Tuesday, 24 May 1955
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Allen: When the Dáil adjourned last week we were discussing the financial statement of the Minister for Finance and its general reaction on the people. As has already been pointed out to the Minister, this Budget has taken the same shape and is providing for taxes at the same rates as had been in operation since 1952. In no single respect have the people been given any relief from the taxes which were imposed in that much maligned Budget.
The Budget of 1952 was the first Budget that the Fianna Fáil Government brought in after resuming office in early June, 1951. Previous to that the then Minister of the Coalition Government, the present Attorney-General, Deputy McGilligan, had brought in a Budget that has become well known since as a most dishonest Budget and, as has been plainly shown, a Budget that left a deficit of at least £7,000,000 of unpaid debts. The 1952 Budget, which provided for increased revenues to the State, became necessary in order to pay those heavy debts that had been left by the previous Government. It has been shown already that the rate of Government expenditure up to the time that Fianna Fáil took office in 1951 necessitated considerably increased revenue. Fianna Fáil took the first opportunity in the Budget they introduced in 1952 to right that situation and to provide that sufficient revenue would come into the Exchequer in order to pay the liabilities that the State had undertaken.
The increased taxation was brought in for another purpose and that was to  seek to right as far as lay in the power of the Government the very serious situation that then existed in the matter of the balance of payments. We had a deficit in our balance of payments in 1951 to the tune of £65,000,000; we were then steering towards the rocks of bankruptcy and this nation would have been listed as a bankrupt nation within another 12 months. The Coalition Government during their three years of office almost succeeded in spending all our sterling assets. The 1952 Budget was designed to correct the situation that arose and so well did it succeed that when Fianna Fáil left office in 1954 the balance of payments deficit was down to something around £5,000,000 or less than £5,000,000.
The Government took office last year with a Budget introduced by Fianna Fáil in the teeth of great opposition from the then Opposition in the House. They tried to prevent Fianna Fáil introducing that Budget but, lo and behold, it was such a good Budget that had the Government continued the rates of expenditure that were in operation when they took office that Budget would have shown a credit balance of about £3,000,000 up to 31st March this year. The Government were not satisfied. They took office and one of the numerous assurances to the country last year was that if they were given the opportunity to form a Government they would see that there was no increased State expenditure. But they did not keep that promise to the people. Nine or ten months of office have succeeded in increasing Government expenditure by well over £3,000,000 beyond what it was when they took office in June, 1954. If they had not broken that promise to the people they would have had available in this Budget at least £3,000,000 and probably £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, as Deputy MacEntee pointed out, to give relief in taxation in the present Budget.
This Government are in office to-day because of their hostility, their attacks and misrepresentation, in relation to the necessity for the taxation that was in the 1952 Budget. They took office in 1954 with a Budget that  not alone was designed to balance but to show a credit balance. Time has proved that that sound Budget introduced by Deputy MacEntee 12 months ago under a Fianna Fáil Government would have balanced had not the present Government embarked on additional expenditure during last year. It was quite a different Budget from the one that Deputy MacEntee took over in 1951 on which, it has been proved, there was a deficit of about £7,000,000.
During the general election of last year, which brought about the result we see to-day of a Coalition Government in office and which, it is admitted by the country, would not be in office to-day but for all the dishonest promises with which they set out to deceive the Irish people 12 short months ago—in that election campaign, a very well known and responsible organ of the daily Press, the Irish Times, addressed a questionnaire to the Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, and to the then Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello. It put to them a series of questions and amongst those questions it asked: (1) if returned to office, do you propose in the coming year to reduce the cost of living by increased food subsidies; and (2) to reduce taxation on beer, spirits, motoring and cigarettes?
The Taoiseach, then Deputy de Valera, gave a definite answer, and his replies are on record, that he did not propose to reduce the cost of living by means of additional food subsidies if returned to office. The Fine Gael Party, in their propaganda—and I have here a cutting from the Cork Evening Echo of the 18th May last year, where the dishonest propaganda of Fine Gael appears over the names of certain Fine Gael candidates, Messrs. Barry, Barrett, Bermingham and Neville—stated that they would reduce the cost of living if it was at all possible to do so. That propaganda goes on to say that Messrs. Costello and de Valera were asked to answer the question whether, if they were returned to office, they proposed to reduce the cost of living. They do not mention “by increased food subsidies,” and the statement goes on to say “The answer was, de Valera says no.” What Deputy de Valera did say was that he did not propose to reduce the cost of living by increased food subsidies. He went on to say in his answer to the questionnaire: “In our Budget the subsidy on bread has been increased by £900,000.” That is more than it was increased this year. It has not been increased by a single farthing although the Coalition Government promised to reduce the price of bread.
Deputy Alfred Byrne is a wing of the Coalition, and in all my time in this House he was never known to vote for Fianna Fáil. I am not objecting to that, but Deputy Alfred Byrne went around to the slums in Dublin with the Fianna Fáil loaf of bread, as he called it, on a walking stick.
Mr. Allen: He went around through the slums of Dublin pointing out that Fianna Fáil had increased the price of that loaf of bread, but Deputy Alfred Byrne will troop into the division lobby, if there is a division on this Resolution, and vote with the Coalition Government that has not reduced the price of bread in any way. He will walk into the division lobby and it will not put a blush on his cheek. We do not see him now going around the slums of Dublin with the loaf of bread on a walking stick. I am sure he is going around giving “free” loaves at the moment but these “free” loaves are costing someone 9d or 9½d. The price has not gone back to 6½d. Fianna Fáil brought the price of the loaf back by a ½d. last year but this Government did not bring it back by even onethousandth part of a ½d. Deputy Alfred Byrne can put that in his pipe and smoke it.
Mr. Allen: Deputy de Valera said in his reply to the questionnaire that the subsidy on bread was increased by £900,000 just before the general election. That Budget was described as the ½d. Budget. In his reply to the  questionnaire he said that this brought the total subsidy on bread to over £8,500,000 and that to increase food subsidies any more would mean the imposition of further taxation. He said: “We will not do this.” The advertisement that appeared for the Fine Gael Party in Cork had not the decency and honesty to give Deputy de Valera's answer in full—it gave him a big “No”.
That advertisement which was intended to get the Cork Deputies elected went on to say: “Here are some of the facts about factories and families. Between 1948 and 1951 1,000 extra people, men and women, were put into employment. Fine Gael will continue that. Mr. Costello pledged his Government to do so on the 10th May and remember that when Fianna Fáil got back into office in 1951 unemployment started to increase.” Another question that was put to the leaders of the Parties was: “Can you mention any steps you will take to reduce emigration?” Deputy de Valera's reply to that was: “The only practical step is to increase employment at home” and Deputy Costello's reply was: “The only practical solution is the expansion of production.” There is not a whole lot of difference in that.
However, the price of bread has not been reduced in this Budget and no extra taxation was put on by the present Government to reduce the cost of living. The Labour Party was very vocal in the last election. I heard my colleague, the Minister for Social Welfare, now on the Front Bench, on a number of occasions and he said: “If necessary the cost of living must come down even if we have to put on more taxation and put more subsidies on food.” He will not deny that. He repeated that statement on several occasions and I am certain that the Minister for Social Welfare made very many statements to that effect during that campaign. He did not confine his activities to his own constituency. He did a very heavy election campaign and repeated the statement that if necessary increased taxation would be put on to reduce the cost of living. He is a member of the Government that  has brought in this Budget and he has had every opportunity to increase taxation in order to reduce the cost of living but he has not done so.
We had this “blue lagoon” that was used, and, I suppose, effectively, in the cities and amongst Deputy Byrne's constituents in the poorer parts of Dublin. This “blue lagoon”, which is well known to the inter-Party Government, as they call themselves, set out the prices of bread in 1951 and in 1954. Extraordinary as it may seem, the price of bread is still the same. It is one halfpenny per loaf cheaper than it was before the last Budget introduced by Deputy MacEntee. Flour was 2/8 a stone at one time and it is now 4/5. Even after this Budget, it is still 4/5. Butter was 4/2 per lb. and it has been reduced by 5d. per lb., at a cost to the taxpayer of £2,000,000 a year.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Corish can be justified that, out of taxation, he did reduce something. It is costing £2,000,000. Sugar was 7d. per lb. last year and it is still 7d. Tea is 5/6 per lb., but nobody knows what tea is costing the country to-day. We are buying tea and drinking it on the Kathleen Mavourneen system—we may pay for it some time and we may pay for it never. Every morning we drink a cup of tea, it is Kathleen Mavourneen tea we are drinking under the Coalition Government. I do not know how much it will cost, nor do the Government know what it may cost to provide that tea in 12 months' time. We are not raising the subsidy in respect of tea in this Budget. Who is going to pay it and when?
Mr. Allen: The Deputy asks me what I would do personally. I would try to be honest with the people, and, if I wanted to subsidise tea, butter or anything else, I would raise the money in taxation and pay it. I would not leave it as a debt in respect of which we are paying 5 per cent., 6 per cent. or 7 per cent. interest to be paid some  time by some Government, and the people are not being fooled at all in thinking that they are drinking cheap tea to-day because they will have to pay it to-morrow or the day after. The Deputy knows that quite well. If we want to subsidise it, we must pay for it, and we are only fooling and codding the people in pretending that they have cheap tea and have not got to pay for it. I challenge any Deputy opposite to deny that.
They are adopting the very same policy in respect of tea as the previous Coalition Government adopted in respect of many commodities. They humbugged and fooled the people at that time, giving them cheap goods of one kind or another, and it took the 1952 Budget and all the taxation that was necessary under it to pay for the spending spree and the good times which the Coalition Government gave the people. The same policy has been adopted in respect of tea in this Budget. We are enjoying the cheap tea, but posterity, the Irish people, will pay for it, and everyone drinking one cup of that cheap tea to-day will pay his share and will pay not alone the extra 2/- or 3/- a lb., but will pay the additional interest on the money for whatever time it is outstanding. We are just adding to the dead-weight debt of the nation.
Mr. Allen: And that applies to any other subsidy the Government, in their wisdom and judgment, decide to give the people. If the Government want subsidies, it is through the Budget they should be paid for and they should not be put on the long finger for their successors in office to pay some time in the future.
Mr. Allen: So much for the promises  made by the inter-Party groups 12 months ago. We have this Budget now —the bible of the Government for this year. Further reductions in taxation by way of subsidy, unless the Government propose to do as they are doing with tea further to subsidise foodstuffs and to put the cost on the long finger during the present year, are impossible.
“I made it abundantly clear in every speech I made that we were making no promises, and I said that anybody who was voting for me or anybody associated with me or who would be associated with me voted on that distinct statement that I was making no promises to anybody in the course of that general election campaign.”
We will just go over a few of the promises that are on record which were made by some of the satellites of the Taoiseach, the attendant stars he had, who were also seeking the suffrages of the people.
Mr. Allen: In the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny, a press advertisement said over the names of “Crotty, Feely and Hughes”—two of whom are Deputies to-day: “If you want a reduction in the present high cost of living, vote Fine Gael”. Was not that asking the people to vote Fine Gael for a reduction in the cost of living? Were they not asking the people to vote for Fine Gael if they wanted a reduction in the cost of living—a reduction which they wanted and which they still want?
Mr. Allen: The same advertisement set out: “Fine Gael stands for more  employment, more production, more investment and a lower cost of living. Fine Gael will see that you get these. They did before, and they will again. Vote for Hughes, Feely and Crotty.”
Mr. Allen: ——“The Labour Party seeks the support of the people in the forthcoming general election so that it can urge the new Dáil to give effect to the following measures which the Labour Party believe will provide prosperity and security for the people.” A reduction of prices was one of the things—“a reduction in food prices and the use of subsidies on essential articles of food to achieve this objective,” together with a reduction in the price of tobacco, cigarettes, beer and spirits The price of the bit of tobacco smoked by the poor old man of 78 or 82 years of age—Deputy Byrne's friend about whom he told us so much here—which Fianna Fáil put up has not been reduced in this Budget and yet the Deputy sits over there without a blush on his cheek—if his cheek could blush.
That piece of election propaganda also referred to “strict control of prices and regular investigation of price levels by an independent commission sitting in public”. We have that independent commission sitting in public and there is a strict investigation going on, but not in one single instance has the cost of living been reduced by one halfpenny in this Budget or since this Government took office.
There was another Labour candidate for that constituency, Councillor Devoy, who said: “We of the Labour Party believe that, given the full support of the electors, our programme as set before you can achieve a reduction in prices and taxation and greatly improve our economic position.” It would be very desirable if we could get our economic position improved, and it would be very desirable if we could get a reduction in taxation, and  I have no doubt that, in that constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny, many people, especially working-class people, people in the lower wage group, would be influenced by any group of people going before them, whether Labour, Fine Gael or any other, advocating a reduction in the cost of living and asking them to vote for a reduction in the cost of living by voting for particular candidates and promising, assuring and guaranteeing the people that they would get that reduction in the cost of living, if they voted for them.
The people foolishly enough put a majority of the people who made these promises on the opposite side of the House, but they have not got that reduction in beer, spirits, tobacco, food, clothing or any other commodity. The pint is still as high; the half of whiskey or the whole whiskey is still as high, as are beer, tobacco and cigarettes; and the loaf which Deputy Byrne carried around on a walking stick through the slums of Dublin is just as high.
Mr. Allen: ——Deputy Murphy in an advertisement said: “Once more we pledge ourselves to reduce taxation and the cost of living as we did in 1948, when, within six weeks of the formation of the inter-Party Government, the infamous Supplementary Budget in which Fianna Fáil planned to squeeze £7,000,000 out of your pocket, was repealed.” They have been 12 months in office now and they have not repealed the so-called infamous Budget of 1952. They have brought in another Budget since and they have not repealed one line of it.
Mr. Allen: It was a very good Budget and I want no greater proof of that than the fact that it has been unanimously agreed to in this House because the Labour Party are pledged to support the 1952 Budget and the Fine Gael Party are pledged to support  it, and Deputy Byrne, with the loaf on the walking stick, is pledged to support it. He is supporting in this Budget every single item of extra taxation imposed in that Budget. Therefore, we have a Dáil which is unanimous — we are very seldom unanimous in this House — that the 1952 Budget was a good Budget and a sound Budget, a Budget which has been adopted by every single member of Dáil Éireann without exception.
Mr. Allen: The infamous Budget of 1947 was repealed within six weeks, but let us get on to more of the promises made to reduce the cost of living to the ordinary people and to reduce the price of food. In Cork City, a big city, the second largest in the country, there was a candidate who is now in the House as Deputy Barrett. He said: “A vote for Barrett is a vote for a Party that stands for a policy of lower taxation and greater prosperity and which has proved during its years in office that such a policy can be put into operation.” It is a long time about coming. We have not got the lower taxation.
Mr. Allen: In Cork West, Deputy Collins's constituency, we had this election propaganda: “Fine Gael stands for fair play for all, for reduced cost of living and lower taxation. A vote for Collins and O'Sullivan is a vote for a Party that stands for a policy of lower taxation and greater prosperity.” The 1952 Budget, as I have shown and as has often been shown from this side, was necessary in order to pay Government debts and to pay for the costs of government.
Mr. Allen: I will give them to you later on. That Budget was necessary and it brought in £10,300,000 over and above what the rates of taxation in operation in the 1951 Budget yielded. The Minister will correct me if I am very wrong. In this year, 1955-56, the rates of taxation set out in the Minister's financial statement and the extra taxes imposed in the 1952 Budget are to bring in not £10,300,000 but £18,500,000. Not alone are the Government adopting the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1952 which brought in £10,300,000 but they are adopting it in 1955-56 when it is calculated to bring in £18,500,000. They were going to reduce taxation 12 months ago by £10,000,000 in ten minutes, if they got into office. Some of them stated their intention of doing that.
Mr. Allen: Three or four people from each Party were chosen to make broadcasts on behalf of their Parties to announce their Party policies. The chosen spokesmen—I am sure, on a prepared brief—went over to Radio Eireann and made their announcements. In his broadcast, Deputy McGilligan was not satisfied with £10,000,000—he said it could be £20,000,000. He said that on behalf of the Fine Gael Party and broadcast that to all the people who chose to listen in. His statement was published next day in the daily papers and very many local papers carried it.
Deputy McGilligan was expecting to be taken seriously on that occasion, as he always expects to be taken seriously, as one of the principal spokesmen of the Fine Gael Party and having occupied the responsible position of Minister for Finance for three years in the last Coalition Government. He was talked about as the Coalition wizard for finance and his financial wizardry left after him an unpaid debt of over £7,000,000 in the last Budget he introduced. There is no doubt that Deputy  McGilligan was looked upon by Fine Gael and Labour supporters and by those who were not supporters of Fianna Fáil as a most responsible person, who was a wizard in finance and who would leave some of the British financial wizards in the ha'penny place. He was expected to make in his broadcast a reasonable statement and I am sure the people were expected to accept it as a reasonable statement.
The Minister for Defence, who was then Deputy MacEoin, was down in Cavan and according to the Irish Independent of the 12th May, 1954, said: “They were not going to tell Fianna Fáil how they were going to reduce taxation when the inter-Party Government was returned to power, but just as in 1948 when they honoured their bond by reducing taxation by £6,500,000 they would do the same good work again.”
The present Minister for Agriculture, who, I am sure, is looked upon on the opposite benches as the most brilliant and responsible person there—I have not any doubt about that because they hang on to every word he says—was down in Cork and as reported on the 13th of February, 1954, he said: “The policy of Fine Gael is to reduce the cost of living.”
Deputy Corish, as he was then, and the present Minister for Social Welfare, gave a broadcast as spokesman of his Party and in the course of his broadcast—I am sure Deputy Corish, whom I know for a very long time, is, as I always believed and as I still believe, a most responsible Deputy and I am sure he was accepted by the people all over the country as broadcasting his statement over Radio Éireann on behalf of the Labour Party; I do not challenge that at all—said: “For that reason, the first point in the election programme of the Labour Party was the reduction of food prices and the use of subsidies on essential articles of food to achieve this objective. Labour was very definitely committed to that.”
Mr. Allen: ——essential articles of food would be quite right then. I do not know what standing Deputy Mulcahy had at that time. He was not Leader of the political Party, but he was Leader of Fine Gael—I think he was the national president and maybe he still is. He said, according to the Irish Independent—these are all responsible organs and it will be noted I am not quoting the Irish Press, in case it would be challenged; these are organs that supported the Party's policy at that time: “The people must replace the present Government by a Government which would set itself. vigorously to reducing the cost of living and taxation.” We have not seen any sweat pouring from the forehead of Deputy Mulcahy and we have not seen any perspiration on the brow of the Minister for Lands through seeing how, as members of the Government, they can reduce the cost of living and reduce taxation.
Mr. Allen: Vigorous action was to be put into operation to reduce taxation and the cost of living. We wonder when that vigorous action is to take place. I would like to see the Minister for Lands putting some vigour into that problem—I am sure he is concerned—if his avoirdupois allows him to put in vigorous action on the reduction in the cost of living. I do not know whether he need perspire or not, but the use of vigour by a human being denotes labour of some kind or  other and I hope we will see some indication of it.
Mr. Allen: I am getting under the skin of the Minister and his colleagues and I doubt if they have any answers. For the past fortnight or three weeks they have been getting up and denying to this House and the country that they ever made promises. The Taoiseach was in here and he thumped the desk and said: “Never did I make a promise to reduce either the cost of living or taxation.”
Mr. Allen: Deputy Norton, Leader of the Labour Party and now Tánaiste and second in command in this Government, according to the Irish Times of the 13th May, 1954, said: “...that prices were altogether too high and must be reduced by subsidies if necessary.” He followed closely on his colleague, Deputy Corish.
Deputy McGilligan, the financial wizard of Fine Gael, made a broadcast to which I referred before and “there was little doubt,” he said, “that savings in the cost of government to the amount of several million a year could be secured without great effort. A distinct change of policy was required, however, and a new outlook on the part of Ministers was demanded if the reduction in cost of several million pounds which was desirable in everyone's interest was to be achieved.” As I said before, the 1952 hair-shirt Budget, as it was described, brought into the coffers of this Exchequer £18,300,000 this year.
Mr. Allen: Deputy McGilligan was going to reduce the cost according to  his broadcast talk last year on the 4th May, 1954, by £20,000,000 and upwards. He must have had in mind the revenue coming in from the 1952 Budget and he very nearly hit the mark when he mentioned £20,000,000. According to Deputy McGilligan he did not want any of that £20,000,000, not one shilling of it. We expected this year that the pint, the poor man's tobacco and the poor man's loaf, and the all the rest would be down in price.
Mr. Allen: The same Deputy spoke of more and more taxation and of interference, but the more and more taxation is still in operation and the Deputies opposite are supporting it. Deputy McGilligan also promised that there would be more consultation and less interference. He asked the people to make the new Government strong and to vote Fine Gael.
Mr. Allen: The Labour Party, in a handbill, referred to price increases. They said: “Look at Fianna Fáil's record. Fianna Fáil deliberately increased these prices at the behest of the Central Bank.” Who is forcing the hand of the present Minister for Finance or of the present Government which is composed of Labour, Clann na Talmhan, Fine Gael and some Independents?
Mr. Allen: Who is forcing their hands to-day? Is it the Central Bank? The Central Bank was to be done away with when this Government got in and we were to bring home all our sterling assets. We all remember that when those on the Government side to-day were sitting on this side they were for  ever talking about the unjust Fianna Fáil Government and of the way it was forcing people who wanted new houses to pay exorbitant rents for them because the local authorities had to borrow money at 4½ or 5 per cent. in order to build the houses. They said the Fianna Fáil Government were doing that when they could have got the sterling assets which we had in England. They said that these should have been brought home instead of giving them to the British Government at ½ per cent.
Why has not this Government done that? Why has it not brought home the sterling assets? We all remember the propaganda that went on about the sterling assets and about the Central Bank, that it was lending this money to John Bull. I do not think that I ever heard the present Minister for Finance speak about that, but I did hear, when they were on this side of the House, Deputy Dillon and Deputy Mulcahy and other Deputies now occupying ministerial posts in this Government talk about the sterling assets that were being lent to John Bull at ½ per cent., and at the same time taxing our own people to build houses for slum dwellers with money that had to be borrowed at 4 and 5 per cent. What I want to know is why are not the sterling assets being brought home so that the Government will be able to lend them out to the local authorities to build cheap houses for the people?
Many Deputies, who are also members of local authorities, know that they cannot build any more houses in their own towns because of the cost of building and of the cost of money. They know that there are many people in their towns who are waiting for houses. Why is not the cheap money being made available? It is not coming forward.
Mr. Allen: I hope it will. There is one thing that I do know, and it is this, that all of us will be in our old age, with beards down to our waists,  before the sterling assets are brought home by this Coalition Government.
Mr. Sweetman: May I point out one thing to the Deputy? He is quite right in thinking that this Government will be in office when he has reached old age and has a long beard. The Government will certainly remain as long as that.
Mr. Allen: That is childish. A challenge which was issued by the Labour Party, one of the groups which is keeping this Government in office, during the election was this: “The Labour Party will stand firm for lower food prices, for increased benefits for the widow and the workless, for the old and the sick. There will be work for the unemployed men and women.” They have got the work all right, but they had to use the emigrant ship to get it. Another thing they said was this: “There will be more houses, cheaper loans and lower rents.” They also said that finance and policy directed towards the national needs would be under public control. When those opposite were on this side of the House it was advocated by them time after time that the Central Bank was to be brought under public control, or, in other words, brought under the Government.
Mr. Allen: I am glad the Deputy has reminded me of Tulyar. The present Government are quite proud of the fact that Tulyar now stands in the constituency of Kildare. This Government would not part with Tulyar for £2,000,000.
Mr. Allen: Except in this way, that if they sold Tulyar they would have another £250,000 to do some of the things they promised. I agree that it would not do very much. It would not give them enough to take half a farthing off the price of the loaf. At any rate, the present Government have it in their power, if they want to, to sell Tulyar. In my opinion he is worth every shilling that was paid for him. The purchase of that horse was a good investment for this nation.
Mr. Allen: The present Taoiseach, speaking in Donnybrook which I think is in his constituency, said according to a report which appeared in the Irish Independent on 11th May last year, that Fine Gael would reduce taxation and prices by applying a policy of production. How are they applying that policy of production? Last year we produced not only enough to meet our own needs in wheat, bacon and butter, but had a surplus. This Government was not able to market the surplus in agricultural production that we had last year, and that is how the present Taoiseach applied his policy of production.
Deputy Cosgrave, who is now a Minister of State, said during the last election campaign: “We ask for support so that taxation may be reduced and some easement granted in the burden which weighs so heavily on the people.” Will any Deputy on the Government side point out to me where there has been any easement in the burden of taxation? I say there has not been any. The burden is as heavy now on all our shoulders as it was 12 months ago. The present Government have it in their power to ease the burden of taxation, but they have done nothing. What has the present Minister for External Affairs done to ease that burden? I am sure he is an influential member of the Government and capable, if he were pressed hard enough, of getting some easement of the burden. Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll was well aware of the heartbreak and poverty suffered in many homes because of the “unfair and unreasonably high costs of essential  foodstuffs”. I am sure Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll was quite genuine when she made that statement to the effect that the Labour Party were pledged to reduce food prices and enforce strict control. I wonder if Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll is satisfied now that food prices have been reduced and that a strict control has been operated? As far as I know, the position is that, generally, the price of many essential commodities has gone up in spite of the “strict control”, and so forth, and the pledges of the Labour Party.
“The Labour Party's pledge to reduce prices by the use of subsidies and their undertaking to enforce strict price control and have public inquiries into prices will, I am sure, be warmly welcomed by housewives. It is up to them to see that the candidates of that Party are put in a position—in Dáil Éireann—to implement these pledges.”
The Labour candidates were elected to Dáil Éireann to implement these pledges. This Government could not remain in office for 24 hours without the help of the Labour Party. I am sure Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll would like to see the pledges fully honoured and fully carried out, that is, a reduction in the cost of living and the removal of the poverty and heartbreak that, she alleged, was being suffered by the people under the Fianna Fáil Government. Are the people not suffering heartbreak and poverty to-day?
Mr. Allen: In what way has there been an easement in the poverty and heartbreak that, she alleged, was present in May of last year? Take just one item alone as an example. The people are paying 10/- more for coal to-day than they were 12 months ago. Even though it is only one item, it must add considerably to the poverty of, for instance, slum dwellers. Nothing has been done about that increase in the price of coal.
“Prices are the outstanding issue in the elections, as far as the ordinary voters, and particularly the women, are concerned. This had been the view of the Labour Party since the beginning of the campaign.”
Mr. Allen: “If necessary, subsidies must be used to make all basic foods cheaper.” The Minister has that £18,000,000 out of the hair-shirt Budget of 1952. He could have used that £18,000,000 to subsidise food and thus reduce the price of foodstuffs.
Mr. Allen: Deputy J. Larkin is a most responsible Deputy in this House  and he is a strong advocate of the rights of workers. To give him his due, he has consistently followed the policy of seeking to obtain better conditions of life, cheaper food and better wages for the workers. Clanbrassil Street is in Deputy J. Larkin's constituency and he said there:—
“The Labour Party pledged to seek lower food prices, not only because prices were so high as to make it impossible for working-class homes to buy adequate food supplies, but also to increase the general purchasing power of wages and salaries.”
That statement was made on the 11th May, 1954. Deputy J. Larkin said it was impossible for working class families at that time to buy adequate food supplies. He said that in Clanbrassil Street, which is a semiworking-class district in this city. He said the people were unable to buy enough food to supply the needs of their families on the wages they had at that time because of the high cost of food. He wanted food prices reduced and he said he would reduce them by the aid of subsidies, and so forth, so that the people in Clanbrassil Street and York Street and other slum areas in Dublin would be able to buy more food for their families. Will any Government Deputy say that the people are able to buy more food to-day?
Mr. Allen: Is food not dearer to-day than it was in 1954? Food is actually dearer in price to-day. I have mentioned the people in Clanbrassil Street, in York Street and in other parts of this city. I have mentioned those people whom Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll visited and wept over, I am sure, from the fullness of her heart because of their poverty at that time. Those people have now to buy dearer food with the same wages which they had a year ago and the Labour Party are doing nothing about it.
“The voters on polling day would decide if they wanted a Fianna Fáil Government. If they turned down Fianna Fáil's bid for power then the Labour Party's position was clear. Labour is striving to secure more employment, lower food prices, improved social services, greater security and contentment for ordinary people. These aims would be the test of Labour's attitude to the formation of the next Government, not political bargains or ministerial posts.”
Mr. Allen: I deny completely that there existed the “grinding poverty” which was spoken of during the General Election campaign by members of the Fine Gael Party and of the Labour Party. However, if there was grinding poverty then—which I deny— I submit it is more acute to-day by reason of the increase in the cost of living. The cost of food and of the essentials of life is higher to-day than it was 12 months ago. An advertisement appeared in the Connaught Tribune on the 15th May, 1954. It was a Fine Gael advertisement in support of Messrs. Cawley and Glynn, candidates at the General Election for Galway South. The advertisement read:—
Cawley and Glynn.”
I wonder if the people in Clanbrassil Street, in York Street and the poverty-stricken people of 12 months ago have better times now? Will any member of the Labour Party get up in this House and tell the people of York Street and Clanbrassil Street and all the other slum areas of Dublin where the Lord Mayor, Deputy Alfred Byrne, had gone around with a loaf on his stick——
Mr. O'Leary: What did Deputy de Valera tell them?
Mr. Donnellan: They are not lying down on O'Connell Street anyway.
Mr. Allen: Will any one of them get up in this House——
Mr. Donnellan: They were not able to get up then.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Allen.
Mr. O'Leary: Will he tell us something about the Budget?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy O'Leary should cease interrupting if he wants to be permitted to remain in the House.
Mr. O'Leary: I thought Deputies were not allowed to read their speeches.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Allen is using quotations.
Mr. Allen: I am quoting from speeches that were made by Government Deputies in the last election, speeches which I am sure they do not want to remember now. I am quoting from pledges they made to the Irish people. They have in their hands now the reins of Government, the control of the finances of this State, and they are pledge bound to the Irish people to reduce taxation and the price of food. I do not think it is any harm if I remind them of the pledges which they made to the Irish people some short 12 months ago. They have lost their memories. Some catastrophe must have happened over on the other side of the House to make them lose  their memories so effectively. When every single Deputy over there sits in council, whether it be a Government council, or a Labour council or a Fine Gael council, he has completely lost his memory of the pledges he made 12 short months ago. They never remind one another of all the promises and pledges they made to the simple, honest, decent people at the crossroads all over the country.
Mr. Dunne: The Deputy's Party has chronic amnesia.
Mr. Allen: I was quoting from speeches made by Deputies who now hold the reins of Government.
Mr. Sweetman: Would the Deputy have the leaflet that Deputy Harris issued in 1951? Has he got that one? I cannot find it.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This conversation may not go on. Deputy Allen is in possession.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Norton, the Tánaiste, made promises down in Kildare and addressed a letter to his constituents. He said that if he were elected in County Kildare he would lend himself to the reduction of taxation on beer, spirits and cigarettes. He sent this letter to the licensed traders in that constituency:—
“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 on page three under the heading ‘Reduction in Prices’.”
The portion of the programme on page three to which the Tánaiste wanted to draw the publicans' attention was this:
“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 number one 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.”
Mr. O'Leary: And what is wrong with that?
Mr. Allen: That was a plea to the licensed trade in Kildare. It was a plea from the Tánaiste's heart to them to give their votes and the votes of their friends and relatives. He promised them that if elected to Dáil Éireann he would lend his influence to a reduction in the taxes on beer, spirits and cigarettes. He made that promise to those poor downtrodden members of the licensed trade in the constituency of Kildare in order that they might earn a decent shilling and have a fair livelihood for themselves. He has not carried out these promises though they responded to his appeal and voted for him and put Deputy Norton where he now is by a good majority, I am sure. I am sure that he owes his present position of Tánaiste to the votes those people gave him on the strength of these promises. Yet he has not reduced the price of beer, cigarettes——
Mr. Donnellan: Butter.
Mr. Allen: ——or the price of spirits nor has he helped those downtrodden publicans of Kildare or elsewhere. Can anyone deny that? Is it suggested for a moment that the present Minister for Finance or the Government made any serious attempt to carry out those promises which they made to the licensed trade of this city or to those in the country as a whole that they would take off the burden that was put on the licensed trade by the 1952 Budget? It is a well-known fact that in the City of Dublin probably 80 per cent. of the owners of licensed houses campaigned in order that a Coalition Government would be elected and particularly in order that a Fine Gael Government might be returned because they had the utmost confidence and the utmost faith that such a Government would reduce taxation.
 The general opinion is that not alone did they work and campaign for such a Government but probably they never drew a pint of stout that they did not have a word in the customer's ear about the cost of such a pint. There is not any doubt about it, and I am sure they subscribed fairly heavily to the funds of the Coalition groups as well. Deputy Norton was soliciting their support in County Kildare, and I am sure he would not have objected to help in any other direction either.
Mr. O'Leary: That was denied here the other night.
Mr. Allen: The coppers that they might subscribe would have proved very useful in a time of big expense. Very definite promises were made by all the Coalition groups but they have not been honoured, notwithstanding the fact that if they had not interfered with the Budget that was left to them last year they would have shown a credit balance of over £3,000,000 this year.
Mr. Sweetman: Then the Deputy is subscribing to Deputy MacEntee's argument.
Mr. Allen: Deputy T.F. O'Higgins, present Minister for Health, said down in Straboe:—
“Food prices are far too high, and the next Government would be expected to deal with this problem.”
The problem has not been dealt with. Deputy Davin, Parliamentary Secretary in the present Government, made similar promises in Mountmellick. He makes promises in every election campaign, but during the last campaign he made very definite pledges. Mountmellick is a place round which there are several medium-sized holdings. It is a small town in which no one is very well off. Deputy Davin said there:—
“I am prepared to pledge myself to the people of this constituency, if I am re-elected, as I hope to be, to use my voice and 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 previous to the passage of the brutal Budget of 1952.”
Mark you, Deputy Davin used the words “food taxes”. He was going to take off the taxes imposed in that Budget but instead of that he is taking from the pockets of the ordinary common taxpayer of this country, not £10,300,000, but £18,500,000 more in the present year.
Mrs. O'Carroll: A wonderful mathematician.
Mr. Allen: The Minister for Finance makes his Financial Statement here and does not refer to these taxes, does not mention them. He coolly asks the Dáil, and is supported by every Deputy behind him, to raise £18,000,000 by the aid of the 1952 “hairshirt” Budget, to raise £18,000,000 out of the pockets of the Irish people this year instead of the £10,000,000 that Deputy MacEntee raised by the same rate of taxation in 1952.
Mr. O'Leary: Is the Deputy going to vote against the Budget?
Mr. Allen: I fully approve of the Budget, because the Budget is based on the 1952 Budget, and every Deputy on that side of the House fully approves of the Budget.
Mr. Sweetman: Why argue for two hours, if you approve?
Mr. Allen: Every Deputy in this House is fully approving, by his vote on this Budget, of the 1952 Budget, in retrospect.
Mr. O'Leary: To give old age pensioners an increase.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Flanagan, who is now a Parliamentary Secretary, said that the election was an election to bring a great deal of prosperity to the Irish people or, as an alternative, if they voted for Fianna Fáil, a great deal of poverty. Either prosperity or poverty—that is what the people were voting for. Recently, down the country, before the Budget was introduced, he  said that this was the Budget the people were waiting for. The people were waiting for Fine Gael, Labour and all the other groups to adopt the 1952 Budget. That is what Deputy Flanagan meant when he told the people that it was the Budget the people were waiting for—the good Fianna Fáil Budget on the same basis of taxation, with no alteration, not even by a single farthing, in the Budget of this year. In West Limerick, of course, there were Fine Gael candidates also. I do not see Deputy Madden in the House. I do not think either of his two colleagues came in but there were three of them and he gave a few reasons why the people should vote for Fine Gael:—
“Fine Gael vigorously opposed increases in foodstuffs and other commodities imposed by Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael will again put into operation a policy designed to increase production, reduce taxation, and thereby reduce the cost of living”.
We are a long time waiting for it.
Mr. Sweetman: Do not worry.
Mr. Allen: I could go on for quite a considerable time giving extracts from speeches made by prominent members, now Ministers of State. My colleague, Deputy Esmonde, in my local town, said that Fine Gael policy for the coming election would be the reduction of taxation and the overhead burden on the people.
Mr. O'Leary: Read what all the Deputies said, even what Deputy Dr. Ryan said.
Mr. Allen: Deputy James Everett, a Minister in the present Government, gave a list—the blue lagoon—in which he stated that:—
“Fianna Fáil deliberately increased these prices at the behest of the Central Bank.”
If Fianna Fáil did it at the behest of the Central Bank, the present Government have it in their hands and the sooner the Labour Party and the  Deputies opposite tell the people honestly—they have an opportunity now in the county council elections; they will be going around their constituencies—that every single statement they made 12 months ago was an untrue statement, a deliberately false statement, made to deceive the people. They have an opportunity now to go back and tell the people: “We fooled you last year.”
Mr. Donnellan: You did.
Mr. O'Leary: Twenty years ago.
Mr. Allen: “But we will try not to do it any more.” The present Taoiseach at one time said that he would resign the next minute rather than proceed with any single provision of the present Budget, that was the Budget of last year, the Budget of 1954, and he took office coolly in June of last year.
Mr. Sweetman: It was not.
Mr. Allen: He did not change a line of it and it was such a good Budget and the Coalition Government were so happy about it that they paid their debts during the year——
Mr. O'Leary: They honoured the arbitration award.
Mr. Allen: ——and if they had not incurred further Government expenditure they would have had a substantial credit balance.
Mr. Sweetman: As a matter of accuracy, he did not say that.
Mr. Allen: He would resign in five minutes rather than adopt any single provision of the 1954 Budget.
Mr. Sweetman: He did not say that.
Mr. Allen: That Budget has been adopted this year again, every single iota of taxation in it.
Mr. Sweetman: The Deputy's quotation is inaccurate.
Mr. Allen: The Budget of 1954 could have been changed within three weeks, a month or six months of the Government taking office. They did not do  it. They sat back and were happy. The Minister for Finance was quite happy in his office all the year because he knew from reports that the flow of taxation to the coffers of the Exchequer was sufficient to meet the liabilities of the Exchequer.
Mr. O'Leary: Why did you not honour the arbitration award? Why did you not pay the civil servants?
Mr. Allen: In respect of the 1952 Budget, Deputy Costello as he was at the time, Leader of the Opposition Party in this House, said:—
“If there is a change of Government, we will put in a Minister for Finance who will remit £1,000,000 for each minute of a ten minute Bill in the Dáil.”
£1,000,000 a minute. He is a £1,000,000-a-minute Taoiseach. The people of this country are waiting patiently for even £1,000,000. We have given him 12 months now.
Mr. Sweetman: Would the Deputy mind giving the reference to that quotation?
Mr. O'Leary: He is only making that up.
Mr. Sweetman: Would the Deputy mind giving the reference, because it is not accurate?
Mr. Allen: I challenge the Minister. He can look up Volume 131, column 1446.
Mr. Sweetman: What he said was, if he got in before July.
Mr. Cunningham: What you said he said.
Mr. Sweetman: What the Official Report said.
Mr. Allen: I have given the reference and if I am inaccurate I will apologise to the Taoiseach.
Mr. Sweetman: Wait now. I have it here.
Mr. Allen: I think I will have to make that apology to the Minister. It  was Deputy Donnellan, the present Parliamentary Secretary. I was looking at the wrong quotation.
Mr. Cunningham: And he does not deny it.
Mr. Donnellan: It helped to put you over there, anyway.
Mr. Cunningham: You do not deny it.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Costello did say, in the column I quoted——
Mr. Sweetman: I have the volume here.
Mr. Brady: It is one of the family, anyhow.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Costello, the Taoiseach, did say that he would resign the next minute rather than proceed with any single provision of the then Budget, that he would be no party to any provision in that Budget. He also said, as reported in the Irish Press:
“There is no doubt that the Government, whether wittingly or unwittingly, embraced a policy of taxation for a surplus, a policy of compulsory saving by taxation for capital.”
I am sure Deputy Donnellan, who was going to get £1,000,000 a minute in a ten minute Bill, has a little influence in the present Government and he might suggest to his colleague, the Minister for Lands, that he should carry out the pledge given by Deputy Donnellan to remit taxation by £1,000,000 a minute. In the past year, as a result of the policy of Fianna Fáil, the farmers of this country decided to plant their land with wheat and they had guarantees from two responsible Deputies in the present Government that they were going to have a guaranteed price for wheat for five years at the price it was in May of 1940.
Mr. Sweetman: No. Be accurate. I caught the Deputy out once.
Mr. Allen: These were two very responsible Deputies of this House.
Mr. Sweetman: Who are these Deputies?
Mr. Allen: Two most responsible Deputies of the Fine Gael Party. If any Deputy over there could be considered responsible I would consider these amongst the most responsible, Deputy Crotty and Deputy Hughes. In respect of wheat they said:
“Fine Gael in 1948 gave a five-year guaranteed price for wheat. The price fixed for this season is in accord with that policy.”
The price in 1954 was in accord with the policy of Fine Gael:
“The price fixed for this season is in accord with that policy and will be paid by Fine Gael. Fine Gael as a Government will give another five-year guarantee.”
We know the guarantee they have given the people of this country in respect of wheat. They took the first opportunity they could in October last year of slashing the price of wheat, slashing the price of one of the few commodities for which the primary producers have a fixed price.
There is another small group supporting the Government about which I had almost forgotten. They have three members in the House, including Deputy MacBride. The Daily Mail, an organ of the Press in England, pointed out that it was a shame that the number of Republicans was down to two at one time. These Deputies talked about the Central Bank and all the money we had invested in England at a half of 1 per cent. and what they would do if the people supported them. They would bring back all the sterling assets instead of lending them to Mr. Butler, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at a half of 1 per cent. and lend them to the local authorities in this country to build houses at cheap rates of interest.
That was the policy they had and I am quite sure that Clann na Poblachta, small as they are, used their influence to have this present Government established. However, as a small group without much influence they did their best and put up a set  of speakers all over the country pleading for support for the Coalition groups to enable them to form a Government in order to give the people their due, which was a lower cost of living and lower taxation. In not one instance has this happened.
Following the last General Election a very much boasted financial wizard came into this House. As the Taoiseach said, he would assist the Minister for Finance in his financial business in the Department of Finance. So far, we have not seen any of that financial wizardry as a result of Deputy O'Donovan's advent to this House.
An Ceann Comhairle: Comment on Deputies of the House is not a contribution to the Budget debate.
Mr. Allen: The statement was made in this House——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is indulging in commentaries on Deputies of the House. It is very interesting but not relevant to the debate.
Mr. Sweetman: It is not even interesting.
Mr. Allen: I was about to say in respect of Deputy O'Donovan that the Taoiseach said something to the effect that he had an outstanding knowledge of financial matters and would be available to assist the Minister for Finance in framing the Budget and advising him generally on financial matters. That statement was made in this House by the present Taoiseach. I have not got the quotation with me.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not relevant.
Mr. Allen: I want to go further and say that in regard to this financial statement we have not seen the results of that wizardry from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government who was believed to be outstanding.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is ruling himself out, for he is saying the Deputy had nothing to do with it.
Mr. Allen: According to the statement of the Taoiseach in this House—
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to keep more closely to the financial motions.
Mr. Allen: ——he was to assist the Minister for Finance.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy says he did not.
Mr. Allen: I just want to say in respect of that assistance that we have not seen in this Budget any of the results of it. We hope in time we may see some results.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to come closer to the financial motions.
Mr. Allen: During the lifetime of the last Government a number of taxes were removed. The Government reduced taxation on the tobacco manufacturers and we were told at that time by a prominent Minister of the present Government—I refer to the Minister for Social Welfare; it was his stock-in-trade both in the House and on election platforms—that Fianna Fáil gave a present of £1,000,000 to the tobacco manufacturers. That has not been reimposed. I am sure the Government could have done with an extra £1,000,000 this year if they could have got it handy. I have no doubt that all the facts were available to the Minister for Finance and to the Government and if Fianna Fáil remitted taxation unjustly from any section of the community it could have been very easily reimposed with a majority behind the Government.
Fianna Fáil also remitted taxation on dance halls and there was a very strenuous and dishonest campaign carried on throughout the country in respect of the remission of £500,000 to dance-hall proprietors. There would not have been a worry on any Deputy, I am sure, if that tax had been reimposed and another £500,000 given to the Minister. Between taxation that Fianna Fáil remitted that they should not have remitted and the taxation they imposed that they were told by those on the benches opposite should not have been imposed, we had what amounted to a scandalous campaign  that put the present Government on that side of the House as a result of the last election. To become a Government in this nation Fianna Fáil will never carry on the dishonest, slanderous campaign of their colleagues on the other side of the House. This Budget goes to prove that Fianna Fáil in their financial policy gave sound government to this country. The proof is there in the Minister's statement because he did not remit even a threepenny piece of the taxation that Fianna Fáil had in operation.
Mr. Blowick: There is one characteristic of Fianna Fáil that we must admire and that is the brazenness with which they come along after their own record on Budgets, particularly the 1952 Budget, not to mention the Supplementary Budget of 1947, and try to paint the picture that this Government is bad simply because we do not undo all the brutal things they did while they were in office. In my opinion, Deputy Allen was put up plainly to keep speaking for some reason best known to the leaders of Fianna Fáil. Before they sent him in here they equipped him very handsomely with old newspapers and cuttings going back half a score of years.
I was reflecting what a sorry mess Deputy Allen would be in if he had not these, because when we come to read the record of this debate we will find that if we eliminate all the quotations from the newspapers there will be very little else that Deputy Allen said. Somebody else has said that that is a good job. It is, because he was most uninteresting and the very fact that he had to be called by the Chair so often to speak on the matter before the House is proof of the task that he was set by some of his taskmasters.
Since the policy of the inter-Party Government, both in its previous period and for the last ten or 12 months, has been compared with that of the Fianna Fáil Party, it might be no harm to have a quick run over the two. From the time we assumed office in 1948 we introduced many useful measures which I will recount in a moment. When Fianna Fáil took office  in 1932, they started on a period of what I might describe as reckless and foolish experiments. The first of these was the economic war; we had the slaughter of the calves, the standstill Order on wages during the war period. We had something which has never been explained, namely, the reason why our farmers and workers had to supply a country at war with food at the lowest price in 1948 and, yet, when the inter-Party Government took office it was possible almost to double the price of that food. These are some of the things that will need explaining, and the Fianna Fáil speakers, even the Leader of the Opposition, steered very carefully away from them.
Their whole policy of reckless and disastrous experiments culminated in the Supplementary Budget of 1947 and one of the first things we did when we came to office was to remove that and hand back £6,250,000 to the people. Nobody, not even Fianna Fáil, will gainsay that without that £6,250,000, which was not necessary to us, we ran the country better than Fianna Fáil ever did during the 16 years they were in office. Before I leave that, just in case I am hanging them in the wrong, let me suggest that before the local elections are held they should devote the front page of the Irish Press— which I am sure they will get at the cheapest rate from the Party—to giving a full account of what they did, if they can chalk up anything, for the whole time they were in office. They did very little; they merely succeeded in plunging the people into misery and their activities have only led to inglorious failure on their part.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: That is why we are the largest Party.
Mr. Blowick: It is not why you are the largest Party. As a matter of fact the Irish people are beginning to realise how dangerous a thing heroworship can be. We took office in 1948 and I heard the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Eamon de Valera, say how his heart was bleeding in regard to the ground limestone scheme.
Our Minister for Agriculture told the  House on many occasions, and it was never contradicted, that there was not a single ground limestone plant in this country when he came into office and there was no attempt to start one. Fianna Fáil had a scheme of burning lime and Fianna Fáil now realises that it will take all the coal in England to burn sufficient lime to correct the acidity of the soil if it is set about in that way.
We set out in 1948 to bring about a period of prosperity such as the people of this country had never witnessed and we handed over in 1951 a country that was sound in every possible way, in first-class production, and with the people having full confidence in their country for the first time. Fianna Fáil came along in that same year, 1951, and in their first Budget their Minister for Finance, Deputy MacEntee, who had publicly announced that he would not increase taxation, reimposed the taxes, which we had remitted, on drink and tobacco, and, in addition, they taxed everything that they possibly could.
They raised the price of food and I cautioned the Minister and the Government at that time that the result would be that we would export more agricultural produce than before because the people at home could not pay for it, and my words came true. The following year the Minister was able to announce that our exports of agricultural produce had increased by £18,000,000. A few months after they were returned to office they imposed taxation on everything they possibly could.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: And these taxes are all there still.
Mr. Blowick: If Deputy Ó Briain can point out anything that his Government did not tax he will have the whole night to spend doing it after I have finished. They left absolutely nothing untaxed. They say that every Party on this side of the House made promises which they failed to live up to. It is not yet too late for them to take the front page of the Irish Press and publish every promise made by this Government. Then we will see what they are.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: They would not fit on it.
Mr. Blowick: The Taoiseach has stated that Fianna Fáil complained that he made no promises. They complained that he did not tell them what he was going to do and he was not making promises. Now we have again taken over the country but we did not take it over with the £30,000,000—the £24,000,000 of the Counterpart Loan Fund and the £6,000,000 of the Grant Fund—which we were able to hand over to Deputy MacEntee in 1951. By the same token, he has not since explained what happened to that £30,000,000 but he did tell us six months after he became Minister for Finance that the money was gone.
The first thing we did when we came into office was to remove the tax that had been imposed on tobacco and drink by the 1947 Supplementary Budget. We then freed the Land Commission which had been frozen and had not been allowed to work. We put into operation the Local Authorities (Works) Act. The Arterial Drainage Act which was passed in 1945 was nothing more than a Fianna Fáil bait for unfortunate people who had been subjected to flooding and it was not put into operation until our Government came into office in 1948. Fianna Fáil never had any intention of putting it into operation. We put the Land Reclamation Scheme into operation although Deputy Bartley went around County Galway whispering to his clubs: “Do not touch it, it is another trick of Dillon's to raise the valuation of the land”.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: You gave a ruling, Sir, regarding Deputy Allen's mention of other Deputies and their actions. Does that ruling hold good in regard to other speakers?
An Ceann Comhairle: The same thing applies as far as similar statements to that of Deputy Allen are concerned, but the Minister alleges that Deputy Bartley went around Galway trying to prevent the operation of a scheme which, it is said, would help to increase the productive capacity of the State.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Deputy Bartley is not here, but I am satisfied that that statement about him is completely untrue.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have nothing to say to that.
Mr. Blowick: It is not my fault that Deputy Bartley is not here. We will hear Deputy Ó Briain and if he says that he did not take part in that propaganda about the land reclamation project I will accept it. We put that scheme into operation and it was hailed in every country in Europe as one of the best schemes ever introduced in a country which was subject to flooding and it was said to be invaluable.
We expedited rural electrification and we put telephones into every rural post office. We went ahead with the housing schemes in both town and country so much so that visitors from America who had been absent from this country for 12 or 15 years said that they would scarcely know the country. We claim full credit for that. Fianna Fáil policy, as far as I can see, was one of constantly trying to fool the people. There was a lot of promises and talk but there was very little work.
There is one other matter I would like to refer to. Deputy Seán Flanagan, speaking on the 6th May, in column 1006, Volume 150—and Deputy Flanagan comes from a county where there is yet a considerable amount of congestion to be relieved—said:—
“As a Deputy representing a country constituency, I am naturally more interested in the problems of the people of the country than I am in the problems of city folk. I hope I will not be offending anybody, civil servants or people like that, if I say that the money voted annually to the Land Commission for the purposes for which the Land Commission is designed is largely a waste of money.”
Later on he said:—
“I do not know how many million pounds have been voted for the payment of staff and for the payment of everybody from lay commissioners  down to the lowest cleaner in the Land Commission. Taxpayers' money is being poured out—at the rate of certainly not less than £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, and I do not see why I am not entitled to say that that is a waste of money. The Minister could do a great deal with £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 if he had it in his pocket.”
Further on he says:—
“There are other areas where the congestion is now just as bad as it was 40 or 50 years ago because people differ so much even from one parish to another that in one parish they all want to get out and in the next parish they all want to stay at home.”
Deputy Flanagan is clearly speaking for his whole Party when he is saying that and, if he is not, I would like to hear some of the other Deputies saying whether they agree with him and whether he is speaking for the whole Party. He has never hesitated to make it quite clear that in his opinion the Land Commission should be abolished. He proceeds further in column 1007 of the same volume and says:—
“I have not read the Emigration Report, to my sorrow. I have looked at it. It advocated the abolition of the Land Commission and the creation of a different system to deal with the problem. I say, and I would like to accept full responsibility for saying that at the best the Land Commission is a very wasteful instrument for the purpose of finding out Government policy, and that much of the money which is now being spent by the Land Commission could better be spent at the direction of the Minister in some other way.”
That is clearly a direct attempt to tell the Minister for Finance that if he wants to bring in a Bill to abolish the Land Commission he will have the support of Fianna Fáil. If Fianna Fáil want to abolish the Land Commission, which they went very near doing in the month of April, 1941, when they closed it down, let us have it out here. This is the place in which to say it  and if Deputy Flanagan is one of the back benchers who is put up by the front benchers to put out feelers in this matter, let his colleagues who are ex-Ministers table a motion here and let the House discuss it.
He says that the Land Commission is costing £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 annually. I wondered, when I heard him say that, if he had got a Book of Estimates, because the total Vote for the Land Commission, the gross Vote, is £2,118,000 and a sizable portion of that amount goes to pay for the halving of the annuities on all the land acquired and divided since 1933. He said that we are spending £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a year and he tells the Minister for Finance that the taxpayers' money is being poured out at the rate of certainly not less than £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a year. I could understand a Deputy making an ordinary slight mistake, but I cannot understand a man like Deputy Flanagan saying that. I wonder will Deputy Ó Briain defend him in that statement? I wonder will the Deputy, when speaking in this debate or on the debate on the Vote for the Department of Lands when it comes on——
Donnchadh Ó Briain: That is the place we will talk about it.
Mr. Blowick: ——say anything about it? I wonder will his colleague, Deputy Burke, say anything on the subject?
Donnchadh Ó Briain: He might be right, too.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I will leave it between you.
Mr. Blowick: The Deputy has to leave it as between what Deputy Flanagan said and what is here in the Dáil Debates.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I will leave it between you.
Mr. Blowick: I want to tell Deputy Flanagan and any other Deputies who might be wishing for the abolition of the Land Commission that the Land Commission has a certain job of work to do yet. There is a certain amount  of congestion, and, so far as I am concerned and so far as the inter-Party Government are concerned, the Land Commission will get every help and all the money it needs to go ahead with that work until congestion is relieved, in spite of all the opposition, all the underhand opposition, which we may meet, particularly from Fianna Fáil. I hope I am making my position quite clear and making the position of all those who sit on this side clear and I want Deputy Flanagan to clear up his position or Deputy Ó Briain to clear the air for him.
A straw shows how the wind blows. The Deputy quoted from the Emigration Report which he says he did not read—he says he looked into it—and he says: “It advocated the abolition of the Land Commission”, so that we know at least where Deputy Flanagan stands. I wonder, when the Vote for the Department of Lands comes along, what the Deputy's attitude to it will be. All this is intimately wrapped up with the Budget. If the Land Commission is abolished, it will mean a saving of roughly £750,000 to the Minister for Finance, but of only £750,000, because there are quite a lot of statutory charges which must go on, whether we like them or not, for quite a long period of years yet.
Our Party considers this an excellent Budget and I know that the majority of the people in the country drew a sigh of relief when they heard the terms of the Budget which the inter-Party Government produced this time. They were expecting—and Deputy Allen let the cat out of the bag when he was speaking—an increased tax on tobacco and drink. I shall never forget the faces of some of the exMinisters when they heard that the old age pensioner was getting a half-crown. That concession will run into £1,200,000 in a single year and it will cost about £900,000 this year. Fianna Fáil are asking what we are doing about stitching up the wounds they inflicted in the 1952 Budget. We will certainly undo a great deal of the damage they did in the course of time. Miracles will not occur in a single day, but we will do it in time and we have  given an earnest of it in this Budget. I hope that Deputy Ó Briain will be here next year when the Minister brings in his Budget because I expect his face to get a few inches longer.
With regard to wheat, Deputy Allen's heart was bleeding for the farmers in relation to the cut in the price of wheat, but he took good care, when I rose, to clear out of the House, with his two armloads of old newspapers, like a scalded cat. I want to ask him, if Fianna Fáil were in power, what did they mean to do about the Government decision taken on 22nd January, 1954. Let us talk this thing out straight across the floor. What will Deputy Ó Briain say the Government meant to do about the Order they made on 22nd January, 1954, as to the area of wheat?
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Not the area, but the quantity.
Mr. Donnellan: What Order did they make?
Mr. Blowick: That the general aim of policy——
Donnchadh Ó Briain: “General.”
Mr. Blowick: Silence! The Order was that the general aim of policy in regard to the growing of wheat—and this sums it up—should be to secure an annual mill intake of about 300,000 tons of dried wheat.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Exactly.
An Ceann Comhairle: Agricultural policy per se does not arise on this.
Mr. Blowick: I would not deal with it, except that Deputy Allen and Deputy Aiken dealt with it at length.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair allowed discussion on the price of wheat inasmuch as it might affect the revenue of the State to some extent, but a discussion of agricultural policy was not allowed and was never allowed on a Budget debate.
Mr. Donnellan: Did you hear Deputy Corry on the Budget, Sir?
Mr. Blowick: I would not mention it, except that Deputy Allen, before you took the Chair, Sir, threw a  challenge across the floor of the House to me.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure the consistent attitude of the Chair in respect of this matter was faithfully and carefully preserved. Any discussion of agricultural policy as such has not been allowed. There is running concurrently with this debate the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture and it would be quite relevant on that.
Mr. Blowick: Very good, Sir, but Deputy Allen charged us with cutting the price of wheat.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am allowing the price of wheat to be discussed but not wheat growing as an agricultural policy.
Mr. Blowick: What I wish to ask the Deputy is to give an explanation at some future date of his Government's Order to limit the area of wheat to an area that would grow 300,000 tons. I do not propose to dwell on the subject any further. I should say that about 170,000 acres were the area aimed at by Fianna Fáil.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Nonsense!
Mr. Blowick: That would produce about 300,000 tons of wheat.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Nonsense!
Mr. Blowick: How much, then? I am open to correction.
Mr. Dunne: It is a secret.
An Ceann Comhairle: This is not Question Time. We will proceed with the discussion on the financial motion.
Mr. Blowick: Let me say that it was no pleasure to the present Government to have to take the step it took. Correct things are sometimes unpopular things, especially with certain sections of the people, but the right thing is the right thing, and perhaps some of the speakers on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture will deal with the question I have raised, as to what acreage was aimed at by the Fianna Fáil Government.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I am concerned with what this Budget is going to do for the people in the future. One section of the people of whom we heard a good deal when we were in office are the unemployed. I do not see any provision made in the Budget for the relief of unemployment in the City and County of Dublin. We have heard a good deal of talk about emigration both in this House and outside it. We have heard a good deal of criticism of the national projects initiated by Fianna Fáil and the institution of the National Development Fund for the relief of unemployment. We now have 14,000 unemployed in the City and County of Dublin. But we in Fianna Fáil were misrepresented and criticised because we attempted to create employment by investing money in public works and buildings.
The time has come when some practical steps must be taken to provide employment for our people. There are no marches by the unemployed now. It was when we were in office that these marches started despite the fact that we created the National Development Fund for the specific purpose of relieving unemployment. In every European country there is a department which deals with public works and it is that department which carries out public works for the relief of unemployment, works paid for directly out of taxation. We are doing that here to some extent through the medium of unemployment relief schemes, but that is not enough.
The present Government stated at one time that they had a cure for all our ills. What did they do when they came into office and found themselves faced with responsibility? They cut down the National Development Fund. Now, until we get rid of unemployment, we cannot have a really healthy economy. Our policy in Fianna Fáil was to try to develop the natural resources of the country for the benefit of the nation. In order to relieve unemployment in the City of Dublin it was proposed that we should rebuild Dublin Castle and reconstruct the Bray road. I hold it would be a good thing for us to do that, because we would thereby take a number of unemployed  off the register both in the City and County of Dublin.
The Government might also consider providing more money for the building of houses and for the repair and reconstruction of roads. The industrial arm and the agricultural industry will not of themselves provide sufficient employment to absorb all our unemployed. Nothing pulls down a country so rapidly as unemployment. During the election campaign great propaganda was made out of the fact that Fianna Fáil had proposals for the rebuilding of Dublin Castle and the construction of a new building for the Oireachtas and for Government Departments. We were anxious to do everything we could to try to relieve unemployment. The inter-Party Government has now been almost one year in office and to-day we have 14,000 unemployed in the City and County of Dublin. I can see no steps being taken to relieve that position.
Mr. Dunne: There are 4,000 fewer than this time last year.
Mr. P.J. Burke: My colleague intervenes and says that there are 4,000 fewer than last year, and prompts the reply that that 4,000 represents 4,000 who have emigrated. Anyone who goes to Dún Laoire or the North Wall can see them leaving day after day in their hundreds.
Mr. Donnellan: Is that not terrible?
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Of course it is terrible.
Mr. Donnellan: I thought it was the Deputy's Party that was going to bring home all our emigrants at one time.
Mr. P.J. Burke: This is a very serious national problem. When we initiated the National Development Fund to solve this problem we were sneered at and we were misrepresented. I suggest strongly to the Government that they should set up a special works committee for the purpose of creating employment for these people. No later than to-day I had about 20 people coming to me looking for jobs.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have been  very generous with the Deputy. He has been travelling a bit away from the Financial Resolution.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I am dealing with the National Development Fund and the purpose for which is was created. When we were in office on the last occasion——
Mr. O'Leary: The Deputy never said a word.
Mr. P.J. Burke: ——we created the National Development Fund and to-day there are thousands of people in gainful employment throughout the country as a result of Fianna Fáil policy.
Mr. Sweetman: Does the Deputy not realise that when he left office there were 19,000 more unemployed than there were the day he took over from us? That is the record of Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Cunningham: In September, 48,000.
Mr. Sweetman: June, 1951, to June, 1954, 19,000 more unemployed.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I ask the Minister, when he has time to spare from his ministerial duties, to drive down to the pier in Dún Laoire or to the North Wall and he will quickly discover where the 18,000 people have gone. They have emigrated.
Mr. Sweetman: I am talking of the time when the Deputy's Party was in office.
Mr. O'Leary: I thought these were all the tourists coming and going for An Tóstal.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy O'Leary should restrain himself.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I do not interrupt when other people are speaking. I want to know from the present Government, from all the old friends on the other side of the House—political enemies as they are—what do they intend to do for the unemployed? This is a very serious matter. When the Minister comes to reply I hope that he will definitely be able to give some hope to the 14,000 unemployed in the  City and County of Dublin. I hope he will tell us and the country how he will look after them. I am not going to go any further down the country because there are other Deputies here to look after their own jobs and I am concerned only with the constituency that I have the honour to represent. We will leave unemployment alone for the present and deal with another aspect of policy in this Budget and that is the reduction of the subsidy for rural electrification.
I think every Deputy in this House who has been dealing with the E.S.B. over a long period can pay them a compliment. From the chairman down they are a courteous efficient body of workers but one thing I want to say here is this: if there was £500,000 saved last year why was it that the E.S.B. made special charges throughout my constituency? When houses on the fringe of rural electrification areas came to be connected after the local scheme had been completed, they were asked to pay a nominal charge first and then there was a special charge. I have a letter here dealing with the matter, and it says: “I received a letter on the 1st March from the E.S.B. stating that in South County Dublin they were going to put electricity into four farm houses in the south county at a special charge”. There is a total charge which in this case was £1 3s. 9d. I have received a letter from the very same gentleman that the charge now is £2 0s. 1d.
Mr. Sweetman: Will the Deputy give me a copy of that letter?
Mr. P.J. Burke: I will give you the original. I put it to this House that when we discussed the Rural Electrification Bill in this House and when it was subsequently passed into law we did not want to see small sections of our people victimised. I do not think it is fair. No section of our people should be victimised and I am sure there are other Deputies in County Dublin to support me in this because they have been up against the same problem, not alone this year, but last year. It was intended that rural  electrification should be subsidised by this Dáil so as to give people electricity at a reasonable rate. We now find one pocket in South County Dublin at Nevinstown, Cloghran, and another at Ballyboughal and other places that I am not going to deal with as I am only citing the cases here, where excess rates are being charged. If the E.S.B. had £500,000 over, it should be their duty to see that certain sections of our people would not be victimised as they were in those cases. I put it to the Government that I feel it was a wrong attitude for them to take. It was wrong in the national interest, because if it goes on in pockets of my constituency, it will go on all over the country.
I put down a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his reply was that he had nothing to do with it. While he definitely stated the truth, that the E.S.B. have power to make their own charges, nevertheless the E.S.B. can reply now saying: “We have to sail under our own steam now and we have to run the board economically and in a sound manner.” The Minister for Industry and Commerce in his reply just passed the buck to somebody else but I hope the people of Ireland as a whole will not be penalised as were my constituents for some time past by excessive charges. If you do not mind, there was a nominal charge, a special service charge and then the people found that in a month it had gone up 100 per cent. I do not think that is playing cricket at all.
Naturally, everybody in the country looks forward to Budget time, because the Budget gives encouragement or discouragement to sections of our people and the retrograde step adopted by the present Government is retarding production that we were anxious to develop—agricultural production. I still hold that the present Government by their retrograde step in reducing the price of wheat have definitely put our ambitious farmers in County Dublin in a rather hazardous position. The farmers of County Dublin and the farmers of the remainder of Ireland do not know where they stand and they do not  know what policy is going to be brought in from day to day. As I have already said, on numerous occasions, a number of more progressive farmers here went in for machinery. Some of them went to the banks or credit corporations or other places to buy the machinery and now as a result of Government policy in upsetting things immediately they came in—I would not mind if it was a good harvest; if the people were able to bear it; but it was the worst harvest, I think, since 1946— by their callousness in reducing the price of wheat, they have succeeded in lowering production among tillage farmers in County Dublin.
I am sure in other places as well as in County Dublin farmers would say: “Could there not be some fixed national policy so that there would be steady prices for some years and we would know where we stand?” Instead of that—it happened before in 1948 and it has happened again in 1954—the farmers' confidence in the Government has been destroyed. I say that in the national interest it is a bad thing that confidence should not exist between the tillage farmers of Ireland and the present Government. The majority of the tillage farmers do not know how they stand. They do not know but that certain commodities will be imported; they have no security in going ahead and planning for the future; they do not know whether they will ever get an opportunity of paying for the machinery that they bought. These are matters that concern the country as a whole and I do feel this is a very retrograde step for the inter-Party Government to adopt during this period because by doing that they have destroyed confidence and when confidence is destroyed people are not encouraged to go ahead and do the things that they should do for themselves and the nation as a whole.
Another matter with which I am concerned from the national point of view—and I would like the Minister when replying to make reference to this as I have been concerned with it over a number of years—is the determining of what are the mineral resources  of this nation once and for all. I raised this during our own term of office and I am raising it now with the present Minister for Finance.
Mr. Sweetman: I suggest the Deputy should go to the geological office.
Mr. P.J. Burke: Yes, I have already been there, but I am not satisfied at all with the information that is in the geological office. I believe that we should try and find out definitely what are the mineral resources of the country. We have certain mineral resources that we know of. I believe that this is a matter which should be handled in a methodical way. There should be an examination in every county or parish where it is believed we have mineral resources. There was a geological survey made some years ago, I understand.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It would be more relevant if the Deputy were to raise that matter on the Estimate, because it is not relevant on the Budget resolution.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I am referring to Government policy generally and am suggesting methods which should be adopted to provide employment for the people.
There is another matter in which I am deeply concerned. It is one which I think the Minister for Finance could assist by way perhaps of subsidisation. I refer to the great need there is for a national regional water scheme for the country. That is a matter which would have to be handled first by the Minister for Finance. It is also a matter that the Government should consider, and not in a haphazard way. We have rural electrification. I suggest that regional water supply schemes for the country should be considered as a matter of Government policy. It is true, unfortunately, that in quite a number of reasonably large towns and villages, even villages adjacent to Dublin, there is no adequate water supply at all.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am afraid that also is a matter which could be discussed with more relevance on the Estimate than on the Budget resolution.
Mr. P.J. Burke: It is a matter that should be considered on a national basis. Therefore, the money required for it would have to come out of the Exchequer.
Mr. Sweetman: Everything comes out of the Exchequer.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I want to pin the Minister for Finance down on this.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am afraid that I must rule it out because it does not really arise on the Budget resolution.
Mr. P.J. Burke: Can we not discuss national policy on the Budget resolution?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We are discussing taxation and the financial policy of the Government on the Budget resolution.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I am referring to all these schemes with a view to relieving unemployment.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: If the Deputy were allowed to do that, it would open the discussion very widely and unduly.
Mr. P.J. Burke: The Minister for Lands, when speaking, implied that it was our policy to abolish the Land Commission. Surely, he is not so childish as to believe that it was our intention to do anything of the kind. It was our policy, and had been our policy, to encourage the Land Commission to divide more land. I have not the figures with me, but I think I am correct in stating that during our time in office we divided more land than the present Minister for Lands will ever succeed in doing, even if he were to be here for the next 20 years. Fianna Fáil never contemplated any such thing as the abolition of the Land Commission. That was a very peculiar statement for the Minister to make. It was made to try and misrepresent us.
The Minister for Lands also said that between 1948 and 1951 housing went ahead. Long before the Minister ever came in here we had succeeded in  doing more for housing than the present Government have done. The fact is that when the Minister for Lands and those associated with him got into office in 1948 they were in the position of being able to take advantage of the very sound planning that we had done for the provision of more houses, not only in the City and County of Dublin but throughout the country.
The Minister also spoke about arterial drainage. That was work which had been very well advanced by 1948 when the change of Government took place. Our main concern during the years of the emergency was to try and feed our people and do our best for them. It was not until long after the war that we could get the heavy machinery required for arterial drainage works. But the planning for these works had been carried out by us many years before that. I challenge the Minister for Lands to deny that.
The Minister also referred to the provision of telephones. I want to compliment the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in the last Government for all he did in connection with the development which is now taking place in the extension of the telephone system over the country.
The Minister for Lands also trotted out again the economic war. I wonder if Deputies on the other side of the House will ever get wise. I have often stated in this House that we did not start the economic war. It was started by England but, despite that, people have tried to misrepresent us. I wonder what would be the position if we did not stand up to the British Government of that time? This, at any rate, can be said, that the farmers of Ireland backed Fianna Fáil in that fight even though public representatives came into this house to try and misrepresent us. The economic war was a national victory for the country and an economic victory for the nation. The people who are referring to the economic war should say: “Well, it was our war as much as it was yours, and was a national war as far as this country is concerned.”
I do not propose to detain the House any longer. I thought it essential  to make the few points I have mentioned. I am sure there are many members here who during the next few weeks will be out on the platforms telling the people what they are going to do and making all the false promises possible. They will then come into this House and say that they never made any promises.
Mr. O. Flanagan: They will leave the making of the false promises to you.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I am sorry that the Parliamentary Secretary was not here when Deputy Allen was giving a number of quotations. I have not got the quotations with me.
Mr. Sweetman: Do they not trust you with the brief?
Mr. P.J. Burke: I had it but I do not want it. My memory is still very good. I am sorry, as I have said, that the Parliamentary Secretary was not here when Deputy Allen quoted statements from his speeches. I believe that the Parliamentary Secretary was to reduce the cost of living considerably in Laois and Offaly. That, of course, was before the election. He was going to reduce the price of beer and of cigarettes. Deputy Allen quoted from the Parliamentary Secretary's speeches at very great length. At a meeting in the County Dublin during the election campaign, I saw one man crying when he was speaking about the price of the poor man's pint, his cigarettes and various other things. He said that, as soon as we were put out of office, everything was going to be lovely in the garden.
Mr. Donnellan: Tell us about the widow, before you finish.
Mr. P.J. Burke: The Coalition Government squeezed the farmers of County Dublin out of existence.
Mr. Sweetman: Perhaps Deputy Burke, before he leaves the House, would send across to me those papers in regard to rural electrification which he promised me?
Mr. P.J. Burke: I will.
Mr. Sweetman: I was disappointed that Deputy Burke did not give us the dissertation on the widow which he usually gives us. I was hoping that at least he would be generous enough to pay tribute to the manner in which we have increased her pension in this Budget. As well as I remember, on an earlier occasion he mentioned the amount of the non-contributory pension she was drawing at that time. However, let us pass from small pleasantries like that and get on to the Budget itself. I am still waiting for the letter.
Mr. P.J. Burke: Here it is.
Mr. Sweetman: The curious thing about this Budget debate has been that it has gone on for nine days—nine days in which the Opposition have discussed a Budget which almost every one of them has stated is a good Budget. We started with Deputy MacEntee who said: “I do not say any of this in criticism of the Minister's Budget.” Deputy Briscoe said: “I approach the 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.” Even Deputy Aiken seemed pleased with the Budget. One after the other, the Deputies on the Opposition side of the House got up and expressed the view that this is a good Budget. Of course, they were right, though I may say it was about the only thing they were right in, in the many speeches they made.
This is a Budget that suits the people, that suits the times and that suits our economic position. It is a Budget which makes substantial changes for the people of the country and one of which we on this side of the House have every reason to be proud. Before I go on to deal with the general position in regard to the Budget, I want to deal with certain specific matters that were raised. Deputy Lemass started off an attack on the policy of this Government in regard to rural electrification. Deputy MacEntee followed later with an attack on the Shannon scheme. While one might feel perhaps, that  the Shannon scheme and everything that happened in those years gone by is not now of any consequence, at the same time I must realise and the House must realise that the E.S.B. will, at an early date, be obtaining the finances they require for their further development and it would indeed be unfortunate if, at the time or approaching the time they were going to look for those finances, we had any comment in any way suggesting that they were not built on a sound foundation. For that reason, I want to deal at some length with some of the criticisms made by Deputy MacEntee, in particular, of the E.S.B. and of its foundation.
In 1925, I was not of an age to take very much interest in national affairs. However, we all know now that at that time—in fact, towards the end of 1924 —the then Government of the day took steps to develop and to build the development of our national electricity resources. It has been suggested by Deputy Lemass in this debate and by other members of the Fianna Fáil Party from time to time that, in that development, the plans for rural electrification were solely thought of by the Fianna Fáil Party. There is no justification whatever for that. A few quotations I propose to give this evening will make it abundantly clear on the record that it was the originators of the Shannon scheme who thought of the development of the country generally for rural purposes and for agricultural purposes and not the Party opposite.
It was the Government of that day which set up the investigation into the Shannon scheme and which laid the whole foundation of the E.S.B. that is responsible for the sound position in which it is. It ill became Deputy MacEntee again to endeavour in this House to substantiate the white elephant charge he made so recklessly and so improvidently some 20 odd years ago. It would have been better if Deputy MacEntee had, like a man, admitted that 20 years ago he was wrong when he made that criticism, that the experience of after years had shown him he was wrong and that the  criticism was made rashly and without foundation.
On the 23rd February, 1924, the then Government of the day addressed a letter of instructions to Siemens-Schuckert. In that letter of instructions they were specifically asked to do this:—
“You propose to examine not only the existing market for power, but to report on the future possibilities —industrial and other—that cheap power would promote.
The Government would expect that particular attention should be paid to this part of your proposals.”
The report of the firm set up at that time to make the investigation into electricity production shows clearly in every aspect and on every page that they were considering then not merely the development of the Shannon for the cities, towns and villages, but for the country districts as well—country districts which, in the report itself, were stated to contain some 2,049,000 inhabitants. Right from the very beginning, through every page of this report, the whole aspect of the Shannon scheme was that it would be a scheme for the beginning of a national network not merely for the cities, towns and villages but, in addition, for the rural areas of the country. We even had in the original report photographs and pictures of the various types of agricultural machinery that could be driven by electricity and that the Shannon scheme was going, when it was fully and properly developed, to enable us to have here for the improvement of agricultural production, and better still, of agricultural productivity.
When the Cumann na nGaedheal Government went out in 1932, Deputy MacEntee, in his then ministerial position, chose for his own purposes to run down that scheme and to run down the foundations of our electricity development. When speaking in this House he repeated again and brazenly stood over the description as he had given it at that time—that it was a white elephant. When he was speaking the other night he said that any Government considering the proper development  of electricity in this country would have developed the Liffey first and the Shannon afterwards. That shows clearly how little the problem is understood by Fianna Fáil, because the small capacity of the Liffey near Dublin would have been absorbed in Dublin and there would have been no prospect whatever, with the Liffey development alone, of getting the national network throughout the country that the Act itself provided. I say, “that the Act itself provided”, because it is clear in the wording of the 1927 Act that the word “extensions” is deliberately used and that the then sponsors of that scheme, when framing Section 21, sub-section (2) of the Act, had there provided for the development of the rural network in the way that this Government is providing at the present time.
Deputy MacEntee went further and suggested that there was in the archives of the Department of Finance a report by the same experts who made the original report on the Shannon scheme. The experts who originally reported on the Shannon scheme were a Swedish engineer named Waldemer Borgquist; Professor Eugen Meyer-Peter of Zurich; Thomas Norberg Schulz of Christiania; and Arthur Rohn of Zurich. Deputy MacEntee suggested that there was a report from these experts showing that the Shannon scheme had been inefficiently constructed and wastefully made. There is, of course, no such report and the suggestion by Deputy MacEntee that there is any such report is merely a figment of his imagination or his memory is at fault.
There is a report by Professor Meyer-Peter on the further development of the Shannon scheme. I have that report here and I have read it since Deputy MacEntee spoke and I find that it does not contain in any single word or in any single line any suggestion, good, bad or indifferent, that there was any inefficiency in the construction of the Shannon scheme or in the manner in which it was planned. It does suggest ways in which it could be extended, ways which were open to Deputy MacEntee during the substantial period  in which he was in office after the report was given to him in 1933.
To say the least of it, I think it was unfortunate that Deputy MacEntee should have endeavoured in this debate to suggest in any way that the economics of that scheme left anything to be desired. But, of course, it is not merely a question of argument in that respect. We have before us the unit costs of the various power stations. We have the costs through which we can check the corresponding ratio of each of the various power stations and which of them is providing us with the cheapest power. The results for the year ending March 31st last show quite clearly that the cheapest power per unit is got from the Shannon scheme.
Mr. de Valera: And the floods.
Mr. Sweetman: And if one does not want to take the provisional figures for the year ending March 31st last the figures are available for the year ending March 31st, 1954, and if we look at those figures we will find that the unit cost of the Shannon scheme is .334d. and the Liffey scheme is 1.097d.
Mr. de Valera: What about the turf? I would just like to know what the figures are for the turf-generated electricity, if the Minister has got them.
Mr. Sweetman: I have the figures here. For Portarlington, it was 1.119d. per unit, and for Allenwood the figure was 1.182d. I want to make this perfectly clear: in giving these figures or any figures it depends entirely whether the station concerned is used as the base load or the peak load station. If the station is used as the base load station in operation all the time the figures will obviously show a lower cost. If it is used only as a peak load station then equally the figures are going to show variation. For example, the figure for the Pigeon House station was 1.338d. and for the North Wall station it was 0.939d., one station being used in one way and the other in the other. But when costings are being taken into consideration I am trying to keep on the basis of like with like and hydro with hydro.
The most important thing that was  wrong with the statements made by Deputy MacEntee was that they had no foundation in fact and that the suggestion made by him that there was in the archives in the Department of Finance a report suggesting, or in any way implying, that the Shannon scheme was improperly or inefficiently built is not true, and if Deputy MacEntee wishes to refresh his memory or if any other members of his Party wish to refresh their memories on the report of Professor Meyer-Peter I shall make suitable arrangements to make the report available without the slightest delay or difficulty.
Deputy Lemass tried to make it out that he and his Party were the fathers of rural electrification. It is perfectly clear from the original report that the Siemens-Schuckert firm were asked to provide data in 1924. They did provide it and in the report of the four experts to which I have already made reference it is also quite clear that the scheme was being visualised and considered not merely as a scheme for the cities and towns and villages but a scheme in addition for the rural areas based on a population there of some 2,000,000 people. In my Budget speech I mentioned the acceleration of rural electrification. Deputy Lemass, in the way to which we have become so accustomed, suggested that it was a brazen reference for me to make. It was a truthful reference for me to make.
In so far as rural electrification is concerned we shall not merely go ahead with it more speedily than last year but more speedily than the previous Administration intended to progress with it. That is not a question of argument but a question of fact, facts which speak for themselves quite clearly. In the year ending 31st March, 1954, the last full year in which Fianna Fáil were in office, the number of new consumers connected under the rural electrification scheme was 23,477. In the year just passed that number had increased to 29,812, but in the next three years under the plans made by this Government it is proposed to step up that figure to 40,000 and we propose to ensure during the next three years  that the number of people in the rural areas connected with rural electrification each year will have reached the stage that when the plan comes to an end in 1959 the completion of rural electrification will have been achieved.
Deputy Crotty, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, speaking in the House, referred to the number of areas that were developed in 1954, the last year in which the previous Government was in office. What was the number of areas developed? Sixty. In the year that has just passed that was stepped up to 75 and we propose in the three years that are ahead to step that up again to 100 areas every year, in other words, to increase the output over that for the year just passed by approximately one-third.
It was in that picture and with that knowledge that, deliberately, I suggested we were going to have accelerated rural electrification and we are going to have it and every member of this House, no matter on which side he may be, may be quite certain of that fact. We are going to have it without in any way altering what is known as the criterion ratio, that is, the ratio by which the E.S.B. down through the years have judged the charge that will be imposed.
If the annual revenue that will come in on the ordinary rates from any house is a certain proportion of the capital cost of erecting the supply, then it is connected at the ordinary charge. That ratio has not been and will not be decreased by this Government. On the contrary, in fact, the ratio is now higher than it was some years ago and, in consequence of that, less people will have to face the special service charge than would have had to do it if the ratio were left as it was some years ago.
Certain Deputies from the far side of the House suggested that the manner in which we had required the E.S.B. to carry their own rural electrification would mean that there would be additional charges placed upon the people, particularly for rural  electrification. That is untrue. There will be no change whatsoever in respect of those charges. The position will not be altered by one iota as the result of our going back to the provision to which I referred already in the original Electricity Act, Section 21, sub-section (2).
There will be no diminution in the rate of connection. On the contrary, there will be a substantial increase. When I challenged one Deputy, Deputy Seán Flanagan, for cases of increased special charges following the decision of the Government, I was referred by him to the only case of which he knew and that was a case that was referred to in a question asked by Deputy Bartley on the 27th April last. Those of us who live in rural constituencies and who have occasion to deal with rural electrification in rural constituencies, know that sometimes what happens is that there is a group of six houses together and that all the six people, when they are first canvassed, say they will take supply and then one of them, for some reason, changes his mind and withdraws and, of course, the connection for five houses becomes immediately a different proposition. What happened in the case which Deputy Bartley mentioned in his question in this House was exactly that. One of the people, who had previously intimated that he would take supply, withdrew his undertaking and that was the only reason the E.S.B. even questioned the matter.
Subsequently it transpired that they felt that they were bound by the quotation they had given, notwithstanding that withdrawal, and they very properly stood over their arrangement but there can be no suggestion, and on the facts of that case there is no suggestion, that it had anything whatever to do with the changed administration of the rural electrification subsidy by this Government.
Deputy Burke said that he had evidence of a case where a new special service charge was being imposed because of the Government's decision. I asked him for the letter. I have it. It is an ordinary case such as any  Deputy in a rural area would have received for the last five or six years and there is no suggestion whatever in it that there is any increase in the special service charge because of the new method of financing which the Government have implemented.
It seems to me that the cases which Deputies on the other side are mentioning have arisen more in their own imagination than anywhere else.
I trust, therefore, that when we are discussing rural electrification in general and the Shannon scheme in particular and the operations of the E.S.B. in particular, in future, Deputies on the other side of the House will keep to the facts and will not try to distort those facts by suggesting that the efficiency of the hydroelectric scheme is not satisfactory when everybody has reported that it is entirely satisfactory and that they will not endeavour to suggest that the rural electrification scheme was solely theirs when, in fact, they must remember that it was only introduced in 1945 after various Deputies who are now on this side of the House and who were then over there had beseeched and urged them in many different debates to do so. Particularly in 1940, Deputy Hughes, Deputy Norton and Deputy Cosgrave all pressed the then Government to do something about introducing rural electrification when, at that time, there was not a single word about rural electrification coming from Fianna Fáil though they had then been in for eight years and had for those eight years chances and opportunities in the statutory provisions that were enacted when the original Act was introduced. So much for electricity.
Deputy Lemass in his speech on the day following the Budget, endeavoured, in the first place, to turn the debate on to a twist in regard to pensions that I cannot allow to pass unchallenged. Speaking on 5th May— column 835—Deputy Lemass said:—
“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.”
When we look back to the debates in 1952, what do we find? We find that Deputy Lemass's colleague, Deputy  MacEntee, brought in an increase of 1/6 in the old age pension. For what? For the deliberate purpose of equating the then pension with the increase that was to be operative as from July of that year. We find Deputy Lemass himself reported at column 1298 of Volume 130 as saying:—
“The Minister for Social Welfare will introduce forthwith amendments to the Social Welfare Bill designed to increase the old age pension and the unemployment assistance payments so as to ensure that the beneficiaries under these schemes will be no worse off either in July next.”
We find Deputy Dr. Ryan, then Minister for Social Welfare, saying as reported at column 1536:—
“The old age pensioners are compensated.”
In 1952 the cost of living was 122; to-day it is 126—four points up—and Deputy Lemass tries to suggest that all this Government has done is to make up that difference. We on this side do not suggest that half a crown is more than half a crown, but we are entitled to suggest and we do suggest that it brings the position, even by comparison with the cost of living, further than it was brought by the 1/6 introduced by the previous Government in 1952.
Wherever you go throughout the country the one thing that has universal acceptance is that the Government were entirely right in choosing the old age pensions, the widows', blind and orphans' pensions, as the first thing that should be dealt with by the Government in any Budget it introduced. The only person I have met who has made any suggestion to the contrary is my predecessor here, who in his speech last week made it perfectly clear that if he had been sitting where I am sitting, the Budget would have been not the Budget that I introduced but another Budget. He made it perfectly clear in his speech last week that if he had been here as Minister for Finance his Budget would have been one that gave £3,000,000 away in remission of taxation, half of  it in a remission of income-tax and the other half in other tax remissions. Remember, that £3,000,000 implies that Deputy MacEntee was not going to provide £2,000,000 for butter subsidy or any other subsidy and that he was not going to provide £900,000 for old age pensions and other pensions.
Deputy MacEntee cannot have it both ways. If he says that this Budget was brought in on a balanced basis—and he did say that—and that if he were here that £3,000,000 would have been used for the specific purpose of remission of taxation, that carries with it the specific assurance and the undoubted claim that the £900,000 for increases in pensions would not have been made available, nor would the money have been provided for the butter subsidy. I tried to make it clear in my Budget speech, but I want to make it clear again to-night, that we in this Government have a scheme of priorities in regard to carrying out the objects of our policy and we have no apology to offer to anybody for the first priorities in that field—the subsidy on butter and the increase in old age pensions.
When I read, not the reports of the Dáil about the Budget but some of the local papers, I really met some gems. Deputy Mooney is not in the House this evening, but apparently he was up in Clones on the Sunday before May 21st and he is reported in the Argus and the Northern Standard as having spoken there to delegates from various Fianna Fáil Cumainn. The speech made by this Deputy, of all the speeches that I have heard from Fianna Fáil at any time, for brazen audacity and for untruths really takes the biscuit. Here is what the Deputy says about the Budget:—
“The only thing of any interest to the working man in this new Budget is the increase of 2/6 in the old age pension.”
Fair enough, so far. He goes on:—
“Only the Government got an easy £1,000,000 from C.I.E. there would have been no increase for these old people.”
 I am afraid the propaganda from the Fianna Fáil offices in Mount Street must have reached him some 12 months too late, for it was my predecessor who got £1,000,000 from C.I.E. for some of the benefits he gave last year. Unfortunately, there was no such beneficence available to me this year.
Mr. Aiken: You got £1,000,000 from Marshall Aid.
Mr. Sweetman: That is typical of the manner in which Fianna Fáil Deputies are standing up here one after the other and saying that this is a good Budget—and then going down the country and telling what one can only describe as an untruth. I will be kind to Deputy Mooney, who is only a newcomer, and say that perhaps it is really the fault of the propaganda machine in sending him the information too late.
Mr. Aiken: It should have been “Grant Counterpart Fund” instead of the other—that is all.
Mr. Sweetman: The Deputy cannot get him out of his troubles as easily as that. We could go back to the Ground Limestone Grant Counterpart Appropriation-in-Aid that Deputy MacEntee had in his Budget.
Mr. Dillon: If one cock will not fight, they will always find another.
Mr. Aiken: It takes two cocks to fight.
Mr. Dillon: There are plenty of roosters on that Front Bench.
Mr. Aiken: There used to be, when you were over here.
Mr. Sweetman: Then we had one Fianna Fáil Deputy after another telling us the things we should be able to do this year—things that could have been done in 1952 before they had increased expenditure in that year and subsequently.
Mr. de Valera: What about revenue increases?
Mr. Sweetman: Would the Leader of the Opposition compose himself for one instant? During the whole of his  speech I never interrupted him once: I only answered one question when he asked me. If I were in the position that Deputy MacEntee was in in 1952 as regards expenditure, it would have been an easy one. What is the position when you compare expenditure this year with then? For example, for the service of public debt I had to provide £5,350,000 more this year than he had to provide in 1952. I had to provide this year some £4,000,000 more for the Civil Service, the Gardaí, the teachers and the Army, than he had to provide in 1952—all because of the spiral that he started then.
It is perfectly clear that if you go back in one respect you must go back in the other. I have no doubt whatever that if we had been enabled to deal with that position—if we had been put by the people in a position to deal with it in 1952, as we were put in 1948—in sufficient time after that Budget and before its effects had seeped through the country, we would have been able to do the things in 1952 as we were able to do them in 1948 so soon after the Supplementary Budget. One must compare like with like and not what happens many years afterwards with what could have been done before the damage had gone permanently through the economy as a whole.
Mr. de Valera: You are learning.
Mr. Sweetman: Deputy de Valera should not draw me on the subject of learning. I listened with the greatest forbearance through a long lecture he gave us—he, of all people—on political morality. We heard a great deal about employment from Fianna Fáil Deputies and even from Deputy Burke who sat down a few minutes ago. I wonder when Fianna Fáil will tell the people honestly what exactly the position was when they went into office and when they left office. Compare June and June, like with like, June 1951 and June 1954 and see the difference. In June 1954 there were 19,000 more people registered as unemployed than there were in June 1951 when Fianna Fáil walked over and took up Government here. That is their record in three years—they succeeded in increasing  the number registered as unemployed by 19,000. First of all, they imposed untold harship on our people by a policy that deliberately created unemployment. When I say that I am not accusing them of trying to create unemployment, but I am saying that it was a deliberate policy that had the effect of creating unemployment.
In that period it was not, as we heard some Deputy say, only a question of textiles that caused the increase in unemployment. There was a steady increase in other things which had no relation whatever to imports. For example, building, contracting and construction works could not possibly have been influenced by any such import policy of the previous Government, yet in March, 1953, compared to March, 1952, there were 5,986 more people unemployed on those works— simply and solely because of the policy that was put into operation. You could go all down the list and find the same thing, that the economic policy put into force had the effect of driving more and more people into unemployment.
Then they got panicky and endeavoured, by a complete and absolute change in policy, to remedy the position through the National Development Fund, to ease some of the difficulties that they themselves had created for the people. Even after they had done that, all they could produce after three years was 19,000 more people registered as unemployed than there were the day they crossed over from that side of the House to this side.
What is the effect of our policy? By it we ensured that there would be confidence amongst the people, confidence which would engender economic activity. We have ensured that the economic activity engendered in that way would gradually bring more and more people into employment, so as to build up on a steady and sure foundation the whole basis of our economy. As that policy gathers momentum and gathers weight, it will have the effect of decreasing the numbers unemployed—as has been happening when compared with the equivalent period  of last year—and it will also increase, even more than it did in the December quarter, the number of those engaged in manufacturing industries. Deputies will remember that in the Budget speech I made it clear that in that quarter we had the highest employment figure ever in the whole 32 years since the foundation of the State.
There is another effect that our policy has had, in bringing that confidence. It has put our National Loans on a better plane—particularly when compared with loans across the water. When we left office in June, 1951, the comparable prices for Irish Bonds and British Bonds were more or less the same—Irish 3 per cent. Exchequer Bonds were 92¾ and 93 per cent. British Savings Bonds were 93 3/16. But when we came back in 1954 we found that, instead of their being more or less on a par, Irish Bonds had gone down by seven points compared to their British counterpart. What is the position now? As a result of the careful policy of this Government, according to the latest figures I have here, the calculations on the 11th May, those same bonds I mentioned are now practically equal. In other words, as a result of the careful policy of this Government, we have been able to build up confidence amongst the people, to make up that gap or that difference in the standing of our national securities—and I suggest that that is worth while.
There is only a minute to go before closing and in the circumstances I do not propose to say any more at this stage. I would repeat what I said in closing my Budget speech, that we have a series of priorities and that in this Budget we have given priority to the things that matter, to the classes to whom priority should be given. We are giving this to the people as a first instalment and when the day comes five years hence, when we come to give an account of our own stewardship, I feel confident that the people will be quite satisfied that we have continued fully and progressively along the lines of the 12-point declared policy of this Government.
Resolution put and agreed to.
 Financial Resolutions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, reported and agreed to.
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