Wednesday, 21 May 1969
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Moore: Last night I referred to the provisions for the financing of housing and the housing drive. I want to refer to it again this evening because I feel that since the foundation of the State we have made progress under various Governments towards easing the housing problem. In recent years we have increased the tempo of the housing drive. Today for one reason or another, various groups in this city particularly are making an issue of housing not, perhaps, to help us to ease the housing shortage but for reasons of their own. They can cause a lot of trouble, indeed, and impede housing progress because by their action they take away the concentration which is necessary if we are to reduce our housing problem to the smallest possible proportion. To the people who agitate I would suggest that they should take some definite action and try to emulate bodies like the Methodist Church, the Catholic Housing Aid Society, the Soroptomists, the Legion of Mary, and other voluntary bodies who have shown their interest in the housing problem by taking definite steps to provide more dwellings.
In this city of ours at the moment, no one will deny that we have a housing problem. I am glad to see that in his Budget the Minister provided almost £30 million for housing. Included in that sum is £1 million to Dublin Corporation to purchase more land for housing. Of course, £30 million is not the total of what will be spent on housing in this city. The corporation will spend about £10 million on housing also and, included in that, will be a subvention from the Government. With regard to the private sector which will be building houses, in most cases they will qualify for a grant of £275. I am trying to point out to the people who are really and genuinely interested in our housing problem that we are tackling it in a realistic way.
Under construction in the Dublin city areas at the moment there are  2,100 dwellings. Tenders have been received for 1,100, and development work is taking place for 2,500. That gives a total of 6,000 dwellings being constructed by Dublin Corporation alone. I am not including those being provided by the private sector or the charitable bodies I mentioned who all have the same worthy motive of reducing the housing problem in the city to the smallest possible proportion. In a little over two years these dwellings will be completed.
If we take the waiting list as being 1,000 people—and I should point out that the waiting list approved by the city medical officer is only half that total—we should not be lulled by those figures into thinking that we have solved the housing problem. As I said before, the only city which ever solved its housing problem is a dead city. The last census showed that for the first time in a century the population of this part of the country had increased by just over 60,000. In the various plans made we expect a much greater increase in population in the next decade and, indeed, up to the 1980s. We must gear our housing output, therefore, to provide for those people.
I have no official figures on emigration, but most of us will realise that emigration is dropping rapidly. We must also face the fact that the drift of population is towards the east coast and that Dublin takes most of this increase. So, it is unfair to suggest, as has been said, that we have not made progress. It might be said that if the population of Dublin city stayed at 300,000, let us say, we would have no housing shortage now, but because there was an increase in population there will be a housing problem for many years to come. However, I am optimistic enough to hope that in a very short while there will be no such thing as an acute housing problem. Therefore, I think that the Minister for Finance, who has been thanked so much on other aspects, should be thanked most sincerely for his provision for housing.
Up to recently I and other members of this House were also members of Dublin Corporation. Unfortunately, the corporation is gone, and whether it  was through the action or inaction of its members, this is not the place to discuss. I regret its passing but my regret is tinged with this comforting thought that the city manager and the Commissioner appointed by the Minister for Local Government will ensure that the housing drive is not impeded because of the absence of the city council. I do not want to speak any more on that subject, because it is generally realised now that by refusing to strike the rate the city council acted in a very silly manner, and it is unfortunate that those members of all Parties who had rendered such great service to the city cannot now do so because of their action in forcing the Minister to abolish the corporation.
In speaking of the city and, indeed, of the whole country, let me mention the rates problem to which the Minister referred in his Budget speech. The payment of rates is a tremendous problem to many of our people. Take the widow who has been left a house by her husband. He perhaps, thought he was providing adequately for his widow's future, but the rates continue to increase as the cost of living increases. There is no easy way out of the rating problem.
Across Channel they have had the same system as we have, though they do not have the health impost on the rates; yet in the city of London they were considering doubling all commercial and industrial valuations in order to try to arrest the colossal rise in rates. I mention this for the benefit of those people who seem to think that if the Government removed the health impost from the Dublin rates everything in the garden would be lovely. Of course, this is not true. This is a very deep problem and, again referring to the situation across Channel, they carried out a comprehensive investigation of the rates problem there, and the Association of Municipal Authorities of Britain, having carried out this great probe of the rating system, almost admitted that there was no solution. I think a solution can be found, but the solution we seek is the one which would ease the burden on those least able to pay rates. I would again put forward to the Government the suggestion I made last year, that was, that  the remissions given under the present rating system should be reviewed. At the time I pointed out that if certain public utilities were made pay their rates and if the contributions to the universities, the law societies, and the King's Inns were spread over the whole country the burden would not be felt generally over the whole country but the Dublin rate could be reduced by 14s in the £. There was no reason why this should not be done. The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Blaney, set up a committee to probe the whole rates problem, and they have made some progress. They have issued three reports so far and we await a fourth and, we hope, final one with their findings.
In their first report this committee stated that the present rating system was inequitable and should be replaced by a more equitable one. We look forward hopefully to the day when this will be done because there are many of our young people not alone in Dublin but in all urban areas and in the rural areas who, when they marry, have difficulty in buying their own house. Any young people buying their own house today must make tremendous sacrifices to find the necessary deposit and then be able to pay their way after getting their house. To revert again to the Dublin Corporation, there is a scheme for tenant purchase houses which are let at a deposit of £150 which is payable in instalments. It would make a great contribution to solving the housing problem and the difficulties of young people if there were more of these schemes.
This year and next year will see a tremendous breakthrough on these schemes. At the moment there are couples living in furnished flats paying exorbitant rents while waiting for the day when they will get a house. It behoves each one of us—I do not want to claim that my Party here have any monopoly of sincerity in their desire to end the housing shortage—to do everything possible in order to ensure that more dwellings will be built. However, even had the Government doubled the allocation for housing this year I do not know if we would have made much more progress, because in the  craft section of the building industry there is full employment and a shortage of labour; there is also a shortage of housing sites. The Minister has helped the city council here by providing £6 million to buy more land and the corporation have 2,000 or 3,000 acres available for development. I am not being unduly optimistic when I say to our critics that we are making progress at a very great rate indeed. If the economy can be kept in its present buoyant stage so that it can support the present housing drive, I see no reason why, within a very short number of years, this city of ours should not rank as one of the best housed in Europe or in these islands.
The Minister introduced a biblical touch into his Budget speech when he mentioned that there was more to life than merely material things, and he has provided some relief for artists in order that they could pursue their distinctive arts and not be taxed in this respect. I am afraid I am something of a Philistine as regards art but I do appreciate the Minister's gesture towards art and I hope it will help artists to produce work which the ordinary citizen can understand and appreciate, whether it be literature, sculpture or painting. The Minister also allocated £100,000 for sports organisations, and Deputy Andrews made a very good speech on this matter, but I disagree with him in his anxiety for specialisation. This is the age of specialisation. It is also an age in which we are faced with great problems from the point of view of youth, problems which must disturb all of us. The sum provided by the Minister is not a very large sum, but it is at least a gesture and it is an indication of what the future may hold. The Minister has taken definite steps to help. He is proposing to set up a body to administer this £100,000. I suggest this body should be representative of the entire country because there are a number of sporting organisations which embrace the whole country and it is notable that these organisations are the most successful sporting organisations.
I am against specialisation. It does not matter whether our athletes win  Olympic medals. What is important is that we should have sufficient playing fields in our cities and towns, where the young may take part in athletics. We are very short of playing fields here in Dublin. Some years ago the Dublin Corporation initiated a scheme to cost £100,000 to provide playing fields. The sad thing is that, because there is such a lack of playing fields, there are teams which can get a game only every second week. I hope that the money provided by the Minister will go towards providing more facilities for recreation. If the facilities are there the champions will emerge and. when they do, we will be very proud of them. Instead of watching star performers on the pitches the young men should themselves be playing games; they can watch the stars when they have no match of their own. With sufficient facilities we could have a very healthy youth, healthy in body and healthy in mind. Indeed, as facilities improve, I believe juvenile delinquency will drop. Some may scoff at this provision of £100,000. A First Division soccer player in Britain is sold for twice that and Pele of Brazil would command three times that amount. But that is not the point. We have our own problems. We must provide facilities for the greatest numbers. The stars will emerge because nothing will keep good men down. I would be happier to have thousands of our boys playing football or hurling than if we won one or two gold medals in the Olympics.
This is the age of leisure. As automation increases the working week will grow shorter and shorter and young and not so young must be provided with facilities for spending their leisure time. We must not make the mistakes that other industrialised countries made in their cities and towns. We must provide ample facilities for sports of all kinds and for all ages. I do not suggest the provision of these facilities to counteract other less desirable pursuits. I suggest we should provide them because sports are good in themselves.
The needs of the old from the point of view of housing are now being catered for and the Minister for Local Government has instituted generous grants to provide specialised housing  for the aged. The idea today is to provide a building with a communal diningroom because we discovered there was a problem about proper feeding. In these diningrooms the aged will be able to have one really good meal in the day and they can cater for themselves in their own rooms if they require light repasts. They will not be living in the lap of luxury. Neither will they have gargantuan feasts, but they will have one good meal every day.
The Minister for Finance has been criticised because, it is alleged, he suggested at some point of time that we were facing a crisis. The Minister is one of the most able men in the House and he would be the last to start scares. What he did was to get the whole picture across to the entire country. He paid tribute in his Budget speech to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and I think we all endorse that tribute. The congress acted very responsibly indeed. Like the rest of us, they have their own troubles. It is very often harder for them to act in an impartial manner than it is for others. But they have done so and the Minister has recorded his appreciation of that.
It has been suggested there may be a general election and the Budget was designed with that possibility in view. I should not like to think that the Budget was designed purely for vote-catching purposes. A Government gains or loses votes by its record and, if the Budget is a good one, then it is a case of virtue being its own reward. The fact that the Minister has been able to look after the aged and the infirm and to increase children's allowances will stand to his credit and to the credit of the Government, whether or not it is an election year. We can take heart from the fact that the Government during their term of office have been able to build up our economy so that in the last decade we have been able to double the amount spent on social services.
I have heard some Deputies saying that we have the lowest expenditure on social services in Europe. There are other countries which are very much ahead of us, but the fact is that all the time we are improving. I would emphasise again, if it needs emphasising, that  unless the economy is buoyant and the money is there we cannot help anybody. The Minister and the Government are to be praised for this good Budget. I have not heard one person saying that it is a bad Budget although I have heard the Minister being criticised for his tax on office buildings. The critics say that it is an unfair tax and that if the legislation governing office accommodation for workers in the city were really applied many people, including public authorities, would be in queer street and therefore that to tax office accommodation is as wrong as it would be to tax, say, housing accommodation. I think what the Minister had in mind was to divert more capital and labour to housing and away from the building of office blocks.
I do not join in this condemnation of office blocks. Most office blocks accommodate workers who require proper accommodation. If we had the housing problem reduced to the minimum we would be able to look at these matters in a more appropriate way rather than in a petty way. I know that we cannot reach all our targets at once and that we have to set priorities and I am sure most Members would agree that housing must continue to be a top priority. There are many calls made on the Minister and he has met them. I am not an authority on agriculture but looking at the allocation for agriculture I feel that the farming community have not done badly. In regard to health I would suggest that there is one section of our people, a small section, who suffer because they do not get any kind of benefit or grant. I am referring to people who have to remain for long periods in hospitals and institutions. I am a member of a board of a hospital in which people have been sick for 30 years. In some cases their families have died out and there is nobody to visit them except representatives of charitable organisations. Surely a person who has been ill in hospital for 30 years should be entitled to some grant from the Central Fund to buy even the small things which he wants? I know that they are well looked after, they get good food and they are in good quarters but they have no independence.  They must depend on the local people, the charitable organisations or the governors, to bring in small things to them. If a person has been in hospital for a certain time, with little hope of being cured, the disability allowance should be extended to cover him or her. This would not cost a great deal but it would bring a great deal of happiness to the people concerned.
It has been said that if anything goes short education should certainly not go short. We welcome the great breakthrough which has taken place in education in the last few years. However much more requires to be done because of the problems which are involved particularly in regard to boys and girls leaving primary schools, the vast majority of whose education finishes at 14. We also have the problem of the drop-outs in vocational education and this is something the Government cannot stop. If we perfect our educational establishments and really have a system whereby any boy or girl who wants to go to university can go then we would have made great progress. I should like to pay tribute to the various Ministers for Education who made the great breakthrough but, at the same time, there are families in the lower income group who have not got a great deal of hope of putting a son through university without making sacrifices. Be it said that our parents are always ready to make these sacrifices, but we should not impose too much on them and we should make it possible for their children to go to universities if they wish.
The Minister stated that each Budget should take our people on the road to better living and prosperity, and we would not have a prosperous community if we had a bad educational system. Countries like West Germany and Japan have realised the importance of education and have so trained their technicians that today they are leading the world in technology. West Germany is probably the most prosperous country the world has ever seen. They have reached this position because they do not spend money foolishly and because of the expertise of their technicians. They have been able to build up their country to the point where their economy is so buoyant  that they can now lend money to countries which won the war.
The social welfare policies of the Government have been excellent and, while nobody would say that we are satisfied with the position, the proposal to grant the old age pensions at 65 is a welcome one. In this we are keeping in step with modern Europe. Finally, I want to say that the Minister, through this Budget, has shown himself to be one of the ablest Ministers we have had. I look forward to next year's Budget when a new Dáil will have been elected and can only hope that the Minister who introduces next year's Budget will introduce one on a par with that brought in by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, this year.
Mr. M. O'Leary: I should like at the outset to solve the mystery of why we voted for this Budget's provisions. The Budget included certain increases in children's allowances, which we were in favour of. Had there been a provision in the Budget for even 1d increase in children's allowances we would have voted for the provisions of that Budget. So, to answer the puzzlement and incredulity of Deputies opposite who cannot understand why we voted for a Government provision, this is the simple answer. There are provisions in the Budget which we favour. Therefore, we voted for the Budget. This does not mean, of course —the Budget is only part of the overall policy—that suddenly we are converted to a Government view of things in general. After all, it must be the best part of 40 years that this Party has been in this House preaching the idea of a better social welfare system and until very lately it fell on extremely deaf ears. But, we are very happy to say that the auditory powers of the Fianna Fáil Party lately have become more sensitive and we are very grateful that as a result of this greater sensitivity, children's allowances are to benefit in this year of grace.
I do not hold with those who are shocked at the idea of a Government bringing in a Budget of this nature at this time of practically daily election rumours. They are a Government of professional politicians. They have  been Ministers now for 12 years, as the Taoiseach tells us, and the habit grows. The attractions of Government grow upon one. It is quite understandable that the Ministers of this Government wish to be in government for another 12 years and, indeed, if the electorate let them, that is their right. So, I do not feel the least sympathy with those people who believe that it would be more or less bad sportsmanship to bring in a Budget of this kind. If the Government are desirous of being in government, as they are, then, obviously, they must do their best in the Budget at this period.
It is obvious that this House at the moment is shuddering under the shocks of repeated rumours of an election. The latest rumour is that it may be announced before midnight. The Taoiseach seems to favour unorthodox hours for announcements. It appears that he is labouring under the effort of making a decision. It is clear from his manner over the past few days that the Taoiseach, Deputy Lynch, is going to make his first decision as Taoiseach. For this we must be grateful. There have been problems in his Cabinet of late and in his own speech he referred to those unscrupulous people in the Opposition who suggest that there are divisions in his Cabinet. Now, I ask you—suggesting divisions in the Cabinet. The youngest Cabinet in Europe has become the most disunited Cabinet in Europe. I suppose it is understandable in the situation in which they are placed that there are warring ambitions in the Party opposite. No Party which has lost its reason for being a Party can remain united in its philosophy and the Government is, as one of its leading members said some years ago, a pragmatic Party that have been operating day after day, Budget after Budget, which knows only one rule, to stay in power. It is understandable, therefore, that such a Party should have divisions and it is understandable that the most dominant things about it are the strength of the various personalities and the power of the different people making up the Cabinet who are at war with one another on the score of personal ambition.
I suppose it is in that light that we should have had—this has been  referred to often during this debate— the famous crisis speech of Deputy Haughey on Telefís Éireann. I suppose we can only paraphrase the pop song and say first there was a crisis; then there was no crisis. It has been explained since that, in fact, there was no crisis. Yet, ordinary people looking at their television sets that night could be forgiven for thinking that the country was just about to slip down the gangway into the Irish Sea. We now learn that there is no crisis. The most charitable light in which we should look at that television speech is that it was an appetiser for the Budget. He was giving the Irish public the hors d'oeuvre before the later main course of his Budget. He possibly should have explained that at the time. I certainly know many people who were alarmed at the contents of his television speech which the Taoiseach has this week interpreted merely to mean that Deputy Haughey was worrying about trade unionists in-fighting, but since then secret signals have passed between the unions and the Government to indicate there is no longer any danger. I hope that remains the case.
Apparently, there is no crisis now. All is set fair. In fact, to read the speech of the Taoiseach one would gather that there is only one really major problem before the country; all other problems are under control—housing—well a small little problem; unfortunately, there is a growth of population; employment—we have not increased employment but there are programmes in the offing; education—we have transformed that utterly and so on. There is only one real problem, if one reads the speeches made at the moment, and that is the return of a Fianna Fáil Government. This is the most important issue before the country: if the Government are not returned, the fantastic progress marked in the 12 years of Fianna Fáil Government will not be maintained.
What is the reality of the 12 years of Fianna Fáil Government? Do you remember the Government that rescued the country from the Trough of Despond, the trough of chaos of the Coalition Government, from the terrible  year of 1957, which has marched triumphantly ever since? They cannot make the excuse, as some of the unfortunate Governments could make, that their tools were not sufficiently sophisticated, their programming was not sufficiently extensive. No Government of this State has been served by such a panoply of committees, research groups and eggheads of all sorts wandering up and down the corridors of power telling this Minister or that what must be done for the greatest good of the greatest number of our people. Yet —and this is not simply a matter of partisan comment—the old stubborn figures remain and the old and previous failures of other Administrations in this State have remained for the period of the 12 years of Fianna Fáil Government. That year 1957 was the worst year, we were told, in our recent economic history. Yet—an extraordinary thing—there were 19,000 more people at work in that terrible year of 1957 than there are in this year of grace of Fianna Fáil Government, 1969.
Are not there some facts to be explained there, or which kind of excuse can be conjured up out of the air to explain the stubborn nature of these figures which point to failure in the area of employment? Today unemployment stands at over six per cent— 60,000 people. I shall not go into the figure of the number of people out of work today. When this Government have still a majority and still with almost a year of its mandate to run, six per cent of our people are unemployed. It has been remarked earlier in this debate that with such a record in unemployment any other European Government would be out of office instantly, but such has been the manner in which economic adversity has been accepted in this State that it is accepted as one of the visitations of God that unemployment should be at this figure. One thing we cannot leave with the Government is the idea that they have marked appreciable progress in the last 12 years. Their record in the past 12 years is equally as bad as the record of any other Administration in this State in tackling the problems of unemployment and extra jobs, nor have they discovered any remedy nor claim to have discovered any remedy.
 We, therefore, in looking at this Budget, supported the provisions which we were in favour of and welcomed the conversion of the Government to some aspects of the policy we have been preaching for nearly half a century and I suppose one must give credit to a Government which can listen to advice even if, apparently, it is election day advice or election bed advice or certainly eve of election advice.
We are all politicians in this House. There is no point in being amazed that on the eve of a general election, they should be converted to another policy. Let us be grateful that some of our people will benefit from this sensitivity of the Government Party in regard to certain steps which they feel it is necessary for them to take. If the Government have learned certain things in the social welfare field— there is quite an amount yet to be learned—we must be grateful for small mercies.
One must criticise this terrible national vice of hyperbolic statement. To listen to Fianna Fáil on the subject of this Budget, Deputy Haughey, the Minister for Finance, is an absolutely wonderful person and this Budget is the most remarkable document ever to hit this State. While we are in favour of certain provisions of the Budget I would point out that Budgets such as this have been known in European countries for the past 25 years. The last Fianna Fáil speaker compared our economy to that of Western Germany. I despair when I hear such exaggerated talk from the Government. When Fianna Fáil make a little progress then, suddenly, we are on the same level—according to Fianna Fáil— as Japan, Germany, the United States of America or any other country they may wish to name.
By any test which a modern economy must face, it is a failed enterprise if it cannot provide work for its people and if it cannot solve at least a reasonable proportion of the problems affecting modern States. Since Fianna Fáil resumed office 12 years ago, they have failed to give our people an adequate standard of living and to provide the jobs that are needed. On the health  and social welfare sides, our nearest company in Europe are those fantastically first-class countries Greece, Spain and Portugal. Possibly it explains why Deputy MacEntee is so friendly with the Greek colonels. The standards of those three countries are our standards. Anybody who knows anything about the Common Market countries will know that the three countries I have mentioned are not looked upon as the brightest hopes on the European horizon in any community in the future.
This Budget was designed to capture the city vote. It was designed for the urban dweller. The farmers have got what they asked for in this Budget. This Government knows that every farmer's vote is in its pocket. Until our farmers waken up and make themsevles awkward, politically speaking, there will be nothing for them in any Fianna Fáil Budget. Because the city voter is rapidly walking away from Fianna Fáil, there are certain provisions in this Budget to tempt him back again. I am happy to see those provisions come our way but I should like our farmers to get a fair deal. If you want action from this Government, do not give them a guarantee, in advance, of your vote. No matter what the farmers' organisations may say, this Government, because it knows the farmers' votes are in its pocket, can afford to ignore them.
In Dublin, notice has been served in unmistakable terms on the Fianna Fáil Government. They no longer have the Dublin votes. This Budget verges on the election. If Labour does its work properly, the Party should get two seats in every Dublin constituency. No Party has been more demanding than the Labour Party for improved benefits for social welfare recipients. Over the years, this Government have refused to act on prices and on the different measures on which we sought their action. Now, however, when the Dublin people have started to leave the Fianna Fáil Party, the Government come to heel. Our advice to the Dublin voters is to come out and to give Labour two seats in each constituency in the election.
Mr. M. O'Leary: This Government have a mandate to serve the country until March next. It would appear, however, that every Fianna Fáil Deputy is running from caucus to caucus to find out which candidate he will assassinate at the convention. I have never seen such a departure of elderly Deputies as there is from the scuttling Fianna Fáil ship. There have been golden jubilees and silver jubilees in that Party in the past week or so. Obviously, Fianna Fáil are in labour to produce successors to those who are now going. I very much fear that this Government's nerve has gone and that, in the wake of this Budget, they seek a renewal of their mandate—and very anxious indeed they are to renew it.
One would think no problem faced the country at the moment other than that of choosing another Fianna Fáil Government to succeed this Government. If they are returned to office, we can be assured of progress on paper. We can be assured that our economic problems will be “economic growth”. If they do not succeed in doing anything in any year, we shall hear talk about “inflationary pressures”, about the level of demand being “a little bit up”, about “taking the steam out of the economy”. Instead of saying people are unemployed we shall hear talk about “not enough jobs being created”.
Since 1957, 250,000 of our people have emigrated. Obviously, they were not impressed by the “steady growth” and the “progress”. We have possibly the worst housing record in Europe. Fianna Fáil apologists are frequently heard to say that a housing problem, like the poor, will always be with us. They say that people breed and have a family and wish to extend their house or to change house. Fianna Fáil say it is a mark of progress in the economy to have a housing problem. Compare the housing position in Dublin and, indeed, in Ireland generally, with the housing position in other parts of Europe. Elsewhere in Europe, they are absorbing a rural population into a city environment and a rising work force. Our problem is that we export our rural population and do not provide enough work for the urban population.
 With our emigration record over the 12 years of this Fianna Fáil Government we should have no housing problem. Certainly it could not be compared with the European problem. We should have had no housing problem with our experience and our figures of emigration and unemployment. The solution is quite within the grasp of this or any other Government willing to take the necessary measures. However, perhaps the sheer monotony of our demands, the effect of our gains in the city of Dublin, may have forced this Government to pay some attention to social welfare. Apparently we have had little effect, as yet, in improving the housing situation.
This is a Government which are now converted to fair play for all sections of the community. The Taoiseach says they are committed to fair play. One might be forgiven for thinking he was referring to a troop of boy scouts rather than the Government we have known over the past 12 years. This is the Government whose nearest and dearest have been constructing office blocks around Dublin. This is the Government of the Trade Union Bills. This is the Government of the Criminal Justice Bill. This is the Government which has been converted in this Budget, we are to believe and the electorate are to believe, to the idea of protection and concern for the lower-paid workers. Admittedly they did not do too much for them over the last 11 years but they have in this, the 12th year of their mandate, suddenly realised that there is a burning social problem in our country. At last they have noticed it. They have noticed the thousands up and down the country earning less than £12 a week. One could be uncharitable, but let us be grateful that the problem has been acknowledged after 12 years.
This Government seem to have had what one might call death-bed repentance to a feeling of social justice, to a conscience in this matter. The Taoiseach would have us believe that they have become the Party devoted to social justice as it should be applied to the Irish scene. Yet the Taoiseach shows that his conception of social justice, and in fact that displayed in the Budget, is still rather one-sided. In two successive Budgets now we have  had a better deal given to the surtax payers of this country. In this Budget the logic is that the taxpayer will pay for a better deal for the less well off. Fair enough, but it is still the taxpayer who will be carrying that burden. The Budget gives little indication of a redistribution of national income. The Taoiseach has £50 million of a balance of payments deficit this year to worry about but we are told that, of course, there is no crisis. There will be a balance of payment's deficit by the end of this year of £50 million. However, this is not a crisis. We are told authoritatively that this does not constitute a crisis with the new-found confidence that this administration has about the future. The Taoiseach said there may be another deficit in 1970. I do not know whether two successive years with a £50 million deficit would constitute a crisis. I would have thought it would but then we are a bit old-fashioned about what constitutes crises. This Government have all sorts of sophisticated weapons for an early-warning system of a crisis. This may or may not be a crisis.
The Taoiseach's statement reminded me of the earlier old-fashioned conservatism of the Fianna Fáil Party, which they would now have us believe does not exist. It seemed to me, from what the Taoiseach said, that such a spirit was flourishing still. He said that to stave off these possible crises the best thing we could do was to maintain an incomes restraint. The incomes he was talking about seemed to relate solely to wages and salaries. In other words, the Taoiseach sees the problem of averting a possible crisis in the next two years as a problem to be solved solely at the level of salaries and wages. It has nothing to do with employers, nothing to do with the business community in general, nothing to do with prices. It has all to do with wages and salaries. Perhaps it is just bloody-mindedness on my part, but does this explain such things as the Trade Union Bill, the concern of this Government to manage the trade unions more, to see that they behave themselves? Does this explain the spate of speeches we have from the Government which would have us believe that the only ingredient necessary to success, apart from maintaining themselves  in office, is the avoidance of strikes? Does this suggest that they are apparently regarding the working people of this country as the sole culprits in the event of any disaster in the future?
Admittedly, on the Trade Union Bills, the Minister for Labour has also repented. About 18 months ago he came in here and presented his ESB (Special Provisions) Bill, which was to solve all these problems. It was to show the mailed fist of the Government's earnestness to solve labour disputes. It was to ensure that, once and for all, these old quarrels were ended and that employees on strike would know where power lay.
Mr. M. O'Leary: It appears to me to arise because the Taoiseach referred to incomes and most people earning an income are in trade unions. The Government have quite recently amended or abolished certain trade union law, so it is connected with this question.
Mr. M. O'Leary: At any rate, the statement has been made by the Taoiseach about the new found zeal for social justice of his Party. I am merely pointing out that, while we welcome certain social welfare provisions, there are still the Criminal Justice Bill and the Trade Union Bills and even the Minister for Labour has not yet been fully converted from the ridiculous posture he adopted over his first Trade Union Bill. There still remains coercion in the various Bills they have for trade unions in this administration.
Mr. M. O'Leary: Perhaps it will not arise after the next Government are elected. It has to be referred to anyway. He has been referred to as Lorenzo the Magnificent and, most certainly, we can welcome the concession given to writers and artists. Some people seem to think it will serve as a sort of a magnet for some of  the expatriate writers of Europe. I do not know if their productions would pass our censor so possibly we will not get an invasion from any of those sources. While he was waving his wand over the liberal arts and giving them a place in the sun, it is extraordinary that he did not think of the theatres of Dublin. This city has an old theatrical tradition. It is extraordinary that some concession could not have been managed for the theatres of Dublin. It could have been explained in Fianna Fáil language, if most things must be explained to them, in the language that Yeats referred to as hence to greasy pence.
If one wants to descend to such language it could even have been explained by the Minister that it would have added to the tourist attractions of Dublin if our theatres were more solvent. One could argue it on a different level and say that one should not or need not explain it in £ s d, but in the interests of having a live theatre in Dublin. The point has been made by people other than myself that, in common with most of the rest of the population in the 12 years of the Fianna Fáil dispensation, in common with a quarter of a million who have left our shores in that period, quite an appreciable number of our most worthwhile and talented Irish actors and actresses have been forced to work abroad. The only reason they are forced to work abroad is that the theatre in Ireland, and notably in Dublin, is finding it very hard to make ends meet.
I would have thought that when the Minister was helping writers and others that he would have considered this art form, the theatre, and would have at least given some kind of concession towards it. If we are talking about our national culture it could be one really valuable gesture towards the preservation of whatever culture is left in the country at least to help the theatre in these days. We are not slow to help other agencies. I do not see why we should not help the theatre.
This Government had a lot of things on their mind even in this Dáil. Reading the Taoiseach's speech one could imagine the Cabinet in permanent  session, with the Taoiseach like an economic chief of staff meeting with the members of his staff. Reading the Taoiseach's speech one could imagine them locked in weekly session over the past four years, pondering and puzzling the problems of the economy. Instead —it may be very bad manners to bring it up but for the record let it be mentioned: by all accounts this Dáil is coming to an end, coming to its demise —this was a Cabinet which wasted more time than any other Cabinet, even within the past 12 years, on faction fighting, and expended its best talents on problems that were in no way connected with the real problems of the vast majority of the Irish people.
There was the race for the position of chief executive. This was referred to by the Taoiseach in this debate. He spoke of the efforts of members of the Opposition to divide his Party. They had no right to do so, he said. This was unwarranted and unnecessary since there were no divisions. He referred to those who had suggested that there had been a power-hungry faction round the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He reprimanded those who suggested other things about the Minister for Local Government. He said all those things were untrue and that all those accusations were unnecessary.
I cannot get the exact reference now, but I thought it was most amusing when he referred to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and spoke of that little interlude. The Minister has been reduced to the status of a little interlude. The echoes of that quarrel occupied practically a year of the work of this Cabinet. There was the anticipation of the office, the repercussions from the person who got the office and the strain and rivalries which resulted when they had settled the matter of who would be Taoiseach, or rather settled it temporarily. They put a caretaker in the job. Last year, if you recall, they spent the whole year attempting to change the voting system of the country. Of course, there was a pattern.
Mr. M. O'Leary: The Taoiseach has referred to the 12 year record of this Government. It is quite obvious that if the Taoiseach has your permission to speak of their 12 years record in office it is only fair that others of us should be entitled to refer to the 12 years they are talking about.
Mr. M. O'Leary: True, but the Taoiseach has not obeyed that rule. He has referred to their 12 years. As I say, it might be considered bad manners at this stage, but I recall that for a whole year we proceeded up and down the country on the basis of deciding whether we could get the system of election changed. It was almost an exercise of concentrating on your navel for a whole year. I do not know what it had to do with the problems of the Irish people. If we were to believe Ministerial speeches about its importance, it had to be got rid of. A whole year went by on that, and that is why I stand over the claim that no administration, at any rate since the second World War, has wasted more time on unnecessary nonsense than this administration. In fact, no administration has more bloomers to its credit than this administration.
It was in this four-year period since 1965 that this administration signed the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement, the most disastrous trade agreement ever signed by the State. It will be seen to be such in the years ahead. The Taoiseach referred to the attractive trading figures we now have with Britain. Of course, all of us realised that the most attractive portion of that agreement would be in its early years, for the first three or four years. Next month or the month after we take another ten per cent cut in tariffs. The Taoiseach referred to this. In 1970 the bite will be even more sharp. By 1971 the patient should begin to bleed. By 1972 a haemorrhage will have set in. By 1973 it will be very difficult to staunch the wound of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement as it affects our home market.
British competition will be increasing  every day. We will have no greater advantage on the British market than any commonwealth country. In this trade agreement we see again this terrible weakness for members of Fianna Fáil to believe their own propaganda. This was the agreement to end all agreements. If one were to believe them this agreement practically equalled Yalta or Munich in its implications, and the benefits to be spread from it to the people of the State. Yet Irish people in this year will lose their jobs because of this agreement, and more Irish people will lose their jobs next year because of this agreement. The Government have refused to re-negotiate this agreement. In fact, during this week Deputy Corish, I think it was, asked the Taoiseach whether he would ask the British Government for a review of the next scheduled cut in tariffs on our side. We did not get any guarantee from him.
Presumably the Taoiseach will be too busy with the most important national work facing this Government at any time—its own preservation and the maintenance of itself in office. He may be involved in a general election and he may not be in a position to spare the time to look after the interests of the working population of this country at that particular period. In any case there will be another 10 per cent bite in tariff cuts in July. We can see at the retail level the spread of supermarkets, many of them foreign owned and many of them presenting a very real threat to the small Irish business. Again, we had that gallant Republican, Deputy Colley, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, saying that he might possibly do something about it, that he was aware of the problem, but nothing has been done. In fact, over the 12-year period since 1957 and over the four-year period since 1965 one may say about the record of this Government that if they can boast of any success during their period of administration then it is the success of the salesman. In their period they have intensified the large-scale sell-out of many assets. The Taoiseach pins a great deal of hope on the continuing inflow of foreign capital. We have repeatedly called in question the basis of this large inflow  of foreign capital. We have repeatedly questioned if this is in the long-term interest of the Irish people, pointing out that even if this hot money coming into the country should, in the short term, make less alarming our balance of payments position, in the long term it presents a serious threat to the economy.
We are not satisfied that land sales and property sales have ceased. All of this represents the loss of real assets to the Irish people. I question the wisdom of depending exclusively, as this administration appears to depend exclusively for its success, on the attraction of foreign capital. Unless this foreign capital brings us know-how which we do not have; unless it provides a market which we do not have; unless it passes the stringent tests of the standard of living it can afford to its workers, of its conformity with national economic policy, then all this country is getting from such capital is the wages of the employees in that firm. Furthermore, the future of that branch firm set up by the parent company must always be at the whim of that parent company wherever it is, and the expansion of our industry is on the brittle basis of depending on authority from abroad for the continuance of its units at work.
We know also that in certain sections of our industry it is proving difficult to ensure that these firms will seek export markets. Branch firms of certain foreign countries do not wish to attract foreign markets where possibly the parent firm already has plans in train. Therefore, we must not fall for this heresy which is practically accepted by this Government over the past three years or four years that we must have foreign capital at all costs. Foreign capital should not be accepted at all costs. The cost may prove too much and do grievous harm in some cases. The people who will suffer finally are the Irish people and the Irish taxpayer. We have already suffered in this regard, and Potez is the name of one industry which has imposed suffering on the Irish people because of our mistaken adulation of foreign capital for its own sake. This Cabinet takes beating when it comes to salesmanship in disposing  of our assets. There have been no better criers around Europe in the kind of selling in which members of this Government have indulged: coastline, farmland, hotels, businesses—all these have gone under the auctioneer's hammer over the past few years, and there is no sign of any abatement of their zeal in this respect.
If the policies being pursued by the Government lead inevitably to a big deficit, even if they cannot plead that this deficit is purely a sort that another country could claim as resulting from an inner inflation, arising because the economy is overheated, because our employment figures are going up, even if they cannot plead these excuses for a deficit, this Government apparently will make its peace with a balance of payments deficit and will even stoop to looking for more foreign capital to hide the deficit. This apparently is some of the reasoning behind this craze for foreign capital.
Anything I say must not be taken as indicating that foreign capital cannot be constructively used in the economy. Of course, it can. My criticism is that we are being haphazard without any notable philosophy or programme in attracting capital here. We are prepared to seek it for its own sake without making sufficient investigation before we get the particular investment; nor are we worried about the particular market the investors are aiming at. It can be said that a factory is going up, and our Government is happy enough with that situation. We had the extraordinary situation recently of the Minister for Industry and Commerce returning from the US and announcing the setting up of four factories. From speaking to Deputy Spring from North Kerry I understand that the setting up of one of these factories was announced in Kerry six months ago. I do not know whether that could be said about the other new factories but certainly one of them was a well-known veteran in the Kerry area.
The hollow ring to this Budget is in the fact that while we may be giving more in children's allowances, over the shop counter there is a real thief at work, that is, in the prices of goods, and over the past four years the Government have done absolutely nothing  to bring this thief into custody. No one has got any tip-off as to its whereabouts. Irish people know that over the past four years, but particularly in the past year, the cost of living has rocketed; they know that the cost of ordinary household goods, the necessaries have now become a nightmare. Husbands and wives will tell one that there is a new price tag every Saturday for a very wide range of goods. Prices are rising all the time. This Government have prices machinery; earlier in the lifetime of this Dáil we gave the Government the necessary legislation in regard to this matter. Not a week passes without some warning from some Minister about the danger of inflationary wage and salary increases, but there is no action of any kind when it comes to the pockets of the unfortunate consuming public.
The Minister has promised to review the whole taxation system. This is an easy promise to make on the eve of dissolution. The tragedy is that, where taxation is concerned, we have gone on for years building on a rickety foundation. We have gone on depending on the power of the consumer to continue spending. It is clear to me, at any rate, that we have now reached the point when the consumer can take no more punishment.
I hope that this coming election will see the consumer wreak his vengeance on the powers-that-be for the punishment they have meted out to him over the past few years. The Government cannot expect the people to forget the ever-increasing cost-of-living just because the Government increase children's allowances. People are not so slow today to add two and two and discover the arithmetic of their living conditions. The underlying arithmetic in this Budget is based on the supposition that the poor will continue to pay for the poor.
Can this Government any longer shirk the larger job of social justice? Only a Government converted to our views will shift the burden and redistribute the wealth in a real way. The Taoiseach is very fond of talking about the kind of society we want to have. The Minister for Finance in his Budget speech spoke in general terms  of the kind of society he wants. The former Taoiseach made many speeches in the same strain and the present Taoiseach is continuing the tradition. What kind of society do the Irish people want? It is my belief that they want the kind of society in which, first and foremost, there are jobs for all. The Government have failed to provide jobs. They have no policy designed to create more jobs. Indeed, they grow positively embarrassed when we talk about such old-fashioned things as jobs. They take refuge in statistics, in comparing the records of Governments, particularly the Coalition Government from 1954 to 1957, a Government about which the younger generation today know nothing.
It is the duty of a responsible administration to so organise our society that there are jobs for all in that society. We still have with us the problem of emigration. Despite all the formulae, all the reports of the NIEC, all the committees of experts and all the foreign capital attracted into the country, the old incorrigible problem remains. The people leave the west for Britain and the United States. The people in the east also leave for Britain and the United States. Successive Governments since 1922 have failed to tackle the problem of creating employment. It is useless taking refuge in excuses. The Government cannot have a policy to solve the problem of unemployment because they have admitted openly that they are, as a Party, irrevocably committed to the system of private enterprise. When we adumbrate our policies they are dismissed as sinister.
The Irish electorate is at last growing up. It can no longer be hoodwinked by lies or excuses. The Irish electorate is coming to understand that the test of a vote is the ability to produce the goods. This Government have failed lamentably to produce the goods. It is no excuse to point to the future. It is no excuse to say that the responsibility rests on all of us. The primary responsibility to ensure economic progress rests on the Government. From that point of view this Government, like all the Governments that went before them, have failed in that respect. What other European country would sit idly  by and watch the stream of emigration?
According to the propaganda, the years from 1957 to 1969 were the most dynamic and successful years the country has ever known. The industrial miracle took place. Yet 250,000 people left the country in the same period. Emigration still runs at 20,000 per year. This Government have no remedy for that situation. In fact, the Government have voluntarily imposed on themselves a certain limitation of action. They have declared themselves satisfied with the progress made. The people will no longer be duped with slogans. The big lie can no longer be told successfully because the people will no longer believe the big lie. Sufficient houses have not been built over the past 12 years to house all our people. Our housing situation is the most disgraceful in Europe.
The Government have failed notoriously in those areas in which Government action should have been taken. The fact that the Government have increased children's allowances will not hide their manifest inadequacies from the electorate. It would be a foolish man indeed who would think that the electorate could forget the previous ten years. The referendum did not make the people forget the failures of this Government. The people will not forget the Government's reluctance to introduce a prices and incomes policy. The people will not forget their reluctance to re-distribute the wealth equitably among every section of the community. The people will not forget the Government's desire to maintain the existing differentials. They will not forget that, when this Government talk at any great length about economic problems, all the emphasis is laid on wages and salaries. The big lie that this Government are a success will not be believed by the people.
Every effort will be made to propagate the idea of success, but unsuccesfully. Certainly it will be our job to refer to the facts of the period of this Government's administration. We will be referring to the facts with the help of the 100 candidates we will be putting up, the largest number we have ever put up. They will be putting forward  the policies we think will meet our situation, that will meet the problem of no jobs and poor housing. Whatever is said to the contrary they remain the verities of the political situation—the problem of employment which no administration has solved, and its ugly twin, the consequent emigration, and as well as that the flight from the land which has not yet been solved and there are little prospects that it will be. In fact, I see now that the Buchanan Report, which I suppose is an attempt to acknowledge the existing situation and attenuate its consequences, has been refused endorsement by the Government.
Mr. M. O'Leary: You have done nothing about the constituencies which were most faithful to you, the people who returned Deputy after Deputy for you over the past 40 years. You have done nothing for the hinterland of Fianna Fáil support and now in this Budget you are attempting to do something for those people who have deserted you and will continue to desert you in greater numbers. If the Minister wants to have his Party here over the next few years with the same numbers as they have had in the past he better do something rapidly for the rural areas which have been most faithful to his Party.
Mr. M. O'Leary: It is a counsel of deep complacency to think that you have done well in the past and you will do well in future but remember that people reach the allotted span and die and they cannot vote then, even though on occasion your organisation tried to rectify that deficiency, and the fact is that you will have to do something about rural depopulation. If you wish to maintain your representation in the west I would suggest that in the interests of your organisation's future you should do something about maintaining the electorate there. Of course, we have our own plans for getting some of this support from you.
Mr. M. O'Leary: It is free advice and I am sure there is nothing original about it. In regard to the EEC we were asked to diversify our trade outlets and to get away from depending on the British market which is intensified under the Free Trade Area Agreement and we are still looking over our shoulder at the possibility of entering the EEC. I remember saying many times here, when other people became practically hysterical about the continued presence of the President of France, General de Gaulle, and who imagined that with his departure things would change miraculously, that France's opposition to Britain's entry was not centred in the President but had material interest and strong support among the mass of French industrialists and the French people. It was not a prediction solely attributable to me but certainly it was not the feeling of the majority of the House who felt that if the President could suddenly be translated from his post the way would be quite clear for Britain's entry. However, now he has been translated to Sneem in Killarney we see that the possibility of Britain's entry is no nearer and that the nominees left in his wake are not that  anxious about Britain's entry. Therefore, that kind of paradise—which I do not accept it to be—for our economic ills cannot be predicted in the near future.
It remains as true today as when President de Gaulle was in power that Britain's entry will be later than sooner and the whole tragedy of our situation lies in that, because of our connections with them under the Free Trade Agreement. Obviously the proud architects of that agreement never imagined that even if the claws of the British lion were blunted that if they squeezed on one tiny spot the squeeze would be all the more severe. There will be no distraction because we are a good soft buy here because transport costs are relatively low and saturation of our markets is to be expected from British sources in the years ahead. Therefore it behoves us to have a diversification of export markets but whether in the context of the Free Trade Agreement it would be possible to maintain the health of some industry remains an open and debatable question. At the same time, this Government of challenges—they have challenged every interest in the country to consider its own problems—may well have issued too great a challenge to industry to build up export markets at a phenomenal rate and at the same time see its own home markets endangered. To expect that it can survive in such a set up, in view of the background of industry, is to expect the remarkable
The advice expressed by the Taoiseach that we must diversify markets remains a counsel to be followed but the fact is whether it is a counsel which in the existing circumstances can be followed remains an open question. I very much doubt that it can. The overall architect's plan in this period for our economic planning is summed up in the agreement and if the whole premise of that agreement is not being carried out and if the overall logic of that agreement must mean the total absorption of the economy it appears to be difficult if not impossible to control any independent export market policy.
This administration has to its credit —in Fianna Fáil language—that it signed the most disastrous economic  agreement ever signed by any administration in this State. That was a collective Cabinet decision and every Member opposite voted for that agreement and the consequences of that agreement. The worse defects are yet to follow—ten per cent in July and another ten per cent next year and the workers up and down the country will be the suffers. The farmers on whose behalf the agreement was sold have not been its most enthusiastic supporters in the meantime. It is essential, therefore, that we re-negotiate that agreement and end that agreement and, therefore, it is essential that we should have a change of Government. This is suggested and underlined by the fact that we have put up 100 candidates— ample to run the affairs of this country, ample to put the country on a correct course, quite sufficient in talent and ability to do a better job than the failures opposite.
Mr. M. O'Leary: They have tried to suggest another heresy to go with their heresies of the past few years. They have attempted to suggest in this House that nobody is competent to run this country other than the members of the present Cabinet, other than those who have the divine touch of being Fianna Fáil TDs. Only those have the secret knowledge, the know-how, to run the affairs of the 26 Counties.
One does not have to beat down this pretence with any kind of rhetoric. One has only to look at the record. One gives them credit for this, that a very able man, a propagandist certainly, was able to do a great deal to create the idea that more had been achieved than had been achieved. I am looking forward to their television film in the course of the election. I can almost see it already—factory chimneys and brisk dialogue about all the progress and the punchline—“If the progress is to be continued, vote X, Y, Z.” It is pretty easy to see the line that will be followed. Of course, the record speaks for itself. There is certainly no doubt about their eagerness to remain in office. No administration has shown a  greater desire to remain in office. They cannot be blamed for that. They are professional politicians, as most of us in this House are, and it is certainly one valuable aid to being an effective Government to want to remain in Government. But, on the side, one would expect achievement and we have not got it. They cannot be given the honour of being the only people competent to be the Government. They have had all the most modern aids, the place full of committees, they have ransacked the universities, they have had all the cream of our Civil Service at their disposal, and yet none of the old-fashioned problems that were there before we ever heard of economic planning has been solved. Nowadays they call them by different names. We have become more euphemistic in the way we describe failures in the economy, but the failures still remain. Therefore, they cannot claim to be competent. They have failed in the elementary functions of a democratic Government. They have failed in the management of the economy. Nor have they had any success in the economy. They have no confidence in the idea of taking a purposeful part in the running of the economy. They are suspicious of talk about a communal effort in the community. They rely on private industry and say this is quite satisfactory. When their opponents come up with plans for an extension of community control in industry and plans to expand industrial capacity, plans for more jobs, they smear them.
These, therefore, are not the kind of people who any longer deserve the confidence of the electorate. The great reservoir of their support, paradoxically enough, comes from the areas in which they have most failed. The reserve of Fianna Fáil power and of Government support now lies with the most poverty-stricken areas, in which they have failed most dismally. The areas which have been most faithful to this Government lie on the western seaboard, in the rural areas. If the farmers of Ireland are wondering why there has been nothing in this Budget for them, they should study the way they have voted in election after election. It is because this Government know from past experience that they have had the votes  of the farmers safely in their back pockets that these farmers have got nothing in this Budget. The bitter lesson must be learned by Irish farmers. As long as you are Fianna Fáil stooges, so long will you continue to be ignored. As long as your votes are safe for the Fianna Fáil candidate on election day, so long will Deputy Blaney, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, continue to blow hot and cold in your faces. It does not matter what you say in your organised form, if you want to get results from this Government, you will have to start hitting where it hurts on election day. The city voter has already learned this lesson and the Fianna Fáil Government know exactly where the areas of greater danger to their continued dominance in government lie. Dublin in this election will give us two Labour TDs in every Dublin constituency and we will see the beginning of the end of this Government: the decisive battleground of the beginning of the end for this Government will not be in rural Ireland in this election but in the city of Dublin. That is the area where the real fight will take place and where the great change is about to take place. It commenced in 1965. We will see it gather force in this election. That is the area that the Government had in mind in devising this Budget. I cannot blame them for devising a Budget suited to the urban voter because the urban voter is saying good-bye to Fianna Fáil.
I do not think this farewell will be rendered any shorter or longer by this Budget. The city voter will pocket your children's allowances, as he is entitled to do, but will think ruefully of the price increases in the shops that he has had to suffer over the past few years and about which the Government have done nothing and have shown no seriousness about tackling in future. The Government may say that the housing problem remains with us but that of course it is the problem of a growing economy. This is their language for describing their failure in housing. They say that all developing countries have a problem in housing. But to the person in Dublin in overcrowded conditions it will not be good enough. There is no point in throwing up your hands and saying that we have  had this or that problem. The fact is that the people will turn to the Government and say to them “You have had 12 years of Government, long enough to solve the housing problem with the kind of emigration situation we have had”.
On unemployment, Government spokesmen may say that the growth rate in the economy has improved and that there are better signs for next year. Again, the voters could say that 12 years was long enough to do something about employment and that now in 1969, on the eve of an election, the Government come looking for their support when unemployment is at over six per cent. They could say to the Government that if any Government in any European country, in the EEC, the Community in which they wish to put us, faced an electorate with over six per cent unemployment they would be rejected ignominiously at the polls.
So, these are the problems of this Government and, as long as we have this Government, the problems the country will continue to face. It is obvious that the policies being pursued by this Government have been the wrong policies, if they had policies for these areas at all, if in fact they are conscious of these problems or of their failures. It strikes me very often that this Government are involved in such a complicated game of double-think that they cannot see failure where there is failure. The unemployed man is no longer an unemployed man to this Government. Probably they would describe him as unused labour or undeveloped labour potential. In the language of economics one can turn a failure into possibly a leap forward and regard the unemployed as the future labour pool, but the fact of the matter is that they are unemployed at the present time.
I would earnestly hope that this Government, before they meet the electorate, will shrive themselves of the kind of ballyhoo with which they have surrounded themselves in the past four years. I trust they will realise their shortcomings and honestly seek remedies for them and for their failures. Let us not have an election of lies about success where there has  not been success. Do not let us have the Minister for Local Government tell us about successes in housing when we have not had it. Do not let the Minister for Industry and Commerce go on television and reduce still further the public's estimate of the probity of public representatives and politicians in general by claiming—against a background of stucco factory chimneys— the creation of new jobs when, in fact, we have made no impact on the number of school-leavers seeking new jobs. Furthermore, some of our advances in education, which have been described as a “startling” Fianna Fáil innovation, have been in practice in Europe for the past 30 or 40 years.
Even if it is late in the day when Fianna Fáil have come to love social justice, let them not advertise it as a “new discovery”. I still recall the shame I felt in the Presidential Election on seeing the multi-coloured caravans around Dublin which carried the slogan—taken from our Constitution— about “cherishing all of the people of the nation equally”. What a terrible end to our Proclamation of 1916. Fianna Fáil did that in an endeavour to coax our citizens to vote for Éamon de Valera. For God's sake, leave the Proclamation of the Republic alone. Fianna Fáil have failed to carry out any iota of its ideals. In fact, Fianna Fáil have failed to carry out any of the modest objectives a Government should carry out in its period of office. Fianna Fáil has had ample time. They cannot blame the Coalition Government. Fianna Fáil are an incompetent administration by any measurement. They have failed to solve the problems of the people and, in turn, the people should reject with scorn the claim by Fianna Fáil that they will solve any of our national problems in the years ahead.
Mr. T. O'Donnell: I think it is true to say that this Budget has been dictated by political expediency. In the closing stages of his speech the Minister for Finance said the Budget had carefully been planned to meet the needs of the present situation. No doubt this Budget has, in fact, been carefully planned to meet the needs of the present  situation. It is an election Budget.
Quite frankly, having examined and tried to analyse the Minister's speech and having examined the Budget against the background of the economic and social problems of this country, I personally do not think this Budget will be of any use so far as vote-catching for the Government is concerned. It contains no new thinking on the major economic and social problems of this country. There is nothing in it which would generate or accelerate employment. There is nothing in it to meet the serious problems now confronting the agricultural industry.
The concessions in this Budget have been dictated by the coming general election. Aside from these concessions, this Budget, and particularly the Minister's speech when introducing it, follows the same pattern of recent Budgets—the same type of stop-gap economics: more taxation; relatively minor benefits distributed here and there. Certainly, this Budget represents the peak of Fianna Fáil thinking on economic and social matters. If it is indicative of the capabilities of Fianna Fáil, now that they are facing the electorate, then it reflects a failure of this Government Party since 1957 to tackle problems like employment, emigration, rural depopulation and many other problems which, since 1957, have worsened rather than improved.
I do not want to repeat figures given by Deputy O'Leary but the Taoiseach attempted last week to paint in rosy colours the record of Fianna Fáil in the past 12 years as a picture of unprecedented progress. According to official statistics, in the period between 1957 and 1969, 301,000 people emigrated; the cost of living has risen by 68.1 per cent. The total number of people at work has fallen by 60,000. Most outrageous and indefensible of all, 101,000 people have left the land of Ireland. The record of Fianna Fáil as a Government since 1957 in the provision of  new employment and in putting agriculture on a proper footing has been absolutely scandalous.
At Question Time today I raised the serious matter of the dairying industry with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. In his Budget speech, the Minister for Finance went to some pains to explain the magnitude of the Government's subvention for the dairying industry. He has pointed out that the annual cost of supporting creamery milk has risen from the comparatively modest sum of £6 million in 1963-4 to an estimated £27 million in the present year. He then states that the dairy industry is, of course, a key one and is closely linked with the cattle industry which gives us our largest single export.
I want to try to put this question of the Exchequer support for the creamery industry in its proper perspective. The present estimated Government subvention to the dairy industry is £27 million. On the face of it that would seem to be a pretty high figure but when one comes to look at the dairy industry and its place in the national economy it can be proved that this £27 million is a figure well spent. It is very often forgotten or overlooked that the dairy industry, in addition to providing or generating exports directly to the value of approximately £30 million, is the foundation of our cattle industry, as the Minister has stated. If we want cattle exports then we must have dairy farmers. The dairy industry contributes about £30 million in exports of dairy products. It provides employment for 100,000 farmers and their families. In the processing industries and the ancillary industries it provides employment for approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people. When one takes into account transport and various other activities connected with the dairy industry it is safe to assume that there are 10,000 people directly employed in this industry in industrial employment.
Therefore, I believe that it should be a matter of top priority for any Government to ensure that the dairy industry expands and develops in a proper way. What has happened is that after 12 years of Fianna Fáil  government we find this most important industry, which I claim is the most important industry in the State, in a state of absolute and most appalling chaos. In recent years it was deliberate Government policy to encourage an increase in milk production. Last year, due to the fact that while the Government were encouraging farmers to go into milk production, they failed to take steps to provide adequate outlets for all the milk produced gallons of milk had to be thrown away.
Now we have reached a situation, despite this ologóning by the Minister about £27 million going to the creamery industry, where there is quite a lot of talk about surplus milk production. However, as late as 10 days ago the managing director of one of the biggest milk processing industries in the South of Ireland issued a statement to the public press in which he expressed concern at the fact that his particular processing plant would be six million gallons of milk short in 1969. Again we have had a report issued in recent times about rationalisation, reorganisation and amalgamation in the creamery industry. We had the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries going down to west Limerick a week or ten days ago and in a most plausible way he fobbed off this whole question of rationalisation.
There is no doubt that in the dairy industry there is still room for expansion because no other sector of the economy reached the targets of the Second Programme. The dairy industry alone reached the target. This is not just exaggerated talk, it is a plain statement of fact. No other industry has shown the same capacity for expansion. Now we find in recent months the Government in a state of panic talking about surplus milk and advising farmers to cut down on milk production. At the same time, a week or 10 days ago we find one major processing industry being short 6 million gallons of milk for the current year.
There is nothing at all in this Budget to sort out the chaos in the dairy industry. Other Deputies have talked about social justice. The Minister makes no mention in his speech of the fact that the dairy farmers who, by adopting modern methods and  through proper management techniques and proper production techniques, succeeded in increasing the output of milk are now being penalised to the extent that in the month of April of this year the price paid for milk delivered to creameries was 2d per gallon less than in April 1968. That is a substantial loss to the dairy farmers. The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in a most irresponsible reply to a question of mine today about whether he was taking steps to compensate for this loss said that it was expected that the total income of dairy farmers in 1969 would be greater than it was in 1968. What kind of mathematics led him to arrive at that reply I do not know, but I made a survey of creameries not merely in Limerick but in adjoining counties over the past week and creamery manager after creamery manager gave me figures which prove that the reduction in milk prices is 2d a gallon.
I believe the Government have fallen down in many ways in recent times. The First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion certainly did not come up to expectations but in no field of economic activity have the Government been guilty of greater mismanagement than in their handling of the most important industry in this State, the dairying industry. I presume there is no point in labouring this now. During the past three or four years, Budgets were submitted to the verdict of Dáil Éireann. This Budget, we hope, will be submitted to the verdict of the Irish people. The dairy farmers, the workers employed in the processing plants, and other people whose livelihood depends directly or indirectly on that industry, will have an opportunity of expressing their verdict, and I am quite confident of the verdict they will express.
The Minister had very little to say about the Third Programme for Economic Expansion. In recent years the Budget has been looked upon as the instrument of economic policy. I do not want to get involved in economic jargon, because I have very little time for that type of codology. In my humble opinion, the Third Programme for Economic Expansion is merely a  rehash of the Second. I have read through the booklet outlining the proposals contained in the Third Programme. I compared it side by side with the various policies proposed in the Second Programme, and it has a striking resemblance. There is a striking similarity between the two. So far as the basic thinking is concerned there are no new departures in the Third Programme.
There are one or two points in the Minister's speech in which I am particularly and personally interested. Under the heading, Culture and leisure, the Minister said: “The fruitful use of leisure affects adults and young people on different levels. A survey of adult education needs is being undertaken to enable the Government to initiate any necessary expansion or restructuring in this important field.” I am glad that the Government have at last realised the importance of adult education. Other countries have realised long ago the important contribution adult education can make to economic and social progress. We are lagging far behind Great Britain and other European countries, and the United States of America and Canada in developments in this field.
I welcome the conversion of the Government to the idea of adult education because I am very conscious of the fact that a number of years ago the then President of University College, Cork, Dr. Alfred O'Rahilly, did tremendous pioneering work in the field of adult education. He was the first university man in this country who attempted to follow along the line set by universities in other countries, when the universities were brought out to the people. That is adult education.
Dr. O'Rahilly initiated courses in economic and social studies, and lectures were provided in technical and vocational schools and at various provincial centres. Many hundreds of students attended those courses and sat the final examinations successfully. Despite the fact that his work was greatly appreciated by the people who pursued the courses, some years ago the Government decided to reduce by 50 per cent the subvention to University College, Cork, for the provision of these adult education courses.
Mr. T. O'Donnell: You may have got the mistaken impression that I was going to go into detail. In fact, I am not. I will keep to broad general grounds. As one who has been keenly interested in adult education and who has also had experience in organising adult education courses, mainly through Muintir na Tíre, I welcome this recognition of the importance of adult education within our educational system. I sincerely hope our universities and other educational institutions will be encouraged to follow the example set by the universities in Great Britain and other countries, and particularly in the University of Nova Scotia in Canada which is an outstanding example of how a university can make a contribution to local economic and social development. I sincerely hope there will be a vast expansion in the number of courses being provided.
One cannot refer to adult education without paying tribute to the work of the Catholic Workers' College, the Dublin Institute of Catholic Sociology. and other voluntary organisations which have done a tremendous amount of work in the field of adult education.
In relation to the provisions in the Budget, everyone welcomes the increase given to the various categories of pensioners and particularly the special concessions that have been given in this Budget to the Old IRA. It is easy to pay lip service to these veterans of our fight for freedom. Many Deputies on various occasions here have paid tribute to these men. However, not enough has been done to help the most needy survivors of this struggle. While I welcome the additional  small concessions being given to the members of the Old IRA, I still think that, as their numbers are now decreasing with the passing of every year, we could be much more generous in a practical and tangible manner to these people, especially those of them who are incapacitated or suffering from ill-health as a result of the privations and hardships they endured securing freedom for this nation. I sincerely hope that before long these people will be given the assistance and the recognition to which they are so justly entitled.
On this question of pensions I also welcome the fact that the Minister has gone some part of the way towards meeting the claims of various categories of pensioners. The plight of many of our pensioners and the inadequacy of their pensions is a very serious social problem. I would go so far as to say that the conditions under which so many of our pensioners have to live are a major social problem. In referring to pensioners I am very conscious of the fact that the Ignatian Sodality attached to the Jesuit Church in Limerick city in recent months undertook a survey of the living conditions of old age pensioners in Limerick city. The report of that survey, which was widely published, makes sad and appalling reading. This survey found that a considerable number of old age pensioners were suffering from malnutrition and were living under deplorable conditions.
We shall have to face up to this situation. The Government have failed to do so. This whole question of pensions will have to be tackled in a Christian manner. A formula will have to be devised and machinery set in motion which will ensure that pension increases keep pace with increases in the cost of living. The present system whereby pensions of many public servants are fixed by reference to the date of their retirement is an abominable system. This operates in the case of CIE pensioners, Garda pensioners, retired teachers and so forth, where those who retire in a certain year receive a lower pension than those who retire a few years later and vice versa. This is a question which needs very serious  attention. Deputies or others who are familiar with the problem in the urban areas will find that a large number of people who are depending on pensions are undoubtedly the most needy people in the country. Small concessions have been given to various categories of pensioners, but the problem of the pensioner will never be solved until we have a national pensions policy and a national pensions system which will ensure that every pension will be linked with the cost of living and that pension increases will keep pace with the cost of living. This is a fundamental social problem crying out for solution.
The Minister in his Budget speech covers various aspects of national life. In this 80-page speech I have not found any reference to a very important factor in national life, that is, community development, community organisation, and its contribution to economic and social progress. In previous Budget speeches various Ministers for Finance have referred, en passant, to community development. The potential which community organisations have has never been fully recognised, certainly not by the present Government. The presence of the Minister for Local Government on the bench opposite brings to mind the attitude of the then Government to the introduction of group water schemes which were an outstanding exercise in community organisation, which were pioneered by organisations like Muintir na Tíre and in the early stages met with considerable opposition.
I am glad to think that this idea has come to be accepted now. Community development can play a major role in economic and social progress. Other nations have recognised this important instrument of economic advancement, but we have not as yet done so. Indeed there comes to mind a recent most important statement on community development from His Lordship, the Bishop of Killaloe, most Reverend Dr. Harty, in which he complained of the lack of recognition of local voluntary groups by various Government Departments. This is a deplorable fact. This is why, I believe,  Fine Gael agricultural policy, which makes provision for rural development boards—a new departure in economic thinking—will be a major factor in solving both the economic and social problems of rural Ireland when we get the opportunity, as I am confident we will get it, in the forthcoming general election of implementing Fine Gael policy.
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Boland): I really find it very hard to believe my ears when I hear Deputy O'Leary, on the one hand, speaking about what he alleges to be the conversion of this Government to what his Party has been preaching for 50 years and then I hear Deputy O'Donnell, on the other hand, talking about group water schemes and insinuating that group water schemes owe their existence to anything but the policy of Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Boland: They were initiated by Fianna Fáil in the teeth of opposition by Fine Gael and, not merely opposition, but sneering comments by the then Leader of the Party, Deputy Dillon, who linked them with the regional water schemes as schemes that were, in his opinion, conceived in bedlam, schemes that could not be implemented and that were beyond the capacity of the community to provide. Surely, if anybody can speak for the Fine Gael Party, the Leader of the Party can. Group water schemes were brought in by this Government because they had made it possible, first of all, for the community to finance them and, secondly, because of their policy to divert as much as possible of the increasing resources of the country to the benefit of the community as a whole.
Deputy O'Leary said that one Budget would not make the people forget all the others. The fact is that this Budget is one of a series of Budgets. It is a Budget in the pattern of all the other  Budgets that preceded it. It is not just one Budget. It is one of a series of 12 Budgets introduced by Fianna Fáil. We have been following exactly the same pattern in regard to Budgets since 1957 except that, in 1957, there was, of course, the additional necessity of paying the debts left by the previous Government and rescuing the country from the financial disaster that was upon it. But, even in the difficulties of 1957, we set the pattern which has been followed faithfully in every Budget since then and which has, as Deputy O'Leary now realises, reached a new high level. Now even Deputy O'Leary is unable to deny that this Budget is an enlightened exercise in the redistribution of income in favour of the less well off sections of the community.
Deputy O'Leary talks about the conversion of this Government to what Labour have been preaching for over 50 years. But what about what Labour have been doing? What about the two periods of Government in which there was a Labour Minister for Social Welfare? Admittedly in each of those periods they suffered from what must have been a disadvantage in that they had a Fine Gael Minister for Finance. But they did have charge of the Ministry concerned with the redistribution of income. What was the practice as distinct from the preaching of Deputy O'Leary's Party then? In this one, single year Fianna Fáil are giving more than double what was given in the full six years of two Coalition Governments.
While it is true that in each of those periods of alternative Government— clearly there is no other alternative available now except another union between these two Parties, a union which was so unproductive in the past —there was an increase of 2/6d for some of the social welfare services, in this one, single year Fianna Fáil are going right across the board and giving an increase of 10/-, more than double what was given in any one of our social welfare services by the two Coalition Governments. Because it is given to all social welfare services it is, in fact, much more than double what was given in the full two periods during which there was a Labour Minister for Social Welfare and a Fine Gael  Minister for Finance bringing in the Budget.
Deputy O'Leary talked about one Budget not going to influence the people. But we do not want the people to forget last year's Budget, nor the Budget before it, nor any other Budget that Fianna Fáil have brought in since 1957. What we will try to do is not make the people forget this and demonstrate to the people that this is the logical outcome of the policy we have been pursuing over the full period since 1957. There is nothing we will welcome more than a comparison with, not what Deputy O'Leary claims to have been preaching for 50 years, but with what Labour succeeded in doing when they got the opportunity. We can demonstrate clearly that there is and has been a continuous gain every year under Fianna Fáil in all our social welfare services over the cost of living.
Deputy O'Leary had the nerve to dwell in the main on children's allowances. Here is one social welfare service that was never touched by any other hands except the hands of Fianna Fáil. All the social welfare schemes, with the exception of those that were there in rudimentary form in the British days, were introduced by Fianna Fáil. Children's allowances were introduced by Fianna Fáil. So was every development of them. In so far as Deputy O'Leary's Party is concerned, children's allowances might never have existed. Yet, he now claims that the reason why they refrained for the first time in their history from voting against the Budget is because we had responded to their urgings to deal with children's allowances. We introduced children's allowances without any urgings from any Party and we have increased them on a number of occasions. That is our policy. If there is one thing the Labour Party ought to be ashamed to mention it is children's allowances.
Apparently after 50 years of preaching the Labour Party have now come to realise that it is about time they took the practical step of refraining from opposing the efforts of Fianna Fáil to improve social conditions. We had, of course, from Deputy O'Leary —it was only to be expected from him —alleged comparisons with European countries. It is a notable thing about Deputies on the opposite benches that they never miss any opportunity of downgrading the country, of trying to represent the country as being deficient in comparison with other countries. Of course, Deputy O'Leary's allegations are completely untrue because, to make a true comparison, one must compare like with like. If we compare like with like it can be shown that the proportion of our resources which we allocate for social purposes can stand comparison with the proportion similarly allocated in any country in Europe.
The proportion of our gross national product which is spent on social welfare compares favourably and, generally speaking, it can be shown to be rising according as our total resources increase. Our policy has been and is and can clearly be shown by our successive Budgets to have been to ensure that the maximum amount feasible of our national income is utilised for social purposes. I say the maximum amount feasible because we are realistic enough and sincere enough to appreciate that if we are to continue to make real improvements in social conditions the fundamental necessity is to ensure that the capacity of the country to finance improvements will be maintained and will be developed.
As I said, in every year since 1959 we have made improvements in social welfare. In practically every year we have dealt with all the social welfare schemes but children's allowances have not been dealt with as frequently as other schemes. It may have been that which encouraged Deputy O'Leary to speak about children's allowances, but the Minister's Budget Statement shows that to increase children's allowances in any year is the most expensive of all the social welfare schemes. This year the increased allowance being allocated will cost £3.3 million. It is natural, of course, because of the expense of doing this, that children's allowances have not been dealt with as often as other social welfare schemes. At the same time, it is a fact, and it is a fact that neither Opposition Parties  will be allowed to get away from, that this is a Fianna Fáil scheme completely; it was introduced by us and every development of it and every expansion of it has been by Fianna Fáil. I would not say that the Labour Ministers for Social Welfare might not have liked to have made some improvements or some expansions in children's allowances but the fact is, as I said, even a small increase is expensive and the Government in which they took part were never in a position to extract the extra amount necessary from the community to make such an increase.
Children's allowances are a different type of scheme from other social welfare schemes because the allowances have a dual purpose. As far as the lower income group families are concerned they are an income supplement and in so far as other families are concerned they fulfil the function of lessening the inequality of the standard of living as between people who have the same income but have different family responsibilities. The children's allowances scheme should always be considered in conjunction with the income tax code, in conjunction with the tax-free allowance for dependent children. This year there has been a further dovetailing of the scheme with the tax-free allowance under the income tax code so as to ensure, in accordance with consistent Fianna Fáil policy, that the maximum benefit from the extra £3.3 million will go to those who require it most. It was a logical thing to increase the children's allowances and, at the same time, have this increase in the tax-free allowance under the income tax code. It can be fairly described as a further dovetailing of the scheme with the income tax system.
This method was obviously better than the crude suggestions made of prescribing an income limit above which children's allowances would not be payable and it avoided the anomalies that would be bound to arise under such a system. It also avoided the necessity for having a separate means test. The combined effect of the increase in children's allowances and the downward adjustment of the tax-free allowance for dependent children is  to give the maximum benefit where it is needed. Those who are not in the income-tax paying bracket get the full benefit and those who do pay income tax have the benefit reduced in proportion to their liability for income tax. Of course, all this is in addition to the other increases of 10/- across the board and all the other social welfare schemes which are costing an additional £4.1 million. All this significant improvement in all aspects of social welfare is possible only because Fianna Fáil policy has been in operation and only because we appreciate that the fundamental prerequisite for making any social advance is to ensure that the capacity of the people to provide the money is increased and that, therefore, only the maximum amount that is feasible, and recognising that necessity, is taken in any one year for these purposes and that taxation is not imposed at such a level as to stifle incentive.
This major advance has taken place in this year's Budget. Deputy O'Leary says that the test of a Government should be its ability to produce the goods and without explaining why he suggested that the people should see clearly that his Party could produce the goods better than Fianna Fáil. Well, there is one thing certain and I will not dispute this with Deputy O'Leary or any Member of the major Opposition Party, Fine Gael, either, that so far as producing promises about what will be done and dressing them up and putting them forward as policies is concerned, we cannot compete with them. We do not intend to complete with them, we never tried to and we never will. If that is what Deputy O'Leary means by producing the goods then we hand the palm to either his Party or Fine Gael. We have seen the promises that both Parties have prepared and which they put forward as policies.
I have not gone through the futile exercise of comparing one with the other. I do not know which is the better in so far as producing the goods is concerned but I do know that the people have seen what results from falling for this type of irresponsible electioneering campaign. They have seen in the past that it has resulted in economic chaos  and in no social advances and we are certainly not proposing at any time to enter into competition with either of the Opposition Parties in that regard. We think, on the other hand, that producing the goods means making improvements in all aspects of social welfare, in raising the national income and in seeing that it is distributed as equitably as possible.
I do not see why Deputy O'Leary should sneer and jeer at the people because they have been basing their decisions to a certain extent on past performance rather than on promises of what will be done in future. It is wise that in assessing the proposals for the future the people should remember the result of allowing, through indecisiveness, the formation of a Government whose collective and diverse policies were in no way related to the economic capacity of the community.
This great advance in social welfare in this year comes after a year in which there have been such outstanding advances in the field of education, for instance, in which an expansion in free post-primary and higher education, that was sneered at by the Opposition as being impossible, has been successfully achieved and it comes after another year in a series of record years in every aspect of local government because in so far as all the activities of the Department of Local Government are concerned last year was a year of records and the previous year was a year of records also and, quite clearly, this Budget sets the framework for another record in this financial year.
Both of the Deputies whom I heard speaking here today dealt at considerable length with the activities of my Department and I want to show in reply that this Budget, as I said, sets the framework for a similar substantial advance in this coming financial year. We had a record year in every field of local government last year. Last year, in so far as the Capital Budget was concerned, the amount actually spent amounted to £32.3 million. This year, the allocation is £35 million. In so far as local authority housing is concerned, the capital expenditure last year was £15.75 million. This year the allocation is £16.2 million.  In so far as private housing is concerned the amount for house purchase loans by local authorities in the financial year 1968-69 was £5.85 million and this year it will be £6.75 million; supplementary grants, £2.2 million; grants by the Department go up from £3.3 million in 1968-69 to £3.5 million in this year. So that the total for private housing last year was £11.55 million and this year the total allocation is £12.45 million.
In so far as sanitary and miscellaneous services are concerned, which again were disparaged by both of the previous speakers, in 1968-69 we had £4.5 million for this purpose and this year the allocation is £5.75 million and last year the National Building Agency's allocation was £5 million; this year it is £6 million and, as I intend to show, we had a record year in all these fields last year. Clearly, then, we can expect a further record in this year.
Both of the preceding speakers had a lot of adverse comment to make with regard to the provision of housing and to the housing situation generally. What are the facts? The facts are that in 1967-68 there were over 12,000 dwellings provided. There were slightly under 11,000 provided in the previous year and when the Government adopted the White Paper for housing in 1964 the number of houses being built was 7,831. In the last financial year the number rose to 13,064. We have had a rising trend in so far as house building is concerned since 1961-62 with the exception of one year in which there was a slight fall. When we adopted the White Paper in 1964 the target that was set, the estimate of needs to be met by 1970, was between 12,000 and 14,000 houses and last year, as I said, we achieved the figure of 13,064 and clearly this Budget provides the framework in which there will be a further significant advance in the coming year.
I mentioned that there was one minor exception to the continuous rising trend since 1961-62—nine years. That one year, more even than the years in which we had rises, shows the difference between this Government and the alternative Government because  it was the manner in which this Government, because of their unity, because of their united approach, because of their responsible approach, tackled adverse economic conditions and succeeded in keeping the housing drive going and in maintaining the housing industry at a reasonable level of production—it was that more than our success in other years—that demonstrated the difference in capacity between the two Governments.
The comparison is obvious. The comparison is between what happened when the alternative Government, in 1956-57, experienced similar adverse economic circumstances and were unable because of their disunited character, because of the lack of responsibility in their approach, to tackle the danger signs at the proper time and allowed, as a result of their complete irresponsibility, the housing operations of both local authorities and of private enterprise to come to a chaotic end and allowed, more disastrously still, the building industry itself to be decimated and even the operatives to be scattered outside the shores of this country because of the complete economic collapse at that time, due to mishandling of the situation. I think it is our handling of that situation that we have best demonstrated the wisdom of the people in making the change they made in 1957 and in insisting that they will not fall for what Deputy O'Leary refers to as “producing the goods” at election time—the “goods” being, of course, the type of unrealistic and illogical promises in which the opposition Parties indulge.
In the Dublin area, which is the area we hear most about in regard to housing, we again have the same experience, namely, that the number of houses being built has been increasing for ten years with this one solitary exception when there was a slight decrease as compared with the catastrophic collapse that marked a similar situation under the Coalition Government. In the financial year 1967-68, we had in the Dublin area a record output of 5.502 and, in the next financial year, 1968-69, we had a further record output of 5,707 completions. In addition to that, we had a record in regard to  reconstruction. In 1968-69, we had a record number of 9,724 reconstructions carried out. Last year, in the financial year 1967-68, the total capital devoted to the provision of housing from State and private sources amounted to £51 million. In the financial year 1968-69 this was increased to £57 million. They represent two records in succession. The expected turnout for 1969-70 is that there will be an expenditure of £62 million on the provision of housing. This is to be compared with a figure of £23.6 million in 1963-64. This increase is a measure of the success of the Government's financial policies.
Through the Government's Capital Budget last year, of this total of £57 million, a sum of £29 million was provided. The State's contribution to housing five years ago was £13 million. Now it has risen to £29 million last year, a remarkable total, and, for 1969-70, the allocation is £30.75 million. We achieved, in advance, the target set in the White Paper for 1970 and, last year, the total number of new houses constructed was 13,064 including 4,613 local authority houses and 7,519 grant-aided houses—again, a record under each heading.
The number of new grants for private house-building allocated in 1968-69 was, again, a record at 9,523. It is expected that this will increase by about 1,000 this year. Therefore, we can say that the number of new private dwellings being built is also increasing. Last year, in addition, 772 farmers' grants were allocated. In face of this substantial achievement and proof that Fianna Fáil are continuing to increase the economic capacity of the country and the allocation of resources to this very important matter of housing, we have these criticisms by the opposition Parties of our housing performance.
The Budget ensures a continuation of this programme of reconstruction of existing houses which is a programme very often ignored but one which makes a very significant and useful contribution to the solution of the housing problem. The importance of the reconstruction programme is often not recognised. Many estimates of needs that are trotted out are grievously faulty because no account is taken of the progress of the reconstruction  of houses under the Government's scheme. In fact, since 1933, 30 per cent of the total housing stock —180,000 houses—has been reconstructed with the aid of grants. In addition, 1,938 grants were allocated in the financial year 1968-69 under the essential repairs grant scheme as against a total of 37 in the first year of the scheme, 1963-64. The total of the grants for private housing last year amounted to the record figure from the State of £3.38 million and for supplementary grants through the local authorities £1.93 million, giving a total of over £5.3 million for grants to assist in the provision of private housing.
This debate shows the need to put these facts on record because of the ill-informed criticism we have had— certainly from the two speakers I have heard here this evening and, as far as I can gather, from many other speakers during the debate. The Budget clearly provides for an expansion of our housing programme during the coming year. At 31st March, 1969, in so far as local authority housing specifically is concerned, we have in progress over 5,000 houses in addition to 1,024 in the different National Building Agency schemes at Ballyfermot, Cork and Limerick, giving a total of houses under local authority construction of 6,024. In addition to that 6,024, there were in progress or at tender stage another 12,000. This compares with the position early in 1967 when we had in progress or at tender stage something under 5,000—indicating the recovery in the economy that was due to Fianna Fáil's responsible and expeditious handling of the adverse situation that developed at that time.
The number of new starts of local authority houses in 1968-69 was again a record of 3,300 as against 2,400 in 1966-67. The value of tenders for local authorities houses that was approved in 1968-69 was £9½ million as against £5.7 million in 1966-67. Local authorities had at various stages of planning at the 31st of March, 1969, 16,500 more houses. So, clearly, not alone have we provided in the Budget for a continuing expansion in so far as local authority housing is concerned but the plans are there, the sites are there, the programme is ready to be  carried out and the finances are available because the Fianna Fáil Govern ment have continued to be in office. It is only natural in view of these things that we should think, as Deputy O'Leary says we think and which I accept, that the most important decision the people will have to make in the coming financial year will be to ensure that the Fianna Fáil Government does remain in office to continue to carry out its programme and to continue to ensure that the people will be able to provide the money.
The completions of local authority houses in 1968-69 were of the order of 4,613. This was the third year in succession in which the number of completions was over 4,000. Quite clearly this year we can expect that performance to be repeated. More than half of the total public capital that is provided for housing is provided for local authority housing— £15.75 million last year and £16.2 million this year. How anybody has the nerve, in the face of these facts which cannot be gainsaid, to get up and accuse the Government of neglecting the provision of local authority housing or of failing to provide local authority houses to the maximum capacity of the people to do so, is more than I can understand.
In addition to the provision of this capital for the erection of local authority houses the State is also subsidising the provision of housing to the tune of £3.8 million last year and no doubt it will be substantially more this year. Loan charges in relation to her assistance amount to a further £0.4 million and there is a contribution from the rates towards the subsidising of local authority housing amounting to £3.6 million. Therefore, the total in subsidy provided in 1968-69 from Central Funds and from the rates amounts to £7.8 million. This year the amount expected to be provided for housing subsidies from the State will be increased from £3.8 million to £4.1 million.
The total expenditure by the Government last year taking the capital and subsidy together, was £23.55 million, almost £24 million between capital and current expenditure. Despite all  the efforts of the Opposition I feel that the people will accept that this is a reasonable amount of their money to take for this purpose in view of the necessity to ensure that sufficient is left to foster continued economic expansion and to develop the capacity of the community to provide for housing on an ever-increasing scale in the future.
Both of the Deputies whom I heard speaking from the Opposition benches today dealt mainly with the housing situation in so far as it concerns Dublin and the Dublin Corporation area in particular. It is true, of course, that we have some agitation on this matter in this area and it is possibly because of this largely bogus agitation that Opposition Deputies have been concentrating on this. Therefore, I feel it is necessary for me to give particulars of the actual position in so far as the Dublin Corporation area is concerned, of what is actually being done in regard to the provision of houses to meet the substantial housing need which we all agree exists.
Dublin Corporation have acquired a pool of over 11,500 private sites. Of these 2,300 will be made available this year for building. The completions of dwellings in Dublin in 1968-69 was 1,834. These 11,500 sites that Dublin Corporation have available for private building are in addition to 8,000 sites that they had available for their own building programme at 31st March, 1969. On 31st March, 1969, Dublin Corporation had over 2,000 dwellings for renting in progress. They were about to commence work on a further 470 houses. They had schemes in formulation on sites which had already been acquired for a further 2,559 houses and they were in the process of acquiring sites for a further 5,030 houses.
Therefore, the total programme for local authority rented dwellings on 31st March, 1969, was for 10,059 houses, a well-planned programme. This is not what the Opposition Parties are talking about—a crash programme —but a planned programme, a programme which will ensure a continuation of the rising trend of provision of houses, which will ensure steady progress, which will ensure the stability  in the industry and, most important of all, which is within the capacity of the community to finance. In addition to this 10,059 rented houses, which are actually physically in hands, they had 115 purchase type houses in progress. They were in the process of examining the tenders for a further 1,104 purchase type houses. There were site work in progress for a further 942 purchase type houses. Documents were in course of preparation for a further 124 and site development documents were being prepared for 1,206 houses while lay-out plans were in process of preparation for a further 2,178 houses, making a total for purchase type houses of 5,669 which were in an advanced stage of preparation.
Here again on this side of the corporation's housing activities there is clear evidence of a substantial achievement, a substantial programme in hands and a planned programme for the future. Of course, this is where the previous Government fell down, quite apart from the financial collapse which was inevitable from their irresponsible handling of the country's finances. Quite apart from that, they just had not planned their housing programme and, when the crash came, it was not just that there was no money available to complete existing schemes but there were no sites on hands for further schemes and no plans in preparation.
I have shown that, both in regard to houses for renting and purchase type houses, there is a substantial programme actually under construction and a further substantial programme well planned in advance. In addition to that, there are 973 acres of land in the corporation's hands which are intended to be developed for either private sites or the corporation's own purchase houses. This will cater for a further 6,000, making a total provision for 11,669 purchase type houses, so that the total either in progress, or in various stages of planning, amounts to 21,728 dwellings or private sites.
I find it hard to believe that Deputies opposite really think this is not a major effort to deal with our housing needs, or that they really believe that this will not make a major impact on the housing situation. The figures I have given show that it cannot be  denied that Dublin Corporation have a reasonable and reasonably adequate programme in operation to deal both with the present housing needs of the city and the foreseeable housing needs in the near future. Certainly, on the basis of income per capita of the population, it compares favourably with what any other country that can be mentioned is doing. This is in addition, of course, to the substantial contribution that is being made towards the solution of the housing problem by the provision of houses by private enterprise.
As I said, it is true that despite this—or possibly because of this—we have agitation in this matter but it is clearly, as I have shown, agitation without reference to the facts and without reference to the factual programme which is known to be in existence and to be actually in operation. I have no hesitation in saying, contrary to what has been suggested here, and what has been alleged by irresponsible people outside, that there is not a housing crisis in this city. The position in regard to housing is not yet satisfactory, but it is considerably improved. It is a position that is improving day by day and it can be clearly seen to be becoming satisfactory provided—and this is the important thing—there is no disruption of the economy. That is why I agree with Deputy O'Leary that one of the most fundamental things, if the housing problem is to be solved or reduced to manageable or more or less acceptable proportions, is that there should be no disruption of the economy such as has been shown to result inevitably from the alternative Government offered to the people.
This Budget is an obvious instrument to ensure that. It is an instrument that takes account of the facts of the situation, proposes certain social advances, and arranges to collect the money to finance them from the only source from which it can be collected and that is the earnings of the people. It is a fundamental prerequisite that the economy should continue to be capable of maintaining a high and increasing level of house building. While I say that, I do not want to be taken as saying that the position is not one that is causing continuing concern, but it is improving  significantly and, therefore, it is not a crisis situation.
I want to go on record as saying that the fact is that, since the solution or the virtual solution of the housing problem in Dublin is within sight, the only hope of the occupational disrupters and agitators is another economic reverse such as resulted from former Coalitions, in the hope that the planned programme which I have outlined, and which poses a threat to the continuance of conditions conducive to the spread of their doctrines, will not be capable of being carried out because of the collapse of the economy.
I find it just as frustrating as the protesters pretend to that houses cannot be built without money, without serviced sites, without expensive materials, and without workers to use them. In fact, I am quite sure that I find it much more frustrating because, unlike them, I am concerned and have to be concerned with the actual provision of houses, with the actual building of houses, as opposed to mouthing and posturing about them and, at the same time, doing everything possible to inhibit the development of the economy which, as I said, is a prerequisite.
The difference is that I have to face up to the facts, and the Government have to face up to the facts, and tackle the job, while people who have no responsibility in this matter and who take no practical interest in it can denounce the system and assume the problem is easily surmountable, although it has not been surmounted in any country or by any political ideology. I find it as attractive as anyone else to contemplate a position in which it would be possible to say: “Let there be houses”, and houses would materialise, but I have to face the fact that if I say that, the landowners will insist on being paid for the land and the Constitution will uphold them, the builders will say they must have plans and must have water supply and sewerage services, and when they build they will insist on a profit, the workers will dig the foundations, lay the blocks and carry out the other operations essential to a housing scheme only if they are adequately paid, and that the  suppliers and manufactures will also insist on an adequate payment.
These are inconvenient facts, I agree, facts about which the people who only talk about houses do not have to worry, but they are facts which must be taken into consideration by those who have a practical role to play in the solution of this problem. Unlike those who make their contribution at street corners or by sitting in the path of the city traffic, I have to take cognisance of the inconvenient fact that it is necessary in order to build houses to get money from the only source from which it can be got, that is, the pockets of the people and, therefore it is necessary to ensure continuing economic growth in order that the people will be able to continue to finance the provision of houses.
I am prepared to accept as an objective the proposition that was put forward by these people who talk about housing, as distinct from doing anything about it, that there is an inherent right to have a house. Certainly, it is accepted by the Government as policy to provide a home for every family irrespective of the capacity to pay for it. However, it is childish and silly escapism not to realise that acceptance of this proposition can only be an objective and that what it means, in fact, is that, if it is the right of each individual who decides to set up a family to have a house, it is the duty of the rest of the community to provide the house for him.
Mr. Boland: I was pointing out that if we accept the proposition—and the Government clearly accepts it—that each individual has a right to a house, then this means it is the duty of the rest of the community to provide him with this house if he is not able to provide it for himself. It is an unfortunate fact that the capacity of the rest of the community to do this is limited by the overall production in the country,
There is clear proof in the figures that I have given and further proof in the provisions in respect of housing  that are being made in this Budget that the community, through the Government and the local authorities, are making a considerable effort to implement the Government's policy to provide a home for every family irrespective of its capacity to pay for it. I admit that we have not yet reached the position where there is a supply of housing available for every teenager who exercises what one reverend critic of the position described as “the inalienable right to marry, beget children, and have a home.” I have no objection, as I have said, to accepting this as authentic doctrine. I accept it as a function of the Minister for Local Government to try to implement this, but I think it is fair to say that the emphasis must be on the word “try”.
Over the year it has been the universal experience that ideal conditions, such as are demanded by those people who contribute to housing by talking at street corners, are always some steps ahead of human endeavour. I fully accept that it is not within the organisational or financial competence of many people to provide their own houses and I accept it as my job as Minister for Local Government to try to fill that deficiency. It is the policy of the Government to aim at providing expeditiously, by the efforts of the community, houses for all who need them and to arrange in return that those who are facilitated with houses in this way will take part in the effort to provide houses, in accordance with their personal capacity, for future occupants. As I said, the universal experience is that there is a limit to what can be done.
I am also perfectly satisfied that the community here is willing to help others in this way to a great extent, but people here, no more than anywhere else, are not prepared to forgo all personal benefit from their successful efforts to expand the economy. Fianna Fáil Governments have always aimed at diverting as much as possible of the people's earnings to this and other social purposes, and the people have continued to support this policy. We are continuing that consistent policy, and this Budget, as I said, is not the only one but one of a series of consistent  Budgets which have had this effect. This Budget is an outstanding example of the consistent implementation of our policy, and the manner in which it has been accepted by the people is evidence of the continued endorsement of our policy. However much as we would wish it to be otherwise, the hard, inescapable economic fact is that sufficient of their earnings must be left available to the people to maintain incentive and that sufficient must be left available for investment in the expansion of existing economic undertakings and the creation of new ones. This is something that applies here just as it applies in every other country of the world.
While, therefore, I accept it as the ultimate goal of the housing policy to reach this millennium which the Opposition, despite their own poor record, claim is readily achievable, and which is claimed as attainable by those people who make their contribution by agitating at street corners and who consider it apparently their mission in life to foment disorder, the fact is that, unlike them, I have to take account not only of the objective but also of the practical steps necessary to achieve that objective and I am honest enough to admit that I expect the achievement of the ultimate goal to be always a little ahead of me. It must be apparent now to anyone who is not wilfully blind to reality that the more vigorous the growth of the economy itself the greater will be the demand for new and better housing and the greater also will be the pressure on available capital for other services. There is no point in deluding ourselves that at any stage in the foreseeable future we will have sufficient capital resources to meet all housing demands immediately they arise, apart altogether from the unrealistic claim that it should be possible to actually anticipate the demand in every case.
I have clearly shown from the figures, and the provision made in this Budget clearly shows, that we have got to grips with the problem, that serious housing difficulties are in course of solution, but to complete the programme successfully a vigorous and expanding economy is essential. This itself will obviously generate a continuing demand for new and better  housing. I have no doubt that it is the prospect of the imminent disappearance of a serious housing deficiency that has infuriated the fomentors of disturbance and their dissatisfaction is not so much with the extent of the problem as with the clearly evident fact that it is a fast-reducing problem. The combined effect of the Capital and Current Budget in so far as this matter is concerned is clearly to arrange that in this financial year the community's effort to deal with the housing situation will proceed on the same scale— that is, that the allocation of our resources will be adjusted to take account of the improvement in the economy generally.
Complaints about the housing situation came from both Opposition Parties. We had them equally from Fine Gael and Labour. I think this shows the hypocrisy of the main Opposition Party. Only today we had further carping criticism from the Opposition front bench of the investment being made in the housing of our people and in the provision of the other essential services by the local authorities under the auspices of the Department of Local Government. We had these continuous questions from the Opposition benches about the size of the national debt, and so on, an indication of the real Fine Gael mentality. We had the objection to the investment of our resources in the provision of better conditions for our people. As I said today, in so far as Fianna Fáil are concerned, we look upon the increase in this investment as an indication of the main achievement of the Fianna Fáil Government and we are prepared to be measured by this yardstick alone because the £111.22 million that I referred to today is an indication of the success of Fianna Fáil's economic policy and of the manner in which we have been utilising the increasing resources for the benefit of the community as a whole. I have no doubt that Fine Gael will continue to complain that not all our housing needs have been satisfied. I know they will have the efforntery to complain that not all the regional water supply schemes have been started. But the real, inherent, inbred Fine Gael  mentality keeps breaking out in these carping criticisms and complaints about the investment of money in the provision of these things.
It has been advocated that we should have a crash programme for the provision of houses. Nothing more clearly demonstrates the unsuitability of the Opposition Parties to tackle this problem than the suggestion that it can be dealt with on the basis of a crash programme.
Mr. Boland: If either of the Opposition Parties, or a combination of them, which is the only possibility, got into the position of actually having to deal with the housing situation, the only result would be that we would head for a crash similar to the crash that occurred in 1956-57.
Mr. Boland: The most important thing about a housing programme, and this should have penetrated the Fine Gael and Labour benches by now, is that it must be planned. Sites must be acquired. Services must be provided. Plans must be prepared. It should be possible even for Fine Gael and Labour Deputies to appreciate that these things take time and money. It just is not possible to deal with the housing backlog by way of a crash programme and, apart from anything else, the physical capacity to construct houses is limited. It is quite clear from this superficial approach, this use of the phrase “crash programme”, a programme which could only lead to disaster, that all we could expect, if the Opposition Parties ever found themselves in the position of having to attempt to implement some of their policies, would be something similar to what resulted in the period 1948-51 and the much more serious evolution from 1954 to 1957. The approach again would be to use up the Fianna Fáil sites and the Fianna Fáil plans, to use up the Fianna Fáil money and then to crash. That is the type of crash programme we could expect from the Opposition—pushing ahead blindly  with what is there until inevitably the crash comes: build what has been planned, build on the sites that are there and, once again, as in the two periods of previous Coalition Government, make no provision for continuity. The policy would be to dissipate the sites provided under Fianna Fáil and to dissipate the prosperity generated by wise Fianna Fáil Government until, in the words of my colleague, Deputy Paddy Burke, the cupboard is bare and there is not available the price of a bag of cement to continue with the programme.
Mr. Boland: Dissipate everything until the stage is reached when there are no money available, and then crash and it is left to Fianna Fáil to take over once more and retrieve the disaster. It is 12 years since this happened before, but the people have not forgotten and the people will not make the same mistake again when they come to make up their minds.
Mr. Boland: ——as we had before. Our approach is different. We admit it is different. It is a planned approach. In 1964 we approached this problem by issuing a White Paper covering the period from 1964-70. We set ourselves a target which was related to the capacity of the community to finance it, making reasonable assumptions in the light of past performances of the likelihood of that capacity increasing. We set a target of 12,000 to 14,000 houses per year by 1970 and we have reached that target in advance of the date by building over 13,000 houses in the last year. The provision in this Budget in  relation to housing constitutes a combined provision for the last stages of the programme outlined in the 1964 White Paper with the initial stages of the programme in the new White Paper covering up to 1975 which has been prepared and is in the process of being printed. As I said before, this will be a programme that will be soundly based and we will not describe it as a crash programme. It will not crash; it will be an ambitious programme and it will deal with properly assessed housing needs in a reasonable time and will be clearly related to the capacity of the community to finance it. It will be related to the Third Programme for Economic Expansion up to the period covered by that document. It will be clearly seen to be achievable in the light of past performances and on the basis of what can be shown to be a reasonable assumption for the period beyond the Third Programme.
As I said, it will not be dignified by the title of crash programme because we believe that the people appreciate that housing operations cannot be done overnight, that there is a matter of organisation involved and a work force involved and that this is an industry employing directly some 13,000 people. Even as an industry it is important, quite apart from the fact that it is dealing with a very important social matter—the provision of houses. In addition to the 13,000 employed directly there are thousands more indirectly employed. The White Paper will clearly emphasise that the economic capacity of the country is fundamental to its achievement.
Mr. Boland: As I was saying, the White Paper will recognise the fundamental thing is to maintain the capacity of the economy to finance housing. The arrangements made in this Budget are related to an increase in the overall capital to be spent on housing from the £57 million spent last year to £62 million. This, we believe, is feasible but only just feasible. It should be clear that at all times we have aimed——
Mr. Boland: ——despite the protestations of going it alone we have the backdoor and secret discussions to try to reactivate the Coalition. However, the people know what is going on and they know that the proposition before them is for another Coalition. The continuance of the present outstanding improvement in regard to the provision of housing depends on the continuing development of the capacity of the people to provide the finances and because of that it follows that you cannot take an excessive amount of the people's resources for this purpose, desirable though it is in itself. The worst thing that could be done would be to take so much in one year that the community would not be able to provide sufficient for next year, even to complete what had been started the previous year, never mind to expand output.
That is the type of thing the Opposition seem to be incapable of appreciating, that sufficient must be left for investment in directly productive undertakings. Apparently, despite all the evidence over the years to the contrary, Fine Gael and Labour still think people are not capable of appreciating this. They believe they can be fooled by the facile claptrap of street corner agitators and street corner housebuilders, but we know from experience over a long number of years that the people will not be fooled by that and that the people know they must produce in order that housing can be financed. Even something as substantial as the surfacing of Lynch's Lane can only be done by money provided by the community and, if the local authority is to extend its activities to do this no doubt very necessary thing, it must get the money from the people. Where a local authority is concerned it has to do it through the medium of rates. Therefore, the people who want these improvements know  that they can only be provided if the local authorities are prepared to do something more than talk and are prepared to provide finance.
Mr. Boland: Our experience shows that the people can appreciate that housing is an expensive process and an extensive one. They appreciate that you must acquire the land first, that you must provide the services, the plans and the money and that the capacity of the industry itself is not unlimited, that the availability of money is directly related to the level of production and that an increasing level of production requires continuing investment in productive enterprises. That, at least, has been our experience. That is why we are still here and will continue to be here after the next election, whenever that comes about, because our experience shows us that the people are not fools.
Mr. Boland: Both of the Opposition Parties continue to operate on the assumption that all they have to do is promise the sun, moon and stars, not to relate it in any way to economic capacity, and that the people will swallow it. How can they continue to believe that after, as Deputy O'Leary says, their experience of 50 years over there, with no significant increase in numbers and obviously facing further diminution as soon as the people get the opportunity? However, if the Opposition Parties want to go on treating  the people in this way, that is their funeral.
Deputy O'Leary was kind enough to offer some words of advice and I pointed out that there was not any great evidence that this Party needed advice from Deputy O'Leary's Party as to how they should proceed to look for the votes of the people but I gave the Opposition Parties some advice, too, in the confident knowledge that they will not accept it because they are inherently incapable of accepting it. The advice I give them, which I know will not be accepted, is to stop treating the people as fools but to treat them as what they are——
Mr. Boland: ——people who are capable of making an intelligent decision, capable of appreciating this fundamental thing, that all these services take money and that the only place that the Government can get money is from the pockets of the people. So, we are not proposing anything as ridiculous and as illogical as a crash programme. We are proposing in this White Paper a continuance of the steady progress that we have been making and a demonstrably attainable rate of progress. We would not insult the people's intelligence by asking them to believe that it was possible to do any more. The White Paper will show what our housing needs are between now and 1975. As I said, this Budget provides for an increase from £57 million to £62 million.
Mr. Boland: I can appreciate the Opposition's preoccupation with this business of the Park. So far as this Dáil is concerned, the latest date for the holding of a general election, as Deputy Dunne's colleague blurted out last night, is April 20th, 1970, and some time between now and then a trip to the Park will be made and Deputy  Dunne and Deputy Coogan will find themselves having to contest the election and having to face the people.
Mr. Boland: That is because I am being interrupted. The level of capital investment in housing in 1968-69 was £57 million. This year it will be £62 million. The White Paper will show what our housing needs will be up to 1975 and will show that, with the rate of growth that has come to be associated with the Fianna Fáil Government and that is clearly attainable and which it is clearly justifiable to assume will be there, provided, as Deputy O'Leary says, Fianna Fáil remain in office, with a four per cent growth rate, we will show that the housing needs by 1975 will be within the capacity of the community to provide. Deputies will be able to see, again provided we have a Fianna Fáil-size rate of economic growth, that at present day values, an expenditure on housing of £77 million will be possible.
Mr. Boland: No. I may have mentioned the same figures but in a different context. If the Deputy will study them later and try to gloss over his irrelevant interruptions, the whole process should be an education for the Deputy.
Mr. Boland: It is estimated that, so far as accumulated needs are concerned, the need to replace unfit dwellings amounts to 31,000. This is as against 50,000 in 1960—unfit dwellings, of course, covering very many different degrees of unfitness—that the further need in regard to overcrowding and other problems will be of the order of 24,000, making a total of accumulated needs of 55,000. Then, in so far as prospective need is concerned, we assume an annual loss through absolescence, demolitions, conversions, and so on, of 6,000, an annual increase in the number of households of 5,000 and  a further need of 1,000 due to migration and so on, making a total of 12,000 per year, with a reduction for essential repairs and for vacancies occurring, and so on, of 2,500, making a need of 9,500 per year—a total of 150,000. If we aim at dealing with that, over a ten-year period we would require 15,000 houses per year. The 1964 target—the target set for 1970 in 1964—was for the production of 12,000 to 14,000 houses per year. We are already a year ahead of the target, providing over 13,000 houses in 1968-69.
The White Paper that is in process of being issued will set out as our needs by 1975, 15,000 to 17,000 houses per year. In so far as local authority houses are concerned, it will suggest that 5,000 to 6,000 local authority houses per year will be required. The fact that the majority of houses now required are of the purchase type is in itself an indication of the improvement under Fianna Fáil. The pattern of demand for houses has changed. At present, more than one-third of the total houses being provided are being financed mainly from private sources. It is obviously reasonable to project that, by this time, it will be possible— provided there is a continuance of Fianna Fáil—for the community to provide for housing purposes a total of £77 million as against the £62 million expected in this year. In order that this amount of money can be spread over the total need of houses, it will obviously be desirable to have a greater concentration on the smaller type of house.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: On a point of order, I do not want to attribute to the Minister any male fides in this matter but it appears to me that his speech is more like a speech concluding a debate on the Estimate for the Department of Local Government. There is supposed to be a general discussion on the Budget. The Minister is now speaking for 1¾ hours.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: There should be general references, not detailed references, to matters peculiar to one Department. The Minister is going into detail on all aspects of local government at considerable length.
Mr. Boland: I am trying to show how this Budget refutes the charges made here tonight—quite apart from the rest of the Budget debate—by Deputy O'Donnell on behalf of Fine Gael and by Deputy O'Leary on behalf of the Labour Party.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As the Chair understands it, the Minister has been dealing with the outlook in regard to housing in the light of the provision for it in the capital Budget. Therefore, the Chair understands that the Minister is developing that theme.
Mr. Boland: No. I am nearly finished about housing. But Deputies opposite also dealt with water. Deputy  O'Donnell was very critical of the group water schemes and regional water schemes. Surely, in view of that, and in view of the record of Fine Gael, I have a right to refer to that also?
Mr. Boland: Yes. I submit that, in view of all the adverse references that have been made to the housing achievements of the Government, in view of the suggestions that this should be dealt with by way of a crash programme, I, as Minister for Local Government, am compelled to show how it is that this Budget provides the framework for the meeting of our housing needs——
Mr. Boland: ——and to show that it arranges to provide for the final year of the White Paper issued in 1964 and for the initial stages of the White Paper now in course of issue. Quite apart from the two contributions we had here this evening from Deputy O'Donnell of Fine Gael and Deputy  O'Leary of Labour, the whole trend of the debate indicates that, before the debate could be said adequately to have been dealt with, it is necessary to show just how this Budget in itself gives the lie to the charges that were made and the ridiculousness of the things that were said by the Opposition with regard to housing.
Mr. Boland: I was pointing out that, in spite of that, it will obviously be possible to keep on increasing the amount of the community's resources available for housing. If we are to succeed in meeting our housing needs by 1975, it will also be desirable to try to ensure that this amount of money is spread over the provision of a greater number of units of accommodation. Therefore, it would appear to be desirable to increase the inducements to provide the smaller type of house, the type of house that is required by the people who avail of loans under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts——
Mr. Boland: ——and to divert as much as possible of the capital from the larger and more expensive type of house to this type of house which is our main need. I want to point out that, at present, we have the same rate of grant available for houses up to 1,500 square feet, whereas our main need is for the smaller type of house, the house up to 1,250 square feet and 1,050 square feet which is the type of house that is mainly sought after by people who most need help for the provision of their own houses, those who apply for SDA loans and who, in most cases, also qualify for supplementary grants from the local authority. There are a great number of people who are anxious to provide themselves with their own houses, who feel themselves capable of meeting the outgoings on a new house, of meeting the cost of the loan and so on but who find this one great difficulty of accumulating the deposits that are required for new houses. One of the results of this difficulty is that many of these people who are anxious to undertake  the solution of their own housing trouble have been left with no option but to apply to the local authority for housing.
In order to try to ensure the greater provision of this type of house I even considered going as far as withdrawing grants for the larger type of house but this I decided against. The fact is that because we have a seller's market there is this tendency by private enterprise builders to go for the maximum standard of house which is reasonably saleable, but if more of the type which is within the reach of the lower income group were available then the available capital could obviously cover a greater number of houses. It has been decided to re-direct the grant scheme towards producing a greater incentive for the smaller type of house. As I said, I considered the withdrawal of grants for the larger type of house but, bearing in mind that many houses up to 1,500 square feet are not necessarily luxurious or extravagant in any way but are purchased by middle income group people who need a larger house and who leave available a smaller, more modest house to fill somebody else's need, we decided to leave the £275 grant as at present available for houses between 1,250 and 1,500 square feet but to increase the grant for houses between 1,050 and 1,250 to £300 and to increase the grant for houses between 850 and 1,050 square feet to £325.
Mr. Boland: With the addition of the supplementary grant people in the former category, that is between 1,050 square feet and 1,200 square feet, will have an increase of £50 available and for the more modest type house, from 850 square feet to 1,050 square feet, which is the one we are more immediately concerned with, there will be an increased amount of £100 available. This should be a considerable help towards bridging the gap between the necessary deposit and what people find it possible to raise. It should have the effect of more concentration on what is urgently needed and, at the same time, by making it possible for people, who have no alternative at present but to  apply for housing to the local authority, to purchase their own houses it should make the local authorities' problem more capable of solution. It certainly should make the achievement of meeting the housing needs within the period covered by the White Paper reasonably feasible.
Unfortunately, I must deal with the question of sanitary services because of the completely illogical criticisms that were made by Deputy O'Donnell. It is a particularly noticeable example of the effrontery of Fine Gael Deputies that we should have raised here again this complaint with regard to the provision of water supplies in rural areas. I know I do not have to remind Fine Gael of the manner in which they greeted the efforts of my predecessor to get local authorities to make an effort in regard to the provision of regional water supply schemes. The then Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Dillon, described this as a scheme that could not be conceived outside of Bedlam, an insane scheme— to suggest the provision of piped water to houses in rural Ireland. However, despite the antagonism of the Opposition Parties we were successful in getting local authorities to go ahead with these schemes and satisfactory progress has been made.
The provision for sanitary services in this year's Budget is £5.75 million as against £4.5 million last year. In 1968-69 the State's contribution to loan charges for sanitary services works amounted to £1.11 million, an increase of £109,209 over the previous year and this year's Budget provides for a further increase of £90,000, a further record in this regard. It is clear that satisfactory progress in regard to regional water schemes generally is in fact being achieved and that this Budget makes further provision for a continuance of this satisfactory progress. As I have stated in reply to a Parliamentary Question, the total value of schemes that are in planning amounts to £60 million. Obviously, then, it is ridiculous to think of this whole programme being tackled at the same time. I consider that the action I took in calling on local authorities to carry out reviews of the  schemes that they have proposed in order to identify the most urgent schemes and the most urgent sections of schemes was a wise procedure. Obviously, with that £60 million worth of schemes either prepared or in course of preparation, if one is to make a wise choice one must have an order of priority established and the most suitable body to establish that order of priority is the local authority. Therefore, I requested the local authorities to arrange the schemes in order of priority and to identify the particularly urgent schemes.
The result of that comprehensive review carried out over the whole country is that it has been established that there are urgent schemes to the value of £20 million and in the last financial year, 1968-69, we released schemes to the value of £5.1 million. That I think was a substantial achievement and the release of these schemes was related to the availability of money to finance them. We took into account the fact that not all of the work in connection with the schemes started in that financial year would be completed in the financial year. We also took into account the fact that the release of these schemes would involve a continuing commitment in many cases in the succeeding financial years and possibly in respect of some of the larger schemes in future financial years.
Obviously, when there is a major regional water supply scheme being constructed it could not be done in the one financial year and when there is a really major scheme, such as the North Dublin Regional Water Supply Scheme, the operations will obviously be spread over a number of financial years. In this respect, I was glad to be able to inform the House yesterday that this scheme, which is the largest ever to be undertaken in this country, is in the course of completion. It is a measure of the success of the Government's economic policies and of the wisdom of the Budgets introduced by Fianna Fáil Ministers for Finance. This scheme involves a cost of £2,000,000 and is now almost completed.
 In 1968-69 we released £5.1 million worth of regional water supply schemes and the planning of the remainder of the schemes regarded as being urgent is proceeding. They will be available to be released in the light of the capital position obtaining at any particular time. In addition to this £5.1 million we also released last year a further £300,000 worth of smaller urgent schemes and the pool of work in progress in so far as water supply schemes are concerned on 31st March, 1969, amounted to more than £7 million. All this on a scheme that was described in such contemptuous terms by the Opposition when it was being pressed on local authorities some years ago. They now have the nerve to object to the rate of progress. They have the effrontery to demand that all of the £60 million worth of schemes should be started immediately and, apparently, completed within the financial year.
Once again, I do not think that in this respect, as in any other of the matters that have been raised here and that have been criticised by the Opposition, that the people will fall for this type of thing. They will see the absurdity of the suggestion that all the work should be done immediately and, apparently, the labour force and the constructional capacity that would have to be developed to carry out such an operation would have to be dissipated immediately the schemes were finished. It is quite obvious that this must be a comparatively long term programme but, as long as the economy continues to develop as it has been doing under Fianna Fáil, the substantial progress that has been made will continue and increase in the future.
In so far as Dublin is concerned, it is a fact that the expansion of the city laid considerable strain on the capacity of the sewerage system. This has resulted in a comparative scarcity of building land and has contributed in no small way to an increase in the cost of housing sites. In the Dublin area a number of major sewereage schemes are being undertaken as a matter of urgency for the purpose of ensuring that there will be an adequate supply of building land. These are being tackled as a matter of urgency and  will ensure that there will shortly be an adequate amount of building land available.
The major Dodder valley scheme is already under construction and it will provide for the servicing of no less than 8,500 acres. Therefore, the Dodder valley scheme in itself, quite apart from the larger schemes in course of preparation, will make a substantial impact on the scarcity of building land.
These schemes have been put in an orderly manner to establish priority lists so that we can be sure that the available finances will be utilised to the best possible advantage. It is visualised that the local authorities will make regular surveys and may very well find reason for changing the order of priority that they established at the outset. It is intended that this can be done at any time; but it is obvious that, if I am to allocate money in an orderly and in an intelligent way, it would be necessary that local authorities should indicate to me what in their opinion is the proper order of priority of the different schemes that they have in planning.
The group water schemes are also proceeding satisfactorily. It was rather amusing to hear Deputy O'Donnell alleging that these were pioneered by voluntary bodies. They were introduced and pioneered by Fianna Fáil because of their concern for the wellbeing of the rural community and because of Fianna Fáil appreciation of the entitlement of the rural community to have these modern amenities. They were also introduced because, fundamentally, the economy of the country progressed to such an extent as to make it possible for the provision of water by groups of people in rural areas. These are complementary to the regional schemes.
Mr. Boland: Deputy L'Estrange's colleague, Deputy O'Higgins, some time ago was protesting that I was going into detail but I maintain that I was not going into detail and that I was speaking in a general way at the time about the housing situation.
Mr. Boland: In reply to a Parliamentary Question, I gave Deputy L'Estrange the facts about the increase in the indebtedness of local authorities. It is £111.22 million. That is a measure of the increased prosperity of the country under Fianna Fáil.
Mr. Boland: Before I was interrupted I was dealing with the question of money. As Deputy L'Estrange says, we will require posterity to pay for the services they are enjoying, for the houses which are being built and which will continue to be available, and for the water supply services. Deputy L'Estrange's colleague, Deputy Dillon, describes this as an insane scheme. It is the policy of Fianna Fáil to provide these things from borrowed money. Does Deputy L'Estrange say that is not Fine Gael policy?
Mr. L'Estrange: It is Government policy. The Fianna Fáil Party borrowed money. Money will not be available to pay for the increased children's allowances in August next. The Government are running away from their responsibilities tonight. The Government know the money is not there.
Mr. Boland: I have now been asked by the Fine Gael Party to deal with the question of the increased indebtedness of local authorities because of the increased investment in the provision of houses and water and sewerage services. Judging from Deputy L'Estrange's attitude, it is apparently the intention of the Fine Gael Party to base their campaign, or part of it at  least, on this figure of the increase in the indebtedness of local authorities of £111.22 million. The peculiar thing is that we intend to base part of our campaign on this figure also. We are on common ground there.
Mr. Boland: ——for the provision of houses and of water and sewerage services. That is Fianna Fáil policy. Fine Gael's is the opposite. So, let no one ever say again that there is no difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. There is. This is our policy and we look upon this £111.22 million as a measure of the success of our policy. I want to extend to Deputy  O'Donnell the courtesy of completing my reply to his reference to group water schemes. As I said, the group water scheme plan is part of a tripartite approach by Fianna Fáil to the provision of water supplies in rural areas. There is the regional water supply scheme, the group water supply scheme, and there are grants for individual installations.
Mr. Boland: All these are complementary and it is through this comprehensive approach to the provision of water in rural areas that we intend, over a period, according as the economy expands, to bring this essential modern amenity to every house in the country. The regional water supply schemes are intended among other things, to provide the source for group water schemes. The intention is that the regional water schemes would provide the main lines and that the extension of water to areas off the actual route of the schemes would be done through the medium of group water schemes. That is an obvious way to tackle this and Deputy L'Estrange, apparently in a search for more detailed knowledge which I did not think it appropriate to provide in a debate on the Budget, alleges that group water schemes have practically stopped. The fact of the matter is——
Mr. Boland: ——that last year there were 2,389 grants paid for group water schemes. This was a record and the fact is that this record will be improved upon this year. Much as I should like to facilitate Deputy L'Estrange, I do not think it would be appropriate to detail where all these group water schemes are for which these 2,000 odd grants have been paid, but if Deputy L'Estrange would like to put down a question next week I will give him that information.
Mr. Boland: There is only one other matter I want to deal with which was raised here, that is, the question of the rates and the irresponsible manner in which the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition in Dublin Corporation brought about the dissolution of Dublin Corporation.
Mr. Boland: The fact is that a number of Opposition speakers not only today but on other days when the Budget was under discussion, criticised us on the ground that the Budget did not provide for the transfer of what is described as the rates burden from the shoulders of the ratepayers to this mysterious thing called the central fund. Since that criticism was made so often here by Deputies from the Labour Benches and the Fine Gael benches, I think that as Minister for Local Government——
Mr. Boland: As I said, the criticism is that this was not transferred to the Central Fund. It is quite obvious that certainly in so far as Dublin city is concerned—and that seems to have been the main bone of contention— what the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party, in combination, are trying to do is to relieve the large commercial ratepayers of their share of this burden and transfer it to the shoulders of the small individual householders.
Mr. Boland: In this city of Dublin 50 per cent of the total rates raised in the Dublin Corporation area is paid in respect of commercial property. Obviously then, if we respond to the Labour Party demand and the Fine Gael Party demand to transfer this to the Central Fund, it means——
Mr. Boland: ——the provision of essential services for the city of Dublin and to require that to be paid by the ordinary worker and by the ordinary householder instead. That is the demand the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party are making, because what would happen is quite clear——
Mr. Boland: To transfer this from  the rates to the Central Fund would require an increase in turnover tax of from 5 to 6 per cent or an increase in income tax of 4/-, or an alternative method might be only to double turnover tax and to increase income tax by 2/-.
Mr. Boland: I do not know which of these methods Deputy L'Estrange is advocating, or which of these methods the Labour Party are advocating, but this is the magnitude of the transfer of the taxation that would be involved in meeting this demand of the two Parties opposite to relieve the large commercial ratepayers of their contribution and to make it instead payable by the ordinary householder.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: No more suitable undertaker for this Dáil! The tug of war is off. You called it off. We know the dates. If I tell you the exact dates you will not be pleased. You called off the tug of war. I am not talking to the Minister but to the man behind him.
Mr. Boland: Deputy Flanagan expelled his colleague from Laois-Offaly and gave him such an impetus that he reached South County Dublin before his brother who had only to come over the border from Wicklow, and now he has expelled him from the House.
Mr. Boland: If, on the other hand, the demand is not to transfer the whole of the rates contribution to the Central Fund but instead to transfer the whole of the health charges to the Central Fund then what would be required——
Mr. Boland: ——would be either an increase of 3.3 per cent in turnover tax or an increase of 2/3 in income tax. Through the machinations of Fine Gael and Labour members of the Dublin City Council the decision was taken not to provide the revenue to finance the services that they had already decided to provide to reduce the amount of revenue by £870,156. Having already met in committee and decided to provide these services, having agreed on the cost of them, they then decided not to provide the money. What could the Minister for Local Government do only take the necessary steps to ensure that the citizens of Dublin would not be deprived of these essential services?
Mr. Boland: They got every opportunity of mending their hand and providing the money. Because of their stubbornness they refused to do so, and therefore the only thing a responsible Minister for Local Government could do was to come to the aid of the citizens of Dublin.
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