Wednesday, 22 April 1959
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I cannot let this opportunity pass without commenting, if I may, on the manner in which the Minister for Finance replied to questions this afternoon tabled by Deputy Sweetman. I feel an effort is being made to make a complete farce of Parliament.
The purpose of the parliamentry question is to elicit information. A question relating to financial matters should be answered in detail by the Minister for Finance. I want to protest at the manner in which replies were given today. The Minister for Finance has at his disposal a most extensive and, may I say, expensive secretarial staff. They have at their disposal the means by which this information can be gathered, tabulated and stated correctly and accurately without delay. When such information is required, Deputies should not be put to the inconvenience of having to spend a considerable time in the Library checking financial records in order to find the figures. That information should be given to them by the Minister for Finance. Replies such as were given by the Minister for Finance today are not helpful. All Deputies may not have the brilliance or intelligence that appears to flow from the Government benches but they should be facilitated. The one way to facilitate them is to ask the officers of the Minister's Department, in common courtesy, decency and respect for Parliament, to supply the figures asked for by Deputies.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I have no doubt that the Minister's officials are obliging and courteous and would be  only too pleased to supply figures asked for by any Deputy. The figures have not been supplied. The manner in which replies have been given belittles Parliament. It is an effort to curtail questions relating to financial matters, particularly questions concerning undisclosed figures which would be of great importance to the taxpayers. I hope and trust that before long there will be a change in relation to that practice.
The Budget is carefully designed, cleverly designed and very cutely designed, not for the purpose of giving additional reliefs to any section of the community, but to attract votes in the elections that will take place this year, the referendum, the Presidential election, a number of by-elections and whatever elections may follow.
Last night I was endeavouring to convey to the House, in the few moments at my disposal, the fact that the present Government seem to be living very far away from the conditions that prevail in the country. They seem to have lost all contact with the poor and not to realise their difficulties. They have given the deaf ear and the blind eye to the needs of the poor. They have failed to make themselves familiar with the difficult conditions that prevail in the country. This is a very small country. Yet, the volume of taxation seems to be increasing year after year.
Let us recall the speeches made by the Fianna Fáil Party prior to the last general election. Was not the principal plank in their programme the reduction of taxation? Were there not editorials and speeches published in heavy type in the Irish Press and every provincial newspaper sympathetic towards the Government to the effect that one of their aims was to reduce taxation? They cannot plead that they were hampered in achieving that aim through a lack of an overall majority. Since the last general election, Fianna Fáil have had the biggest majority that a Fianna Fáil Government ever enjoyed. There is no Labour Party, Fine Gael Party, or group of Independent Deputies preventing them from carrying out their  programme. They cannot say that there is any splinter Party standing in the way of the achievement of their programme. They have an overall majority and there is nothing whatever to stop them from complying with the wishes of their own candidates as expressed prior to the last general election. There is nothing to stop them implementing the promises that they made, swore to and pledged themselves to, prior to the last general election.
We are told by the Minister for Finance that we have now reached the stage when our finances are put in order and the Tánaiste tells us that we have arrived at a period of economic recovery, when the conditions that prevail in the country are far worse than they ever were. The country is being turned into a land of very old men and women and young children. I ask any Deputy to present himself at any church gate in rural Ireland and to take note of the crowds coming out. He will see children by the hand or in the arms of their mothers, old and feeble men walking with the assistance of friends, walking sticks or crutches. We are becoming a land of very old and very young. All our young girls have gone to seek a livelihood elsewhere. Every English hospital, hotel and boarding house is completely staffed with Irish girls. Most of the mills in Lancashire and most of the large industrial concerns in England are staffed with Irish girls. In so far as able-bodied men are concerned, the mail boat leaving Dún Laoghaire or the boat leaving any Irish port is taking emigrants abroad, with quaking and broken hearts, in far greater numbers than ever before.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I want, if I may, to refer to the fact that as a result of the present Government's financial policy, emigration is higher than it ever was, that the policy of this Government is not to end emigration, is not even to attempt to solve the unemployment problem which, in  the words of the Bishop of Cork, Most Rev. Dr. Lucey, is the greatest since the days of the Famine. It would not be relevant for me to quote his Lordship, having done so last night. I do not propose to do so. Unemployment is an extraordinary evil that seems to have taken fresh roots since the re-entry to office of Fianna Fáil.
I should like to remind the Minister for Finance of his Party's policy in relation to unemployment, of what he, as Minister for Finance of that Government, promised to do and now can do, if he wishes, in relation to the solution of the problem of unemployment. Is it not true to say that, before the last general election, the present Government addressed a communication to every elector in which they promised that all energies would be devoted to one single aim only and that aim was full employment, and which went on to say that action could start now with regard to full employment? May I, with the permission of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, quote from a document “Let's Go Ahead Again” issued by Fianna Fáil a week prior to the last general election:
The whole energies of the Fianna Fáil Government will be devoted to the realisation of the objective of full employment. This can be achieved only through a rapid and substantial increase of national resources and it is to this end that Fianna Fáil will apply its economic policy.”
Now, I want to come to their economic policy. What economic policy have they applied since they took office? For the first time, we have now a very interesting document compiled by the Central Statistics Office. It is the first time that Deputies have had the pleasure of having such statistical information available prior to a budget. This document reveals some very interesting information, information which is far removed from the Fianna Fáil promise of full employment, made prior to the last general election. It is information far removed from the recent expressions  of the Tánaiste that we have now reached the stage of economic recovery.
In this booklet, Economic Statistics, we find in Table IX that the volume of savings has dropped to £45 million from £60 million. I should like to ask the House why have savings dropped from £60 million to £45 million? It is a simple question and the answer is that the people had nothing to save; they had not got the money with which to purchase food; they had not got the money to obtain the bare necessaries of life. It was not a healthy sign, and it is not a healthy sign for the country's future, that as a result of the appeals made for economies and for savings, as a result of the activities of the Government in their drive for economies and the encouragement of savings which took place prior to 1958, savings have dropped from £60 million to £45 million.
Is there anything more serious than that contained in this document? We see that the volume of agricultural output up to 4th April 1959 again shows a decrease on last year. This is an agricultural country where we are supposed to have—supposed to have, mark you—hard-working contented farmers who are the mainstay of the country. The backbone of any country is the agricultural community, producers of food for man and beast. The farmer never let this country down when he was needed but this Government always seem to let him down and to keep him down and to prevent him from reaching a position in which he could increase agricultural output, which would ultimately mean an increase in the national wealth.
I want to make a special reference to one set of figures contained in this document, in relation to the fact that there has been a reduction of 20 per cent. in the pig population. There were 71,277 fewer pigs sent to the bacon factories in the past 12 months than there were in the previous year, which means that those engaged in pig production have gone out of pig production. It has not been paying them simply because of the policy of the Minister for Agriculture in his  damaging efforts in regard to the price of Grade A pigs. Then we are told that we have reached the stage of economic recovery.
The economic statistics reveal more than that when we come to the question of the cost of living. It is not very long since the Taoiseach, in reply to a Parliamentary Question which I tabled regarding the cost of living, stated that the cost of living was not going up. I cannot understand how any Deputy on the Government side could stand up here and openly declare from his own experience that the cost of living has not gone up. The cost of living is rising steadily. Every month this Government remain in office, there is a rise in the cost of living. The cost of living index has risen from 107.7 in February, 1957 to 116.9 in November, 1958. In February of this year, there was a further increase and it is increasing steadily day after day. What are the Government doing to implement their promises in regard to the cost of living? Through their policy, they have deliberately increased the cost of living and made life and living more difficult for the people.
Let us now go on to Table XII which reveals something else. In 1958, the total number of people at work was 10,000 fewer than in 1957 and 32,000 people fewer than in 1956. Yet the policy to which Fianna Fáil pledged themselves was that all energies were to be devoted to one aim —full employment. They have been talking about full employment for over 30 years and they are as near to it to-day as they were in 1932 when they promised to bring back the emigrants. Full employment has never been the concern of this Government. The only item with which this Government were concerned was more votes, additional power, more supremacy and more dictatorship, but they have never given any thought to the question of full employment. The unemployment problem has never been seriously considered by this Government and this Budget will not do anything to assist the unemployed; it holds out no hope whatever for any further employment in this country.
What does this Budget hold out for  the people? Gloom, insecurity, darkness, no hope for the future. Many people are saying that the country has now gone beyond repair, that any Government taking over after the present Government can do little to improve the position because this Government have rocked the country and shaken it to its very foundations with a view to entire and complete destruction.
In Table XV of this booklet, we see that the percentage of unemployed to those at work, for October, November December, 1958, was higher than it was in 1957. Why, in the face of those figures, do we find the Government sending their Deputies and back benchers throughout the country saying that there is more work in the country now than there was when the inter-Party Government were in office? Those are figures circulated by the Central Statistics Office and they give us the exact position in relation to unemployment.
I should like to refresh the Government's memory again if I may. It has been done many times in this House but not very much notice of it seems to be taken by the Government, but there is nothing like reminding them of their promises. Even though they do not take much heed when reminded of their promises here, when they lie down on their pillows their promises must haunt them. They are only human. They know they made false promises. They may in their hearts be begging the forgiveness of God because they did not fulfil their promises.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I am sure the Deputy from South Tipperary sent out these circulars to the electors giving an undertaking that Government expenditure would be curbed. What has been done by the Government since they took office in relation to curbing  Government expenditure? They said, if I may quote:—
“Government expenditure will be kept at the minimum by avoiding all outlays which are not essential to efficient administration. Fianna Fáil will insist on the efficient, economic performance of its functions in every branch of public administration.”
What has been done about that? Let us come to the next item. We see a picture of two tradesmen, presumably carpenters, one sharpening his saw and the other putting an edge on his tools. Surrounding the two carpenters there are these words in heavy type:
“Unemployment can be cured, and the whole programme of Fianna Fáil is directed towards the expansion of agriculture and industrial production and in particular of production for export markets. The foundations of this great achievement must be laid during the lifetime of the next Dáil.”
“Whatever the financial difficulties to be faced may be, farm buildings and land reclamation schemes will be restarted immediately. Steps will be taken to ensure that no further breakdown in those schemes will occur.”
I should like to give the House and particularly the Minister for Finance and the Deputies opposite a reminder of how far removed they are from these promises to-day. The Government and the Minister for Finance, as the cashier of the Government, have cut out completely, in spite of their election promises, all work under the Local Authorities (Works) Act. They have reduced the farm buildings and water supply schemes by tens of thousands. They cancelled the double byre grant. They cut down the vote for new school buildings by tens of thousands. They reduced the grants for private housing by tens of thousands.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I do not know whether the Minister for Finance is  serious, whether he is joking or totally stupid, when he says they did not cut the price of wheat. I cannot believe my ears when he says they did not.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: In addition to all that they brought down the price of barley by 3/- a barrel with an additional penalty clause for moisture content in excess of 20 per cent. This year there has been a tightening up on beet contracts. The farmers grew first class beet, looked upon it as a crop with a good financial return but they have been deprived of contracts this year. Fianna Fáil reduced the price of grade A pigs by 5/- a cwt., which is responsible for having 71,000 pigs less delivered to the factories last year.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I wish to refer, if I may, to the decrease in the amount provided for forestry development and management. Considerable reductions were made in regard to forestry planning, preparing lands for afforestation and the provision of employment in forestry. There was a reduction on urban employment schemes by tens of thousands. The Government abandoned every possible attempt at price control. They allowed shopkeepers and, if I may say so, manufacturers, to charge the people what they liked.  When the inter-Party Government was in office prices could not be increased without the Prices Advisory Body sitting and issuing a report on them. Now, however, racketeers, those out to fleece the poor, those out to charge what they like, are finding a happy hunting ground, a paradise, under the Fianna Fáil Government.
They do the things now that they could not do when Fianna Fáil were not in office, increase prices and charge the poor, in some cases, two or three times the value of the articles that are available and are essential for life. Not alone did Fianna Fáil do all this harm to the economy of the country, damage the stability of the country and weaken it in every possible way, but, in the Budget of 1952, they made a savage, bitter and brutal attack on the poor. Why do they not put those things right in this Budget, if they are sorry for doing them?
Is it not true to say that as a result of the abolition of the food subsidies, to the tune of £9,000,000—though they have shown no corressponding reduction in expenditure—they have increased the price of every loaf, eaten in the houses of poor men and women, by fourpence? Bread and flour form the common and practical diet of the people of this country and I want to make special reference to the price of them, now that some of the Government Deputies from the city of Dublin are present. Why was there no effort made in this Budget to reduce the price of bread and flour, or even to take off the increase deliberately put on the price of bread and flour, when the Government abolished the food subsidies? Is it the case that nobody in this country experiences any difficulty in purchasing bread and flour? Has any Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party heard anyone make a complaint about the price of bread?
The price of bread is so high now that children crying for it are denied it because it is not in the bare and empty cupboards. Even though there are Fianna Fáil Deputies laughing, the proof of that has been given in the city of Dublin and can be seen in the recent report of the Catholic Social  Service Conference. We have seen from that important report that 2½ million meals were served to the poor of Dublin over a very short period. People who could not provide meals for themselves, people who could not buy bread had to seek the shelter of a charitable roof, had to look to some charitable organisation to give them bread. In that report, we have seen that poor mothers and the mothers of hungry, wailing, children also had to seek charitable assistance in the city of Dublin. They had to surrender their pride and humble themselves to the point of becoming recipients of charity. Poor mothers were served with 130,000 special meals and I do not propose to deal further with that because Deputies representing the city of Dublin are probably more familiar with it than I.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Having dealt with the price of bread and flour, I want to deal with the failure of the Government to reduce the price of butter in this Budget. They deliberately, by a stroke of the pen, increased the price of butter by 6d. per pound. Why have they failed in this Budget to reduce it to a price at which the unemployed, the widows and orphans, the blind, the sick, the low wage earners and the recipients of home assistance can purchase their requirements? Butter has almost completely gone out of the lives of the people. Sales of margarine have gone up and people who were accustomed to butter have now to rely on margarine, dripping, and the familiar meal in country homes now is dip instead of butter.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I am familiar with the conditions under which people live. I am very much alive to the needs and wants of the people. Is it not true that you deliberately deprived people of butter, an item which they require in order to live, to grow up healthy and strong? We heard so many speeches concerning the  poor man's pint that we almost passed out when there was no reference to it in this Budget.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The brewing industry and the distilling industry are steadily decreasing. Licensed premises have lost trade and custom, and unemployment has been created in the licensed trade, due to the fact that the Government have killed the brewing industry and the distilling industry. They have attempted to ruin the licensed trade and no mention of any relief for that trade was made in the Budget statement. The amount of relief given in the Budget in connection with tobacco does not count and should not even be referred to because it will not be passed on to the consumers.
I should like to ask the House what are the benefits for the future in this Budget? With the permission of the Chair, I have indicated as briefly as I could the damaging activities of Fianna Fáil in relation to the economy of the country but in this Budget, upon which Fianna Fáil are congratulating themselves, which they say is a shot in the arm badly needed by industry, we see that old age pensions will be increased by half a crown from a certain date later on in the year. Why were they not increased, even by that miserable, mean, mangy half a crown on the day after the Budget?
Half-a-crown for the old age pensioner was adding insult to injury. He could not possibly be given less than a paltry half-a-crown. Compare the reliefs given to the old age pensioner and the other groups in receipt of benefits under the Social Welfare Acts and the reliefs given to professional boxing, greyhound racing, cinemas and dancing. This Government were always more sympathetic towards dance hall proprietors, the controllers of greyhound tracks, gambling and sport than towards the provision of decent benefits for the aged and those who cannot provide for themselves.
 Why are they giving reliefs to boxing, greyhound racing, cinemas and dancing? Because they know that within the next few weeks, they will need funds for three elections. The dance hall proprietors will place their halls at their disposal in return for their kindness in giving them some relief. Boxing tournaments can be organised to raise funds for Fianna Fáil and a course or two can be run on the greyhound tracks to put the Chief into the Park. They know that the cinemas and the dance halls will be again a source from which they can rake back to swell their Party funds what they have given at the expense of the taxpayers.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: If we have a Government in office, as we have, who resort to the tactic of relieving taxes in order to obtain Party gain, it is something to which the taxpayers should cry halt. It is something that should be exposed, something the people should be educated on and something that should get publicity in the papers. It is a matter of a Government making a farce and a racket for themselves out of the taxpayers. That is the reason there were reliefs for cinemas, boxing, dancing and greyhound racing. Was it not very easy to collect money on cinemas, boxing, dancing and greyhound racing? Was all this not luxury at its best? Only those who can afford it can spend money on dancing. Only those who can afford to spend their leisure hours beside a boxing ring will pay 15/- or 25/- for a ringside seat. The old age pensioner or the person on home help will not be there. The  70,000 unemployed will not be wagging their legs dancing and will not be applauding the two in the ring.
I say in all sincerity that it is a disgrace to give any relief to boxing, cinemas, dancing and greyhound racing while the present unemployment position exists and while the cost of living is at a sky-scraper level, higher than ever before. Taxation, both national and local, has gone entirely beyond the capacity of the people. Would it not have been better to leave those taxes on? No matter how small the amount or how easily it could be collected, it would be something into the pool for reducing the cost of something else or providing some kind of employment. But, no. During the year the Government have been too busy spending the taxpayers' money on additional aircraft. That is where it is going. We are airminded, hungry for the clouds, hungry to be high in the sky and away from the people, spending millions of the taxpayers' money on facilities for jet planes. And now it is helicopters! Then they have embarked upon a chinchilla industry at Shannon Airport. They have asked people to embark upon the rearing of chinchillas because they feel there will be a bountiful financial return.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I was endeavouring to explain to the House, with your kind permission, Sir, that during the past 12 months, the taxpayers' money has been spent on jet aircraft, chinchillas, the setting up of a chewing-gum factory and a factory for music boxes. I want to compare the chinchilla industry with the Egyptian bee industry considered by Fianna Fáil in the early days.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Very good; I certainly accept the ruling of the Chair on this matter. It is unfortunate that the people are faced with their present difficulties. This Budget gives no relief whatever and provides no hope for the future. There is nothing in it to give hope or consolation to those who are away and anxious to return. This Budget is a Party Budget. There is a sinister aspect to it. There is an evil motive and an ill-conceived idea behind every tax relief in it. These tax reliefs are given in the hope of raking off some Party benefits from them. That is the whole purpose of this Budget, and that is something I want to put on record.
Dealing with conditions generally, I want to quote now what was said in the Imperial Hotel in Cork on St. Patrick's night in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Cork, who is now acting as Chairman of this Assembly. The Bishop was speaking. Having referred to unemployment and emigration, he said that he would “leave it to God and to history to judge as between them and those who placed emigration in the forefront of Ireland's unsolved national problems.” I should not like to be a member of a Government about which that could be said by a distinguished Churchman. I would not applaud such a Government. I would hold down my head in shame.
Acting Chairman: This is going far beyond what should be discussed on the General Resolution. I do not think we should introduce statements made at conferences and so forth into this debate. These matters can be discussed in another place.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Relative to emigration and relative to unemployment, this statement was made by his Lordship, the Bishop of Cork. Any statement relative to unemployment and emigration is certainly relevant to taxation and the present Budget. No effort whatever has been made in this Budget, no effort whatever was made in the last Budget, and no effort whatever is likely to be made in the next Budget, to tackle the problem of unemployment and emigration.
The time has come when our entire economic position must be recast. In 1948, thanks to the then Taoiseach, the then Tánaiste, and the then Minister for Agriculture, a trade agreement was made with Britain—a trade agreement which has pumped millions of pounds into the pockets of Irish farmers. Since the establishment of  our Government, no more beneficial agreement was ever arrived at. Where would we be today were it not for the 1948 Trade Agreement? Where would our cattle industry be were it not for the 1948 Trade Agreement?
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: That is exactly what Fianna Fáil would like us to do; they would like us to forget the 1948 Trade Agreement. We have had a clear expression of opinion now on that from Fianna Fáil. Deputy Loughman asks us to forget it.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Under that agreement, if the price of live stock went up in the British market, the price automatically went up here for the Irish farmer. This is 1959 and the time has come for another trade agreement. Fianna Fáil, if they are able to and if they have the negotiating ability, should enter into negotiations now with the British Government to secure as favourable and beneficial an agreement as the inter-Party Government secured 10 years ago.
We need a new look in Irish agriculture. Agriculture requires a complete overhaul, but the Government are taking no steps to do anything in that direction. Irish farmers are poorer to-day than they ever were in the history of this country.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The farmers are getting less for their produce. Yet, they are being asked to produce more —more for which they will get lower prices and a lower return for their work. I have often wondered why the Government refuse to tackle the problems with common sense and intelligence. Of course, the one thing this Government lack is common sense and intelligence.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: This is 1959 and world conditions have changed considerably since 1948. The time has come when new agreements must be made. The Minister should do something about that. He should negotiate between now and the next Budget for more favourable prices for our exports in order to encourage our farmers to produce more for export. The greatest export item we can produce off the land is beef. I have often wondered why our financial system allows a state of affairs in which we can have, at one and the same time, poor economic conditions and the banks bulging with surplus takings. It is something the ordinary man cannot understand—why the Government, in order to obtain money, must impose severe taxes, while at the same time, most of our banks——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: ——have more on deposit and have shown greater profits than ever before. I feel that it is the duty of the Minister for Finance to call together the bank directors and make known to them the economic condition of the country and convey to them that the country is not producing all it could produce and that we have extraordinary emigration and unemployment problems. Every Deputy associated with a local authority knows that rates have now reached a level at which a halt must be called. Local taxation has gone beyond its limit and is an unbearable——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I agree with your ruling, but local taxation would be lighter if there were a greater contribution from the Central Fund and there cannot be a greater contribution from the Central Fund unless the Minister for Finance provides for it in his Budget. He has not done so in this Budget. I was endeavouring to say that we have now reached the stage when the general taxpayer—and we are all taxpayers—is taxed out of all proportion to the amount of services he receives. I was suggesting to the Minister for Finance that sooner or later the bull must be taken by the horns and when our banks are bulging with money——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: How is the Minister for Finance to get more money? He has asked this House to agree to a Financial Resolution imposing certain taxes and giving certain reliefs. I want to suggest to him how he could and should get money—by making those responsible for banking here realise they have a duty to the country. I suggest that some negotiations should take place with the banks with a view to letting the banks know that this House is the supreme authority and has a duty to remedy under-production, unemployment and emigration and that can only be done by releasing moneys to cure our national ills. No effort has been made by the Government in that direction. I do not know if those controlling money here realise or care what difficulties this House has or what difficulties Members have in regard to the serious problems with which they must deal.
In 1923, a very important meeting was held at Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago and it was attended by the most successful financial business men in the United States. Those present included the President of the largest steel company in America, the President of the International Settlement Fund, and the President of New York Stock Exchange. They held a conference concerning the financial structure at that time——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Then, I shall have to avail of another opportunity. If I cannot develop it, there is little use in using it. I feel I have detained the House long enough and I shall not speak further on this matter since I cannot relate my observations to banking or to local taxation and I must conform to the ruling of the Chair. I propose to have this matter referred to the Ceann Comhairle on his return because I feel it is quite in order, and that a Deputy has a full  right on the Financial Motion connected with the Budget, to relate his remarks to local taxation and certainly to relate his observations to banking, if he so desires.
Mr. Loughman: During his speech, Deputy O.J. Flanagan said: “I wish to refer briefly ...” quite a few times and he used the phrase “if I may” on quite a number of occasions. He began his speech by complaining that the Minister replied to a question today in such a way that we were making a complete farce of Parliament. If I might make an observation now, it would be that the Deputy who has just sat down contributed more than any other Deputy to making this Parliament a farce.
Mr. Loughman: This House is supposed to be a deliberative assembly but the Deputy's contributions are farcical. I hope members will discuss the problems that face the country, and use their positions here to contribute usefully to the debate, and not conduct themselves as I believe the Deputy who is now sitting over there conducted himself for the past 1½ hours. I listened yesterday for 2½ hours——
Mr. Loughman: Deputy O.J. Flanagan referred many times in a personal manner to a number of people, and he referred particularly to the people who sit on these benches as if we were outcasts who used scorpions instead of whips to scourge the people, and as if our purpose in this Parliament was to betray the people who sent us here—the people who sent this Party here on many occasions since 1932 with a majority bigger than that of all the organised Parties in the State.
Mr. Loughman: The Deputy, of course, in common with many of the members of his Party, suffers severely from frustration. His Party never introduced anything so satisfactory during their periods in office and they left the country on both occasions in a disastrous condition, a condition which it required all the skill and strength of the Fianna Fáil Party to remedy. We did not introduce this Budget for the purpose of winning a by-election.
Mr. Loughman: The by-election was referred to before. We introduced the Budget in order to give certain reliefs during the next 12 months. Reliefs were given to a number of sections of the community; for instance, the old age pensioners got 2/6 per week. The Deputy thinks that was a miserable contribution—a mean, mangy contribution.
Mr. Loughman: The Deputy said, on the one hand, that it was a mangy contribution, and on the other that it was an election Budget. A further complaint he had to make was that these benefits will not start until next August. He thought they should be very much increased but he was not satisfied because they do not start until August. The Deputy should know that the Minister had a certain amount of funds at his disposal for the purpose, and if there were no administrative difficulties in the way of starting them immediately, the fact is that if he had to spread them over a full year, the sum would probably have been as low as 2/- considering that the amount he had at his disposal was a limited figure.
So far as the old age pensioners are concerned, the practice has been that whenever an increase was granted, it was never withdrawn except on one occasion during the term of office of a Cumann na nGaedheal Government, when that Government reduced the pension. One of the satisfactory matters in connection with the 2/6 is that the Government gives the 2/6 as from August next, because we know it will not be reduced next year, even if there is no increase, and if 2/- were given this year from the pool available, it could not possibly be that the 2/- would continue next year and we might not be able to give a further increase to the people concerned. We have no grievance about the Budget. We do not regard it as mangy or as being an election gesture to these old people, and I can assure the Deputy that the old people who are benefiting by these concessions appreciate them very much indeed.
Deputy Kyne said in a debate seven or eight months ago that he would support an increase in taxation on spirits, tobacco, cinemas and other luxuries, on the condition that the money accruing from that taxation would be used to give extra benefits to the poor, the old people, and the others  I have mentioned. I think he agreed afterwards that taxation had reached saturation point and if we were to put on extra taxes in order to give further increases, those extra taxes might defeat their purpose and the Exchequer would get less rather than more.
During the debate on the Vote on Account, I questioned Deputy Corish on what the old age pension was intended to do, how it originated, and what its purpose was. Deputy Corish suggested that the old age pension was a means of livelihood. I disputed that with him and I was criticised in the organ of the Workers' Union of Ireland for what I said but they did not quote what I had said. At the time, I suggested that the old age pension was something extra given to the old people by the State, but that it was not intended to relieve children of their responsibilities to their parents. I repeat that statement now because I believe in it 100 per cent. and I hope that I shall never see the day when Deputy Corish's idea will be accepted in this country—that the old people should become wards of State and that eventually young people would refuse to accept responsibility for them. It is my belief that the State never intended, since old age pensions were introduced in 1909, that the old people should be dependent for their livelihood on the State.
Mr. Loughman: I thought because of that pin he would be rather pleased at the condition in which he says the licensed trade is. However, so far as I know the licensed trade is as prosperous as ever it was and his statement that it is wiped out or impoverished is absolutely ridiculous. As I have said, Deputy O.J. Flanagan struck me as a person who does not believe in people consuming intoxicating liquor.
Mr. Loughman: I was referring to the Deputy's condemnation of the concessions granted to boxing, greyhound racing, dancing and cinemas. I approve 100 per cent. of all those concessions. I remember many years ago when the President was Minister for Finance he granted a concession to cinemas because the tax imposed on them was inclined to put some of them out of business. I go to the cinemas regularly. I find them a very restful place to spend a couple of hours away from everything and, as well as being entertaining, films are educational. The cinemas deserve to be encouraged. They are meeting with a tough time and the Minister was fully justified in giving them a chance of remaining in business.
As far as dancing is concerned, in the town where I live there is no concession as regards tax but, if you travel four or five miles out the country, the dance halls pay no tax at all. The dance halls in the bigger towns have difficulty in carrying on in competition with those who pay no tax and it was only right that some concession should be granted to them. The Deputy spoke about how poor the people are but it is no bother to many of the young people from any town to hire a car and drive 10 or 15 miles.
Mr. Loughman: I agree, but that is no reason why the dance halls in the towns should be penalised to the extent that they cannot keep open. They cannot afford the high cost of running a dance hall. They ought to get a fair crack of the whip. A couple of dance halls in the town  where I live have no connection with our politics. In regard to the suggestion that we are introducing this tax so that we might be given money, I would say that if any money comes it will go to the Party of the Deputy.
Mr. Loughman: As regards the dance hall I know of, they may give a dance specially for the Deputy's Party but certainly not for ours. I approve fully of the Minister's action in this respect. As regards boxing, I do not know much about it, but it is only right that any type of outdoor sport should be free of tax, but if the Deputy thinks that these concessions were granted that these groups could make large contributions to Fianna Fáil to help them to fight their election campaign, he is living in a fool's paradise.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: No, he was not allowed to proceed. Since I had to conclude my speech deliberately in protest against not being allowed to proceed on that question, I trust, Sir, that in your wisdom, you will not allow any other Deputy the privilege I was denied.
Mr. Loughman: He had referred to the bankers and their bulging deposits about ten minutes before. He referred to the question later and I thought it was for repetition that he was being hauled over the coals rather than for  entering into great detail. In fact, while he was speaking I asked him to tell us something about monetary reform so that we might learn something about banking.
Mr. Loughman: I accept that, but I was wondering if I might refer to the fact that the banks would not make money available to our public bodies, not even to the Government of the day, in order that they might be able to tide the country over the financial difficulties in which it was involved at the time. If I may refer to that I would be very happy.
Mr. Loughman: If I may not refer to the banks, may I refer to the fact that the Minister of the day floated two loans during the two or three years his Government were in office and that whether the banks would make a contribution or not, the people definitely failed to come forward, the reason being of course that the people had no confidence whatever in the Government? However, there is another factor I should like to mention when they are talking about the high cost of living and all this other nonsense about which we hear so much. During the period of office of the first inter-Party Government the purchasing power of our money had reduced by a third. The overnight devaluation of the £ seriously affected our currency and some property held by a number of our people. I did not hear Deputies blame  the Fine Gael Party for that tremendous curtailment of the credit of our people.
When we talk about increased taxation, we should bear in mind the answer to a Question asked in this House a few days ago which stated that the £, on the basis of 1914 values, is now worth 4/3. That means that it is worth practically only one-fifth of its 1914 value. Surely we may expect that prices or taxes would increase by five, on that basis, particularly when we remember that in the intervening years the number of services made available to our people have increased out of all proportion. From 1932 to the present time, service after service in every aspect of our life was increased and it was only natural that taxes and rates would increase likewise.
A man who buys a motor-car today is quite happy to pay £500 for it whereas he paid only £120 for one about 40 years ago. We must face the fact that if we give services and if the value of money depreciates, we must allow for an increase in the amount which will be demanded from the people.
I want to assure Deputy O.J. Flanagan that when we face the people at the referendum and at the Presidential election, the fact that this Budget was introduced will be the least thing that matters, so far as we are concerned.
Mr. Loughman: The Deputy spoke for one and a half hours. I do not intend to be offensive when I say that a convert is always very positive in his statements, very conservative in his outlook and sometimes very bigoted in his approach.
Mr. Loughman: When it was necessary for us to impose severe taxation, we did so. We faced the people afterwards and made no excuses and the people supported us. We never had a lesser membership of this House than the membership of all the other organised Parties in this State together. We have never lost that position since 1932. We face the people with full confidence. We shall win these elections and we shall not worry about what Deputy O.J. Flanagan or any other Deputy says in condemnation of this Budget.
Mr. Blowick: Deputy Loughman seems to think that this Budget has nothing to do with the referendum and the Presidential election. He must be very naive if that is what he thinks, but he does not think it. I have not the slightest doubt that this Budget was produced on the advice of every member of the Fianna Fáil Party that something would have to be done because of the two elections to be held on the same day and possibly the by-elections as well.
Mr. Blowick: Positively both. It is mean because the cost of living was shamelessly increased two years ago, a short time after the Government resumed office, with, possibly, this end in view. The Government are working on the assumption that, if they hit the people a good hard wallop first and then pour a tiny drop of oil on the wound, the sufferer will be inclined to forget the hard wallop. That is their system and that is why I describe the Budget as mean.
The price of bread and butter was increased two years ago when the food subsidies were abolished. Flour, which had been 3/2d. a stone, was increased to 7/- and butter increased in price from 2/10d. to 4/4d. per lb.
The old aged and other pensioners receive a miserable increase of 2/6d. which is supposed to be the panacea for all their ills. There is no talk about the size of the taxes on tobacco, drink and other commodities. The increase of 2/6d. a week is intended to buy the votes of the pensioners and to show how good and beneficial this Government are.
Deputy O.J. Flanagan is correct in everything he says, no matter how much Deputy Loughman may rage against him. He says that cinema proprietors, dancehall proprietors, greyhound-racing and boxing interests have received consideration for the one purpose of benefiting the Fianna Fáil organisation by the use of their halls or by funds to meet the expenses of the forthcoming elections. Deputy O. J. Flanagan was right, no matter how Deputy Loughman and other Fianna Fáil Deputies may rage against what he said. It was the fact that Deputy O.J. Flanagan put his finger on the Fianna Fáil sore point that aroused their anger, the fact that he hit them with the truth.
I recall the general election of two years ago. What has become of the 100,000 new jobs that Deputy Lemass, now Tánaiste, offered to the people? Does Deputy Killilea, who can afford to laugh now, know how many of the 100,000 new jobs he got for his people in the West? There are 124 fewer people employed on the Corrib  drainage now than when we left office. The number of persons engaged in forestry has been reduced. Will somebody on the Government side tell us what has become of the 100,000 new jobs or what has become of the £220,000,000 referred to at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis a year ago? Does it all boil down to a 2/6d. increase to old age pensioners? They were robbed of 8/- a week in bread, butter, tea, drink and tobacco in the Budget of two years ago. They are to get 2/6d. a week against the 7/10d. or 8/- increase in the cost of these commodities brought about by the 1957 Budget, when we went out of office. Will somebody tell us where are the 100,000 new jobs?
I was soft and foolish enough to believe that, perhaps, Fianna Fáil, having been in the wilderness for three or four years, might put their shoulder to the wheel and be able to do what we did not do. What is the truth? Instead of there being 100,000 new jobs, over 120,000 boys and girls have emigrated for good and there are 12,000 fewer employed than when we went out of office. That makes 132,000 people who have gone to England and America and who have been disemployed. Instead of there being 100,000 new jobs, 132,000 boys and girls have had either to emigrate or stay at home and starve. That is the most pitiful, shameful record any Government could have.
I would not remain for 24 hours a member of a Government that would defraud the people in the same way as Fianna Fáil have done. The member of the Fianna Fáil Party who seems to be best able to defraud the Irish people and who has succeeded in defrauding them is the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Tánaiste, because it was he, and no other, who boasted and bragged about the 100,000 new jobs he would provide for the people. It was he again, while Minister and Tánaiste, who bragged about the £220,000,000 he would spend. Where have all these plans gone? If he had any decency, he would hang his head in shame. I do not like exposing him but somebody must expose such a colossal fraud as  that man has put across the Irish people.
Deputy Flanagan was talking about chinchillas. He mentioned only one foolish scheme. I could add a couple. The present Minister for Lands is giving £4,000 for fish-ponds in backyards. How many of these have been constructed? Who does he think will sit on the brink of a fish-pond with a fishing-rod two or three feet long chasing small fish?
Mr. Blowick: Where is the £600 an acre that the farmers in the West and in Deputy O'Donnell's constituency in Donegal will make from the growing of Sundew, bog plant that is not worth 6d. a 1,000 tons? That is the kind of hare-brained, silly schemes our people are being fooled with. I do not mind the fooling so much but I do resent the fact that people's minds are taken off their normal business. Of course, Deputy Moher, the Fianna Fáil Deputy for North Cork, can afford to laugh. I do not think it is a joke for innocent and unsuspecting people who are anxious and willing to make a living in this country. These are very cheap tactics. I would prefer to stay at home and never get a vote than try to get one with these dirty cheap tactics. However, if Deputy Moher and Deputy Killilea want to continue to get votes in that way, they are welcome to it.
Mr. Blowick: If Deputy Killilea, when he is interrupting, would speak loud enough, instead of mumbling  into his chest, we might be able to hear him and answer him. I dare say his interruption is just as silly as most of his utterances.
Unemployment is our biggest national problem. Until we try to keep our boys and girls at home, the country will decline. I do not mind what the balance of trade or the volume of exports may be or how the Budget is balanced annually. None of these things matters so long as we allow 50,000 or 60,000 boys and girls to emigrate every year. In 1951, after three and a half years of inter-Party Government, there was a total of 1,272,000 persons in gainful employment in this country. We went out of office in 1951 and in 1954 took office again. In that year, after three years of Fianna Fáil management, the numbers of persons in gainful employment was 1,243,000, 29,000 fewer than when we left office three years before that. These are not my figures. These are the figures in Table 12, page 19, of Economic Statistics completed by the Central Statistics Office, a branch of the Taoiseach's Department. In 1958, there were 1,191,000 persons in gainful employment, 81,000 fewer than when we left office in 1951. I will not even hazard a guess as to the total number of boys and girls who fled the country in the meantime but I know it is well over 100,000, after five years of Fianna Fáil mismanagement.
One thing that is very noticeable, particularly in the West of Ireland, is the number of farmhouses being closed up, houses in which a short time ago families of four, five or six were reared. These are closed up, doors locked, windows shuttered and the families have gone to England. It would not be so bad if these people had moved into Irish towns or cities and had got employment here. The number of houses being closed up is becoming a most urgent problem. These are houses that were built a short time ago by the Land Commission or by the occupiers with the aid of Government grants. Today they are closed up, the small holdings let, and the families gone to England, America, Canada and Australia. Anyone who drives for a  couple of hours through the rural districts will discover that there are as many empty houses as there are inhabited houses.
The Minister for Finance has given an increase to the old age pensioners and, small as it is, it is welcome. It is a miserable increase but nevertheless it is badly needed by these people. I want to draw the Minister's attention to another class, to the man and wife with one or two children, as the case may be, where there is no children's allowance, no pension, or no help of any kind coming in. Such people cannot survive on small holdings of land and if they have not got a holding sufficiently large to make a living there is no reason why they should be allowed to drift into hopelessness and poverty and ultimately leave the country. The Government should come to their rescue in some way.
On the present small holding, with the cost of living as it is, with the cost of tools as it is and with heavy rates, these people cannot survive without some outside income. In most cases there is no employment for them in their locality; there is no work for them either from the county council, the Forestry Department or the Land Commission. Those who are fortunate enough to have work on small holdings are few and far between and they are very lucky, but I am talking about those who have none. If that situation continues for a few years longer they will have to join the throngs leaving for England. Something should be done for them. Someone has described this country as being practically a Socialist State. If we are to make it a Socialist State let us go the whole way and not be half and half.
Mr. Blowick: If the Minister does what I am asking he will have to provide money in his Budget. I thought it was appropriate to raise this matter under this heading. Since Fianna Fáil came into office they have contributed very much to poverty and destitution and to crippling any initiative that existed in the countryside.  The Land Reclamation Scheme is practically at a standstill. In addition it is next to impossible now to get housing grants. I suspect the Minister for Local Government has given definite instructions to housing inspectors to find fault with every house constructed.
Mr. Blowick: The subsidy on ground limestone was cut by 4/- which increased it from 16/- to £1 per ton and the price of wheat was cut and a levy of 5/9d. imposed. I shall not deal with these matters specifically but I will repeat what I said before, that this Budget is a mean one. It is just a vote-catching Budget. If the Government think that the people have forgotten the disastrous blows of two years ago they are mistaken because they have not forgotten.
I shall conclude by making a plea to the Government to do something about the flight from the country. It is not the old people who are going away, or the school children; it is the most able-bodied people, boys and girls who have reached the age of 17 or 18 years, who see no hope of making a living here, no hope of getting a stake in the country, even in a small way. I want to make this plea in all sincerity. It is no good balancing Budgets if these people are leaving the country. If we discovered gold mines in every parish, or oil all over the country it is still no good. It is no good that the balance of trade is kept right, or that the balance of payments problem is right, while the other cancerous drain is going on. Government policy is aimed at banishing the very best of our youth from the country.
It does not matter what cost is involved to stem that tide; if it is not  stopped all that we do here, all that the Government or the Opposition can do, is absolutely useless. Something should be done to arrest that tendency because the rate has accelerated of late and it has become a burning question. We are acting like the ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand, if we think that everything is grand because each Minister is able to keep his Department right—that the Minister for Finance may be able to keep financial matters right, the Minister for Industry and Commerce to keep trade right and the Minister for Agriculture to keep production right. All of that is absolutely useless while we are losing the very best of our youth at a rate of 40,000 a year, or it may be as high as 60,000 a year—since the travel permits were abolished there is no accurate way of computing the numbers we are losing. However, the empty houses are silent witnesses all over the country that we have lost whole families. We are only deluding ourselves if we think that everything is right while we are losing our youth.
If the Government, during their remaining years of office, did nothing except to stem emigration they would definitely have made their name. A cheap Budget like the one before the House clearly shows that the intention of the Government is just to catch votes and to safeguard the interests of their Party so that they will remain in power and let the country take care of itself.
Minister for Lands (Mr. Childers): I was amused to hear Deputy Blowick talk because it seemed that the sort of hazy nonsense in which he indulged is just the kind of thing we had to face during the whole period of coalition government. The Deputy is a man with some considerable experience of life in the Dáil, and with some experience as a Minister; yet he hardly made one positive suggestion that could be understood as to what we should do administratively. He made no definite proposals, nothing but a lot of sentimental hazy nonsense which I hope will not confuse the mind of the Minister for Finance because he will not be able to deduce anything from what Deputy Blowick said in regard to the  policy of the Party for which he stands.
The difficulty we have to face is to get away from nearly 10 years of this haziness of attitude towards an economic policy. I have heard so much since the beginning of this Budget discussion about the fact that we have not been able to bring the economy back to normal as quickly as we might hope, that we have not been able to bring about the great expansion at the rate which the Opposition would have liked, that I thought of devoting a great deal of my speech to making our position in that regard quite clear.
It amazes me to hear the Opposition talk as though the job would be easy. It amazes me to hear the Opposition deriding us because there is still unemployment and emigration, when I think of the mess in which they left this country and of the fact that they had nearly 10 years in which to do a tremendous job in bringing about industrial and agricultural——
Mr. Childers: I was referring to the fact that the programme in industrial and agricultural expansion which we have now initiated should have been started by the Coalition when they took office first in 1948. The conditions were far more ideal then than they are now. We emerged from the war unscathed. They had only to see that the accumulated shortages from the war were made good. We had accumulated some £250 millions of savings which, if they had been invested in a massive way, in the expansion of agriculture and industry, would have employed directly or indirectly sufficient persons at least to prevent the worst of the emigration which has taken place since.
 Owing to the introduction of the degenerate type of “take-it-easy” philosophy expounded by Clann na Poblachta, nothing genuine happened. The volume of productivity we needed never materialised and, during the ten years of the Coalition régime—in which they were responsible for six and in which we tried to recover the position in three—production in industry and agriculture rose less than in any other country in Europe. The amount of capital invested in productive objectives was less than in any other country in Europe. That includes countries which were devastated, countries which lost the war and countries which suffered every kind of material difficulty from which we were completely free.
The really difficult job of bringing about the kind of expansion which we need in order to preserve our people here is now beginning, under far more difficult and competitive conditions. We have to catch up on lost time as quickly as we can. Ten years ago there was a food hungry world. Every increase in production in our agriculture would have brought greater gross profit and enabled farmers to make more savings and to prepare in a better way for the future when competitive conditions would come.
Historians will record that these two Coalition Governments never once stressed, during their two periods of office, until it was far too late, that an almighty personal effort by the whole people would be required both to revolutionise our agriculture and to bring about an expansion of industry and that we would need an enormous increase of industrial exports, not the mere recovery to normal which we experienced after the war, if we were to employ sufficient people.
In the beginning of the Coalition period there was only one major change in economic policy, when Deputy Costello, the then Taoiseach, announced the repatriation of the external assets. At that time it was considered unpatriotic even to suggest that external assets were valuable for cushioning the country against a trade recession which might come later. Many thousands of people who left this  country as a result of the 1956 depression, resulting in turn from the 1955 adverse balance of trade, can thank very largely Clann na Poblachta. That Party apparently led the Fine Gael Party up the garden path all the time and talked about spending external assets, without speaking of what they were to be spent on, as though the more patriotic one was the more external assets one sold regardless of the consequences.
When Fianna Fáil pointed out the serious implication of the Coalition Government's policy and begged the Government to see that assets were retained for productive uses, stressing that it was magnificent to sell foreign assets abroad if by selling them one could bring in machinery or fertilisers or other capital goods required for production, they were called “hair shirt economists” and laughed and jeered at by the Coalition. The Coalition Government at that time created a mentality from which we have barely escaped now. The main thing to do then was to spend money and the sooner the people spent it on consumer goods the better; the more they spent of it the better for the country, too; and the more they spent on consumer goods the more they were fulfilling the doctrine that the people were entitled to good living, that they had to make no effort, that no substantial and revolutionary change would be required in our agricultural methods or in the character of our industry if we wanted to become a nation which could employ the majority of those who were emigrating.
The Coalition seemed to be dazed at that time by the quick change which the country experienced from wartime scarcities. They seemed to be dazed by what looked like a real increase in our agricultural production, but which in fact was mostly an increase of agricultural prices and a return to the normal state, the distortions created by the war having disappeared and fertilisers becoming available. They appeared to be dazed by the result of the 1948 Trade Pact, which followed on three other Trade Agreements made by Fianna Fáil with the British Government. The effect of that Pact  was largely, along with veterinary services, to improve the price of young cattle and it did absolutely nothing to increase the numbers of the foundation cattle stock of the country from what they were in 1880. There was any amount of boasting at the time. The Coalition Government seemed to be dazed by Deputy Dillon who always used to compare the results of production of agricultural output in a year of the worst weather in our history, after conditions where there had been no fertilisers for five years, with the results a few years later, forgetting the fact that far greater and more massive expansion would be required if we were to face the difficulty of having to increase our standards of living sufficiently in order to encourage our people to stay in this country.
The agricultural production during their period of office increased by the smallest amount of any country in Europe, 13 per cent., not one-tenth sufficient to increase the purchasing power of the farmers so that they in turn could employ more people in Irish industries. The Coalition were still more dazed by the entirely temporary prosperity they created by the hugescale housing programme which was undertaken at that time. They forecast no warning of the fact that the housing programme would inevitably decline. They took no cation when they clearly saw that the housing programme was contracting, to provide other incentives to industry with a view to re-employing the persons who would shortly be disemployed.
One of the things we have had to face and which perhaps is not realised by the public is the fact that there are 17,000 fewer persons employed in construction works than in 1951 and the county councils have not taken up the whole of the capital which was offered to them for the housing programme, because, as we know, the housing demands have considerably declined, and because apart from isolated groups of private houses, county council cottages, and local authority schemes the major part of the programme is finished.
I might add that, in my view, if the Coalition Government had spent  one half the money they spent on housing on securing an expansion in agriculture and industry, the farmers and the industrialists would have provided enough profits to build all the houses that were ultimately built. But, in fact, the housing programme was so tremendous in its character that it has left us now with a legacy of unemployment and emigration that is going to be extremely hard to deal with.
We may as well be perfectly fair with the public and give them these figures for unemployment. They have been reduced, reductions have taken place to date, but, so far as the total numbers of unemployed are concerned, we have, first of all, to employ the equivalent of 17,000 persons, employed in construction in 1951, who have since lost their employment because of the completion of the campaign which had magnificent social results but which left a trail of unemployment.
Mr. Childers: The Deputy has not heard what I said. I said that if we had spent half that money, from 1948 onwards, on agricultural and industrial expansion, the profits produced would have enabled all the houses that were built to be built.
Mr. Childers: I did not say that. I said the houses would have been built on the profits from that expansion. The Deputy is just indulging in the cheap Clann na Poblachta propaganda which we had for years and years.
Mr. Childers: As a result of the Coalition's failure to deal with realities, we had the crises. We had the crisis of 1956 which was wholly inexcusable and which bears no more relation to the Suez crisis than chalk does to cheese. The only excuse the Coalition have put forward for leaving us that crisis to handle, for running out of office when the State was devoid of funds, when every State scheme was gradually diminishing in its activities, was that there was a crisis over Suez and they explained the recession that took place as being due to the Suez crisis.
They failed to tell the people that if we had not had the 1951 crisis in which we lost £61 millions of assets, and that if they had controlled the situation then, there would have been plenty of capital savings to enable us to get through the recession caused by the severe adverse trade balance in 1955 without taking all the severe measures that were necessary. It was because Deputies on the other side of the House were saying in 1951 that people were entitled to good living and asking why should they not spend the money, the savings, on whatever they wanted, and putting off the evil day of bringing about a complete reorganisation of this country that we had the 1956 crisis.
One has only to examine the production figures for European countries to see how foolish the Suez explanation is, in fact. If we take the level of industrial production in Europe in 1953 as a basic figure, we will find that, in 1954, it was 103 in this country. In 1955, it was 108 or 8 per cent. more. In 1957, it was back to 2 per cent more than 1953. If you take the figures for Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom, you will find in 1954 as compared with 1953, there was an increase which varied from 4 per cent. to 11 per cent., and, if you take the figures for 1956, you will find whereas we were only 2 per cent. above 1953, these other countries—which must have all been affected by the Suez crisis—had increased their levels. In 1956, in the case of the United Kingdom, the increase was 12 per cent. and, in the case of the other  countries, between 14 per cent. and 38 per cent. above 1953.
If you take the figures for industrial production of the subsequent year, 1957, there is no sign that the Suez crisis effected the majority of the countries of Europe in a way that could excuse the crisis we had to face in 1956. Then, the crisis, as I said, was due to the fact—putting it in a few words—that we used up the savings we built up during the war and we incurred capital obligations against them, without having, first of all, massively increased production so that we could say we were on a sound foundation.
The Coalition can have the melancholy recollection of having run the country in such a way that being the only country in Europe that saved money during the war, they dissipated those savings almost wholly by the end of 1955. The other countries were more intelligent in their attitude towards finance and in the management of finances accumulated during the war. There were only two European countries that did accumulate finance during the war, that managed to have large reserves of savings at the end of the war, Belgium and Switzerland, and had not to spend those savings on rebuilding their countries after the war; but, apparently, it never occurred to the Coalition during that period that we are not a fast-moving economy and we cannot turn the tap off rapidly without causing trouble.
Mr. Childers: Of course, any Government having to follow the feckless actions of the Coalition would be bound to face difficulties. I always regard the 1954 election as possibly the worst election in our whole history. That was the time it was perfectly evident that the post-war boom was going to end very quickly and the position was becoming more difficult.  Tremendous efforts would have to be made to establish industries here if we were to attempt to maintain a standard of living as near to that of England as possible, though our trade per head of the population was only half that of the English. The people's minds were completely led astray in the 1954 election. Owing to the actions of the Coalition tens of thousands of hours of time have been wasted in the political world talking about trivialities, about the price of tobacco and cigarettes——
Mr. Childers: ——when we should have been considering far more important questions of how we were to expand our production and to secure more exports in a country where we have very few raw materials other than the soil on our land. We are still hearing about the cost of living as though it was something exceptional in regard to Fianna Fáil. I should again like to remind Deputies opposite that the cost of living rose 11 points during the last period of coalition government and it rose 11 points during our period in office. They always talk as if they were never responsible for raising the cost of living.
There was a tremendous distortion of truth during the past ten years about the cost of living and, if members of the Opposition would only care to examine the level of increases in retail and wholesale prices, in the whole of the sterling world and in Europe, they will find that the increases here bore some comparison to the increases in Europe and that we can no longer be isolated from world effects and European effects and the changes in the price of commodities that take place in other countries. One would imagine from listening to the hours and hours of political controversy that went on that an Irish Government could do something to seal us off from the rest of the world or  hold prices down while they were increasing in every other country.
As I have said, we have had to face the difficult position of overcoming the crisis of 1956. I should like to make it clear again that all the loose talk in this House by Opposition Deputies on the plan to employ 100,000 people and the plan for £220,000,000 will get them nowhere. The people know perfectly well that when Fianna Fáil talked of employing 100,000 people, they were setting out a blueprint, a plan, that would take years to develop and put into operation. We have now announced the programme for economic expansion, and we made it absolutely clear that our economy is not one where rapid results can be achieved; that the people have to be brought to this country or Irish people inspired to start industries; that the buildings have to be put up; that the capital has to be found, that the technical skill has to be acquired; and, if the farmers are anxious to expand their industry and increase their cattle population, that the fields have to be fertilised, that the different arrangements have to be made for rotation of grazing and that the calves have to be born. That process cannot be rapid, and the programme for economic expansion is being published in order that no one should have the slightest doubt that prosperity can be created overnight in this country.
I notice in the course of this debate very little has been said by Opposition Deputies on the programme for economic expansion. I wonder why that is? I imagine it is because they dare not oppose it, because it has received in large measure the approval of all the producer associations in this country. I am surprised they do not say more about it. It is an extraordinary thing that Deputy Dillon himself only made some vague remarks about agricultural marketing and suggested there was some excessive expenditure on some items in the plan and not enough on others. But, taking it as a whole, he did not make any observations of note on the programme. We take it from this debate —as we took it from the debate on the Vote on Account—that most of the  Opposition accept the economic programme as something of note which has in it the seeds of the recovery and prosperity of the country.
I also notice that Deputy Dillon, having talked for many years about the value of the cattle industry—which we in Fianna Fáil never denied—keeps a breathless silence in this House on the plan advocated by the National Farmers' Association for the retention of heifers and the expansion of our cattle population which, linked with our plans for subsidies for fertilisers, improvement of our breeding stock and improvement of our grasslands, constitutes the major part of the agricultural programme. I wonder why Deputy Dillon is silent on that subject?
Mr. Childers: I am not talking about anything but the N.F.A. programme announced recently. Deputy Dillon has not even boasted it was his plan. I merely mentioned the fact that these questions have not been discussed in the House. People in the Opposition still prefer to divert the minds of the people from the major objective which is stepping up production and investing capital. They go back and talk about anything but the major objectives we have in hand.
I thought it would be interesting to show at least that we are providing capital for productive purposes in a way that never has been the case before, and that when we promised to provide capital we kept our promise. The increases in the amounts of capital made available for the current year compared with the capital actually spent in the last year of the Coalition  Government are very significant. For ports, harbours and airports we have allowed 304 per cent. more capital than the Coalition did in their last year of office. In the case of tourism there was no capital allowed; so we can only compare the figure with that of last year. The increase in capital for tourist development is 650 per cent. The expenditure on agriculture, under all the various heads, has gone up from £7,000,000 in the last full year of the Coalition Government to £11,000,000 this year. The amount made available for agricultural capital developments in the form of voted capital services has gone up by 58 per cent.
As far as the Agricultural Credit Corporation is concerned, no doubt the House will have seen the agreement entered into between the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the Government and the banks. It is good to see that the banks, for the first time in their history, are beginning to supply credit for specific production schemes on a very massive basis. In order to ensure that capital is available in every case where it can be reasonably lent, the capital advanced to the Agricultural Credit Corporation for the current year is 185 per cent. more than in the last year of the Coalition Government.
In the case of the Industrial Credit Company the amount of capital made available this year is 1,300 per cent. more than that made available in the last year of the Coalition Government. As far as industry is concerned, I think we can say that our overall grants and facilities for new industries are virtually unequalled in Europe. We have facilitated external investment in this country in a number of ways. We have increased the scope and the character of grants to new industries. We have extended the scope and facilities offered by the Industrial Credit Company and have greatly increased the capital which they will require in the future, as we hope, for the new industrial development that should take place.
We have now joined the European productivity authority, and grants are being made available, together with  technical assistance on work study schemes, to make quite sure we can compete with industries abroad. We have offered greater obsolescence allowances for buildings and plant. We are giving a 20 per cent allowance on industrial property in connection with death duties. On top of income tax remissions for exported manufactured produce, we have recently given what we hope will be a useful fillip in the shape of a reduction of 6d. in the standard rate of income tax.
I mention all these things because they are the important elements in our future programme. There is no use talking about what the Budget will or will not do. The important thing is that we get some kind of constructive advice on how to improve on the programme for economic expansion and as to what we can do to attract more industries than are coming to us at present. At the moment there are signs of a growth in industrial enterprise. We know that 38 enterprises started during 1958 with a capital of £4,000,000 We know that 12 factories are in the course of construction with the capital of £2,100,000 We know that another 12 undertakings will start construction with the capital of £2,000,000; and these are exclusive of the big projects, like Irish Steel, the oil refinery and the Cork Dockyard. Recently there were 14 industrial propositions accepted by the Industrial Development Authority. They are still examining 69.
Having said that, I think it should be said also that there are no grounds for complacency. We need a far stronger bourgeoning of industry than has been evident, even in the past six months, if we are to succeed. We believe the way is clear for a growth in industry. Our costs are reasonable. We think that the commercial public has greater confidence in the future of the country. One of the most serious factors, however, in our view, is that we keep our costs down and maintain stability. Financiers may be quite willing to invest in diamonds in Bolivia, knowing that political conditions there are likely to be unstable; but they will not invest in this country, close to England and in the  sterling area, unless they can be certain that, as far as they can forecast, prices and costs will remain reasonable and there will be no act of political madness to distort the economic picture.
The advantages we have for industry, over the disadvantages of an island State, must always be kept as net advantages. It will require wisdom and sagacity in the next ten years to ensure that we preserve these advantages. Unless we preserve them, we cannot have the industrial development likely to employ really large numbers of people. Our costs, as I have said, are not excessive at present. Wage levels here are not excessive compared with those in many other countries. We can have industries in which the people will have an interest in the factory in which they work. But all the time we must ensure that costs are kept down and that conditions remain attractive. That is almost the most important factor in our industrial future.
As far as agriculture is concerned, everything depends on the success of the campaign to step up the price of cattle and to increase tillage. The tillage campaign of Fianna Fáil has succeeded admirably, succeeded to the point that in the middle of the 1957 crisis, about the only thing the Coalition Government managed to overproduce was Fianna Fáil wheat. It was an extraordinary irony that in the middle of the recession, we should have had that difficulty to deal with. Fianna Fáil have always recognised that the more tillage and the more work there is on the land, the greater inevitably will be the number of cattle. A campaign for increasing the number of cattle can be of very vital significance in our economy. We read in many newspapers confusing ideas about agriculture and employment. Even if we are not able to give any more employment on the land through agricultural expansion, the farmers will inevitably purchase more goods from Irish factories if they have higher incomes. That is our principal objective in carrying out this plan, a plan which we hope will succeed as a result of having made clear what we  are prepared to do during the next five years, and having declared publicly the amounts of capital we are prepared to find, and having declared publicly the plan which can show specific results, so that the people can see the picture before them of what is likely to happen in the course of the next few years.
Perhaps the only enlightening feature of this debate has been the absence of any serious criticism of our programme for economic expansion. When one hears Deputies, like Deputy Blowick, ask what has happened to the £220,000,000, it is quite evident that he has never read the programme for economic expansion. When you hear other Deputies ask: “What about the 100,000 jobs you were going to make available,” it is obvious these Deputies have never read the original blueprints written and published before the general election, blueprints which have led to the present programme for economic expansion, all the details having been studied by Ministers and their Departments to see how far the proposals made would be practicable in the circumstances in which we found ourselves when we took office.
It is very cheap politics for people to talk about the Fianna Fáil plan as if it were something that deluded the electors when, on the very face of the document, and particularly in the second edition, it was made perfectly clear beyond all doubt that it was a plan for study by the Party, a plan indicating how the job could be done, how people could be employed, and how production could be built up. Every care was taken in October, 1956, to make it absolutely clear that conditions were getting so much worse and capital was getting so scarce, and the difficulties with which we would be faced would be so great, that we would have to examine the plan in the light of circumstances, as we found them, when we took office. It would have been much easier for us to have had the same job to do in 1948 as we have to-day because in 1948 we could have sold practically anything at a huge profit.
Mr. Childers: We could have put that profit aside for further investment. It would have been very much easier for us to have operated under the conditions that obtained in 1948. It is not too late. We are only starting our plan for expansion, a plan which should have been put into operation in 1948. We are starting our plan in much more difficult circumstances than those which obtained in 1948. It will take more effort. It will involve more saving. More saving will have to be effected by the people. It will be more difficult. Our costs will have to be examined more keenly. Our production costs will have to be more carefully watched to ensure that we can compete with other countries. We are not too late in our march to prosperity, but it would have been very much easier if we had not had to face the appalling amount of nonsense that has been talked about economic realities here in the past ten years by the people who formed the Coalition Governments.
Dr. Browne: The Minister for Lands becomes so gorged with figures that he does not seem to appreciate what the figures represent in terms of humanity. That is something that seems to be of little concern to him. Indeed, he concerns himself entirely with discussing post-war social and economic trends as if the State began only at the end of the post-war period. It is no part of my responsibility to defend the activities of successive Governments. The contribution of the Minister for Lands could, perhaps, be put most correctly in perspective by reflecting on the fact that the State was formed in 1922. Since that time, various Governments have held office—the Party of which the Minister for Lands is a member has held office on several occasions—and right up to the present day, irrespective of what Government was in power, there has been a continuous decline in population through emigration.
Starting in 1922, the first decennial period shows a figure of 16,000 per year, increasing to 18,000; in the next decennial period, the figure is 24,000, increasing to 40,000. The total is  approximately 750,000 people emigrating. That amounts to a progressive decline in population for which the Minister for Lands must be prepared to take his share of responsibility. He must share responsibility for the failure of the social and economic policies in which he still so firmly believes. Every politician, I think, tends to have ideas in which he believes, likes to accept and test out. The strange thing about the present Government is that it has tested out a number of theories, social and economic, and in spite of clear proof put forward again and again that these theories have failed by the only real test, they cling to them. I am sure the Minister for Lands will agree that the only real test is that adumbrated by the Tánaiste, the figures of employment, that is the only test of the success of a Government's economic policies. Judged by that test I do not think there is any doubt that the economic policies of the different Governments have clearly failed to provide the employment we need if we are to survive and create a socially just and prosperous society.
The Minister for Lands accepts this Budget and approves of it. It is a “true-blue” conservative Budget. It is unimaginative. There was a certain amount of money to be given away and the Minister has given it away in a manner typical of a conservative Minister for Finance. His only regret appears to be that he could not outdo Mr. Heathcote Amory of the British Conservative Party in his most recent “big handout” Budget.
The Minister for Lands suggested that prosperity cannot be created overnight. Nobody believed it could but it is a long night since we began to control our own affairs. Government did not begin yesterday or when the Minister for Finance took over. After 40 years we are still pursuing precisely the same outmoded ideas, inefficient and disproven, doctrinaire and conservative economic theories which have failed again and again in the hands of dedicated disciples on both sides of the House after being given every opportunity to work and provide us with the prosperity and the wealth that I am  sure every Deputy wants to give to the people as well as the social justice the people of so many other countries enjoy.
The Minister for Lands was irritated because the Opposition—presumably that includes me—has wasted tens of thousands of hours discussing tobacco, cigarettes, the cost of living and bread. He agreed when somebody interjected “bread”. He suggested we should be discussing fundamental problems of economic policy. There is something to be said for his complaint but surely, bad and all as we are in talking about these things which in some ways are necessities and in other ways are near necessities—much as some of us may dislike it they have become near necessities—we were not talking about abstractions. At least these are hard realities connected with the three-meals-a-day needs of our people. Surely the complaint that political man hours have been wasted should be directed against the Taoiseach, Leader of the Party which has absorbed the time of the House up to now. This is the first real bread and butter debate this year. Fianna Fáil absorbed the time of the House on an academic discussion of the abstract question of proportional representation. If that is not waste of political man hours I do not know what is. The time of this House and of the Seanad has been wasted. It could be a good thing if we had been given an opportunity before now to discuss these real issues that affect the daily lives of our people and the methods of solving our difficulties. Whatever else we are to blame for the Taoiseach is to blame for that waste of time.
The Minister for Finance has introduced an extremely doctrinaire, conservative, unimaginative Budget which will continue the position more or less as it is, with relatively insignificant changes in insignificant directions. What is really quite remarkable is the apparent enthusiasm for this Budget and all it contains, as if it were some wonderful new idea or contained such an idea, or pointed a new path to prosperity or indicated that we were going to stimulate private business and industry in the country so that it would  react in such a wave of prosperity that all the evils of unemployment and emigration would be eradicated and the social needs of our people would be met in a relatively short time.
In the light of the facts of continued loss of population produced by the statisticians, the Government Statistics Office, I cannot accept that there is a real decline in emigration. I think this alleged fall should be taken together with the fact that we have exported so many that we have now reached the stage where we are not increasing our population any more, so that we have a relatively slight surplus to export. If there is any reduction in emigration it is artificial rather than real. The Minister has announced certain improvements in social benefits, cuts in taxation and other, if you like, bonuses. I think it should be made clear that this has little or nothing to do with any positive step or decision on the part of the Minister. The Minister has been very fortunate in the fact that the terms of trade have improved quite considerably and that import prices have been so favourable to us that he has been left with an effective surplus, which has enabled him to act in the way he has acted. Export prices remained relatively stable.
I come now to the test of efficiency set by the Tánaiste in the employment figures. Deputy McQuillan to-day made a protest against what he considered to be an unsatisfactory situation—and what I consider to be an unsatisfactory situation unless the Minister has the explanation which the Taoiseach said he would have for us—that the total number in employment dropped once again last year. There has been a continued drop in the number of persons employed since 1951. The number has dropped to something just under 89,000 and in the two years during which the Government have been in office, there has been a fall of 32,000 persons in employment.
I do not think that anybody expected that 100,000 people would be put into employment overnight as a result of the plan put forward by the Minister for Industry and Commerce prior to taking office, but I do not think the people who listened to him  that night believed that the consequences of the economic policy of the Government, in their first two years in office, would be to put a further 32,000 people out of employment. That surely fell far short of the proposal to increase the number of people in employment and to stop the continued deterioration in the employment position which has gone on, with the exception of one year, 1954, continuously since 1951. It has, of course, gone on continuously since 1922.
The net total of new people put into jobs, I understand, by our industrial drive is about 100,000—a relatively tiny figure compared with the great needs of our people who are being driven from rural Ireland for one reason or another, and of course compared with the needs of the new young people coming on the employment market every year from vocational schools, and that sort of thing. It is completely inadequate and shows, in the net result, a falling policy with a falling outlet for the produce of our industries, bad and all as they are. The fact is that the best types of young people seem to be the ones who decide to emigrate.
The answer to Deputy McQuillan's question included a most ominous remark: “The numbers of workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing have been decreasing for many years.” It is understandable, because of mechanisation in agriculture, that there should be a certain fall in employment, in rural Ireland at any rate. We have been given to understand that the Minister for Lands has been responsible for a tremendous drive and a tremendous expansion in the Department of Lands, an expansion in forestry planting, acreage under trees and an expansion in our grossly under-developed fishing industry. Yet this progressive deterioration in the figures in these three very important sectors of our economy has continued to go on, so far as we can see, unabated.
The astonishing thing is that this drop in the number of persons in employment seems to be a matter for jubilation on the Government benches. The Minister read his Budget speech  with quite considerable pride, self-satisfaction and approval. It was clear from his last year's Budget, largely because of the formation of the capital expenditure for last year, that there would not be, and could not be, an appreciable increase in agriculture, dependent as we were, and have been for 20 or 30 years, on private enterprise and private business to create opportunities in industry which the State cannot create because it is restricted as a result of a policy of non-productive capital investment in a large percentage of cases at any rate. A non-productive capital investment type of industry cannot do much for our society. Of course, private enterprise and private industry failed to provide the work and failed even to maintain the level of the work of previous years.
We have had in the past two years 32,000 people out of work of one kind or another, or not absorbed into new manufacturing industries of any kind. The really distressing thing is, of course, that in this Budget, in spite of the few recommendations—with which I shall deal in a few moments—for the alleviation of conditions generally for the old people, the new economic policy for next year is the same as last year, the year before and the year before.
We must assume, therefore, that the Government have accepted as an inevitable and continuing feature, a continued and extraordinarily high rate of unemployment—of seven per cent., eight per cent. and sometimes ten per cent.; an unemployment figure here which is one of the highest in western Europe plus the export of surplus population to Great Britain and elsewhere; and a continuing decline in the number of persons in employment.
He was clearly discussing unemployment there and it was very wrong of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance not to take the opportunity today of correcting the impression he gave in that Budget statement. In my view, he deliberately misled the public as to the very frightening state of decay which exists in our economy. It has come now to the position where we are beginning to have less and less faith in Government announcements, Government statistics and Government information generally. I had my own difficulties with the Minister for Education. I was interested to hear Deputy Sweetman today trying to get information he required on some questions; and Deputy McQuillan, making a perfectly reasonable request for an explanation of an apparent discrepancy, was refused any information and had to leave the House because he sought that information.
It would be a very sad thing indeed if the very honourable record of high integrity and reliability which our civil servants have earned in the last 20 or 30 years were misused by the political heads of Government to further their political ends, at the expense of the probity and reliability of Government statements and statistics of one kind or another, as has taken place in relation to this statement by the Minister for Finance in suppressing the fall in employment last year.
Clearly he must allow in the raw materials of agriculture where we do not produce them at home, but it does seem to be wrong of the Minister to allow capital to be expended on anything but essential goods. In the light of our present, still difficult, position I am surprised the Minister should have relaxed the levies at this stage, abolishing some and reducing others.
In relation to the reliefs of one kind or another on rural entertainment, cine-variety, cinemas, dances and greyhound racing, I consider most of these entertainments to be perfectly harmless. They have become an integral part of the everyday life of the people in our society. The cinemas are about the only other world to which thousands upon thousands of people find some escape from the hardships, rigours and boredom of their ordinary way of life. Dances, mostly for young people, help to alleviate the drabness of life in many parts of rural Ireland, but I wonder whether in respect of the cinemas the Minister will help to stem the decline by this change in prices. My own view is that television will make an impact for a time and that there will settle down a fairly steady audience both for the cinema and television, which I think has happened elsewhere. Probably the main reason for the falling off of the audience at the cinema—and this is not the fault of the exhibitors; they have little or no choice in this respect —is the quality of the films exhibited. There is, of course, the falling off in the total population, one of the side effects of which is the fall in cinema audiences. The young people and the old people are not there to go to the cinemas.
I am not clear from reading the Minister's speech whether he intends that the live theatre or musical concerts of one kind and another will benefit under this remission of taxation. The live theatre is possibly the finest entertainment of all available to us and it is probably the one most  likely to suffer, in the early days at any rate, as a result of competition from the television service when it comes into operation. I wonder if the Minister would see if there is any way of helping the live theatre such as by enabling promoters to reduce their prices and increase the popularity of the theatre in the country generally.
I do not disapprove of any of these forms of entertainment or amusement. I think they are necessary and desirable. If the people were given a choice between allowing the money to go to the cinema proprietors, the greyhound racing and boxing promoters and paying slightly more for their cinemas and their entertainment so that the money saved would be available to give increased children's allowances or provide, say, radio for schools or give free poliomyelitis vaccination to children who require it or possibly some benefit to old people such as a bigger fuel allowance in winter, or some other social need, I wonder whether the people would not prefer the latter alternative.
I may be wrong and the Minister may be correct. The people may want cheaper cinemas, cheaper greyhound racing, cheaper boxing, cheaper dancing at the expense of the old people or at the expense of children's allowances or sick children or health services or educational services, or whatever it may be. Personally, I do not believe so. I believe our people are as generous, as thoughtful and as kind-hearted a people as any other race and that if they were asked to make this sacrifice they would do it readily and willingly. In offering these benefits, welcome benefits if we could afford them, I think the picture the Minister portrays of our people looking for these benefits at the expense of other more worthy causes is an untrue, unfair and unjust picture of the real instincts and sentiments of our people.
I was very interested in a remark made by Deputy Loughman. He talked about the way the Government would fight the coming two elections. He said they would go out and win and that they had done it many times before. In effect, he said: “When we imposed severe taxation we explained  to the people and they accepted it and returned us to power.” I think that is a statement of fact. In the great days of the Fianna Fáil Party, between 1932 and 1939, they found the money, with great difficulty, in the face of great misrepresentation, to provide what they then believed the people badly needed, namely, children's allowances, pensions, money to build houses, hospitals, and for one thing or another.
In that very short, enlightened, progressive and radical period they imposed taxes and increased taxation. Surely they were not surprised at the result when they went to the people and said: “You have not very much money but we want a little of what you have in order to provide these benefits so as to give a better living to the under-privileged section. We want to give, if you like, primary education, children's allowances, widows' and orphans' pensions, blind pensions of one kind or another. We want to get rid of the slums and the tenements. We want to give people generally a better life but it will cost you money in taxation and in self-sacrifice.” Time and time again, the Irish people said willingly: “We will give you the money for that cause.” They did so gladly.
I do not know why we should suddenly lose our faith in our people and think that they have now changed from all that. I do not know why we should suddenly think that all our people want are cheaper greyhound racing, cheaper cinemas, cheaper boxing, cheaper dancing and cheaper amusements generally. I am afraid the only interpretation I can put on it is that of a very sad falling-away by a once great, radical, progressive Party from its early ideals, from the ideal enshrined in the Proclamation of the Republic that “the Government of the Republic will cherish equally all children of the nation.” I am afraid there has been a falling-away from all these great ideals and a turning towards the hard reality of politics of eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we have a Referendum Budget. It is a sad and regrettable conclusion to have to come to but I can see no other reason for it.
 The old age pensioners have been the shuttlecock of political activity for many years. I think this is probably one occasion on which a most cynical use has been made of their sad needs to cover up the real interest the Minister now has in our country. It was very illuminating to listen to the Minister's announcement and to hear the applause from the Government benches, the jubilant applause of the Minister's Party whose members were so excited at this wonderful announcement. Instead of 25/- the old age pension allowance will now go to 27/6d. One old man or one old woman is expected to house himself or herself on that sum. Old age pensioners are expected to provide food and light, to warm themselves in the winter, and to clothe themselves and protect themselves against the many inevitable illnesses inseparable from growing old on a sum of 27/6d. a week.
All of us need greater comforts when the body begins to disintegrate and our expenses tend to increase. I believe that most of these people living on 27/6 a week alone, or even with the assistance money, will be living in conditions of semi-starvation, certainly serious malnutrition. I defy any individual to take his 27/6 a week for a year, sometimes five years, sometimes ten years, and to try to live on that allowance. I defy the Minister to do it or to ask anybody whom he loves or respects to do it. Why should he ask anybody, any fellow Irishman or Irishwoman, to do that which he knows himself he could not do and would not ask any of his near ones or loved ones to do?
One of the remarkable achievements of mind conditioning in the Republic of Ireland, the censorship exercised by our newspapers, the indoctrination in our schools and universities, is that we have begun to accept the standard of living which we offer to an aged person—27/6 a week—I do not care who he is or whether it is the Minister for Finance or myself having grown old— as something akin to what we so sacrilegiously call a Christian way of life.
Surely these people who have so few years left should be the first charge  on any moneys available to a Minister for Finance and, until that charge was fully honoured, greyhounds, boxing booths, cinemas, dancehalls, must take a low priority. The needs of those who pay supertax, corporation profits tax, exporters, even though they may be real needs, must come second to our bounden duty as human beings— forget Christianity, because it has now become a dirty word in this House— as human beings to fellow human beings growing old, depending on us for mercy, pity, understanding, comfort, food, drink and clothing in their hour of need.
As I say, the astonishing thing, the wonderful achievement of our indoctrination, brain washing, mind conditioning appliances, built up over the past 35 years is the Taoiseach's phrase, “The best Budget for years.” I presume it is the Taoiseach's phrase as controlling director of the Irish Press newspapers, responsible for its political decisions and everything it contains. Remember the old person reading that he will get 27/6 on a Monday to last out seven days, 24 hours a day, until the following Monday, and the Taoiseach tells him that this is the best Budget for years—half a crown increase in the old age pension, effective in August next.
As the Minister said, with his tongue in his cheek, at page 15 of his speech, most old age pensioners are unable to fend for themselves. He has them at his mercy. They have no trade union movement. There is no powerful agitational group that can force him to do justice to them. So, he will throw them his 27/6 and then go on to have the arrogant gall to tell us about taxation in Great Britain and what a wonderful fellow he is because virtually throughout the whole range of income up to £5,000 a year, the weight of direct taxation on individuals will now be lighter here than it is in Great Britain. What a wonderful achievement ! The Minister has outdone Mr. Heathcote Amory, the greatest true blue Tory in British politics since Stanley Baldwin. What a clever fellow the Minister is!
The Minister forgot to mention that, for their taxation in Britain, they are  carrying on a defence policy, admittedly a very stupid and a very foolish defence policy, but it is a very expensive defence policy and we have no such policy; we have no such expense. The Minister forgot to mention that, for that taxation, the old age pensioner in Britain gets nearly twice what he is giving his old age pensioner. He forgot to mention that, for that taxation, when the British citizen falls ill, he will not go grovelling to one of his Poor Law hospitals or dispensaries looking for pity; he will get the finest medical care, surgical care, hospital attention that there is in the world.
The Minister did not mention that for that discrepancy, when the British child comes to 14 years of age and wants to move on, to develop the talents or brains that he has, the choice is open to him of secondary schools, comprehensive schools, universities, any of the redbrick or older universities. They are all there open to every child equally.
You may have forgotten the Proclamation of the Republic—“Cherish equally all the children of the nation.” Apparently the British have not forgotten. They are not interested in fine words. So every child gets the same chance while here a child receives education up to 14 years. Then it is the street corners with newspapers, the messenger boy's bicycle and, after a little while, an emigrant to do coolie labour in Britain which, fortunately, the British will not allow their people to do. Only our people are able to do that—ours, with the unfortunate West Indians and others.
I have often wondered if anything deeply interested our political leaders in the past 35 years. Did they feel with any real passion about anything? I gathered from some of the speeches by the Taoiseach and others that Partition was something about which they really felt and about which they would like to see something positive achieved. If we leave aside humanitarian considerations—giving every child the same chance, treating the sick alike and not as the rich sick or the poor sick— because clearly our political leaders  have put them aside in the past 35 years in their considerations, surely it must be obvious that the one thing in which there appeared to be interest was the question of Partition. While there continues to be this great discrepancy between standards of living, standards of welfare, education, health, care of old people and even the unemployed, there can be no solution—no peaceful solution certainly—for the problem of Partition.
If for that reason only, why is it that our political leaders, if they are sincere about Partition, if they want to see the end of Partition, could not accept that a reorganisation of our society—a reorganisation in a radical way—was necessary to create the social conditions which were preconditions to the ending of Partition? Why could they not agree to accept a radical change in their doctrinaire conservative political ideas in order to achieve that end? It is clear to me that now, at the end of their years, they feel deeply about little or nothing except their own personal prosperity.
In regard to the general question of taxation, everybody wants to see some reduction of taxation but the Minister made little or no reference to the fact that the heaviest burden of taxation falls, not on the super-tax or sur-tax groups, but on the ordinary wage earner, the white collar worker. To a certain extent, that is because of widespread taxation of one kind or another. Secondly, of course, it is because indirect taxation is probably the heaviest factor as far as the ordinary consumer is concerned, the lower wage groups, and those with lower incomes. They are the people who are hardest hit.
Taxation is at its present high level, it seems to me, largely because of our failure over the years to provide an economic solution which would lead to an increase in our national income to such an extent that taxation could be reduced. We have the loss of productive effort of the chronic nine or ten per cent. unemployed over 30 or 40 years, in addition to the loss of the pittance which we pay them. Through no fault of theirs, they are unemployed.
In passing, I may say that I was interested  to notice that in the relief for the unemployed, only the married man and his children, if any, are affected. I do not know why this should be. I do not know why the single man should not be affected. In the majority of cases, he is unemployed through no fault of his own. He has to buy food and the cost of living has risen for him just as it has for anybody else. If he has no money, he throws himself on a probably already burdened family. He is at the earning stage and cannot earn. Why should he be used to drag down the standard of living of his family, if he happens to be living with them? They are not responsible for the fact that he is not employed. The Government are responsible and the Government should pay for their responsibility.
It is possible for the Government to see that he is in employment, if the Government were prepared to break away from their doctrinaire conservatism, for which they have been prepared to sacrifice everything over the past 30 or 40 years. It is possible to provide for the unemployed; other nations have shown that is so and other nations have succeeded in providing for them. Indeed, if Great Britain had not had the good fortune to have a Socialist Government for a number of years, with Sir Stafford Cripps, to create the whole planned economy, with full employment, our unemployment figures now would be quite fabulous compared even with what they are.
It is possible for the Minister to take steps in order to absorb the unemployed and to absorb the emigrants. The Minister used to think so but his Budget statement now seems to prove that he no longer thinks so. But the Minister is, as always, selective in his penalisation of individuals. There is the unemployed single man. He, I presume the Minister believes, is a lazy scallywag who will not work even if he got a job. Consequently, we are penalising him. Take the young man who is drawing profits from dividends which he holds through no effort whatever of his own. He may draw £2,000,  £3,000, £4,000, £5,000, £10,000, a year or more. This man is not penalised in any way, even though he gets all the benefits of taxation. The unemployed man is tiny and relatively unimportant. It seems to be a window on the Minister's mind, the class attitude of the Minister's mind in relation to these things, the ultra true-blue conservatism of the Minister's whole Budget. The most important factor is that these small concessions are relatively unimportant. I certainly think they will help in the coming election and I have no doubt they were intended to do so.
That still leaves us with the basic problems of unemployment and emigration; and because those problems continue largely unabated it leaves us with the problems of the different Ministers' replies to suggestions that they should improve our health services, or our educational services, or provide better conditions for our old people, and so on. They say we have not got the money. In my view, the Minister gives us no indication whatsoever that he is in any way moved by the fact that there are thousands and thousands of unemployed persons, day after day, month after month, falling into moral decay as the result of being unwanted people in their own society. They are left standing at street corners and their demoralisation eventually ends up as indifference and lack of care as to whether they get work or whether they do not. They become what Deputy Briscoe calls the unemployable. Each unemployable is a tribute to our incompetence over the years. Each emigrant is a tribute to the failure of our economic policies over the years.
One of the difficult things to understand, in the plethora of announcements and pronouncements over the years, about the valiant patriotism of our leaders 20 or 30 years ago, is that they should see our country falling into decay as it is to-day—thousands, hundreds of thousands of our people emigrating, before their eyes and that they have not sufficient patriotism amongst them to say that this requires a radical and revolutionary change in our economic and social policies.  Because it means the saving of our country, because it means the creation of prosperity, because it means giving social justice to those of our fellow men, they should say they are prepared to get rid of the ideas which they have tried diligently, tried and tried again, but which have failed to provide the prosperity we all want.
This belief in private enterprise could have been understandable in the 1930's, when the Minister and his colleagues had their first enthusiasm; but it is quite clear that private enterprise will not provide the number of jobs we want to see provided. Surely it would have been more desirable for the Government to find the capital? There is no shortage of home capital, we have been told by the Tánaiste. Surely it would have been better for the Government to find that capital to establish the companies themselves, as they established the other large semi-State bodies, in order to do the work which private enterprise has failed to do? Surely private enterprise has been fiddling too long, at too great cost to our people? A halt should be called to that method, or let them fiddle away if they wish, but at the same time set up State corporations and bodies on the lines of Aer Lingus, Bord na Móna, the E.S.B., Irish Steel Holdings, and C.I.E. and set up these new companies to provide an outlet for the produce of agriculture in rural Ireland. It seems to me that only the Government can provide this capital on the scale needed, only the Government can look for the markets and take the risks in new markets, away from the British market, while keeping the British market by all means.
Dr. Browne: I am dealing with the Government's failure to provide employment, and I am answering the remark by the Minister for Lands that we should provide suggestions as to how that should be done. I am suggesting that it is clear to all of us, from the Budget Statement, that the Minister has failed in his two years of office,  when there has been a reduction of 32,000 in the number in employment, that the methods he has used are not the correct methods and that we shall see a continuing reduction in the number in employment. Certainly, there will be no substantial increase to take up the 60,000 or 80,000 persons who need steady, remunerative, well-paid work.
He gives us no indication that he proposes to do anything in relation to tariff reductions. Surely the time has come when Irish industries, those which can stand on their own feet, should be made to do so. Are we not paying too much for this protection? The uneconomic industries are costing the consumer too much. Those industries should be given a stated period, paring off the reduction in these protective tariffs, on condition that they go into the export market and fight their corner with all comers. Let them be given a stated reasonable period in which to do this, or alternatively lose protection. The Minister has taken no steps to deal with those restrictive practices and does not say he will deal with them, which still increase the price of commodities to the consumer, which maintain the high cost of living and at the same time facilitate inefficiency in a number of Irish industries.
The Minister must know, as well as I know, that private business, private enterprise, is not concerned with the global national picture. Each business, each industry, each enterprise is concerned solely with its own personal and business prosperity. It is impossible to integrate all these small separate, isolated companies into one coherent, cohesive drive. That can be done only by central direction. On the one hand, we have proved the inefficiency of the private enterprise sector of our economy and, on the other hand, we have proved the remarkable efficiency of the State-sponsored concerns which, because of the conservatism of our political leaders, have been restricted to the more non-productive capital investment type of enterprise, and to those which private business did not feel it could possibly enter into, such as air transport and so on.
 I believe that the solution of our troubles lies in an expansion of capital investment by the Government, by the State, by the people, in productive manufacturing, textile and industrial concerns of all kinds. That is the way the world is going. Some form of socialism, social ownership and control, is the means of progress—the doctrine of James Connolly, preached 44 years ago and agreed to then by so many of his comrades but since betrayed by so many of his comrades. That is the basic and fundamental principle, the sole and only basic fundamental principle, on which any society can create prosperity, and the world around us shows us that is true. Even in the home and fountain head of private enterprise—in America— they cannot increase employment. In fact, unemployment is rising. Employment there in the ten year period 1947-57 rose by a mere one per cent. Faced by the problem of mechanisation and automation, they had no answer to it except to throw people out of employment. Industrialists are not concerned with the national wellbeing, the national welfare of the mass of the people as a whole, as are the people in socialist countries.
This is a very important Budget because I believe, and sincerely hope, it represents the impending departure of the head of the Government. It represents the end of an epoch. This, I suppose, could be called the Taoiseach's last will and testament. This represents the realisation of his dreams—all the defects and deficiencies, emigration, a country in decay, economic decadence, a class-privilege type of educational system, one kind for the rich and none at all for the poor, pauper law in our health services —but, as he said in his famous headline “The Best Budget Ever.” He will retire to his £12,000 a year, knowing the old age pensioners he left behind him get 27/6d. in the week.
Mr. Manley: The Budget is always the highlight of this Parliamentary session. For weeks before it, we have the usual speculation and doubts and fears,  but then, when the Minister reveals his Budget's secrets, we have sighs of relief and the usual comments, sometimes favourable, sometimes unfavourable. The Budget is none other than the nation's balance sheet. On the one hand, we have the recorded revenue, revenue from taxation, non-tax revenue, revenue from savings, borrowings and so on and, on the other hand, we have the record of expenditure. The problem facing any Minister of State is to equate these, to balance them and to see whether the revenue measures up to expenditure and, on that result, he forecasts what can be done in the forthcoming year. Balancing a Budget can be compared with balancing the accounts of any ordinary business that has to face good days and bad days, that is subject to fluctuations inside and outside the country.
It is quite clear to everybody in this House that our Budgets, over the years, are as much influenced by external conditions as they are by internal conditions. Being an exporting and importing country, we are, of course, subject to the fluctuations that occur around us. We have seen that revenue has been very buoyant over the past year. That was anticipated. Certainly, the increases in salaries and wages were bound to bring about increased revenue but, apart from that, our terms of trade were very favourable. We were able to buy some of our goods and our raw materials at very competitive prices abroad and our exports all the time fetched satisfactory prices.
It was in these favourable circumstances that the Minister was able to face his Budget this year and produce a balanced Budget. But, in spite of all that buoyancy and all that activity, it is difficult to understand why we still have, in the latest return, over 71,000 unemployed in our midst. That is all the more remarkable when we are told that the year 1958 showed a decrease in the number of registered employed of 10,000. These figures have been referred to very often during this debate.
We accept that the Budget has been balanced but it has been balanced at a point that shows a record in the history of the State for taxation, and a record  for expenditure, as far as I can glean from the tables issued by the Department of Finance. Deputy Sweetman made some startling revelations here last Wednesday when he asserted that if the Budget had been dealt with on the basis of the previous Budget, this Budget would show a deficit rather than a surplus. If there has been a deviation from conventional standards, or from accepted standards, I think it is imperative that the Minister should explain why these deviations were made, wherever there has been manipulation of figures. We cannot afford to see any such manipulation in the Department of Finance. It is that very thing which shakes confidence in the Government and which kills faith in Ministers and in Deputies.
In fairness to the holder of the office previously, I think there is an explanation forthcoming as to why that should be. The Minister says that in the favourable circumstances presented to him this year, he is taking a risk and making certain concessions. I think he is taking a gamble. I believe there is a good deal of the gamble element associated with Budgets at all times. Personally, I would say that the Budget is a most ingenious one. For the sum that is at stake, the reliefs are very diversified. The old age pensioners have got half-a-crown, an increase of 10 per cent. When related to the actual money value, 10 per cent. is rather small; but nevertheless it is an indication that the Minister realises the plight of the aged people. It is one of the best social services, and one of the most worthy, we have. It gives the aged a certain pride and independence in their old age and something to look forward to when they pass the age of 70. In addition, it encourages the young people, who have the obligation of looking after aged parents, uncles, aunts or other relatives. It also ensures that these old people will not be neglected. Certainly, we are all grateful for the fact that they have been considered in this Budget. We regret that more could not be done under present circumstances but this is a step in the right direction.
The major concession is the relief given in the standard rate of income  tax. As far as I know—I am open to correction on this—it is the first given in this country since 1948. I am sure it is very welcome all round. There is, however, great disappointment that the personal allowance has not been increased. It is preposterous that there has not been any change in that for a number of years. People who earn £4 a week with no dependents at all are liable for income tax. Those who have to work away from home and have to pay for their board and lodging are forced to pay income tax. They are living on limited wages and, by the time they meet their income tax demands, they have nothing left in the way of pocket-money or money for amusements.
I know a girl who was in the Bank of Ireland in Belfast for two years —she is in the Twenty-Six Counties now—whose parents had to send her money all the time she was there and who had to send her money when she came into the Twenty-Six Counties. She had to meet income tax demands and the wage was not sufficient to provide her with decent “digs”. I know one boy from the country—I can prove this on oath— who paid £5 a week for board and lodging in an ordinary guest-house in this very city. His wages were very limited and he had to meet income tax demands. There is no relation whatever between the personal allowance and money values of today.
I do not at all agree with the Minister in taking the duty off greyhound racing. I think the £20,000 saved would make no difference whatever to the industry. It could have been applied to some scheme that would have greater national advantage. Neither do I agree with the Minister in taking the duty off boxing. Whatever may be said about amateur boxing, I do not believe it would be good for us in this country to encourage the promotion of professional boxing. We are a highly sensitive and, at the same time, a highly emotional race. Candidly, I think professional boxing, where big money is at stake, can become most inhuman and brutal. It has never been associated with our tradition or  our way of life down the years. I hope that the change the Minister has made will not promote the initiation of professional boxing in this country. Another point is that it might be dangerous to be in this House in such an eventuality.
As far as I can gather from the Tables, there is an expenditure envisaged in the Budget for the coming year of £204,000,000. It is a staggering sum for a small, impoverished island nation with 2,900,000 people. There must be a good deal of hidden money somewhere when all that can be provided in our difficult circumstances. What is really happening is that we are adopting a sort of deferred payment system, from national level down along the line. Any local authority of consequence today is forced to adopt that system, and many households are forced to adopt it. That is very evident from the fact that hire purchase in this country, which was at an approximate figure of £1,000,000 20 years ago, has reached the dimensions of £12,000,000 or £13,000,000 to-day. I do not think the figures bear any relation to the exact position around us. We have the liberalising policy of the banks, giving greater credit facilities. That is a good thing in many ways, but the danger is that we can go too far to the left or the right. As we know, extremes are always dangerous. I hope that whatever credit facilities are available will not be misused but will be utilised for development purposes and to capitalise projects of national value.
It is extraordinary that our Ministers are so prone to look for capital abroad and that, over the years, we have not been able to get anything in the industrial line as efficient or of such utility as the old industries established before the State was founded. There is nothing to-day to compare with the old woollen industry, the boot and shoe trade, the brewing and distilling industry, Jacob's biscuit factory, and a few others. Simply because those industries were closely associated with agriculture, they have  stood the test of time and have been so successful down the years.
The fact that Ministers are going abroad and searching the world markets for capital is a reflection on ourselves, an indication that we have no faith in ourselves and that the industrialists here, who have been proven to have their ear to the ground and who are prepared to invest in private or national enterprises, have not been taken into consideration, and have not followed the example of Messrs. Arthur Guinness who have put £750,000 into Irish enterprises in the last couple of years. That is a gesture on which they should be highly complimented. We should like to see more such gestures.
According to recent statistics our industrial position is serious enough. There was an increase in output of only 4 per cent. since 1953, excepting 1955, which showed an increase of 8 per cent. In this document submitted by the Association of Chambers of Commerce of Ireland to the Minister for Finance in regard to 1959-60, there are some figures which give food for deep thought. The most startling feature of this document is the fact that the total amount of public debt as at 31st March, 1958, was £347.7 millions; other capital liabilities represented a further £65.5 millions; State guarantees outstanding amounted to £85.5 millions. Thus, the total actual and contingent liabilities of the State at that date were £498.7 millions. These liabilities are partly covered by assets which were taken into account at a figure of £231.1 millions.
Will we ever again see the day when we will be able to liquidate these liabilities? It will certainly not happen in our time. We are handing over to posterity a liability posterity will never be able to meet. Posterity will have reason to think poorly of their forebears responsible for the position in which they will find itself. This country started from scratch 37 years ago. Any serious person must reflect on the perilous state of our economic and financial situation to-day. There is no ground for complacency; there is no cause for jubilation. No matter how buoyant the revenue or how good the  terms of trade, there are serious problems to be tackled. When will the Government come down to realities and bring our national institutions into line with the nation's requirements? When will an effort be made to cut out the extravagance and ensure that we shall survive as an independent island nation?
Mr. Corry: I agree with Deputy Manley that there is no ground for complacency. I should like to congratulate the Deputy on the fact that he is the first speaker on the Opposition benches who has not accused the Minister of endeavouring, through the medium of the Budget, to bribe the voters.
In order to get a proper picture of the position to-day, we must go back to that day in March, 1957, when the then Government cleared out leaving their dirty debts behind them, because they could not pay them. I am a member of a local authority. What was the position in our local authority in Cork? The money due from the Road Fund for the year 1954-55 had not been paid on 7th March, 1957, when the late Government left office. In order to keep the road workers employed, we had to get loans from the bank. That was the position. On 20th March, 1957, one week after he took office, the Minister for Local Government sent out to local authorities close on £1,500,000 to pay the debts owed to local authorities by the previous Government.
Consider the position in relation to grants in general. The housing grants were left unpaid. Young married people who hoped to get a grant from the local authority and from the State to provide themselves with a house found there was no money forthcoming. These grants were not paid because there was no money to meet them.
We hear a great deal of talk about unemployment. The last Government borrowed in three and a half years £98,000,000—three times as much as was borrowed by the previous Cumann na nGaedheal and Fianna Fáil Governments combined over 25 years. How much of that money was devoted to  providing permanent employment for our people? We have been told it was spent on capital development projects. Where are they? These Coalition Governments piled on the deadweight debt. The figure when they took office was £4,200,000 a year in principal and interest; the day they left office in 1951 it was £9.5 millions. In 1954, the figure was £9,700,000; in 1957, it was £15,408,000. That money had to be found from the unfortunate people each year before there was a halfpenny for anybody.
Now, we are all interested primarily in our own constituencies. Money was voted in this House in 1952, or 1953, for the erection of a sheetmill in Haulbowline. That sheetmill was never erected. The money was put to some other purpose. I remember a colleague here, the former Deputy O'Gorman; repeatedly he wailed here about the condition of the town of Youghal. I went to Youghal on several occasions and it would nearly make you cry to go up to Sarsfield Terrace. When you asked for somebody, you were told he was over in England, “trying to earn a few shillings to keep us.” That was the condition of the town on the day Deputy O'Gorman left the House. What is the position today? I shall give you Deputy O'Gorman's own words. Speaking as chairman of Youghal Urban Council on the first week of this month when he received a teachers' congress in Youghal he welcomed the delegates and said: “They were holding their congress in a town steeped in history, a town which prided itself on being the premier resort in the South and one of the most highly industrialised towns in Ireland which had no unemployment.”
Mr. Corry: No; they were working and thank God for it. That is the change since March, 1957 when Dr. Ryan took over as Minister for Finance. “One of the most highly industrialised towns in Ireland”—let that sink in. That is the description given by one who was constantly asking questions as to the number of  unemployed in the town, the amount of work available, and the number of people who had to leave the town during the period the inter-Party Government were in office. The reason for the change, of course, is confidence.
The position is the same in the town of Midleton and the town of Cobh, with prospects of further and permanent employment in both cases. That is a big change from the conditions prevailing in March, 1957. I heard Deputy Blowick and others saying that the reliefs in taxes on cinema owners and dog racing and the increase in old age pensions and all the rest were a bribe to catch votes for the coming election.
Mr. Corry: If there is any man in this House or in the country who thinks that the Taoiseach needs a bribe to get from the Irish people what is his right and his due, he is living in a very queer position, as June 17th will prove. I hate to hear people who were steeped to the neck in corruption and worse when they were in office—and they ran out of it—coming along here to talk about bribery and votes.
Let the House put whatever construction they like on this. On 26th January, 1951, the South Cork Board of Assistance wrote to the Minister for Social Welfare asking sanction for an order for an increase in the remuneration of superintendent assistance officers and assistance officers by a temporary allowance of 12½ per cent. to meet the steep increase in the cost of living. This was the reply:
“I am directed by the Minister for Social Welfare to inform you that the revision of salaries which took place and took effect from the 1st June, 1948 is regarded as a comprehensive adjustment and he is not prepared to sanction the further increase.”
That letter was sent to South Cork Board of Assistance on 3rd February, 1951. On 7th May, 1951, three days after the inter-Party Government had  dissolved, the following letter was sent by the Minister for Social Welfare:
I am directed by the Minister for Social Welfare to state that he has had under consideration proposals from local authorities for the payment of a bonus allowance to meet the increased cost of living to superintendent assistance officers and assistance officers.
I am to state that he approves of the proposal to increase as from a date not earlier than the 1st November, 1950, the salaries of these officers by 12½ per cent. Where a proposal for an increase has not been already submitted by a public assistance authority the Minister will be prepared to consider favourably a proposal on the foregoing basis.
Mr. Corry: I am dealing with allegations made here in connection with the Budget that it was a sop and a bribe to catch votes. I want to know what the House thinks when a Minister who was there as a caretaker waiting for his successor to take over, first refused, when there was no election in February, to give any allowance—it was not needed then—but three days after the Dáil dissolved, agreed it was needed and could be dated back to the previous November so that every home assistance officer in Cork County had six months' back-pay in his pocket and an increase in salary as an inducement to vote the right way.
This was not confined to the Labour Minister for Social Welfare. The same letter was issued from the Department of Local Government on 4th May, the day the Dáil dissolved, and two letters were issued signed by Deputy Costello, one on 7th May and the other on 17th, a week before they went to the polls. I shall let the House judge who tried the bribery. If there is anything that annoys any decent man, it is that. That cost the taxpayers £875,000 and it cost the unfortunate ratepayers close on £2,000,000. That letter cost the people of South Cork 1/8d. in the £.
Mr. Corry: When the inter-Party Government cleared out head, neck and heels, having made that financial mess, the Minister had to come along and clean it up, and we are now in a position where we can at last relieve, to some extent, the burdens oppressing the poor. That is the present condition of affairs.
I had no intention of intervening in this debate until I saw Deputy after Deputy, and ex-Minister after ex-Minister, getting up here and sneering: “Oh, it is an election Budget.” We might get an election Budget in three years' time. Nobody can tell me that with the way the Minister for Finance is working things out, we will have to run out before that because of being unable to pay our debts. There is no danger of that.
I certainly expected that reliefs would be given but I thought there would be a very substantial increase in the relief of rates on agricultural land, in view of the fact that successive Governments have thrown extra burdens back on the ratepayers, and directly back on them. I have studied that matter as closely as I could. I have not indulged in any wild statements in regard to the employment position in my county and in my constituency. I have quoted an ex-Deputy and I have given his statement of the existing position in the town of Youghal.
In my opinion, we are faced with the condition of affairs that if we are to provide for the population, we need to provide a new industry in each town every ten years. Can we do that? That is the only method I know of by which emigration can be ended. Can we do it? Is there room for it? I shall be dealing with that aspect on the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce. That is the proper place to deal with it, and  I shall have more scope to deal with it on that Vote than I would have elsewhere. I know that very little is required. Irish Steel Holdings is a State-controlled industry which could give employment to an extra 200 or 300 men. I have repeatedly mentioned that here. Perhaps we might now find the £250,000 which was voted by the House back in 1953 to start a sheet mill industry there. Perhaps now that the Minister is feeling so happy and flush, he will find that money, which would give a means of employment, not for a day or a month or until a job is finished, but permanently.
I suggest the openings are there and all we need to do is to force the pace in that respect. I suggest that any Deputy who looks after his constituency and his constituents need not be afraid so far as unemployment is concerned, because if he is prepared to force the pace, there will be very little unemployment in his district.
Mr. Tierney: In the course of his statement, the Minister for Lands said it was a shame to waste so many hours talking about this Budget, but as the speaker who followed him rightly pointed out, it is a privilege of the House, at present at any rate, to debate and talk on such a very important subject as the Budget.
I believe the Budget is very important to a vast number of our people, particularly to the poorer elements and the workers. While I am dissatisfied with the small increase which has been given to the old age pensioners, I am glad that at last something has been given to them, even though it is only 2/6d. Married men with wives and families who attend at the labour exchanges have also been given an increase of 2/6d. While it is small, it is better than nothing, but at the same time, I cannot understand why the unemployed unmarried man has not been included in the benefits given in the Budget. He, too, has to maintain himself and he should have been given some small benefit.
I believe—it does not matter if Deputy Corry believes otherwise—that this Budget was designed solely to distribute a small amount of money  around a big circle of people. I believe it was designed with one object in view, that is, the elections which are to be held some time in the next few months. What makes me think that is that when the Minister for Finance was making his announcement to the House, when he was bestowing all the benefits that he said would accrue to so many people, he also mentioned the benefits he was giving to greyhound racing, dancing and boxing. The latter benefits came into force less than 12 hours after the Minister made his announcement, but the benefits to the people who really and truly were most in need of them—the old age pensioner and the unemployed man with a wife and family—are not to come into operation until next August.
Any fair-minded Deputy or any fair-minded man or woman outside the House will ask: “What is the reason for that?” The reason is very simple if you probe deeply into the political minds of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. If my memory serves me correctly, when the Minister made the announcement about the increase in old age pensions, he said that the amount of 2/6 would be for people who had no other means. If that is the case we in the local authorities will be in the same difficulty in which we were two years ago. Old age pensioners drawing three or four shillings home assistance—about 60 per cent. of them are drawing it at present—will not receive this increase.
The home assistance officers know the circumstances of these people and they realise that 25/- is not enough to provide the necessities of life. Therefore, with the co-operation of the local authorities, they supplement that small sum with a few shillings a week home assistance. I should like the Minister to clarify the position as to whether this increase will be given to such people. It is no use in a Minister saying that he has made no Order authorising the home assistance officer to deduct 2/- or any other amount. I appeal to the Minister to give an assurance to the House that, where those people are drawing a few shillings  from home assistance or from any other source, this half-crown will not be disallowed.
I would appeal to the Minister also to give something to the unemployed single man who has his own necessities of life to provide. Young men with any kind of independence do not want to be a burden on their people. They would prefer to look for employment across the water. These young men do not want to be signing on at the Labour Exchange; they would prefer to do a day's work. Many people think that every man who goes to the Labour exchange does not want work, but that is not true.
I was deeply disappointed with the Budget. For the past few years Fianna Fáil have been telling us they had to do unpopular things due to the alleged mismanagement of affairs by the inter-Party Government: the inter-Party Government squandered this and squandered that and when Fianna Fáil came into power the finances were in such a parlous state that they had to take steps to curtail expenditure. I thought we were finished with that when the Government last year took over £9,000,000 from the people by way of food subsidies. Although they took that £9,000,000 from the people, the people are now to be compensated to the extent of 2/6d. a week. The Budget in which Fianna Fáil removed the food subsidies did more harm than can be compensated for by granting this half crown increase. It affected the poorer sections of the community in a very serious way.
The cost of living has gone up substantially. From replies to questions we find, that when the inter-Party Government was in power the cost of living went up, say, 11 points and when Fianna Fáil was in power it went up 11 points. It does not matter to the people who caused the increase, the inter-Party Government or Fianna Fáil. The people must still buy bread, butter, tea and sugar and must have the means of purchasing these necessities of life.
Various promises have been made by members of the Government from time to time. Fianna Fáil have been  the Government for almost 26 years. They are not a young Party, such as Clann na Poblachta, making rash statements to the electorate to the effect that if they were put into power they would bestow all kinds of benefits on the people. Any statements Fianna Fáil made in the last election campaign were made by statesmen who had been in Government for at least 26 years. They promised off every platform, outside every Church gate, that the cost of living would be substantially reduced. They told farmers in my own constituency, which is a big tillage area, that if they were elected as the Government they would increase the price of wheat and barley. Not alone did they not increase the price of wheat but they reduced it so that it is down by 5/9d.
Mr. Tierney: Yes, but other Deputies on the far side of the House said that Fianna Fáil promised nothing to the electorate, that we left a pile of debt behind us. I was explaining to the House that the promises they made to the people have not been carried out and I now merely wish to point out that, in relation to wheat and barley, the farmer, like the majority of the people, has been let down badly by Fianna Fáil.
In relation to unemployment it can be accepted that as the years go by, unless there is a change of Government, there will be fewer and fewer unemployed every year because the pool from which the unemployed people come is becoming smaller and smaller. When the figure of 32,000 is taken off the figures for the past two years, plus 60,000 to 80,000 for the past six or eight years, it is only natural that the unemployment figures will grow smaller each year. It is only natural to assume that each year the unemployment figures will be lower. What hurts is that members of the Government Party are even boasting about the reduced unemployment figures. If we continue as we have been going on, we shall have very few unemployed  because only the aged and the very young will be left in the country.
Deputy Corry spoke about money owed by the inter-Party Government on housing. More money was spent on housing in the last year of the inter-Party Government than was spent in the last two years under the present Government—and that has a bearing on the unemployment and poverty of many people for whom we speak.
This is an election Budget but it will boomerang on the Government. It will not do what they hope it will do. The ordinary country person is asking why concessions were given to cinemas, dancing, boxing and greyhound racing. They want to know what benefit that will be to the country in general. I believe, in relation to boxing, dancing and greyhound racing, that nobody will benefit but the promoters. The benefit will not come back to the general public and therefore the concession is of no actual benefit to the people.
I thought that the least the Government could give to the old age pensioners was 5/-. The Labour Party had a Private Members motion put down in relation to that matter. I believe that pressure from the Labour Party and every other Party in this House and every group outside the House made the Government give the old age pensioners this small increase of 2/6. If we had kept quiet and if the people outside had kept quiet about the plight of the old age pensioners, there would not be a word about them in this Budget.
I want the Minister to clarify the position of old age pensioners in relation to this increase of 2/6d. I want him to make it clear that the 2/6d. will be paid in full to each old age pensioner, that there will not be a means test, that there will not be a reduction by home assistance officers, that the full increase is for each and every person entitled to draw the old age pension.
Mr. Carew: This is the annual account of the nation's finances when Deputies give their views on the Budget. Listening to the discussion on the various aspects of the financial position of the country, emigration,  unemployment and other matters, one cannot help thinking how unreal a lot of such speech-making can be. I will not go through the Book of Estimates or weary the House with figures but all the information is available there.
Some speakers have compared one Government's term of office with that of another. It is only right that one should state the conditions obtaining during the term of office of one Government and compare them with the conditions obtaining during that of another Government. When the inter-Party Government left office in 1957, it is no exaggeration to say that there was credit restriction all over the world, particularly in Britain. When credit restriction starts in one country it also operates in another. It is an established practice in business to check once a year and to look at one's position over, may be, a two- or three-year period. There are periods of prosperity and periods of depression. These periods arise from various causes— causes which cannot be attributed to any particular Government.
Deputy Corry made great play on the reasons why the inter-Party Government left office in 1957. He sought to establish that things got out of hand and that we were refused money. It is quite true that money was restricted at that time but it was also restricted in England. We all know that 1956 was a most difficult year and that the Government were faced with many problems. One was the fall in cattle prices and another was the Suez Canal crisis. The fall in cattle prices was a very serious matter for us especially when we recall that the industry was worth £45 million last year. There was a reason for that over which the Government had no control. In order to obtain much-needed money, the Argentine Government exported meat to Britain at prices lower than those at which we could sell it.
The Suez Canal crisis occurred in that year also. It was feared we were on the verge of war. The Egyptian Government prevented petrol being sent to Britain and to this country through the Suez Canal. The consequent shortage of petrol entailed a restriction  on the use of motor cars. The Government derive a good deal of revenue from that source and therefore the hold-up in petrol supplies meant a serious loss of revenue.
Then we had credit restriction. We had to have it because more money was needed for capital employment than was available. It is no discredit to any Government to spend money which they consider should be spent in the national interest. Will anybody assert that house-building in 1956 was unnecessary? I have heard statements in this House—certainly from some members of the Fianna Fáil Party— about the unemployment that would result if more houses were not built. It is a very strange thing that housing is not referred to now.
It was the policy of the inter-Party Government to build houses for the people, although they realised that it would put a strain on the national finances. The comparison Deputy Corry has made between the amount of money due to local authorities in 1957 and in 1959 is no indication as to the merits or demerits of any Government. We know that in Dublin alone the number of houses being built at present is not one-third of the number built at that time and that the number of persons engaged in the building industry in Dublin was 3,000 odd at that time compared with 700 or 800 early this year. That gives a picture of the employment position in the building industry. If houses are not being built, there is no necessity to provide money for that purpose.
Deputy Corry asked why the Government left office in 1957. We all know that they left office because at that time an organisation in this country took it on themselves to adopt war measures against another part of the country; that the Government, acting properly and as any Government should act, under the Constitution, took it on themselves to stop those who were committing illegal acts, that, because they did so, a certain Party in this House at that time told the Government that they would withdraw their support and that, when that threat was put to the Government, the  Government had to resign. It is just as well to state that. It is a very bad thing for one Government to blame another and to suggest that they left office because of bankruptcy. Such talk depresses people. I feel that a great deal of harm has been done in that connection.
Deputy Corry rightly said that the tendency of the Government is to pass on to the local rates much of the responsibility the Central Government should bear. That is quite true. Ratepayers are feeling the effect of that policy. Every county has its problem. I am a member of Limerick Corporation. We are faced with that situation every day. I shall explain how that happens. In 1957, the Government abolished food subsidies to the extent of £9,000,000, which the Government said could be put to other purposes, and which taxpayers would be saved. In order to do that they had to increase the price of bread, butter, flour and other commodities, with the result that workers had to seek increases in wages. It was agreed by a number of trade unions, although they were not quite happy about it, that 10/- would be accepted as representing the increase in the cost of living imposed by the Budget. Generally, employees received an increase of 10/- per week. In some cases, the workers received less, where the industry could not bear the 10/-. It was a case of taking the weight off the Exchequer and passing it on to industry. Industry had not to bear it all. Farmers and other people had to bear their share.
That sum of £9,000,000 had to come from somewhere. As a result of the Budget, wages and social services had to be increased. Local authorities were faced with increased costs of their institutions resulting from the increased cost of food, and with increased wages and demands for increases from practically every department under their control. As I have said, industry, shopkeepers, small traders, farmers generally, had to bear their share of the burden. Some of these sections received certain reliefs but not sufficient to cover the increased costs imposed on them. Farmers had to meet increased rates and they had to accept from this Government  a reduction in the price of barley, wheat and milk. One would expect that, when their costs were increased, the prices of their produce would have been maintained, but that was not the case. The result is that many farmers who were engaged in tillage and milk production have not been able to get satisfactory returns from their labours. In addition, they had to face last year one of the worst years on record, which resulted in very severe hardship.
In 1957, we said that the Government were inflicting severe hardship on the people. We are justified now in saying that we were right because the Government, in this Budget, have come to the assistance of many people who were injured by the 1957 Budget and who are now in difficulty.
The income tax and surtax concessions in this Budget are much-needed and very welcome reliefs. They are an indication in the right direction. Of course, the Government had, of necessity, to give those reliefs. They gave them and the taxpayers concerned are very happy about it. The British Government made similar concessions and we were very glad that our Minister followed the same line.
Industry had to bear the burden of increased wages arising from the abolition of food subsidies. It must also be borne in mind that some of our older industries were established without any State aid, except, in some cases, a repayable loan from the Industrial Credit Corporation. Today, certain industries are receiving very substantial capital benefits. It is a great hardship on industries that were established 20 years ago, when credit facilities were not available as they are now, to pay in income tax and corporation profits tax one-half of their profits. The high taxation on industry has contributed to the reduction in employment. We must rely on industry to create employment—on old-established industries and on newly-established industries. I agree with Deputy Corry when he says that a new industry is required in most big towns practically once in every ten years. It is not an easy matter to get people to put money into an industry  unless they feel that their capital will be reasonably safe and that there is a future for them in the industry.
It is depressing to find that in 1958, as compared with 1956, we had 32,000 fewer in employment. Some of those people are still in the country but others have left it, but to my mind that figure is a reflection on the policy of the Government. There is something wrong when one finds fewer and fewer people in employment each year. We have it from the Government statistics that last year there was a reduction of 10,000 and if that reduction is to continue it is going to be a serious matter. Industries in this country are to a great extent dependent on selling their goods within the country and the greater the numbers of unemployed the less purchasing power there will be. Thus there will be more emigration and higher costs. People in industry know that if you can increase your production you will lower your costs. Any industry that does not try to lower its costs is going in the wrong direction because the lowering of costs is the best policy for ensuring that the trade enjoyed will not be jeopardised.
Emigration and unemployment are at a very high level at the moment. It is quite true that there are a certain number of people who will always be on the unemployment register but the numbers of unemployed are far too high for the size of the country. I am sorry to see that we have not been able to devise some means of helping the unemployed. It is all very well to say that people like to be idle but the fact is that a big portion of the unemployed hate signing at the Labour Exchange. I admire people who emigrate because I think it is far better to emigrate if there is no employment in the country. The point is, however, that if you lose your people, lose whole families, you will lose the trade which you now enjoy.
Exception seems to have been taken to the fact that some speakers on this side of the House described this Budget as an election Budget. There is a certain amount of truth in that; it  may be overstated, but people I meet in the country say to me: “Well, did they not spread the concessions over everybody—a pinch of snuff all round”. Perhaps that was necessary but the concessions mean very little to many of our people. I would say that the old age pensioners deserve all they got, and even more. So do the blind pensioners and the widows and orphans. In this country, we have a tradition of trying to help the poor and people who are stricken, either through unemployment, disease or otherwise.
In 1957 the Government gave the old-age pensioners 1/- increase to meet the increased cost of bread, butter and flour. We were accused of making capital out of the miseries of the old people when we said that the allowances to them were far too little. That has been proved correct by the people's circumstances since and their demands on local authorities for additional support to keep themselves alive. I think that the Government should at least be able to grant those increases from the 1st April and I would appeal to the Minister to grant them as from that date.
The Minister gave concessions to certain industries which, if you like, might be called luxury industries. I certainly think, although others on this side might not agree with me, that the cinema industry deserved the concessions it got. We know that as a result of television, and perhaps of so many people being unemployed, there are not so many people attending cinemas now. Cinemas are an industry in themselves and, unless they get support, they will not be able to give the people the entertainment which they need and they will not be able to show films of the high standard which we would like our children to see and the people generally to enjoy. I know that representations from many angles were made to the Minister and I am glad that he gave this concession because the industry was in a rather difficult position.
In my opinion boxing, dancing and greyhound racing could very well have stood the test of the taxation imposed on them. I do not think that the small amount of extra money involved represented  any great hardship for people who frequent greyhound racing.
I wish to point out that I should not like my speech to be considered as obstructionist in any way to the efforts of the Minister. A Minister of State, such as the Minister for Finance, has a difficult job. He has to extract money from people in various ways and give concessions to others and we all know the demands which are being made on various Government Departments. In the long run, the Minister for Finance is the man who has to say “yes” or “no” to those demands.
We know, as members of local authorities, the demands placed on us. We try to get as much as we can from the Department every year to meet our many pressing problems. One has to take the long view, however, and see if the money is available. I know that Ministers for Finance are in a difficult position. They are responsible to all the other Ministers who come, in turn, demanding concessions of various kinds.
I hope that any benefits in this Budget will help to relieve the interests concerned. No matter what Government is in power, we would all rejoice if employment could be found for our people and if emigration could be reduced to a minimum. We may have to carry a certain number of unemployed, but that burden would then rest more lightly as the years go by. I trust the industrial drive will not suffer. I always encourage people, when they are employing their money, to put it into Irish industry. Money is as safe in some of the industries here as it is in many industries outside. Much more of the capital required for our industries could be supplied, if it were not so hard to get the people to understand that the money invested here is invested in the national interest. If we can improve the economic conditions in the country, in industry or in business, we will all share in the benefits.
Captain Giles: While I agree that people must be thankful for small mercies, at the same time we must call this “a lannah-machree Budget” because it goes a bit of the road with everyone and yet it gives satisfaction  to no one. To hear those on the other side talking, one would think it is not an election Budget; but does not everyone know that it is? If the Minister were serious about the national economy, he would give decent relief where he should give it and not spread these reliefs all over—on boxing, greyhound racing, dancing and so on. They are designed purely and simply to catch the eye of the public.
I am glad he gave income tax relief, but what alternative had he? England gave relief in income tax and if he had not done so, the money would not have remained here and so there was no thanks to the Minister for doing this. Old age pensioners were given a paltry half-a-crown. He ought to be ashamed of himself. He has given relief to greyhound racing, boxing, cinemas and dancing, but he would not give the old age pensioners five shillings to bring them up to thirty shillings. No one suffers more tribulation and privation than the old age pensioner. There has been very much talk about them for the last 30 years, but all they have got is a paltry 27/6d.
I would have preferred if the Minister had been decent about it and given a decent relief to the pre-1950 retired teachers. They should have got full satisfaction, no matter where the money comes from. It is their due. The old I.R.A. are to be given a little also, this 6 per cent. The majority have not got £20 a year, excepting the officers and higher salaried men. What are they going to get? Almost nothing. I would prefer to see the Minister taking his courage in his hands and taking the medals and pensions off those who never should have got them. He would not try to do that, because it would be unpopular. We know that all round the country there are such frauds. In County Kerry alone there are hundreds and thousands drawing pensions and medals who should never have got them. Still, there is no effort made to bring that to an end.
Captain Giles: I do not know what they belong to, but justice should be done. There is no effort to face up to  realities. The national debt has piled up year after year and we are getting a poor return for it. There is a national emergency and what we want is a united front to face it. There are 71,000 unemployed in this small island of ours. Emigration has been in full swing for the last 10 or 15 years. There is almost £400 millions of a national debt. Is it not a poor-looking concern, this national economy of ours, to have that debt in a small country, over 30 years? Then we are told that all this debt was created by the inter-Party Government. That is the greatest of rot. These debts were incurred from 1922 onwards. There was high-falutin, nonsense from 1922 to 1927, which cost the country millions and millions, with wrecking and looting, robbery and plunder. Then, when they had no money, they skulked their way into this House to get salaries.
They tell people we robbed the country. We know who robbed the farmers from 1932 to 1937. No one knows it better than the Minister for Finance, because he was the man who cut the throats of the thousands of calves and said he was proud of it. Now he whines once more and he wants better and bigger cattle to send to John Bull. Was there ever such about-face, hypocrisy or humbug? He expects the people to swallow that. That is why the country is in the position it is. They should have faced realities 35 years ago and been men about it. Instead, when they were “broke”, they skulked in here to see what they could get here.
A revolutionary approach to our position is needed immediately. Millions of pounds are leaving the country annually. We are letting foreign insurance companies take from £12 millions to £20 millions out of the country each year. I do not know the exact sum, but they are bringing millions out each year. No effort is  made to ask them to invest £1 in this country, but they can bring it into Canada or Britain and invest it wherever they like. We let the money out free, gratis and for nothing, while we are crying out here for capital. Is it not time some approach was made to that? If these people do not realise that their first duty is to the country where they get the money and their second duty to invest it outside, to let first things come first, at least this Minister for Finance or some Government should face up to the situation and save these millions which are leaving the country.
The banks over recent years have been sending out all the farmers' deposits and investing them abroad. Why could they not be patriotic in the last 25 years and invest that money here? We are whining and crying to foreign countries for foreign capital for use in Ireland. The Government is too proud to face up to the problem, because big financiers and big rings would almost smash the Government; but they would not smash this House. We should ensure that all that credit is controlled in the interests of the Irish people. If that were done, we would not have the drain on the young generation, the life blood of the country. What will the generation coming after us say of us except that we were a spineless lot, that we were good in the fighting field and won the battle but lost the peace?
We have lost because we had not the courage to stand up to the economic position and do our duty by the people. We were told that that would be revolutionary and unorthodox. It is those methods which will save the country, not the orthodox things about which we hear so much, with Ministers attending banquets, dining and wining and saying that we are “round the corner”.
How often have I heard the Minister for Industry and Commerce say during the past two years that we were almost around the corner? It must be a hell of a big corner. You could not see around it but, as always, in muddled thinking, they believe things are going grand. If the Minister for Industry and Commerce had not been  there for the past ten or 15 years, and if he were got away out of the country, the country could be on its feet. He has done more harm to Irish agriculture than any Minister of State for the past 35 years, and he is doing it still with his bankers and financiers, with his white collar and bow tie at banking dinners, while, at the same time, if he went down to the North Wall, he would see the ships carrying away the youth, the life blood of the country. I should like to see him travelling to the country areas, the poorer areas, without his tie and collar, with an open shirt, and speaking to the people there in the Irish terms in which he should speak to them. But no, it must be big business in the city of Dublin, the bloated city where no Irishman can make a living.
Captain Giles: We are told that agriculture has saved the nation but what have the Government done for agriculture in this Budget? They have done sweet damn all. They advocated the growing of wheat until it went up the spout, and now they have beet in the same position. Barley, sugar and milk are commodities that are overproduced and the farmer must receive less and less as the years go on, or else produce less and less. We are told that we must get into the cattle industry, but that is something which cannot be done overnight. Only the well-to-do are in the cattle industry and they are the people who are reaping the big benefits. We are told that there is an immense amount of credit available for everybody but there has never been credit available for the small man and there never will be. Small farmers have very little stock and they have not the  means of buying stock and their lands are not in a fit state to rear stock.
The Government, at the present time, are a Government for the rich, almost for the idle rich, because they are the people who are living in the lap of luxury. I may have talked a little hard but I live down the country and I know what it is to see the country side being denuded of the youth. I see country families being reared for export instead of being able to live, work and marry in their own areas. There are millions of pounds available in this country if it could only be controlled, but the Government will not face up to that. A united Parliament can do it, but, if we cannot unite now, we can never unite.
We are in the midst of a national emergency and if we wait for another four or five years, with the population going down at the present rate, we will have left only the old, the sick, the infirm and those who are not able to fend for themselves. Were it not for the pittances coming from England during the last few years, there would be many people in the west of Ireland and in the midlands who would be starving. I would ask the Minister for Finance to stop playacting, to stop playing politics. Let him give us an honest Budget, an Irish Budget, a patriotic Budget and cease giving a little here and a little there, trying to please everybody and pleasing nobody. The small pittances that will come to the poorer sections are given purely for the purpose of winning an election, and it is mean, low and skulking on the part of the Government to dare do such things, knowing full well that the Taoiseach, now retiring from politics is in the election field. The Government have not confidence in his ability to win the election himself. All I can say is God save Ireland—from the Government.
Mr. Haughey: It is very difficult to establish what is the logic of the Opposition's attack on this Budget. The only definite thing that emerges from their speeches is that it is not a good Budget but in what particular way it is supposed to be a bad Budget, has so far escaped me, anyway. I find difficulty in seeing what specifically their complaint is. As far as I can see, the complaints they have against the Minister can be summarised as follows: first of all, there is the accusation that the Minister fiddled the figures and robbed the till; then there is the accusation that, if he was able to give tax concessions, it was because of favourable trading conditions and that he can claim no credit for them; thirdly, the argument is put up that he does not deserve any credit for taking sixpence off income-tax because the British Budget made that inevitable; and, finally, we have the statement that the whole thing is just a put-up job for the Presidential election.
Listening to these arguments, it would seem to me that the Opposition cannot have it both ways. If the sixpence was taken off income tax because the British Budget made it inevitable, then it was not taken off because of the Presidential election. If  the Minister and the Fianna Fáil Government are to be blamed when bad trading conditions made increased taxation necessary, then surely the Minister is entitled to take credit if favourable trading conditions enable him to give tax remissions. I should like to know exactly what the Opposition want. Do they want 7/6 to remain as the standard rate of income tax? They have already said that if we had not taken off the sixpence it would have been disastrous for the country. Did they want it to be disastrous for the country so that they could make political capital out of it?
I think it is not unfair to say that the Opposition have not made one constructive suggestion in relation to the Budget proposals, that their arguments are at sixes and sevens with regard to them, and the simple reason their arguments are confused, to the extent they are, is that the Budget is, in fact, an excellent one and there is nothing they can validly say in criticism of it.
They say that the economy is sound; this is reluctantly admitted by the more responsible speakers on the other side of the House, but, of course they say that the Government cannot claim any credit for that. They say that the Government did right in increasing old age pensions and unemployment benefits, but they argue that they only did so because the force of public opinion made them. What is wrong with a Government who recognise the validity of a public demand and give in to it, as far as they are able to do so? That is merely good democratic government. Did they want us not to give anything to the old age pensioners so that they could then make a song and dance about the position for political purposes?
It seems to me indeed that the argument which Deputy Dillon used must have been cold comfort for him. He said that if in the 1956 Budget the same process of arithmetic had been applied as was applied in this Budget, then the deficit would not have been £6 million at all but would have been only £3 million.
Mr. Haughey: I am sorry; £1.3 million. It would still be a deficit. That is the difference between this Budget and the 1956 Budget. Even if you change the arithmetic around to suit Deputy Dillon, he still must admit that this Budget is in surplus as distinct from the 1956 Budget.
Mr. Haughey: There are various factors bearing on the situation now as compared with 1956. We could have a very interesting and enlightening argument on the changes in the economic position. But I do not think that is relevant. I say that the difference between this Budget and the 1956 Budget, even granting Deputy Dillon his different basis of calculation, is that the present Budget proposals and, indeed the outturn of last year's Budget, are in surplus as distinct from the deficit in 1956.
The only Opposition charge which can be taken seriously to any extent is that the Minister has fiddled with the figures or cooked the accounts in some way. As far as I can see, the Opposition have put forward three grounds for that accusation. In the first instance, they say that in Deputy Sweetman's last Budget the special import levies were put to capital account and that, in so far as the Minister has taken credit for them on current account, he has to that extent fiddled with the position. I do not think that that argument can stand up for one moment.
It is quite true that Deputy Sweetman, in an all-out effort to deflate the economy, adopted the device  of taking revenue raised by the special import levies and putting it into capital account. But that was an extraordinary device, used in what seemed to Deputy Sweetman at the time to be an extraordinarily critical situation. That is not relevant to-day. By any standards you wish to apply, the special import levies, in so far as they still exist or have been changed into duties, represent current revenue. It is perfectly legitimate to apply that revenue for purposes of current expenditure. The situation now is completely different from what it was in Deputy Sweetman's time. The balance of payments is in equilibrium. I do not think that, by any budgetary principle, there can be any genuine criticism of the treatment of the special import levies as current revenue and applying them accordingly.
The next ground on which this accusation of fiddling is made is that certain items which should properly be financed out of revenue have been transferred to the capital side of the account and that the Minister proposes to borrow to meet this expenditure instead of financing it out of current revenue. Again, I do not think there is any validity in this particular charge. There is no evidence that any manipulation of that sort has taken place. The voted capital services for the coming year are £14.4 million. I have studied them carefully in the Book of Estimates and I challenge contradition when I state that every item included is, by any reasonable, prudent standard of public finance, legitimately so included. I think that the entire amount of £14.4 million is justifiably chargeable to capital. By the standards which we traditionally adopt here in our financial accounts, there is no departure whatever this year in that regard.
Finally, the third basis for the Opposition accusation is that the Minister has deliberately taken credit for a greater amount of over-estimation than he is entitled to do. Let me take the figures in this respect for recent Budgets. In 1954-55 the amount taken credit for in respect of over-estimation was £3¼ million; in 1955-56 it was £2¼ million; in 1956-57 it was £2¼ million; in 1957-58 it was £2.05 million;  in 1958-59 for the first time it was reduced to £1½ million. This year the Minister proposes to take credit for £2½ million. First of all, let me say that the amount by which the Minister has increased the proposed credit for over-estimation is not, as a sum, revolutionary or fantastic. In fact, he has only restored the amount for over-estimation to the previous level and in fact it is still beneath the amount taken in 1954-55.
Even if there was no hope whatever that the Minister would realise this £2½ million of over-estimation, I do not think the result would be disastrous. A million pounds is at stake in a Budget of £130 million. There are some people who get excited about Budget deficits no matter what size they are. I do not subscribe to that view. Even if this £1 million never materialises and the Minister is proved utterly wrong in his forecast of £2½ million for over-estimation, I do not think the results would be in any way critical or disastrous. The Minister is perfectly entitled to take credit for this amount of £2½ million. In his Budget Statement the Minister stated that he thought he was entitled to take a limited budgetary risk. I would go even further than that; I would say that there is no risk involved at all.
There are two factors bearing on this particular matter: one is the possibility of achieving economies, and the possibility of overestimation on the expenditure side, and the other is that revenue may prove more buoyant than the Minister anticipates. Between these two the Minister hopes to make up the £2,500,000. With the tax concessions and the obvious increase in the rate of economic activity, I would be perfectly prepared at this stage to bet that there is no doubt whatever that that £2,500,000 will materialise during the year either in the form of savings, reductions and over-estimation on the expenditure side or, alternatively, in buoyancy in revenue generally.
Deputies should in this connection have regard to the position that transpired last year. In Table I of the  Budget White Paper there is a note —note (b)—which states that the 1958-59 Budget provided for a net adjustment of £1.5 million by way of deduction from expenditure to allow for errors of estimation. The note goes on to state that the actual outturn represents a net adjustment of £1.66 million and the manner in which the £1.66 million is calculated is set out.
Mr. Haughey: For my part, I am prepared to take this Table as published. At the moment, any inconsistency which Deputy Sweetman may see escapes me. I shall just make the point that the outturn of last year's Budget proves that the experts who prepared the Estimates were quite right; in fact, they were a little bit less optimistic than they need have been. They estimated for an adjustment of £1.5 million and they got £1.66 million. The estimate for the current year is £2.5 million. I am completely optimistic that that £2.5 million will be forthcoming. I have no doubt whatever that the Minister will bridge the gap in the current year.
It seems, therefore, that none of the three grounds on which the Minister is accused of fiddling the figures or cooking the books stands up to examination. The average, fairminded person, considering the whole matter —indeed most commentators in the newspapers have proved to be fairminded in their approach—will readily admit that there has been no fiddling whatsoever and the Budget presented is a fair, honest and reasonable estimate of receipts and expenditure for  the coming year and has been put forward on that basis, and on that basis only.
The question of budgeting and the balance to be achieved can be approached in two ways. We have, first of all, the concept of the Budget which is itself balanced and then we have the concept of the Budget balancing the whole economy. In the first concept we are concerned with the traditional arithmetic of the Budget. One calculates as accurately as one can what expenditure is likely to be. One calculates similarly as accurately as possible what one's income is likely to be and one tries to ensure that the two sets of figures balance. In other words following Micawber's principle for happiness, one ensures that one's income slightly exceeds one's expenditure and then everything is satisfactory. That is the traditional budgetary arithmetic.
In recent times, however, starting with the theories of Lord Keynes, a new conception of budgeting has arisen. That conception is that the traditional arithmetic of the Budget— expenditure strictly balancing revenue —is to a large extent out-of-date and the real function of a Budget is to act as an instrument to balance the whole economy. I do not think we have devoted anything like enough attention to that second concept so far in this debate. We have undoubtedly debated exhaustively the traditional arithmetic of the Budget and discussed the question as to whether or not the Minister has adhered to these more or less out-of-date principles.
It seems to me however that the second function of the Budget is much more important. It seems to me likewise that it would be far more useful and more constructive to discuss this Budget from this second standpoint. This second concept stipulates that the old idea of a Budget balancing itself only is much too narrow in the light of modern conditions, conditions in which the State interferes in practically every form of activity and in which State financial activity forms such a great proportion of the whole. The Keynesian theory is that the Budget must be framed in relation to the  economy as a whole and must be used to stimulate economic activity, when that is necessary. Likewise, it must be used to put on the brakes or dampen down the economy, and generally deflate when that is necessary.
I should like to examine that second approach a little more deeply than it has been examined in the debate so far. The important factor, vis-a-vis the second concept, is the economy as a whole and not just the arithmetic involved in balancing figures. I do not mean that the actual arithmetical balancing of revenue and expenditure can be discarded altogether, because that particular aspect of the Budget, even in the Keynesian approach, still has a very important function to perform. It is a safeguard to ensure that economy will be practised in administration of State services. Psychologically it is very necessary from the public point of view and generally speaking even though it is to some extent irrelevant to the real purpose of a Budget, nevertheless it has its own part to play.
I should like to examine the Minister's Budget proposals from the point of view of this modern concept. At the outset, I should like to say that there is a grave danger that when we come to make this sort of analysis of the situation we might tend to become confused between our own position and the position in Britain. The majority of commentators writing prior to the British Budget—and even the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself in bringing in the Budget—clearly went for this most modern concept, namely, that the Budget must be used as an instrument for regulating the tempo of the economy generally. The danger for us, and what could lead us into error, is if we were simply to accept British comments and arguments and apply them indiscriminately to our own situation because there is no comparison whatever between it and the situation in Britain.
In the first place the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in introducing his Budget is dealing with an economy which is fully developed and  the problem, so far as British financial measures are concerned, is either to bring into play additional capacity in the economy or else regulate the amount of demand to equate it to the production of a capacity which is fully extended. The problem in our case is completely different. We must—if you like—do two jobs: we must go a step further than the British and, to a very great extent we must in the first place create the capacity and then concern ourselves with stimulating the capacity which exists. The British can take the amount of capacity for granted and frame their policies accordingly.
Our problem is twofold. We must in our financial proposals and policies create the atmosphere and climate in which expansion and development can take place. I think it is undeniable that the first requirement for expansion and development is the proper financial climate and the necessary financial apparatus within which expansion can take place. But in addition to that, in our case we must do something which, as I have said, the British need not do: we must seek out the actual physical opportunities for expansion. We must organise the projects and develop the schemes. Otherwise, the financial climate and atmosphere we have created will not be of any avail. Our financial measures and our approach to the economy must have that twofold basis.
Indeed, in our situation, I think the second one which I have mentioned is by far the more important. In our case the really important and essential thing is to create actual physical opportunities for expansion. In both these directions I think we have, in the last two years under the present Government, made very definite strides forward. In regard to the creation of general financial apparatus and financial climate, there has been a whole series of measures designed to achieve that end. By far the most important single factor in that direction of course is the restoration of public confidence and the restoration of confidence in the financial establishment. That has been achieved I think in a number of ways.  First of all, I think the very fact that you have a stable Government obviously determined to pursue a definite policy designed to achieve economic progress is in itself, psychologically, a steadying factor, but more important than that was, of course, the fact that we balanced the Budget in the past two years and balanced our international payments also. Generally speaking, public and institutional confidence has been restored and that has had a very beneficial effect on the whole financial situation.
Money is now freely available for business and commercial projects apart from Government impetus. The various banking and other institutions concerned in the private sector have quite clearly indicated that they are following an expansionist policy in this regard. Another major and significant factor is the expansion of the functions, powers and finances of the Industrial Credit Company. Legislation has been introduced putting funds at the disposal of the Industrial Credit Company so that the Company is now able to advertise in the Press to the effect that “if you have a proposal, if your industry needs capital, come in and see us and we shall see what we can do about it.”
I think it will be admitted that it is an entirely new situation in the Irish economy and the effect that that expansion of activity by the Industrial Credit Company is having on trade and industry generally is quite encouraging I think we can expect in the coming year even more beneficial results in that direction. I think it was a great occasion for this House when the Minister for Finance was able to announce, as he did on one occasion recently, that no Irish industry, no worthwhile project which had a reasonable prospect of success, need any more be stifled or hampered in any way for lack of capital.
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