it with last year, there is a fair price for young stock, but there is not a fair price, or anything like a decent price, for young stock if you compare it with the time before the great and magnificent agricultural [295] policy which has made the country blossom like a rose, that the Minister talks about, came into force.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  When did the Minister say that?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I am only paraphrasing the Minister. May I not be picturesque and borrow from the Minister his rhetorical style just for a moment? May I not use some hackneyed metaphor, or is it the Minister alone, with his poetic mind, to whom metaphors are allowed? The Minister cannot claim a monopoly in all cheap metaphors. How is the price of young stock arrived at? I am sorry that Deputy O'Reilly is bearing his conscience out of the House, as I should like to discuss this matter with him a little bit further. How is the price of young stock caused, bad as it is in comparison with what it was before this Government came into office? By a shortage, by the slaughter of calves. Is not that the cause? Will anybody tell me that if I have two bullocks which I am going to sell at £4 each, making £8 in all, I am not richer than if I have one bullock which I am going to sell at £5? That is not the sort of thing that brings prosperity. You do not make a country richer by lessening the amount of wealth that is in it. Diminution of stock can only be justified when the aggregate and total price of the diminished stock would exceed the price the stock had reached, before it had been diminished, as it ought never to have been diminished at all. I pass by the rest of the Deputy's speech where he said that not a single house was built with State assistance when Cumann na nGaedheal was in office, and that no relief was given out of grants made for the unemployed. That really shows a shortness of memory that I hardly expected from Deputy O'Reilly.

Let me turn to the Budget itself. We were told by the Minister for Finance that, alone among the sons of Adam, he lives in a real world. The rest of us, poor sons of Adam, including the Minister for Industry and Commerce, do not live in the real [296] world. We all live in an imaginary world, and the Minister, this solitary son of Adam, tells us that there is great prosperity in this country due to the agricultural policy of the Government and the industrial policy of the Government. I would like to know when there is to be an end of all this humbug. When is this House coming down to facts? What is the meaning of the Minister getting up and telling us that prosperity has been brought to the agricultural community by the agricultural policy of the Government? Is there a single person in this House who does not know that that statement is absolutely at variance with fact? We may be very charitable to the Minister for Finance. We may assume that he alone, among the sons of Adam, lives in the clouds and that he alone, among the sons of Adam, imagines a Utopia in this country which does not exist. But let us, who acquire our knowledge, not through imagination but through the ordinary senses, consider the matter. Is there a single person who knows rural Ireland who will say that rural Ireland is not suffering under a depression, and a very deep depression, at the present moment? Far from bringing wealth and prosperity to the country districts the policy of the Government has brought poverty that this country has not known before in this generation.

Is there a single person who knows the West of Ireland who will deny that? I do not think the Minister for Finance knows much about this country, if he knows anything at all. He is probably a better authority on conditions in Belfast than those in Mayo or Galway. But let anyone who knows the rural districts, and especially Connaught, and who is honestly prepared to express his thoughts, whether on the Fianna Fáil Benches, the Labour Benches or any other benches, state in this House whether ever in his lifetime he has seen such poverty in the West of Ireland as exists at the present time. The further he goes West, the further he penetrates into the mountainous districts, the deeper and deeper the poverty he will find. What is the use of telling us we have got great wealth owing to the agricultural policy of the Government when [297] everybody knows that that statement is false? But I am not dealing with the agricultural situation in Connaught alone. Take the position as it is all over Ireland. What better indication can you have as to agricultural prosperity than the rate of agricultural wages? That matter was dealt with here by a sincere friend and devoted adherent, or, if he objects to that phrase, I will say a faithful follower of the present Administration, Deputy Norton, the Leader of the Labour Party. He was perfectly clear and explicit in his speech on the agricultural Estimates. He stated, and correctly stated, in my judgment, that the official Government figures with regard to agricultural wages showing a fall of 3/- a week was not correct, and that the fall was very much greater. I think he was correct in that, although I said, on that occasion, I was willing to take the official figures as an index of the failure of the Government's agricultural policy.

Deputy Norton went further and stated clearly and definitely that the fall in agricultural wages was due to the inability of the farmers to pay higher wages. That is so; that is quite correct. How then can there be this state of agricultural prosperity if the persons who are supposed to be prosperous are so poor that they are unable to pay to their workmen the wages that the workers received before the Fianna Fáil Party came into office? We have, however, the great point made by Government speakers: They say we are taking taxation off sugar; we have taken one farthing off the tax on sugar. I do not think that there is in the world to be found a more self-complacent man than the Minister for Finance. If he puts a tax on he regards himself as an angel. If he takes a tax off he regards himself as an archangel. He takes very high credit to himself because he has taken a trifle off the tax that he himself imposed on food. He says, in so many words, “I am a great benefactor of the poor because, while I put a lot of taxes on their food and necessaries of life, I am now taking one farthing off the tax on sugar.” To the agricultural labourer, and small farmer in this [298] country, pressed down and burdened as he is by Government taxation, as well as local rates, that means that he is going to get relief under this Budget of the rich sum of one farthing a pound on sugar. Just that and no thing more. Where is the abolition of the tax on tea? Where is the reduction in the price of tobacco that people would be entitled to if they were to receive fair play? Where is the bringing down of sugar to the price it was before the Fianna Fáil Party came into office? We do not find it in this Budget. We still have this Christian policy, as Deputy O'Reilly described it, of raising the cost of living and taxing the necessaries of life of the very poorest members of the community. That is modern Christianity as preached by the Fianna Fáil Party. When we come to the Minister's explanation of his extra taxation we discover as disingenuous a statement put forward by the Minister as, I think, was ever heard in this House. This is what the Minister says: “It is quite true I have increased direct taxation, but I have spent practically the whole of it in social services.” He claims that he is spending this year £3,600,000 more in social services and that that goes a long way towards absorbing the amount raised by direct taxation. Why confine it to direct taxation? Why not consider not merely tax revenue but the total revenue? If you do that, you get figures which are very different. The estimated revenue for this year is £30,000,000 odd. In 1931 the revenue was £24,500,000. That is to say, the extra taxation imposed by the Government this year, as compared with 1931, is £5,500,000. Of that sum of £5,500,000, £3,500,000 has been spent in social services. What has become of the other £2,000,000? Wasted.

There is another way in which we must look at this matter. We find in the Minister's statement a very false figure, because he borrows this year £1,000,000 to pay for bounties. That is an expenditure for which there can be no return. It is not an investment. It is not capital expenditure. It is money which passes away this year and never comes back—money which, [299] from the point of view of the Exchequer, is completely destroyed. Why is that treated as capital expenditure? Why is it borrowed? You are only justified in borrowing for capital expenditure. You are not justified in borrowing for income. That is precisely what the Minister is doing. He borrows this sum of £1,000,000 although he is not going to invest it and although it cannot be called capital expenditure. If you add this sum of £1,000,000 to the extra expenditure for this year—as you should add it—you find that not half of the extra expenditure by the Government is devoted to social services. It is disingenuous and unfair to the country for the Minister and his followers to go around and declare that, though they are increasing taxation, they are spending that increased taxation on social services. They are not; they are spending no more than half that increased taxation on social services. What are they doing with the other half? The other half represents wages paid by the State to the incompetency of the present Administration.

The main feature of this Budget may be taken to be the expenditure of £2,500,000 on the relief of unemployment. It has been pointed out already in this discussion—I shall not go over the ground again—that this is not new money which is to be applied to the relief of the unemployed. It is, more or less, a transfer from one side of the account to the other. I myself welcome this effort and hope it will be successful. However, I have my doubts, as I shall explain in a moment or two. I hope the effort will be successful, and I am glad that the criticism which members on this side have poured on the unemployment scheme of the Minister for Finance has borne fruit, and that Fianna Fáil has been forced by our criticism to abandon that method of dealing with the unemployment problem. By our criticism, we have forced Fianna Fáil to change their method, and do, or attempt to do, what we have for long urged them to do. That is to say, do away with the dole and expend the money which they have been expending up to the [300] present in that way, in giving employment. I welcome that. Our criticism has borne fruit, and the Government has been forced to change their policy in that respect. Will this money be expended this year? Again, I say I hope it will, but again I say I have my doubts. We have, again and again, heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, who is in control of this expenditure, say: “I have got too much money, and I do not know how to apply it in giving work.” In fact, the House will remember that the poor man on one occasion pathetically put an advertisement in the newspapers asking if any member of the public would be kind enough to send in suggestions as to how the money could be usefully expended. In other words, the Parliamentary Secretary was advertising for the help of amateurs to do the work which he, as a professional, was paid by this State to do. I do not think that a gentleman who is compelled to advertise his own incompetence to the country in that fashion is precisely the person who is now going wisely to expend the sum of £2,500,000 within a year, if he manages to expend it at all. I would like very much to know why this is given to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That is a matter of administration.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I would like to know why that is so. It seems to me that it would be easy for the Government to associate others with him. Now, there is another Minister and Parliamentary Secretary who have no work to do at all. Gibbon said of the Roman Senate in the days of its decline that when a consul was elected he spent the rest of the year contemplating——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Budget.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  ——the sight of his own greatness. We have a Minister and Parliamentary Secretaries who have no duties to perform. There is a Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Lands, and they [301] have no control over the Land Commission since all the services are reserved. Why could not these two lazy gentlemen, holding sinecures, be associated with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance in the distribution of this money? I do not say for a moment that they would make a very good job of it, because they are extremely ineffective persons. After all, three ineffective persons should show more drive than one effective person.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy realises that he is travelling now.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I submit not. I am dealing with the question of the administration of a very large sum of money and as to whether it is wise to deal with the sum of £2,500,000 in the way suggested in the Budget.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Administration does not arise on this occasion.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  The placing of the money to be administered does, I submit. If I can show that it does—and I dare say I have—and that this money in all human probability will not be properly administered, therefore, it is unwise to transfer it. Of course, past administration I could not discuss on this Budget, but I can discuss what is likely to happen in future. The Minister stated that the Government proposes to undertake a formidable task and for that purpose had set aside an unemployment fund of that amount. May I not discuss what is the likelihood of the success of that unemployment fund? The Minister said that there were great difficulties about administering this money. That was held to be relevant in his opening speech, when he said that he was afraid there might be difficulty in finding suitable workmen. He gave as an example a scheme of work where a considerable number of men were to be employed, on which those who were offered employment said it was too far to walk there. That is a very grave statement of the [302] Minister for Finance. It is a direct charge against the people. It is a re-echo of a statement made by Deputy Corbett about people being too lazy to work. Either the Minister meant that the people are too lazy to work or he should not have brought that forward as being typical. He is on the horns of a dilemma. Either he means that the people are too lazy to work or he should not have cited that example, if he does not consider it to be typical. I challenge the Minister —as he is not in the House I hope some member of his Party will convery my challenge to him—to let us know where that place is, and let us have full particulars. I do not think it is fair to Fianna Fáil for the Minister or a Deputy to start attacking the people of this State with all the old remarks about the lazy Irish that we used to hear from the opponents of this country. That should not have backing from the present Government unless the Government are able to prove to the hilt the truth of the charges which have been made against the people. Let us have the name of the area in which that occurrence took place, and the distance that the men were asked to walk to their work. Then let us judge them.

We should know, too, if this was an isolated instance. I believe it was. I believe when the Minister brought it forward as a typical instance he was grossly slandering the people. I cannot profess to speak as one who knows the people all over this country, but I know very well the people in one portion of it. I know the people in my own county and in my own province and, as far as they are concerned the statement that they prefer idleness to work is absolutely false. If Deputy Corbett were in the House I would say to him that the statement made about the Galway people is absolutely false, that it has no foundation in fact. Speaking from my experience, I believe there are no more industrious people in this country or in the world than those in Connacht. I have proof of it. These people are proving it this year, because they had their choice between the dole and work in England. They threw aside the dole and went to England to work. [303] They choose to work when they get it. Are they the type of men who are too lazy to take a reasonable walk to get work at home? I dare say if Deputy Corbett were here he would be aware of the fact that recently in his constituency in County Galway many hurling teams had to break up because the men who composed them have gone to work in England. Does that show laziness? Does it show refusal to work? Does that bear out the statement of the Minister for Finance that difficulty might be experienced in getting workmen, owing to the fact that there was this incident, where men who were offered work would not take it because the walk was too far? It is only fair to the House and only fair to the State that the Minister should get the facts and tell us if that instance stands alone. Further, the Minister should tell us where the work was to be carried out, and how far the men were asked to walk. It is not right, not proper, and not fair to the agricultural community that the Minister should rise in this House —not hastily, not without thinking it out, not on the spur of the moment— and from a deliberately prepared and written-out document read an attack on the people of this country, which I say is false. Even his own Party, I think, will agree that the burden of proving the truth of it is upon him.

The Minister says, further, that the country must be prosperous because, he said, more money was spend upon drink and tobacco last year than the year before. That is the very thing we have been denouncing the dole for, that men who were receiving 2/- and 3/- a week were not bringing that money home, that young fellows were going into town drawing these comparatively small sums and spending them in the towns before they went home. Is that not one of the main reasons why the dole is being attacked? Why does the Minister come along now and tell us that it is a proof of greater wealth in the country because more money is being spent, not upon necessities but upon luxuries—perhaps I should not call tobacco a luxury—but on the semi-necessaries of life? There is nothing further I wish to add. I [304] think that this Budget, which the Minister, in self-congratulation, calls a magnificent Budget, a great proof that he himself is a financial wizard— because that is what his speech amounts to—proves nothing of the kind. It proves that the Minister has succeeded in doing what is the easiest of all things to do; he has succeeded in piling up taxation. I think any fool put into the position of Minister for Finance would succeed in piling up taxation. Having piled up taxation by many millions, he is able to take a wretched trifle off these taxes, which he himself imposed, as an indication of prosperity. If that is a sign of financial ability, then I sincerely hope that this country will be spared in the immediate future, not only in the immediate future but for all time, from financiers of his calibre.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  There are some features of the Minister's Budget statement to which I should like to refer. In the first place, the only concession, if one might call it such, that the poor people of this country get from the Budget is the very questionable concession of a farthing per lb. off sugar. Outside the city of Dublin and perhaps the city of Cork and other large cities, there is no such thing as a farthing in circulation. We all know that the poor woman in the town, the poor woman in the slum, is unable to buy more than 1 lb. of sugar at a time. That will result, of course, in that poor person being charged the full ½d. per lb. for sugar. I do not think, no matter how the Minister stretches his imagination, he will suggest that that person is getting any relief by this so-called concession. So far as that part of the Budget is concerned it is the trader who will benefit. In cities like Dublin and Cork, where the farthing is in circulation, of course people will benefit, but outside these large cities the effort of the Minister to reduce the tax on sugar is absolutely abortive.

The question of unemployment got a prominent position in the Minister's statement. He has told us that he is allocating a sum of £2,500,000 this year for the relief of the unemployed. There is really no extra money being provided—very little, at any rate—[305] unless we take into consideration the amount that will have to be provided by the local authorities. The Minister sets out by taking £500,000 from the unemployment assistance fund. He hopes to be able to place people in employment so that it will not be necessary for this money to be used through the medium of the unemployment assistance fund. I wonder has the Minister considered what the position is of the people who were referred to here recently on the debate for the Estimate for unemployment assistance? I refer to those who have been already taken off the books of the labour exchanges and who have been told that they are not genuinely seeking employment. On that occasion, I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he would give us any indication of how the court of referees or the umpire arrived at the decision that a man was not genuinely seeking employment. I told him that my experience was that practically everybody who is in receipt of the dole at the present moment is very anxious to get employment. Anybody worth his salt would not be content to rest for the remainder of his life on the amount of money he receives from the unemployment exchange.

I was rather surprised to hear, in the course of the Minister's statement, that for a certain job which turned up in some part of the country, and for which 73 men were required, only nine turned up. Like Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, and other speakers who have mentioned the matter, I should like to know in what part of the country that happened. I certainly question the Minister's statement. There may be one or two men here and there who would not be prepared to do certain kinds of work which is offered, but I doubt very much the accuracy of the statement that out of 73 required for a job only nine turned up. Whilst to the extent mentioned by the Minister an incident of that kind could not be justified, it might be justified to some extent. Surely people are not expected to walk many miles to employment if it is offered to them simply because they are drawing unemployment assistance? One would think that a man would be required only to take work [306] offered inside the reasonable precincts of his own home, especially having regard to the fact that the wages offered on some Government works at present are very small. I do hope that the Minister will tell us when he is replying to this debate where this particular incident happened, what the nature of the work was, and what were the circumstances surrounding it.

It will be noticed that in calculating the figure of £2,500,000 the Minister expects local authorities to put up a certain amount of money—to be accurate, I think it is about one-third of the £2,500,000. I wonder has the Minister examined that question as it should be examined, to find out to what extent local authorities have committed themselves in the very recent past in so far as matters of this kind are concerned? In recent years very few grants, if any, have been given to a local authority without involving that local authority in the borrowing of a certain amount of money. I think the average scheme approved by the Department provides for a fifty-fifty expenditure—50 per cent. by the local authority and 50 per cent. by the Central Government. The result of that has been that, in order to help the Government to solve the unemployment problem, a great many local authorities have borrowed moneys within recent years. The particular kind of work for which they borrowed the money might have been put back for three, four or ten years hence, but in their anxiety to help the Government, and to help the unemployed people in their area, they agreed to borrow certain moneys.

Now, the result of that has been that a great many local authorities have almost reached the limit of their borrowing powers. When the Estimate for the Department of Local Government and Public Health was before the House recently, I pointed out that this matter was becoming very serious so far as a great many local authorities are concerned. The Minister is aware that a local authority is permitted to borrow up to twice the amount of the valuation of its area. In pre-war times that was all right, but the value of money has changed considerably since, [307] with the result that a great deal more money has to be borrowed now to do certain works. Because of that, the borrowing powers of many local authorities are very limited indeed. I suggest to the Minister that something should be done in the very near future so that local authorities will be able to borrow more money than they are permitted to do under the present regulations. I feel certain that practically every public body in the country will be anxious to co-operate with the Ministry in this endeavour of theirs to give employment and to have useful work done. But, as I have said, a great number of them will be handicapped because of the old pre-war regulations in regard to borrowing which are still in force.

The Minister, in the course of his Budget speech yesterday, referring to the Employment Fund, pointed out that the Inter-departmental Committee has been sitting for two or three years. He said they have examined certain projects and that they are satisfied that a good deal of work suggested by local authorities could and would be carried out, and that he expected to have it carried out this year. At the moment, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance has suggested to certain local authorities that they should take on certain schemes of work. The obligations imposed in relation to those schemes are, to my mind, not calculated to lead to efficiency, so far as the proposed works are concerned. What is happening to one particular scheme that I have in mind? A grant of 50 per cent., I think, is being given by the Government in connection with it to a local authority in which I am interested. That local authority is obliged to take on men from the labour exchanges for about two days a week. The work is allocated in such a manner that these men would be given the trades union rate of wages in the district. So far as that is concerned, the Government are to be complimented. The men who are in receipt of the highest amount of benefit are taken off the list. That may be all right in its way, but what I am wondering at is this: what is going to [308] become of the men who have already been cut off at the labour exchange on the ground, as alleged, of not being genuinely seeking employment? These men are going to be left out in the cold, with the result that they will have to go back again to the county board of health and seek home assistance.

I suggest to the Minister that neither the local court of referees nor the umpire in Dublin is in a position to find out definitely whether or not a man is genuinely seeking employment simply by asking him a question, or by bringing him before the court of referees. Many a decent man looking for work when brought before a court of referees may become embarrassed, and perhaps say something which gives the members of the court of referees a wrong impression of him. They report in accordance with the impression that they have formed of that man when he was being examined before them. I suggest that if we are going to have anything of that kind these men should be offered work under this scheme. Then the Government will be able to find out whether or not they are genuinely seeking employment. I have no sympathy with the man who, when offered employment, refuses to take it. On the other hand, I know that men who have been drawing unemployment assistance are day after day looking for employment. I know plenty of them in the town of Wexford who are in receipt of unemployment assistance and who, every other day, are applying to the corporation for work.

I was rather struck by the statement made by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenny. He said that at last the Government had agreed to do what they on that side had suggested, and that was to do away with the dole. I never heard that stated so explicitly from that side of the House before. I do not remember ever having heard that statement from any other member of the Party before, but Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney this evening stated very definitely that they had advised the Government to do away with the dole, and that he was very glad that the Government were now about to do so. I think that statement was far more damaging than [309] the one made by the Minister for Finance yesterday in his Budget statement to which Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney took exception. Speaking for myself, I wish that we were in a position to do away with the dole, and able to put all those who are unemployed at work. I cannot see that that is going to happen for some time.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce is present in the House, and I would ask him to agree to have another investigation in so far as the men who are alleged not to be genuinely seeking work are concerned: that they should not be put off after the lapse of a certain interval at the labour exchange. There is now an opportunity, when this amount of money is available, to ascertain whether or not they are genuinely seeking employment. Offer them employment now, and if they are not in a position to take up employment no one will object to the Government cutting them off the unemployment assistance.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  They are only penalised for six weeks.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I agree. But I have known them to be penalised for six weeks, and when they went back again they were told that they were not genuinely seeking employment. I have suggested a good way of finding out whether these men are genuinely seeking employment or not, and the way I have suggested is, I think, the best way. I would be glad also if the Minister for Industry and Commerce would give consideration to the question of the borrowing powers of local authorities to which I referred earlier. If their borrowing powers are not extended, it will be found, I fear, that some local authorities will not be in a position to co-operate in this scheme for the relief of unemployment. In conclusion, I would like to say to the Minister that I do not think that the scheme, which has already been tried by the Board of Works, for the employment of a man for a day or a day and a half until the amount of money that he is in receipt of from the labour exchange is exhausted, in accordance with the [310] trades union rate of wages in the district, is going to do the local authority that wants the work done, the man who is doing the work, or the Government, any good. If there is to be some system of rotation, then I think the least a man should be given is a week's work. Putting a man on for a day and a half or two days will certainly not lead to efficiency in the execution of the work that is being undertaken. It will do very little good to the man engaged, and certainly will not bring any credit on the Government.

Mr. J.P. Kelly: Information on James Patrick Kelly  Zoom on James Patrick Kelly  The failure of the Opposition to offer serious criticism of the Budget is eloquent testimony to the value of the Minister's work. In fact, instead of the usual criticism, we have had certain admissions. Deputy O'Higgins made one great admission; that was that the Minister is now doing well for the unemployed, and that he has taken definite steps to deal with the problem of unemployment. He stated further that this problem of unemployment is not the creation of this Party, but that it is a world-wide problem. That is the first time that I have listened to such an admission from the Opposition. We told them on various occasions that it was a world wide problem, and that we were doing our utmost to deal with the problem we had here at home. Now at last we have got the admission that we are doing something for the unemployed, and that this problem is not of our making.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney admitted also that there was a fair price for young stock at the moment. At the same time, he tried to make the House believe that there was great depression, and that there was greater poverty in the country now than there had ever been in our lifetime. How he can reconcile those statements, I do not know. He did not deal with the question of unemployment; evidently the unemployed have got quite sufficient now. He said that the farmers were receiving better prices for their stock, and yet he said that there was greater poverty existing in the country now than [311] ever in our time. He did not deal with the industrial situation. He stated that there was great depression and greater poverty, and that the Minister was altogether wrong when he said there was greater prosperity and greater wealth in the country. It is quite evident that there is greater wealth in the country at the present time. The failure of the Opposition to offer that serious criticism which we would expect from them is due to the fact that there is greater wealth in the country. We did not hear them deal with the question of the industrial revival. They did not say whether or not they believe that this industrial revival will help the agricultural industry. Obviously, when we have new industries established, and when more people are put into employment in the industrial world, agriculture must benefit, and agriculture is benefiting by the amount of money that is now circulating through the people who are engaged in the new industries.

I think the greatest gem of oratory that we have had for some time came from Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. He usually draws upon his imagination, but I think that on this occasion he has excelled. He stated that he has forced Fianna Fáil to adopt a policy of providing work instead of doles for the unemployed. Surely Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney should acknowledge the fact that Fianna Fáil has at all times endeavoured to secure employment for the people, and to ensure that workmen should not die of starvation. They introduced this system of unemployment assistance, and Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney did not at any time influence the Government in their decision. He stated that his objection to the Unemployment Assistance Act was that when the working-man went in to the town to draw the dole he would spend it on drink. The Minister pointed out in his Budget statement that more drink was consumed, or that more revenue was secured from drink, and Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said that this was one of the objections which the Opposition had to the giving of this unemployment [312] assistance to the workers. That is, indeed, a slander on the unemployed. We are told they are too lazy to work, too lazy to walk for the unemployment assistance, and that if they do happen to walk into the town for the dole, they will drink it all and bring none of it home to their wives and families.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Who said they were too lazy to work and too lazy to walk? The Minister for Finance said it.

Mr. Kelly:  We are told then that there is not a great increase in the revenue from the things that workingmen buy, but it is quite evident that there is greater prosperity in the motor trade for instance, and it cannot be said that the workers indulge in motor cars or any of those other luxuries. I imagine that when Deputies on the opposite benches speak of unemployment, and criticise the Government for giving maintenance to the unemployed, they forget the time of their own Administration. They forget the statement which was made to the effect that men might have to die of starvation, and that it was not the duty of the Government to provide work for the people. They should not forget that statement which was made during their régime. I think that if they remembered those things they would not have the hardihood to come along now and discuss the matter.

We are being held up to ridicule because the Minister took only ¼d. a lb. off sugar. We are told that that will not benefit the working-man, but when it is put side by side with the extra allowance of £2,500,000 which is provided for the relief of unemployment, I think it will be appreciated by the workers. Supposing we put ¼d. a lb. on sugar in order to produce still more work for the unemployed, I wonder how it would be treated by the Opposition? Would they not hold up their hands in horror, saying that the country was robbed, and that we were perpetrating what appeared to them to be a terrible injustice? Of course, the Opposition find themselves in the awkward position that they have nothing to denounce, and they can only try to ridicule the small amount [313] which the Minister finds at his disposal for the relief of this tax. They should not forget that the Ministry is now giving pensions on a large scale to the old age pensioners, that more old age pensioners are now enjoying the old age pension than during the régime of the last Government; that widows' and orphans' pensions have been introduced; that these people— the working men—have been provided with decent housing, that numbers of them have been provided with decent farms of land, not to mention the unemployment assistance about which we have heard so much. The widows and orphans have been provided for and it would be a very huge amount of money that could be put aside by the reduction in the sugar tax that would equal the amount put aside for the widows and orphans. When we pick out one small item to ridicule, we should remember all the bigger items and put them side by side—and then offer criticism.

We are also told—and, of course, it is quite true—that the Minister is asking for £5,500,000 more than were asked for in 1931. We are, however, giving better social services. That cannot be denied. If the positions were reversed: if Fine Gael happened to be in power and if they brought in a Budget asking for £5,500,000 less to-day than they asked for in 1931, they would not be able to provide the same social services and they would revert to the old position in which houses could not be erected, the Land Commission work could not proceed on the same lines and the various social services would be curtailed for want of finance—and then they would say they were in a better position than they were in 1931. I think there are no impartial observers of the position in the country to-day—people who are alive to the realities of the situation—but will acknowledge that there is more money in circulation down the country and in the country towns than there has been since the war period. Money is circulating now into more homes than when Cumann na nGaedheal was in power. That fact cannot be denied.

We have also an increasing population to provide for. We have now a [314] larger population because the emigration ports are closed, and the Minister, in putting this Budget forward and asking for this money, bears in mind the fact that he has an increasing population to provide for and that these people must be provided with the necessaries of life. If there was any one section hard hit during any portion of the term we have been in office, the position is rapidly changing and whatever little suffering those people endured is more than compensated by the greater measure of wealth we are bringing to them.

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  I must say that the Fianna Fáil Deputies who have already spoken in this debate are accepting with a better grace than I had thought the solemn burial of the famous plan for the relief of unemployment. Deputy O'Reilly was, I think, singularly unfortunate in taking the auctioneering profession as an instance or example of returning prosperity, because wherever you meet auctioneers, either in Dublin or down the country, they will all tell you that at the present time it is well-nigh impossible to dispose of farms of land, even at any price, and everybody who is in the habit of getting into contact with auctioneers will get the same information from them. Deputy O'Reilly was doubly unfortunate when he quoted the prices given by the Land Commission, which prices were given by the Minister for Lands the other day, as the prices current through the country for land sold by auctioneers. As a matter of fact, there is no relation between the Land Commission price and the ordinary market price for land. The Land Commission does not give the market price for land. They give what is known as the Land Commission value, which is really different altogether from the market price.

Deputy Kelly also referred to the Budget as indicating that there is greater wealth in the country to-day than there was during the régime of the last Government, or even during last year, and that there was a greater amount of money being spent in the country. I do not intend to deal with these two points at the moment, but I [315] intend later on to make a reference to them, in conjunction with certain remarks Deputy MacDermot made here to-day. The Budget, in any event, is an indication that the Fianna Fáil Government will, at no time in the future, make any effort to fulfil the promises on the strength of which they were returned to power. Those promises to-day, apparently, are nothing more than an evil memory, and, seemingly, they are most anxious to forget about them. We can safely assume from the Minister's statement yesterday that expenditure will remain static or stereotyped somewhere about the figure of £30,000,000. There is not likely to be any diminution in that amount, and it is possible that there may be increases in future years, but, in any event, we can safely assume, for the purpose of this discussion, that the figure of £30,000,000 represents the minimum normal expenditure of this country during the régime of the Fianna Fáil Government. Deputy MacDermot, in the course of his speech, referred to taxation in the pre-war period, and the Minister himself frequently made such references during the time he was in opposition. He was never tired of quoting and contrasting the expenditure during the years previous to the great war and the expenditure in the years of his predecessor, Mr. Blythe, when he was in charge of the Department of Finance.

Deputy MacDermot also took Deputy Dillon to task because he issued a solemn warning to the Minister that if he does not mend his way and make an effort to bring down taxation, there is danger, and serious danger, ahead for this country. To understand the situation properly, it is necessary to go back over the taxation figures for the four financial years the Fianna Fáil Government has been in office and to compare them with the taxation figures for the four years, let us say, from 1927-28 to 1930-31. I think when this examination is concluded, it will answer effectively the two points made by Deputy Kelly, and it will also confirm, I think, the rather solemn advice which Deputy Dillon gave to the Minister to-day.

[316] For the last four years ending 31st March this year, the total revenue amounted to roughly £119,500,000. Tax revenue amounted to £96,500,000 and non-tax revenue to £23,000,000. For the four financial years ending 1930-31, the total revenue amounted to approximately £97,000,000, tax revenue being £83,000,000 and non-tax revenue £14,000,000, representing an increase in the total revenue of approximately £23,000,000—in tax revenue of £13,500,000 and in non-tax revenue of £9,000,000. In addition to that, taxes which proportionately diminished the value of our agricultural exports were imposed by the British Government on our exports to Great Britain. These special tariffs, together with the taxes under the Import Duties Act, aggregate a sum of £16,750,000 during the last three years and about two-thirds of the financial year of 1932.

Now, the increase in taxation since the Fianna Fáil Government came into power has averaged approximately £3,250,000—that is for the last four years—while, at the same time, the accession of non-tax revenue to the Exchequer represented an average of £2,250,000. This non-tax revenue was composed mainly of land purchase annuities, withheld from the British Government, and further, on the expenditure side, there was a big reduction because of the fact, that the R.I.C. pensions and the other pensions, which the previous Government paid over to the British Exchequer, were withheld by the present Government. Now, all these were genuine aids to the Exchequer, and certainly, in view of all these aids by which the Minister for Finance has benefited, I think the unfortunate taxpayer in this country to-day may well ask why he has been obliged to contribute £13,393,000 extra during the past four years, and at the same time, as a producer, contribute £16,756,000 to the British Exchequer— that is, £13,393,000 in increased taxation, and £16,756,000 sent out by the producers of this country to the British Government because of the foolish economic war which the present Government embarked on in July of 1932.

[317] These revenue returns, however, do not exhaust by any means the taxpayer's liability. Hidden taxes in various forms have to be borne by him also. Amongst these hidden taxes you have, first of all, the wheat subsidy, and the levies on the slaughter of cattle and sheep, which will continue until the beginning of August this year. Then you have the unemployment assistance rate in county boroughs and the large urban districts. You have the extra contributions extracted from employers and workers to finance unemployment assistance. You have the butter levy, and the indirect sugar subsidy. These various impositions, as far as one can definitely ascertain them, represent close on £3,000,000, and their consequences certainly represent a much heavier charge and a much heavier burden on the unfortunate consumers in this country. The Minister boasted yesterday of the ease with which he obtained during the year the wholesale taxation imposed by last year's Budget, and, from the manner in which he referred to it, the question naturally occurred to one: Have the resources of this nation increased to such an extent as to warrant such a huge increase in taxation? Now, in 1935 and 1936 the taxation imposed by the Government exceeded the total value of our export trade by £5,307,938, whereas in 1930 and 1931 the value of exports was £23,940,139 over and above the tax contribution. That is one definite indication of a decrease in wealth and a decrease also in the circulation of money in this country.

Now, so far as I am aware, no estimate has ever been made of the national income. The question has been debated and discussed on numerous occasions here in this Dáil, and I cannot recollect that any Minister of the Government has given any concrete figure to represent the national income. The Minister himself, when he was plain Deputy MacEntee, did on one occasion give the figure of £90,000,000, which would represent a tax of £30 per head of the population of this country, and the Minister, at the time he gave that figure, pointed out that the then Minister for Finance, Mr. Blythe, was extracting £7 1s. 5d. per head in taxation from every individual [318] in this State. Now, let us assume for the sake of argument, that the Minister's figure of £90,000,000 is correct, and that it does accurately represent the national income of this country. We will proceed to examine that figure in exactly the same way as the Minister examined the figure when he was an Opposition member in the Dáil. Assuming, as I say, that the figure of £90,000,000 is correct and that it does accurately represent the national income, and that that represents about £30 per head of the population of this country, that leaves an individual income of £21 10s. for food, clothing, and shelter, not to speak of rates and many other charges that it is not necessary for me to mention.

An inquiry was held in Great Britain, about two years ago, into the cost of food alone, as one item in the everyday costs of a household. The inquiry was conducted in a very thorough and scientific fashion, and it was ascertained, as a result of this investigation, that food alone cost £23 8s. per head of the population in Great Britain. Therefore, assuming that the figure of £23 8s. represents the average cost of the bare necessaries of life for the citizens of the Saorstát, then the figure of £21 10s., which I have mentioned as the balance left after that individual has paid all the taxes exacted by the present Government, must be wholly and totally inadequate to maintain him in any proper degree of comfort or decent living. It is a recognised principle, I think, in most countries in the world to-day, that the capacity to bear taxation is limited to the residue of the net income remaining after the bare necessaries of life have been met. If this test is applied to this country, then the abstraction of something like £26,000,000 a year in taxes from the citizens of the Saorstát is flagrantly unjust in view of the figures I have given. I think these figures prove quite conclusively the contention made by Deputy Dillon to-day, that if the Government keep spending money on the scale at which they are spending it, there is undoubtedly danger and serious danger ahead of them, and, if taxation is to be brought back to a normal level and the future of this country assured, then it [319] will be necessary for the Government to examine more closely into the items of expenditure comprised in this Budget so as to bring them down to a level commensurate with the ability of the people to bear. Something like £30,000,000 have been taken out of production and applied to unproductive purposes during the régime of the present Government, and if taxation is maintained at the present level, then as time goes on larger and ever-increasing sums will be taken out of production and used for wholly non-productive purposes.

The Minister dealt yesterday at considerable length with his scheme for the relief of unemployment. He mentioned a number of matters that were investigated by the Select Committee which he set up, and I was amazed to find that he refrained from mentioning one item certainly of more importance than some of the matters he did mention. In a discussion on last year's Budget, I referred to the question of land reclamation; I emphasised the importance of that matter from the point of view of the farmers and from a national standpoint. The Select Committee apparently did not investigate the matter at all, if one is to judge by the Minister's reference yesterday to the Committee's work. I would urge on the Minister that, if the Committee has not investigated the question so far, he will see it is brought to their attention immediately and that some of their time will be devoted to a special investigation of the whole problem of land reclamation.

Land reclamation is going on and has been going on for a number of years past. I understand that latterly activities in this connection have been lessened considerably, and I do think that is a retrograde step. I believe we should follow the example of other countries, such as England and Germany. Recently we read where in Italy an enormous area of swamp land was reclaimed through the judicious expenditure of money and by the application to the problem of the best engineering brains in the country. An example of that sort might well be [320] followed here. It appears to me that the Minister, in asking the local authorities to subscribe a sum of approximately £1,000,000 towards the carrying into effect of his relief proposals——

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  What did the Deputy say? Did the Deputy mention approximately £1,000,000?

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  I should have said £800,000 odd. As a matter of fact, I had the figure of £900,000, but I see from the Estimate that it is £838,000.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  The difference is only a paltry £200,000.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy merely wished to undertake a little inflation.

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  I would never like to follow the Minister's bad example. The actual figure is £838,000. That money, apparently, is to be provided by the local authorities. Many local authorities have embarked on big development schemes which will mean a heavy cost to the ratepayers. They have borrowed enormous sums already, and it appears to me that if the local authorities are to be encouraged, the Minister will need to facilitate them more than he has done already in the borrowing of additional moneys for the purpose of carrying out wholeheartedly his schemes for the relief of unemployment. I have no doubt local authorities will be anxious to co-operate with the Minister, but many of them are hampered by restrictions imposed by the Minister's Department, and however willing they may be to assist him in carrying out these relief schemes, they cannot do so at present. Again, many local authorities may be somewhat hesitant to embark on further schemes of expenditure without some suitable guarantees that the ratepayers as a body will not have to bear whatever losses may occur—I sincerely hope that there will not be any losses—in the carrying out of these schemes. The outline given by the Minister is rather vague, and I would be anxious to hear a good deal more from him about the financial framework of his scheme. I would like to be assured that it will be water-tight [321] and that no undue burdens will be imposed upon local authorities.

The Minister made a most extraordinary statement yesterday. He got so enthusiastic about social services and the wonderful work done by his Government in extending and developing social services in this country that I think he was carried away much further than he intended. He said he regarded the work of the Land Commission as a social service. I suppose in next year's Budget we will hear from the Minister that he is arranging for the local authorities to take responsibility for portion of the Land Commission work. His actual words were: “Within my experience no vote has been cast in the Dáil for the curtailment of its activities, and no one has ventured to deny the social value of its work. Accordingly, we may regard it as a social service, and add the expenditure thereon to the figures which I have given, bringing them up to £8,652,000 for 1931-32, and to £13,028,000 for 1935-36.” There the Minister regards it as a social service —the Land Commission.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Certainly. If the Deputy is of opinion that it is not a social service, will he define a social service to the House?

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  Here we are dealing with the greatest and the most fundamental asset in the State—land. It is the duty of the Land Commission to deal with the purchase and the resale of land, and does the Minister regard the value of landed property in this country so lightly that he is prepared to consider the work of purchasing and reselling land as merely a social service? Is he prepared to place that in the same category as the carrying out of drainage work, the construction of wells, and the carrying out of other schemes which normally come under local authorities? Does the Minister mean to suggest that the buying and reselling of land in this country is on exactly the same plane as the work normally carried out in the way of social services by local authorities?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Which does the Deputy rate the higher? Which would [322] be of more importance—the work of the Land Commission or the social services which, apparently, the Deputy is inclined to rate so lowly?

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  There is no relation whatsoever between the two. They are both on quite different planes.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Which is on the higher plane?

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  Ah now. The Minister apparently was carried beyond himself. He got so enthusiastic about the money he was spending on the social service development taking place during his time of office that he——

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  But which does the Deputy regard as the higher?

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  The Minister is very disorderly.

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  This is surely a most amazing development. It is a most extraordinary statement coming from a Minister of the Government running this country that the greatest asset in this State, the land, is to be treated as a social service, that it is to be regarded on the same footing as such things as drainage, water, sewerage and so on. The Minister has actually in his Estimate taken credit for the particular money spent by the Land Commission as part of the social services of the country. Surely the Minister was not serious when he wrote down this beautiful passage in his Budget. As I am on the subject of the social services I wish to say this, that whilst undoubtedly these social services are necessary, I do think that the expenditure on them should be proportioned to the ability of the people to bear it. The Government are embarking or at least they are forcing the local authorities to embark on certain schemes of social services that could very well wait until the financial structure of this State might become sounder than it is at the present moment.

There is a limit to the amount of money which the local authorities should be asked to expend on social services. The general feeling throughout the country at the moment is that [323] the local authorities are spending rather too much money on social services. These social services are, I believe, quite necessary in due time and in the normal course, but, after all, this Government cannot hope to make this country perfect during its lifetime in this respect. I do not see why the present generation should be asked to bear the whole cost of the development of all these services. The Budget in my opinion is a bad Budget because it has not withdrawn any of the huge taxes which the Budget of last year imposed on the people of this country. There is no doubt about it that the large taxpayer in this country may feel relieved because he has not been asked to carry any additional burdens on his already overburdened shoulders. But the unfortunate consumer who is sorely pressed to make ends meet will certainly be disappointed and gravely disappointed when his worries have not been lessened in the slightest. In that sense I think the Budget is a bad one, and I do not think the Government is deserving of any congratulation whatsoever for having produced a Budget of this kind.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  After the speech of Deputy Roddy and the figures he has given the House my work will be very light. I do not propose to cover the same ground. I propose to refer only to a few points. The Minister will recollect that it is not so very long since I pulled him out of the hole in which he had been placed by Deputy Brennan. It is true that I always have been endeavouring to help the Minister and his colleagues so far as I could by giving them sound advice. It is also true that they never acted on my advice. It is only quite lately that they acknowledged I gave them sound advice, and some of my friends in the Press gallery exalted me on a pinnacle high above the arena of Party manoeuvring. Now, in order to live up to that reputation, I will try to help the Minister again. I have examined the Minister's Budget with great care to see if I could congratulate him on anything in it. I think there is only one thing in connection with the Budget on which I can congratulate [324] the Minister and that was the speech in which he introduced it to the House. I think it was a very eloquent speech. But it was worthy of a better Budget. The Budget itself, if I might use the expression, was rather a poor bird arrayed in a wonderful plumage. I think I could not better describe it than by calling it a peacock Budget. I think, however, that by the time it has done the circuit of the House it will come back to the Minister a very bare and ragged Budget. In my criticisms and in anything that I have to say on the Budget I am afraid that I am rather late; so many other Deputies have got in before me that the position of the Budget now is that there is scarcely a feather left. The question that is generally asked is, “what do you think of the Budget?”

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  Tell us that.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Yes, I propose to tell the House what I think of it. It depends on the standard by which we are to judge it. If the Budget is judged on the standard of last year's Budget then it is not a very bad one at all. But, judged on the standard of what a Budget ought to be, I say it is a very bad Budget. How are we to get a standard as to what a good Budget ought to be? I think we could not select a better authority than the Minister himself and what he told this House before he was given the responsibility of Ministerial rank himself. He told us then his ideal of what a good Budget ought to be. His description of what it ought to be was something like £2,000,000 less than what the Cumann na nGaedheal Budget of 1931-32 was. That Budget was somewhere about £22,000,000. On that basis the Minister's Budget would be about £20,000,000. That was then the Minister's ideal standard as to what a Budget ought to be. If we are to judge this Budget by that standard we will find that it is an extraordinary Budget for it imposes £12,000,000 in excess of what a good Budget ought to be.

If we examine the Budget at close quarters we find that there is one section of the community that fares very badly under it; that is the producers. [325] What do the producers get from this Budget? The Minister has boasted about distributing his surplus. But there is one section of this community that is getting nothing out of this surplus. That is the section of the population that is hardest hit, the section that is responsible for the raising of the money paid in taxation—the producers of this country—the agricultural section of the community. The agricultural community, instead of getting anything out of the surplus that the Minister is distributing, has lost something near to £1,000,000. The amount provided for bounties last year was £3,180,000. That has been reduced this year to £2,273,000 or something like £900,000 of a decrease. That money is being taken off the most deserving section of the whole community. There is very little relief there, and the relief given in sugar taxes—in order to sweeten this Budget—leaves a very bod taste in the mouths of the producers of this country who are losing £900,000.

Another matter which the Minister boasted very much about was that there was an increase of £340,000 in the amount received from income-tax, which he said showed the increased prosperity of the country. I wonder does it. Deputy McGilligan said it had reference to prosperity on the other side of the Channel and increased dividends from there, and I agree with that point of view. But there is another point of view. What about the profiteering that is in operation under the present Government? A good deal of this is a profiteering tax; in fact, I would say that the whole of the £340,000 would represent a profiteering tax. Profiteering has been brought to the notice of the Minister and his colleagues time and time again in this House but nothing has been done to check it—profiteering in flour, in transport services, and in many other directions. A good deal of this increase in income-tax is in reality a profiteering tax. So far as this £340,000 represents a profiteering tax, it means a tax of more than four times that amount on the producers. That is an aspect of the tax that the Minister has nothing to boast about. I ask him to use his influence with the Ministers responsible to see that this [326] profiteering is stopped, because it is a very serious burden, added to all the other burdens, on the producers of the country.

The Minister also boasts about how the money is spent, and so do some of his colleagues. He boasts that it is spent on social services, and that therefore, it is all to the good. I question that. The Minister claimed that the Land Commission is a social service. I wonder does he claim that the Army and the Gárda Síochána are social services? Fianna Fáil were very explicit in their promises before they came into power that they would cut down the expenditure upon these two services, and, as a result, cut down the taxation necessary to keep these services at the high standard, as they called it, at which they were at that time. Since then, what has happened? We need only go back three years to the year 1933-34. In that year the Estimate for the Gárda Síochána was £1,698,137. This year it is £1,865,129, an increase of £166,992. Then, as to the Army, which we were told was not necessary at all in the country. I quite agreed with the Minister and his colleagues when they told us that there was no Army necessary in this country. I do not know whom we are going to fight or what we want an Army for. We were told that under a good Government, a Government with the consent of the people, and which gave the people the sort of government they wanted, we would need no Army and that the whole of the money spent on the Army could be saved. Yet we find that in the year 1933-34, the Estimate for the Army was £1,160,000, while the Estimate for this year is £1,529,987, an increase of £370,000. That is what we have got from the Government which was to give the country the sort of government it wanted. How can the Minister claim that these are social services? Then when the Estimates are examined one by one, and we go into the details of the Estimates——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Estimates may not be examined in detail on a discussion of the Financial Resolutions.

[327]Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  It is the Budget I am dealing with. I am dealing with the Estimates which are being provided for in this Budget. In the President's Department the expenditure in 1933-34 was £10,610, and this year there is an increase of £1,057 to £11,667. Then the Estimate for the Department of Finance, the Minister's own Department, in 1933-34 was £61,058; this year it is £67,622.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That is precisely a matter that should not be debated on the Budget. The Army Vote was before the House, and the increase or decrease in expenditure on the Army should have been raised on that Vote. Matters proper to the Estimates should not be raised now.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  This is not exactly the Estimate. These are details taken from the Estimates which deal with salaries and allowances and the expenditure on administration.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Administration does not enter into this discussion.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  The Minister and other speakers on the other side of the House claimed that the increased expenditure is due to, and is going to the benefit of social services. I want to ask if these are social services. I should like to have a reply from the Minister as to whether the money spent upon an increased number of officials and an increase in travelling expenses and that sort of thing, is for social services. Deputy Roddy asked whether the expenditure on the Land Commission is a social service. I want to know from the Minister if he claims that this increase of £6,537 on the administration on his own Department is a social service. I do not want to stray from the main track. I am never afraid of going astray, as I have confidence that you, Sir, will keep me on the right track.

There are some other very important items and I should like to have an [328] explanation from the Minister or some of his colleagues as to whether they are social services or not. For instance, the expenditure on salaries, wages and allowances in 1933-34 for the Revenue Commissioners' Department was £709,365. This year, it is £793,121, an increase of £83,756. Does that go to a social service? For commissions and special inquiries there is an increase of over £5,000 in salaries, wages and allowances. In the Public Works Department there is an increase of £17,000. Civil Service Commission is increased by £8,000; secret service is increased by £10,000; law charges increased by £7,754. I do not think that could be described as a social service. The Department of Local Government and Public Health, in wages and salaries and allowances and travelling expenses for inspectors, is increased by £31,000 odd, and there is an increase in the number of officials from 243 to 342. I want to know is that social service? There is also an increase in the salaries and allowances of the National Health Insurance Department of £17,137. The Department of Education shows an increase of £6,000. In the Department of Agriculture, in salaries and other allowances, there is an increase from £117,000 in 1933-34 to £180,666 in 1936-37, or an increase of £63,000. There is an increase of officials in the Department of Agriculture from 332 to 712. Then let us turn to old age pensions, which is really a social service. Here we find an increase in that Vote from £3,316,738 in the year 1933-34 to £3,466,850 for 1936-37 showing an increase of £150,112, less than half the increase on the Army and much less than the increase on the Gárda Síochána. That is what has been done for the social services. The Minister told the House that this money was all being expended on social services. There is a progressive increase in services other than social services, and the increase in old age pensions, in the three years is no more than £150,112.

Then, of course, if we turn to another aspect we find that the farmers have paid in tariffs on their produce, not to speak at all of what they pay in tariffs in connection with industries started by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, [329] £5,500,000 last year. That was reduced this year, because of the excess over and above what ought to have been paid, and the Minister for Finance comes along and coolly adds that to his Budget in order to balance it. I am afraid that while the Minister is balancing his Budget he is at the same time breaking the backs of the taxpayers. That £5,500,000 which the farmers paid in taxation on their cattle was reduced by £500,000 this year. The Minister appropriated that to the Exchequer, just as if the Exchequer was entitled to that relief which was so badly needed by the farmers. The Minister admits, at any rate, that the improved position in the price of agricultural produce has helped him out with his Budget. Some speakers from the benches opposite, including the Minister himself, took no small credit for the improvement which has taken place in prices. What is that due to? It is due to the improved conditions across the water, and to the fact that a bounty of 5/- per cwt. has been put upon fat cattle in England. Since the farmers in Great Britain have been getting that increased price in the shape of bounty, they are buying more and more store cattle in this country in order to secure their bounty. Accordingly, the benefit, which these farmers in Britain are receiving, is being passed on to farmers in this country, and the Minister is not entitled to any credit for that increase in the price of cattle.

The Minister, last year, told us that he was borrowing for the bounty because he looked upon the bounty as something arising out of circumstances that were not likely to be continued; that the circumstances were abnormal, and only of a temporary character. He does not say so this year. Are we coming any nearer to the end of these temporary circumstances? He did not tell us that. He looks into that matter, withdraws the bounty and gradually passes it on to the producer, and will make the producer bear the whole burden. If prices still improve across the water and go up further, he will simply appropriate more and more of what the farmers are entitled to. Not only is he appropriating this bounty [330] which he gave last year, and which has been remitted this year, because of the excess collected last year by the British Government but he is also arranging that £1,700,000 odd which he proposes to grant in relief of unemployment, is to be made conditional on the local bodies putting up the balance of £800,000 odd. That is simply another trick of the Minister's to shift the responsibility of the Exchequer on to the local bodies and to impose on the ratepayers a burden that should be the responsibility of the Treasury.

A great deal of unemployment resulting from the economic war is due to the condition of agriculture. In the rural districts the whole of it is due to the policy that has brought the farmer to his present position. Therefore it is the responsibility of the Minister to relieve unemployment, and not the responsibility of the local bodies. They had no responsibility at all for bringing about this unemployment in the country, and they should not be asked to contribute. The Minister should know, or at least the Minister for Local Government and Public Health should know, that the farmers are not able to pay their present rates apart from increased responsibility being put upon them. They cannot take responsibility for the relief of unemployment by having to pay additional rates. I hold that that is the responsibility of the Minister, and his Government, and that they should face up to that responsibility until they are prepared to end the economic war. Instead of putting more burdens upon the farmers they should try to relieve them of the burdens they are bearing, and shift the cost of this fruitless war to the whole community.

Mr. Dowdall: Information on Thomas Patrick Dowdall  Zoom on Thomas Patrick Dowdall  I think the Minister for Finance may congratulate himself on the fact that he has produced a good Budget. There has been a tremendous lot of criticism of it, and there has been a certain amount of approval of it. Deputy McGovern has said that the producers have the whole burden of the taxation in the Budget upon their shoulders. He says the farmer is deprived of a certain amount in bounties, which he got last year. It is a [331] lesser amount but he is taxed to the extent of the lesser amount of the decreased bounty. He cannot object very much to that. Deputy Roddy referred to an estimate of the national income made by the Minister for Finance when he was in Opposition. He said he fixed the national income at about £90,000,000. Deputy Roddy contended that we were taking about £30,000,000 out of productive employment. But is not the £30,000,000 going back in expenditure? It must go into employment of some sort—productive or otherwise. Nobody can spend money without giving some employment. This sum of £30,000,000 is going back to the people—it may not go back to the particular people from whom it was extracted—and it gives employment. I do not think it can be shown that we are living beyond our means, so far as taxation is concerned, when that money goes back into employment. Deputy McGovern spoke about tariffs and the burden of prices on producers and on the farming community. Last year, Deputy Dillon, and, this year, Deputy McGilligan, speaking on the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce, referred to some statements of mine with regard to tariffs. If I would be in order, I should like to make my views on tariffs perfectly clear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I am afraid it would not be in order.

Mr. Dowdall: Information on Thomas Patrick Dowdall  Zoom on Thomas Patrick Dowdall  Then I had better not deal with it. Deputy MacDermot spoke of the policy of self-sufficiency as a foolish policy and one that should be abandoned. I do not think that any member of the Executive Council has ever advocated absolute self-sufficiency. They have advocated self-sufficiency so far as possible, and I think that that is a very good aim. I do not agree at all with what Deputy MacDermot said with regard to self-sufficiency. I understand that, during his absence to-day, the Minister for Finance was alleged to have made some reference in his Budget statement to people being too lazy to go a certain distance to get work—that when a certain number of people were required for [332] particular work only nine out of 73 attended.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The word “lazy” did not occur in my statement.

Mr. Dowdall: Information on Thomas Patrick Dowdall  Zoom on Thomas Patrick Dowdall  I am speaking only of what was said in the House to-day. It is quite possible that it would be inconvenient for men to walk a considerable distance to work. I do not, however, think that the Minister intended to convey that there was any such thing as a deliberate refusal to work on the part of the unemployed or the people on the dole. That implication appears to have been taken by some of the Deputies on the opposite benches. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney appeared to resent this alleged statement very much and he paid tribute to the workmen of his own district. I have had considerable experience of employment here and across the water and all the Irish people I had to do with worked very well indeed.

Deputy Roddy referred at least twice to the speech made to-day by Deputy Dillon. I listened to the whole of the speech of Deputy Dillon and I was rather impressed. In fact, I would have been convinced, or nearly convinced, if Deputy Dillon had not, in the earlier part of his discourse, called attention to the question of unemployment during the period of the administration of the last Government and during the period of the administration of the present Government. If I remember aright, he measured the unemployment during the period of the late administration at 29,000. Of course, it is considerably more now. Deputy Dillon did not explain that the number of unemployed then was calculated on a very different basis from that on which it is calculated now. If he had explained that matter I am sure that people would not take a wrong view as to the position being very much worse now than it was then. So far as I can gather, it is a lot better. When one considers all the people who are eligible to register now, as a result of Acts passed by the Oireachtas, I am sure the position is better now, more particularly when one takes into account the increase of population.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney referred [333] to some committee which the Minister for Finance intended to set up with regard to employment schemes as an incompetent committee. I took him to refer to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance as rather incompetent. I may be wrong in that but, if he did so refer to him, I am sure he is altogether wrong. I do not think that there is any more competent member of the Oireachtas in carrying out the work he has got to do than Mr. Hugo Flinn. Reference was made to agreements with other countries for trading purposes and they were rather approved of. Two agreements were made by the Government with Great Britain—one last year and another this year—and we have not yet heard the end of them, so dissatisfied are the Opposition with them. If they approve of the agreements made with other countries for trading purposes, why should they kick up such a row with regard to the coal-cattle pact and the extension of that pact this year? I think it was Deputy Roddy who spoke of our contributing in three or four years about £16,000,000 to the British Exchequer. They are blaming Fianna Fáil for that. But the real cause of our having to contribute £16,000,000 to the British Exchequer is the suppressed agreement they made with Great Britain after the Boundary Commission. I commend the Budget and I hope this Resolution will be passed without a division.

Mr. J.M. Burke: Information on James Michael Burke  Zoom on James Michael Burke  When the Minister rose to speak yesterday afternoon he very properly referred to the Book of Lamentations and in the words of that very sacred book I say to him Convertere, Convertere ad Dominum Deum nostrum. I listened to my friend Deputy Dowdall speaking on this subject. We all know and we are glad, that he is fattening and battening on the tariffs. He is the richest and wealthiest merchant in Cork City. I hope he will be still richer. I am not a bit surprised that he approves of the policy of the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The business affairs of a Deputy should not be brought into discussion in this House.

[334]Mr. Burke:  I know that.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Deputy Burke is only thinking of the time when he held the record himself.

Mr. Burke:  What did the Minister say?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  It is not relevant to the discussion.

Mr. Burke:  Anything I say is not relevant. A very great financier said that figures are more misleading and more mystifying than facts. I think that statement is not justified by the Budget which the Minister introduced. I always like to be fair to everybody in this House, or outside it. There are very many good points in the Budget. I know that there is great reserve power in this country, but a State cannot subsist all the time on capital or on credit. If its cash is exhausted its credit ceases. It seems to me we are coming nearer the day when our reserve funds will be gone and our credit will then fail. I am not going into the big figures. I am not able to do so, but let me point out a few simple facts. Will anybody deny that the cost of living has gone up or the standard of living has gone down? I challenge the Minister to deny that. Will anybody tell me that agriculture is as thriving and as productive as it was five years ago? I challenge the Minister again on that point. Will anybody have the audacity to proclaim that every merchant, like my friend, Deputy Dowdall, is rolling in wealth, or that plain citizens, to whom so many promises were made during the election times, are better off than they were five years ago? These are simple questions to which, I hope, the Minister will give satisfactory answers. The national bill, instead of being reduced, is growing, and the promised reduction of £2,000,000 has vanished into thin air. Why is that so? Why has the Government not carried out the promises they made on the eve of the General Election in 1931? The Minister is resorting to every expedient to pull the legs and put his fingers in the eyes of the electors, and if he succeeds, well [335] and good. However, the day of reckoning will come, when he will have many questions to answer and many misdeeds to atone for.

I am sorry there is so much unemployment in the country. I agree that any man who is willing and able to work ought to get sufficient to provide him with proper shelter and clothing, and to enable him to live in decent comfort amid Christian and sanitary surroundings. At the same time a work-shy people, who, when offered employment refuse it, deserve very little consideration, either from the Government or from any charitable society. Men, able to work, who are offered employment, but will not work, ought to be consigned to a Tophet or Gehenna, which, I am sure, the Minister knows all about but in which I hope he will never find himself. The way the State stands in the matter of expenditure indicates that we cannot afford to spend any more than is being spent. I appeal to the Minister in all sincerity to come to the aid of the farmers by finishing the economic war. As he admits, and as everybody else admits, agriculture is the backbone of the country. I believe that can be done without sacrifice of honour, principle or national dignity. By doing that he and the members of the Executive Council will earn the eternal gratitude of the Irish people. There is no necessity to prolong a war which has been disastrous not only to this country but to Great Britain. After all, we are next-door neighbours. As everyone knows, it is a foolish thing for neighbours to quarrel with one another. In a necessity everybody realises that a neighbour will come to another neighbour's assistance. I say again in all solemnity, that it would be a good thing for this country, as well as for Great Britain, to make a peaceful and honourable settlement of the unfortunate dispute that exists between them. I do not know if my words will have any weight with the Government but I feel that I am bound to give expression to them, in the assurance that in doing so it would be a very good thing for both neighbours to come to a friendly, amicable and lasting settlement.

[336]Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If this debate has been remarkable for anything apart from being the dullest Budget speeches we have had since this House was established, it is because the leaders of the Opposition Party have decided to emulate the famous Duke and lead their forces from behind. Back benchers have been put up to speak, while they maintain their discreet silence. I am curious to find out why that should be so. Of course we had Deputy Dillon. Perhaps it was the fact that Deputy Dillon led off that persuaded his colleagues on the front benches to remain silent.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  What about the other front benchers?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Are they front benchers? I am sorry I did not know that. I prefer to deal with the more intelligent speeches we heard from the back benchers. Deputy Burke's speech, for example. It was a remarkable example of how an otherwise intelligent mind can be doped by propaganda. I think Deputy Burke has some claim to be regarded as intelligent, but apparently he reads nothing except the official organ of his Party and the propaganda material which the Party organisation distributes from time to time, with the result that he has got a very lopsided view of conditions in the country and of the problems with which this House has got to deal. If that is not the explanation, how otherwise can I account for the fact that Deputy Burke asked a number of foolish questions? These questions were foolish because the answers to the questions are obvious and the answers are not those which Deputy Burke expects to get. He asked could anyone deny that the cost of living here has increased. Of course it can be denied.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  Without any trouble.

Mr. Burke:  It can be denied, all right.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I got sent to me yesterday, and I think every Deputy got sent to him, the quarterly return of the Currency Commission. The Currency [337] Commission of the Saorstát publishes every quarter a statistical bulletin, and the issue for April, 1936, was issued on yesterday. On page 9 of that bulletin is set out the Cost-of-living index, not merely for the months of last year but for the months of the previous year, and for each year back to 1924. There is given the index figure for the cost of living in respect of all items, and another figure for the cost of living in respect of food items alone. In the year 1931—that was the last year during which the Cumann na nGaedheal Party was in office and, in respect to this matter, it was their best year — the Cost-of-living index stood at 160. That was the lowest point reached by the Cost-of-living index during the whole period during which they were in office. In 1930 the index was 177, in the previous year 176, and so on. The lowest point that the Cost-of-living index reached during the ten years that our predecessors were in office was in 1931, and the figure then was 160. The figure for last year was 156. The cost of living, according to the statistical returns prepared by the Department of Industry and Commerce and published by the Currency Commission, was four points lower in 1935 than in 1931. If we leave out the items that are not food items—rents, rates, the cost of clothing, the cost of fuel, and other materials that come into the calculation of the cost of living of the average family—and take the food items alone, we find that the fall was greater still. The Cost-of-living index for 1931 for food items only was 147, and in 1935 it had fallen to 140, a drop of seven points during that period. The Deputy went on to ask would anybody deny that the standard of living has gone down. I deny that it has gone down. I say that not merely has the standard of living been maintained, but that it has gone up, and that the real wages that are being earned at the present time in this country are higher by about 13 per cent. than in 1931.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Good man!

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That figure is not mine; it was prepared by the statisticians in the service of my Department. An index for real wages can be easily [338] obtained by a simple calculation based on the cost of living index and the actual wage index. That index shows that the value of real wages has been increased by about 13 per cent. since 1931, a fact which has got to be compared with the British real wage index which shows only an increase of 10 per cent. in the same period. I am not giving these figures merely for the purpose of demonstrating to Deputies opposite that they have been wrong in the attitude they have adopted for the last four or five years. That needs no demonstration. I am giving these figures because Deputy Burke asked for them. I am surprised that he asked for them. On the assumption that he is an intelligent man, I can only surmise that he was misled by Cumann na nGaedheal propaganda through not having taken the precaution—the elementary precaution which would suggest itself to any politician—to find out the answers to his questions before he asked them. He said that, while agriculture was thriving five years ago—I want Deputies to mark that—it has since gone down. I say that the volume of agricultural production has gone up, and that there are 10,000 more employed now than in 1931. These figures are published periodically, and they are available to Deputies. Any sensible politician would have examined them; certainly anybody who wished to maintain the reputation for intelligence which Deputy Burke had previously, would have examined them before asking questions about them.

Mr. Burke:  I am sure that the Minister remembers the old saying—“Positive, lie; comparative, damn lie; superlative, statistics.”

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Very well, we shall drop statistics. I am no more anxious than Deputy Burke to quote statistics. In fact, I am rather afraid to quote statistics in the presence of Deputy Mulcahy, because they go to his head. However, I am prepared to avoid statistics and to deal with the general situation. I want to congratulate the Party opposite on the skill with which they have tried to get out of a difficult position. I do not for a moment pretend to remember all the speeches made by Opposition Deputies on previous [339] Budgets, but I think it cannot be denied that the general tone of their speeches has been the same on almost every Budget since the Government came into office. No Deputy needs a very brilliant memory to recollect the general tone of the speeches we had from the benches opposite on each of these occasions. As prophets of disaster they outrival Job. The Minister for Finance referred to the Book of Lamentations in his statement yesterday, but I would say that the Book of Lamentations was a comic song compared to the speeches we have heard from the benches opposite on every occasion as to the evils that were going to befall this country in consequence of Fianna Fáil policy.

I remember particularly that the former Minister for Agriculture came into the House and gave the actual date on which disaster was to befall us—eight months after 1932. Nothing happened at the end of that period. They indicated then that they might have made a slight error in the reading of the stars, that those who frame their policy by examining the position of the various planets cannot be expected to be so accurate in fixing the actual date of a catastrophe of the nature they foretold. So they prolonged the period for a few months more. The disaster did not happen in 1933, but they came back undismayed in the next year and renewed their dire prophecies. In 1934 they repeated them. It was a question of days in 1934: at any time the general crash was going to take place. Civilisation, as we know it, was going to cease to exist in this country because of the policy of Fianna Fáil. They had to extricate themselves from that position on this occasion. The crash has not happened; on the contrary, every index which economists study for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of any country point to progress in this country. I defy Deputies opposite to find one single index of any general significance which points in the opposite direction.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  147,000.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  147,000 what? When were 147,000 unemployed?

[340]Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Before the Minister's Employment Period Order came into effect.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I invite the Deputy to show me, from the published returns of my Department for any single week in this year, the figure of 147,000. I will deal with the 147,000 later, but it is about time that the Deputies opposite began to get the facts straight, because they cannot possibly function as a political Party—they certainly cannot frame a policy—without having the facts right.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  On the figures supplied by the Minister's Department.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Without having the facts right. It comes to the same thing. On this occasion the Deputies tried to explain away the failure of their forebodings to come true. They had to take note of the fact that the revenue was buoyant—that the various taxes which were in operation were producing more than they were estimated to produce; that people were spending more upon necessaries and upon luxuries—that they were saving more; that production was increasing and that in every respect the country was making progress; that the national wealth was increasing; that the national income was improving, and that the general standard of living of our people was rising. Every index which is open to us to study points to those conclusions, and so we get the very ingenious explanation that the entire improvement is due to improved conditions in Great Britain. It was an ingenious thought. Deputy McGilligan saved the Party yesterday by stepping into the breach at once with an answer to the question, and with that solution of their problem. The whole explanation of the improved conditions here—the increase in revenue, the rise in the standard of living, and so forth —is because of the improved conditions in Great Britain. But Deputy McGilligan must think that our memory is very bad.

Do the Deputies opposite remember the speeches that were made only last year by Deputy McGilligan in the House, and he did not confine himself [341] to the House because he went outside and made speeches. He even got one speech broadcast by the Athlone radio station. The sole purport of his speeches was to prove that there had been a decline in the yield of income-tax, a decline due, as he said, entirely to the operation of Government policy, and to the fact that that policy was producing results which his Party had foretold in previous years. Every speech that he made on the Budget last year was re-echoed by those sitting on the Front Opposition bench. Every speech that he made outside the House contained a reference to his central theory that the yield of income-tax was declining: that is, that the yield for each unit of taxation was going down, and that a higher tax in 1935 was producing less than a lower tax had produced in previous years. I am not going to contend now that his statement was wrong. It was obviously wrong, but, accepting his argument at its face value, he convinced his Party, if he convinced nobody else, that Government policy was responsible for the situation that he was describing—that the decline in the yield of income tax was due entirely to the ill-effects of that policy. But, if he was right in his argument in 1935, he cannot possibly be right in his argument in 1936. He cannot have it both ways. If, in 1936 it is now obvious that not merely has the yield of income-tax been maintained but that it has improved, there must be an explanation for that. It cannot be entirely attributed to causes outside the control of the Government. The policy of the Government must have had something to do with it.

I know Deputies opposite will not admit that. When things go wrong the Government is to be blamed, and when things go right it is purely an accidental result to which the Government did not contribute. That is their attitude. It is their policy. I have often explained to them before that they have no other policy, and this Budget debate has been as remarkable as all previous discussions of this kind for the absence of any indication of a general policy amongst the Deputies opposite except in one direction. [342] In one respect, we got a tentative indication of their policy yesterday. A number of resolutions were submitted to the Dáil. They were only brought in and circulated to Deputies after the conclusion of the Budget speech. The Deputies opposite had no opportunity of examining them, and, as is usual on such occasions, the discussion on them was purely formal. In fact, all these resolutions, except one, were allowed to go through without a division, and that one was Resolution No. 4 which provides for the imposition of protective duties on a number of industrial commodities which we are making, or propose to make, in this country. Now I ask the House to mark that fact, that the Deputies opposite had no opportunity of reading that Resolution. They did not know what was contained in it; they had not had time to study it, and they could not say of their own knowledge what it contained, nor could they arrive at any conclusion as to whether the proposals in it were good or bad, or likely to assist the development of industry in this country or the reverse. But they voted against it, and that vote must be taken as an indication of their opposition in principle to any atempt to foster industrial development here.

That was the obvious significance of their action and it is capable of no other explanation. If there is any other explanation I will be glad to hear it, but I am quite certain that we will not hear it because, although they publish in their Party's programme—I mean the latest edition of their Party's programme—their intention to continue the industrial policy of the present Government should they ever become a Government—to assist the development of industry by tariffs, quotas and similar measures—nevertheless, they have no intention whatever of ever giving effect to that policy. That particular item was shoved into their Party programme to humbug the electorate. It had no other motive, because on every occasion on which the question of industrial development came forward in this House they indicated an unreasoning opposition to it, an unreasoning opposition such as we [343] had yesterday when, out of all the Budget Resolutions submitted to the House, only one was selected for attack, a long Resolution covering 18 closely-printed pages. As I have said, that Resolution was not circulated until the conclusion of the Budget speech. The Deputies opposite could not have read it. They did not read it, but they decided, in fulfilment of their Party's policy, to oppose every attempt to foster industrial development here, and to vote against it.

That I suppose, is to be expected from the Party opposite because the only thing that we know about their policy is negative. We know there are certain things that they are opposed to. We do not know what they stand for, and we are never likely to find out because they stand for nothing. If any single member of the Party musters sufficient moral courage to enunciate a policy for himself and takes a definite line on any question, then he follows Deputy Belton and Deputy MacDermot over to the benches in which these Deputies now sit. Apparently, an indeterminate attitude on every question of public importance is an essential condition of membership of the conglomeration that sits on the benches opposite.

I also congratulate the Party opposite upon their skill in dealing with figures. When I make that remark, I do not mean that they get the figures right as a rule. In fact, I am congratulating them on the skill with which they avoid getting the figures right. Possibly, some of them have taken the trouble to ascertain the correct position before attempting to deal with those matters in a public debate, but if so, they carefully avoid giving any figure which has even a remote resemblance to that which is correct or to that which is available in any official publication. We have this question of increased taxation. Deputy McGilligan started yesterday by bidding £26,500,000. According to him, since we came into office we have increased taxation by £26,500,000. Deputy O'Higgins thought that was a bit too mild. He thought that he could go one better than that, so he [344] increased it to-day to £10,000,000 a year, making it £50,000,000 altogether. That is not a bad effort. I wonder if any Deputy opposite will beat that? I wonder where they got those figures? I wonder where Deputy McGilligan got his figure? I have searched all the official publications; I have studied the Budget statement in each year since we came into office; I have studied the revenue returns at the end of each year; I have tried every possible device that I could think of. I got all those figures, added them up, subtracted them, divided them, tossed them about on different slips of paper and took them up by chance——

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That is what you usually do.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  ——but by no possible method could I get the figure which Deputy McGilligan referred to.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  We set the Minister working anyhow.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I knew that no sensible method of approach could possibly have given me that figure. I was trying to find out how Deputy McGilligan got it. If any Deputy opposite can tell me how he arrived at that figure, I will stop. Can any Deputy opposite tell me how he arrived at it?

Mr. J.M. Burke: Information on James Michael Burke  Zoom on James Michael Burke  By chance!

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  He thought of a number, he doubled it, he subtracted his first thought, he multiplied by three and divided by two, and there was the figure.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That is your system.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Why do Deputies opposite think that exaggeration of such a figure is going to help their case? I want them to remember that the Budget of this year, despite the amount that is being taken in taxation, whatever it may be, shows that our people are spending more on necessaries, that they are spending more on luxuries, and that they are saving more. There can be no question on any of those matters. There is increased consumption of all the articles that are considered necessary [345] for life. There has been increased consumption of luxuries — tobacco, drink, sugar, motor cars, wireless sets, all the things that you can think of as luxuries upon which people are likely to spend money in any quantity. In addition, they have saved more. The total amount upon deposit in the Post Office Savings Bank and in the Trustee Savings Banks to the credit of depositors is the highest on record. At no time since this State was established was the total amount to the credit of depositors in those institutions as high as it is now.

All that is in spite of the taxation to which Deputies are referring. That means that if their exaggerated figure of increased taxation is correct, then the effect of Fianna Fáil policy in increasing the prosperity of the country has been even greater than we claimed. It can mean nothing else. Obviously, there has been an increase in the national income. Obviously, the various measures which have been adopted to increase production, to increase the wealth of the country and to improve the standard of living of the people have been successful. There can be no other conclusion arrived at from the figures that are available to Deputies. That has been done not merely in spite of but in consequence of the various increases in Governmental expenditure which necessitated an increase of taxation. But the increase in taxation was considerably less for all the years during which we have been in office than one-third of the lowest figure quoted by any Deputy on the benches opposite. Those of them who can do arithmetic can work that out for themselves. We had Deputy McGilligan making his usual case against social services. Now what are social services? There is the provision for aged persons—those who are over 70 years of age, and who are beyond their labours. That service is not a new one. New provisions relating to it were enacted by this Government and involved a considerable increase in the cost of the service. Not merely did we restore what the previous Government, in its zeal for a reduction of taxation, had taken from them with Deputy Morrissey's approval——

[346]Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  I was not in the Party then.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am prepared to accept the Deputy's word, but I must assume that he approved of it because he subsequently identified himself with the Party which carried out the reduction.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  That was very clever, but the Minister should not make an inaccurate statement.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If I have caused another split in the Party opposite I am deeply sorry. I appeal to Deputy Morrissey to remain in that Party. It will be better for him, and better for everybody else. However, there was a reduction in the old age pensions——

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  And £100,000 last year.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  There was no reduction last year.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  There was.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Deputy is misinformed.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  It was in the Budget.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  It was not.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It was like the reduction in the unemployment assistance which was not able to come off.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  There was no reduction in it intended.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  There was £300,000.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That misrepresentation is played out. The amounts provided in the Statute to be paid to aged persons was reduced by our predecessors and was restored by us.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Not all of it.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Certain additional provisions were also made in relation to old age pensions, and they [347] cost a considerable sum. That is the first of the social services to which I wanted to refer. There is also the provision for housing, which is a necessary social service. It is also a costly one, because with housing costs at their present figure it is necessary to subsidise each house that is built, in order to enable it to be let at a rent which the average working-class family can afford to pay. That service has been enlarged three-fold by this Government, and the cost of it has been increased correspondingly. There is the new service of unemployment assistance, to which the Party opposite are opposed. Does Deputy Morrissey deny that?

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Tell us more about it.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I will admit this; I stated once before that the Party opposite were opposed to unemployment assistance, and I was contradicted. I am not being contradicted to-day. I am not being contradicted to-day because the Party opposite cannot contradict me. We have just had a most vehement declaration from Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney — whom I have just been assured is a Front Bench member of that Party —that they are opposed to the unemployment assistance scheme and will be glad to see it abolished.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Why is it necessary?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  He asked to have the necessity for it disappear.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That is not what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said. I do not think Deputy Mulcahy could have been here when he was speaking.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I was here when he stated the case for unemployment assistance on the Bill.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  All these social services are, in our opinion, essential in any civilised State. Any Government that regarded its duty to its [348] people seriously, and that wanted to make adequate provision against unnecessary hardship or destitution, would provide these services on the scale on which we are providing them.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  You are boasting of your failure to find work.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  But, apparently, the Government's point of view on such matters is different from that of the Party opposite. It was made quite clear by Deputy McGilligan that he regarded these social services as an evil, and he contended that the volume of production within the country was not sufficient to maintain them. Deputies will remember his argument of yesterday. Personally, I could not follow it. I cannot quite see what the volume of production has to do with the level of our social services. When we take money from the taxpayers for the purpose of financing social services, we do not destroy that money. It goes back to the people. It may be that it goes back to different people than those from whom it was taken. I am not denying that. That is the purpose of taxation. There is, in fact, shall I say, a redistribution of the national income, a transfer of purchasing power from one section to another, the taking of something from those who have more than they need in order to assist those who have less than they need, but there is no wastage in the process. I am unable to follow the argument that there must be an increase in the volume of production to enable increased social services to be made possible.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  You cannot follow that?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I cannot follow that. As Deputy Dowdall very rightly pointed out, only a short while ago, the money that is distributed or, should I say, redistributed, by the institution of these social services is expended upon the purchase of consumers' goods in this country. It goes back into circulation; it goes back to stimulate production; it goes back to provide employment in production. It possibly is more useful in the matter of stimulating production and [349] employment when spent by the people who are receiving it in consequence of these social services than if it were spent by those from whom it is taken, because, to some extent, at any rate, those from whom it is taken in taxation would be unable to spend it all, and some portion of it would be saved for investment. I do not think any Deputy can deny that. Those who are contributing in income-tax the cost of our social services, if that tax were abolished, would put some part of the total amount remitted to them into their deposit accounts in the banks or into long-term investments of one kind or another. It certainly would not be all expended upon consumers' goods in the year as it is now expended when redistributed through social services to the classes of the community that must spend it on consumers' goods and spend it at once. In any event, there is no wastage, and it is a completely false conception of the financial consequence of that taxation and expenditure to regard the total amount taken from the public as not being available for expenditure in the ordinary way on consumers' goods during the course of the year in which it is, in fact, collected.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Why not take more, then?

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Double the unemployment assistance—more and more, and more money.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am prepared to deal with that argument any time. There is a point at which you must stop.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I am not making that argument.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  If they got double the amount, they might save.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  There is no wastage, so why not double or treble it?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Because if you take too much from those who contribute the taxation, for the purpose of redistributing that purchasing power to the other sections of the community, you might, in fact, increase unemployment.

[350]Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  More and more money—why should it ever stop? Is that not the theory?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am going to deal with that argument in a minute also. I am glad the Deputy reminded me, because it is about time that we got down to brass tacks as to what is in fact happening. I want to deal, however, with one other matter that was raised to-day. Quite a number of Deputies opposite misinterpreted certain phrases in the financial statement of the Minister for Finance, for the purpose of representing him as saying that the unemployed were too lazy to work. The Minister for Finance said nothing of the kind. I was rather astonished, however, that certain Deputies opposite should pretend to get indignant about that, and particularly Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, in view of the statement he proceeded to make. The Minister for Finance, said Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, libelled the unemployed. In the tone of voice and with all the eloquence we have come to associate with Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, he shouted at us his indignation that this libel on the unemployed should have been perpetrated and then he proceeded to say that the explanation for the increased yield of the drink duties was that the unemployed, when they drew the meagre amount of unemployment assistance which is being given to them, spent it on drink.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Is that an exact quotation?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I ask any Deputy in the House?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Yes, he said it.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  It is an exact quotation. He condemned the Unemployment Assistance Act because it had that effect, and he gave that as explanation for the increased yield of the drink duties. That is a libel on the unemployed, far worse than anything that might be read into the speech of the Minister for Finance by the most malicious mind. In fact, the Minister for Finance said nothing of the kind that Deputies have been attributing [351] to him. It is not true to say that the unemployed are too lazy to work.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Why did he say it?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  He did not say it. In fact, it is probable that nobody in an official position is in a better position to form a judgment upon that matter than I am, because it is the function of my Department to administer the Unemployment Assistance Act and to see that nobody gets unemployment assistance who is not qualified in accordance with the terms of that Act. I am quite satisfied that, although there may be people here and there throughout the country getting unemployment assistance who are not entitled to it, in respect of the great body of the unemployed, they are unemployed because they are unable, in present circumstances, to find work suitable for them in the localities in which they reside, or of a nature which their physique enables them to perform. The justification for the various measures which the Government has adopted, and particularly the justification for the Unemployment Assistance Act, is the Government's belief that, to whatever extent unemployment exists, it is a social evil that must be remedied and for which the unemployed themselves are in no way responsible. We regard them as the innocent victims of 10 years of mis-government before 1932 directed from this House, and 100 years of mis-government by an alien Parliament, which left us deficient in economic organisation, with our resources unexplored, and certainly undeveloped, and with our ability to deal with complex modern economic problems definitely impaired.

The existence of unemployment in this country can be attributed to these causes and certainly, the number of persons upon our live register, who are, in the main, genuinely seeking work, are, in our opinion, entitled to look to the State for assistance in finding employment, which private enterprise in industry or agriculture is not at the moment able to make available to them, or, alternatively, to get some assistance, to the limit of the resources we can make available [352] for that purpose, to guard them against destitution; and we are doing that. The whole purpose of this Government and of every member of this Government, and of every member of the Party that brought this Government into existence, is so to reorganise economic conditions here, so to develop the resources of this island and equip it with the means to exploit these resources, that unemployment and all the evils that follow from it may in due course be abolished.

We have had a lot of talk here from time to time about statements we are supposed to have made before we became a Government as to what could be done to abolish unemployment. We had Deputy McGilligan reading advertisements from time to time and we had Deputy Morrissey following suit on a number of occasions. We published one advertisement in which we stated that if we produced all our own requirements in certain specified classes of industrial and agricultural goods, we would increase employment by 82,000——

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  84,601.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Very good—84,601.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Do not forget the one, anyway.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That is what we said. Let us see, now, how far we are getting in that direction. In my opinion, we are about half-way through our industrial programme. I do not know whether Deputies opposite will agree with me about that, but, in my opinion, in carrying out that programme, we have progressed at least as far as half-way. Half the industries, the establishing of which was consequential upon that policy, have been created, and some progress has been made in the reorganisation of agriculture which we contemplated also. We have progressed about half-way—perhaps a little further—but how far has our anticipation as to the consequences of that policy in increasing employment been borne out? I would say that our anticipations have been more than justified and that, to date, we have in fact created increased employment in [353] excess of what we might have reasonably anticipated from the progress of industrial development already accomplished.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  That is what the Minister called “avoiding statistics.”

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I shall come to statistics in a moment. We never intended, and no Deputy can produce a single quotation to suggest that we did intend, that the work of replacing all the goods set out in that list, which, in 1931, were imported from abroad, by home produced commodities, could be done in a twelve-month.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  You said that you could absorb the unemployed in 12 months.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Nobody ever suggested that Fianna Fáil could produce sugar factories, cement factories, hosiery factories and all the other industries that were necessary, over-night by a wave of the hand.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  At least, we could have reduced taxation.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  As I have said, these things cannot be done over-night. However, we proceeded with our policy, and, as I have said, I think we have got at least half-way. At least half of the industries we planned to establish are now functioning, and the other half will be functioning in a much shorter period than it has taken us to get this far. What is the result? Let us take the number of persons in employment insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts. The actual number of these persons might be misleading. In actual numbers, the increase in the number of insurance cards current has been 35,000 as compared between 1931 and 1935. In other words, 85,000 additional people had issued to them cards insuring them under the Unemployment Insurance Acts. I am not contending that all these people are in constant employment. I have said, in fact, that that number is misleading. The actual true index of increased employment would give a figure somewhat below that— how far below, we can judge in a minute.

[354]Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  You said 36,000 last week.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The increase in the number of persons insured under the Acts is 85,000. However, let us take another basis. Let us assume that everybody employed in occupations insurable under these Acts is employed for 52 weeks in the year; that there is no casual employment, no broken time for any class of work, and that all of them are employed for a year. On that basis the increase in employment is 36,000. I shall put it another way. If we take the average number employed in each week in 1931, and compare it with the average number employed in each week in 1935, there has been an increase of 36,000 in that figure. Add to that 36,000, the 10,000 increase in agriculture.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  36,000 over three years?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  As between 1935 and 1931.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Last week, the Minister gave that figure in relation to three years.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Oh, no. Add to that an increase of 13,000—I am correcting my 10,000 figure — in the number of persons employed in occupations which are not insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts but which are insurable under the National Health Insurance Act—in the main, those engaged in agriculture, and I am taking 10,000 as the increase in agriculture because the sale of stamps under the National Health Insurance Act can be checked

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Is the Minister sure that these were not employed in agriculture before?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  There was an increase of 10,000 in the total number employed in agriculture.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  And paid in agriculture?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  They were employed either for wages or as small land-holders [355] or the sons of land-holders working on their own land, and it must be remembered that the numbers of the latter class must increase in the future. The activities of the Land Commission, which have been greatly extended, are all directed towards the breaking up of large ranches and splitting them up into small farms to be worked by the owners of these small farms and their families with little or no whole-time hired labour. Therefore, unless the activities of the Land Commission are arrested or reversed, there must be an increase in the number of persons working in agriculture on their own land and a decrease in the number working permanently for wages. There will probably be an increase in the number of persons employed seasonally, but the number employed permanently in agriculture is decreasing, naturally, because of the increase in the number of holdings worked by their own owners and their families.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  And because of emigration.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  We can point with certainty to a minimum employment of 46,000 in excess of those in employment in 1931.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  46,000 in four years.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I will give the Deputy whatever point he wants to make as to how long it has taken to do it. I will admit that we met with difficulties since 1932 that we did not anticipate. The difficulties created by the economic war are obvious, and equally obvious are the difficulties created by the unreasoned opposition of the Party opposite. We assumed that in our plans for increasing employment they would give us, if not all their active support, at least their passive support. We did not anticipate their hostility, and if it were merely passive hostility, it might not have been so bad, but we have got their active and virulent hostility. They have done their best in every way open [356] to them to retard industrial development for no other reason except that they believed that the success of the Government's industrial policy would be detrimental to their political Party interests. That was a very narrow viewpoint, in my opinion, and one that they will find it hard to justify before the people who have been observing it.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  A bad workman always quarrels with his tools.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am not quarreling with the Party opposite on that account. I am not even quarreling with Deputy Belton. I never regarded Deputy Belton as one of my tools.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I am sure you did not.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Perhaps the Opposition did?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  These difficulties, plus the larger difficulties created by general world conditions throughout that period, may have retarded the fulfilment of our plans, but they have not arrested their fulfilment. In all the circumstances, I think we can claim credit for having got at least half-way through our programme by this date, and being able to demonstrate to the people that the completion of the programme will have the results that we foretold, the results in employment that we foretold, because the results to date indicate that our calculations were, if anything, on the conservative side. In fact, Deputy Morrissey can take this as certain that whenever there is an election, and there is an advertisement published on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, any statement contained therein is an understatement. We always err on the side of conservatism.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  You are noted for that.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  When you get the whole way through your programme, will you be able to put only another 36,000 into employment? You have put only 36,000 into employment so far.

[357]Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Deputy is about 25 per cent. out in his calculation; the number is 46,000.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  The Deputy is surely making a mistake; when the Minister gets through with his programme he will have to send to America, because they will not have enough workers here.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Quite so. On the other hand, the population has been increasing, and, under modern conditions, it is necessary to do more than merely replace the imports of 1931. I think it is possible for us to do more. I think we can proceed to improve upon the standard of living of 1931, to increase the requirements of our people, and their ability to satisfy these requirements, and that will involve still further production over and above that necessary to replace the 1931 imports. Deputy Morrissey will remember that the calculation in regard to employment was based on the 1931 position. We hope to improve the standard of living of our people, and make it possible for people to——

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  To drive motor cars.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  ——demand and satisfy their demands for goods which, in 1931, they would have regarded as luxuries outside their reach. I think we are succeeding in that direction. We have a very substantial increase in the number of wireless sets in the country; in fact, the number of wireless sets more than doubled in the course of a very short period. There are more motor cars in the country than ever before; there were more bicycles purchased. All the classes of things that people in 1931 regarded as altogether outside their reach, are now being brought within their reach——

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  By the hire-purchase system?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  ——because their incomes are increasing, and their conditions generally are improving.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Hire purchase—everything on the Kathleen Mavourneen system.

[358]Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Was Kathleen Mavourneen never heard of in 1931?

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Perhaps it was not so common as now.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I think it was much more common—very definitely so. This attempt to paint the conditions of 1931, as Deputy Burke described them, as representing the most that we can hope for in this country in the way of prosperity and production, is based upon a very foolish conception of political tactics by the Party opposite. We had Deputy Burke talking about agriculture thriving in 1931, and every speech made by Deputies opposite is designed to show that if we could only get back to the conditions of 1931 how much better off we would be. But the people have not forgotten the conditions of 1931. They disliked these conditions so definitely that they put the Government then in office out of office at the first opportunity they got. Despite the nature of the campaign which the then Government tried to organise for the purpose of snatching an electoral victory, the people, in indignation at the conditions which had been created for them by mis-government during a decade, rejected that Government and put us into office early in 1932. I give them this advice as a politician: if they want to get back into office, they have to convince the people that they can do better than in 1931.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That they can bluff better than you did.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Do better than in 1931, whether it is bluff or not; but so long as you make 1931 your standard, the most you can rise to and the people can hope for, so long are you going to sit in diminishing numbers on the benches opposite. The Budget which has been introduced is an indication of the strength of the national position, an indication of the country's ability to weather the storms to which it has been subjected during the past few years, both the storm of depression which brought down much stronger countries than ours, as well as the artificial hurricane which the British Government created on the advice of certain Deputies now sitting [359] on the benches opposite. We have weathered these storms and come out with a stronger economic system than we had before. We have come out with the resources of the nation investigated, with its capital equipment enlarged, with its ability to deal with its resources improved, with its people being trained in the technical processes of new industries, with our national production of wealth annually increasing, with our national economy gradually attaining the balanced position that we had contemplated originally and which we regard as most conducive to preserve the well-being of our people, irrespective of the changes which might take place from time to time in world conditions.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Prove that.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I spent the last one and a half hours trying to prove it, and I refuse to start on it again.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  The Minister has claimed a lot of things. Why not prove them now?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I despair of making the Deputy understand anything.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I understand quite well what you have done and I will tell you to-morrow what you have done. You say that the national position is strengthened?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Certainly.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Then get at it and prove it.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Every figure given by the Minister for Finance yesterday, and every figure available, published by any organisation, an official organisation or a banking or trading organisation, proves it.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Go over the national balance sheet.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The figures all point in the same direction. I will go over any set of figures that can be suggested to me. We have, for instance, [360] the Dublin banks' clearances of bills, notes and cheques and, I am sure, Deputy Belton will agree that that is a fair index of commercial activity. I find there that the weekly average for the first 12 weeks of this year was considerably in excess of the weekly average for a similar period in previous years. I find, for the first time since 1925, that the volume of traffic passing over the railways has increased, and the receipts of the railways company from that traffic have increased. I find that the volume of production both in agriculture and industry is higher. I find that employment is increasing rapidly. I will give as an example of increased employment the position in the boot and shoe industry. In the discussion on my Estimate three weeks ago, I said the number of persons employed in that industry was 4,500. That was the figure for a date in March. I now give the figure as 4,900; that is the return received for April. That shows an increase of 400 in one industry in the space of one month. What is happening there is typical of what is happening in other industries. Taxation at standard rates is yielding an increased revenue. I give you the fact that the volume of savings in our savings banks is increasing. Is there any other index that the Deputy would ask for?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I would ask the Minister to explain the figures in pages 15 and 16 of the Minister's speech yesterday, and show how he proves his argument by them or proves them to be correct?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  The Deputy can take them certainly as correct. There is no possible source of information to which any economist or any Deputy —and I make no distinction between the two — could go for knowledge concerning our national position that does not point to the conclusion that our national economy has been strengthened and that we are progressing towards greater prosperity every day. We have not yet got to the position we set out to reach and to which we hope to get. We have a number of problems to solve [361] and there are a number of difficulties to be surmounted, but the progress we have made up to now, by pursuing the policy of the Government, the policy which the people of this country have repeatedly endorsed, has been so considerable as to justify us in being optimistic that we will overcome those difficulties and get to the position at which we aimed when we took over the government of this country. In this perhaps we may yet satisfy Deputy Belton.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Would the Minister explain the position in regard to the Local Loans Fund? Would he explain further how he takes credit for the £12,841,195 mentioned yesterday by the Minister for Finance?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Is not Deputy Belton going to speak for three hours to-morrow on that matter? He might spend half an hour now in reading the Budget speech and digesting it. He would there get all the information he is looking for.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  How does the Minister take credit for that item?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  What conclusion does Deputy Belton draw from that?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  That the local authorities have to pay for the services which the National Exchequer is not paying for.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  These interruptions will have to stop.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  For the second time our friend, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has taken the advice of the future ex-Minister for Lands, Senator Connolly, and has determined to adopt the attitude of the bold buccaneer in this House. I think the phrase is a phrase of his colleague and fits him. But he does that merely by shouting and reiterating the many statements he has made so frequently in this House and from the method which he himself described, we now see how he gets his figures—by juggling about [362] with pieces of paper. He thinks he will be able to prove that the position of this country at the moment is satisfactory. But if he will not have great difficulty in proving it to the satisfaction of his own Party or the Labour Party, he will have great difficulty in proving to the satisfaction of the people of this country. There is one purely minor matter I must deal with, and I do not see why the Minister went out of his way trying to draw attention to it. I am compelled by him to deal with that matter. It is in connection with the statement made by his colleague in page 41 of his typescript on the Budget speech. This was not a speech but a most carefully prepared statement. I take it that those couple of sentences were deliberately put in and with full advertence to their being put in. What do they mean? Is it suggested that this was an isolated instance? Is that the contention? It is surprising that from the two Ministers who are so much in the habit of interrupting there is now such a great silence.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Let the Deputy make his speech without any spoon feeding from us.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  This is the first time I have made a speech without interruption from the two Ministers present. I am glad to secure from the Minister the statement that he is not going to interrupt me. This incident to which I want to refer was put into the Budget speech because it was regarded by the Minister as a typical state of affairs. If that was not the Minister's purpose there was no justification for his making the statement. The statement was in reference to difficulties that some people possibly did not imagine had existed—and that was to provide labour of a suitable kind. He spoke of a relief scheme and conveyed the impression that labour of a suitable kind was not available. Then he went on:

“This latter desideratum, contrary to the prevailing belief, is not going to be the easiest element to provide. I have had before me recently one [363] instance in which an essential and useful public work has been held up because of the fact that of 73 recipients of unemployment assistance who were detailed by the employment exchange for the work, only nine turned up on the job. Some of the remainder thought the walk was too far for them.”

Now, why was that statement put in if it was merely one instance? If that was merely one instance and if it was the only evidence he had, he had no justification whatever in wasting the half page of this particular typescript in putting in a statement of that kind.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Is the Deputy on an economy campaign now?

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  No, I am not. But I want to know what the Minister meant by putting it in?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is there.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  It is, but the Minister wishes it were not. Then he adds:

“The incident would indicate that there are some people on the unemployment register who are not so badly in need of work or so desirous of obtaining work as to be entitled to be paid unemployment assistance.”

It was not, apparently, an isolated instance in the mind of the Minister because he begins to draw a general conclusion from it. I cannot understand the heat shown by his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in objecting to the use that is being made of that statement in this House. The Minister for Industry and Commerce certainly gave an advertisement to it that otherwise possibly that statement would not have got. It will be for the Minister to explain why the statement is there and what it means. There were a number of other statements made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that must have come as a surprise, even to Members of this House. What are we to think of a Minister for Industry and Commerce who commits himself to the statement that he could not see any connection between the volume of productive [364] work and the size of the social services? Is there not an obvious connection? One of the social services mentioned is the provision made for unemployment benefit. Various money is paid out in different ways to people who are out of employment. Is it not obvious that if you have employment enough to absorb all the people who are looking for work a number of social services can be got rid of? That the Minister for Industry and Commerce should stand up here and tell us he sees no connection between the volume of productive work and the size of the social services surprises me. It surprises people who are not easily surprised at any statement coming from that particular Minister. The charge is that despite the promises made by the Fianna Fáil Party and despite the boasts of the Minister, we have the fact brought out that their only method, up to the present, of dealing with the main bulk of unemployment is either the dole on the one hand, which I think they call a social service and the connection between which and employment or unemployment the Minister cannot see, and on the other hand work on the roads, not work of a productive character.

Mr. Victory: Information on James Victory  Zoom on James Victory  Nor on the bogs either?

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  I am referring to the Minister's statement and not dealing with Deputy Victory. Surely there is a connection and it is very relevant to draw attention to the fact that social services have to be provided on the scale at which they are provided because of the lamentable failure of the Government to carry out their policy. We have mock indignation on the part of the Minister for Industry and Commerce when his attention was drawn to that fact from these Benches. Is not that the outstanding feature in the provisions made by previous Budgets and by this Budget when they are up against the problem of unemployment? The Minister went on, strange to say, to the other side of the problem, pointing out that the provision of maintenance for the unemployed is necessary. That was not the point raised. The point [365] raised is that there should be employment. If the Government's boasts were true, and if they had any return to show for the extra millions of money which they have spent, it would not be necessary to provide these social services on the scale provided in this and previous Budgets.

The Minister went on to argue that at least these social services meant no national loss, that they meant taking the money out of the pocket of Peter and putting it into the pocket of Paul. He argued that, in reality, that meant that there was more money spent in the country in this way: “Peter is a man who has a large amount of money and who cannot spend all of it; we take a certain amount from him and give it to Paul, who has not much, and who will spend it; the result is more money spent.” I am not questioning the value of that argument. Remember, that was stressed as being one of the principal tasks of the Government —the policy of the redistribution of wealth, a redistribution carried out irrespective of whether there is an increase or a decrease in the national wealth of the country.

What follows from the argument of the Minister that we have just listened to? That you can have more spending capacity in this country without any increase in wealth! The Minister's whole argument for at least a quarter of an hour was to prove that point, and that is the explanation of the Budget figures being high—not an increase in the national wealth as a whole, but a different distribution of wealth, so that there is more money spent because more people are spending it. There is no increase of national wealth, but a redistribution; as the Minister himself says, taking it from the man who cannot spend all he has and giving it to the man who has nothing and who, therefore, will spend and must spend whatever he will get. That is the explanation of the fact to which the Minister has pointed with so much pride and to which the Minister for Finance drew attention several times in the course of his Budget statement, namely, that merely as a result of the policy of redistribution, not, be it noted, of increasing the national wealth, not of [366] greater productivity in the country as a whole, there is more spent—for the moment. No wonder the tobacco duties, the beer duties, and other duties are in the ascendent because, as the Minister pointed out, without any increase in national wealth there will be more money spent. That is precisely what both Ministers overlook. It was all right as an argument for the Minister to use against the Deputies on this side but it must be turned against the boosting of the results of their industrial and strange to say their agricultural policy—it nullifies the argument that their agricultural policy is so successful the people have more money to spend. It is difficult to believe that a Minister, even one living in Dublin, can speak like the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Can they be so ignorant of the conditions of the country to suggest that the result of their agricultural policy is that the farmers have more money to spend? I will take that very sentence in the first page of the Minister's statement yesterday as quite typical of the recklessness with which statements are made in this Budget and the value of the arguments used:

“But when every allowance is made for that and other circumstances there still remains the fact that the buoyancy of the revenue has been so remarkable and so general that some part of the economic recovery which it indicates must be ascribed to the new agricultural and industrial policies which under the leadership of the present Government our people have adopted.”

Leaving aside altogether for the moment all the claims made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce let us take the first of the two industries mentioned by the Minister for Finance. What is the claim? The claim is that the Budget returns are higher because agriculture is in a better condition as a result of the policy of the Government. Is there a single Deputy, even on the opposite side of the House, representing a country constituency—most of the country constituencies anyhow—who holds that the farmers have more [367] money to spend as the result of the improvement of the agricultural industry? Yet it is on arguments of that kind that the Minister bases not merely the rosy account he gave of the Government's finance but of the general condition of the country which he says was reflected in these finances. Anybody who knows the condition of the farmer at present could not possibly think that the Minister was serious in suggesting that it was as a result of the increased prosperity of the agricultural industry that more money was paid in taxes—that the farmers were better able to provide money in taxes direct and indirect. Yet we have that statement in the very front page of the Minister's pronouncement yesterday; that some part of that must be attributed to the increased prosperity of the agricultural industry.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  A very modest claim.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Yes, for the Minister, most modest, but most untrue and unfounded. I am quite satisfied that the country will judge the other claims made by the Minister and his colleagues on the value of that particular claim. If the Minister is ready to put all his other claims, which are quite as unfounded, on that [368] particular basis and if he is satisfied we are satisfied with him. We were all given to understand that the Minister had a policy. I myself heard, in this house, a period of eight months mentioned by the Minister's colleague as the period in which the success of his policy would be demonstrated beyond yea or nay. Eight months after the first Budget was introduced by the present Minister for Finance and was co-operated in by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. What is the result? Figures of which the Minister himself can give no accurate interpretation. He mentioned 36,000 extra in employment. He did not suggest what was continually suggested by those Ministers when in opposition, and in the opening period of their office at least 36,000 were in what I might call reproductive industries. I have explained before in this House that housing is a very necessary provision, whether it is undertaken or helped by the central Government or by the people who get very little credit for what they do, namely, the local authorities.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Thursday, May 14th at 3 p.m.


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