Thursday, 16 October 1947
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Flanagan: The speech that was made here yesterday afternoon by the Taoiseach, and the Supplementary Budget presented later by the Minister for Finance were, I am sure, received in the country this morning with very great disgust by the majority of our working-class people. Not alone were the working-class people alarmed, but the taxpayers in general throughout the whole country, and especially those who are blessed by God with a very good memory, recall the days when the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the responsible members of the Government to-day, were bitterly condemning a previous Government for an alarming scale of taxation at £12,500,000. Despite the very severe criticisms hurled at the Government then for that, we have now reached the stage when our taxation since yesterday has been increased very considerably. In the life-time  of the present Government, taxation has increased from £12,500,000 to £68,000,000. We all know this is an outrageous increase.
From my own experience, I am of the opinion that we are living in two Irelands—an Ireland for the rich and an Ireland for the poor. The Supplementary Budget is not going to be of any great help or an asset to those living in the Ireland for the poor. The Leader of the Labour Party pointed out yesterday that a man with five or six in family can, as a result of the reduction in this Budget, gain 3/11½ in tea, sugar and bread, but he would have to pay 4/1 extra if he took one pint of beer and 20 cigarettes per day. That makes it quite clear that, instead of this Supplementary Budget being an asset to the people whom we are all most eager and anxious to help, it will be a further burden on them. Instead of devoting his talent and energy to placing more burdens on the poorer sections of the community, why does the Minister not direct his talent towards the taxation of the idle rich living in luxury? I can safely say that our Government has paid more attention to catering for the idle rich, who have been living in luxury and probably will continue to live in luxury, assisted by the Government, instead of trying to improve the standard of living and the conditions under which the unfortunate masses of the people have been compelled to live in the past and probably will be compelled to live in the future. It is a well-known fact that to-day the majority of our able-bodied workers are compelled to emigrate and that Ireland is no longer a fit country for those young people to work in so that they may earn a livelihood. They are denied the right to work to obtain a decent wage and a decent standard of living whereby they can marry and rear their families in Christian decency.
The Government's attention has been drawn to the fact that a further and very dangerous invasion is taking place in Ireland to-day. The country is being invaded and plundered by Englishmen and by people coming from the Continent to sink their money in house property and land here. They  are the people whom the Government should consider fleecing through taxation; they are the people from whom the Government should endeavour to reap in some of the money they are anxious to invest in property, in hotels and houses which they are buying to-day. The Government's attention has been drawn recently to the fact that in the South of Ireland four of the finest hotels have been purchased by Englishmen. I understand from a very reliable source that an agent here, acting on behalf of English interests anxious to buy hotels, has on hands £250,000 for that purpose. Very soon no Irishman will have his stake in house property, in hotels or even in the land; it will be run, controlled and owned by the English people.
In his statement yesterday, the Taoiseach sounded a note for harder work and more sacrifice. He appealed to us to pull our weight together and make more sacrifices. To whom was he appealing? Surely no greater sacrifices can be made by the working-class people than have been made by them in the past seven years of war by the deprivations they are still enduring? A strong appeal has been made to the farming community for an increase in production. Every Deputy knows that that means an increase in real wealth, since it is out of the ground, out of the very soil, that all wealth can be produced. It is through the land and the land alone that all our economic and financial ills can definitely be solved. If the Government are anxious to increase production, I am sure that we in the Opposition are very eager and anxious to co-operate fully and assist them, in view of the importance of increased production if we mean to increase our wealth. However, in order that production be increased, it will be absolutely necessary first for the Government to see that the producers are in a fit and proper position to produce. They have to-day mostly 15, 20, 25, 40 and 50-acre farms. They are the men we depend on to increase production. How will they be assisted to do so, unless they get some financial support from the Government?
The Government fully realises that.  In Great Britain and in the North of Ireland, I understand, in order to assist increased production, the Ministers of Agriculture in both Governments have given a bounty of, I think, £5 per acre for every extra acre put under tillage. No such bounty has been given to our farmers, but they are asked by the Government to make sacrifices and to work hard, to put more determination and energy into their work. The Government stands idly by and can do no better than make that request. If the farmers do not attempt to increase production or meet the demand to till, reap and bind, they are not met as easily as the British or Northern Ireland Government meets them with financial assistance. At home here they can either till and reap under a compulsory Government Order or be guilty of a criminal offence and be liable to a severe fine or, in some cases, to imprisonment.
Is not that a nice offer to make to the agricultural community, who are the main producers in this country, to request them to increase production? If we are to increase production, the only way that it can be done is to assist the farmer in his attempts and endeavours to comply with the Government's request for increased production. I am of the opinion that there is only one way—that is, to assist the farmers financially, and the measure of financial support which has been given to them in this Budget, in my opinion, has not gone far enough, and has failed to give the help and assistance to enable them to increase production. The Minister realises the fact that any small farmer down the country, complying with the Government regulations, is put to the pin of his collar to eke out a miserable existence for himself. The vast majority—as referred to in this House on many occasions—the vast majority of our farmers have their land understocked because they lack the necessary capital to purchase live stock; they have not the necessary machinery or implements. Many of our farmers cannot go in for dairying, for example, because of the lack of proper dairies and out-offices for their cows, so that their cow-houses might  be up to the standard and to the regulations of the Milk and Dairies Act and meet the regulations of the county medical officers of health.
Until the Government takes a serious view, no attempt can be made to increase production, and the Government would be well advised to consider ways and means to pour every possible £ into financial assistance for the farmers to enable them to grow more, to restock their land, and to pay labour. While I am on the question of paying labour, it is a serious state of affairs throughout the whole country that the last job any young fellow will interest himself in is a job on the land. The majority of applications to the Department of External Affairs for passports are from people who were born and bred and reared on the land and who are anxious to flee. No encouragement is given to live on the land while there are such low rates of wages for agricultural workers. In my opinion, the agricultural worker who assists in production is as important a man as the farmer, because he undertakes the very same work and he is engaged on production, and the rates of wages for farm workers are by no means an encouragement for any young man to remain on the farm.
The question of wages has been gone into here, and on this question of wages, in my opinion, a very dangerous threat was thrown out by the Taoiseach; that is, it was most likely that we should be faced with the position at an early date, when we should have control of wages in this country. If the Government is going to consider controlling the workingman's wages it would be no more revolutionary to come along and acquire the huge profits of industrialists and employers and have those profits divided out among the workers who have made and earned those profits for their employers. There is no question of making an attack on the huge profits which those people are making, or the huge profits that the bankers were making but the only question was how the wages of the working classes could be kept down. If any legislation is introduced into this House to hamper the working classes from what is their  right, from what they are entitled to—a fair wage—I will oppose it.
Mr. Flanagan: Wages, as we all know, in accordance with Christian teaching, should be sufficient to enable any worker to live in Christian decency, and the wages paid in this country are by no means in accordance with Christian teaching.
I may refer to the tax imposed on certain commodities and to certain measures of relief which have been given in the opinion of the Government. Does the Minister for Finance think for one moment that we in this country live solely on tea, sugar and bread? We are offered a slight reduction on tea, sugar and bread. There has been no question about clothes or about the huge profits the drapers have made. There has been no question about boots or shoes, but can the people live without these things? There has been no question about meat and the price of meat has gone to such a level at the present time that even down the country meat has become a luxury. Bacon sizzling on the pan is only a memory to the working-class people in the country. Beef and mutton cannot be purchased even in the provincial towns by the working classes owing to the very severe prices. Meat is something people cannot live without, vegetables are likewise, and there has been no question of controlling or reducing the prices charged. People cannot live without fuel but there has been no question regarding the price of fuel, of the fabulous charges on fuel, fuel which is often of bad quality and inferior type. These items also concern the people and are a part of the people's life. I think that it is no use for the Government to ask a dog to bite off his own tail to feed himself. We have reached the stage that this question of reducing the cost of living—an all-round reduction—will have to take place on all the commodities and the essentials of life that the people require.
There is a tax—and a very severe tax—on beer and cigarettes. The  Minister and the Government and every Deputy in this House realises that when the working man retires from his day's work there will be no measure of enjoyment for him except to go to the local pub and have his pint of beer and his smoke. But despite sympathetic cries from the Government for those unfortunate people, they have taken a step to deny the workers, whether road workers or bog workers, or local authority employees, or any working class man beer and a smoke, for as a result of the additional tax they are deprived of them. If he goes for his smoke and pint of beer, he will have to deny his wife and family some essential of life. If a man is fond of a pint of beer and a smoke he is entitled to have them. They are good for him. Personally, I should be glad to see the Minister taxing drink out of existence. I have never indulged in it and do not propose to do so. I believe that practically all crime committed here was due principally to drink. It might be the best day's work we could do for the country to tax drink completely out of existence. But there are, of course, industries depending upon it. The breweries and maltings depend upon the drink trade. In my constituency, we have maltings at Mountmellick, Portlaoighise, and other places and a brewery in Rathdowney. This tax will have a detrimental effect on the brewing industry, which is one of the oldest industries in the country. Quite a number of maltings have been closed down. From representations made to his Department, the Minister will be aware that the closing of these maltings was due to the great increase in taxation upon drink. If breweries and maltings are compelled to close down as a result of the present tax, we shall be in the same position as we were when heavy taxation affected the maltings and breweries in the past.
It may be said that cigarettes are a luxury. The pint of beer and the cigarette are the only two friends the poor man has when he retires from his day's labour. It might be wise for the Government to make some provision for the old age pensioner in this connection. Having regard to the limited  number of old age pensioners, it would be quite possible to secure that the tax on tobacco would not affect them. The old age pensioners are subsisting on the lowest and meanest rate of pension which could be offered to any citizen. We are now going to tax the “smoke” and the pint of beer which are, probably, keeping many old age pensioners alive. It would have been much wiser to give substantial increases to these people or, at least, to exempt them from the taxes on tobacco and beer. This Supplementary Budget is another bright and quick move by the Taoiseach. It will enable the Taoiseach and his Ministers to go down the country at this opportune time and say to the electors where the by-elections are being held: “We are doing the best we can to reduce the cost of living; we have brought the price of bread, sugar, tea and flour down and, as soon as we get rightly going, you do not know what else we shall be able to pull down.” The ordinary voter does not know the Taoiseach as well as members of this House do and he will think this a great idea and give him his vote and co-operation. In about ten years it will be easy to pick up Taoiseachs and Governments because the Government are leaving a very unpleasant task for those who will be unfortunate enough to follow them and who will have the responsibility of clearing up the mess. We are all anxious to see the day when the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Government will be gone and forgotten, because they are responsible for the soaring cost of living, low wages and everincreasing taxation. If the Government were plucky enough, they would resign. They would say: “We are not able for the job; we cannot hold out any hope of increased production; we cannot restore agriculture as the premier industry; we are giving the business up as a bad job and resigning.” There are men on this side who would make a far better job of the country than they have done.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass): I think that I should begin by asserting that the Government is not proposing a standstill on wages such as operated during the war years. Deputy McGilligan, who was the first speaker from the Opposition Benches yesterday, described the Government's policy as a standstill on wages. In that, he misrepresented it. Deputies who followed him and used a similar description were, perhaps, misled by him. I have no doubt that Deputy McGilligan knew he was misrepresenting the proposal which had been made and that he was proceeding on the theory that, the more labour trouble there is, the better it will be for his Party. He was endeavouring to destroy the possibility of dealing with this matter by way of agreement.
Mr. Lemass: I think that it is a very accurate and fair interpretation. However, that is a matter of opinion. The Deputy and I will not agree. The central feature of the Government's proposal is that wages which have been recently adjusted by new agreements or by Labour Court recommendations or awards should now be put on a sliding scale, so that increases will follow if the cost of living increases and in relation thereto. It is a proposal put forward as a temporary device to deal with a temporary situation. It is a proposal which has relation to a condition in which prices are moving upward. No doubt, at some stage, the movement of prices will turn downward. If the history of other post-war periods is repeated, they may move downward so rapidly as to constitute a slump. The proposal does not relate to any such possible development. It concerns only the position in which prices are moving upwards and is designed to ensure, in relation to the upward movement of prices, that, if it occurs here, wages will move upwards also. It is not a proposal to deal with any other situation.
 It is, of course, recognised, as many Deputies pointed out, that the existing wage structure is by no means perfect and by no means fair as between one worker and another. We recognise that not all workers have received increases in wages during the past year. Some have not received increases by reason of specially adverse conditions affecting their occupations or, possibly, as was suggested, by reason of the fact that claims on their behalf are awaiting consideration by the Labour Court. We realise that, in some cases, the increases obtained by workers are not in line with those obtained by other workers in similar categories. We know, from our experience of the operation of the standstill Order during the war years, that, in many occupations, circumstances arise which necessitate the revision of existing wage agreements in a manner which may not involve an all-over increase in wages costs. It is because these difficulties are inherent in any policy designed to check an unduly rapid upward movement of wages that the Government would much prefer to handle the situation by way of agreement with trade union organisations which would allow for elasticity, allow for the adaptation of general rules to the circumstances of particular cases, rather than by legislation which, because of its nature, would necessarily be more rigid in its operation. If there were any question as to whether a particular class of worker had not received compensation for higher prices through higher wages corresponding to those received by other workers of a similar kind or as to whether the failure of workers to have had their wage rates adjusted was due to circumstances unfair to the workers, then, in the Government's view, they would be questions of fact which could easily and speedily be determined by the Labour Court.
Mr. Lemass: I do not propose to do so. I am defining the general principle which I hope we can get more accurately  applied to the circumstances of the times by agreement. I am not going to attempt to forecast what form such agreement might take. I want, however, to make it clear that the Government regards it as an essential safeguard to the interests of the general community at the present time that some check upon the upward movement of wages should operate. We know, and have not attempted to assert otherwise, that the average increases in wage rates which have taken place since the repeal of the Emergency Powers Order were not out of line with the requirements of the situation. The workers and their leaders generally have taken a reasonable attitude and the fact that there were a few instances of attempts to exploit unduly a monopoly situation does not detract from the truth of that statement. We know also that many new demands are coming in on employers and that, in some cases, these demands appear to envisage spectacular increases in wages. It is because the situation is now becoming dangerous that the Government considers that action should be taken —not because of anything which has happened heretofore but because of what may happen. It is, in our view, preferable that any check placed upon that development should be a voluntary check. The Government has announced that if a voluntary arrangement is not possible it will introduce proposals for legislation. It gave very grave consideration to the desirability of making its intentions known during the course of this discussion. It was fully realised that the suggestion that failure to work out an agreement would be followed by legislation might be regarded as a threat and imperil the conduct of negotiations. It was realised on the other hand, however, that failure to make known our intentions would mean that we were not being frank with the Dáil and the circumstances, as a whole, I think justified the Government's decision in favour of frankness. It is the Government's hope, if legislation has to be framed, that in the drafting of it the co-operation of trade unions will be forthcoming and it will be its aim so to frame the legislation as to allow, as far as is possible in legislation, for the elasticity  which it considers necessary if a practicable arrangement is to be evolved.
Mr. Lemass: On the contrary, I hope that there will be agreement. I want to repeat and to emphasise that with all the force I can give it. The proposal which the Government is making is, I think, one that is fair to the workers. I feel sure that it will be regarded by them as such. I feel certain that the majority of the workers would prefer an arrangement under which they would be assured of an automatic adjustment of wages if the cost of living should rise than that they should have to fight for that adjustment through strikes or otherwise. It offers them security should prices increase further. It is my belief that a very large number if not a substantial majority of the workers would in any event favour that arrangement in the abnormal circumstances now prevailing than any alternative. If the representatives of the Trade Union Congresses are prepared to accept the principle of the Government's proposals I do not think that it will prove an unduly difficult task to define and to record an agreement which will be effective in removing apprehensions that the proposals might be operated in a manner unfair either to workers as a class or harshly to any particular section of them. What would be requested from the trade union side is that they would undertake not to support demands or strikes designed to secure increases in wages contrary to the provisions of the agreement for the period during which the agreement would be in force. If we could handle this matter by agreement, it would be a triumph for Irish democracy. Every Deputy knows that the problem we are facing is not peculiar to this country. He does not have to read more than the headlines in the newspapers to realise the enormous difficulties and dangers which similar situations are creating in other countries not very far away from us. I am thinking particularly of France, where we can see a picture of what might happen here. It has not happened here yet and the aim of the  Government's proposals is to prevent its occurrence, but he would be a very bold man who would allege that in France, despite the enormous increases in paper wages which workers have obtained, they are better off than we here, in our circumstances, are.
Mr. Lemass: I shall refer to that later. I know that even if the representatives of trade union organisations were willing to accept the Government's proposals in principle there would be practical difficulties in applying them. Some of them might feel that there were problems arising out of the rules of the different organisations which would prevent them from binding themselves in the manner which the Government might consider necessary. If that should prove to be the case then we will proceed by legislation. I should hope, however, that the framing of the legislation would receive assistance from everybody who has had experience in recent years of the problems that would be involved.
Deputy Dillon blathered here a bit yesterday about the right to strike. There is more nonsense talked about the right to strike, by people who know nothing about it, than possibly there is about any other subject. The primary right of the worker is to a square deal. He has used the strike weapon to get himself a square deal. I think it is not beyond the wit of man—and I know that in this opinion I am supported by a number of trade union leaders—to devise a system which would be effective in securing for workers as a class a square deal and which at the same time would make the strike weapon obsolete.
Deputy Larkin referred yesterday to the fact that some of the more intractable strikes affect workers who are employed by organisations which are either established under statutory authority or in which the Government has a shareholding interest. It is, I think, a problem which should cause deep concern not merely to the Government but to trade union leaders. It is clear that when a Government lays  down a policy, whether it is a Fianna Fáil Government, a Fine Gael Government or a Labour Government, the organisations which are associated with the Government will endeavour to comply with it. May I say that in relation to the strikes to which the Deputy referred, there has been no attempt on the part of the Government to dictate to the boards of directors concerned or in any way to influence them in their attitude in relation to current strikes? But, clearly, where a policy has been defined by the Government it will be the concern of the boards of directors of these organisations to endeavour to comply with it and that in large measure nullifies the effectiveness of the strike weapon when it is used in a manner contrary to that policy.
There is a problem. It is a problem which has not merely arisen in the present situation but which is a permanent problem and one which will grow as the area of State activity in trade and commerce increases. It is a problem which has arisen in neighbouring countries also. I am not going to attempt to put forward an opinion as to how that problem could be met but, clearly, it is one to which we should be giving attention.
It is with very considerable hesitation that I venture to make the suggestion that discussions in the present Córas Iompair Éireann dispute might fruitfully be undertaken in the light of the announcement of Government policy made yesterday. The general principle of the proposal for the regulation of wages, which the Government has put forward, involves a sliding scale. The suggestion of a sliding scale has also arisen in connection with the Córas Iompair Éireann dispute. I read with care the letters which have passed between the company's management and the trade union concerned and I confess I was somewhat surprised that in the letters no suggestion was put forward or no question was asked as to what the basis of the sliding scale would be—I mean, to what cost-of-living index figure the wage rates recommended by the Labour Court would be related. It seemed to me that that was the kernel  of the suggestion and that it might be worth while having discussions reopened between the parties on that basis.
The other dispute to which Deputy Larkin referred, that affecting the Irish Assurance Company, is one in which I understand factors have arisen which may be of such a nature as to make that suggestion inapplicable to the dispute but, if I am wrong in that, if these factors are not an insuperable difficulty in effecting a settlement, then the suggestion I put forward might be considered in that connection also.
I repeat that this proposal of the Government is one designed to help the workers in a general situation which can be more dangerous to the workers than to any other class of the community. I would strongly resent any suggestion that the Government had any other motive in mind. The majority of the workers of this country do understand, I think, that higher wages are of no benefit to them if they are to be followed by higher prices. They understand that, in fact, higher wages must mean higher prices. This proposal, therefore, for the temporary regulation or adjustment of wages in accordance with a particular suggestion must be considered in relation to the Government's announced intention of stabilising the cost of living as far as practicable by food price subsidies.
The Government cannot give an absolute guarantee that there will be no rise, because many prices are determined by international conditions which the Government cannot influence, much less control, but the proposal contains an assurance to the workers that if, despite the measures taken by the Government, the cost of living should continue to rise then wage rates will rise with it.
Deputies have said here that men do not live by tea, sugar and bread alone. That is fully appreciated, but anybody who gives serious consideration to the problem of the Government will realise that the policy of price subsidy can be applied only in a very limited field. The Taoiseach, yesterday, in the course of his speech, gave some indication of the factors which the Government must  take into account. Subsidising the price of a commodity increases the demand for it. You can, therefore, subsidise the price of a commodity only if there is such an abundant supply of it that an increase in demand does not matter, or if you have it securely rationed. It is, in practice, necessary to confine price subsidies to commodities that are rationed. You can subsidise the price of a commodity only if at some stage in the process of distributing the commodity the whole supply comes under control. The Taoiseach mentioned the case of milk. Nobody could devise a system of subsidising the price of milk, which is sold in a multitude of ways, from producer to consumer; from producer to retailer to consumer; from producer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer, and produced in this country by a multitude of small individual producers. Nobody could devise a system of subsidising vegetables. I could, perhaps, work out a practicable method of subsidising the price of potatoes in a place like Dublin, where there is a recognised vegetable market, but I am sure the Dáil would have considerable hesitation about approving of a scheme for using public funds to subsidise the price of a commodity in Dublin or Cork, or any limited area of the country and not for the country generally. There are other administrative difficulties which apply in respect of other commodities.
There was a third factor which determined the Government to confine the new subsidies to tea, bread and sugar and that is the probability that the prices of these commodities will fall at a stage. We know that the price of tea is artificially high and that as soon as the element of scarcity disappears the price of tea will come down. We know that the international price of wheat is fantastically high at the moment. As an illustration of that, I may mention the wheat conference at which we were represented in London last March. That was a conference called by the wheat producing countries in an effort to get the wheat importing countries to agree to contract to buy stated quantities of wheat  four or five years ahead at prices fixed now. The highest price mentioned at that conference was 1 dollar 75 cents per bushel. We agreed on behalf of this country to contract to purchase 400,000 tons of wheat per year four or five years ahead at that price as a maximum and at 1 dollar 20 cents as a minimum. There was no agreement made. There was no agreement because many Governments importing wheat represented at that conference considered that the price of wheat would fall during this summer and that they would be making a bad bargain in contracting in March to buy this season's wheat at 1 dollar 75 cents. The price is now three dollars. It is clear that, whatever the causes which led to it, we made the right decision and that others made the wrong decision. Of course, we alone were not able to ensure that agreement would result from the conference.
It is obvious that, at some stage, the price of wheat must come down. Similarly, I think, we can be sure that the world price of sugar will come down. It has already come down. It has moved downward quite substantially within the last month, mainly, of course, because dollar difficulties are reducing the demand for it, but also because there has been a substantial increase in production and an anticipated further increase next year which is causing the liquidation of stocks held presently.
The Government decided that the cost of subsidies must be met out of taxation. It has also decided—and it is just as well to get this clear now— that any further increase in subsidies which may be decided upon in pursuance of Government policy to keep the cost of living stable, will also be met out of taxation. To attempt to cover the cost of subsidies by borrowing would be an inflationary step which would mean increasing the amount of spending money in the country without any increase in the supply of goods on which the money would be spent. It would, in fact, be a step designed to defeat the very purpose which the Government was attempting to achieve.
Deputies have described the scheme set forth by the Government as equivalent  to taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another, of feeding the dog on his own tail. Am I to understand that these Deputies are against the policy of subsidising foodstuffs at all? That is the obvious significance of their remarks. If they think that this is a completely useless business, like taking money from one pocket and putting it into another, I must assume that they are against the policy of price subsidising altogether, because clearly the only source of money out of which price subsidies can be paid is taxation. There is, however, something far more in what the Government is doing than merely taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another. The Government selected particular taxes not merely because these taxes would yield the revenue it required but because these taxes would also have other consequences which the Government considered necessary or desirable in our present circumstances.
The principal changes in taxation to which I have now referred are those affecting drink, tobacco and amusements. Deputy Larkin said that he would not mind taxing drink out of existence and Deputy Flanagan undertook to support him in that campaign. I am not a rabid teetotaller as Deputy Larkin described himself, but when he starts that campaign I will give him my moral support. But more than teetotallers are seriously disturbed by the fact that there has been an enormous increase in the consumption of drink in recent years despite higher taxes and prices. Every Deputy knows that the increase in the entertainments tax imposed in last year's Budget did not take a yard off any cinema queue in O'Connell Street.
Mr. Lemass: The fact is, however, that there has been a great increase in public expenditure upon beer, whiskey, tobacco and amusements, and clearly it would be undesirable that we should take £5,000,000 and give it to the public in the form of lower prices if the increased spending power thereby created was, in any substantial degree, diverted to increasing the demand for  beer, spirits, tobacco, and amusements. Deputies should remember that amusements mean, in the main, films, and films mean imports. This year, in fact, we will have to face a substantial curtailment in the consumption of beer because, as many Deputies know, the barley harvest has been adversely affected by weather conditions, and the total amount of barley which can be made available for brewing is much below the quantity available in previous years.
Whiskey is the one commodity that we produce that we can sell without difficulty for dollars. Therefore, any decrease in the consumption of whiskey, because of this tax, will yield a double gain. Not merely will we have a curtailment in expenditure on liquor but we will have an increased export surplus of the most valuable kind.
There is, however, as Deputies will know, one obvious peculiarity about these taxes. They are taxes which nobody need pay. There are in the Budget proposals of the Minister for Finance other taxes, taxes upon incomes and taxes upon people who are better off, which cannot be avoided, but these particular taxes to which I have been referring can be avoided. If a person objects to the higher tax imposed upon tobacco he can avoid paying it by reducing his consumption of cigarettes and tobacco and we want him to do it. Let it be made clear that the Government is not merely imposing these duties for the purpose of getting revenue. If they should involve a reduction in the consumption of tobacco it means a further saving of dollars, which is important in our circumstances. A reduction in the consumption of beer is going to help solve the distribution problem next year arising out of the scarcity of beer. A reduction in the consumption of whiskey will make supplies available for export to dollar markets.
It is also necessary to keep in mind that the total amount that is being paid out in subsidies is less than the additional amount that is being raised in taxation. No matter what calculations Deputy Norton may make, it is quite clear that the public must be better off  as a result of these changes. They involve something more than taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another.
I was somewhat surprised, however, by the lack of enthusiasm, to put it mildly, which the Deputies opposite have shown for the taxation proposals of the Minister for Finance. I understood them to be in favour of the policy of handling rising food prices by subsidies. Surely, they realise that more subsidies mean more taxation, and if they do not approve of the particular taxes which the Minister for Finance has outlined, what taxes do they approve of? I know that I am going to get an answer to that question. We are told that we should tax profits. We are taxing profits. Let nobody assume that because there is not in this Supplementary Budget a particular provision relating to profits, that profits are not being taxed. Every corporation in the country pays corporation profits tax. Any profits distributed are subject to income-tax and surtax. We had here a tax which was called an excess profits tax. That description was in a sense misleading, because the tax was payable by people who were not making excess profits and was not payable by others who were. The term “excess” did not have the ordinary significance which it has in common speech. It meant profits in excess of those actually earned before the war, whether those earned before the war were big or small. It was an inflationary tax in so far as it encouraged useless expenditure. It was a restrictive tax in so far as it made it improbable that any new industry would be undertaken.
The Government are not averse to the principle of an excess profits tax in the sense that the term is commonly used if somebody will give us a definition of excess profits. I made an attempt at it and ultimately I came down to framing a Bill which literally provided that a profit was an excess profit if I personally certified it to be such, without any appeal. I think any Deputy who seriously considers the matter will find that there is no alternative to some such arbitrary method of procedure. But that Bill was not  produced because I fully appreciated that it would receive a very hostile reception from those who are opposed to an increase in Government powers in relation to industry.
It has, however, been contended here that the rise in the cost of living was due mainly to excess profit taking by manufacturers and traders and that it could be checked by price control without any subsidies or taxation. Now, any Deputy who has taken the precaution of even glancing at the facts will know that that is not so. At any rate, so far as the increase in the cost of living which occurred in the past year is concerned, that increase has been analysed and the analysis has been published. Any Deputy who saw the announcement of the Statistics Branch and the analysis published by that branch knows that the increase was due almost entirely to the increased prices paid to farmers for farm produce, to the increased cost of certain imported foodstuffs and to the tax on tobacco imposed in last year's Budget. May I say that, in my view, in the preparation of a new index number in present circumstances tobacco should not figure in the consumption standard that may be taken, because clearly there are abnormal circumstances now operating which require the Government to maintain on tobacco a higher tax than would ordinarily be regarded as desirable?
I think the most remarkable fact about the rise in the cost of living which occurred here during the past year was that it cannot be attributed in any part whatever either to higher profits of traders or manufacturers or higher wages paid to workers. The whole increase was attributable to the known increase in farm prices, particularly the increase in the price of milk, both liquid milk and creamery milk, the increase in the price of cattle, the increase in the price of eggs, and the increase in the price of tea to which I have referred already. No doubt some of the prices taken into account in determining the cost-of-living index number might have fallen but for the higher wages which became payable during the year. But it is a fact that the higher wages have not yet become  apparent in the cost-of-living index figure.
There is, I think, general agreement that our present price index is not satisfactory. Since the British changed their index recently, we are now in the rather unenviable position of operating upon an older consumption standard than any other country in the world. It will take some time to prepare a new index. The International Labour Office has urged that there should not be a cost-of-living index so called at all, but that there should be instead a retail prices index prepared in a manner which would permit of valid comparison between one country and another. A statisticians' conference, under the auspices of the International Labour Office, was held last month in Montreal and a series of recommendations was made there which we would be disposed to accept. It is clear, however, that the preparation of a new series of index numbers will take some time, because examination of current consumption standards must necessarily be conducted over a period long enough to allow for proper weight being given to seasonal variations in prices and consumption levels. We hope, however, to prepare a new interim index which will operate in the meantime.
I want particularly to kill at once any possible belief that, in the preparation of that interim index, there will be any manipulation which would be designed to prevent the index being a true reflection of price changes. It is my desire that that index should be as reliably based as is possible and, clearly, the main question that will arise to be decided is the consumption standard to be taken. Are we to work upon the basis of a pre-war consumption standard, or the present consumption standard, or some notional consumption standard? I think I can say that, within limits, I would be prepared to accept whatever standard might be agreed to by trade union organisations.
The Government are aiming at checking every force which might contribute to an inflationary situation. The main forces contributing to an  inflationary situation here are the rise in farm prices and the rise in wages. Deputy McGilligan tried to suggest otherwise. He produced a series of figures which he only could have invented, because he certainly drew them from no reliable source. In 1944, the last year for which we have full data for the national income, out of a total national income of £252,000,000, salaries and wages constituted £86.9 million and agricultural income £88.8 million, a total of £175.7 million, or 70 per cent. of the total. The only other substantial items were professional earnings, dividends, interest and profits, which accounted for £58.9 million, or 23 per cent. of the total. Such things as emigrants' remittances, tourist expenditure and the like were an almost insignificant part of the total. Deputy McGilligan says that income from tourists, from interest and dividends on foreign investments equalled £150,000,000. I wish it did.
Mr. Lemass: If so, it is quite clear that even his figure supports my contention that all these other items are a comparatively insignificant part of the national income. The main items are farm incomes, and wages and salaries.
General Mulcahy: Deputy McGilligan's argument was not in relation to the national income but in relation to the increase in monetary circulation, bringing about inflation and he was comparing the £30,000,000 that goes to make up the £150,000,000 with the increases in wages and the total income.
Mr. Lemass: Up to this stage there has been no inflation at all in my opinion. There has been an increase in the amount of spending money—increased wages to workers, increased incomes of farmers and other additions to national revenue, but no more than  was sufficient to offset the increased supply of goods which was recorded last year and this year. The situation is changing now because while the incomes of workers, farmers and other people are still rising, the general international situation makes it almost inevitable that there will be a decrease in the supply of goods. During the past year, there has been a very great increase in the supply of goods and it is, I think, necessary to record that if there had not been this increase in incomes to which I referred, the full supply of goods, imported or made available from home production, could not have been purchased.
Deputy McGilligan also referred to Ministers boasting about an increase in farm output. Now that assertion may have helped Deputy McGilligan's argument but in fact Ministers have spoken repeatedly in public, expressing their perturbation at the failure of the agricultural output to increase. The facts are known. Undoubtedly the output of crops and turf increased. The index number for 1946 was 151.6 as against 115.4 in 1938-39 but the figure for total output in 1946 was 91.8 as against 97 in 1938-39. The total volume of agricultural output declined in 1946 by 1.5 per cent. as compared with 1945. That decline was no doubt attributable to the abnormal harvest conditions last year but the fact which we have to take into account is that agricultural production is at best static; it is certainly not increasing. Deputy Cogan and Deputy Fagan said that the farmers are worse off and that the failure to procure an expansion in agricultural output is to be attributed to that fact. There is, of course, no foundation for that statement. The net income of the farmers, that is the total selling value of their output, less their costs, in 1938-39 was £45,000,000 and in 1946 it was £96,000,000—an increase of 113 per cent. Comparing that with the increase in the cost-of-living index it is quite obvious that the farmers have been more than compensated for that increase. Nobody is objecting to that.
Mr. Lemass: Undoubtedly there are  variations within the agricultural class but the real argument against that comparison is the fact that it is based upon their position in 1939. We know that in 1939 agriculture was emerging from the very difficult period of the economic war and that farmers were badly off relative to the rest of the community. Some improvement was necessary in their relative position and would have had to be effected, even if there had been no war. However the point I want to make here is that we need not be concerned about trivialities. The main factors that will affect our situation and that may produce an inflationary trend are rising farm prices and rising wages, without any corresponding increase in output. Deputies have even referred to the inflation of building prices and the activity there is in the real estate market. The total value of all transactions involving the purchase of property in 1946 was approximately £6,497,000. Even if there was a 50 per cent. increase in the cost of such properties in the present year, it would still amount to less than 1 per cent. of the national income, while the prices paid to farmers and wages and salaries paid to workers, amount to 70 per cent. of the national income. That is the factor that really matters.
The Government recognises that if it is to be fair to farmers any check upon an upward movement in farm prices must be offset by a reduction of the farmers' costs, by subsidy or otherwise. If, in fact, it is not possible to deal with the position in agriculture by any measure other than increasing farm prices and if retail prices rise in consequence, then that rise in retail prices will be offset by subsidy or if not offset by subsidy, then in so far as workers are concerned, they will be compensated for it by an increase in wages.
Deputies have made comparisons between the rise in the cost of living here and the rise in the cost of living in other countries. I am sure that every Deputy saw the advertisement published by Clann na Poblachta comparing the rise in the cost of living here with the rise in the cost of living in Canada and New Zealand. To leave Britain out of the question, why was it  necessary to go three thousand miles in one direction and seven thousand miles in another direction in order to get two countries in which the rise in the cost of living is less than it has been here? Why Canada? Why not go to the United States? We buy ten times as much from the United States as we do from Canada and the rise in prices there is far more significant for us than the rise in Canada. The cost of foodstuffs in the United States has risen substantially more than it has here. In every other country the rise is equally significant. I wonder if Deputies would be interested in some figures in that connection. I cannot find the table at the moment, but I shall get it later. I want to say, however, that in every country with which we have substantial trade connections other than Great Britain, the rise in prices has been higher than here. I cannot blame Clann na Poblachta altogether, because the Central Bank seems to have made an error not dissimilar to theirs. At least they made a statement in their annual report which they do not appear to have checked with the facts.
It is true that the cost of living in Great Britain has risen less than the cost of living here, because Great Britain has applied a policy of price subsidies far more extensively than we are even proposing to do here now. The Central Bank said that the rise in the cost of commodities here has been greater than in the chief countries with which we have external trade connections. If they were referring to Great Britain, they should have said so and should have adverted to the fact that, in Great Britain, retail prices have been subsidised, particularly when, from the body of their report, it is quite clear that they disapprove of the policy of price subsidies. But in Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal—every other country in Europe with which we have trade relations of any substantial size, with the exception of Sweden and Switzerland—the rise in prices has been substantially greater than in this country. In Sweden and Switzerland, the rise was somewhat less, but, as Deputies know, there are circumstances which  make these countries economically stronger than we are at the moment.
Deputies have referred particularly to clothing prices and I am very anxious that we should have the position in that regard clarified. I have frequently stressed in the Dáil the difficulty which I experienced in devising a satisfactory method of controlling clothing prices. There is such an infinite variety of goods sold by the drapery trade and so many variations in qualities that nobody could easily devise a system which would be generally applicable in all circumstances and effective to confine prices within reasonable limits. We have devised a system. That system is similar to the system applied in Great Britain. It is based upon the principle of allowing wholesalers and retailers to add to the cost of the goods to them prescribed margins to cover their expenses and profits. Only one margin is allowed, so there can be no inflation of prices by the transferring of goods from one trader to another. The margin we are at present allowing upon drapery goods sold by retail is 25 per cent., which is roughly half the margin normally taken by drapery traders before the war, although the costs of traders, and particularly the wages paid to assistants, have increased substantially in the mean-time.
It is quite a simple matter to alter margins, but I am becoming seriously perturbed by the consequences of the policy I followed of continually writing down these margins allowed to traders as the supply of goods increased, because the bulk of the retail trade of the country is done in small shops and it is always likely one may do real injury to small traders by framing a policy on the basis of accounts presented by larger traders. We have prescribed a 25 per cent. margin on retail sales. In Great Britain, where there is a Socialist Government, which is not particularly favourable to private retail traders, the margins allowed are very much higher. Against our 25 per cent. margin on clothing sold by retail, the British allow from 33½ per cent. to 40 per cent., according to price categories for utility clothing and from 42 to 50  per cent. on non-utility clothing. There are difficulties in making an exact comparison because the British price control system is extraordinarily complicated and apparently there is a ceiling price for each category of goods above which the margin tends to fall. We have, in fact, worked in the past upon a different principle. We had a lower margin for cheaper goods and a higher margin for dearer goods, but in so far as it is possible to make a precise comparison the margin allowed upon retail sale of clothing in Great Britain is substantially higher than it is here. Similarly, the wholesale margin allowed here of 15 per cent. compares with the margin allowed in Great Britain of 17½ per cent. on utility and 25 per cent. on non-utility clothing.
Deputy McGilligan referred to the profits made by five multiple stores in Dublin. There are two things I want to stress in that connection. The first is that multiple stores in Dublin are not predominantly, or perhaps even mainly, traders in clothing. They sell jewellery, cosmetics, hair-cuts, face treatment and a whole lot of other goods and services, the prices of which are not controlled and which are of a purely luxury type. I have seen raisins and oranges on sale in the shop of a drapery firm in Dublin, and, in fact, a representative of the drapery trade, accompanied by the representatives of other trades, has expressed to me his serious perturbation that, by cutting down the margin allowed on drapery goods, these multiple stores are being driven into other trades and taking business which should rightly belong to regular traders in these goods. Deputy McGilligan said, however, that five stores in Dublin made an aggregate profit of £5,000 in 1939 and £82,000 in 1944. I do not know which would be more serious for this country —that five stores, representing between them a capital investment of several million pounds, should have earned only £5,000 in 1939 or should have earned £82,000 in 1944.
We all know that the big multiple store business in Dublin was being carried on at a loss before the war, that some of them were on the point  of bankruptcy, and it is therefore not a fair comparison to relate their present profits to their pre-war profits, because clearly, if their pre-war position had continued, they would all have been out of business and the effect upon employment and distribution arrangements might have been quite serious. That does not say that we can sanction their earning excessive profits now in so far as clothing is concerned. The method of control now in force, the method of having the price marked by the manufacturer in plain figures on each garment based upon these restricted margins, can be made reasonably effective by systematic inspection—not 100 per cent. effective, because, of course, we cannot have the same system applied to imported goods and the proportion of imported goods in the total supply has substantially increased during the past year. If, however, there is anybody who is prepared to suggest a better system, anybody who thinks that the method of control can be substantially improved, I shall be very glad to receive his suggestions. The House is, I think, aware that I have asked trade union organisations if they would be prepared to help me in the technical problems of price control. I do not want to say anything further in that matter, except that I should be very glad to get their help, because I do not pretend to have all the wisdom or that the systems which we are now applying are the best that could be devised. There are many technical and administrative problems, and if we can improve our system, I shall be very glad, and very glad also to give credit for that improvement to whomever may deserve it.
I have now got the list I referred to and it will help Deputies to understand our general price situation vis-a-vis the price situation in Europe as a whole. There has been, as Deputies are aware, an 84 per cent. increase in the cost-of-living index number here. The figures I have here relate in each case to 1937. Taking 1937 as the base and representing prices in that year by the figure of 100, the following is the position concerning prices of foodstuffs in a number of European countries at present:  Austria, 329—the increase was in the proportion of 100 to 329; Bulgaria, 824; Czechoslovakia, 306; Denmark, 171; Finland, 734; France, 1,260; Hungary, 575; Italy, 6,134; Netherlands, 217; Poland, 16,245; Spain, 582; and Switzerland, 171. There is a figure for Portugal but it is not quite comparable; it is an all-items figure of 200.
Mr. Lemass: About 20,000. I am giving these figures for the purpose of enabling Deputies to assess the realities of our situation against the background of what is happening in Europe. Some countries have managed to come out with less effect upon their price situation than we have, but most have suffered much worse than we have and what has happened in France, Italy and Poland can happen here unless we keep in operation whatever checks and controls are necessary to prevent it.
Our general position is reasonably good. I do not want anyone to exaggerate it or make it appear any worse than it is. It is reasonably good. It has been, on the whole, fairly sound up to the present, and we aim to keep it so. I might conclude these remarks of mine on a cheerful note which Deputies opposite, I hope, will not find disconcerting. They have been going around the country telling the people that there is nothing but ruin and desolation and they are spreading a spirit of despair in every town and hamlet. Let me give them some facts which will at least shake their confidence when they are engaged in that type of operation in the future.
As compared with pre-war, our population is higher. The Registrar-General's estimate for mid-1947 is 2,980,000 against 2,968,000 in 1936. Our marriage rate is higher. The Registrar-General estimates 5.2 per 1,000 for the first half of 1947, against 4.9 in the decade before the war. Our birth rate is higher, being 24.3 per 1,000 in the first half of 1947, against 19.3 per 1,000 in the decade before the war. Our industrial production, despite all the difficulties of fuel and materials, is 10 per cent. higher in volume than 1939.
 We have more people in employment than at any time since the Treaty. There are more people in industrial employment, manufacturing industrial products, than at any time in our history. There are fewer registered as unemployed than at any time since reliable statistics became available. The average number of people during 1946 in occupations insured under the National Health Insurance Acts was 443,000 as compared with 416,000 in 1938. The average number of persons upon the live register for the 12 months ended July 31st, 1947, was 57,200 as compared with 90,300 for the same period ending July 31st, 1939. The live register is, of course, an unreliable guide as to our unemployment position, because in rural areas there are many people on it who are not describable as unemployed in the ordinary meaning of that term; but, taking the figures for urban areas only as being reasonably accurate, the average number registered as unemployed during the 12 months ended July, 1947, was 31,700, compared with 44,200 in the same period ending July, 1939.
That rather cheerful note will, I think, help Deputies to understand precisely what the Government's measures are trying to protect. We had hoped, undoubtedly, that recovery after the war would have been much quicker than it has proved to be. We had hoped that by this time many of our war-time scarcities would have ended and that we would have been able to get production in agriculture and in industry more vigorously under way than has in the event proved possible. We are disappointed that conditions instead of improving have tended to become worse.
We have at present a difficult situation which will persist in an acute form for at least a year and in some form for at least four years. We cannot hope that scarcities will end in that period. The committee which met in Paris in connection with the Marshall Plan has put on record its view that even in 1951, if all the plans of Governments to increase production are carried out and all their estimates and assumptions prove to be accurate, there still will be insufficient food in  Europe to give the people of that Continent the same standard of consumption as they had in 1938.
We have to face the fact that our difficulties will continue. Nothing the Government can do will prevent difficulties, but we can minimise them and we can protect our people against the gravest of the risks which the situation can produce, the risks we see coming to maturity in France and other countries.
That is what the Government's plan is designed to do. It may be a good plan in principle—we think it is; it may be defective in some aspects. If so, it can be remedied, but it is along the general line laid down by the Taoiseach that we must move if we are to get through this period with our economic organisation undamaged and our capacity for recovery unimpaired.
Mr. Hughes: So far as the Minister for Industry and Commerce's comments upon what Deputy McGilligan said regarding the proposals to eliminate disturbances in our social position here are concerned, I think they were a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the Deputy. It was grossly unfair of the Minister so to attempt to misrepresent him. In the light of the information that was available in the Taoiseach's speech and the statement by the Minister for Finance, I think Deputy McGilligan's interpretation was quite fair. It was assumed, not merely by Deputy McGilligan but by other Deputies, that the Government are endeavouring to introduce the stabilisation Order again.
We welcome the information given by the Minister and, so far as this Party is concerned, any attempt to arrive at a voluntary solution of the problem will be approved. We feel that the right way to solve the problem is by voluntary agreement. It is a very big and very difficult matter and if it is possible to solve it by the sliding scale to which the Minister refers that will certainly meet with our approval.
After his very long survey of the acute problems in our social and economic conditions, the Minister ended by saying that the main contributory  factor to the inflation that is there and to whatever measure of inflation may occur is the rise in farm prices and farm wages. I do not know whether the Minister intended to imply that because of rising farm prices the farmers were far better off, but I can assure him that that is not so. In Great Britain in the last couple of years, it is admitted that farm incomes are falling. The sort of system they have in operation there is one of fixing prices in consultation with the N.F.U. and it is based on costings. If the Minister has interested himself in those matters, he will realise that they have accepted the fact that in the last couple of years farm incomes in Great Britain have fallen and the experience here has been that, notwithstanding the rising prices, farm incomes are falling.
Whatever attempt is made to stabilise prices, I am not against it. As a matter of fact, I am for it. Rising prices are of no use to the agricultural community, if circumstances are such and the cost of production is such that it does not leave them a fair margin. The Minister ought to appreciate that that is what is happening. I would be very pleased if he would appreciate that, as I sometimes feel that his influence and power in the Cabinet are not helpful to the agricultural community, that his weight is thrown in on the other side of the scale and because there is no man figuring in the Cabinet who can balance that strength in the interests of the agricultural community, rural Ireland is suffering. At all events, I do not want to misrepresent the Minister but what he conveyed to me was that he was quite satisfied with the situation that exists in rural Ireland. I can assure him that he is completely mistaken in that.
If he intends to go deeply into this subject he must examine a bit on the costings side, such as the prices that have to be paid for those essentials, the raw materials for production, and not be taking his gross figures. It is all very fine to use statistics and gross figures. They may appear to be impressive at first sight, but we are not going to solve this problem of production, the most important problem  of all, merely by a cursory examination. If the Tánaiste arrives at wrong conclusions on that, while this particular Party is in power I can see no hope of a development or an expansion in the main industry of the country. “A rise in farm prices without any corresponding increase in output”—we all know that the solution of our whole problem is to devise a plan that will stimulate and expand production. That is where the Government are falling down completely on their job.
It was rather strange and paradoxical when the Minister went on to argue that the cost of food in the United States has risen substantially more than here and to assert that we have bought quite a lot from the United States, much more than from Canada. If we are buying quite a lot from the United States, we are buying quite a lot of agricultural machinery. The Minister knows that the higher range of prices and the fact that the dollar exchange is against us are contributing to the high cost of production in agriculture. There is a further contributory factor. Some of the most expensive machinery in agriculture is finding its way into the black market. People are permitted to buy threshing sets, tractors and all the other bigger implements used for agricultural operations and are getting their names down in one way or another and collaring that machinery to take a premium on it. The Minister knows that that is happening in regard to motor cars, and I can assure him it is happening in regard to agricultural machinery. That is helping the trend of inflation and the spiral of inflation.
Mr. Hughes: No. Bought as new and maybe turned over immediately as new, though it may be put into work for four or five weeks. It may be sold as secondhand or as new, with the margin of  profit taken off it. That is happening all over the country and I want to deal further with it later.
Our reaction to this whole matter is that you are not going to cure this problem by higher taxation. In the last analysis, it has all to come from the people and higher taxation is not the cure. It is already too high. The cost of administration for the present year, according to the last Budget statement, was up £5½ millions on the year before; the year before that it was up by £3½ millions; and the year before that it was up by £4½ millions. We are now going to add this year £5,765,000 to the cost, so that the cost for central and local administration in this present financial year is £82 millions, plus this sum of £5¾ millions, making a total of £87¾ millions for this rather poor community of ours.
We are not opposed to the subsidies on food. As a matter of fact, while we are attached to the British economy and to the British monetary unit, when they adopt a system of large subsidisation which amounts to over £300,000,000 at the present time, we have no choice but to follow suit. We have not kept in step with them and while we have free intercourse and free interchange of money between the two countries it is inevitable that we must follow suit. As a farmer, I deplore the fact that we have to do that, as the whole situation is too artificial. I want the price of food related to incomes, I want a fair margin for the primary producer and I want a man to be able to pay what it is worth and what it costs; and all this dabbling with subsidies is not helpful. Some day the subsidy has to go and what is to happen to the man producing food and how are the relative values to be adjusted?
The primary producer, not merely here but in Great Britain and all over the world where subsidisation is in operation, is worried about what is to happen. This is merely a palliative measure to solve the problem pro tem. The Minister starts off by assuring us that it is a temporary measure to solve a temporary difficulty. Taxation destroys the incentive to work, no matter how the Minister has commented on the references made by other Deputies to  the fact that there is more than bread and sugar and tea in life. There is more than merely food, so far as the individual in this modern age is concerned. It is true that the rural worker, who works hard for a low wage because the industry cannot afford any more, has very few luxuries, if any. At least he is entitled to a cigarette and to a bottle of beer on a Saturday night when he gets his wages, and to an odd picture, too; and if he does not get it here he will try to get it elsewhere. That is our problem.
When the Minister was boasting about the expansion in employment and in production in industry, he was very careful to avoid agriculture, as he could not have told us there was an increase in employment there. There is no increase in employment in agriculture. The first essential to production in the field or in the factory is employment. We have a fall in man-power in agriculture and that is one of the contributory factors in the fall in production. The difficulty here is that it will actually stimulate the desire to emigrate. To be a realist about it, if there is a family in which a man and his wife smoke, they will continue smoking. That will aggravate the problem as far as the household budget is concerned and there is the beginning of the social disturbances that the Minister is trying to overcome. In the last analysis, as far as the tax position is concerned, the bulk of the taxes are going to be paid by the working masses. There is an increase of surtax and an income-tax provision is made, but the people who will pay are the business elements of the community and they will take very good care to pass on most of it. I think that the situation that was reported to us here yesterday by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance is real and that the problems are real. I am satisfied that the Government have contributed largely to that situation, no matter what defence is made by the Minister in regard to prices. Profits are too high. Unjustifiable profits are being taken and far too much goods are being sold in the black market and no attempt is being made to control that.
 As far as imports are concerned we were told by the Taoiseach that import prices are contributing substantially to the problem. On top of import prices the Government claps on a customs duty. We are told in the Budget statement of the £11,000,000 collected in the first six months. The Government is going to collect £22,000,000 in the present financial year, and more, because the wholesaler and the retailer put their margin on top of that and the £11,000,000 becomes £30,000,000. The customs duty imposed at the port on essential goods coming into this country is making the first substantial contribution to this problem of inflation. I am satisfied too that the inflow of money from Great Britain, through the tourist trade, through emigrants' remittances and a certain amount of money which is being paid by British subjects coming in here to purchase Irish property, all contribute to the inflationary problem. When you reach a certain level in currency its impact is multiplied three, four or fivefold. I have always felt as far as the tourist traffic is concerned—even at the present time with the socialist Government on the other side—that food carried out in the stomachs of the individuals who are so well off on the other side that they are able to hop over here whenever they want to and have a good fortnight or three weeks, gives us no advantage as a weapon to bargain for goods. With the austerity conditions and the masses of the people rationed very severely, they could not approve of people coming here for a good time, and it is not to our advantage as far as trade between the two countries is concerned to permit that sort of thing to happen. In bargaining between the two countries we can argue that they have got service and labour and we are entitled to goods against that labour. It is hard to differentiate between the man who sells food and the man who sells labour and in the last analysis it should serve to demand goods.
The Minister should not overlook the man who wants to remain at home and to produce wealth for his own country and to work for a much lower wage than the man who hops across to Great Britain, such as the agricultural workers, who get 50/- a week. The  man who gets £8 or £9 a week on the other side is permitted to send money home to complete for a limited quantity of goods against the agricultural worker with 50/- a week. No encouragement is given to the man who stays at home and he is entitled to some profit. The man who is going away has the advantage that he can go whenever it is favourable to him and leave his encumbrances—his wife and family —here and when it is convenient to him he can hop back if things go against him on the other side. The man who is a real asset to the country, who believes that this country has a claim on him and who stops at home, is not protected in the situation that we will have and that there is at the present time.
Our difficulties are mainly due to the fact that we are attached to sterling. I am not the sort of individual who argues against sterling merely because it is British. I appreciate the fact that we have very substantial sterling holdings and that it is to our advantage to see that sterling will be maintained. But I appreciate the disadvantages attached to the situation and I think, as far as the Minister is concerned, that it would be advisable to look into that aspect—that while the man who leaves the country has the advantage over the man who remains at home, we are going to have more and more going out.
In the last analysis the problem that we are considering is that our exports have fallen while our imports are rising. A figure is given in the Minister's statement on page 7 and I want to suggest that our whole problem of inflation has been aggravated by the fact that our imports in the first six months of this year were £52.7 million and our exports £15.9 million. This means that, for the total year, we will have an export trade of £30,000,000 and imports of £100,000,000. Valued on that basis there is a gap of £70,000,000 to be bridged. The House should realise that when our Ministers were in London they were told that this situation cannot continue because Britain cannot pay for debts to this country in goods and that we will have to cut down imports or raise our exports.
 There is another purpose behind the proposal to increase the duty on certain commodities, described as luxury commodities. The Minister for Industry and Commerce would welcome a reduction in the consumption of spirits, beer and tobacco. If there is a reduction in the consumption of tobacco, we shall save dollars. If we reduce our consumption of spirits, it means that we shall have more whiskey for export and whiskey can be readily sold for dollars in the U.S. Is not that the true position? The Government have fallen down on their job. If the mentality of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in respect of the problem of agricultural production represents that of the Government, there is no hope for expansion of Irish agriculture. There is every indication of a decline in production for the next two or three years. Speaking recently in Letterkenny, the Minister was optimistic enough to anticipate an increase in our exports of 10 per cent. The man who would expect an increase of 10 per cent. in our exports is a fool. It is only necessary to look at the figures to realise that that is not possible. Agricultural production is a long-term job. To step up production is a slow process. The industry has been neglected far too long and we have too many politicians playing havoc with the industry to expect expansion.
Mr. Hughes: The cost of living must be subsidised. It must be subsidised, in my opinion, more closely to the rate of subsidisation in Great Britain, if we are to make any attempt to cure the evils we have experienced, including the loss of man-power. The Minister said that there was only one source for subsidisation—taxation. That is obvious. It would be bad finance—and we have had enough bad finance from the present Government—to meet current expenditure by borrowing. We have difficulty in ascertaining the policy of the Government in respect of agriculture. I have stressed that agriculture involves a long-term policy. All the evils we have experienced have resulted from neglect of agriculture. Agricultural production is  falling. The Minister for Industry and Commerce was very boastful about what has been achieved. He said that the incidence of employment was never higher in industry. He very carefully hopped over agriculture. When he spoke about the rise in farm prices, he was trying to give the impression that everything in the garden was lovely. I suggest that he study the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure. He will find there that 75 per cent. of the national wealth is produced by agriculture. Information is given in diagram form in the other segment of the circle regarding other industries. If he looks at the diagram descriptive of the distribution of national income, he will be amazed at the manner in which the agricultural segment shrinks. The Minister is not interested in that at all. Other sections of the community get more than they are entitled to out of the pool of production. The people who give the most vital service are not being fairly compensated for that service. I do not want any undue rise in prices and I do not want abnormal conditions. The primary producer wants stability. He wants a fair margin. When one speaks about the rise in farm prices, it is necessary to look at the margin to see how the farming community are faring. That can only be arrived at by detailed examination of costings and no attempt at the costing of farm production has been made.
Let us take a few examples of what the problems are. The country has no indication of what the Government's policy is. Every Minister who has spoken has stressed the importance of production. Nobody has attempted to give us a policy for agricultural production. None of the Ministers has attempted to give us any constructive idea as to agricultural expansion. The Minister quoted the prices which influenced the increased cost-of-living index figure. He mentioned, amongst other things, beef and butter. What is the situation regarding beef? What have the Department done about beef? A price level was reached for beef this summer which would not have been reached but for the muddling of the  Department of Agriculture. We permitted new purchasing power to enter the market for live stock. We permitted continental people to come in. Two countries came in and, for the 12 months beginning June, they got a quota of about 36,000 animals. Other allocations were made but I do not think that the other countries came in. The two countries to which I refer are Belgium and Holland. They came into the market in June last. Anybody who knows anything about economics is aware that, if you permit new money to come into a market and if you are interested in stabilising prices, you must be very careful as to how that money will operate. Once you increase purchasing power in the market, you will force up prices. Prices appreciated rapidly and the seasonal fall did not occur because of the new money. Worse than that, one of the parties—Belgium—bought very rapidly over the period and in very large, weekly numbers. They have now exhausted their quota. They have exhausted it at a time when Great Britain, because of the policy in operation regarding Irish cattle, is unable to take up all our stock which is ready for export. There is a system under which a substantial subsidy is paid on Irish cattle after a minimum two months stay in Britain. When Britain adjusted its beef prices, there was no adjustment in the price of Irish beef for immediate slaughter. These remained at the bottom and there is a differential of 36/6 between Irish beef and British-produced beef for immediate slaughter or, approximately, £20 in respect of a bullock of 11 cwt. That is an extraordinary differential against the interest of this country. The Belgian trade has gone at a time when the British market, because of lack of grass and root crops, is bad for Irish stores and there is no outlet for many of our cattle for immediate slaughter. Prices are falling and falling pretty rapidly. The difficulty is that the curve soared during the summer period and the people with large grass farms in this country enjoyed the appreciation in prices. The reaction to that has now set in, because there is a drop in that curve. I have repeatedly stressed  that the primary producer requires stability. I foresaw this and I was afraid of it. The solution was pretty obvious. Once new money was allowed into the country it should have been controlled by the Department over the whole period of the 12 months. It should have been controlled on a monthly basis, and because it was not, the price of steak on the Irish dining table has gone higher. So far as the primary producer is concerned, that instability and variation in prices are not in his interests. Stability in prices would be very beneficial, and I submit that we are not going to have stability in prices until we have people who are capable of planning and of anticipating the reactions in our market conditions.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce comes into this House and represents the situation to be that the Irish farmers are getting great benefit. I admit that a certain class of Irish farmer is—the man who in the past was always condemned by Fianna Fáil—the grass man, the man in the dog farm. The trouble is that the small man in this country, living under small conditions, who loyally pursued the Fianna Fáil policy in regard to cereal production has got a belt in the neck this year. The Minister for Finance knows that as well as I do and if he were honest he would agree with me when I say that the representation which has been made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce is not true so far as agriculture is concerned. We know very well that this year all the crops are down by more than 50 per cent. Cereals are down. Wheat is down by more than 50 per cent and barley is very low, as is the potato crop. We will not have anything to export. The small farmer is experiencing the difficulties already. People in the grain trade have told me that in some cases the small farmers are scarcely able to meet their bills for seeds and fertilisers and that if they stopped that out of their accounts many of them would have nothing to meet the merchants' bills. What does the Government propose to do about it? The situation is extremely difficult and there is damn little realism on the part of the Government when the Minister for Industry and Commerce can come into this House and try  to represent that everything is happy so far as Irish agriculture is concerned. It is nothing of the sort. His optimistic anticipation of an increase in exports is simply absurd. So far as livestock exports are concerned—the industry that has been neglected by the Government: the industry they tried to kill in this country; the industry that has survived in spite of them—we can see what trade we may anticipate in the next three years. The most expensive commodity in the world to-day is meat. The commodity England wants most is meat. It is an energy-giving food which is sorely needed by the people of that island who lack energy. We have all the conditions in this country for its favourable production and expansion. What plan have we or what solution has the Government to stimulate the rearing of a calf—a Party that believed in the slaughter of calves?
In 1944 we had, so far as live stock in the lower category of one year or under, including calves, is concerned, 1,495,000 calves. In 1946, two years later, we had 931,978 calves. Luckily enough, we have just got the September issue of the Irish Trade Journal. It came this morning and I looked at it before I came in here and that figure is still topped—853,700 calves. That represents a reduction of 146,795 in the category of one year or under, or 14 per cent. We can only have in three years what we have reared at the present time. What are we going to do for the fourth year or what plan has this wonderful Minister? I include in that the Minister for Industry and Commerce who is the arch planner of the Fianna Fáil Party—the self-sufficient Minister of the Fianna Fáil Party who has now become the export Minister. I say again, what plan has he got to step up production? The Government has sowed the wind and now it is reaping the whirlwind. That is the position so far as our export trade to-day is concerned. That is the position this country has to face up to realistically.
We were branded as West Britons when we talked about the value to this country of an export trade. The position now is that the members of that same bench spend their time  saying that we must either “export or die”. We have an adverse trade balance to bridge. It is between £30,000,000 and £100,000,000. I wonder if the Minister for Industry and Commerce in his confidence here this evening would tell the country the solution he has. Every time we have a speech from the Government Bench, especially in the tone and in the terms which we listened to this evening, great care is taken to avoid the real problem which is the expansion of Irish agriculture and the modernisation of Irish agriculture. They make no reference to the application of modern scientific methods to Irish agriculture. Emphasis was laid on the question of beet and wheat out of all proportion to what these mean to our economy. Three-quarters of a million acres of the right sort of land would be ample to enable us to become self-sufficient in wheat and beet—a rather insignificant figure in the 10,000,000 acres of arable land in this country. The Government has completely lost sight of the way in which the rest of the land in this country could be properly and efficiently utilised. The result has been that in this particular year, so far as wheat is concerned, the farmers were compelled to sow in land which any man who knew anything about wheat—especially if he had any scientific information of an elementary nature as to the type of soil suitable for the production of wheat—would not till for that purpose. The result is that the wheat crop this year has been a complete failure. Surely the Minister for Finance has information on that matter. Surely the Government has information on that matter. Yet they persist in compelling people to grow wheat in land from which we could obtain a far higher output of some other cereal, and also engage in animal production. What can we expect from this somersaulting Minister who chops and changes his plans so often? The evidence now is that the Government intends to somersault away from wheat. They have been sent a Questionnaire from Paris by the committee set up under the Marshall Plan to give the figures of our national production for the next  three or four years. What are we going to grow in 1951 and 1952 when our production of wheat will be less than one half of what it is at the present time? Are we not entitled to interpret from these figures that Fianna Fáil is going to depart from a wheat policy? Are we not entitled to be told what we are going to turn to, or does the Government expect the people to guess what is in its mind? The Belgian Government has exceeded its quota here and I would like to know what the position now is and if they are going to get another quota. Are we going to finish the London talks? Are we going to have a two-way output for cattle, as stores and beef— as approximately 50 per cent. of our stores went to Great Britain, 50 per cent. for stores and 50 per cent. for beef for immediate slaughter? So far as live stock is concerned, we want a policy that will get the stimulus lower down. The small man rearing live stock has been badly treated for years. The policy operated by Great Britain tended to compel us to concentrate on the 3-year-old, the forward store that could be used in Great Britain to trample into farmyard manure the huge amount of straw that they had as a result of their compulsory tillage policy. They were concerned about fertility building. The word “fertility” is never mentioned from the Government side of the House. One of the first problems in this country is to put into operation a policy that will build fertility instead of a policy that will destroy it. That particular group campaigned this country, condemning the late Mr. Paddy Hogan as the Minister for Grass, not appreciating the fact that the crop —and I emphasise the word “crop”—that produces the greatest number of food units is grass. It falls into another category also. Grass is the only crop that raises fertility. Those fellows went out campaigning the country, blackguarding the late Minister for Agriculture, who knew something about agriculture, saying that he was the Minister for Grass. He anticipated the development in modern science. The development in recent years has been all towards grass and the importance of grass in arable farming. I do not  want the House to misunderstand me. I mean the utilisation of grass, not merely for the production of the protective foods that are so vital and so scarce, but also for the purpose of raising fertility for the production of cereal crops.
Is not the situation in respect of pigs deplorable and is not one fairly entitled to ask how is it that Northern Ireland could maintain its pig population to a substantial extent while ours has practically disappeared? Surely what is possible in Northern Ireland is possible in the Twenty-Six Countries. When we talk about bringing in Northern Ireland and getting rid of the Border we need to be at least as good as they are. We have the material, the intelligence and the capacity, if our people were properly harnessed to the job, if opportunities were provided and if we had clear vision in regard to our plans for the future. Above all, we ought to have leadership in that respect and that must come from Merrion Street. I do not expect it to come under the conditions that we have.
I want to tell the House what is happening in pigs. I asked the Minister for Agriculture here a question as to the number of pigs that curers are permitted to sell for pork. They are free in that respect. They can sell all the pigs that they purchase for pork. In the short market that there is for bacon, in my opinion, we should not permit any of the pigs to be sold as pork. We have enough fresh meat without pork and all the pigs in the country should be cured into bacon. Nearly every pig-curing factory that is operating is sending lorry loads of pork, weekly, to the Dublin market. It is being bought here and it is being illegally converted into bacon and put under the counter.
The tourist trade that I have referred to is one of the contributory factors towards inflation. Every tourist that comes to this country enjoys bacon for his breakfast every morning. Every hotel in the city has ample supplies of bacon for tourists, who are not worth anything to this country. That is a cause of inflation. The Irish national can go without bacon for his breakfast. The price of  pork is such that the Minister for Industry and Commerce permits that, knowing full well what the position is. I am aware of the fact that his attention has been drawn to it.
That is how we look after a very important branch of Irish agriculture. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is so interested that he says there is no solution. We are going to let things carry on as they are, to let this traffic in illegitimately cured bacon continue because we are not prepared to solve the problem so far as the curers are concerned.
It is very obvious that the margins for retailing bacon are too high. The Minister tried to defend the margins as being reasonable. The standing example of unreasonable margins is the margin allowed to retailers for handling bacon. The competition for pigs among the curers is terrific. The Minister and the Government have completely ignored that and, therefore, the present situation has developed. I am not here to advocate the curers' interests. They were allowed to get away with the swag in the past. They are being punished for their sins now but, through them, the industry is suffering and the illegitimate trade that I have referred to has developed. The Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture put the telescope to their blind eye. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is very interested in this particular trade, tourism, that brings in such a lot of bad money that causes inflation here and that cannot be used as a bargaining weapon, because, from the British point of view, it is not good. The British want goods. They are badly in need of food. They want food that will be brought in under their control so that every citizen in Great Britain will get a fair share of whatever goods are available.
I welcome the attempt to penalise, by tax, the people who are coming in here to buy Irish land. I believe the land of this country ought to be utilised by Irishmen in the national interest. So far as the 25 per cent. on the purchase of land is concerned, in the case of persons other than Irish nationals, it is an attempt on the part of the Minister and the Government to  face up to the realities of the situation. but I deplore the fact that 5 per cent. is put on the purchase of property in the case of our own people. No reference has been made to it by the Minister, so far as I know, and no attempt has been made to justify that imposition. The price of Irish farms is high enough without adding to it. So far as the division of land is concerned, those who are most desirable are farmers' sons, who have their roots in the land, and who love the land and appreciate its value and who will keep it in the national interest. These are the people who ought to be encouraged to occupy Irish land. That will not be done by a tax on the purchase of land. Land is dear enough without putting £100 tax on a farm that costs £2,000. Why should that be done? Is there any justification for it? Take the case of people who are buying property—the man who is settling down in life in a house in the suburbs of Dublin, or in rural Ireland, the man who is settling his eldest son and who is anxious to get him married early.
The Minister is deliberately hampering them by putting this tax on. Is there any justification whatever for it? It may be that there is an undesirable increase in the number of sales that are taking place in the country, but in examining that problem we must realise that it is the incoming man, and not the man who is selling, who will pay the piper. It is the incoming man that I am worrying about. It is very desirable surely that, when a young man decides to get married, he should try to purchase his house. Young people should be encouraged to settle down. If, say a man purchases a house for £1,000 he will now have to pay a tax of £50. Why should that be? The present tax is 1 per cent., and there is surely no reason for making it 5 per cent. The price of houses has appreciated enough without clapping this 5 per cent. charge on top of that appreciation.
The solution to our problem is, in the last analysis, more production. We are not going to solve it by putting further taxes on the little luxuries  which have been available to the people in rural Ireland. They will now have to pay an extra 3d. on a bottle of beer and an extra 4d. on a packet of cigarettes.
The country is entitled to know if, at this juncture, the members of the Government are exercising their minds on the question of agricultural planning for the future. The Minister for Agriculture has withdrawn the White Paper that was published some years ago dealing with the pig industry. We very emphatically condemned that White Paper. The Minister has now withdrawn his proposals and we have got no further information from him so far as the pig industry is concerned. We have the same position with regard to the cattle industry. We do not know when the London talks are to be completed or whether a further quota is going to be allocated to Belgium. That is the position in which we find our main industry. The only constructive proposal before us is that which provides for a subsidy of £245,000 on fertilisers. I want to give this advice to the Minister for Industry and Commerce: that no matter how happy he may feel about the situation, this Dáil has to make up its mind that much more money must be poured into Irish agriculture if we mean to expand production. That must be done in a variety of ways, but particularly by capitalisation. The industry is under-equipped and under-capitalised. Care must be exercised as to the manner in which that money is put into it. With regard to cereal production, men are compelled to grow wheat whether their land is suitable for its production or not. Those who are being compelled to grow the crop are entitled to some compensation if they were not able to recover their costs of production. We have that situation in the country. It has been completely ignored by the Government and it is very much worse than the Government appreciates. I think the position is that the Government just do not want to appreciate it. They will realise in a few weeks' time what the real position is. It will be another month or so before we can measure what the yield from the crop has been. We will, however, be then in a position to realise what the true  position is. The Government are never able to anticipate what is happening, and it appears obvious to me that they are not anticipating what is happening this year, judging by the attitude adopted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
The solution for all this lies in a policy for Irish agriculture prepared by economists and practical men. The sooner we eliminate the political plans of Fianna Fáil from Irish agriculture the better. What we need is a realistic plan prepared by men with no political interests. Not until we get a plan prepared by economists and practical men shall we be able to launch this country on the road to a prosperous and expanding Irish agriculture.
Mr. Heskin: The people will welcome the Supplementary Budget in so far as it brings about a reduction in the cost of living. When, however, one takes into consideration the reductions offered on the one hand and the fresh burdens that are being imposed on the other in order to raise money to provide subsidies, one cannot see any improvement on the present situation. On the contrary, I think it is going to be worse than what it was. There are three items that directly affect the lives of the producing population of the country namely, tea, sugar and bread. If one takes an average family of five, the reductions indicated will mean a total saving of 2/1 per week. Take, on the other hand, the increases which are to be imposed on commodities and amusements. How will these affect our producers and their workers? At present they partake of a little amusement about once a week. In the case of commodities they will have to pay an extra fourpence on a packet of 20 cigarettes. If a man smokes ten cigarettes a day, and there is nothing very extravagant about that, that will mean an extra 1/2 a week for him. If an average family of four goes to the pictures once a week, the new duties will mean an extra 1/8 for that family. Beer is to be increased by 3d. per pint. If a man takes the small allowance of one pint per day that will mean an extra tax of 1/9 per week for him, so that on these few items alone the increase for an average family in the  country will amount to 4/7 per week against a saving of 2/1 per week on the reduction set forth in the Budget. These are a few small items which the ordinary worker in the rural areas and towns could partake of. Therefore, instead of a saving, there is a direct loss to him of 2/6 a week.
The reduction in the price of bread, tea and sugar will be welcomed by housewives and heads of families. But, when you take into consideration the number of tourists coming into the country, you will have to arrive at the conclusion that those who will mainly benefit by this relief are the catering establishments who cater for a type of people well able to pay the price they were already paying without providing relief for them at the expense of the taxpayers. When you sum up the whole situation, the poorer sections will lose owing to the increased taxation in order to provide relief for hotels and catering establishments and tourists who come here to enjoy the good food placed at their disposal.
I notice that no provision has been made for a subsidy to increase the yield of milk or provide more butter for the people. The health of the people is declining to a great extent because of the lack of essential foodstuffs, particularly milk and butter. The increase in price for milk sent to the creameries announced some months ago by the Minister for Agriculture is not at all sufficient to induce people to go into production. It may just enable the people already in production to carry on with the aid of slave labour. But, in my opinion, as one who knows the views of the people and of the reduction in the supplies of milk to creameries, the health of the people, particularly the children of the working classes, is in grave danger. The wellto-do classes can procure milk at a certain price and the farmers have milk for themselves. But, owing to the scarcity of milk and butter in the rural towns, I am afraid that the health of the nation, particularly the younger population, will be greatly in danger unless the Department of Industry and Commerce or the Department of Agriculture makes some better provision for an increase in the production of milk  throughout the country. In the rural areas and towns, and even in the cities, people will be faced with a very serious situation in the coming winter in regard to the supply of milk. In many rural towns in the midst of agricultural areas the people who supply the milk are not able to keep up the supply. The result is that people in the towns have to do what they never had to do before, to go out miles into the country areas to procure small quantities of milk for their families. I should like to draw the attention of the Ministers concerned to the position which is already threatening the people of the City of Waterford. Under the tillage regulations no provision was made to exempt dairymen.
Mr. Heskin: I am dealing with production generally. The Minister says that everybody ought to help by more production and saving. The families of the poorer section of the community, the people in the bigger built up areas, are entitled to protection from the Department responsible. It is well known that recently a threat was made by a big milk supplier in Waterford City to go out of the supplying of milk. Because of the fact that the Department of Agriculture had not seen their way to exempt him from the tillage Order he is forced to reduce his dairy stock. That is a very serious position. Men who produce such a valuable commodity should be exempt from the tillage Order and get every encouragement from the Government. When you take into consideration that the breeders of blood stock have an exemption, I think the people who supply milk for those in the cities and towns should receive much more consideration than the owners of bloodstock.
Mr. Heskin: I hope the Minister will take note of it, because the lives of the people are of more concern for us than the lives of bloodstock. I find that a subsidy of £245,000 is to be provided for fertilisers for the farming community. In my opinion, that sum is very poor compensation for the farmers who, during the seven years of the emergency, in very difficult circumstances provided food for the nation. It is less than 2/- per acre. We know that agriculture is producing threefourths of the wealth of the nation. Certainly much more money should be provided, whether by subsidy or otherwise, in order to encourage production. There is no getting away from the fact that if you want to reduce the cost of living and increase exports it can only be done by increasing production. If you want to encourage that production, much more money will have to be put into agriculture through different channels.
Wheat production is a very vital matter for the nation. We know very well that the yield from the wheat crop is very much below normal throughout the country this year. I would not be exaggerating if I were to say that the yield would be at least 50 per cent. below normal but what can one expect, taking into consideration the loss of fertility over the last seven years and the poor contribution made by the Department of Finance in the way of providing subsidies? We cannot expect to get a good yield when the fertility of the soil has been considerably reduced and when no effort is made to put something back into that soil. It is only by providing subsidies sufficient to increase fertility by the application of artificial manures, that we can hope to get our land back to a normal standard of fertility. The necessary moneys could be provided in my opinion, out of the excess prices that have been paid to outside producers for the food we need. That food could be produced at home if the farmers got more encouragement. According to the returns of the Department of Industry and Commerce, the quantity of wheat imported last year  was 48,796 tons at a price of £4 4s. 9d. per barrel. Yet under the Tillage Order we are compelled to produce wheat here at home at 55/-per barrel. We are quite prepared to pay £4 4s. 9d. per barrel to outside producers, that is the equivalent of a bounty of something like £12 per acre for the foreign producer. Yet we will not consider giving a bounty of anything like that sum to the Irish farmer who is doing his best and has done his best to save the nation.
The same remarks apply to barely. I am basing my calculation on the average yield given by the Department in their statistical returns. The difference of £1 9s. 9d. per barrel in the price of wheat would amount on the average to about £8 per acre. You will find that these figures are not exaggerated. We are asking only for reasonable consideration for the farmers in the way of a price inducement. We will produce, as we produced in the past, if we get a reasonable price. We see the farmers across the water and the farmers in the United States getting subsidies of from £10 or £12 per acre whilst the Irish farmer is despised.
Again, the world price of barley is £2 16s. 0d. per barrel, while 35/- and £2 are the prices offered to the Irish farmer. Then we have farmers taken to court and fines imposed upon them because of non-compliance with the tillage Order. Surely no intelligent farmer seeing what is happening— the payment of exorbitant prices to foreigners for food which could be produced at home, but for which the Government will not give an adequate price to Irish farmers—can be expected to carry out tillage under these conditions? The farmer is quite prepared to produce food for the nation if he is treated fairly. Price inducement and the provision of an adequate supply of fertilisers are the only means of encouraging production. There would be no necessity to make tillage Orders if the farmer were given a proper price for his products. The farmer who is given encouragement by way of a price inducement will produce all the food that is necessary at home.
We had some reference in the Minister's statement to the necessity of  avoiding waste. How much waste has the Department and its officials been responsible for, in the last couple of years, in compelling farmers to grow wheat on land that could never grow corn of any kind? Is that not waste of the very worst kind? I know one case where 21 acres produced only 17 barrels of wheat—at least three barrels less than the quantity of wheat that was put into the land as seed. Is that not sheer waste of good wheat? Yet we are ransacking other countries in efforts to get wheat and seeking shipping to bring it to this country. The land which was wasted in these fruitless attempts to grow wheat could have been utilised to produce some other type of food such as potatoes, milk or bacon. The weapon of compulsion is held up to the head of the farmer to compel him to grow wheat on land which is incapable of growing wheat and which could be utilised for the production of other crops. It is about time that the farmers woke up but, unfortunately, I am afraid that we shall never wake up.
Mr. Heskin: I was always a tillage farmer and I have always had a tillage tradition behind me. I have all the equipment necessary for tillage. This year I have nearly 100 acres under tillage and I am going to lose considerably by it. I might say that I am going to incur an unnecessary loss, but I shall not do so next year. I tilled more than my quota in order to answer the call of the Government but I am not going to do it any longer; neither will other farmers who are in a similar position. Why should we be asked to produce at a loss? Why has the Minister for Agriculture refused to set up a commission to inquire into costings and to arrive at some standard which would enable farmers to produce at a profit? We do not want a colossal profit. All we want is a reasonable margin over the cost of production.
It may sometimes be asked why farmers are all the time producing at a loss. It is very easy to give an answer If Ministers or the people in authority  will take a tour through the country, they will find that the farmers' sons and daughters are working for nothing. They perhaps get a few bob each every Sunday. They work for 35 or 40 years and they always miss the bus. These are the slaves who are maintaining agricultural production even at a loss. I am glad to see that the young boys and girls of to-day are waking up to the situation and that they are travelling further afield. They see that there is no inducement to stay on the land. Take the case of a girl who works from the age of 15 or 16 for 20 or 25 years until she reaches the age of 40 on a farm. She gets about £400, about £15 for every year, over that period. If she were to go to the city, she would immediately get a good position at 30/- or 35/- a week, all found, with plenty of accommodation and plenty of amusement. I do not blame the young girls of the country for leaving their homes if these are the conditions under which they have to work. Yet they are expected by the Government to stay at home to work on a farm at a wage of £20 per year until they reach an age when they are no good to themselves or anybody else.
Some time ago we were told by the Taoiseach that he was going to introduce a scheme to erect houses and to keep young people on the land. Now we have the Minister bringing forward proposals to increase the stamp duty on the conveyance of land and other property. Deputy Hughes pointed out that is a proposal that will be detrimental to the interests of young men in the country. That is perfectly true. This imposition on the transfer of property to a farmer's son is an imposition on that young man which will keep him from going further into production. Instead of encouraging the youth of the country to get into production, every move the Government makes is against bringing about that greater production. Many men would help willingly, but there is no inducement to them to do so, because every step taken by the Government is against an increase in production and output. We know very well that the industrial machine which the Government was so anxious to install and maintain is going to be maintained,  and can only be maintained, out of the proceeds of agriculture. It is the exports we have which will buy the raw materials to keep the industrial concerns going. I hope that, before it is too late, the Government will waken up to the position and will agree to throw more money into agriculture for the encouragement of production and for the protection of the interests of the people who are doing their best to produce food for the country.
An Ceann Comhairle: Might I remind Deputies that, by unanimous agreement in the House at 3.30 p.m., it was decided that I should call on the Minister to conclude at 10 p.m., and I ask Deputies to bear that in mind when speaking, because there may be several Deputies desiring to participate?
Dr. O'Higgins: ——in repeating points already made or treading ground already trodden by others. I should like to express my absolute disappointment and regret that, in face of conditions as they exist here to-day, we have such a lack of appreciation of these difficult and unpleasant facts by Government. We are living in conditions in which, in a comparatively small number of years, we have exported 250,000 of the youth of the country—the males first, and, in recent years, the females—practically every one of these 250,000 people who have left us being between the ages of 20 and 30. Of these 250,000 people, 99 per cent. have gone to a country where there are no factors of attraction, where there are no ties of friendship and no ties of kinship or relationship, a type of emigration completely dissimilar from the old-time emigration which was so generally deplored and particularly from within the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Party.
In the past, we had emigration to  America—we had the attraction from abroad, with brothers, sisters and kinsmen inducing those at home to go out there. To go out to a country where they would be amongst their own friends, amongst their own relatives, amongst their own co-religionists, where Irish functions, Irish dances and céilidhes were the events of the week and where they would come in contact with their clergy as frequently as they do here at home. But when that type of emigration was going on in fairly modest numbers, the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and everyone who ornaments or decorates the benches opposite were denouncing the system which made it possible for so many people to emigrate to that country, often referred to as the Greater Ireland beyond the seas.
One of the big factors in that type of emigration was the attraction from abroad, the inducement to go there. The amount of emigration in those years was completely insignificant as compared with the emigration in recent years. The emigration in recent years has been emigration to a country where there is no attraction and no inducement, where they will live amongst black strangers, amongst people who were our traditional enemies, amongst people with a different outlook and a different religion, where few if any of them, and those few only rarely, see a clergyman or any function which is common to their own people and their own country. It is a type of emigration produced not by attraction from abroad, but by pressure from behind, by the pressure of economic distress here, driving them out so as to use a position abroad amongst black strangers to help those who remain at home.
In that set of circumstances and seven years after it began to become a really serious hæmorrhage, when in fact the damage is done, when the economic conditions here and the appallingly high cost of living have driven so many abroad, the Government come in here with proposals which are introduced with the speeches to which we listened. I listened to the Taoiseach and I read the Taoiseach: I listened to the Minister  for Finance and I read the Minister for Finance ; and I put these two speeches on one side and the speech delivered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on the other. The speech of the Taoiseach showed complete bankruptcy of statesmanship and showed, if taken with the speech delivered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, anything but candour and anything but a desire to take the Dáil and the country into his confidence. It was a speech which was characteristic in so far as it was vague and woolly, in so far as it said nothing positively, nothing clearly and nothing definitely, and all vague and misleading in so far it threw up a completely false alibi for the conditions which exist at present and the failure of Government to tackle, to grapple with and to correct these conditions.
We had that speech of the Taoiseach introduced, one-fifth of it pointing out that our lack of production as compared with the amount of paper money, as happened in other countries, was due to the diversion of manpower into war, the production of ordinary articles of commerce having been discarded in order to produce the weapons and materials of war. It was a speech which, as Deputy McGilligan said, could have been made from the Front Bench of the British House of Commons, which could have been made by any statesman in any of the warring nations and which would have been definitely and strictly applicable and true in every respect. Applying that speech and that type of argument to conditions in this country is definitely misleading and definitely unworthy of delivery from the particular bench from which it was delivered.
The Taoiseach knows as well as I do that so far as war production went, from the beginning to the end of the war, we never produced as much as one .22 bullet in this country, not even one bullet of the smallest calibre. It is true that we wasted a lot of money on the purchase of arms and armaments and explosives which were produced by the diversion of manpower in other countries from other productive sources into armaments in these countries; it is true that we purchased explosives, arms and  armaments mainly from Great Britian, but also to a great extent in Czechoslovakia, thus diverting the manpower of Britain and Czechoslovakia from the production of essential goods to the production of armaments. But there was not one human being in this country diverted from normal production into the production of armaments.
So far as that is an alibi or apologia for the complete and utter failure of the Government to grapple in time with the very serious conditions here, it is completely dishonest. It is true that our Ministers strutted the stage during the six years of war as Irish Hitlers and Napoleons and that we spent a lot of money on pomp and ceremony. We had more military uniforms of different designs, types, colours and shapes in the streets of Dublin than would be found in London or Berlin at the height of the war. It was certainly very entertaining to be playing at war, but war did not divert the energies of any person in this country. We spent a lot of money on that play-acting, but we fought no war, we were engaged in no war.
We took advantage of the war to increase our Budgets and our taxes, to get more and more money out of the pockets of the people, but not one sixpence of all the extra taxes or the moneys collected from the people did we direct towards greater production. We had no defence to plan, no war to fight; we had nothing to do—the Taoiseach and his team had nothing to do—but to mind our own business, to build up our own country, to develop our resources and to make perfect our plans for the grabbing of post-war trade when the war ended, when other countries were dazed and crippled from their energies and sacrifices during that war.
We were told during all those years that the Government were seriously engaged on magnificent, but secret, plans that were to be disclosed at the end of the war—plans for greater production, for full employment, for making this a happy land in which people would be quite contented. Now we have the culmination of all these plans, we have the results of all the  secret plottings that were so hush-hush at one time. What is the result of the whole thing? The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance, perturbed at the cost of living and determined to shut the stable door when the horse has gone, propose to subsidise to a very limited extent some of the absolute essentials in the homes of our people. These include flour, sugar and tea, and they propose to get the money to subsidise that group of foodstuffs so as to help the people in their homes out of the pockets of the very same people. They advise us to stagger along, to carry the burden, to tighten our belts and to face difficulties with the same characteristic courage as we faced them in the past.
Everyone is to make a sacrifice, to carry extra burdens, to tighten his belt, but we must not include the Government administration. There must be no economy there, there must not be a reduction of even £1 in their expenditure. But everybody who smokes a pipe or a cigarette, everybody who drinks a pint, has to make a sacrifice. The mad extravagance that was undertaken under the camouflage of war is to go merrily on. There will not be a contribution of even £1 by way of economy from any Government Department towards the subsidisation of food. They are looking for £5,000,000 to subsidise three lines of food—in a word, nearly the equivalent of the increased cost of the Irish Civil Service as between 1936 and 1946.
I addressed question to certain Ministers in recent months. In one question I asked the Minister the cost of the Civil Service in 1930, 1933, 1939 and 1946. I find in round figures that the Civil Service has increased in cost during those years by £4,000,000 a year; in other words, if the same Civil Service would do us to-day as did the Government's predecessors in office, we could give all the subsidies outlined in this Supplementary Budget without placing a farthing tax on anybody.
I asked the Minister for Defence on the same occasion to give us the cost of the Army during the periods 1930-1931 and 1946-1947, two years of peace. We found that in the year 1930-1931 the Army efficiently doing the work of a  peace-time Army in this country in a year of peace cost less than £1,000,000 —it was actually £900,000 odd—and in the present year a peace-time Army for the same territory but for a smaller population will cost over £3,000,000. There, between two State services, the Army and the Civil Service, since the Government took over, you have had increased demands on the taxpayers of nearly £7,000,000 a year and you have the subsidies that we are giving here to-day, which amount to £5,000,000. The whole lot of them could be met, and to a 50 per cent. greater extent, if it were not for the really lunatic expenditure and extravagance of Government.
We put on top of that the kind of rash, ill-considered or unconsidered expenditure that is taking place in other domains of Government expenditure— magnificent buildings, luxury hotels, the last word in extravagance at our air terminals, a greater fleet of buildings in Dublin Castle for a greater number of civil servants, millions more going in that direction.
The point I am trying to make is that when you are up against tough and difficult conditions there is no good in asking the other fellow to make all the sacrifices or carry the full burden. If we get an example of unbridled extravagance, of lavish expenditure by Government, unequalled in the history of this State and unequalled, in comparison to size and wealth, in the history of any State in modern times, then it is not fair to turn to the public and to bleed them for any new penny that is required. Elsewhere, where subsidisation of food was the policy and where big sums of money were required, the masses of the people certainly had to contribute; but alongside of that there were always proposals for economy in Government expenditure. Here we have a plan outlined to us which we are asked to accept. The full cost of subsidisation for the foods named is to be collected through new taxes; and no suggestion is made of any economy on the part of the Government. We do that before the echo of the noise that was made by multiplying the number of Government Departments has died away, increasing the cost and increasing the demands on the pockets of the taxpayers.
 The speeches made by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance were entirely unreal and to a great extent non-applicable to conditions in this country as they were or are. The whole foundation of those speeches was a false and dishonest one. It was based on the assumption, which we were to accept as a fact, that it was the diversion of our energies, etc., into war channels that led to the present very serious position. The present very serious position has arisen by the casual negligence of the gentlemen opposite to do business in a businesslike way for the past seven years. We are paying now, and paying dearly, for the bungling and incompetence of an administration that is stale and lazy and aged, and that should have been out of that long ago. They floated along through recent years by blaming everything on the war that we were not in, and that touched us only remotely. The war was just the Dáil cat that was blamed for every bit of mess on the carpet here; and the mess on the carpet here was every year costing more and more millions.
Now we have proposals before us to divert a number of millions of pounds into subsidising tea, flour, and sugar. Those millions of pounds are to be got by taxes on certain commodities—mainly, beer and spirits, tobacco and entertainment. In so far as the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance related their statements to the proposals, they linked them up with the cost of living index figure. It is not the index figure that has driven any housewife distracted. It is the actual cost of living of the household. There is no good in assuming that there are some items in the normal household weekly expenditure that are not as real as others. There is no good in jauntily coming in here and saying to the man who has got into a certain habit in life: “Oh, you can give up your pipe or your pint.” You might as well say to another fellow: “You can given up your bread, your tea or your meat.” There is not one of these things I have mentioned that is an essential of life. There are races of people as healthy as we are, that never see tea or eat meat.
Meat, tea, bread, tobacco and beer  are only just habits acquired; but there is no good in any one of us, Minister or anyone else, pretending or presuming that these habits have not been acquired and that they can be discarded like an old coat. I say this, and say it as a doctor—that if a person has got on in life and has been a moderate or moderately heavy smoker all his life, it is definitely more dangerous for him to give up tobacco than to give up bread or tea. If a person has been taking a certain amount of alcohol at more or less regular periods, each day for a great number of years, and has reached a certain point in life, it is not wise, in the interest of health or life, for him to discard that particular habit. Where the position is reached that the actual cost of living—whether the articles figure on the cost-of-living index or not—has broken the heart of the bravest man of moderate means, you are not facing up to that situation by subsidising one household article by taxing another household article. One is an ingredient in the make-up of an ordinary household just as much as the other. If you were to analyse things further and forget that any commodity, either fluid or solid, can be abused to excess, you find that more people go to their graves from excessive eating than from excessive drinking. It is no use for a Minister for Finance or Taoiseach to say, in a happy-go-lucky way: “Oh, if they do not want to pay these taxes, they can just cut out tobacco or beer.” Some people never touch them; other people do; but that is not facing up to the problem.
The fact of the matter is that if you tax tea, every household will buy as much tea as heretofore if they can possibly find the money, and all you have done is to put a new tax on the household. If you tax tobacco, before the Budget is a month old, the people will be smoking as much tobacco as a month ago and you have merely piled a new tax on their back. If you tax beer, after the first 48 hours of reaction the working man will take his pint next week as he did last week, and all you have done is to put on another revenue tax of 3d. a pint on that poor man.
My argument was that the cost of  these subsidies could be met without reducing or interfering with the efficiency of the State, by economies in Government services, reasonable economies by cutting out luxury and lavish expenditure and by having services of a size and extent commensurate with the wealth of the nation, with the size of the nation and with the amount of work to be done, services of reasonable proportions such as they were in the past.
So far I have referred to the presentation of the cases made by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance, namely, the case of trying to control or meet the increased cost-of-living index figure. Neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister for Finance ever mentioned the word dollar. Both of them went in very wide circles around the word dollar. The word dollar at the moment is associated in the public mind with Great Britain and with Great Britain's difficulties, and the Taoiseach certainly, and the Minister for Finance more certainly, could never be associated with Britain or with any of Britain's difficulties. Because of that political complication we got an entirely one-sided unfounded presentation of the case put up by the Taoiseach and by the Minister for Finance. Fortunately there was a third Minister who intervened in the debate and the third Minister is a man who has been facing difficulties and has in his own way been doing genuine work in a genuine way.
One of his characteristics is that he does not balk at difficulties and is occasionally particularly blunt and candid. What is the case that he made? Was it the same as the case made by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance? Very far from it. The Minister for Industry and Commerce came in here and told us that in fact this Budget was not so much to save money as to save dollars. He is a man who has been in discussion with the British Ministries across the way. Anyone can subscribe to the soundness of the proposals, in so far as half the proposals aimed at either saving dollars or securing dollars. He tells us that the tax on tobacco may yield nothing, but if it cuts the consumption  of tobacco that is all right and we are saving dollars, and likewise if people drink less whiskey or have to do without that outstanding article, which is most readily convertible to dollars. Why was it that only the accidental intervention late in the debate by the Minister for Industry and Commerce gave us the truth of the whole matter? Why this woolly evasiveness from the head of the Government? Why was not a written statement circulated giving us all the facts, whether pleasant or unpleasant? That would have been one step forward. The shiftiness of Government leadership is one of the greatest curses which this country suffers or has suffered for a very great number of years.
But there was one thing common to the three speeches and that was the throwing up of their hands in complete surrender in regard to the control of prices. We have absolute unanimity from the three speakers on three things: one, that they had failed and could not succeed in controlling prices; secondly, that they did not intend to control profits and, thirdly, that there would not be one penny of the extra money required for the subsidy found by Government economy. There were three things common to the three Ministerial statements.
I think it is nothing short of a disgrace, as we are facing a period of acute difficulty, of shortage of supplies, of pegging down wages, of pegging down salaries, that not one of them is prepared to say that in spite of what is being done, the cost of living will not continue to rise and that in that situation there should be economy in the Government and a determination, if prices cannot be controlled, that the person whose function it is to do it should go out and somebody else get in. Other countries have control of prices. This kind of talk from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that people in business and in certain lines of industry are not making an excessive profit or more profit than normally deceives nobody. None of us is living in a monastery; none of us is living that kind of cloistered existence; there is none of us that has not friends and relations in different lines of trade  and they make no secret of the profits in their particular line of goods, and then the Minister comes along and talks about the margins of profit in this country being lower than in England or than heretofore! If he believes what he is saying we must believe that every trader is able to put two fingers in his two eyes when they are discussing business. We are living on the same earth that he is and not one of the Deputies does not know that people in certain lines of business in this country who were comparatively poor at the outbreak of war are now the most opulent men in their counties to-day. The same thing is true in the counties and in the city. By common consent there has been a confession and an admission that they cannot control prices.
I remember well the day that we were asked from that very bench to give authority for that terrible mandate of pegging down wages and salaries. We gave it with doubt, with reluctance and with suspicion, but we were told that the only weapon they wanted in their hands in addition to what they had already got, in order to peg down prices, was the power to peg down wages and that if they got that power there would be no rise in prices. Has the Minister for Finance any recollection of this declaration, or any picture of how fraudulently these powers were operated and of the impossible position into which the country was marched? Now we are told in effect that prices cannot be controlled and will not be controlled and that we will have to face still further rises in prices, but that we may, possibly, be able to keep down prices somewhat nearer the present level if there is a further reintroduction of powers to pin down wages. We had this discussion related to costs. One would imagine, from hearing the Government spokesmen, that only two factors went to make up the price of any finished article—the cost of materials and the cost of labour. I have never heard any Government spokesman since the first day of the outbreak of war make any reference to the third factor—possibly, the biggest factor. I refer to the overhead charges on an industry or business which, of course, have to be borne by the consumer. We have had a lot of play made regarding  wages and the vicious spiral that follows on increased wages. We have had a play of words around the cost of raw materials. We have been told how, if raw materials are in short supply, the price shoots up. But there has never been any reference to the third and, in my opinion, the biggest factor—the overhead charges, represented by the weight of taxation and the weight of rates. In regard to price control, it may be true that you cannot control one of the three angles of that triangle —the cost of the raw material. If our raw material comes from outside, we cannot control the price. You just have to pay it if you want the article.
The second item is the cost of labour. You have controlled that very efficiently—no matter what the effect on the people—through your standstill Order. Was an attempt ever made to control the third item? Remember, in customs and excise duties alone, the Government is raking in £22,000,000 a year. This £22,000,000 a year represents taxes on the commodities that are bought by the public. When these commodities reach the public, they not only have to pay that sum of £22,000,000, added to the price, but they must pay the trader's profit on that sum of £22,000,000. Would it ever occur to the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, when exercising their brains as to the hopelessness of keeping down the price of commodities, that, at least, a contributory factor to the increased price of commodities is the excessively high weight of taxation on the individual business and the direct tax, by way of customs duty, on the individual item? Is there any evidence of determination on the part of Government to get out of the bad habit of easy spending, of extravagant and lavish expenditure? If I could see any evidence that the Government proposed to tighten its belt as well as that of the ordinary man in the street, that they were prepared to say that for every £ of the £4,000,000 they are extracting from the motor owner, the man who drinks alcohol, the smoker and the person who sells certain lines of property they were prepared to contribute another £ by way of Government economy and that next  April they would double the sum given for subsidies—for every £ of new taxation a £ would be saved in Government expenditure—then I would admit that there was real appreciation of the gravity of the position.
As regards the necessity for saving dollars and for converting our goods into dollars, was there any common sense in the expenditure of dollars which has taken place? We expended dollars by millions, in a two-handed way, as if dollars came down from the sky with every shower of rain. We got in every type of commodity, in exchange for dollars so lavishly misspent. You have only to walk around the streets, not only of Dublin but of any tiny village, to see filling every shop window, whether it is a grocery shop or a hardware shop or a post office, cornflakes, “tasties” and “cheerios”. Our dollars went for that kind of trashy American food and we diverted the people from a far more nourishing type of diet which was native to the country. We destroyed their taste for ordinary Irish stirabout or Irish gruel and gave them the taste of the cocktailer. We diverted them from their normal habits. That type of dollar expenditure was nothing short of criminal. I should like to be told the amount of dollars which went in that kind of nonsense and the amount of dollars spent on nylons and that type of goods. Now we are in the position that we are about to tax pipe-smoking in the hope that the pipe smoker will give it up so as to save a few dollars. A few dollars are to be saved now as against the millions we expended rashly and lavishly in the past 12 months.
I, for one, would urge on the Minister for Finance, if he is ever there again at Budget time, to take the House and the public fully into his confidence, to give all the facts related to the Budget and not to leave it to another Minister, at a later stage in the debate, to paint the real picture and give the full facts. If there is candour from the Government, if there is a frank and courageous facing up to difficulties and if a common effort by the Government and the people is necessary to surmount these difficulties, there will always be a ready response  from Dáil Eireann if appeal is made to it.
But we do not want this kind of cheap, wordy, clap-trap, with pious phrases about unity of effort and sacrifice, without interpreting into practice the meaning of unity of effort and sacrifice, the effort being by the taxpayer and the sacrifice being by the taxpayer, with no effort by the Government and no economy by the Government. So long as Bills are presented to the Dáil in that kind of unfrank, dishonest fashion, then I hope they will meet at all times the opposition they deserve.
Mr. Anthony: I desire to make just one or two comments on two or three items contained in the dossier presented to us last evening. I was pleased to hear the Minister say that, so far as he was aware, high wages had not tended to increase the cost of living in this country.
I was also pleased when he stated that he contemplated in the near future presenting us with a clearer indication of what is meant by the cost of living index figure. I think it will be agreed on all sides of the House that at no time when the cost of living index figure was published did it represent the real cost of living in this country. In it were included items such as expensive fur coats and ostrich feathers. So far as the ordinary working man and his wife are concerned the cost of living index figures were most illusive and confusing. The Minister for Industry and Commerce gave us a very rosy picture of some of the reasons for the world shortages and high prices. He went on to say that when the Budget statement made by the Minister for Finance became operative all the people in this country would be very happy—happier than at any time before during the reign of Fianna Fáil. The Minister for Finance told us in his Budget speech yesterday:
“The world might have recovered by now from this frightful legacy of war, two and a half years after the cease-fire, if it were not that large numbers of producers are still absorbed in armed forces and war factories....”
I am aware of the fact from the reading  of that passage that we do not require to maintain permanently a large army in this country as is the case in many countries on the continent of Europe, because of the fear of the materialisation of a great world war one of these days. I have had to ask myself a question with reference to the large numbers of producers who are still absorbed in our armed forces. I often wonder how many of the fine young fellows I see in the Army to-day would be better employed in agriculture or some other productive work than that of arms, instead of being a charge on the community and the taxpayers. I would commend that not alone to the Minister for Industry and Commerce but also to the Minister for DefenceIn this country we have a shortage of agricultural labour. We have also a shortage of labour in other branches of industry, yet we are maintaining a relatively large Army.
I should like to say a few words in regard to the extra taxation on whiskey, stout, ale, beer, wines, and so on. I wonder if the Minister realises what the impost of threepence on the “pint” means to the working man. I am afraid that a lot of the Ministers are living with their heads in the clouds. Anybody who has any contact with the working-class people of this country will realise that this tax will very probably also be felt by the mother and the children of the household. Of course it is all very fine for people who can afford it and who do not mind the extra 3d. However, does the Minister realise what goes on in licensed houses all over this country? The average man who used to have a couple of pints of stout at night will still go to his “local” to find that after two or three nights his ready pocket money is exhausted and as a result he will be a most disgruntled man for the rest of the week.
Some people may say that I am painting a highly imaginative picture, but the Minister will find out that I am painting it in its true colours if he makes inquiries. I know what I am talking about. I have been in clubs and in public houses all over the country for refreshment purposes when out shooting, fishing and hunting, and I therefore speak from experience. I suggest that the Minister is making a huge  mistake in imposing this tax. I have been told that the Fianna Fáil Party has taken a very plucky action and that they are risking a great deal when the general election takes place, but that the taxation is counter-balanced by the subsidy on bread, tea and sugar. I hold that all the reductions which will be brought about by the subsidies mean nothing but the taking of money out of one pocket to put it into another. I appeal to the Minister to revise this portion of the Budget and not to tax the poor man. The rich man, and for that matter every Deputy in this House, can afford to pay the increase, even if 6d. or 1s. were added on. My plea is for the poor man. I represent a huge section of the working-class people in the City of Cork and I know what their reaction to this impost will be. Our attention is called to the tax on imported wines, cocktails and so on. I take off my hat to the Minister for these taxes which I feel will have some reaction on the lounge bars and the cocktail bars which are springing up all over the country and which I believe to be one of the worst aspects of the licensed trade.
Again I appeal to the Minister to consider carefully the question of 3d. extra on the poor man's pint of stout, because when all is said and done it is not a luxury but a necessity in his case. I heard a strict teetotaller say in this House that he never realised the value of a pint of stout until the time his employees went on strike. The man I am speaking of was a member of this House for many years. He said that when he had to cart his butter from the factory to the waiting lorry he realised what a pint of beer or of stout meant to a man engaged on hard manual labour. He told me that he believed nothing is more acceptable to the tired and toil-worn man than a “pint” after a hard day's work. If the Minister does not reconsider this matter I think he is doing a very bad day's work and for that reason I will repeat myself by urging him to consider the poor man.
Mr. Davin: One of the reasons for the introduction of this by-election  Budget is, obviously, the intention of the Minister to collect a sum of approximately £5,000,000 so that he may help to bring us back to the cost-of living level which prevailed until about five months ago. That £5,000,000, when collected by the Minister for Finance, will be passed back to the population by way of a reduction in the tax on bread, tea and sugar, which means, as far as I can see, about 6d. or 7d. per head of the population per week. I do not know whether that is going to cause any great enthusiasm in the homes of the people when they come to realise eventually that that is the meaning of this by-election Budget. Another reason, and perhaps the principal reason, for the introduction of this Budget is the intention of the Government, which once called itself a workers' Government—I think it was the Minister for Industry and Commerce who gave it that title—to prevent the workers and the wage earners generally from getting by way of increases in their rates of remuneration something to compensate them for the further increase in the cost of living.
We were told by the Taoiseach in his opening statement that failing agreement between the representatives of the trade unions representing the organised workers of the country and the Government on that very important matter legislation would be introduced, presumably through the Minister for Industry and Commerce, presumably for the purpose of providing a scheme of compulsory arbitration or, perhaps, in other ways, for legalising the decisions of the Labour Court.
The Taoiseach, certainly, was quite candid and the Minister for Industry and Commerce to-day confirmed his statement when he said that no guarantee could be given or was being given to control either prices or profits. We know from the experience of the emergency period that the Government will not fail to control wages. Although they gave undertakings at the commencement of the emergency period to control prices and profits, they failed miserably to carry out that undertaking. They find themselves faced with the legacy of that policy to-day. The Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and  the Minister for Industry and Commerce between them make out that they cannot effectively control the cost or price of certain commodities. Nobody knows better than the Minister for Industry and Commerce the profiteering and racketeering that have been going on in connection with the retail drapery trade.
I speak with a limited knowledge of the operations of clothing manufacturing concerns and I will admit, from that limited knowledge, that there is nothing in the shape of excessive prices being charged. But here is what I find, and I know what I am speaking about and the Minister for Industry and Commerce knows it better than I do and can get evidence of it if he wants it: Take the case of a clothing factory where the people concerned had to find the capital from private subscriptions, had to purchase a site to build a factory, had to purchase the raw materials, had to pay wages and incur the other overhead charges to which Deputy O'Higgins has referred. The cloth manufactured by that concern is put into a hamper or bale and when taken out of that hamper or bale in a drapery shop in this city— I know it—the price per yard of the cloth is immediately marked up 100 per cent. Does the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Industry and Commerce deny that? If they deny it, let them check it and they will find evidence to prove it.
What right has any drapery concern in this city or in any other town to mark up the price 100 per cent. per yard for a suit length simply for taking it out of a hamper and putting it into a window? In addition to the profit they derive in that way, they make a profit on the making up of the suit. Yet I am told there is no profiteering going on in the drapery business. Deputy McGilligan quoted here last night the returns of five drapery firms in this city who, in 1938, distributed £6,000 between them. In 1945 that figure had mounted to £82,000 after they had paid other charges by way of taxation. In the case of one of these drapery firms—and I know what I am talking about and there is evidence in the public Press to prove it, if the  Minister wants to check it—the firm was in such a bad state in pre-war days that the shares had dropped to 1/6 for the ordinary £1 shares. These shares are being sold on the Dublin Stock Exchange to-day for 18/-. And there is no profiteering going on there.
Mr. Davin: I read a circular issued by prominent manufacturers and retailers in this city on behalf of Fianna Fáil in the last general election. Some of them were known to me not to be political supporters in the past of the Fianna Fáil Government but they are leading industrialists, they are leading retailers in this city and they sent out an ad misericordiam appeal for funds to fight the general election for the Fianna Fáil Party. I can easily and readily understand why it is so difficult for the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his colleagues to offend these people by even pretending to exercise effective control over the price of the commodities sold by these people.
We are told there is no profiteering in vegetables. The Taoiseach said yesterday—of course it may be true; it is very hard to challenge anything he says because, politically, he is infallible— that the cost of vegetables had not been controlled in any country in the world as far as he was aware. Is it not a fact that in the bad weather in the early part of this year cabbage was sold in the city and suburbs at 1/5 and 1/6 per head? I was reliably informed by a well-known County Dublin farmer, who is a member of the Oireachtas, that the farmer was not getting more than 3d. or 4d. Where was the balance going? Why was it that the ordinary citizens who were able to buy cabbage were allowed to be fleeced in that way? I say that the middleman who got the difference between 4d. and 1/6, not alone should be brought before a court and fined, but should be put in jail.
Take the price of fuel, turf in particular. Is there anybody in this House who knows the conditions under which turf is being produced by private producers in the turf-cutting counties who will not admit that the average price paid to the private producer is not more than 25/- per ton? There is 25/- per ton for the private producer, another 25/- for the man who puts it into a lorry at the end of the bog road and brings it to Dublin, another 15/- for those engaged in clamping it, and another 25/- for the poor distributors in the city, who take it from the dump and sell it to the people, bringing the total charges of overheads, according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to about £5 per ton. Is there anything in this Budget or was there anything in the previous Budget to rectify that state of affairs? One-fourth of the economic price of turf is going to the producer and the rest to those engaged in the racket and nothing can be done about it.
That is why the economy of this country is upside down. If anything can be done, and if the Minister for Finance and his colleagues are prepared to do anything, even now, to rectify that state of affairs, they will get the support of all those who understand where this kind of economy is leading the country—to a headlong clash for inflation.
Of course, there is only one form of inflation known to the Minister for Finance, and that is, the inflation which is supposed to be caused by an increase in the wages of workers. These increases have been properly demanded to compensate them for the increase in the cost of living. The Taoiseach told us, in regard to this new scheme for which he is asking our approval, that, failing agreement between the leaders of the trades unions in the country and the Government, wages will be pegged down to the figure at which they stood yesterday. I want sincerely to ask the Minister for Finance if he realises that we have in the country  large sections of unorganised workers who have not got even a 20 per cent. increase on their pre-war wages? If he does not know that, I do, and it is a damn shame that workers, married men in our provincial towns, should only be able to extract from so-called Christian employers the miserable increase of 5/- or 6/- a week on their pre-war wage of £2 per week. Are their wages going to be pegged down simply because they have not anybody to stand up and fight for them, as they would have if they belonged to a trade union organisation?
In any case, if wages are going to be pegged down to the figure at which they stood yesterday, will the members of the Government, who increased their own salaries of £1,700 per year, and the salaries of judges, who have £3,000 and £4,000 per year, by 25 per cent. and 30 per cent.—increases of £10 and £11 per week to Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and to judges—say what is going to be the position of the ordinary workers in our provincial towns who have no trade union organisation? They are in the position that they have only got an increase of 5/or 6/- per week on top of their prewages are going to be pegged down, the members of the Government should not peg them at a lower figure than that which they gave to themselves. If they do, they should be ashamed to defend such a policy before the country, in view of the fact that they have described themselves as a so-called workers' Government.
As I have said, the main cause of inflation and, incidentally, the real reason for the introduction of this Supplementary Budget and the penal clauses contained in it, together with the threats made by the Taoiseach that he is going to do so-and-so to the workers of this country if their leaders do not agree with him and his policy, is the re-conquest of the country by the people who left it in 1922, 1932 and 1939. When I was working in Dún Laoghaire I saw those people go out in 1922. A certain percentage of them would not remain here because we had got a limited measure of freedom. In 1932 another batch went out because they did not like the people of this  country for having elected a de Valera or a Fianna Fáil government, and, so far as I know, the last batch left in 1939 because they could not agree with our whole people on a policy of neutrality.
Within the last two years a Labour Government came into power in Great Britain. When it introduced measures imposing higher death duties these big fellows, including millionaires, began to come back here. They have been coming not with one but with several furniture vans and with their pockets bulging with currency notes which we have to honour at our Central Bank. That is what is causing inflation here. When houses are put up for sale, whether in this city, its suburbs or in the country these people are bidding for them at ridiculously high prices. They have unlimited money at their disposal to buy food and everything else that they require. They are in a position to bid against a man who produces real wealth here. That is the real cause of inflation.
Deputy McGilligan gave convincing evidence to prove that those people, with their big furniture vans, have been bringing money into the country at the rate of £30,000,000 per year. How can the ordinary working man buy bacon or eggs against them? I have been told here more than once by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that there has been no increase in the butter or bacon ration, or in the quantity of eggs supplied to the hotels. Does anyone think that these people are eating dry bread in the hotels? They are occupying hotels not only in the City of Dublin and its suburbs but in every part of the country and they are getting bacon and eggs and butter because they have the British currency notes, which we must honour, to pay for this food. Our own people have not the money to buy it. If the Government allow that situation to continue much longer, then the speeches of the Taoiseach and of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and of the Minister for Finance will not save us from a worse fate than that which we are facing at the moment. We have this re-conquest of the country going on, but these millionaires will never produce  anything here. They are occupying our hotels and consuming our food, but they will not help to produce any.
We see, on the other side of the picture, the best young men and women in the country leaving our ports on passenger ships at the rate of thousands per week, and leaving our farmers who are the real producers of wealth without the necessary labour to guarantee that increased production which the Government is demanding from them and which they are willing to provide for the Government and the people in order to save the country if these young people can be induced to remain at home. All that these young people demand is that they should be given a decent livelihood at home and be provided with the necessaries of life in the shape of food, clothing and shelter. I have never encouraged any young man or woman to leave the country to get what they believe to be a better living in a neighbouring nation. They did not know what they were up against until they got there. I have an intimate knowledge of many of them, and I have been amazed to find that thousands of them who come back here after working hard for six or 12 months in a country where they have to maintain themselves on a low food ration are delighted to return there again after spending a week or two at home. I suppose the explanation is that they will be able to earn more in the shape of wages and be in a position to send home something to their relatives. They are able to make more money than if they stayed here producing wealth for the people of this country. After paying for their lodings and meeting their other expenses in Great Britain, they are able to send home more money per week than they would get from employers here producing wealth for the country. I think it is up to the Government and to every section in this House to try and rectify that situation by inducing those young people to stay here instead of going elsewhere.
What does this Budget do for the primary producers, for the people who are supposed to help to increase production? Nothing as far as I know. Everybody knows the present position of the tillage farmers who have been growing wheat and beet in answer to  the call made to them by the Government. I am not going to blame the Government for the climatic conditions which prevailed in the spring of this year, but every one is aware that, due to those conditions, there has been a serious fall in the yield from the wheat crop of this year. I want to ask the Minister for Education who represents a rural constituency which is quite convenient to my own, a constituency where the farmers have always tilled their land without any compulsory regulations, if there is not something due to the producers in this critical year in order to compensate them for the alarmingly low yield in the cereal crops? They are going to get a few shillings but like everybody else the few shillings will be put into one pocket and will be taken out on the double from the other pocket.
So far the Government have not given any sensible explanation as to what is the real reason for the shortage of butter, bacon, eggs and milk. At the moment milk, which is an essential commodity, is in short supply in our provincial towns. Our farmers are sensible people and know when they are making money. I have no doubt that if they were offered a profitable price they would help to increase the production of this essential commodity. I believe they would immediately do so as a good business proposition. Will the Government even tell us at this late date what they propose to do to offer inducements to farmers to help to increase the production of those essential commodities which can only now be got by those people coming over here with British currency notes to an unlimited amount in their pockets?
This threat of the Taoiseach to introduce legislation presumably to provide for the establishment of compulsory arbitration or to legalise the operations or activities of the Labour Court is supposed to be due to the extraordinary number of strikes and the inconvenience caused to the public in recent times. As Deputy Larkin pointed out, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce admitted some time ago by the figures which he gave, the number of strikes, I am glad to say,  has been very small. It is quite true that a certain amount of inconvenience may be caused by some strikes and that the wrong people may be blamed on some occasions. We had the Taoiseach last week working himself into a most excited state in connection with the bank dispute. Of course, he said all he knew about the bank dispute was what he read in the newspapers. That was an amazing statement coming from the head of the Government which had made an Order to close the banks for five days. In any case, he pleaded ignorance of the real history of that dispute.
Briefly, the position is that the Bank Officials' Association, which does not describe itself as a trade union and has no connection whatever with the trade union movement generally, brought certain grievances under the notice of the Labour Court. With other colleagues of mine and almost every Deputy, I subscribed to the establishment of the Labour Court because I believed at the time, and I still believe, that, if given a fair chance, it is the common-sense way of trying to solve the differences or disputes between employers and workers. I say that they got a bad start in fairly difficult circumstances. I want it to be clearly understood that I am not claiming—far from it—that the members of the Labour Court are infallible and cannot do wrong.
As a matter of fact I believe that they were very unwise in connection with the bank dispute when they suggested, or recommended if you like, that certain employees of the banks should not be in the Bank Officials' Association. In my opinion, that was an unwarranted interference with the constitutional rights of those working in the banks; and the members of the Labour Court responsible for the recommendation to split up or smash up that organisation far exceeded the powers given to them, so far as I understood the powers given when the Act was passed.
What happened in connection with that dispute? Lord Glenavy, who is the lord almighty in banking circles in this country, endeavoured to see the Minister for Finance on the Friday night before the dispute came to a head. The Minister could not see him.
 The following day the Minister saw him and two colleagues. Lord Glenavy and his colleagues produced a litany of offences, of which the bank officials were supposed to be guilty. What did the Minister do? Instead of sending for the representatives of the Bank Officials' Association to find out whether the charges were correct or not, he made a closing Order without hearing the other side of the case. According to what the Taoiseach said to me on Thursday night last, he knew no more himself about the matter, although he was the head of the Government responsible for making the closing Order I never heard of such a mess being made of anything as was made of this dispute by the Minister for Finance and the Government. There is no use in their coming to this House to ask for penal legislation or threatening it because the bank officials were supposed to be the cause of a good deal of disturbance to business people in the country last week. The bank directors went on strike and the Government backed them. Now they are threatening legislation to prevent a recurrence of that. I hope they will deal in a more sensible way with bodies of organised workers whenever a dispute of that kind arises again.
I am 41 years a member of a trade union and I was involved in three or four strikes, two of them for political purposes, one for the recognition of a union, and another in connection with a trade union dispute of a national nature. During my 41 years' membership of a trade union—and I had responsibility for a fairly long period when trade unions were not as strong as they are to-day—I do not believe that I ever met a trade union leader who advocated a strike just for the sake of a strike. Any strikes which took place in connection with well-organised and well-conducted trade unions took place as a result of the free vote of the members after having heard the case for and against the issue that was the cause of the dispute. If you inquire into the background of these cases you will find that there is always something at the back of a dispute involving a large number of workers which is not explained to the public.
 Of course, whenever the men on strike give out an explanation, for some reason or other unknown to me the newspapers will not give it publicity. Of course, bank directors, the heads of Córas Iompair Éireann and other big concerns in the country have money to do their publicity work. Of course, in a lot of those cases they are shareholders in the principal newspapers that circulate in the country. In any case, the whole story behind the dispute that leads to a strike is not always told and does not get to the public. These strikes are not brought about for the sake of having strikes.
We heard the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Taoiseach in this House at the end of the emergency pay a tribute to the workers of the country for the disciplined manner in which they acted during the whole period of the emergency, notwithstanding the provocation given to them by the standstill Order on wages and without anything being done to try to control prices. Unless the Minister for Finance and his colleagues make a determined attempt to control the price of essential commodities, there will be more trouble waiting for them, no matter what threats they may make.
So far as the details of this Budget are concerned, the attitude of this group has been explained already by Deputies Norton and Larkin. If the relief provided for by the Minister for Finance by way of reduction in the price of bread, tea and sugar finds its way back to the average householder and the individual citizen, well and good. But I appeal to the Minister particularly on the point of pegging down wages to the figure at which they stood yesterday to realise when he is doing that he is penalising a large section of workers, mostly those unorganised workers who have not got anything like a 25 per cent. increase, the same as has been given to Ministers and other highly placed people in the service of the State. If he thinks a good case has been made for giving 25 or 30 per cent. increase to himself and his colleagues and other highly placed State servants, then he should be careful about pegging down the wages of that section of workers who have not got the same increase to compensate  them for the increased cost of living as he and his colleagues and other highly placed officials have got.
Mr. Childers: I listened to Deputy O'Higgins' vituperation and misrepresentation and wondered whether it was necessary or desirable to make some criticism of what he had to say. I came to the conclusion that as the matter was of very great seriousness it was just as well to take up some of his statements and reply to them. The first statement he made was to the effect that there was some secret motive underlying the fact that the Minister for Industry and Commerce gave an indication that there was a second reason for the way in which taxation was imposed to pay for subsidies.
I see nothing sinister in the three Ministers sharing the task of explaining to the people of this country complicated matters in relation to international trade and in relation to prices here. Deputy O'Higgins misinterpreted the Minister for Industry and Commerce when he implied that his explanation of the taxation was different from that of the Taoiseach because he, the Minister, was more prepared to discuss our relations with England than the Taoiseach. Such a statement is obviously ludicrous. The Minister for Industry and. Commerce stated quite clearly that those who were willing to pay increased prices for spirits, tobacco and beer would be making a contribution, in relation to less essential articles, to provide subsidies for more essential articles and that those who refrained from buying as much beer, tobacco and wines as before would be helping us in regard to the dollar situation. The two statements are not contradictory. They are entirely consistent and they relate to the present internal situation and the present external situation.
Another statement Deputy O'Higgins made was to the effect that the Taoiseach showed the greatest hypocrisy in implying that this country was affected by conditions arising out of the use of armed forces in Europe. I imagine that most of the Irish people  will have sufficient intelligence to laugh at Deputy O'Higgin's observations, but it might be well to explain to Deputies in the Opposition, who do not seem to understand the facts, that we have been affected by the war in this country, that the existence of every soldier who still is a member of the occupation forces in Europe, results in a loss of world production and a loss of world production results in higher prices. The world price structure at this moment is cracking because of the failure of nations to increase their production, and the presence of these occupation forces in Europe represents the loss of so many potential producers. Every soldier occupying some territory in Europe is a bar to our prosperity in some degree. That is what the Taoiseach intended to state and he had no intention of giving the impression, that the existence of our Army had some serious effect on the inflationary position here.
Deputy O'Higgins also spoke of the casual reckless negligence of the Government both during and after the war in relation to our national economy. I suppose this is not the moment to dwell on the past but I think the negligence of Fine Gael both in regard to industrialisation, housing, the settlement of constitutional matters and general national policy, makes it very difficult for any member of that Party to accuse us of casual negligence. The facts are that unlike most other countries we are tackling the question of inflation when inflation is beginning.
Mr. Childers: It has not reached its maximum. The figures given by the Central Bank both in relation to the volume of money in circulation and production show that inflation has not reached a danger point but that a point has been reached now at which the situation must be tackled and dealt with courageously. That is what the Government is now doing. In connection with this debate, a number of speakers have advocated an examination of the real facts of the situation. I think some of the facts given in the statement of the Minister for Finance should be repeated before any other Deputies deal with the question of  inflation and the rise in prices. In between August, 1946, and August, 1947, the cost of living increased by 10 per cent. 70 per cent. of the increase was due to an increase in the price of foodstuffs such as butter, tea, sugar, potatoes, etc., 9.7 of the increase was due to tobacco. We are talking now about the ordinary commodities bought by the housewives of this country—beef, mutton, eggs, etc. Potatoes went up 7¼d. per stone, butter by 4d. a lb., milk by 1d. per pint, eggs by ½d. each and beef by 6½d. per lb. In the face of all that, whatever profiteering might or might not exist in this country, it is absurd to try to confuse the people of the country by confronting them with thousands of phantom profiteers standing in every street who are supposed to be largely responsible for the increases in prices that have taken place.
I am not arguing for the moment whether or not there has been excessive profiteering but it is quite obvious, even if there had been profiteering in certain commodities, that the main cause for the increase in the cost of living relates, as the Minister said, to the price of agricultural produce and it might relate in future to an undesirable increase in wages, although up to date that has not been an element of ultimate importance.
Again dealing with the question of the relation between profiteering and the present situation, we all know that since 1939 the cost of practically all commodities has gone up on a more or less equal basis. Food has gone up by 90 per cent., clothing by 96 per cent., fuel and lighting by 75 per cent., and sundry articles by 87 per cent. There has been an all-round increase in the cost of commodities. For that we have to pay. In England, under a Labour Government, with its intensive bureaucratic control, wholesale prices went up some 11 per cent. in 12 months. They went up 11½ per cent. here. That would suggest that if there was an army of new profiteers here, there appeared to be an equal number of such profiteers in England, in circumstances in which there was a greater control and regimentation of industry than there is here. In fact these comparative figures show more or less definitely that whatever  has happened in the last 12 months, if there was profiteering before, profiteering is probably at the same level now. There can be no suggestion that profiteering has suddenly grown to monstrous dimensions.
Mr. Childers: In dealing with the question of profiteering, I think we should be frank about the matter. After every war and in every country, there arises a class who might be described as the new rich. They are a curse to the worker to the extent that they increase prices. They are a curse to their fellow-employers who are decent men and who desire to maintain as reasonable prices as possible, believing that in the long run it is good for their business interests, but there has never been a case in which it has been possible to siphon off all the excessive profits made by such people in war time. In every country, after every war, there arose this class of the new rich. All any Government can do is to limit their activities to the greatest degree possible, to see to it in relation to a number of ordinary commodities sold to the public, and essential to life, that there is strict control so that the activities of these gentlemen can be limited in that regard. One of the reasons, it is quite obvious, why there is a certain increase in the number of rich people is the fact that when commodities held in reserve increase in price there is almost no way by which any Government can completely siphon off the extra profit derived from that increase in price. It may well be said that when a certain type of business man takes a speculative risk in buying commodities at a time when he is not at all sure that he may be able to dispose of them at a profit, he is entitled to a fair profit in disposing of them.
The fact remains that not only rich people but even people moderately well off in this country who accumulated reserves or stocks of various kinds, when prices went up, inevitably were able to make a profit, and, whatever any Government can do, it cannot eliminate entirely a profit of that kind. The fact is that the Government have made price Orders in respect of most  of the commodities which are of importance to the people. Processed foods, as everybody in the House knows, are subject to price Orders. If people are of the opinion that these price Orders are wrong or that they are deficient, they should make complaint to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and should suggest that he should review the examination of the accounts of the firms manufacturing these products and the firms wholesaling or retailing them.
With regard to clothing, as the House knows, the profit rates have been reduced twice during the war. I am perfectly willing to admit that the price of clothing for children seems enormous at present and I have every sympathy with the mothers who have to clothe children, but the actual fact is that nobody has proposed a better method of controlling the price of clothing than the one which at the moment seems to be the only practical device, namely, that of controlling the relative wholesale and retail profit margins, and the Minister has already stated in the Dáil that the actual percentage rates of profit here are lower than those obtaining in England under a Labour Government.
Nobody here has yet referred to one very important element in price control, that is, public co-operation. Some Deputy referred to the fact that vegetables were sold at excessive prices during the period of bad weather in the early part of this year, and he suggested that the Government should have done something very dramatic about it. The people who suggest that the Government should make a greater effort than is being made to enforce price Orders also deplore the number of civil servants in the country. There is no possible way by which the Government price Orders can be checked either in regard to their accuracy or their application, except by the public co-operating with the Government and giving information when desired. The people of this country, owing to our historical tradition, do not like giving information to Government Departments with regard to black-marketing and profiteering but the fact is that certain persons, well known to people in  this House, were prosecuted for black-marketing and received the utmost sympathy from the community around them.
We have never made use, in the same way as other people with a longer record of independence, of the price control machinery to give information to the Minister and if there are black sheep among the employing community, among the retail community, it is doubly difficult for the Government to obtain the necessary evidence for prosecution purposes. Every Deputy must be as well aware as I of the efforts made by the number of inspectors who can reasonably be afforded by the Department to try to bring prosecutions against black-marketeers. They must be aware of the difficulty they had in obtaining information, and of the fact that some of them had to pretend to be relatives of people living in a nearby village when they walked into a shop and asked for certain black-market goods, were offered the black-market goods at excessive prices and then showed their identification papers and proceeded to prosecute. It is quite obvious that the number of inspectors who could be used in that regard is limited by the fact that we have a large administration already and we cannot increase it so as to have one inspector for every 100 or 200 shops. Therefore the public should be asked to give more information with regard to such profiteering as exists.
Whether or not a considerable amount of profiteering exists with regard to processed foods, clothing or the items which go to make the balance of the commodities which effect an increase in the cost-of-living index and which amount to something over 20 per cent., according to the Minister's figures, of the total commodities effecting a rise in the cost of living, it cannot materially affect the present situation which relates to the price of foodstuffs and to a world situation in which prices have enormously increased.
I should like to refer in greater detail to the comparative rise in the cost of living here and in other countries. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has given figures in that regard, but I think the House will be interested to hear how we stand compared with other  countries. In the United Nations Statistical Bulletin of June, 1947, the cost-of-living indices are analysed and the cost-of-living index in every country is reduced to the figure of 100 for 1937, figures are calculated for succeeding years during which the cost of living rose, and finally the figure for the first quarter of 1947, or for April, 1947, in some cases, is given. The following results emerge from an examination of these figures. There are seven countries in the world out of 50 which provided statistics, and out of a total of some 70 States, in which the cost of living showed an increase from 1937 to 1947 of from 30 to 50 per cent.; three countries in which there was an increase in the cost-of-living index of from 50 to 60 per cent.; and seven countries in which there was an increase of from 60 to 75 per cent. Amongst these comes our own.
Mr. Childers: New Zealand is among the countries in which there was an increase of up to 50 per cent. There are three countries in which the increase was from 75 to 100 per cent.; 17 countries in which the increase was from 100 to 300; and no less than 13 in which the increase was 300 per cent. and over. We are about 17th out of 50 nations registered with the United Nations statistical service and 17th out of 70 nations in all. I would not like to exchange our position for some of the countries where the cost of living has gone up less than ours.
There are many factors which have to be taken into account in some of these countries. In the United Kingdom, the subsidies on food are enormously greater than ours, even after we pass this legislation. In England, where the cost of living is reckoned to have gone up by 32 per cent., the subsidies amount to between £7 and £8  per head of the population. One of the countries which has an apparently very small increase is Germany, and there it is quite obvious that the increase is calculated on the basis of whatever the controlled prices are, subject to military occupation, and have no bearing on the economic state of the German people. There are other countries such as Palestine with which I do not think we need compare ourselves and there are other countries in that list in which a certain number of commodities are black-marketed and sold on the shelves of every shop at prices above the Government controlled prices and which are not reckoned for the purpose of the cost-of-living index. The figures to me show that we have nothing to be ashamed of. We are not in the very last category—we are in the second category— and the figures reflect credit and not discredit on the Government and are a tribute to the efforts made by the Department to control prices during and since the emergency.
We have had a number of references in relation to the effect of the tourist industry upon the economy of the country and also the effect of persons coming in here to buy estates. I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce has already indicated that the national income arising from tourist activity and the national income in relation to the sale of property could not have any ultimate effect upon our present cost of living. They may have a certain marginal effect, but they cannot enter into it in so large a way as the main factor, which is the increase in the cost of agricultural commodities.
I do not want to occupy the time of the House much longer because I am aware that a number of other speakers desire to intervene before the Minister for Finance rises, but I would like to conclude by once more reminding members of the House that we are dealing with realities in which we are one of 70 States trying to grapple with an inflationary situation for which we are not largely responsible and the Government will need the co-operation of all Parties and of all the people in the country in order that we may come through a most difficult period. The  members of the Government have constantly warned the people that there might be more economic difficulties subsequent to the war than during the war. I at all times in my constituency informed everybody that we might go through the most difficult economic period some four years after the war. I remembered the situation in 1918 and I remembered the situation in 1920 when the cost of living had gone up by 40 per cent. in two years instead of the 10 per cent. that it has gone up in this country at the moment and I realise that, no matter what efforts are made by the Government, all we can do is to hold the lid down on the boiling kettle and in doing that we shall need the co-operation of everyone.
Mr. Morrissey: I am sure other members of the House are, like myself, deeply grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for clarifying the position for us. He said the Government had warned the people on many occasions during and since the war that great economic difficulties and dangers would face the country. May I remind the Parliamentary Secretary and his colleagues in the Government that before the fall of France three members from the front bench of this Party waited on the head of the Government and tried to convince him that the economic dangers and difficulties which would arise during and after the war would be a greater menace to this country than any military danger that could arise? That warning, given right at the beginning of the war, was brushed aside by the Government and the leaders of this Party were told they were talking nonsense. Now a junior member of the Government that brushed those leaders aside at a time when something could have been done, claims credit for that warning.
The Parliamentary Secretary made two profound statements, one of which indicates clearly what the people who form the Government know about existing conditions in this country, not to speak about countries at the other end of the earth. What does the Parliamentary Secretary tell us? The Government are tackling inflation here at the beginning. Is there any sane  human being in this State to-day, outside the ranks of Fianna Fáil, who believes that inflation in this country is now only beginning? If that is evidence of the Parliamentary Secretary's grasp of the economic situation here, then I am not surprised we got the dual performance that we had yesterday from the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance. Then he tells us that it reflects credit on this Government that we in this State were not involved in six years of war and that we are not now in the lowest category. Why are we in the second category? I want to know why we should not be in the first, and why we should not be first in the first, where we would be if we were not blessed with the gentlemen opposite.
As is customary when the Taoiseach has to perform, an atmosphere was worked up for the past week. We were told that the Taoiseach was to deliver a statement of the utmost national importance in Dáil Éireann on Wednesday. He came here and he delivered that statement. He told us that the economic and financial position of this country was dangerous. I do not think he used the word “alarming”, but he certainly tried, and his colleague also tried, to convey that impression. And this national Government, with 15 years' experience behind them, after telling us that there is a grave national situation and that the dangers ahead are perhaps if anything greater than what we had to face during the war years, proceed to show us the remedy.
What is the remedy? A Supplementary Budget, and we are told of the reliefs that will be given to reduce the cost of living. This Supplementary Budget aims at reducing the cost-of-living figure, not the cost of living. What I am about to say I would like to hear challenged, either inside or outside the House. This Budget may reduce the cost-of-living figure on paper, but it will increase the cost of living. It may reduce the cost of living for the Taoiseach, because he is a person who does not drink or smoke or go to the pictures and he will not have to pay any tax on his motor car. But, thanks be to God for it, 95 or 98 per cent. of our people are normal, average people and most of them take a drink and a smoke and most of them go to the pictures.
Mr. Morrissey: The Deputy may draw any conclusion he likes, but I will tell him certain things and I would like the financial expert on the other side to challenge my statements if he can. I will tell the House what the reliefs mean to any average person in this State. The people do not know all the blessings that will be poured upon them. The reliefs are spread over three items, bread, sugar and tea. Fortunately the three of them are rationed and we know what each citizen is entitled to—6 lbs. of bread, 2 ozs. of tea and ¾ lb. of sugar per week. Let us measure the fullness of this blessed relief that the unfortunate taxpayer will get and to what extent the cost of living will be reduced. With 1½d. off the 4 lb. loaf, that means 2¼d. on 6 lbs. of bread. Each person is entitled to 2 ozs. of tea. There is a reduction of 2/2 in the lb. One-eighth of 2/2 is 3¼d. You are entitled to ¾ lb. of sugar and a reduction of 2d. in the lb. is a 1¼d. on that. Tot it up and what do you find? This relief, this blessing, this gesture of Fianna Fáil to settle this dangerous situation, is equivalent to one penny per person per day. This is the Budget that is going to reduce the cost of living.
I am not dealing with persons who live the austere life of the Taoiseach: I am dealing with the ordinary average person. If the ordinary average person takes two pints and buys a packet of woodbines in the week, he will lose a penny on the transaction under this Budget.
Mr. D. Morrissey: If so, the Minister will be a very disappointed man. Like the Minister and the Taoiseach, the Parliamentary Secretary would have us believe that there is no difference between this country and any other but that we are better off. He compares the percentage increase in Britain— under the Labour Government, as he emphasised—during the past 12 months  and the increase in the cost of living here; but he took jolly good care that he did not compare the relative increases in the two countries over the past two years. There is a serious situation here, perhaps more serious than even the Government opposite realise, but it does not arise out of what has happened in the last two years. It is not due entirely to what has happened in the last seven years; it has its roots farther back.
Deputies and people outside this House will have to be reminded that they were told where they were heading and where this Government was leading them. They were told not once but twenty times over, and they were told in this House and at every crossroads; but they allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by the sleek gentlemen on the opposite side. The people in this country and in this city were told in 1943 what it would mean to give a monopoly of the transport to one body; but they did not heed us and they are suffering for it to-day. People were told of the rackets that were going on and the rackets that were not only being looked at through blinkers by the Government but in some cases were being fostered by the Government and so made possible, rackets that are still going on. “Facing up to the cost of living”—this Budget is sheer humbug, sheer hypocrisy and it is meant for nothing more. It is just financial and economic juggling to fool the people. I wonder if they will be fooled for all time. “Bring down the cost of living”—and we are going to bring down the cost of living by increasing taxation by about £6,000,000.
Deputy O'Higgins, in the course of his speech, asked Deputies and people outside to ask themselves what is the biggest and most significant factor in the whole question of the cost of living in this country. Even before these resolutions were passed, it was costing over £80,000,000 in national and local taxation, to run this little country with a shrinking population—£80,000,000 for less than 3,000,000 human beings. Where does the £80,000,000 come from? Has that no bearing on the cost of living? How much per head of the population is that? Has not every halfpenny of that £80,000,000 to be paid  by this community in this State of ours? When will this House and this country become alive to the humbug that is going on? When will they realise that this country is cursed with probably the most incompetent Government on the face of the earth to-day— and that is saying something? We knew that they were incompetent when they came in, but one hoped they would learn. One could understand men walking for the first time into Ministerial office and one could appreciate that it would take time for them to get a knowledge of Ministerial functions, of administration and of executive work. But when you find that, instead of improving over a period of 15 years, if anything they are getting worse, what is to be done?
This country is in danger. The most effective step that can be taken towards its security is to get rid of the people who are responsible—in the main, if not entirely—for that dangerous situation. The Minister smiles. I do not want to go back into the past, although, since the Parliamentary Secretary tried to compare the achievements of the two Governments this country has had, one is tempted to do that. They must have a far different opinion of the achievements of their predecessors now than they had some years ago, seeing that they are working and striving so hard to get back to the position where W.T. Cosgrave left off.
We do not hear anybody saying now, particularly the Minister for Finance, that we will get so fat eating our own produce that we will have to widen the doorways. We do not hear from anyone now that “the market has gone and gone forever, thank God.” Nobody accused the Minister or his colleagues or the Taoiseach when they did at last a sensible thing that we have been appealing to them for years to do— only unfortunately, like everything else they do, it is years too late. No one accused them of going across to sell the cow or said they were traitors. No one has any desire to say that nor would it be true to say it. They were going across to do what they should have gone across to do years ago; and as far as we are concerned we have only one  hope and one desire—that whenever the result of these negotiations is made clear to this country, it will be evident that our Ministers have emerged from them with the best end of the bargain for this country. That is all we wish.
When people talk about the scarcity of food, about the price of beef, milk and butter, let us get back to what is responsible, let us get back to the root of it, to the insane policy that led to the wilful, deliberate slaughter of the live stock. We are told—and statistics are produced here, as if we were like some of the visitors Deputy Davin mentioned, as if we only came into the country last week—that we have as much live stock in this country now as we had ten or 20 years ago, as many milch cows now as we had then.
Is there any member of this House who knows anything about the country people at the moment? Is there any member of this House who could drive 20, 30, 40, 100 miles on any road out of this City of Dublin to any part of the country during the last four or five months and look in the fields and see the stock there? It is all nonsense. It is all make-believe. It is all humbug. But according to the Fianna Fáil Party it is good enough for the people outside. This country cannot carry £80,000,000 per year. That load will crush this community, and it is idiotic, it is criminal to be talking about increasing production when this load is piled on the back of the people who are expected to produce.
I am not going to suggest nor do I believe that this Budget was dictated from England. Indeed, if it were, it would be much more intelligible than what we have got. I believe that this Budget was composed by this Government and could only have been composed by them. This is an attempt to deceive the people—this relief and reduction of the cost of living. I want to repeat that the only thing reduced is the figure of the cost-of-living index but the cost of living itself will go up as a direct result of this emergency Budget. That is the position. There is only one remedy. The first step that must be taken if this country is ever to get a chance to recover is to get rid of the Government over there.
Mr. Cafferky: One can look at this Supplementary Budget which has been introduced by the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach from two different angles. There is no doubt that no one can grumble at reducing the price of flour, bread, tea, sugar and fertilisers. But then you find out that in order to bring about this reduction through subsidies it was necessary to increase the price of tobacco and beer. These two commodities may not be described as essential or may not be classed as luxuries, but nevertheless I think that it will be admitted that they are two commodities which are used by a large percentage of our people. In many instances, tobacco can hardly be done without.
The Minister will recognise that in introducing his Budget last May he increased the price of tobacco and that even that increase was considered rather too much in relation to the income of which the people were then in receipt, or to wages which the workers were getting. Now he comes along a few months after and puts on an extra 4½., I think, on certain grades of tobacco. I think that from this point of view whatever good the Supplementary Budget may do in reducing the price of flour, tea, sugar and fertilisers, it is all taken away by the increased tax on these two commodities—tobacco and beer. Take the large percentage of workers living in our towns and cities who have to pay for board and lodging. The Minister will recognise that these people, who come under the description of workers, and who are already, to a certain extent, dissatisfied with their wages, will benefit nothing as far as a reduction of their lodging allowance is concerned. Those who are paying 30/-, £2 or 50/- per week for their lodgings will have to continue to pay that and they will not gain anything. Not only, that but they still have to pay extra for beer and cigarettes. Therefore the Minister should recognise that a large section of the community, or a considerable section, at least, are not going to gain anything but will rather lose.
I was surprised and I suppose a number of people were, when they heard that a Supplementary Budget was  going to be introduced. One would expect the Minister to have taken action away back when he was introducing the annual Estimate. We cannot help thinking that this is, to a certain extent, a means or a way of securing the support of the people temporarily at the present moment. The Minister for Industry and Commerce on a number of occasions during the last few weeks warned the people that if they dared to act in accordance with their conscience it would plunge the country into the throes of a general election. He could give no sound reason for such a statement, for the Government, whether they lose or win these three seats, will nevertheless have a comfortable majority in this House. I fear the people did not rise to the threat of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and, in my opinion, having failed with blackmail he is now trying bribery. In my opinion this is a bribe to the simpleminded folk who may not examine the Budget very carefully.
We are told that it is important to increase production and I would like the Minister in reply to indicate to us what exactly he means by increased production. The Minister for Industry and Commerce to-day tried to drive a wedge between the farming community on the one hand and the consumers on the other. We will assume for the moment that the consuming classes live in the large towns and cities of this country. That being so he thought it advisable to try to draw a line between these two great sections, and to put the onus of the increase on the farmers' costs. If any section have benefited it is not the farming community.
We have heard very little about an increase in articles that are produced by the various industries in this country—boots, shoes, clothing, hardware— all these things which are as essential as the things produced by the farming community. They demand less labour and have a greater guarantee and security as they do not depend on climatic conditions and are not, so to speak, held in abeyance as is the success or failure of crops put down in spring until they are reaped in late  autumn. There can be no comparison. The Minister will admit that these things which I describe as essential, such as boots and shoes which the worker requires and cannot do without, have been increased very considerably during the past five or six years. The Minister is well aware of the protests arising from questions addressed to him since I entered this House four years ago relative to the prices charged for certain articles. We were constantly told of the failure of Deputies and of the public generally to co-operate with inspectors in doing their duty. The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Childers, talked about the tradition of the Irish people and of their not being prepared to assist in bringing these culprits to justice. I wonder what assistance the inspectors needed when they failed to diagnose the racketeering which was going on in the Monaghan curing factory a couple of years ago. Was the laxity of these inspectors due to the failure of the ordinary man or woman to do their duty? Was pressure brought to bear upon them and was there a danger that, if they did their duty, they would lose their positions? Perhaps, we have other industries and big businesses carrying on the same racketeering and that inspectors appointed to investigate and report to their respective Departments are afraid to do so because of the dark hand——
Mr. Cafferky: I am entitled to relate this one incident at the Monaghan  curing factory to the question mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary. There has been no explanation as to why these inspectors employed by the Department of Agriculture did not do their duty.
Mr. Cafferky: I am entitled to point out that case to the Parliamentary Secretary when he says that the people failed to do their duty in bringing these black marketeers, who enriched themselves, to justice. I am entitled to point that out without throwing any droch-mheas on any civil servant. The Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke of the cost of living and the fall in production. He also spoke of those things when introducing his Estimate. He said that there was only one alternative—to increase production or decrease consumption. I pointed out that the reduction of consumption was impracticable, because we had no butter or bacon available. Eggs now come under the description of luxuries. The same may be said of pork and mutton and those things of which we had an excess a few years ago. We could export them then and obtain the raw materials we required. We cannot reduce the consumption of many of those things because they are not in sufficient quantity to meet even the small ration allowed to-day.
If we want to increase production, we must put every able-bodied man and every woman to work. The policy of the Government has not been one of increased production. It has been a policy of decreasing man-power and encouraging idleness and emigration, with disrespect for administration and for the State. The Government, when entering office, gave us a reasonable guarantee that they would employ every man and woman and place more persons in employment in agriculture. We have fewer persons employed in agriculture than we ever had. We have a lower output. What could we expect when the ex-Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dr. Ryan, said that the flight from the land could not be regarded as dangerous, that it was normal and that there was nothing unreasonable about young  men or small farmers closing their doors and clearing off. I can well understand that it is to the advantage of the Government that young men and small farmers should go into the cities of Dublin, Cork or Limerick or into the town of Drogheda or any other provincial town. They go there to obtain employment and security. They find themselves stranded and on the unemployment list. In a few months, they find themselves, so to speak, eating out of the hands of the Government. Then, they are led to believe that, if there is a change of Government, they will be allowed to starve. As they are, they are merely existing but they are persuaded that, if a change of Government takes place, it will mean starvation for them. The Government know that, so long as that system continues, their office will be secure, that they will be able at any time to go before these people and get returned. It is to their advantage to destroy agriculture and build up slums in the towns and cities. If the Government were sincere in their expressed desire to increase production and build up agriculture, they would not have thousands of acres in the hands of the Land Commission for 30 or 40 years.
If they were sincere about increasing production, the young men would not have to take the emigrant ship and seek a livelihood in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff, London, Manchester and Birmingham in industrial conditions to which they were not accustomed. The land is left in the hands of the greatest landlord we have ever known, a landlord who will charge £8 per acre if you ask for a couple of acres. What did the Government do to have land allocated during the past seven years? Nothing.
Mr. Cafferky: I am dealing with production and pointing out that the Government failed to apply the manpower of this country to the increase of production. I think that the case I am making is very reasonable and sound.
Mr. Cafferky: Therefore, it is my contention that if a large percentage of these young men who have emigrated over a period of six or seven years were given a chance to work the land which is lying idle in the hands of this landlord we would have less to worry about. A short time ago the Government took upon themselves the responsibility of going across to London to negotiate a trade agreement. I would like to know from the Minister for Finance what we are going to offer the British Government in return and how this Government is going to produce the commodities which they intend to exchange. Is it by allowing this stream of emigration to continue?
Mr. Cafferky: I admit that, Sir. In all fairness to you and to me, Sir,  every other Deputy and Minister who has spoken to-day made some passing reference to it. With all due respect, I did not hear either yourself or the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, while I was in the House, intervene to tell them it was not relevant or in keeping with the debate.
Mr. Cafferky: I am pointing out the futility of it and the lack of foresight on the part of the Government because they did not do what they have just now done some nine or ten years ago when they had something to offer and before they had killed agriculture. That was my point, Sir, if you will allow me to make it. What have we got to offer? We have no bacon. We have no butter. We have little beef. In short, we have none of the commodities which we could have offered some ten years ago and we see nothing in this Supplementary Budget or in the one which was introduced last May that is going to enable us to provide these commodities with a view to having a surplus, after we have supplied our own ration here, to give to the British market. I want to make it very clear that if the Minister intends to keep down wages in the same way as he has been doing during the war period, failing at the same time to peg down the cost of living, I would consider it very unjust. It cannot be denied that every section of the workers in this country put up with a lot of suffering during the first five or six years of the war. We heard no grousing or grumbling notwithstanding the fact that during that period the articles they were themselves producing here were going up considerably in price.
If the Minister wants co-operation from the workers, if he wants them to continue producing—not only continue producing but, as he himself said, increasing and doing more than they have been accustomed to do—he must be as determined in keeping down the cost of living and in keeping down  prices as he is in holding down the worker's wage. If he is not prepared to do that he will get no co-operation from the workers. They are fully entitled to seek an increase in wage if the Minister does not take drastic measures now to deal with the increase in the cost of living and in the increase in the price of commodities produced in this country.
I welcome the subsidy on fertilisers. That is one of the raw materials essential to increased production on the land. The Minister will recognise that the land in this country, due to increased production, has deteriorated over the last four or five years and, while I welcome the suggestion in this Supplementary Budget for the provision of an extra £245,000, I think the Minister will admit that the amount is very small in comparison with the amount required.
Mr. Cafferky: The Minister for Finance is well aware, or if he is not, the Minister for Agriculture is well aware that the quality of the wheat this year is very poor: that the amount per acre has fallen considerably notwithstanding the fact that for the past three or four years the price of wheat has not increased. It is all very well to point to the farming community and to talk of the manner in which they have enriched themselves in the last four or five years. The Minister has very cunningly slid along without making any reference to the costings the farmer has had to put up with. There was no reference to farm implements and to their scarcity or to the provision of farmyard manures or fertilisers.
There was no reference to the difficulties which confront the farmer. There was no reference to climatic conditions and to all the other troubles which the farmer has to face day and night. The Minister very cunningly slid over these points and tried, as I said at the outset to drive a wedge between the farming community on the  one hand and the people in the towns and cities on the other hand. I can vouch for the fact that in this City of Dublin an ordinary woman who keeps a boardinghouse at the top of Parnell Street with five or six boarders paid 4/- for a stone of turnips. Is it not time to cry halt and to prevent that from continuing? Here is a woman trying to make ends meet by keeping four or five boarders in the house, trying to pay rent and to meet her liabilities, going to the greengrocer and paying 4/- for a stone of turnips with no guarantee as to whether the five, six or seven turnips she got were good or bad. You could get 100 turnips down in the country at the present time for less than 4/-. That clearly points to the fact, as I said in the Budget statement here last May, that there is a ring in the City of Dublin which is exploiting the consuming classes in the city and the hard point about it is that the consuming classes are under the false impression that the farmers in the country are enjoying this vast profit. They believe that the 4/- for the turnips is going to the farmer when in reality it is the members of the ring in the market which is enjoying this exorbitant profit—not to mention potatoes, vegetables and the other commodies required to be put on the table every day. There is no one article whether it is for the table or for the body which is not in price far in excess of what the ordinary man and woman can afford. If you pass by any window in O'Connell Street to-morrow you will see shirts marked, perhaps, 21/- each. You may pass in a month and the same shirt, design and quality, will be 31/- I want to know from the Minister how that can be done and I want a full explanation as to why people are allowed to carry on that racketeering. It is not confined to the City of Dublin—it is in other country towns as well. The same remarks apply to nylon stockings which are supposed to be 8/6 but which cost 25/- in the shops. The same applies to pullovers, children's clothing, shoes, boots, trousers, vests, and so on. All are outside the price which the ordinary worker can pay.
As Deputy Davin said the Minister then talks about inflation. He points  out that if there are going to be strikes and demands and workers looking for increases we are eventually going to have inflation and chaos and that the whole bottom will fall out of the State. There is no reference to these racketeers, who can charge what they like at the expense of the worker but if the worker objects and says: “I can no longer carry this burden,” he is a traitor and he is threatened with the iron fist and held up to public odium by the Minister and his colleagues across the floor of this House. I want to warn the Minister that the day is over for that kind of propaganda. The workers of Dublin, in common with the workers of every town, and every country, will not stand for it. Let us hope that when they are given an opportunity on this occasion they will demonstrate their disgust of Government administration. Perhaps they will be codded by this Supplementary Budget, which is introduced merely as electioneering propaganda, into the folly of endorsing Government policy once again or they may be led to do it by the threat issued by Mr. Lemass to plunge this country into another general election if they dare to exercise the franchise in their own interests.
Mr. Cafferky: As I said at the beginning, the reduction in the price of flour, bread, tea and sugar is welcome, as is the subsidy for fertilisers, but in regard to the increase on tobacco and beer, it is a pity that the Minister could not provide the £2,000,000, approximately, that will be derived from the tax on those commodities, through some other form of taxation which might not have the same effect upon the community.
When I read in the Press of the necessity for this Supplementary Budget I thought of the extravagant sum of money that is being spent on the Army at present, the considerable sums of money that have been voted in the past few months in providing increases for certain higher executive officers, the judiciary, Ministers and  His Excellency the President. While a case might be made for those gentlemen in the same way, but not with the same foundation, as a case can be made for the ordinary worker arising out of the cost of living, there can be no comparison between them. When I say higher executive officers I mean higher executive officers, because I recognise that there are young men and women in the Civil Service who were well deserving of an increase, who are hardworked and who are worthy of what they are getting. But there are other gentlemen and ladies who, taking into consideration the plight of this country, the circumstances under which we are living, the crisis that is overshadowing us, could wait for a more opportune time to have their incomes increased.
It is hard for the Minister to get public co-operation and it would be hardly fair to expect that he would get public co-operation when the ordinary public examine these things and see what has been happening over the past 12 months. It is very hard indeed to ask workers to sit tight, to be good boys, not to look for increases until the crisis has passed when they know that the custodians of this State, those who should provide an example for the workers, have first enriched ourselves, increased our allowances while asking the other sections of the community, some of whom had received no increase over the past eight or nine years, to sit tight until the muddling and jungling of the present administration, either by accident or otherwise, changed the position.
Mr. Browne: There is just one point on which I would like the Minister to enlighten me. It is in connection with Resolution No. 12. The road tax on a car exceeding 12 h.p. will be £20 plus £2 for each unit or part of a unit of horse power in excess of 12 h.p. I want to know how that applies and how it will operate in respect of private cars, hackney cars, buses and taxis. For instance, take an ordinary hiring car, of 30 h.p., what would be the tax on that car as compared with the tax now in operation? Perhaps the Minister in his reply will give me the answer to that?
 It seems to me that there is an attempt made in this Supplementary Budget to subsidise essential food but, in taking flour, sugar and tea, the Government are taking three of the items of food that are most strictly rationed to the consumer. What is gained by the subsidy on these foods is being taken away by the increased taxes on cigarettes and stout. Stout has been termed a luxury. I say it is an essential. According to my calculation, the Government are taking from the man who consumes tobacco and stout, more than they are giving him in the subsidy. If his gain as a result of the subsidy reaches 4/- a week the possibilities are that he will have contributed at least 5/- in the increased tax imposed by the Budget. Taking the present ration of 4½ lbs. of flour per week, it would work out roughly at 24 stone of flour in the year which would mean a subsidy of 24/-. On the present ration of tea, 1½ ozs. per week, he would save 10/- and on sugar, at 1½d. per week, he would save 6/—a total subsidy of roughly £2. Taking a very low calculation as to the amount of tobacco consumed, say, two packets of 20 cigarettes in the week and, taking it that he drinks one pint of stout in the month, he would have paid roughly, £2.
Mr. Browne: That is my calculation. If there is a subsidy given, it is given with one hand and taken back with the other. We talk about taxation. My view is that when you increase taxation you increase the cost of living. There seems to be no limit to the increase in taxation here. In 1931 taxation stood at £25,000,000. It has gone up to £60,000,000, and now we are going to add another £5,000,000 to it. Looked at from another angle, taxation in 1931 was about £8 per head of the population. It is now £25 per head, and this Supplementary Budget will mean adding  another 30/- per head. The only way in which the people can get cheaper food is by reducing taxation. We ought to be able to save something on the cost of the Civil Service. The Army is costing £3,000,000. In pre-war days the cost was in or about £1,000,000, so that there should be room for saving in or about £2,000,000 there. I think there are many ways in which Government expenditure could be cut down in order to make provision to meet these subsidies. If that were done there would be no need for increased taxation.
We talk about the growing of wheat and beet and of work on the land. Our farmers are working not eight or ten hours a day but 12 hours. They are doing their best to produce food, but they feel that the Government are not doing their duty towards them in the way of giving them a price for the crops they produce. I can speak from practical experience as a grower of wheat and oats. This year I got 25 per cent. more grain from an acre of oats than I did from an acre of wheat, while the price for both is practically the same. Wheat is 55/- per barrel or about 22/ per cwt. Oats is making from 20/- to 22/- per cwt., and that crop, as I say, will give a grain return that is 25 per cent. better than we get from wheat. In view of that, a farmer would be a fool to grow wheat when he can grow the more profitable crop in oats. The people will grow the wheat if they get the price for it. You can grow that crop on some of the poorest land in the country, but the farmer will have to be given a price for it to enable him to meet his costs of production.
Dollars are required to import wheat. I take it for granted that we pay 29/- per cwt. for the imported wheat. Why not give our farmers who are growing wheat another 5/- per cwt. so as to bring the price up to 27/- per cwt? Even at that figure the wheat grown here would be costing 2/- per cwt. less than the imported wheat. That should enable provision to be made for the proposed subsidy of 1/- per stone on flour. I think that, if my suggestion were adopted, we would want to import very little wheat. The yield from the wheat crop last year was bad but it  will be worse this year and will be a long way short of what it was two years ago. If the Minister wants to do the right thing, he should certainly give the farmer a price for his wheat that will enable him to meet his costs of production. If that is not done, then I am afraid you will have to increase your imports of wheat.
Mr. Byrne: I rise to express my disappointment at the failure of the Government to make a statement regarding the price of clothing and of footwear. These are two essentials in the increased cost of living. Little has been said from the Government benches as regards those who to-day in Dublin City are going around almost without any clothing of any kind. I refer to the poorer people in the back streets of Dublin who are unable to buy clothing or footwear at the prices charged for them over the last few years. I said here on former occasions that within 100 yards of O'Connell Street and of the leading hotel probably in Ireland you will find children going around in worn-out clothing, without any footwear and without stockings. There is no effort being made by the Government to provide for those people.
Another factor that is helping to increase the cost of living, one that ought to be taken into consideration immediately, arises out of the new rents that are being charged in Dublin City to young people getting married and seeking accommodation. Many of them have not been able to get over that difficulty. Another new factor which confronts them relates to the instalment payments they have to make for furniture procured on the hire-purchase system. When the new rents and the hire-purchase instalments are taken out of a worker's wages there is very little left for him to live on, especially the wages that are being paid in the Government service to road workers on the Glencree bogs. I do not know how they live. The Government should give sympathetic consideration to that matter.
Reference was made yesterday to the new taxation that is to be raised on the sale and purchase of houses. Heretofore, a clerical worker in Dublin was  able to make a deposit of £80 or £100 or perhaps £200 on, say, a five-roomed, red-brick, two-storey house, the price of which was in or about £800. He had only to pay 1 per cent. in stamp duty on his purchase. The house which could be procured for £800 is now being sold for £2,000, and you propose to impose on such a man a 5 per cent. stamp duty, which means that for the Government alone he will have to find £100. I ask the Minister to go into that matter carefully in view of the fact that only this week I met a deputation of people who want to form a utility society. They call themselves black-coated workers who cannot afford the high rent demanded for houses and they are about to form a building society to build houses for themselves. I appeal to the Minister to see that that 5 per cent. stamp duty is not charged to our own citizens.
The relief given in the price of tea, sugar, and flour would be welcomed by all the people if it were not for the fact that while you give relief to a woman with four children to the extent of about 4/- a week you take from her husband almost 6/- a week. As many speakers have pointed out, if a man smokes a packet of 20 cigarettes and drinks two pints per day, that means an extra 4d. per day on the packet of cigarettes and 6d. on the two pints, or 10d. per day spread over seven days of the week. You are taking back from the man more than you are giving the mother of the family. For that reason this Supplementary Budget is not so welcome as it might have been.
Inflation and emigration appear to go hand in hand. There is no use in anybody burking the issue any longer. We might as well face the fact that inflation is here with a vengeance. Anyone with plenty of money can apparently get what he wants. For instance, some people may not be able to afford to buy cigarettes now and the man who can afford to pay for them will not have to stand in a queue any longer. He will get all he wants because he has the money to purchase them. I appeal to the Minister to try to bring about some reduction in the price of meat, eggs, vegetables, bacon  and milk. All these things are essentials in every household. Milk is in short supply and it is difficult to get all you want. I hope there is no danger of any further shortage. Meat is only provided once a week on many tables in Dublin because of its high price.
I wish to join in the protests which have been made against the Government's failure to lower the present cost of living. Yesterday the Taoiseach referred to various strikes in the City of Dublin and other parts of the country. I hold that these strikes are a protest against the high cost of living. The Taoiseach also warned the House yesterday that he could give no guarantee that the cost of living would not go higher. In that connection I say that all the applications made to the Labour Court for increases in wages are due to the fact that the cost of living appears to rise continuously and rapidly. Hardly a day passes without its being reported that some commodity has increased in price. I further suggest to the Government that the time has come to establish a court of appeal to work in conjunction with the Labour Court. If applicants are dissatisfied with the Labour Court's finding, instead of having to take drastic action themselves there should be a court of appeal to which they could go. In that way I think that many of our difficulties could be overcome.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: By unanimous decision of the House this debate is to close at 10 o'clock to allow the Minister to conclude. I have been notified that Deputies Norton and Blowick would like to speak again.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The debate will have to close at 10 o'clock. I do not feel that I would be justified in calling on the Deputy if there are Deputies who have not spoken and who wish to speak.
Mr. McGilligan: I agree that Deputies who have not yet spoken should get a chance, but I would object to any ruling which would prevent me from speaking to-night, because you are now asked for a second intervention.
Mr. O'Leary: As a worker and a trade unionist, I feel that I must say something after listening to the speeches of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance. The Taoiseach says that if he cannot get a voluntary agreement he will force the workers to agree. I say that that is a deliberate challenge to the workers of the country which we will meet if his majority puts it through this House. I also say that the Labour Court is a failure and was only created to provide jobs for people. It is not worth the money it is costing. In the City of Dublin you have employees of the Irish Assurance Company walking the streets who were offered an increase of 6d. per week. How could any body of men accept an increase of 6d. per week? Then you have busmen on strike, while Dublin Corporation workers are getting 12/- per week more than the bus drivers. Because the Minister for Industry and Commerce's brother is head of the transport monopoly there is no action taken and the citizens of Dublin, Cork and other cities can get around whatever way they like. There is no action taken by the Minister for Industry and Commerce because he does not want to bring his brother down a step lower. I say it is dictation. If any other section of workers in the country were on strike the Department of Industry and Commerce would be calling meetings every day in the week. They took over control of the whole transport of the country. They bought up every bus. Now  they will not meet the workers although, with the monopoly they have, they are making money. When the Transport Bill was going through we were told that we would have better transport services.
As to the Supplementary Budget which has been introduced, a man with a family who buys a sack of flour every week will get a reduction of 1/-. People who buy about two stone of flour a week will get some very slight relief. In the same way, some small relief will be afforded to poor people in their purchases of tea and sugar, but I should like to point out that the price of tea never jumped to such a high figure as when the Government was given a monopoly of the right to import it. Tea was always cheap in this country. In fact in the old days it was sold so freely that people did not seem to care whether it was ever paid for or not. It was only when the Government stepped in to control supplies of tea that there was a substantial increase in price.
One section which will be severely hit by this Budget is the old age pensioners. What good is an increase of 2/6 to them now that a further additional tax has been imposed on tobacco? The only comfort they had was their smoke and now they are to be deprived of that because they cannot afford it. In comparison with the treatment they receive, the people who can afford to frequent racecourses, to go to Punchestown and elsewhere, escape lightly. Tobacco is the only little luxury which a workman could afford, but now it is put beyond his reach.
Similarly, dockers working up to their eyes in dust unloading at the docks are to be penalised by increasing the price of their pint. I think all these taxes should have been put on cocktails, because the cocktail parties are not going to stop. Champagne will still flow freely at Ministers' dinners and at big dances in the city. The gentlemen with the tail coats will still enjoy themselves. The luxury liners will continue to bring their quota to the big tourist hotels—the very people who are fleecing the workers in the cities. They can travel from country  to country bringing their big cars with them unaffected by these taxes. There is no tax on horse-racing but the sport of the ordinary working man, dogracing, will be hit. It is the only sport which the workingman can attend as it is held at night and he has to work during the day.
I should like to ask the Minister why this Budget was kept in cold storage until after the writs for the by-elections had been moved last week. When the people heard that the Taoiseach was to make an important pronouncement yesterday, they expected that it would have reference to the dollar situation or to the talks in Paris or London, but little did they think that there was going to be increased taxation. We have 36 flour mills in this country under the control of an English combine—Joseph Rank & Company, and apparently £2,000,000 is to be devoted to subsidising them whilst the small farmers who suffered serious losses of stock last winter cannot get a loan to replace that stock unless they are able to provide two securities each. The millers were always able to get on in this country before Fianna Fáil ever came into power. I never saw a miller in a bad way or on the dole. They had always plenty of money. Is the Government going mad now in subsidising the flour millers? When a small farmer goes to the Agricultural Credit Corporation to obtain a loan he gets a form as big as the Irish Press with thousands of questions on it. After that form has been returned to the Corporation, the answer usually comes back: “We regret we cannot give you a loan.” They will not even tell the farmer why he was turned down. I say to the Taoiseach that men have died in Dublin for trade unionism and the Taoiseach or any of his Party will never kill it. His threats will not frighten the workers of this country.
Mr. Commons: I shall not delay the House unduly because I understand that the debate is to conclude to-night. The main feature about this Budget, a feature which it has in common with every other Budget introduced by the present Government, is that the taxation of the country will be considerably  increased as a result. A sum of £68,000,000 will be extracted by direct or indirect means from the people to keep the Government going and to provide money for the various services which the Government administer. The Taoiseach in paving the way for the Minister to introduce the Budget, told us that we must have more production and that people must work harder. As usual, when there are elections in the offing, he commenced his speech by talking about war. He told us that modern war “by diverting towards military objectives, plant materials and labour—energies and activities that would ordinarily be employed in producing food, clothing, fuel, houses, etc. —leads necessarily to the curtailment of all these necessaries of life” and that it was, therefore, the cause of the inflation that exists in the world at present. Half-way through his speech he told us that the people should work harder and he concluded as usual by telling us that our immediate task is, as it was during the war, to reduce to a minimum the burden which the community as a whole must bear and to distribute it as equitably as might be humanly possible among the different sections of the people.
We find that these declarations of the Taoiseach are quite in keeping with many of the statements he has made during the time he has been in office but when we look at how the burden of £68,000,000 is to be “shared equitably” amongst the people, when we hear that in the near future if strikers do not behave themselves and agree with the Government in the various measures which they put forward, it will be necessary to introduce legislation to make strikes illegal, we wonder if there was not a certain amount of hypocrisy in the statement of a man who declares that there will be an equitable distribution of the nation's wealth. A few months after the salaries of Ministers and the salaries of members of the Judiciary were increased substantially, the Taoiseach will step in and endeavour to prevent the ordinary worker from striking to get an increase in his wages to meet the increased cost of living. We do not like strikes. Strikes as a rule do not serve the interest of the nation but it  has to be said that the average worker who sees a judge of the Supreme Court who already enjoyed a salary of £4,000 getting an increase of £600, would indeed possess something of the slave mind if he did not strike when his demands for at least a proportionate increase in wages was turned down. Ministers and officials in high places, having fixed themselves up in regard to salaries, now proceed to grind under the iron heel the ordinary worker who does not enjoy a wage that, in any sense can be described as a living wage.
We are told both by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance to produce more and to work harder. What can we produce or what industries have we? Can we produce motor-cars or have we factories to produce machinery which can be exported?
Anybody with an ounce of sense must realise by now that there is only one thing we can produce, that is, agricultural produce, or something which is, or can be, derived from the land. When one examines the neglect of the present Government with regard to agriculturists for the past 15 years, one wonders how the agriculturist is to produce more. How can any farmers whose acreage of land is from five to 15—and they number in the region of 80,000—produce more when they have no land on which to produce it? How can we produce more when we see every single week a few thousand of the best of our men and women forced to emigrate across the water, with 200 or 300 ready to emigrate to America every week, all of whom should be at home producing but all of whom are denied the opportunity to produce? What use is there in the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance or any other Minister demanding more production when those who are capable of helping towards greater production are forced to fly from the country because they cannot get employment here?
Subsidies are being provided in this Budget, but the giving of subsidies to encourage production always defeats its own object, because there is no use whatever in expecting that the people of the country can be any wealthier when it is necessary to subsidise anything which is being produced. There  is no use in expecting that these subsidies which are being given with a view to helping production will benefit the people in any way whatever. The only subsidy which will help towards production is the subsidy on artificial manures and that is so insignificant in relation to the country's needs as not to be worth bothering about.
In its effort to bring down the cost of living, the Government has undoubtedly, by a clever piece of juggling, put something before the eyes of the people which the ordinary worker, if he examines it closely, will find is very far from being of any benefit to him. When one looks at the three commodities which are to be reduced in price, tea, bread and sugar, and realises that for the average person it means a reduction of 7d. per week, one wonders what the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach think the Irish people are. Do they think that the average man can be gulled into believing that 7d. a week will bring down the cost of living when what is given to him by way of reduction in the week is taken from him on his packet of cigarettes or his pint of beer in a day? But while the people who expected some sensational pronouncement from the Taoiseach have waited in vain for it, the Government will dangle this carrot before the eyes of the electorate in the three constituencies in which there are by-elections and Government spokesmen will shout: “We have brought down the cost of living and have given you certain reductions in your tea, bread and sugar and that is something for which you should be very thankful, in view of the terrible crisis which prevails in the country at present.”
It was very amusing to listen to the Minister for Industry and Commerce telling us that the population had increased. No doubt the figures are correct—they are taken from the last census of population. He told us it was some hope for the Opposition that they were able to go before the country and say that everything was not so gloomy, that at least we had an increase in population. We have sent out of this country over 250,000 people in the past seven years and we are told that the marriage and birth rates have gone  down. Where has the increase in population come from? It is very easy to see where it has come from when one looks at what is going on— foreigners coming into the country as tourists and as individuals to buy up house property, land and hotels.
We all know that with the change over to more socialist conditions in England, many aristocratic individuals found that they could not live so easily there, and, seeing for themselves a sort of paradise in this little island, they invaded this country with wads of money to purchase land, without any effort being made by the Government to stop them. Now, I notice, they have started to purchase hotels and house property, and, I am told, have got auctioneers to announce in this city that they have £250,000 in hands for the purchase of house property of every description. Everybody knows well that this sort of thing is going on, and while the Irish race has to go abroad as foreigners come in, there can be no improvement in conditions for the average Irish citizen. These people eat the food essential to our own people to enable them to produce more, while making no effort whatever to help production in any way. All the time, the Government sits idly by, shuts its eyes to these facts and smiles at the idea of anybody raising such nonsensical matters—in their opinion—in this House.
The difference in the prices given to the producer of such commodities as bacon, cabbage and potatoes and the prices charged to the consumer for these commodities is something which the Government should take steps to bring to an end. When racketeers can get away with buying a cwt. of turnips for something like 5/6 and selling them at 4/- per stone, it is definitely time for the Government to step in, that is, if it is the intention of the Government to step in. Perhaps, in view of the racketeering which has been carried on within the past year or so, it is the intention of the Government to encourage racketeers of every description, because by the average individual at present this Government must be regarded as nothing short of a set, from  beginning to end, of racketeers, who have wadded and filled their pockets with any amount of money at the people's expense.
It was suggested yesterday that individuals who are caught by Government inspectors should be brought to trial and punished for what they had done. I wonder is that a very wise policy, seeing that the punishment one gentleman who was caught out some time ago got was a pension of £500 for the rest of his life, together with £2,000 of the taxpayers' money to pay his expenses. Perhaps if more of these racketeers were brought for trial before the different tribunals, the Government might set about punishing them by giving them another set of pensions and fleecing the people to a still greater extent to pay the legal expenses of these gentlemen. Therefore I wonder whether it is wise that we should demand that any of these gentlemen be brought to book.
I again stress that the little help the average taxpayer gets by reason of the 7d. a week decrease in the cost of living is far more than offset by the immense amount which will be demanded from him by reason of the increases in the prices of the other commodities which are essentials for the average worker and producer. There are small yields of wheat, of beet, of everything which helps towards production, and while those small yields are there the Government cannot hope for any increase in production.
Mr. Aiken: I want, first of all, to congratulate Deputy Davin on his amazing impudence. I lost a little bet over him because, after the Budget was framed, I said to somebody: “There is one thing the Opposition cannot say for this Budget and that is, that it is an election Budget,” but I lost my bet and Deputy Davin cost me something.
Now, when prices kept on rising during the last few months and when they had reached the point which was disclosed in the mid-August review of the position—when the cost of living had gone to 319 points—there were a few alternatives open to the Government. They could have said: “Well, we have done what we could to keep down the  cost of living and we have given all the subsidies that we could raise taxation to pay for, and we will just let the people pay, whoever can pay, for the commodities that are available.” That was one course—to take no action and let industrial strife decide what portion of the national wealth each group was to get.
There was another course. We could have gone into debt and paid the subsidies that would be necessary to reduce tea, bread, flour and sugar to the amount to which they have been reduced by the Government decision in this Budget. We could have borrowed the money and we could have made a pretty good case that, as we had not borrowed very much in the past and as our national debt was very low, we were not doing any great damage to the national economy by borrowing £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 to reduce the cost of living. Indeed, when one looks at the amount of money that has been borrowed by other countries in the past seven or eight years, the difficulty is to answer the question: Why did we not borrow a few millions instead of increasing taxation as we have done in this Budget?
Since 1939, as Deputies are aware, a number of countries met the difficulties presented to them by the war by borrowing. The most that any of the countries at war could pay out of taxation towards their annual outgoings was about 50 per cent.; there were some of them very much lower than that. Even the neutrals met the phenomenal expenditure that their people were saddled with during the war by vast borrowing programmes. I will give a couple of figures for the big belligerents first, not because I think it is right that we should compare ourselves with them, but to give Deputies an idea of the magnitude of public debt that has been piled up in other countries so that when they look at our public debt they will not feel so miserable as some of them pretended to be here to-day and yesterday.
Our public debt has increased, since 1939, by £9 per head. In Great Britain the public debt increased by £388 per head; in the United States it increased by £391 per head, and in another  belligerent country, New Zealand, it increased by 102 New Zealand pounds per head. As regards two neutral countries, instead of their debt going up £9 per head as it did here, it went up in Sweden by £69 per head and in Switzerland by £51 per head. At first blush anybody would say: “Why on earth did not the Government add another 30/- per head to the national debt and meet this bill of £5,000,000 for subsidies in that fashion without creating all this fuss of a Budget?” That was a second alternative. The first was to do nothing, and the second was to increase the debt.
The third was the course that the Government chose, and that was to say to the people: “Notwithstanding that there are three by-elections pending, it is in your interest that, instead of allowing products to be distributed among our people by dint of hard fighting and strife, or instead of reducing your cost of living at the present time by adding further burdens to the national debt, you should meet this bill by paying more for your drink, if you drink, by paying more for your smokes, if you smoke, by paying more for your motor car if you run one, and by paying additional sums such as surtax and, next year income tax, taxes that the Government thought wise to impose in order that this bill for additional subsidies could be met.”
Why did the Government chose taxation? Because this State is not at present producing as much as it consumes. During the first six or seven months of this year, we consumed about £11,000,000 worth more than we produced. That was the amount by which our external assets fell. Evidence of the fact that there was a tendency to consume more than we were producing is shown by the increased price of the commodities that were offered for sale. There were plenty of people with money, or with the urgent desire to spend, and that drove up prices rather than let them fall. In that situation, the Government said that the proper thing to do was to keep the national expenditure within sight of national production and to take from the people who were spending money on non-essentials portion of that money and  apply that sum to reducing the cost of living, reducing the prices of essential commodities which people have to consume in order to live.
It was with no light heart that the Government took their decision. We know how bitterly a person resents any commodity going up in price, even if it is a luxury, if he is accustomed to consume it. We are telling the people straight that, if the country is to keep on an even keel, the right thing for our people to do in these times of scarcity is not to let the volume of money increase and, if it is necessary to relieve hardship in any particular section of the community—the sugar consumers or the bread consumers—to take the money to subsidise these commodities from the people who are spending too much on non-essentials. The first thing we did was to increase the surtax for this financial year. That is inescapable. The people who come within the surtax ranges must pay. It was impossible to do anything on income tax for this financial year. To attempt to collect more in income-tax would have meant a diversion of staff from the job of collecting this year's income-tax. The net result of attempting to collect more—an additional 6d. or more— would have been that we would have collected less on foot of the rates we imposed in last year's Budget.
The rest of the taxes people can escape. Let me deal with one that it is hardly possible for people to escape, that is, the stamp duty. It is well known to people who are purchasing houses in this City of Dublin and throughout the country, people who have been searching for houses for a number of years, that instead of the prices of houses or land falling, they have increased very rapidly, particularly during this last year. Every week, you can see in the papers a note that, although the houses referred to had gone up, and that very big prices had been offered, they were withdrawn from sale. In some cases, to my official knowledge, houses changed hands twice within this last year and the last time they changed hands prices were 60, 70 and 80 per cent. higher than the first time. There is money floating around and the competition between  people who urgently want houses is driving them to pay twice the intrinsic value, twice what a house could now be built for, in order to get a roof over their heads.
We decided we would put a 5 per cent. stamp tax on purchases by Irish citizens and by people who have been residents here for the last three years, in order to put a brake on that inflation. As I conceive it, it will mean that the people who have houses to sell after the 1st December will get 5 per cent. less than they are getting at the present time. The only thing to stop them getting more at present is that people have not any more to give them. If people have 5 per cent. stamp duty to give on top of the price that is paid at the sale, they will have to reduce the amount they give for the house accordingly.
The second thing that the Government is doing is to put a brake on people coming from abroad to compete with our people, or people resident here for the last three years, for lands and houses. Take a house the market value of which has been £2,000. The stamp duty on that was £1 per cent., that is, the buyer would have to pay £20 in addition to the £2,000. The citizen here and the resident here were on equal footing with and had no advantage over somebody who earned big money abroad and came in here with it in order to purchase. The actual number of purchases was not so large, but perhaps it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back. After the 1st December, until this stamp duty is annulled—which I hope will not be long, as it is purely to stop further inflation of house values and land values —if a foreigner comes in here to buy, he will have to give 20 per cent. more in order to obtain possession than an Irish citizen or Irish resident.
Mr. Aiken: Why not charge 1,000 per cent. more? I have said that the purpose of this was to keep any further inflation in house and land values from taking place. I believe that when we want money the place to get some of it, at any rate, is where part of the large volume which is floating around is sticking. The present house and land values have almost doubled—and in some cases have trebled—since the beginning of the war, so an owner has no just cause of complaint if the selling value now falls by 5 per cent., and that is what the result of the stamp duty will be. It may be that property values will increase still further, but in that event they will still be 5 per cent. less than they would otherwise be.
A lot of chat and talk has taken place here on the hardships that this Budget will impose on certain sections of the community. Undoubtedly it is a hardship on a person accustomed to smoke tobacco to pay 4d. a packet more for cigarettes and 4½d. more for hard plug tobacco, but he can escape paying the tax if he has family or other responsibilities which it is his duty to carry out, by reducing his consumption. By smoking five cigarettes instead of six, he need not spend any more in the week than he spends at present. By smoking five pipes of tobacco instead of six, he need pay no more in a week than at present.
Mr. Aiken: I ask the Deputies on this occasion, after the by-elections are over, to co-operate with the Government  in seeing that our people tackle the situation in a way that is going to get themselves out of trouble and keep their children out of trouble and that is by increasing our total production. Our industrial production has gone up somewhat. Our farmers did a magnificent job during the war by turning out as much wheat and beet and other essential foodstuffs as enabled us to get through the war safely. This coming year there will be additional fertilisers available. This present autumn is a splendid one for ploughing and the time to plough, in order to get good results, is now. I trust that the farmers in the country who are concerned with their own personal income and the national wealth will take off their coats this year and work harder.
Mr. Aiken: I know that there are Deputies on the opposite side who are tired of listening to themselves talking for the past 16 years and they want the country to collapse so that the Government will collapse with it, but the country is not going to collapse. I believe that our people are realistic enough to know that with the world bordering on famine, as it is at the present time, with civilisations that have had 1,000 years of existence tottering and threatening to collapse it is time for us to do what we can——
Mr. Aiken: ——to keep civilisation on its feet. The Lord has given us sufficient land to enable us to produce the foodstuffs that our people require and some more which we can export abroad. Next year we are going to have a better position than we have had for the past seven or eight years. A slow down in output per acre was inevitable owing to a decrease in the efficiency of farm machinery, a decrease in fertilisers from abroad and the lack of machinery and implements. It is open to us at the present time to get more of those things and I know that our farmers will use them and put them to work, first to get sufficient food for  their own families and for their brothers in this nation, and to sell what they can spare to other peoples.
Childers, Erskine. H.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Daly, Francis J.
De Valera, Eamon.
De Valera, Vivion.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Connor, John S.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Ryan, Mary B.
Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
|Anthony, Richard S.
Bennett, George C.
Costello, John A.
Dockrell, Henry M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Halliden, Patrick J.
Larkin, James (Junior).
Mongan, Joseph W.
O'Driscoll, Patrick F.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
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