Thursday, 8 March 1951
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Palmer: In considering this Vote on Account it would be no harm to refer back to three years ago when this Government took office at the behest of the electors of this country. We are now celebrating the third  anniversary of the election to office of this Government. No matter what the Deputies opposite may say, it must be agreed that this Government represents the views of the Irish people and at the last general election the electors made it very clear they were tired of Fianna Fáil and that a change was necessary. Despite the statements of the Deputies on the Opposition Benches that the people are dissatisfied with this Government, anybody who goes through the country and hears the views of various people as individuals and as members of organisations will be assured that the people have no desire to bring about a change of Government at the moment. Agriculture has never been so prosperous. When Fianna Fáil left office there were fewer cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry on our farms than ever before. During the past three years our live stock population has increased by leaps and bounds and the position now is that we have more stock on the farms of Ireland than at any time since the famine years. Every opportunity has been given to the farmers to reclaim and refertilise their land so as to enable them to bring about greater production in the years to come. Owing to world conditions to-day it is very necessary that the Minister for Agriculture should make every provision to enable farmers to produce sufficient crops and stock of all kinds to enable our people to live during a serious emergency if we cannot bring in anything from abroad. The best way to do that was to provide that the land would be drained and fertilised and then to make agreements with our nearest neighbour, always our best customer, England, on a long term under which she is willing to buy all our surplus stock and produce from the land.
While the Fianna Fáil Party believe in compulsion, we of Fine Gael, and I think every Party supporting the Government, believe that the best way to entice people to produce more from the land is by giving remunerative or economic prices. Fianna Fáil Deputies speak frequently of the growing of wheat but during the emergency the regulations were such that people  could grow wheat on any type of land and were not obliged to grow it on the land which was bound to produce the best crops. If they ploughed ten acres there was no obligation on them to sow more wheat on that land than would cover one acre, so a certain type of people took advantage of that. While in 1946 over 600,000 acres of wheat were grown in this country the produce last year from half that acreage was greater. No matter what Deputies opposite may say about the position of agriculture and of the Irish farmers, I feel sure that they are perfectly satisfied at the present time.
Coming to the industrial arm, while I will admit that the Fianna Fáil Government did its best to improve our industries and also set up many factories here and there throughout the country, still at the present time more people are engaged in Irish industry than ever before, something in the neighbourhood of 220,000, whereas when Fianna Fáil left office the figure was about 68,000. Also this Government has made agreements not only with England but with continental countries by which we will get a sale for our surplus industrial products, and that is the first time that has been done in the history of the new State.
A great deal has been said from time to time by Deputies opposite by questions and in other debates to the effect that in an emergency this country is not prepared to defend itself. I do not think that it is a good thing for Deputies to try to draw information about our defence services, because after all if there were a war it would be well if potential enemies did not know our position. Some of the speakers opposite, and especially Deputy Major de Valera, who is apparently the shadow Minister in a future Government—he seems to be making an attempt in that direction— are continually raising the question of defence just as if this were a powerful nation, and we could defend ourselves independently of world conditions. It has been fully understood that in future wars our position must always be as far as possible to maintain neutrality.
It may be said that certain nations  have a benevolent neutrality, but there is entirely too much talk about defence measures. Instead of bringing our young men into barracks to have them, as the Minister for Defence stated, knocking sparks out of the barrack squares, they should be working on the land or in the factories producing all the surplus goods possible so that we may stockpile and have vast surpluses for any emergency that may arise, when we cannot bring from abroad the goods we are unable to produce at home.
While the last Government did a great deal in connection with building houses there has certainly been no lack in that respect with the new Government. More men are employed on housing to-day than ever before, about 14,000, and we have built more houses. The object of this Government is to place a house at the disposal of everyone who requires one either in town or country.
From the point of view, therefore, of agriculture, industry, defence and housing, everything possible has been done for the welfare of our people. We have also been able to carry out very important drainage schemes under the Local Authorities (Works) Act and all over the country to-day farmers are taking advantage of that drainage scheme as well as of the land reclamation scheme. The arterial drainage scheme has also been put into operation as quickly as possible in so far as the machinery available will allow.
I think, therefore, that while the Vote on Account may seem a big sum of money, still the people to-day are so prosperous and are being given so many advantages and opportunities of improvement that even the Opposition cannot show any item which might be reduced. The various services require the sums of money allotted to them and no matter what may be said I think that the Opposition themselves are fully satisfied in their own mind that if they were in office to-day the Vote on Account might exceed £100,000,000 instead of the £83,000,000 we have at present.
After all, it is the wish of all Parties forming this Government, as I am sure  it is the wish of Deputies opposite, that everything possible should be done to enable our people to live in the greatest form of prosperity. This Government has done much not only for the farmer but also for the industrialist, the industrial workers, the agricultural workers, the road workers and workers of all kinds, and has improved their position in every possible way, both as regards wages and conditions of service generally. So, in spite of the fact that Deputies opposite may criticise the supporters of the Government in the different Parties, I can assure them that never before during the three years that this Government has been in office has there been greater harmony and unanimity between the various Parties forming the Government than there is to-day.
Captain Cowan: On this Vote, as is perfectly permissible, the discussion has ranged over a very wide field. Last night we had a contribution from Deputy MacEntee in regard to the form and type of Government that is most suitable for a people. Deputy MacEntee made the point that, in a Coalition Government comprising Ministers representing several Parties, there cannot be progress, whereas the facts are that, under a Coalition Government comprising many Parties and Ministers representing different Parties, there has been a record of substantial progress and improvement, in spite of great difficulties during the past three years.
There is undoubtedly a fundamental difference between the type of Government we have now and what I might term the Fianna Fáil type. The present Government is a democratic Government in the proper sense of that term. The Parties in that Government can combine together to bring about benefits for the people. The most recent example of democracy in action was the decision of the Government to increase old age pensions to £1 a week——
Captain Cowan: There was the further decision of the Government to make very substantial provision for members of the Old I.R.A. who were in receipt of those special allowances or members of the Old I.R.A. and the Army who were in receipt of disability pensions. The decision to bring about these improvements for these substantial sections of the people was due to the fact that we had a democratic Government in office, a Government that would not be deflected or prevented by the demands of financiers from doing their duty to those important sections of our people. The present Government is an example of democracy in action.
Clearly, in that form of Government there will be different points of view on many matters, there will be different stresses from time to time; but so long as the Government as a whole consider that their function is to operate in the interest of the public good, then that form of Government is the best form to have. What would the alternative be? It would not be a Government of people with different ideals each stressing a particular point of view, but it would be a Government ruled like a rod of iron by an individual, supported by a group of “yes-men” whose only anxiety would be to be loudest in their shouting of “yes” when the chief said “yes” and “no”. when the chief said “no”. That is the problem that is worth discussing on this particular Vote on Account. Are we to have the Government we have at the moment, democracy in action, or are we going back to the tyranny and the dictatorship of the one-man Government?
Captain Cowan: The country at the moment is considering whether this inter-Party arrangement is better than the system of one-man Government we had prior to that. We know that under the present system a worker, whether he is an agricultural worker, a road worker, an industrial worker or a worker of any other type, has freedom to express his political views. He has freedom to belong to any political Party he wishes. He knows that even if he is loudest in his condemnation of the inter-Party Government it will not affect his employment or the benefits to which he may be entitled from the State. The old age pensioner down the country for a long time lived in fear and trembling——
Captain Cowan: ——because of the political propaganda that a change of Government might affect his old age pension. The unemployed man who considers that his unemployment benefits might be affected by a change of Government knows now that, instead of having a Government which will interfere adversely with these benefits and allowances, he has a Government that is endeavouring to improve them. The road worker has not to be whipped into a Fianna Fáil club and has not to produce his Fianna Fáil membership card for the purpose of getting employment on the roads.
Captain Cowan: The road worker is a free individual to-day, the agricultural worker is a free individual to-day, the industrial worker is a free individual to-day, and that freedom has been brought about by the inter-Party Government. Do Fianna Fáil think that the public memory is so short that the public have forgotten during the three years of inter-Party Government  what it was to live under the one-man dictatorship of Fianna Fáil? Do those people who experienced that want to go back under that form of dictatorship and that form of tyranny?
Captain Cowan: Under the Constitution of this State, the people are entitled to be consulted by the Government when, having, as they have, the confidence of this House, the Government choose to go to the people and consult them.
Captain Cowan: This Government, having the support and confidence of this House, will go to the country at the right time; they will go to the country when it will be possible to put an end once and for all to this false idea on the Fianna Fáil Benches that there is nobody except Fianna Fáil fit to rule as a Government in this country.
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy come to the Vote on Account now? The Deputy was quite right when he said that that was referred to yesterday by Deputy MacEntee, but Deputy MacEntee did not devote his whole speech to it.
Captain Cowan: The points that I have put before the House are, in my view, the important points that will be considered and are being considered by the country at the moment. It has been mentioned in this House already that this Government have introduced the Social Welfare Bill and I described that Bill as a charter of freedom and liberty to the workers of this country. We were told that when this Bill was introduced there would be an end to inter-Party Government.
Captain Cowan: If we are agreed on that, let us have no more talk about elections and, in the meantime, let us work quietly, each in his own way, for the benefit of the country. Let us hope that all these allegations that we have had in recent weeks and months about jobs and jobbery will cease also.
Captain Cowan: That the allegations of jobbery will cease. We have all some responsibility to the country, and it is wrong that we should have these allegations bandied about from time to time. Fianna Fáil were in office for 16 years, and during that period they never held that there was anything wrong with appointing a person to a public or other office simply because he was a supporter of the Fianna Fáil Party. They never held that that was wrong. In fact, one of their Ministers, the then Minister for Lands, Deputy Moylan, laid it down that the loyalty of the individual to the Fianna Fáil Party was one of the matters to be considered, all other things being supposed to be equal. I take it that,  having fixed up any appointments of their camp followers over a period of 16 years, the Fianna Fáil Party cannot understand what has hit them in the teeth that they cannot do it still, and they are annoyed that some person who has not a Fianna Fáil card in his pocket is appointed to some job. It is a great matter for the country that somebody other than a member of Fianna Fáil can get an appointment. That situation ought to be accepted and it ought to be faced. If it is accepted and faced, we would have less of the allegations that are being made from time to time in the House.
A complaint has been made in regard to the Vote on Account that the sum necessary to run the country efficiently is too high. At the same time as we have that viewpoint expressed, we have claims and demands for increased expenditure here and increased expenditure there. Everybody realises that in the matter of defence every reasonable step ought to be taken by the Government. Fianna Fáil wants us, wants the Government and wants the country to spend millions on buying armaments and equipment—which may be entirely out of date and useless in a year or two from now. Those speeches and declarations that we have heard in regard to defence are not concerned with defence at all. They are concerned with politics. They are playing politics pure and simple, demanding on the one side that you reduce expenditure and on the other that you increase expenditure by spending millions of money on armaments, which might be useless in a conflict that might take place in a year or two from now. This Government from its inception worked on the basis that war was not inevitable.
Captain Cowan: Time after time I have expressed my view in this House that there will not be a World War. If the world is so foolish as to go to war in the immediate future, with the dreadful instruments of destruction that are available, it will be an end to civilisation. Responsible statement and responsible authorities are endeavouring to find day after day how peace can be achieved. While that is  the attitude of responsible statement all over the world—when it is the thing for which His Holiness the Pope is praying night and day—we find the Fianna Fáil Party telling us that war is inevitable.
Captain Cowan: That is an attitude of mind which ought to be exposed in the country. I said yesterday in regard to the Supplementary Estimate for External Affairs that we are inclined to forget we are a small country. We are inclined to forget that we are a small country of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 inhabitants, and we want to talk and swagger as if we were a nation of 100,000,000 or 200,000,000 inhabitants. It is, perhaps, a good thing that we are not part of the North Atlantic Defence Organisation, because we would have this Government twitted day after day from those benches if some naval, military or air force commanders were not from this State. When Deputy MacEntee was talking last night, he was repeating the speeches of Mr. Winston Churchill in the British House of Commons——
Captain Cowan: A Deputy of Deputy Brennan's years ought, perhaps, to be a bit charitable. In a particular period in the history of this country, he had the courage of his convictions and I had the courage of my convictions to stand on the other side.
Captain Cowan: I am endeavouring to do that. I am trying to deal with interruptions. A foul mentality is pervading that Party there and however it may claim to lead the Irish people it will never lead anything more than a partisan section of the Irish nation.
Captain Cowan: I can assure you and the House that never again will there be the disgraceful episode in this country, of Deputies being called together by these alleged Republicans to nominate an English king as king of this country.
Mr. G. Boland: Surely it is wider than that. That is the general rule— that the discussion is confined to financial and economic policy—but surely the Chair does not intend to confine it strictly to that. It has never been done.
Mr. G. Boland: It has never been strictly confined during the 26 years I have been here. We generally tried to facilitate everybody by saying what the main points for discussion would be, but Government policy as a whole has always been discussed on this Vote. This is one of the main debates of the year.
Captain Cowan: I was dealing with the point that this Government has abolished a policy of sham and nonsense and has adopted the policy of facing up to realities instead. When the Taoiseach faced up to realities in Canada and announced the decision of the Government to put an end to the sham and establish instead the Republic  of Ireland, where did he get his support? He got his support on these benches, the benches occupied by the inter-Party Government.
Captain Cowan: If I was on the right side in 1922 and someone else was  on the other side and that someone else comes round to my side, would I not be inclined to think that I was always in the right?
Captain Cowan: I agree, and I accept the ruling of the Chair. I think it is quite out of order and out-of-date; but when Deputies, like Deputy Brennan, make these observations naturally I have to answer them. One of the objectives of the people who established this State was to establish democratic Government. For a number of years an effort was made to establish that democratic Government and then suddenly we found ourselves with our democracy gone and with a tyranny and a dictatorship established in the guise of democracy. We had to exist under that for 16 long years.
Captain Cowan: I was about to say that elections can give one a democracy to-day and a dictatorship to-morrow, an empire to-day and a republic to-morrow. But I shall not go into that now. Probably another opportunity will come in which I can explode this myth about elections.
Captain Cowan: We have now reached the point where everybody in the country is discussing what is happening. Go into any public house—I do that on occasion; I hope there is nothing wrong in it—and one hears there the ordinary people discussing what is happening in the Government and what is happening in the Opposition. The people are taking an intelligent interest in the affairs of the country as a whole.
Captain Cowan: We have quite a number of them coming back now, quite a number of those who left during the Fianna Fáil régime. Not only did they leave under that régime but they were forced out. They were booted out. Every facility that could be given to them to leave was given. They were forced out by the back of the neck. The returns show more people employed in industry now. That is proved by the statistical returns. But what is more important than all that is that the people are now taking an intelligent interest in what is happening. There cannot be a meeting in the Taoiseach's room now at 11  o'clock at night that is not discussed in every tavern and pub and hall all over the country. Is not that democracy? More important still, what is said at the meeting is known to everybody.
Captain Cowan: Government policy —democracy. Government policy is to establish and maintain democracy. The Opposition wants to re-establish its benevolent dictatorship. The country does not want that benevolent dictatorship.
Captain Cowan: By the time they get the chance they will have discussed the matter so fully that they will never make the same mistakes again that they made in the past. I think that is very important. I think it is vitally important.
While we can maintain our democratic form of Government, the moneys voted by this House will be used in the interests of the people, and properly used in the interests of the people, and we will not be tied down by old ideas of so many shillings, so many pounds or so many millions. Money is not the be-all and the end-all of everything. Money is simply a vehicle or instrument by which people can render service to the community and receive from the community benefits in return. Whether the bill is £80,000,000, £90,000,000 or £100,000,000 matters nothing. What does matter is the happiness and prosperity of the people.
I am very proud to stand here to-day and accept the very dirty challenge that has been thrown out by the  Fianna Fáil Party, with all these allegations of corruption that they are raising day by day, by this filthy conduct that we see from the Front Bench, of investigating in public the private and family affairs of public officials.
Captain Cowan: I am glad to avail of this opportunity to answer that challenge. I am proud that we have found it possible to bring before the people this great social advancement, this new social welfare scheme. The next election will be fought on that scheme. It will be fought on the benefits that that scheme is providing for the people and the people, sensible as they are, will realise that the Government that gives them those benefits is a good Government and they will never go back to tyranny and dictatorship again.
Mr. McCann: I am very sorry, as a Dublin Deputy, that Deputy Peadar Cowan did not avail of this opportunity to voice the feelings of his constituents. He is in touch with most people, he says. He has been in taverns and elsewhere. I have been elsewhere but not in taverns but I have my agents in taverns.
Mr. McCann: I can tell the Government, if they do not know it, that what the average man in the bus queue, in the tavern or at the football match, or wherever else he is in Dublin, is saying: “How long more is this crowd going to hang on?” That is what he is saying.
Mr. McCann: No more and no less. The people of this city and the people of this country have no longer any confidence in the groups that form the minority Inter-Party Government. The  inter-Party Government is the coalition of a number of Parties, but they are in fact kept in power by a number of Independent Deputies. Sooner or later—and the sooner the better—the Independent Deputies must go to the people. The people want to meet the Independent Deputies who are keeping this minority inter-Party Government in power. The sooner a general election takes place, the better for this House because I am certain—I never was more certain of anything in my life—that if there was a general election in the morning the Fianna Fáil Party would come back with an overall majority.
I shall not go as far as the Iron Curtain on one side or any other distance on the other side. I think that Deputy Peadar Cowan or any other Deputy who speaks here should voice the feelings of his constituents. If Deputy Peadar Cowan thought more about Fairview, Marino, and the North Strand than he does about the eastern direction, it would be better for all concerned. The electors of this city had a specific promise from the people who constitute this inter-Party Government that the cost of living would be reduced. The biggest question confronting the average citizen to-day is the cost of living. The people who sit behind the Government on the Government Benches are the best indication and illustration of that—Deputy Jim Larkin and those who are actually officers of organised trade unions. I could give a whole list of organisations of workers that would refute the statement of the ex-Minister for Industry and Commerce. Deputy Morrissey, that we are the best-off people in the world. Recently we saw in the City of Dublin a hunger march, if you please—that is what it was called—by the Post Office Workers' Union. A general meeting was called to demand increase in wages and as far as I know, the only person who did not attend that meeting of the Post Office Workers' Union was their general secretary, Deputy Norton, the present Tánaiste. Why? Why did he not attend the general meeting of the Post Office workers who were demanding an increase in wages having regard  to the cost of living? Why does not he go back and face the people from whom he has got a livelihood over a great many years? Why does not he face the workers of Dublin? Why do not he and his colleagues in the Government decide to face the people when they know that the people are saying what I have said they are saying, that they are hanging on to office and will hang on as long as they are able?
The sort of talk that we heard from Deputy Peadar Cowan about the dictatorship that existed under Fianna Fáil is the greatest nonsense and the greatest rubbish, but, unfortunately, there were people who fell for that sort of foul propaganda before the last election, just as they fell for it when they were told specifically by Deputy Peadar Cowan and his co-candidates in Dublin North City that the cost of living could be reduced by 30 per cent. They promised to reduced the cost of living by 30 per cent. “Defeatists will tell you it cannot be done. It can be done and it will be done”—that is from their own election address. I would ask Deputy Peadar Cowan to ask any worker in this city how does the cost of living now compare with the cost of living before this Government took office.
The unemployment question was to be solved overnight. It is not yet solved. I read figures yesterday in the daily Press which gave the figure around 68,000 unemployed. Approximately 70,000 people are unemployed in this country and approximately 20,000 people emigrated from this country last year. For the first nine months of the year the figure was 15,000 as published in the daily Press, and it is safe to assume that a comparable number left in the last three months. My belief is that many more left. Deputy Alfred Byrne and other Dublin Deputies who are in the House know the people who are coming to them and other Dublin Deputies every day of the week, the people who are literally and starkly on the bread line, who have no work and for whom we cannot get work.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of those who have followed events in this  country over the past 16 or 19 years, the unemployment question would be infinitely worse if the Fianna Fáil policy of industrialisation had not been carried into effect. They know the people would be infinitely better off if that policy of industrialisation had not been obstructed. What is now admired and taken over, and what is spoken highly of by the present Government, the industrial position here, was referred to in other terms in years gone by. During my 11 or 12 years in the House, I heard Deputies talking repeatedly about the workshops and the factories as the sweat-shops and the back-room factories.
I say that it is largely due to our policy in the past that there are not a lot more than 70,000 people now out of employment here. The people who form the present Government told us at one time they could sweep unemployment away overnight. As it is, they are still sitting there clinging on like limpets to a rock, holding on to office, and refusing to take the opinions of their constituents, the opinions of members of various organisation that have worked for them and that have since resigned, organisations that helped to form this inter-minority Party Government.
Those people are still hanging on to office and we, in Dublin, who are in touch with development works, know that there cannot be any considerable expansion of the industrial policy of Fianna Fáil because the majority of the people in this country have no confidence whatever in any part of the policy of the present Government.
We hear a lot about emigration and we were often told that it was Fianna Fáil that caused emigration. There was nothing at all said, when these gentlemen were going before the electorate, about the exodus that occurred under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. Only Fianna Fáil could cause emigration—that was the cry during the war period when it was impossible to bring in the raw materials of industry. The fact is that since the inter-Party Government were formed, emigration continued just the same. Has there been any reduction in  emigration? They set up a commission, but that commission has not yet reported, and the exodus goes on, to the tune of at least 20,000 per annum.
I did not hear Deputy Cowan adverting to the position of vocational education in the City of Dublin. Deputy Cowan is as much in touch with events in Dublin as I am. He, too, is a member of the Dublin Corporation and he must know that the Government have done nothing whatever to extend vocational education in the city. Representatives of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee have gone to the Government to ask what their policy is and where the money is to come from to put into operation the building and other plans already prepared. They were told: “Go to the Dublin Corporation and see what they can do for you.” Last year the Dublin Corporation put up £130,000 for this purpose. This year they have been called upon to put up another £125,000. That is what I want to hear Deputy Cowan and other Dublin City Deputies talking about— the apparent policy of this Government reneging its responsibilities and putting them on to the rates.
I am not satisfied that any great proportion of the millions that Deputy Cowan says are being spent, is coming the way of the Dublin ratepayers. So far as I am aware, no very significant or proper proportion of that money is coming our way. We were asked in the Dublin Corporation only a few weeks ago to reimburse a sum of £3,000 for a temporary health clinic.
Mr. McCann: I do not want to follow Deputy Cowan or any other Deputy who strayed many thousands of miles away from this Vote on Account. My first effort in this House when I came here some years ago was on a Vote on Account after I had listened to Front Bench Fine Gael Deputies who travelled practically all over the globe in the course of their remarks.
Mr. McCann: I regard Deputy Cowan's arguments on defending, or rather not defending, this country as the most fallacious I ever heard. I cannot quite see his reasoning and I cannot agree with his idea of not defending ourselves against outsiders. He tells us the equipment we would buy would be obsolete in a couple of years and his suggestion is we are not to do anything to defend ourselves. It would appear that while he is thinking of that in the international direction, he is at the same time thinking about a little private army that he may or may not have. Where he is going to get the weapons—even obsolete weapons—for that little army in order to undo Partition, I do not know.
We should be prepared to defend ourselves here in this part of Ireland. We should be prepared to put on the hair shirt, if necessary, and spend to the limit on defence. The people who talk about not defending this country obviously have not been in the Irish tradition at all. I would advise them to read Griffith and Pearse, to read anybody, any revolutionary particularly, who ever wrote on this question. What is the use in winning freedom only to lose it, Davis said. We must arm to the utmost.
I do not attribute this to any Deputy in the House, because I have no evidence, but the only sense I can see in some arguments advanced is that some people would prefer to see somebody else either conquering us or defending us. That is as much as I will say on it. I believe we should defend ourselves and spend to the limit, even until it hurts us, in preparation.
We have heard all this rubbish about war being inevitable. Fianna Fáil is not saying that war is inevitable. Fianna Fáil is saying what every sensible Party and every sensible leader the world over says. They hope war is not inevitable but at the same time the people who say that are arming to the teeth, arming in defence  of their rights and their homes. That is what I understand as being free and guarding freedom. There is no other way of guarding freedom except by arming.
We are not against social welfare schemes. If Deputy Cowan or any other Deputy talks about Fianna Fáil being against social welfare schemes, I say that that is not so. The criticism directed against us by the biggest Party in the present inter-Party Government was that we were spending too much in our time on social welfare schemes. I remember well in my early years in this House the Leaders of the Opposition talking about the squandermania of Fianna Fáil. I remember clearly the occasion when an Opposition Deputy was asked by the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, would he be prepared to cut down on houses and what would the people do without houses and that Deputy replied: “Let them go along to Hell and do without them.”
That seems to be the opinion of that Party, that we were spending too much on social welfare, that we were creating a spirit in the people of ne'er do well, and that we were responsible for doles and everything that was un-savoury in life. They cannot have it both ways. We are not opposed to social welfare and I am not going to attack the scheme or the Bill. We, in fact, are the Party who introduced the social welfare scheme in this country and the Leader of this Party and the men who form the Opposition Front Bench, are the people who can best be looked to, to operate social welfare schemes when we are again returned as a Government which I hope will be soon. If the present Government have any honour left in them at all, they should go to the people. The people want them to go to them so that they can turn them out of office.
Mr. Coburn: This Vote on Account is only part of the total bill which the Minister for Finance hopes to present to the House for sanction in the course of the next few months. In introducing the Vote, the Minister gave a concise explanation of the various sums included in it and stated the reasons  for the increase in the various Estimates for the coming year. One of the points he made should, I think, command the serious consideration of Deputies and of the people of the country generally. That is, that you cannot have increased social services and increased expenditure unless you have more production and still more production; in other words, we cannot have our cake and eat it. The Minister referred to the fact that there was a good deal of extra money in circulation during the last few years, due to a very large extent to the fact that we have repatriated a good percentage of our sterling assets. He expressed the view that that could be a good policy, so long as the people spent that money on essentials but he issued the warning that, so far as his judgement went, he was afraid that a good part of these assets were being spent on non-essentials. In other words, whilst we hear a good deal about the high cost of living, any man who has given any thought to the position, who keeps his eyes open and sees what is going on around him, must come to the conclusion that there is another factor responsible as well as the high cost of living and that is, the high cost of pleasure. It may be an unpopular thing to say but it is, nevertheless, true. Therefore when one hears about the high cost of living one should keep in mind what is happening in other directions so far as amusements and pleasure are concerned.
Personally, I think that Deputies of all Parties should hearken to what has been stated by the Minister for Finance. Deputies opposite may think that it would be good propaganda for them to quote some of the statements of the Minister for Finance but I, personally, think he would be falling in his duty if he did not, in view of the responsible position which he holds, sound a note of warning as to the course we are pursuing in this country. That refers to the people as a whole, the people who voted for Fianna Fáil as well as those who voted for the inter-Party Government.
I am one of those who always believed in the divine precept that man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. It is not by passing Acts of  Parliament that this country can be made prosperous. I believe that there is no use in magnifying out of all proportion any little inconveniences from which the people of this country suffer at the moment.
I am not going to say that the inter-Party Government are infallible or that they have turned this country into a land flowing with milk and honey but I do say, as one who has studied the position of the country from every angle, that, taking a general view, the people of this country enjoy as high, if not a higher, standard of living at the present time than the people of any other country in the world. I think we should all be thankful for that happy state of affairs.
Comparisons have been made here between the policy pursued by the Fianna Fáil Government and that at present pursued by the inter-Party Government. Let me say, as I said when Fianna Fáil were in power, that I think they did the best they could, taking into consideration the set of circumstances which existed during those years. I gave vent to my feelings on many occasions during those years. I wish to give vent to them again on this occasion and to tell Fianna Fáil that, when all is said and done, a great part of the policy which they pursued for those 16 years will be pursued, and must necessarily be pursued, by whatever Government succeeds them. It would be a very sad state of affairs in this or any other country if a change of a Government meant that everything that the outgoing Government did was wrong. I think that is an aspect of the matter that should be recognised by Deputies of all Parties. There is no use, therefore, in wasting time in speaking to Deputies regarding the policy pursued by Fianna Fáil, especially as it affected industrial production in this country. They pursued it at great length and made a success of it. We are pursuing the same policy and if as a result of the efforts of the Minister for Industry and Commerce during the past three years, the numbers engaged in industry have increased and production has increased. I think that should be a matter of congratulation for all concerned, including  the Opposition because that is a factor that is going to affect the prosperity of the people who support Fianna Fáil as well as the people who support the inter-Party Government.
As regards other matters which have been discussed on this Vote, I made up my mind that I must obey the Chair on this occasion because it would be unwise to dwell at length on the different items that comprise this Vote. We shall have many occasions in the next few months to deal with these questions on the Budget, but I would appeal to members of the Opposition to cease belittling the efforts that have been made in particular by the Departments of Agriculture and of Industry and Commerce. Such criticism is not good for the future of this country. The Fianna Fáil Party consists of 66 or 67 members and, assuming that each Deputy received between 5,000 and 6,000 votes, that Party represents a very considerable section of our people. Neither this nor any other Government can do very much unless they have the co-operation of that large section of the people. When a Government is established, all Irishmen who are anxious for the welfare and prosperity of the country should do what they can to assist in reason the efforts of the various Ministers. Therefore, I deplore some of the references that have been made, particularly to agriculture. While I may not be a farmer, I come from farmer-stock. I do not wrap myself up in a box all day, but move about a good deal. I do not think there is any Deputy who moves as freely as I do amongst the people in the constituency I represent. I am not going to say that the members of the farming community are all millionaires, but I can honestly say I see, on all sides, in their case a degree of prosperity which has never been equalled over the last 40 or 50 years. I say that honestly, but I may be wrong. Human nature being what it is, I know, of course, that you will always find some people who may not be doing well. You will find that in every sphere of life. The human factor being what it is, you will find  that some men cannot succeed no matter what they have. But, leaving politics out of it altogether, I would say that the farming community, as a whole, are to-day enjoying a degree of prosperity which has never been surpassed in this country over the past 40 years.
I am not attributing all that to the efforts of the inter-Party Government. The circumstances which exist at the moment may have a lot to do with it. Above all, I would say that the chief credit for it must be due to the farmers themselves, including those who support the Fianna Fáil Party. That again, I suggest brings home the force of my argument that you must have co-operation if you want to have prosperity in the country. Therefore, when I hear a Deputy say that the farmers are a depressed class my feeling is that such as statement is not calculated to do a good service to his Party, to the people as a whole or to the country.
References have been made to the question of unemployment. There, again, that is a matter which cannot be solved overnight. Since I became a member of this House almost 24 years ago, I have been preaching that there is no such thing as a solution for unemployment. The human element enters into that, too. You will always have unemployment as you will always have emigration. I have made that clear in every election which I have fought. I have never promised the people that I had a solution for that problem. It is a problem which will always remain not only here but in all countries. Therefore, there is not much use in quoting statistics as to the number who are or who are not employed. About 19 years ago, when the present Leader of the Opposition was in opposition, I remember him making a statement to the effect that he saw no reason why this country could not support 9,000,000 people. I was only a back bencher at the time, and I said to him that sooner or later, he would have to go back on that statement, which he did. I give him every credit for doing so. He found later that it was a much more difficult question to solve than he then thought, and I give him credit for having made that admission. As a back bencher at the time, I knew that  it was one of the things which could not be solved, and that never will be solved. The only thing a Government can do is to keep down the numbers as far as possible. There, again, the question of its solution, even in a partial manner, will depend to a very large extent on the Government and the Opposition working together in providing the ways and means of giving added employment to those who at the moment are unemployed.
The last point I wish to make is one which I have repeated many a time from public platforms during general elections. I want to emphasise it here and now. The point is that there seems to be an inclination on the part of the people of this country not to recognise the fact that this is a small country, and that we can give a certain decent standard of living to the majority of our people, that is in the physical sense—not from the point of view of pleasure or amusement, but from the point of view of physique and good health. If people would only recognise that fact this could be one of the best and happiest countries in the world. We cannot give a standard of living to certain of our people, one which, to say the least of it, would not be good for them. We have to remember that this is a small country of about 3,000,000 people. It depends in the main on agriculture. We must admit, when all is said and done, that agriculture is the mainstay of the country. When we see how the people engaged in that industry live, I think we must come to the conclusion that, though we are a small country, we are enjoying here as high as a standard of living as can be found in any other part of the world.
The warning that I want to issue is that, if we want to maintain that standard of living we can only do so by hard work and by increased production, and by more production, to use the words of Sir Stafford Cripps when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Labour Government in England a few years ago. Acts of Parliament will not make this country prosperous but rather co-operation between employers and employees, together with the doing away of class distinction, the mistrust  and the selfish spirit which seem to be creeping in amongst the people of this country, and which, if persisted in, will do more damage than all the guns or airplanes of an enemy or of an invading army.
I think that, taking everything into consideration, this Vote on Account, although it only represents something less than one-third of the total amount which will be necessary to carry on the government of the country during the next 12 months, is one that should be examined very carefully by all Deputies. We should not forget the fact that we can only give the money to whatever Minister is in power as we have it.
The best way to have it is to work for it. I should like to say also with regard to taxation, especially on the farming community, that I was surprised and pleased to hear the Minister for Social Welfare stating that almost 75 per cent. of the moneys given by way of social services, old age pensions and so on, went to the rural community which proves that all the moneys raised for carrying on the social services of the country do not go merely into the pockets of those in the cities and towns.
I make this final appeal, that, if we want this country to prosper, there must be more co-operation and less carping criticism. This talk about a general election is all moonshine. It may provide a certain amount of excitement for the Irish people—we are an excitable people and we like excitement—but general elections are not just good paying things. As to the people being bubbling over with a desire to get this Government out, I might remind Deputies that I am in my constituency almost every day and I have never met one man yet who said that we should get out. If we are as bad as we are made out to be, I should imagine that there would be howling mobs with bludgeons outside the gates to meet every member of the inter-Party Government. I do not see these things happening. Let the Opposition wait for another year and a half and all Parties will have an opportunity of putting their respective programmes before the people. This being a democratic country, the people can put this  Government out. We will give them the opportunity, but we will not go until the time is up, because we believe we have a duty to carry on for the five years for which we were elected.
Mr. Allen: When the Minister brought in this Vote on Account, he scarcely had in mind the matters of which Deputy Coburn has reminded the House, that we are a small, poor country of about 3,000,000 population, that the only way we can afford to pay this Bill is by working hard, that we are mainly an agricultural country, and that all these millions, or the main part of them, must come from agriculture. I wonder if the Minister, in preparing the Estimates represented by this Bill, I had all these things in mind. We have heard people in this House described as having faces of brass. It is a popular phrase with the Minister for Agriculture when referring to Opposition Deputies.
I suggest that the Minister for Finance has a face of brass in coming before a country of 3,000,000 people, a people who are mainly an agricultural people, and asking them to foot the bill set out here in the Book of Estimates, plus another £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 for Central Fund Services and large amounts for borrowing.
Although when they took office, each and every group represented in the Government was pledged to reduce taxation, to reduce the cost of living and to make the country a better, a cheaper and an easier place to live in, in the three years during which this heaven-sent Government has been in office, the cost of Government has increased by £28,000,000. In addition, £54,000,000 have been borrowed in the same period, plus £41,000,000 made available out of the Transition Development Fund, which is borrowed money also. That means that £95,000,000 of borrowed money has been at the disposal of the Minister in the past three years. The national debt has increased by almost 100 per cent., leaving aside the American counterpart fund, in these three years and the service of debt has gone up practically 100 per cent. There are the Minister's  figures and I am sure he will not deny them.
Can the country afford to continue increasing the cost of Government each year? When this Minister took office in February, 1948, the Book of Estimates was just being issued and he incorporated in that Book of Estimates the now famous blue slip stating that the Coalition Government were repudiating that Book of Estimates, that they were not accepting it and did not propose to provide moneys to honour it, but, in spite of that, we find that in three years he has increased the cost of Government services by £28,000,000 over and above what it was in the last year of the Fianna Fáil Government.
The Minister, in his opening statement, gave no justification whatever for that huge increase, for that alarming and frightening increase, in the cost of Government. Remember that this sum of £28,000,000 adds nothing whatever to the wealth of this community. It is true that it may be providing a livelihood for a large number of people, but it adds nothing to the community's wealth. It is completely non-productive and will return nothing to the Exchequer, except what comes in in the shape of income-tax. The capital and other services of this State have gone up from almost £59,000,000 in 1947-48 to over £83,000,000 in 1951-52, and capital liabilities have gone up from £100,000,000 to £183,000,000. While the Fianna Fáil Government in their 16 years of office borrowed £38,000,000, the Coalition Government in three years have borrowed £39,000,000. In addition, they have borrowed 128,000,000 dollars and they also got 16,000,000 dollars in grants. Is it any wonder that we have the claim that there is prosperity in the country, whether there is or not. There should be prosperity of a type hitherto unknown in this country when all these millions are being let loose. If we have not got prosperity when all the millions being screwed out of the taxpayers' pockets, not to speak of the amounts taken from the pockets of the ratepayers, and all the millions being borrowed we are being let loose in the spending spree we have had in the past three years, we will never have prosperity in this nation.
 It never can, because it will be agreed even by the Minister for Finance that this borrowing and going into debt cannot continue. This nation cannot continue on the basis of borrowing and of increasing the public debt, in addition to increasing taxation—taking people's earnings year by year. We see the colossal sums that the Minister is demanding for the present year.
During the course of the debate which has ranged over many problems, charges were made against this Party to the effect that when we were in office we did not provide money for social services on the same grand scale as this Coalition Government now proposes to do. It might be interesting to throw our minds back over a few years and to see what Fianna Fáil did during its term of office. One of our first actions in 1932 was to restore the shilling to the old age pensioners which our predecessors in office had taken from them when they were hard up for money. Just imagine that there was an Irish Government, less than 20 years ago, that took a shilling from the old age pensioners—and the majority of the members of that Government are now sitting on the Government Front Bench to-day. However, Fianna Fáil restored to the old age pensioners in 1932 the amount which they were getting previously.
Mr. Allen: The amount from public funds to old age pensioners in 1947 was 15/- per week and the only increase they have had since was 2/6 from this Government. The Fianna Fáil Government brought in the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act which has been in operation for many years. They brought in the children's allowances.
Mr. Allen: Does Deputy Rooney object to that? They also brought in many other social benefits for the poorer sections of the community. There is, further, the question of unemployment assistance. Many of us can remember that less than 20 years ago a man, if he was not in industrial employment and happened to lose whatever employment he might have had, had nothing to fall back on but home assistance. That was so in 1927, 1928 and 1929 and it affected many fine young agricultural workers in the country. If men employed in towns in nonindustrial employment happened to lose their employment, there was no public fund except the Home Assistance Fund to draw on—and what they got from that was not capable of keeping body and soul together. We also brought in a Wet Time Insurance Act, which operatives in the building industry hailed at the time and which is praised at present as being one of the best Acts ever introduced. Numbers of people engaged in the building industry have told me that during the past winter, because of all the bad weather and frost during December of last year and January and February of this year, they would have found themselves in very serious difficulties were it not for the Wet Time Insurance Act which enabled them to draw two-thirds of their ordinary rate of pay during all the broken weather in these past three months. In addition, we increased unemployment insurance benefit by 50 per cent. in 1947. We increased national health insurance benefit by an extra 50 per cent. and both without any extra charge to the insured person.
One of the first actions of the Coalition Government was to steamroll an Act through this House forcing the employees and the employers to pay extra on stamps each week. At the time the Labour Party in this House were as quite as mice, as the Minister for Agriculture said. They allowed this Act to go through without a protest even though it imposed an extra burden on the workers of the country. We introduced a Holidays Act to give holidays with pay to many sections.  of the workers, for the first time in the history of this country. Our social legislation at that time was in advance of that of any other country in Europe. We gave the farm workers, for the first time ever, a charter which entitled them to a minimum rate of wages. That social benefit affected many thousands of farm workers and it is still regarded as a great benefit by the agricultural workers of this country.
During the term of office of the Fianna Fáil Government an extra £9,000,000 was provided for social services, while only £4,000,000 was provided for that purpose by their predecessors in office. At the time we left office £13,000,000 were being paid out in social services to the different sections of the community. We built 34 hospitals and tens of thousands of houses. The great Health Act of 1947 was put through this House by a Fianna Fáil Government. Under that Act, full benefits were provided for the first time for those who are unfortunate enough to be suffering from tuberculosis, and also for their families. It has taken three years, a lot of noise, hot talk and nonsense before any further section of that Act has been put into operation. The mother and child section of that Act was ready to be brought in when the present Government took office. It is not going to come into operation yet.
Mr. Allen: The Act was passed the  previous year and many social amenities were provided in that Act besides the mother and child scheme which the Minister does not want and which, I am sure, he would not like to see implemented, because in addition to the bill which he introduced, the mother and child scheme would cost us £4,000,000 or £5,000,000.
Mr. Allen: The Minister for Social Welfare published a scheme in 1946. When he was Deputy Norton he announced it in this House and told the country about it. He published it during the general election campaign, but it was almost three years before that scheme saw the light of day. He was not then, however, simple Deputy Norton, but Minister for Social Welfare. What happened to the scheme of plain Deputy Norton, the Leader of the Labour Party in this House, the scheme published in 1946 or 1947 that was going to cost only £26,000,000 or £28,000,000? Lo and behold, this one is going to cost £6,000,000. That was a big climb down, and I am sure that the Minister for Finance had a big hand in paring down  that wonderful scheme which the Minister for Social Welfare had prepared and on which he fought the election in 1948 and which he had published a year before in pamphlet form. Deputy Fitzpatrick may have seen it.
Mr. Allen: There is nothing in this Book of Estimates to provide for the social welfare scheme or the mother and child scheme, and when those two schemes come to be implemented it will mean an addition of at least £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 in the present financial year. No provision whatever has been made for either of those schemes.
Mr. Allen: To finance those schemes you will have recourse to borrowing if you can find anyone who will give you anything. The counterpart fund, of course, is at the Minister's disposal and is not all used up. He can draw on that for a while, but, unfortunately for the country, the day of the spending  spree will come to an end very shortly and well the Minister for Finance knows that. Our sterling assets, about which there has been so much talk in the country during the last three years, are being brought home, but they are being brought home via luxury goods, not for capital investment. They are being depleted and spent on luxury goods. That is not what the country and the House would like to see.
Mr. Allen: All you have to do is to read the Minister for Finance's opening statement on this Vote on Account and you will see that, while he is very perturbed, he has not succeeded in influencing his colleagues in the Cabinet about the seriousness of the situation. I am sure that he has told them time after time that this colossal borrowing cannot go on. There has been much talk about general elections, but the people are more perturbed about the colossal borrowing and the money which is being spent like jackstones by this Government than about anything else.
Any family knows quite well that if it goes into debt it is only a matter of days, weeks or months until it must go bankrupt. If a family goes on spending more than it earns in any week or year it will be pile up debt and credit comes to an end in a short time. The danger is that our credit, because of this colossal spending and borrowing and the dissipation of our assets abroad, must come to an end in a short time. In introducing the Vote on Account the Minister for Finance said (column 789, Volume 124, No. 5):
“The disturbing feature, of course, is the deficit in the balance of payments, particularly when that is marked by the great increase in consumption here, especially when that great increase in consumption is attached to the non-essential goods. The continuance of such a situation for any period would be highly dangerous.”
“It would jeopardise the policy, popularly, I think, approved of, to  repatriate sterling assets. But repatriation of sterling assets is only of use if they are used solely or mainly for investment and development.”
Mr. Allen: It just barely reached the 1938 figure and is not increasing. The indications are that the increase which took place since the end of the war has now ceased. Referring to the repatriation of our sterling assets, the Minister also said:
“They can be increased if people refrain from expenditure on non-essential goods. There is a tremendous margin over what was spent in 1938. There is plenty of slack to be gathered in. That is the chief lesson to be learned from the economic trend of 1950.”
There is no doubt that the country is disturbed because of many serious factors in Government policy. It is well known to every section of the community that this Government, and many members of it, are being driven along a line they do not approve of. It is a well-known fact that, day after day, month after month and year after year, this Government, in order to maintain its position as a Government and keep  itself together, had to pay out to one or other group of its members, in one form or another, by giving way in this direction or that, in order to keep itself together.
Mr. Allen: I will deal with that in a moment and am glad the Deputy reminded me about it. There were many pay-outs to the groups forming the Government, in order to keep them together for the last three years, very many pay-outs at the expense of the community, at the expense of the taxpayer. That is a well-known fact, which is disturbing the people more than anything else. That is why they are wishing for a general election, wishing for an opportunity of putting in place of the present Government a Government of responsibility.
Mr. Allen: We have had a Social Welfare Bill, which was much publicised and on which lectures were given by State servants. It is the first Bill introduced here on which civil servants had to be sent broadcast throughout the country at State expense in order to popularise that Bill before it was introduced.
Mr. Allen: In the 30 years' existence of this State it is the first time any measure introduced by a Minister of State here was lectured on by lecturers from the Minister's Department, sent broadcast throughout the country before its introduction.
Mr. Allen: Let me put it this way. In the taxation that was provided for the past year, some of those moneys were utilised to send State servants of the Department of Social Welfare to give lectures on the Social Welfare Bill.
Deputy Lehane asked me what my attitude and the attitude of this Party was on the matter of the increase proposed in old age pensions on last Friday for the first time. It had nothing whatever to do with the Social Welfare Bill. Before that extra 2/6 or 5/- can be given, there will have to be a law passed through this Dáil other than the Social Welfare Bill.
Mr. Allen: Last Friday the Minister for Social Welfare, who came in to introduce the Social Welfare Bill, introduced also something that was not in the Bill before the House. There was no section, clause or heading in that Bill covering a proposal to increase old age pensions.
Mr. Allen: The Government have all the power they need without waiting for any legislation here to give 2/6, 5/-, or 10/- extra to the old age pensioners, from next Monday morning if they wish. They need not wait to send State servants out to make the publicity they are hoping to get from this extra 2/6. The House and the country know why this was announced last Friday, why it was not announced the previous Friday or six months ago. Everyone is fully aware that the extra £1,000,000 was provided for one purpose. It was not for the interest of the old age pensioners, but to keep the 13 Ministers together in that Coalition Government. It was the price that was paid, the latest price, and it will be charged against the country, to keep the Coalition together. Is not that a well-known fact?
Mr. Allen: It was announced by Deputy Ryan last Friday that it was a good thing to do. Everyone will agree with it. You would not find anyone in the country objecting to it, but the method and the necessity for doing it is what the country objects to very strongly.
Mr. Allen: It was estimated to have cost £300,000 to buy 44 members of the  old Irish Parliament to carry the Act of Union, but it cost £1,000,000 to buy four or five members to vote for the Social Welfare Bill.
Mr. Allen: I am not very happy at all. That is the price this country is paying for its so-called liberty under its Twenty-Six County Republic. Included in this bill before the House is money that it is proposed to vote out of the Counterpart Fund for certain financial expenditure on land rehabilitation and under the Works Act. I want to say, with a full sense of responsibility, having seen these two Acts of the Oireachtas in operation, that the big proportion of that money is being badly spent and will bring no return whatever to any section of this community. The works Act, it is true, is providing much-needed employment for many men who had no other employment in rural areas. To that extent only it serves useful purpose. There may be here and there a minor drainage scheme of certain utility and of certain advantage to the community being done but, taking the work, by and large, that is being done in order to spend this money, it is of no utility whatever and will give no return. The Government would be wise to apply for the authority of E.C.A. to spend this money in other ways. It could be spent by the local authorities with great advantage on the country roads, on tourist roads, if you like.
Mr. Allen: The Minister should use his influence with the Minister for Local Government to divert a big proportion of that money from the so-called drainage and the waste that is going on to county councils to reconstruct county roads. We are providing in a Supplementary Estimate which the Minister for Industry and Commerce will be introducing this evening almost £1,000,000 to subsidise the  transport company of this country— Córas Iompair Éireann, as it is known. We do not know how many millions the State may have to provide in future years in order to keep that transport company going. But everyone in this country does know that the traffic formerly carried by Córas Iompair Éireann has all been thrown on the roads which were never planned for such traffic and which cannot be maintained at present out of local taxation.
This money that is being spent under the Local Authorities (Works) Act could more usefully have been diverted to building up the county roads. We have thousands and thousands of miles of them in the country. There is no doubt that, if a major emergency does not arise, motor transport has come to stay and that the goods of this country will be carried on the roads in future. The railways may be performing a useful service in a limited way, but some future Dáil may have some doubt as to whether the railways justify the expenditure on them. Personally, I should like to see the railways maintained, but I say with all responsibility that if the cost of maintaining the railways, with no traffic on them, is to be borne by the taxpayers, the taxpayers also will have to bear the additional burden of building up the roadways in order to carry the traffic of the country. It cannot be done otherwise. We have thousands and thousands of miles of country roads and many hundreds of miles of ordinary main roads which must be built up and which will cost anything from £2,000 to £4,000 a mile to make them suitable for carrying the traffic that is being carried on them at present.
This Counterpart Fund could be more usefully spent in the interests of the whole country rather than continuing with this drainage work. It would give as much employment to people living in the rural areas as it given at present to men who have to work in rivers in the depth of winter. These men could not have carried on for the last three months up to their hips in water without keeping themselves warm by taking shelter and getting paid at the end of the week for that. That is all the majority of them have  been doing. We do not blame them for that. That Works Bill was forced through this House. The scheme may have served a purpose in the first year by the carrying out of some drainage, but, from what I have seen of it over a wide area of the country, there is no responsible person in public life who would recommend its continuance on the present basis. The money has been literally thrown down the drain. It has given employment to many thousands of men who had no other employment, but that is all it has done. If that money had been given to these men for the carrying out of some useful work it would have been all the better.
I hope the Minister will take note of that and that he will consult his colleagues and the Deputies sitting behind him who know what is going on and how this money is being spent. It may be that in the Midlands or in the flatter areas of the country an amount of useful work has been done, but a serious check up on that should take place. The money should not be spent purely for the purpose of giving employment. It should be expended in a way which will give a return to the nation. It certainly will not give such a return by being expended in the way I have seen it expended for the last three years. I have no objection to spending money on giving employment. I only wish there was more money available for the employment of more men. But it is not giving any return to the nation in the way in which it is being spent.
There are also mixed feelings amongst the people as to whether the money which is being spent on the land rehabilitation scheme is going to give results. It is certainly not going to do what the Minister for Social Welfare claims in the little Blue Book he issued boosting his Social Welfare Bill in which he claimed that the £40,000,000 which the farmers would get under the land rehabilitation scheme would put them in a position to be well off enough to pay the 3/6 or the 6/- extra per week for their employees.
I should also like to advert to the policy of the Government in importing products that could be produced in this country. I refer especially to the policy  of importing the wheat that we need when much of it could be produced at home. A very drastic change is needed in that respect. No one man in this State has the right to determine what the national policy of the country in any direction should be.
The Minister for Agriculture was opposed to the growing and producing of wheat in this country. He has made no secret of that. Recently he announced in this House that he was having last year's Irish wheat ground into animal feeding. I wonder if it is good national policy to degrade the product of our land. No Minister in an Irish Government should degrade any product of his own country whether it be from field or factory. Least of all should the wheat that is necessary for the maintenance of the human being in the country be belittled, ridiculed and damaged in the eyes of the people.
I suggest to the Minister for Finance that the policy of importing wheat at £32 a ton and offering the Irish farmer only £25 a ton is a bad financial and a bad national policy. It should not be allowed to continue.
Mr. Allen: It is bad under any circumstances. The matter of £50 per ton for wheat can be discussed separately and on its own merits. It has been useful propaganda for the Coalition to talk about £50 a ton for wheat and about the fact that in 1949 with a lesser acreage of wheat there was a higher yield as compared with the year 1947.
Every farmer who lived on the land in this country in 1946 or 1947, whether he is 60, 70 or 80 years of age, if he is still alive, knows quite well that the most serious year in his lifetime from the point of view of farming was 1947. Every farmer will admit that no matter what his politics are in other directions. The yield from all products of the land in 1947 was down to zero because of the severe winter of 1946 and the bad weather in 1947. It is a well-known fact that the turf crop could not be saved that year either. It is also a well-known fact that the cow population  of the country that year did not give the produce it would give in a normal year. It is wrong altogether to be using the year 1947, as it has been used, for propaganda purposes only and comparing the yield that year with the normal yield over ten, or 15 years previously.
The highest yield in cereal crops was obtained in this country in 1949. That is an admitted fact. When the Minister or any Minister or anybody else compares the year 1949 with 1947 I would say that is wrong and damaging the national interests.
I will not go into the matter of the tomato crop. The Minister for Agriculture set out to kill wheat, tomatoes and root seeds growing. He has succeeded in all three directions. He has succeeded admirably. It is extraordinary that with a Party of over 70 sitting behind him the Minister for Agriculture is allowed to get away with it.
I do not want to hold up the House or the Minister any longer. This has been a prolonged debate. I want to say that the bill with which the Minister has faced the country in the present year is a colossal one. Much of the borrowing he proposes to do in the present year is for services which were provided by the previous Government out of taxation year after year. That colossal bill will damage the future interests of this State. Labour Members who sit in this House should take serious note of it because it is the workers, when this money is expended, who will first be affected through loss of employment, reduced standards of living and reduced earnings. The end of it will be the emigrant ship. That must be the end of this mad hatter scheme of finance, borrowing and colossal spending which is the policy of the Government.
Mr. McGilligan: There are two occasions at least in the year on which Deputies of Deputy Allen's type of mind are given an opportunity to rave over about a week. Just think of the phrase on which the Deputy closed— this country is being reduced to misery and unemployment.
Mr. McGilligan: I thought the Deputy said he was not going to delay the House any longer. Deputy MacEntee told us in the same terms that under the present Coalition Government the country would be reduced to economic servitude. That is the note of the debate, the country is being reduced to economic servitude.
If we have not immediate mass unemployment, low wage conditions, depressed conditions both in agriculture and industry and the emigrant ship, we are certainly going to have them in a couple of years. That was the moaning which was started here on the Vote on Account in 1948. It deepened its tone in the Budget of 1948. It was repeated with monotonous regularity on the two occasions last year, and here we have it again.
“I said here last year in the debate on the Vote on Account that I had gone through the Book of Estimates and that I had examined every Estimate in it with a view to ascertaining whether there were any specific economies I could recommend and that, a part from cutting out some follies and fripperies, there was nothing I could suggest which would make any significant difference in the total figures.”
Deputy Lemass said here on Thursday that he was not in a position to indicate any significant economies; that there were a few Coalition follies scattered around the Book of Estimates but that they would not be significant in relation to the total bill of £83,000,000 because when one talks in terms of a saving of £25,000, and that was the only thing put up by the Deputy who said that he could pick out a few follies here and there and that the tot was in the region  of £83,000,000, it shows exactly how genuine he is when he says he can suggest no economies in the bill. He went on to say:—
“I agree also that many, if not all, of the genuine capital projects upon which the Government proposed to embark were desirable; that in fact its investment programme was on the whole desirable apart from borrowing to meet Budget deficits or to defray the costs of various recurring grants which would create no Exchequer assets.”
“There is no doubt whatever that the public of this country want investment in housing, hospitals, electricity, telephones, afforestation, land improvement, in all the things which were on the list given by the Minister when announcing his capital budget last year.”
I will deal with his comments on borrowing in a moment. Later he said, when interruptions brought him back to what he said in 1948 when he had condemned me for what he described as championing a policy of austerity— I quote again from his speech on 6th March:—
“I said in 1948 that in the circumstances of that year there was no need in this country for a policy of austerity. I was assuming that the Minister for Finance in outlining his policy in that year meant what he said. I have not yet discovered that he was speaking then with his tongue in his cheek. I argued strongly that in the circumstances of 1948, having regard to the sound position of this country at the end of the war year  and having regard to the general expectation of an improvement in economic conditions throughout the world, that we did not have to embark on a policy of restriction such as the Minister for Finance appeared then to be foreshadowing.”
I would ask to be allowed to make this comment on that. Have the circumstances of this country improved since 1948, since the day when Deputy Lemass ceased to be a Minister and became an ordinary Deputy? I suggest they have. I suggest that every economic statistic we have bears out that fact. Therefore, there was no reason for a policy of restriction such as he thought I was then foreshadowing. But Deputy Lemass went even further on 2nd March and stated that he did not think circumstances had arisen to justify a policy to which the name of austerity could reasonably be applied. I took that statement by Deputy Lemass as setting the discussion here in its proper framework and one member of the Opposition at least, after indulging in the same volume of lamentation that Deputy Lemass set as an undesirable precedent for the rest of his followers, paid attention to it. Deputy Lemass admitted there was nothing in the Book of Estimates that he could cut out. One knows what that means. There is nothing in the Book of Estimates that he will not stand over if anybody suggests the excision of a particular service because Deputy Lemass knows that at least these services are popular.
When it comes to borrowing, he is of the view that there is nothing in the programme outlined that the people do not want, and as a corollary to that—and I expect Deputy Lemass to accept the corollary to his argument—there is no project that Deputy Lemass would hesitate to go on with: to put it positively, any Government, even if Deputy Lemass were a member of that Government, would continue with all these projects. The only difference between us then is that Deputy Lemass would carry out these projects, or most of them, by means of taxation. Yet, Deputy Lemass and all his faithful followers complained bitterly throughout the debate that  taxation was too heavy. They told us that the present rate of taxation is having the effect of depressing business people. Deputy MacEntee actually said that people had been “stood off” because of the Price Freeze Order.
A picture was painted of a failing agricultural industry. It was said that there had been no increase of any kind except in unemployment, emigration and depression. We were told that all that is due to taxation. Yet, the very people who tell us that these ills are due to taxation tell us in the same breath that they would carry out our programme by means of taxation, instead of trying to limit, as we are doing, in a reasonable and prudent way, the weight of taxation upon the generation in which we live. That is the chief contradiction that appears in the Opposition speeches.
Now, that is the first point to which I would like to address myself in concluding this debate: is it or is it not reasonably prudent when we are faced with the necessity of carrying out so many schemes, schemes that are thought so desirable not only by those who support the Coalition but by their opponents on the Opposition benches? Possibly we shall have this matter debated here on another occasion in a more reasonable way, when we can get away from the lament that there is something imprudent in doing what we are doing. Is it worth while taking such a risk as undoubtedly attaches to the great capital development programme upon which we embarked last year, and with which we are proceeding this year?
I would like to deal, first of all, with some of the minor matters that were raised here before I deal with that important point. Deputy Lynch spoke in this debate under the handicap of being a professional man because he had to speak after his would-be leader had told him that the most stupid of men he, Deputy Lemass, had ever met outside the law were the lawyers themselves. The result was that Deputy Lynch spoke with considerably less verve than he usually does. I presume the reason for his loss of verve was because of his leader's comment. He did, however, harp on the  plaint that he and Deputy McGrath have in relation to the fuel situation in Cork over the Christmas period. I understand that the situation was that in the early part of the year, a few days after the New Year dawned, Deputy McGrath and Deputy Lynch sent a joint telegram to the Department of Industry and Commerce to the effect that fuel supplies were short. In fact, they said they were at famine point in the City of Cork, and that fuel should be made available immediately, particularly for the poor. Inquiries were straightaway made by the Department the day after the telegram was received.
These inquiries revealed that certain firms in Cork had over a week's supply on hands and were supplying consumers freely. One merchant in Cork stated that no one need go short of a bag of coal. The Department followed up that investigation by sending an inspector down. The results of his investigation showed that, while some merchants had run out of coal, others had stocks of coal on hands and were selling it freely to domestic consumers; and, in any event, cargoes of Polish coal were due to reach Cork a few days afterwards. Those cargoes did reach Cork a few days afterwards and since that time there has been no complaint with regard to the fuel situation there.
What is abundantly clear from all this is that this was merely another scandalous attempt, similar to attempts that have been made over the past three years, on the part of Fianna Fáil to make political capital out of the exigencies of a situation, no matter how unreasonable their action might be and no matter how easy it might be to view the situation in its proper perspective and adopt a sensible attitude towards it. Deputy Aiken led off with a complaint; Deputy Lemass followed him but I think it was left to Deputy Derrig to make the chief burden of his song a complaint with regard to the development of the cement industry. The precise statement was made here by both Deputy Aiken and Deputy Lemass that they had plans in hand before they left office for the expansion of the cement plant at Limerick. I have turned up a famous minute that  has been often referred to in this House but mainly in connection with the matter of turf production. It is of date 12th February, 1948, about a week before Deputy Lemass left office. It is a record of a conference presided over by Deputy Lemass.
To that conference there came, amongst a number of other things, a report with regard to cement. It stated that the cement company had indicated that they were planning a development—that they were planning a development—and the decision that was taken by this departmental conference, on the 12th February, 1948, under the presidency of Deputy Lemass, was that the cement company's scheme for development would be examined when submitted. On the 12th February, 1948, they had not even got a plan for it and there was no expansion promised. There was a mere recording in a minute that the scheme for development would be examined when submitted. Despite that, the scandalous perversion is chanced here that there was a scheme for the development of the cement industry in Limerick and that we had upset the plans which the Fianna Fáil Government had in train for that.
Mr. McGilligan: On the 12th February, 1948, the scheme for development would be examined when submitted. At the same conference of the 12th February, they discussed turf —I will come to the details of that in a moment—and they decided that no provision was to be made in respect of hand-won turf in the 1948-49 Estimates. They, presumably, discussed wheat on that occasion too but it was not until the end of the week, I think about the 17th, that the decision was taken, of course, to pay the £50 a ton for the Argentine wheat.
Deputy Lemass spoke of the rural  electrification scheme and again the attempt is made here to confuse Deputies and to have it represented that there was a grand scheme, with detailed plans, for progress in that rural electrification scheme, made out by him, and that that progress has been interrupted. In fact, the situation is that this matter started in the year to the 31st March, 1947. I am speaking, in each year, of the year to the 31st March. In the year to the 31st March, 1947, the scheme was just barely getting under way. In 1948, if I take the mileage of lines strung, there were 700 odd miles strung; the number of consumers connected was 2,200; there were seven areas completed. The advance that was made for rural electrification was £550,000. For the year to the 31st March, 1949, the miles of lines strung was 1,730; the number of consumers connected was 9,262; there were 30 areas completed and the advance made for rural electrification was in the region of £900,000. In the year to the 31st March, 1950, there were 2,083 miles of lines strung; consumers connected rose to 13,688; there were 45 areas completed, at a cost, by way of advance, of £1,050,000; and as between 1st April, 1950, and the end of December, 1950, there were almost 16,000 miles of lines strung, which is, roughly, the same progress as in 1949; 116,786 consumers connected, 34 areas completed, and the amount of money provided by way of advance was £1,300,000.
People will not understand these figures as I read them but they may look at them in the Official Report when published. There is nothing there on which anybody can possibly found a complaint that there is not the progress being maintained in connection with rural electrification that was decided upon.
Another complaint is with regard to Irish Shipping, Limited, and here again it is sought to delude the Dáil into believing that there was a plan to have the tonnage of the Irish mercantile marine increased to the point that all our seaborne traffic could be taken by ships of Irish Shipping, Limited. It is a fact that in 1943, as far back as that, a Cabinet committee agreed that Irish Shipping, Limited, should proceed  with the preparation of plans for the development of an Irish mercantile marine on the lines outlined in a previously prepared memorandum and it was aimed to make the aggregate tonnage of the company's fleet not less than 250,000 tons dead weight. That was 1943. But, in 1947, Deputy Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, speaking in this House, said that provision was being made in legislation for increased capital so that, if necessary, the company could call upon it to implement fully their plans for the establishment of a worth-while merchant fleet composed of modern ships. No such capital provision was made by Deputy Lemass while he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the matter remained there until the present Government took it up. They have added—to a slight degree only—to the tonnage of Irish Shipping, Limited. It is not an easy matter to decide as to what tonnage they should eventually aim at, but all that I can interject in this debate is that there is no question of progress or arrangements or plans being made by the last Government which the present Government interrupted. There was no provision by way of money for plans, but the acceptance in an academic way of a plan, which was toned down by the then Minister, Deputy Lemass, when he said, not that they were aiming at the 250,000 dead weight tonnage, but that the aim was to get a worth-while fleet.
I am not competent to deal with the many matters that have been discussed here with regard to agriculture. I have been irritated during the course of this discussion by the numerous falsehoods that have been tossed into the debate by members of the Opposition with regard to agricultural production. It will take many repetitions, I am sure, of the particular figures I have here before the situation with regard to butter in this country will be clearly disclosed. The fact of the matter is, as the Minister for Agriculture has so often said in recent days, weeks and months, that in the year 1950 there was more creamery butter produced and consumed in this country than there ever was in the history of  the country since it became a country. More butter was produced and consumed. There were other occasions when more butter was produced. In the year 1950, the home consumption of creamery butter was 745,000 cwts. odd. In the year 1934 the production of creamery butter was more than that and for a number of years about that time—1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938— the production, in thousands of cwts. was as follows: 769, 827, 837, 758 and 766 but in those years there was an export which ranged from 454,000 cwts. of creamery butter in 1934 to 327,000 in the year 1938. There was an average of about 430,000 cwts., I would say, exported in each of those years and it was exported bearing a heavy subsidy, the fact of the matter, then, being that the people of this country could not afford to buy and consume the amount of creamery butter which was produced, as nowadays they can. That is the big improvement in the country.
It is very difficult to get a proper line with regard to wheat. It did appear to me as I listened to certain Opposition Deputies debating the Vote on Account that their anxiety was for ploughed fields and if you could get a statistical return that there were so many acres under the plough, it did not matter what those ploughed acres produced.
Mr. McGilligan: If anything. The whole ideal appears to be, can you get a statistical return showing a greater area of earth in this country ploughed? In any case, these figures appear to be relevant. One way in which this is challenged is, is not it a poor thing to be paying money abroad for such things as wheat and flour?
In 1947, when the country was under the control of Fianna Fáil, the net imports of wheat and flour cost £7,742,000. In 1950 the imports of wheat and flour cost £5,668,000. There was £2,000,000 less spent.
Mr. McGilligan: There was £2,000,000 less spent than in 1947. Now I will come to the bad year. In July,  1947, the Fianna Fáil Government had to prepare a reply to the Food and Agriculture Committee—that was a committee of the Commission on European Economic Co-operation—and they gave a forecast of what the national production would be in respect of certain crops. Their forecast for the year 1950-51 was that they would reduce the wheat acreage to 247,000 acres. Last year, in the year in which they forecast 247,000 acres of wheat, we grew actually 366,000 acres. Deputy Kissane mentioned that that was the bad year, and he was excusing these comparisons with 1947. There is the programme that Fianna Fáil was aiming at, that in the year 1950-51 they would sow 247,000 acres of wheat. We had actually 366,000 acres.
It is quite clear that one should in this matter look to acreages. In 1947, in the Fianna Fáil period of office, within this bad year that is talked about, 579,000 acres were under wheat and that acreage produced 313,000 tons of wheat. In 1949 we had 366,000 acres of wheat and we produced 360,000 tons of wheat. Does Deputy Kissane want us to go back to the 579,000 acres, almost 600,000 acres, almost half-yielding acres, or would he not rather have the 366,000 acres producing the 360,000 tons of wheat?
Mr. McGilligan: Let us have one figure to argue on. If the Deputy wants the figures for 1945 we will get them. Will he now tell me, if 1945 had a bigger yield or if 1945 had a better acreage, why was the forecast for 1950-51 made out and sent to the European Commission as 247,000 acres? Why did the people around the Deputy advise the Government to forecast to the Food and Agriculture Committee that the acreage would be reduced to 247,000 acres? That apparently was their plan. It is all very well to talk about the plans for the Irish Mercantile  Marine and for turf and cement and to put forward complaints that Fianna Fáil plans were not carried out. Here, in any event, was a target that they set for themselves. Their target was 247,000 acres, and that is the figure I bear in mind when I hear any complaints about reduced acreages for certain crops.
Some Deputy went so far as to suggest that the numbers in live stock were down. Cattle numbers are up. In the figures here, in the calculations made in January in each of the years 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951, there is an increase from 3.7 million cattle to 3.9 million cattle Sheep also show an increase. Pigs show a slight decrease from 1950, but a definite increase from 1947. Poultry show a decrease from 1950, but a definite increase from 1947. In all these increases of live stock, making a comparison with the last year of the Fianna Fáil Government, there has been an improvement in every grade. There have been ups and downs with regard to sheep, pigs and poultry, but in all cases the figures are well over the returns for January, 1947.
There was another complaint voiced in the House. It has been made often and it was made as recently as the 28th February this year in the Seanad when Deputy Corish, the Parliamentary Secretary, was speaking there on the Rates on Agricultural Land Bill. I think it worth while to put the figures on record here. Deputy Corry stated during the debate here that an effort was being made by the Government to transfer a lot of the burdens that were previously paid for by the Central Government on to the local authorities. Certain figures were given by the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Corish, on the 28th February, in the Seanad—column 474 of the Seanad Debates—and I will mention a few of them.
He said that in 1947-48 the total rates collected amounted to £9,111,000 and State grants were £8,230,000. I am taking that as the last Fianna Fáil year. The rates exceeded the State grants by about £1,000,000. In 1948-49, the total rates collected were £9,500,000 and the State grants were £10,749,000. In 1949-50, the total rates collected  were £10,900,000, but the State grants came to £13,649,000. The Parliamentary Secretary summed that up by stating that it meant, in effect, that the State grants equalled only 60 per cent. of the total rates collected in 1939-40, and in 1949-50 they equalled 120 per cent. of what was taken from the ratepayers.
Deputy Corry, speaking here and hurriedly flying from the House the moment the Minister for Agriculture rose to reply to him, made the burden of his song the money which is being taken by customs and excise duties on certain matters connected with motoring, the money collected through the revenue derived from petrol and the road tax, as it is known. The burden of the complaint was that not all these moneys went to the local authorities. So far as I remember, his calculation was that there was about £2,000,000. There was a sum of money collected in the various ways I have mentioned which exceeded by £2,000,000 the amount provided for the roads by the Central Government, the Road Fund, say, and by the ratepayers. In that the calculation is about right, but Deputy Corry goes on the assumption that the duties levied on petrol were put towards the roads. They never were, neither were the customs and excise duties on tyres, etc. They never went towards the roads. The only thing that went towards the roads was the produce of what is called the road tax.
That road tax was increased in the Supplementary Budget of 1947. The duties on mechanically propelled vehicles were increased in that year. In that year, introducing the Supplementary Budget, the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Aiken, said:
One of the necessary taxes was to increase the road tax on cars so that the tax on an 8 h.p. car became £12, on a 10 h.p. £15, on a 12 h.p. £20. The  Minister added that it was proposed to appropriate the additional yield for Exchequer purposes. Deputy Corry, speaking in the debate on the 15th October, said:
Twice the Deputy marched into the Division Lobby in order to support the Minister in carrying that particular Budget. It was quite clear from the statement of the Minister for Finance in those days that the road tax, amongst other taxes, was intended to provide the Minister with money for the payment of the subsidies which were then introduced. Speaking in particular of the road tax he said—I am quoting from the debates of the 15th October, 1947, column 395:
This matter of who stopped the turf schemes and when they were stopped has often been debated in this House. I am not going into it again in detail, but it was a matter which agitated the mind of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health of the last Government as early as the year 1946. There are many memoranda which proceeded from the Department that year. Towards the end of 1946, on the 18th October, the Minister for Local Government writes to his Cabinet colleagues in this way:—
“The Minister would not merely object to any enlargement of the scope of the functions of his Department and of country councils in regard to turf production but also to any intention of continuing beyond the current year his present responsibility for turf production through county councils. The principle of making local authorities responsible for turf production came into existence only as an emergency measure and it would seem proper that local  authorities should be informed as soon as possible that they have been released from these exceptional responsibilities.”
In fact, as we know, a letter went on the 18th August, 1947, from the Custom House to the secretary of each county council, telling the county councils not to participate in the production of turf after the 31st December.
When the matter swung over to the Department of Industry and Commerce with a view to seeing how Bord na Móna was to be helped, we come on to the meeting, to which I have already referred of the 12th February, 1948. There were three items on the Agenda dealing with turf. One was a complaint about the quality of turf supplied to the Department's offices. The second was the turf development programme for 1948. I read from the minute and I shall give the decision afterwards.
“In connection with the preparation of the Estimate for the Department for 1948-49, a decision was requested as to whether provision should be made for hand-won turf production in 1948. If the Bord na Móna scheme were not proceeded with, no unemployment would result as the workers would be absorbed in the machine-won scheme or other schemes. It is not known, however, what the effects of a cessation of hand-won turf production by the county councils would be.”
Note the date—12th February, 1948. a rather critical date. The clouds were gathering round the heads of the the Government. They seemed to be pretty certain of their doom but they were hoping against hope that the consolidation of Parties which was then taking place would not hold together. The decision was that no provision should be made in the 1948-49 Estimates for a Bord na Móna hand-won turf scheme and that the question of the discontinuance of hand-won turf production by the county councils should be further examined.
The Local Government Department had already written down to the county councils to say that the scheme was finished but apparently, on the 12th February, in the critical situation  which was then about to develop, it was thought well to say: “Well we shall have a look at that then”, but, one thing certain was, that there was going to be no provision made in the 1948-1949 Estimates for Bord na Móna hand-won turf. In face of that, how anybody can say that the last Government had decided to go on with the hand-won turf scheme beats me.
Deputy Aiken and his colleagues have often given many excuses with regard to the Government Buildings that were proposed for Dublin. I think it fair to enumerate four of the excuses that were given. One was to deny that such a scheme existed at all. When the file was produced, and they were no longer in a position to deny it, we were told this scheme would give employment. We were later told—I think it was in an inspired utterance of Deputy Lemass—that there had been in the old Cumann na nGaedheal days a proposal lodged in the Office of Public Works for such a scheme. I have asked the Office of Public Works for any minute of that decision but so far they have not been able to discover any. The third excuse was that it would be nice to have such public buildings. Finally it was said that the scheme was not proceeded with because it was suggested to Leaders of other Parties that they might agree to it and that, on disagreement being registered, it was decided to abandon it. In any event, let us see what actually happened.
“Before any such scheme becomes acceptable to the general public which will have to pay for it, and to put up, over a number of years, with the disturbance which it would necessarily involve, the Government would have to win the support of the Dublin Corporation which would be vitally affected and to gain the approval of the growing body of town planning opinion and of the professional associations interested in such a project.”
 Later on it says: “It might be even said in criticism of the scheme as a whole...” This I quote for the purpose of countering the argument that this was a plan more or less blue printed and left aside for the purpose of meeting a big unemployment period, unemployment in the building trade:
“It might be even said in criticism of the scheme as a whole that one effect of putting it into operation would be to postpone inevitably the solution of the problem of the housing of the working classes.”
That was the choice. There is no doubt that would have been one effect, to postpone inevitably the solution of the problem of the housing of the working classes. That was weighed in the balance against this scheme for £11,500,000 and, having been weighed in the balance, it was decided to go ahead with, at least, the deliberations for the scheme.
When I hear complaints in this House about projects for which I have asked to be allowed to borrow £12,000,000, I can only reflect on how insincere these complaints may be rated, coming from a side of the House which supported a Government that proceeded to deliberate on a scheme of that kind. It is there very definitely to be seen in the memoranda of that time:
That, of course, was a very meagre scheme, but, at a later part, it became a scheme of £11,500,000. It was then £3,000,000. What is said here with regard to the £3,000,000 scheme applies with more effect to the £11,500,000 scheme.
“It is obvious that the necessary funds which, as shown in paragraph 6, would at a minimum be in the neighbourhood of £3,000,000 would have to be found by borrowing. A loan floated specifically for the purpose of the scheme which, in effect, is merely the provision of palatial buildings for housing Civil Service staffs would scarcely be attractive from the point of view of investors in so far as the asset created would be regarded as entirely unproductive.”
That was the sober comment, that the asset was regarded as unproductive. Yet, that was considered a good project for the flotation of a loan, even though the asset was to be so unproductive. Some years later, in 1944, the figures as to cost were given, but with this warning that the figures of the cost to the State must be purely conjectural. The following figures may be taken as an indication of the size of the project: acquisition and compensation for disturbance, £2,500,000; demolition of sites acquired, £500,000; building works, £7,500,000; furnishing and equipment, £1,000,000. These figures give a tot of £11,500,000. Just after that was proposed, there is a record of a conference with the Taoiseach and the then Tánaiste in Government Buildings. A difficulty which emerged at that time, one of the matters that was under consideration, was that there were so many buildings that would have to be exempt or excluded, and the board were to reconsider the whole problem. Here are some of the buildings that were going to be demolished or, if not, they would either have to be exempted or excluded from the scheme: Holles Street Hospital, St. Stephen's Church, the convent chapel at Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Street corner. There was also the fact that it was recognised that Merrion Square itself had been spoken of as the site of a new cathedral, and the people considering that were not sure whether the ecclesiastical authorities might not still have the cathedral project in mind.
That is the scheme which was to cost £11,500,000 and which it was recognised was not going to be of a very attractive  nature for the public. It certainly could be criticised on the grounds that it was going to result in an entirely unproductive asset. Yet it was contemplated, a scheme leading in the end to the extravagant sum of £11,500,000.
At the end, of course, it came to a different point. The difficulties about building in Merrion Square had by that time been discovered to be serious. At that point the architects in the Board of Works were switched over to the Phoenix Park and to the possibility of siting these Government Buildings in the Phoenix Park. That was brought under consideration in 1945. In the end, the Board of Works got one of its architects to prepare a layout which is rather humbly stated “to have some merit.” That is all set out here, the building of an enormous new House of Parliament and a whole block of Government offices in the Park. The question then arose as to whether it was proper to deprive the people who enjoyed certain amenities in the Park of those amenities. The further extravagant idea was then mooted that the great thing to do in return for the taking away of certain of those amenities in the Park, as described in the layout for the proposed buildings, was to provide extra acreage elsewhere. That led to a grand scheme going up the river from Kingsbridge to Chapelizod, the taking of land on either side of the river, stripping it of buildings and putting into it some sort of playing fields and then handing it over to the public in return for the amenities of which they had been deprived in the Phoenix Park.
Will people remember that the Government which considered that, and which was prepared to go on with it, are now, as members of the Opposition, severely critical of the plans to embark money on houses for the people, on electrical development and all other sources of investment which Deputy Lemass said the people desired to have, but still they are critical of that being done by borrowing? They intended to borrow £11,500,000, and the figure was only conjectural, for the provision of these particular amenities.
The second big matter under discussion  in the House was the question of the Order freezing prices. That has been criticised on a variety of grounds. It was said to be a panic Order. It was said, first of all, that it was not meant seriously, and was not to be taken seriously. Secondly, it was said that it was a drastic Order, that it was a setback for every trader and industrialist in the country, that they could not find it possible to make forward purchases, that they were entirely hamstrung in the way of making extra provision against an emergency ahead, and that the whole thing was iniquitous. It was particularly iniquitous for that reason. The burden of the waspish attack that was made on the Supplies and Services Bill was to the effect that it was completely unconscionable to ask traders to produce records of their business and allow anybody to look at statements which would show if they were making profits or what profits they were making.
Mr. McGilligan: I have a few of the Deputy's records here, in any event. The prices Order was then removed, or thawed, in regard to certain things. The Irish Press, no doubt guided by the Deputy, wandered into the statement that meant that merchants had now complete liberty to charge whatever prices they considered proper. That is the Deputy's reading of the situation? I am putting that to him as a question.
Mr. McGilligan: That is the Deputy's view of the removal of the Orders in part. Then merchants have complete liberty to charge whatever prices they consider profitable. I thought it might disagree with the leader writer in the Irish Press.
Mr. McGilligan: I thought that at least that would be an easy way out, for the Deputy to say that. The Deputy, in am ambiguous phrase he used when speaking about the speech the Tánaiste made, referred to what he called his “rushin' ” tactics. He explained afterwards that the word he used was “rushing” and had no reference to Moscow. I take that to be the case. Nevertheless, the line he has suggested all the time is that there is a completely anti-social point of view displayed by the Tánaiste and those who support him in connection with this price freeze, that we are trying to get people into the frame of mind of being against private industry. So he said at the Federation of Irish Manufacturers' Dinner:—
“There was a persistent and apparently organised campaign against private-owned industry, which was being represented as necessarily anti-social, whose owners  displayed inordinate selfishness and disregard for the public weal and were responsible for all price inflations and for the social injustice, the discontent and disorder which followed from that.”
That is his line. A price freeze would not be too bad, but, in the framework of, say, the Tánaiste's speech, it was something approaching what Moscow would do. That is the insinuation that is all the time around it when the Deputy is speaking on this matter. We used to be told, and it was one of the complaints the Deputy voiced in the past couple of days, that there was good price-fixing machinery when he left the Department of Industry and Commerce and that, in fact, all that is happening is that his successor in the Ministry is avoiding his responsibilities, that if he had worked that machinery everything could be done. I think that was the Deputy's complaint. Does he agree?
Mr. McGilligan: It was possible to decontrol with the Deputy's old machinery. The Deputy, in 1945, had other views. He then got his Government to get the length of a white print of a piece of legislation called the Emergency Powers (Unlawful Profits) Bill, 1945, and the memorandum which accompanied that piece of legislation contains a few comments which the House might be glad to hear. I am sorry that Deputy Childers is not here for the opening bar of it. Deputy Childers has committed himself to the view that prices have nothing to do with profits, and I think that even Deputy Lemass has given himself over to that idea from time to time. At this time, he was against that thought. The memorandum says:—
So that, in 1945, there was some relationship between profits and prices. It goes on then to speak of the price  Orders he had made and the way they worked—generally informally, by getting the decent business men and industrialists of the country to give an undertaking and relying on that, but it does say that there are certain defaulters:—
“The importance of the issue cannot, however, be judged relative to the number of defaulters, since such default, if tolerated, would likely be claimed as unfair to other traders and would almost certainly lead to a general failure of the system of control adopted.
“There is no doubt as to the traders who are deliberately evading control, but it is in this sense that any legislation must give the Minister for Supplies the fullest discretion in deciding what defaulting traders or firms deserve to have penalties imposed, and what traders or firms have erred unintentionally and are to be required merely to rectify the position when subsequently framing their prices.”
Of all the undesirable pieces of legislation that ever may have been introduced, this surely ranked as the worst. Power was claimed and power was going to be given for the Minister for Supplies to have complete discretion in deciding what traders he would mulet. One could see the subscription list to the funds swelling with a little bit of manipulation of that power. But that is what was proposed—complete discretion. The Minister was to choose the defaulting traders who deserved to have penalties imposed. The scheme was that the Minister for Supplies would by an Order say to the firms whom he chose: “You have made unreasonable profits”, and would state what the amount of the unreasonable profits were and would demand these profits from these firms. But they would have leave to appeal from him to an appeal tribunal, which was to consist of a chairman and two ordinary members. “Of the three members of the tribunal, one at least should be a practising barrister of not less than ten years' standing and one at least  shall be a person having knowledge and experience of accountancy”— these are not civil servants; they are taken from outside—“and they shall be appointed for such period not exceeding one year as the Government may think proper”.
Think of what the Deputy has said in answer to a question of mine—he objects to traders books being investigated by anybody except established civil servants who have a vow of secrecy on account of their office or people who will be put under a vow of secrecy.
“The appeal tribunal,” this memorandum says, “would have full powers of investigation, including powers to obtain all relevant documents, accounts and information and would, on completing its investigation, give a decision confirming, altering or modifying the determination of the Minister, or imposing additional penalties, subject to a maximum of twice the amount of excessive profit earned, as decided by the appeal tribunal.” The memo states that “since it would be the policy of the Minister to confine the exercise of this power to cases in which discussion and negotiation have proved a failure, in which the conditions of gross profiteering is obvious and in which the sums involved are substantial, it follows that the amounts to be collected by way of penalty would be substantial and it will therefore be necessary to provide wide and drastic powers for collection of such sums.” One of these powers was the power to put in a receiver and the memo says with regard to that receiver:—
“It is intended to make provision in the Bill with regard to the powers of the receiver to carry on the business as a going concern and to indemnify that receiver against any act done under the provisions of the Bill.”
There you had a pretty scheme. The Minister was to tell chosen traders: “You have defaulted in your arrangements with me and have made unreasonable profits. I will tell you what the amount of those unreasonable profits is. I make an Order, and, if it is not appealed against, it becomes a civil bill collectable in the  ordinary way.” If there was an appeal, the appeal could go to three people not civil servants, who were to be appointed very definitely on a temporary basis and yet that body was to have power to examine books and records and the Minister wanted drastic powers. one of which drastic powers is dealt with later. According to the memorandum:
“It is not intended that there should be any appeal to the ordinary courts against the decision of the Minister or the appeal tribunal as the case might be. The Minister feels that recourse to court proceedings and the delays which are unavoidable in such proceedings would greatly nullify the deterrent effect of the exceptional measures which it is proposed to take.”
Mr. McGilligan: We got instead an Industrial Efficiency and Prices Bill, 1947. It was a bit of a change from this undoubtedly, but a great many of the features are exactly the same. One of the points in this measure was that the Minister had power to make Orders with regard to control of prices, profits and trading methods. The Bill never advanced beyond Second Reading, but it set out:—
 In these circumstances, if there was a possibility that because of the scarcity of supplies, unduly high prices might be charged, the Minister could make an Order freezing prices. Will the Deputy who had that in his mind say why he objects to the freeze Orders brought forward here recently?
Mr. McGilligan: I will, because of the very objectionable features that were in the Emergency Powers (Unlawful Profits) Bill, because it gave the Minister power to snoop and to pick and choose as between individuals. We thought that that was wrong.
“For the purpose of obtaining the information necessary for the exercise of any functions under this Act, the commission may, from time to time, publish in such manner as they think fit a notice requiring persons who carry on the business of producing or selling a specified commodity or of providing a specified service to furnish them at such times as may be specified in the notice such accounts and returns relating to the business as may be specified in the notice.”
Of course, “the purpose of obtaining the information necessary for the exercise of any functions under this Act” was the fixing of prices or profits. They could get accounts there. This was not supposed to be a permanent tribunal. Then we read also:—
“For the purpose of obtaining the information necessary for the exercise of any function under this Act, the Minister, the commission or the chairman may, from time to time, serve on a person who carried on the business of producing or selling a commodity or providing a service a notice requiring that person to furnish  at such times as may be specified in the notice such accounts and returns relating to the business as may be specified in the notice.”
Why all the trouble about the freeze Order and this undesirable process of making manufacturers produce to a tribunal documents relating to their business when, in fact, the Deputy, as Minister, had intended it in 1944? He brought his views before the House in 1947.
Mr. McGilligan: You object to it for the sake of an objection. I should like to put this freeze Order back into the framework in which it was put by the Tánaiste on the night on which he spoke on this matter in the Dáil in connection with the Supplies and Services Act. The debate is reported in Volume 123, Nos. 8 and 11. I need not quote at length from the speech made by the Tánaiste on that occasion. I have quite a number of points marked here to which I could refer. A brief summary of what he said is that it was proposed, because of the possibility at any time of a scarcity and an unduly high price being charged for certain articles, to take precautions by establishing an advisory body which would be armed with certain powers and, if necessary, power to call for the production of traders' books. A trader need not produce them but if he did not he would suffer the same consequences as a trader who would refuse to produce his books for examination by the Revenue Commissioners. There was nothing in the proposal to make traders produce their books for inspection at a public sitting. If anybody thinks that that has been done I ask them for an example—and when the first example comes we can take cognisance.
The Tánaiste went on to say that he proposed that this tribunal would have power to look at the grouped profits of industries, that is, not revealing the individual profits. I think that recently a group of jam manufacturers went before that particular tribunal. It was thought  proper, and it is a suggestion that I stand over, not that the profits of X, Y or Z should be produced publicly but that the public should know that that industrial group were making profits and that some comparisons should be given. I do not think it is necessary here to go into the question of grouped profits. I get grouped profits given to me for the purpose of investigation. Each Minister for Finance gets these grouped profits for the purpose of preparing his Budget— in order to enable him to see how revenue is bearing up, and so forth.
For years back, the Minister for Finance has got that information. He never gets individual profits because that would be entirely wrong but he gets the group profits. Take a particular group of manufacturers who go before the Prices Tribunal to have discussed in public whether the price proposed to be charged is reasonable. Would it be proper to have, say, a comparison made between the group profits of a particular group of industrial traders in 1939, when standard profits were taken, and, say those of the year merely preceding investigation? I have here particulars of one group whose standard profits were taken for excess corporation profits duty during the war years. The group profits, which were in the neighbourhood of £600,000 in the peace years prior to 1939, had risen to £2,018,000 in 1949. Would that be a relevant consideration, without mentioning an individual firm? I think it would. There are many other such comparisons which could be given.
It is necessary to get the matter of profit-making and profit-taking into a proper framework. I have already read a point in the memorandum from the Department which was under the charge of Deputy Lemass when he was Minister that he then considered profits had something to do with prices. When profits have risen from something in the neighbourhood of £600,000 to over £2,000,000 after the war is over, it is at least something to be taken into consideration. As far as I know, individual traders will not be asked to or coerced into giving any indication of their trading profits or  their secrets in public. I should hope that it will become the practice that, as that tribunal meets, the proper setting will be there—that when the individual comes along, though he may be a poor member of the trading group or the exploiter of the trading group, he will be allowed to take his place amongst. his colleagues. When they come to the tribunal and ask for an increase in prices, the public, through the tribunal, will have the information. Here is the setting. They used to make £600,000 and now they are making £2,000,000.
On the debate on the Supplies and Services Bill, Deputy Lemass said that one of the reasons why price control was relatively ineffective was because there was not public confidence and one of the reasons for that was that the public had no information, but that if the public could be induced to take an interest in it and have some idea as to whether a price should be raised or not, things would be different. They would then be informed, and if they had to submit to an increase because of increased labour or raw materials charges, they would know where they were and they would be better able to bear the cost because they would know that the prices had been discussed publicly and declared, after examination by an independent body of people, to be justified. That is our aim. There is no panic in what we are doing. The only panic is amongst our opponents. They do not want this system of fixing prices. I believe they would prefer prices to go up, because it would damage us as a Government. They would not look to the good of the community for having prices kept to the lowest possible point. Therefore, they objected to the idea. Then, when the prices Order was brought in, of course there were fulminations throughout their kept Press regarding the way business was to be impeded by this. You were presented with this as the system of the business community: that a business man in this country bought for sale almost the next day, and certainly the next week, and that if he could not see his prices rising the week after, he could not buy although the finished  goods would not come into use until somewhere around next autumn. That was the impression we had from the Irish Press and from the other side of the House.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy says that it is the cost of replacing the materials, although he thought at one time that there was a possibility of providing against that by getting inspectors to go in and get the books and investigate them for him. I do not agree that the cost of the replacement of goods, if those goods are to come into use six or even 18 months hence, should be the price charged next day across the counter.
I have heard my colleague the Minister for Agriculture speaking of what he thought and of what I think was the unreasonable drive for very unreasonable increases in wages made by certain parts of the community in the autumn of last year and the winter. The reason why a lot of those people moved in that way is, I know, what they hear from their colleagues who are assistants in shops. I am told over and over again that shop assistants have reported that articles which are in the window on display with a price ticket on them are taken out of the window, put into the back of the shop, kept for one week and then put back into the window with the price doubled.
Mr. McGilligan: Yes, and with regard to any number of things. First of all it is made the burden of the complaint of Deputy Lemass and others that that is happening, and then when we freeze prices for a time until we get an opportunity of reviewing the whole system, we get panic.
Mr. McGilligan: Nobody objected to the defreezing. When the Deputy has done his own job in the Irish Press he might read what his editorial staff have turned out. In the Irish Press of Monday, March 5th, the editorial is headed “Quite a Thaw”, and the end of it reads:—
Mr. McGilligan: The truth is that whatever was released from the prices freeze Order of the 2nd December is still subject to the price fixation system which the Deputy himself when he was Minister thought effective.
I think this is a decent endeavour in the interests of the community to prevent the only thing that can be prevented, namely the abuse which may normally be expected in a time of scarce commodities and rising raw material prices. In such a time there is not merely a possibility but a probability that unduly high prices will be charged and we will do our best to prevent that abuse. We are doing it with the system which we have got with some modifications and there may be more modifications. I believe that with that we will get a good tribunal with good machinery geared to its proper purposes. I would ask its help to see that the consumer is protected while at the same time, as the Tánaiste said in his speech, industrialists are allowed a proper profit.
I want to say one thing about industrialists. One speaks regarding the people who were not behaving properly in the industrial line and in the trading line and, of course, an opportunity is immediately offered there to papers like the Irish Press to parade that in a placarded and distorted way. You are attacking Irish industry because you mention what is known: that there are rogues in Irish industry, as there are rogues nearly everywhere. A lead has been given to the rogues by the Opposition. I do not know how many meetings there have been of semi-political bodies masquerading as industrialists and business people, but several times we have heard about the prices freeze Order  being exceeded all over the country by business men. Deputy Childers added whatever little bit of fuel his faint voice could add by telling the country that he knew that the Order was being disobeyed up and down the country, that people were making their profits and were continuing to make them. That is said all over the place.
I have spoken in the same tone since 1948 with regard to that. The last tax in the world I regard as a good tax is the excess corporation profits tax. Its reimposition at the present time would cause great difficulty. In any event, it would run counter to the other policy and the other policy I believe to be the correct one, that is, letting people make reasonable profits and using whatever is in excess of reasonable profit to reduce their costs and give a lower price to the community. I would far rather get the benefit of excess profits spread in that way to the community rather than get a wad of money by slicing off any profits above a certain level.
This boasting, this arrogance in the face of a Government Order that people are disobeying, would certainly drive one to punitive measures against the people who are behaving in that way. For three years this Government have resisted the temptation to reimpose that particular Order and have hoped instead that the people who are making these profits would see reason and reduce their profits.
On the last opportunity I had of meeting industrialists as a group before Christmas, I met one group of traders with a very definite appeal, phrased in such a way that I do not think it could be regarded as anything but sincere. I made it in the most pointed way, addressed to those people, that they would content themselves in time of scarcity with a less profit than what they considered the normal profit they would be entitled to make in ordinary periods. There was a good response from part of the group I met. I have the feeling that some people for political purposes have tried to stampede the group. As Deputy Lemass has said, there is the bad example of some  people getting away with it, when others say because of that: “It is unfair; we are abiding by the regulations and other people are running away from them.” That sort of thing may have to be met by the reimposition of taxes of that type. It will be the last thing I will approach. Certainly I would approach it with the greatest possible distaste, as I would much prefer to get industrialists to realise how greatly they are in debt to this country and to give some token of that in their attitude in a period of scarcity and of crisis. I say that of industrialists here in this country, because I do not know of any country in which industrialists are better guaranteed their profits than they are here.
We have a wide range of tariffs. The height of the tariff barrier is extraordinary. There are quota arrangements to prevent even anything that might flow in over this extremely high tariff barrier. There is aid given to people in business and particularly in manufacturing industry by way of credits, Governments credits, Government aid in every possible way. In the end what it comes to is that this Government and the last, both Governments, have thrown the consuming community at the mercy of the industrial groups who are getting such heavy protection; because when there is no competition, because of the extremely high tariff barrier, then they could charge more or less what they liked and, in particular, in certain cases they could make it easier by making rings within the country, and a lot of them were doing it.
Whatever may be said with regard to the rights of capital in other countries, whatever may have been said in this country many years ago about the rights of capitalists and their rights to secrecy in connection with profits made and what the capitalist does with profits, that has very little application to this country in these years. Most of those industries are not trading on their own capital: they are trading on possibly a small amount of capital that they put into the business themselves, but largely increased by their having the consumer put at their mercy. To a very  big extent it is the ordinary people here who buy the goods in the shops, who are definitely responsible for the big accumulations of capital that large industrialists have got. In those circumstances, I am less inclined to be troubled about the delicacy of some of those people in producing before tribunals, particularly in private, their books of account. I think they ought to show their books in private to the people who are set up there to examine them, because if they are honest people and have profits they can stand over, the best way of evidencing that is by showing their trading accounts and showing how they got their profits.
The other side of this matter of prices is the labour charges. I know that in many departments where the Fianna Fáil organisation has its roots, there are many complaints about the increases that have been allowed to workers over the last three or four years. It was not what Deputy Lemass had in mind for them—the freedom that we have given. Deputy Lemass, before he left office, had brought into memorandum form and Draft Bill form, a piece of legislation that was to be called the “Industrial Emergency Bill” of 1947. I understand that when this was spoken of recently by my colleague there was incredulity expressed from certain Deputies that such a piece of legislation could be there. The draft legislation was there. It was to freeze wages as they were on the 15th October, 1947, with certain additions. The scheme was to make it illegal for an employer to pay more, and the only additions that were to be admitted were whatever increase would be warranted by the relationship of the new cost-of-living index figure to what it had been previously, a rise measured by that. That is the index figure that is now so much derided by Deputy Lemass. It was to be the measuring stick of this.
Mr. McGilligan: We do not know how dictatorial it was. The main part  of the proposal—it was supposed to be an ingenious scheme and there is a minute from the Minister himself indicating the unusual features of the scheme—was that the burden was to be put on the employer, the employer was to be guilty of an offence if he gave any wage increase. He could give a wage increase measured by the cost of living figure, or if there were an agreement between the employer and employee; but only if such agreement had not been come to under the threat of a strike or a cessation of work. If there were a strike or cessation of work to make the employer give that increase beyond the measure allowed, then the protection of the Trade Disputes Act was going to be withdrawn from any employee who went out on strike.
Mr. Lemass: It is true to the extent that the Bill was framed, that the trade union congresses were informed that the Government desired to get agreement between them and the Government in regard to wage rates and in the event of there not being agreement we would have to consider legislation. In fact, there was agreement and the legislation was not proceeded with.
Mr. McGilligan: A memorandum I find in Industry and Commerce summarising all this, summarises what I have said. Then it says there was a meeting with the two congresses. The two congresses did not agree to the Minister's proposal. A memorandum for the Government was prepared on the 10th November, 1947.
Mr. McGilligan: The two congresses did not agree to the Minister's proposals and a minute for the Government was prepared on the 10th November, 1947, in which the decision of the Government was requested for the introduction of the draft Bill. It was, however, decided just at this time to hold the general election and the whole matter was dropped. At the same time Deputy Lemass published a letter in the papers announcing that the matter would not be dealt with until after the elections—but that is what was in store.
Mr. McGilligan: I never remember having discussed in public any piece of legislation which had in it a clause to remove the protection of the Trades Dispute Act if a strike took place for wage increases. Does the Deputy say there was such a discussion?
Mr. Lemass: We would not—and the answer is that the Bill was an alternative to a refusal to negotiate. They did refuse to negotiate but, in fact, agreed in principle to the proposals made to them and the whole matter dropped.
Mr. McGilligan: There are the proposals under two heads, by those who complain and object to the wage freeze and are full of anxiety about the consumer and are against the consumer being mulcted in increases. They were very much in favour when in Opposition of allowing the industrial workers as a section of the community to get benefits, but they did not give them any benefits while they were in office. Perhaps some members of the Trade Union Congress or the Congress of Irish Unions who met the Minister may have had read to them the full purport of that Bill. I wonder how many  workers down the country knew about it. How many people in Deputy Lemass's city constituency knew that he was proposing to get back to pre-Napoleonic times and to withdraw the Trade Disputes Act protection if there was a strike to enforce an increase in wages over what was being paid on the 15th October, 1947, with the addition of the cost of living index increase?
I said before that the people who are facing me have got to the end of their tether. I think that is not a bad description of them. They talk of this bill of mine. Before Deputy Lemass came in—I am sure his memory will not need any reminding of the matter—I read that he had said there is nothing in the Book of Estimates he would quarrel with except the borrowing and, so far as the borrowing programme is concerned, the objects of the investment are quite good, but what he objects to is having these put on the long finger, having an investment policy. I take it that the Deputy does not disagree with that as a summary of his speech. If he cannot find anything to reduce in the Book of Estimates and if he is in favour of the capital programme, he will have to get the money we are looking for one way or another. If he will not borrow, he must tax. I understand that that is the position. He will take this Book of Estimates and, instead of deducting the £12,000,000 and the amount for loan service, he would put them on the taxpayer to-day. I understand that is the Deputy's policy. That is the policy, I understand, of Fianna Fáil.
Deputy Briscoe added up this bill of mine and he was followed by Deputy MacEntee and, instead of £83,000,000, they got £100,000,000, whatever way they got it. In any event, if it is £100,000,000, it will be £100,000,000 to be made up by taxation, according to Deputy Lemass's plan. He is certainly out for a much more expensive type of social services than we are. The mother and child service, in Deputy Lemass's mind, is only deficient in not being in operation already and not being expensive enough. The social security plan of the Tánaiste is only deficient in the fact that it is asking people to pay contributions when the taxpayer  ought to be asked to pay. How many millions will that add to the £100,000,000? Can the Deputy chance a figure? That is the Fianna Fáil programme for the new election and I suppose we will return to the Emergency Industrial Bill of 1947 and, because increases in wages are undoubtedly inflationary, we will probably try to get the workers pegged back, as they were during the war years and as the Deputy intended to have them at the end of the war years, to the nearest date he could find.
I noticed in this debate that, as each Deputy stood up and made his complaint, at some point or another an interjection stabbed into him: “What will you reduce”? I waited for any reply but nobody gave it. This money has to be found. Deputy Lemass objects to find it by borrowing. He says it is inflationary. He says that last week I deluded the people by saying that I got it all out of taxation. I said nothing of the sort. I indicated five sources of financing: small savings through the savings banks, a national loan, balances on various funds awaiting investment, the American Loan Counterpart Fund, sales of sterling investments of Government funds. I said with regard to the last two that I brought these under criticism as being “unrelated to current savings”. I distinctly said in regard to these that any resort to them would undoubtedly be of an inflationary type and, therefore, caution in resorting to them had to be exercised. I was gibed at for saying that, particularly by the Deputy who now is insisting that I tried to delude the public. I tapped these various sources and I admit that I said in my opening statement that, in so far as I did not get finances to the point that they were related to current savings, to that extent some regard had to be had to inflation. I pointed out, however, that we had a very good foundation on which to rest, that production was increasing, both on the industrial and agricultural side. I pointed to the yield of the crops that were in the country; I was not bothering about the acreage. I talked about the numbers of live stock there were in the country and the increase there  had been. I pointed out that we were coming somewhat nearer the end of those schemes that cost so much money. I pointed to the fact that there would be more houses built in 1950 than ever before; and 12,000 houses, 1,000 houses per month, is not a bad record. We did that as a result of this expenditure, or some part of it. The people who have gone into industrial occupations in the last three years, the three years in which we have had control, amount to 1,000 persons a month over every month of the three years, or 36,000 persons. I pointed to the mechanisation there was on farms, particularly in the Leinster area; the abundant use there had been of fertilisers within the last two or three years, and to the fact that the fertility of the land had been restored. I put all these as indicating that there is a good background to this programme of ours.
I have quotations of what was said, such as: “This madcap policy of finance”; “finances in peril”; “entering a wild period of inflation”. These are the phrases of Deputy Lemass. He went on a tour ranging from some parts of the south to Cavan about April or May last year raging and tearing about demoralisation, depression, forced emigration and so on that would be caused by this “madcap” scheme. He is bleating the same old tale now.
I want to repeat warnings I have made, warnings for the future. I intended to say, but a colleague said it for me, at a bankers' dinner on the 18th November last year—I am going to ask the House to listen while I gallop through two pages:—
“I am afraid that the world in which we live does not offer monetary stability. The value of money has fallen steeply since 1914. Rearmament is likely to carry this depreciation further. We are forced to surrender, however reluctantly, the objective of stability and to choose instead the imperfect ideal of restricting the depreciation of the currency as much as possible. But this I must stress—the value of money must be tenaciously defended if we  are to preserve the incentive to work and save and ensure orderly economic development. The recent upsurge in import prices is mainly the result of a scramble for essential raw materials. We need these materials like other countries, but the goods we have to offer in exchange are not in such strong demand. Our earnings will not, therefore, go as far as before. The idea that more money all round will make everyone better off is, in the circumstances, completely illusionary. We will only open the door to inflation by seeking to compensate ourselves for a rise in the cost of living. Particular classes can, of course, maintain, or even better, their position by securing more money for themselves, but only at the expense of weaker members of the community. The situation called first for an increase in home production and exports to counteract the adverse turn in the terms of trade and, secondly, for acceptance by both employers and employees equally of some disimprovement in the standard of living if prices internationally continue to rise. The policy of the Government is to maintain fair shares in the distribution of the temporarily constricted national income and, as part of this policy, they are determined to prevent excessive price increases.”
What was Deputy Lemass's perversion in regard to the phrase, “Particular classes can, of course, maintain, or even better their position, by securing more money for themselves”— that that was clearly the trade unions I was driving at. In any event, he said:—
I have said with regard to the last Government that they were at the end of their period, at the end of their tether. In the year 1947, the then Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, spoke here on his Estimate in July, He said:—
The flight from the land was happening in every country where people were being attracted to the larger communities in the cities. They had reached a point where they had only 500,000 to 1,000,000 acres of land available for distribution and that land was practically required for two purposes—for bringing up the adjacent farms to an economic level and for dealing with the problem of congestion. Although they had done their best to increase the population on the land they could not increase it beyond a certain point. When they had done the best they could, there would still be a drift from the land to the cities or to emigration. There was no other way for it. Their policy had been to give the farmer stability and to put as many on the land as it would economically hold, as rapidly as they could, and to give land workers an assured market for their produce.”
“In agriculture, there had been a constant downward trend, there being a drop of approximately 43,000 people in the last 15 years. Is there any way we can stop it? If anybody can give us a solution we will be very happy to consider it.”
That was the man who came in on a full flow of promises in 1932. He is here, pathetically looking at the Dáil. He told us previously in other speeches that this policy of subsidies was a rather vicious policy and only adopted as an emergency. Am I right in saying that the people who spoke that way were certainly not holding out any prospects to the people? They were at the end of their policy.
Mr. McGilligan: We will come to the revenue. I am talking about rates and taxes. Is it denied that, in the first three weeks of this Government's life, we reduced the beer and tobacco tax? That was £6,000,000 returned to the people.
Mr. McGilligan: The income-tax was reduced by 6d. That was giving away £1,000,000 and there were other modifications in the income-tax which amounted to £250,000. People may talk how they like about the yield of revenue and the revenue coming in, but there is no doubt about it, as far as people drinking beer, smoking tobacco or paying income-tax are concerned, every single person knows he got a reduction in his taxation.
Mr. McGilligan: We increased the old age pensions by £2,500,000 for a start. Civil servants and other public servants, guards, teachers and the Army got increases which amounted to over £1,500,000—£4,000,000 between all these things. We gave an increased ration of tea which cost £500,000 in a full year. Last year, I brought in a Bill which increased the rates given to certain pensioners. They are additions to the extent of £4,500,000, which, with the other additions and modifications of the beer, tobacco and income-tax, cost £7,250,000. If I had not been persuaded by my colleagues to give the extra tea ration, the new aids to the old age pensioners and to the Guards, teachers and Army, we could have saved that £4,500,000. I am told that the revenue  is going up, and so it is. Supposing the situation arrived in which I am able to reduce income-tax to the figure it stood at when Cumann na nGaedheal left office in 1932, 3/-, or 3/6 less than the present figure, and that there was then so much in the way of income being earned that the 3/- tax would give me the same revenue as 6/6 does now, would the Deputy accuse me of raising taxation?
Mr. McGilligan: In the end, we were able to get the moneys necessary to finance our programme. That is what is hurting the Opposition Deputies. I think it was Deputy C.Lehane who interjected when Deputy MacEntee was speaking to find out what was wrong with him. I am quite certain that the Opposition Deputies are annoyed because they see our programme being carried out despite all their gloomy prophecies, without either the appearance of disruption or any approach to it. What irks them most of all is the fact that it is we who are carrying out this programme and not they.
Mr. McGilligan: I do not want to put too great a strain on Deputy Aiken by asking him to try to understand what is going on now. Let him wait another year or so and it may dawn on him.  But there is the situation. It is not an easy situation. It is not one that will induce anybody in charge of finance to rest very easy in his sleep at night. It is attended by risks.
Mr. McGilligan: I asked Deputy Lemass about that. Apparently Deputy Aiken would just bash his way through like a bull in a china shop and take not merely £100,000,000 but an additional £1,200,000,000 or £1,300,000,000 to finance his various projects; and he would collect all that in the way of taxation and would not borrow a penny of it.
Mr. McGilligan: We put forward a proper programme. We drew up that programme and we decided that we would subject it to a year's trial and criticism. At the end of that year we find Deputy Lemass saying that there is nothing wrong with our investment programme except that, strangely enough, we are borrowing for that programme. That appears to me to be quite the maddest type of finance; one should not borrow for investment purposes. It has been said that we have got no direct return. I never said we would if one thinks in terms of pounds, shillings and pence collected in one's hand. Last year we tried to get the people to understand what our purpose was. We said that we were about to indulge in a particular capital expenditure programme and we hoped we would get our return in the following manner: productivity would inevitably rise by so much as would bear over a generation the increased cost required to remunerate the moneys borrowed. If we get that, the borrowing will be easy. If we do not get it, the borrowing will be a bit of a headache; and, if the country's productivity fails completely, then the borrowing may be, what it is now described as being, a millstone around the people's necks.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy in his own hard-headed way puffed along here for about an hour and a half. Silence becomes him better. Productivity is increasing and it is bearing the cost of these projects. Productivity is rising. The bill that has to be faced is considerable. Deputies can compare for themselves what appears on the face of the Estimate this year with last year's. They can look at the revenue, if they want to have a peep at that side of the picture. The Central Fund Services will be up about £1,000,000 this year. Deputies will have to bear in mind—it will certainly be impressed on them by me at the beginning of May — that the new £1,250,000 for old age pensions and the modification of the means test will have to be found by taxation unless there can be retrenchment under some other heading.
Mr. McGilligan: Notwithstanding that fact, I am still in favour of the programme, weighing one item against the other and taking all the risks into account. Our situation to-day is not unlike that which existed in America when President Hoover left office and President Roosevelt came in. President Hoover had been telling everybody that he was governing the country according to the dictates of strict finance; the country had great recuperative powers and one day the country would recover; prosperity was always around the corner; no matter what street President Hoover went down there was still a corner around which he hoped prosperity would be found. The people were hobbling along. Men were queueing up in bread lines. Suicide reached a truly remarkable figure. President Roosevelt came in and he inaugurated what he called his “New Deal.” I do not suppose there was a banker in the whole of the United States of America who did not howl his head off and hurl at that new deal the same kind of criticism that I have been listening to over the last couple of days.
Mr. McGilligan: President Roosevelt proceeded with his plan. He met the bankers in conference. He told them quite frankly that he was taking risks. He proposed to take those risks. He might disrupt their economy, but he would take that gamble. He was asked what the prospects were and he said that if he could occupy human labour and material resources, those two things welded together might give him the productivity which would carry the cost of the various schemes he proposed to introduce. Events have proved how right he was, because we are at the point to-day where American production not merely won the greatest war in history, but is now facing a condition which, according to a newspaper correspondent, will make America three years hence so strong in production in every way that she will equal every nation in the world, friendly, unfriendly and neutral. That was done through the programmes inaugurated by a man who was condemned, as our policy is being condemned. President Roosevelt said on one occasion that he was very proud that he was providing schemes even in this untried way; and, in any event, he hoped to rescue human beings, who happened to be American citizens, from economic ruin and moral ruin, because that is what they were sinking into under the bankers' régime and under Hoover.
Mr. McGilligan: Even with the terrible burden of paying 3½ per cent., I am merely trying to rescue human beings who happen to be Irish citizens from sinking into moral and economic ruin. That is the plan on which we are proceeding. The Committee divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 56.
Browne, Noel C.
Byrne, Alfred Patrick.
Connolly, Roderick J.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Halliden, Patrick J.
|Kyne, Thomas A.
Lehane, Patrick D.
McFadden, Michael Óg.
Madden, David J.
O'Gorman, Patrick J.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.(Jun.)
Palmer, Patrick W.
Pattison, James P.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Sheldon, William A.W.
Timoney, John J.
Blaney, Neal T.
Childers, Erskine H.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Davern, Michael J.
De Valera, Eamon.
De Valera, Vivion.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
Maguire, Patrick J.
Ó Briain, Donnachadh.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ryan, Mary B.
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