Thursday, 27 October 1955
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Corish): When Deputy Lemass moved. his motion yesterday on the question of prices, he asked the House not to be drawn away by the amendment tabled by members of the Government and asked that the debate should be on. prices and prices only. I am afraid his admonition did not have any effect on. some of his colleagues, especially those on the Front Bench. Deputy Lemass himself strove valiantly, and not too successfully, to speak to the terms of his motion, but I am afraid that some of his colleagues did not have even part of the success which he had, because we had from Deputy MacEntee in particular a roundabout speech, part of which in Deputy MacEntee's case ranged from the I.R.A. to the Football Association of Ireland and to Yugoslavia. I think he tried by innuendo to suggest that this Government had done something sinister or something wrong in respect of these particular issues.
I should like to say to Deputy MacEntee and the members of the Opposition that, if they want any information on any of these subjects, there is the usual method of eliciting information in this House and I think I can say on behalf of my colleagues who are interested that they will be only too pleased to answer any questions which Deputy MacEntee or anybody  else wants to ask on these subjects. I want to tell Deputy MacEntee and members of the Opposition that we are prepared to be judged, when we go before the electorate, on our promises and on our behaviour in respect of prices, but I want to say that, when we go before the people, we will be judged not alone on prices, but on the general activities of the Government during our term of office, however long or short it may be.
Personally—and I speak for my colleagues, I think—I will be prepared to face my constituents on any of the commodities Deputy Lemass raised yesterday. Whether it is the price of tea, of butter, of sugar, of flour or of any other essential foodstuff, I will be prepared to face my constituents, and I am confident that they will repose in me, and indeed in the rest of us, the same confidence as they reposed in us in May, 1954. While the Opposition might not be able to understand it, they will appreciate that it is not possible to sell tea in Ireland at a price cheaper than the price at which it is being sold to the people in the country in which it is produced.
Mr. Corish: We did not rush willy-nilly, as Deputy Lemass would have done, in September last year and clamp on an increases in September, another increase a month afterwards and a further increase a month afterwards. We said we would give long consideration to this and I think we were justified in giving that consideration, even though we now have to increase the price by 2/- per lb. The indications were at a particular time during the year that the price of tea would fall, and it did fall, but, by and large over the whole year, the increase was such that it meant we would have to put the 2/- per lb. on to the price, but, as I said last night, we have cushioned people who cannot protect themselves against this increase by giving them an allowance.
We will be prepared to face the public on the question of prices and to point out the difference between the  activities of the Fianna Fáil Government and the behaviour of this Government on the question of prices. Now there is no question, when there is a suggestion of an increase, of an automatic approval by a rubber-stamp method, and it must be evident to the members of the Opposition that every single increase in price gets the most careful scrutiny from the Prices Advisory Body. That body is being, and has been, used to the utmost in the examination of all price increases, but what was the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Government during their three years and did they make the same use of that body in respect of proposed increases? Anybody in the House will readily admit that the Prices Advisory Body have been doing their job and doing it pretty well since their establishment.
Deputy Lemass himself said he had no solution for the increase in prices. I do not think that was an entirely correct statement, because he has, or at least he had. As the Tánaiste pointed out yesterday, he had a solution for the increase in prices and, briefly, it was the freezing of wages. I was struck, as members on this side were struck, by the silence of the people now in opposition when the Tánaiste said he would hand over the file to any member of the Fianna Fáil Government to see whether or not what he stated was correct. There was not a “gig” from one member opposite.
Mr. Corish: When we face the people, we will be judged on prices, plus other aspects of our stated policy, the policy to which we are committed, and above all, I think we will be judged on our activities and behaviour with regard to unemployment and emigration. I do not think our record in that regard is bad and I would say that our record is substantially better  than the record of Fianna Fáil during their three years of office. I have a list of unemployment figures here for ten years and it is gratifying for us to know that, on the first Saturday in October, 1955, we had the lowest unemployment figure in ten years and that, on the other hand, on the first Saturday in October, 1953, we had the highest ever unemployment figure in ten years.
Mr. Corish: I should like to quote some of the figures to demonstrate the difference there has been between the effects of the policy of this Government and the effects of the policy carried out by the previous Government. I think it would not be wrong for me to take a period a year after the famous Budget of 1952 was introduced. In the industrial analysis of the live register for June of 1953, we see that, as compared with June of 1952, there was an increase of over 25,000 in the numbers of unemployed. I want to be quite fair and I do not want to give any wrong impressions. Approximately 14,000 of those can be explained by reason of the fact that there was a difference in the introduction of the Employment Period Order, but I should like to show the House in what particular occupations that unemployment occurred and I want to pin it directly on to the Budget introduced in April, 1952.
Mr. Corish: That is another story. Compared with June, 1952, in June, 1953, there were an extra 7,210 persons unemployed in the building contracting and works construction industry. I would say that that was due directly to the policy that was enshrined in the Budget of 1952. In the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges there were an extra 4,011 unemployed. Again, I say that was the result of the Budget of 1952. In general building construction and repair work there were an extra 3,199 unemployed; in transport and communications  an extra 1,097 and in the distributive trades—and this is very significant when you think of the Budget of 1952——
Mr. Corish: In personal services, in employment in hotels, clubs, restaurants and public houses there was an increase of 464 in the unemployment figures of that class. The total—I have taken off those affected by the Employment Period Order—was something like 11,000. I would say that a big proportion of that 11,000 was rendered unemployed through the effect of the 1952 Budget. Would it be unfair, therefore, if I were to take a period, say, a year after we went into office, June, 1954? While there was an increase of about 14,000 in the unemployment figure a year after the Budget of 1952, there was, after we were in office a year, a reduction of 6,000.
Again, it is interesting to note where the reductions were in respect of unemployment.  In food there was a reduction of 605. In the manufacture of tobacco, whilst there was not a spectacular or substantial decrease, there was a decrease of 61. In clothing it was 676. In woodwork and furniture 134; in metal manufacturing and engineering 161. In mining and quarrying there was a reduction of 148. In respect of building, contracting and works of construction there was a reduction of 1,574 as against a substantial increase a year after the 1952 Budget, in 1953, when there were substantial numbers rendered unemployed by the policy enshrined in that Budget. A year after we were in office there was a decrease of 1,574 in that particular branch.
Mr. Corish: In transport and communications there was a decrease of 251. In the distributive trades, again, while there was a substantial increase as a result of Fianna Fáil's policy, there was a decrease of 574 in the distributive trades a year after we assumed office. Whilst there was a slight increase in the numbers of those rendered unemployed in agriculture, the figure was 230, thousands were rendered unemployed in that particular industry a year after the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1952.
Mr. Corish: Inasmuch as Governments are judged not on particular things, I would like to be judged on the result of our policy as affecting employment. As I said last night, I was not here to protest that we had stemmed the tide of emigration. I could not say that any substantial improvement has been made but I  want to say that I visited certain of the employment exchanges round the country and the evidence is that at least there has been no increase; and this is from managers of employment exchanges who certainly have all the required information on the exchange cards as to whether or not people have left the country. We have made a substantial improvement as far as employment is concerned and that in time should have an effect on the tide of emigration.
I think the evidence also has been from the Government, through the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that industry is being encouraged and protected to the utmost extent. I think we should all be proud of the courageous approach of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in respect of the development of the Avoca mines and that his other gesture in inviting foreign investors to this country should be applauded.
Mr. Corish: I was quite amused when I read in the papers last night about the bleat by Deputy MacEntee in regard to this £250,000. He wanted to know where the money is going to come from. Let him not worry about that. It will be provided. After the Budget of 1952, his colleagues introduced a proposal to get over £250,000 for the purchase of Tulyar. We were not told where the money would come from.
Mr. Corish: That seems to typify the attitude of at least the front bench members of Fianna Fáil. Deputy Lemass also asked where the money was going to come from. We all know the stated attitude of the ex-Taoiseach. It was quoted to him yesterday and he did not deny it.
Mr. Corish: Deputy MacEntee even begrudged the increase given in June last to the old aged, blind and widows and orphans. I do not pretend to quote him, but his attitude seemed to be, speaking on the Budget resolution, that if he had the same amount of money he would devote it to reducing the income-tax. Whether his colleagues agree with that I do not know. Certainly my attitude and the attitude of the Government at that particular time was that the money should be devoted to the more needy section of the community.
We will be judged on prices, unemployment and emigration. We will be judged on our activities during our terms of office, whether it be long or short. We will be judged on what we have done in respect of the local authority employees. We will be judged for honouring the Civil Service award. We will be judged by our activities with regard to housing and the stepping up of the building of houses, the giving of more employment on our roads, especially country roads, and on the legislation that has been passed over the past 16 months and the legislation that is provided for in the 12 point programme. I am confident that, when our term of office comes to an end, the people will have no hesitation in returning the same Government.
Mr. A. Byrne: Might I ask the Minister a question? The Minister made reference to the blind and the old aged getting allowances, but he said nothing about those on home and domiciliary assistance. Will they get any compensation?
Mr. McQuillan: I propose to devote  most of my remarks to the amendment submitted in the name of Deputy Lemass and his Party. There has been, in the course of this debate, an admission by the leading members of the Government that the cost of living has risen and that the question of the control to be exercised over the cost of living can no longer be maintained. The argument put forward by the Government speakers is that if they cannot control prices they will try to cushion those sections of the community most affected by the increase in the cost of living.
Last night Deputy Kyne and the Minister for Social Welfare gave very important contributions from the trade union viewpoint in the course of their remarks. Deputy Kyne referred to the strong right arm of the trade union movement and said all they needed was a fair deal and that they would look after themselves. The Minister to-day said the wage earners, given their dues, could to some extent cushion themselves against an increase in prices. That is all very fair from the trade union viewpoint—from the viewpoint of the strong right armed people. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, and for the rural community, there is no strong right arm to protect us from these increases in the cost of living.
Mr. McQuillan: Let us examine what is likely to happen in reality when the people with the strong right arm have their way. Recently C.I.E. workers demanded and got an increase of 12/6 per week. To my mind they were entitled to that increase and were quite right to demand it. But what has happened? Within three weeks that company turned around and increased the bus fares in Dublin and in the rural areas, taking back immediately part of the increase given to the workers in their own industry. The wives of these workers when they go shopping have to pay increased but fares, their children going to school have to pay the increased bus fares. Apart altogether from the C.I.E. workers there are the young clerkt-ypists  in the various business houses in Dublin, the shop-boys and those other workers who also are affected by the increase in the bus fares. There is no increase in their wages.
Mr. McQuillan: We all know the clerical staff in many of our business houses in cities and towns throughout the country are grossly underpaid and the fact that they are grossly underpaid means that as a result of this and other increases in the cost of living their standard of living is sinking each time. When this increase was given to C.I.E. workers, who paid for it but the workers themselves? I do not see the industrialists or the big businessmen or the wealthy farmers getting on a bus to reach a destination. They all travel in big cars. They are not going to pay the increases in the bus fares. It is the small unprotected group that will suffer whenever there is an increase.
I do not want to be accused of taking the stand that an increase in wages is undesirable. Anything but. What I want to see established is that when increases are given to workers the benefits of these increase are not immediately taken back from them by some sort of subterfuge or by some authority which seems to have full control outside this House. If some organised section of the community obtains an increase in their wages the price of certain commodities goes up. We have then another demand from these strongly organised groups for a further increase in wages and all I can say is that it develops into a vicious circle. I think that until we reach the stage in this country where we accept the fact that there should be a basic minimum wage paid to all workers, whether organised or otherwise, we will not be giving a fair deal to many of our people in rural and city areas.
Last night Deputy Kyne said that there was a possibility that the prices of bread, beer and tobacco would have to be increased. I want to say that if there is to be an increase, as it is likely now there will be, in the price of bread or of any other community which is  essential to the maintenance of the health of our people, it is liable to mean a lowering of the standard of living, and we know a lowering of the standard of living will affect the health of our community, especially those who have nobody to speak for them or no strong right arm to act on their behalf. If we have such a lowering in the standard of health it is going to cost more to keep our people in hospitals and sanatoria and we will once again have those queues outside our sanatoria which we had up to 1947 and 1948 when Dr. Noel Browne relieved the queues.
This debate has brought one very important matter into the light of day —it brought from all Parties the confession that they are powerless to control the cost of living. On behalf of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Lemass last night said:
Mr. McQuillan: I shall come to that. The Government speakers have confessed that they are unable to halt the rise in the cost of living. That confession had to be wrung from them but at any rate they are out in the open now when they admit that they can do nothing about it. Deputy Lemass said they had thrown in the towel. I do not know whether that is true or not but at the present moment they remind me of a football team. When things are going bad for a football team they begin to panic and when a football team begins to panic——
Mr. McQuillan: ——they become disorganised and they begin to work singly and nothing but disaster can face them. I think that is the position this Government finds itself in at the  moment. Undoubtedly, as far as political issues are concerned in this debate, the Opposition have done most of the scoring. They have maintained as they have always maintained during recent years that the political Parties composing the present Government could not honour their extravagant promises made during the various election campaigns. To my mind the answer to that by the Parties comprising the present Government is very important. They have gone back again—I suppose it is inevitable in politics that some people should always go back—and reiterated their views on the 1952 Budget.
It has been suggested by the leading members of the Government that the 1952 Budget was imposed in order to hurt the people. There are some who say it was done out of spite. The general view expressed by the members of the Government is that there was no need to impose it. When that Budget was introduced, I described it as a savage Budget, but I did not say that it was unnecessary; I said that if conditions were as Fianna Fáil said they were, then Fianna Fáil at the time should have taken steps to ease the situation.
They were, however, fair and honest in their approach and the only argument that this Government can now put up in relation to the increase in the cost of living is: “Remember, if Fianna Fáil was in office prices would be twice as high.” That is the line that has been adopted by the Government in this debate; in other words, we know that the price of tea has increased, but the public should remember that, if Fianna Fáil were in office, instead of going up by 2/- per lb., tea would go up by 4/- per lb. In relation to sausages, the Government's view probably is that, although sausages are going up by 7d. per lb., they would go up by 2/- per lb. If Fianna Fáil were in office.
Mr. McQuillan: I am trying to argue reasonably. I do not know whether or not that premise is correct, but it is  no answer to the public; it is poor consolation to the public that a Government which made the promises this Government made to reduce the cost of living can now find only the answer: “Oh, if Fianna Fáil were in now, instead of the rise that has taken place, it would be double that.”
Mr. McQuillan: There is a mentality in this country: “Thanks be to God. Sure, things could be worse.” As long as that mentality persists, we shall never see the development so necessary and so essential to keep our people in work here and stop emigration; in other words, always accept what is there and never look at the bright side.
Mr. McQuillan: The one thing that has emerged from this debate so far is the admission by the Government that it is utterly impossible to control the price of commodities. The Opposition has made the same admission. I think that admission can be accepted, and will be accepted, by the public when the public realises that in so far as commodities produced outside the country are concerned we have no control. As far as import prices go, no Government can exercise much influence on world markets or world trends. If we have to buy from abroad we will have to pay whatever the respective countries charge if we need the goods. It is, however, a different matter when we come to deal with commodities, especially foodstuffs, which are produced at home. If we are not in a position to control prices at some stage in home production that discloses a very serious situation as far as the Government is concerned.
In relation to tea, it was mistake  in the first instance to prolong the subsidy. For whatever reasons, the Government felt it was desirable to subsidies tea and they were entitled at the time to do what they did; but, from the very beginning, I felt it was wrong. It would have been better to let tea find its own level as regards price. The increase that has taken place is a very steep one. It has come suddenly and it has been a serious shock to the public. There is a rumour—I would like it to be scotched if possible—that there is no real need to increase the price of tea by 2/- in the lb. It has been said that it could be sold at a lower price were it not for the fact that the Government has to pay its pound of flesh, in this case its pound of tea, to the banks for the overdraft accommodation.
Mr. McQuillan: I do not know whether or not the Government is controlled by the banks. I asked a simple question of the Minister for Finance to-day in connection with the control of credit and the first thing he told me was that the Government had no policy or scheme in mind to control credit; and I think that is one of the most important matters affecting the cost of living.
Mr. McQuillan: I would like to remind the Minister for Health of what his colleague, the former Minister for Finance, said in this House on 15th December, 1953, at column 2379 of Volume 143 of the Official Report:—
“...the Central Bank should be given the powers of a modern bank...that such things as the creation of credit, the volume of credit, the direction of credit, should be under public control... that this country was badly out of step with all modern communities in not having that under complete public control.”
Mr. McQuillan: I am not so worried about the position with regard to tea. The Government cannot control the price of tea in the world market. That is accepted. If that is explained to the people, the people, being sensible, will accept it. What about the increase in the price of foodstuffs produced at home? Let us take the simple commodity I mentioned a moment ago, sausages. As Deputies know, there are many families who never see beef or mutton from one end of the year to the other because they cannot afford it. There are thousands of families in the City of Dublin whose main meal consists of sausages and mash. There are thousands of children who depend on that for their main meal. We have an increase in the price of sausages. Sausages are not imported from India or Ceylon. What effort has been made to control the price of sausages? We are told this matter will come before  the Prices Advisory Body. That is another smokescreen.
I think Deputy James Tully asked me a short time ago why the price of sausages had increased. I will tell him. We had buyers coming in here from England scouring the countryside and buying up sows wherever they could get them. They cleared the entire countryside of sows at a price which did not at all suit these buyers. They gave an inflated price for these animals and deprived the majority of the community of the benefit of the by-products at an economic price. The farmer down the country would be far better off and would be satisfied to know he was getting a guaranteed price each year for his pigs, rather than get a big price this year and a lower one next year. (Interruptions). I said they were bought at an inflated price by buyers from England, where there was a shortage. I say it is not a true price and that this Government should exercise control in the export of the sows. Some years ago the price of wool was allowed to go sky high, while a lot of farmers would be satisfied to have a reasonable price each year rather than a high price one year and a low one the next.
We had Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, roaring and ranting about bacon curers and saying that if necessary the State should interfere. He advocated down the country that Government factories should be set up as one means of counteracting these bacon—curing rings. It is not the producer or the consumer who is making the money, but the bandit in between, the bacon curer. If we can have State companies for other things, I see no reason why the State should not set them up for this and put competition against the curers, who have a complete monopoly now and can snap their fingers—at this Government, at any rate. I mention sausages as one item, to show the ineffectiveness of the control exercised by the Government over home-produced goods.
We are told by some Deputies on the Government side that bread might go  up. It is not many years since we heard Deputies, now members of the Government, advocating nationalisation of our flour-milling industry. Now We are told one can do nothing about this and because we have a lot of gourmands who want the whitest of bread we must import the type of wheat which will suit their jaded palates. This country is facing the most critical period since its inception as a State. We have no leadership, no hope and no policy from the Government Benches.
Mr. McQuillan: The amendment refers to public confidence being restored, and increased earnings, and the impression is created that things are not too bad in spite of the difficulties involved. There is no mention in the amendment of the dangerous situation that exists in the gap between imports and exports. I heard very little reference to that in the course of this debate. It would be no harm for us to examine how the increased earnings work out and how the public confidence has been restored in the last 12 months. The Exchequer returns for the first six months of this year show a total increase in revenue of £3,000,000.
Mr. McQuillan: The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy O'Donovan, is a godsend to me. The Government, through Deputy O'Donovan and others, are clapping themselves on the back for that. Of course, they do not  mention that almost £1,500,000 of that increase comes from higher customs receipts. That is not mentioned by him or by the Minister for Finance, in Limerick or elsewhere, speaking about the increased revenue. It is reasonable to ask him what commodities helped to bring in that extra amount. To my mind, the increase in revenue has come from a higher volume of imports. In a speech reported in the Irish Independent of October 14th, made at the annual meeting of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Minister for Finance, speaking about the Exchequer returns and the balance of payments, said:—
“The gap between imports and exports widened by £16,000,000 between January and August of this year, compared with the corresponding figure of 1954. Prices had little to do with this increase in the trade deficit: it was mainly a matter of extra quantities of imports”.
That is the most important part of that statement. Of course, he had to explain that for the benefit of the members of the chamber of commerce. He said the examination of the import figures suggested that the increase represented in part a restoration of stocks, in other words, a great deal of this way due to companies replenishing their stocks. The Minister went on to deal with some of the items concerned and said:—
“It is difficult to identify how far restockng is taking place, but we do know that in the case of one of our principal imports, namely, wheat, imports this year are up by £3,000,000, partly because of restocking”.
So now we have it disclosed that we have spent £3,000,000 extra up to August for the purchase of wheat abroad. Again, from January to August, the value of cereal and feeding stuffs imported was £10.7 million —double the cost of cereals and feeding stuffs imported in the same period in 1954. Out of that £10.7 million maize cost £4.3 million, or double the amount imported in the previous period, last year. Yet we had the  Minister for Agriculture here last night telling us about his great plans for growing feeding barley. Our imports in maize alone are double what they were from January to August of 1954. This is the picture that we have in a fertile, undeveloped country, where only 15 per cent. of the arable land is under tillage.
Last night Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, expounded here on the virtues of grass and he stated that 20 generations of Irish people recognise that 60 per cent. of our land has always been under grass, due to the fact that we had 42 inches of rainfall. I am sure Deputy Dillon has made as good and a better study of Irish history than I have and he is well aware that a number of big clearances took place some generations ago, that we had several plantations, and that where we have the grasslands to-day, much of them up in Deputy Tully's country, we had people there prior to these big removals that took place, and those decent people were driven down to the bogs of the West of Ireland. Prior to their removal there was tillage in those fertile regions. It was not always a country for the growing of grass.
Even allowing that Deputy Dillon has a reasonable case in saying that 60 per cent. of our arable land should be grassland, are we aware of the fact that 80 per cent. of our arable land and a little more is good grass? We have the lowest figure for tillage as far as I can gather in any civilised country in the world outside places like Australia and New Zealand.
Let us take a look at the export figures during that period, January to August. The Minister for Finance, at that same meeting of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that the trade in live cattle has increased and that is the only thing he could point at as having increased in the last eight months. During that period we had a big reduction in the export of food of animal origin, in pigmeat, poultry and eggs exports. Our total exports dropped in that period from January to August by £6.6 million.
Mr. McQuillan: I am coming to that. In other words there was a total decrease of £10,000,000 in the export of pigmeat, poultry, eggs and dressed meat. Every Deputy knows that it is in these industries based on agriculture that we have the main employment given in Ireland as far as agricultural products are concerned. There is far more employment given in a factory that is processing meat or that has to deal with the production of poultry or eggs than there is in the rearing of a bullock and the exporting of him on the hoof across to John Bull.
What happened to the people who were employed in the dressed meat trade, in the pigmeat trade last year, seeing that there is a reduction of £10,000,000 in our export value? Where did these people go? Into what industries have they been absorbed. I would like that position to be clarified from the Government Benches. I do not decry for a moment that our cattle trade is our only bulwark in this country at the moment and if we have to depend on cattle alone on the hoof for export then this Government might as well pack in because cattle on the hoof on their own are not the solution for our problems either from the point of view of agricultural or industrial development.
Mr. McQuillan: I want to relate it to the remarks made by the Minister for Social Welfare in connection with the employment that has been given in the period during which this Government has taken office. I maintain that, due to the fact that there is such a collapse in the industries which dealt with the processing of our agricultural commodities, unemployment has been solved by a process of emigration. I  do not wish to go into that in detail, but I have a constructive suggestion to make to the Government. We should not import an ounce of foodstuffs from abroad that we can produce reasonably here in Ireland.
I have just dealt with the foodstuff problem and the Minister for Agriculture is not the only culprit in this connection. I would like to refer to some items that his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has to do with. Deputy Norton, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, has always proclaimed in this House that he is an ardent believer in expanding our natural resources.
Mr. McQuillan: The Deputy should not be so fast off his mark. In the last few weeks there has been a request made by Mr. T.K. Sheridan, chairman of Coal Importers, Limited, for an increase in the price of coal. He went before the Prices Advisory Body and he is quoted in the Irish Times of October the 22nd last making a case to increase coal by 7/6 per ton, in other words, to increase the cost of living. He said:—
“One of the reasons given in connection with the demand for the increase was the urgent request from the Minister for Industry and Commerce to purchase American coal to augment supplies of British coal because of the possibility of a shortage during the coming winter months.”
That is an order issued to Coal Importers, Limited, by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to go and buy American coal as soon as possible and that statement of the Minister's is used by the chairman of coal importers as one of the reasons why he wants an increase of 7/6 per ton for coal. Up to this we have been buying coal in Britain. Now under this Government that is to develop our natural resources we are scurrying off to America to buy American coal.
Mr. McQuillan: I know we are forced by the 1938 Pact, whether we like it or not, to buy coal from Britain and that cannot be challenged in this House. We must accept coal if she has coal to give us. Britain is not in a position to fulfil our requirements of coal and now we go to purchase coal in America. We have Bord na Móna functioning here, prepared, if the direction is given to them, to carry out Government orders and produce semi—automatic and automatic machine turf for the use of people in Dublin and other cities. We have the finest of fuel under our feet in the bogs in the West of Ireland and in the Midlands and what do we do? We go to America to buy coal. At the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Mr. Sweetman had this to offer as advice at a stage when the cost of living is rising and the tide of emigration has not been stemmed. He said:—
That is the only hope we have and that is the only statement that has been made to relieve the anxiety of those in the rural areas at the present time who are on the unemployed list. How they can increase their output is a mystery to me. I wonder are those words directed to the emigrants, to increase their output in Britain. There is little in that statement of the Minister for Finance to restore public confidence because, in spite of what may be said by members of this Government, the tide of emigration is rising.
“I am asked by the working men of this district, Cloonfad, County Roscommon, to let you know of the bad situation here as regards work available. The county council are steamrolling about a mile of the road, so that there are 180 men looking for a day's work there, so they have arranged to put the men on in turns for that little job. For the  past 12 months 95 men have left the area. Can anything be done to improve this situation?”
Mr. McQuillan: I will give that letter to the Minister and he can be assured that it is quite correct. I have made it my business on a number of occasions to check the position in the Cloonfad area, to see the conditions of the people.
A prominent churchman, Dr. Lucey, no later than last March, criticised the Government of this country for their outlook, when he said in Cork that the fact that St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in so many countries outside Ireland is not so much to our glory as to our shame. If I made that statement there would be horns put on my head within 24 hours. Dr. Lucey said that there is no civilised country doing so little for its sons and daughters as Ireland. When a man of the standing of Dr. Lucey makes that statements it is time that a Government like this should listen very carefully.
Last night the Minister for Industry and Commerce dealt with the efforts being made by himself and by members of the Government to secure industrial expansion and to entice—I  think that is the word—from abroad people with money and the know-how, so that they would set up industries in Ireland of a kind that we have not already in operation. I am all for that. I am all for industrial development here but I am for it in a planned way. We know perfectly well that industrialists, the people with money, in Sweden, Germany, America or Britain are practical, hard business men who will not come here merely because we utter pious platitudes. They will want something very concrete. They will want strong, permanent guarantees, if they are to come here, with regard to profits and markets.
Teams will be leaving this country very shortly to visit several European countries to put our case and I hope they will meet with success. As far as the effort is concerned, the Minister for Industry and Commerce is to be commended, even though it is only a limited step. He mentioned in this regard—I think we will all agree with him—that one of the things, and the main thing, lacking in this country is the technical know-how. I would like to remind Deputies that after the last war, in 1945, technical know-how was available and at the disposal of this country in concentration camps and displaced persons' camps all over Europe. The finest brains, technicians, scientists, men with industrial experience and know-how were available as displaced persons and this country could have had its pick but we were not interested. Now we are going to pay for it. We could have had those people here and could have absorbed them into our own race. They would have been a good influence on it and would have made great Irishmen and would have helped to build this country.
We were told last night by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he hopes to secure two industrial projects from Sweden and that he will place them in the West of Ireland. I hope that we will see that day. I have been in this House since 1948. The first thing I did when I came into the House was to criticise to the utmost of my ability the previous Government  for their neglect of the West. Without wishing to delay the House, I say that what I said in 1948, in connection with the previous Government, applies to-day to this Government and to every Government since 1948. The West is the neglected area and all the poppycock and statements made about solving unemployment and emigration are so much waste of time. We must get down to the fundamentals in the areas where there is unemployment, where emigration starts, namely, the congested districts of the West and the poorer areas.
I had intended to deal with some projects that were giving employment in the West and that were killed without being given a proper opportunity. The promise of industrial expansion that will come from Sweden is a matter that is in the air. It is not as concrete as the fact that in the last few years a brave and courageous experiment was being tried in the wilds of Mayo— Glenamoy—and because a group of civil servants were prejudiced against the scheme it was knocked on the head and the Deputies from the area had no say whatever.
Mr. McQuillan: I will just say this, Sir; it would be a grand thing to have that industry operating there to-day, where last year alone in the Pulathomas, Rossport, Glenamoy and Barnatra area there was a register of 571 unemployed in the one locality and even at its lowest point, in mid October last year, there was 221 registered unemployed. It would be a grand thing if, instead of waiting for industries from Sweden or while we were waiting for others to come, we could have these men employed reclaiming bogs for the production of grass-meal which is so beneficial for farmers to-day. However, we can only hope for the best.
In my view, the past 12 months have unfolded a rather gloomy picture and there is little hope of improvement for the future under this present Government. We in this House do not seem to realise the seriousness of the situation.  To-day's newspapers give us an inkling of what is happening to our next-door neighbour. There, they have cut down on housing, roads and other works that give great employment. We know that on these works, in a great many cases, the Irish skilled worker and the Irish unskilled worker find employment. We know that, in the next few months, many of these men who have emigrated there will be out of work. Already they are coming back to Dublin. How are we going to deal with this? Have we any plan, apart from holding the cost of living to its present level, for those in the country? Have we any plan to give a living to those who want to come home and live here?
It would be very unfair on my part to criticise the Government in a negative way: that is an easy thing to do. It has never been my idea, in the course of a contribution to a debate, to criticise just for the sake of having something to say. On many occasions I advocated that certain things should be done by this and other Governments. I will repeat now three or four points which should be borne in mind and which should appeal to Deputies from rural areas, especially those in congested districts. First of all, take land and agriculture. I think we will have to have put into operation a courageous land settlement policy on a vast scale.
Mr. McQuillan: If we put this into operation it would mean that more people would be living in the country and, if that were so, then the costs of production could come down. We can settle in this country another 30,000 families on 40-acre holdings in the best part of Ireland without doing any harm to the good farmer who has at present 250 acres of land which he is utilising.
We must have a forestry programme that is free from red tape. If necessary, a board should be set up outside the immediate deadening hand of the Department of Lands to deal with the expansion which is necessary in afforestation and the work of that  forestry board should be concentrated particularly in the West of Ireland.
Mr. McQuillan: I would say, with reference to the balance of payments— which has a bearing on the cost of living—that some Government will have to take the step of closing our ports to the importation of foreign foodstuffs when such foodstuffs can be produced here in Ireland or, at any rate, good substitutes for them, and that a guaranteed price be given to our farming community for the production of these foodstuffs.
On the industrial side, we should go very carefully and, in any plans we have, we must take into consideration the fact that there is a part of this country which is not under our immediate control and where a great deal of industrialisation has taken place. There is no point in our reproducing down here another similar type of industrial development. There is no point in having a factory on the far side of the Border producing commodities and then in our planning to set up a similar factory this side of the Border. We must face realities. We hope to see this country reunited in the near future. We must have courage and a belief in our country. In the first place, we must have courage in facing the problem and we must have a belief that Ireland can support her population. If we have the courage and if we have the belief then we must get down to the practical means of putting a policy into effect that will keep our people here at home. Those who want to leave are free to go but every man or woman born in Ireland has a right to live and work in Ireland and whatever Government is in office has a duty to ensure that, so far as it lies within its power to give effect to that right—that is, the means to live in this country—it will do so.
In my view we need now, more than ever before, a strong Government. When this Government was formed, I thought that, with the numbers and strong representation it had in the  back benches, it would show courage and would not bow to vested interests. I see now that numbers alone will not count. The Government we want for this country must be a strong Government and must be prepared to deal in a firm and bold fashion with vested interests and groups who would like to take control over whatever Government is in power.
I want to make one final appeal before I sit down. The Government may not be aware of it, but, at the present time, there is a serious situation in rural areas as regards unemployment. Local authorities are put to the pin of their collar at the present time for funds. I am sure there are Deputies on the Labour Benches, on the Fine Gael Benches and on the Fianna Fáil Benches who are members of local authorities and who will back me now when I say that the Government must make extra grants available to the various local authorities for road works and for drainage purposes to absorb the unemployed for the rest of the year.
The Taoiseach: Deputy Lemass, when moving this motion, objected to the description, which was given by some unspecified newspaper, that the motion was a political manoeuvre. In the course of his subsequent remarks, he appealed for what he called an outbreak of frankness and honesty. I think Deputies in the House and people outside would have far more respect for Deputy Lemass and far more interest in his motion if he had stated frankly that the motion was nothing other than a political manoeuvre, as indeed it is. The only possible reason for putting down this motion is because prices have risen— because prices have risen from circumstances, as Deputy Lemass has admitted, entirely beyond the control of this or any other Government.
 If prices had dropped, or if we had been lucky enough in connection with tea prices that world conditions, or conditions in the tea markets of the world, were such that prices had dropped and we were able to continue to keep down the price of tea to the consumer—then this motion would never have been put down. Since Deputy Lemass has admitted that prices cannot be controlled in circumstances existing at the present moment, the sum and substance of this motion is merely an endeavour to make political capital out of the worsening conditions of life for our people, because it is hoped that the rise in prices which has come about, due, as he has admitted and as I repeat, to circumstances entirely beyond the control of this or any Government, may have political repercussions on the various Parties that form the Government and are supporting the Government.
The motion is nothing other than crude political effort to gain some political benefit from circumstances entirely beyond governmental control. It is an effort to stir up discontent amongst the people and it is, above all, an effort to cover up the past political sins of Fianna Fáil and an endeavour to make it clear that the increases in prices of essential commodities which have occurred in recent months and which may occur in the months to come are similar to the increases which were brought about by deliberate Government policy following the Budget of 1952.
This motion is nothing other than an expression of Fianna Fáil resentment at the result of the last general election. It used to be said of the members of the old Irish Parliament before Grattan's Parliament that they were freeholders of their trust. That is what Fianna Fáil wanted to clamp down on the people of this country. They are resentful of the change of Government and the change in the attitude of the people. They believed that Fianna Fáil had almost a prescriptive right to form their Party the permanent Government of this country and because, in the general election, held some 16 or 17 months ago, the electorate gave a clear and unequivocal  verdict on the policy of Fianna Fáil and its results on the people and the economy of this country, they felt that there was something wrong, that something had gone wrong with Irish democracy because Fianna Fáil was no longer in office.
Deputy Lemass said, with reference to the amendment put down in my name and the names of my colleagues, that is was a mealy—mouthed amendment, a ballyhoo amendment, put down in an effort to widen the scope of the debate. Of course, the amendment was put down to widen the scope of the debate and, of course, that was the entire purpose of the amendment—to widen the scope of the debate—in order that, in connection with his motion on the cost of living, we would be entitled to make our case to Deputies and to the people of the country not merely on the cost of living, and on the causes of the rise in the cost of living, and whether or not promises had been made which were unfulfilled, but in order that we should be able to make our case, as we have made our case and will make our case, that we have done everything humanly possible, that we have adopted every device, orthodox and unorthodox, in an endeavour to keep down the cost of living, and that side by side with these endeavours we have bent our energies in order to lessen the impact of rising costs and worsening conditions on the people, to the creation of conditions here in this country which will result in increased national income, decreased unemployment, increased employment, increased agricultural production, increased industrial production and a rise in the standard of living for our people. This amendment is directly related to the motion put down and it was put down deliberately by us and sponsored by my colleagues representing each Party forming this Government in order to show that we stood here as a united Government to face any criticism, however unjust, however ill informed, and that we could make an unanswerable and incontrovertible case.
I propose in the course of the short remarks I have to make, to demonstrate to the House, first, and to the people of the country, that we have,  in the short period we have been in office, done everything possible to keep down the cost of living and that we have done a considerable amount of work and have achieved notable results in connection with economic activity and the betterment of all sections of the people of the country. The very fact that we have been able to make a case and will continue to be able to make that case and that our case is incontrovertible was demonstrated by the fact that neither Deputy Lemass, Deputy MacEntee nor any other speaker here, except the last speaker, endeavoured in any way to controvert the successful results of our financial and economic policy in the past 16 months. There was not a word said by Deputy Lemass on the amendment. He said he wanted to restrict this debate rigidly to the narrow front of cost of living, and to an even narrower front than that, the allegation that we had failed, not to reduce the cost of living, but to prevent the cost of living from rising.
We are too old practitioners, too old in parliamentary experience to allow that situation to occur, but Deputy Lemass took good care, and so did Deputy MacEntee when he was speaking, not to enter into any of the matters referred to specifically in this so-called ballyhoo amendment. If it is ballyhoo, why did he not make the case to establish that it is ballyhoo? Why did he sit down without saying one single word about the results of the change of Government in bringing about political calm, in arresting political excitement, in restoring public confidence and in bringing about the beneficial results to which I will shortly advert before I sit down?
Having tried to cast aside the amendment, Deputy Lemass then made his speech trying to restrict the debate to the narrow front of the rising cost of living and he made the case that every Deputy supporting the Government in this House to-day owes his position in the Dáil to the pledges that were given by him in his constituency to bring down the cost of living, that such pledges had a profound effect on the result of the election and that those Deputies had gone round during the general election campaign peddling, as  he called it, discontent for the most sordid and base political purposes.
I repudiated those charges of broken promises in the speech I made during the discussion on the Budget Resolutions this year. The late unlamented Hitler and his colleague, the equally unlamented and late Goebbels, were good propagandists. They knew the value of a lie. They knew the value of the repetition of a lie. They had learned that from Fianna Fáil because Fianna Fáil had learned that piece of propaganda long before Hitler was ever heard of.
Deputy Lemass repeated those allegations in spite of the quotations that I gave during the course of the speech to which I have referred on the Budget Resolutions and I noticed that he used the words which I have already quoted —every Deputy supporting the inter-Party Government owes his seat in this Dáil to the pledges he gave—and, therefore, because of that and because of their failure to fulfil those pledges the Government have ceased, he says, to retain the confidence of this House. Then he said that, when these Deputies come to face the electorate at the end of this Parliament, as one by one they stood up in their constituencies the quotations would be published.
I hope to pin Deputy Lemass down to that promise. I sincerely hope that at the expense of the Fianna Fáil Party funds the quotations which I am about to give now will be published in my constituency and broadcast throughout the country.
I opened the general election campaign of last year with a speech at Ringsend. I want this quotation published in Ringsend at the next general election, or now and for ever at the expense of the Fianna Fáil Party funds. I said, having referred to the burdens that Fianna Fáil had placed on the backs of the people by their deliberate policy:—
“It will be the task of the new Government to give their undivided energies to methods designed to bring about the lightening of those heavy burdens. The difficulties are great and the task will not be an easy one. Policy designed to engender confidence and inspire hope  for better times cannot be based on the flimsy structure of extravagant promises made during election times but on the calm consideration of all the factors when they have been definitely ascertained and the knowledge that what was done once before can be done again.”
The Taoiseach: I spoke again in my own constituency on Monday, May the 3rd, 1954, during the general election campaign. I hope Deputy Lemass at the expense of the Fianna Fáil funds will publish this quotation. I quote from that speech:—
“We are not prepared to mislead the people to get their votes. We are entitled to protest against the measures which put up the prices because we opposed these measures and because they were unconscionable coming from a Government which had promised not to adopt them. We are perfectly well aware that if prices are pushed up by bad government it will take good government time either to get them down again or raise the people's income so that they are able to bear them. I am accused of being wise and clever in choosing not to go out on a vote catching campaign as if there were something dishonourable in an Opposition about to enter Government refusing to tie its hands for the sake of electoral gains. It is a curious position for a Government to have got itself to that it descends to taunting an Opposition for not making dishonest promises.”
“We do not intend to stifle our future endeavour by promises hotly secured in the midst of an election campaign. We will enter into no  such competition and it should be appreciated that anyone who holds out to you rosy prospects of the expenditure on benefits is offering to spend your money for you. We will make no such promises which would dishonour you as much as they would dishonour us. We do not believe that the Irish people are to be bought, but we will promise earnest service, the endeavour, so far as we may, to see that only the best talent is employed in Government, and a determination to be untiring and undistracted in the search for economic amelioration and social peace.”
At a final speech in O'Connell Street, when there was a very big crowd of people present, I said that anybody who voted for me and anybody associated with me in the election the following day was voting on the clear knowledge that we were promising nothing except to do our best. Then the Irish Times, I suppose in the legitimate pursuit of its efforts to put politicians into difficulties during election campaigns, sent out a questionnaire both to the then Taoiseach, now the Leader of the Opposition, and to myself.
“I do not propose to repeat the action of our opponents in 1951 when they made specific promises which they subsequently broke. They failed to keep their specific promises to maintain subsidies and not to restore certain taxes. I am prepared to make only one promise—to provide Government to the best of my ability.”
Those are only some quotations from the speeches I made in the course of the general election but I am entitled to repeat these quotations here now, relying upon the platitude that the Leader of the Opposition quoted so often yesterday by way of interruption—“Truth will prevail”. If truth prevails, then no longer can Deputy Lemass with the concurrence of his Leader, Deputy de Valera, Leader of the Opposition, sitting  beside him, repeat those charges that I and every member of the Party behind me and those supporting the Government got into office by false promises, promises made irresponsibly and made to gain some dirty political end. If this debate does nothing more I hope that it will achieve a useful purpose and put an end to that sort of propaganda.
The Taoiseach: ——will no longer repeat that false charge. I was taunted by Deputy de Valera, then Taoiseach, during the course of the general election campaign because I would not make promises. I was repeatedly taunted by Deputy de Valera. He said, “The Leader of the Opposition does well not to make promises.” Again and again he returned to the charge, and I always answered by saying that “I am not going to make promises.” As I have already said, in the quotation I have referred to, it is a strange thing for a Government to taunt an Opposition with not making election promises as if there was something immoral in not doing so. I was determined not to make any promises and in this I am not making a mere personal justification for myself; I am also speaking on behalf of the Deputies behind me here at the present moment and of those who are supporting the Government, on behalf of that truth for which Deputy de Valera, the Leader of the Opposition has such tremendous respect, and which he will find will prevail. I hope that it will prevail, and I am repeating these quotations now in order that the dishonest arguments put forward by Deputy Lemass yesterday afternoon under that hypocritical facade of frankness and honesty will at least be pinned down— though I know that they will be repeated—and that decent people outside will be able to evaluate them and act accordingly when the time comes.
The Taoiseach: What we promised, and have stated again and again, I stated very succinctly, in that speech in Ballyshannon regarding the policy we would put into operation if we came into Government. I said, and I quote again this one short sentence: “For most people, whether employed or not, the cost of living is excessive in relation to the people's income. The object must be, either to lower the cost of living or to increase the people's income.” Those two short sentences are repeated in clause two of the heads of policy, the 12 point programme that brought this inter-Party Government together some 16 months ago. That was our promise before the general election—that we would have as our object either to lower the cost of living or to increase the people's income. That is what we have endeavoured to do, to fulfil that promise and to carry out our aim in clause two of our 12 point programme. Those relevant words—“in relation to the people's income”—are in clause two.
What we have endeavoured to do day in and day out for the last 16 months since we came into office is by every device, orthodox and unorthodox, to keep down and control the rising cost of living; and when we could not do that, when circumstances beyond our control made it unavoidable that those prices should rise, then to put into operation the second limb of that policy—to allow the people's income to rise in relation to the cost of living. That is what the people are interested in. They are interested in keeping down living costs, but if they must inevitably go up then they want to know: “Is our purchasing power going up as well?”
We have so far as we could used every effort to prevent the heavy impact of the rising cost of living on all sections of our people. We have not adopted the policy that was adumbrated by Deputy MacEntee, when Minister for Finance, in his Budget speech on the 2nd of April, 1952. Calling for wage restraint he  said, in effect: “I am going to increase deliberately, by deliberate policy, the cost of living. I know that is going to fall heavily upon the working classes and I want to warn the working classes and all others who are earning incomes that they must exercise wage restraint.” I will give the quotation in a moment.
The Taoiseach: During the years that followed the disastrous Budget proposals of 1952, when they were having their full impact and operation, trade unions, powerful as we are told they are here in this House now, were not able in all cases to press home their full demands for all the increases of wages that they ought to have got in order to offset the rise in the cost of living because of the unemployment that was caused by that Budget and by the policy that was put into operation following it. Does not everybody recollect that something like 20,000 people became unemployed as a result of those Budget proposals and the heavy taxation levied upon them and the increase in the cost of living, and that in addition something like 30,000 or 40,000 people were placed in part-time employment?
We said—and this is one great difference between our policy, what we are doing and have done and intend to do, and theirs—“We will try to control the cost of living in every way we can, and, if we cannot, incomes must rise accordingly.” That is one outstanding difference between our policy and our actions and the policy and actions of the last Government. It appears to irritate both the Leader of the Opposition and Opposition Deputies when we say that the increase in the cost of essential commodities which was brought about under the 1952 Budget proposals was done by deliberate design. I repeat all I have already said, that the rise in the cost of essential foodstuffs was effected at that time by purposeful intent, certain design and deliberate policy.
I have already given quotations from Deputy MacEntee, speaking, as Minister  for Finance, during the 1952 Budget debate. Other Deputies from this side of the House have given the same quotations on occasions until we have them almost off by heart. Accordingly, I shall not give them in full again. I will, however, give a quotation from Deputy MacEntee's speech here on the 2nd April, 1952, as reported at column 1138, Volume 130, of the Dáil Debates:—
“The Government have given careful thought to this problem over recent months. They are satisfied that, as incomes generally have already advanced more than the cost of living and as essential foodstuffs are no longer scarce, there is now no economic or social justification for a policy of subsidising food for everybody.”
And accordingly the subsidies on food were slashed in a manner which caused price levels to rise steeply and the subsequent policy, embodied in the Budget, caused tremendous unemployment, credit restrictions and general austerity throughout the country. Fianna Fáil were not beaten in the last general election because of any promises that were made to reduce the cost of living. Particular promises were made by individual Deputies but Fianna Fáil were not beaten because of these promises. They were beaten because of the deep resentment which the Irish people felt against the Government that had, by deliberate policy, increased the cost of essential foodstuffs and consequently the cost of living in circumstances that were not justified and in conditions which did not warrant it.
I want to emphasise the reason given by Deputy MacEntee, when he was Minister for Finance, for having taken away these food subsidies and for deliberately having allowed the cost of essential foodstuffs to rise.
The Taoiseach: The Leader of the Opposition says that was why the increases occurred—there was this phantom deficit which the inter—Party Minister for Finance was supposed to have left behind. But why did not Deputy MacEntee give that as his reason for withdrawing the subsidies and allowing the cost of living to rise?
The Taoiseach: We say that the then Government had made up their minds to impose this deliberate policy on the people of the country. The people resented that and it is because they resented that that Deputy de Valera now has the position as Leader of the Opposition and is not over here where I am. Deputy Lemass and his Party, as I said at the outset, have put down this motion to initiate a campaign of propaganda to try and get it over to the people or to some of them that the rise in the cost of living since the present Government was formed is similar to the increases brought about by their deliberate policy in 1952.
The Taoiseach: There is an essential difference between the two—between prices going up because of deliberate Government policy and prices increasing because of world conditions. There is an essential difference between tea prices going up because of conditions in the tea markets in India and Ceylon, between coal going up because of the price and scarcity of coal in England—there is an essential difference between these price increases and the rise in the prices of bread,  sugar, tea, butter to which the Tánaiste referred yesterday. These increases were caused because the then Government were satisfied there was no longer economic or social justification for maintaining the food subsidies in view of the fact, as Deputy MacEntee said, that incomes had increased beyond the cost of living.
The Taoiseach: That was Deputy MacEntee's reason for dropping the food subsidies. He said at the time that incomes generally had increased beyond the cost of living. We all had too much money, consumption was too high and that had to be stopped. The way it had to be stopped was to take the purchasing power out of the people's pockets and increase the price of tea, bread, sugar and butter. That is the essential difference between our Government and that of Fianna Fáil and while some of the people may forget the details, I believe the people will never forgive Fianna Fáil for what they did in 1952 and no amount of references to pledges on our part will change the fact that what was done in 1952 was done as a matter of deliberate policy and purposeful design. We do not take the view that was taken at that time and given voice to by Deputy MacEntee, the then Minister for Finance, that there should be the greatest restraint in relation to increases in incomes whether in the form of profits, wages or salaries. That is what he said in column 1127, Volume 130, of the Dáil Debates:—
In other words, the policy of Deputy Lemass to which my colleague the Tánaiste referred yesterday. We are as fully alive to the dangers of increases in wages as Deputy de Valera would appear to have been judging by his interruptions a moment or two ago.
 The Tánaiste referred to them yesterday. Our policy will be to try and keep down the cost of living and, if that cannot be done, to increase the purchasing power of the community to enable them to meet the increase.
The Taoiseach: Deputy Aiken has now enabled me to make a comment which I would otherwise have forgotten. He seemed to mutter an interruption which hardly reached me across the floor about the price of wheat to the farmers.
The Taoiseach: It was one of the favoured and oft—repeated statements of Deputy de Valera, when Taoiseach and when in opposition, that it was a necessary attribute of what he is pleased to call “Coalition” Government—they seem to think there is something derogatory about “Coalition” as compared with “inter—Party”—that they could not make unpopular decisions. We have had, unfortunately, to make unpopular decisions and that shows that this Government is strong enough to do that. Deputy Aiken muttered something about the reduction in wheat prices. We felt it was in the public interest that the price of wheat to the farmers should be reduced. It was no easy decision for us to make. It was unpopular in many ways and there is not a day or an hour in this House when some muttered interruption is not made across the floor of the House about it. We felt that nobody should be allowed to make adventitious profits in this country at the expense of the taxpayer. That had to stop, but at the same time we were determined to give a price for wheat which would be not merely a fair price but would give a good profit as well.
 At all events it is some slight consolation to know that Deputy de Valera, although I am sure he will continue to do so, has no ground for the repetition of those charges to which he was so addicted during the last five or six years in reference to what he is pleased to call “Coalition Government.”
There are vital differences between our policy and the policy of Fianna Fáil. We tried to keep down the cost of living and I assert here and now that no action of this Government is responsible for any increase in prices that has taken place. The same cannot be said for the last Government. We tried to keep down the price of tea as long as we could. What were the Deputies on the opposite benches trying to do? What was their official organ, the Irish Press, and its satellite, pressing for all the time? “You should increase the price of tea. You must increase the price of tea. You are too weak a Government to face up to your responsibilities.”
The fact is that we were mindful of our obligations to those sections of our community whose staple diet is very largely tea. We were mindful of our promises and we kept down the price of tea for 12 months. If Fianna Fáil and the Irish Press had their way the price of tea would at certain stages in the last ten months have been increased by 3/3 or 3/4 per lb. Our effort in the last 12 months showed at least that we were in earnest in keeping our promise to keep down the cost of living. Everybody can test whether we were right or whether we were wrong in doing what we did. Everybody can test whether or not we were in earnest by asking themselves this one question: “What would Fianna Fáil have done had their Government been in power?” There is only one answer to that; they gave it themselves. The price of tea would have been increased by 3/3 per lb. at certain stages during the last year.
The Taoiseach: At least we gave them 12 months' respite. Will the Deputy say if he would have increased the price of tea to the public last December in accordance with the requirements of the economic situation at the time? Let him answer that question when he comes to speak. Or, perhaps, Deputy de Valera will answer it himself.
The Taoiseach: To use the elegant phrase that falls from the lips of the Leader of the Opposition, we are letting it rip now. We have not now to face up to the situation of being the weak Government that Deputy de Valera, his colleagues and his hangers-on would have us believe we are. We are facing up to the position that this country would not bear an increase in taxation, the increase necessary to raise £3,500,000 per year in order to subsidise the price of tea. We never said at any time that we would sell tea at a lower price than that at which the Indians and the Singhalese were getting it.
The Taoiseach: We said we would keep down the cost and, if we could not do that, we would allow incomes to rise to meet the increase. What Fianna Fáil said was that there must be the greatest wage restraint and, so that that advice from Deputy MacEntee might be most effective, they said they  would ensure that as a result of their policy the fear of unemployment and part-time employment would make even powerful trade unions hesitate before they pressed home their full demands to meet rising costs due to increases brought about deliberately by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1952.
Tea is only one item. We have subsidised to the extent of £2,000,000 the butter used by the Irish consumer. That is tossed aside as if it were nothing. I have already explained here the reasons which impelled us to spend that very big sum on butter rather than on other commodities. I realise that a case could be made that that £2,000,000 could perhaps be better expended but in the course of my journeyings throughout the country during the last general election the one thing that people desired most was a reduction in the price of butter. Butter was the one commodity mentioned to me at every meeting I attended. The price had been increased by the deliberate action of the last Fianna Fáil Government. It was increased by the deliberate removal of the subsidy, and I was asked by everybody, men and women alike, all over the country: “Will you bring down the price of butter?”
Now, £2,000,000 in the circumstances of this country is a lot of money. We might have been able to do a good deal with it other than decreasing the price of butter. But we felt that the proper thing to do was to bring down the price of butter and our efforts in that direction are clear evidence of our sincerity and of our earnest intention to do everything possible to keep down the cost of living. Is it forgotten, in connection with our efforts in this direction, that in the last Budget we gave taxation relief to some 27,000 families? That is conveniently forgotten by some, but it is nevertheless additional evidence of the efforts we have made to carry out our pledges to the people before, during and after the last general election.
The Taoiseach: I have quoted the pledges: we will endeavour to keep down the cost of living and, if we cannot do that, we will increase the incomes of the people. That was our pledge. I wrote it out. Deputy Aiken may follow in the footsteps of his deputy-leader, Deputy Lemass, in fostering the falsehoods that have been propagated by Deputy Lemass; but I have given quotations here which cannot be controverted. The newspapers were supplied with the script, since I knew this case would be made. Every time I made a speech Deputy de Valera, as then Taoiseach, could read the full speech in the newspapers—or possibly even before the speech was delivered.
To prove our earnestness and sincerity, we increased in the last Budget the payments made to old age pensioners, blind pensioners, the widow and the orphan. In the proposals now before us we have again given an earnest of our sincerity in cushioning the impact of rising costs, rising costs not due to any action of ours but to circumstances outside our control, on the old age pensioner, the blind pensioner, the widow, the orphan and the chronically sick. We have, as my colleague, the Minister for Social Welfare, told the House to-day, utilised the machinery of the Prices Advisory Body to the utmost extent. I assert here that, so far as prices of essential comodities are concerned, no increase in price was allowed since we came into Government until there had been a full public hearing before the Prices Advisory Body, at which the person, firm or body desiring to have an increase had to make a coercive case before the slightest increase was granted. Every piece of machinery that was available to us to control the cost of living was used. The Prices Advisory Body was used by Deputy Lemass, in so far as it was used at all, as an alibi for himself when prices had to go up. It was never used as an instrument to try to control the cost of living.
We have kept down the cost of living by our monetary policy. Would Deputies consider what would have been the result if Fianna Fáil had been in office during the period when the British  Chancellor of the Exchequer raised the interest rate in the interests of British economy in the last 16 months? Their record shows that the Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance every time followed the upward movement of the British bank rate. We established the principle that whether there should be an increase or decrease in the bank rate was a matter dependent entirely upon Irish economic conditions and Irish economic conditions alone. The bank rate was kept stationary for the last 16 months. It may be that conditions in the future may compel an Irish Minister for Finance to raise it. If so, that will be done irrespective of what the British Chancellor of the Exchequer does; it will be done only in the interests of the Irish people. There is no doubt that Fianna Fáil would have raised it this year irrespective of the interests of the Irish people. What would have been the result? I ask Deputies to consider that.
Those industrialists, those business people and shopkeepers who rely on their bank overdraft to finance their current business transactions would have felt the impact of the heavy rise in interest rates, had we not kept them down this year. The bank rate has its effects on interest charges on overdrafts; those interest charges affect the cost of production; the cost of production has its effect on the price paid by the consumer and therefore on the cost of living. That factor would have been in operation had Fianna Fáil been in office here for the last 16 months. We kept the rate down and held it down. That was to a very considerable extent responsible for preventing a rise in the cost of living and a rise in the cost of commodities and also, might I remark, a rise in the cost of building houses by local authorities and private individuals. That action helped to encourage and expand business activity and industrial activity and helped, therefore, to give good employment and additional employment, at decent wages and at increased wages.
At this stage I would like to give the House some figures—very briefly, since figures are very tedious and dull media. I am speaking now on the  question of credit. Will Deputies bring their minds back to the period from 1951 to June, 1954, when credit restrictions by the banks were in full operation and when business activity was slowed down, when housing was slowed down very much and when unemployment increased by reason of the fact that business people could not get facilities from the banks? Let me give Deputies some figures on this question of bank overdrafts. I think it is correct to say that, in the last 12 months at least, there has been a plentiful supply of credit at stabilised rates of interest and that after a period of decline followed by virtual stagnation, banks advances are now running at record high levels and the September figure for this year is almost 30 per cent. above the corresponding figure for 1953.
The Taoiseach: Yes. I have the figures here in front of me. Bank advances within the State reached a peak of £123,000,000 in March, 1952. They fell to £113.8 millions by September, 1952, and recovered thereafter. These are the figures for June, July. August and September of each of the years 1953, 1954 and 1955. In June, 1953, the figure was £118.8 millions; in June, 1954, it was £122.9 millions; in June, 1954, it was £140.4 millions; in July, 1953, it was £115.2 millions; in July, 1954, £119.7 millions; and in July, 1955, £141.1 millions.
The Taoiseach: As the result of our policy. Recollect that we came in June, 1954. June, 1954—watch it! In August, 1953, the figure was £113.7 millions; in August, 1954, £120,000,000 and in August, 1955, £143.2 millions. We came into office in June, 1954. In September, 1953, the figure was £115,000,000 and in September, 1954, £121.7 millions. These 1955 figures are record figures and they are increasing steadily each month, offsetting the downward seasonal tendency. The increase reflects industrial, agricultural and commercial activity. That all  happened following upon years of credit restriction by Fianna Fáil, when we left office in 1951.
The Taoiseach: When we came into office, the credit restriction no longer operated and in the figures I will quote in a few moments we see the effect in bringing about increased agricultural production and an increase in employment.
The Taoiseach: I am obliged to the Deputy for interrupting me because it has enabled me to give a figure which I had not got before. I had not the September, 1955, figure; I have it now. The August, 1955, figure was £143.2 millions and the September figure is £146.3 millions. This series of figures is obtained from the Central Bank's Statistical Bulletin. These figures give an assurance that monetary factors will not impede an increase in industrial production. These developments also brought about a striking change in our banking structure. At present two-thirds of the banks' domestic resources are invested within the State and the percentage has been increasing steadily.
The Taoiseach: Let me deal with the question of the rise in the cost of living as indicated by the cost-of-living index figure. Deputy Lemass, in the course of his speech yesterday, described that increase that has taken  place between May, 1954—Fianna Fáil were in office shortly before we assumed office in June, 1954—and August of this year as something over 3 per cent., a slight increase.
The Taoiseach: The increase since May, 1954, was described by Deputy Lemass in his speech yesterday afternoon as a slight increase. You would imagine it was something that was going to impoverish the people with all the talk there has been about the rise in the cost of living. He then went on to assert that the wage increases that have been secured over the last six months as a result of trade union action were not generally or indeed at all referable to the cost of living but that they were—he did not say it, but I think he intended to say it—referable to an increase in the standard of living. I want to remind Deputies in this House in connection with the slight increase—and it still becomes slight even when you add 0.7 of a point for tea—that during the three-year period of office of the last Government the index figure rose from 109 to 124, that is by 15 points. The comparable percentage increases are 3.2 and 13.7; 3.2 in the last 15 months and 13.7 in the previous three years of the last Government.
The Taoiseach: Almost one-half of the increase during the period of the last Government resulted from the reduction in subsidies effected by the Budget of 1952 and that half of the  increase which resulted from the reduction in subsidies was done, as I have repeatedly said, and say again to-day, as a result of the deliberate action and designed policy of the Fianna Fáil Government in the Budget of 1952.
The Taoiseach: It renders my task very much easier when I have the admission of the Fianna Fáil ex-Ministers led by Deputy Lemass to the proposition that these increases are beyond our control and the control of any Government.
The Taoiseach: I could, of course. What the Deputy does not like he does not want. Import prices began to rise about the middle of 1954 and are now about 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. higher than last year. Agricultural prices have also risen but in this case the increase is all the more noticeable since it followed a downward movement in the first half of 1954. For the first eight months of this year agricultural prices have been 6 per cent. to 7 per cent. higher than in the corresponding period of last year. Is it small wonder that the combined effects of these upward movements caused the consumer price index to move upward in sympathy? Nor is it surprising—as the Tánaiste yesterday mentioned— that in view of the sharp rise in agricultural prices, 75 per cent. of the rise in consumer prices is attributable to higher food prices. I have said there was a rise during the period from May, 1954, to August, 1955, of 3.2 per cent. The index figure for May, 1954, was 124. As the Tánaiste pointed out yesterday, Fianna Fáil were in office at that time.
The next index was for August, 1954, when we were in office. We were  in office only for portion of the period, between May and August, 1954, so that it can be reasonably said that the increase of two points which occurred in August, 1954, was in part, if not entirely, due to the policy of Fianna Fáil but I am giving them the benefit of that and relating the figures for May, 1954, to those for August of this year. There was a rise in that time of only 3.2 per cent. whereas there was a rise, as I have already stated, of 13.7 per cent. during the last Fianna Fáil régime.
The increase of four points between May, 1954, and August, 1955, from 124 to 128, is accounted for as follows: Food accounted for 3.06 points; clothing did not enter into it; fuel and light, .39; housing, .25: sundries, .36. The main increases so far as food was concerned were: potatoes, .76; beef, .76; eggs, .96—nearly a full point; tomatoes, .35. There was a reduction in food prices of .57 of a point, by reason of the subsidy on butter. That is the position so far as the index is concerned, due, as is admitted, to causes entirely beyond our own control.
The very recent increases that are perhaps not covered by the figures we have given are due to similar circumstances. The increase in tea is due to prices fixed, not here, but in the tea gardens of India and Ceylon. Indian and Singhalese workers will no longer accept the low rates of wages that were paid some years ago. We have no control over that and we can only hope that, in future, economic circumstances will bring down that price. I should say, before I go on to Deputy O'Brien——
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Gabh pardún agam, a Cheann Comhairle. Ní haon cúis gáire anseo é. Toghadh mise im Theachta mar Dhonnchadh Ó Briain agus cuirim go láidir i gcoinne aon leas-ainm. Ní hé seo an chéad uair a tugadh leas-ainm orm.
An Taoiseach: Is maith an rud an gáire uaireanta. After this little interlude may we proceed? Could anybody have anticipated that there would be that dramatic, almost catastrophic, increase in the price of tea that occurred in the last 12 months? Was it within the bounds of anybody's imagination, not to talk about their knowledge, that the over-prosperity and over-employment in our neighbour across the water, Great Britain, would have had such a serious effect on our economy? It is almost incredible, reading the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, that what is causing the trouble is over-prosperity and over-employment; their difficulties are affecting our economy and that is not a thing, I think, which anybody could have adverted to or provided against.
While I was in opposition and while I was criticising the policy of the then Fianna Fáil Government in reference to prices and their policy generally as enshrined in the Budget of 1952 and put into operation thereafter, I did admit that there were certain factors in that rise in the cost of living that were not under their control. Let me give the quotation. Speaking in this House on 3rd December, 1952, on the debate on the Supplies and Services Bill, as reported in Volume 135, column 561, of the Official Report, I said:—
“I have called attention to the facts in connection with the price rise. We do not accept that the rise in price and the rise in the cost of living need necessarily have been so sharp, that the recession of business ought to have been so grave or that the increase in unemployment ought  to have been so considerable. I realise at once that some of the rise in price is due to factors beyond the control of the present Government and beyond the control of any Government. I appreciate that the rise in import prices was bound to bring about an increase in the cost of living but we think that it should not have risen to the extent which we have experienced. The rise—which we say was unjustifiable—was due entirely to the policy of the Government in the sudden withdrawal of the food subsidies and to the unjustifiable increase in taxation.”
I gave the Government credit at that time, speaking on 3rd December, 1952, nearly three years ago, for the fact that there were certain factors in the price structure existing at that time over which they had no control. What I concentrated on at that time and what I and my colleagues have always concentrated on has been the policy that was adumbrated by Deputy MacEntee, then Minister for Finance, in that quotation I have given from his speech of 2nd April, 1952, that incomes had risen beyond the cost of living and that, therefore, there was no further justification for food subsidies. That is what we objected to.
Now, let me continue with some of the other matters which are relevant to this debate. Deputy Norton has shown the effect of our policy on employment and unemployment. I have already referred to the taxation reliefs and our efforts to stabilise prices. I want to repeat what I think the Tánaiste did say yesterday, that rising imports and other factors resulted in a widespread increase in consumer prices, not merely in this country but in European countries. Statistics published by the O.E.E.C. show that only three out of 17 member countries secured a decrease in consumer prices between May, 1954, and August, 1955. In all cases the reduction was marginal. In the remaining 14 O.E.E.C. countries, including Ireland, consumer prices increased in this period and the rise in our case was generally in line with the average increase.
If you look no further than Great Britain you will find that between May,  1954, and August, 1955, during which period our consumer prices increased by 3.2 per cent., consumer prices in that country increased by 6 per cent., that is, nearly double the amount of the percentage increase in this country.
I have referred to our policy of increasing purchasing power where we cannot control the price of essential commodities. I want Deputies to realise what we have done in connection with the real value of wages. We have had a modest but none the less, I think, gratifying success on that front Between the June quarter of 1954 and the June quarter of 1955, the index of industrial earnings increased by 5 per cent. and as the increase in the consumer price index over this period was only slightly over 2 per cent., real industrial earnings increased by almost 3 per cent. It is true that there was a small further rise of 1 per cent. in consumer prices in August last but the index of industrial earnings for the September quarter of this year is not yet available and we cannot say with certainty how real earnings have moved since June. We would be surprised, however, if current real earnings are not greater than when we assumed office. That is a good test. By that test, I think we pass with honours.
The index of agricultural wages shows an increase of 6 per cent. for September, 1955, compared with mid-1954. Therefore, agricultural wages have increased in real terms during the period of office of the present Government. Employment has increased, as my colleagues have already shown you. Unemployment has decreased.
The Taoiseach: I have a little note here about that and I will deal with it in a few minutes. There were some mutterings yesterday and I think the Deputy took part in them. Perhaps the Deputy will remind me about it before I conclude.
We have increased employment. Compared with 1953 there has been a decrease of about 10,000 in the numbers registering at the employment exchange, a decrease of about 20 per  cent. The unemployment percentage— that is, the number of insured persons who are on the live register, divided by the total number of insured persons— gives a better index of unemployment because it measures the degree of unemployment in insurable occupations other than agriculture, fishing and domestic service and is therefore a more reliable indication of unemployment than the absolute numbers on the live register. In 1951, when we were last in office, the average unemployment percentage was 7.3 per cent. It rose to 9.1 per cent. in 1952—that red-letter year—and to 9.6 per cent. in 1953. There was some recovery in 1954 when the percentage fell back to 8.1 per cent. This recovery has been accelerated and the figure for the third quarter of this year—5.4 per cent.—is the lowest ever recorded. I would ask Deputies to remember that— the lowest ever recorded. That is something of which we are entitled to be proud as a result of our policy, following upon the disastrous unemployment brought about by the deliberate policy of the Fianna Fáil Government in 1952 and 1953. The corresponding figures for the third quarter for 1953 and 1954 were 8.1 per cent. and 7.0 per cent. The percentage for the month of September, 1954, was at the low record—the all time low record—of 5 per cent.
Deputy McQuillan may whinge and whine as he did this afternoon. There is no answer to these figures—and figures speak volumes. We have had stabilisation in agricultural employment. For the first time in two consecutive years, the drift from the land has at least been stopped: I am entitled to say that.
The Taoiseach: Let me sum up very shortly. We have restored public confidence  in this country. The only thing the people asked outside when they saw that this motion had been put down was: “Are you all right for the motion? Have you enough votes?” When we said “Yes, we have,” they said “All right.” All they wanted to know was that there would not be the same sort of instability that was the hall-mark of the Fianna Fáil régime, when there were political unrest and two general elections and 11 by-elections in three years. That was what happened under Fianna Fáil. They think and live and thrive on political unrest.
The Taoiseach: In previous years you brought disaster on the country by increasing the interest rate to 5 per cent. at a time when public authorities and even private concerns in Britain were able to borrow money at less than this State—a credit-worthy State—was able to borrow it. You destroyed the credit of this country but we restored it.
The National Loan of last year was issued at a reduced rate of interest. What we are entitled to point to as a gratifying feature and as one preeminently displaying general public confidence in this Government is the fact that nearly 13,000 people—small savers, small investors—invested their money in that loan. The average investment in the loan for those 13,000 people was about £400. That is a striking demonstration of confidence. Fianna Fáil could never point to that. The E.S.B. loan was at an increased rate of interest because of circumstances across the water and elsewhere  in connection with the money market. But, again, nearly 13,000 people, nearly the same number, perhaps slightly less, but nearly the same number of small investors, small savers, again invested in that loan and, in each case, both in the National Loan of last year and the E.S.B. loan of this year, the average investment was £400. Nearly 13,000 small savers showed their confidence in this Government and no whinging or whining by the Deputy from Roscommon will get over that fact.
The Taoiseach: He said we had not the confidence of the public. I am saying that, last year, when a National Loan was issued at a lower rate of interest than Fianna Fáil were able to issue one we got nearly 13,000 people, small savers, to invest an average of £400 each. Is that not a sign of confidence in this Government?
The Taoiseach: We would be prepared to get out at once if it were necessary but it would be a crime on the Irish people who want stability and not general political unrest. The people are sick and tired of Fianna Fáil, who held two general elections and 11 by-elections in three years.
The Taoiseach: The position as regards industrial output is that it is increasing steadily. It is up by 4 per cent. in the first half of 1955. I am summarising our position now as a result of our efforts in the past 16 months. We are proud of our record after such a short space of time, as Deputy Dillon said last night. We have shown and proved that industrial activity and agricultural production have increased in every way. The real, or possibly the only, worry is whether we are going too fast, not whether we are going fast enough but whether we are going too fast.
Industrial output is increasing steadily and was up by 4 per cent. in the first half of 1955. Industrial employment has increased by approximately 3,000 in the first half of 1955, and the unemployment percentage to  which I have just referred is at record low levels. The downward trend in agricultural employment has at least been arrested and, in agriculture, we have, as the Minister for Agriculture demonstrated yesterday, increased stocks of young cattle. As a result of the good harvest this year the quality of the crop, if not indeed the yield, has improved substantially.
The Taoiseach: As regards monetary conditions, bank advances are at the record levels to which I have referred, reflecting increased industrial and business activity. Bank charges have been kept for the past 16 months at the level they were at when we took office. Industrial wage earnings have been increased by 5 per cent.; real industrial earnings are up by 2.7 per cent.; and agricultural wages up by 6 per cent. We have given taxation relief to 27,000 families and we have given a substantial increase to old age pensioners, widows, blind pensioners and orphans.
The Taoiseach: And now, as a result of the tea price increase, we have given them at least an earnest of the fact that we, unlike our predecessors, have their interests at heart. Deputy Killilea sneers at the sixpence. Let him go out and sneer at it next Christmas and we will remind him and the rest of them that they sneered at our efforts——
The Taoiseach: ——to compensate the old age pensioners, the widows, the blind pensioners and the permanently sick for the sixpence per week increase they will have to bear as a result of the increased price of tea.
The Taoiseach: What we have not done for the family is what the Deputy did—we have not squeezed them by austerity and by deliberately increasing  the price of essential commodities. I want, before I come to Deputy Killilea's question to me earlier, or to his muttered comment, to refer to certain things. Deputy MacEntee intervened in this debate yesterday. My colleagues and I were accused of putting down this amendment to widen the scope of this debate, and I have asserted that that is the very purpose for which it was put down, but it certainly was not our purpose to widen the scope of the debate to the point to which it was widened by Deputy MacEntee, who, with singularly bad taste, brought in the name of His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, and spoke, in entire disregard of the national interest, about the I.R.A.
I had some difficulty in making up my mind as to whether I should answer those charges by Deputy MacEntee in reference to the I.R.A. I will not do so on this occasion, but will content myself with saying this, that if Deputy MacEntee charges this Government with being weak because we have not arrested and shot or interned, or done something else to the so-called I.R.A., at least the Irish Press, the organ of the Fianna Fáil Party, in contradiction of the apparent policy of the Fianna Fáil Leader, Deputy de Valera, as stated in this House, has been flagrantly fomenting support for that particular, dangerous organisation.
The Taoiseach: Emigration has been mentioned and Deputy Killilea was anxious to make the point that these satisfactory figures of increased employment, increased industrial activity, increased agricultural production, the not unfavourable balance of trade— however dangerous the factors it may contain, which are being watched— and the good Exchequer position were all due to emigration. Fianna Fáil were in office from 1932 to 1948, for 16 years. At the end of that period, 500,000 Irish men and women had left this country as a result of their policy. They caused the emigration—we did not. In 1948, we came in and at least we tried to do something about emigration. We set up the Emigration  Commission in order to get some body of people——
The Taoiseach: If we did nothing but set up that commission, we did more than Fianna Fáil. If we did no more than set up that commission and get its report at least we did that and we have the report even if we are accused of having done nothing about it yet. We set out to try to stop emigration— Fianna Fáil did not.
The Taoiseach: At the end of 16 years of Fianna Fáil's régime, 500,000 men and women had left the country, and then we are asked by Deputy McQuillan and the others why we have not stemmed emigration, why we have not stemmed, in 16 months, that emigration and why we have not undone what was done in 16 years under Fianna Fáil. In the three years when we were in office before we at least set up that commission to try to get something done.
I went at the behest of all my colleagues in the Government at the time to the radio, and, over the radio, I asked our people in England to come back, that there would be work for them, and a lot of them came back. We guaranteed that, if they came back, there would be ten years' solid work for them on housing alone, and I gave a pledge, with the consent of my colleagues, that no monetary consideration would prevent us from giving a house to every family in this country that wanted it, and for that  purpose houses had to be built. We wanted the craftsmen and the labourers back—the carpenters, the plasterers and the bricklayers. We asked them to come back. I asked them, speaking on behalf of the then Government, to come back, and many of them came back. We went out of office and there was unemployment to the extent I have mentioned—20,000 people were put clean out of employment following the Budget of 1952 and 40,000 were on part-time.
Lots of those people, craftsmen, went abroad—plasterers, carpenters, bricklayers who had come back in answer to my appeal to them. They went back to England as a result of Fianna Fáil Government policy and we are asked now by Deputy McQuillan and the rest why we have not in 16 months stemmed the tide of emigration. It is very easy to talk, very easy to use this cliché “steming the tide”——
The Taoiseach: ——and other such clichés as “the lifeblood of our country” and all the rest of it. It is easy to say: “Why do you not do something?” We have given concrete proof and evidence of what we are doing. We are increasing facilities for the employment of our people in the country. Our policy has at least arrested the drift from the land and we will do everything possible to increase employment. My colleague, the Tánaiste, who is responsible for the Department of Industry and Commerce, told the House—and whatever he left out was filled in to-day by our colleague, the Minister for Social Welfare—what is being done for the development of industry and the results achieved in the very short time we have been here. These are concrete proofs of what we are doing—to use that cliché—to stem the tide of emigration. It is very easy to get up here and say: “Do something.” I want somebody to get up here and tell me has anybody done anything better to stem emigration, either inside the House or outside the House, than we have done in the past 16 months?
I do not want to get into a political  controversy with Dr. Lucey, nor do I want to follow upon the lines of Deputy McQuillan in that respect either inside or outside this House. Nobody has done as much in connection with emigration, or given more concrete proof of their earnest desire to do something effective than this Government.
The Taoiseach: I assert that we are entitled to say that, deplorable as emigration was in the 19th and 20th centuries, and deplorable as any emigration is, there is at least some consolation in knowing that it was probably in accordance with the designs of Providence that our people went to the ends of the earth and created that spiritual empire of which we are so proud. I am proud that everywhere throughout the civilised world St. Patrick's Day is honoured as a result of the emigrants who went from this country to found our spiritual empire which is the strength of this island.
Mr. de Valera: It is a pity that the Taoiseach's speech could not be summarised so that our people could follow it. It could all be summarised  in this way, that when the sun shines it is because of the policy of the Coalition, but when there are clouds in the sky and the rain begins to fall, then it is due to powers outside the Government's control. They have no responsibility for it. They have the credit for the sunshine no matter what is the real cause of it. They are good fellows because in the good weather things are good, but lo, the moment the clouds lower dangerously everything is beyond their control!
That was not their tune when we were in office. From November to May, before they left office in 1951, prices were rising. They went up in that period nine points, as the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have admitted. We did not say at that time that they were all within the control of the Government or that it was Government policy to allow these things to happen. We charged them with not having stopped them. They could claim that these were beyond their control. They did claim it but when we came into office and when prices began to rise for reasons exactly similar—I will deal with the Budget separately—by eight points, that is, 17 points out of the 24, we were supposed by deliberate policy, if you please, to have sent up the cost of living by that amount.
We have at least driven them to admit now that in connection with the rise at that particular time 17 points out of the 24 were due to causes which it was not within the power of the Government effectively to change. We were faced in 1952 with a situation which is not dissimilar to the situation which the Government is facing about rising prices. We were faced with a fact which the present Government, very fortunately for the country and more fortunately for themselves, have not got to face and that is that there was £15,000,000 which they left in the form of a Budget deficit to us and with which we had to deal as a Government.
The excuse now for not subsidising tea is that it would mean some £3,000,000 or £3,500,000 additional expenditure and that, of course, we would have to get, by way of taxation or otherwise, the means to meet it. Why do the Government not subsidise  and prevent that rise of 2/- a lb. in tea? The reason they give is that it would mean £3,500,000 more in State expenditure which the Government would be compelled to provide. We had to face £15,000,000 which would have to be provided if we continued subsidising foodstuffs at the rate at which they were being subsidised. We had £15,000,000 to deal with and that is five times three. Because we said that under the circumstances it was better to reduce these and not subsidise tea as one of them we were accused of deliberately increasing the cost of living. Would I be unfair were I to follow the same lines? Would I not be following the same lines were I to accuse the present Government now of deliberately putting up the price of tea by 2/- per lb. because they are not prepared to face £3,000,000 or £3,500,000 by way of subsidy to keep it down? That is the position we were in in 1952. If the Taoiseach is putting his mantle over all his colleagues and over all the promises and if his statements are to be an alibi, as he set out to make them, for all the promises they have given may not I—I was head of the Government—claim at least to know what were the conditions and what the purposes that induced the Government to reduce subsidies at that time?
We did not abolish them. As a matter of fact, the £3,750,000 which we made available at that time was for the same purposes as the £250,000 which is now to be made available to try to shelter the weaker sections of our community from the impact of these increased prices. In fact, between the £3,750,000 with which we tried to shelter the weaker sections and the subsidy that was left behind on bread, adding the two, they were equivalent to the subsidies that had been given before we came into office.
We did not of any deliberate policy set out to increase prices. No democratic Government would dream of doing such a thing. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste talked away, saying: “We are very sympathetic”, that they have every sympathy. It is a wonderful thing, is it not, to hear from a Government that they do not want to increase the hardships of the  people? They want to accuse us of wishing to do so. Is there anybody in his senses who would think that any democratic Government would dream of doing a thing like that?
Mr. de Valera: You are putting up the price of tea by 2/- a lb,, and we believe you are right, against the alternative of providing £3,500,000 extra expenditure, believing that that is not the best way in which £3,500,000 of the community's money could be spent. We agree that you are right, but the very same reasons which justify you now in doing that were the reasons which justified us in doing the things we did in 1952. We had not merely to deal with the position of a completely unbalanced Budget but we had to deal with a position in which the balance of payments had gone completely haywire, to use that expression. They had gone to such a stage that if they were to continue at that rate within a year or two we would be in a debtor position and having to go begging for the things we wanted in excess of what we were able to purchase by our immediate exports.
We have at least this satisfaction, at least I have. I had great satisfaction here when I saw the members on the opposite benches acclaiming the Bunreacht and saw that it was accepted. They voted against it. Now we have them in the very same position. They are justifying by their action to-day the action we took in the national interest in 1952; and because we did that in 1952 we put the financial affairs of this State on a sound footing and in 1953 were able to show an upward surge of every single thing that the Taoiseach is claiming credit for now. He is claiming credit for increased employment. That increase of employment was there since 1953. Unemployment was going up as a result of conditions that were outside the control of the Government, as has been often pointed out—the changes  caused by the Korean war. There was a depression, and the recovery came in in 1952, and it is that recovery that is the sun that you are taking the credit for. You have done nothing, not a single thing, as a Government except to continue on the work set in motion by us.
There has been an effort by members of the Labour Party to belittle Deputy Lemass. Of course that is needed by the Labour Party to try to justify their turning round, their changing from the position of independence which they had always prided themselves on in this House.
Mr. de Valera: Of course the Labour Party are perfectly entitled, if they want to, to enter into a Coalition, but they ought not to misrepresent people who are known to be friends of the workers of this country. If there is one man in this country to whom the industrial workers and workers in general ought to be thankful it is Deputy Lemass.
We had in 1947 to face a difficult position. We were the Government then. The war had ended—the war in the East as well as the war in Europe was over. There was an urgent demand for everything—for consumer goods and for capital goods following the war and the end of military operations. We did not know what Russia's attitude was going to be. We had hopes and thought that probably the situation would be as it was after the first world war, that those who had been allies during the war would work together and they were not going to be in two fighting camps to continue a war situation.
They did continue a war situation,  and because of that the things that were likely to happen in 1947 did not exactly happen. If they had come together and stayed together and not continued relatively a war situation, then all the man-power being used would have been used for the manufacture of consumer goods. There was an anticipation of that possibility, a universal demand for those goods, with the result that prices went up skyrocketing at the time. We had hoped that would not last for very long. In fact, the danger before us at that time was the same danger that followed the end of the 1914-1918 war, in the period from 1922 to 1925, when we had a slump and when conditions were such that prices were being reduced and everything that was indicated from the opposite benches as likely to follow such a movement now. That was the situation that was anticipated in the middle autumn of 1947.
Under those conditions, with prices rising rapidly, we made up our minds that the best way to meet it was to reduce the cost of living—and we did that by 13.3 points in one go—to reduce the cost of living by subsidising essential commodities. Of course, we had for the time being to provide that money by the taxation of what we regarded as less essential commodities. But those subsidies were by no means as popular as they became later. Then we were attacked on all sides, not least by the representatives here of the Labour Party. We were attacked because we subsidised and we were sneered at for subsidising food because we had to get from tobacco taxes and taxes on spirits and so on the money to meet it. That was a situation which was not looked upon by us as one likely to continue for any length of time.
As I have said, the danger we had to apprehend was first of all the possibility of a large influx here of our own people who had gone over during the war coming back here and having no work ready for them, the fact that we had to anticipate that if wages and so on had gone up too high we were going to have all the unrest that would follow the bringing down of those wages. We were very anxious at the early stages to deal with that situation  by reducing the cost, and not by the process which is being availed of now by the Government, that is, by letting prices be chased by additions to the cost of labour. We had that situation to face. We expected it was going to be a temporary one.
Then the whole situation changed. Again, the Coalition were fortunate. It was obvious by the summer of 1948 when they got into office that the semi-war situation was going to continue, that there was going to be a competition in providing armaments and all the rest of it and that the dangers which had to be apprehended in 1947 were, in fact, not going to materialise at all.
In those circumstances, Deputy Lemass did negotiate with organised labour and that negotiation was brought practically to a successful conclusion when the elections and a change of Government came along. We did not want to have the final negotiations interfered with by political considerations.
We have been presented here with a draft Bill and notes in Deputy Lemass's hand. Surely a Government is responsible for its considered and final decisions and not for drafts? If I had a draft plan on my desk for something that I was considering, and about which I wanted to clarify my mind, surely that draft could not be taken as my final decision. I know of this draft Bill Deputy Lemass had because the told me about it at the time; he was in negotiations and the draft would help. Of course there was to be a possible alternative. To get agreement in these things is not easy. It is no easier to-day. The present Government will find it far from easy to get agreement in such negotiations. When a section of the community is well organised and when it can enforce its claim against the others it is inclined to overlook or forget the ultimate effect of its actions on the whole and the whole may be at a disadvantage ultimately.
Of all the things that most deleteriously—if I may use that horribly long word—affect the working people it is this question of the increased cost of living, the fact that the value of their  wages is getting less and less. These things follow almost inevitably from a situation of inflation. Increased prices follow increases in wages for increasing costs follow increased wages with the result that there is a continuous chase after prices by wages which are always behind.
Deputy Lemass before the last election stated that the thing to be desired—and anyone who has paid any attention to the question will have to agree—for the welfare of all sections of the community is stability. This applies particularly in the case of the weaker sections and the workers—all those who have a relatively fixed income. We are rapidly getting to the stage in which the middle sections are being crushed between the upper and the lower millstones. These things have to be considered but the one big danger to them all is that of rapid inflation.
When Deputy Lemass mentioned stability of prices he was sneered at by some of the gentlemen who now occupy the Government front benches. The people were told that all Fianna Fáil could hope for was stabilisation and that that was poor consolation. Deputy Lemass was speaking of stabilisation of prices and we pointed out that relative stabilisation had been achieved for a couple of years. The consumer price index had been fairly steady about that time and Deputy Lemass spoke of the desirability as a national aim—as an industrial and economic aim—of trying to get stabilisation in the cost of living and in prices. He was sneered at and was told that was poor consolation. It was said that all Fianna Fáil could hope for was to keep prices at that level; that they had no further hope.
Oh, but there were alternatives. There were people who were quite prepared to take Fianna Fáil's place —only give them a chance. They had the plans; they had the know-how, to use another very horrible modern phrase. They knew exactly how the thing was to be done and they could do it. When we asked them for their plans as to how these reductions were to take place we were again sneered at. They said we were asking for plans because we had none but they  had. These prices could and must be brought down. Taxation was to go down. The Labour Party representatives went round the country telling the people that not merely were food prices to come down but that the cost of tobacco, beer, spirits, cigarettes and all the rest of it was also to come down and they pledged their word of honour that would be done.
We put down this motion to brings the Government to judgement. The Taoiseach said he made no promises. He was to be the alibi. His statements could be brought out when the hour of need came and when the Government was to be accused of these false promises and false pretences the alibi was to be brought forward. Definite promises were made by the rest of them and even the Taoiseach himself is not quite secure in this regard. I recently saw some quotations from the Taoiseach's speeches. There are some which will be quoted and which will indicate that while he was not doing these things himself specifically he was helping on nicely the campaign being carried out by the rest.
Is it the position that when we have elections the only thing people need consider is the statements made by the prospective head of the Government? Surely in what is called the inter-Party Government that is absurd. There might be something said for it if you had a united Party.
I challenged the members of the Parties forming the Coalition: “If you want to have a Coalition go forward with your Coalition policy and tell the people it is to be the policy of the Coalition.” But they have never done that. As a matter of interest I looked at some of the Coalition Governments in England and I found that even they did not do what the present Coalition here are doing. They did not play that trick upon the electorate. You have Fine Gael pursuing this policy of promising a reduction in taxation and you have the Labour Party speaking about increased social services and about the nationalisation of the banking system. You have Fine Gael's conservative policy and Labour's nationalisation  policy and these two policies get support from sections of the people because those who are on the Right support Fine Gael and those on the Left support Labour and they never think these two are quite inconsistent.
Mr. de Valera: No one could conceive of a Government that would not cry out and say increased production is the cure. It is. The problem is how to bring it about. We set out to bring it about and we did our utmost and we did succeed in increasing production. Production increased definitely as a result of the positive steps taken by us and whether you look at the social or the economic structure of the State at the moment you will find that the basis of all has been built upon Fianna Fáil policy. All the developments for which the Taoiseach has been taking credit recently have been built upon the plans and the initial steps taken by Fianna Fáil.
The test that the people have is not what are the professions of a Government but what are the results. It is by that that Governments can be tested. In our day we did these things. Deputies opposite talk about public confidence. I accuse the Deputies on the opposite benches, and I do it deliberately, of fomenting in every way within their power unrest during the period we were in office. I charge them with being responsible for the demonstrations on O'Connell Bridge. I charge them with doing all these things. We did not do these things. We are not telling the country that it is savage that there should be an increase of 2/- on the lb. of tea. We did not tell the country it was savage to maintain——
Mr. de Valera: ——the taxes which the supporters of this Government decried as inhuman, savage, intolerable and all the rest of it. But when they came into office they retained those taxes and when they introduced their last Budget we did not come along and say they were acting against the interests  of the country in doing these things. We pointed out they were retaining these imposts and that they were retaining them precisely because of the circumstances which made them almost inevitable.
We brought in this resolution to pinpoint a particular fact. It was admitted by Deputies on the opposite benches after they were elected that the main issue in the election was the question of prices and the cost of living. Every community and all sections are affected by the cost of living. The wage earner comes home and gives his wife his earnings for the maintenance of the household; he is told they can no longer buy the same amount of food; he is told that they will have to cut down on bread, on tea, on sausages, on meat or anything else. But the appetites of himself, his wife and his children will not grow less; they will need the same amount to maintain them in health. But their consumption of food will have to be cut down because the cost of living goes up.
Mr. de Valera: The Government agrees, and we agree, that it is better to do that. We all regret it. Nevertheless, when we consider the overall effect on the community we realise that it is better to do that now rather than arise £3,500,000 from revenue for the specific purpose of subsidising. Wherein lies the difference? Why is it a sin for us to do certain things and a virtue when you do them? The people were undoubtedly misled. There was scarcely a wall in the country which did not bear a poster: lower  taxes, lower costs of living better times.
Mr. de Valera: It almost looked as if you were magicians and could do these things when you wished. These were the offers held out to the people. Here is the first sample illustrating the promise and the performance. Up to this the Deputies on the opposite benches were pleading that they had not time. Now they are up against something specific and the people will be able to judge them on it. As far as we are concerned we have behind us a record with which we are by no means dissastisfied. Admittedly we did not do all the things we would have liked to have done but we did what we could in the circumstances in which we found ourselves. That is all one can say as far as any Government is concerned.
A few things were raised here in relation to me personally. Deputy Corish, the Minister for Social Welfare, was, I think, the originator of one item, though it was referred to by the Tánaiste also. I refer to a speech of mine which was supposed to be quoted here. Alleged quotations were made from a speech I delivered at the Ard-Fheis. When I asked from what particular paper this quotation was taken there was a disposition not to supply me with that information. I was told it was taken from all the papers. I had the papers brought and examined and I find that this alleged quotation from a speech of mine is really a summary of a speech, a summary made by some newspaper correspondent, and the words used by that correspondent in summarising the speech are attributed to me. I did not use these words. A selection was carefully made by the Minister for Social Welfare and by the Tánaiste out of that summary.
The speech I made on that occasion was a long speech. It was the second day of the Ard-Fheis. I had then, as I have occasionally had to do here, when extravagant demands are made, to point out that the Government has not got a Treasury at its disposal and cannot meet demands beyond the bounds of our economy. There is no Treasury with coffers full of gold into  which one can put one's hands to meet the costs of certain demands. Every person in the country would like to see the conditions of the poor and of all classes of the community brought to the highest possible level; but mere wishing will not create the possibility of doing that.
At the Ard-Fheis people were demanding old age pensions, for example, without a means test, and I took the opportunity of dealing with these problems in the general speech I delivered. I pointed out that one would have to have the means to do these things. I pointed out that taxation was high and that if one wished to increase social services one would have to ask oneself what means were available to provide them and, if taxation were already high, the extent to which one could add to that taxation to meet these demands.
When such matters are being considered, there is always the question of certain urgent needs. If I have a few hundred pounds and I meet with a serious accident, irrespective of what I may wish to do with that money, that £200 will go by the board to defray the costs of that accident. In other words, I must devote it to immediate needs. So it is with the community as a whole. If there are urgent needs to be met one may have to put aside general considerations indicating a certain line of action in order to meet an emergency situation. We have had to meet some emergency situations here in our time and in those circumstances we have had to put aside other considerations which might have been applied generally to the community as a whole; but we could not take them into account in a state of emergency.
What I said at the Ard-Fheis I will say to any Labour group. I did not say that it was “dangerous”, as was suggested. That particular reference was taken out of its context which made it appear that a proposition had been put up and that I said it was “dangerous”. I did not use the word in that connection. I did not use the word at all, and if anyone wants to see what I did say they can read the Cork Examiner, for example, or the  other papers. This quotation was taken from the Irish Independent. I am not blaming the Irish Independent. In these days it is almost impossible for newspapers to give extended reports of very long speeches. Space is limited and they cannot give a full report unless one does, as the Taoiseach has done, supply the newspaper with a copy of the script. In my case a summary was made and, surely, it is not fair to come in here and pretend to quote what I said when, in fact, that quotation represents the words of the reporter making a summary of what I said. He did not have to be as careful, perhaps, of the words which he employed.
But I did not use these words. I have enough political savvy to know I should not use that particular word. I would not have used it and I did not use it. When I asked for the reference I was told: “All the papers”, but if those who purported to quote me had looked at “all the papers” they would have known perfectly well that it was not true. Unlike Deputy Lemass, I may not have at my disposal the same constructive work as he had as Minister for Industry and Commerce but at least in all my actions throughout my whole life I have tried to side, as far as it was possible and as far as I thought it was in his interest, with the worker and the small farmer of this country.
These are only side issues. They were brought up simply to lead us back to have a contest as to whether Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would have done better. That is not the issue now. Whether Fianna Fáil has been good or bad in the past, it is not the Government; it has not the responsibility now. The people who have the responsibility now are this Government and they cannot get away with it simply on the fact that conditions are outside their control. There are conditions that are deemed to be due to external causes and it is their duty to deal with them. Whenever we were up against it we considered it our duty to deal with the situation. The only thing we get out of this is that prices are rising. Nobody has denied that.  Prices are rising. I hope in the general interest they will not continue to rise.
Are the Government sitting down to consider what is going to happen if prices do continue to rise? All the indications we have got of their having given any consideration to this very serious problem for the community is that they will chase rising prices by rising costs of labour. As was pointed out by those who discussed this question, that is all very well for those who are organised in the community and who can make their demands effective, but they are only a section of the community. There is a large section of the community that is not able to do that and I say this: if that is the only policy and if it is to be pursued, and if prices should continue to rise and this spiral be accelerated, then the people who are at present in industrial employment will not be able to compensate themselves and we will get into a very dangerous situation in this country.
The members of the Government who suggested that this situation is easier to handle than that of a depression are right to a certain extent and wrong to another. As far as temporary fluctuations are concerned they are right, but if this situations gets going with a sharp spiral of increasing costs and wages chasing them, then we can find ourselves in the position in which the measures that have to be taken will be far more drastic than any that will have to be taken if the matter is taken in time.
The Government is responsible. We accuse the Government of having failed to do the things which they themselves admit got them into office. No matter what the Taoiseach may say they have admitted that. We accuse them of that and we say that because they have got into office by false pretences the House ought not to have confidence in them, and we accuse them that in a situation that promises danger, the only way out they suggest is one that under certain circumstances can be extremely dangerous.
Mr. James Tully: I regret very much that for the past two days the people engaged in the debate in this House  have apparently decided that the only way to settle national problems is to throw as much mud as possible at each other and hope that some of it will stick. It is rather a pity that the Fianna Fáil Party, a responsible Party, should have decided to waste the time of the House by putting down a resolution such as this.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Might I point out that the last speaker, Deputy de Valera, was listened to in silence; there were no interruptions? The Taoiseach, who spoke previously, was continuously interrupted. I suggest that the Deputy should allow Deputy Tully to make his speech without interruption.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair does not like to indulge in lectures to Deputies but the Chair has repeatedly appealed to Deputies to help him to keep order. That is all the Chair can do. If the Deputies do not co-operate, the Chair cannot do that.
Mr. James Tully: I suppose I am getting as much attention from the Fianna Fáil Party as I could hope to get. At least they should have the good manners to listen and I am surprised at people like the Lord Mayor of Cork indulging in interruptions in this House as he has been doing over the past two days. Before I proceed any further, I would like to state that if Deputy de Valera says that he did not state at the Ard Fheis that increases in social welfare benefits would be dangerous, I am prepared to take his word for it, but it is rather a pity that, when he knew that this report had appeared in the paper, he did not attempt to contradict it at the time. I am afraid he is giving the Press reporters who reported his speech very little credit if they could make such a serious mistake as to put down the statement that the ex-Taoiseach said  that it would be dangerous to increase social welfare benefits.
Mr. James Tully: I am merely referring to the report which appeared in the newspapers and which the ex-Taoiseach has stated is incorrect. It is rather a pity he waited until now to correct that statement. We hear a great deal of talk from the Fianna Fáil Party about the smallness of the benefit which is being given to counteract the increase in tea prices as far as some of the social welfare beneficiaries are concerned, and we heard the laugh about the 6d. which is being given as compensation. Deputy MacEntee, I am sure, will remember the occasion on which the Cork County council workers were given an increase of 6d. per week while he was in office. They did not think it was very big at the time but they were told they were lucky to get it. If 6d. was good enough then for the Cork County Council workers it should not be sneered at in this connection by the members of the Party who sanctioned it for those workers. I know 6d. is not a big amount but there is no point at all in saying that what is sauce for the the goose should not be sauce for the gander.
Deputy de Valera, according to himself, has always sided with the workers. It would be very hard for Deputy de Valera to convince workers who had their wages tied down by the standstill Order and those who were threatened with having them tied down again by a further Order, that he was on the side of the workers. Those things are not easily forgotten and no matter how often he says it, he will find it hard to eradicate from the minds of the workers that in 1955 Fianna Fáil's answer to the rising cost of living would be, if they were in power, a further wages standstill Order. I challenge the Deputy who is going to reply to the debate tonight to state whether or not they would propose a wages standstill Order in the present circumstances if they were the Government.
 The suggestion was made that there was a great number of unemployed workers in the country. I am a trade union official and possibly for that reason I say that very few people can be blamed for the condition of unorganised workers anywhere in the country. Is there any reason why those workers themselves could not be members of a trade union? Is there any reason why they should not have a decent standard of living the same as those who are at present members of trade unions? I am sure there is nothing to stop them from becoming members and if they decide to stay outside surely they cannot blame anyone if they cannot get what they are entitled to.
In the closing minutes of the ex-Taoiseach's speech he hinted that stronger measures would have to be taken and I assume he meant that if he were in power he would definitely see to it that this spiral of wages after prices would not continue, but that before he would do anything about that he would do what he did before when the wages were stopped and after that he might consider doing something about prices. I know quite well is is very easy to criticise, in this House or outside the House, what any Government is doing, and I know that during the election campaign, as a result of which I was elected to Dáil Eireann, I criticised the Government which was then in power in the same way as everybody else belonging to my Party. We said we did not consider that prices should be allowed to rise and we said we would do everything we could to reduce the cost of living.
Mr. James Tully: When the Labour Party became a party to this Government their policy was and still is that those who must depend for their living on work would be allowed a wage which would buy what they needed and those who are depending on social welfare benefits would be entitled to get from the State that which would compensate them for any increase in the cost of living. That has not altered in the 15 months in which we have been a party to this Government, and no matter what anybody says in this House that position will not be altered.
As a rural Deputy, there is one thing in which I am very interested and that is the question of rural employment and rural unemployment. I am very glad to be able to say that the figures given here showing a sharp decline in unemployment in this country have been reflected in the rural areas and we find that to-day in rural Ireland—there may be exceptions of which I do not know—we have more people in employment than we had two years ago and the cheap sneer that the only way the unemployment figure has been decreased has been through emigration is not true. I do not say nor could anybody else here say that emigration has been halted, but emigration last year was no higher than it was the year before or the year before that. While I am prepared to state here that something very definite will have to be done in order to stop the drain of emigration, I will not allow anybody to create the impression that everybody who is  not on the unemployment register now and was on it 12 months ago has emigrated to England. That was repeated here several times to-day and yesterday, and it was repeated in the hope that, as I said at the outset, some of it would stick. It was untrue, of course, and the people who made the statement very probably knew it was untrue.
We also have the question of wheat and we were told that the reduction in the price of wheat was going to rob the farmers. Deputy Dillon yesterday evening nailed that lie very effectively, and the suggestion which was made here by some people who should know better that there was a serious reduction in the yield of wheat this year is surely too ridiculous to bother trying to contradict were it not that it was repeated by several people who should know the facts. There is no doubt at all this year that there has been a very substantial increase in the yield of wheat and that substantial increase has been reflected all over the country. I hope that when the wheat harvest has been all sent to the mills we will find that the farmers will have more in their pockets than they had 12 months ago.
We have also had the suggestion that the beet acreage has dropped because there was no incentive, that the price was too low. Again it is hardly necessary for me to point out that the agreement on beet prices was made between the Beet Growers' Associations and the Sugar Company and if the Beet Growers' Association were not satisfied with their price they could do something about it but apparently they were perfectly satisfied and therefore the position is as it is.
We have heard Deputy McQuillan in particular suggesting that something should be done and done quickly. He seemed to be prepared to prove to his new found friends in the opposite benches that he would go even further than any of them to prove that the Government of the day were not doing their stuff. I think it is a little bit farcical to hear Deputy McQuillan and people like him talking about what can be done. He did not put up any concrete proposal as to  what he thought could be done. Neither did the Opposition Benches.
Mr. James Tully: What Deputy McQuillan thinks about it is not worth bothering with here. He did, I know, suggest that there should be further migration from the West. They are all very anxious to migrate all the people from the West over to Meath.
Mr. James Tully: There is very little use in people coming along here and suggesting that the remedy for the increase in prices is a change of a Government, back to Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil themselves admit that if they were in power they could not, and would not, attempt to stop prices from rising. The only difference between Fianna Fáil and this Government is that apparently they are also determined that if they were in power they would see to it that wages would not go any higher. It may seem a bit ridiculous to hear people from the Fianna Fáil Benches suggesting that the Government are not doing their duty and then offering no alternative. I said at the very outset that this motion introduced in the House was one which the House could very well do without. Deputy  Lemass, who is a very shrewd man, said himself when introducing the motion that he thought that it would serve a useful purpose by spotlighting the whole issue of prices. But I do not think that was his intention when he introduced the motion. I believe the motion was introduced simply and solely as a political manæuvre. As a political manoeuvre it has failed and the people on the opposite benches have made a very poor case for their motion.
I suggest that the time wasted on the motion could possibly have been much better employed in discussing some important Bills which must come before the House. The people who addressed the House suggested that, while they themselves could do nothing about prices, would do nothing about prices, the people on this side of the House were wrong because they were not drastically reducing prices. I suggest that is rather farcical.
I want to say, in conclusion, that as far as we in the Labour Party are concerned we have been returned to Dáil Éireann to safeguard the interests of a certain section of the community. We have no doubt about that. As long as we are here and as long as we are party to the inter-Party Government we will see to it that the pledge which we gave will be carried out in full.
Mr. Childers: I must say at the outset that to hear Deputy Tully, a Labour Deputy, speak as though time was wasted in this House discussing the increase in the cost of living and that we were taking unnecessarily two days of the time of the House in order to raise this matter arouses cynicism beyond belief. The House was adjourned for many, many weeks. The House has returned with an Order Paper which is packed with Bills, most of which are not ready for consideration, showing that the Government either find it difficult to make up their minds on these measures or find it difficult to get the work done. Yet we hear Deputy Tully, whose Party confused the public's mind over the cost-of-living issue ever since 1948, regretting that we have chosen just two days of the time of the House in order to discuss this matter.  Before I deal with the general question of the cost of living, I should like to refer to a number of Labour Deputies who have had the effrontery in this House to gloss over the tremendous tide of emigration that has been taking place, that is a running sore in our midst, that has been a problem in this country for many, many years, which no Government has been able to solve, which has reached such heights in the course of the last few years that for anybody to talk about reductions of a few thousand in the number of unemployed is giving a totally false picture of the position.
Members of the Labour Party and, indeed, of the Fine Gael Party, should read the Population Commission Report, should read therein the melancholy news that of the young boys and the young girls aged 14 who are now with us, 25 per cent. of the young boys and 40 per cent. of the girls will emigrate if the pattern of emigration continues as it has been during the past few years.
The whole question of the unemployment figures becomes completely irrelevant unless the tide of emigration is considered at the same time. From 1946 until 1951 over 100,000 people left this country. They left it during that whole period of Government. We will never get any of our economic problems solved if Labour Ministers come here and give us minute reductions of a few thousands in the unemployed in this sector or in that sector when the whole of it has to be related to emigration.
Everyone knows that in the western districts for the last few years the people have been leaving more rapidly and even leaving earlier. Young lads and girls are leaving at the ages of 16, 17 and 18 and going to Britain. Whole families are leaving. It is the most serious problem that we have to face and there is no solution for it but higher production.
The time of this House has been wasted ever since 1948 on a futile wrangle over the cost of living, largely started by the Labour Party, and they have failed to deal with the far more complex and the far more fundamental problem of how to increase production and how to overcome a stagnancy  which, however it may change in a marginal way, is still the major problem we all have to face.
I would like to hope that some day or other the members of the Labour Party will cease to show that sort of Fine Gael gloss which makes them capable of discussing unemployment figures without at the same time, as I have said, dealing with the problem of emigration.
In regard to this whole debate on price levels, the Government is gradually coming back full-circle and is gradually in every step it takes paying tribute to Fianna Fáil, apologising for its past statements, admitting that we were right in all the major aspects of our policy. I, having with other Deputies faced the hustings for a number of these elections when the cost of living was flung at the people as the major issue, was delighted to hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce say that they could not afford the £3,500,000 in order to maintain the price of tea at its present level.
It was interesting to hear a Coalition Minister at last admitting that some subsidies can be over-costly. But, when the same Government left us a Budget unbalanced to the tune of £6,000,000 when they left us facing a situation where food rationing was rapidly ending, when the consumption of food was rapidly increasing and when we found that we could not levy the taxation to pay for the full rate of subsidies that would have been required in order to meet other increases in Government expenses, of course, then, when we said that we could not afford the necessary money for the subsidy on tea, we were regarded as fleecing the people, as deliberately causing discomfort and misery among the people. But when, to-day, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, at last cured of this paralysis of economic thought, now comes before us and tells us that they cannot afford the £3,500,000, that is all right, that is desirable policy, that is not hurting the people.
It has been a very long story and Deputy de Valera earlier this evening gave to the House a full description of what happened in the year 1947 when there was a temporarily sharp increase  in the cost of living. I only want to refer to this, that in the election of 1948 we had the first of the campaigns dealing with the cost-of-living issue and it was then that members of the Coalition diverted the people of this country, apparently almost permanently, from discussing the major issue of the post-war world, which was the increase of production, by accusing us of being responsible for all the increase in the cost of living and levying the most serious charges, charges that we were corrupt in the administration of price control policy, charges that the Fianna Fáil war chest was being filled with corrupt gifts from profiteers who were going unpunished. One of the major issues in that election and from then onwards was this question of the cost of living. When they got into office they found that there were no profiteers. No one was prosecuted. They found the price control mechanism was being adequately worked and that there was no evidence whatever that the manufacturers were fleecing the people of this country through either the corruption or the ineptitude of the then Minister for Industry and Commerce.
As I have said, this whole type of discussion which has diverted the attention of the people of this country from the major issues which concern them continued from then onwards. Many of the questions that we have asked of the Coalition Parties in regard to the inflation of prices that took place during that period were never answered.
Many times we asked this very simple question. If you take the period when prices started rising all over the world —the period from the devaluation of the £, followed by the Korean war—and trace the increase in the cost of living that took place from the year 1948 until the end of the inflation in 1953, how is it that the cost of living increased either a little more or exactly the same in every Western European country with our kind of economy, with our kind of set-up, affected in the same way as ourselves by the value of sterling, affected in the same way by the effects of the war and the effects of rearmament? How was it you could  have this increase taking place in every country in the world at different levels during different years and that we were to be made responsible for all the increases that took place in this country?
We asked how it was that countries with Labour Socialist Governments, far wealthier than ours, were themselves unable to afford the full panoply of subsidies on food and had themselves to abandon all or part of those subsidies during exactly the same period as we were doing. We asked how it was accepted that, using the £ of the same value—as in the case of Britain or any other country in the sterling area—we were supposed to be able to keep the cost of living down to the 1948 or 1949 level and that we were supposed to be able to carry out a miracle in this country when no other country was able to do it. Of course, we never got any full or proper answer.
Many times we challenged the members of the Labour Party to read the reports of an organisation for which they should have the greatest respect —the International Labour Organisation, whose conventions we have many times authenticated and put into operation in this country—to read all the facts and figures given by that organisation for the benefit of trade unions all over the world to help them to obtain a better standard of living for their workers. We challenged them to assert that, during the period of the inflation in 1953, the people of this country were any less well off, relatively, than they were in 1948 either in respect of what any person having an ordinary labourer's wage could buy with his weekly pay packet or in any other respect. We never got any substantial or worthwhile answer to these challenges. We were never told by the Labour Party that the figures given by their own organisation—an organisation designed to help them—were false, were lies and were produced in their office in Geneva solely to assist Deputy de Valera and his Party. At the same time, they never denied them. That was the position.
We heard this evening from the Taoiseach that the reason why the 30,000 people who caused the defeat of  the Fianna Fáil Government in 1954 changed their views was not because of the promises to reduce the cost of living but because of the severe effect of the 1952 Budget. Yet, the facts show that, as the months have gone by, every single aspect of our financial policy was proved and has been proved by the present Government to be right and proper.
The present Government charged us with lunatic expenditure. The present Minister for Defence went around Longford and Westmeath accusing me of believing in a super State. He accused me of believing in a super State in which the Government extracted a vast proportion of the people's wealth and spent it. The Minister for Defence went on to say, that that was an ungodly kind of State and that I was advocating it. He said the Government was extracting a wholly excessive proportion of taxation from the people and, as a result, the people were unable to live according to the family principles held so dear by him. What was found? It was found that there was no lunatic extravagance. Examining the Book of Estimates and the Budget of this year it was found that the Minister for Finance was unable to make any but marginal changes and that most of the savings he was able to effect, before he announced a Budget which involved a greater expenditure by £4,000,000, were of a purely marginal or windfall character. There was not the slightest evidence of lunatic extravagance.
We were told that, even with the lunatic extravagance, taxes were levied unnecessarily. We were told there was a deliberate over-taxation of the people because we wanted them to live a hair-shirt existence—that we wanted them to consume less, to eat less, to drink less and to amuse themselves less.
When the new Government came into office they were unable to make any notable change in the level of taxation. During the course of this debate we have frequently challenged the Taoiseach to tell us why he cannot, even now, promise to remove the hideous and abominable features of the 1952 Budget. All we have had  is the lame excuse that it takes some time to alter the financial structure of the country's existence and that the damage cannot be undone in the course of two years of office. I am willing to prophesy that, unless production increases so much that the whole incidence of the yield of taxes changes, the Government will find they will never be able to make the drastic changes in taxation that they would have to make if they are going to prove the contention that the 1952 Budget was savage and unnecessary in character. They have had an opportunity of examining all these things. They had an opportunity for 17 months of examining the incidence of all these taxes.
It somewhat surprised me that the Minister for Finance did not take a chance with some of the existing taxes on the basis that the taxes were unnecessary and cruel and that if they were reduced there would be a greatly increased consumption of the commodities upon which they were charged and the result would be that he would get perhaps more rather than less money. It was interesting and consoling to see that the Minister for Finance did not take 3d. off petrol in the belief that people would drive their cars so much further that he would get the 3d. back and some more. It was interesting and consoling to see that the Minister for Finance was not able to take a single chance in respect of any of the main taxes which had to be imposed in 1952 in the hope that consumption would increase, that people would enjoy themselves more and consume more and, as a result, that he would get back the money and achieve the level of revenue he desired and perhaps a bit more. It was consoling not to see that and we know well that the present Government will never be able to prove that the taxes levied in 1952 were unnecessary.
Everything goes to show that, in fact, the level of expenditure at the end of our period of government could not be reduced: that, if all the promises in regard to social services, in regard to educational services and in regard to all the other services of the House of a social welfare character—which  amount to something like £60,000,000 a year—were to be carried out and maintained and expanded it would be quite impossible to reduce taxation to the level promised during the general election. Of course, if social services are further increased it will require a measure of taxation in order to pay for them. As the cost of living rises during the remainder of this financial year, and as the effect of increased wages, with increased production to a sufficient degree, causes prices to increase still further, the cost of Government will increase again and make the task of the Minister for Finance again more difficult in the Budget of 1956. We were all aware of these things. It is very difficult to explain to people down in the country who have not the time or the inclination to study all the details involved in Government finance and budgetary practice how these increases take place and why.
One of the features of the attacks made on us when we were in office during the period from 1951 to 1954 was that we were exaggerating the difficulties in regard to the deficit in our balance of payments. We well remember all the nonsensical propaganda that emanated from the Opposition Benches. We were told that the taxation was unnecessary, that we were hair-shirted economists, that we were following strictly in the line of Mr. Butler, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, that Deputy MacEntee, as Minister for Finance, was apparently in league with him and that budgetary policy here was following the same line as British budgetary policy.
I was amazed to see that the present Minister for Finance has made one more confession about budgetary practice. I do not think that either the members of the House or the members of the public have examined in sufficient detail the speech of the Minister for Finance at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. There were some things he said which would delight the heart of any member on this side of the House who had had to listen to the filthy propaganda during the year 1952  about our being in some secret conspiracy with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. I refer to the statement made by the Minister for Finance in which he asked the people to spend less and to save more, that it was essential for the country that the balance of payments deficit should be corrected. To be quite fair, he said it had not grown to serious proportions, but nevertheless it might become serious, and he begged the people of this country to spend less and save more.
In 1951, at the end of that year, as everybody will remember, the total adverse balance of payments was in the red by £61,000,000. In this year we have been told that the figure may rise to something in the neighbourhood of £16,000,000 to £20,000,000. We were also told by Deputies like Deputy Declan Costello in 1952 that it did not matter if the external assets position was unbalanced, that it did not matter if we imported huge quantities of consumption goods which we had not paid for with our exports. Now we see a complete volte face, a complete change by members of the Coalition Government. Once they are in office, it is dangerous to have a deficit in our balance of payments, and if we buy ordinary consumption goods which we have not paid for by means of our exports, under their Government, to try to restrain it is no longer a conspiracy entered into with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and it is perfectly all right with them to make an appeal to the public to spend less and to save more; but, of course, if Fianna Fáil does that in circumstances which, though not exactly analogous had some element of similarity, we are then supposed to be in a conspiracy with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It so happens that the Minister for Finance made his speech at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce almost exactly at the same time as the British Chancellor was begging the English people to spend less and save more. The two Ministers were speaking in unison on the same subject and they were speaking on the same subject because it is not only an Irish or an English problem.  It is a problem of the whole sterling world in which we live and I suppose that we could very easily, just before this by-election in West Limerick, publish in thousands of broadsheets the parallel speeches of the Minister for Finance and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and accuse the Minister for Finance of entering into a secret conspiracy with the British Chancellor to try to reduce the standard of living of the Irish people by begging them to spend less and save more.
That would, in truth, be following the line of the Coalition Parties, but we are not going to do it, because we do not believe that any Minister who is fully acquainted with the facts can fail to observe that there is a similar state of affairs in every country in the sterling area. Therefore, as I have said, we do not propose to indulge in dirty propaganda of that kind, but we could say it, and could point out the fact that when the Minister for Finance at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce asked the people to save more and spend less, he was, in slightly different but analogous circumstances, merely giving advice of the kind which in some ways was necessary during the short period of the Korean inflation.
As I have said, the Taoiseach in the course of his speech implied that the people of this country were cruelly hurt as a result of the taxation measures. Nobody liked to impose these taxes; nobody liked to reduce subsidies, none of us wanted to do these unpleasant things. The result was a reduction in consumption by the people, according to the figures published by the present Government, of not more than 2½ per cent. in the year 1952 as compared with the previous year, and most of that could be ascribed to the fact that everybody had stocked up during the period of the Korean war and that during the year 1952 their tendency to buy was not so accelerated, and, as a result, there was a very slight decrease in consumption—practically none in the case of foodstuffs, practically none in the case of essentials, but the 2½ per cent. covered all the commodities the people of this country bought.
That is a fact, and it cannot be  denied by the present Government, but we were supposed to be forcing the people to indulge in a hairshirt economy, to be forcing the people to consume so much less and forcing them into a state of misery. Of course, in 1953 and 1954, there was a very great measure of improvement in the trading position. There was a considerable measure of improvement in the industrial production of the country and there was a mild but satisfactory increase in agricultural production in 1954, all of which brought back consumption to the highest level it had ever reached, and in 1954, when the full facts are published, I am quite certain the present Government will have to admit that the very slight reduction in our expenditure on goods had been entirely overcome, that the expenditure on goods in that year, I imagine, would have reached an all-time record, that production and trade, we know, were satisfactory and, in fact, that we had gone through a typical period of inflation, followed by recovery, such as was experienced by practically every country in the world where the conditions were the same.
But of course, when we had to experience the same slight recession in trade, the same sharp increase of prices as took place in all the other countries of the sterling world, that took place in Great Britain, in Denmark, in Holland and in this country, it was solely because Deputy de Valera, the then Taoiseach, wanted the people to consume less and to enjoy life less, because he wanted them to don a hairshirt. I think the people of this country, whatever their political Party affiliations, can really afford to laugh at the idea that they were wearing hairshirts in 1952, 1953 or 1954. The idea that there could be the slightest element of hairshirtism in the last year of our office is nonsense and I think it is about time we heard the last of that phrase.
As I have said, the present Government in admitting the increase in prices are admitting their inability to cope with the situation. They have made, I imagine, the last of the quadruple apologies that were due to  Deputy de Valera as head of the Fianna Fáil Government. This discussion on the cost of living and this diversion of the people's minds from the more fundamental problem of production has taken a long time to come round full circle. It began in 1948 and the increase in the price of tea, without subsidy, which has recently taken place, is, at last, I hope, the ending of the discussion and the closing of the circle.
The people will now know that under all heads the previous Government was fully justified in what they did. They now know that they were not overspending; that they were not overtaxing and that they were not permitting an increase in the cost of living to take place without making whatever effort they could to stop it and that, in fact, the cost of living was rising for reasons over which they had no control.
I noticed, too, in this debate, that as always, when it is convenient for them, members of the Coalition Government occasionally become extremely correct in their statements about the increase in the cost of living that took place in 1952 as a result of the withdrawal of the subsidies and the increase that took place between August, 1950, and August, 1951—I think it was about 11 per cent.—and the increase that took place subsequently for exactly the same reasons that have caused the recent increase in the cost of living because of import prices. Just occasionally they will have for the moment a flicker of honesty in analysing that position.
I can assure the members of the Government that during the course of the general election and during the course of the local election there was never any such separation on issues in the way that the candidates spoke. They never separated the seven points rise that was the result of deliberate Government action because we could not afford to maintain the subsidies at their previous level. They never spoke of the compensating advantages of increased social service benefits. All we heard from one end of the country to the other was that the whole of the  cost-of-living increase was due to the deliberate action of the then Fianna Fáil Government.
As I have said, I suppose it is rather natural in the heat of political debate to forget to be accurate but the extent to which the members of the Coalition Government forgot to be accurate amounted to a tirade of completely nonsensical talk about the whole question of the inflation that took place in this and every other country in Europe during that period. It is very much easier to accuse Deputy de Valera and Fianna Fáil of being responsible for this condition than it is to explain in patient language all the economic issues and all the economic facts to prove that we were merely facing a universal situation that had to be faced by practically every country in the world save those countries whose currencies were much stronger than ours— countries such as Belgium, Switzerland and America and even in those countries the cost of living went up.
I should like to hope that some time in this House it would be possible for us to have far more discussion on the very much more serious problem of increasing production; that we would consider far more the important questions. It would be much better if we were to spend some of the time we spent on discussing the cost of living on how, for example, we are going to compete with the Danes in the British bacon and pork market in the future and how we can make use of our land so as to have that take place.
It might even be possible to devote more capital and expenditure from our public funds to all these far more complex issues if the present Government was not itself bedevilled by this insistence on the cost of living as distinct from the purchasing power of the people, the amount that we sell abroad for goods we could purchase at home and the amount we can purchase of things we now import. These are far more fundamental questions the solution of which would do more than all the talk in the world on the cost of living to make our people happy.
The people of this country have got into a habit of mind in which price is everything. Price is the be of all and the end all of an existence in which  the cost at which a person pays for goods is the major consideration of life. We have failed entirely since 1948, largely because of the tactics of the Coalition Party, to consider any of these more fundamental things. People think always of how to get more wages because the cost of living is going up and not of how to produce more goods so that they can be sold at a lower price so that people in turn will have greater purchasing power and be able to buy more goods of different kinds. We think always of how much a given article is going to cost.
We have no discussions in this House of how we can reduce the price of an article by higher productivity so that when a person buys that article he will have money left in his pocket to buy something else. That type of talk about productivity is absolutely non-existent in this country except by a minute percentage of either our industrialists, agriculturists or any of the people. I might say, to be quite. honest, that in this House we are all bemused with this discussion of the cost of living. No matter what Party we come from we have not yet got down to the fundamental question which is the principal question affecting this country.
Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, will have to admit, if he uses his agricultural statistics properly, that although there has been a heartening increase in agricultural production in 1954 and again in 1955 in certain sectors there are deficiencies in regard to other kinds of agricultural production and that compared with other countries in Europe we have tremendous leeway to make up before we start talking about annual increased output.
The attention of the country has been diverted from these fundamental questions by all the discussion about the cost of living which began in 1948 and which has been continued ever since. There are enough aspects in connection with increasing productivity to have taken up the whole time of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce when he came to speak on the problems facing this  country and his contribution to increased production. It would have taken the whole time of his speech to deal with these problems. If we were all really thinking of them it would have taken all the time of the former Minister for Industry and Commerce, when speaking on his Estimate, and on the occasion of other debates dealing with these matters and thinking of them, when, in fact, he was fighting a battle to defend his own position against the trend towards inflationary increases of prices and defending the reasons for taking the budgetary action we had to take in 1952. The wine of productivity is not flowing in the national bloodstream nor in the bloodstream of this House and I hope that some day we will get down to this fundamental problem of productivity.
Mr. Childers: If the Minister for Finance wishes to press me on that matter I will deal with it. The answer is very simple. For how many years was the Minister engaged in settling the constitutional issues of this country? Does the Minister wish to go back as far as that? For how many years was the Minister for Industry and Commerce engaged in maintaining the supplies of this country during the world war when it was impossible to put productivity policies into operation?
As I have said, other countries were in the same position. Other countries faced the same difficulties, even without this constitutional struggle, during that period. So we can hardly be blamed, having regard to the additional difficulties we had to face, if we were unable to make the improvements we would have liked to make. I am talking about the position after the war when mechanisation in industry and agriculture was going ahead rapidly throughout the world, when conditions for a rapid increase in production were possible. I am talking  about that period and that is the essential period for the purposes of this discussion.
In concluding, I should like once more to say that the members of the Government in their speeches so far to-night have not indicated in any way how the economy of this country was so permanently distorted by the level of taxation in 1952 that they have been unable to change it. They have not had the honesty to admit that, so long as the Government spends an enormous proportion of the Budget on social services—all of which we approve—and so long as the Government has to pay increases in Government costs which are caused by increases in the cost of living, the taxes proved to be necessary and will prove to be necessary, unless the yield of those taxes increases through increase in production, and if the people of the country listen to the Minister for Finance and spend a good deal less, as he has advised them, it may be difficult for the Minister for Finance to get the yield on the taxes he would like.
Mr. Childers: As I have said, we are not going to accuse the present Minister of being in league with Mr. Butler, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although their speeches were on recent occasions virtually identical.
Mr. J. Larkin: I might well compliment Deputy Childers on some of the points he raised towards the end of his speech but the difficulty I find in following him is that, like so many members of his Party, he helps to create a situation and a frame of mind and then tends to forget where the responsibility lies. I would be the last to quarrel with him when he queries the lack of attention that has been given to the critical problem of productivity and increased production in this country. Equally, I can see a good deal of force in his questioning of concentration of attention on the cost of living at the moment but if we are to try and deal with these problems in a concrete form we should try to understand  why it is so difficult to get attention given to them.
He is not merely a member of this House, not merely a member of the former Government: Deputy Childers, by his personal association, by his background, can also be regarded to some extent as expressing the point of view of what we would regard as the employers in this country. And when Deputy Childers speaks of the need for increased production and increased productivity, would he pause for a moment and have regard to the attitude of the employers in this country to increased production? Would he recall very briefly a statement made a short while ago by a quite representative member of the employers' group— that so far as workers were concerned their place was outside the door of the boardroom and that they had no place inside the boardroom or on problems of management which, of course, involve production?
We are told very frequently in this country that there is supposed to be a partnership between workers and employers so far as industry is concerned. May I ask where the partnership is and how it works? We have been discussing in the course of this debate the question of the relationship between prices and wages. Is it unfair to ask on behalf of workers, when it is shown by official statistics that production has increased in the industrial sector of our economy; and, more important still, that production per head has increased and that workers are giving a greater output per man than they gave prewar, what share of that increased production and that increased productivity has been given to the workers in industry? It is borne out by the fact that, even taking into account the recent increase in wages that has been secured during the present year, the overall picture is that, on a rough estimate, real wages to-day are approximately at the same level as prewar. Yet production has increased and productivity has increased.
Now, if we are going to deal with this problem, which is basic both to the question of price, basic to the question of wages and living standards,  basic to the whole future economic development in this country—that is, the question of increased production, and if it is going to be a joint effort, is it not time that somebody answered the question: where are the fruits and the proceeds of that increased production going to flow? Deputy Childers has mentioned or concentrated on the question of the cost of living and he has suggested that our attention has been sidetracked since 1948 on this more or less important issue than that, on the basic question of production. Surely if we go back to 1948 it is very easy to find why this concentration has taken place because 1948 marked the end of a period during which his Government had so blatantly ignored the whole problem of the cost of living, and its effect on the lives of the people, that inevitably it was going to become a burning issue as soon as it was possible to deal with it.
If we are going to think in terms of securing a realistic approach to these problems we are entitled to examine the statements that have been made and particularly the statement made by the former Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, that, in relation to prices, if economic forces are pressing prices up or if economic forces are pressing prices down, no Government can do anything about it. Nobody quarrels in many ways with that statement but there is a difference of approach, as has been repeatedly pointed out in this House, and I think it has got to be emphasised again in this debate for the benefit of the present Government.
I took the trouble this evening of going back and reading up what I had said in the course of the debate in February on the Supplies and Services Bill when we were discussing at that time the question of prices. I pointed out—and I think most sensible people in the Labour movement accept this point of view—that nobody expects any Government to be able automatically to exercise complete control over prices and to keep them at a dead level. But what we did emphasise was that when there were economic factors tending to push up prices, to create new and higher price levels, the Government  should accept the public responsibility of having machinery which would make it possible to assure the consuming public that whatever price increases did take place were genuine, were the direct result of those economic factors and were fair and honest in so far as the consumers were concerned, and that this was as important for the present Government as it had been for Fianna Fáil when they were the Government and the same question was posed to them.
A number of suggestions were made in the course of that debate in February as to how the existing machinery for the investigation of prices could be improved. My quarrel with the Government is that despite those suggestions —and many of the suggestions are those that were made by members of the Cabinet when they were in opposition—up to date not one single suggestion has been given effect to; and there is to-day possibly as little confidence in the effectiveness of the price investigating machinery as there was 12 months ago, two years ago or five years ago. Therefore, when we come to deal with the problem of prices and the cost of living it is quite true, as Deputy Childers says, that people's minds are concentrated on prices because prices represent to them an ever-present danger and threat to the security of their existing standards of living.
There is no use in either Fianna Fáil or the present Government or the Labour Party trying to ignore that fact, that we have over a period of years created an atmosphere of mind in this country where if not from day to day certainly from week to week and from month to month there is a general expectation of insecurity, so far as the relationship between prices and incomes is concerned. How and in what way we can resolve that difficulty it is hard to know, but certainly we cannot do it on the basis of continuing a machinery of investigation which has now been in existence since 1948 and which has been repeatedly shown not to be staffed by or composed of men and women with a desire to make a proper investigation but a machinery that is limited, inadequate and operated under tremendous handicaps.
 So far as the present debate is concerned the Opposition has suggested that the present Government is not entitled to the continued confidence of this House. That is the critical issue in the debate. A peculiarity in politics, particularly in relation to membership of this House, is that you are not permitted by force of politics itself to merely take a stand in the middle. If you are going to move you have to move from one side to the other; and the vote of no confidence urged by the Opposition is, in fact, of course, a suggestion on their part to transfer confidence from the present Government to a Government composed of Fianna Fáil. That is the actual issue on which members of the House have to make their decision.
The fact that the debate and the suggested vote of confidence are hinged on to the question of the cost of living is merely a device to enable Fianna Fáil to make its case against the Government. It might well be any other issue, but the cost of living happens to be provided conveniently at the moment. If they want to hinge their vote of confidence on the question of the cost of living, naturally, if the suggestion is that confidence is to be transferred from one Government to its possible successors in the form of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Fáil must of course be prepared to have its own record examined in regard to the cost of living. We have examined it so often in this House that it seems to me futile to go over it again, but it is important to bear in mind that the spokesman of Fianna Fáil in this debate and the mover of the motion, Deputy Lemass, is probably the outstanding exponent of the conviction that in so far as prices are concerned effective control and machinery are just a waste of time and the most sensible way to deal with prices is to allow competition to settle their economic level.
If this statement was made by some less experienced member of this House or by somebody with less knowledge of economic forces in this country one could well understand it, but it is made  by a former Minister who had long experience of building up a system within this country that has, in many ways, effectively stifled competition. Because of the policy agreed upon between all Parties in this House to provide protection for the development of Irish industry we have here a closed circuit in many ways. The great majority of industries either by virtue of import duties or the more direct quota system are insulated completely against the effect of competition from outside so far as a whole host of commodities are concerned, and consumers know that. They know that in relation to many of the commodities manufactured at home they are completely at the mercy of Irish manufacturers if Irish manufacturers want to take advantage of their position.
To the extent that the ordinary consumers are paying for that system of protection and are willing to pay for it in order to develop our industrial economy and provide employment they have got not merely a right but they are entitled to demand of any Government that so long as we provide a system of protection for Irish industry, Irish industry must submit itself to reasonable and proper safeguards and investigation in regard to its final costs. Nobody is suggesting or accusing Irish manufacturers as a whole of being anxious to exploit or take undue advantage of the public, but we are living in an unorganised economic system, in a situation in which each individual manufacturer or group of manufacturers works on its own particular basis and it is quite easy to have a situation developed in which bit by bit prices are forced up while each manufacturer is still convinced that he is charging only a fair price. The end result is that the consumer is mulcted, and we find the process reflected in the balance sheets and the payment of what has been repeatedly referred to here as an outrage and an indefensible procedure, that is the payment of bonus shares out of accumulated reserves without the addition of any actual capital to the industry and thus if not out of unduly high prices certainly out of profits far beyond what is normally justified. It  is because of that peculiar situation here that there must be some form of price investigating machinery apart altogether from the present level of prices.
There is also the factor of which we are going to see more and more, that within industry itself, particularly in distribution, by virtue of understandings between the various groups there is a further limitation and restriction in the free play of competitive forces. These are factors in respect of which the consumers are entitled to protection.
The present Prices Advisory Body, working under great limitations and many disadvantages, and very often having to grope in the dark to try to obtain the essential information on which to base decisions about costs, is at a tremendous disadvantage and yet doing a very good job.
As was mentioned here in February, there are a number of things which not only can be done but should be done to improve that machinery and to try and convince the ordinary consumers that if a particular commodity has to be increased in price the investigation of the application for the increase has been thorough and has been based on expert knowledge and through the full acquisition of all the facts, and that the conclusion arrived at is one that can be stood over. At the moment the consumers are not so convinced and as long as that situation continues there is going to be this difficulty with regard to prices and the cost of living.
I do not want to go over the ground covered in February with regard to the Prices Advisory Body but I would urge the Minister concerned and the Government as a whole to go back over the debates for February and to recall that over a year has passed since the change of Government and that we on this side of the House have got certain responsibilities. It does not matter whether we accept these responsibilities on a political platform or whether they devolve upon us later as members of a political Party but we have these responsibilities and I say that 16 months is too long a time in which to consider what steps should be taken to improve this prices machinery.
 Within the last week there has been a change; there has been a change in the personnel of the body and I, for one, particularly welcome that because I recall that at an earlier period, when the personnel was somewhat different from what it had been up to a week ago, the Prices Advisory Body, because it was composed of persons with very expert knowledge, was able to convince consumers there was a full and proper investigation of price increase applications. Subsequently, that character fell away from the body and in later months there has been an increase in scepticism about it. I hope it will now be possible for the Prices Advisory Body to recover some of the ground it lost in the past 18 months. I hope that the Prices Advisory Body will carry out its work not as a neutral body as between manufacturers and consumers but as a body which is biased on behalf of the consumers who have no protection from any side.
The manufacturers and distributors are expert in their own fields. All the information and experience of trading are behind them to support and encourage them in their particular fields of action. When they come in to make their applications for price increases, they have every advantage on their side, while the consumer is handicapped by all the disadvantages. Because the consumer is the person who will pay the final cost in all cases, I hope that what I said here in February will be considered very seriously by the Government. I hope the position will be achieved when the Prices Advisory Body will not be regarded as a neutral body any more but will be officially instructed to adopt as its basis an open and deliberate attitude of defending and looking after the interests of the consumers. I say the consumers are entitled to this consideration no matter what Government is in office.
In the course of the debate, great play was made by the Opposition in regard to the attitude of the present Government and the Parties supporting it in regard to a reduction in the cost of living. We went over this ground in February and except that it might give Fianna Fáil certain political ammunition it is not going to add  very much to our enlightenment tonight. It is important, however, to try and be clear about our position. I recall speaking here in February and issuing what at that time was a very definite warning. I had already spoken in regard to the question of price control and with an improvement in the machinery dealing with price investigation and I pointed out to the Government that outside the House there was growing uneasiness in regard to the possibility of further increases taking place in the price of essential commodities. I told the Government it was our experience in the trade union movement that unless prompt and effective action were taken the trade union movement and the organised workers would endeavour to solve the problem in their own way.
We have done that fairly successfully and in spite of earlier determined opposition from the employers. But I want to make it very plain, that, in so far as the workers are concerned and the trade union movement is concerned we would prefer, if possible, to secure and hold a stable price level rather than go chasing after prices with wages. We said that to Fianna Fáil and they did not listen to it: we are saying it to the present Government now and hope they will listen to it. There is no gain to be secured by forcing our workers to try and chase prices with wages. They will never catch up on the prices. Certainly, there is no hope of catching up now when Fianna Fáil have given prices a head start of 50 per cent. Effective steps were taken by us in the three years up to 1951 but they were wiped out by Fianna Fáil when they came into office in 1952.
In one of the evening papers to-day a gentleman suggests that in 1952, because there was a Fianna Fáil Government in office, certain trade unions and union leaders did not submit wage claims as they are doing this year. I want to say that that is altogether wrong; we had wage claims in 1952; we have them in 1955 and we shall have them again and again if the workers decide that it is essential to look for higher wages. We are not  going to ask the permission of any Government as long as we are able to do that.
In the Government amendment, which I think is quite a proper one to support as against the motion of Fianna Fáil, there are a number of important matters. Nobody will differ with them because they are basically correct but I wonder if the Government has given sufficiently deep thought to some of the implications. It is correct that we have had a rise in industrial production, that we have had an increase in agricultural production, a drop in unemployment or an increase is the numbers employed. We have had two National Loans floated successfully and generally everything looks fairly stable. But that does not alter the fact that the situation throughout the country is not satisfactory and that for great masses of the people Ireland in 1955 is still not offering a standard of living that can be regarded as human or Christian.
It appears from this amendment of the Government that the Government is taking a reasonable attitude towards the present problem of the standard of living, that they have done their best to try and keep prices down. I personally accept that and I have sufficient knowledge to know that in the important matter of the price of tea they have done something which Fianna Fáil, if in Government, would not even dream of doing. They have held down the price of tea for nearly 12 months. Whether that was good economics or not and whether they should continue to keep down the price of tea by subsidy is not the most important point at the moment. What is important is that it was an indication of their attitude in regard to prices generally. It shows that their intention and their efforts were directed towards keeping down prices and if that failed it was because of factors beyond their control.
We all know there are factors beyond the control of everybody. In this case the Government indicated they had made the attempt and if they failed it was through their powerlessness to control certain factors of necessity outside their control. They  then go on to say that in so far as general conditions in the country are concerned the Government has something for which it can claim credit. There has been a restoration of public confidence. There has been a building up of economic activity both in regard to industry and agriculture; and, generally, over the period of 16 months since the change of Government there has been a change for the better. In so far as prices are concerned the Government undertook to try to keep prices down and, if that was not possible, then their view was, as was stated here earlier this year, that incomes would have to be adjusted to meet that higher price level. They point out in the amendment that the effect of some higher prices has been mitigated because of increased wages and salaries secured by certain sections of the community.
I hope that the Government will not be unduly misled by what has taken place this year. It may be very easy for those who are not intimately acquainted with the trade union movement to think that if there is an increase in prices of 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. within the next three months it will be a simple problem for trade unions to go out and serve wage claims and secure increases in wages to meet rising prices. But it is not that easy. In the beginning of the year when the first wage claims were served the organised employers, and they are highly organised in the national organisation of the Federated Union of Employers, took the line of completely rejecting the viewpoint of the trade unions that any increase whatever in wages was justified. That position was challenged and, in order that members of this House, and particularly members of the Government, should understand what is involved, I want to tell them now that when a wage claim is made it is not a question of putting a penny in a slot machine and taking out an increase of 5/-, 10/- or 15/-. The first increase in this present round that was secured was secured at the sacrifice by men ill-equipped to bear it of wages for seven weeks before they got a very small increase; and the increase they got will require something in the neighbourhood of two years before  they make good the loss they suffered during that seven weeks' strike.
In Cork we had a strike that went on for four months. It will take the men and women who took part in that strike probably three years before they pay off the indebtedness they incurred in winning that increase in wages. Not only have the workers to make heavy sacrifices, but very often in order to secure what the Government may regard as a reasonable and proper increase in wages, because of the kind of economy in which we live, they create widespread economic dislocation in their efforts to secure that to which they are lawfully entitled. When that happens, the Government has got another headache.
I recall during the present year claims for increases in wages being served by comparatively small bodies of workers, in some cases numbering only a couple of dozen. If those claims had not been settled by negotiations and a stoppage of work had taken place it could have happened that, because of the stoppage on the part of a dozen or two dozen workers, in the course of a few weeks, hundreds, and even thousands, of workers would be laid off.
The dispute to which I referred earlier, that in the builders' providers, took place in the early part of the year. In that dispute there were only 300 men directly involved. They were looking for an increase in wages not to meet the rise in the cost of living but to bring their wages up to a comparable level with other workers performing the same type of work. The cost to the country of adjusting the claim of those 300 workers involved the stoppage of 12,000 men in the building trade and the loss of several hundreds of houses here in the City of Dublin, and how many more, I cannot say, throughout the country.
We are not living in an organised society. We are not living under a system where reason is the arbiter as between one group and another in relation to the relative value and worth of claims. Whether we like it or not we are still living in a social system where economic force determines the granting or withholding of  claims. When the Government, by implication, suggests that the way in which to deal with this problem, should future rises in prices occur, is by adjusting wages and salaries, that may seem a very fair and proper approach and one in marked contrast to the attitude of Fianna Fáil, a Party whose attitude, not only in 1940, when they originally imposed the standstill Order on wages, but again in 1947, when they tried to reimpose it, was very bluntly put; when they decided that wages were not going to be increased and they took the necessary powers, then no worker would be permitted to get an increase except by Government permission and any employer, who, out of the Christian charity of his heart, if you like, gave an increase in wages could be brought into court and fined by virtue of that Fianna Fáil Order.
Whatever quarrels we may have with the present Government, that at least is not their attitude. They may make mistakes and fail to do things but at least they do not do the wrong things; and that is what I personally have against Fianna Fáil. I am critical in many ways of the slowness of the present Government in dealing with this problem of price machinery. I am critical of them also, although I am going to support them and renew my confidence in them in this vote, because of their approach to the question of trying to meet the problem of rising prices on the basis of increased wages and salaries.
I am one of those whose responsibility it is to look for increased wages. I do not decide that for myself. The members of my union make the decision and they decide why and how and in what way that decision will be enforced. My job is to serve them and give them the best service possible. But I am equally sensible of the fact that not all workers are organised. In fact in this part of the country there are at least 50 per cent. of the workers not in any trade union at all and they happen to be the workers most urgently in need of organisation because they are working in the small jobs and are more directly subject to  the whims and decisions of their employers without having any adequate protection.
While it may well be that if prices increase in the immediate future these strongly organised workers can and will protect themselves, there are large sections of workers who are physically unable to do that and they will be left facing the problem of higher prices, completely dependent on the goodwill of their employer for any increased income they may get. My experience of employers is that there is very little goodwill in these cases. I recall as late as 1945 meeting a worker who, during the whole period from 1939 when the cost of living had gone up by 70 per cent., was still working for the same wages he had in 1939 because he was not in a position to demand any more.
We are a Christian country but we fail to apply our Christianity in many ways. The Government should have regard to it. While strongly organised groups can look after themselves, many other sections have no organisation, and their economic position is such that they are deprived of the possibilities of adjusting their incomes to a rise in prices.
Mention has been made of those living on fixed incomes. Those living on the proceeds of their investments— as many in this House—are quite able to speak for themselves and are not my particular concern. My concern is for those who have no fixed income, those to whom we will give this special payment of 26/- a year, the old age pensioners, the blind and the disabled. In addition, there are those who have been reduced in number but are still with us, the unemployed.
Mr. J. Larkin: Those who have no income, except what is given by public conscience through the Social Welfare Act or the Public Assistance Act, have no way of adjusting their income to rising prices, except through a decision of the Government. This year we have increased the old age pensions— frankly, not very much—but we have not yet increased the payments made to the sick and the unemployed. Even if the Labour Party is represented in the Government, it must be said that the figure we are asking these unemployed men, these sick men and women, to live on to-day is the figure fixed in 1947. That is not good enough.
Mr. J. Larkin: If the Government is to face the problem of keeping prices down while outside factors are forcing them up, the Government equally must face the problem of these large sections, 300,000 people, who are completely dependent on Government decision. When we press this point, we are asked where the money can be found. I recall that many suggestions were made here as to where money could be got. Reference has been made to the increase in agricultural production. Everyone is glad to see it, whether from the city or the rural areas.
Mr. J. Larkin: That only makes my point clearer. All I know about agriculture will never harm anyone and I am honest enough to admit it; but I am sensible enough to know that agriculture is our basic problem. Part of the problem of the cost of living is  that the factors which tend to press up the index figure are mainly produced in our own country. No one is quarrelling with the farmers getting fair prices.
Mr. J. Larkin: Yes. Somewhere we must find means of increasing production—I do not profess to know the solution—so as to give a proper standard of living for the farmer and the farm labourer and at the same time obtain from the farmer a reasonable contribution to the cost of running the country. We have 300,000 farmers on £10 valuation or less, who are no better off than the badly paid labourer in the city. They should be our first consideration. There are other farmers who could make a contribution like that of big employers in the city, but they escape it. I am not saying we should obtain money by extending the income-tax code to the more wealthy farmer to get money for the unemployed, the sick, the blind and the widows. I suggest that, just as we have within a very small section of the agricultural community a group which is doing very well, we have also on the industrial side a small group that is doing very well. That is the group to which we handed back— thanks to Fianna Fáil, when they repealed the Excess Profits Tax in 1947 —a very large sum of money taken in taxation on profits. Year after year that element of profits has continued to grow in our total national income but we have not taken any taxation off that group.
Within the country we have very sharp differences between the standard of living of the great masses of the people and the standard of this small section. I believe a struggle is going on between the workers and employers, but I am not concerned here with preaching a class struggle. I am concerned about those who have given service to the country and who are trying to live on low wages. There are road workers and farm labourers trying to rear families on £5; there are men in the city, employed by our own Government, trying to do it on £6. At the  same time, we know that another small wealthy group can spend in one night on their own enjoyment as much money as this Government gives to a man to keep a family for a whole week.
Whether we get the money or not is not important but it is important that we deal with the situation, that by our fiscal and taxation policy we adjust the burden to the strength of the back that can bear it. We are not doing that to-day. If we are entering into a period where we will have difficulties regarding prices and if we feel that in spite of price control there will be an upward pressure and that incomes must be adjusted, the Government has as much obligation and probably more to adjust the income of the lowest and poorest section of the community, directly dependent on the goodwill of the Government, and they have the responsibility of obtaining the money to give that relief. That is the Government's problem. I am not Minister for Finance. I have my own ideas as to where I would get the money, but very often when you bring forward these ideas they are knocked down. If the Government takes the view that there is an upward pressure of prices and that those working for wages or salaries are entitled to seek to adjust their incomes to that higher price level —that has been said twice here, in February and in the present debate—it follows that those whose income is dependent on the Government, as Government employees or through the Social Welfare Act or the Public Assistance Act, are entitled to ask that the Government meet its obligations and find the money.
I have never been one of those who are unduly worried about inflation. Very often it is used as a bogeyman to knock down the particular movement of which I am a member. It is suggested that if prices are to go up and if wages are to chase them we will have a situation in which every little upward fluctuation can lead to further developments to secure higher wages. Even though the workers claim the right to seek higher wages, everyone recognises that that can lead to  unsettlement, instability and difficult economic conditions. It should be borne in mind that once a movement is set on foot to increase wages, no one—whether trade union official, employer or union member—can be sure where that movement will stop. Industrial disputes have their own peculiar laws and often take control of the human factor.
If the Government is to try to secure economic stability, if they are to enter the export market and compete abroad, the Government also must be exceptionally careful as to what kind of economic development they envisage in the terms of this amendment. We could have a situation, not desired by workers or trade unionists, in which every rise in wages would try to catch up on prices and not succeed, while the instability would continue month after month and year after year. If that is the situation we have to face, the trade unions will face it and are well able to face it. We are in a position, through our own members, to take care of that. It is all the more incumbent on those who speak for trade unions, to speak also for those not able to take care of themselves—the unorganised and those directly dependent on the Government. The Government should take that to heart and pay particular attention to it.
Before this debate opened, it was announced there would be an increase in the price of tea. I venture to say again, as I said at the outset, that it would be good for this country if certain elements on my right and my left were to combine, so as to let us get a straight line of division in politics between the conservative outlook and the progressive outlook.
Mr. J. Larkin: Many Deputies would have difficulty in making up their minds where to stand. There is a viewpoint on this side of the House that the decision to increase the price of tea is a proper decision, that it is not good economics to keep the price down under existing circumstances by subsidy or overdraft. That decision has  been commended by the spokesmen of Fianna Fáil. It is remarkable how they can agree on certain things. I do not agree with that viewpoint. The view of the Labour Party was that every effort should be made to hold down the prices of essential commodities. No one can say that tea is not an essential commodity. I notice in an evening paper that the Tea Institute has published the result of a survey which discovered that 97 per cent. of the women and 100 per cent. of the men drink tea. Therefore, we are all affected. As part of the regular meal or as a social convention and by our upbringing, tea is as essential as bread, butter or sugar. If we cannot keep down the prices, of essential commodities by control and if economic factors force them up, there is justification for dealing with that problem by subsidies.
We know there is a different viewpoint. I may be in a minority of one —I do not know and do not care—but my view is that what was done last year in holding the price of tea was a good thing and that we should have continued to hold it. Until we can make an advance, not merely relief, to the old age pensioners—and sixpence a week, or 26/- a year, is not very much —we have an obligation to try to hold the price. We spend money on a lot of other things. I recall finding out here, by an answer to a question, that £200,000 was spent in doing up a house for the President of the country. If we can spend that sum on one house for one man, I do not see much wrong in spending more on the old age pensioner.
Mr. J. Larkin: We did not persuade you to give the old age pensioners a half-dollar in 1947. It is remarkable how much people can forget. I want to make it clear that it would be still a wise policy—although the decision is now made—to hold the price for a further period. Granted there was an overdraft, but there have been overdrafts before. I recall an overdraft for Fuel Importers, Limited, of about £6,000,000 and it did not worry anyone,  though it was lying for quite a long time. Where we are in a period of instability, faced also with the problems of tobacco, drink, bread, milk and perhaps butter, I think there is need to try to hold the level for the moment, until the policy of the Government—that of adjusting income to prices—has been carried out.
While large sections of the workers have had increases, it is well to remember that nearly half of those dependent on wages and salaries have not yet had an increase. Those of us who represent Government employees are still waiting for the increase. I only hope we do not have to wait until next April. There was every justification for continuing the policy, for maintaining stability in tea prices. When the people had secured relief, by the play about of economic forces, through increased salaries, and when we had made provision for those dependent on the Government for wages or under the social system, we could have reviewed the price of tea. I think it was not a good decision, but it is done now and it is too late to do anything about it. I think that if I have to choose between this side of the House and Fianna Fáil they have not learned their lesson and I will still stay on this side of the House.
An Ceann Comhairle: It has been intimated to the Chair that it is intended to close this debate to-night before 10.30 and that the division be taken not later than 10.15 p.m. It has been agreed that the Minister for Finance will speak at 9 o'clock and the debate be closed by a member of the Opposition, who would begin to speak at 9.30 p.m. In that case, the Chair must call on the Minister for Finance now. Seemingly there is general agreement.
Mr. Sweetman: I must confess that, speaking purely from the Party point of view, I welcome this debate and the motion put down by Deputy Lemass. If this debate has shown one thing beyond anything else, it has shown quite clearly that the Fianna Fáil Party have  not yet understood what shook them in 1954.
Deputy MacEntee, when he was speaking here yesterday, referred to a person as being punch-drunk. It is clear beyond question that the Fianna Fáil Party are still punch-drunk from their resounding defeat at the polls in May of last year. This debate, as initiated by Deputy Lemass, has exposed beyond question the shallowness and the political dishonesty of the Fianna Fáil Party. It has exposed beyond question the manner in which they are prepared to endeavour to take Party advantage regardless of any damage that may be done to the national structure.
It has shown, too, the tremendous cleavage that there is between the expressions of opinion on their side of the House by the individual Front Bench leaders in the Opposition and between their views as expressed now and during the 19 years in which they were in office.
We had a suggestion to-night by Deputy Childers that he would have wished that this debate should have been channelled along the line of the most important problem of productivity. Who was it channelled this debate in the way in which it was channelled? Nobody but his own leader, Deputy Lemass. Deputy Lemass, when he was speaking, endeavoured to claim that the increases in the wage structure in 1952 had been, in fact, absorbed by productivity in industry. Of course, that is entirely untrue as can easily be seen from an examination of the statistics.
Those increases were absorbed into the price structure—I am speaking now of the year 1953, as he spoke— because in that year there was a substantial change in the terms of trade in favour of this country. It had no more to do with productivity or with the then Government than had the man in the moon.
In 1953, import prices dropped from 334 to 314 points or 20 points to the base 1938. In other words, what we had to pay for the things we brought in in 1953, dropped by no less than 6 per  cent. and it was that 6 per cent. decrease in import prices that was responsible for the position in that year and it had nothing to do with the suggestion that was made by Deputy Lemass. Export prices, in the same year, moved in the reverse direction, so that we had then, a total improvement of some 7 per cent.
In that circumstance it was quite easy for Deputy Lemass to show a stable position. In 1954, there was a change in that position. In 1954, there was a disimprovement in the terms of trade of some 2½ per cent. comprised of a rise in import prices of 1 per cent. and a fall of 1.6 per cent. in export prices. It was because there was that change in import prices on the one hand and export prices on the other hand that we got the difference that arose during the course of last year.
I have said again and again since I had the honour of being made Minister for Finance that the solution for these problems was to produce more and to produce it more efficiently. That, of course, is the same as referring to productivity. But, the trouble has been that during the whole of the 19 years of Fianna Fáil there was, as Deputy Childers admitted here to-night, no adequate attention whatsoever paid to productivity.
But, even assume that we do pay attention to productivity now, I want to make this quite clear, that I differ in my concept of the manner in which gains from productivity should be distributed from the concept that there is on the other side of the House. I believe that by producing more and by producing more efficiently we will be able to share the increased productivity and the increased gains that there will be nationally in, so to speak, three parts: that there will be an increase for the employer, that there will be an increase for the worker and that there will be an increase for the consumer; and that it is fair and proper that any increase that there can be should be split and divided in that way rather than that it should be retained, as is the belief of the Opposition, by one section alone.
We want to make sure that whatever is done in that respect—and it  must be done if we are to increase our standard of living—will be fairly shared between all sections of the community. That is one of the basic points on which we on this side of the House differ from the Opposition.
Mr. Sweetman: It is perfectly clear, for example, from the file that the Tánaiste, Deputy Norton, produced here yesterday. It is clearly evidenced on that file and clearly evidenced from their whole policy from 1951 to 1954. It is evidenced by the fact that real earnings dropped from 1951 to 1954 in industry, to which I will refer in a moment.
Mr. Sweetman: The Deputy would be better advised to study the figures when he gets the opportunity because he will find that his figures are wrong, as usual, as he is usually wrong about certain other figures about which he is prepared occasionally to gamble.
Mr. Sweetman: One of the things that we must do is to make sure, not merely in industry but in agriculture, that we produce more and produce it more efficiently. I saw in the Sunday Press of last Sunday a statement by Deputy Walsh that each year during the three years of the previous Government's term of office, the volume of agricultural output had increased. That is just not true. The fact is that in 1953, under his aegis, the volume of agricultural net output was slightly down over the previous year. It recovered and went up in 1954, during part of which year only he was in charge of agriculture. We have now ensured that we have got a better basis for increased agricultural production, a balanced agriculture.
We have made it clear time and again on this side of the House that we  will contribute our quota as a Government towards increased agricultural production by expanded drainage operations, by ensuring that the land project will be properly operated and that it will be enabed in that way to extend the arable area of our land quite substantially.
Let us never forget that every additional acre of land that is brought into production is a contribution to increased wealth for the community just as any factory that is set up on a sound basis is such a contribution. We are sometimes led to believe that it is only the institution of a factory that is an increase in our national wealth. Every acre of land that can be brought into production under the land project or in any other way is equally, and perhaps more so because it is on a sounder basis, a real improvement in our economy. So far as this Government is concerned, the members of the House can rest adequately assured that we intend to pursue a policy that will further extend that as the years go on.
We must also make sure in respect of agriculture that we take advantage of every modern technique that is available. This Government has shown by its concern for the development of soil research and the promulgation of its schemes for the eradication of bovine T.B. that we are prepared to assist in more efficient production.
Turning from agriculture for a moment to the industrial side, we find again the same thing, that the volume of industrial production rose in 1954 from 185.8 to 189.4 to the base index of 1936. The last complete year is 1954 but, in respect of this current year, 1955, we have the figures available to us for the first two quarters. It is the normal pattern that the volume of industrial production falls in the first two quarters of any year compared to the last quarter of the preceding year because it has been the pattern that the December quarter has always the greatest seasonal increase. What is the position this year In 1954, when Fianna Fáil were in power, the volume of industrial production fell in the first quarter of that year 18 points below that of the previous quarter. This year,  that 18 points was cut to 12—an improvement of almost one-third. We have, in fact, an all-time high figure in the March, 1955, quarter for industrial production. Again, in the June quarter, we have exactly the same —a record figure for industrial production of 198.5, as measured by the index. It is, in fact, four points in excess of the December figure though, as I have said, December is normally the seasonal quarter in which production is at its highest.
I could give many examples of the increases there have been in individual industries ranging from an increase of 51.6 per cent. in malting down to an increase of 12.6 per cent. in paper-making and including fertilisers, woollen and worsted goods, engineering and implements, sugar confectionery, and so forth. I only mention that to make it clear that, in so far as the statements are set out in the amendment which has been tabled by the Taoiseach and his colleagues, there is sound justification for the claim that is fairly made there.
Let us pass from agricultural and industrial production to the position as it is in respect of earnings, real industrial earnings. I would ask Deputy Briscoe particularly to look this up as he does not accept it. Real industrial earnings fell by 1 per cent. from June, 1951, to June, 1954. That means that, based on earnings in industry, in the volume of goods that these earnings could buy during those three years of Government by that Party over there, there was a reduction, not an increase, in the purchasing power that they had. What is the position to-day? Take the period June, 1954 to June, 1955 and compare it with the previous three years when it fell by 1 per cent. under Fianna Fáil. It has risen by 2.7 per cent. in the year in which we were in office.
If one considers the position even further and takes earnings as real earnings—which is, of course, the volume of earnings over the consumer price index—we will find there has been an increase of the size I have mentioned. That has not taken account  of the substantial increase in earnings there has been in certain industries since last June, the last figure which is available to us when we are discussing this matter this evening.
We have heard mentioned in recent times by Deputy Lemass a policy for full employment. Deputy Lemass went to Clery's the other day and delivered. himself of a pronunciamento to that effect. He had 19 years in Government and he did not think it worth dealing with then. Is it not, to say the least of it, somewhat whimsical that the Deputy should now be delivering such statements when he is out of office when the fact is that during his last term of office it was not a question of more employment but of less employment? In 1951 when he and Deputy MacEntee came over to this side of the House there were some 226,000 people employed in all industry and services. In 1952, the next year, what do we find? Up to that, the number had been increasing steadily year by year. But the next year, what did we find? We found not 226,000, not the natural rate of increase that ought to have taken place as a result of the policies that had been in operation before they took up office, but, in fact, a reduction of 5,000 in the number so employed. We had to wait until the next year before the ground lost in 1952 was made up in 1953. Even then, the increase was far less than the rate of increase there was before they came over to this side of the House.
I think the Taoiseach mentioned earlier to-night that in manufacturing industries it is clear in the first two quarters of this year that more were employed than ever before and that our employment in such industries was expanding though not expanding perhaps as much as the members of this House would like, but at least in the present period we can show a better record than Fianna Fáil could show for the period 1951 to 1954.
Let me turn from employment for a second to unemployment and see the record of this Party because, as Deputy Larkin has said, this vote means that one is voting as to whether this Government will remain in office or  whether Fianna Fáil will be put back in office. Therefore, it is germane and relevant that we should look at their record in these things before judging the issue which is before us. What is the position in regard to unemployment? In June, 1951, when they came from that side of the House across to here, there were 47,615 people registered as unemployed. In June, 1954, what was the position? That number had risen to 64,150. Let me say, because I want to be perfectly objective and fair, that probably of that number—according to the best estimates I can get—5,000 represented the additional number that would have come on by reason of the Social Welfare Act. Therefore, it would be a case, comparing like with like, of a figure of 47,000 against not 64,000 but against 59,000: 12,000 more persons registered as unemployed from the beginning to the end of their term of office. Of course, in the interval, as we all know, the number that were unemployed unfortunately rose very substantially in 1952 and 1953. That is their record in respect of unemployment. One can turn from that to the position as it has been while we have been on this side of the House in the past 15 months. We can show an increase in employment, quarter by quarter, and a decrease in unemployment, quarter by quarter, and month by month, compared to last year.
One of the main things on which the Opposition would wish this debate to turn is the question of prices. They have risen slightly here: we would be the last to suggest they have not but, in fact, they have risen less here than in some other places. Here, between May, 1954, and August, 1955, the consumer price index has risen by four points from 124 to 128. Across the water in Britain, from May, 1954, to September, 1955—they make out a figure for September—it has increased not by four points but by nine points, from 141 to 150. That means that our increase here was 3.2 per cent. and the British increase was 6.4 per cent., or exactly double the increase there was in this country.
We often compare our economy with that of Denmark. Take the figures in regard to prices for the second quarter  of 1955 compared to the second quarter of 1954. We find that in Denmark the increase was 4.3 per cent. as against 2.5 per cent. here. I do not want to suggest by these figures that the Government have not been concerned about any rises here. We have, of course, but it is only right that these figures should be quoted, so that we may see that what has occurred here, has occurred as a result of world trends and is a world pattern rather than as a result of direct internal action, such as was referred to earlier here this evening in respect of the period before we took office. Similarly, as there has been less increase here as compared with the increase in the British general consumer price index, so also although there has been an increase in food prices the increase in Britain is very substantially greater than ours.
Let us consider in the few minutes I have available to me what are the basic factors that affect prices. There are, perhaps, four, of which the first is the price of the raw materials. I have already referred to that. Raw materials, in so far as they are imported, are increasing from a world point of view and have been increasing since just before the previous Government left office. We, on our part, clearly cannot control and cannot affect in any way the price that may be paid to the Indian for gathering the tea in India, or the cost of production, or what price may be paid in Virginia for the tobacco that comes here. In so far as raw-materials are brought in from outside the country, it is quite clear, and has always been made quite clear by the people on this side, that this country is quite powerless to deal with these prices where they occur abroad.
The second thing that would affect prices is the labour cost, wages and the labour content. I have already made it clear that, so far as we are concerned, we believe that we must get greater efficiency, must get more modern techniques, must harness science and invention to get better results and when these better results are obtained, labour, as one of the partners in industry, has its full right to get its full share of the increased productivity, just as the employer and  the consumer have their right to their share.
The third factor in regard to prices is that on which Deputy Larkin touched for a few minutes. It is true, as he said, that, because of the necessity to build up new industries, we have accepted here a tariff-quota system, a system of protection to encourage new industries, and it is true that the effect of that is that they are sheltered from competition. We must make certain that, in taking these very right and very proper steps to build up new industries, we do not, by reason of a tariff-quota system, allow stagnation to develop. We must accept that, where a small market is involved, there may be perhaps higher costs. We can overcome them by ensuring that the overheads are spread more effectively by competitive export. We must ensure that there is an anxiety to give what the overseas customer may require in respect of that export, and, by so doing, we will be enabled to make sure that we take full advantage of our productive capacity.
It was necessary—it is necessary— that there should be these steps for the development and protection of new industries, but it is absolutely essential that it should be recognised as well that such shelter cannot possibly be allowed to go to the point of stagnation, and there must be a real effort by those who are concerned that this element, which is a vital element in the cost of living—it is never sufficiently recognised that tariffs and quotas are a vital element in the cost of living-will not be used merely in respect of home market production, but will be utilised as a basis from which to extend out for export.
The fourth element in prices is, of course, taxation. It has a direct effect and an indirect effect. The direct effect is in the incentive or non-incentive field. For example, the Government, at my suggestion, recently made it clear that it was prepared to utilise an incentive in respect of mining taxaation. Some people have sometimes suggested that, in order to provide a better incentive, we should substitute, in certain respects, a purchase tax. We  must remember in respect of that that a purchase tax on luxuries would produce very little compared with the amount involved and a purchase tax on other things would have the effect of increasing the cost of living very much further again.
We must ensure that, while the appropriate amount in respect of taxation is obtained for the purpose of carrying on the essential services of government, there is, at the same time, an adequate incentive to save and to invest in industrial development. All these have an interlocking effect. There would, of course, be another way of influencing prices, a way to which Deputy Larkin also referred, that is to say, that prices to the consumer can be affected by subsidy. So far as I am concerned, I believe there are times at which subsidies may be and are desirable, and there are other times at which subsidisation is not desirable. I think that all of us who study the present economic trends will agree that these trends, as they disclose themselves now, in October, 1955, would make increased subsidisation undesirable. It was because we felt that way in relation to these trends that we did not retain any element of subsidisation in regard to tea.
Deputy MacEntee, in the beginning of his speech, made certain references which were rather like the references he made in July, 1951. At that time, he had just gone into office, and, regardless of the national interest, for pure Party political benefit, he proceeded to decry the economy of this country, and the effect of that decrying at that time would have been to ensure that employment would dry up and unemployment would increase. Yesterday, he tried to decry the policy, which is not merely the policy of this Government but the policy of this country, of increased savings in investment for greater production, greater capital production, in both the public and the private sectors.
He said that this Government stood for a policy of inflation. I want to brand that statement as an untruth. I want to make it perfectly clear that, so far as we in this Government are concerned, we are going to do our utmost to ensure that any inflation  there may be abroad in the world will not be imported by anybody else into this country. I want to make it perfectly clear that, so far as we are concerned—whether, as Deputy Childers said, I was saying the same thing as any other statesman was saying is entirely immaterial—we are going to choose in our own judgment and in our own time the appropriate measures to be adopted for the Irish economy, and only for the Irish economy. If Mr. Butler is dealing with the economic affairs of Britain, I would be foolish, and we would all be foolish, to think he was going to deal with those affairs, taking into consideration the economy of this country. He is dealing with the economy of his own country. Similarly, when we deal with our economy here and take monetary measures, we will decide them in our circumstances and not merely tag on to the tail of somebody else.
Last January and February we took a new step. We suggested that at that time the circumstances of this country did not warrant that there should be an increase in interest rates. I never said then, I never felt then and I do not feel now and I am not going to say now that we decided that interest rates should be pegged down for all time. We did not. What we did say, and I want to repeat it today, is that when we decide it is desirable to raise on the one hand and to reduce on the other or to recommend an increase or a decrease in interest rates we will do it because, by so doing, we have judged that the position of the Irish economy requires it and it will not be merely automatic because it has been done in any other country.
The value of and the necessity for these things is equally shown in today's issue of Pravda, the Irish Press. Mr. Butler yesterday outlined policies that he thought were desirable for Britain across the water. It would be grossly impertinent for me to comment on whether they were desirable or not. The important thing is that he thought they were suitable and introduced them for Britain. We pick up to-day's Irish Press and one of the things we find featured there are statements from M.P.s, Labour representatives, and Chamber of Commerce  representatives in the Six Counties that the policy that is being adumbrated may be a good policy for Britain but is a very bad policy for the Six Counties.
In exactly the same way we proposed in the Spring of this year to judge our policy by our own standards and not by the standards of anywhere else. It is half-past nine and Deputy Aiken is to be let in. I had hoped to be able to deal with a few other things, particularly a speech by Deputy MacEntee that this Government stood for inflation. In that regard, in all the public speeches of any public man during the past 15 months there has been one speech and one speech alone which preached inflation and praised it to a degree that Deputy MacEntee, when he was in Government, thought was alarming, and which I personally believe, if it meant anything, must ultimately mean recourse to the printing press and that is the speech by Deputy Lemass in Clery's Restaurant a couple of weeks ago. It was not I who made that statement. It was Deputy Lemass as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Let us be quite clear where we stand. We in this Government propose to pursue quietly and firmly our set purpose taking action whenever we consider it necessary to take it in the public interest and taking it firmly, perhaps far more firmly than our opponents because we have a broader democratic base. We refuse to be stampeded by the Fianna Fáil Party and by the Irish Press. We are determined to keep to the middle of the road realising that by so doing we can best assist towards achieving a higher and more efficient agricultural and industrial production which must be the basis of any improvement in the standard of living of our people.
Mr. Aiken: It is rather interesting to note that the only hope the Minister for Finance held out for the improvement of this country was to give income-tax concessions to foreigners. As regards the rest, they can go fish.
 The Taoiseach said that, when Deputy Lemass said the Coalition Parties in the Dáil owed their seats to the promises they made to reduce prices during the last election, it was a lie and a falsehood. In order to get that across and get a clap from the back benchers who supported him he likened Deputy Lemass to Hitler and referred to him as the late unlamented Hitler. One would never believe that, when the Taoiseach was Deputy Costello, he was loud in his praise of the same gentleman and that he said that as the Black Shirts had won in Italy and the Brown Shirts in Germany so the Blue Shirts would win out here.
Mr. Aiken: When the Taoiseach was speaking in the last general election he was not speaking as the leader of the Fine Gael Party. His leader, Deputy Mulcahy, the leader of the Fine Gael Party, spoke and he made specific promises. Deputy MacEoin spoke and he made specific promises. However, the Taoiseach, as Deputy Costello, made promises by the score by innuendo backing up all the specific promises that were made by Fine Gael, Labour and Clann na Poblachta. The only one however, as far as I can see, the only specific promise he made—the one he broke quickest—was the one when he said that he would keep the price of wheat at the Fianna Fáil price for five years and that went by the board within a couple of months. He made that promise in very specific language over the radio a night or two before the poll. His breach of that promise left the farmers who grow wheat in a worse off position to meet the cost of living that has occurred since to the tune, if the figures of the Minister for Agriculture are correct, of £1,825,000 in wheat alone not to talk of all they have to pay by way of increases in regard to pollard and all the rest.
Let us take the specific promises— promises not by way of innuendo or in the clever lawyer way of the Taoiseach during the election. There was a Fine Gael advertisement, and the Taoiseach was a member of Fine Gael. There was a Fine Gael leaflet which was put in under every door all over the country in many forms. You all remember it, promising to reduce the 1954 prices back to the 1951 prices. There were advertisements all over the country to throw higher taxes and higher prices overboard.
You had the Labour Party outbidding Fine Gael in what would be done if they got the power to control the next Government. You had Deputies in the Labour Party going as far as Deputy Dunne, and Deputy Dunne got Deputy Tully elected down in Navan by this speech: “Before Labour would participate in any Government with any Party or group of Parties they would insist that the prices of bread, butter, tea, sugar, cigarettes, tobacco and the workers' pint must be reduced, and reduced immediately. Unless they got agreement on that point they would not take part in the formatiton of a Government.”
Mr. Aiken: The Fine Gael advertisement in Carlow-Kilkenny, where Deputy Crotty, Parliamentary Secretary and Mr. Fielding and Deputy Hughes were candidates, said: “If you want a reduction in the high cost of living vote Fine Gael.” It did not say: “If you want a 2/- increase in the price of tea vote Fine Gael,” but: “If you want tea and the other commodities reduced, vote Fine Gael.”
Deputy Mulcahy in his election broadcast, where he had an opportunity of speaking to every voter in the country, not to a few at the crossroads, made this specific promise: “The people must replace the present Government by one which will set itself vigorously to reducing the cost of living and taxation.” He did not ask  them to vote for a Government that would increase the price of tea, of transport and, as Deputy Kyne pointed out, was going to increase all those other commodities.
Deputy Norton, who was thrown in to introduce this Budget, because it is a Budget, on the same day as the British Budget was introduced—they do not call it a Budget but in fact it is a Budget—said in his broadcast talk that “prices were altogether too high and must be reduced by subsidies if necessary”. He did not say in that broadcast talk: “Tea is high and I will put it 2/- higher.” He did not say that it was impossible for the Government to collect the £3,500,000 that would be necessary to keep tea at the Fianna Fáil prices but he said that prices must be reduced by subsidies if necessary. We all know what the same Deputy Norton, as he then was, said to the publicans in the special letter he sent to them in Kildare. He said: “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’. In view of the serious effect of increasing taxation on cigarettes, beer and spirits which no doubt has had an injurious effect on your trade, I trust you will find it possible to give me your No. 1 vote in the forthcoming election and to get your relatives and friends to do likewise.”
Mr. Aiken: According to the reports we see it is not a decrease in cigarettes and tobacco and beer and whiskey that is coming but the reverse, just as Deputy Kyne indicated the other day that there was going to be an increase in the price of bread.
The principal Labour Party handbill issued around the country said: “Price increases—Look at the Fianna Fáil record. Fianna Fáil has deliberately increased these prices at the behest of the Central Bank.” Is it at the behest of the Central Bank that the price of tea is being put up by 2/-, that sausages have gone up, that  cigarettes, beer, tobacco and whiskey and bread are going to go up?
The Taoiseach said that it was a lie to say that anybody in the Coalition groups had promised a reduction in taxation or had promised to reduce prices. The Labour Party in their advertisement in the Irish Times on the 8th May, 1954, said under the heading “Labour answers the challenge”—“The Labour Party is pledged to reduce prices. Give Labour the power to fulfil its pledge.” Labour was given the power and ran away from the pledge.
Deputy Keyes, now a Minister, at Abbeyfeale, County Limerick, made this specific promise, although the Taoiseach said it was a lie to say that anybody made a promise: “The main task of the Irish Labour Party was to fight for the immediate reduction of food prices and the restoration of subsidies for that purpose.” The Labour Party has spent the last two days defending the increases in prices and denying that they can be reduced effectively through subsidies.
Mr. Aiken: Deputy Norton, who has been justifying these increases in prices and reducing the extent of subsidies, said at Naas on the 15th May that Fianna Fáil Deputies, by voting for the increased prices of tea, bread, butter, sugar and flour and higher taxes on cigarettes, beer and tobacco, had been active supporters in the attack on the people's standard of life. Who are the active supporters in the attack on the consumers' standard of life to-day? Is it a lie to say that there was a promise there that they would vote for the reduction of taxes and for the reduction of prices? Is it a lie to say that Deputy Corish did similarly promise to vote for the reduction when according to the Independent on the 30th April he said that 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 object”?
 The Labour Party was very definitely committed to that, yet the Taoiseach said it was not and that it was a lie to say that it was, and compared anybody to Hitler and Goebbels if he said that Deputy Corish was so committed. Again, at Wexford the present Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Corish, said on the 25th March: “Prices must be reduced. Essential foods must, if necessary, be subsidised to bring about this reduction.” To-day he justifies no subsidy for tea and the increase in the price of tea and other commodities. Again, he said in his broadcast talk when he was speaking to all the voters in the country on the 30th April: “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. The Labour Party was very definitely committed to that.”
The Tánaiste, Deputy Norton, down at Kildare on the 5th May, said that “if the Labour Party participated in an inter-Party Government it would be a guarantee to the people that the policy of that Government would be directed towards a reduction in prices”. We heard him for two hours yesterday justifying the direction of the policy of the Government to the increase in prices and a refusal to apply subsidies.
Deputy Costello was not a principal member of Fine Gael at the last election or the election before that. He was only brought in because they could not agree on having the Leader of the Fine Gael Party become Taoiseach. But what did two other of the principal leaders of Fine Gael, Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Dillon, say? Speaking in Drogheda on the 22nd February, 1954, Deputy McGilligan said: “We say, as we said in 1947, that prices are too high and we still say that we can cut them down.” Did they cut them down? Actually they did the very reverse. Is that honest politics?
Mr. Aiken: Is it a lie to say now that these Deputies owe their seats in the Dáil to this campaign of falsehood —to these false promises? Deputy  Blowick now Minister for Lands, called on the farmers “to support their own Party, Clann na Talmhan, which would reduce the cost of living.” The only thing they reduced was the cost of wheat to the Government. They reduced its price to the farmers. Speaking at Dolphin's Barn Deputy James Larkin had this to say:—
“Prices are the outstanding issue in the elections, as far as the ordinary voters, and particularly the women are concerned. This has been the view of the Labour Party since the beginning of the campaign ...if necessary, subsidies must be used to make basic foods cheaper.”
“Do you want relief from high taxation, high rates and the high cost of living? Do you want to live and spend your money in your own way? If so, change the Government by voting for the Fine Gael candidates in the order of your choice.”
“The Labour Party would neither associate with nor take part in any Government that would not so amend the position so as to make bread, butter, tea, sugar and other essential foodstuffs again available to the people at prices which they could afford. The Labour Party is openly pledged to that policy.”
“The people welcome this election to effect the change of Government. They want to get some relief from the huge load of taxation that is pressing heavily upon them. The people want the cost of living reduced, not by the miserable halfpenny in the loaf conceded by Mr. MacEntee in his Budget but by a substantial reduction in all essential table necessaries. This can be done by a new and competent Administration, but never by the present set of  out-moded, incompetent Ministers in charge of this country.”
When they presented this October Budget they did not give the miserable halfpenny in the loaf which cost £900,000. They gave £250,000 to reduce the impact of the increased price of tea to a few people throughout the country. Deputy MacEntee in 1952 gave £3.6 million towards reducing the impact of cutting subsidies. Now they give £250,000. Deputy Corish, now Minister for Social Welfare, said this in his broadcast speech, as reported in the Irish Independent:—
“For that reason the first point in the election programme of the Labour Party is the reduction of food prices and the use of subsidies on essential articles of food to achieve this object. Labour is very definitely committed to that.”
“She was well aware of the petty heartbreaking poverties being suffered in many homes because of the unfair and unreasonable high cost of essential foodstuffs. The Labour Party was pledged to reduce food and to enforce strict price control”
That was how her speech was reported in the Irish Independent on the 4th April, 1954. Writing in April, 1954, to the newspaper, Labour, issued by the Dublin Regional Council of the Labour Party, she made this statement:—
“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.”
Mr. Aiken: Let us now come to this October Budget. When this Government came in it was, as I have shown, pledged to reduce prices but not only has it not succeeded in that but prices have risen for hundreds of commodities since the Government came into power. Let us take a look at a few of the principal ones. The price of bread is, according to Deputy Kyne, about to go up. We do not know by how much but if it goes up by a farthing in the loaf it will cost the consumers £450,000. When Deputy MacEntee gave a halfpenny to keep the price of the loaf down it cost £900,000 so if bread is going up to the consumer by a farthing it would take £450,000 to pay for the rise. The 2/- rise in the price of tea will cost the consumers £3,500,000. We do not know yet how much will go to pay the overdraft which has been carried for the past few months and how much will go to the banks to pay the interest on that overdraft.
In the last Budget a new tax was imposed on flour—flour for biscuits and buns. That means £500,000. The E.S.B. subsidy was wiped out to the extent of £84,000 which the consumers will have to pay. The C.I.E. increased bus fares are going to cost the people who use buses £230,000. Had Fianna Fáil attempted to do that and had they put no additional tax on cars or petrol it would very quickly have been said that we wanted to make the working man who had to use the bus, because he could not afford a car, pay. If beer goes up as Deputy Kyne indicated, by a penny or so it would cost the consumer £2,000,000. If spirits go up it will cost the consumer £1,000,000. If cigarettes go up by a penny on the 20- packet it will cost another £1,000,000. So that this October Budget will cost the people about £8,750,000.
Mr. Aiken: You took about £1,800,000 from the farmers when you decreased the price of wheat. I am not talking at all about the fact that beef which now costs 16/- a cwt. less in the market than it did in June has shown no decrease in price to the consumer.
Mr. Aiken: I should like to know more about this mystery of the tea. I want to find out why it is that there was this long delay about announcing the price of tea. A Government which was doing its business with any reasonable coherence would have announced to the people what the intention was and would have given a fair warning in the middle of September as to what the price of tea would be on the 1st October. That is what a normal Government would have done; the wholesalers, and the retailers, should have been given reasonable warning so that the retailers would be in a position to mark the price of tea on the 1st October, but the wholesalers, the retailers and the consumers were kept in the dark as to what the Government was about to do. There was a speech by the Tánaiste about a 1/4 rise in the price of tea. Then this announcement comes about the 2/-  increase and maybe a higher increase. All that comes not in the middle of September as it should, but now. As I have said, had it come in the middle of September, all parties concerned in the trade could have made their arrangements. That is not business in any form.
I should like to know now who is going to bear the loss of 2/- increase in the price of tea retrospective to the 1st October. How is the wholesaler going to be compensated. What is the position as regards tea importers in connection with this loss? Who is going to stand the loss or is it fair or proper that anybody should be asked to find a solution for this blunder— this serious blunder made by the Government. Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, is always talking about Government non-interference in business. But the has interfered in business in the worst possible manner. The Government has shown here that they have been more incompetent than the most incompetent businessman could be. Why was it that the price of tea was not announced until this late hour? We have asked the Tánaiste how much of this 2/- would go towards paying the bank overdraft, how much of it would go to paying the interest on the overdraft.
How much of it will be paid to the Indians? How much of it will be in redemption of the overdraft? How much of it will represent interest on the overdraft? How much of it will represent additional profits by the various interests concerned? Deputy J. Larkin, speaking recently, was very much in favour of a tea subsidy. He said there was a stronger argument for a tea subsidy than for any commodity produced at home.
Mr. Aiken: I do not know what has happened to Deputy Larkin; even though he thought there was a stronger argument for a tea subsidy than for any other commodity produced at home he is now going to vote for an increase of 2/- on the pound of tea. During the time the Coalition Government was  out of office—he spoke on the 20th of April, 1952—he said:—
“We may know better”—but it does not seen now that they do know better. Fine Gael have used their opportunities here in the open light of day. How they have worked in the dark, we do not know, and Deputy Larkin did not inform us.
There was a lot of talk about the 1952 Budget. The 1952 Budget has at least this virtue; when there was a decrease in subsidies a sum of £3.6 million was given to beneficiaries under the various social services to relieve their hardship. To-day, when the cost of tea is going up by 2/- on the lb., £250,000 will be handed back; and it will not be handed back currently. It will be handed back next Christmas, as a Christmas box I suppose. How many of the 160,000 old age pensioners will be in their graves before Christmas? Is it the intention to send their Christmas box after them?
Mr. Aiken: This £250,000 will go to a very limited section and it excludes a section which is in a worse position than many others, namely, the people in receipt of home assistance. It excludes any benefit going to the ordinary working man in the position that he cannot enforce an increase in wages. It excludes any benefit to the small pensioner.
Mr. Aiken: It excludes the farmer. Any benefit is denied to the farmer for his wheat and other commodities, but the farmer will have to pay not only the increase of 2/- on the lb. of tea but also the £250,000. If we had introduced this particular proposal we would have been accused by the  Coalition groups of having introduced it under the dictation of the Central Bank or the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Butler. Mr. Butler introduced a Budget in Britain on the same day on which this particular business was introduced here. At least, when he was driving up prices, he did put something on motor cars, something on the people he thought could best afford it. Here that has not been the case. If we had done this it would have been said, particularly if a Minister of ours had been over in England as the Tánaiste was over in England recently, that this was fixed in London. That was said about Deputy MacEntee and his 1952 Budget. I am perfectly certain that Deputies in the Coalition will vote their confidence in the Government to-night.
Mr. Aiken: They know they have the weight of votes here. They have bought one half and silenced the other, and every supporter of the Coalition will go into the Division Lobby tamely following at the Coalition's heels. But, if they have bought one-half of the Coalition group and intimidated the other, in the daylight and in the dark, they have not intimidated the ordinary Irish people; and the Irish people will get their own back when a general election comes.
Mr. Aiken: At column 548 of Volume 131 of the Official Report, Deputy McGilligan said: “We were all living too well according to the Central Bank and the Minister for Finance”—the Minister for Finance at the time was Deputy MacEntee—“We were all living too well according to every Deputy who supported that Budget.” Can that  be said to-night? Is it because we are living too well that the cost of tea is being put up, that transport is being put up on those who take buses and so on with the cost of beer, cigarettes and whiskey and bread?
Mr. Aiken: Is it because we are living too well, as Deputy McGilligan said? Will every Deputy who walks through the Division Lobby for the Government to-night be voting for that proposition, that the people are living too well and therefore they must pay an extra 2/- on tea?
“To say that the market has been flabbergasted by Mr. MacEntee's Budget is an understatement. The food price increases were regarded as disastrous in that they must result in a spate of wage increase demands. Production costs will then soar and selling prices with them. Where the tax ‘lightning’ has struck in expected places it has struck with a vicious fury not envisaged by even the most pessimistic.”
The most that anyone thought for tea would be an addition of 1/4, but it  struck at 2/- That was certainly a fury that no one could envisage. The Independent had no leading article against this particular increase, but had one on Mr. Butler's budget. They did not want to write directly about the present one here but alluded to the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and said that he seemed “to have got out of his difficulties without any great sacrifice of his economic policy or principles.” That might be said about Mr. Butler but could not be said about the Labour Party and those Parties which combine here to form a Government, who put this increase on tea and who combine to force it through the House before the people know what is going to happen to beer, tobacco, bread and the other commodities. We know that once they confirm the Government by this vote on the flimsy excuse they have offered, these other things are going to follow. We know they are going to vote that way and all we can say is that we hope that when the people get an opportunity of listening to their promises again, the people will be wise enough to say: “You fooled us once, but never again.”
Blaney, Neil T.
Burke, Patrick J.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Childers, Eriskine H.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Cotter, Edward. Lahiffe, Robert.
Moher, John W.
|Crowley, Honor M.
Davern, Michael J.
de Valera, Eamon.
de Valera, Vivion.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Killilea, Mark. Mooney, Patrick.
Ryan, Mary B.
|Barrett, Stephen D.
Burke, James J.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Anthony C.
Finlay, Thomas A.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Glynn, Brendan M.
Hession, James M.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Lindsay, Patrick J.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Palmer, Patrick W.
Pattison, James P.
Sheldon, William A.W.
|Barrett, Stephen D.
Burke, James J.
Byrne, Alfred. Costello, Declan.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Anthony C.
Finlay, Thomas A.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Glynn, Brendan M.
Hession, James M.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Lindsay, Patrick J.
Cosgrave, Liam. McAuliffe, Patrick.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Palmer, Patrick W.
Pattison, James P.
Sheldon, William A.W.
Blaney, Neil T.
Burke, Patrick J.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Childers, Erskine H.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor M.
Davern, Michael J.
de Valera, Eamon.
de Valera, Vivion.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Moher, John W.
Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
Ryan, Mary B.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Mrs. O'Carroll; Níl: Deputies Ó Briain and Hilliard.
Question declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.45 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 2nd November, 1955.
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