Thursday, 11 March 1954
Dáil Éireann Debate
From the outset, I want to emphasise the fact that this motion is not put down as part of a political manoeuvre or a manoeuvre in the political Party game. While I make that assertion, I hasten to add that, while I have every sympathy with the desires of the present Government to bolster up their falling political fortunes by the method adopted in connection with the circumstances brought about by the results of the by-elections recently held, I realise it is part of the working of the democratic machine that there should be Parties and while, as a political Party, we would welcome—I am sure every Party on this side of the House would welcome for their purposes—an immediate dissolution in the belief and solidly founded conviction that we are rising with the tide, nevertheless, the real reason for this motion is our conviction that it is in strict accord with what the public want and in strict accord with the public interest.
The Taoiseach, when he was speaking on the motion in his own name last summer seeking a vote of confidence from this House, following upon the adverse results of the then recently held by-elections, repudiated  the notion that the interpretation which the Opposition Party put upon those results had any foundation or that we were, in fact, entitled to interpret these results in any particular way whatever or endeavour to ascertain or interpret public opinion. Yesterday afternoon, in an interchange across the House, the Taoiseach again repeated something about the interpretation of public opinion following a by-election.
On this occasion we are not concerned with whether or not our interpretation of the results of the recent by-elections is a correct one or not or whether we are entitled to draw conclusions or inferences from those results because the Taoiseach himself has, by his actions and by his announcements in the newspapers immediately following the two results in Louth and Cork, strictly and accurately interpreted public opinion. Once the results came in within a few moments the Taoiseach had determined that there had to be a general election because of the fact that there was only one interpretation to be put on the results of the by-elections and that is that the electorate in those two areas representing, as I believe he believes, the vast majority of the electorate throughout the country wanted the Government to get out and get out quickly.
When I was speaking at the last meeting during the by-election campaign in Cork City, I recalled to the electorate of Cork City that North-West Dublin last year had given the clearest notice to quit that any Government ever got in this country since the establishment of the State. I directed their attention to the fact that no Government, since this State was established, ever received such a political reverse as the present Government received at the hands of the electorate in North-West Dublin. I asked the citizens and the electorate of Cork to remember that Cork always wanted to be ahead of Dublin and that in this election they should outdo North-West Dublin and give the Government a greater defeat and a clearer notice to quit than even the electorate of North-West Dublin gave. They did it and Louth did it and they  are expressing the clear view of the people.
Last summer we asked, not that the Government should get out and let us or any Party on this side of the House in, but that the Government should submit their record and their policy or lack of policy to the verdict and decision of the electorate at a general election. The Taoiseach on the debate that occurred last summer asserted that as long as he had a majority, however small, in this House he was entitled to carry on and did carry on and in the course of the by-election campaigns recently held he again asserted that there would be no general election during 1954. The vibrations over the air announcing from Radio Éireann the results of these elections had hardly come in when he said there was going to be a general election, and everybody assumed and read into that declaration that there was going to be an immediate general election and that it was the greatest possible relief.
I do not know what happened to change the Taoiseach's mind. We can only surmise. Again, I express my sympathy with the Fianna Fáil Party in the dilemma in which they find themselves or would seem to find themselves as a result of the Taoiseach's immediate reaction to the results of the by-elections in Cork City and in Louth. As I said yesterday, I am not a bit interested in the political fortunes of Fianna Fáil or how they will try to bolster up their falling fortunes. Yesterday afternoon I gave the reasons why we believe there ought to be in the public interest and following on what we believe is the public desire and demand an immediate general election. I based the case for that on two grounds yesterday and I will add a third this afternoon.
The case is so clear and coercive for this motion being carried out that it does not require me to repeat the arguments I advanced yesterday or to give any particular consideration to the matter at all. I pointed out yesterday afternoon that general elections always cause dislocation of business, upset and uneasiness in any circumstances.  People lose as a result of it. In existing circumstances, where the economic machinery had been slowed down, the inevitable results of a prolonged delay, as is contemplated, in holding this general election would be to slow down still more the economic tempo.
Merchants will not buy and customers will not invest. People will try to anticipate what the Government are going to do in their Budget. There must, undoubtedly, be a slowing down in economic activities in anticipation of the Budget. That is going to cause hardship and loss and it will take many months for the newly-elected Administration, whatever source that Administration may come from, to recover from the economic shock that will be caused to the country not merely by the long delay but also by the fact that the Taoiseach and his Government have said they do not intend to go for a general election until they introduce the Budget.
If the present Government were angels incarnate running this country and brought in a Budget, there is not a single person—and I believe there are a great many in the ranks of Fianna Fáil to whom this would apply —outside the ranks of the Fianna Fáil supporters who would believe, however good the Government were, that it was not brought in merely to catch votes and to save the falling fortunes of Fianna Fáil. That is going to be bad for the country and it is a bad precedent.
That is my first argument for this motion—economic dislocation and loss, the holding up of purchasing and buying and the fact that a bad precedent is being created, giving the impression, whether it be true or not true, that this postponement of the election was brought about because the rank and file of Fianna Fáil told the Government they had not a chance of being returned if they went immediately and without a Budget, and that their only hope of coming back anyway strong was to postpone the election and have some sort of popular Budget.
There is a still more cogent argument. Whatever Administration succeeds the  present Government, even if it be the present Administration, will have a difficult and arduous task to perform. They will be faced with perplexing but not insoluble problems. They will have to face difficulties which it will not be easy to surmount. If the present Government do not come back and there is a new Administration brought into being as a result of the general election, their task of putting their policies, both economic and financial, into effect will be seriously hampered and the public interest may be seriously injured by having to work upon a situation which came about by the bringing into operation of a Budget by the present Administration, which is under sentence of death. That is not merely a bad precedent but it is thoroughly unsound politics and thoroughly bad for the country.
I visualise some sort of a Government coming out of this side of the House. Let us assume for the moment, without prophesying, that it is any Government with a policy different from that of the present Government, with a policy designed to bring about a complete and fundamental change in the economic and financial policy of the present Government; with a policy designed to do away with the austerity which was the fundamental result of the Government's policy; with a policy designed for expansion and not restriction; with a policy based upon the dual Budget which was a feature of the capital investment programme of the last Government. They would be faced with a series of economic and financial proposals enshrined in the Budget, all designed, and all put into operation, with an eye upon a different policy and different political and economic principles and philosophies. They will be completely hampered in their operations for many months. I do not assume, I assert that if any Government formed from this side of the House do succeed the present Administration, their financial and economic policy will be such as I have said, and they will find that the results which had been obtained by them before, and which they still think can be obtained again, will be postponed for many months— if not for many years—by reason of  the fact that this barrier has been placed in their progress by the bringing into operation of a Budget by the present Government. That, in my submission, is something of which the House should very distinctly show its dislike and, in no unmistakable fashion, if at all possible, see that it does not happen in the interests of the public and not of any Party.
If I were to consider the interests merely of my Party, I would say: “Fire ahead. Do what you like with the Budget, bring in a popular Budget if you like; reduce income-tax, give extra children's allowances, take something off the whiskey, off the stout and tobacco. Go ahead with that, because we know the people round the country will not be mocked, deluded or deceived. They will shrug their shoulders in a cynical fashion and say: `We know they are trying to get votes now. They did not do it when they were there last year and when they could have done it' ” Therefore, no one can question our reason for putting this motion down asking the Government not to postpone the dissolution until after a Budget has been brought in, and I say we are doing it in the public interest in order to see that a bad precedent does not occur, and in order to see that if any Government is formed from any side of the House with a policy such as we carried out in the inter-Party Government, they will have an opportunity of doing what they intend to do or hope to do unhampered by the financial arrangements which have been put as a barrier in their path by the present Government.
I think it was said by the Minister for Finance yesterday afternoon, by way of an interruption, that the inter-Party Government brought in a Budget before they went for a general election and that the present Government were only doing what we did. The situation and the circumstances are entirely different. We did not lose six out of nine by-elections. We had not been defeated in North-West Dublin by a majority against us of such magnitude that never before had a Government got such a censure from an urban constituency as the Fianna Fáil  Government got there. We had not got the situation that was brought about by Cork City in the last few days, by Louth, by Wicklow, by East Cork, by Limerick, or by Galway, which the Government won, and where we went up—in a situation where we had no seat in a three-seat constituency three years ago, and even three years ago we had only 3,000 votes—to 8,200. That is an entirely different set of circumstances, and we went out for certain reasons unconnected with the Budget. Our Budget stood the test of every economist and everything except the virulence of Fianna Fáil and their followers.
Mr. J.A. Costello: Irrespective of the interpretation of his statement— and I yesterday drew attention to what everyone knows, that the Taoiseach is an adept at the ambiguous phrase and that he can read 40 things into a thing where anyone else could not—we know it aliunde. I will not give the Taoiseach the source of my information. Will the Taoiseach deny, when he comes to answer this, that he intended to have an immediate election?
Mr. J.A. Costello: It could have. As I pointed out yesterday afternoon, he could have said if it suited him, that this declaration issued on the night of March 4th, entitled him to postpone the dissolution and the holding of a general election until the 1st August—because the last phrase “that a general election should be held as soon as the financial measures  required to provide for the public services have been completed” could include very legitimately in the interpretation of that phrase, the passing of the Finance Bill and the passing of the annual Appropriation Bill which must take place somewhere before the 1st August.
Mr. J.A. Costello: The Taoiseach yesterday gave some plausible reasons or supposed reasons for postponing the election until the people had a full picture of the financial state of the country. The people do not care about the full picture of the financial state of the country.
Mr. J.A. Costello: All they know is what they have suffered from the financial policy of the present Government up to this and, no matter what the picture is and no matter what any member of the Government says, they are not going to believe them.
I want to put this consideration to Deputies who are trying to consider this matter in the general interest and for the public good. The month of May is the normal month for the bringing in of a Budget and the passing of financial proposals. Therefore, it being not yet the middle of March, the passing of a Budget is not urgent and a new Administration could easily be formed if the Dáil were dissolved to-night before 12 o'clock and met on the 2nd April—a week before Holy Week. Then the new Administration that would come into office as a result of the dissolution and general election would be in a position to see where they stood. They would have the Financial picture before them and they would have seen how much money had come into the Exchequer and what the real financial position was. They could then frame their Budget in accordance with their own financial and economic policy.
 Let me repeat what I said yesterday, that the annual Budget is the instrument of economic policy in modern conditions. That instrument has been taken away, blunted and made ineffective by the proposal of the present Government to have the Budget before the new Administration can take office and so tie their hands or thwart their efforts. We could have an Administration before Holy Week. Holy Week was mentioned by the Taoiseach yesterday. Dissolve the Dáil to-night and have a new Administration on the 2nd April. Then the whole picture can be seen and the whole circumstances understood and the Budget can be framed and moulded to suit the policy of the new Administration and to enable them without the slightest loss of time to put into operation their new financial and economic policy, to replace the policy of restrictionism and austerity which has been in operation here for the last two and a half years and which the country, north, south, east and west, has repudiated in such an emphatic fashion.
These are the two general principles on which I commend to this House the motion down in my name. There is one third and last consideration I want to put to Deputies. It is, perhaps, a somewhat saddening thought that with the dissolution of this Dáil an era is ending. I ask Deputies to let that era end as far as possible in peace and certainly with dignity. It is very nearly a quarter of a century since the unhappy circumstances occurred which so rived our country and divided our people. Political divisions have formed themselves upon the lines of the divisions that took place following upon the Treaty of 1921. We have been trying to get away from the antagonisms of the past. I want Deputies to visualise what is going to happen in the next two months. Those people who have carried on either side the brunt of those divisions and differences of opinion, they are on the way out, in accordance with the ordinary inexorable passage of time. People will vote at this general election, whether on the old register or on the new register, who were not born when Fianna Fáil first took office in the year 1932. If  there is a prolonged election campaign and contest, we may be faced with a disedifying spectacle. We had some examples in the recent by-elections of that vituperation and vitriolic bitterness which has been such an unfortunate characteristic of our political history in the last 20 years. I want to have this election contest held in the shortest possible space of time, so that the bitterness—and that sort of thing we heard from Deputy Dr. Ryan, the Minister for Social Welfare—will not be brought in to exacerbate and embitter our people in this political contest, so that inside and outside this House, throughout the country and here in Dáil Éireann when it sits, we will not have that disedifying bitterness and conflict and animosity of which we have had such unfortunate experiences, headed by the Minister for Social Welfare and followed by some of his most recent followers throughout the country.
Mr. Traynor: The Party opposite has been well named “the Party of Gloom”. For pure sanctimonious political bunkum, it would be hard to beat the speech to which we have just listened. Deputy Costello takes the attitude that everybody interpreted the Taoiseach's statement in the way in which he interpreted it or wishes to interpret it. What is the real position? Take the Deputy's own organ, the Independent, and see how the correspondent of the Independent interpreted the Taoiseach's statement. On the morning following that statement, they had a ribbon heading which suggested that a dissolution would be unlikely for some weeks. Then, in the course of a written article, it was stated that the election would be held at the latest within the next two months. That is a completely different interpretation from what Deputy Costello and his followers wish to put on that statement. The Irish Times said: “Some political leaders think that the election will not be held until after his Budget in May”. That refers to the Taoiseach's Budget. Then there was published an interview with “ prominent Fine Gael Deputy”. I venture to suggest that the “prominent Fine Gael Deputy” could have been found on the Front Bench of the Fine Gael Party and, no doubt, the Deputies who are listening to me know who the Deputy was. What did the “prominent Fine Gael Deputy” say to the interviewer from the Irish Independent? He said:—
“An intelligent anticipation would be that the Taoiseach proposed to introduce his Budget and then either go for a general election immediately after his Budget statement or to go for a general election after he has forced his Budget proposals through the Dáil with the help of the Independents.”
Mr. Traynor: This sanctimonious talk is like most of what we hear from the Fine Gael Benches. The speech we have listened to from the Leader of the Fine Gael Party may be described as the opening shots of the election campaign. This is the lead to what is to take place throughout the country. Deputy Costello knows that no matter what the Taoiseach had done he would have been wrong.
Mr. Traynor: He is never right,  according to the Deputy. Had the Taoiseach decided to go for an immediate election he would have been assailed by every Deputy opposite for having rushed the country into an election when he should not have done it.
Mr. Traynor: When the Taoiseach decides that the opposite is the reasonable thing to do, he has done wrong again. Of course, according to the Deputies opposite, he will never do right. According to Deputy Costello, it was not the Taoiseach who made this decision—he was rushed into this decision by the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Heretofore, the Deputies opposite always told us that this was a one man Party, that nobody could make a decision in this Party except the Taoiseach. Now, thanks be to God, we have the opposite allegation.
Mr. Traynor: I say, in the presence of the Taoiseach, that this is a political Party that is free to voice every and any opinion that it desires to voice, and we do it frequently and openly and no one endeavours to force an individual opinion against a majority opinion.
Mr. Traynor: Time will tell. The Irish public and not Fine Gael have to make the decision. The only sad thing about it is that the opinions that are being voiced from the benches opposite are now being shared by Labour and by the splinter groups each side of Fine Gael because they,  like the rotten apple, have become tainted. Their original independent opinions are now submerged in the opinions of the great Party opposite. That is the situation that exists at the present moment. Fianna Fáil are going into this election with our hearts up.
Mr. Traynor: No. That has never happened as far as Fianna Fáil are concerned. We have not ten years such as Fine Gael have to look back on. Our period has been a period of progress and the Irish people know that well. Whatever the result may be, whatever change of opinion may have taken place, as Deputies suggest, we will be prepared to accept the decision of the Irish people and there will be no question of arguing against that. I sincerely hope that when that decision is made it will be a decision with which the Irish people generally will be able to agree.
Mr. Blowick: The Minister for Defence has made a bold attempt to rally the vanishing fortunes of his Party. I do not blame him for that but he has not made a very good attempt. The Clann na Talmhan Party —this rotten Party according to the Minister for Defence—is supporting Deputy Costello's motion. Personally, I do not like an election. I do not think any Deputy likes an election but duty is duty.
Mr. Blowick: We are supporting this motion because we believe, having regard to the results of a number of by-elections, particularly the by-election in Cork, that it is the proper course to take. The present Government got in by a trick. They deceived  the Irish people. The Taoiseach took power by a trick.
Mr. Blowick: I do not mind, nor do I mind for the inter-Party's sake, that the inter-Party Government was put out of office, but the trick that went into action on the 14th June, 1951, not three years ago, has had disastrous results for the people of this country. For that reason and for the people's sake, I am glad of the decision to hold a general election, to give the people a chance of saying what they think about the whole thing. We must regard the last two and a half years as nothing short of disastrous for the people.
First and foremost, the farmers of this country are the particular section of our community who seem to have incurred the enmity of the Taoiseach  from the first time he took office 18 or 19 years ago. All down through the years he seems to have had an undying hatred of the farmers. The farmers have been his target for one blow of his sledge-hammer after another.
Mr. Blowick: Very well. Here is one that is fairly new. The Minister for Agriculture, by direction of the Minister for Finance, deliberately depressed the price of eggs by 6/- per 100 last June. The Taoiseach may laugh now but the Minister himself admitted it here in this House a few short weeks ago, on 11th February. Then, again, we must not forget the disastrous price offered for turkeys during the Christmas which has just passed. The turkey trade and the egg trade are two very promising trades for the small farmer. They are two of the principal mainstays of his economy—yet both of these trades have been singled out for attack by the present Government.
Mr. Blowick: I invite Deputy Killilea to tell his constituents that the price of eggs has gone up and that, last Christmas, the price of turkeys was better than it had ever been before. I invite him to repeat to his constituents the statement which the Minister for Finance made in this House last night when he said that the Irish people are the best-fed people in the world.
Mr. Blowick: We may expect that,  among other claims, Deputy Killilea will assert that Fianna Fáil started the ground limestone scheme in this country. Will he tell us that? The point I was making, when I was interrupted, was that the farmers of this country have been singled out, time and time again, for particular ill-treatment by reason of the enmity displayed towards them by Fianna Fáil since they first came into office many years ago. During the war years there was a ready market for wool. Then the Minister for Industry and Commerce, without any cause or just reason, deliberately depressed and fixed the price of wool at one-third of its then prevailing price. In one swoop, he slashed the profit which the farmers should have got on their wool.
The present Government seem to be oblivious of the appalling flight from the land that is continuing day by day in this country. At this point, I might mention that the inter-Party Government had almost brought emigration to a standstill by the time we left office.
Mr. Blowick: Emigration and flight from the land was not noticeable for the first six months, or so, of the present Government's office, but now it is worse than it ever was. Anybody who watches the trains departing from the West, particularly from now until the 1st June, will see large numbers of the very pick of our youth, both boys and girls, leaving the countryside to seek a livelihood in another country.
Mr. Blowick: A short time ago, a number of farmers were peacefully picketing in Dublin City and, because of the Taoiseach's directions, they were stuffed into jail—for peacefully picketing here in Dublin City.
An Ceann Comhairle: I would remind the House that when a Deputy rises to address the House he is entitled to be heard without interruption. Any Deputy who wants to make a contribution can do so later, without interruption. I call on Deputy Blowick to proceed.
Mr. Blowick: The Minister for Finance has just stated that farmers who were peacefully picketing in Dublin destroyed property. If the Minister should avail of an opportunity to speak during the course of this debate, I challenge him to name the property which was destroyed because I will not allow him to add insult to the injury of stuffing these men into jail. Possibly the Minister for Finance thinks that he will get this in the papers tomorrow and that people up and down the country who may not be very familiar with the location of the picketing will assume, from his words here now, that the men in question destroyed property. I now challenge the Minister to show where sixpence worth of property was injured and where any damage was done by these men who were picketing. I would point out that the men in question were perfectly legitimately carrying out peaceful picketing in a constitutional manner. Of course, Fianna Fáil's way of dealing with the situation was to stuff them into jail and to fill the jails with them. I suppose the Taoiseach will tell us now and that he will go down the country soon and  say that his heart is bleeding for the farmers of this country.
Let us consider some of the many schemes which were started by the inter-Party Government. Every single Party in that Government realised that agriculture is the basic industry in this country and that if we were ever to put an end to many of our economic evils our first task would be to restore prosperity to that industry. Deputy Dillon started the land reclamation scheme. The very name of that scheme was anathema to Fianna Fáil —just because the inter-Party Government started it.
Mr. Blowick: When Fianna Fáil resumed office in 1951, they did their very best to kill the ground limestone scheme and to go back to the burned lime system. That has failed, and now they are shamelessly— although they are welcome to do it— trying to claim the political kudos for the ground limestone scheme which is the most useful scheme which was ever started in this country. The average voter up and down the country is not as easily fooled as all that.
Mr. Blowick: The Taoiseach will hear plenty about it when he starts his election campaign because the farmers are not that dumb. The Local Authorities (Works) Act, which was an essential subsidiary Act to the land rehabilitation scheme, has been completely choked off and the money has been diverted for other purposes. In our time, we voted £1,900,000 for a single year in respect of that Act. The amount has now been reduced to £400,000. The reason why the money has been reduced is that the inter-Party Government brought in that scheme. The people want a continuity of those Acts which are beneficial to the community and, no matter what Government may inaugurate a scheme, a succeeding Government should not injure something useful which their  predecessors did. That is one of the principal reasons why Fianna Fáil got their answer from the people——
Mr. Blowick: For all the votes he would get, he could put them in his vest pocket. I would not advise Deputy Killilea to go to North Mayo because there is the ghost of a biscuit factory there that might rise up and swallow him. We all remember the biscuit factory that was supposed to be erected there. Last June 12 months, a few evenings before the by-election there, the Tánaiste and Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, came down to Ballina and promised a biscuit factory for the town. He gave a glowing account of all the employment that would be given in it and of the great quantity of biscuits that would be manufactured—so much so that the people of Mayo were seriously considering going off bread altogether and going on to the biscuits which were to be so plentiful there. The Minister told us that evening in Ballina that the seeds of the biscuit factory were sown. Those seeds must have come out of the old tombs in Egypt and been 3,000 years old. They have not germinated yet or at least the sprouts have not appeared above the ground yet.
A short time after the recent by-election in South Galway, at which the Government candidate was successful, a factory was opened in Ballinasloe. I think that, between Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, seven were present at the official opening of the factory. That is very interesting in the light of what I am now about to say. In Ballina on the very same day, an enterprising  businessman opened a small factory— not too small—which is giving employment to 40 or 50 men, but not one Minister or Parliamentary Secretary was present at the opening of that factory. They all went to Galway— which seems to indicate that they were afraid to cross the River Moy for more reasons than the factory alone. That kind of deceit is all right in between election periods but the people's memory is not short. Lest, however, is should be short, we will take very good care to keep these facts aired for them. It will be interesting to see the reception which the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance will get when they come to Mayo. I hope we shall be honoured by a visit, during the general election campaign, from the Minister for Finance; I hope he will not give us the cold shoulder.
One of the latest tricks—and I describe it as nothing but a trick— was that in order to reduce the figure from 80,000 unemployed on the unemployment register, a scheme was introduced whereby a number of works were started on a Monday morning early in January down the country. Incidentally, it turned out to be the most bitter weather of the whole winter season, and the unemployed were asked to report for work as far as seven or nine miles from their homes. Of course, we know the result. They were struck off the register then for a period of 12 weeks, according to the regulations laid down by the Minister for Social Welfare or somebody else. I do not think that is a decent way to run a Government or to run the country. These kind of tricks give the people a very poor impression of Parliament, and I say these things are doing much to undermine the prestige of Parliament and pave the way for disrespect of Parliament and all that flows from it to such an extent that it has become a very serious matter.
 When the present Government took office immediately after us, we found them going back on every single thing we did, whether it was good, bad or indifferent. So long as we had started it, that was sufficient reason to lay the axe to the root of it and chop it down. I had an excellent afforestation programme going ahead with the full consent of the Government, and every member of the Government was proud of that scheme, but it was cut down from 20,000 acres per year. Now the Minister for Finance told us that he was planning this year for 10,000 acres. The Fianna Fáil programme for 4,000 acres a year is now up to 10,000 a year, but when I left office plans were complete for 19,600 acres. Please God, it will not be long until that is back again.
Deputy Moran, a colleague of mine, had some question to-day on the relief of congestion. That is another aspect of Government work or administration that seems to be anathema to the present Government. They do not believe in the relief of congestion. They are anxious to revert to the position which came about in 1941 when the Land Commission was virtually closed down except for the vesting of certain holdings and the collecting of annuities. The present Minister is not anxious to acquire land for the relief of congestion, although I remember, when I was Minister, the present Taoiseach and then Leader of the Opposition, talked about 500,000 acres. He started his word-spinning to try to delude the people that if they were in office they would divide 500,000 acres, but he did not know where that land was. He said it ought to be there, somewhere. Word-spinning is too mild a term for that sort of thing. Quibbling is how I would describe it. The Taoiseach may not be aware of it, but the people are fed up with that kind of thing and a great feeling of insecurity has come about.
Mr. Blowick: The Minister for Finance probably knows that I am approaching the question of the cost of living and he wants to put me off the trail. A growing feeling of insecurity has occurred during the last two and a half years, due to the fact that a man who was Taoiseach for 16 years and who had been respected and relied on by a great number of people at least not to mislead them went into power two and a half years ago with a 17-point policy or programme. He told the people, among other things, that he would maintain food subsidies, do his best to reduce the cost of living, give full employment and many other things, including drainage, afforestation, relief of congestion and providing work for the workless. All these things were to be done far better than the inter-Party Government could do them. But the very moment he took over office he swiped the food subsidies, increased the cost of living, and calmly told the people that they were eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much and that they must stop that kind of thing. The Minister for Finance—the man who wants to get a dictionary to define certain words— told us in the town hall at Rathmines a few days before the last general election that some people were scattering rumours that if the present Government was returned to office they would reimpose the tax on tobacco and drink. He said there was not a shadow of truth in that rumour, and he got that installed in a window on the front page of The Irish Press of 29th May, 1951. One of the first acts he undertook when he got back was to reimpose the taxes. When he took office he put an increased tax on petrol, an increased tax on cars, on tractors, on buses, on hackney cars and he increased charges for telephone calls, telegrams and he even attacked the modest 2½d. stamp and increased the price to 3d. That was not enough. He increased motor drivers' licences as well. He then attacked the income of the principal people of this country, the farmers, and sought by every  means to depress prices and bring still more poverty to their doors.
In that regard I want to condemn emphatically what I can describe only as a ramp on both sides of the Channel to create an artificial scare that the prices of cattle and sheep will tumble in the near future due to the fact that Britain is going off the ration. I think that is nothing short of a scandalous ramp with no foundation in fact aimed at one thing only—to reduce the farmers to the particular state they were in before—producing food whether they got economic prices for it or not. That has been in operation for the last 20 years and it has shown terrible results and the havoc it has caused can be seen throughout the Irish countryside where you have nothing but vacant houses all over the place.
The cost of living has gone up so much that I must admit that I do not know how the ordinary worker living in a town, paying for practically everything but the fresh air and sunlight, can make ends meet or keep food on the table for his family or pay his normal outgoings on small wages.
Industries were just let sink or swim. The alcohol factories are the very latest, and they are gone down. I remember during my time in office—to speak of a purely local matter—a bacon factory in Castlebar established a canning industry employing 170 people over and above what were usually employed. That flourished excellently during the period of the inter-Party Government but from the very moment when the present Government came in, it was only some months later when these 170 employees in Castlebar were told to go home and that there was no work for them. That is only one instance I am quoting. There is another factory in Castlebar at the moment that has given notice to 14 of its employees that they are to be laid off. In every forestry centre the young men have been told to go home, that there is no more work for them.
Mr. Blowick: If there are more men employed in forestry now why is deputation after deputation coming to the Minister for Lands asking him to retain men in employment who have been given notice that they would be laid off?
Mr. Blowick: The Parliamentary Secretary may be getting vexed, but the fact is that men are being laid off all over the country. Of course, we are going to spend £2,000,000 on the rebuilding of Dublin Castle. Of what interest is that to the people in the West of Ireland, to the people from Donegal to Cork? I am sure they will feel very happy, even though they go to bed hungry when they know that a magnificent Dublin Castle is to be rebuilt. I am sure that, when the Taoiseach comes to the West, he will tell them all about it.
Mr. Blowick: We are not able to see  the full implications of how the rebuilding of Dublin Castle is going to benefit the people in the West of Ireland. I am sure that the Taoiseach will be able to enlighten them on the subject when he goes there. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance seem to be enjoying to a great extent the hardships——
Mr. Blowick: The Minister for Finance is a happy man with a salary of over £2,000 a year. He does not feel the pinch, but what about the 9,000 people in Cork who voted for his Party at the last election two and a half years ago and turned against him the other day? I am sure that all these were not fooled, and that it was not for fun that they made the change. The same thing will occur in practically every other constituency when the general election comes. It is all very fine to laugh at what I am saying under the privilege and shelter of the four walls of this Chamber. But another day will come, and I will take very good care to say these things when it comes. I believe that the Minister will then be conveniently occupied in some more congenial air than in approaching those people whom he has blistered out of existence since he came into office.
The Minister now calmly proposes to bring in a Budget on the 22nd April. I dare say there will be certain relaxations in it, but personally I think the day is long past when the people will bother their heads. We are supporting this motion purely because we believe that the basic industry of the country has been cruelly wronged, deliberately strangled and punished without cause. That has been the case all down the years. We are supporting the motion in the hope that a general election will provide a change of Government, and I think there is no doubt about that.
Mr. Blowick: The people have been suffering as a result of the insecurity created by the present Government. They were told that the food subsidies would not be cut and that certain  taxes would not be put on. They changed face, however, a short time after they got back. The country was alarmed by the statements made by both the Minister for Finance and the Tánaiste. The people of the country were scared out of their minds by the statements that we had left the country in debt. That went on for two or three months, and lots of people believed it, until, one day, the Minister for Finance was forced to admit, in reply to a parliamentary question, that, instead of leaving the country in debt, we had left £30,000,000 of unspent Marshall Aid moneys. That little man over there benefited by that when he came in. That was what was handed over to him by Deputy McGilligan when he came in.
Mr. MacEntee: On a point of order. Is it in order for a Deputy to ascribe to another member of this House what is a palpable untruth? There was no such figure as £30,000,000 in the Marshall Aid Fund, or in any other fund left by the Coalition Government.
Mr. Blowick: Deputy MacBride, when he was Minister for External Affairs, was largely responsible for getting that free gift of £6,000,000 for this country. To-day, in reply to a question, the Minister for Agriculture told us that he is now applying for permission to use that money. The outgoing Minister for Finance, Deputy McGilligan, in our Government, handed you £30,000,000. You have told us that inside six months after taking office, you had the whole of the £24,000,000 scuttled. I believe that the present Minister for Finance was capable of that. We had been scraping and saving and we had brought the country to a grand pitch of prosperity, but all that we had gathered up, the present Minister  for Finance proceeded to scatter with a shovel. That brought about a panic and a great feeling of insecurity. The man who has been Prime Minister stands over these misstatements, although I think he himself was very careful not to make them. He said that we had left the country in debt, and that it was an awful thing we had done. I agree with him that, if we had left the country in debt, it would be a shocking thing for any Government to do. However, a short time afterwards, the Minister proceeded to float a loan of £25,000,000 at 5 per cent., and, in less than 12 months, another loan of £21,000,000 at 4½ per cent., making a total of £46,000,000. The average man is not so blind or such a fool as not to see these things, to see the Taoiseach one day defending the charge that we had left the country in debt and then seeing him sink the country in a debt of £46,000,000 inside of 12 months. When the people see these things, they know quite well that there is something radically wrong.
We had a statement from the Taoiseach on Sunday week in Louth to the effect that the Dáil would not be dissolved, that they had a majority and that it would not be dissolved. He said that they had a majority, and that there would not be an election because, he said, we have a majority in the Dáil. But four days afterwards, in a fit of pique when he gets the result of the Cork election, he blows fire and brimstone out of his nostrils and says: “Oh! bedad, we will not have any of this from the Cork people.” Who were they to say that to him? The next thing we learned was that we were going to have the two letters “T.D.” taken from our names, and that overnight we were going to make preparations for an election. The next thing that happened was that he got cold feet on the job and put it off.
Mr. Blowick: They got a hell of a fright. The feeling, the impression, that has been created amongst the people of the country is that they cannot rely on anything that comes  from the Government side of the House at the present time. That is a very serious matter. I want to tell the Taoiseach that, after all, whatever our faults may be, we are the elected representatives of the people and the people trust us to come in here and look after their interests. The first things they demand are truth, solidity and integrity. They do not elect a Party that goes out and promises to do something, gets elected on that promise and then fails to carry out the promise. A violent change is created in the average voter when he finds a person gets into office on a certain promise and then turns round and rejects or goes back on that promise, without even an explanation in many cases. That creates a very bad impression.
I hope the Taoiseach will accept the motion as it stands, dissolve the Dáil and give the people the earliest possible opportunity of recording their verdict. As I said at the outset, I do not like an election. I do not think any Deputy likes an election, but duty is duty, and, since the Taoiseach and his Minister have brought the country to such a pass, the proper thing is to hand the formation of the Government of the country over to those who are best qualified to judge; that is, the average voter in town and country all over Ireland.
Mr. Allen: The Deputy was going to come closer to the Commonwealth in 1948, but his Leader went over to Canada and declared they were the red, roaring Republican Party, and they swallowed Deputy Blowick who was also the leader of an Empire Party.
“We went in there to the Dáil as a Farmers' Party, the only real Farmers' Organisation in the present Dáil and we hope to overcome a nasty odour as three other previous Farmers' Parties had been swallowed by Fine Gael.”
Mr. Allen: Immediately Fianna Fáil became the Government of this country Fine Gael changed the name of their Party. Not alone that, but they changed the name of their leader and they changed their friends all at the one time. Deputy Blowick joined that bad odour, the Party that will be the Government of the country in a few days, God bless the mark!
Mr. Allen: They will be the Government if only the people will select them. I have no doubt that if the Taoiseach had decided last Thursday night to go to the country, or even last night, we would have had an outcry from the Parties opposite.
Mr. Allen: We would have had an outcry from Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy MacEoin just as we had outcries in the past. I heard more wailing and whinging here from the Fine Gael Party after every general election than from anyone else because they were taken unawares; they did not get enough time. They will have enough time now and we will see what they will do in a few weeks. They have got full warning and I invite them to go to the country and do their best; and if they come back as the Government of the country there will not be any Fascist Blueshirts organised by the Opposition to prevent the Government from functioning.
Mr. Allen: There will not be any Blueshirts should there happen to be a change. We in this House remember a few things. We remember the effort to prevent the Government  functioning. We remember the efforts made by the Opposition at that time, by Deputy MacEoin and Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy McGilligan, who were closely associated, to prevent the Oath of Allegiance being taken out of the Constitution—the Oath of Allegiance to a British King?
Mr. Allen: In reference to this appeal from the Leader of Fine Gael and his colleagues to forget the past, a man said to me the other day: “If you only had a greyhound running in a race you would look up his breeding  and his form, and then assess the form he might be expected to have; you would do the same with a horse.”
Mr. Allen: Deputy Costello's motion is that the Dáil be dissolved forthwith. He gives as the reason for that motion the fact that the Government had an adverse vote in two recent by-elections. That was the main reason given. No motion was moved on prior occasions and nothing has happened since this Government took office three years ago to influence the situation and the Opposition Party did not see any reason on previous occasions to move such a motion at any time in the last three years until now. That is the reason they gave. If the Taoiseach had not given any indication of a general election we would not have had any such motion. The Fine Gael Party and the other Opposition Parties were not anxious or ready for an election.
Mr. Allen: We are concerned that every democratic Party organised in this country should get a fair opportunity and that the people should get a fair opportunity of understanding every detail of their policy. We would be delighted with that. As a member of this House I can recall an occasion —I am sure Deputy MacEoin and Deputy Morrissey can recall it also— during the term of office of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government— Fine Gael had another name then— when there were two very adverse results of by-elections, but the then Taoiseach was not so democratically minded as the present Taoiseach and he did not go to the country. He had not a majority in the House of his own Party, very far from it. Cumann na nGaedheal never had a majority in this House yet.
Mr. Allen: There is one important aspect of this matter that influenced the Government. One of the reasons that influenced the Taoiseach and the Government in postponing the election for a few weeks was this fact. It is well known to some members of the Opposition that we are just on the eve of the spring sowing of the largest tillage area we have had in this country for many hundreds of years. The farmers have made a magnificent response to the appeal of the Government and the Minister for Agriculture to give the country increased tillage. All over the country we see very significant indications that we are going to have the largest area under tillage that was ever seen in the Twenty-Six Counties. The farmers who are concerned about having their crops sown in the next three or four weeks should be given an opportunity without any distraction of doing their best to have that tillage area sown for the nation. It is most important for the economy of the country, irrespective of what Government may be in power, that good crops well sown should be produced. We are going to have the largest area that was ever under tillage. The farmers are busy with that and great numbers of them are interested in the policy of the Government. They are interested in taking part in this election and they should be given an opportunity, after having sown that large area of tillage, of taking their full part in the election, whatever side they may  take. We have not heard Deputy Dillon, who claims to be interested in the farmers, speak yet. The busiest seasons for the farmer are the sowing season and the harvest. The sowing season is a critical and difficult period and it is most important that the farmers should have their crops sown before the growth comes. That is full and ample justification for not having the election at the present time.
Mr. Allen: Deputy O'Leary knows very well that if a man is in a tillage field all day he has had enough work for that day. He should be able to take his full part in the election. It was quite plain when Deputy Blowick was speaking that he was embarrassing the Front Bench of Fine Gael. He referred to milk prices and the efforts of the farmers a few years ago to have them increased. I have no doubt that we will have some leaders on the Front Bench opposite getting up and pointing out that one of the sins of this Government is that butter and milk have gone up in price in the cities and towns. They will not go down where the milk is produced and point that out. They will not tell the people in Dublin, Cork, or any other city or town that the farmers are entitled to an economic price for the milk they produce and send to the creamery which is afterwards made into butter. They will not tell the city-dwellers that for every pound of butter which they can buy for 4/2 the farmers are paid 3/9 for the milk that produces that pound of butter. None of them will say to the townsman that the farmers are getting too much for their milk. They will not go down the country and say that. They dare not do it. If any member of the Party opposite will say that the farmers are getting too much for their milk, that will be proof of whether butter is too dear or not.
Let us have some honesty about the price of milk and butter. Is the farmer getting too much for his milk or is he not? That is an important matter for the Party that claims they are going  to be the Government of the country. It is important that they should make a public pronouncement on it, and the sooner it is made the better. They should also make a pronouncement as to whether or not the price the farmers are getting for wheat this year is too high or whether it should be substantially reduced in order to give a cheaper loaf to the people. That is also an important matter. They might also, when telling the people that the subsidies were done away with by Fianna Fáil, tell them that, in the present year, in order to allow the loaf to be sold at its present price, the taxpayers are contributing about £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. The people in the towns, I am sure, will be told that we could buy cheaper wheat in Canada, Australia or America, and that it would be far better for the economy of the country to allow all the land to remain in grass and buy all our wheat abroad. Deputy Morrissey understands this matter, and I am sure he will not get up in this House, or anywhere else, and say the farmers are getting too much for their wheat, that it would be good national economy to import all our wheat. But Deputy Dillon, time after time in this House, has said so. He prayed to God that he would see the day when wheat, beet and turf would go up the spout. That is the pronouncement he made and repeated time after time.
At the general election, we want frank and full discussion. We want honesty, and the people should be informed of all the factors that go to make up the cost of living and the price of bread or butter or anything else. Time should be given to the people to bring all these factors to their notice. That is all-important. I hope that Fine Gael will assist the farmers of this country by showing the townspeople that the farmer is getting 3/9 for the milk which is going into the butter for which they pay 4/2. I hope they will also tell the people the price the farmer is getting for his wheat to enable him to pay his labour, his rates and his other taxes. He has to get £4 a barrel to grow wheat in the present year. It could be indicated by the Party opposite during the coming election whether it is Fine  Gael policy that the price of wheat is too dear. We would like to hear from them whether the price the farmer is getting for growing beet is too high— that he is getting too much and that we could produce sugar cheaper by giving farmers less for growing beet. These are all-important matters. I have not a bit of doubt that in the cities and towns Fine Gael will make every possible effort to mislead the people who depend for their very existence on the prosperity of the rural community and to try to show them that if they vote in a certain way they will have cheaper bread, sugar and butter—at the expense of whom, we would like to know. Is it going to be at the expense of the farmers?
These are some of the important matters affecting the economy of this nation upon which the people will be asked to vote in the coming election. They will also be asked about some other items that went to increasing the cost of Government. It was necessary to provide money for the Social Welfare Act, which is now fully in operation, and they will be asked to consider how much it takes to finance that Act. I am sure that every Party in the House will claim some credit for supporting that Act and for the fact that none of them voted against it, but if it costs so much to finance it the money has got to be obtained in some way and no doubt they will explain that to the people.
The Health Act is not fully in operation yet but parts of it are. I am sure it will be explained to the country whether in the opinion of Fine Gael or the Labour Party that Act is for the benefit of the poorer sections of the community or whether it will serve their needs. They may challenge it. They challenged it before in this House. The chief Opposition Party challenged it for many reasons, but on the question of the cost I doubt if they did challenge it.
Mr. Allen: They will be able to point out that they did not even vote against the Final Stage. Already some  Fine Gael Deputies are pressing local authorities to get the benefits of that Act into operation as fast as possible —a most extraordinary thing. I am sure that they will explain that when the Act is fully in operation it will cost considerable sums of money and the Minister for Finance, whoever he may be, will need in some way to procure that finance from the people, and that it has meant in the last few years that extra money had to be provided to finance the Health Act.
I am sure that it will also be explained that in order to have rural electrification many millions of borrowed money had to be provided for the E.S.B. Are Fine Gael opposed to that? Are they opposed to borrowing money to provide rural dwellers with the benefit of electricity?
Mr. Allen: There are a great many claims about who started rural electrification, but if you want to go back, I suppose, 100 years ago, Thomas Davis talked a lot about the electrification of this country, and Sir John Keane talked a lot about electrification, and many others did before there was any native Government in this country.
Mr. Allen: Many people gave a lot of thought to providing white power to this country, and there are many documents on record before this House was ever set up advising and advocating that we should have electrification.
 These people said that the rivers should be harnessed, and it is no credit to any native Government that we have electrification—none in the world—but it is to the credit of the people who have been paying for it out of their savings and otherwise.
Mr. Allen: The chief Opposition should explain to the people that the full cost of rural electrification plus electrification of the towns is going to be in the neighbourhood of almost £80,000,000. That should be fully explained, and that a big portion of the borrowed money of the last few years has gone into rural electrification.
We hear complaints about the spendthrift Government and high taxation, but they should explain to the people also that many millions of pounds have been put into housing the people —many millions of borrowed money. The housing programme is not finished yet. It will take another five or ten years before it is completed, at least in many areas, and before the housing programme is at an end many millions of pounds will have been sunk in it. Fully 80 per cent. of the total population in this country when the first native Government was set up had to be rehoused. All these are important matters which I am sure will be explained. I am sure that the Opposition will also tell the people that considerable amounts of borrowed money had to be provided for organising three extra sugar factories and that they were a good proposition. They might mention incidentally in a whisper to the crowd that one of the chief leaders of their Party had stumped this country for many years advocating that these beet factories should be blown up and that it would be cheaper to buy beet sugar or cane sugar from Cuba rather than grow beet here. They might whisper that to the populace when they are talking about this borrowed money and where it is going. It has all been invested in this country in the interests of the Irish people, to provide them with better houses, with electrification of  town and country, to provide them with sugar beet factories, with cement factories and with turf.
Mr. Allen: They might also whisper how we converted our native turf into electric power and, when they are talking about the money invested by Fianna Fáil and under Fianna Fáil, they might point out that this was a scheme inaugurated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass. We are quite proud of that scheme. It has provided employment for many thousands of people. Many millions of money have been invested in organising these schemes. These are factors which the Opposition might consider. They, I am sure, like to see a well-organised, well-conducted community and I feel they will do their part in educating the people as to where the people's money has gone.
Mr. Allen: They will point to the fact that these drains which the Deputy has in mind—indeed, which he has got on his brain—were the drains constructed under the Local Authorities (Works) Act. The money went down the drain under that Act all during the time that the Coalition Government were in office.
Mr. O'Leary: You are forgetting all about the Minister who said it would be a good thing for this country if every damn ship was at the bottom of the sea and who appealed to the people to burn no British coal.
Mr. Allen: We all hope that that prophecy of the Minister for External Affairs, Deputy Aiken, will be realised in a few short years when we get our turf resources and our water power resources developed to the full and to the point when we shall be completely independent of British coal. We shall have no need to burn any of it then.
Mr. Allen: Thank God, the day will come—even if we do not see it, I am sure younger men will see it—when we shall have sufficient resources developed from native fuel to provide us with heat, light and power.
Mr. Allen: It is hoped that any Government in power in this country will be in a position to provide sufficient capital to enable the full organisation of that great industry to be continued. A Bill was circulated this morning under which it is proposed to provide capital up to 1961 to enable the E.S.B. to develop our turf resources, to use Arigna coal and to put the country in the position in which it will not be dependent for an electricity supply upon foreign fuel. That was the method adopted by the Coalition when they were in office.
Mr. Allen: I have been slightly annoying the Opposition. I am trying to remind them of some of the duties they owe to the community if they claim to be responsible citizens and to be persons to whom the country could entrust or might entrust—the wish is  father to the thought in their case— the Government of the country. If they claim to be responsible persons, coming before the country and asking the people to give them their confidence, to elect them in such numbers that they might form a Fine Gael Government, independent of Labour or other satellites, they have a duty to inform the people of certain facts. The hope of Fine Gael is to have a full Fine Gael cabinet. I am sure that in the course of the election campaign they will explain in every single respect where all the money borrowed by Fianna Fáil for the last few years was invested—that it was invested for the benefit of the Irish people, for the production of electricity, for the production of turf, for housing, beet, et cetera. These are big capital investments. Unfortunately, if you like, some of them are social investments, in so far as that for a great number of years they will not pay any actual cash dividends, but they will pay dividends in the long run in the health and prosperity of the nation.
When we took over the Government here, we had to try to overcome the conditions brought about by years of neglect. There had been practically no capital development for hundreds of years. As I say, we had to provide capital for the housing of our people. That was an investment that will not pay any cash dividends to the Exchequer, but it will pay dividends by way of the improved health of the community. I am sure that when Deputy Mulcahy goes down the country to seek votes in a rural community, namely, South Tipperary, he will tell the rural community down there that, when he was Minister for Local Government in a former Government, he told Dáil Éireann that until the workers of the country were prepared to accept less wages and to work harder, and until the builders' providers were prepared to take less profit, we could have no rural housing in this country. That was a statement made by Deputy Mulcahy when he was Minister for Local Government. I am sure he will explain whether his viewpoint or the viewpoint of Fine Gael has changed. The country will remember the stand they took between 1932  and 1939 in this House in opposing every effort made by the then Minister for Finance and the then Minister for Industry and Commerce to provide protection for industry, when they voted hundreds of times against the provision of protection, in the way of tariffs and otherwise, to enable industries to be started in this country. They were bitterly opposed to that.
They will explain also why the Labour Party of that time fully supported Fianna Fáil in their industrial drive. Fine Gael will explain all that away to their own satisfaction, I am sure. They will explain away also their form of the past. They will explain how between 1932 and 1939 they tried to prevent the barriers to complete independence that were in the Treaty from being wiped out—the Oath of Allegiance, the Governor General, the appeals to the Privy Council and the other 26 sections of the British dictated Constitution that was in operation in this country from 1922 to 1939. They will explain all that away. They will explain why they, as a responsible Party seeking the votes of the people, opposed protection for Irish industry and every single effort of this nation to shake off the shackles that they, by their efforts, tied to the ankles of the Irish people between 1922 and 1939. They will also try to explain why they opposed the Constitution that was enacted by the Irish people in 1937 or 1938. There is an explanation of their attitude on these questions due for many years.
Mr. Allen: They will explain why it was, when under the 1938 Agreement with Great Britain the ports of this country were given back—the ports which the British in times of war or strained relations were to occupy under the Treaty; they were also to take possession of the railways and  roadways—they belittled the efforts of the Taoiseach to remove these provisions from the Treaty, and why they said that they could have got the ports years before but that they considered the cost of maintenance was too high. There are many other things that are due for explanation. They will also explain why they wanted to rush the election and why they would not give the farmers time to sow the biggest tillage crop, under Tom Walsh, Minister for Agriculture, ever grown in this country.
Mr. MacBride: This is the first occasion in my experience in this House upon which I have found that there is complete agreement between both sides of the House on a major political question. There is apparently now complete agreement that there should be a general election. This agreement apparently arose by reason of the results of nine different by-elections, culminating in the two most recent ones. The Taoiseach, presumably realising that he lost the confidence of the country, or that this House had lost the confidence of the country, then decided that there should be a general election, as soon as the urgent financial business was disposed of.
So far, we reach a position where at least there was complete agreement that the country had lost confidence in this House and in the Government and that a general election had to take place. In view of that, it does seem incomprehensible that, once that admission was made, the election should be delayed. Our Constitution, as, indeed, the Constitutions of, I think most other countries, provides that, when the Government or the Parliament is deemed to have lost the confidence of the people, it should be dissolved within a specified period of time. I think our Constitution provides that that should take place within three to four weeks.
I know that the Taoiseach is strictly  within his legal rights in declining to dissolve the Dáil until he is actually defeated in the House by a vote of the House, but I suggest that it is amounting somewhat to sharp practice for the Government to continue in office and to decline to dissolve the Dáil when the Taoiseach has admitted on their behalf, on behalf of the Government, that the Dáil and the Government have lost the confidence of the people. It does seem to me that the proper course to adopt as soon as the Government is forced into a position of admitting that it has lost the confidence of the people is to dissolve the Dáil and go to the country. Certainly, it would be acting in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution and the recognised constitutional usage in most countries if that were done.
I think, indeed, that that must have been the Taoiseach's original intention when he made his announcement last Thursday night. At that time, I think the Taoiseach must have contemplated an immediate dissolution of the Dáil, and that it was only as a result of other advice he got, no doubt from some of his Party managers, that, on second thoughts, he decided to postpone the evil day for as long as possible and, certainly, until he had introduced a Budget.
My objection to the postponement of the election is, first, that the Government, having admitted impliedly that it had lost the confidence of the people, or, to put it even at its lowest, that there was some doubt whether this Parliament had the confidence of the people, it then becomes indecent for this Dáil and for the Government to remain without seeking the views of the people. Secondly, it is quite obvious that the next ten weeks will be wasted, so far as public business in this Dáil is concerned, that this Dáil will become for the next ten weeks a market-place on which each different political Party will seek to peddle their political wares. It will become a cross-roads election platform and will be a complete waste of public time and public expenditure.
We have already had yesterday and to-day a number of samples of the type of speeches we will get and which we  will probably get from both sides of the House. We had a sample from Deputy Allen, who is himself a decent man, but who apparently thinks it necessary, when he comes into the House, to make an election speech in preparation for an election, to try to refight the civil war and to try to cast aspersions on the pedigree and antecedents of different Deputies. That comes from Deputy Allen, whom I regard as one of the decent men in this House. It is quite obvious that there can be no reasonable discussion here from now until the election, that the House will be just a political platform, and, God knows, this Parliament is already held in sufficient contempt by the public generally by reason of the type of speeches and the type of things said in the House day in and day out.
It is quite obvious that the situation will become much worse if this House is to sit for another ten weeks with an election in the offing, and, no matter how well-intentioned Deputies may be, they will be unable to resist the temptation to use the Dáil as a platform for their election campaign. That will be done on both sides of the House, so that, so far as the people are concerned, it will merely result, first, in a waste of public money and public time, because, whether we like it or not, we are public servants being paid by the public to discharge the business of the nation. We are not being paid to come here to play Party politics. We have a specific task to do and, in my view, it would be indecent and nearly fraudulent for the Parliament to remain in office for another ten weeks when we, all of us, know in our heart of hearts that this Parliament will be used for the sole purpose of preparing the ground for an election campaign by the different Parties. We know that no useful business of any kind will be conducted. We know, too, that the type of discussion, speech and interjection that will take place here in the course of the next ten weeks will only serve to bring public life and Parliament into greater contempt and disrepute than it is already held in by the people, and probably with good justification.
 My third reason for opposing any postponement of the election—I am trying to discuss this on the merits of that issue and that issue alone—is that it is quite obvious that not only will the time of this Dáil be wasted during the next ten weeks but that the whole time of the Government will also be wasted. I am not saying that in criticism of this particular Government more than any other Government in a democratic country, but it is quite obvious that the Government, instead of being the Executive administering the affairs of the nation, will become the election committee of a political Party and that the whole machinery of Government will for the next ten weeks be used practically exclusively for the purpose of building up the election machinery and the election platform of one political Party.
That is the reason why our Constitution, like the Constitutions of most other countries, provides a maximum and a minimum period of time in which Parliament can continue after it has lost the confidence of the people, and no Government can continue after it has lost the confidence of the Dáil. It is admitted, or implied, if not directly, by the Government—there is certainly complete agreement as far as the Opposition is concerned—that they and Parliament have lost the confidence of the people.
It would seem grossly indecent, therefore, that we should continue to maintain in office a Government which is to act, in effect, as the election committee of a political Party for the next ten weeks We know that for the next ten weeks the only question that will agitate the mind of every single member of the Government, every single Minister from the Taoiseach down, and of every single Parliamentary Secretary will be: “How can I use my office and my position in order to try and ensure the return either of my Party or of myself at the next election?”
I am not saying that in criticism of Fianna Fáil. Inevitably, any political Party will approach a situation of this kind in the same way. Therefore, the postponement of the election is really, in effect, a way of placing at the disposal  of one political Party a readymade election machine which would be paid for by the people in public time. During that period, it is quite obvious that the affairs of the nation will only receive secondary or casual consideration, that every Department of State, every Minister and every Parliamentary Secretary will be mainly concerned with the question of how he can utilise his position in order to try and secure a political advantage in the coming general election.
Having regard to these factors, I do urge strongly on the Taoiseach and the Government to reconsider their opposition to this motion and accept it. I have refrained from trying to deal with the various election speeches that have already been made in this House. I should like just to say this. I issue it as a word of warning to the Government and also to the other Parties in this House. I think that, by and large, the people of the country have no great confidence in this House. I think we should have a sense of responsibility towards them by trying to behave ourselves at least with some degree of responsibility and we should try and set them a better example than we have in the past.
What the people of the country want is an efficient and competent Government. I think they are sick and tired of these internal wrangles about the civil war and about personalities of one kind or another. I think what the people of the country really want is a national Government with certain fixed objectives, such as the ending of Partition, the development of our resources and the saving of the Gaeltacht. We should at least in any discussion we have here seek to minimise the degree of rancour and bitterness that continually mar political discussion. That is one of the reasons why I should like to see this Dáil dissolved as soon as possible.
I think that the Government and the Taoiseach would render a service to the country if they would accept that viewpoint even though they have committed themselves now not to have a dissolution. They know in their heart of hearts that the country wants a change of Government. They  certainly want a change of Parliament. In view of that, it is indecent to try and hold on for an extra few weeks in order to execute a political manoeuvre based on a Budget to be issued two or three days before the election. It is a political manoeuvre which will have a damaging effect on the nation and also on the Party which is responsible for it.
Mr. Aiken: It is not to-day or yesterday he carried on that game. He has been at it for a number of years and, indeed, he was very successful in it at the beginning. The Deputy will remember that a candidate of his won a by-election in 1947. With scurrilous propaganda, innuendo and slanders, they succeeded in reducing the Fianna Fáil vote in North Tipperary to 17,000 votes in 1947. The Taoiseach announced that there was going to be a general election some time after and, in Tipperary, the vote went up from 17,000 to 29,000. We know that Deputy MacBride's candidate, who won at that time, disappeared from the House, and the vote that Deputy MacBride got by his tactics in 1947 disappeared like snow off a ditch once the matter was fully discussed.
Mr. Aiken: Of course it shook us, but there is an old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I do not think that the Irish people will be fooled twice by the same sort of game that the Coalition played in 1948 and the game they played from 1948 on. The people voted in these two by-elections from the irritations against the Government, but when the issue is placed squarely before them, not as to  whether a son of an ex-Deputy is going to be elected but as to what sort of Government they want in this country for the next five years, they will take a longer and a much more sensible view of the situation before they vote. It would not surprise me that the same thing will happen as happened in Tipperary between 1947 and a few months later in 1948 when the Fianna Fáil vote went up from 17,000 to 29,000. But whether it does or not the people are entitled to know what sort of Government the Opposition propose to take over from Fianna Fáil. If they do not know what sort of Government, it is merely dictatorship of a number of groups, of a number of conspirators.
For two days the Opposition speakers have avoided most carefully giving any indication of what they would do in regard to the services provided for in the Book of Estimates or by what means they would collect the money to pay for those services if they were given the responsibility of Government or if, having sought authority to speak for the people on various policies, they came together in secret to make a bargain and form a Government. If the proposition is that these groups should get together after an election to agree upon a policy, surely the people have the right to know and get some indication as to what that policy is going to be and what the agreement and the bargains are going to be.
Deputy Costello said that after the election “some sort of Government would be formed” by the groups in opposition. Those were his words—“some sort of Government will be formed from this side of the House,” but what the people want to know is what sort that “some sort” will be. What are they going to do with the Book of Estimates? Are they going to spend the money that Fianna Fáil proposes and if they are going to spend the money how are they going to collect it? There are two ways of meeting the bill of £108,000,000 plus whatever is to be spent on the Central Fund Account. One is to cut down the services for which provision is made in the Book of Estimates and  the other is to raise the money for them. There are two ways of raising the money; one is to tax for the current expenditure and the other is to borrow or in some way to create it.
I know that Deputy Dillon and a few of the sly merchants in the Opposition have their eye on that £71,000,000 that the Central Bank has. They want to use it as they used the Marshall Aid money and other moneys to support them in a borrowing campaign that the people will not support. For three years they avoided taxation and borrowed from Marshall Aid and Government funds to meet ordinary current expenses. They are looking around for another fund and Deputy Dillon has put his finger on this £71,000,000. He has been going around the country telling people that there is £71,000,000 which they are going to take from the Central Bank and invest in Government securities. That is their plan. They are going to leave the Central Bank and Government funds without any reserves or securities except Irish Government securities. They will make them translate these British Government securities into Irish Government securities. Where the Central Bank is to get the reserves to meet the day-to-day clearings, the demand for notes, and so on, is not their business.
It is known and well known that if a group came in here and deprived the Central Bank and the Government funds of these reserves which they have that they are merely tying this country hand and foot to the ordinary commercial banks. We can only spend the £71,000,000 once. The Central Bank under orders from Deputy McGilligan could get rid of this “waste paper” as he used to call it and invest it in Government securities in order to carry out some of the crackpot policies that would be put forward to them. They did that once. £30,000,000 a year was added to the dead-weight debt and the country is paying £4,000,000 a year and will for the next 40 years pay for the deficit financing of the previous Government in a time of inflation. I would not put it past the present Government——
Mr. Aiken: I would not put it past the Coalition Government to repeat their performance of 1948 and to reduce the tax on cigarettes and to reduce the tax on beer. We tell the people quite candidly that the difference between a Fianna Fáil Budget and a Budget produced by a Coalition, that has to bargain in order to keep the groups together, may be the level of the taxation on beer, cigarettes, and so on, but it is the difference for one year, because the next year the people must pay in some way. If the present taxpayers are not prepared to meet the outgoings of the Government in current taxation, then they have to meet it by raising the interest and sinking fund on the debt, which is the substitute. I want to know, and the people are entitled to know, if the Coalition Government are going to get rid of all this austerity, of charging what is being charged on cigarettes and tobacco, charging what is necessary to keep the current expenditure going, if they are going to get rid of the austerity and of paying their way what is the alternative? Are they going to add another £90,000,000 on to the dead-weight debt, another £4,000,000 a year for the next 40 years to pay for the debts they created in order to avoid doing their clear duty to pay the current expenses of government?
Mr. Aiken: Drinks for all their projects, and they put it on the slate for Fianna Fáil to pay. The result of those three years, in not collecting the normal taxation, which was necessary in an inflationary time to meet their outgoings, is that in this year and every year for the next 40 years the people will be paying £4,000,000 in taxation more than they would otherwise have to pay.
Mr. Aiken: Deputy Costello, the Leader of the Opposition, is to reply on this debate. I want to give him a challenge. Which of the services in this Book of Estimates does he propose to cut? This £108,000,000 is a big sum.
Mr. Aiken: Of this sum of money, what part is he going to cut down in order to reduce taxation and to give people better times, as the slogan is? Which is he going to cut, to reduce taxation? If he is not going to increase taxation and if he is going to give the services the Labour people want, he will have to get additional money some way. How does he propose to do that? Is he going to proceed on the same old game that left us with £4,000,000 a year for 40 years to pay for his debts?
There is another aspect of the Coalition policy which will have a very permanent effect on the economy of our people. In 1948 Deputy Costello, who was then Taoiseach, came back here and groaned in these benches about the disastrous effect of the unbalanced economy of the country and  the way we were going through our external assets. I pointed out before that in the previous year, in 1947, we had reduced our external assets by £30,000,000, after having, in the previous five, built up £160,000,000. Deputy Costello groaned with horror at the fate that was facing the nation because we had decreased the £160,000,000, plus what had been built up before, by £30,000,000. But when it became necessary to maintain their political life and when their deficit financing created a situation in which our external assets were disappearing, they turned and described it as a virtue. They gave the disappearance of our external assets a new name, they called it repatriation. They may call it all the names they wish, whether it is repatriation or dissipation, the result to the Irish people of their few years in office was that they had dissipated or got rid of £59,000,000 of our net external assets in three years. They had set the cards for a further net deficit of £60,000,000. In three or four years they got through £122,000,000 of our net external assets.
That £122,000,000 was more than half of the net external assets that this country had. Remember, those assets do not belong to any Government or to any generation: they belong to the people of this country. They have been built up over many generations and the people are entitled—especially the young people who are growing up— to see that if those assets are realised they are invested in something that will maintain or increase their standard of living and that they are not just frittered away by a Government that refuses to accept its responsibility as a Government. A few people can get together and change the name or nomenclature of a lot of these processes by which the £120,000,000 was used to give the people a good time, a better time and lower taxation.
Mr. Aiken: On that £120,000,000 the country was earning, I suppose,  £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. If they get back and spend the remaining part of our net assets, another £100,000,000, it will probably mean another £3,000,000 or £4,000,000.
Mr. Aiken: That means, unless these assets are put into proper productive enterprise, the national income will be decreased by £8,000,000 a year, and that permanently. I would like to know, therefore, from the Leader of the Opposition when he is replying to this debate, and the people have the right to know from him, when he says he is going to “form some sort of Government” out of the groups that are going to come back to this House in opposition to Fianna Fáil——
Mr. Aiken: Unfortunately, they are not going to get the right, because the Opposition groups are going to deny them the right. For two days we have been here discussing a Book of Estimates and we are going to discuss the Budget, with the help of God.
Mr. Aiken: It is the people who are entitled to know. If there is not a clear-cut answer to that, the people will know that there is something to be concealed, because they have been galloping around the country talking about the high rate of taxation and complaining about the taxation that we are going to impose upon them. We have to raise the amount of money that will meet that bill and the Central Fund Bill. We propose to do it and to show the people how exactly we propose to do it. The money will have to be met in some way. If it is not met in the way that Fianna Fáil propose to raise it, would a new Coalition propose to seize the £71,000,000 in the Central Bank, and  seize the £30,000,000 odd that is in Government Funds and spend it to meet the deficit? We know what the result of getting rid of the external assets in the hands of the Central Bank and Government securities would mean. They would simply swell the assets of the ordinary commercial banks. Other countries that have responsible Governments make certain that the reserves of the nation are held by an institution that is under the direct control of the State or under the influence of the State, such as a Central Bank, to which the State appoints directors, and not by institutions such as the ordinary commercial banks. In the United States of America the commercial banks are not allowed to carry gold or foreign exchange. That must be put into the Reserve Bank of the United States of America. In Britain an ordinary bank is not allowed to retain gold or foreign securities. They must hand it over to the Exchange Equalisation Fund.
Mr. Aiken: Deputy MacBride sets himself up as an expert on our Constitution. It is a rather recent interest on his part to know anything about the Constitution, and I am afraid he gave it a very cursory glance. He completely misinterpreted the Constitution in relation to elections and in relation to the time when an election must be declared. The Taoiseach has the right, when he has a majority in the House and is not defeated in the House, to recommend the President to dissolve the Dáil and the President, according to the Constitution, must agree. The Taoiseach has also a right, when defeated in the Dáil, to advise the President to dissolve the Dáil. The President might not agree. There is nothing in the Constitution saying that a Government, if it loses a by-election  or two by-election or three by-elections, must dissolve the Dáil. The assumption is that when a Government holds a majority in the House it has not only the legal but the moral right to carry on as a Government.
Every person who has experience of public life in this or any other country knows that often, if a Government is doing its duty, it may become unpopular from time to time and that the people will express their resentment in by-elections but would not repeat their judgment in those by-elections as a clear-cut, considered judgment in a general election. The example that is on the tip of my fingers is North Tipperary, in 1947. The Fianna Fáil vote was reduced to 17,000, and in a couple of months afterwards, in the general election, it went up to 29,000. How would anybody at that time, on the results of the Tipperary and other by-elections, say how the Government stood? After 16 years of office and after having imposed an unpopular Budget in order to meet the additional subsidies that we gave on food at that time, the Government were unpopular and the people took it out of them in the by-elections, but when the general election came along they gave Fianna Fáil as many votes as they ever did and practically as many seats. It was the trickery of Clann na Poblachta and a few of the others, who asked the people to vote for one policy and then combined to impose another, that defeated the object of the people in selecting Fianna Fáil as by far the largest Party in this House. They gave us a majority over the other Parties in 1948, even after these by-elections in which we were defeated. They gave us such a majority that we had more members in our Party than all the organised Parties combined— the two Labour Parties, the two Clanns and Fine Gael.
Mr. Aiken: Deputy MacBride is in favour of a National Government to which there is no opposition and in which all Parties will combine. We have heard of single-Party Governments but at least a single-Party Government, allowing no opposition, has to take the responsibilities for its acts before the people and before history. An all-Party Government, over whose acts people have no control from day to day, and week to week, for five years, is the worst from of dictatorship that has ever been proposed because, being composed of all Parties, each group can, like a Coalition, deny responsibility for anything the all-Party Government did for the five years.
It is true that there is an all-Party Government in one country in Europe where the system has worked well, but it has worked well because the people have retained for themselves most of the power and the Government, instead of being an executive and having a Dáil which puts through its legislation, is rather a high-class Civil Service which prepares Bills which are put to the people from week to week or day to day. We know that the Swiss Government is composed of elected members from all Parties, but it is not a Government in our sense of the word.
Mr. Aiken: I am not saying anything is wrong with it as far as the Swiss are concerned. What Deputy MacBride wants here in our circumstances, where the Dáil has the right to impose taxation and where even the Seanad cannot hold up a Bill for more than three months, is to put in a Government which has no opposition and which has the right to ímpose its will upon the people for five years— and if they had that power for five years, the Lord help the people if they objected or tried to have any other sort of Government in the future. Some folk in this country should have more wit than to allow themselves to be led away by that sort of game and want to have that sort of Government here.
Deputy MacBride says the people have no confidence in this House. Well, they have damn little confidence in Deputy MacBride. He put up 90 candidates after the flash-in-the-pan of 1947, on the bluff that he was going to control the reins of Government. The people threw out, kicked out, 80 of the candidates and he was returned with nine others. When the break-up came in 1951, Deputy MacBride went with his ten good men—not all of them because most of them had seen through him and got rid of him——
Mr. Aiken: He obtained 2,500 votes on the first count—what any county  councillor would get. After all his galloping and parading for years, all he could get in the City of Dublin was less than what a normal person would get in a corporation election.
Mr. Aiken: Then he talks about the people lacking confidence in this Dáil. They had very little confidence in him. The people have as much confidence in this Dáil as they have in any other Dáil. They have elected all of us here and we have to carry on the work which we were elected to do. From time to time, groups of them may not like what the Government proposes or sometimes may not like what an Opposition group opposes but, whatever it is, that is the system of government we have whereby to govern ourselves in this country and in my opinion it is as good as that in any other country.
Deputy MacBride said that, from now until the general election, the departmental State offices will be the committee rooms of a Party. Deputy MacBride is judging this Government by his own actions. For three years that did obtain in one office of Government. In one ministerial office, Deputy MacBride had a staff of eight—an office which is now run by two girls. He had a staff of eight employed, not to carry on his work but to take clippings in reference to Deputy Dillon and other political work of that nature. I should like Deputy MacBride to give us the clippings on which State servants were engaged for years— clippings in reference to Deputy Dillon's extravagances. The wheels of fate turned in some queer way so that, instead of Deputy Dillon and Deputy MacBride parting company—as he thought they might—they were brought closer together. The only reason why Deputy MacBride has made that nasty  allegation is because he was quite capable of doing it himself and, in fact, did it for three years and had a staff of eight employed in his office which is now run by two girls.
Mr. Cafferky: On a point of order. I think it is totally wrong that this House and the taxpayers' money should be used by the Minister for ballyragging. I think that the exhibition we are now having from the Minister for External Affairs is a disgrace.
Mr. Dunne: I should just like to intervene for a moment, a Cheann Comhairle, to give you notice of my intention to raise on the Adjournment to-night, with your permission, the subject matter of Questions Nos. 10 and 11 which have appeared on to-day's Order Paper.
Mr. Aiken: I have not finished yet. Deputy Cafferky raised some point of disorder and I was merely giving way to him. Of course, Deputy Cafferky is now lining up with all the other groups to demand that—instead of waiting for this Budget and giving the people a chance of seeing how the bills are going to be met, and what the propositions are on both sides of the House as to how they should be met—we should have a general election forthwith. If we had declared a general election within these past few days, Deputy Cafferky and all the rest of them would have been denouncing us for rushing the general election. We would have heard remarks about “another midnight ride to the Park”——
Mr. Aiken: Well, we did not rush the election, as they would have described it, and while we gave the people time to think over and consider the proposition, the Opposition was not satisfied. We did not intend them to be satisfied. We intended them to be thoroughly dissatisfied with our decision because we wanted to give them plenty of rope with which to hang themselves.
Deputy Costello talked about the upset to business caused by delaying having a Budget introduced. There were other speakers on the same lines. I need not quote them as everybody remembers them. What is the basis of that argument? The Budget will be introduced, according to our timetable, on 21st April. If we had declared a general electionand held the election, say, around Spy Wednesday or Holy Thursday we would have had the election over in the week before Easter. Then we would have given the usual fortnight for the Dáil to assemble. That would bring us practically to the 1st May, and then any Government coming in would take at least one month to pull itself together to produce a Budget. The Budget, therefore, would come about the end of May or the 1st June. Instead, we are going to have the Budget over by 21st April, five or six weeks before the time the Budget would be over if Deputy Costello's advice was taken. If there is going to be any upset in business pending the Budget which we will produce on 21st April surely there would be ten times as much upset if it were delayed for another five or six weeks. That is just a foolish point that Deputy Costello made.
Mr. Aiken: Deputy Costello said the people would try to anticipate what the Government will do in the Budget on 21st April and that business will be held up until then. As I pointed out, if his advice were followed there would be time to anticipate for another five or six weeks and there would be still further upset to business. I think it is better that there should be some slight delay in the general election in order that all Parties seeking the votes of the people in this election will put their policies before the people. The Budget would have come in any event about that date whether there was an election or not and if there is an upset about the Budget for a few weeks this year we have had the same sort of upset in other years. But one thing that is more important and outweighs any extra upset about the Budget this year is that there should be no uneasiness and upset for the next five years. The people are entitled to know in this general election what sort of Government the Opposition propose to offer them and what sort of policy, economic, financial and social, they propose to implement if they are left in office for a period of five years.
Mr. Cosgrave: I think we are all glad to see that the knock the Minister for External Affairs got in the by-election in Louth did not do him any harm, but I do not think that any of us can say that it did him any good.
The motion before the House is a simple one—that, in the opinion of the Dáil, Dáil Éireann should be dissolved forthwith. I believe that anyone who  has been present at this debate since it began will recognise the need for an early dissolution. The speeches indicate that we are in for a period of intensive electioneering, not for the normal period of three weeks but for eight or nine weeks. This motion is put down because we consider that in the public interest it is better that uneasiness and uncertainty should be ended at the earliest possible moment. At any time in anticipation of a Budget there is a certain amount of speculation. Business, trade, certain aspects of commerce, all look anxiously to the period of the year when a Budget will be introduced and business arrangements, assessments of what may happen, are made by business men in anticipation of changes or otherwise which may be made in the coming Budget. That is normal in any year. It is customary if one examines withdrawals from bond of either tobacco or spirits, to find many examples which indicate that business people decide either to withdraw at the particular time or postpone withdrawals, in order to await the introduction of the Budget. They have to take as a matter of luck whether their speculation at the particular time is correct or not. This year, the circumstances are entirely different. The decision to dissolve the Dáil was taken by the Taoiseach and announced in the statement which he issued on 4th March:—“In view of the results of the two by-elections, I am of the opinion that it is necessary that a general election should be held as soon as the financial measures required to provide for the public services have been completed.” Subsequently, that decision was further interpreted to mean that an election would be postponed until after the introduction of the Budget.
In order to consider this matter, we have to reflect on the circumstances in which not merely these two by-elections occurred, but the seven previous by-elections. This Government was elected in 1951 after they had failed to secure a majority from the electorate. Many Deputies heard the Minister for External Affairs a few moments ago describe how the Coalition,  or inter-Party, Government was formed. He referred to it as a bargain, as a combination and as a conspiracy. He used all these words to describe what took place. No matter how he describes it, Parties come together and agree to form a Government, but when, in 1951, the present Fianna Fáil Party failed to secure a majority, they sought the votes of certain Deputies outside the Parties and published a 17-point programme. Leaving aside whatever interviews, discussions or talks took place between the representatives of Fianna Fáil and these Deputies, we are told that when other Parties discuss these matters, when they talk about them, meet and come together in order to agree on a common programme and to elect a Government, it is a conspiracy. In fact, one of the phrases used by the Minister for External Affairs was that it was a dictatorship by a number of groups and a conspiracy by these groups, but apparently when Fianna Fáil approach Deputies to secure their support it is an act of statesmanship.
That had followed emphatic declarations by two prominent members of the Fianna Fáil Party during the 1951 election which I propose to refer to in a moment. Both of these declarations emphatically indicated that, if Fianna Fáil were returned to power, they would not reimpose what were known as the penal taxes which had been imposed by the Supplementary Budget of 1947, and which had been repealed by the inter-Party Government. Deputy Lemass, speaking in Cork, is reported in the Sunday Press of the 13th May, 1951, to have said:—
“A Coalition Minister had said that Fianna Fáil, if elected, would increase the taxes on beer and  tobacco. Why should such taxes be necessary? There is no such reason why we should impose those taxes.”
“A number of persons in the licensed trade were spreading the rumour that Fianna Fáil, if returned to power, would reimpose the tax on drink which was imposed by the Supplementary Budget of 1947. There is no truth in such a rumour.”
There you have two specific statements referring to a matter which had received much attention, and which, as far as the community were concerned, was of vital import to them, as to how they might cast their votes in the election that was then pending. There was a subsequent statement printed and issued by the Fianna Fáil Party after the results of the election were made known. That statement undertook to maintain the subsidies, to control the price of essential foodstuffs and the operation of an efficient system of price regulation.
A few weeks afterwards Fianna Fáil succeeded in getting into office. There was no Supplementary Budget. The Budget was introduced at the normal time, although in that year it was introduced slightly earlier than usual. They could, of course, do the same this year. In fact, the Budget was introduced on the 2nd April, 1952. That Budget, in flagrant defiance of the promises given by two prominent spokesmen, and in defiance of the statement published after the election, not merely reimposed the taxes that had been repealed by the inter-Party Government but slashed the food subsidies, resulting in increases of 2/1½ on the stone of flour, of 5d. in the price of the 4 lb. loaf, of 10d. a lb. on butter and of 2½d. a lb. on sugar, of an increase in the price of tea from 2/8 to 5/- and ?, the increase ranging from 2/- to 3/10 a lb. according to grade, an increase of 7d. on the packet of cigarettes, of 3d. on the pint, of 6d. on the glass of whiskey, of 4d. on the gallon of petrol and of 1/- on the income-tax.
 If there is one decision more than another which the people have given an indication of at all the by-elections which have taken place, it is that they do not want another Fianna Fáil Budget because, in the last two Fianna Fáil Budgets, what happened was this: in the first one fresh taxes were imposed and in the second one they were continued in defiance of expressed statements made less than nine months previously by responsible leaders of the Fianna Fáil Party and with the authority of the Party in a statement published after the election.
Most Deputies are familiar with the line of propaganda that has been pursued by Fianna Fáil and by apologists for it, during the last few months. Following the by-election in North-West Dublin where the Government was defeated by two to one, it was freely stated that the defeat was due to the fact that it was an urban constituency, that there were peculiar local circumstances which secured a majority for the inter-Party candidate and that the same result would not accrue if the elections had been in a rural area. Time went by, and two by-elections were held, one in East Cork and the other in Wicklow, two rural constituencies with, of course, towns in them. Again the lesson of North-West Dublin was reinforced, with a clear indication to anyone who was either present at the count or who examined the preferences when published, namely, that the people supported the various Parties pledged to work and collaborate in an inter-party Government. After expressing their first preferences for Fine Gael or Labour, they then gave their second preference to Fine Gael or Labour, or to other Parties supporting the inter-Party Government, as the case might be. Then Galway occurred and, although Fianna Fáil retained their seat there, the inter-Party vote rose substantially. In every constituency where by-elections have occurred, whether Fianna Fáil held the seat or whether they lost it, the same pattern is quite clear: the inter-Party vote has increased substantially—in some cases, so far as Fianna Fáil is concerned, catastrophically.
Deputies will recollect that when the  results of Wicklow and East Cork were declared the Taoiseach issued a statement, in the course of which he said it was difficult for a Party that had only one out of three seats in a general election to hold that seat when there was only one seat being voted for, and that is true enough if the Party has not a majority. But when Louth and Cork occurred, Fine Gael won Louth where it had only one out of three seats at a general election, and won East Cork where it had only one out of five, clearly reinforcing the emphatic repudiation that had already been expressed by the other constituencies which have had an opportunity of expressing their views where by-elections have occurred.
It is quite clear that in any constituency, whether rural, urban or semi-urban, which has been fortunate enough to have available to the voters in it an opportunity of expressing their views on Government policy, the same pattern has been clearly indicated, in some cases more emphatically than in others. There has been a rising tide of opposition to the policy, economic and social of the present Government. Now, faced with that situation, the Government proposes to introduce a Budget before going to election. I do not think it will make any difference to the Government, however attractive they may endeavour to paint the Budget. The Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke some few weeks ago at the Publicity Club luncheon and he said there that as far as all indications were there was no fat in the Budget.
In recent years we have exported in considerable quantities a commodity known as sweetened fat. It does not matter to what extent the Government will attempt to distribute sweetened fat in the coming general election; their case has always been that, given time, the people will react favourably. Time has now passed to such an extent that each election that has occurred has emphatically indicated more clearly than that which preceeded it the rejection by the people of the economic policy of this Government. It is significant that, despite the adherence  to the Government of some former Independents, their fortunes appear to have declined more dramatically since that decision took place than they did at any time before it.
When Deputy Costello put down this motion he put it down for the purpose of ending the unnecessary expense which will inevitably accrue if this election is postponed. I think that any person closely associated with the Opposition Parties or closely associated with Fianna Fáil recognises there can be only one outcome from the general election, whether it occurs in three weeks or ten weeks : it will mean a change of Government.
That is what the country hopes for: that is what the country expects and that is what, I believe, the people by their votes will achieve. But, in the meantime, because of the proposed postponement, unnecessary expense, unnecessary loss, uncertainty and confusion—all the normal circumstances which attend a Budget until it is passed—will be doubly present because the people naturally expect that a Government, faced with the unpopularity that attends the present Government, will attempt to improve their position by budgetary reliefs by an election-incentive Budget. Normally the people might vote in a particular way if such a Budget were introduced but they have now to reflect on the statements which were made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, when he spoke in Cork, and by the Minister for Finance, when he spoke in Dublin, during the last general election; they undertook then not to impose the penal taxes and in nine months they put them back.
Nobody will believe now, whether or not Fianna Fáil grant remissions in this Budget, and if by any misfortune they should be the Government again, that they will not reimpose the taxes either by a Supplementary Budget or by a Budget in the normal course. The position is that the people are anxiously awaiting an opportunity of expressing their view on the present Government and are anxiously desirous of a change of Government. That view is reinforced, not merely by Deputies who are members of the Opposition  Parties in this House but by an organ which is very friendly towards the present Government, namely the Irish Times, which published a leading article on Saturday last in which it devoted three-quarters of the article to praising the present Taoiseach and saying how much they thought of him and finished up by stating quite bluntly that he had run his race and should retire.
Mr. Cosgrave: The Irish Times has been one of the most consistent supporters of the present Government. Last Saturday it devoted an editorial to the Taoiseach, three-quarters of which was highly favourable to the Taoiseach, giving him a great deal of personal praise, but the article finished by saying:—
“Whatever his station may be, when circumstances force him to recognise that he has served his purpose and that further delay must eventually do more harm than good to the cause which lies closest to his heart he should rest from his labours.”
What Fianna Fáil are now trying to do is to postpone or delay a decisive result, if possible, from a general election. They recognise that time is no longer in their favour and they are trying to give themselves an extra few weeks in which to introduce a favourable Budget. They recognise that the years are telling on them and that their policy has told on the people.
Several Fianna Fáil spokesmen have asked during this debate and during the recent by-elections what our policy is: we should come together and explain it before the election, and so on and so forth. That type of talk does not wash any longer with the electorate. When we got the opportunity in 1948 we not merely agreed on a common programme, we implemented it. So far as the people are concerned  they have clearly indicated in the various by-elections—and I still believe that in the general election of 1951 they wanted an inter-Party Government—that they want to get rid of the Fianna Fáil Government and the Fianna Fáil policy for two reasons: firstly, because it has imposed unnecessary and excessive burdens on the people and, secondly, because the electorate were deceived by the Fianna Fáil Party and the Fianna Fáil spokesmen when they went to the last election and subsequently published the statements I have read out. The people do not want any Fianna Fáil Budget. That is the one thing the people want to avoid and they recognise that, the sooner a general election takes place, the sooner they will be relieved from the oppressive and unnecessary burdens that have been placed upon them by the present Government.
We have taken the full opportunity during all the by-elections to place our policy before the people and to explain that policy to them. We are quite satisfied with their verdict on it. We await the opportunity for the rest of the country to express a similar verdict, but we want to see that that opportunity will not be long delayed so as to remove the uncertainty, confusion, and unnecessary loss caused by the obvious postponement of the same result, because the most ardent Fianna Fáil supporter recognises, if he does not admit it, that Fianna Fáil will not be the Government of this country after the election on the 18th May or, if it occurs before that, whenever it does occur.
Mr. Kyne: I wish to indicate as briefly as I can the reasons for the Labour Party supporting this Fine Gael motion. It is not because we hope to form a Government with Fine Gael or any other Party. It is primarily because we hope to put out the present Government. We believe that the question of what Government will succeed them will have to be dealt with following the election. The primary thing now, however, is to put out a Government that has, in our opinion, failed both in governing and in keeping the promises they made to the  electors when they sought to be the Government. Therefore, it is essential for the Labour Party to support any Party which moves a motion that the Government should go out of office.
The main reason why any Labour Deputy would vote against the present Administration is that they gave their word to the electors and put it as a point in their programme that if they were returned to power they would not interfere with the subsidies that were then being paid on the essential foodstuffs from the point of view of the ordinary people, namely, flour, butter, tea and sugar. Any Deputy knows that these are the essential foodstuffs of an ordinary working-man's home. Fianna Fáil gave their word and printed it and practically before the ink was dry they had broken it. The Labour Party recognises that this hard blow fell mainly on the people we seek to represent here, the people in the lower income groups who derive their living from labour, the people who have to depend on social welfare benefits, such as those on the dole, the widows and orphans, the blind, the unemployed and the sick. It was these people who were hit hardest. It is because of that the Labour Party welcome this motion and hope that this Government will be removed from office.
We are not concerned with Party advantage or with what place we can secure in any future Government. We have a policy and a programme and the first point in our programme is that the cost of living must be kept within the means of the ordinary people. It does not need any argument or any figures or facts to convince the ordinary people that the cost of living has gone beyond the means of most of the people. In fact it is only a privileged few who can afford to indulge in the luxury of a full meal. Most of us who are working people have to be content to ration ourselves to whatever we can afford to purchase at present day prices. The question of the cost of living must always be of the first importance to a Labour Party Deputy.
There comes a time in the life of all Governments when some action outside their control causes such a change that  they often have to take the responsibility for it when, in reality, they have no control over it. But that was not the case with Fianna Fáil. By the direct and deliberate action of the Fianna Fáil party and of certain so-called Independent members, in the 1952 Budget they increased the price of flour, sugar, tea and butter. It is true that they gave certain compensatory increases to people in certain social welfare groups, but no one can sustain the argument that these compensatory increases were in any way calculated to offset the impact on the family exchequer of the immediate rise in prices caused but the removal of the food subsidies.
On the night following that and at various times in the years following the Labour Party stated clearly that they would not either associate with or take part in any Government that would not so amend the position as to make these essential foodstuffs again available to the people. The Labour Party repeat that by saying that it is an essential point of our programme that the price of these essential foodstuffs, flour, butter, tea and sugar, must be reduced, if necessary by further subsidisation. I think Fine Gael have themselves indicated that it is their belief that the cost of living has gone beyond all bounds. I am quite satisfied that should the Labour Party, Fine Gael, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan be associated in any Government there will be very little divergence of opinion in our attitude on that particular question.
That is the question the answer to which has put Fianna Fáil in their present position; that and others, but that primarily. That is why the Labour Party believe that they must support this motion. We believe that unless Fianna Fáil are removed from office the position, which is bad now, will gradually get worse. We do not forget that in 1952 when eight subsidies were being removed there was implied the threat of a further removal of subsidies. Were it not for the result of certain by-elections in the last few years we are satisfied that that threat would have been carried out.
There is also the fact that, no  matter how Fianna Fáil compare the unemployment figures this year with last year, or how they add up or juggle with figures and refer to certain improvements under which people can apply for benefits, every man and woman in this country knows there was more unemployment between the year 1951 and the present year than ever there was between 1948 and 1951, except possibly the first year when the inter-Party Government took over, and that was because of the fact that Fianna Fáil had been in office up to 1947. It was a record, and a proud record, for the inter-Party Government that for every month in office of their three years 1,000 further people went into employment in this country. The Labour Party are proud of the fact of their association with a Government that had that proud record at the end of three years. We would hope that whether we are in an alternative Government or outside it whatever Government is in will take pattern by that and endeavour to continue that work.
It is because of these two points in particular, coupled with the fact that at least 30,000 boys and girls have yearly had to leave this country, that we feel a change of administration is necessary. One has but to read the newspapers, the comments at G.A.A. meetings, meetings of any organisation of non-political people bewailing the fact that a football team has become extinct because all the young men have had to go to England or elsewhere; read any extract from any organisation of people and you will be satisfied that the life blood of this country is slowly draining away due to the fact that there is not employment. Those who, like myself, are bringing up a family see no hope for the future, and see that if things remain as they are the boys and girls whom we have spent all we have on, whom we have educated, will have within a short year or two to flee from their home and go into exile somewhere to secure the living that we cannot give them here at home.
I suggest that Fianna Fáil are guilty of reading and understanding the  Central Bank Report, but they are more guilty because after promising that it would not influence them they immediately set about the implementation of it. We have the result. Labour speakers and speakers from other Parties warned the Fianna Fáil Party and warned the Independent Deputies who supported them that if that policy was carried out this country would pay, and pay dearly for it. The present position indicates how true were our warnings and how dearly we have paid. What have we got? Unemployed people, the high cost of living and all price controls removed. Deputy Norton as Tánaiste in the inter-Party Government secured from the Government a statement which he made on their behalf that as and from a certain date no further increase in the prices of commodities would be permitted without a full and thorough Government investigation. Within a short period of coming into office that order was rescinded. The sham of price control was kept on but those of us who know realise that in the price control section of the Department of Industry and Commerce there is but a skeleton of what was in operation during the inter-Party Government. We know to our cost that prices are no longer under control but are subject to the whim of supply and demand irrespective of which town or city a person happens to live in.
It is because of these facts and because of Labour's desire to see that things are good for the people of this country, because we believe that in putting Fianna Fáil out we will be helping in the formation of a Government that will carry out Labour Party policy and principle in some general measure, that we are in support of this motion.
The Taoiseach: When I was listening to some of the speeches on the opposite benches an Irish phrase kept recurring constantly to my mind—“Sás a dheanta a chuimhneoch air”—which simply means that it is one who is a good hand at doing it who will think of it. It has been suggested that the purpose of postponing the election until the Budget could be  introduced is in order that a false Budget might be introduced. It comes very badly indeed from the people on the opposite side to talk about that— or perhaps I should say it comes very well from them to talk about that, because in 1951 when they went to the country to avoid defeat here they introduced a Budget which was a false Budget, which did not make provision for millions of pounds of expenditure which it was easy to see would have to be incurred in accordance with their commitments.
I assure the House that we have no intention of doing anything of the kind. We believe that in politics as in other things honesty pays best, and the Budget which we will introduce will be a Budget designed, as all our Budgets up to the present have been designed, to meet current expenditure by current revenue—that and nothing more. The suggestion has been made in the past that we have some special delight in imposing taxation which was not necessary. The Leader of the Opposition came in here when the 1952 Budget was being introduced and suggested that we were imposing £10,000,000, if you please, of taxation which was unnecessary. Why any Government, any democratic Government, would seek to do that was not ever indicated, and no reason for that was given. It was simply a statement which was blown to pieces within five minutes after it was made. Nevertheless it formed the basis of a continuous propaganda by Fine Gael and their associates. When the year's accounts were closed last year it was seen that instead of imposing £10,000,000 of unnecessary taxation we had actually a deficit of £2,000,000—in other words that the revenue from taxation did not meet the expenditure. They pretended that by some wave of the wand, by doing some extraordinary thing, some hocus-pocus by means of a double Budget, as they called it, and by means of some schemes which nobody has got a definite example of, the 1952 Budget could have been balanced.
There is one way, and one way only, in which you can reduce taxation if you want to pay your way, and that  way is to reduce expenditure. But whenever there is a question of the reduction of expenditure we have Deputies on the opposite benches crying out for more expenditure. We will have the Labour Party calling for more social services. But when there is a question of meeting the bill then they all run away from it and charge the Government with imposing unnecessary taxation.
Coming back to the motion, it is that we should go to the country at once. I examined that and I came to the conclusion that it was only fair to the country that those who had produced and sanctioned the Book of Estimates should show their good faith in regard to this by indicating how the revenue was to be raised. I do not know— nobody can know definitely until the end of the financial year—what the out-turn of the year will be, whether we shall have, as we had in the past, a deficit for the past year, whether we shall make ends meet or whether we shall have a surplus. I think that the chance of a surplus is very slight. I do not know whether ends will be met this year but I do know that next year's Book of Estimates, indicating certain expenditure, will require certain revenue to meet it and it is our duty to show the two sides of the account to the people.
When the Minister for Defence was speaking, he suggested that if we had said we were going to have an immediate election there would have been an outcry from Opposition Deputies. It is the privilege, some would say it is the duty, of an Opposition to oppose. It does not matter what proposition we brought in here, whether it was for an early election, an election before the Budget or an election after the Budget, there would have been reasons put forward by the Opposition to suggest that there was a political trick in it. We would have Deputies, no doubt, suggesting that I was peeved, as some of them have already suggested here, because we were beaten in Cork. I do not want to suggest for one moment that I was not disappointed with the result of the Cork election and that the election in Cork indicated, as other  elections have not done, that for the purpose of safe Government here, a Government that would have full authority here in every respect, it would be desirable to go to the country and test public opinion.
In saying that I want to say also that by the Constitution and by the law, the Parliament that assembles here after a general election has a mandate to continue in office until the legal period expires if it wants to. No person is entitled to interpret public opinion. We had as many interpreters as people whose wishes and whose desires were an interpretation of their personal judgment. The position is that when the previous Government came into office we challenged them on the basis that they came into office without telling the people before the 1948 election what they were going to do. We said that a Government was formed which the people had not been expecting, and that no policy had been presented to the people by the Government that took office. They smiled at us and told us: “We are here elected by the people; it is our right to form a Government. We will form that Government and we will continue that Government until we are beaten by a vote in the Dáil.” I appreciate the force of that argument.
In regard to by-elections, I do not think that by-elections under our system necessarily represent public opinion over the country as a whole. I do not know yet what real interpretation is to be given to some of the elections, but in any case there is a way— and it is going to be used—in which public opinion can definitely be tested. It is not a question now of saying whether we shall or shall not go to the country. It is the question of the proper time to do it. I have fought many elections, both general elections and by-elections, and I never remember an election being fought just about this time—never. They have taken place either before farming operations began, early in March, or they have been held after the bulk of the ordinary spring operations on the farm have been completed. The only difference there can be between a  rushed election and an election at the time which I have proposed, is a matter of some weeks. The country will have to put up for five years with the Government that it gets, if that Government wants to keep in office and has a majority. Therefore, whatever Party or Parties have a majority here in this House after the election will have put into their hands the welfare of the country for five years.
I think it is right that the people should have before them, when they are giving a judgment of such importance for the country, all the facts. If, as Deputies on the other side say, public opinion has changed so much, what are they afraid of? Is it that the people will learn more of the different policies of the various Parties or of the different kinds of Government which might be formed? I believe that every sensible person who wants to form a judgment would like to have the facts before him. Evidently Fine Gael and those on the opposite benches do not want that. They would love to come along and say that we were running away from our obligations, that we were presenting a big bill to the country without giving any indication as to how the bill was going to be met. I think it is right, because we are coming to the end of the financial year, that we should complete the job, present completed accounts to the people, give estimates as far as we are able to arrive at them of expenditure for the coming year and, when we have done that and the figures are before the people, go to the country.
The fact is that the financial year does not end until the 31st March. It takes some time after that to examine the accounts thoroughly and form a proper estimate of the rates or projected rates of taxation and an estimate of the amount of revenue you are likely to receive. That requires a week or two so that the earliest time the Minister for Finance could introduce his Budget would be about the 21st April. Easter Sunday falls on the 18th and the Dáil obviously would not be in session the week before. The experts, whose opinions the Minister would like to have, would require some time to form their opinion on the  estimates so that the earliest date at which you could have an election in which the electorate will have the two sides of the account is that which I have suggested.
Our opponents are presenting another side, one side only, to the electorate. I was listening just now to Deputy Kyne speaking about the cutting down of the subsidies in 1952. He did not tell the House that that was done because there was £15,000,000 of a deficit between the expenditure that had to be met and the revenue available to meet it. He did not suggest how that deficit could be met otherwise. We had unfortunately to introduce taxes to the extent of something like £11,000,000 but had we taken away the whole of the subsidies, amounting to £15,000,000, and given no compensatory allowances, we could have bridged the gap. We tried to lighten the burden as much as possible but some part of the burden had to be met. There is no use in the Labour Party or members of the Opposition suggesting that it was not there. It was there; it was a reality that had to be faced. We faced it in the way we have indicated. For this coming year something like £7.7 million will have to be provided for subsidies on bread and flour. Had that £7.7 million not to be provided, the total expenditure would be that number of million pounds less; but it is there and it has to be met. We are subsidising bread at present and the burden of subsidies in our case is relatively as high as in Britain. We hear talk about people not having food. I suppose there are individuals in that position and I am sorry, but the fact is that all the records show that our food prices are fourth lowest in Europe and that we are, in fact, better fed than most nations in the world. There is no use in going round all the time belying the situation, so far as this country is concerned.
Fine Gael and the inter-Party Government claim credit for things that happened about 1951. They have just as much right to claim credit for what happened at that time as they would have to claim credit for the weather. The changes which took place during  that time took place as a result of world conditions, conditions which were paralleled in every other country. The Korean war meant that there was activity in every direction from the time it started until it was clear that it was not going to expand into another world war. That danger existed between 1950 and 1951, but the moment that danger disappeared, things began to change and then, instead of the boom for which Fine Gael claim credit—as I say, they had no more control over it and no more to do with it than they had with the weather—the activity of that period changed into inactivity. Manufacturers could not get rid of the goods they had just then manufactured. Raw materials had been bought at high prices and wholesalers, retailers and even private individuals had stocks to meet their needs for the coming year and longer. They had them in stock, and they did not need to buy in the coming year, and therefore, in the coming year, there was a slump which was reflected here, but a slump which was found in practically every other country.
The pretence that in this country things happened that did not happen elsewhere is all nonsense. Every figure proves quite the contrary. It has been suggested that here, and here only, was there a decrease in manufacturing production. That is not the truth. Look up the O.E.E.C. records and you will find that it is not true. You will find that of the 14 countries, including Ireland, which reported, in seven of them there was a decrease in production. It did not take place here alone. There was no over-all increase in the year 1952. As regards unemployment, of 13 countries which reported, unemployment increased in 12, and I tell the Leader of the Opposition, who has been saying the contrary on several occasions, that, in five of these 12, the increases were greater than the increase in Ireland. The same is true with regard to the cost of living. Of 17 countries which reported, only two showed a decrease in the cost of living, so that what happened here in 1952 is something which was paralleled in most of the other countries—a reduction  of manufacturing production, an increase of unemployment and an increase in the cost of living.
On this question of the cost of living, the suggestion that it was altogether due to deliberate action on the part of the Government is sheer nonsense. It had begun to increase long before we came into office and the index reached 109 points before we took office. From February of 1951 to last November, it increased by 22 points and, of these 22 points, seven were attributable to the fact that the food subsidies were reduced. No credit appears in these figures in respect of the increase in children's allowances or other compensatory increases given to offset the burden imposed by the reduction of the food subsidies. There is a continuing expenditure of about £3,750,000 due to the fact that there was that offset, but of course you never hear of that expenditure with the money—which offsets and lightens the burden on the weaker sections of the community. You never hear of that and you never hear of the benefits which the expenditure confers.
We cannot have it both ways—even Labour cannot have it both ways. If you want to have social services, if you want to have health services and these other social welfare benefits, you have to pay for them and you have to get the money somewhere. You can, of course, behave as the prodigal and waste your substance and get a lot of people to advise you to do it while you are wasting it, but the day of reckoning comes some time or other. We are not a very wealthy country, but we have certain resources and we can be reasonably comfortable. We have not, however, got huge material resources. If we want to continue to have a decent living for our people with these resources, we must be careful to conserve the assets we have. If we squander them, if we use them for purposes that will not give us any direct return to enable us to build up other reserves, the day of reckoning surely will come.
It was coming fast so far as we could see when we came into office. There  was a £15,000,000 budget deficit in the ordinary current account. We had to meet that and we also had to meet a deficit in our balance of payments of practically £62,000,000. A wave of the wand of the Leader of the Opposition and those with him and that £15,000,000 disappeared, just as he had only to wave a wand and he gave us a surplus of £10,000,000 on the basis of our taxation ! When you undertake the responsibilities of government, you have to deal with, not one side of the account, and not one side to-day and the other to-morrow, as if they had no relation to each other. You must deal with the two of them together, and we have done that during the whole time.
We did balance the Budget relatively, and, when I say “relatively,” I mean that it was not as well balanced as I would have liked it to be, but it was balanced up to a deficit of £2,000,000 compared with £15,000,000. I should have preferred had we been able to strike the balance hoped for when the Budget was produced, but we did it to that extent. I hope we will do better this year. As regards the deficit in the balance of payments, we met that, and that deficit has been reduced to a level that can be tolerated, but, had the £62,000,000 level continued for a couple of more years, we would have changed our position from that of being a creditor country to that of being a debtor country. Of course, the ordinary person in the street who has not been considering these things does not see the full effect these large extreme deficits would ultimately have on his standard of living. The woman who goes to the shop to buy bread or butter does not think of the larger issues that are involved. That is precisely why a Government is formed and that is why a representative assembly like this is formed in order that people who give attention to these things should consider the bearing of these matters on the welfare of the community as a whole. We did that. We settled the finances and put them on a proper basis. Then the slump year of 1952 passed and we had the recovery in the year 1953. I do not say that we ought to take all the credit for that, just as  the Government should not be blamed for things outside their control.
The year 1953 was a year of recovery. The year 1952 is always pointed to by those on the Opposition Benches but they ignore the recovery which took place in the year 1953. To start with, there are grounds for believing that it was a year in which our national income and savings increased. The output of manufacturing industries increased; in fact, during the first three quarters it was the highest on record. Industrial employment at the present time is nearing the record, if it has not already passed it. A figure was given just a day or two ago which seemed to indicate that the record was passed—that we are reaching the highest figure that has ever been reached. Employment has gone up and unemployment has gone down. The difference between unemployment this year and the early part of 1953 is about 12,600. Of course, there are people who want to compare 1953 with 1951 and 1950 and so forth, but the fact is that as a result of the Social Welfare Act the figures for those years are not comparable with the current figures. There are 12,600 fewer people unemployed this year than last year. Output in agriculture has increased. We have increased tillage, increased output of wheat and beet. We have a greater number of cattle than at any time since 1921. We have an increase in the milk supplies to the creameries; they have reached the highest figure since 1936. We have an increase in external trade. Our external trade position has improved tremendously, not merely because the terms of trade moved in our favour, but also because there was an increased volume of exports. The year 1953 was a year of obvious recovery and the graph is upwards. If the country is governed properly, the burden of taxation will be automatically lightened by the increase in production. We hope that that will be the case.
It has been suggested, of course, that we broke the promise we gave when we said that the food subsidies would be maintained. When we said that, we did not expect to have £15,000,000 of a deficit to meet. We were not then faced with the alternative  of either reducing subsidies or putting on £15,000,000 extra taxation. We issued that statement not before the election but before the formation of a Government here. If any Deputies felt that they had been deceived by that they were in a position to turn out the Government.
With regard to retail prices, the index is now about 231, the index of industrial wage earnings has gone up to 249, and that is all on a pre-war base of 100. A comparable figure for agricultural wages, which have also gone up, is 299. These figures indicate that if there has been an increase in prices, there has also been a compensating increase both in regard to industrial and agricultural wages.
As I have said, we have a question to ask: what is going to be the alternative policy? I do not think that the people will let the Leader of the Opposition get away with the hocus-pocus sort of statement he has made about a double Budget and that through such a Budget they are going to get a new heaven on earth. It is natural enough to try to have good times always but very few of us can have good times unless we strive to earn them. If we are going to have good times continuing in this country, we will have to make the efforts necessary to maintain them.
Are we going to set out to live here on our reserves, on what has been accumulated in the past? It is not easy to accumulate reserves and most of our foreign reserves have been built up in times of war. I do not think that we add to our reserves in ordinary times. These external reserves are not to be wasted. They should be used for capital purposes and productive purposes at home. That has always been our policy.
As regards this double Budget, what is meant? Nothing new whatsoever except the formal segregation of those items that are regarded as capital. That has always been done. It is true that we did not have large capital items in the past, “above the line” as it is called. Most of the capital expenditure was what is called “below the line” expenditure. There is more of that to-day than there was in the  days of the Coalition Government. Even to-day, the amount of the “above the line” capital expenditure is not much more than half of that “below the line”, that is, the moneys provided for the E.S.B. and other services of that kind.
We have not unlimited resources in this country. We all can have unlimited desires. There are very few of us who could not in a short time indicate desires that would require many millions to satisfy but we just have not got the means. We have to limit our desires to our means. There is no use holding out to our people ideals and ideas which are incapable of achievement. The Coalition Government were fortunate to be in office in the year 1950-51. We were unfortunate in the time we came into office because we had to meet the slump that followed the boom. The country's economy is on a rising tide. I use the word “rising” in a different sense from that in which it was used on the opposite benches. If we act sensibly and properly and do not start in a competition of expenditure, one Party against another, this country can have a continuing future of reasonable prosperity, and that is what we are aiming at.
I want to say now that we are not in the market any more than we were at any time. Whether in 1932 or on any of the other two or three occasions on which for a short time we did not have a complete majority of our own in this House, we took up the position that we were going to proceed with our own programme. If that programme commended itself to other members of the House who were not members of our Party and that gave us a majority, well and good; but we were not going to depart from our fundamental policy in order to win the votes of any Party.
We also make this challenge to the Opposition, a challenge I have put to them many a time. We have heard the chairman of the Labour Party expressing sentiments from the Labour point of view just before I began to speak. It is quite within his right and that of his Party to join with Fine  Gael, with Clann na Talmhan or with any other group, but I think it is their duty to their own supporters and to the people in general in this country to indicate what is going to be the common programme. Are they going to add to the food subsidies and what amount are they going to add to the food subsidies? The economic price of the two-pound loaf, which costs the householder 9¼d. at present, is 1/-. It will be almost 1/0¾d. probably in the coming year. Therefore, for every loaf of bread the State is contributing 2¾d. at present and will contribute more than 3d. in the coming year. How much more are you going to add to that subsidy, if you are going to add to it? Are you going to subsidise butter, for instance, and, if so, how are you going to get the money? Are you going to reduce the price the farmer is getting for his milk or are you going to subsidies butter from the Exchequer? If you are going to subsidise it from the Exchequer where are you going to get the money? What tax are you going to impose?
In our Supplementary Budget of 1947 we introduced food subsidies on a large scale. What was the attitude of the Labour Party at that particular time? Did they say that this was essential, that bread and butter, for instance, were essential foods and that it was a good thing on the part of the Government to have these reliefs in the case of these foods? Oh, no! Their attack was that it was only a fake, that the subsidies were altogether false and that the household was not getting any real benefit. They went out against the tax which was necessary to provide this money. As I said before, even Labour cannot have it both ways. If you want to give these benefits, year in and year out, as part of your State housekeeping, you will have to find the money.
We propose, at any rate, to present to the people for their judgment the completed accounts. We hope they will have before them with the Budget an indication of how the money is to be provided so that they can form a judgement. We are going to present the two sides of the account to them and we are going to have the election on the new register. If we held the  election a few days before the publication of the register, we would be told we did not want to have the young vote.
We would have been told also that we were running away from our obligations as far as the Budget was concerned, that we were having a rushed election and all the rest of the things the Opposition would conjure up before the people as a consequence of it. I have no doubt whatever that the right course in the public interest is the course I have indicated in the statement which I made here in the Dáil and which I issued earlier to the Press, the statement that the Dáil should be dissolved after giving reasonable time for discussion of the Budget. Two or three days would be sufficient. I do not know whether any financial resolutions will have to be passed, but at any rate the people when they come to judge will have all the facts before them, and I hope they will have sufficient time to see through some of the tactics of the Opposition.
Mr. McGilligan: The quotation that occurs most readily to one's mind after listening to the Taoiseach for the last three-quarters of an hour is one that occurs in a play in which one character says: “The strings, my lord, are false.” That was my reaction when I heard the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach, in spite of the fact that his dishonesty in politics has been exposed over the last year, still declares that honesty is the best policy. Deputy Kyne spoke of the honesty that he had found at the hands of the Taoiseach in the present Ministry. I have here a document headed “The Great Betrayal”, in which there is a statement made by the present Tánaiste on the 13th May, 1951:—
“A Coalition Minister had said that Fianna Fáil, if elected, would increase the taxes on beer and tobacco. Why should such taxes be necessary? There is no such reason why we should reimpose those taxes.”
“A number of persons in the  licensed trade were spreading a rumour that Fianna Fáil, if returned to power, would reimpose the tax on drink which was imposed by the Supplementary Budget of 1917. There is no truth in such a rumour.”
“Fianna Fáil began the system of food subsidies to keep down the cost of living by reducing the prices of essential foods. `Do not let the Coalition propagandists deceive you. The workers' interests are safe with Fianna Fáil' ”.
Later, after the election was over, on 5th June, 1951, we had point 15 of the new Fianna Fáil programme which was, I think, the third programme, two before the election and one after it. Point 15 was:—
The outcome was that on the 2nd April, 1952, they brought in what was called the hunger Budget in which subsidies, except the one on bread, were removed. The £6,668,000, less the so-called compensatory benefits, gave a net gain to the Government of almost £4,000,000. After that, the Taoiseach speaks of honesty being the best policy. He tells us that 1953 was the year of recovery. That was stressed several times during his speech.
In the last six weeks we had the spectacle of the Minister for Health having to come before the House and introduce a Supplementary Estimate. Why? Because unemployment had gone far beyond what he had expected and consequently there was an increase of 50 per cent. in medical certification. There was an increase in bad health in the country to the extent of 50 per cent. more than had been calculated at the start of the year. And that is the  year of recovery! The Taoiseach says that when they made these promises about subsidies they did not know anything about the £15,000,000 deficit at the end of the year 1952 and yet do not know about such a deficit. When did the Taoiseach get the figure of £15,000,000? I ask the question, where did the Taoiseach get the figure of £15,000,000?
Mr. McGilligan: He has the Minister to reply for him. The £6.7 millions was the deficit. How did that accumulate? People will remember that blot on the landscape that used to be called turf in the Phoenix Park, mouldering away, which cost £3,000,000 to the community. The Tánaiste said that if that were put on to the national debt, that was the best way in which that deficit could be met. That was £3,000,000 of the £6.7 millions. Does the Taoiseach suggest that £3,000,000 had to be paid in the next year or the year after, that that is a continuing item of deficit in the accounts? The Taoiseach knows well that in the same year, in order to achieve that £6.7 millions fictitious deficit, he piled into the account certain replacements and certain capital expenditure on the part of C.I.E., he put in the ground limestone figure that was to be met out of the American Aid, he put in the new  money that they themselves, Fianna Fáil, had given for the price of milk, he put in extra money put on the community because the Fianna Fáil Government had given an extra price for wheat. Those may have been desirable additions to the taxpayers' burden, but they were not my additions. The £6.7 millions was the fictitious deficit that the accounts sought to disclose, but from an argumentative point the Taoiseach magnifies that to £15,000,000.
The Taoiseach has said that he never remembered an election being held at this time of the year. Does the Taoiseach's memory, ranging back over the years he has spent in this House since he came in, ever remember a by-election in which there was such a slump in one Party's vote as is represented by a tot of 9,000 votes? That is unique; there never was such a drop. It might get over the difficulty of having an election at this time of the year, when just earlier the Party had suffered that terrific demonstration, at the hands of the people, of how unpopular they were.
The Taoiseach tells us that he does not know what the out-turn of the year's accounts will be. The Revenue Commissioners must have changed their practice since I knew them. They used to report at the end of six months how revenue was running and give an estimate for the rest of the year. They used to report again at the end of nine months and give an estimate for the last three months of the year. Within six weeks of the last period of the year they not merely gave their view of how income and revenue of the year were going to turn out, but gave their forecast for the next year. No doubt the Taoiseach has all those figures in his possession. Anyone looking at the accounts published in Irish Oifigiúil can make an estimate near by £2,000,000 to the actual out-turn of the year's accounts. Everyone knows that this plea of honesty being the best policy, and the out-turn of the year, and the whole business about the weather, and how we are getting near to Holy Week, and that there might be disturbance through a rushed election is all recognised by the public as part  of the programme presented earlier in 1953. The Taoiseach took steps to ensure that the local people would not get their chance to say through local elections how badly Fianna Fáil popularity had slumped. That has been continued right through. By-election after by-election rang out the knell of doom for the people who are facing me. Fianna Fáil still hid, they ran away, they sucked up whatever little in the way of support they could from the ragged group of Independents left in this House, some of whom are supporting them. They have come now to the point where, as one of that group has said, they are being dragged, kicking and squealing, before the electorate, the last thing in the world they want and the thing they will postpone to the last possible moment.
Yesterday into this House there drifted the Minister for Finance, returning here after a regrettable absence created through a period of bad health, which one hopes was merely a temporary period of deterioration. He came in in a much different way from that in which any of his colleagues would have faced the House yesterday. Possibly through that period of enforced leisure, he had not got the full effect of what had happened in the country over some months past. The Government to which he belonged had received what the American slang experts would call “six swift kicks in the electoral pants.” The Irish Times last Saturday addressed a well-aimed, well-polished boot—but it was a boot—in the direction of the Taoiseach—the general view of the community is that Fianna Fáil have outstayed whatever welcome they thought they got in 1951. The Minister for Finance, aloof from all these problems of the day, must have astounded his supporters yesterday. I doubt if the postponement of the election for several weeks can do them as much in the way of good as he will have done them in the way of harm by what he said yesterday.
Do not forget that yesterday Cork sent to this Party Stephen Barrett, in an election which produced the greatest slump in any single constituency that  there has been since this country became a State. Stephen Barrett campaigned, as did all his supporters throughout Cork, on the cost of foodstuffs, on the cost of such things as beer, tobacco and spirits. The Minister for Finance told us yesterday that in this country we have improved social welfare and health services, we have better housing and educational facilities, we have subsidised public transport, we have agricultural improvements, we have higher pay for State employees—that must have caused him a pang—we have expansion of public works and a better equipped Defence Force. He said that all these blessings are reflected in the conditions of life here. Then we are told—and this will go down well in the back streets of Cork—that “according to independent international observers, our people, by and large, are better fed than any in the world, with a level of nutrition higher than obtains even in New Zealand, Canada, Australia or the United States.” Could we have a few moments' silence to digest that? Housing, nutrition, a better standard of food. Let us get the details. He said that housing conditions in general here were better than in most of Western Europe, that we had all but the cheapest loaf in the world, that with the exception of Denmark we had the cheapest sugar in Europe and with the exception of Britain the cheapest butter, that we had the cheapest beer, the cheapest spirits and the cheapest tobacco. Why, one might ask, are people fleeing from this country, if these are the ideal conditions we have?
The Minister ought to know just how people regard these things he counts as the blessings of the community. It was he who began it all. He came here with his Budget in 1952 and when, at this late period in 1954, excuses are sought as to why the imposts of 1952 were thought necessary, they forget that the Minister himself is on record as showing his view—and he spoke for the Government. In that year he deducted the saving on food subsidies—£6,668,000—less compensatory benefits—and they are set out. The net is £3,918,000, nearly £4,000,000, on bread and flour, to a certain degree. on butter, on tea and on sugar. Then  there were taxes—income-tax to bring in £910,000; tobacco to bring in £5,500,000; beer to bring in £2,360,000; spirits to bring in £1,000,000 and a bit; and petrol and oils to bring in £1,500,000—a tot of £11,250,000 added to the saving on food subsidies making £15,250,000 in all. Why was that done? There is not a word in this Budget speech of a £15,000,000 deficit. There is no statement here that that was the gap that had to be closed.
“The Government have given careful thought to this problem over recent months. They are satisfied that, as incomes generally have already advanced more than the cost of living and as essential foodstuffs are no longer scarce, there is now no economic or social justification for a policy of subsidies.”
There it is: the people were too well off. The Minister had tried another trick on the people before in a period in which there were standstill Orders and the period, as we discovered, in which a new standstill Order scheme was being devised. The direct attack upon wages by keeping wages and salaries down was not possible in the mood the people were in in 1952. Indirect attack was the best. If you can raise the cost of living higher than any increase there has been in wages and salaries, you effectively reduce the purchasing power of those wages and salaries. That was the Minister's plan that year.
I interpose again that that was a course in complete neglect and flagrant violation of the promises that were made that subsidies were going to be maintained and that there was no truth in the story that the tobacco taxes were likely to be imposed.
The Taoiseach to-night has talked about the cost of living and has said, with a frankness that I think he did not understand, that the greater part of the increase in the cost of living,  measured by the index figure, comes from the reduction or the removal of the food subsidies.
Mr. McGilligan: Twenty-three points were given in answer to a question, as usual. That is the Government's idea. That was the Government's plan. Notwithstanding that that was exposed in a parliamentary question and that the increase in the cost of living to that extent had been caused by Government activity, the Taoiseach laments that it is wrong for anybody to accuse them of having done this deliberately. One does not know whether economic ignorance could go to that point. But, if the Taoiseach did not will that increase in the cost of living as an end, he certainly willed the most effective means for bringing that end about.
We move away from 1952 to 1953. The 1953 Budget had no special mention of these foodstuffs. Again, the White Paper has no statement with regard to the subsidies or the taxes, but the subsidies and the taxes were continued again—every one of them. Four million pounds were still being subtracted from the people because they were made pay more for bread, flour, tea, sugar and butter and the community were still being taxed to the extent of £11,250,000 for beer and tobacco and spirits and income-tax and the other things I have mentioned.
Nobody in those days, when we were discussing these exactions, had the temerity to say that we were the bestfed and the cheapest-living community in Europe. Even if you were taking away some of the subsidies that used to go to keep the price of butter, flour, tea, sugar at certain levels, nobody then thought of saying that you have the cheapest white loaf in the world; that, with the exception of Denmark, you have the cheapest sugar in the world; that, with the exception of Britain, you have the cheapest butter in the world and that you have, in the world, the cheapest beer, the cheapest spirits and the cheapest tobacco.
Mr. McGilligan: That was the Budget, however, in which the Minister did say that he could not offer any great incentive or stimulus by way of reduction in taxation to the farming community of this country. His phrase was: “Taxation presses so lightly on the land that there is little scope for any stimulus under that heading”.
Although we did not know it, in 1953, in the month of May, this country had the highest standards of the Western European world—nutrition at such a height that it was compelling the admiration of foreign observers; housing that could be compared to anything in Western Europe and, not merely our foodstuffs, but these amenities of life of the semi-luxury type like beer, tobacco, spirits, were cheaper in this country than they were any place else, with odd exceptions and, added to that, the farming community taxed so lightly that it was not possible to give them any stimulus by reducing taxation.
I count a lot on the speech that the Minister for Finance delivered yesterday. I point out to this House that there is in this speech the maintenance of a particular attitude of mind towards living costs in this country which was developed over the war years and which was only brought to a conclusion outside the war years by the fact that in 1948 the people refused to give Fianna Fáil control of government.
I need not go into these things in detail. People's memories are too bitter with regard to the standstill Orders over the war years—standstill Orders, the power to impose which was gained by the Government that is facing me on the plea that they would see that costs were kept down and, as a result of that desire to keep costs down, they wanted power to keep down also the level of salaries and wages.
They let prices soar and rocket but they kept ruthlessly the standstill Orders in force and kept wages and salaries battened down. When the war was over, the standstill Order was repealed and, in 1948, searching through the files of some of the Departments, we discovered the proposals for legislation that the  Tánaiste was devising. At that time the Taoiseach himself had gone to the country and said that the Government must demand the right to impose some limit to the upward surge of wages. He said that if they were to have a stable condition—and he mentioned the war years—a stable condition like what prevailed in the war years, they must have power to regulate salaries and wages while they would endeavour —“endeavour,” this time—to keep prices down.
In 1952, the Minister appeared before this House and told us that the Government had considered the matter of subsidies. He did not make any mathematical calculations about deficits or indicate any of those later thoughts that have now been found to excuse the performance of 1952. He said quite bluntly and quite brutally that there was no reason or circumstance why subsidies should any longer be retained because the Government had discovered that the general increase in salaries and wages had gone higher than the increase in the cost of living. I said before that the standard they took was a lamentable standard. They went back to the year 1939 to find out what was the standard of the people who depended on the sale of their services to get, in return, remuneration by way of wages or salaries. The standard taken was: “You are not to go beyond what you achieved in 1939 no matter what the years in between may have meant in the way of sacrifice imposed upon you. We will not let you go beyond that. As long as we can see that there is an advantage to the working or salaried classes in their wages we will take it out of you. We will reduce the subsidies and impose these taxes on things which you must buy.”
Before medical science advanced to the point which it has now reached, the general way of treating disease was to look on everything as a fever, some disorder in the blood, some excitement in the veins of the people. The cure was a simple one—the knife. The surgeon barber bled the people. The Minister for Finance came in here in 1952 to bleed out of the veins of the salaried and wage-earning classes the  little bit of increase which they had over and above the standards they reached in 1939, measuring it by the cost-of-living index figure. Can anybody believe that if the Minister had his way, and if he were not trying to pander to the community in an effort to recover the ground that his Party have lost and in which he may appear to be reasonable, his attitude would be different? Suppose the Minister were back again there in office, having got in by hook or by crook for another five years, is the mood reflected in yesterday's debate one that will appeal to the people of this House or to the community generally? With his eyes closed to the people's misery, to unemployment, to the flight from the land and from the country generally— neglecting all these things—the Minister tells us that we are the admiration of the western world for our standards of nutrition and housing, for the cheapness of our foodstuffs and the cheapness even of these things that are innate to life.
Bearing in mind the Minister's record and the fact that he said in one month that there was no truth in the story that certain taxes would be reimposed, and then reimposed them within nearly 12 months, can anybody believe, no matter how popular a Budget he might scrape up, or what the out-turn of the year may give him, that that would be maintained? The Minister wonders whether the out-turn of the year will give him any modest surplus with which he can play.
If there is any modest surplus with which he can play where should it go? Should it go to “the best housed and the best fed people in Western Europe?” Should it go to “people whose standards with regard to the cheapness of their foodstuffs, beer, spirits and tobacco are the admiration and envy of the western world?” Would the Minister now do what his colleague, the Minister for Justice, lamented we did when we got the chance? The Minister for Justice talked of the things Fianna Fáil wanted to prevent and would have prevented if the Taoiseach had only got six extra seats in Dublin. Salaries  had to be increased. The salaries of civil servants had to be increased. Deputy Boland, the Minister for Justice, said that the Guards would naturally look for similar increases, so would the Army, so would the teachers, so would local authority employees and workers all over the country—and that was what Fianna Fáil wanted to prevent and would have prevented if the six seats that were lost in Dublin had only been retained by Fianna Fáil. Therefore, if there is a surplus, if the out-turn of the year that is so anxiously awaited, with 20 days to go, shows some modest surplus, does anyone expect that, if they were not playing for popularity for a brief period, the Minister would have the slightest compassion on the workers of this country? If he thinks their state is as good as he has said it is, why should he try to alleviate what does not require alleviation? Even if the Minister were to do anything of the sort, can we not hear, in anticipation, the burst of laughter there would be from the whole community at the Minister who said in 1951 that taxes of certain types would not be reimposed and who reimposed them in 1952? Who in the community would trust that Minister, even if he brought forward some alleviation out of whatever the out-turn of the year might give him, knowing that if he should be returned to power, a Supplementary Budget will be introduced within three months removing anything that was given by way of abate to the community?
The picture that the Minister has painted for the community is not the picture that appears to other people. Last year, in making his Budget arrangements, the Minister skinned things to the bone. He was very anxious last year about our liberties. He was very annoyed that when Fianna Fáil took over the Government in 1951 they found what amounted to almost a defenceless country. I quote now from columns 1204, 1205 and 1206 of the Official Report of the 6th May, 1953. The standard at which they found the equipment of the Army “was a source of concern to all who valued liberties which had been won so dearly.” He  spoke of the anxiety of the Government to which he belonged “when in June, 1951, in conditions of great international tension, they took over responsibility for the defence of the nation and found that the country had to rely on an ill-equipped and undermanned Defence Force.” He was quite heroic in his attitude to this. “Under no circumstances will it”—the Government—“Seek to economise or improve budgetary appearances by shirking its duty to provide for the nation's defence.” He said: “It is true that, defending those liberties and preserving them, we shall pass them on to succeeding generations, but it is we, and not the unborn, who are directly concerned that in this our day these precious things should not be taken from us.”
After all that rhetoric, the Minister put in his Book of Estimates the sum of £4,000,000 as expenditure on defence equipment. He then subtracted £2.7 million as equipment ordered but not delivered during the year. He left himself to find a sum of £1,800,000, having told the community that he was not going to present a better Budget by any economies in regard to defence. He then told us he thought the proper sum to put against the citizens of the State last year was £400,000. He would draw £500,000 from the carry-over, which had increased from £2.5 million to £3,000,000 in the time he was telling the people the Budget was in deficit. As for the rest, he proposed to borrow £900,000. Therefore, the Government, who were so concerned that these precious things should not be taken from us, were asked to find £400,000 last year for a debt which was first presented as being £4,500,000. The Minister was then to get £500,000 from the carry-over and almost £1,000,000 by short-term borrowings. This year, we have another £1,800,000. Will the Minister present a better budgetary appearance this year from that £1,800,000, again subtracting £900,000 short-term borrowings and another draw of £500,000 from the carry-over? In that way, he may manage to present a better picture than the Taoiseach believes will be there.
 The Taoiseach says that, on present appearances, the out-turn of the year will hardly show enough money to meet the expenditure of the year. I said before that the picture the Minister for Finance had painted was not the picture that presents itself to the other people in the country. I take from the many clippings that I have on the subject a statement made in Donegal within the last ten days. A county councillor there, faced with a rate that has gone beyond the capacity of Donegal people to pay, and begging for decreases, said, nevertheless, that the amount paid out in home assisance was a barometer of the times and depended on the amount of misfortune in the county. He could not neglect the amount of misfortune that was in Donegal. He accepted the imposition by way of rates on the community without seeking a reduction of one penny piece in the amount required for public assistance, but let it all go. The same county council, including those who represented the farmers of Donegal in the hardest year those farmers had ahead of them, at a time when there were fears that prices might break on them, and at a time when the price of everything they required was increasing, nevertheless, had to find a greater sum by many shillings for rates than they had ever been faced with since they constituted a county council.
The rates are soaring. Even if the Government succeeds in securing eight or ten weeks' respite, I believe they will lose on the rate swings what they will gain on the attempt to bring in a popular Budget, if that can be made. We know that emigration is at its peak and despite the Taoiseach's boasting that about 10,000—or as he puts it 12,000—less people are unemployed, the unemployment figure is still far too high for this country, and beyond what it was when the inter-Party Government was in control.
Housing in certain areas is at a standstill and it has been brought to a standstill by governmental policy on the restriction of credit. I would not like to stress too much, although they are a necessary part of the conditions of the time, the miseries that have  been caused to people by what happened in 1952. I do feel that householders and housewives are at the end of their tether trying to meet the prices that the present Fianna Fáil Government imposed on them. But I believe that the thing that has done the present Government more harm is not that—severe and all as it may be— but it is the recognition at this late point that over their whole period in office Fianna Fáil have hardly advanced the status of this country. They have certainly not advanced its productivity and have made no better conditions of life in the 15 years that they controlled this country than what they found when they first came into office.
The Taoiseach spoke the other day of getting an opportunity to begin the agricultural drive—to begin the agricultural drive—in 1954. The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lynch, addressing the Publicity Club in Cork— apparently he was frightened by stories in Cork about the expenditure of the present Government—he talked of all the leeway there was to be made up. He spoke of the leeway that was to be made up and said that it was something that could not be approached in a timorous fashion, because the problems were so aggravated when he mentioned them, the development of mines, electricity, turf, harbours and everything else.
In 1954, Deputy Lynch, Parliamentary Secretary, appealed to the Cork people not to think too hardly of the Government to which he belonged if it tried to get a lot of money because of the leeway that had to be made up. Over what period had that leeway developed? The Party Deputy Lynch belongs to has been the reigning Party since 1932, and if there is leeway to be made up one can only ask that somebody should trace the deterioration in the productivity on the production side of the community.
It is too late to open the big subject of credit at this point. No matter where one goes, except in Government circles, there is recognition that the most important matter affecting the community since Fianna Fáil came into power the second time was the  definite restriction of credit that there has been with knowledge and encouragement of the Government. That has been denied.
This sort of yellowish Press which emanates from the Department of External Affairs published the banking terms in summary for 1953. They hailed new records shown in the published returns for the year ended 31st December, 1953, of the ten joint stock banks operating in the country. Deposit and credit accounts at a certain figure showed an expansion of £22,000,000. Deposits were up by £22,000,000. Advances and bills show an increase of £1.2 million. But the ten joint stock banks achieved a record. The deposits went up to the record figure of £22,000,000 over the year before and from that the joint stock banks proceed to lend and their advances amount to £1,000,000 more than they were in the preceding year, and that as I am reminded was the year of recovery, the best year this country has ever seen.
I do not intend to go into the big subject of credit at this point but I cannot again refrain from reminding the House of the experience that we had as a Government when we met members of the standing committee of the Joint Stock Banks of this country over the £5,000,000 corporation loan that was then about to be made, and how the banks refused to take it up. When the banks refused to give anything in the way of a serious overdraft to the Dublin Corporation we brought them in to argue with them as to the necessity for the Dublin corporators being supplied with this money. As the day wore on, there was agreement that the objects for which the corporation required the money were good and sound and with our statement that the Dublin Corporation loan was at least good security and the only thing that we could be told about Dublin Corporation security was that it was not marketable quickly. For many hours that day the banks painted a picture of how what they called their portfolio of investments was a carefully prepared mosaic which would be broken up and fragmented if they had to sell  any sterling holding in order to find between them £5,000,000 for Dublin Corporation. Towards the end of a weary day, they broke and said that if Dublin Corporation wanted this money and if it was the desire of the Government that the banks should support it, the money could be obtained. We then suggested an adjournment until the officials of the Department of Finance could meet the officials of the banks because they had suggested that if they had to sell investments they might require the Government to take upon itself some share of responsibility for whatever investment they had to sell because they would not interfere with that carefully-prepared mosaic. When we suggested meeting them later they then said that they did not require the meeting. When we said: “What about selling out some part of your portfolio of investments?”, they told us then what had been said during the day that they did not require to sell any investments. They were going to make another entry, two entries on two sides of a book, and the £5,000,000 was at the disposal of the corporation. At the end of the day with a bit of double-entry book-keeping the money was found and there was to be no sale.
This year the Minister ineffectively approached the public for a large loan, and, to sweeten it for the investor, he announced that the banks had agreed to take up £5,000,000. Indeed, in the event, they had to take up more. I have asked repeatedly in this House, and I want an answer to the question: when the banks were to take up that £5,000,000 were they charging the Government the interest rate that they were offering to the ordinary investor, or were they merely getting that which they were entitled to, the operating cost of making a double entry in their books? I am sure they are getting their 5 per cent. or their 4¾ per cent. because, as I said before, they entered on the slippery slope when they gave that £5,000,000 Corporation Stock on the terms on which they did, revealing this to us that, if they did not halt themselves at this point, the whole system of the giving and the creation of bank credit in this country is on a new footing, and the sooner we get on  that new footing the better for the people.
The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste approached the banks and they advertised afterwards, through the Department of Agriculture, the fruits of the magnificent victory they had with the joint stock banks. After the meeting, the Minister for Agriculture published an advertisement in the newspapers under the heading: “Credit—Fertilisers and Ground Limestone—New Scheme of Loans”:—
The conditions are set out, and underneath, in regard to the things that relate particularly to ground limestone and fertilisers there is a special announcement. This is breath-taking; this represents a real revolution; this represents the defeat of the bankers faced by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste. This is the special announcement:—
I had understood that one of the things in which banks trade was credit. We know that the banks' view of a credit-worthy person is sometimes difficult to understand. But consider the condition—two members of Government who allowed it to be promulgated as an advance that the Government had got an assurance from the banks that credit-worthy merchants would be facilitated in obtaining accommodation for trade in fertilisers and ground limestone. The part that follows I have never been able to analyse. I do not know whether it represents the depth of absurdity or the height of achievement, but this is the bald announcement:—
Mr. McGilligan: A farmer with money on deposit in an Irish bank. The banks hold the money as security for the loan and they are to pay him out probably something less than what was deposited with them. For giving him something less than his own money, they charge him a rate of interest 1 per cent. above the rate they pay on deposits. Now, if there was ever mad finance in any community it is in that notice. It was bad enough to have the madness of finance displayed in the recesses of Government buildings at the time of the corporation loan, but this displays a juvenility of opinion in financial matters—that two prominent members of Government can publish that as an achievement, as something that they have wrung from the banks of this country.
“There are some who will argue that we can have all this and heaven too, who will promise to provide an earthly paradise in which everyone will be given something for nothing and not only be given it for nothing but will be paid for taking it away.”
Who has said that is no acquaintance of mine, but the Minister, apparently, knows someone who has made such promises. The Minister thinks it might cozen and deceive certain people, and winds up in this mood of optimism for his Party: “It just cannot be done and the people know that it cannot be done.” It is the people who know that it cannot be done that we invite the Minister to make an early appearance before. It is so clear that the people do not want that and know it cannot be done! I cannot understand his reluctance.
I know that people postpone the evil day as long as they can. I know well that a development in the minds of many of us clearly brought home to many people in this community that there had occurred in 1948 in this  country not a mere temporary interruption, an isolated interruption, of Fianna Fáil Government rule. What happened in that year was that there was not very decisively but to some degree a shift in Party political allegiances in this country. That pattern developed from 1948 to 1951. That pattern was again expressed by the people in 1951, but it was distorted by the activities of certain people like Deputy Cowan, Deputy Cogan and the two doctors, Deputy ffrench-O'Carroll and Deputy Browne. The Minister for Finance wants to know every time he looks at Deputy Cowan if they had only taken Deputy Cowan as a supporter in the last resort. I am not sure if, until recently, they knew how utterly last that resort was.
When these other three presented themselves to the Party nobody could say they were an attractive bait, but they were swallowed and absorbed, which is, possibly, a better word, hook, line and sinker. The downward pull on the sinker is what is telling now and is helping, again, to make clear the pattern which, as I say, was developed in 1948 and was again showing in 1951. As soon as we get the chance of an election, and it cannot be long delayed, that pattern will again show itself and this country will realise what a great many people have realised, that there is not, as I have said, a temporary interruption in the Party's programme and the Party's progress in this country, but a real decisive shift in political loyalties. That is the day that is ahead for the people who face me, for the people they have absorbed and the people they lean on; and that is the day they are anxious to defer. Even ten weeks count. Deputy Costello put here in the most matter of fact way the harm that has been caused; the confusion that there is politically; how that confusion will continue; the fact that businessmen will not buy because they know the prospective purchasers will not purchase from them so long as there is still a prospect that some alleviation may be given to the people in the new Budget.
When it comes to June and a new Government has to be formed, and  that Government has to take on the task of looking at the out-turn of the year and what they will have as the proper expenditure for the year there will be at least four months of the financial year gone before matters can be taken in hand. It is criminal— and there is really no hope for the people who face me—it is criminal that in the end they should try to add to the damage they have already done to the community a little bit of extra damage, a little bit of extra damage which will be magnified over the short period in which they remain to do damage to the community.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling Deputy Norton. I cannot cram more than 60 minutes into an hour, and I am anxious to get an Independent Deputy because no Independent Deputy has yet spoken. I am calling on Deputy Norton.
Mr. MacEntee: May I put this point? This is a very important debate. We have already had a statement from the chairman of the Labour Party in relation to this matter. We have had alternate speeches from members of both sides of the House, and I suggest that, in view of the occasion, and in view of the speech to which we have just listened, it should be observed that if I am not permitted to speak we shall have no opportunity of replying.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister for Finance must understand that the Taoiseach had just sat down when Deputy McGilligan arose, and I cannot cross the House immediately to the Government side. I have to remember that there are other Parties to be considered.
An Ceann Comhairle: Allow me to finish. Only one member of the Labour Party has spoken and, on its numerical strength, I think it is  obvious that an ex-Minister and a Deputy ought to be allowed to speak. I am anxious that the Independent viewpoint should be expressed, and for that reason I am anxious that an Independent Deputy should speak.
Mr. McQuillan: I have no objection to the leader of the Labour Party speaking, but some of us have been here since 3 o'clock to-day and I saw no sign of the leader of the Labour Party until a short time ago.
Mr. McQuillan: I understood the main purpose was that the main Parties should express their views as to whether or not this Dáil should dissolve to-night, and we have had the views of the Labour Party.
Mr. Norton: The debate on this motion affords the House an opportunity of taking stock of the political and economic situation and contrasting the situation to-day with the situation that existed three years ago or, indeed, with the situation that existed in 1948.
I want to go back for a few moments,  and a few moments only, to ascertain what the position of the country was in 1948 when its destinies were entrusted to the inter-Party Government. I do not want to put my own assessment of the situation then; neither do I want to quote a Fine Gael member for anything he may have said, or say, as to the situation at that time. I am satisfied to take the testimony of Deputy Dr. Browne as to the condition of the country in 1948 and to see what has happened since then in the evolution that has taken place in the meantime. Speaking in June, 1948, Deputy Dr. Browne, from his exalted position as Minister at the time, said:—
“The inter-Party Government had taken over a very sick, tired country. There was possibly no phase of the national life that had not been affected to its detriment by the 16 years of Fianna Fáil mis-government. A lot had been said about Partition. There had been a lot of talk, particularly by the old gentleman——
That was the economic position inherited by the inter-Party Government in 1948. If it failed in its efforts to try and right the country after a description of that kind, more reminiscent of the famine period than any other time, one could at least excuse it.
What did it do in the three short years to try to resurrect this very sick, tired country in which no phase of the national life had escaped the detrimental activities of 16 years of Fianna Fáil Government? In 1951 the inter-Party Government went out of office. It passed over the reins of office to the Fianna Fáil Party, who at the time got office by a trick and that trick is now recoiling on the Government. During its period in office the inter-Party Government with which the Labour Party was associated, repealed the penal taxes imposed by Fianna Fáil in 1947 on cigarettes, on beer and on  tobacco. That cost this country £6,000,000 per year and that £6,000,000 went into the pockets of the ordinary, simple people who consume cigarettes, and tobacco and beer. We did not give £1,100,000 to the tobacco manufacturers, as the Fianna Fáil Government did, as a free gift. We did not give £140,000 to the dance-hall proprietors, as the Fianna Fáil Government did in their corrupt way, because they got the cheques of the dance-hall proprietors to help them fight the last election against the inter-Party Government. That was a piece of naked, political corruption. That was the way in which the Fianna Fáil Party accepted cheques from the dance-hall proprietors and then, out of the people's pockets, gave the dance-hall proprietors £140,000 per year in return for their cheques, the cheques that put Fianna Fáil back into office, though happily only temporarily.
We repealed these penal taxes that cost us £6,000,000 when we were in Government. While we were in office employment was rising as it had never risen before. We put 37,000 additional people into employment in three and a quarter years. Unemployment had been driven down to an all-time low record. Industrial production, as the Government's own figures have shown, was rising. Agricultural production was expanding. House building had been geared up to an all-time high record. There were more people employed in housing when we were in office than ever before or since. In spite of the deteriorating international situation we held prices level.
We did something over and above all this. For the first time in the long and chequered career of the Irish nation political peace was restored to this country and the gun was taken out of Irish politics. To-day all that situation has changed. To-day there is no question of repealing taxation. To-day there is no question of employment rising and the problem to-day is that unemployment is rising and emigration is increasing. House building has fallen off and in every sphere of our national life the same element of sickness and tiredness discovered by  Deputy Dr. Browne in 1948 is back with us once more; every phase of our national life is again suffering under the baneful influence of the Fianna Fáil Government.
What is the present position in relation to these matters to which I have just referred? I do not want to talk for myself. I will let the Government figures talk. I have here a document issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics in February, 1952. That bureau is under the control of this Government. That document shows that on the 23rd February, 1951, there were 63,000 persons then registered as unemployed. Here is another document of the same type for the year 1954. It shows that on the 20th February, 1954, the number of persons registered as unemployed was 77,600, an increase of over 14,000 in the number of unemployed comparing February, 1951, with February, 1954. That is to the credit of this Government. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said in his famous speech in the Red Bank Restaurant in January, 1940, 14 years ago:—
“It was necessary to stress the urgency of the problem arising out of unemployment. If it persisted, our economic system could not survive. If unemployment persisted, it did not deserve to survive. There were obvious major defects in their methods of commercial organisation or their financial system if they were unable to provide an adequate livelihood for every man willing to work. If within the limits of the present system they could not cope with unemployment, then the system must be changed.”
These were the brave words uttered after a meal in the Red Bank Restaurant on the 23rd January, 1940. Notwithstanding these brave words, we still have 77,600 persons registered as unemployed at the employment exchanges and every boat leaving this country is taking a human cargo to be spread over the cities of Great Britain and other cities throughout the world. There are 77,600 unemployed in this  country with the same Government in office whose Minister made that speech in the Red Bank Restaurant 14 years ago.
We had a speech by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs recently. I said before that he sets out down the country on Saturday evenings to discover prosperity and he usually discovers there for the information of the Irish Press on Monday morning that some remarkable change has taken place in the whole economic life of the country. He said recently that there had been a striking fall in the number of persons unemployed. Somebody ought to read the figures for the Minister or get a blackboard and chalk for him. A striking fall, when the figures for 1954 were 14,600 above what they were in 1951. Where is the striking fall there? Test that actual fact certified by the Government's own Statistics Office with the brave words of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in 1940 and you can see that the major defects he talked of then are still present in our commercial organisation. Clearly there is no intention of repairing these major defects so long as this Government remains in office.
This is not the whole picture of the destitution we have got under this Government. There are 60,000 people still drawing miserably low standards of home assistance. There are 160,000 old age pensioners struggling to live on a miserable pittance of 21/6 per week at a time when the cost of living is higher than it was in living memory. That is the situation brought about by this Government. Then, of course, we had the famous 17-point programme of the Fianna Fáil Government. I do not want to go through the whole of the 17 points. It is sufficient for the purpose of my argument to quote one point in that 17-point programme. It read:—
“That it was the declared policy of Fianna Fáil to maintain the food subsidies, to control the prices of essential foodstuffs and the operation of an efficient system of price regulation for all necessary commodities.”
 Everybody knows that the whole system of price control has been completely strangled by this Government. The Prices Advisory Body is scarcely allowed to function. No public inquiry is to be held. The Minister is now treating that Prices Advisory Body with the utmost contempt. Price increases are being sanctioned by the Department from day to day and the Minister refuses to refer the question of price increases to the Prices Advisory Body. The Prices Advisory Body finds itself virtually defunct. While the Prices Advisory Body is virtually defunct and the Minister is increasing prices, the ordinary people are being crippled by the consequential effect of the Government's policy in having virtually abandoned all price control.
Let us come back to the food subsidies. In the 17-point programme there was a promise to the people to maintain the food subsidies. Somebody explained from the Government Benches why the food subsidies have been slashed. In the Budget of 1952 we had the most vicious slashing of the food subsidies. That, of course, was recommended to the Government by the Central Bank. The Central Bank recommended the inter-Party Government to do the same, but, of course, while that Government was there, the Central Bank bleated in vain in tendering advice to slash the food subsidies. There was no slashing of the food subsidies while we were there, and there would never have been any slashing. If we had remained there, the people of the country would be getting commodities to-day at virtually the same level as they were in 1951 and 1952. The Central Bank fooled this Government into making an attack which has wrought havoc with the internal economy of the country. Food subsidies were attacked and as a result of that prices rose rapidly, the purchasing power of the people was crippled, unemployment increased, the labour exchanges filled up with unemployed men and women and the ships and trains filled up with emigrants. All that is traceable to the fact that this Government put themselves in the hands of the directors of the Central Bank.
 The Central Bank bleated in vain when they appealed to us to slash the food subsidies. They said it was a hidden subvention. It kept a reasonable price level in this country and brought a measure of prosperity to the homes of our people and a measure of prosperity to the nation. So long as these things were happening under the inter-Party Government, these were the things that mattered, and not the theories of the economists who adorn the building in Foster Place. We were not concerned with their economic theories for cutting down the consumption of food by our people and the export of that food to Great Britain to build up credits there which could not be effectively used for the benefit of our own people. So long as we had a choice between giving our people plenty of food to eat and a decent life and the austerity which they now know, they had not the austerity which they know since the Fianna Fáil Government came in.
The food subsidies were slashed. The result of that slashing was that the people have now the privilege of paying 4/2 per lb. for butter which they could get when we were in office for 2/8, and of paying 9¼d. for the 2 lb. loaf which they could get for 6½d. when we were in office. They now pay 5/- a lb. for tea which they were getting from us for 2/8; 7d. a lb. for sugar which they were getting from us for 4d.; and 4/6 a stone for flour which they were getting from us for 2/8. They pay more for beer, for tobacco, for cigarettes, for meat and for a whole lot of other commodities. It is because they are paying these in-increased prices that the Government lost 9,000 votes in the by-election in Cork. It is because the people are paying these higher prices that they will lose more and more votes. The people are being salted to pay these high prices, not because the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil want them to pay these high prices, but because the Central Bank made the Fianna Fáil Government swallow their advice to slash the food subsidies, which advice we refused to swallow for three and a half years.
I can understand the ordinary member  of the Fianna Fáil Party, who cannot understand why these catastrophic increases in price took place, being bewildered by this development. There is no reason why they should have taken place. They did not take place during the three and a quarter years of the inter-Party Government, and they would not have taken place during the past three years but for the fact that the gentlemen on the front bench there were just putty in the hands of the Central Bank directors. They tried the same old bag of tricks on us but it did not work. We told them: “We will take all the advice you can express in your annual report, but do not expect us to act on that advice. We read it. We do not spend too much time applying your theories to the conditions of life of the Irish people, because we think we know better what the Irish people want than what the directors of the Central Bank want.” But the Fianna Fáil Government swallowed the advice of the Central Bank and the people now have these higher prices. It is because they are paying these higher prices that Fianna Fáil are losing the by-elections. I can understand the Fianna Fáil Party not being anxious to go to the country. I can understand the Taoiseach cutting down his normally impetuous desire to gallop up to the Park and get the Dáil dissolved. That old trick used to work in better days, but there are so many people now paying more for bread, butter, tea, sugar, flour, meat, milk, tobacco, cigarettes and the ordinary bottle of stout that the Taoiseach knows that the moment he gets to the country he will have a collection of bees buzzing around his political bonnet so that he is going to be badly stung in votes when he meets the people in the next election.
Mr. Norton: Is it any wonder that the Government does not want to meet the electorate? Of course we are all human beings, with human feelings and human sympathies and human emotions. Deputy Cowan would sooner go up to North-East Dublin and tell his constituents: “Look, lads, did we  not keep the cost of living down? When Fianna Fáil wanted to put the price of butter up to 4/2 I tried to keep it down to 2/8.” That is a natural human feeling. We would all like to do that. Everybody knows that this dictation by the Central Bank was not in any way necessary. You swallowed the anchor as your Government in turn swallowed the anchor of the Central Bank, and now, of course, you do not want to meet the people because you know the political holocaust that awaits you as these by-elections have shown.
There is one hope for the people. Deputy Lemass had a recipe for it in 1947, at the time when Fianna Fáil had imposed the penal taxes on beer, tobacco and cigarettes—and, of course, there was never any need to do that either. The Fianna Fáil Party were told in October, 1947, that it was absolutely necessary to get £6,000,000 in the taxes on beer, cigarettes and tobacco. We proved it was not necessary at all, because within six months we gave it all back to the people and we maintained the subsidies on the foodstuffs which these taxes were supposed to be raised in order to underwrite. We gave those £6,000,000 back, and there was never any need for them any more than there was any need for slashing the food subsidies in 1952, but you swallowed that, too; but inevitably if you sow the wind then you reap the whirlwind.
When it was pointed out to Deputy Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, that this was going to inflict great hardship on the people, he had a remedy. He always has a remedy. The remedy was, he said, speaking at column 566 in the Dáil Debates of 16th October, 1947—and this suggestion is bewildering in its simplicity:—
There is a simple remedy—if you object to high prices, reduce your consumption. That is the same kind of remedy that the Fianna Fáil Party have given the people about butter. “If the price of butter is too high,” they say, “do not eat so much butter.  You can eat Stork margarine. That is better for you. If tea is too dear and you like this traditional cup of Irish tea, sometimes on your own or sometimes when an old friend joins you, just cut it down. Do not give them sugar in their tea either. Do not give them much bread when they call. Just cut down your consumption of those things. Send your butter to Britain. Send your eggs to Britain. Do not buy as much of the other commodities as you want. Instead of buying them, leave your assets in Britain and let your assets grow peanuts in Kenya for the Mau Mau. That is the best way to use your foreign assets.”
Mr. Norton: I would give up if I thought that Deputy Cowan had an explanation for all this. There is the remedy, and that is the remedy that has been applied here over the last two years. The whole policy of the 1952 Budget was to prevent people consuming too much. The Central Bank said that they were eating too much and consuming too much.
Mr. Norton: ——that people were consuming too much, their standard of living was too high, and that it was in fact quite undesirable to have so many people employed, because it would be a healthier economic condition in the  view point of the Central Bank if you had a pool of unemployed because that pool of unemployed could be used as a check on the workers if they wanted to raise their standard of living. The Central Bank said therefore: “Have a pool of unemployed, cut down subsidies, make people consume less.” This remedy was applied by the Fianna Fáil Government, of slashing subsidies, making the people pay more, and since they cannot pay more then the remedy still applied itself in this way that they would not eat as much, you can export more and chalk up credits in England. You will not need to buy as much and you can leave your sterling assets in Britain. That has been the result of this Budget policy of 1952.
We now have got this one achievement that ought not to be overlooked by the Fianna Fáil Party when it is preparing posters of the election—that we have now got the highest price level in human history in this country. Since the first day that records were made of prices in this country we are paying more to-day for these commodities than ever before. Is not that a marvellous record, one which could be described as a priceless record? The highest level ever attained in living memory—that is the record of the Fianna Fáil Government, and that is what they have to go to the people on. If there is no enthusiasm to make that record known, one can at least sympathise with the Taoiseach in the difficult position in which he finds himself. The truth of the matter is that the people are crippled by the high prices associated with this Government and their indignation has been shown in every by-election throughout the country. What the people's manifestation will be at the next election only the faces of the present members of the Fianna Fáil Party can indicate.
I want with some diffidence to raise the question of emigration, because this is one subject on which the Taoiseach has chosen to go as little as possible. The Taoiseach denied yesterday that emigration was increasing rapidly. I do not know who is advising the Taoiseach in this matter at all, but if the Taoiseach goes to the bishops around the country and asks  them what is their experience in their parish records, what is the experience of the priests, he will find that from time to time in the last three years there have been sermons delivered by bishops and priests all deploring the appallingly high emigration taking place from the country. If you go to Amiens Street, Westland Row, Dún Laoghaire, Rosslare, Cork or Waterford, you will see cargoes of human beings being taken out every night in order to find employment in Britain, and is it not only natural when you have got nearly 15,000 people more unemployed to-day than you had in 1951 that inevitably people will go away in greater measure to-day because of the fact that employment is not here for them? We brought back large numbers of workers to engage in the building of houses here. We advertised in the English papers and asked these workers to return to their own country to engage in the building of houses for their own people. We said that the rates of pay they would get here were better than they would get in Britain, and that the inter-Party Government would provide continuous work for 20 years in the building of houses, schools, hospitals and public institutions. Large numbers of these workers came back. At that time, outside the painting trade, you could not get an unemployed building trade craftsman in the country. They were discharged from time to time and they walked from one job to another. They changed jobs two or three times a week, so keen was the demand for building trade operatives. Is that the position to-day?
Mr. Norton: The plain fact is that emigration has increased substantially. The building trade workers who were brought over here during the time of the inter-Party Government are going back again. The unemployment exchanges are stuffed with lists of unemployed workers in the building trade. Every employment exchange has building trade operatives on its books that were not there in 1951 and they are there notwithstanding the fact that large numbers have got their books and have gone back to England. Let the Taoiseach go to the exchange in Gardiner Street or Werburgh Street, and find out the number of unemployed building operatives that have been registering there every week. Let him do the same in Cork and in each centre throughout the country. If the Taoiseach is doubtful about that information, let him go to the building trade unions and they will satisfy him as to the large number of building trade workers that have been signing on their books looking for employment. In fact, there are 6,000 fewer workers engaged in local authority building than there were in 1951. That statement cannot be challenged because that information was given in reply to a parliamentary question by the Minister for Local Government.
Mr. Norton: Everybody would be glad to know that the houses have been built, but we know that in Dublin City alone the problem of housing is of such dimensions that it will not be solved in 20 years; yet we have unemployed craftsmen registering as unemployed.  Why cannot we get them to work on the provision of houses in Dublin? Let the Taoiseach get the figures and he will see that there are 6,000 fewer workers employed in local authority housing than there were three years ago. Is it any wonder that the building worker is not remaining here? What is the purpose of his remaining here, when he sees himself obliged to travel to the labour exchange each week and when, in juxtaposition to that, he can see regular employment available about 60 or 80 miles away?
Of course, it is the financial policy of the Minister for Finance that is responsible for that situation. The Minister launched a loan in 1952 at 5 per cent. Instead of borrowing money when he came into office in 1951 on a market that would have lapped up that loan at 3½ per cent., he spent his time in abusing his predecessors in office, in writing down the credit-worthiness of the State and in speaking at banquets asserting that the country was staggering towards bankruptcy. Having painted the country in the worst possible colours, how could you expect the people of the country to lend him money? Of course, he could not expect to get a loan at 3½ per cent. in the conditions which he had described, but he would have got the money in 1951 at 3½ per cent. if he had gone to the market at that time. We could have gone to the market in 1951, and got it at 3½ per cent. had we remained in office. At the utmost we would not have paid more than 3¾ per cent. We would never have dreamed of paying 5 per cent. but the present Minister for finance delightedly paid 5 per cent. When he was chided with that, he said that, of course, he did not want to spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar. That was a very expensive ha'porth of tar. The difference between 3½ per cent. and 5 per cent. means that for 20 years we shall have to pay £300,000 each year for the Minister of Finance's ha'porth of tar. If the Minister goes into business selling tar, he looks to be a winner if he is going to get that amount of money for every ha'porth of tar he produces.
As a result of that increase in the  rate of interest, every unfortunate white collar worker who has to borrow money under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act has to pay a considerably higher rate of interest on the loan than he had to pay when the inter-Party Government was in office. It is because the interest charges are too high and because such workers have now to pay much higher prices for commodities than in 1951 that they cannot afford to undertake these commitments and are unable to give orders for houses. The private builder is not able to sell his houses with the result that employment for building craftsmen in private building is lower than it has ever been in the last 20 years. Every Deputy knows that and that is directly due to the high price policy of the Minister for Finance and the Government. It is directly due to the same kind of advice which the Government accepted in respect to interest charges as they accepted in respect to the slashing of food subsidies from the Central Bank.
Mr. Norton: What does the Deputy mean by fair play? I want to deal now with the reference of the Minister for Finance to the Social Welfare Bill. When we were in office we put through the Second Stage a Bill which increased old age pensions, blind pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions by £2,500,000 a year. We did that six months after taking over from the Fianna Fáil Government who said they could not afford £500,000 to increase the pensions. We spent £2,500,000 in improving blind pensions, old age pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions.
Mr. Norton: I am glad that the day has passed when the Minister used to call the Deputy the Red Nuncio, and used to refer to a certain type of rat who occupied sewers. I am glad this touching reconciliation has taken place. Sometimes on reflection it must be awkward for the Minister for Finance.
Mr. Norton: The Social Welfare Bill to which I have referred was put through the Second Stage, and would have been passed were it not that the going proved too risky for some of our supporters. We could not keep them steady when the boat began to rock. There were three valuable benefits which the Government proposed to make available in that Bill. We proposed to increase the maternity benefit from £2 to £5. That section was dropped from the Bill, and they got no increase from the Fianna Fáil Social Welfare Bill. We wanted to provide a death benefit in the case of the death of any member of the family. The insurance companies did not like it, and the benefit was dropped from the Fianna Fáil Bill. We proposed also to introduce a scheme of retirement pensions at 60 for women and at 65 for men. That section was dropped from the Fianna Fáil Bill. That section was dropped from the Fianna Fáil Bill, with the result that, because this Government has been inflicted on the people for the past three years, the ordinary working man does not now get death benefit, his wife does not now get the £5 maternity benefit and there is no retirement pension for the woman when she reaches 60 or the man when he reaches 65. If that is anything to boast about, well and good— Fianna Fáil can have it; but the mask will be torn from their faces during the forthcoming election.
When we sought to increase the compensation for an unmarried man or woman meeting with an accident  arising out of or in the course of his or her employment, the Fianna Fáil Government, which could give £140,000 to the dance-hall proprietors and £1,100,000 to the tobacco manufacturers, could not give an unmarried man or unmarried woman one halfpenny increase in workmen's compensation, notwithstanding the fact that the Fianna Fáil Government have been responsible for an outrageous increase in prices since the present scale of workmen's compensation was determined. If that is anything to boast of, they can have it.
I propose to finish with one more quotation from a speech delivered by the then Deputy Lemass at Dalkey and I want to contrast the promise then with what has happened since. Speaking at Dalkey as reported in the Irish Press of 5th May, 1951, he said:—
“The constructive programme outlined by Fianna Fáil in the 1948 election stood unchanged, subject only to such modifications as were necessary because of the altered conditions or the ending of wartime difficulties or the wasting of the nation's resources by the Coalition. Fianna Fáil had learned much during its period in opposition. They had had time to study the wider aspects of national policy. They would be a better Government now than before.”
We have 15,000 more unemployed to-day than when he made that speech; prices are higher than ever to-day; emigration is higher than ever; social benefits attractive to the workers have been dropped; interest rates are higher than ever before; and credit restriction greater than ever. But the Government would be a better Government now than before! Thanks be to God, they will not get an opportunity of getting any better, if these are the results of having a good Government.
Mr. Norton: This is the kind of document the Taoiseach ought to regard as his Bible to keep him on the rails, if this promise of better Government  than before means that we will get that mess of 15,000 more unemployed, higher prices, higher emigration and many other things which were described by Deputy Dr. Browne earlier as constituting a sick and tired country.
The Labour Party are voting for this vote of no confidence. It is the only thing any decent person could do. This Government are now engaged in the barnacle-like process of hanging on to office. It is a discreditable rôle for a democratic Government to fill. The Government have no mandate from the people and that is the only reason the Taoiseach wants to go to the country, but, knowing that he has no mandate, he ought to pack up to-night and go. There is still time to arrange an appointment with the president. The Taoiseach ought to go to the country because he is not wanted by the people, and he can only get a majority in the House by dragooning and cajoling some people who make weight in the feet because they go into the Division Lobby in support of the Government.
I know that the game of delaying the election is for the purpose of enabling the Government to cook a Budget which they hope will be attractive, but, no matter what kind of chefs they get to cook it, it is too late now to cook it. The people know the kind of Budget Fianna Fáil would cook, if they had a clear majority. They know the kind of Budget they cooked in 1952 and they have been eating that Budget since. They want no more Budgets cooked in that kind of frying pan. They have finished with that kind of Budget and they have no use for the Government responsible for the 1952 Budget and do not want a 1954 Budget from the same Government.
This Government is discredited. It has no reputation left after these elections and it ought to go to the country and go quickly. That is the proper thing for a decent democratic Government to do. But remember that as on this occasion the people will have an opportunity of saying whether they approve or disapprove of the Government's policy, having regard to the  way they have been treated in respect of prices, unemployment, emigration and every other aspect of national activity, I think the Government's attitude in not wanting to go is understandable. They know that a political boot is waiting for them and that it will fall with remorseless accuracy whenever polling day comes.
Captain Cowan: I am going to speak particularly briefly because I do not want to do as Deputy Norton did and speak at the length at which he spoke, in repetition, to a large extent, of everything said from the Fine Gael Benches already. Deputy McGilligan finished his speech to-night with some personal references to myself. I want to dismiss Deputy McGilligan very briefly. When Deputy McGilligan comes into this House on occasion—we have not seen him for a long time and, in fact, it was difficult to recognise him but one can always recognise his collection of Press clippings which he has read to this House on many occasions since I became a member. I had long ago been of the opinion that, in Deputy McGilligan, we had a master mind and a master brain, but he seems simply to be a wire recorder of his own Press cuttings. He spoke to us on the Central Bank Act and about how that Act should have been altered and amended. As a young student of politics, I read these same speeches of Deputy McGilligan when the Central Bank Bill was going through the House—exactly the same, word for word. The strange thing I want to refer to is that, in the three and a half years during which he was a Minister, he never did one thing to alter that Central Bank Act, but now, when he is in opposition again, and when he is coaxing the Labour Party to go to their destruction with him, he brings up the Central Bank Act again and if there is anything I can read into the speech he made, it is: “If I become Minister again, I will do what I did not do before—I will tackle the banks.”
Deputy Kyne spoke here as chairman of the Labour Party and spoke in a reasoned way. He went out of his way to refer to the motion which, as he said, was introduced here by the Fine Gael Party. He deliberately  pointed it out as a Fine Gael motion and what I cannot understand is why, if it is a Fine Gael motion, the leader of the Fine Gael Party has not got the courage to propose it in this House? What is the idea of selecting Deputy Costello to move the Fine Gael motion? Is it for the purpose of suggesting to the people that these Parties in the House are going to contest the election as an inter-Party group? Is that the idea? And if, in fact, Deputy Mulcahy's Party were successful in the general election, as the former Labour Deputy Connolly seems to think they might be, who is going to be Taoiseach and who are going to be Minister? Is Deputy Mulcahy to remain in the background again, or is he putting up Deputy Costello as a front for the purpose of fooling the people so that he will get into power? I think I am entitled to ask these questions and I think the country is entitled to have an answer to them. If people talk about the decision of the country, is it not right that the country should know whether there is an arrangement between Deputy Norton and Deputy Mulcahy to fight this election together as an inter-Party group under Deputy Costello?
Captain Cowan: And he went down to Tipperary. I think we ought to understand the issue on which this election is going to be fought. Is it Fine Gael who are going to fight it for complete power or is there an arrangement between Deputy Norton and Deputy Mulcahy? Fine Gael put on the show of this motion here to-day. Yesterday they took a matter of £38,000,000 and said they were not interested. They said: “Have your Bill as well. We are not a bit interested in it." They put down this show of a business to-day which they knew they could not win. What is the idea of that?
Captain Cowan: I think the people are entitled to object to the attempt to mislead and fool them with rhetoric in this House. Deputy Cosgrave, speaking to-night, said that people want an inter-Party Government. Deputy MacBride, speaking round the country, said they wanted a national Government. In other words, he is appealing to the Taoiseach: “Take me in with you and we will run the country.” Is not that exactly what he is doing? Does Deputy Mulcahy agree with Deputy MacBride? Does he want to enter a national Government under the Taoiseach? Does he want to do that? Is the issue, inter-Party, Fine Gael, or a national Government I should like to know that and so would the people.
I just want to say one little thing about what has happened. When I came into this Dáil after the last election I had indicated in my constituency that there were three things I wanted. I wanted a Social Welfare Bill passed into law. Fine Gael had opposed it prior to that and prevented it coming into operation. I said I wanted a Health Bill which would include a mother and child scheme. That has been passed into law in spite of Fine Gael.
For the past three years we have had these continuous demands for a general election. I have mentioned the matter before and I do not want to spend any more time on it. The whole purpose of that was to create instability in the country and prevent the country from getting a chance of getting on. I want to declare that that continuous demand for a general election was not in the public interest.
Captain Cowan: I want to say this. Not only this country but every country in Western Europe has been faced, during the past three or four years, with a serious threat due to to what is called inflation. Measures were taken in regard to that, not only by this country but by every other country in Western Europe. Any Deputy who reads the latest report of the O.E.E.C. for the year ending 31st December, which is now available, will see that the efforts, not only of this Government but of the other Governments of Western Europe have established  conditions from which there can be, and can reasonably be expected to be, an advance to better things. We have reached the stage now where we are just on the jumping-off ground to better things and that has been due entirely to——
Captain Cowan: One of the big difficulties —it will not be solved by acting the omadhaun either here or on political platforms—that may confront us in the near future is the price of agricultural produce, due to the new steps that are being taken in Britain. The facing up to that problem is one of the most serious things that this country has had to deal with for a considerable period. I want to know, when the impact of the new British policy hits this country, who is going to deal with that in the right way?
If we had Deputies Dillon, MacBride and Blowick, dealing with that situation, could they agree on the measures that should be taken in the national interest to secure the Irish people in the situation that is fast developing? I think the farmers and people of this country have got to face up to that situation. I think that will be one of the vital issues that must be determined by the electorate in this general election. Any policy of wavering or instability; any policy of internal wire-pulling is not going to solve a situation such as this. It is not going to provide for the farmers of this country the security that they need to continue their prosperity.
We have this particular motion to-day. It is a motion which is intended to insult the intelligence of the country. As I have already said, it is known that the motion cannot be won in this House, but it is considered desirable that the time of the House should be wasted by the type of debate we have had here, the type of speech which was Deputy McGilligan's  contribution and which he has made so often in this House—there was nothing new in it—and the other type of speech to which I do not want to refer. Every candidate if he is to consider himself as a personal individual when an election is coming is anxious to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. That is the desire of every candidate, but where the national interests are concerned it is not the interests of individual candidates that must count. It is the public interest and the public interest demands that the very grave matters of finance and other matters mentioned which are to be determined by the people should be determined after the people have got a proper opportunity of considering them.
I think every person in this House would agree that if we are to have an informed decision from the public, it is desirable that all the facts and factors should be put before them. When they come to make up their minds what the decision is we will have the decision of the Irish people. For that reason I favour in the main the decision that has been made in regard to the date of the general election.
There is one other point that must be mentioned, and it should not be overlooked. The Taoiseach has referred to the new register. There are thousands of young boys and girls in the country who will be able to vote in May who could not vote in April. Fine Gael as a Party says that they are the Party of the young people. If so, why do they want to prevent the young people voting in this general election? Young people of 21, almost 22, in fact over 22, are entitled to have their say in the running of this country. It is wrong for Deputy Mulcahy, through Deputy Costello or otherwise, to try to prevent that. Deputy Norton has been rather skittish, if I may put it that way, in regard to myself. I want to direct his attention and the attention of his colleagues on the Labour Party Benches to the Leader of Saturday next, the 13th instant, in which the general election is discussed. I merely want to quote this little part from it.
“The Labour Party, too, have reason to be dismayed by its performance. They have suffered blows from which they can scarcely hope soon to recover, and Mr. Roddy Connolly, the Labour candidate in Louth, seems to be aware not merely of his Party's plight but of the general significance of the by-election results. He was reported as having said that: `They had 16 years of Fianna Fáil Government and he felt that they were probably in for 16 years of Fine Gael Government.' His candour may have shocked many of his Party colleagues, but it probably expressed the secret thoughts—and fears—of some of them. In any event, Mr. Connolly's reading of the situation was more realistic than that contained in the week-end statement of Clann na Poblachta...”
Captain Cowan: I advise Deputy O'Higgins to read this issue of the Leader and I advise my friend, Deputy  Hickey to read it because it is a reasoned, constructive examination of a problem that is dear to me as it is to the members of the Labour Party.
Mr. McQuillan: I understand some agreement has been come to between the Parties that this discussion would end at 10 o'clock to allow the mover of the motion to reply. It is an extraordinary thing that in this House the political Parties pay little or no heed to Independents except when it comes to a tight issue or when a dramatic moment arrives as to whether the Government should or should not dissolve in this House. I was not consulted as an Independent as to the question of allowing——
Mr. J.A. Costello: If Deputy McQuillan is under the impression that I wish to filch any time I want to make it clear that I do not. The arrangement was made in accordance with the usual parliamentary practice. I am prepared to give way to Deputy McQuillan until 10.10 p.m. and leave myself only 20 minutes.
Mr. McQuillan: The leaders of the various Parties should have been free to express their views as to whether the Dáil should dissolve to-night but the Independents who have been elected to this House as Independents should have been allowed to make their views known to the public as well as the leaders of the Parties. I resent very strongly the fact that I am going  to be confined to ten or 15 minutes to give my views as to what line of action I propose to take here to-night.
I listened very carefully and made it a point of being here practically all evening to listen to both sides of the House. This is a very simple motion and I heard Deputy McGilligan, Deputy Aiken and the Taoiseach emphasising this very important point that if an election is held in the near future we must all take into consideration the type of Government that will face the country and that will have control for the next five years. That theme of five years has been running through the speeches of the Government side and the Opposition side, that the next Government that is to be elected to this House is to have five years in which to carry out the policy which it puts before the people.
I came into this House in 1948, that is just six years ago, and inside that six years this is the third general election I have had to face. I am not worried about it personally but I want to point out the futility of any speaker from either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil suggesting that the life-time of the Government that will come in in the next month or two months is going to be five years. Let there be no mistake about it. It may be only six months or at the most 12 months because if we had three elections since 1948 the political situation has not yet cleared itself. The fog has not risen from the minds of the people and I for one am not prepared to accept in any slick manner agreements in this House which I know nothing about but which may be there.
Let me make this quite clear because I know in the short space of time left every attempt will be made to misrepresent my stand in this House. Since I came here in 1948 I could never be described as an ardent supporter of Fianna Fáil. Due to the fact that I was a member of Clann na Poblachta, I was bound by Party rules to give my support to a form of inter-Party Government and for three years I loyally gave that support until the position became so bad with the treachery shown inside our own Party that I severed my connection with that  organisation and the public believed I was right to do so. They returned me here as an Independent Deputy from a rural constituency and that in spite of misrepresentations from some of my former colleagues who are now sitting in the Opposition Benches.
I have no love for Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. What am I asked to decide? The first intimation I had of the situation was on last Friday morning when I read the newspapers and saw where the Taoiseach had made a statement that he believed that to have an early general election was the right action to take. Naturally as an individual I dislike the idea of facing a general election but the fact is that the Taoiseach has the power to decide when that general election should be held. That is his business. I remember, however, that he made a statement in Louth in which he declared that the question of a general election did not depend on the results of the by-election. There was great speculation as to what the Taoiseach really meant—whether he would give three weeks or six weeks. Listening to the speeches made here this evening, anyone would think that a change of Government in the next three weeks or the next six weeks was going to undo the damage done for two, three, four or five years.
I have heard the Labour Party here to-night bemoaning emigration during the Fianna Fáil régime. Let us clear our minds of this fact. According to the census report, between the years 1947 and 1951, more people left Ireland than in any ten-year period previous to that. That included three years of the inter-Party régime and two years of the Fianna Fáil administration. So I see no practical difference. I see no improvement under one or the other, on the question of emigration. If I wanted to play politics, I could be far more easy on the Parties of this House, for myself, but I am not and I think it is the duty of someone, if the Labour Party do not do it, to point out the facts as they really are. The next three weeks or six weeks are not going to make a big difference; there is going to be no great change in the future of  Ireland if this Government is allowed to stay for six weeks more.
If it were a question that this motion was put down, as Deputy de Valera put down one 12 months ago, calling on the Dáil to reaffirm its confidence in him as Leader and in Fianna Fáil as a Government for the next 12 months or two years, I might be taking a very different stand here to-night. I have never affirmed my confidence in that Government. My vote originally was cast in this House for the present Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello, but I made it clear at the time that if what I considered was good legislation was passed in this House, at no time would I hinder that legislation for the sake of voting against the issue involved because I did not like members of the Government or the Government itself.
In that time, the first thing that I would like to congratulate that Government on doing was their introduction of the Health Bill. It was a poor Bill in comparison to what I would like to have seen introduced, but at least it was much better than what would have happened if Fine Gael on their own were allowed to introduce the Bill.
Within the last 12 months I have seen that the Restrictive Trade Practices Act has been passed and a body has been set up to examine into profits, to try to break up rings that have existed in this country. That is useful; the people can see now where profits are going, they can see that some particular individuals have been able to get 50 per cent. profit on the sale of certain commodities. No Government was going to bring in legislation that would expose that, if they were afraid of these vested interests.
That is only one side of the picture. I judge Governments on their results, and if I have taken into consideration (1) employment, that is a black mark against this Government; (2) emigration, that is another black mark; (3) the development of the West of Ireland, that is another black mark. But I can give those three black marks to the Government that went before them, too.
 I would not be in this House were it not for the fact that the people in my constituency do not accept either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Neither would Clann na Talmhan be in this House if the people in Mayo, Roscommon and Galway accepted either of the major Parties. It is a well-known fact that every time a new Party came up in this country in the last 25 to 30 years, it was in the West of Ireland that Party nearly always started. Clann na Talmhan started in the West of Ireland, because no Government gave the consideration to the western problems that should have been given. The earlier Cumann na nGaedheal Government, the Fianna Fáil Government that followed it, the inter-Party Government and the present Government have all failed in their attempts to solve that great problem that lies west of the Shannon. The only time that I see the West being mentioned here is when the question of the Gaeltacht alone is mentioned. We have had a lot of pious talk and pious resolutions inside and outside the House about the revival of the Irish language and preventing the disappearance of the Gaeltacht, while no practical measures whatever are taken to see that the livelihood of the people in those areas is protected. We have miserable. miserly industries started in the West, giving little or no employment, when the real means of keeping the young men at home in afforestation and fishing are completely neglected. I have listened to Deputy Blowick talk here about what he did in afforestation. He did no more about it than the present Minister is doing. I do not want to get involved in this, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I merely want to give my reasons for adopting a certain line of action here to-night. I do not believe that if there were again to-morrow morning a change of Government, that will bring any great improvement in these things.
I welcome the idea of a general election. I am perfectly satisfied about the arrangements for the date and so forth. If I looked to my own interests, I would prefer to have the election in the next three weeks. If as an Independent  I took the personal element into consideration, every Deputy knows that a short election and a snappy one suits the financial situation of any Deputy, and especially an Independent one, who has no organisation. But I feel this is essential. There is a real fog in the minds of the people at the moment. If this Dáil dissolves to-night, there are no issues involved except dissatisfaction alone with the present Government. I want to find out for myself and for the constituents who sent me here, what the policy of the Fine Gael Party is going to be when the general election comes along, and what the policy of the Labour Party is going to be. I make no bones about it to anybody here, that I am elected by the people to represent their interests and to bring home a message to them from Deputy Costello. Is he prepared to be Leader of an inter-Party Government the same type as we had from 1948 to 1951? If so, is he prepared to accept the Labour Party's proposals that the food subsidies be brought back? If that is the case, does he propose at the same time to reduce taxation? Is he prepared—and I hope he is, and if he is he will get my support—to make a change in the financial policy of this country?
Mr. McQuillan: Is he prepared to ensure that the credit that should rightfully belong to the State is vested in this House, to see that the power to use that credit lies in this House and not in the hands of the directors in the different banks. I listened here to Deputy McGilligan for 20 minutes talking about the way he brought the directors of the different banks before him and told them they should give a loan to the Dublin Corporation. Why should any Government go with their caps in their hand to a group of private interests and say: “Please give us this money to build houses or to make roads or to do afforestation?”
Mr. McQuillan: That power should lie in the hands of the State—not perhaps with the particular Government  but in a body responsible to this House. I want to know if that is going to be brought to an end, as part of the policy of the next Government, whether it be an inter-Party Government or otherwise.
Mr. McQuillan: I want to apologise to Deputy Costello for taking up his time. What I have to say is not against Deputy Costello. I want to clarify my own position. I want to clarify it for the people who sent me here. I will finish on this note: we saw, in the course of the by-elections, that the people were dissatisfied with the present Government. The Taoiseach has accepted the decision of the electors in the by-elections and, as a result, he has announced that the Dáil will be dissolved within the next two months. All I am concerned with is the time. The motion states that, in the opinion of the Dáil, Dáil Éireann should be dissolved forthwith. I do not see what benefit that will confer on the community to-night. Personally, I do not care whether the Dáil dissolves to-night or in three weeks' time but I should like that we would have a statement of policy from the Opposition groups as to what they propose to put into operation if and when this general election takes place.
Mr. McQuillan: I have no intention of utilising my vote for the purpose of putting Fianna Fáil out at this moment. They are going out in the next six weeks. I am not going to be used by either side in the House. I am here as an Independent with allegiance to no Party, except the public which sent me and I will answer to them when the time comes.
Mr. J.A. Costello: I want to bring the House back to the terms of this motion. The terms of the motion are that, in the opinion of the Dáil, Dáil Éireann shall be dissolved forthwith. The operative word in that is “forthwith”. I listened this afternoon to Ministers and to Deputies from various parts of the House supporting the Government. I heard no single reason given either by the Taoiseach or by his two Ministers who spoke or by any of their adherents, whether Independent or otherwise, who spoke upon this motion as to why this House should not be dissolved forthwith.
On this motion it is not a question of whether or not there will be an inter-Party Government, a Fine Gael Government or a Fianna Fáil Government.  What is to be decided upon this motion is, the Taoiseach having interpreted the results of the by-election in Cork City and in County Louth as involving necessarily a general election, that general election should be given at the earliest possible moment.
I shall not be drawn into irrelevant discussions by any Deputy, Independent or so-called Independent or otherwise. I shall not give on this motion any indication as to what our policy shall be or shall not be. That will be given at the appropriate place and in the appropriate time to the electors and they will have to judge. What we want to force this present Government to do is to get to the people as quickly as they can so that the verdict which we know will be given as quickly as we possibly can get at them will be given at the earliest possible time in the public interest.
I gave three major reasons this afternoon why there should be an immediate general election. Not one single member of the Government, not one adherent of the Government Party, answered any of those three major reasons. In the speech which the Taoiseach made he did not deal with one single one of them. He tried to involve us in a discussion of what the future Government would do and what was our policy in the future and what it was in the past. All that is irrelevant on the present motion.
The last Deputy who spoke said that there was a real fog in the minds of the people. There was no fog in the minds of the electorate of North-West Dublin when, by a majority such as was never given before against an existing Government in this country they expressed their disapproval of Fianna Fáil, the Fianna Fáil Government and all their adherents. There was no fog in the minds of the electorate of Wicklow or of East Cork when, by a vote which was unmistakable in its meaning and significance, they said that they did not want either Fianna Fáil or any of their hangers-on, or those who were absorbed by them.
Whatever fog there may have been  in the minds of certain people, Cork City spoke with a voice louder and more emphatic than was used by the plain, poor people of North-West Dublin, who repudiated the present Government and all their adherents who had brought upon them a régime of austerity and suffering such as was never inflicted upon the Irish people even by an alien Government.
All those Deputies who joined the Fianna Fáil Party—Deputy Dr. Browne, Deputy Cowan, Deputy Cogan and the rest of them—were responsible, each and every one of them, for bringing untold hardship, misery and suffering upon, not merely the poorest section of our people but upon our working people and on our middle class people. The middle class sections of our people had to suffer in silence. The working people, at least, can have the benefit of a trade union, but those people who are in the middle class, for whom we in particular stand, had to suffer in silence and had to suffer perhaps far more deeply than even the people for whom the Labour Party stood. It was to get rid of the present Government that Cork City spoke so plainly, so emphatically, and that County Louth also spoke in that fashion.
Let me recall what the Taoiseach said when he was called upon to do the decent thing and resign and submit himself to the verdict of the people last June or July. He said then that it was not possible for one Party that had only one seat in a three-seat constituency to win that election. That is why they would not go. That is why, he said, one could not interpret the verdict in Wicklow as being a vote of censure upon the Government and its policies. We won County Louth although we had only one seat in it. Is not that the plainest, most emphatic and clearest indication of the wishes of the people that they do not want to have the austerity and the régime and the suffering which has been inflicted upon them, and which every person knows has been inflicted by no deliberate action but by a policy, deliberately designed, which had as its inevitable consequence the infliction of  suffering and hardship on all sections of our people?
I listened to the Taoiseach and I wondered when he would come to the point. With the exception of two or three short sentences, he did not deal with this motion. I challenged the Taoiseach, at the outset of my remarks, to say why he had changed the date of this election when we knew it had been his intention to go immediately——
Mr. J.A. Costello: I challenged the Taoiseach when he came to speak during this debate to say whether that was true or not. He sat down without answering my question. I repeat it now. We can only speculate on the reasons for this change. My reasons for moving this motion have nothing to do with politics. I stated yesterday that—speaking as a politician, representative of a political Party—I was anxious for an election. I gave three major reasons to-day as to why there should be an immediate election, but not one single one of these was answered either by the Taoiseach or by the Minister for External Affairs or by the Minister for Defence or by Deputy Allen who spoke——
Mr. J.A. Costello: Not one single answer was given to one of them. I put the first argument, based upon the dislocation of business. The Minister for Defence was the first to speak from the Government Benches. He contented himself with quoting from newspapers in order to show that a remark that somebody had made to the effect that everybody thought there would be an immediate election was not true. That was the sole contribution he made in circumstances where Cork City had spoken so emphatically to get out and where County Louth had spoken in its own way equally emphatically.
Mr. J.A. Costello: The sole thing which I could get out of the Taoiseach's statement dealing with the issues involved in this motion was that because they had framed the Book of Estimates they then had to frame the Budget proposals so that the country would have before it the financial situation in its true colours. What is that but political expediency?
Mr. J.A. Costello: The Taoiseach's sole reference to this motion in the whole of his not too lengthy but long speech was that because they had framed the Book of Estimates they should therefore frame the Budget. That is political expediency. Many of my colleagues have said that no matter what Budget comes in, no matter how it is framed, the people will not believe that it is anything other than an election Budget, introduced and devised for the purpose of trying to salvage some part at least of the wreckage of Fianna Fáil's political fortunes.
The Taoiseach referred to the charge that had been made that he and his Government had broken the promise on which they had attained office—the promise to preserve the food subsidies. What were his excuses for that? He did not deny that he had broken the promise. He said that that promise was not made during the general election but was made after the general election. It was made for the purpose of capturing the votes of those people who were supposed to be Independent at that time because the policy they said they were satisfied with was the maintenance of the food subsidies. Within a few months the food subsidies were gone—and the Taoiseach's explanation is that he did not know there was £15,000,000 of a deficit. I do not know where he got the figure.
The second major reason I gave on this motion for a dissolution forthwith was that a new Government should be elected at the earliest possible moment —and if the Dáil dissolved to-night we could have a new Government on the 2nd April—so that the new Administration would be able to look at the  real financial position and picture of this country and, itself, on the information which it can then get, frame its policy and Budget. We are being deliberately prevented from doing that. I believe and charge that this postponement of the general election —because it is an afterthought, I again repeat—in order to enable the Budget to be framed is deliberately designed, apart from its effort to bolster up the falling fortunes of Fianna Fáil, to hamper and hinder any new Administration that may take office.
Mr. J.A. Costello: The Taoiseach said he is not in the market. I presume that he intended to imply that somebody else was in the market. This Party, to which I have the honour to belong, is not in the market. I do not believe Deputy Norton's Party, with whom I had the proud privilege to be associated for three years, is in the market—nor my friend, Deputy Joe Blowick. The reason why the Minister for External Affairs spent all his time—all his time—when he spoke to-day making a personal attack upon my former colleague, Deputy Seán MacBride, was because of his jealousy of Deputy Seán MacBride.
Mr. J.A. Costello: It was also because of the fact that the Minister had no answer to the arguments that had been put forward in support of this motion. Fianna Fáil is not in the market because the bottom has fallen out of the Fianna Fáil market and  their wares will not be purchased by anybody.
Mr. J.A. Costello: We are going to this election with the headlines that we gave during the by-elections—that neither I nor any of my colleagues wish to gain political office or political power; not one single one of us do. We regard ourselves as the servants of the people, not as their masters. We submit ourselves to the verdict of the people.
I was careful to say, in an interruption which I made during the speech of the Minister for Defence, that I never said I was going to form a Government. What I and my colleagues and, I believe, my friends, Deputy Seán MacBride and Deputy Blowick and Deputy Norton, are going to do is to submit ourselves to the people and say: “There is Fianna Fáil. Here is our record. There is their record. What do you want?” The people will have to decide. They will have to decide whether they want Fianna Fáil or some other form of Government. We say that they want to do that now and to do it quickly. The vote that was given in the Cork by-election represented a demand that this Government get out and get out quickly. Because this Government do not get out, they are flouting the wishes and urgent desires of the great majority of the ordinary people of this country.
Byrne, Thomas, N.J.
Cawley, Patrick. Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Anthony C.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Hession, James M.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Lehane, Patrick D.
Lynch, John (North Kerry)
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Desmond, Daniel. McMenamin, Daniel.
Madden, David J.
Murphy Michael P.
O'Gorman, Patrick J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.).
Palmer, Patrick W.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Blaney, Neil T.
Brady, Philip A.
Browne, Noel C.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Davern, Michael J.
de Valera, Eamon.
de Valera, Vivion.
Hillery, Patrick J.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Little, Patrick J.
Lynch, Jack (Cork Borough).
Maguire, Patrick J.
Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ryan, Mary B.
Sheldon, William A.W.
Walsh, Laurence J.
Mr. Dunne: I want to say that, in view of the fact that the Government is in a condition of nervous prostration,  it is not my purpose to inflict any further suffering on them this evening. With the permission of the Chair, I would ask to have this question regarding the price of stout postponed until next sitting day.
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