Committee on Finance. - Financial Resolution No. 5—General (Resumed).

Thursday, 5 May 1955

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 150 No. 6

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Mr. Lemass:  It may not be generally appreciated by members of the Dáil and the public who are to-day discussing the Budget that when the Government came to prepare it they had before them an Estimate—prepared, I presume, by the Revenue Commissioners—that the revenue from existing taxes in this year would exceed the revenue last year by £3,000,000. That was a very happy position for any Government to be in. They could face the problems of preparing the Budget knowing that, without action on their part—without any alteration or adjustment of any tax rate—they could count upon getting £3,000,000 more tax revenue than in the previous year. I think that is the most significant and perhaps the most important fact in relation to the Budget.

The Budget of 1954, which was introduced by Deputy MacEntee as Minister for Finance in the Fianna Fáil Government, would have balanced [821] upon the basis on which he presented it. The tax revenue in 1954 would have been sufficient to cover, with a small surplus, all the Government expenditure arising in that year chargeable against taxation. If the present Government had succeeded in keeping down Government expenditure to the level at which it was last year, they would have £3,000,000 available to distribute in tax reductions. It required no greater effort from them than the restriction of Government expenditure to last year's level to put themselves in the position in which they could give substantial tax reliefs and make a show of redeeming their election promises.

The pledges given on behalf of the Government as to its intentions after it was formed—certainly the pledges given by the representatives of the various Parties comprising the Government during the general election were not limited to keeping expenditure down to the 1954 level. If they had gone to the electorate in the general election and said it would be the aim of a new Coalition Government to prevent expenditure from rising beyond the level to which Fianna Fáil had brought it, do they think they would have received an enthusiastic reception from the public? What kind of support do they think they would have got in respect of a programme limited to that promise? They knew that and so they went before the public with a different type of programme. They said they would reduce expenditure below the 1954 level.

Various spokesmen of the different Coalition Parties gave various estimates as to what reductions were possible. The Taoiseach is on record as saying, as far back as 1952, that in his view a reduction of £10,000,000 on the expenditure of that year was feasible. They sent Deputy McGilligan down to Radio Éireann to broadcast on behalf of the Fine Gael Party—I believe that is what happened even though Deputy McGilligan has denied it since and has said he went on his own responsibility with a speech of which his colleagues knew nothing—to say that a reduction amounting to several million pounds could be achieved without much effort, [822] that the Fine Gael leaders were convinced that a Minister for Finance who was serious in a search for economies could reduce the level of Government expenditure by no less than £20,000,000. One would have thought that a Party that went to the electorate with these pledges on their lips and which got support from the electorate on the basis of these pledges, and found themselves a Government, would have made some effort to redeem them or at least some effort to prevent expenditure from rising beyond the limit that they said was excessive. They did not succeed. If they had succeeded, if they had done no more during their ten months in office than hold the level of Government spending to what it was when they took office, the taxpayers of this country could be enjoying reduced income tax and reduced taxes on beer, spirits and tobacco—reduced tax levies to the extent of £3,000,000.

I do not remember any occasion when I was a member of the Government on which the Minister for Finance was able to come to a Cabinet meeting and say: “I have here an estimate from the Revenue Commissioners that shows that, without alteration in tax rates, we will have £3,000,000 with which to give relief in the coming year.” The present Minister for Finance and his colleagues were in that happy position. The main issue that has to be debated here to-day is what happened that £3,000,000.

We know that when the members of the Government were private Deputies, speaking in this House and throughout the country, they considered that the taxes in force upon beer, spirits, tobacco, petrol and the level of income-tax established by the Budget of 1952 were excessive. The present Taoiseach, or Deputy J.A. Costello as he was at the time, who was the spokesman of the Opposition Parties, said in this House, as reported in Volume 131 of the Official Report: “I would resign the next minute rather than proceed with any single provision of the present Budget.” That reference was to the taxes on beer, spirits, tobacco, petrol and the rate of income-tax established by the 1952 Budget. The Taoiseach had the opportunity of resigning when [823] his Minister for Finance brought to the Cabinet meeting the proposal to leave those taxes unchanged this year. He has the opportunity of resigning now. Alternatively, he has to explain why he is not doing so, how it is that the first Budget that he and his Minister for Finance are bringing to the Dáil is leaving unchanged these taxes upon beer, spirits, tobacco and petrol and the level of income-tax to which he took such exception in 1952.

The Labour Party fought the election on the same issue. They issued a handbill for universal distribution to voters. They said in that handbill anent these charges established by the Budget of 1952 that “Fianna Fáil deliberately increased these taxes at the behest of the Central Bank”. At whose behest are they keeping them unchanged now? Was it the Central Bank that told them that they would have to go into the Division Lobby within a day or two to vote to leave these taxes unchanged, or is it the Fine Gael Whips who will make them do so?

What influence is at work to make Deputies opposite so completely reverse the views they held only a few months ago? A few months ago these taxes were unnecessary, these taxes were a brutal imposition on the public, according to Deputy McGilligan. These taxes were so unjustified that Deputy Costello would resign the next minute rather than propose them to the Dáil. These taxes, according to the Labour Party, were imposed, not because the Government wanted them, not because the situation of the Irish people required them but at the behest of the Central Bank. Why are they being left now unchanged? Somebody has to answer that question before this debate is over or else these Cabinet Ministers in the present Government and the Deputies sitting behind them have to stand up here and say that the words they used last year were worthless, that the pledges they gave were not worth the paper on which they were printed.

The impression which they will leave upon the public, if they do not give a thorough and full explanation of their [824] change of attitude is that these pledges and promises were made solely to get into office by any means and now that they are in office they do not intend to honour any of them.

For myself, I would far rather be sitting over here with my personal honour unsullied than to sit now in the Government Bench with all those unredeemed promises hanging over my head.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne  The people made you sit over there and they will keep you there too.

Mr. Lemass:  As the Deputy said, that is justification enough for his promises and pledges in his view.

Mr. A. Barry: Information on Anthony Barry  Zoom on Anthony Barry  The people were good judges.

Mr. Lemass:  Let us start the debate on this Budget by putting upon the record that the level of Government expenditure this year as estimated by the Minister for Finance will once again be an all-time record, that an increase of £4,000,000 in the bill presented to the taxpayers in a period of ten months is no mean achievement for a Government that was going to reduce expenditure by £10,000,000 in ten minutes, according to Deputy Costello, and by £20,000,000 without any effort, according to Deputy McGilligan.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Aloysius Costello  Zoom on John Aloysius Costello  Try to be accurate. I never said anything of the sort.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  He said Deputy McGilligan. It is all the same.

Mr. Lemass:  It was not Deputy McGilligan. The present Taoiseach, according to a Press report, at a public meeting in Ballina used those words.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Aloysius Costello  Zoom on John Aloysius Costello  I did not.

Mr. Lemass:  You were reported in the Press as having said them.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Aloysius Costello  Zoom on John Aloysius Costello  Produce the Press report that said so.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Deputy Lemass never went to Ballina to open that biscuit factory.

Mr. Lemass:  Is it open yet, and will it ever be open now? Are you going [825] to vote for the tax on biscuits? That is their record as far as taxation is concerned. “Vote Fine Gael and lower taxes”—every dead wall in the country still carries these posters. Is not that right? Every Deputy going home this week-end can look at these dead walls and see these posters on them—Fine Gael and lower taxes. This is the first Fine Gael Budget, and with £3,000,000 more revenue from existing taxes, £3,000,000 given to them without any effort on their part, there is no reduction in taxation except a few fiddling changes and some increases which were not recorded in the Budget statement, but which I will refer to now.

So much for taxes. What about prices? When the Coalition Parties met after the election and issued a statement detailing the programme of the Government they were about to form, they started off that statement by saying that they recognised that the cost of living had been the main issue in the election campaign. Is that not so? The main issue, according to their own statement, in the election campaign was the cost of living and in relation to the cost of living they came in here, after giving pledges to their electorate of a most specific kind. These pledges were, of course, given by all the Coalition Parties and I am assuming that Deputies opposite have not forgotten them, that it is not necessary to remind them of them in detail. Just in case there is some selfprotecting process working to cloud their memories, I will help to restore them to full normal operation.

Deputies who spoke at cross-roads, without newspaper reporters present, could, of course, expand considerably upon the possibility of reducing taxes and reducing prices knowing that their words would be remembered only by the few people listening to them and would never be quoted here. Deputies who made speeches that were reported in the newspapers can, like the Minister for Defence, deny they ever made them when they are quoted against them. But, during the last election campaign we had something we never had before: we had a series of election broadcasts arranged by Radio Éireann. [826] Leaders of the Parties went to Radio Éireann and there on behalf of their Parties announced their Party programmes, announced what they would do if, as a result of their appeals they got support from the electorate. We know that Deputy McGilligan went down to Radio Éireann and on his own behalf or somebody else's behalf or in some backhanded way that Fine Gael did not know about, said there was going to be a Fine Gael Minister for Finance who without any effort would cut expenditure by several million pounds and would eventually bring it down by £20,000,000.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I am glad to hear that word “eventually”. Your colleague yesterday said “this Budget”.

Mr. Lemass:  Deputy Mulcahy, leader of Fine Gael, also went to Radio Éireann and he wrung the hearts of his listeners by detailing to them the hardships occasioned by the rise in the cost of living. He said that the Fianna Fáil Government had to be got rid of and replaced by one which would set vigorously to reducing the cost of living. We are discussing the cost of living now. That is only a preliminary introduction to the pledges that were made. Deputy McGilligan, as usual, was a little more specific.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Most introductions are preliminary, are they not?

Mr. Lemass:  Deputy McGilligan spoke at a meeting in Drogheda on 22nd February and said: “We say, as we said in 1947, that prices are too high and we say we can cut them down.” There is a multitude of these quotations which I can deliver at length to the House if necessary. I am merely endeavouring at the moment to establish the universality of these pledges. They were not confined to the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party or the Clann na Talmhan Party. Each of these Parties gave a specific pledge to cut down the cost of living.

The Labour Party published an advertisement which appeared in all the national newspapers and presumably [827] was read by everybody who buys a newspaper. “The Labour Party is pledged to reduce the cost of living.” Deputy Norton as he was then—the Tánaiste at the moment and leader of the Labour Party—said that if the Labour Party participated in an inter-Party Government it would be a guarantee to the people that the policy of that Government would be always directed towards a reduction in prices. Deputy Davin, another prominent member of the Labour Party and now Parliamentary Secretary, said at a meeting in Mountmellick: “I am prepared to pledge myself to the people of this constituency, if re-elected as I hope to be, to use my voice and my vote”—mark that, “my vote”—“in the Dáil and whatever influence I have in order to force the new Government to give first consideration to the reduction of food taxes and to bring prices of essential commodities back to the figure, or as near as possible to the figure, at which they stood prior to the passage of the brutal Budget of 1952.”

May I remind members of the Labour Party of Deputy Dunne's pledge. He has been in the past, and may be in the future, an embarrassment to them. “Before Labour would participate in a Government,” said Deputy Dunne one evening at Navan, “with any Party or group of Parties they would insist that the prices of bread, butter, tea, sugar, cigarettes, tobacco and the worker's pint must be reduced and reduced immediately”. Deputy Dunne also said that unless they got agreement on that point they would not take part in the formation of any Government. These are the things they all said. Every Deputy opposite owes his seat over there to his going round his constituency saying things like that to the public. This is the testing time. It is in this Budget if at all any effort is to be made to give effect to these pledges. These are the pledges and I can give you more of them if you like but I think it is hardly necessary to do so.

I feel sure there are very few Deputies opposite who would have the hardihood of the Minister for Defence to stand up and say that if these [828] things appeared in the newspapers over their names they nevertheless were not said. It is only the Minister for Defence who would say that; most other Deputies would admit that the reports in the newspapers were correct and that very often they were reports supplied by themselves and published with reasonable accuracy. Since things were said the cost of living, according to the Consumer Price Index, has gone up by two points.

The Minister for Finance in his Budget statement issued a warning that the cost of living is going up further. The clear indications of his statement was that a further rise in prices is to be expected and he seemed to be urging upon the representatives of organised labour that they should exercise restraint, that they should not lend themselves to support claims for higher wages because they might endanger the national economy and place some workers entirely out of employment. That is the prospect now offered by people who a year ago pledged themselves to bring back the price level of essential commodities as near as possible to that obtaining in 1952 and who said that there was no difficulty in doing that—that it was only the opposition of Fianna Fáil that was preventing their being brought down. And what is there in this Budget relating to prices?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  £2,000,000.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  £4,500,000.

Mr. Lemass:  I intend to make a special reference here to a statement made by Deputy Kyne. He spoke here as chairman of the Labour Party. He is a member of this House for whom I have a great respect. I believe he is an honest man, but a man who knows that he is caught in the maze of Coalition intrigue and who is trying to escape out of the maze if he can find the way.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  He is not here or he would blush.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Deputy put his eye on other people before and where are they now? Where is Dr. Browne and [829] where is Mr. Cogan now? Beware of that evil eye.

Mr. Lemass:  I assume that when Deputy Kyne was speaking he was doing so on behalf of the present Tánaiste. If not, that fact should have been made clear.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Do not bury him in the same cemetery as you buried the other people.

Mr. Lemass:  I am not going to bury anybody. I have come to praise Deputy Kyne. On the Estimate for Industry and Commerce prior to the change of Government, Deputy Kyne on November 3rd, 1953, as reported in Volume 142, columns 1172 and 1173 of the Official Report said this:—

“I was one who on behalf of my Party, a year ago gave a promise that we would not associate with any Party to form a Government unless we got an assurance that the food subsidies as they then were would be restored in full. Because of certain statements that have been made and because of the passage of time, I think it is desirable to repeat in the name of my Party that our promise still holds good. We will not associate with or be a party to a Government that does not restore the subsidies or the value of the subsidies to the standard that was there in the time of the inter-Party Government.”

The significance of that statement and of that pledge given in the House on behalf of the Labour Party by its chairman is that it has not been repudiated until now. Only a few weeks ago in this House on the debate on the Supplies and Services Bill as reported at column 714 of Volume 148, No. 5 of the Official Report, Mr. Kyne reminded us of that promise and he said:—

“I know exactly the promises that were made. I was the instrument of the Party here in relation to certain essential promises. I remember quite well what was said; we would not take part in any Government and neither would we support a Government which would not undertake to bring down the prices [830] of essential commodities to the level of the 1952 Budget. We will not fall down on that promise. That promise was firmly made. We have indicated that should subsidies be required they would be made available.”

That was taken, no doubt, by many members of the Labour Party and by many supporters of the Party as a statment of the intention of that Party to ensure that there would be a further reduction, even if only a token reduction, in the cost of living by means of the application of additional subsidies after the Budget. I do not know if Deputies are aware that this Budget provides for a substantial reduction in subsidies. In fact, the total amount provided in this year for food price subsidies of all kinds—bread, flour and butter—only exceeds by comparatively a trivial amount the sum provided last year for food price subsidies. Last year we estimated the cost of flour and bread subsidies to be, roughly, £7,750,000. It proved in effect to be £8,000,000; it took £8,000,000 last year to keep flour and bread prices at their present levels by subsidy. Over and above that there was provided last year approximately £250,000 sterling to stabilise the price of butter. That was not a price subsidy in the full sense of the term but a sum provided to meet the cost of storing butter in the summer so that there would be no increase in the price in the winter time. It was a price subsidy to that extent.

This year the Government has estimated that the cost of flour and bread subsidy will be £1,000,000 less than it was last year, £7,000,000, to be precise. They are proposing to cut it by a further £450,000 by the device to which the Minister for Finance referred yesterday and adding to that the full cost in this year of the butter subsidy we find that the total provision for subsidies of all kinds is much the same, a trifle more but not very much more, than it was last year.

That brings us back to Deputy Kyne's speech of last year. He stated in that speech that he recognised that the full scheme of subsidies which was operating prior to 1952 could not be restored because rationing had been abolished and certain restrictions had [831] been withdrawn and he did not want to see them brought in again. But he said that the Labour Party was insisting upon it that the same amount of money would be voted towards price subsidies by any Government with which they were associated as was voted for them prior to 1952.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I do not remember his saying that.

Mr. Lemass:  That is what he said.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  He talked about price not subsidy.

Mr. Lemass:  Perhaps Deputy Kyne will speak for himself.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Perhaps the Deputy would argue the point also.

Mr. Lemass:  In my view—and I will admit it is probably a personal view——

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  And a dishonest view.

Mr. Lemass:  ——whatever money the Government can make available for subsidies can be best applied to lowering the price of flour and bread. Bread is about the only essential foodstuff for which it can be said that expenditure on it decreases in relative importance as one goes up the social scale. It is the very poorest of our people who spend the largest part of their incomes on the purchase of bread. The wealthiest spend relatively very little. Therefore, if money is to be provided to relieve hardship by bringing down the price of some essential foodstuffs the benefit of that expenditure for the people of the community who need help most can be best secured by giving it all to bread.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You must have been very powerful as an influence in 1952. Bread was raised.

Mr. Lemass:  Will the Deputy stop interrupting?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Lemass must be allowed to speak without interruption.

[832]Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I thought bread was raised in 1952.

Mr. Lemass:  I take the Deputy's word for it that he thinks.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I was under the impression——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Order! The Deputy must be allowed to proceed without interruption. Deputy McGilligan will be able to make his point clear later on.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  On a point of order. Was bread not raised in 1952?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That is not a point of order.

Mr. Lemass:  I have expressed the view that whatever money can be made available for the relief of the cost of living by the application of subsidies to prices can be best utilised for the benefit of those who need help most by devoting it all to bread for the reasons I have stated. That is not the case as regards butter. In fact, a subsidy for butter benefits the very poorest of our people not at all. It is a benefit that becomes of increasing importance as one goes up the social scale. I am not suggesting that it is desirable to make changes merely for the sake of changes but there is an advantage in making available for the subsidisation of flour and bread the whole sum that the Government can afford to give to food price subsidies and it is the dimensions of the whole sum I am asking the Dáil to consider. It is no higher now than it was last year. It is very substantially lower than the sum which, according to Deputy Kyne, the Labour Party would insist should be made available by any Government with which they were associated.

Let me again remind the House of the statement issued by the Coalition Parties after the election. They recognised, they said, that the cost of living had been the main issue in the election campaign. It is certainly going to be the main issue in this debate. I said in a public speech recently that I considered that there was proceeding within the Government a contest, the outcome of which would be revealed [833] in the Budget statement. There was a contest, I said, between those who attached the main importance to their pledges to reduce taxation and those who attached the main importance to their pledges to increase expenditure, and I said we would get in the Budget statement an indication as to which set of promises was going to have a chance to survive, which group in the Coalition was going to come out on top. I was wrong. The Budget statement reveals nothing except that all the different groups in the Government are in full retreat, because there is nothing either to reduce taxation or reduce prices. The sections of the Coalition Government that carried these pledges to the Cabinet table decided there not to fight on them.

Last year Deputy Seán MacEntee, produced a Budget here which gave fairly considerable relief, not very substantial when one regards the total weight of the tax burden but not inconsiderable in our circumstances.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It was an election Budget of course.

Mr. Lemass:  And there was an addition to the subsidy available for bread and flour which brought down the price of the 2-lb. loaf by ½d., not a very substantial reduction. Deputies on the other side stood up and derided the Budget as the halfpenny Budget. Well, this is the “sweet Fanny Adams” Budget.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That is a halfpenny on 3d.

Mr. Lemass:  Was there a single member of the Labour Party, outside the members of the Government, who did not expect that this Budget would make some concession to their election pledges or increase food price subsidies? Let them be honest with the Dáil, honest with their constituents, honest with all those Labour Party members and trade union councils that are meeting throughout the country charging them with having defaulted in their obligations, with having betrayed those who elected them. Let them stand up and say honestly whether [834] they are satisfied with this Budget which makes no provision for the reduction of any prices by an increase of subsidy. They have got to say something. They have got to say whether they are satisfied or not. They cannot just leave it all to the members of the Government who have sold out to Fine Gael. There must be some people in the Labour Party with sufficient independence to assert the Party mind. Does this Budget represent the Labour Party mind?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  It has helped the more deserving sections of the community.

Mr. Lemass:  With regard to the increase in the old age pension, I want to express my gratification that it has been made. I think the increase is a niggardly one.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  The Deputy has the most brazen nerve of anyone who ever came in here.

Mr. Lemass:  The present old age pension of 21/6 a week was fixed by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1952.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Were you at the last Ard Fheis to hear Deputy de Valera?

Mr. de Valera:  What did Deputy de Valera say?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Make it £2 a week like you promised.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Denis O'Sullivan  Zoom on Denis O'Sullivan  Where was the Deputy last night when he should have been here in the House?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I will explain that tonight.

Mr. Lemass:  The present old age pension was fixed by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1952 when the cost of living index number was 115. It is now 126. There has been a ten per cent. increase in the cost of living since.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Deputy has been looking at the telephone directory for his figures.

Mr. Lemass:  If the Deputy cannot listen in peace, will he go and twiddle his thumbs outside? This debate will [835] go on for some time and Deputies and Ministers will have time to say what they think.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Why did you not alter the old age pensions, so?

Mr. Lemass:  The cost of living has gone up since.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Why did you not help them?

Mr. Lemass:  It has gone up since and will go up more.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I have asked the House several times for order to hear Deputy Lemass. Every Deputy will be allowed an opportunity for speaking and I dare say will expect order when he is speaking. Deputy Lemass is entitled to that consideration from the House also.

Mr. Lemass:  The point I want to emphasise is that bringing the old age pension to 24/- is only restoring the purchasing power which it had in 1952. Will the Labour Party Deputies accept that?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Who reduced it?

Mr. Lemass:  Will there be agreement that by raising it to 24/- the Government has done no more than bring the purchasing power of the old age pension back to what it was in 1952?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Is not that something?

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  It is more than he did, during the 20 years of Fianna Fáil, for the old age pensioners.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Chair will have to take serious notice of interruptions. I am issuing that warning. Serious notice will be taken of interruptions. Deputy Lemass is entitled to speak without interruptions.

Mr. Lemass:  What I want to remind the House is that by bringing the old age pension to 24/- they have merely [836] restored the purchasing power to what it was—and the Minister for Finance has warned us that the cost of living will keep on going up.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Might I ask a question—has it not been restored?

Mr. Lemass:  Might I refer you to the Attorney-General, a Cheann Comhairle, he is the worst offender of all? I do not mind poor Deputy Murphy.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I want to ask a question—has it been restored?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy McGilligan knows the Rules of Order very well. The only thing I suggest to him is that he should obey them.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I apologise, Sir.

Mr. Lemass:  If prices are expected to rise, as the Minister for Finance has warned us, if the cost of living is going up further, surely one would think that some provision on a more generous scale could have been made for these people? Everybody knows that a rise in the cost of living hits hardest those people who have no margin above their expenditure upon essentials, the people who cannot cut down or alter the pattern of their expenditure because they are already consuming the minimum and any fluctuation in the cost of living prices means hardship for them. That is why the old age pension has been increased on many occasions since the end of the war as the cost of living rose. If it is going to rise further, the pension might have been brought at least to 25/-. The extra cost, less than £500,000 in a full year, might have been secured easily by a partial effort on the part of the Minister for Finance to secure the economies that Deputy McGilligan believes to be possible. Deputy McGilligan said the Minister for Finance could, without any effort, achieve economies worth several millions.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Oh, now, several— not seven.

Mr. Lemass:  You went up to £20,000,000 later, but several——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Is not four and a half several?

[837]Mr. Lemass:  But there have been no economies of £4,500,000.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  There have been.

Mr. Lemass:  Anyway, I think the Government has done less than justice to these people by making that change as small as it did. I want to direct the attention of the House particularly to the proposals of the Minister to cut the flour subsidy by eliminating from it flour used for the manufacture of biscuits and for confectionery, cakes and so forth. Personally, I cannot comprehend how any workable scheme can be devised which will enable, in circumstances of a free market, in the absence of rationing, flour to be sold at one price for one purpose and at another price for another purpose. If that £450,000 is to be saved, it will only be by imposing upon all flour users an apparatus of control which will be extraordinarily cumbersome and certainly a great public irritation.

Imagine a firm in Dublin or Cork that is making both bread and confectionery—how are the inspectors of the Department of Industry and Commerce going to segregate the subsidised flour to be used for bread from the unsubsidised flour that can be used for confectionery? How will any firm competing with these multiple undertakings in the sale of confectionery be assured that subsidised flour is not being availed of by their competitors for that production? Go to the other end of the scale. Recently I had an approach from a lady who was recently widowed and who hoped to supplement her income by making confectionery in her own home. How are you going to prevent her from walking out to the grocery shop and buying a sack of flour to make that confectionery? Are you going to go into her house and tax her on the flour found therein—or make her put a stamp on every piece of confectionery she sells?

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  More jobs.

Mr. Lemass:  We will wait until we hear this system of control when it is elaborated. May I say I have considerable respect for the ingenuity of the officials of the Department of [838] Industry and Commerce in devising controls of that kind, but I think that any system of that nature should not be brought into operation at all unless the Government can guarantee that of a certainty it will work with equity. If it is going to mean that some group of citizens will be at a commercial advantage or a commercial disadvantage as compared with others; that will be a bad system, no matter how much money is saved.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It might save £450,000.

Mr. Lemass:  Let us see whether it will or not.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  If it does?

Mr. Lemass:  There are confectionery firms which embarked with Government approval and encouragement upon an effort to establish export markets for confectionery and while there was some falling off in export business in recent times, the value of our exports of these goods in the last year amounted nevertheless to £700,000. That is a substantial item in our shipping statistics. That trade will be killed unless the Government intends that there is going to be a further division between those who use flour for confectionery purposes, distinguishing those who are doing export trade from those who are not—in which case they will be open to the allegation that while they are subsidising confectionery for the foreigner they are not subsidising it for the home consumer. You cannot make distinctions of that kind.

I am aware of three firms, two in Dublin and one in Cork, which entered into substantial capital investment in the expectation that they could open up markets for Irish confectionery throughout the world and I have seen the products of these firms on sale in Canada and New York. It is certain that if they have to buy their flour at what is the Irish economic price, they are out of that business permanently; because the Irish economic price is higher than the world price and they cannot have their raw materials at the world prices. As it is, they are at a disadvantage in the [839] British market with their competitors, who have the advantage of what is equivalent to a subsidised price for sugar. If they have now to pay a higher price for flour as well as a higher price for sugar than their competitors in the world market, that trade is gone. I appeal to the Government not to allow the Minister for Finance to follow along this line if it is going to mean the disappearance of that trade, which has built up possibilities of permanent growth. The workers employed in it can no doubt find alternative work in England, but if the trade is lost now it will never be recovered.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Like Jacobs' biscuits—which the Deputy killed during the war years.

Mr. Lemass:  The Parliamentary Secretary is talking through his hat, as usual.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The ex-Minister is talking a bit like an idiot. He killed that trade.

Mr. Lemass:  If the Minister for Industry and Commerce makes an effort to inquire in his Department as to the effort which I made to maintain the export trade in biscuits and to secure the retention of the export trade in this country, he would be able to inform the Parliamentary Secretary on a subject on which he is completely ignorant.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Did you not provide them with white flour?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Were they not successful?

Mr. Lemass:  Anyway, there was an export trade in biscuits last year of over £100,000. That also is going to die if this proposal is proceeded with. I am not raising this point simply for the purpose of advancing an argument against the Minister for Finance's Budget. I am asking the Government to reconsider its decision before this new scheme is put in operation. Let them consider what the consequences of it will be and at least take precautions to ensure that these undesirable results will not occur.

[840]Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You are talking through your hat about this. That will not happen; of course, you know that.

Mr. Lemass:  The Minister says it will not happen. I will tell him all about it afterwards.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You cannot instil gloom into the nation, as much as you try.

Mr. Lemass:  The Minister for Finance said yesterday, I will quote what he said——

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Do not lose any sleep over this; it will be all right.

Mr. Lemass:  I am offering to explain it to you.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  There is a good Government in. Do not bother your neck about it. I assure you, you need not worry about it. Your energy is worthy of a better cause.

Mr. Lemass:  The Minister for Finance said:—

“For several years prior to the abolition of rationing in 1952 the principle operated was that subsidy should, broadly speaking, be reserved for flour used in the baking of bread. Subsidised flour was not made available for industrial uses such as the making of cakes, confectionery and biscuits. On the dismantling of controls, however, a subsidised flour became available without restriction for luxury and less essential commodities. It is now intended to revert in some respects to the earlier situation and to arrange that the subsidy will be reserved as far as practicable, for bread, for flour, for home baking and for essential foods like sausages. A suitable scheme is being prepared by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who will announce the details at an early date. It will effect a saving this year in flour subsidy payments of the order of £450,000.”

Subsidised flour is not going to be available for the manufacture of confectionery, for tarts, or slab cake, or biscuits, or any of these things. If that is so, that trade which was built up, and maintained against a number [841] of disadvantages, by reason of the fact that flour of that price was available for it, must end.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Of course it will not end.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  But where is the £500,000 going to come from?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You are playing with pennies now.

Mr. Lemass:  The Minister for Finance opened his Budget statement yesterday by reviewing the economic conditions which prevailed during 1954. He pointed out that, in 1954, the balance of payments deficit was rectified, that production was expanding, that employment was increasing, that the decrease in agricultural employment had been arrested, and that generally, the condition of the country was considerably better than it had been.

I will admit that 1954 was a good year by comparison with other years. When Deputy MacEntee introduced the Budget for 1954, and attempted to forecast that it would be a good year, every Deputy opposite got up on his hind legs to howl in derision. That is what he said when introducing the 1954 Budget: that these things were happening, and that these experiences were likely to be recorded in that year. Does the Minister for Finance or any Deputy opposite seriously expect the most gullible member of the public to believe that all these improvements which developed in 1954 were due to the fact that half way through the year, in the month of June, there was a change of Government? Do they not realise that they were the culmination of three years hard work by the Fianna Fáil Government? That is what we worked to achieve, and that is what we got.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  That is why you were put out; 21 years were long enough.

Mr. Lemass:  Let us get away from this practice of throwing jibes at one another. If the sole concern of Deputies opposite is to snaffle for themselves credit for anything, no matter with what little justification, [842] then of course they may proceed on those lines. If the Minister's speech was intended to convey an understanding of what was happening in 1954, if he does in fact understand that these benefits were as a result of the policy followed by the Fianna Fáil Government and intends to continue that policy then it was a satisfactory announcement.

If he is merely thinking of buying a few votes by taking credit for what Deputy MacEntee did, then it is a contemptible procedure. If Deputies opposite really understand how these things were brought about then there is more hope for believing that the Government will not follow the same disastrous course as the first Coalition. I think that the Minister for Finance did no harm in emphasising that the improvement in the external balance position last year was due almost entirely to the boom in cattle and meat trades in the last quarter of the year. These are our biggest trades, and it is tremendously important for all the people of this country that these trades would be prosperous. I went with Deputy Walsh, the then Minister for Agriculture to London in March of last year, for discussions with the British Government as to the circumstances that would prevail after July when the British derationed meat and decontrolled its sale.

It seemed at one time, that the circumstances that might operate in Britain after decontrol and derationing might be detrimental to our interests as suppliers of cattle and meat to the British market. Fortunately, we were able to get that position clarified when we returned from London. Deputy Walsh and I ventured to advise the farmers that the market demand and the price for cattle were going to be good after decontrol. We were able to advise them that they could plan their activities for the year upon the basis of a good market, and good prices for cattle in the second half of the year. It was Deputy McGilligan who denied that. He stood up here after the Budget statement of last year, the first speaker of the Fine Gael Party and referred to these forecasts which Deputy Walsh and I had ventured to make. Deputy McGilligan [843] scoffed at them and said there was growing uncertainty as to the future of cattle prices. I will say this for Deputy Dillon, that he came in the next day to reprimand Deputy McGilligan, and asked that no member of his Party would attempt to join in that gloomy forecast, that the national interests required that the farmers should be led to believe the accuracy of the forecast which Deputy Walsh and I had given.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  You have changed your opinion about the British market.

Mr. Lemass:  However irresponsible the present Minister for Agriculture may be on occasion he is not so completely irresponsible as the present Attorney General. That situation for our cattle trade will continue so long as there is full employment in Britain. There was at one time the prospect that a flood of frozen meat from the southern hemisphere would swamp the British market and lead to a reduction of the demand for fresh meat. It has not proved to be so. On the contrary, the demand for fresh meat is still mounting and our producers of cattle, and those who are engaged in the dead meat business, can plan their activities upon that basis. That situation is not likely to change unless a situation should develop in England which would result in widespread unemployment and a forcing of the British population back upon the inferior but cheaper meat which comes from the southern hemisphere.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  And all of which situation is due solely to the 1948 agreement.

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  No; it has nothing whatever to do with it.

Mr. Lemass:  That has nothing to do with this.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  The Deputy said last year that he brought back no agreement.

Mr. Lemass:  What has this to do with the 1948 agreement?

[844]Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  It has everything.

Mr. Lemass:  If that is the situation which confronts the Irish farmers today and if credit for it is to be given to any one individual, that individual is Deputy Tom Walsh.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Denis O'Sullivan  Zoom on Denis O'Sullivan  Oh, God forgive you!

Mr. Lemass:  And the farmers of the country know that quite well.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Why then did they vote against you last year?

Mr. Lemass:  Because they were misled by the pledges and promises of the people opposite.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  That is an insult to their intelligence.

Mr. Lemass:  Is that the test of economic policy or the test of truth?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Truth, I would say.

Mr. Lemass:  Is it? Were you wrong every time you were beaten?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  No, we were not.

Mr. Lemass:  Out of 11 elections, you lost nine. Were you wrong? Will you admit that you were wrong?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Will Deputies use the third person and not use the second person across the floor of the House and will Deputies allow Deputy Lemass to proceed without interruption?

Mr. Lemass:  Let us turn now to the main aspect of this Budget. The Budget is or should be something more than an exercise in accountancy. It is one of the principal instruments available to the Government to direct economic developments in the direction they want them to go. I do not know if there is agreement amongst all the Parties in this House as to what our economic and social aims should be, but there is no doubt in my mind as to what we should strive to achieve. It is to build here an economy that will be capable of providing full employment for all our citizens who are dependent on work for their livelihoods [845] and to keep that economy expanding at a rate which will enable that situation to be maintained, with a rising population and a rising standard of living. We have not achieved that aim yet, though we have made some progress towards it—insufficient progress, in my view—and the test of every measure proposed here by every Government, the test of every Budget statement, is whether it offers a contribution to the realisation of that aim or not.

The main reason why we have not yet been successful in bringing about that expanding economy capable of giving full employment to all our people and checking emigration is that we have not yet brought the annual level of new investment high enough to ensure it. The British Economic Survey published some weeks ago attributes the present strength of the British economy, its full employment and its Budget surpluses, to the maintenance of a high level of new investment in manufacturing industry. That is what we have to achieve if we are to bring about similar circumstances here.

The Minister for Finance in his Budget statement said that full economic development cannot be achieved by investment in the public sector only. Productive investment in the private sector, he added, is indeed a prime necessity, if our resouces in men and material are to be fully and effectively employed. That is a sentiment and a view from which I do not dissent, but try to relate it to the provisions of the Budget and try to establish any possible connection between that view of the Minister for Finance and the actual proposals which he submitted to the House. In what way can it be alleged that these proposals will operate to induce a high level of investment on private account? There is nothing in the Budget and no suggestion of an idea in the mind of the Government or any member of the Government calculated to make for the realisation of that situation. The failure to recognise it, the failure to make any provision in the Budget which could be regarded as a contribution to the realisation of that aim, will [846] itself have a depressing and discouraging effect.

The finicky little adjustments in taxation which occupied the greater part of the Minister's speech indicate that there is no hope of getting this Government to think of something bigger than a mere adjustment of their accounts. If we are to achieve or make any progress towards the achievement of that aim, then every bit of elbow room available to the Minister in the Budget, every bit of elbow room that may become available to him in every future Budget, must be used exclusively for purposes which will make some contribution to that increase in production here, some addition to the national resources which will enable all this apparatus of Government to be maintained.

It is not true that our expenditure is too high. There is no part of that expenditure that we can forego. The level of our social services is not such that we would willingly vote for cutting them down. The expenditure upon various organs of administration represents no more than is needed to give this civilised community the normal apparatus of Government, and, while some economy may be possible by changes in accountancy or staffing methods, we cannot say that there is unnecessary expenditure being undertaken which we can do without. What is true is that the level of taxation is too high in relation to our resources and the solution, a solution which must be found quickly, is to expend these resources, and that is why I object to every and any proposal which involves a diversion of resources to other less essential purposes, however desirable they may be and however politically advantageous they may be, because we cannot at present afford to divert from these productive ends any part of the limited resource we have.

The Minister for Agriculture, in a cliché which has become hackneyed in its use by politicians, said that agriculture is the prop of our economy, the basis of our security and our prosperity, and, in order to strengthen that prop, to add to our security and prosperity, he advocated a more extensive use of mechanical equipment and the [847] acceleration of rural electrification. The audacity of that!

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  The truth of it.

Mr. Lemass:  Here is the spokesman of the Government which is sabotaging the rural electrification scheme.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  That is not true and you know it.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  That is a falsehood.

Mr. Lemass:  The rural electrification scheme was brought to the Dáil on this basis——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  To say to a Deputy that he is telling an untruth and knows it is tantamount to saying that the Deputy is telling a lie.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It is only a falsehood.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  It is not true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy withdraws “and you know it”?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  Apparently I gave the Deputy credit for more intelligence than he has. I withdraw my statement that he knows it. It is not true and I should have thought that the Deputy had enough intelligence to know that, but apparently I was wrong.

Mr. Lemass:  The rural electrification scheme was a Fianna Fáil scheme which I know all about.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It was about ten years late.

Mr. Lemass:  The scheme was based upon a recognition of the fact that if the E.S.B. was to recover in its charges the cost of erecting a rural electrification network, as well as the cost of supplying current, the charges which the individual consumers would have to pay would be so high that few of them would take connection. Consequently, it appeared that there was no prospect of a rural electrification scheme in this country because no matter how economical the E.S.B. [848] worked, no matter how it cut down the cost of erecting the network, it, nevertheless, was obvious that if the E.S.B. was to get back the 12 per cent. upon the capital cost which the financial experts said was necessary they would have to charge for current more than the rural consumers were likely to pay and, consequently, we could not get the 70 per cent. connection on which the economy of the scheme was based.

It was in that situation the Government said: “We will make a rural electrification scheme possible by contributing half of the capital cost of erecting the net work as a free grant from the Exchequer” to take the money out of taxation and to pay it to the E.S.B. to enable them to sell current under the rural electrification scheme at the board's old rule tariff rate, a rate which rural consumers were willing to pay and on the basis of which the rural electrification scheme went ahead. You are withdrawing that subsidy. Is not that so? The subsidy is withdrawn and the initial objection to the whole scheme now becomes alive again. It was the cost of erecting the net work without subsidy which involved a charge on rural consumers that they could not bear.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  That is not so, of course.

Mr. Lemass:  I admit that some consumers will pay it.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  No.

Mr. Lemass:  But in a number of areas the percentage of consumers willing to take supplies will fall below the point at which the E.S.B. will be prepared to give a supply.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  That is not so either.

Mr. Lemass:  Not merely have they withdrawn the subsidy but they have withdrawn it retrospectively. They have gone to the E.S.B. and said that they must pay back the £5,000,000 already paid as rural electrification scheme subsidy, which means a payment of £250,000 per year. That is a tax that the Minister for Finance forgot [849] to mention in his Budget statement.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  There is no tax.

Mr. Lemass:  Rural electricity consumers will have to bear the full cost of future development.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Does the Deputy say there will be any increase in prices?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  There should be a reduction.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Who agreed to the increase?

Mr. Lemass:  What increase?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The increase in the charges.

Mr. Lemass:  When?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Did not the Deputy agree? The present charges are those fixed by the Deputy.

Mr. Lemass:  They were fixed in 1953.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  In the Deputy's time.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Deputy should not run away from it.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The working surplus this year is likely to be in the region of £4,000,000.

Mr. Lemass:  I do not agree. I confess the possibility that the E.S.B. has concealed in its accounts resources of which the public are not aware, but I know that the statutory obligation of the E.S.B. is so to adjust its charges for supply that it will not produce a surplus. If a surplus is produced there is a legal obligation to give that back to the consumer of electricity by reducing the prices.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The Deputy increased the charges.

Mr. Lemass:  The price of coal went up and it is going up again next month.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  What about the [850] price of the electricity. The Deputy increased that by 25 per cent.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Lemass should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Mr. Lemass:  If the Minister for Finance is sincere in his belief that the security and prosperity of the agricultural industry can be fostered by the rural electrification scheme, why not allow that scheme to proceed on the basis on which it was decided?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We will go ahead quicker now.

Mr. Lemass:  There is a famous French philosopher who said that speech was a method of concealing thought. I never realised the full significance of that until listening to Deputy McGilligan.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Why is the Deputy so introspective about that quotation to-day?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  His speech conceals the increase in the electricity charges.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  These interruptions must cease.

Mr. Lemass:  Yesterday, Deputy Norton, Minister for Industry and Commerce, asked if we wanted another election. I have given some thought to the reply I should give to the question. I think it is not merely in our Party interests but also in the national interests that it should be allowed to sink into the public mind a little deeper how thoroughly they were deceived by the Coalition Parties in the last election, and how completely the Government have turned their backs on their election pledges and promises. I think it will benefit not merely the Fianna Fáil Party but also the cause of the maintenance of democratic government in this country if the public, get a more thorough demonstration than they have yet got of the character of the trick that was played on them by the Coalition Parties during the recent election and a more thorough demonstration of the incompetence of the present Government to handle the national problem [851] When that lesson has been learned thoroughly, we will have the election and it will not be a matter of asking the Government's permission either.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Deputy does not want one now.

Mr. Lemass:  The public——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Has the Deputy left the matter of electricity?

Mr. Lemass:  ——are becoming more fully conscious of the fact that they were tricked by the Coalition spokesmen in the recent election. The more hide-bound members of the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party organisation may not yet have allowed the idea to penetrate into their minds but it will get there. That will be the right time for the election but they can suit themselves. For our part we prefer to wait a few months until there is a more complete demonstration of these facts to the public.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I always gave the Deputy credit for being a good judge. Does he want the election now?

Mr. Lemass:  The Minister could talk us into it.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It would take a long talk.

Mr. Lemass:  Poor and all as the Budget statement was it was made a great deal poorer by the Minister's reference to possible benefits to come. I would have thought that he would have sense enough to realise how false that note would ring. I do not know how long the members of the Fine Gael organisation will follow that carrot or how long it will be until the members of the Labour Party turn up their noses at it. I would ask them to give up this business of dangling a carrot in front of their supporters' noses. They are only saying that in order to continue to hold on for a little longer to the support they got by false pretences in the recent election. It would have been far more decent of the Minister for Finance if he had come and said that that was the best he could do and leave it at that. Let them not hold this dusty and mouldy carrot in front of the noses [852] of their supporters who are already beginning to resent it.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Norton): Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We have listened to a very brief and brazen effort by the Fianna Fáil Party to conceal their discomfort at the character of this Budget. Deputy Lemass, the chief apologist for the Fianna Fáil Party, who can usually put a face on the most mouldy of cases, was especially concerned by thunder and fury this evening to try and cheer up the drooping spirits of the back bench members.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  Look at the Labour faces.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order!

Mr. Lemass:  They are entitled to talk without interruption, of course.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I would like to congratulate Deputy Lemass on one thing —no doubt, privately, Deputy Killilea will also congratulate him—and that is on the decision that the Opposition do not want a general election at present.

Mr. Lemass:  Try talking us into it.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  If that is the case, give us the opportunity.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  As far as I am concerned, this will be a peaceful discussion.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  So, the Minister wants no interruptions.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I want to appeal to reason and not to emotion of the kind generated by the amount of noisy fury in which Deputy Lemass indulged this afternoon.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  And to which the Minister contributed.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Deputy Lemass says Fianna Fáil do not desire a general election at the present moment; they are going to wait until some special set of circumstances arises which will prevent them losing as many seats as they would lose if a general election were held to-morrow.

[853]Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  Why not give us an opportunity of trying the issue? Why will the Minister not seize on his opportunity?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We do not believe in going for midnight rides to the Park as the former Taoiseach did. I have no desire to emulate his methods in that respect. Neither do I want to cause any mental distress to Deputy Killilea by seeing him precipitated into a general election which he is praying will not take place for another five years.

This budget will be the subject of discussion for the next couple of weeks. I have no doubt that, no matter what kind of Budget we introduced, Deputy Lemass would have made the same kind of case. In fact, without knowing what was in the Budget at all, Deputy MacEntee, who must of course reassert his right to be the chief filibusterer of the Fianna Fáil Party, blustered in here yesterday evening with a speech which he had written before he heard the Budget at all; he got up here and delivered himself of views which purported to be his views on the Budget, although he had written he speech the day before. That is all right for Deputy Killilea. That is all right for anybody who is well-seasoned in irresponsibility. But one expects something better from a former Minister for Finance; one does not expect that he would write out his speech the day before, bring it in the next day and insist on making it, even though it bore no relation to the realities of the Budget.

Somebody ought to tell Deputy MacEntee to grow up politically. I know it is a pretty tough assignment to give to anybody but, if it is not done, Deputy MacEntee will leave public life, having been the Peter Pan of the Fianna Fáil Party all his life; and my personal regard, as distinct from my political distaste, for Deputy MacEntee compels me to make that appeal now to some of his colleagues on the Fianna Fáil benches.

In any case we can bring someone who is not on this side or that side of the House into this discussion, and see what he thinks of the Budget. Nobody [854] will accuse me if I quote the Evening Press on this Budget. Last evening's issue of the Evening Press carried an article which is headed: “This is what they hope for in the Budget.” The Evening Press sent out some representatives to gather up a few folk and find out how they thought this Budget should be drawn. One reporter descended upon No. 71 Wellington Road in Deputy MacEntee's constituency and he there interviewed a person who is described by the Evening Press as “Mr. Average Married”. Mr. Average Married was asked:—

“What do you think this Budget should do?”

Here is what Deputy MacEntee's constituent says, representing his views of what this Budget should be; remember, this was before the Budget was introduced. Mr. Average Married said:—

“I would like the £85 allowance free for each child to be increased to £100. The round figure will be much better... and would save some married men like myself from paying income tax at all. And another important aspect is old age pensions. These old people deserve more money. Finally, I think revenue should come from more indirect taxation such as purchase tax on luxury goods.”

Now I did not write this article or interview this individual; I do not know him at all. He was selected by the Evening Press; I suppose they know their men all right. This statement by this man could almost be a Budget leakage because he prophesied the Budget absolutely to a nicety. This Mr. Average Married that the Evening Press interviewed some time in the early hours of yesterday said, representing the view of the average married man, that the Budget might make increased provision for children's allowances for income-tax purposes and that old age pensions should be increased. The Evening Press thought that man's views were so sane, so sound and so representative of public opinion that they dignified him with the title of “Average Married Man”.

I think that man's view represents [855] the view of the ordinary people of the country on this Budget. I think he represents the views of Deputy MacEntee's constituents, more so than Deputy MacEntee does. As the days and weeks go on, Deputy MacEntee will find that this constituent of his has been closer to the public pulse than Deputy MacEntee was in that demonstration of mock indignation to which he treated the House last evening. In any case Mr. Average Married got something more than he asked for; not only are we increasing old age pensions, but we are increasing blind pensions as well, and 28,000 widows and an unknown number of orphans will also benefit by this Budget. That is something that even Deputy MacEntee's constituents did not ask for.

I think Mr. Average Married Man's approach to this Budget is a more realistic one than Deputy MacEntee's yesterday evening or the simulated indignation of Deputy Lemass to-day. Some statements have been made by Deputy Lemass with which I would like to deal at the outset. Deputy Lemass referred to the export of cakes and the export of biscuits. I want to put on record in the most categorical manner that, so far as the export of cakes and biscuits is concerned, steps will be taken to ensure that the manufacturers of these commodities will get flour at the present price in order to maintain their position in the export market in the same way as certain manufacturers got sugar at a special price to enable them to maintain their position in that market. Anybody who is making cakes or biscuits for export can take my assurance now, publicly given, that their position will in no way be worsened and that they will continue to get flour and sugar at their present prices so far as this Budget is concerned in order to enable them to have access to those markets which are at present open to them. I hope that ghost has been laid once and for all.

Mr. Lemass:  That is quite satisfactory. Only the people living at home will pay more. That is quite satisfactory.

[856]Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Preparing the way for the new catch-cry.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  That cry will not carry the Opposition much further because during the period in which Deputy Lemass was in office he gave sugar to the cake and biscuit exporters cheaper than he gave it to the people at home. That cock will not fight in this discussion.

Mr. Lemass:  At one time I made them pay more for it. We put a levy on sugar for export to subsidise the home market.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  In any case, Deputy Lemass can see clearly now that he cannot make much out of that point. I warned the Deputy to keep off those points because he would find himself running into a hornet's nest. The Deputy is now quite satisfied everything is all right.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  Tell us something now about the reduction in the cost of living.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  At the Deputy's special request I will deal with that later. Let me come now to rural electrification. Deputy Lemass made an effort to work up a good deal of indignation here this evening in relation to rural electrification. Deputy Lemass is far too cute politically to believe what he says himself in this House. It was just another of the Deputy's well - recognised attempts at chancing his arm. Everybody knows that perfectly well. There will be no increase in electricity charges as a result of making the E.S.B. bear the full cost of rural electrification.

Mr. Lemass:  Who will pay it?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We will come to that in a moment. I counsel patience. Neither will there be any reduction in the rate of progress in carrying out rural electrification schemes. In fact, during the present year, and in future years, the rate of installation in the rural areas will be accelerated. I am making these two positive statements now. They are there to be quoted at any time, not only for to-day's debate. [857] I will show in the course of time what I am saying here is not only correct in so far as to-day's discussions are concerned, but will represent our future policy.

Deputy Lemass asks who is going to pay. The position is that the E.S.B. has a surplus sufficient to enable it to pay the entire cost of rural electrification, and as they have that surplus, surely they ought to be asked to finance the whole scheme instead of keeping the surplus and getting the taxpayers, through the Exchequer, to put up money to finance rural electrification which does not need to be financed because the E.S.B. has got a surplus at present. That is the plain fact of the matter, and time will justify what I am saying.

Mr. Lemass:  There will never again be an increase in electricity charges, then?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Oh, no—that is another case of chancing your arm. In this debate the Government and all Parties in the Government have been chided with not having fully implemented our programme in a matter of 11 months. I think the very fact that Deputy Lemass expects us to do that is a tribute to his appreciation of what he thinks this Government can do, but may I put this to Deputy Lemass and to his leader Deputy de Valera? We had a Fianna Fáil policy in 1932 and this is 1955. That is 23 years ago. Nobody can accuse me of being petulant or fussy after 23 years if— and that was to be the official policy of the Fianna Fáil Party—I ask Fianna Fáil to-day have they achieved their policy of 1932?

Mr. Lemass:  We never lost a day working on it.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Has the Fianna Fáil policy of 1932 been achieved?

Mr. Lemass:  Look at the first part of the Fianna Fáil policy?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I remember Deputy Lemass making a speech in which he promised that he was going to provide such a volume of work in the country that he was afraid there would not be [858] enough people here to do all the work that would be available.

Mr. Lemass:  You never heard me say it.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Surely it was published afterwards in handbills!

Mr. Lemass:  It was not.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I will look up my own records.

Mr. Lemass:  I will bet you five to one you do not find it—50 to one if you want decent odds.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  All right. You are “on” at that now, and what you said is on the record. At that time it was declared that not only would there be an abundance of work but that there would not be sufficient people here to do it. Then we had the famous postscript from the Deputy that it would probably be necessary to comb the cities of America to bring back the exiles——

Mr. Lemass:  I will lay 100 to one against that.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You might quote me for the next quotation, too. Somebody said to Deputy Aiken at Dundalk: “Deputy Aiken, do you know there are so many people unemployed?”. Deputy Aiken, with that majectic grimace of his, replied: “What about it? Is it not good to have so many people unemployed at the moment to do all the work that Fianna Fáil will make available for them?”. What is the quotation on that?

Mr. Lemass:  I never heard that before.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I have written these quotations into the Dáil Report many and many a time. Then, of course, we had Deputy de Valera who declared in 1931 and 1932 that unemployment was easier to solve in this country than in any other country in the world.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Any betting on that?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Is there a short price or a long one for that? Deputy de [859] Valera said there was no reason why unemployment should exist, that we had an opportunity for solving it. All these statements were made—is there no betting on these?

Mr. Lemass:  No, they are still true.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  All these statements were made by the Party opposite. Is it not a bit thick—I will put it no further than that—that the Party which made those promises in 1932 and had 23 years to fulfil them should come back here 23 years later—and one would assume 23 years wiser—and ask us why we have not fulfilled our entire programme in 11 months?

Mr. Lemass:  Not your entire programme: just the cost of living.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  A million a minute for the first ten minutes.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Deputy Killilea would be advised not to play with millions and to keep to pennies at the outset. This is the Party which now, having simply deserted its own programme, having failed to fulfil the reckless promises they made, expects us in the short period of 11 months to complete our programme——

Mr. Lemass:  No, a start in that direction—that is all we ask.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We never promised to do it in 11 months. We put down a 12-point programme and as long as this Government lasts it will strive day in and day out to achieve that programme and before I conclude, I think I shall be able to prove it—not to prejudiced minds like that of Deputy Lemass nor do I propose to penetrate the iron wall of Deputy Killilea's mind. I hope to be able to convince the people that in the past 11 months we have kept on the road of reality and are endeavouring to do the things which we promised the people we would do for them.

Deputy Lemass talked as if he had discovered some nigger of wage restraint in the speech of the Minister for Finance. Deputy Lemass is good on wage restraints. So is his leader. Let us have a quotation from both of [860] them. In the Dáil Debates of the 16th October, 1947, after six years of wage freezing, during which the workers' wages were nailed almost to the ground while prices were allowed to rise and when they were struggling to get back a portion of their 1939 standard of living, Deputy Lemass delivered himself in these terms in this House, reported at column 558 of the 16th October, 1947. He said:—

“I want, however, to make it clear that the Government regard it as an essential safeguard to the interests of the general community at the present time that some check upon the upward movement of wages should operate.”

In October, 1947, when the workers had endured under the Fianna Fáil Government six years of the most ruthless wage-freezing that has been known in any democratic country——

Mr. Lemass:  And both Trade Union Congresses agreed with it.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  They did not.

Mr. Lemass:  They expressed their agreement in the newspapers.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Were it not for the fierce indignation of the workers and the people generally and the general election in 1948, the Fianna Fáil Government would have come back to office to implement in 1948 the same wage-freezing policy that they initiated in 1941. Thank God the people saved the country and saved the lives of the workers from a repetition of the gross injustices which they had endured under the Fianna Fáil wage-freezing policy of the emergency years. In case this was just a stray thought by Deputy Lemass——

Mr. Lemass:  When are we going to get back to the Budget? Are you satisfied with the Budget?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Nobody likes to be haunted by ghosts and Deputy Lemass does not like to meet the ghost of his wage-freezing speech made in 1947. Lest Deputy Lemass thought he had a monopoly of that idea in 1947, I want to give pride of place to his [861] leader, Deputy de Valera. He deserves mention, too. On the 15th October, 1947, as reported at column 389 of the Official Report, Deputy de Valera said:—

“The Government regards this temporary limitation of wage increases as vitally necessary in present circumstances, and if the trade unions cannot undertake such an agreement as I have outlined... then the Government will produce proposals for legislation to the same effect.”

Deputy Lemass said the unions agreed. Deputy de Valera is rather doubtful. He said, in effect: “If you do not agree, lads, I will introduce the legislation and I will pin your ears to the legislation.” Yet, Deputy Lemass, as if he were born only yesterday, comes to the House to-day to express an artificial horror that there should be even a reference to a wage restraint in the Minister's speech—although, in fact, there is no reference there at all.

Mr. Lemass:  There is a reference to a rising cost of living.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  On the subject of a rising cost of living, I think I have a quotation here either from Deputy Lemass or Deputy de Valera.

Mr. Lemass:  Let us into the secret. Is the Minister satisfied with the Budget?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I do not think I will worry about the quotation. I will just continue my speech.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The unions would not agree. The file was marked that way.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Deputy Lemass gave us an interesting dissertation to-day on bread. He spoke of the extent to which bread is consumed by all classes of families. He mentioned how important it is that the lower paid workers should get bread cheaply and how little bread figures in the domestic economy of families with a large income. He went on to profess a sympathy for making bread cheap so [862] far as lower paid workers are concerned. As I listened to Deputy Lemass talking here to-day I began to wonder where he was the day the 1952 Budget was presented to the Oireachtas.

Mr. Lemass:  I said the Government should concentrate whatever they can give on bread.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Fianna Fáil gave it to the cigarette manufacturers.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Having declared that bread is an important item of diet, Deputy Lemass endeavoured to shed tears here to-day for those who have to pay the present price for bread. They are paying the present price for bread because the Deputy discovered what he said to-day three years too late. If he had expressed these views to the Government in 1952 he might have prevented the savage slashing of the subsidy on flour. Deputy Lemass was a consenting party to pushing the 2-lb. loaf up from 6d. to 9d.—and then, three years afterwards, he tells us that bread is an important article in the diet of the ordinary people and that we should give it to them at as cheap a rate as possible.

This is a case where practice is better than precept. Would it not have been more consistent and more understandable if, in 1952, the Deputy had convinced his colleagues that they should keep their hands off bread and that they should not increase the price of bread from 6d. to 9d.—which, of course, they did. If bread prices have been high from 1952 to 1955 it is because Deputy Lemass's Government slashed the food subsidies. I think I have now answered most of the points which were raised by Deputy Lemass.

Mr. Lemass:  Is the Minister satisfied with the Budget?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I am satisfied with the Budget. I wish the Deputy were as happy about it as I am. This Budget has to be understood not merely by the figures which it contains but by the atmosphere in which it is introduced and by the portents which surround it. So far as last year is concerned it has been a year both of hope [863] and promise in regard to our economic circumstances. We have got away from the gloomy years of 1953 and the early part of 1954. They are now an evil memory—and, please God, they will remain an evil memory so long as Deputy de Valera retains his seat over there on the Opposition Benches. What are the facts of last year's——

Mr. de Valera:  What are the facts of 1953 that the Minister has been speaking about? What are the facts which justify the Minister's saying it was a year of gloom?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Good gracious, of course it was. I do not remember anything worse in the last ten years. I take it that some member of the Fianna Fáil Party will point out, before the debate finishes, the blessings of 1953 under Fianna Fáil—blessings which ripened and diffused themselves to such an extent that, in 1954, the Party responsible for the blessings were fired out of office. The people did not see the blessings with the same clarity as the members of the Fianna Fáil Party.

Mr. de Valera:  They listened to the falsehoods uttered by people now sitting on the Government Benches.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I congratulate Deputy de Valera on the nimbleness of mind which he displays when in Government and in Opposition. When he is sitting on the Government side of the House he is sitting here fortified by the will of the people: when he is sitting on the Opposition Benches he is sitting there because the people were misled.

Mr. de Valera:  The Budget is the best proof that they were deceived.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I should like to associate with that comment of mine a famous remark by Deputy de Valera. He once said that the people have no right to do wrong but if they want to do it at elections——

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  They supported him strongly afterwards.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  To vote against the Fianna Fáil Party is not established either ethically or morally to be wrong. [864] That is not a reserved sin yet—much as Deputy de Valera might like to make it one. Last year shows that the real improvement came after the Fianna Fáil Government left office. The most notable achievement in that respect was in the last quarter of 1954. In the first nine months our balance of trade was £5,000,000 worse than 1953, but in the last quarter there was an improvement of £8.7 million—and the year ended almost £4,000,000 better than the year 1953. Our balance of payments deficit last year was better than in any year since 1946 and it would have been better than 1946 were it not for the fact that there was an artificial balance that year due to the scarcity of supplies. Therefore, taking last year with any year from 1946, our balance of payments position was better. Is that not an indication that we can look forward in 1955 at least to a continuance of last year's situation if not, indeed, to an improvement?

Look at the employment situation. We are running now with an unemployment figure which is 7,000 lower than it was this time last year. I think that would probably be better were it not for the dislocation caused by the recent building strike. However, we are running 7,000 lower than this time last year. Our employment figure— that is, the number of people employed in the manufacturing industries—has exceeded 150,000 for the first time since 1922. So that we have not only a new high record in employment, but we have a new low record in unemployment and these are two features which have came about since June of last year.

Mr. Lemass:  What did you do about that? What precise thing did you do?

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Not a thing in the world.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  We kept you out.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  You hurried up emigration. That is all.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  If this debate does not finish soon, Deputy Donnchadh Ó Briain will have apoplexy.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Not a fear of it. You will get it yourself sooner.

[865]Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Let us take another encouraging feature of last year. There was a complaint by Fianna Fáil when we were last in office that a good deal of our imports represented consumer goods. This news will be heartening to them. Last year our purchases of agricultural machinery increased from £1.8 million to £2.5 million, an indication that better effort was being made to extract from the soil the wealth which the soil can give us and, in the same period, tractor imports increased from 4,360 to 5,377. While all that was taking place, for the first time for many years we were able to hold employment for agricultural workers on the land.

Mr. Lemass:  What date were these figures for agricultural employment taken?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  For the financial year ended 31st March.

Mr. Lemass:  The figures are taken on one day in the year. What day was it? Was it the 1st June?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Which figures?

Mr. Lemass:  The figures for agricultural employment.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I have not the exact date.

Mr. Lemass:  It always is the 1st June.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  It always is the 1st June.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It is a comparable figure.

Mr. Lemass:  The first day before the change of Government.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It is prepared by civil servants whose accuracy and reputation, I take it, the Deputy does not desire to comment on adversely.

Mr. Lemass:  The figures relate to the 1st June.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  The writing was on the wall in May.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Even earlier—the by-election.

[866]Mr. Lemass:  The writing on the wall put people into jobs? What was on the wall was “Vote Fine Gael and Lower Taxes.”

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  If you look at this Budget, in particular at the capital expenditure provided for in the Budget, you can see that this Government is approaching its capital development programme with both courage and vision, and those interested in capital development can feel gratified that this Government is making so much money available for the capital development programme this year.

What is that programme so far as this year is concerned? Over £9,000,000 will be spent on housing; £1,250,000 on sanitary services; £4,000,000 for electrical development; £4,600,000 for agricultural development; almost £3,000,000 for hospitals; over £2,000,000 for schools and other buildings; £1,250,000 for turf development; £1,500,000 for telephone development; over £3,000,000 for transport development; nearly £1,000,000 for afforestation; £150,000 for fisheries; Ceimici Teoranta, £120,000; £250,000 for Irish Steel Holdings; £2,500,000 for National Development Fund.

These represent the main features of a capital development Budget which has been planned with reality. These sums are available. It will be our effort to make sure that these moneys are taken up in the worthwhile schemes of capital development which this Government will endeavour to push through in the current year.

Mr. Lemass:  £5,000,000 less than last year.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  If there is any doubt about the credit-worthiness of this Government or its standing in the country, it can be tested against the National Loan which we floated last October. On that occasion the loan which we issued was fully subscribed. It was subscribed at a rate of interest lower than the rate for the Fianna Fáil loans of 1952 and 1953. In other words, we were able to get from the people all the money that we needed in that loan and to get it at a lower [867] rate of interest than the rate at which Fianna Fáil could borrow in 1952 and 1953. As a result, we were able to make loans available for housing and other development schemes at a lower rate of interest than the rate at which such loans were available under the Fianna Fáil policy. Remember also that the loan we issued then, as evidence of the continued soundness and stability of this Government, is being quoted at a premium on the Stock Exchange.

I think any thinking person who is not politically blinded will realise that all these evidences which I offer here have all the characteristics of the activities of a good Government, broadly based, sound in its concept and at the same time enjoying the confidence of the people. These results could never be possible of achievement if the Government did not command the confidence of the people. All these indications confirm that the Government enjoys to-day, not less, but more confidence than it enjoyed when it was swept into office in May of last year.

We have had a lot of talk from Fianna Fáil about social welfare services. So far as I am personally concerned—I think in this matter I can speak not only for my own Party but for the Government—I regard an improvement in our social services as one of the best ways of bringing social justice into the lives and into the homes of the simple people of no power and no wealth up and down the country. I regard a high standard of social services as essential to maintain a Christian standard of living in the homes of people who, unfortunately, are from time to time stricken by the wintry economic blasts that blow across their path. What is the record of the inter-Party Government in respect of social services?

Mr. Lemass:  Very short.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We raised old age pensions when we were last in office to 17/6 per week. They were 12/6, the last 2/6 raising them from 10/- to 12/6 only being paid on the certificate of a home assistance officer, under Fianna Fáil. When Fianna Fáil were in office in [868] 1947-48, you could get an old age pension of 10/-, which the British gave away back in 1916.

Mr. Lemass:  Nonsense. Your history is all wrong.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You could get a supplementary allowance of 2/6 if you got a certificate from a home assistance officer after he had carried out a microscopic inquisition of your needs. That was the Fianna Fáil policy of helping the old age pensioners during the emergency. We came into office in 1948. We abolished that means test for the supplementary 2/6 and we raised old age pensions to 17/6 per week without a means test so far as the home assistance officer was concerned. When we went out of office in 1951 we left here a Social Welfare Bill which had passed its Second Reading in this House and which provided for the raising of old age pensions to £1 per week. That was the position when we left it in 1951. Nineteen hundred and fifty-two came and Fianna Fáil slashed the subsidies in that year. As a result of the slashing of the subsidies they increased the price of tea, bread, butter, sugar, flour, tobacco, cigarettes and beer.

Mr. de Valera:  What about the £15,000,000 deficit?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  If I am not right Deputy de Valera will have an opportunity of dealing with it and of dealing with a quotation from his own lips with which I shall present him in a few minutes. All these prices were increased for the old age pensioners by the action of Fianna Fáil in slashing the subsidies in 1952. Then the pharaoh hearts of Fianna Fáil softened and they said: “We must do something for the old age pensioners.” They said: “Look here, brother, you will pay more for your tea, your bread, your butter, your sugar, your flour, your tobacco, your cigarettes and for your glass of beer, but what matter. We will give you 1/6 per week, per seven days, to compensate you.” That was the magnanimity of the Fianna Fáil gift to the old age pensioners in 1952, and that 1/6 per week was offered as compensation for the rapid increases in these prices, [869] many of these commodities being stable articles in the diet of the old age pensioners concerned.

We said during the election campaign, and we repeated it after the election, that if elected to office and when in office we would seek to improve social welfare benefits, not merely because we had made that promise during the election but because we regarded it as a measure of social justice to lift the standard of living of these unfortunate people in our community. The first step has been taken in this Budget but it is only the first step as the Minister for Finance has said. What is happening under this Budget? 162,000 old age pensioners will get increases; 6,000 blind pensioners will get increases; 28,000 widows, now trying to live on non-contributory pensions, will also get increases. Even in our small community upwards of 200,000 persons will get benefits through this Government. Deputy Lemass said he is glad they have got it. Of course every Christian is glad. Am I offensive if I ask Deputy Lemass why this zealous sympathy now and not before now?

Mr. Lemass:  Because there was a £3,000,000 surplus.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  There was also a Budget in 1953 and why could it not have been done then or in the early part of 1954? The fact of the matter is that it had to wait for the inter-Party Government now, as it had to wait for them from 1948 to 1951, to lift the level of the social welfare benefits, especially in so far as these poor people are concerned. People may say they would like to have seen us giving more. So would we like to have been able to give more, particularly in this field of social welfare. As the Minister for Finance said in his Budget speech this marks the first instalment, but only the first instalment of our plans. We have other proposals in the field of social welfare. As inevitably as these benefits came to-day others will come during the period of office of this Government and so will the many other things promised be done so long as this Government is in office.

We will endeavour to apply our [870] hearts and our determination to the implementation of our promises and to keeping faith with the people whom we represent, and so long as we keep faith with them, and we shall be prevented only by physical forces outside our control, we can go back to the people and say to them in this big field that we made an honest effort to keep faith with them. This needy class will know when they read the papers to-day that £1,000,000 more is being spent on social services than by Fianna Fáil in the Budgets which it presented last year or in 1953 and I do not think it is exaggerating to say that if Fianna Fáil were in office this year not another penny would have been given to the old age pensioners or to the blind persons.

Mr. Lemass:  The Minister can say that and I can say the opposite. There was £3,000,000 there to give to them.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Let me present this quotation to Deputy Lemass, and to Deputy de Valera particularly, and I hope Deputy de Valera will deal with it when speaking on the Budget. At the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last October, according to the daily papers——

Mr. de Valera:  Let us get it exactly now. What paper?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  There was a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis held last year?

Mr. de Valera:  I want to know accurately what it is the Minister is quoting.

Mr. Lemass:  From what paper is the Minister quoting?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Look at all the papers. I shall not accuse Deputy de Valera at all of running away from any promises he made or from anything he may have said. In fact, I am going to congratulate him on the candour he displayed.

Mr. de Valera:  I want to know from what paper the Minister is about to quote.

[871]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  It is usual to give the reference.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It is from the Irish Independent of the 13th October, 1954. It quotes Deputy de Valera, speaking at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, as saying that in regard to social services Fianna Fáil had kept to the middle of the road. It quotes him as saying: “The means must be there to meet increases in social services, otherwise the whole nation would be crippled. Taxation was now running at a very high level and any increase in social services would be dangerous.”

Mr. de Valera:  We are not getting the whole context.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I am not upbraiding the Deputy for having said that. It is a candid declaration.

Mr. de Valera:  That you must have means to meet your obligations.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  There must be means there to meet increases in social services, otherwise the nation would be crippled. He said taxation was now running at a very high level and that the nation would be crippled by any increases.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  We are not crippled now and we have given the old age pensioners a half-crown.

Mr. de Valera:  Do not take things out of their context. We have done more for social services than some of you people ever thought of.

Mrs. O'Carroll: Information on Maureen O'Carroll  Zoom on Maureen O'Carroll  Such as?

Mr. Lemass:  The whole social service code of the country was introduced by us.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Here is a candid declaration by Deputy de Valera. I agree that it is much better to come down in that flat-footed way than to attempt to do what the boys in the back benches do when they go down the country and tell the simple fellows at the cross-roads that they were not in favour of something. At least Deputy de Valera put the Party on the one foot by saying that taxation [872] was already too high and that there could not be any further increases in social services. That means of course that if Deputy de Valera were sitting on these benches this year there would have been no increases——

Mr. de Valera:  How does the Minister know?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  How do I know?

Mr. de Valera:  If there were means available the old age pensioners would have got increases.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Did not the Irish Press give them more?

Mr. de Valera:  You are not increasing taxation, are you, except in the case of electricity?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Do not try to argue this with Deputy de Valera because he will win out in the end. He will stick to what he said. Long membership of this House has taught me not to engage in these discussions with Deputy de Valera because he always wins in the end.

Mr. de Valera:  Because you were always wrong. That is the reason you do not engage in them.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  That is the inevitable result. You cannot play with him in discussion because he must be allowed to chalk up the score every time. You must lose every time. It was obvious to the thinking members of the Fianna Fáil Party, to the public who read outside that that statement by Deputy de Valera in October last was a bleak and despairing statement which offered no hope whatever to upwards of 200,000 persons who will benefit under this Budget. We have saved the people from the bleakness which was then offered to them by the Fianna Fáil Party. Instead we have given them hope and this Budget has given them solid achievement. The rest of our policy on social welfare will be implemented in due course, certainly sooner than it would have been implemented if there were a Fianna Fáil Party in office.

Deputy Lemass talked about the cost of living but before I come to the cost of living I want to quote from the Sunday Press of the 9th May, 1954. [873] This is the paper which, I think, shares with its week-day brother the title that says “Truth in the News”. There is a cartoon here and it is headed: “Back to 1951”. There is a rather corrugated old gentleman in this cartoon with a young lad labelled “Sean Citizen” and the injunction at the bottom says: “Do not cut a rod to beat yourself”. The old gentleman is supposed to be the schoolmaster and he is telling the young pupil not to cut a rod to beat himself. The people, through this advertisement, are warned not to go back to 1951 and they are told by this cartoon that if they do it means that their wages will be cut by 12/6 per week. Has that happened? Of course not. That was untruth No. 1. They are told that if they do, old age pensions will be cut by 4/-. That has not happened. That is untruth No. 2. They are told that children's allowances will be cut by 4/-. That has not happened and that is untruth No. 3. They are told that sickness payments would be cut by 27/6 a week. There is the cartoon which is available for inspection, but it is the most disreputable and untruthful cartoon that ever appeared in an Irish newspaper, and it appeared, too, in a newspaper that says its policy is “Truth in the News”. If there is as much truth in the news as there is in the cartoon, God help the people who buy the Irish Press.

I understand that Deputy de Valera is still the governing director of this newspaper. If he is, let him find out who wrote and who produced this filthy cartoon and who gave the authority for publishing a heap of lies, which Deputy de Valera must have known, if he saw the cartoon, were lies, which every member of his Party must have known were lies. It is a lie to-day and can be seen there. There is no better way of proving it than by what we have done during the past ten months. There is no better way of clinching the argument than letting the people read this Budget which is going to bring relief to upwards of 200,000 people who would never have got anything from the authors of this malicious and untruthful cartoon.

Deputy Lemass spoke about prices. [874] Here again I think the Deputy deserves some congratulation for the glib way in which he is able to put on such a brazen stand in respect of prices. I can understand the ordinary housewife having a critical view about prices. I can understand the person who never votes having a critical view about prices. I can understand members of our own Party here having a critical view about prices and wanting this, that and the other thing done. I have a lot of sympathy with them and I can understand them in respect of what they are anxious to do, but the one thing I cannot understand is Fianna Fáil criticising prices, Fianna Fáil who have been the architects of the present high level of prices.

Let us look at the facts. In mid-May, 1951, when we left office, the cost-of-living index figure was 109. When Fianna Fáil left office in 1954, the cost-of-living index figure was 124, an increase of 15 points in three short years brought about, of course, by the slashing of the food subsidies.

Mr. de Valera:  Not at all.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You lose again. Deputy de Valera is right. Mid-May, 1951, index figure 109; May, 1954, index figure 124. I would not attempt to put my knowledge of mathematics beside Deputy de Valera's, but still I can make a subtraction here and the subtraction here says that the index figure is up by 15 points in three years.

Mr. de Valera:  But you added something. You said it was due to the slashing by Fianna Fáil of the subsidies.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You think it is important what caused it?

Mr. de Valera:  Yes, and to say how much of the 15 points was caused by the subsidies.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  How much?

Mr. de Valera:  Seven of the 15. There is a difference.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  All right, seven from the subsidies and eight from the others.

[875]Mr. de Valera:  Eight from the same causes as yours went up from November to May.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  No.

Mr. de Valera:  Yours went up nine points in the same time.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  In any case, I want to ask Deputy de Valera when he speaks on this Budget to tell us once and for all what the Fianna Fáil Party would have done in respect of tea prices. On the Supplies and Services Bill, on my own Estimates and in other discussions in this House I have tried to corkscrew from the Fianna Fáil front bench what they would have done in the face of the substantial rise in tea prices. When there was silence on the front bench I asked that permission should be given to somebody on the back benches to speak for the Party, that we should have some glimmer of an indication as to what Fianna Fáil would have done in respect of tea. I could not get any explanation. I cannot get it now and it is because I cannot get it now that I want to assert this, that if Fianna Fáil had been in office in August and September of last year or were in office to-day they would have allowed tea prices to rise and that the people would be paying 3/-per lb. more for their tea than they are paying to-day thanks to the inter-Party Government.

Mr. de Valera:  What is the future?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Is that not right?

Mr. de Valera:  It is not.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  You see the skill of the old political veteran. I am asking him what is his policy to-day——

Mr. de Valera:  No, that was not the question.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I want to know where you stand to-day in regard to tea prices. I asked what you would have done and the answer is what I am to do in the future. I suggest we ought to decide the present and let us move on to the future.

Mr. de Valera:  You have only put it on the long finger.

[876]Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  What would you do?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I think there is a rumble coming. We are going to get an explanation. What does Deputy Carter think? What would the Fianna Fáil Party have done?

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  We would have taken our own line.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Keep that secret weapon up your sleeve. They would have taken their own measures.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  These interruptions must cease.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  At the same time the Minister is pretending he is conferring an honour on the people.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  You are young.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Carter must cease.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It is clear enough.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  I am asking a question.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  He said we are putting it on the long finger. His view is that the subsidy should not be on at all, that the people should pay 3/- more. That is their view, but thanks to us they are not paying 3/- more. We have held tea prices steady.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  How?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We did that because we did not want an impact on the people's standard of living by allowing tea prices to rise so substantially.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  How did you hold it ?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  By telling Tea Importers to carry the price on an overdraft, as your Government told Fuel Importers to carry fuel on an overdraft amounting to many millions of pounds for more than ten years.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  That is another story. You are only producing a red herring.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We will move off tea.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  No, you will not move off tea.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The [877] Minister must be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  He has asked me a question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Minister.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  What is the future price of tea?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  He is asking me a question.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  What will the future price of tea be after September?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It will be in September lower than it would be if you were in office.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  We have got it now.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order!

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Leave him alone. He is only playing for the 30th June.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  These interruptions must cease. The Tánaiste is in possession and should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  He has a number of red herrings.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Let the bombast carry on.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Let us move off tea, if it is such an unpalatable beverage for the Fianna Fáil Party. Is it appreciated that if Fianna Fáil were in office the people would be paying 3/- a lb. more for tea than they are to-day? Will you deny that fact ?

Mr. de Valera:  You do not know; neither do I.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I will move on to butter. Maybe that is a better wicket for you. We reduced the price by 5d. a lb. as an earnest of our intention to reduce the cost of living. We brought butter down to 3/9 after Fianna Fáil had forced it up to 4/2. I ask Deputy de [878] Valera this: if the Fianna Fáil Party had been returned last year, would they have reduced the price of butter? It could only be done by subsidising it. Fianna Fáil, having abolished the subsidy on butter in 1952, is anyone so soft-headed as to believe that they they would have restored any portion of it in 1954? Of course they would not. I assert here again that if Fianna Fáil were in office to-day the people would be paying 5d. per lb. more for butter.

Take these two items alone. Thanks to the Fianna Fáil Party sitting over there ornamenting those benches, the people now are getting tea at 3/- a lb. less and they are buying butter at 5d. a lb. less. Apart from those two isolated instances, there is a general feeling of buoyancy, a general feeling of progress and of hope, a feeling of solid achievements on every side—all clear evidence of the consequences of the Fianna Fáil Party having taken their departure from office.

Mr. Mooney: Information on Patrick Mooney  Zoom on Patrick Mooney  What was the price of milk in the creamery in 1951? A 1/- a gallon.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Let me cost this Budget in another way. These improvements which have been given in the Budget cost money. The money has got to be found. We have found the money to do it and found it without imposing any additional taxes that would in any way impact on the national economy. For example, the butter subsidy this year is costing £2,000,000 and everyone who misguidedly voted for Fianna Fáil in the last election can sit down now feeling satisfied that, thanks to the inter-Party Government, the Fianna Fáil supporters can put butter on their bread, now that Fianna Fáil are not in office.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  But not on their biscuits.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Deputy Briscoe, as usual, is in the luxury trade. No bread and butter for the Deputy.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Let him eat cake.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The ones we give the school children.

[879]Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The butter subsidy this year is costing £2,000,000 which this Government is gladly providing so that the people may have cheaper butter. Then there are additional health services this year over and above last year, which will cost £750,000 more.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Better health services than what?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We have increased the services and provided improved benefits for upwards of 200,000 people. We are providing nearly £1,000,000 more for social services this year than was provided by the Fianna Fáil Government. We are providing tax free allowances under the income-tax allowances for children, which will bring relief this year to 27,000 families at a cost of £100,000 this year—more next year. The additional cost, borne in our Budget this year, to provide for the reliefs granted last year amounts to an additional £600,000. In this Budget the reliefs and improvements will cost us £4,350,000 this year. When you remember, too, that we are not getting this year £1,000,000 from C.I.E., as Fianna Fáil had at its service last year, that we had to provide also for a deficit of £500,000 in Deputy MacEntee's incorrect over-estimation in last year and that we had to provide for a net increase of £1,000,000 in the Central Fund, I think we can reasonably claim that, especially in the short time we are in office, we have done a very good job with the resources at our disposal.

Let us sum up. You cannot take the policy of a team from just one portion of the football field, you cannot take the conduct of a Government by what it has done in one particular Department: you have to sit back and take, not a microscopic look at the performance of the Government but a telescopic look at it. I want now to take a brief telescopic look at our achievements in 11 short months. Butter has been brought down by 5d. a lb. The price of tea has been held to such an extent that our people are getting cheaper tea than people in any other white country in the world to-day. Our [880] employment is up to an all-time high record; our unemployment figures are down by 7,000 compared with this time last year. Our industrial production is up to a higher level than ever before. Our agricultural production is up. The Dáil is now passing a Bill to give back powers to the representatives of the local people through the medium of the County Management Act.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Ridiculous.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  It is ridiculous to give them back powers?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  No; what the Minister is saying is ridiculous.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  There is before the House a Workmen's Compensation Bill to give injured workmen better compensation than ever before. That Bill is doing for injured workers this year what Fianna Fáil refused to do for them when we in opposition introduced a similar Bill a few years ago.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Who is going to pay for that?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Employment on the land is being steadied, notwithstanding the substantial mechanisation of agricultural production. The bank rate, for the first time, is an Irish bank rate and not a British bank rate.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What about the safety valve?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  This Government, because of its stability, because the people know its policy, because the people know it can be trusted, is able to borrow money at a lower rate of interest than that at which the Fianna Fáil Government was able to borrow it in 1952 and 1953. We have increased industrial development. In the last nine months, 82 new industrial enterprises or extensions to existing enterprises have been commenced. There are, before the Department of Industry and Commerce, about 240 approaches for the establishment of industrial enterprises, many of which will fructify into new industries, or extensions to existing industries in the years to come. We have, before the Dáil, [881] an Industrial Relations Bill which, for the first time, will give road workers and associated workers entrance to the Labour Court for the adjudication of their difficulties, something which has always been denied them by the Fianna Fáil Government. On top of that, we have this, the first instalment of improved social services.

That is a creditable record for a new Government 11 months in office. By sound and courageous government, responsive to the people's will, and anxious to serve their needs, I hope that the Minister for Finance and myself will be able to do better next year, and still better in the long number of years on which we will occupy these benches. Somebody once said that we could do the impossible in a short time, but miracles take a little longer. That is what we have done in the last 11 months.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I did not envy An Tánaiste his job, as the parliamentary leader of the Labour Party, and as titular head of those who voted Labour throughout the country, trying to defend what has been pretty adequately described by Deputy Lemass as “a Sweet Fanny Adam Budget”. Deputy Norton and members of his Party may be able to specify certain little reliefs in this Budget, some measure of social service benefit increases, but the public will not forget how he and his Party so fluently and lavishly promised substantial decreases in the cost of living. Deputy Norton said in his own constituency, using his own words, that even if he had to resort again to subsidisation he would do so. That has been done, to the extent of the 5d. a pound for butter. That was very early in the life of the present Government, but beyond that and beyond the token of holding tea prices not one effort has been made by this Government to hold, much less reduce, the cost of living.

It is little wonder that Deputy Norton should have resorted to the degree of levity he did and to a certain amount of personal jibing at the Leader of the Opposition in order to get over his case, jibing which, of [882] course, got the applause of those sitting behind him, half-hearted laughter, just as the Minister for Finance yesterday got watery applause and cheers from the cheer boys behind him for the puny reliefs he gave in the present Budget. The only relief, I think, felt in this House yesterday was definitely amongst the Labour Party members when the Minister for Finance sat down at about 20 minutes past five, to relieve them of their embarrassment at not hearing fulfilled what they had promised to their supporters. The same goes for many of the Fine Gael Party members. It is little wonder, having regard to the promises that were made in this House, on the authority of no less a person than the Taoiseach, and even the present Attorney General, that taxation could be so substantially reduced as was promised.

In case there is still some doubt as to the figures given—and I heard even the Taoiseach and the Attorney-General challenging some of Deputy Lemass's figures and some of the statements purported to be made by the Taoiseach—I would again remind them that during the course of the debate on the brutal Budget—so described by Deputy McGilligan—of 1952, the first thing he said was that he would repeal every one of the items of taxation as imposed in that Budget if he was sitting on the side of the House on which he now is. He said that in column 1439, Volume 131 of the Official Debates. Lower down he said, in column 1442:—

“I would resign the next minute, rather than proceed with any single provision in the present Budget.”

He proceeded with every provision of it, as it was implemented in 1954; he possibly had little choice in the matter, as the Budget was already in operation when he took office. But he has had practically a full year to examine whether his promise to resign was well founded and if he realised that the brutal Budget was unnecessary, then every item of the taxations imposed was unnecessary and he has had ample opportunity to implement the promise that he would resign rather than proceed with any of the provisions [883] of that Budget. I am sure he has no intention whatever of resigning.

It is a pity that Deputy Dunne has left the House, because he was not here when Deputy Lemass was reminding him of some of the statements he made as to what the Labour Party said on the cost of living.

I come now to another important personage in the Government, who was not mentioned by Deputy Lemass, that is, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. I take it that by virtue of his title and of the position he holds in his own Party, he is a man of some degree of importance, who has some influence with the Government. He said in the same volume, column 639:—

“The question was that if there was a change of Government would the same taxes be left on or what would be done.”

He congratulated Deputy McQuillan, who was the Deputy who raised that question. In the next column he said:—

“With a change of Government and with the help of men like Deputy McGilligan again, taxation to the extent of that £10,000,000 could be reduced. That is the answer to the question that was asked.”

That is a question which the people of the country will be asking members of the Government Parties during the next few weeks: What has become of that £10,000,000 and, in fact, what has become of Deputy McGilligan's £20,000,000? The Minister in column 264, endorsing Deputy Costello's appraisal of that Budget, said:—

“......the Leader of the Opposition made it perfectly clear that, in his view, unnecessary taxation was being taken out of the pockets of the people by this Budget for the purpose of creating an artificial surplus which next year, if the Fianna Fáil Party remained on that side of the House they could take off and go to the country believing that the public memory is short...”

[884] Deputy Sweetman is in that very happy position of Minister for Finance enjoying over-taxation that would bring in such increases in revenue as to enable him to give reliefs that would make him and his Government very popular throughout the country, but he has seen that the taxation then imposed, that brutal taxation, was necessary at least to the extent that he has endorsed it, that he has seen fit not to relieve the taxpayers in all the separate catagories, to which reference has been made—the smokers and the pint drinkers. He has not been able to relieve them of a single penny.

I will refer later to some of the promises made with regard to these taxes, but it was rather paradoxical of the Tánaiste to claim that, as a result of their coming into power in 1954, things immediately took a turn for the better, that, as a result of it, unemployment figures were reduced and industrial employment reached an all-time high and that there was a feeling of confidence and buoyancy throughout the country which made 1954 a very good year for the country. If, as a result of the change of Government, these effects could have been so soon felt throughout the country, why is it that this Budget is such a trifling imitation of what his Government promised could be done if they had the chance and could be done overnight if they had the chance?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I thought we would get that phrase. Where is the “overnight” phrase?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  In ten minutes.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Where is the ten minutes?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I remember the Deputy standing up here in about the third seat from the right and saying that he could reduce it by £1,000,000 per minute.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  If what? If we were elected before the July of that year. Is that not right?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Now we are getting all the contingencies.

[885]Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Is that not right? Get your quotation right.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  We will get it all right.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That is, before the mess was made of things.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I am only stating what I remember.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You are apparently only remembering what suits you and that is a bad tactic. It is a disreputable attempt to misquote.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I am quoting the words of the Attorney-General under the present Taoiseach and I have already quoted the Minister for Finance.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You have not quoted me yet.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I will quote now the Minister for Education, the Leader of the Fine Gael Party. At column 47 of the same volume having mentioned various figures, £1,800,000, £1,000,000, £2,000,000 and so on, he said:—

“... under the heading of what Deputy Costello described as buoyancy, he was over-budgeting to the extent of £3,000,000. These sums add up to £10,300,000.”

Surely if the Fine Gael members were so glib in pointing out how over-taxation was carried on to that extent in 1952 and how it was continued in 1953 and 1954, they should have made some effort to give some relief and indicate how they could now utilise the over-taxation and over-estimation of revenue which they were so glibly describing in those years.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  £4,500,000 is not a bad start.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  It was rather interesting, too, to hear the Tánaiste referring to the 82 new industrial proposals that had taken shape in the few months the Government were in office. I should like to know is he personally, or as a member of the Government, taking pride in that fact, and is he trying to impress the public and members of the [886] Dáil that because there are 240 industrial proposals before his Department at present, it is an indication of wide expansion in industrial employment? I am sure Deputy McGilligan knows well —he was Minister for Industry and Commerce at one time—that very many industrial proposals are put before the Department of Industry and Commerce which never come to anything and never have a hope of coming to anything.

With regard to social services, by all means the Government and the Minister for Finance can take pride and pleasure in the fact that he was in a position to give certain reliefs under different headings to recipients of social welfare benefits in this Budget. I believe that, having regard to the increase in the cost of living in the past few months, no matter what Government was in power, it would have to face up to an increase in old age pensions, widows' pensions and possibly further and other increases not taken into account at all by the Minister in his Budget. The pity is that he did not go that little bit further and make it a round 25/- a week for old age pensioners.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You said they were too well off.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I never said any such thing.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Your Government did.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  My Government never said that.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You did say they were too well off, and you cut their subsidies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Order!

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Having regard again to what the Labour Party promised in relation to means tests, I think they could have gone a little further and reduced the means test, so that more people could qualify even for the minimum old age pension and so subvent these little pittances they get by way of superannuation and otherwise in order to eke out a decent living for themselves. I believe that if that was [887] done, in addition to the 2/6 increase, it would not have cost so much extra that a little paring or pruning in expenditure would not easily have met it.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It is a very late thought on your part. You went the other way—they were too well off.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I should like to remind Deputy McGilligan of the history of his own Party with regard to social services and the declaration not very long ago of his leader, Deputy Costello, as he then was, who said that the existence of social services was a sign of illness in the body politic. He went on to say how much he disapproved of the existence of social services.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I think you are quoting wrongly.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I am quoting from memory.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You are giving it to the wrong person.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  But I am quoting and directly and accurately when I say that Deputy Costello then said that the existence of social services was a sign of illness in the body politic.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  No—he said that the necessity for them was a sign of illness.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  A big difference.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  It is a tremendous difference.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It is a big difference.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Having regard to the apathy which Fine Gael always showed to these social services and having regard to their record generally, without saying anything about their reduction of 1/- in the old age pension, Deputy McGilligan should be very slow to criticise the Fianna Fáil approach to the social service code generally.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Listen—you said they were too well off in 1952. That is why you slashed the subsidies.

[888]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  The subsidies were not slashed because they were too well off.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That is what the Minister said.

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  They were compensated in 1952.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  On the contrary, when the subsidies were taken off, or, rather, reduced, Deputy MacEntee said he realised the impact which that would have on the recipients of old age pensions and he gave them an increase of 1/6, which he admitted at the time was not as much as he would like to give them.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  And we are giving what now?

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  We gave 2/6 prior to the 1/6—4/-.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I might also mention——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  They were too well off.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I might also mention——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That was why 1/-was taken off the old age pensioners.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  ——that Deputy Norton, when Minister for Social Welfare in a former inter-Party Government in which I take it Deputy McGilligan had far more power and influence than he has in this Government, was committed to have on the Order Paper of this House for almost three years a social welfare code that he was deliberately obstructed in implementing and when it came to the old age pensions——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Who told you?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  ——we from this side of the House told the Government that if they were not able to agree amongst themselves as to whether or not there should be a comprehensive social welfare scheme at least if they permitted Deputy Norton to bring in one short Bill to increase the old age pensions there would be no opposition from this [889] side of the House and that the increase would be implemented in as quick a time as it would take to print the Bill and present it to the House.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  What year was that?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  1951.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  And in 1952 you said the people were too well off.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Let me finish.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I wish the Deputy to remember that.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Deputy Norton was not only prevented from bringing in the comprehensive social welfare scheme but he was also obviously obstructed in bringing in that short measure which he was invited by the Opposition to bring in. On the change of Government in 1951, that Bill was introduced and within two months old age pensioners had their increase.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  In 1952 the subsidies were cut because the people were too well off.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  That was not said. On the contrary, the Minister immediately gave an increase, small though it was——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Did not the Minister say that as the increases had gone beyond the increases in the cost of living there was no reason for subsidies?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I will take the Attorney-General's own interpretation. Is not the Attorney-General suggesting that the Minister for Finance of the day said that because the old age pensioners were too well off he was withdrawing the subsidies——

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  He said they were too well off and was giving them back 1/6.

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  We had to pay your debts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  There has been [890] continual interruption of Deputy Lynch. Deputy Lynch must be allowed to make his speech without interruption. He is entitled to that and so is every other Deputy.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The Attorney-General cannot take it.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I thought the Deputy wanted an argument.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I was making a statement. Since Deputy McGilligan came into the House at 3.30 p.m. he has been trying to engage every speaker— there were only two—from this side of the House in argument in order to put them off their line in regard to a watery Budget.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I thought it was to bring the Deputy down to facts.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  The Tánaiste saw fit to bring in last evening's Evening Press and quote from it naturally to suit his own case. I do not blame him for that if there is something in it to suit his own case. It was a statement supposed to have been made by Mr. Average Married. When asked what he would like to see in the Budget he said—and I think it showed a reasonable degree of intelligent anticipation —he would like to see the £85 allowance free for each child increased to £100. Deputy Norton, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, contented himself with what Mr. Average Married said, but he did not go down the column and mention what Mrs. Average Married said. It was to Mrs. Average that Deputy McGilligan and the Minister for Industry and Commerce appealed most in the last general election. It was from Mrs. Average they got the most support to enable them to form this new Government.

Mrs. Average was of course, presented at her doorstep in every city and town in the country with the wellknown Fine Gael leaflets comparing prices in 1951 with the prices in 1954. Naturally, these prices showed a big difference because of the reduction in the subsidies, but Mrs. Average was led to believe, not only by that leaflet but by the statements whispered on the [891] threshold by the Fine Gael and Labour canvassers, that prices would be put back to what they were in 1951. Mrs. Average, reading the Budget to-day, will not have the same grádh or welcome for the Fine Gael or Labour canvassers when they next come.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  We will get Mr. Average.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  The Evening Press reporter was very much lauded when the Tánaiste was quoting to suit himself. This is what Mrs. Average said: “As a housewife, my interest is in the cost-of-living figures. I want to see prices reduced.”

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That is a good idea.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  She goes on: “My husband would probably like cheaper beer but I think our high cost of living demands priority attention.”

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  She had her finger on tea and butter.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  That was the priority attention she demanded and expected to get and few people would blame her. Why should she be blamed in view of the statements made by the canvassers and by some people from whom one would expect a sense of responsibility?

Deputy Dunne was here when Deputy Lemass referred to his statement in Navan. He has since left the House. He is reported in the Meath Chronicle of the 15th May as saying:—

“Before Labour would participate in a Government with any Party or group of Parties, they would insist that the prices of bread, butter, tea, sugar, cigarettes, tobacco and the worker's pint must be reduced and reduced immediately.”

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Butter and tea are mentioned.

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  Tea has not been reduced. There is no reduction.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  These are statements that Mrs. Average Housewife might well have pinned her faith in. She might well expect some measure of [892] relief and some degree of reduction in this present Budget. The Tánaiste himself, of course, wrote a very polite letter to the traders of his district. This letter, dated the 3rd May, 1954, emanated from Election Headquarters, Railway Hotel, Kildare. It reads as follows:—

“A Chara, as you are an elector in the County Kildare constituency I take the liberty of enclosing herewith a copy of my election address and would kindly invite your attention, in particular, to the portion of the programme set out under the heading: ‘Reduction in Prices.’

In view of the serious effect of increased taxation on cigarettes, beer and spirits, which, no doubt, has had an injurious effect on your trade, I trust that you will find it possible to give me your No. 1 vote in the forthcoming election and kindly ask your relatives and friends to do likewise, so that, with the aid of the Labour Party, I may advocate in the new Dáil a reduction of the taxes which so adversely affect your business and the consumers generally. Mise le meas, W. Norton, T.D.”

I am sure the Tánaiste will probably send them a copy of the speech he made to-day in which he gave no hope whatever to the traders of Kildare or the publicans and the tobacconists that he was going to reduce the price of tobacco and beer in order to bring back the prosperity in business we were supposed to have before the Budget of 1952. That will be poor recompense not only to the traders of Kildare but to the housewives throughout the country who were quite justified to expect that the drastic reductions that Deputy Dunne so glibly promised would be backed up. Deputy Dunne said that unless there was an immediate reduction, he and the Labour Party would not take part in the Government.

With regard to tea, contrary to what the Tánaiste thinks, we do not find a debate on tea or the commodity itself as unpalatable as he suggests. The Government made a decision to require Tea Importers, Limited, to carry an overdraft until next August or September, which will amount to about [893] £1,250,000, because Sir John Kotewala, and possibly some other personages from tea producing countries, believed the cost of tea would come down in the intervening months. The Minister stated that the Government's decision seemed to be well justified, having regard to newspaper comments and reports from tea plantations and the world demand for tea. The Minister seemed to take all the credit to himself and his Government for that decision.

On the other hand, the Labour Party, either in Party conclave or here in the House, tell us that it was as a result of pressure from the Labour members in the Government that the Government was forced to take that decision in relation to tea. We do not know whom to believe. The Minister gave the impression that it was a unanimous Government decision whereas the Labour Party hold that it was as a result of pressure brought to bear by them on the Government. Beyond referring to Press statements and some other reports the Minister was not prepared to comment any further; he was not prepared to give any indication as to whether the Government is of the opinion that, in fact, the price of tea will have fallen by the time the authorised overdraft of Tea Importers, Limited, falls due. We can only wait in the meantime to see whether or not the Government decision, as forced upon them by the Labour Party, will have been a correct one.

One of the most disappointed sections of the community as a result of the Budget will be the Licensed Vintners' Association. That body poured thousands of pounds into the election campaign last year. They even went so far as to nominate one of their own members to contest the issue in Deputy McGilligan's own constituency and, no doubt, I take it gave a liberal subvention to his candidature.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The Deputy is speaking about a man who is not here. I cannot speak for him, because I do not know; but they gave me nothing.

[894]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I am talking about a man who went forward as a candidate for Fine Gael. I do not know him.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Why speak then about his getting a subvention?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I have said nothing derogatory of the man and I have no intention of referring to him further.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I am glad of that.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  He represented certain political and commercial organisations in that election and the feeling of dismay and disappointment that the members of those organisations must feel after their two interviews with the Minister for Finance must be immeasurable. The penal taxation imposed by Fianna Fáil has not been relieved by the Fine Gael Minister for Finance. However disappointing the position may be to the licensed vintners themselves, it must be even more disappointing to the average man who was led to believe, again largely by the Fine Gael propaganda and by statements made not only by canvassers but by leading members of the Government Parties, that the price of his pint would be reduced. It was assumad that if the price was not reduced to 1/-, it would at least go back to 1/2. But the Minister for Finance has not seen fit to relieve the poor man of that imposition and to give him his pint at the round 1/-. For these people the pint is now a necessity and not a luxury, but they will have to wait, on the word of the Minister for Finance, until next year perhaps when the Government may be able to do better.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Does the Deputy think they are looking forward to a Fianna Fáil Government coming back to get the pint reduced? Not likely.

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  There is no doubt in the world about it—none whatever.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Who put the price of the pint up in 1952?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  During the applause following the Minister's speech yesterday, the Minister for Industry and [895] Commerce shouted across the floor of the House: “Do you want an election?”. I believe he would be a very disappointed man at the results of such an election if it came at any time in the near future. If there was an election during the next few months the disappointment felt by the people, not so much at the failure of the Government to implement promises but rather because of their being so easily duped by spokesmen of the Government, would reflect itself very effectively in the election returns. Mrs. Average Married was far more important in the last election. When she reads the Minister's speech or the Tánaiste's apology for the Sweet Fanny Adam Budget, she will not be so very impressed.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  If we get the average man in the average Fianna Fáil household it will be all right.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  The relief of £15 for each child is of some help in connection with the family man's net yearly income. There are many people who have no families who expected some increase in the personal allowance. Having regard to the fact that more people are being caught up in the income-tax code every year as the result of increased wages surely the Minister could have given some extra relief this year. He referred to the relief, and this was applauded by his supporters, in the tax on tractors bringing milk to creameries. I once made a reference here to the waste of time in taking milk to and from creameries. I was supplied with some figures, though I cannot vouch for their accuracy.

I think, however, they are reasonably accurate and support what the Minister said in that respect. On the 22nd July, 1948, Volume 112 of the Official Report, I said at column 1230:

“In the country we have about 250 main creameries, and about 750 branch creameries, making approximately 1,000 milk receiving depots in all. I do not know whether I am exaggerating, but I think I am being rather conservative in that [896] estimate. I think I would be conservative also in saying that about 50 producers supply milk to each depot every day. That would be approximately 50,000 milk suppliers. Each of these suppliers approximately takes two hours per day to deliver his consignment of milk, totalling about 100,000 man hours per day.”

I consider that a great waste in the agricultural potential and the Minister's effort is a step in the right direction.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Who raised the tax on these? You people did.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  Unfortunately, I believe the number of people affected will be very small, so small that the reduction will have no impact whatever on our agricultural economy.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Why then did you raise the tax?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  I doubt if there are more than 20 or 30 people in all who can afford to buy tractors to bring milk to the creamery for themselves and their neighbours. I am sure that even at 30 I am exaggerating the number. I think it is about time that something more substantial and more realistic should be done about this waste of time in the sending of milk to creameries. I do not think that I or anybody else can easily disrupt the Irish way of life. I believe the farmers like taking their milk to the creamery; they like sitting up on the old cart, having a chat with their neighbours as they drive along, buying the daily paper in the shop adjacent to the creamery and reading it on the way home. Nevertheless there may be days in the year when every farmer, no matter how much he enjoys that particular piece of diversion will envy other neighbours whom he can see and who can devote all their time to their fields.

I believe even if C.I.E. were asked to come in, collect the milk and deliver it to the creamery by lorry, covering a certain area it might be an improvement or ultimately if the farmers themselves could bring their co-operation to [897] the extent of getting a lorry either through the creamery or among themselves it would prove a considerable advantage and a great saving of their time and would also make a considerable contribution to the economy of the country.

I do not think there are any other things to which I would like to refer on this Budget. I do not want to go over the ground that Deputy Lemass has covered and I do not want to follow many of the red herrings the Tánaiste has drawn across our path, but I think the net result is that this Budget, which was described by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture as the Budget everybody was looking for, will be known as the Budget that everybody will gladly and readily forget except perhaps the Parties that framed it.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  You people would like to forget it.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  “This is a bad Budget”—that seems to be the general conclusion of my Cork colleague, Deputy Lynch, in company with his leaders, Deputy Lemass and Deputy MacEntee. If it is a bad Budget, I suppose the only way we can try to form some decision is to make some comparison, not with all the statements of members made either inside or outside this House but with what is actually being done and what has been done.

I noticed that the present Minister for Finance in introducing this Budget said it was a good year. He did not go out of his way to say what Deputy MacEntee, as Minister for Finance, said in introducing his Budget in April, 1954, that the year which had just passed was one of the best years in the history of this country. In this case, in the Budget before us in what has been termed a good year, I notice according to the Minister's statement that unemployment has been relieved to the extent of between 5,000 and 6,000. We can come to that further on, but in Deputy MacEntee's case, in one of the best years in the history of this country the fact remains that in April, [898] 1954, unemployment was higher by no less than 19,000 than the figure of April, 1951.

Furthermore, in this Budget we are now discussing, we are aware of the provision being made in the case of the old age pensioners, the widows and orphans and the blind—an increase of 2/6. Members of Fianna Fáil stated that even this 2/6 is somewhat niggardly but last year in their very good year, they apparently forgot that these old, unfortunate people were in need of an increase. They gave them nothing in the great year they had, and left them, in the case of the old age pensioners, with a maximum of 21/6.

As has been mentioned, there was the question of a reduction in the price of butter but it is also well to draw attention to the fact that the present Government did at least honour its pledge which was something Fianna Fáil forgot to do, which Deputy Walsh as Minister forgot, the pledge to honour the arbitration award. There was many an auxiliary postman down the country, in South Cork and elsewhere, who had reason to be happy a few months back when he got a few pounds, and that, of course, did not come out of the air. It came from the provisions that were made not simply by the implementation of Deputy MacEntee's Budget, but during the operation of the old system here by the present Government during the last nine months.

I cannot understand portion of the speeches in regard to butter. They say it is a subsidy, but Deputy MacEntee came along in his own innocent way last night and pointed out that subsidies mean nothing, that if it is a case of a reduction in price through subsidy the people must pay for it anyway and might as well pay a higher price. If that is so, why then are they abusing us for not giving more subsidies? If they would hold to either line of argument—well and good—but they cannot have it both ways.

I am not going to dwell on other matters affecting the past, but mention was made last year of the wonderful concession given by Fianna Fáil, a farthing in the one-pound loaf of bread [899] or a halfpenny in the two-pound loaf. It is true this was a reduction but we know that the old age pensioners, the unfortunate widows and the blind persons will have much more reason to be happy now when they hear of an increase of 2/6 than they had when they heard from the lips of Deputy MacEntee that they were about to get the two-pound loaf a halfpenny cheaper.

One of the outstanding achievements in the Budget of last year was a reduction of duty on special marriage licences. I do not know whether there were many special marriages but apparently Deputy Walshe's Party considered it was a wonderful achievement in one of the best years in the history of our country. There is no need to remind anyone in this House, nor indeed people outside this House, about the background of the policy not just of last year, but of the introduction of that policy. I believe when we are considering or discussing an important measure such as this Budget we would simply be wasting our own time and the time of the people who are paying us if we continue speaking about the past.

As we heard yesterday evening, Deputy MacEntee seemed to realise that it is a great thing to live in the glories of the past, but I believe it is far more important to face the problems of the present and the future. It is with that view in mind that we would like to relate ourselves to this Budget. After all, a Budget policy is something that will, perhaps in a general way, affect the lives of people from an economic point of view for 12 months. But there is something far more important, something that has been completely avoided by the Fianna Fáil speakers so far. I fail to understand why they were not prepared to talk of the weaknesses or the strong points of this particular matter that is being discussed as a so-called responsible Party. I presume that in the next issue of An Gléas, their famous underground paper, they will have more false articles than they have at the present time. Surely that will not deceive the people. Surely the new organisation that is, apparently, not [900] yet streamlined by Deputy Lemass will have to crack up unless, alone, they are going to come forth now and say they have a policy worth putting forward for examination.

I believe that, in any discussion on budgetary policy, there is one item we cannot lose sight of. There is one item in respect of which this Government as a whole are entitled to take credit. There is one item in respect of which Fianna Fáil, as a Government Party-as a Republican Party, as they always claimed to be—seemed to be most timid about and afraid of handling. I refer to the problem of bank interest. Why did they gloss over it in any discussion here? Deputy Lemass tried to go out of his way to say that he will give credit if he thinks it is due. Why is it that they failed to comment on the fact that, a few months ago—for the first time in the history of this State—an Irish Government were able to say to the banks: “You are not going to do as you have been doing all along and that is to follow in line with the British banks and increase your interest”? Apparently that does not affect Fianna Fáil. Apparently they have reached the stage of imbecility when they are even afraid to say “Boo” when it affects the interests of those people.

When speaking of taxation I presume Deputies on all sides of the House are interested in keeping it down. If we examine all the estimates in relation to a Budget we will find that it is one of the weakest points owing to the enormous amount of money that has to be provided under the system in operation here. If we relate our remarks not alone to central Government, but to local government as well, it is really a case of the few gaining so much at the expense of the many. Fianna Fáil are afraid to tackle that problem. Even in the new streamlined organisation that they are trying to bring into existence, they will not tackle it.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Is this a criticism of the Fianna Fáil Party or is it a speech on the Budget?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Irrespective of how much it may hurt Deputy Briscoe, we [901] expect the policy of this Government will not be just to try to do something for one year. We want reliefs as we go along, but we want a policy that will give our people the benefits to which we believe they are entitled. We have heard a lot of talk about capital expenditure and we have heard a lot from Deputy MacEntee about the National Development Fund. I am relating my remarks directly to budgetary policy when I say that when we speak of national development we have to admit that the whole thing is a huge joke so far as this underdeveloped country is concerned. We supported Fianna Fáil when they introduced the National Development Fund Act, but we said at the time that it was a mere miserable sop and we say now that the amount provided will not be of any use if it will be devoted in the way Fianna Fáil intended it, that is, as a stop-gap measure to meet a crisis in the terrible unemployment position which existed at that particular period.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What about the present unemployment position?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  We believe that capital expenditure is of such importance that it will affect the history of our country. We believe it will affect the livelihood of many generations to come if we are prepared to play our part in a genuine way.

We have heard a lot of talk from some Deputies about private enterprise and public enterprise. The two can exist one with the other: we realise that. In relating my remarks to some of the points mentioned by the Minister, it might be interesting for some Deputies, who love to interrupt, to examine their political conscience at times and to study the political conscience of many of those connected with them. Then, perhaps, we might know where we stand and, what is more important, we might know where they stand.

In his Budget statement, the Minister used words which are of vital importance to those of us in the Labour Party. Speaking on the subject of capital expenditure and dealing with [902] the amount of money being provided in the Budget, the Minister said:—

“Such optimism is, perhaps, natural but it needs to be moderated by realism if estimates are not to promise achievements beyond what experience shows to be practicable.”

I hope that when the financial provisions of this Budget are put into practice we shall not have a repetition of what we have had in each of the last three years, that is, sums of money being provided for certain purposes but not spent. Surely that is not good housekeeping from a national point of view any more than it would not be good housekeeping from the point of view of a family? Surely it is not good that, where the money is provided and all the arrangements are made to do a job, a person should say: “I cannot do the job because I have not various things ready.” There should be no excuse for that type of behaviour. We believe that one of the difficulties has always been the provision of the necessary finance. Surely we have enough experts attached to every Department and surely we have enough co-operation between the various State Departments to enable us to ensure that, where moneys are provided for particular purposes—and, in particular, for capital expenditure— there will be no undue delay in putting the various schemes, which are so necessary, into operation.

We realise, in connection with capital expenditure, the importance of ensuring that the money is well spent. We realise the importance of ensuring that the projects for which moneys are provided will, in themselves, give a proper return. It is important to ensure that they are not introduced for political purposes or by a Government at a particular time when it may suit them owing to pending elections.

In relation to the statement of the Minister and to the general outlook for the coming year—and also in relation to what has happened in the past—we can see that no budgetary policy for one 12 months will be of any advantage to us if we proceed with the niggardly policy of day-to-day administration from March to the end of the following [903] April. The Minister stated yesterday in his Budget speech that the Government had under consideration the overall question of capital development. That is one of the fundamental points in relation to our co-operation in a Government and we naturally stand for full speed ahead in that respect.

Deputy MacEntee also mentioned national development. He said it was one of the outstanding achievements in all the years. If we are to review the amount of money provided during the 1930 and 1940 periods we realise that if a little more progress had been made by the people who were then in their prime in political life, instead of crowing now about what other Governments cannot do, we would not be saddled to-day with many of the problems which can be directly related to the accursed evils of unemployment and emigration.

Industry is vital to us but Fianna Fáil must remember and must take responsibility for the fact that many of the industries established in this country, while they have done their utmost to make them succeed and were supported by Labour in their policy, are still continuing to adopt a system which warrants the closest examination by the Minister in relation to the overall picture. Whoever that may affect or whoever may not like it, that is a matter for themselves.

In connection with this Budget, as in the case of all other budgets, the question of exports and imports has been emphasised. When some of us took a particular line last year in connection with exports, our words were suitably twisted and used against us by our political opponents. We realise that, whether we like it or not, in particular where the British markets are concerned for meat and other exports, when we are dealing in an international market we are not in a position to call the tune, even though Deputy Lemass went out of his way to-day to try to say that Deputy Walsh in particular and he himself, when in England last year, did wonderful work.

Prices are suiting us on the British market at the present time but we cannot [904] afford to close our eyes to the home market simply because we are getting advantages on the foreign market at any particular time. The only way to build up the home market is to build up a true policy of industrialisation in both the cities and rural areas. That will automatically mean more employment, more money available and higher consumption of foodstuffs. It is far more important for us to keep a close eye on the possibility of building up the home market while at the same time maintaining our position on tlie foreign market, but not to have all our eggs in one basket, than to continue in the way we are at the present time.

This is the first occasion since 1945 that any Minister in a Budget speech could point to the fact that there was not a decline in the number of people working on the land. Different views may be expressed on that subject. My opinion is that we had reached rock-bottom, that we had reached the stage when the farming community could not continue without the number at present employed in agriculture. If we could say that there will not be a further reduction in the number of persons employed on the land, that would be of advantage to rural Ireland and, directly or indirectly, to the cities and towns.

Our approach to this subject is not or will not be the Fianna Fáil approach —“anything you can do I can do better”. We are more interested in trying to put into operation a policy which will benefit the people as a whole irrespective of what Party is in power or of what political affiliations they may have. From the viewpoint of agriculture, if we can build up our home markets and continue the present policy of exporting it will undoubtedly give our people in rural Ireland, the farming community, the farm workers and business people greater hopes for the future than they have had in the past.

In connection with capital expenditure. I noticed the Minister drew attention to the fact that there was a certain saving which was the result of over-estimation of building progress. That should not have to be the case. [905] We are not blaming this Government. It is impossible to blame a Government that has been only nine months in office for the non-building of houses for which plans should have been prepared a couple of years ago.

We know from our experience in local authorities throughout the country that the building programme has been eased from 1951 to 1954 and into 1955. We do not want the policy of the last three years continued as regards house building. It is essential that those people who are in need of houses should get houses at the earliest possible date. While we express our understanding of the explanation of over-estimation in connection with building we do hope that that will not be the case next time and we do hope that with greater co-operation between the various authorities all the money provided under this subhead will be expended for the benefit of the people, even if it meant that we could not balance the Budget without holding back money.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What do you do when there is a six weeks' cessation of labour?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  I will come to Deputy Briscoe in a minute and he may not escape too well.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What do you do under those circumstances?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Deputy Briscoe looks up to—I was going to say to heaven, but I will say the sky—with horror when we mention certain aspects of our connection with this Government whether it is on a local authority or the central authority. Will Deputy Briscoe contradict me when I say that a large part of the finances that have to be provided for budgetary policy for the coming year will come under a system of finance that we should not have to admit we accept at the present time? Will Deputy Briscoe admit that his Party and he himself, a prominent member of the Dublin Corporation, were so timid in their approach that they were afraid to tackle the problem even as the present inter-Party Government tackled it? [906] Apparently, they would prefer that the people would pay higher rates and greater house rents than say “we must have lower rates”.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  You are talking nonsense.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  Deputy Briscoe does not like a bit of this line of thought and I cannot blame him because he has been so many years keeping in touch with——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  He does not know what he is talking about.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  We believe a national policy should be based on a general housing programme for the country and on an expansion of general services, giving capital and lasting value to this State. We believe in a policy which will not allow anybody, whether Irish or foreign, to be in a position to hold up the State to ransom. I can understand why Deputy Briscoe and his friends do not like that policy.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  What is the Deputy saying? Is he accusing me of being interested in the lending of money to certain people for these purposes?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  The Deputy has often opposed this policy of ours.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The Deputy is so ignorant of what is happening that he does not know what he is talking about. Let him ask his colleague who is sitting behind him.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  In his usual bullying manner Deputy Briscoe thinks that the policy of this Government should be that in which he has been interested so long. He has had the opportunity here of using his powers and influence with his own Party to try and do the things that we are now doing, but he did not do them. He has always adopted a silly attitude and he is now in the carefree position of not being worried with the responsibilities of supporting a Government Party as he was during the three years during which the inter-Party Government were in power previously. Because of [907] that he can now say that the measures introduced in this Budget are distasteful to him. Evidently it is his policy, as it was that of Deputy Lemass, to allow the highest rate of interest ever on a loan floated by the State for capital expenditure. Evidently the Fianna Fáil Party agree with that policy. If they do then let them put it into their stream-lined plans for the future but let them know that we do not agree with it.

I know that there are people outside who are inclined to condemn us. I know they are trying to say that anything we do in this regard is going to affect the whole structural foundation of the State. But I should like to point out that we are more concerned with the overall position of the people than with any one section. We have made it quite clear that joint stock banks may carry on for ordinary business but that there must be a central bank, subject to control by the Government, so that the poor people of the country will not be overburdened by the huge amount of debt that would accrue year after year if we want to give the people the advantages of housing and of the other things to which they are entitled.

There is one other thing which I should like to mention. Deputy Lemass mentioned our attitude to prices as displayed by the Budget, and I presume his lieutenant here in the House, Deputy Briscoe, will continue on the same line. I should like to make it quite clear that we are prepared to take them up on that. We in the Labour Party have never evaded our responsibilities and we never shall. First of all Deputy Briscoe and his friends accuse us of doing wrong when we introduced subsidies. Then they come along and say we should have reduced prices. I agree, and while I am not going to discuss a matter which may be sub judice at the moment, I should like to say that through certain inquiries that are going on at the present time we shall learn, as there is very good reason to believe at the moment, that the cartels and rings so close to the hearts of Fianna Fáil will [908] not have the control over the price markets as regards various commodities that they had in the past. It could happen, please God, that when we have had the reports of these inquiries before us in the House some of the gentry involved in these cartels and rings, supporters of Fianna Fáil, will regret the day that an inter-Party Government, supported by Labour, took over control of the country.

We say here quite openly that where we are concerned in the Labour Party this 2/6 increase in old age; blind and widows' pensions is not the final instalment. We owe too much to these old people in the end of their lives. We realise our responsibilities in regard to the unfortunate widow with children and to the terrible plight of the blind. Our policy in this regard has been prompted by a true sense of Christian justice. We want to see that these people are protected and, as pointed out already, this is but one instalment of the help we want to give them, and for giving them that help we do not make any apology to anybody.

I should like to repeat that when the reports of this inquiry which is going on at the moment are issued not alone will we be expecting the inter-Party Government but our own colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce—the man we had the honour of putting in that position in the Government—to see that what has been happening in the past will not continue—that price rings will not continue to hold the unfortunate people of this country up to ransom through a system which up to the 1930's had not been heard of. I cannot help it if Deputy Briscoe is surprised. We know that such people were heavily subsidised in the past by their friends in Fianna Fáil. There is one more matter I should like to raise before I conclude. For the benefit of Deputy Carter and of Deputy Briscoe I should like to recall a statement made by their leader at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis on Wednesday, October 13th, 1954, as taken from the Irish Independent.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  We had it already from your leader.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  It is well you would [909] hear it again. When speaking of possible increases for old age pensioners-the people Deputy Lemass was crying his eyes out for this evening——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Read it.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  He said that taxation was now running at a very high level and that any increase for social services would be dangerous.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Go on a bit further. Do not take it out of its context. Read the whole lot.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  What I have read is a complete paragraph. And when they stood up to-day they went out of their way, as Deputy MacEntee did last night, to clamour for more for the old age pensioners. Their leader sits down calmly and does not say a word. Perhaps he may later.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  He will.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  He may say as he did on the 13th October that it would be dangerous to increase the pensions. May I suggest that the time for political playacting is over?

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  It is only beginning, if you ask us.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Daniel Desmond  Zoom on Daniel Desmond  As far as you are concerned maybe, but the playacting in which you engaged in this House was destructive to the country. The people have already judged that and have realised your failure. In 1954 Deputy MacEntee said he would have a small surplus at the end of the year. While we have not a small surplus, if we adopted Deputy MacEntee's policy we would have. If we saved the money by not taking 5d. a lb. off butter, if we had broken our bond to the civil servants of this State and to a particular auxiliary postman I know who has to travel the country, we could have a surplus to-day. We would have no worry then because it seems from the view expressed by the Fianna Fáil speakers and by the policy which they have had in operation for three years that their only interest is in balancing the Budget. But we of the Labour Party in our association with this Government make it clear that our [910] first commitment is to the plain people of this country. Our first responsibility is to see that those who are in need must be provided for, that the balancing of a Budget, important as it may be in itself, is only of secondary importance where these people are concerned.

We do not concur in the views on national investment expressed by some people in the Opposition nor can we agree to a certain extent with the Minister himself when he spoke of the importance of national investment. We all realise that, but when, in regard to the necessity for people who were in a position to do so to engage in national investment, he drew their attention to the importance of love of country, our answer is that from what we can see, love of pocket is what affects those who are investing and not love of country.

There may have been a certain love of country among people 30 years ago, but that time is gone and they are not prepared to invest in this country unless the returns are suitable to themselves. That is why we say that the prosperity of this State cannot be tied up with the policy which relates to people or groups who are only prepared to put in for what they can get out of it. This State is too precious for that; the people in it are far more precious than that. I am sorry if what we say does not suit Deputy Briscoe but I am not worried over that. I give Deputy Briscoe credit for the fact that he was a prominent man one time when some of us were only children. At that time the view expressed was that there was no room for certain ascendancy classes. In relation to the present conditions, financial and other, it is quite obvious that a new ascendancy has arisen, a new get-rich-quick section in the community.

The Minister was right in appealing for improvement as regards industry and as regards production as a whole, but there is very little going to be given by some of those people who attend hunt balls or champagne balls with Fianna Fáil. We have no time for them and our co-operation with this Government is on condition that [911] the plain people, the people who are affected by the ordinary budgetary conditions which may be created, will get a fair deal. We are longing for a true policy of capital expenditure to be introduced for those people in whom we are interested, and we will have nothing to do, as we never had, with those whom Deputy Briscoe and his Party may consider to be their friends.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  In considering this Budget of 1955, a Deputy has to consider his responsibility to the people who sent him into this House, whether he is here as a representative of a constituency only or is in addition an elected representative of a local authority, a person who is a director or has an interest in industry and also an interest, as we must all have, in our home. I think this Budget of 1955 will stand out as a turning point in the history of this country.

Let me go back just a few years. Many quotations have been given here to-day dealing with the past 20 or 30 years since the foundation of the State. From the time this State was established, we will give credit to every Government for any advancement in the life and industry of the nation. However, I feel that we who are elected to come here and serve the interests of the people will have some day, if not in our lifetime at least in history, to answer to our children who may inquire when they read those glorious passages in Irish history from 1916 to 1921.

We are all well aware of the sacrifices made by men who struck a blow for Ireland and as a result gave us native government in 1921. We will be asked then: “How did you use that freedom for which so many fought and died, for which so many suffered, and for which so many as a result of that struggle, are still suffering in this life?” We will have to answer that question, if not, as I say, in our own lifetime, then in the history of this country. As that great and glorious leader of the fight for freedom, General Michael Collins, said: “We will use [912] our freedom for a greater freedom,” and that greater freedom is the industrial and agricultural advancement of our people.

I will go back to 1948 when the Party to which I have the honour to belong and which I am so proud to represent in this Parliament, came into office. In 1948 when an inter-Party Government came into power, many queer stories were circulated about Labour and about other Parties joining with Fine Gael and Fine Gael with them. I am proud that I am here in this Parliament as a member of an inter-Party Government associated with the farmers, the workers, with Clann na Poblachta and the others that are supporting this Government.

Let us bring our minds back to what was done in a very short time. In 1948 when an inter-Party Government took over the reins of Government, scarcely had four months passed when the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, and the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Morrissey, went acrass and met their opposite numbers in the British Government. They went over there to get better terms for the Irish farmer, to get better prices for his cattle, prices which would be related to those paid on the English market. At that time there were fluctuations in cattle prices and complaints were made by farmers and by those associated with the cattle trade, about the unfair methods adopted against the cattle industry here by certain interests associated with that trade on the other side.

Deputy Dillon, Minister for Agriculture, as a result of that meeting with his opposite number in the British Government, brought back a signed agreement under which our farmers could obtain for cattle on the English market prices almost equal to and closely related to the English price. That, in itself, was a big achievement that brought contentment and that brought some ray of hope to farmers who were purchasing cattle in the early part of the season and who, because of the previous arrangements, did not know what price they could sell them for at the end of the season [913] in October or November. Under this new agreement the farmer knew that the price he would obtain would be that on the English market. The English market was the only market and never has this Party denied that, although Fianna Fáil told us at one time that the British market was “gone and gone for ever”, that the cattle trade of this country built up over 100 years would “thank God” be ended in 100 days or 100 weeks. They made a quotation of that kind at that time and that was their view.

Relate that to the position here to-day. Where would this country be to-day were it not for the cattle trade and the prices the Irish farmer is obtaining for cattle and beef on the English market? Deputy James Dillon, to his credit, brought back that agreement and on it is being built the cattle trade ever since and on that agreement the Irish farmer is, thank God, in the prosperous position he is in to-day.

We had also Deputy Morrissey as Minister for Industry and Commerce who, in that agreement with his opposite number in the British Parliament, obtained from them the right—and the right, mark you—for Irish manufacturers to sell their goods in the British market. That right was being withheld from them since the establishment of this State. As a result of that agreement, many Irish factories to-day have prospered and are still prospering. Without that market their trade and their employment would be in a very sorry position.

When we were in power from 1948 to 1951—the records are there to prove it—for every montrh the inter-Party Government were in power 1,000 additional people went into insurable employment. That is there for anyone who wishes to trace the records of the employed people and it is there to the record of the inter-Party Government. Now, at the end of three years of that Government we had brought this country into a very happy position. As a result of the capital investment policy of the inter-Party Government, the land in this country that was neglected and that Fianna Fáil never seemed to think very much about, was reclaimed. [914] Much money was spent on reclamation, on drainage, on fertilising, so that the farmers would get a greater return from their land. That capital money was put into the land in the interest of the farmers, so that they would get greater production.

That brings me to a point I am well aware of as one interested in industry. If you want to keep your products at a reasonable price, you must have reasonable production. It is on the greater production that you can give the better price. But for the policy of the inter-Party Government and of Deputy Dan Morrissey as Minister for Industry and Commerce, many of the boot factories in this country in 1948-49 would have had to close their doors, as they would not be able to manufacture boots and shoes in competition with the English market. The same applies to agriculture. It is the aim of this Party to put more money into the land, to give the farmers better chances of getting greater production and, as a result of that greater production, greater prosperity.

On all sides of the House we are agreed that we have to stand or fall by the prosperity of our farmers. It is indeed a grand position to be in in this State to-day, coming up to Dublin and going out to our agricultural show here year after year, to see farmers coming in greater numbers, taking a greater interest in the industry to which they belong and on which we also are dependent. That position has been helped by the inter-Party Government and especially. I think all will agree, by Deputy James Dillon, whose father and grandfather fought such a gallant fight for the farmers in years gone by. It is indeed a source of pride to us that we had him there, to win for the farmers a greater freedom than the freedom they enjoyed and that was the freedom to bring their produce into the British market and obtain for it prices closely related to the prices obtained by the English farmers, whose farmers' union in England has a large influence on British Government policy. I think Deputy James Dillon deserves the credit of the nation for what he has done in their interests.

[915] We go from that period to 1952. It is a period that I well remember, as it was in the 1952 by-election in Limerick that I became a member of this House. Reference has been made to election posters that were sent out for that particular election in Limerick, Waterford and Mayo. I remember the election leaflets and I stand by every one of them. The election leaflet put out, asking the people of Limerick to support the inter-Party Government and to support me, by the members of my Party contained facts. It showed on the one hand the prices in 1951 when the inter-Party Government went out of power and also the prices after the Budget of 1952. That is a statement of fact. I am retaining that poster for future elections, as it is to me something on record of something that is true. There you have, side by side, the prices which obtained when we left office and the prices then after 14 or 15 months of Fianna Fáil coming back into office again.

That is being challenged here by people on the opposite benches, who are asking us what we are going to do about prices. I am glad to say this of the 1955 Budget, that I am glad indeed to be a member of this House and that I am going to take it back, please God, to-morrow evening to the people of Limerick. I am not going back to the ballroom proprietors of Limerick who subscribed so generously to Fianna Fáil in their 1952 and 1951 elections, but I am going back to Limerick to the people who are benefiting under this Budget. I am going back to the old age pensioners, the blind pensioners, and the widows and orphans, because in the 1952 elections they had no money to subscribe to Party funds, but on the other hand, they had votes which they readily gave to me to do something in this Parliament, in their interests.

I am glad and proud to be a member of the Fine Gael Party under the leadership of General Mulcahy, under the leadership of Deputy Costello and Deputy Norton. I am glad to be a member of that Party, and as a result of that election, I am going back to [916] Limerick to put it on record that we are bringing back to the pensioners, on the 29th July, increased old age pensions, and increased widows' and orphans' pensions. I am really glad that the Government took that action, because there is no doubt that the aged people are the weakest section of our community. It is only right and fair that, when a Government is considering giving some benefit to sections of the people, they should, in the first instance, consider the people most in need of it. I am very proud to be able to go back now and say that something has been done for that section.

I will refer to another leaflet which went around during my election campaign in 1952. I issued a leaflet showing, truthfully, the prices obtaining when Fianna Fáil left office, when the inter-Party Government left office, and when the Fianna Fáil Party were 18 months in office. What followed on the morning after the declaration of the poll in Limerick? About 60 workers in the C.I.E. depot, whose notices were withheld a week previous to the election, received those notices. That was what Fianna Fáil did for the workers in that depot at Limerick. They withheld the notices, and obtained their votes. I say that was dishonest. The electors of Limerick sent me here to serve their interests. That I have done, to the best of my ability, all these years.

The taxes imposed at that time were imposed on many commodities, many of which were luxuries, but surely one cannot say that the old age pensioners living on £1 a week, could be living in luxury. It could not be said, as it was by the Fianna Fáil Government at that time, that the people were living beyond their means.

That is a question which had to be answered, and it has been answered by this Government, who realise that, as a result of the increased taxes put on those commodities, consideration had to be given to that section of the community, in the first instance. Fianna Fáil gave the old age pensioners an increase of 1/6 in 1952, to meet the increased price of bread, butter, tea [917] and sugar, and those other small commodities which the old age pensioner was able to obtain. We felt that it was our duty to help this section of the community. I know that the people who sent me here are grateful to the Government.

There have been quotations given here to-day about what this one said, and that one said, where they said it, and all the rest of it. I am not going to indulge in this type of argument, but I can tell what was said to some of the canvassers representing me outside the polling booths in Limerick: “If you vote for Fine Gael, the old age pensions will be taken off you.” Outside some of the post offices, there were Fianna Fáil agents threatening the people: “If you vote for Fine Gael, you will have your old age pensions reduced.” That happened outside the polling booths in Limerick. I could quote other instances.

I am not going to indulge in crossfire with members of the Party opposite; they could as well hit back at me. Certainly, as Deputy Briscoe said here recently, I agree we could have some good-humoured comments across the floor of the House, and not indulge in personalities, and getting a bit hot under the collar. I hope that anything I have said will not be taken by any member of the Opposition as anything personal. It is far from that. I said that I am here as a representative of the people of the city and part of the county of Limerick, to serve their interests. I am trying to do that in more ways than perhaps talking in this House.

At that election in Limerick, farmers were being threatened that there was great danger if there was a change of Government, that there would be an upset in cattle prices, and that they would only obtain 1/- a gallon for milk. There were agents outside the creameries, as well as outside the post offices. Creamery men, with their asses and carts, bringing the milk to the creamery, were told: “You had better give your votes to Fianna Fáil, because James Dillon will only give you 1/- a gallon for your milk”. Now James Dillon and his father and grandfather have in their time fought for [918] the farmers of this country, and we must not forget the part played by the Dillons in the years gone by.

Somebody was quoted yesterday in the Evening Press as describing what was in the Budget, and what was not.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Mr. Average Married Man.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  There is another comment in to-day's Evening Press by a man named Seán O'Donoghue (30), married, with four children, of 20, St. Pappin's Green, Ballymun, who says:—

“I'm glad to see the old age pensioners, the blind and widows are getting the money—I'd like to see them getting a good deal more.

“I think the Government did very well considering how little money they had at their disposal. The increase of £85 to £100 in the income-tax allowance for each child is also good for people with large families-but it doesn't benefit me, as I am not paying income-tax.”

It is a pity that he has not £1,000 a year and six children instead of four, and then he would be able to assess what he would receive under this Budget. As a result of that, I am going back to Limerick, and I will be meeting men who have been paying income-tax, who have four children, and who have come to me, in my capacity as a member of the Limerick City Council, looking for grants from the local authority which they have got. As a result of getting loans they have built their own houses. We all know the strain that will be put on them for a number of years paying back the principal and interest. I will be proud to meet some of those men and to tell them that their allowance on the four children of £85 a year has now been increased to £100 a year and that provided they are paying at the rate of 7/6 in the £, there will be a saving of £24 10s.

That is no mean benefit for the people I represent here and the people whom I know personally in Limerick. It is something in which I think we can all take pride. In addition, as a result of Government policy this year in [919] floating a loan which was oversubscribed at 4¼ per cent., interest rates in the case of the man I refer to, if he had to build a house now, are reduced by ½ per cent.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The loan was floated at 4½ per cent. and not 4¼ per cent.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  I beg your pardon—4½ per cent. I thank the Deputy for the correction, because I should like to be on record correctly. As a result of the policy of this Government in obtaining money from the public at a lower rate of interest, we can say that we have done something better than the last Government for these enterprising young men who, during their married lives, have often to live in flats and in conditions which are not at all in keeping with their positions. I take pride in having been able to play some part in that matter.

This Budget will go down in history as the Budget which marked the turning point, as far as taxation is concerned. As a member of a local authority, I was unable to support a recommendation that the rates in my city should remain at the same level as last year, due to the fact that the many calls on local authorities could not be met without having to impose some hardships. There is no hardship being imposed as a result of this Budget, but there are reliefs for many sections of the people. In this Budget, in which no new taxation is imposed, there is a sum of £2,000,000 given to butter consumers to enable them to buy butter at a reasonable price. We all saw in the national papers some few weeks ago advertisements by the Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association advising people to buy butter and to eat and use butter in larger quantities, and rightly so, because we have butter here, the food value of which is greater than that of any substitute which is being bought at present.

If people are buying substitutes for butter to-day, they are not buying them because they want to leave butter behind them. What they really want to do is to balance their purses and this Government has enabled them to [920] get butter at a lower price. The price was reduced by 5d. a lb., which is a concession and that concession is working in the direction which the creamery milk suppliers of the country wish—in the direction of the purchase of butter instead of margarine and other substitutes which they are buying at present at lower prices. If we can even further reduce the price to the consumers, I feel that we will be doing something for that industry.

Furthermore, health services will cost more in the coming year, due to the coming into operation of many sections of the Health Act. These have to be provided for and they have been provided for without any increase in taxation. We, on this side, claim that in this Budget we have given benefits to the people to the extent of £4,250,000. That is no mean achievement but that achievement will be followed by an implementation of the other points of policy which we put before the people when we were returned to office. What is done in this Budget is the first instalment of what we will do in each Budget in the next four years, at the conclusion of which we shall go to the country and render an account of our stewardship. We will then put before the people the record of what we have done during our period of office. We will compare prices and so on, and whether we are to be judged by the electorate in four years' time or by history, we will be prepared to await that judgment, in the sure know ledge that it will be a judgment of gratitude by the people of the country.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  May I express my great personal regret that Deputy Desmond, having sent over to me a few of his paper darts, did not think it worth his while to await my returning the darts to him? I will not leave him out of the debate, however, and I hope that in due course he will read my replies to some of his remarks and suggestions.

May I say to Deputy Carew that I think he will be disappointed? He announced three or four times that he is going back to his constituency to-morrow and he has indicated to us the [921] great jubilation which he says awaits him on his return. There will be no bands to meet him as a result of this Budget.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  I do not hire them.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  And there will be no jubilation.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  I leave it to the ballroom proprietors.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Whatever the reason, there will not be that jubilation he speaks of.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  You never know.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I have great respect and personal regard for Deputy Carew, but I should like to say this, that, when he talks about people being honest and dishonest in political matters, he at least should keep on the straight line. He made the statement here that the Fianna Fáil Government withheld the notices of the C.I.E. workers until after the declaration of the poll at his by-election and he knows full well that neither his Government nor ours are responsible for the dismissals which have taken place since Deputy Morrissey as Minister gave C.I.E. their complete freedom. I could say to him that the dismissals from C.I.E. which have taken place since this Government came into office are the result of the operations of this Government, but I do not say so, and I hope that Deputy Carew will withdraw that mean imputation against Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  I do not indulge in mean imputations.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Does the Deputy not accept the fact that the C.I.E. directorate hire and fire their personnel without any direction from this House?

Mr. Carew: Information on John Carew  Zoom on John Carew  I do accept that, and I withdraw.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I do not think Deputy Carew would want to remain on record as having made a statement and not having withdrawn it when given the opportunity. I am satisfied with what the Deputy says.

[922] I am very amused in approaching the consideration of this Budget. I do not start off by saying that this is a bad Budget. I do not think that Fianna Fáil could afford to say that it is a bad Budget, because it is almost consistent with the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1954, so that if I were to say it was a bad Budget, I should have to say also that the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1954 was a bad Budget. But the members of the inter-Party Coalition—whatever the make-up is—should say it is a bad Budget because they abused Fianna Fáil in no uncertain terms on the 1954 Budget and I propose to refer to what some of the leading spokesmen of these groups said about it.

What is the difference in the main? In the 1954 Budget, the total of benefits or reliefs granted amounted to £1,793,000. We have heard great shouts about the wonderful reliefs and benefits which the Coalition have made available in this Budget, but nobody has thought fit to add up the figures for the various reliefs. The total of their benefits and reliefs comes to £1,020,000, £770,000 less than granted in the 1954 Fianna Fáil Budget. I am putting that on record.

Where have they got some of that sum of £1,020,000? They are going to get £450,000 by the removal of the subsidy for confectionery. When I referred to the biscuit earlier in the debate by way of interjection, Deputy Norton, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, threw back the gibe that I dealt only in luxury articles. Might I tell the House that in the City of Dublin—and Deputy Larkin knows this well—there is not a child who does not occasionally have a currant bun? That is the confectionery from which the subsidy is being removed and that is the luxury to which I am referring.

Mr. Glynn: Information on Brendan M. Glynn  Zoom on Brendan M. Glynn  Not if it is home cooked.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  If it is home cooked, it is.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Does the Deputy not know that in the City of Dublin—I can only talk of Dublin with any personal direct knowledge—there is a considerable trade done by our bakeries in supplying [923] buns and various kinds of cheap confectionery which are taken by the working classes in the City of Dublin?

Mr. Glynn: Information on Brendan M. Glynn  Zoom on Brendan M. Glynn  Is the Deputy interested in the reduction of the cost of living?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Of course I am but I am proving now that instead of reducing the cost of living by taking away this £450,000 as a subsidy the cost of living is being increased in regard to certain articles. Does the Deputy not agree that if the subsidy is removed from confectionery——

Mr. Glynn: Information on Brendan M. Glynn  Zoom on Brendan M. Glynn  From luxuries.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Apparently only the rich are entitled to a currant bun.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Denis O'Sullivan  Zoom on Denis O'Sullivan  Nonsense.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Why are you taking away the subsidy? The Coalition cannot have it both ways. They cannot say they are reducing the cost of living when, in fact, they are increasing it. Neither can they escape by saying that confectionery is exclusively eaten by the luxury classes and not by the working classes.

Mr. Glynn: Information on Brendan M. Glynn  Zoom on Brendan M. Glynn  We do not say it.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Snr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Snr.  You have just said it.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The Deputy should read the interjections when the Official Report is available.

Mr. Glynn: Information on Brendan M. Glynn  Zoom on Brendan M. Glynn  I will deal with this matter afterwards.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  It was pointed out by Deputy Lemass and other speakers on this side of the House that £450,000 is being saved through the removal of the subsidy on confectionery. I do not know what proportion of that was applied to exports. Deputy Lemass pointed out that the matter is deserving of further consideration for fear that in addition to the bad effects from the point of view of the people who eat confectionery at home there might be disemployment as a result of losing the trade so recently built up.

[924] Are we to take it that the child of a working man is never to get a biscuit? I saw in this morning's Press where one of our leading biscuit manufacturers pointed out that the increase in the price of biscuits would be at least 2d. per lb. The Government accused us when we were in opposition of deliberately taking away from certain people a certain commodity. Would I be fair in saying that my interpretation of this act is that the Government thinks it is not right for the poorer sections to eat commodities fit only for those who are in the luxury classes? That is what they said to us when we removed the subsidies. When we removed the subsidies it was alleged we were saying that people were spending too much money and that they were getting too much. That is coming home to roost now. The public will interpret this act as meaning that the present Coalition Government concludes they are eating too much confectionery and that it must be stopped. That is why the subsidy is being removed.

The Minister referred in his Budget speech to the consideration given to the brewers. The amount involved is £20,000. It was not pointed out that the Fianna Fáil Government first considered that particular matter in the last Budget and that the remission they gave to the same brewers for the same purpose came to £350,000 in the financial year 1954. This £20,000 is, if you like, the result of a slight correction between the granting of £350,000 and £370,000. It is, of course, another of the remissions.

Deputy Desmond had one of the most difficult jobs to do here this evening. Deputy Desmond, who was recently elected to the chairmanship of the Labour Party, in his discussion on the Budget made certain wide swipes at what he wanted and what was expected in the future. But he did not deal with this Budget on the level it should be brought to or on the level the Labour members brought their Budget speech to on the last occasion the Budget was introduced. With regard to the 5d. off the butter. I spoke about that when the Bill was brought in to bring about the reduction of 5d. [925] I said then what Deputy Lemass said to-day and I have no reason to change my opinion nor have I heard anything that would make me change my attitude.

Butter is not one of the essentially large items of consumption of the working classes. It is certainly not used by them to the same extent as they use bread. On a former occasion here I said that if the Government were really anxious to introduce reliefs for the benefit of the masses they should take off bread the equivalent of what they have taken off butter. I was gibed at on that occasion with the fact that Fianna Fáil had taken ½d. off. That was the answer. Every member of the working classes would prefer to have an additional 2d. taken off the loaf than to have 5d. taken off the pound of butter. On that occasion, too, I gave the average number of loaves used per household and the amount of butter consumed as distinct from margarine.

Perhaps there is another little secret behind all this. I hesitate to assert this as a fact and so I put it as a question: In the £2,000,000 which the Government claims is the subsidy for butter, is there any part of that used to subsidise butter which is exported? Is it not a fact that while there is a subsidy of 5d. on butter consumed at home there is a subsidy of 10d. per lb. on butter which is exported? Is it the idea to hide that and pretend that the £2,000,000 is a subsidy for the benefit of our own people at home? There were 3,000 tons of butter exported in the year under review; at 10d. per lb. subsidy the total sum amounts to £280,000 and that £280,000 comes out of the £2,000,000 and is used to subsidise butter for export.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Information on Denis O'Sullivan  Zoom on Denis O'Sullivan  Was the Deputy listening to Deputy Walsh speaking on the Estimate for Agriculture? He said that the subsidy should be put on chocolate.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I will not be sidetracked. I am pointing out what I believe to be the actual situation. On [926] the one hand you have the Government saying they are subsidising butter to the extent of £2,000,000 per annum and implying that that subsidy is exclusively for the benefit of consumers of butter at home. Is it not a fact that 3,000 tons of butter were exported last year and that every lb. of that butter carried a subsidy of 10d. per lb? Would it not have been better to increase the subsidy on the butter consumed at home, thereby making it a little bit cheaper still so that our own people could eat more of it rather than pay 10d. per lb. by way of subsidy on the butter we export?

Perhaps Deputy Desmond would make a note of that. Deputy Desmond wants a substantial sum of money spent on what he calls national development, but he does not want it spent in the miserable manner in which Fianna Fáil spent it. It was Fianna Fáil which introduced the National Development Fund in an effort to make some contribution towards providing employment for persons seasonally unemployed or chronically unemployed and, in particular, in an effort to have not only money but schemes available should a crisis develop and large-scale unemployment ensue because of international conditions. Deputy Desmond does not like that. He does not, however, point out that, while he wants large-scale activity in connection with national development, in fact, the amount of money provided in the Estimate this year is less than what was provided in the 1954 Budget. He also says that where money is provided for a specific purpose he does not want any part of that sum to remain unexpended.

I interjected at that point and I asked him: What does one do in circumstances such as we had recently in the Dublin Corporation? We estimated certain expenditure to cover our housing programme and we found ourselves faced with a trade dispute; building came to an end. In such circumstances how can one continue to spend the money estimated or continue giving employment? The target aimed at could not be reached. In such a situation there will naturally be a certain amount of money unexpended.

[927] Deputy Desmond indulges in theories. We have to deal with practicalities. Unpredictable obstacles arise and one has to find ways and means of dealing with those obstacles.

Deputy Desmond talked about the rate of interest and he became rather personal as far as I was concerned—as if I personally had something to do with the banks or as if I were personally lending money and demanding this tribute by way of high interest rates. I make a present of that to Deputy Desmond because his case in support of this Budget was so bad he had no alternative but to try to be personal at someone else's expense. Deputy Desmond has a lot to learn. We are living fortunately in a State which has a Constitution and so long as that Constitution is there the right to hold private property is there. If Deputy Desmond wants to do what he implied he would like to do he will have to wait until there is a majority of Deputy Desmonds here and the Constitution is amended.

In the meantime the supply of money can only be directed into Government or local authority operations on the basis of what is offered in exchange for it. The Minister quite rightly hopes there will be thrift and greater savings will be made; he hopes that these savings will become available for capital expenditure. I agree with the Minister in that but the Minister would be the first to admit that, unless you give the man who saves an inducement to make him lend his savings to the State, you will not get his money. Deputy Desmond is either living too much in the future or he does not understand the situation.

When he talks about the Dublin Corporation paying a high rate of interest and implies that is my fault personally, I want to throw that back in his teeth. Next month, or the month after, he will see what happens. It is the policy of the Dublin Corporation to house its people as rapidly as possible. There is no dispute about the rate of speed in relation to housing. Every year £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 is required for our housing programme in Dublin. We apply to the Minister for Finance and [928] we tell him our money is running out and that we will not be able to continue unless we get more money. The Minister replies telling us that we must apply to the bank for an overdraft and he will sanction our borrowing until he has had an opportunity of ironing out the problems attaching to a loan. We go to the bank. We are told what the rate of interest is and we apply for sanction.

Now, if the Government thinks that Deputy Briscoe as chairman of the finance committee, together with the city manager, is paying too much by way of interest the Minister can refuse to sanction. He knows that unless we agree to the normal regular rate of interest for such loans the bank will not give us the money. We are then told by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government to consult our stockbrokers and the banks as to when we should issue our bonds for public subscription, the price at which we should issue them, and the rate of interest we should offer. Because there is a danger that we will not get the issue fully subscribed, since pressure has been put on the Dublin Corporation to build not less than a certain number of houses, we go to the Minister, tell him the terms and conditions of the loan and he underwrites it, and the Minister subsequently makes up any shortage that may appear in the loan, pays the money out to us and takes up the rest of the scrip.

It is up to the Minister and not up to me to agree the issue price and the rate of interest and if he thinks we should not pay more than 2 per cent. we do not care a hang. We will issue at 2 per cent. because he underwrites it. If he does not want to take up the whole lot—the whole £5,000,000—when it is issued he says: “You had better pay a little bit more. The current market rate will be such that you will get no subscriptions unless you issue at 4¾ or 5 per cent.” It is not our responsibility; it is the responsibility of the Minister. If on his advice we issue a loan, and if because of his advice, it is not subscribed to any extent, or not at all, he has to find the [929] money. He knows that our requirements between our housing and small Dwellings Acquisition Act loans are in the neighbourhood of £6,000,000 or £6,500,000 per year.

We are spending all that money in housing our people and getting houses built, but Deputy Desmond comes along and says that Deputy Briscoe is paying too much money for his housing requirements because he does not understand the situation. He is a member of a local authority and if he means what he says, all I can say is that he does not know the first lesson in municipal or local authority finance. The Minister can either give us the money, if he has it in the Exchequer, on loan and can fix the rate of interest which he thinks from time to time is the correct rate. He takes the responsibility of paying into the kitty whatever is short.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Deputy Desmond seems to have got under your skin.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  He did get under my skin. I hope when the Deputy speaks he will speak to the Budget and not to an individual.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne  Oh yes. That is my form.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I am not saying it is not Deputy Kyne's form, but he might not have been here at the beginning. I will say this for Deputy Kyne—I do not think he would have subscribed to the approach Deputy Desmond made in his references here to me.

Deputy Desmond talked of the increases in social services and one would imagine that when Fianna Fáil took office in 1932 they had taken over a vast amount of social services bringing benefits to our people and that they left them at that until this benevolent Government came in. Deputy Desmond should look up the records of this House and find out how many of the social services were in fact introduced by Fianna Fáil and did not exist in the community before the advent of Fianna Fáil. He might learn a lesson or two.

[930] There was talk about the increase given to the widows who were not qualified under the contributory scheme. It was Fianna Fáil who brought those widows in.

Mr. McAuliffe: Information on Patrick McAuliffe  Zoom on Patrick McAuliffe  Who compelled Fianna Fáil to bring them in? It was the late Deputy T.J. Murphy who was the first to advocate it.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  If Deputy McAuliffe could compel this Government to do something good I would be the first to congratulate him or if he compelled us when we were in Government, either by persuasion or by vote to do something good I would still give him credit, but at least credit should also be given to the people who were compelled—if you like—to do it and did it, but the way Deputy Desmond spoke one would imagine the inter-Party Government was the inventor of all these social services.

He talked about housing. Does he ever go back and find out who introduced the 1932 Housing Act, the difference between it and its predecessors among the Housing Acts. It is all very well to try to say that 2/6 extra for the old age pensioners now is the correction of a situation which should not have been allowed to exist under the Fianna Fáil administration but I can throw my mind back to the time when, in order to balance the Budget, the Cumann na nGaedheal Government took 1/- off the old age pensioners who were then getting only 10/- a week. Other members of the House remember that occasion. I have dealt at length with housing and I hope I have done so to the satisfaction of Deputy Desmond when he comes to read the verbatim report, as regards the position in which we are in Dublin Corporation with regard to the raising of money.

I want to emphasise that we are not responsible for the rate of interest that is paid. It is the responsibility of the Minister for Finance who will have an opportunity in the next few months of telling us whether (a) he will provide the money out of the Local Loans Fund or out of any other fund he likes and (b) whether he thinks it is advisable [931] for us to seek this money from the public. He will have to approve the issue and the rate of interest when we have had advice from our broker and when the Minister has had advice from his officials and whatever rate he tells us to offer, we will issue the loan at that rate. But of course he will take the responsibility. If he sets too low a rate and the issue is not taken up, he pays the balance of the money because he underwrites it. I am sure the Minister is not going to enter into any juggling performance with that sort of matter and will try to keep the rate equitable from the point of view of what the borrower is going to pay and also from the point of view of what those subscribing the money should get.

I said earlier and I want to repeat now with the permission of the Chair——

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  I thought repetition was out of order.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Repetition is not in order.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I merely wanted to put this to the Minister because he was not in here when I began. I approach this Budget on the basis that it is a good Budget. I am not finding fault with the Budget; I think it is a good Budget. It is not very unlike its predecessor, the Budget introduced by the Minister's predecessor. The Minister's speech was if you like, factual, and I want to say that except for a few small items, as far as I can judge, it was straight and above board with no great concealments except that there may be errors of omission.

To listen to the Minister for Industry and Commerce talking here to-day, one would imagine that all the items of capital expenditure were his own brain children. It was interesting to notice the way he drew out the capital expenditure amounts. Every one of the items he referred to had been having capital expenditure for years and years and in most cases the capital amounts on this occasion total to £5,000,000 less than the envisaged capital expenditures in the last Budget. Possibly it may be wise not [932] to budget too much. The Minister may be advised that they cannot be spent. Would the Minister agree with that?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  They never were, in any year.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I am not finding fault with the Budget, as such. I will come later to the consideration of what the approach would be if it were the same Budget and if the Minister were sitting on this side of the House. The Minister for Industry and Commerce talked about the capital expenditure on the railways. They are raising their own capital expenditure.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  I was sitting next to him and he never mentioned them.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  He did. He mentioned the E.S.B. They, also, are going to raise their own capital expenditure.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  If the Deputy will read my speech he will find that there is in it exactly the figure the Minister for Industry and Commerce mentioned, that is, £4,000,000 to the E.S.B.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  But they are going to raise their own capital. It is not provided for here.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  It is.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  We are not giving the E.S.B. any more capital for rural electrification. In fact, they are going to pay us back the sums already given.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  If the Deputy will look at the capital Budget for 1955-56 he will see £4,000,000 for the E.S.B. in it, which the Minister for Industry and Commerce mentioned.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Voted here?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  Yes.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  Is it in Table II? Anyhow, I cannot see it here. Perhaps the Minister would show me where the reference to the railway company is?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  Look at page 18.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  That is the Budget speech. I am talking of the Financial Statement for 1955. Is it in that?

[933]Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  I will tell the Deputy where it is in a minute. He can take it that it is there.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  The railway company recently issued a prospectus and sought a loan under Government guarantee. The Minister for Finance guaranteed it. I think it was issued at 4½ per cent. and £96 10s. issue price. It was not oversubscribed. It was not fully subscribed. The Minister who underwrote it had to make up the rest. The Minister will be guided by that in his next issue. There will be the market situation, the law of supply and demand.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  It is on Table II of page 4 of the tables in connection with the Financial Statement. “Below the Line” issues.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  I have that here. They are not specified here.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  16.94.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Robert Briscoe  Zoom on Robert Briscoe  They are not specified here. We now know that from now on —unless there has been a change in the idea—the E.S.B. will seek its own money from the public the same as the railway company have done. I do not know whether it will do it with or without a guarantee from the Minister but we are reaching the stage now where, for capital expenditures, money has to be raised publicly. There is no use in trying now to fix a rate of interest of some 2 per cent. that you believe you can get all this money at. There is no use in Deputy Desmond's attacking the patriotism of the people who have the money, on the grounds that they are patriotic only if they give their money for nothing or for a very nominal rate of interest. And that they are most unpatriotic if they do not. So long as we live within the framework of the Constitution which we have, money also has its rights, even if it is under control. There has been a lot of talk about tea.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again later.


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