Tuesday, 19 May 1936
Dáil Éireann Debate
General Mulcahy: The Minister for Finance was in possession when we rose the other evening. I find it hard to understand why the Minister then intervened in the way he did, and just as hard to understand why he should stop now in his intervention without saying something about the Budget and  something in reply to the criticisms made on the Budget other than to say——
General Mulcahy: The Minister for Finance told the House that Deputy Mulcahy criticised the Budget and that his personal appearance, antecedents and habits were such and such; that Deputy Dillon criticised the Budget and that his personal habits, antecedents and appearance were such and such. We were going on to hear of Deputy O'Higgins' personal appearance and habits, but we stopped at his antecedents. Why we should stop there, having entered on the discussion at all, we were not told by the Minister for Finance. Why we should not hear from him something about the Budget and something about the condition of the people upon whom this Budget burden must rest, is more than I can understand. The Minister for Finance before his Budget speech last year sat down amongst the Irish Wholesale Clothier and Cap Manufacturers' Association and explained to them that the economic policy of Fianna Fáil had now been put into operation, and could not be changed for generations, and that in the following year they would revert to a normal Budget.
The Minister having assisted his Party to put their new economic policy into operation, having announced 12 months ago that that had been done and that nothing could be changed for a generation, having promised that we would get to the period of normal Budgets again in 12 months after last year and having told us in the House that the normal Budget he was talking about would be the Budget for this year, what the House is now asked to do, after four years of Fianna Fáil budgeting, Fianna Fáil administration and Fianna Fáil building up of the resources of the country, is to discuss, for the first time in the history of the Fianna Fáil Government, a normal Budget. The normal Budget the Minister puts before us anticipates getting in, through tax and non-tax  revenue, by the end of the current financial year, £30,199,500. The first Budget that the Minister for Finance put before us in the spring of 1932 was characterised as an emergency Budget and that emergency Budget planned to make up for the ravages that the Free State Government had brought about over a period of ten years. It made provision for an expenditure of £2,000,000 for the relief of unemployment and, in order to do that, it set out not only to squeeze income-tax payers, but to raid the Hospital Fund, and the first raid on the fund was carried out under the heading of an emergency Budget.
At any rate, the emergency Budget that was put before the House in the early part of 1932 contained provisions of such a nature that it took out of the people's pockets £4,695,081 more than had been taken out of their pockets in the year before. How much of this is the first Fianna Fáil normal Budget going to leave in the people's pockets? Not a halfpenny of it. Not only is the first normal Budget of Fianna Fáil expected to bring into the Treasury the £4,695,081 which their emergency Budget, their first Budget, brought into their Treasury, but it is going to bring £200,565 more. What we are discussing is the fact that Fianna Fáil's first normal Budget is going to extract from the people's pockets more than £200,000 beyond what their emergency Budget took in the year 1932-33. That Budget took more than £4,500,000 out of the people's pockets beyond what was taken the year before. That is what we have got after four years.
From the financial side it is interesting to see what has been happening during the four years. It is necessary to have a look at what has been happening during those four years to the people who have had to bear the increasing cost of government as well as the increasing cost of carrying on their business, rearing and educating their families and providing for the future. This extraordinary first normal Budget seeks to get more out of the people than the emergency Budget of 1932. It is placed before the people after a period of four years during which the Government have had to spend, from  moneys that reached them as tax and non-tax revenue, an average of £5,333,000 every year more than the previous Government did on the average for the four years that preceded the coming into office of Fianna Fáil. That is not all. There was another sum of £2,000,000 which, previous to the coming into office of the Fianna Fáil Government, was raised from the people and spent in the payment of external debt. As well as the £5,333,000, the Minister for Finance has had that additional £2,000,000 to spend.
While the Minister is rather nebulous about the amount of money that has been raised by borrowing, we nevertheless have the position that in large block letters over the page of the Government organ in May, 1934, the people were told that the Minister for Finance had reduced the national debt between 1932 and 1934 by £5,460,000. The Minister told the House the other night that the total increase in debt as against 1932 was £5,837,000. That would mean that during the last two years the cumulative effect of Fianna Fáil policy was that the Government had put on the backs of the people an increased debt of £11,250,000.
The Minister very indignantly challenged the statement made from this side of the House in the earlier stages of the discussion that that was so. I asked him to tell us, if he challenged that figure, what figure he did put as increased national debt on the people within the last two years. Surely the Minister for Finance should know where he stands, and he who speaks so much of the delicate things that injure the credit of this country should at least, in an endeavour to save the country's credit, be able to state simply and explicitly the amount by which the national debt has increased every year. His own Government organ, in some of the biggest letters they could find in their printing boxes, told the people two years ago that the Fianna Fáil Government had reduced their debt by £5,000,000 odd, and they were told quite as explicitly this year the amount by which the general national debt had been increased since 1932. The net effect, in the simplest possible way, of the Minister's statement  is that he has increased the national debt by £11,250,000 within the last two years.
We have to take that into consideration when we are reviewing the position generally. We have to take into consideration the position in which local bodies find themselves. While the Government have collected into their revenue all this money and are spending it, the county councils alone, not to speak of what the position is with regard to urban authorities for whom we cannot get the particulars so very well, had to impose upon the ratepayers who supported the county council administration nearly £500,000 last year more than they had to bear before Fianna Fáil came into office. So that down on top of the additional taxation for central purposes the farmer ratepayers of the country had put upon them in March, 1936, £470,000 more than they had to pay at the end of 1931. At the end of March last, on the eve of this normal Budget, which differed from the emergency Budget only by reason of the fact that it is going to cost the people £200,000 more, the farmers of the country, who are going to bear a certain portion at least of this tremendous Budget burden, find themselves owing a very unaccustomed amount of a very unaccustomed kind.
The farmers on the 31st March this year owed the county councils £976,000. It was the third year in which the farmers found themselves owing the local bodies, whose maintenance they were responsible for, the unaccustomed amount of practically £1,000,000. The farmers of the country found themselves owing the Land Commission, again, the unaccustomed amount of £1,299,501. The Minister has been explaining, and his colleagues have been explaining, both in the matter of rates and land annuities, that the position is very much improved in the country. The position is that it is found that at the end of the year these moneys are owing by the farmers for no other reason than that they are not able to pay them to the Land Commission or to the local bodies, and they found themselves owing the Land Commission on the 31st March, 1936, practically £1,000,000 more than before, in  spite of the position of advantage in the matter of the land annuities payment to the Land Commission. The farmers are able to struggle along, making an attempt to pay this, but leaving hanging over them that other addition, small compared to what happened in the last couple of years. But the farmers are not reducing the enormous outstanding debts hanging over their heads to the Land Commission and to the local bodies.
So that we face our normal Budget with the unaccustomed debt of more than £2,000,000 owed by the farmers to the local bodies and the Land Commission. It is stabilised, if it is not actually increasing, at something over £2,000,000. We have them paying £500,000 more rates than before, and we have the enormous amount of money being looked for now which is £200,000 more than the Minister looked for when he came into office in 1932 and presented the House with a bill which proved to be £4,000,000 more than any Government ever got before. It was more than the previous year's Budget, and it was higher than ever before except in 1923. There is an interesting thing, too, when we compare the normal Budget with the emergency Budget. The emergency Budget of 1932 naturally shocked everybody, but so many things have happened since that the country is a bit numb, and we do not hear as much criticism of the present Budget as of the first of the Minister's Budgets, although it is a worse one.
The Minister for Defence had to go to Navan in September, 1932, to explain to his followers what was being done. He pointed out, as reported in the Drogheda Independent of 3rd September, 1932, “that every action of the Government since they took office showed that they were alive to the low standard of living imposed on the farmers and workers, and that when they had to raise taxes they imposed them on the people best able to bear them, such as people paying supertax and income-tax.” But the emergency Budget of 1932 fell upon the backs of the poor and not upon the backs of the rich. As already pointed out, after a year or two the Finance Minister and  his followers were told that these enormous burdens would slip inevitably on to the backs of the ordinary people in the country and would weigh particularly heavy on the backs of the poorer people of the country. When we were discussing this matter here last year, so strong became the position as to the necessity of having to face facts, that we had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance getting up in the House and, forgetting all the things that had been said in respect of the Budget, saying: “Why should not the working men pay?”
Here we have this year a normal Budget, but when we look at this normal Budget and compare it with the first Fianna Fáil emergency Budget we find this difference only, that, instead of giving us the policy under which the rich are to pay, all these burdens are now falling upon the backs of the poor. The Minister and his colleagues have so bedevilled the situation politically and economically that they think they will be able to continue to fool the poor man. It remains to be seen what case the promoters of Fianna Fáil and the Minister and his followers are going to make in the country for this Budget and the burden that the Budget imposes upon the community. At any rate, what we are concerned with at the moment is this: Realising that this normal Budget is £2,000,000 more than the burden that was placed upon the people by the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1932, and that they have been driven thus hard, it becomes clear that the burden is so much out of proportion that the people cannot possibly bear it and that some of the taxation will have to come out of other sources. We have, of course, hidden taxation on the poor in respect of bread, bacon and a number of other articles like that.
Having looked at what the normal Budget is, then we are concerned with discussing to some extent the people who will have to pay these. They are the people who derive their income from agriculture, on the one hand, and from ordinary industrial or commercial occupations on the other. We are told from time to time that one of the things Fianna Fáil is doing is providing for a bigger population. The estimated  figures published by the Registrar-General's office indicate that since June, 1932, the population has increased by 65,000 or 70,000 people. In a country where the population has increased by 65,000 or 70,000, and where a vigorous attempt, by means of subsidies and assistance of all kinds, has been made by the Government to develop tillage, on the ground that tillage would give employment to a greater number of agricultural workers, we look at the position this year to see to what extent the people are finding employment in greater numbers in the agricultural industry. We find that last year there had been a big increase in subsidy crops; 142,600 acres more of wheat had been grown than in 1931, and 52,276 acres more of beet than in 1931, with very huge subsidies both directly and now shifted indirectly on to the consumers of flour, bread and sugar. We look to see to what extent employment has improved in the agricultural industry and we find that, in spite of all these subsidies and increased acreage of crops, there were 617 less permanent agricultural labourers employed in June, 1935, than in June, 1931. That is, that men who look to find employment permanently in agriculture could not find employment there and that subsidised tillage, no doubt with the other circumstances that surrounded it, provided employment for 617 less permanent people. That meant that 617 less men could look to raise families with labour in agriculture as the basis for keeping up their families. There was an increase in temporary agricultural labour to the extent of 2,496. But the Minister can take it that 2,400 temporary labourers practically cancels out more than 600 of a reduction in permanent labourers and that four years of Fianna Fáil subsidised tillage has left permanent agricultural employment in a worse position than it was.
General Mulcahy: You will have to ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce for that. The Minister for Local Government calls a man who  gets employment for nine months in the year a permanent agricultural worker. I do not know whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce accepts that definition. But if the Minister for Local Government, who gives special relief out of rates towards the employment of permanent men in agriculture, calls a man who gets nine months' employment in agriculture a permanent labourer, I should like to hear Deputy Moore hazard some guess as to what a temporary labourer is. If a temporary labourer is a man who works three months in the year, then there was no increase in paid employment in agriculture in 1935, after four years of Fianna Fáil's great revolutionary policy.
What is the position with regard to wages? The Minister for Industry and Commerce tells us that agricultural wages are down by 3/- per week. The Minister will not tell us the number of agricultural labourers upon which he bases that estimate, because the figures which the Minister quotes as the absolute wages for agricultural labourers, and to which he refers the reduction of 3/-, are very different from the figures quoted by various bodies and public men throughout the country as indicating the level to which agricultural wages have fallen. But, if we take the Minister's figure of 3/- a week fall in wages, then the agricultural labourers wages' pool has fallen by more than £800,000 on his figures.
If you go outside the Minister's figures you have to go to the figures of the Labour Party, on the one hand, which show a very much bigger decline in agricultural wages than the Minister for Industry and Commerce gives; or you have to go, as pointed out before, to people like the rent collectors who reported to the Minister for Local Government's Commissioner in Tipperary, or to the County Committee of Agriculture in Wexford which would be regarded as the premier tillage county, and must be the county which has the greatest income from subsidies to tillage crops. There is not a Deputy who does not know that that body met month after month in the beginning of last year,  and that at one of their monthly meetings they besought the Government to extend the free beef scheme to agricultural workers in Wexford, because the married agricultural labourers in Wexford were, they said, only getting 8/- per week. That was not a political body. It was the County Committee of Agriculture set up by a Fianna Fáil county council and composed of representative men and women engaged in agriculture in the premier tillage county. At their meeting in the second month, when they saw no hope of the free beef scheme being extended to labourers in County Wexford, they demanded that a Government subsidy should be given to these labourers, and they advocated that the amount of that subsidy should be 6/- per week in order to raise their wages to 14/-.
Deputies are also aware that the rent collectors in Tipperary, where the local body was superseded by a Commissioner by order of the Minister for Local Government, reported to the Commissioner that they were unable to collect the cottage rents. They reported that there were various classes of people in the cottages who could not pay. Some were agricultural labourers who were only paid 8/- per week, and could not pay rent out of that. Some were agricultural labourers who lost their employment and were living on home assistance or unemployment assistance, and for that reason could not pay their rent. If we only accept the Minister's figure of 3/- for argument, we see that even with that there is a reduction of permanent agricultural labour. For the temporary man and the permanent man there is a loss, on the Minister's figure alone, of more than £800,000 out of the wages pool. Those people who go closer down to the homes of the agricultural labourers in the country, like the rent collectors and like the members of the various county agricultural committees, find that the individual situation is very much worse. I will leave it to Deputies on the far side to estimate what they think the real fall in agricultural labourers' wages is. On the eve of the Fianna Fáil normal Budget we find the permanent agricultural labour rates in the country and  the wages pool very substantially reduced, and those who are in closer touch with the homes of the people find a very much worse situation.
From the point of view of the main industry of the country, our live stock and live-stock products, how does agriculture stand on the eve of the first Fianna Fáil normal Budget? Again we have the figures given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. They are published in the Irish Trade Journal of March, 1936. He gives us there figures showing the prices obtained at fairs for various classes of cattle by various farmers who had cattle to sell at fairs. We are accustomed to comparing the position between 1931 and 1935. We can compare them most easily and most effectively by simply saying that on their exports, that is as between the Irish farmers and their external market, they lost on live stock and live-stock produce £14,000,000 in 1935 that they earned in 1931. The external market for the Irish farmer was two-thirds of what his internal market was. The external price governed his internal price, so that the Irish farmer, by levelling down of prices here to what he was able to get in his external market, lost substantially more in 1935 than he did in 1931, because he lost a very substantial amount of money on the prices that he could get in his internal market as well.
How does the Irish farmer stand in respect of the year 1936-7, when his country is faced with a normal Budget which is going to take more out of his pocket and out of the pockets of the townspeople than did the emergency Budget of 1932-3? How does he stand as a subject for bearing the burden of that Budget? The Minister for Industry and Commerce tells us. In 1932 when the farmer was called upon to pay £4,600,000 more to upkeep the Government, he got £12 13s. 9d. for his two to three years old store cattle. He is not facing a normal Budget as distinct from an emergency one. He is going to pay more out of his pocket than he did for the emergency one, and during the year in which he was preparing to face that Budget instead of getting £12 13s. 9d. for his two to  three years old store cattle he got £6 17s. 9d., and instead of getting £14 5s. for his three-years-old store cattle he got £7 18s. 3d. The normal Budget, therefore, in so far as it is being fitted as a burden to the back of the farmer, is being fitted as a burden to a back that is in that position. In regard to fat cattle, he got £6 less for his fat cattle in 1935 than he got when he started out to bear the Minister's emergency Budget. In 1932 the farmers got 121/- per cwt. for their creamery butter. That is down by 14/- now, when the same farmer is facing the normal Budget which is going to cost him more. He got 4.6d. for his milk in 1932; he got 4.3d. last year. He got 8/9 for his eggs; he is now getting only 8/5.
He is facing a normal Budget as against an emergency Budget, and the only thing in regard to which he is at par is his chickens. I should like the Minister for Finance or any of his colleagues to go and talk to a farmer's wife and say: “The Minister for Industry and Commerce was telling me that you are getting as much for your chickens now as you got in 1932.” I do not think there is a man on the far side who has the nerve to go and talk to a farmer's wife and tell her a thing like that at the moment. That is the position in regard to the farmer. I think sufficient has been said to indicate that the farmer and the farm labourer are to-day poor subjects for the bearing of any kind of burden in the way of taxation. Before we leave the farmers, let us see what the President thought of their position in February, 1932. As reported in the Irish Press of 18th February, the President said:—
“The overhead charges of the farmers are too heavy for them, and must be lightened. One of the heaviest of those charges is the burden of local rates. We propose to derate agricultural holdings. They were derated in Britain and in the Six Counties. Two of the £3,000,000 unjustly taken from us every year in the land annuities will suffice for this derating.”
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, at Ballyfad, Gorey—one hears  of things happening at Ballyfadsios, and that would be the right place to make a statement like this to-day— said in September, 1931:—
We have travelled a long distance from that; if experience could train the farmer's back in the bearing of the burden he certainly has got it. What the Minister and his colleagues have to face is the position of the agricultural industry. One leg of this Budget, resting on the agricultural industry, is resting in a very unstable way, and the sooner the Minister makes up his mind that it cannot continue the better for every class of people in the country. The other leg of the Budget is resting on the workers in the towns and the people who pay income-tax.
The Minister rather challenged the bona fides of Deputy McGilligan when he pointed out that this country was less able to bear income-tax to-day than it was. I should like the Minister to address himself on that subject to the fact that, in the year 1930-31, income-tax was 3/- in the £, and brought in £4,193,000. Last year, the Minister will admit that income-tax was 50 per cent. again of that, 4/6 in the £. Does the Minister admit that he got 50 per cent. more in income-tax, even if he takes the big screw which he put on the income-tax people and the taxation in respect of income-tax which he put on people's houses? The Minister's own figures will show him that the income-tax payers of 1931 are not able to support the burden he puts on them to-day.
General Mulcahy: The Minister cannot make anything out of the  income-tax figures but that. There is a reduction in the amount of yield from income-tax in relation to the burden which he has put on it.
General Mulcahy: I should like to hear the Minister on the subject. Having heard the Minister on the one point I put to him—what is the net sum of increase in the National Debt in the last two years?—the next thing I should like to see is a real examination by him of his income-tax returns, with a view to showing that the things he objects to in Deputy McGilligan's statement are wrong. At any rate, I would welcome a demonstration by him that the people who pay income-tax are in a better position to support the State to-day than they were in 1931, because, goodness knows, we want their help badly.
I have shown the position of agriculture on one side. I want now to put a few points as to the position on the industrial side. On our industrial side, we are suffering from a substantial depreciation in the average wages earned in some of our principal industries; we are suffering from a substantial reduction in the amount of manufactured goods for which we had a market previously; and we are suffering very much from the failure of the brilliant imagination of Fianna Fáil propagandists in 1932 to materialise. I suppose that if there were any particular direction in which substantially increased employment  ought to have developed here, it would be in the grain milling industry. The famous Fianna Fáil advertisement promised us 14,069 additional persons in the grain milling industry. Four hundred and eighty-one have been added, but for such people as have been added to industry, the general effect of the situation over the whole industrial position, as disclosed by the census of production, shows a very substantial decrease in the average amount of wages.
The average wages paid in the malting industry in 1934, the last year for which we have census of production figures, showed a decline of £24 a year over 1931. That is not an isolated figure, because the 1933 figures show that the average wages in the malting industry were down by £23 10s. per annum per wage earned. In the sugar confectionery industry the fall in the average wages for 1933 and 1934 as compared with 1931 was, respectively, £5 and £7. In the tobacco industry the decrease in annual wages was £6 13s. in 1933 and £5 16s. in 1934. In the brick manufacturing industry wages in 1933 were down by £17 13s., and in 1934 by £9 18s. In the furniture industry wages were down by £2 per annum per worker in 1933, and by £4 in 1934. In the metals industry, excluding engineering, they were down by £10 18s. in 1933, and by £8 8s. in 1934. In the engineering and implements trades they were down by £18 9s. in 1933, and by £27 8s. in 1934. In the clothing industry they were down by £5 8s. in 1933, but recovered somewhat in 1934, being then down only £1 7s. In the boot and shoe industry the average annual wage in 1933 was £19 5s. less than it was in 1931, and it had increased in 1934 to £20 10s. below the 1931 figure. In the fertilisers industry they were down by £14 5s. in 1933, and by £24 5s. in 1934. In 1933 there was a rise in the wages paid in the printing industry of £3 16s., but in 1934 the average wage in that industry had decreased by £6 10s. per year.
The industries covered by the census of production figures are the cream of our industrial production, and these are the figures of the Minister for  Industry and Commerce, showing the position to which the industrial side of Fianna Fáil development is being reduced.
General Mulcahy: They are published in all of them. I am making the point that in those industries the wages of the individual worker are falling. It is into the home of the individual worker, who has a home and a family to support, that the tax collector goes to collect his taxes off his linoleum, off his wallpaper, off his rice pudding and off the various things to which the Minister transfers taxation in order to get the poor man in, in the year 1935 and in the current Budget. I am not hiding the fact that there has been increased employment as a result of tariffs and quotas. There has been.
General Mulcahy: And an increased amount paid in wages, that is, the wages pool in industry has increased, but while it has increased, in those industries I have mentioned, the average annual wage paid to the worker has been reduced.
General Mulcahy: I argue from that that the average worker is finding himself in a worse position to-day to support the burden of government as well as a house, and that one of the outstanding features of the industrial development that is going on under these kinds of forced circumstances is a substantial fall in the average annual wage paid to the wage-earner in many industries.
General Mulcahy: The only fixing of wages by the Government we have had  here has been the fixing of 21/- and 24/- a week wages on relief works, and until the Government show a very different form in wage fixing——
General Mulcahy: The Minister will find the records of the previous Government, in so far as road workers are concerned, in the annual report of the Department of Local Government, but let him not ride away on any red herring. The facts are that in some of the principal industries which form the cream of our industrial production here, the effect of Government policy has been substantially to reduce, as between 1931 and 1933 and 1934, the actual amount coming in wages into the average worker's home. As I say, that is the home into which the invisible tax and the hidden taxes on bread and the hidden taxes on butter and the hidden taxes on bacon have gone as well as the visible taxes that studded to such an alarming extent the whole of the Finance Act and the Budget statement of last year and those of this year, and that as far as the Finance Bill and the Budget statement are concerned might as well be in the hidden position we are wont to see them in. They were put on last year and they flow on to such an extent that this Budget is going to bring the Minister £200,000 more than the Budget which was an emergency Budget.
I do not know of anything else that would not obscure the situation that I am putting to Deputies. Briefly the position is that four years after the Fianna Fáil Government has had £5,303,000 taken directly out of the people's pockets and put into their Treasury £2,000,000 more of the money that came into their Treasury is expended here instead of being expended on the payment of external debt in the way in which it was expended before. We are borrowing to a point that, as we can read in the Government's  daily press, has reached £11,250,000 between March, 1934, and March, 1936. There is the shifting of the hidden taxation to support their wheat policy, their beet policy and their bacon policy—the shifting of that hidden taxation to the people. After four years of that we reach the normal bill. And the normal bill is being handed out to the Irish farmer, to the Irish income-tax payer and to the Irish worker, and if he looks at it he will find that it is £200,000 more than the bill which was an emergency bill.
The Minister for Finance says that the people who pay income-tax are in a better position now than in 1931, though he is not able to tell us, nor is the Minister for Finance able to tell us, what our trading balance is, because for two years they have been scratching their heads to find out what they can risk saying is our income from investments in foreign countries and what are the outgoings to foreign countries from their investments here. That is a matter about which we used to have information, but for the last two years it is being cloaked down. The only thing we can get is a statement from the Minister for Finance that those of us who say that the income-tax payers cannot pay do not know what they are talking about. The condition of the farmers is that they are getting half prices for their live stock—half of what they got in the year in which they had to meet the emergency Budget; and that our workers with substantially reduced wages have already had their homes nearly skinned by the tax collector. It is not sufficient for the Minister for Finance to come in here with a long description of his excellent Budget. A Budget of the kind that he introduced here wants some foundation. This country showed that it had a foundation upon which even a high cost of government might be supported here. But the level to which he and his colleagues have raised the cost of government is a level of such kind that the foundation does not exist here to support it. It must be obvious to the Minister and his colleagues that it is perfectly true what Deputy Dillon says and what the Government press rants  so much in indignation about, that he and his colleagues are living here from hand to mouth and imposing a burden of taxation on people absolutely stung as they are by people going on with the antics of government. The people are held silent by the machinery in the hands of the Government. There is not a person in the commercial life or in the manufacturing life of the country who is prepared to say what he wishes to say about the situation. One has only to remember what the Chairman of the Irish Manufacturers' Federation said the other day about the Budget to realise the state of mind to which even intelligent people upon whom we do and must depend for the control and development of the manufacturing industry in this country have been brought. One has there a sample of what an intelligent person of that calibre can say——
General Mulcahy: Yes, some of them are making enormous profits, but they know as well as Deputy McGilligan or any other Deputy must know that it is a question of making large profits that will not return. A number of the industries that have been set up recently in this country are managed by people who are determined to get rich quickly.
General Mulcahy: I do not know whether the Minister is so well able to get after the income-tax people. I can tell the Minister why some of his revenue is so much down. You have only to examine what the President of the Irish Manufacturers' Federation said about the Minister's Budget to see how deliberately tongue-tied even intelligent people are in this country. I warn the Federation of Irish Manufacturers that they cannot do their work here except on ground that will be prepared for them by a prosperous agricultural industry, and it seems to me a blow at Irish industry and a neglect of their own most intimate interests that anybody speaking for the  Federation of Irish Manufacturers to-day must speak of the Minister's Budget as a normal Budget without reverting in some way or another—and the more directly the better—to the condition to which the Minister and his policy have reduced agriculture here.
There is not a person in commercial life or in a manufacturing industry living here who, if he has any interest in his industry in a personal way, would dare say what he thinks of what is going on in regard to Fianna Fáil policy or Fianna Fáil budgeting here; but unless they come out and stand shoulder to shoulder, unless they speak with a combined voice from a position where the individual cannot be got at, the Federation of Irish Manufacturers have no more cheerful road in front of them than have the Irish farmers, and it is scarcely necessary for me to emphasise that the Irish farmer has a very miserable road in front of him if the policy that is being pursued by this Government is going to continue. This Budget is worse than the emergency Budget, and it is coming at a time when the economic position of the people is getting worse. The sooner the Minister for Finance and his followers or colleagues, who know what the situation is, face the facts, the better. I will conclude with this statement, that normal Budgets of this kind are not going to do the country any good.
Mr. Cosgrave: In the course of this discussion very little reference has been made to the different types of policy that have been pursued in this country during the last few years. When the Minister introduced his first Budget he imposed a sum of something like £4,000,000 in additional taxation. There was announced at the time a change in the tariff policy of the country. New tariffs were imposed. We followed the policy, which had been tried in most other countries and found unsuccessful, of initiating a big change in the fiscal policy with no advertence whatever to the dangers that were inherent in that policy. What has, perhaps, reacted more than anything else against the success of a tariff policy in practically all countries is that it has imposed an undue burden on the backs of the rate-payers,  has increased the cost of living, has added to the cost of production and has left the finished article in consequence much dearer to consumers. After an examination and trial, if I might say so, of that policy, quite a number of countries have discovered that tariffs of themselves are not what was originally thought to be a successful method of improving industrial expansion. Quite a number of countries have now come to the conclusion that along that line, at any rate, there is not much hope for dealing with and endeavouring to cure the problem of unemployment.
In the previous Administration, when a tariff policy was introduced it had every prospect of success because, coincident with its introduction there was a reduction in taxation. Not only that, but special efforts were made to enable the agricultural industry to meet whatever extra costs might be entailed by reason of the tariff policy, and so, in the year 1924-25, a very big sum of money was voted in relief of the rates on agricultural land. The tariff policy of this Government, however, was faced with very unusual circumstances in connection with the prices available for agricultural products. Not alone did we, in common with the rest of the world, feel the effects of low prices for agricultural products, but the tariff conflict with Great Britain produced a very much worse state of affairs here. We are now approaching the fifth year of that tariff conflict, and that it has been serious nobody questions; in fact, members of different Parties, however they may differ on other subjects, are agreed that the farming industry here is in a serious position.
It is quite true that those who support Government policy in the country, from the first Minister of the State down to the most junior Parliamentary Secretary, always stress the importance of the great advantages that the farming community have derived from the particular reliefs that have been afforded in connection with flour, sugar, tillage and so on. When we come to examine what the effect of these reliefs to the agricultural community have been, we find a very different state of affairs. The Minister  for Agriculture, in a broadcast on Saturday night, submitted that if we were to criticise the taxation that had been imposed and added to that taxation the costs that the people have had to bear in connection with the increased price over the world price of flour, sugar, the butter levy, meat taxes, bacon levies or taxes, whatever we may like to call them, that we would be bound to take into account the cost of living as reflected in this year and the cost of living as reflected in the average price published for the year 1932. It was an ingenious defence, but it will not bear examination. It has this weakness, that one can take the average of the year 1935 to suit an argument, but cannot take the figures for 1935 and apportion them to the argument.
In all these matters, particularly in finance matters, we must distinguish between argument and facts. The facts in this instance are quite simple. In a publication called the Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, issued in April, 1936, we get these figures: cost of living in respect of food items for February, 136; May, 132; August, 140, and November, 150. One is perfectly entitled from the point of view of argument to take the average, but are you entitled on the facts to do that? In May of last year the Minister introduced a Budget here in which he imposed additional taxation to the extent of almost £1,200,000. Naturally that extra taxation is not reflected either in the February figure or in the May figure, which was as low as 132. Some indication of it is noticeable in August, where the price of food items has advanced to 140, and in November, where it has gone up to 150. The comparable figure that the Minister should have taken, if he has to take an average, and it would not make a lot of difference, is the figure for August, November and February of the following year. The average might have worked out the same— there would have been only five points difference—but it would be a more honest, a more intelligent figure, and one more in accordance with the facts. We find that the figure is 145, as  against 147 in 1931—speaking from recollection. Let us examine that.
Mr. Cosgrave: I shall take the other figure if the Minister gives it. In fact, I will give any figure the Minister wishes. Let us make this examination. While that figure of 147 stood for the year 1931, let me ask what was the average price farmers got for their produce? I am dealing with the food items only which the Minister for Agriculture specially introduced himself. I am taking it that that is his argument. The Minister understands the difference between the two.
Mr. Cosgrave: Very good. Now we will settle that point. Presumably it will be conceded that most of the food cost arises from consumption of food produced in this country. What is consumed of food imported is an item that is negligible. I shall concede any percentage asked for. But making up the ordinary total of food consumption of the working classes in this country, whom this figure vitally affects, most of the items consumed, outside tea, are of Irish production. The average price obtained by farmers for £100 worth of agricultural produce, taking that as the price in 1913, was £110 in 1931. The farmer got £10 more for the same quantity and quality in 1931 than he got in 1913. What did he get last year? He got £83. Would it not be reasonable to expect, having regard to that enormous reduction, that there would be some corresponding reduction in the cost of food items in this country? The figure according to that principle should be 109 instead of 145 which the Minister announced. It should be 109 as against the 145 charged. What has happened in the circumstances? What has happened is this: that while the farmers have not got their fair portion of the cost, the  people had to pay it. How did that occur? Very simply. The expedients devised and put into operation have not had the effect they were supposed to have, or that they were designed to have, or that the House and the country was led to believe that they would have.
Take one item alone with which the Minister dealt at length in the course of his speech. He talked of the taxation derived by the State from sugar. He pointed out that it was less in revenue than it was four or five years ago. We are prepared to accept that. What we object to is that the ordinary consumer in this country is paying 1d. per lb. more and the State is getting less, so that in consequence the whole scheme is lobsided. That scheme cost over £15,000,000, over £16 a ton, and gives employment, yet the farmers have not derived 20 per cent. of that cost, because they are only getting £800,000 out of it. Where are the profits going? That is really the thing to consider. If the country is spending all this money and the farmers are only getting £800,000 out of it, plus the employment that is given, is it not an extremely costly experiment and is it not bound to have its effect upon the purchasing power of our community? So that we have a whole list of items in connection with the changed fiscal and financial policy pursued in this country for the last four or five years to be considered.
Mr. Cosgrave: I am not responsible for the fiscal and financial policy in force in this country at the present moment. I pointed out, at the very beginning, at the very initiation of these high tariffs and high taxes, that the result, now apparent, would happen. That was not an act of prophecy on my part. It was one of the things experienced in other countries. It is showing in the economics of America at the present moment and amongst financiers in Europe, and it is being discussed in Geneva, where efforts are being made to solve the problem that we have over here, above every other problem, namely, the problem of unemployment.
 Let us take one or two casual looks at what has transpired during the last few years in connection with this cost-of-living business. Take the four years starting with 1928 and going on to 1929 and 1930 and 1931. Subtract from all items that enter into the cost of living the cost of food items. In 1928 there were only six points allocated in respect of that item; in the following year it was seven points, the following year, 1930, it was 11 points and in the last year, 1931, it was 13 points—a total of 37 points in four years. Now, take the following four years and what do you find? You find a sum total of over 70 points. What is the meaning of that? Quite simple. The figures are almost double. The other items show that— items other than the cost of food—such as apparel, normal expenses, such as theatres, a very small quantity of drink, tobacco and so on. In the four years from 1928 to 1931 it has risen from 31 to 70. That is the effect of the extra taxes and the extra tariffs. Do you think it likely that you are going to see a prosperous development with increasing cost arising out of your taxation and tariff policy? It may happen; everybody hopes it will be perfect, but the facts do not bear that out. Making allowance that half the agricultural produce of this country is exported, is it not apparent from figures presenting a difference of from £110 in 1931 down to £83 last year in agricultural produce generally that there is much less purchasing power than there would be if prices of agricultural produce bore a better relation to world prices than they do at the present moment?
In order to help to get that £83 for what the farmer got £100 in 1913, what extra costs have been added on to the ordinary consumer? I have mentioned sugar, which cost £1,000,000 more; wheat probably cost £1,200,000, or 8/- per sack on 3,000,000 sacks; the butter levy was £600,000; in respect of the meat tax £285,000 was paid last year; and in respect of bacon £241,000; borough and urban councils have been taxed to the extent of £196,000; the extra cost of unemployment insurance over and above that of four years ago is £190,000; making in all figure  which was borne by the taxpaying and consuming public last year of £3,712,000. Add to that the difference between the Minister's estimate of receipts on the basis of the level of taxation then in force. Four years ago the tax and non-tax revenue was £23,310,000 and this year it is £30,091,000. The difference between these sums, which, according to the Minister's estimate, is new taxation, is £6,750,000 which, added to the £3,000,000 odd I have mentioned, makes £10,000,000. In order to strengthen that case, to bring about the £83 for the agricultural produce for which £100 was got pre-war, £1,000,000 has been spent upon sugar, £1,000,000 has been spent upon wheat, £600,000 of the butter levy has been spent, and so on with bacon and meat. Is it not a costly transaction? It has not succeeded in restoring the farmers even to a normal position and when farmers get £83 for what they got £100 for pre-war, we expect a development and expansion in the industries of this country.
By reason of the non-success of the agricultural policy pursued for the last few years, we have to spend £1,500,000 on unemployment assistance. What is the cost of administering it? The cost of administering that fund, together with the Unemployment Insurance Fund, is something over £500,000. The cost of administering unemployment insurance four years ago was £90,000, so that the new fund cost nearly £500,000 to disburse amongst the people whom it is intended to help. Every £3 that they get is costing £1 to distribute. Is it not a costly service?
Going on to examine the Budget from the point of view of the bulk money required we find it is up by £700,000 on last year, and that notwithstanding the fact that bounties are down by £500,000, that the service of the sinking fund and interest is down according to the printed table by £427,000, making almost £1,000,000 between the two, the exact figure being £952,000. Notwithstanding that relief, as compared with last year, the sum is up by £700,000. If we were paying the same bounties as last year and the  same amount had to be met out of the sinking fund and interest, expenditure would be up by £1,700,000, and that at a time when farmers are getting £17 per £100 less than they got in 1913.
Then, as the law stands at present, we are liable to have supplementary Budgets at any time that the Executive Council in their wisdom decide. We can have during the whole year, in any month of the year, or on any night, impositions upon new articles or increased or altered tariffs, according as their wisdom directs. That is an innovation which it would be well to dispense with at the earliest opportunity. It has been availed of almost regularly during the last four years. It is only about 18 months ago since there was imposed an extra Customs duty and an extra Excise duty on sugar—one in October of one year and the other in the February of the following year.
With regard to the manner in which the Minister deducts almost £1,000,000 for overestimation, we ought to have got to the point now after four years' experience of having a lesser sum than that fixed for overestimation. It is quite true that during the course of the last few years that particular shot on the part of the Minister has been exact. But the fact that he has been right in it does not justify the practice. It gives too much power to the Executive Council. It is open to them to spend the whole of a given Estimate and to starve other Estimates as they please. The responsibility of Parliament in voting public moneys is one over which Parliament should exercise a stricter control in connection with the discretion allowed to Minister in that way.
The Budgets for the last four years have had an advantage over the Budgets of the preceding years. Up to 1932 there was included in the Supply Services each year a sum of £2,000,000, which was paid to Great Britain. The Government have not paid that sum during the last four years. In consequence of that, any comparisons made with the Budgets up to four years ago should have an allowance in respect of that matter. It makes the case for the increase in taxation of  over £6,750,000 still worse, because the true figure should be £8,750,000.
The Minister prides himself upon the revenue he derived last year. Everybody is pleased to know that the revenue is keeping up. But in that connection it might be better if we gave the whole of the circumstances of every case. Let us take one source of revenue upon which the Minister prided himself—the beer tax. He said it had exceeded, not only the Estimate but the receipts as far back as 1931. If he adds to that the spirit duties he will find that he is down on the year 1931-32 by something like £130,000. Beer and spirits are usually calculated together. Although the revenue in respect of the duty on beer may have been up last year as compared with four years ago, those two sources of revenue when taken together are down by something like £130,000.
Going back over a period of years one notices a contraction in the amount available from these two sources. Some years ago, when the suggestion was put forward that a reduction might be made in the duties charged, it was pointed out, I think by the Leader of the Opposition at that time, that he would oppose that on the ground that if any relief in taxation were to be afforded it should be in respect of food items. The facts are that, owing to the contraction in revenue from these two items in the last few years, articles of food or other articles have had to be taxed. The Minister might well reconsider his decision on that point—whether he decides upon it, or some other member of the Ministry, or the Executive Council, I do not know.
A falling revenue is a dangerous thing, and that particular revenue has fallen by over 50 per cent. within the last 12 years. Last year's Budget was unbalanced to the extent of something like £40,000. It is not a large sum, that is to say if the £40,000 represents a true figure and is related to all the circumstances of the case. But that is not so. In the last two or three years we have undertaken a very extensive housing programme. We have shouldered a responsibility, as far as the State is concerned, for a very big percentage of the money that is being  borrowed by local authorities. The liability for our portion of that money will extend, I suppose, over the next 20 or 30 years. We shall in that case leave a rather costly inheritance to our successors. If I recollect the Minister's figures correctly, he mentioned two sums, one of £1,500,000 and the other of £2,400,000. I do not know whether he had intended to add those two figures together to represent the dead-weight liability in respect of the State's contribution to the housing loans, but if there is a dead-weight debt, that is, a debt the entire interest and sinking fund charges of which will fall upon the people of this country for the next 20 or 30 years, it seems to me that we cannot call the Budget balanced by postponing the payment of that sum over that period.
If it solved the housing question it might possibly be justified in the special circumstances of the case, but one has to consider that the cities still have slum problems which will cost vast sums of money to deal with. I am taking the case which is nearest at hand, that of the City of Dublin, where some 15,000 families have yet to be provided for and only 5,000 have been provided for. We are then looking forward to a considerable increase in the dead-weight liability of the State to the extent of the service of the interest and sinking fund of that £3,900,000. Our contribution, to my mind, would require to be more than merely the year's service of the debt. It is one of those debts that should be wiped out within a given number of years. A case may be made for doing it in five years. A case might well perhaps be made for doing it in ten years, but anything over and above that period would appear to require some justification other than we can read from the Minister's speech. The sum is not much; the interest on £4,000,000 at 5 per cent. is only £200,000; the sinking fund charges, even over 20 years, would be another £200,000, but, taking into account the fact that the dead-weight debt has gone up by £6,000,000, that problem is still there to be solved, and in addition to that problem there is the problem of unemployment. We might have gone a little further towards  meeting it, and not be handing it on to our successors to solve.
The Minister's proposal in connection with the relief of unemployment is much more attractive in its first presentation than it really is. He is giving £135,000 towards the £2,500,000 fund, and proposes to borrow £250,000. There again the same question arises. Is this likely to be an endemic problem? If it is, then that £250,000 should have been provided out of revenue. If, on the other hand, it is hoped to see a very considerable inroad made upon the numbers of those unemployed, it might be justifiable to borrow it, but certainly not on a 20 or 30-year loan, and to that extent I think the Minister was not wise in borrowing to the extent of £250,000.
Mr. Cosgrave: If the Deputy means that an asset will be created when the work is over, the question we have to consider is whether it is a State asset and whether it is value for the money. If it is, that is another question. We did not get sufficient information from the Minister to be able to pronounce upon the value of the asset that would be created. If one takes the £825,000 that is to be put up by the local authorities in connection with this work, presumably that means drainage, water supply or something of that sort. I assume that the local authorities will not be called upon to bear the entire cost, and that we will meet portion of it. Whatever asset is created in that case is not an asset from the point of view of the State; it is an asset for the local authority—an asset to this extent, that it provides for a local necessity—but no money can be derived by the State in respect of that, except in one direction, the improved health of the people, and whatever advantage can be got out of employing men in productive work rather than paying them unemployment insurance. In that case, unless the Minister has more information at his disposal than be gave the House, the borrowing of £250,000 could not be justified.
It was rather unfortunate that the  Minister gave terms of reference to a committee with a view to reducing the claim on the Unemployment Fund to a minimum. The Minister has probably had experience—and his colleagues on the Executive Council also—during the last three or four years of how dangerous some of their observations were on political matters in the years antecedent to their coming into power. If a great many of those statements had to be remade they would be couched in different language. At the moment this country is governed democratically; it has that appearance about it. The Minister will have observed that his friends—in fact, I might almost have said his colleagues a couple of years ago—in the Labour Party have recently taken a rather critical view of Government policy. I was expecting them to seize the opportunity of showing the villainy that is behind the Ministry in giving such terms of reference to a committee— that it was with a view to saving the State the cost of this service that the committee was set up, rather than to solve the unemployment problem. The Minister was honest in putting the terms of reference before us. They were not drawn up in a statesmanlike fashion. I am quite sure that at the back of the Minister's mind there was an idea that it would be easily possible to solve unemployment. He will remember what his leader said to the people somewhere down in Carrick-on-Suir, when it was pointed out by the outgoing Ministry that Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, President Hoover, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and all his predecessors, the Prime Minister of France and all his predecessors, and of Czecho-Slovakia and all the other countries, including I suppose, the Emperor of Abyssinia, had not solved unemployment, although they had the opportunities just as much as we had. The people were told that that was all bunk, and not to be deceived by Mr. Cosgrave in those pronouncements.
Those terms of reference simply vindicate the outgoing Administration in respect of unemployment. In the first place, we had nothing approaching the same numbers of unemployed four years ago. In the second place,  whatever employment was afforded during that period was afforded in stable and continuous employment, in industries on a low tariff scale, in respect of which it was unlikely, if not almost inconceivable, that any public agitation would take place for their removal. What is the situation now? The Minister's colleague—now his political opponent—is repeatedly giving expression to the view that tariffs are not a cure for unemployment. I suppose the Minister will scarcely believe me when I tell him I am an ardent believer in tariffs properly applied, but I view with grave apprehension an imposition of tariffs which will make them unpopular, which will make them difficult to justify and which will create an opinion against them outside. In that connection, if we take the views of those who designate themselves as giving expression to the Labour view, on the one hand, in criticism of such tariffs—and we could—and, on the other hand, the views of agricultural labourers, whose wages have diminished in the last two or three years by as much as 3/- per week, and those engaged in the agricultural industry, who have seen the price of agricultural produce fall, since 1932, from £110, for a given lot of agricultural produce, to £83—does not all that point to the necessity of the Government taking heed of the situation in regard to the tariff policy? Does it not show that it is all the more necessary that an effort should be made to reduce national expenditure, where possible? Does it not show that every effort should be made to cut costs, wherever possible? The most glaring example is that which I have already given—in connection with unemployment assistance—where, even with the inroad the Minister expects to make on this fund next year of £500,000, the administrative costs, probably, will not be reduced. Accordingly, all these items are mounting up, and will make it more difficult for the consumer, the Government, the taxpayer, and for democracy itself, and eventually may lead to an upheaval of the kind that no sensible person wants.
There are many things that we have to do. The first is to restore the agricultural  position. The second is to find remunerative employment for the unemployed. The third is to solve the housing problem at a cost that will not bear too heavily on the taxpayers of the community. The fourth is to find an avenue for the exploitation and expansion of our trade. This Budget does not do that. The Minister would be well advised, during the Recess, if he has not time to do so now, to look into every possible source of public expenditure in order to see in what way they can be reduced. To start off, I suggest that he should begin on the main item of public expenditure that, I am sure he knows as well as I do, does not reach the place for which it was intended. I refer to the bounties. I suggest that he should start on these with a view to seeing if it is possible to restore the agricultural situation to what it once was.
Mr. Keating: This is a disappointing Budget. It does not give any relief to the workingman. The taking of a farthing a pound off sugar on the 1st of next August will be no relief to the workingman or the agricultural labourer. As members of this House know, the agricultural labourer, very often, is not in a position to buy more than half a pound of sugar at a time, and sometimes not as much, and everybody in this House knows that there is no such thing as a farthing to be got in the country, as a rule. Let us take the question of flour. I see the Minister laughing. The Minister may laugh, but flour in the Saorstát to-day is 8d. dearer than in Northern Ireland, and that is all due to the policy of the Government. That is not a wholesome situation for the workingman. Up to some time ago, the farmer was in the front-line trenches in this economic war, but to-day the agricultural labourer and the country shopkeeper are in the front-line trenches. Certain tariffs were put on to keep the economic war going, but I think it is time for the Government to see daylight and for the Minister for Finance to come to some agreement with the Minister for Agriculture—even though the President boasts about the firing of the first shot in this economic war— whereby the farmer should not be  asked to bear all these burdens. Whether it is done by bounty or otherwise, unless some arrangement can be come to by which relief can be given to the farmers, this country will be down and out in a short time.
We are told all about the new industries that have been set up in the country. I am glad to hear of any of them being set up, and I am only too happy to give them my support, but we must all remember that, in order to keep this country going, the agricultural industry must be prosperous; and it will never be prosperous as long as the present Government keep to their present policy. Take the case of a pig-producer. The produce of the pig that goes to the home factory is taxed 5/-, and that is very little encouragement to a farmer or agricultural labourer to keep pigs. As a matter of fact, in the constituency I represent, 95 per cent. of the butter produced is by hand-labour, and the Government sees its way to put a tax of 3d. per pound on that butter. That is poor consolation for a poor unfortunate farmer's wife, after churning her milk and cream and making her butter. It is poor consolation for that unfortunate woman, after all her labour, to have to pay the Government 3d. per lb. We used to hear a lot of talk about Home Rule— and, by the way, Deputy Donnelly can take his hand away from his mouth. I do not mind the Deputy telling me that I am a liar, but I hope the Minister will not commit himself in this connection. After all, the Minister does not know a whole lot about the world. He is only a drawingroom farmer. The Minister knows as much about farming as I know about making watches. As an illustration of the state of the country at the moment, let us take what has been the result of the 1933 Land Act. Here is a letter that I got from a farmer's wife in the County Wexford.
“When you glean the facts from this letter you will probably think it far-fetched. But believe me it is absolutely true. I think it is up to me to air some of the bullying that well-intentioned people have to bear who are trying (and paying) to pay their way. Some days ago, about noon, a good-looking car stopped at the hall door, two well-dressed gentlemen (as I thought) got out and rapped. I sent my daughter to speak to them. She is my dairymaid. We thought they were the men about the warble fly. Looking out at the door to see if I knew them, I saw them push in beyond my daughter and walk into my sitting-room. My daughter came back to me quite flurried, and asked me if I would go to those men as she could not understand their attitude. I went up to them and found them sitting as though they were old friends, one at each side of the room; neither of them made any move when I came in, but asked me abruptly and in a most aggressive manner if this was James Davis' place, Walshestown. I said ‘yes.’ One of them immediately said: ‘It's not, it's ours.’ I said: ‘You must be joking, do I know you?’ One of them answered: ‘No, but you won't be long.’ I said: ‘Please talk straight and not in riddles.’‘Well,’ he said, ‘we have come to take over this place, and you're to quit.’ I asked when. One of them said: ‘Now.’ I said: ‘Let us reason. There must be some way out of this.’ He said: ‘There's none; we are sent here from the inspector, Castlemorris House— 70 miles—to take over this place as there is money due, and we are doing so—if one of us goes out, the other stays—vice versa.’ I said: ‘If I (just for argument sake) got some one or two to put out, what would happen?’ They answered: ‘We can call on a lorry load of soldiers to put you out.’ I said: ‘That's no use.’”
“I then suggested they would let me know what the bill was, and, lo and behind, they fished out some papers and the amount of money was £13 2s. 10d. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘if we get into your car and you bring me to the bank I think they won't refuse me that.’ But no, they would not budge. I then asked if they would be afraid to face their boss, whoever he was, if they got a little money? No, they were to take over all, and nothing else would do; those were their orders. I asked them to call in the evening and see Mr. Davis. They said they would be here all right. I said: ‘Call back.’ They said: ‘No, they were staying on.’ However, after an hour and a quarter they condescended to take £5 (all the money we could scrape up), the balance to be sent on by Saturday. They gave me some curious receipts, as you will see by enclosed. Please think about this and see if it's O.K. It doesn't seem to me to be right. Accept my apology for giving you so much trouble, and thanking you in anticipation.—Sincerely yours, Anne E. Davis.”
Mr. Keating: Deputy Donnelly can laugh but he will only have a thirty-first cousin a farmer. When Fianna Fáil went to the country in 1932-33, they told the farmers that everything would be beautiful; that there would be better and alternative markets; that everything would be O.K. They also told the farm labourers that they would have better wages. They went so far as to say that the country would be so prosperous that they would have to send to England and to America to bring the exiles home. It is nearly time for the Government to look around the corner and to do something for the depressed people. I happened to be going along the road in the spring of 1935 when I saw two horses that were drawing a seed-sower seized, although the farmer was trying at the time to get in his crop. In  the old Land League days, when we were fighting the British, if that happened there would be a queer amount of talk about it. There was a lot of talk about that incident, but it had no effect.
The sooner the Government has commonsense and gives the people a chance to live in their own country the better it will be for everyone. We were told that the British market was gone for ever. If it was not for the demand for Irish cattle in Great Britain to-day farmers would be in a worse position. But for the tariff of £4 5s. a head that has been imposed on Irish cattle farmers would be making as good prices as I remember, barring the Great War prices. Whatever Government is in power they should grasp at every opportunity to relieve the position in which the people find themselves. If farmers are not prosperous no one in this country is prosperous. It is deplorable to think of the condition of the agricultural community and of poor people who are not getting a square meal in the day. Labourers working for farmers may be fed, but when they go home to their wives and children the position is deplorable. It is time for the Labour Party to see that the workers get a fair crack of the whip and get, at least, a reasonable living in their own land. One is called a West Britisher or a foreigner for fighting for what he considers to be the rights of this country. I was not a West Britisher in the 'eighties, when I was following the sound constitutional members we had then in Parliament, Parnell, Redmond and others. To-day when we have a native Government they are persecuting the Irish people. It is about time to end the present condition of things.
Mr. Norton: Judging by the reception which the Budget has received from organs of the Press largely concerned with ensuring that the interests of the well-to-do classes are adequately catered for, and no new imposts made on them, this is a good Budget, and the Minister for Finance will probably congratulate himself on the fact that he is now probably on better terms than ever before with the Irish Times. The editor thinks him a much more  ingenious Minister for Finance than he ever dreamt of in 1932, and, of course, it is obvious from recent issues of that paper, and recent comments in the editorials, that the Irish Times regards the present Minister as an absolutely ideal Minister for Finance, from the standpoint of the people it represents. Reading the Budget in the light of views expressed by such organs of public opinion one gets the impression that so far as that section of the community is concerned they see in this Budget something which treats it with as much tenderness as it is possible to treat it having regard to the fact that taxes must be paid. The Minister for Finance finds consolation in the fact that this, of course, is a conservative Budget, because it has undoubtedly to take its place amongst the most conservative Budgets produced by Ministers of any country in any generation. The one striking feature about the Budget is that it maintains and very definitely consolidates the swing to the right which was noticeable in the Minister's Budget speech of last year. In 1934 the Minister reduced the tax upon tea. In 1934 he also reduced income-tax, but in 1935 he put back the tax on tea, but did not put back the tax on income at the former rate, so that between 1934 and 1935, weighing up the possibilities, as to what section should bear the burden, the Minister exercised a choice between income-tax payers and consumers of tea. Consumers of tea had to pay the burden while income-tax payers were allowed to get away with the reduction which the Minister had given the previous year. In this Budget we find that the tax upon tea is maintained, while the tax upon income is continued at the former rate, notwithstanding the fact that the Minister for Finance has not this year the excuse he gave last year for not raising the income-tax level and exempting other commodities from taxation, namely that the British rates were now down to a maximum of 4/6 in the £1.
These tendencies convince anyone who cares to study the facts revealed in the Minister's recent Budgets that the whole tendency in recent Budgets of the present Minister for  Finance has been a very definite swing to the right, a very definite attempt to demonstrate to certain sections of the community that they have nothing to fear from a Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance and that, so far as he is concerned, the taxes will not be imposed on the basis of the shoulders broadest to bear them but on a basis which will distribute the burdens just as heavily on the poor as on the wealthy. This year that outlook on the part of the Minister for Finance is not only continued but, as I say, consolidated, and all the plaudits with which the Minister has been received in certain Press organs make it abundantly clear that that section of the community regards itself as having been treated with exceptional leniency by the Minister for Finance. The Irish Times of last week was so enraptured that it could scarcely refrain from drawing a very decided distinction between the Minister and the President of the Executive Council. It said last week that the Minister for Finance had behaved in financial matters, particularly, of course, towards the section which it represented, in such a way that he had done much to repair the mischief caused by the provocative policy of the President of the Executive Council— all indicating, of course, that the present Minister for Finance, in the viewpoint of those who are responsible for the production of that organ, is a Minister for Finance who fulfils their requirements possibly more adequately in respect of taxation than any previous Minister for Finance has done in this country.
In the Budget we are told for the first time by the spokesman of the Government that unemployment is a problem that is going to be with us from year to year. It seems to me that a statement of that kind, if it is intended to represent the viewpoint of the Government, is a definite expression of inability to solve the problem of unemployment in the circumstances existing in this country. In other days we had much more cheery declarations on the subject of unemployment. At one time the President told us that there was no reason why unemployment should exist  here. Later we had the Minister for Industry and Commerce declaring that he had a plan which was going to absorb 85,000 unemployed persons. His only problem then was whether it would be possible to secure that number of unemployed workers within the country or whether persons might have to be brought home from exile. The Minister for Defence, speaking in or about the same period, said that probably they should be glad there were so many persons unemployed in the country as they would be available for the work that would be obtainable when this new and rather unique plan was put into operation. Now we have from the Minister for Finance a declaration, the first declaration of the kind during the past four years, that unemployment as a problem is going to be with us from year to year. If the Budget speech of the Minister for Finance means anything, it is a definite indication that, so far as the Executive Council are concerned, they now appear to have abandoned their original ambition to cure unemployment as it exists in this country.
I do not believe that it is necessary that we should have here the unemployment problem that apparently the Minister for Finance indicates is going to remain with us from year to year. In any case, we should know from the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he now subscribes to the view that unemployment is going to remain with us in the dimensions envisaged by the Minister for Finance in the course of his Budget speech. But, even if we are to have that admission from the Minister for Industry and Commerce, we ought to know what has driven the Executive Council to this despairing outlook on the subject of unemployment. We ought to know on what grounds they base this conclusion and we ought to know why, and precisely for what reasons, the Government which once said that there was no reason why unemployment should exist here, and which once thought that there would be difficulty in getting men to do all the tasks to be performed, have now been driven to the recognition that unemployment as a problem is something that is going to be with us from year to year.
 Deputy Cosgrave in the course of his statement said that the Labour Party had expressed the view that tariffs alone would not cure unemployment. I think that is such a statement of a primary economic fact as hardly to be challenged by anybody. Tariffs alone will not cure unemployment here any more than tariffs alone have cured unemployment in other countries throughout the world. But the original plan was not based merely on the imposition of tariffs. There was to be a vast scheme of national reconstruction, not merely of industry and agriculture, but a vast scheme of planning generally, a vast scheme of national reconstruction on such a scale as to absorb into productive employment large numbers of persons who were then unemployed. Instead of that grandiose plan, instead of these optimistic declarations that the unemployment problem would be solved through the medium of that plan, we have now the cold douche of reality, as seen by the Minister for Finance, thrown on that plan and on these schemes. We have now to content ourselves with a situation where unemployment is to be with us from year to year. Bearing that in mind, the Minister apparently proposes to set about the task of doing something to relieve the unemployment problem which we are going to have with us from year to year. Prior to the recent Employment Period Order being made operative in respect of small farmers with a valuation of over £4, there were registered at the unemployment exchanges, satisfying the rigid test of unemployment imposed under the Unemployment Assistance Act, no less than 145,000 persons. They were not, of course, persons in the main who registered previously for employment at the unemployment exchanges, but at all events they were persons able and willing to work, genuinely anxious to obtain work and satisfying the rigorous test imposed under the Unemployment Assistance Act.
That is the unemployment problem with which the country is faced to-day, and that is the problem that it must be the task of this Government to face up to. That is the unemployment  problem that calls out for a solution, the problem that the Minister for Finance must direct his efforts to if we are going, in respect of that large mass of humanity, to try to give them a higher destiny in this life than merely trekking to employment exchanges for the miserable pittances which they receive under the Unemployment Assistance Act. What does the Executive Council propose to do in the matter of the provision of work for that huge army of unemployed men? When you contemplate that vast number of unemployed persons in the vicinity of 145,000, and when you take into consideration their wives and the children who are dependent on them, you get a sum total of misery and destitution which surely demonstrates that we have an unemployed State within the State itself. That is the problem which the Executive Council must address itself to.
This Budget is intended to indicate, in some measure, what the proposals are in that respect. The Minister for Finance, in his Budget speech, announced that a sum of £2,500,000 will be available for public works. One would think that this £2,500,000 was to be made available by the State in the form of new money, apart altogether from any other provision which is being made in the Estimates or in this Budget, or apart altogether from the provisions which would be made inevitably during the year by local authorities in furtherance of local schemes of public health works. But when we come to ask how the £2,500,000 for public works is to be raised, we find that the Road Fund is to be asked to contribute £100,000, and that local authorities will be asked to raise £875,000. There is already in the Estimates provision for £500,000 in respect of relief schemes, and unemployment assistance. Under this scheme the public works will be reduced by £550,000. Therefore, we find that out of the total of £2,500,000 these four items alone make over £2,000,000.
The amount of money which the Executive Council propose to make available to deal with this unemployment problem is £500,000, and even  some of that money is to be made available in the form of a loan, a quite undesirable proceeding from my point of view, particularly when one is dealing with an unemployment problem which is not a temporary problem but which is now a permanent problem in the viewpoint of the Minister for Finance.
The State is going to ask the local authorities and the Road Fund to contribute, approximately, £1,000,000 to this £2,500,000 work fund. It is going to save £500,000 under unemployment assistance, it is going to utilise the £500,000 provided in the Estimates for relief schemes, and to put in another £500,000 itself. That is the sum total of the provision which is to be made during the year for the relief of the unemployment problem. Now that it is admitted to be a problem which is not going to disappear in the easy way that it was at first thought of, I think that such provision for the relief of unemployment is inadequate. I think that it will be quite impossible to save, through the medium of unemployment assistance, the gigantic sum of £500,000, approximately one-third of the total sum of money made available for unemployment assistance, merely by the creation of a work fund through the means of raising the money that I have just indicated. It seems to me that the Executive Council are hoping altogether for too much from the good effects which are likely to flow from the creation of this work fund financing itself. The local authorities are to be asked to contribute approximately £1,000,000 out of the £2,500,000. The rest of the money has already been voted, or has been got by means of raids, and the additional sum made available by the Government is not of such a kind as to justify the very extravagant claims which have been made for the beneficial effects which are likely to follow from the provision of this work fund.
I think that if the Executive Council really want to face up to their responsibility in respect of unemployment, and if they want to make an effective impression on that problem, the magnitude of which it is impossible to-day to under-estimate, then there must be  much greater courage and foresight displayed in tackling the problem than are envisaged in this year's Budget. Apparently the Minister for Finance is not going to go quickly. He confessed in his Budget statement that he was opposed to and abhorred Fascism, State Socialism and Totalitarianism. He declared his abhorrence of these economic theses, and went on to record himself as one who believed in the soundness of private enterprise as the sole basis of our prosperity in the past and apparently the sole basis of our inspiration in the future. I wonder whether Deputy Cooney believes in that doctrine, whether he believes that it is on private enterprise, on unrestrained laissez faire private enterprise, that the future prosperity of this country is going to be based. The Minister now tells us that, so far as he is concerned as the person responsible for the raising of the money, he believes that the future prosperity of this country is going to be based on private enterprise. His policy apparently is: let the individual with the money plan our industrial and our agricultural development; let the nation's prosperity be related to the willingness of persons to invest money in industry, and let the sole temptation to develop our industries, to plan our industrial and agricultural development, be based on such schemes of development, related, as they must be, to the consideration by those who are investing their money in them to the return which they are likely to get for the money invested. The sole basis of our industrial and agricultural development, our whole planning for the nation as conceived by the Minister for Finance, is that private enterprise is going to be asked by an appeal to its avarice to develop our industries and our agriculture, and generally to plan the economic and national life of the nation.
The Minister thinks that prosperity is going to flow from a scheme of development of that nature. If private enterprise is the wonderful thing that the Minister for Finance tells us it is, if it is going to supply that prosperity and the inspiration for the future that the Minister for Finance believes, will he tell us why we have had, under  private enterprises in an uncontrolled form, the appalling unemployment, poverty and destitution which the State has had to grapple with by means of special ameliorative Acts of Parliament? Because these evils are the legacies of the private enterprise which the Minister for Finance, apparently, thinks so highly of to-day.
Apparently, we are to have development in the future solely by private enterprise. There is to be no utilisation of the State's resources to plan our industrial and agricultural development. The appeal is to be to the private individual to invest his money and to the advocates of private enterprise to get on with the job of developing industry and agriculture, hoping that the return which they are likely to get will be of a kind to induce them to invest. The whole tariff policy during the past two years has had a decided turn in the same direction. There has been a disposition to allow private enterprise in the field of industrial development to extract, through the medium of tariffs, profits which they are not justified in exacting, especially at a time when the nation subjects itself to certain hardships and inconveniences to assist in the development of industry. We have to-day, as a result of hundreds of years of alien misrule, a neglected and relatively undeveloped country, the industrial possibilities of which have, so far, been barely scratched. Obviously, if we are to get astride of the development which has taken place in other countries, we cannot start here by the same process and proceed at the same rate as other countries undertook their industrial development. Starting very much behind other countries, we must learn by their mistakes. We must profit by their experience and we must do something to take a short-cut towards that stage of industrial development which other countries have already reached. The Minister for Finance wants us to take a slow road, a sluggish road, a road which is not marked by prosperity for the people, but which is often marked by prosperity for those who exploited the people's needs. That is the road the Minister for Finance will have  us travel towards a certain stage of industrial development. With our agricultural and industrial possibilities undeveloped in many spheres, we must, if we are to advance, utilise the full power of the State in the form of its capacity to create credit, to impose tariffs and restrictions and to organise the machinery for the exploitation of our industrial possibilities. If we are not going to take that road, if we are not going to utilise the creative power of industrial development for our people, if, instead, we are going to rely on the puny efforts of private enterprise, then I rather think that our industrial development is much further off than the Minister for Industry and Commerce in these Olympian moments of his would have us believe. In the present complex condition of life and industry, when the utilisation of our country's resources is imperative, if we are going to ensure to the people the necessaries of civilised life, if we are going to provide our people with employment by creating wealth for the nation, we should be willing to utilise any and every form of organisation which is capable of creating more wealth for the nation and which is capable of exploiting for the nation the undeveloped resources which have not been and, obviously, will not be exploited by private enterprise alone.
The speech of the Minister for Finance looks like a retracing of its footsteps by the Government, from the standpoint of its large-scale scheme of national development. The despairing language used by the Minister, the apparent recognition by him that unemployment is to be always with us, and his advocacy of private enterprise to provide the motive power for industrial and agricultural expansion, seem to me to betoken less radical thought so far as national planning is concerned than I ever heard uttered by a Fianna Fáil spokesman in the past or ever heard in any Fianna Fáil Budget in the past. This Budget, from the standpoint of the approach to the big problem of unemployment, from the standpoint of the way in which it distributes the burdens is a clear indication  that the Government—if the Minister for Finance speaks for them— has now become timid and timorous and now bids fair, with one or two more Budgets of this kind, to stand side by side with the last Government, so that few will recognise them unless they read their early utterances.
Deputy Cosgrave spoke of tariffs and was disposed to chide the Labour Party in respect of the views it has expressed on that question. I believe that the imposition of tariffs is necessary if you are going to protect your industries from the competition which they experience from other countries— competition often based on unfair conditions of labour in these countries, often based on years and years of scientific progress in these countries, and often based on the utilisation of enormous capital resources, capable of not merely selling an article more cheaply than we can produce it, but even capable of preventing us from selling an article here at the actual price at which we could produce it. If we are to have any industrial development, and if this country is not going to be a permanent Emerald Isle, the greenness of which everybody can admire, even if he is hungry, we must ensure that tariffs as one of the agencies for protecting industries are utilised to enable our industries to compete with those highly capitalised institutions which exist in other countries. As I said before, tariffs alone will not cure unemployment. The mere production here of all the things we need will not produce the prosperity some people imagine it will. The United States are capable of supplying all their own home requirements in about seven months but that fact has not ensured prosperity for the American worker. We still have the amazing spectacle of from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 unemployed in that country. The mere imposition of tariffs and the mere production of all that we need will not give this country any greater measure of prosperity than the same steps gave other countries. Tariffs, quotas and restrictions, without the support of a planned national life, will not give this country a prosperity that some people fondly imagine they will. My view is that  the mere imposition of tariffs, without a planned national economy, will give this country not the prosperity which some people think but such a measure of disillusionment as has already overtaken many other countries which formerly thought upon the same lines.
Here we have in this country a relatively undeveloped State. It must be the task of the Government, acting on behalf of the whole community, to ensure that the resources of the State are exploited with the utmost expedition in the most thoroughgoing way, and in a manner which is capable of using the creative genius and craft and brawn of our people so as to create new sources of wealth for the nation, and, at the same time, to provide employment for the unemployed people of the nation. If we had waited for private enterprise to develop the Shannon scheme, many generations of Irishmen and women would have passed on. The State there realised that private enterprise could not be depended upon to develop the Shannon scheme, and that gigantic engineering feat, with the national advantages which have flowed from it, was undertaken by the State, because of the recognition that private enterprise was incapable or unwilling to undertake the task.
If the State undertakes a scheme of that kind, or finds it necessary to undertake a scheme of that kind, various other schemes, no less important in the life of the nation, must also be undertaken by the State and exploited by the State. It is only by the utilisation of that and every other form of creating wealth for the nation and employment for its people that it is possible for us to foresee the day when our people will have that measure of reasonable prosperity which civilisation in 1936 makes possible for each and every one of us, if we only have the capacity to organise and distribute the resources of the country on some greater basis of equity than exists to-day.
Mr. Norton: I suggest to Deputy MacDermot that it was never easier  in the history of mankind to win from the land the wherewithal to provide the people with food. I suggest it was never easier to produce goods than it is to-day, that the enormous increase in the world's productivity has released new forces of wealth creation and there is available to-day for the people an abundance formerly undreamt of and an abundance inconceivable 100 or 50 years ago.
Mr. MacDermot: All that is common ground, but I would ask the Deputy to throw aside his vagueness and indicate what principle of distribution he proposes. The whole world is waiting to hear of some such method of distribution.
Mr. Norton: ——but I do suggest to Deputy MacDermot that, in a world choked with goods, in a world in which the machines fill the granaries and store-houses at a greater pace than ever before, in a world in which there is a plenitude formerly undreamt of, it ought not to be beyond the wit of man to devise, in relation to the special problems in each country, the distribution of those goods and services in such a way as to ensure that everybody will share in that national heritage of productivity.
Mr. Norton: That is perfectly true, because of a variety of circumstances, not the least prominent of which is the apparent unwillingness on the part of large masses of the people to realise that they are living to-day in an era when poverty is an absurdity and when there is such production of goods available as to render that poverty an absolute crime against bountiful Providence. We are living to-day, not in an era of scarcity. We are living in an era of prosperity, of abundance, and the apparent unwillingness of large masses of the people to realise that they have left scarcity, and are now in an era of abundance, makes the  task of those who want to create that new social order the more difficult. However, that is a matter which I do not mind debating with Deputy MacDermot elsewhere, if he thinks there is sufficient public interest in a scheme of that kind.
Mr. Norton: The remarks which I have just made in reply to Deputy MacDermot's interjection might as appropriately be applied to the Minister for Finance. He still thinks we are living in an era of scarcity, in an era of difficulty, in an era when it is not possible to give to the people the abundance which is theirs, if only that abundance were organised and distributed on some equitable basis to those who are clamouring for the commodities they are unable to get.
As I said at the outset, this Budget is a conservative Budget. One family in the British House of Commons has a long tradition of providing Chancellors of the Exchequer and these were regarded as the highwater mark of conservative thought in the matter of how to tax people. I suggest that when that family peruses the Budget speech of the Minister for Finance and reads those declarations of his on economic thought, they will have no hesitation in realising that their supremacy in the world of conservative Budgets is being seriously challenged by the Minister for Finance in the Irish Free State. I think it is a conservative Budget. I think it does not display any of the radical, or even revolutionary, thought which the Minister for Finance at one time indulged in and I hope, for the sake of the future development of the country, for the sake of the prosperity of unemployed persons, the line of thought underlying this Budget will not be persisted in as the Government's sole hope in the matter of industrial development, in the matter of the prosperity of our people, and in the matter of giving to the community those essentials of a civilised existence, food, clothing and shelter. I cannot see that many of the unemployed will get them under the work  provisions of this Budget, and I hope that a realisation of the puny efforts which are made here, and of the unworkability of the scheme as envisaged by the Minister for Finance, will induce the Government to take their courage in their hands, to get rid of the conservatism of which this Budget reeks and to realise that, in a changing world, where the seeming economic insanity of yesterday becomes the sanity of to-day, they must display more courage in dealing with the vast problems which must be dealt with in this country, particularly after generations of alien neglect.
Minister for Education (Mr. Derrig): I think that those of us who have been waiting for the past week to hear the attitude of the Labour Party on the Budget must have been rather disappointed by Deputy Norton's speech. I listened to a speech on the radio by a Labour representative which was certainly more concise than Deputy Norton's, but, in regard to both of them, I do not think we are anything the wiser in our effort to secure illumination as to how these vast problems to which Deputy Norton vaguely refers are going to be tackled and how they can be tackled more effectively and more speedily than under the schemes which the present Government has put forward. I sometimes almost imagine that, in the lack of enthusiasm which the Labour Party displays towards these Budgets, which I think we can all admit make very substantial provision indeed for social services and for relief of the poor, they have at the back of their minds the feeling that the Government are perhaps doing a little more than they should, but that, lest there be any fear that the Government should be tempted in any way to cut down these services, it would be unwise to praise them warmly for what they have done. Nevertheless, at the risk of eulogising the Minister for Finance or the Government in an extravagant manner for the work that has been done in regard to improved social services under the present Government, I think the House would have been entitled to some appreciative remarks from the Leader of the Labour Party in regard to this matter.  It seems rather strange that when the annual accounts are being made up and the very substantial sum of £3,600,000 is being provided for social services in excess of what was provided some years ago, the Leader of the Labour Party does not think it worth while to refer to that matter. In fact his speech is strangely lacking in any reference to the question of social services.
I think that there were certain definite and well-marked features about the Budget, and perhaps it would not be too much to deduce from the lack of attention these features have got from the Leader of the Labour Party, that the country considers they are satisfactory features of the annual statement. In the first place, there is an abolition of the restrictions and of the organisation that had to be set up to deal with the special difficulties in the cattle trade and to endeavour to deal in a drastic manner—even though that machinery was rather difficult to administer—with the cattle position. It must be a relief to the country, and I am quite sure that it is, to find that we are abolishing these restrictions to a very large extent. One of the reasons why we have been able to do that is because there has been an improvement in the cattle trade and valuable recuperation has been thereby given to the agricultural community. Then, although the Minister for Finance has been able to grant substantial remissions in taxation in the shape of a reduction in the sugar duty and otherwise, and also an increase in the marriage allowances accorded to income-tax payers, I think it is a matter for congratulation, and it must be a matter of surprise to a great many critics, that at the same moment that the Minister for Finance has been able to hand out these concessions to the income-tax payers he has also been able to set up an Unemployment Fund. Deputies will understand that I need not refer to the abolition of the coal duty.
I can well understand Deputies saying that the Employment Fund is not in itself going to abolish unemployment in this country. I can understand Deputies asking how exactly are the Government going to  spend this money, or is it quite certain they are going to spend it in the best way. Would it not be better to improve the social services than to spend large sums of money on public works when we know in regard to some of these very big works where a great deal of technical provision has to be made, that only a very small portion of the money goes to labour? It has been found in regard to big schemes of an engineering character which might be undertaken, and which would run into millions of pounds, that not more than 40 per cent. of the money would go to the provision of labour. The rest of the expenditure would go to the provision of machinery, to payments to technical experts, and so on. In any case, the big fact is that a good deal less than half the money would be spent in the actual payments to labourers.
I would have welcomed, therefore, from the Labour Benches an analysis of that question—whether it might not be better to spend more money in social services, improving unemployment assistance and so on rather than embark on a public works scheme which everybody who has studied the question knows has various disadvantages. I have referred to one of them —the fact that the labour content in highly technical and highly organised undertakings is small. There are other disadvantages, too, namely, that you may not be able to organise and carry out these works where they are most required—for example, along the Western seaboard, where there is a great increase in our population at the present time, and where we would be very anxious to give special facilities and to make special provision. It is almost impossible to devise schemes which will give employment over a long time to large bodies of men, which at the same time will give an economic return to the country and which are not works which would have to be undertaken in the ordinary way. Naturally we do not wish to provide money for the local authorities for works which would have to be undertaken in the ordinary way. If we are going to make a special effort to deal with the unemployment problem we have to try to see that the additional  schemes which we will provide are schemes of the kind which would not be undertaken in the ordinary way.
Mr. Derrig: These are the questions that are facing the Government, and we know that in many countries there are differences of opinion on these matters. For example, in Great Britain they seem many years ago to have definitely turned down the idea of endeavouring to reduce unemployment by very substantial public works. Of course at the present time they are dealing with works of another character and spending vast sums of money. But we know that in Great Britain there has been a definite conclusion come to that State works are not the way to deal with the problem. In other countries we have movements which suggest that the aim is not the reduction of unemployment, but the provision of an increased income for the consumer to see that he will be able to purchase: that the effort to deal with the economic problem from the point of view of providing employment is not going to succeed and that the proper way is to tackle it from the angle of the consumer. I would be very glad to hear the views of the Labour Party and to hear what their policy is in regard to that matter. They have not put forward any policy. I think that the language of the Leader of the Labour Party certainly displayed a lack of vision and imagination in regard to the unemployment problem. He referred to it as an “appalling” problem, and he spoke of the “despairing language” in which the Minister for Finance referred to it. I am not aware that the Minister for Finance referred to the unemployment question in despairing language.
Since this Government came into office they have not shirked the unemployment figures. They have gone out of their way to permit persons who would not be normally classed as unemployed—in the sense that they were seeking for work—to become registered. We know, and it has been reiterated sufficiently in this House,  that the great majority of the persons who are registered as unemployed are either land-holders or the sons of land-holders. It may surprise those who criticise the Government, because of the size and the magnitude of the figures in the register of unemployment, as they were some months ago, that 66 per cent. of those who were registered as such were living in rural areas and in addition to living in rural areas were scheduled as having means. The means that they have may be small. We all know what the conditions are in the congested districts and along the Western seaboard, but the fact is that they are in a somewhat different category to the person we consider as an unemployed person in a town or city. If we take the attitude of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this matter, and I think it is a perfectly sensible and commonsense attitude, what is the kernel of this problem? The kernel of it is that you have about 40,000 that you can describe as being really unemployed and looking for work and if we could put, as he says, these 40,000 into employment, if we did not completely solve the unemployment problem we would at least have broken the backbone of it. In fact, if the Government, by the provisions it has made during the present year, can reach a figure in the neighbourhood of 20,000 extra persons being put into employment during the coming season, I have no doubt whatever it will mean that we have reached about half the persons who really form the kernel of this question.
The Deputy has frequently referred to the Government's lack of imagination, lack of constructive policy and so on, although he has been told there are many Government Departments that are working at full pressure and it would only mean employing extra staffs, staffs that in fact are not always easy to obtain, because you want, in matters connected with public works, to have men of technical competence and experience. For example, the Deputy has frequently told the House and the country that our schools are in a shocking condition, and are worse than in any other country in Europe. I challenge that statement. I say that there is no foundation whatever  for it. Our schools can compare favourably with the schools in any other part of Europe.
Mr. Derrig: As regards the school problem, we have to bear in mind in this portion of Ireland that the taxpayers put up two-thirds and sometimes five-sixths—in a great many cases in rural areas the taxpayer puts up five-sixth—of the cost of a school, and the manager, perhaps, puts up only one-sixth, but he is not asked to put up more than one-third; whereas in Northern Ireland the manager has to put up half the cost of the school.
Mr. Derrig: I am pluming myself on the fact that I have told the representatives of the managers that if they want more help for the building of schools they can have it, and they have told me that they do not want any more help. Our organisation in the Board of Works is doing its utmost to carry out the programme of expending £200,000 a year on the building of national schools. The figure before the present Government came into office was something in the neighbourhood of £100,000. It is forgotten that in connection with that matter, which I may take as an example, you have a great number of preliminaries in the acquisition of land, the vesting, and the preparation of plans, and so on. Sometimes the preliminaries before the work can be put in hands take up to two years, even with the best goodwill on both sides. If there is any neglect it may take a longer time.  I have taken the question of the schools as an example of the uninformed criticism that is heard in relation to the Government's efforts, and as an example also of the fact that, in regard to our organisation for the building of schools, we have done the most we can do under present circumstances. The same applies to other matters.
The Deputy who has just spoken made no reference to the housing problem and the efforts the Government have made to deal with it. If he were challenged on the question, he would have to admit that we have made a very good show indeed, and have a policy that compares favourably with the policies in other countries. As the Minister pointed out in his Budget statement, out of a total loan of about £4,000,000 that has been made from the Local Loans Fund for slum clearances, it is estimated that at least 65 or 66 per cent. of £3,500,000 of that sum will have to be borne by the State.
Mr. Derrig: The Deputy will have an opportunity of speaking; I am not here to be cross-examined by him. The total State contribution to housing is estimated to be £5,370,000 and in addition to that, in connection with loans made by the Dublin Corporation and so on, the State has an additional liability the capital value of which is estimated at £1,570,000. Why should not the leader of the Labour Party give credit where credit is due and say that if there is any deficiency in that matter it certainly is not on the Government's part; it certainly is not because of any lack of goodwill on our part to make available the greatest provision we can and the necessary organisation. Very often, as in the case of the school buildings to which I have referred, there are matters outside the control of the Government that prevent us going ahead with building as quickly as we would like.
If the Deputy finds fault with the figure of £2,500,000 of which the State  is putting up £1,675,000 for this Employment Fund, I will point to the fact that the Land Commission and the Forestry Department are working at a rate never known before in this country. The Land Commission are dividing land and carrying on activities at about three times the rate made in our predecessors' time. The same applies to the afforestation branch. We are spending £1,500,000 this year on the acquisition and division of land, and over £600,000 of that is going to be spent on the improvement of estates, all going into rural areas. In connection with afforestation, about £142,000 will be spent on actual cultural operations. All that money is going into rural areas. The Deputy finds fault with the Minister for assuming that on that basis of £2,500,000 he is going to save £500,000 by way of unemployment assistance. Is it not perfectly reasonable and legitimate for the Minister for Finance to take a figure that is agreed upon among economists and treasuries, that at least 20 per cent. of the expenditure will be saved in unemployment assistance? I think there can be no question whatever but that if, as we hope, the full £2,500,000 will be spent during the coming year, the Exchequer will certainly benefit to the extent of £500,000 saved on unemployment assistance.
Mr. Derrig: If the ratepayers will pay £800,000 I would like to point out that the ratepayers are getting very substantial sums in support of local services. They are getting very substantial assistance in regard to housing, in regard to public health works and any proposal the public authorities, generally speaking, put up for consideration which would tend to reduce unemployment and would be regarded as a beneficial work is carefully considered and we give assistance. We are only asking the local authorities to give the same measure of assistance in regard to this special Employment Fund as we ask them to give on other works. If the Deputy takes up the attitude that the Government should simply hand out the whole  of the money for local benefit and not ask for any local contribution, I must submit on the other hand, that we are fully entitled to ask local authorities to put up a substantial local contribution. Apart from that, I submit that it is their duty to see that the money is spent economically and that it is not spent foolishly and that we get a good return for it. It is the duty of local authorities to take a definite, active interest in these matters and to see that any schemes that are undertaken are proper reproductive schemes. I repeat that we are fully entitled to ask them to put up a substantial local contribution.
Besides, the value of this money spent in the local areas certainly benefits business. We have heard business men say constantly that when substantial programmes of work are put into operation it is for the good of trade. It sets the wheels of business going and in turn induces enterprise. That creates a feeling of optimism and an upper trend at a time when it is particularly necessary, and at a season when there might not be very much activity in these areas.
Mr. Derrig: That may be the Deputy's idea. Deputy Norton, also dealt at great length with the fact that tariffs will not cure unemployment. I am not aware that the present Government said tariffs would cure unemployment. What the Government said is that, so far as they can, in the interests of keeping Irish money at home, which hitherto had gone abroad to support the purchase of foreign manufactured goods, we are prepared, whenever any reasonable case is made by a manufacturer or entrepreneur, who is prepared to produce articles in this country, and sell them at a reasonable price and of good quality, to grant him protection  in the Irish market. In respect to the vast bulk of articles protected in this country—boots for instance—there is sufficient competition, in the home market, as between one manufacturer and another to ensure that the price is kept at a reasonable figure. It has been demonstrated that in the case of some of these articles so manufactured and protected the manufacturers have been as efficient as in any country in the world.
The Government has adopted the policy of providing protection for Irish industry and has made it a foremost plank in their programme. I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce has certainly not shown himself backward in accepting suggestions as to what can be done in that direction. When one reads, if Deputies ever do read, the list of imports into this country, and compares the figures as to the value of these goods now as compared with four or five years ago, one will be astonished at the number and range of commodities we are producing at home at the present time. It certainly is not the policy of the Government to allow industrialists to profiteer at the expense of the community, or to allow persons who receive protection from the State to give poor value or to try to enforce unfair conditions of labour upon their employees. We have shown that is not our policy. We have introduced legislation, and will introduce further legislation, to ensure that our policy will be carried into effect.
The Deputy also had qualms about private enterprise. We have had one example of State enterprise, on a large scale, in this country, in connection with the Electricity Supply Board. If the Deputy can derive consolation from the way that enterprise is working out to show that State enterprise is a more economic and valuable method, from the point of view of labour, then I must say I have not the same opinion. I believe that in a country which, as the Deputy stressed, is somewhat lacking in industry, and where there is not any great industrial tradition we have to proceed with the assistance of other people in the beginning. We have, unfortunately, to proceed  with the assistance of foreigners in many instances. But the time will come when the need for foreigners will be eliminated, when our own young men will be sufficiently trained and equipped, and have sufficient experience, to enable them to fill every position in the Irish industrial field. I think that private enterprise, as instanced by some of the big enterprise in the City of Dublin has not shown itself to be deficient in any way so far as their treatment of their employees or their social attitude is concerned. On the contrary I think they are perhaps in front of manufacturers elsewhere. I think that, on the whole, they have a broader outlook, and what is more that they do their business efficiently. In the case of the State, undoubtedly State socialisation would be an advantage so far as putting a very large number of people into employment as officials in the administration and control of industries is concerned; but, personally, I, at any rate, would think that before we attempted any experiments in that connection we should be absolutely satisfied that it is for the benefit of the community, and for the benefit of the whole community. If the Government are satisfied, at any time, that in regard to any particular industry it is essential that there should be State control, and that it is in the best interests of the community that there should be that control, they will not hesitate to set up some special organisation such as that in connection with electricity or sugar to see that the State has direct control over the enterprise.
Deputy Norton referred also to the fact that we were taxing the consumer in this Budget. I am sorry to say he did not refer to the question of the cost of living which we often read about in the daily newspapers. We know that there used to be a great cry against our protection policy, and that the general policy of the Government was forcing up the cost of living. If the cost of living is sometimes forced up as in circumstances such as at present, perhaps in order to benefit the agricultural community, it is because certain  steps have to be taken that result in an increased price to the consumer. If we are satisfied that the agricultural producer is not getting sufficient return, and if by taking such steps, as in the case of the creamery industry, where we give the farmer an enhanced price for his produce, and if the increased cost is not going into the hands of the middleman but is going substantially and so far as is reasonable, into the pockets of the farmer, then the Government would feel fully justified—I think it would be their policy, where they were satisfied that the agricultural industry demanded it, even at the expense of a rise in the cost of living, to do that. But in spite of what has been done in regard to the butter industry and to the numerous articles of agriculture and industry that had been protected, and in regard to the supplies of which we have to depend upon our own resources, it is certainly most satisfactory that in regard to the period 1931 to 1935 there has been an actual reduction in the cost of food during the present year as compared with the year 1931. In regard to the cost of living generally, including all the items in the cost-of-living index, there has also been a reduction as between February, 1931, and February, 1936.
That shows that in spite of the great efforts the Government have made to retain the home market for the home producer, we are in the very satisfactory position that, according to the cost-of-living figure, we are better off than in 1931, and, at the same time, we are keeping very many million pounds in this country which we are formerly sending out to foreign manufacturers, and thousands upon thousands of our own people employed. The fact that we are doing that has been no doubt responsible for the extraordinary buoyancy and resilience in the revenue. The Minister for Finance actually had to admit that even his most competent and expert advisers were surprised that, after an increase in taxation had been added to certain commodities there was still an increase in  consumption. There must be a very general and very substantial improvement in the people's economic condition when the consumption of articles, in regard to which it was well known up to the present that even a slight increase in price reduced the consumption, has not been reduced, but has actually been increased. If Deputies opposite can show that that is the result in some way of the wretched economic condition that they tell us the country and the people have been reduced to, then I hope we shall listen to them patiently.
The Deputy who has just spoken referred to income tax. The Minister for Finance is the person responsible for the national finance and for seeing that we shall be able to pay for all these social services, for this employment fund which has been set up, and for all the other multifarious and increased activities that are going on under the Government. I should have thought it would not be necessary to suggest, if there was a way in which substantial moneys could be got, even by increased taxation, that the Minister would be slow, if he found it necessary, to avail himself of it. The Deputy talked a great deal about the income tax. Income tax in this country compares very favourably, as far as the burden on the taxpayer is concerned, with the income tax across the water, the wealthiest country, I suppose, except one, possibly the wealthiest in the world. I would remind the Deputy that there is a point beyond which if you continue to increase taxation you will certainly and inevitably have a decreased yield.
Last year the Minister found himself in the satisfactory position that he actually got in substantially more income tax and surtax than he had bargained for. His Budget Estimate was £5,005,000, but the actual yield was £5,208,000 as compared with £4,868,000 in the preceding year. There was an increase of £340,000 in the income tax, an increase in the corporation profits tax and also an increase in estate duties. There is no proof whatever that, if income tax were to be further increased this year,  this very satisfactory position of an increasing return would continue. It is quite possible, I think, if not probable, that quite the opposite would result, and that if the Minister found it necessary to increase income tax this year he would not be faced with the pleasant prospect of a still increasing return from income tax during the coming year.
When the Deputy refers to the tax upon consumers, I have simply to remind him, as he has often before been reminded in this House, that since only a small proportion of our people are sufficiently wealthy to pay income-tax, surtax, excess profits duty, and so on, it stands to reason that our whole requirements in finance cannot be got from these sources, and that we have to tax the consumer. The consumer is taxed in every other country as well as here. If it is stated that he is mulcted too severely, I say that the consumer, if we mean the poor person in the country who has to pay taxation on sugar, tea and tobacco, has to put up with that by reason of the fact that portion of the money that is necessary for the social services which are being provided for his benefit has to be obtained from these sources, because it cannot be obtained elsewhere. Last year there was an actual reduction in the amount which the Minister expected to receive from tea. Instead of getting the amount he estimated for he got something slightly less.
I am not going to weary the House by repeating to some extent what I have said about the social services and showing that as against the taxation on consumers' goods, which the consuming public have to pay, they are getting very substantial benefits indeed, benefits that are at least as good as, if not better than, the consumer are getting in other countries comparable to this. I think that it is quite absurd, and scarcely demands reference, that the Leader of the Labour Party should say that the Minister for Finance brought in this Budget to please his opponents, and that he should quote the remarks in some organ of Irish opinion complimenting the Minister on the Budget. It simply shows that there are very intelligent people writing for that newspaper——
Mr. Derrig: ——and that, when they see a really good performance in the way of a financial statement and of a financial programme, they are prepared to drop the little criticisms and little annoyances with which they tickled us during the year, and say: “Well on this occasion at least we have to give the Minister for Finance credit for having done a very good thing indeed.”
Mr. Derrig: That is possibly the explanation. I do not think the Deputy need worry himself that that organ or any other organ is going to influence the Minister for Finance. His duty is to collect the moneys, and he does not, as I say, need recommendations or suggestions from the Labour leaders. Last year, and on other occasions, when it has been absolutely necessary to put on taxation, he has done it and the Government have supported him. He has had to face the country on that question, as he faced it last year. On that occasion he was able to explain that you could not derive all the income you required from income-tax, that you had to go to other sources. One would imagine that that would have penetrated into the minds of the members of the Labour Party——
Mr. Derrig: I think we have reason to congratulate ourselves this year that we have been able to continue and intensify the activities commenced during the past three years. We have been able to carry them on at a high pitch of activity during the present  year. We have been able to make allowance for entirely new services of considerable magnitude. We have been able to set up this employment fund, and at the same time we have been able to give substantial remissions in taxation. I do not think that the representatives of Labour need be discouraged. I think they should be very well pleased indeed at the fact that the Minister, instead of giving possibly further remissions in taxation, has put very substantial sums aside to provide for the relief of unemployment. He has had a committee working for a long period—nearly two years, I think—examining most carefully what schemes there are that can be undertaken profitably by the Government, that will give a good return to the nation, and will also give a good return in providing employment. This year he is going to undertake a very substantial programme that has been suggested and recommended by the committee. Whether the programme, as I said in the beginning, is sufficient, or whether it is in every detail the right programme, may be argued, but at any rate credit must be given to the Minister for having made a very substantial beginning upon a policy which, if it can be continued during succeeding years, will certainly mean that the resources of the State will be thrown into this battle against unemployment.
Very substantial sums will be provided for State works, and therefore we will be combating the evil in two ways. We will be providing social services on a very big scale, and to an extent that I think compares very favourably with what is being done in other countries, and that certainly is the maximum we can do according to our resources. We are also starting on this public works programme, and if the Labour Party wishes to encourage the Minister and encourage the Government, I suggest that their efforts would be better directed to an examination of those schemes, to seeing whether they are the best schemes that can be provided, and whether from the labour point of view they can give the best return. I do not think, a Leas-Chinn Chomhairle,  that it is necessary to deal with any further points.
Mr. Dillon: Before the Minister for Finance winds up, I should like him to explain to the House one set of figures to which the Minister for Education devoted a great deal of time and attention. Perhaps the Minister for Finance, with his more expert skill, would elaborate them to the House. The Minister for Education congratulated himself that, although heavy tariffs had been imposed, the cost-of-living figure had not risen materially since Fianna Fáil came into office. I want to direct the attention of the Minister for Finance to this matter. The cost-of-living figure consists of the price of foodstuffs, agricultural produce, and certain other commodities.
Mr. Dillon: I am simply asking the Minister for Finance a question. Technically, I have the right to speak again, but I do not desire to do so. The cost-of-living figure consists of the price of foodstuffs and other commodities.
Mr. Dillon: I cannot make the Minister speak. The cost-of-living figure in 1931 was 160. In February, 1936, it was 159. It has remained stationary and consists of the price of foodstuffs, the price of clothing, and certain other items. The cost of agricultural produce, as set out in page eight of the quarterly statistical bulletin of the Currency Commission, issued in April, 1936, was 110 in 1931. To-day it is 83. The cost of agricultural produce has fallen by 37 points——
Mr. Dillon: ——so that in fact the farmers of this country are getting less and less for everything they produce, and are required to pay more and more for everything they have to buy. The Minister for Education has the effrontery to call upon the farmers of this country to congratulate themselves, and to say they ought to be  thankful to Heaven that they have been afforded the opportunity of doing so. Perhaps the Minister for Finance will be good enough to elaborate that for us.
Browne, William Frazer.
De Valera, Eamon.
Dowdall, Thomas P.
Kelly, James Patrick.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Lynch, James B.
Maguire, Conor Alexander.
Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
Pattison, James P.
Pearse, Margaret Mary.
Ward, Francis C.
|Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Burke, James Michael.
Cosgrave, William T.
Costello, John Aloysius.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
Doyle, Peadar S.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGuire, James Ivan.
Murphy, James Edward.
O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
Rogers, Patrick James.
Rowlette, Robert James.
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