Committee on Finance. - Financial Resolution No. 10: General (Resumed).

Wednesday, 6 June 1973

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 265 No. 15

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

That it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Before I had finished speaking on the last occasion I drew the attention of the House to a number of statements in the Press in relation to the budget. Since then we have heard many statements of great importance and it is necessary to draw the attention of the House to them and to elaborate on some of the statements to which I have already referred. Some of the statements and some of the explanations given in various places, like the Mansion House, where the budget got an airing from the Taoiseach, are worth recalling. It was a great meeting with great references to blue shirts and black shirts and all the rest of it but there was no reference to the person with no shirt, to the weaker sections of the community. We want to see how people with no shirts fared in relation to the budget. There were great speeches and there was great applause when all these shirts were mentioned.

[2226] On the night of the Presidential election we had a statement by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach and I think it is most important that this House should become aware of what has happened in relation to this corrupt Government. They have become corrupt. There was Deputy Kelly's statement on the Government's concern about the nation. It was mentioned in a leading article in The Irish Times on Monday, 4th June, last:

It was not a bad thing, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, that they would now be forced to rely on performance rather than on the aforementioned “trick-of-the-loopery”.

Earlier the article stated:

Dr. John Kelly, Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach and to the Minister for Defence, must have raised the hair on the backs of the necks of members of the Coalition Government with his admission about “trick-of-the-loop” achievements when he spoke on the “7 Days” programme on the night the Presidential Election results were announced.

This is a clear indication of the type of Government we have—a trick-of-the-loop Government, a trick-of-the-loop budget and trick-of-the-loop Ministers. That is what the country is faced with, on the admission of the Parliamentary Secretary. These trick-of-the-loops who have presented themselves as the Government had presented themselves to the electorate on the basis that certain things would happen and we now find them presenting a trick-of-the-loop budget.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy knows perfectly well that I admitted no such thing. He has fallen for the trap laid for him by a leader writer in a newspaper.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Dowling without interruption.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I listened attentively to the television programme that evening. When I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, who is a very important man in the Government, [2227] telling the nation that they would have to rely on performance rather than on trick-of-the-loopery——

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I did not say——

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  That is what the Parliamentary Secretary said. He said they were a crowd of trick-of-the-loops —the Minister is a trick-of-the-loop, each Minister is a trick-of-the-loop according to his own lights. Now we have a trick-of-the-loop budget. We have been saying that all along. On the last occasion the Parliamentary Secretary interrupted because he did not agree with the term I applied to the budget. It was not as drastic as “trick-of-the-loop”. I think I called it a hokey-pokey budget because the Minister put his hand in and took his hand out and took all the money with it when he took it out. The Parliamentary Secretary has clearly indicated that there has been this trick-of-the-loopery. Of course the people know now and the events of the past few weeks have proved beyond all doubt that the people know they are trick-of-the-loops. How many trick-of-the-loops are there over there. There are five of them now but many more of them will be here before I finish because I will be looking for a quorum. I do not intend to speak to myself today and, even if I have to call for a quorum myself, I will do so.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  I will do it for you. Can we have a house?

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I did not think it would be so hard to get 20 trick-of-the-loops into the House. Now we have the score.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Twenty-one.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  Now we can see irresponsibility in action.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I consider that it is disorderly to refer to Deputies or Ministers in this House as trick-of-the-loops. Any further such reference should be discontinued.

[2228]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach referred to them as trick-of-the loops. If it is in order for him——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am not concerned about what was said outside the House, but I am very much concerned about what is said in this House. I am concerned about maintaining the decorum of this House. No further references of that kind may be made.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Statements made outside the House have been repeated here by all Members from time to time. On this occasion the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach told the nation that the Government would have to rely in the future on performance rather than on the aforementioned trick-of-the-loopery. I am just quoting what the Parliamentary Secretary said.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has repeated that statement on a number of occasions. I would prefer that he would get off it and get on to another point altogether.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Is the Deputy withdrawing the remark?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am not. I quoted from the leading article in The Irish Times and I want to quote further from it, if it is in order. I am quite certain it is in order to quote from a reputable newspaper.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It is not in order to attribute appellations of that kind to Members of this House.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I did not do that.

Minister for Lands (Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick, Cavan): Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  On a point of order, without any reference to any paper the Deputy introduced his remarks when there was a quorum by saying he did not think it would be so difficult to attract 20 trick-of-the-loops into the House, thereby referring to 20 Members who had come in to constitute a quorum. I respectfully submit that that is out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair ruled it out of order at the time and wants no further reference to it. The Deputy is entitled to make a broad [2229] political charge, but he must not personalise in the manner in which he has, I would prefer that he should pass from this matter altogether.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would be the last one to refer to the Opposition as trick-of-the-loops.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy must not seek to circumvent the decision of the Chair.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  We are not the Opposition.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would be the last one to refer to the Government as trick-of-the-loops.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy must not repeat that.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Let me refer to this corrupt Government in another matter. They are corrupt in so far as Hibernia of 30th March indicated that prior to the budget certain statements were made to a large number of stockbrokers and bankers, influential people, and that the contents of the budget were conveyed in many ways to them both by letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and in a lecture which he gave them. If I may be permitted to quote again from this reputable paper Hibernia, it states that a confidential document was circulated to a small and influential number of bankers, financiers and stockbrokers which set out the Coalition Government's economic policy. It goes on to state that it seemed very likely that it was not known to many members of the two Parliamentary Parties.

Apparently people outside the House and outside the Government had certain information about the type of approach the Government would adopt and where taxes would be levied. The editor of Hibernia could very well have presented the budget in identical terms to the Minister for Finance. In fact, he gave a very good summary of what would be in the budget, many days before it appeared. It seems to me that it is a corrupt practice that certain [2230] people outside this House should be made aware of the contents of the budget prior to its presentation to this House.

I should like to refer to some of the items in this article. It says that already the men who matter in the banking and stockbroking belt have received their assurances clearly set down in a highly confidential document. The document is not very specific about what would not be done, but it goes on to indicate that the first thing that would be done would be that VAT would be removed from food and drink. It goes on to state that VAT would be applied to certain goods in a particular range, and gives the approximate increases in VAT on a particular range of goods.

This is a very serious matter. Certain people were informed about the range of goods to which taxes would apply before that information was presented to this House. It goes on to state that there would be no early move to regulate mergers and take-overs. This became clear in relation to mergers and take-overs not so long after the Government were formed. There was a row at the meeting of the Cabinet and resignations were thrown across the table because the Minister for Finance had taken it on himself to infringe upon the jurisdiction of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. This undertaking on mergers was given without the knowledge of one Minister. There are many other points in this paper which show corruption in the activities of the Government prior to the presentation of the budget.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  Tell us about the £100,000.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  This is a very serious matter and a matter of which the House must take due notice. We have the National Coalition presenting a policy on behalf of themselves and, at the same time, we have the Fine Gael group stabbing the Labour group in the back. They presented what they described as the Coaliton's policy without any reference to the Labour Party. I do not want to be pulled up by the Chair for repetition but this [2231] article shown celarly that the editor of Hibernia would have been able to present exactly the same budget as the Minister for Finance, Deputy Ryan, presented, having armed certain sections of the community with very valuable information in relation to taxation. This is very important.

We try to find out who are the members of the stockbroking belt, who are these influential people, and, as we look at the budget, we see from the analysis in the Irish Independent that .27p on the pint will give the brewers an additional £1½ million. In the light of this one does not need to think twice to descover who the people are that are referred to in Hibernia.

Again, we have the Minister for Finance relieving big business of a substantial amount of rates. If we take just one brewery in Dublin the saving would be approximately £66,000. Who will pay the £66,000? It will be spread over the community. It will be paid by the housewives in Ballyfermot, Drimnagh, Ballymum and elsewhere; they will have to pay additional rates to assist the breweries. Not alone have they got £1½ million plus £66,000 but they have also got a seat in the Seanad. I wonder was that the result of the conversation that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Finance had with this group. Was this an inducement to them to put money into the Fine Gael fund? It would appear now that Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal have nothing on the Jame's Gate scandal. It appears to me that this is a type of tactic whereby people are met outside and presented with a number of facts, budget secrets, so to speak, in relation to taxation beforehand and then we find them getting £1½ million, on the one hand, and £66,000 on the other by way of rates reduction plus a seat in the Seanad. To me, this is corruption.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It is completely out of order to cast any reflection on a Member of the other House. I cannot allow any derogatory reference to or any reflection on a Member of the Seanad and the Deputy must desist forthwith from any further reflection, by way of [2232] innuendo or otherwise, on a Member of the Seanad.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I have absolute respect for the people in the Seanad and for thier integrity. Nevertheless, we know the type of politicians in this House. They have been referred to in various ways, not by me but by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach. I will not repeat what that man said on television. He referred to them in a particular way.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I must also advise the Deputy that it is not in order either to attack or to reflect upon an individual firm or industry. The Deputy has adverted to an industry.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Soon I will not be allowed to speak at all in the House. When I came into the House I was told a matter was sub judice. Now I cannot refer to people in the House and to the leading article in a paper. Neither can I refer to a firm.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy must avoid personalities and industries which can be identified.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Noel T. Lemass  Zoom on Noel T. Lemass  These are statistical facts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Such references are not in accordance with the rules of order of this House.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I admire any man who can get a seat in the Seanad but some of the means applied must not be such——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have asked the Deputy not to reflect on either the Seanad or its Members in any way.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Some of the infighting that went on both inside and outside the House has been referred to and that indicates a certain type of corruption. It is something this House must take into consideration. The House must certainly consider the divulging of certain information that subsequently appeared in the budget. I will now have to seek a ruling froom the Chair every time I want to quote something. I would remind the Chair [2233] that he is Ceann Comhairle for this side of the House as well as for the Government side of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy must not reflect on the impartiality of the Chair.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It is a statement of fact to say that you represent both sides of this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I represent all Members.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  That is what I am saying—all Members—and all I want to do is to ensure that all Members get the same justice right across the board.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy can rest assured of that. The Chair will not be influenced by Members on the left, on the right or at the centre. This Chair is his own man.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would say I was probaby ruled out of order more times than any other Deputy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If the Deputy transgresse the rules of order of the House he will be ruled out of order every time by me.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I merely quoted a leading article from The Irish Times. When I came to quoting another paper I was told I could not repeat. I should now like to deal with the question of prices. This is the question on which the Coalition came into office. It is very important to realise the high cost of living now and the high cost of dying. There has been an increase of 19.5 per cent in the cost of dying. Value-added tax is removed from foodstuffs and oral medicines. This is in keeping with the article in Hibernia which indicated clearly beforehand what the reductions would be. The article states that velue-added tax will be removed from food and alcoholic drinks and the estimated cost of £15 million will be recouped by an increase in VAT and other foodstuffs ranging from 1 to 6 per cent. Food including oral medicines, will be reduced to zero. That is in the brief given to us. He was fairly well on on the first stage. [2234] We find then in the second stage tobacco, petrol, fuel, clothing, footwear, books and newspapers, non-oral medicines—I would like an explanation as to what non-oral medicines are, what they really include—soft drinks, sweets, most building materials and all services, including hotels, laundries and cinemas.

From a detailed examination of VAT we find the items that have been increased. They include clothing and clothing yarn. These terms cover all made-up articles of clothing for human beings. Footwear, headgear, head bands and babies' napkins are included. Laces, braces, belts and sportwear have been increased. Sportwear has been commented on on a number of occasions. It does not include articles such as handkerchiefs, sleeping-bags, rugs or umbrellas. I am certain that the housewives will not be very concerned about sleeping-bags.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Are they concerned about football boots?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I will deal with that as I have dealt with other items. There are increases in price also in all fabrics of yarn and thread normally used in the manufacture of clothing including elastic, tapes and padding materials in the form supplied to manufacturers of clothing. The list does not include paper patterns or measuring tapes. They are sure to be very concerned about that. We come then to fuel and power. Electricity has gone up. Coke, coal, turf and wood in the forms commonly used as fuels have been increased in price. People are supposed to go cold or pay a much higher price. There have been increases in the cost of gas, matches and firelighter materials.

There is also the tax on newspapers and books. We all remember the outcry when VAT was imposed at first and we were told that a tax was being put on education. We come now to leather goods. The price of the sole and upper leathers as supplied to the manufacturers has increased, and also the price of insoles, soles and heels of any material other than leather. There is an increase fromo 16.37 per cent to 19.5 per cent on these items. [2235] There is an increase in the price of hearing aids. The deaf must suffer as a result of this budget. Artificial parts of the body, such as teeth and artificial limbs, surgical belts, trusses and other appliances have been increased in price. These increases all hit the weaker sections of the community and the disabled. These people are further afflicted by these price increases. The Minister should carefully consider the whole situation. The Minister put additional burden on many people in the community.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  That is the Just Society.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  If we look at medical equipment and appliances we find there is additional taxation on them. The Minister and his colleagues should note the items that have been increased in taxation.

We hear about taking VAT off food. VAT has not been taken off food yet. Prices have gone up and up. I have kk one file here and two others at home containing lists of items which have been increased in price by this corrup Government. The disabled have been made to suffer increases in prices following VAT imposed on their appliances. Who would think that the deaf should be victimised? One would think that they should be assisted. This also applies to other disable people. The National Coalition Government decided to increase the taxation and the disabled were the first section selected for the imposition of taxes. Some of the big office blocks have been relieved of tax. The breweries and distillers have been relieved, but not the disabled.

It is unfortunate when we look at the budget in a broad way to find exactly who gets the benefits. The speculators who built office blocks, about which we heard so much from the Labour Party from time to time, are getting rates relief and tax relief. They can get relief in income tax on the rates they pay. They have a double relief on rates. That does not apply to the disabled. If we go to the list we find that the facilities which the disabled need, such as x-rays, x-ray equipment, furniture for medical and dental surgeries, [2236] operating theatres and hospital beds with mechanical fittings, invalid carriages and vehicles of various kinds for use by the disabled people have all been increased in price. Medical, dental and surgical instruments and appliances have all increased in price.

The disabled and the housewife suffer as a result of this particular budget. We were told that VAT would be taken off food. Food prices have increased daily. The Minister said in his brief on the budget that factors originating abroad and outside the control of the Government would unfortunately continue to push up prices in the months ahead. The indications for the present year are far from reassuring. The Minister emphasised that increases in food prices would be outside the direct control of the Government, but during the election campaign the Fianna Fáil Government were said to be responsible for the food increases and not factors outside the Government. The National Coalition Government during their election campaign promised to remove VAT from food. The events of the past week have proved that one cannot fool all the people all the time.

Deputy Ryan, when referring to food prices, said that they are going to go up. I must refer to Deputy Keating as the Minster for Rising Prices and not the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Deputy Keating has a large file of price increases to his credit. I feel sorry for him, because the Taoiseach has given preferential treatment to the Fine Gael Minsters as compared with the Labour Party Minister. When the Government were elected we saw the Minister for Education on television speaking about the changes in the language policy. He appeared with 16 microphones. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, however, when he was making the price increases got a loud-hailer from the Taoiseach so that nobody would hear him. We heard very little when Deputy Keating decided to postpone the increase in bus fares until after the Presidential Election. I will deal with this point as I go along.

Deputy Ryan indicated that prices [2237] must go up. He stressed that the increases in food prices were outside the direct control of the Government. The housewives of the city know where they stand in regard to price increases and the removal of VAT. Deputy FitzGerald, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is not here. He is the Deputy from whom we heard so much about VAT during the general election, but VAT is still with us and will remain on food prices until 1st September. The section in relation to pricesz in the budget is a fairly complex one. If we like to think of it in the terms in which these prices are discussed by the Government and referred to in the Minister's brief we can look at a Government of intellectuals sitting around the table and deciding what size the loaf will be. I understand that one member of the Government suggested that the size of the loaf should be reduced. This would suggest to the people that the Government were running out of dough. They are going to have a little loaf. They will reduce the size of the loaf. They will not fool the housewives by that measure. A certain Deputy who is no longer with us is the man who suggested before that this should be done. He is the former Deputy Dr. John O'Donovan. He told us he had this great brainwave.

Of course, they are drawing on the reserves of the previous Coalition Government. The Labour Party again have aided and abetted in price increases. They have decided to reduce the size of the loaf. The men of the pygmy pans or the little loaves. I am sure the housewives will see through this, just as they have seen through other things. They have not got the little loaf yet but they will use their loaves the next time and when the time comes we will see a different situation. This Government of intellectuals have decided on a little loaf. After 1st September the housewives will have VAT removed and they will have a smaller loaf. The Minister for Industry and Commerce tried to explain it on one occasion on television and I listened with great amusement.

I suppose I will be allowed to quote [2238] from The Irish Press of 19th May. There is a heading there—“Price Rise Warning—Keating Stops CIE Increases.” This is the kite. Keating stopped CIE increases until after the Presidential Election. The people will very soon have to pay the additional burden. On the same page we are told that cheese and margarine go up, that cheese will cost 3p per lb. more, that chickens will be increased by 1½p per lb., animal feeding stuffs by £9.31p per ton. The price of the laundry service has gone up—Terenure and Kelso from ½p to 3p per item, vacuum cleaners by 8 per cent. Murphy's Brewery got their increase, Beamish and Crawford, Irish Ales, Harp Lager and Arthur Guinness. Almonds and marzipan went up by 32.5 per cent, pharmaceuticals by 8 per cent, sausages by 4p per lb. We were told before the general election that sausages were very dear as they were and should be reduced in price, but they have gone up by 4p per lb. Coal has gone up by 86p per ton, household furniture by 7 per cent.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is long enough in the House to know that on the General Resolution he may not go into detail like this, but must wait for the Committee Stage of the appropriate Bill.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am not going into detail.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy has been doing quite a bit of it and the Chair has allowed it but the Chair is now telling the Deputy that he had better come back and stay on the General Resolution.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Looking at the price increases that have taken place recently, we see that it is dearer now to switch on the light because light bulbs have gone up in price.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is not going to get aroung the Chair that way.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  That is a factual statement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  It may be a factual statement but I am [2239] telling the Deputy that on the General Resolution he must remain within the framework of the general discussion and must not go into detail.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am at a loss to know where I am going astray because I have seen other Deputies being allowed to quote from the daily papers and indeed from the National Prices Commission booklet supplied to Deputies. I can well understand many Deputies in this House trying to stifle the debate in some way because they do not want the public to know exactly what has gone up in price. I do not think the public at large have really understood who increased the prices or how they were increased. I heard a number of explanations given on television. The Irish Independent of June 2nd had a heading—“A Breakfast Shock for Housewives.” I quote:

Angry housewives last night called for a complete price freeze on foodstuffs when they heard that once again the cost of their shopping basket was shooting up.

Staples for the breakfast table— butter, cream, cornflakes, marmalade and sausages—are among the 30 common household lines that cost more from today.

“Appalling and shocking” is how Mrs. Betty Morrissey, chairman of the Irish Housewives, described the increases announced by the National Prices Commission last night.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has increased these prices and it has shocked the housewives to see 30 common household lines increased in price as from 2nd June. Before the general election it was a very different story. Now we have the reality of the situation. The National Coalition, since they took office, have increased the price of foodstuffs not alone for the breakfast table but for the dinner table. We have now taken the tablecloth off the table beacause of the laundry increases. “Dreadful” was how another woman described it. I quote again from the same newspaper:

One of the Coalition pre-election promises was to remove VAT from [2240] foodstuffs, she added. “But now we have to wait until October for the move while the price tag continues to rocket on foodstuffs”.

There are the broken promises of the Coalition. The removal of VAT was probably the item on which they floated into power. This is how they honoured their promises. These increases probably do not worry many Deputies. The people who increase prices probably are not worrying. They allowed the prices of items on the breakfast table to increase but they stopped the increase in CIE fares.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair will not permit the Deputy to go along in this way any further. The debate is confined to taxation expenditure and financial policy and other matters only in so far as they are connected with financial policy.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  On a point order, I have always the greatest respect for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's rulings, but is Deputy Dowling not entitled to make comparisons between pre-election promises and what was finally submitted to this Dáil in the budget?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is well aware of the precedents in this matter and also that the General Resolution does not offer an opportunity to go into detail. That is very clearly laid down. These things can be dealt with on the Committee Stage of the appropriate Bill.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  I accept that, but the Deputy is only speaking in broad general terms about the items which make up the housewife's food basket.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Duputy may not change from what has been the procedure in regard to this matter. We are dealing with the budgest debate which is general financial policy, not detail.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  At page 3 of the Minister's speech he said:

The indications for the present year are far from reassuring... I must stress that these increases in food [2241] prices are entirely outside the direct control of the Government

That was not always the Minister's view. He indicated here that food prices must continue to increase and I am illustrating how they have been increasing as a result of the orders made by a member of the Government.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Does the Deputy think that saying this again will be useful either to him or to the Chair?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would be the last person to endeavour to get something on the record a second time. The housewives can look forward to rising prices some of which are outside the control of the Government. However, I am glad to note that some little realilsm is being injected into the prices question now but the clear indications are that there will continue to be increases both before and after the removal of VAT from foodstuffs. Mr. Angus Fanning, writing in the Irish Independent of April 28th told us that butter prices would increase by at least 1½p per pound. Apart from the increases of which we have been made aware, there have been many other increases of which the public are not aware. Neither are the public aware of who is responsible for some of these increases and I would not wish the Government to have to take responsibility for increases which were not of their making. In a recent issue of The Irish Times there was a heading to an article which said that the “Cheese Price Row Embarrasses the Government”. The article stated that Irish cheese is being increased in price by 1½p per pound and that dairy produce would be increased in price by 17½ per cent. In that same issue there was a carton which depicted a man going up in a balloon to show us how prices will rise in the future.

The whole question of prices is one that may be dwelt on at length by many other speakers because the Government have reneged on their promises and are inflicting hardship on a very important section of the community. An article The Irish Press of May 19th entitled “Minister for Prices” confirms what I said earlier and I quote:

[2242] The simple political reality is that no unpopular decision will be announced this side of the presidential election.

It may be that these immediate electoral considerations obscure a deeper tension within the Coalition Government. Dr. Keating of Labour has passed the buck on CIE fares to his FG colleague...

Undoubtedly there is trouble within the Government in relation to prices. However, we can only hope that some Deputies will ensure that sense is injected into the situation. The removal of VAT from foodstuffs and the zero rating proposal will only result in further increases but perhaps the Government will not be in power by September to implement these proposals because if what we hear is true there is dissension within the Government and it may well be that we will have a new Government by September.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  If that happens, will VAT remain on food?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  No.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy cannot have it both ways.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  At this stage we will deal with the budget.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  If the Government were out of office there would be a much better deal right across the board for everyone.

Mr. Browne: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  By September prices will be so high that the removal of VAT will not make any difference.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  We will look after the poorer sections of the community and not the wealthier sections.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Let us get back to the General Resolution.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy has not the guts to say what Fianna Fáil would do in relation to VAT.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am saying that the standard of living would be better under Fianna Fáil than under the present Government.

[2243]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The House is concerned only with the budget debate.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  It was Deputy Dowling who referred to being back in office but will he tell us what they would do in relation to VAT if they should come back?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Get out and see what we will do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The House cannot proceed on this basis. We are on the General Resolution and not a prices discussion.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would like now to comment on the lost millions to which the Minister for Finance, Deputy Ryan, referred in his budget speech and again on television. A report in The Irish Press of Thursday, 17th May, under the heading “Fianna Fáil Left a Sticky Mess, says Ryan” stated:

The Minister for Finance last night accused the previous Government of using £30 million saved on the agricultural subsidies as a result of the EEC membership to pay its swollen bills.

This was a deliberate lie because in the Estimates for Public Services, under “Marketing Supports and Aids” we find clearly set out a decrease in the amount which would be required for the coming year. Deputy Ryan and other members of the National Coalition Government have indicated that this money was used up to pay the swollen bills. Maybe Deputy Ryan cannot read the Public Service Estimates or does not understand them. If he does not, we shall try to assist him along the way. I would also point out how Deputy Ryan has misled this House and the public on a number of occasions in the television coverage.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  On a point of order, surely Deputy Ryan should be called “the Minister”.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  All right, the Minister for Finance. I shall not argue with the [2244] Deputy over that. This was deliberately lying to the public, deliberately misleading——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy may not say the Minister was deliberately lying. The Deputy knows quite well from his experience in the House that he may not use that phrase.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am sorry, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. If that term is not acceptable, I shall say in relation to this article that the Minister is a stranger to the truth. This clearly indicates the type of nonsense that has been going on, about which the Parliamentary Secretary spoke in a factual way. The Minister says that provision has been made in the Estimates by a decrease in the Marketing Supports and Aids. It is also clearly indicated in the Capital Budget that various services have been decreased. The Bord Bainne grant-in-aid has been decreased by £24,430,000; beef, mutton and lamb exports, £195,000; loans to the beef exporting industry, £949,000; bacon and pork exports, £4,099,000. Apparently Deputy Ryan did not get a copy of the Estimates for Public Services for the year or he would not have made the stupid statement he made on the night of the 16th May when he confirmed to the people that he was bluffing and that he is a bluffer. He indicated to the people on television on that occasion that the money was used for another purpose, and this was a deliberate lie.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy will withdraw that statement.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I withdraw the statement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy should not be repeating a statement and then having to withdraw it.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I find it difficult to classify this type of statement. I would like to know if the information contained in the booklet which was circulated to Deputies is in accordance with the statement made by Deputy Ryan in the House or——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister for Finance.

[2245]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  ——if the statement made outside was a statement of fact. If Deputies are being misled by erroneous information being circulated, that is a matter we can deal with in the House, but if the Minister can say one thing in the House and then go outside and tell a deliberate untruth, and that is a deliberate untruth——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is persisting in using unparliamentary language. The Deputy is imputing deliberate falsehood.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Book of Estimates——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Book of Estimates is not concerned with the language the Deputy is using.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would like to know if the information contained in the Estimates for Public Services for the year ending 31st March, 1974, as supplied to the Deputy, is correct. I assume it is. If it is then the statement made by Deputy Ryan outside this House is erroneous.

Deputies:  The Minister.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I could call him many other things. I could call him the Minister for Finance, but the statement bears out the type of man he is. He is a bluffer, and I take it it is in order to call him a bluffer when we can prove beyond all doubt that the information given was completely erroneous.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  The Deputy will never forgive him for beating him in that by-election long ago.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  There have been many by-elections since and we have won them all.

An Leas-Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Dowling should be allowed to make his contribution.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Either Deputies are being misinformed or the nation is being misinformed in relation to this matter.

Mr. O'Brien: Information on Fergus O'Brien  Zoom on Fergus O'Brien  The Deputy is misinterpreting it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  If Deputies would allow Deputy Dowling [2246] to make his contribution, we could make more progress.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am not misinterpreting it at all. It is there in black and white.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey  Zoom on Desmond Governey  Many Deputies have been misinformed over the last few years.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  You were misinformed last week. I still have not got an answer from the Government benches as to whether the information contained in this booklet is correct. I do not think we should proceed with this debate until we get this information. I am at a loss and the nation is at a loss. I want to know exactly what information there is in relation to this £30 million. The Minister has made two statements and if these were clarified we could proceed. Can the Parliamentary Secretary enlighten me? Is the information contained in this booklet correct?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  No, I cannot tell the Deputy. I wish to rise on a point of order. The Deputy has made this point at least six times during the last quarter of an hour and I think his behaviour in this debate is obstructive. He is turning the matter into a farce.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  The Deputy has not been answered.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  This is not Question Time.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  The Deputy has not yet become accustomed to being in Opposition.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Dowling to continue on the General Resolution.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I should like to know from the Minister if the information in this booklet is correct. If it is not I will have to use a different type of argument but if it is then I will proceed. Two statements have been made and it is unfair that this House, and the public at large, have been misled. It is a matter of clarifying the situation and I am prepared to wait until the Minister comes in for this clarification.

[2247]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy should proceed with his speech now.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I will have to go through the Minister's brief now to reach this item which in my view is a very important one. This must be clarified once and for all. We must show up the hypocrisy of the Minister in dealing with this matter inside and outside of this House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Again the Chair has to tell the Deputy, and he is well aware of it, that no Member of the House must be described as being hypocritical. The Deputy has indulged in language which the Chair is surprised he has indulged in.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  On a point of order, am I correct in thinking that you, Sir, have power to curtail a Member's speech if it is unduly repetitious and repetitious for the purpose of obstructing business?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair is endeavouring to keep the debate going in a normal fashion and it is vital that the Deputy in possession do so.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  It is rather embarrassing for the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  It was unduly wrong for the Minister for Finance to make the allegation he did and the Deputy is entitled to an answer.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy is well aware that the Minister for Finance will reply to the debate and to all the points raised during it. The Deputy knows that it is a physical impossibility for the Minister to be here during all Stages of the debate. This is a deliberate farce on the part of Deputy Dowling to be putting points of this kind.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  We accept that the Minister cannot be here all the time.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Therefore, I must proceed on the assumption that the Minister misled the public. That is a fair assessment of this situation. Accepting that the Book of Estimates is correct, I [2248] must assume that the Minister deliberately misled the public in his television appearance and his statement to the Press.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Again the Deputy has used the words “deliberately misled”. The Deputy is constantly using these words.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am positive that the statement made by the Minister on television and to the Press was a calculated one with deep thought prior to its presentation. If a person sits down and draws up a statement for presentation to the Press, then it is done deliberately. If the Minister has not in any way indicated publicly that what was contained in the article was erroneous, then it must be accepted that it was deliberate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is endeavouring to justify himself but he is not doing so in the eyes of the Chair.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The statement says that the Minister for Finance the previous night accused the previous Government of using the £30 million saved on agricultural subsidies as a result of the EEC membership to pay its own bills. At the same time, the Minister made provision in the Estimate which is done by a decrease in the markets, supports and aids. Members of this House know that this is the way it is done. This is a book-keeping transaction. The money was not used and the money is there. It is accounted for in the Public Services Estimate.

I hope that this matter will be clarified by the Minister and I shall now proceed on the assumption that the Minister deliberately misled the public. If “deliberate” is not a word approved here, then I will be satisfied to state that he misled the public. This shows clearly the conniving that has been going on, the manner in which statements have been made and presented on behalf of the Government. This is a typical example of doubletalk. The Minister should clear the air in this regard because the money was there. He is trying to justify his failure as a Minister on the basis that someone might believe that this money was not [2249] spent. The terms used by the Parliamentary Secretary clearly indicates the type of government we have. It is a sad state of affairs that when the Leader of the Opposition spoke on this matter he referred to the same item and that the speakers for the National Coalition did not in any way repudiate the statement of the Minister.

One would have thought that there would have been sufficient honour amongst the Members of the National Coalition to repudiate the statements made by the Minister and this type of sticky mess that the Minister has spoken of. Many Minister spoke, and the Taoiseach also spoke, but none of them had the courage to repudiate this type of sharp practice or these misleading statements. This is a clear indication of how the people are being fooled and of the tactics that will be used, and have been used, in relation to this matter. It shows the depth to which Ministers will stoop in order to create an impression.

We know well that the Minister had this £30 million available to him but he made a cut in the Estimate for the Department of Local Government of £250,000. This cut was in respect of amenity grants, derelict sites and dangerous places and was to cover such works as community centres, recreational facilities, parks and playgrounds, old age pensioner facilities, football pitches and other leisure facilities. By making this cut the Minister is hitting at a very weak section of the community, the old people and the young children. The Ministers who have spoken on the budget have tried to con the people into believing that there is plenty of money available for leisure facilities when a vicious cut has been made in this Estimate. I hope that this will be remedied before it is too late and that the crying need for these facilities will be met. This cut is an indictment of the reckless approach of the Minister for Finance to the nation's affairs.

If this is an indication of their approach to a just society, if this is the way to condition people for a just society, or what they believe is a just society, that we abandon community centres, recreational and other facilities [2250] so that children will have nowhere to play in the built-up areas of Dublin and elsewhere. I think it is a backward step together with the rise in prices, the increase in value-added tax, the smaller loaf and the penalising of weaker sections of the community, including disabled persons. This shows very clearly the type of Government in office and this type of budget should give the people a clearer picture of what to expect in future.

On Saturday, May 19, we were told that a reduction of £8.5 million in health boards' costs would hit programmes. We are told the budget indicates clearly the moneys made available for health and other services but we find there is a reduction of £8.5 million and, for the Eastern Health Board, this means a reduction of almost £3 million. That means very inferior services and a curtailment of many services——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy may discuss that when we come to the Estimate for Health. The Deputy is aware that matters dealing with Estimates can be dealt with in the debate on the appropriate Estimate.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  If we take the Department of Health in the Public Services Estimates for the year——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  That Estimate is not before the House at present.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  It is very relevant to the budget.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The General Resolution deals with matters in general; Estimates are dealt with in particular and details in regard to them in the debates on the Estimates.

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  Surely the proposals of the Minister for Finance in regard to health matters as detailed in the budget statement are relevant?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy knows they are not relevant on the General Resolution and that matters relating to Estimates are dealt with when the House is discussing these Estimates. On the General Resolution we deal with general policy, taxation and expenditure.

[2251]Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  Surely the Deputy may talk about how taxation is to be used?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  What seems to be happening is that the rulings of the Chair are being chalienged. If this is the case there is wellsettled procedure for that.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  I would be the last to challenge your ruling, Sir, as I always look upon you as a very fair Chairman, but it would seem to me to be relevant if these penal taxes are to be imposed. At least we should be entitled to discuss how they are to be spent.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy knows that Estimates come before the House dealing with each particular area of expenditure. For the Deputy's information, the scope of the debate on the General Resolution is confined to taxation, expenditure and financial policy and other matters only in so far as they are connected with financial policy. Matters of administration and details appropriate to be raised on Estimates may not be discussed.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  An article in the Irish Independent on Saturday, 19th May, said that the transfer of 25 per cent of the health charges from the rates to the Exchequer would bring further internal pressure on the Department to curtail expenditure. The pressure being applied to curtail services as a result of the 25 per cent reduction in health charges on the rates indicates that health boards will, on the one hand, get a boost, but, on the other, a substantial reduction in relation to their programmes. If it is the deliberate policy of the Government to reduce, on the one hand, the health charges on the rates by 25 per cent and, on the other, reduce health board's expenditure by £8.5 million, this should be the subject of detailed examination here on the budget debate. If the 25 per cent reduction is to be used as a device to weaken the structure of the health services, the Minister should have another look at it.

Apparently, what is wrong is that one Minister reduces the impact of [2252] health charges on the rates while another Minister curtails the health boards' estimates for Dublin by £3 million and for the country as a whole by £8.5 million. This is a serious situation. If the health services are to be expanded so that we shall have the type of services we feel we should have, any curtailment of this kind is a serious setback because it can only result in a reduction in services.

The £8.5 million, together with other deficits, would mean additional taxation to approximately the same extent as that employed in the Budget on beer, spirits and cigarettes. If the national health services are to develop in a reasonable way and if we are to take into consideration innovations and technical changes which will require more capital, as will dearer medicines and services, there can be no cut in expenditure. But if these programmes are to be curtailed we must seriously consider harassing the Government to ensure that the weaker sections will not be further crushed.

It is clear throughout this Budget that it is the weaker sections that are being penalised. They suffer in respect of value-added tax, services for the disabled, price increases for housewives and now the health services are hit substantially. A cut of £3 million is a very substantial cut for which no transfer of charges of the kind mentioned would compensate. I hope people will not be allowed to die as a result of this vicious cut-back by the Minister. I hope that in time, even if it means imposing further taxation to meet this very deserving demand, we will have the courage to do so.

Nothing is surer than that we must have a supplementary budget before this year is out if the Government are to meet their responsibilities even halfway. They have a responsibility to the weaker sections of the community, who form a very important part of the whole community. We have heard of children's allowances and other allowances that have been given, but what about those who are seeking hospitalisation and additional services? May we not expand and update our services, get better medicines, better technical advice?

[2253]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has been told that matters relevant to the Estimates should be discussed on Estimates.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  That is fair enough, if you rule that I cannot proceed on that line. When the supplementary budget comes here I am certain that all right-thinking people will be prepared to examine the situation as sympathetically as possible in regard to additional aids for the weaker sections of the community. A supplementary budget will have to come to provide these aids and this will mean additional taxation. The pint and the spirits will have to be increased——

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education (Mr. Bruton): Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is this Fianna Fáil policy?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It has always been the policy of Fianna Fáil to meet their responsibilities fully and to ensure that the weaker sections of the community get the services to which they are entitled. These people generally are unable to speak for themselves but they must not be ignored. However, they have been hit badly by the budget.

Substantial reductions have been made in the rates. I mentioned previously that the Government's proposals with regard to the rates have helped the owners of office blocks, the breweries and distilleries and the business tycoons. If the Fianna Fáil policy had been implemented, whereby rates on dwellings would have been abolished, the people on fixed incomes would have got a substantial reduction.

I mentioned one concern that will gain approximately £66,000 as a result of the Government's proposals. However, the occupier of a local authority house will have to pay additional taxation in order to offset the substantial gains made by big businesses. What has happened is that the housewives and the Irish workers will have to pay for the people who have plenty of money. The aids given by way of pensions and social welfare increases have been more than offset by the other penal clauses in the [2254] budget. Across the street we see the large office blocks and the plush carpets, but it is the old age pensioners and the workers who will be hit by the new taxation. The old age pensioner will pay an additional 4p for an ounce of tobacco in order to support Guinness's whether he drinks Guinness or not. The weaker sections of the community are being forced to support the big businesses and the owners of office blocks throughout this city and country.

The budget is another strike at the weaker sections of the community. It is as well that the old age pensioner should understand that, when he pays the extra taxation on drink or cigarettes, portion of that money is going to the upkeep of office blocks and is being given to the business tycoons in the city. This is the just society of which we have heard so much—the just society of the National Coalition——

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Another trick-of-the-loop.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  That is a forbidden word here. I was ruled out of order earlier today on this point. We know also that the size of the loaf will be reduced. We might call it the “intellectual” loaf—where a group of intellectuals got round a table and decided to reduce the size of the loaf. As was pointed out already, this was a clear indication to the public that the Government were running out of dough. We will have “pygmy pans”; a man will be able to take home half a dozen of these loaves in his waistcoat pocket when the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his colleagues have finished taking the slices off the loaf. However, in the last few weeks the housewives have given their views in relation to this kind of conniving by the Government.

The National Coalition Government would have been wise to accept the suggestion of the leader of the Opposition that a Presidential Election should not be held and that an agreed candidate should be accepted. If this had been done the nation would have been saved some £120,000. I think if the Government had a second chance they [2255] would agree to the suggestion of Deputy Lynch but they were too vindictive. The nation would have been saved £120,000 and there would have been a saving of face by the Government. They did not listen but I am sure they will listen the next time.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We will put up Deputy Dowling in seven years' time. Anything to get him out of the House.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I know how confused Deputy Desmond and the Labour Party Ministers are. On one occasion in the not-too-distant past, one Minister, Deputy O'Leary, was lost in the ladies' toilet in Trinity College——

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  He was following in the footsteps of Deputy Brian Lenihan.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Order. Deputy Dowling to continue on the budget.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  It is quite on the cards that the television licence will be increased to £30. This has been mentioned and there has not been any denial. How many workers will agree to pay £30? How many of them can afford it? VAT has been increased on certain commodities to raise the money to pay for the rates remission on office blocks, breweries, cigarette factories.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  The Deputy did not mention the smaller loaf.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has not denied what I have been saying. There has been talk about it. I should like the Minister for Finance to say when there are likely to be further tax increases in addition to the heavy load imposed on motorists by way of road taxes and driving licences.

The cost of living has continued upwards since they came into office and it looks as if it will go up still further. We are told that VAT has been increased in regard to luxuries. Therefore, dying has become a luxury. Of course, if you do it yourself, make your own box, there is no tax increase. “Do it yourself, boys”, I say to them. There have been increases in VAT in relation [2256] to motor cars and radios and television sets. Figures of 28.32 per cent and 19.12 per cent have been given.

In relation to the concessions given to deserted wives and divorced women, I should like to ask the Minister to consider applying these concessions to women whose Catholic marriages have been annulled. I understand such a women is not covered and I should like the Minister to examine this with a view to giving her parity with divorcees and deserted wives.

The Minister said that thalidomide victims should be assisted in every possible way and at page 40 of his opening statement the Minister mentions concessions to be given. I would remind him that there are other disabled children who are as badly off as the thalidomide children if not worse and I would ask him to extend the concessions right across the board, covering all disabled children. It is essential that the Government should examine this position in the broadest sense possible so that all disabled children will be treated equally, whether their condition is due to accidents or otherwise.

I will not deal with the farmers. Their position is too farcical. We had newspaper headings like “Road Tax Shock for Farmers”, “Major Shock for Farmers”. The farmers have been getting a lot of shocks recently and they are in for many more, but Deputies on this side of the House who come from farming stock will be dealing in depth with their problem.

It seems that the Government intend to force through a wage freeze at all costs. This has been clearly indicated in the Minister's introductory statement. An article appeared in a newspaper on 19th May under the heading “Wage Freeze on the Way”. It states:

It is fairly clear from Mr. Ryan's budget that the Government will force through a wage freeze at all costs. Trade Unions must now be wondering where Labour is going to find the political voice in the coming confrontation with the employers and the Government. It is becoming daily more clear that a conservative right wing Government, which we now have—this is [2257] not a Coalition Government, it is a Cosgrave Government, a classical Fine Gael Government with the Labour Party already reduced to an incoherent supporting role....

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Who said that?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Mac Giolla of Sinn Féin.

Deputies:  Good man, Joe.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Now we know who is writing the speeches for Fianna Fáil.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  What about the pre-election posters?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Labour have an incoherent role. The last time they were as quite as mice. Mr. James Dillon said that. Now they have no voice at all. Now that the big spending is over we will witness the most savage increases ever in prices and taxes. I have been trying to flnd out about how much the postage stamp has gone up since I last posted a letter. On first and second class mail, letters, postcards and printed papers, there is a minimum increase of 1p. Telephone charges and coin box charges have gone up to 3p. Of course, all this will increase the bills of employers and private persons. Therefore, directly as a result of Government tax increases, we can expect more increased prices. There are bound to be substantial increases in charges as a result of the increases in road tax, Post Office charges and so on. Many people have said that these increased charges will add to the cost of transportation and put them in a far less competitive position than they were in prior to the budget.

In the Irish Independent of 5th June under the headline: “Inflation: industry blames Budget”, It is stated:

Severe criticism of the Budget for its failure to adequately combat inflation or provide incentives for business growth, is voiced by the Confederation of Irish Industry in its quarterly economic review, published today.

Sustained growth, it points out, can come only from increased investment and production, but the Budget did not create the climate for this.

[2258] There was no reduction in either company or personal taxation, while business was faced with increased postage, telephone and transport costs. The danger was that Irish products were being made less competitive on both export and home markets, while Ireland was becoming a less attractive place to work in.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  On a point of order, could the Deputy please read these extracts which are so magnificently interesting somewhat slower? It is difficult to understand what he is saying.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  It will only hurt the Deputy more that way.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Under the heading: “Inflation: Industry Blames Budget” in the Irish Independent of Tuesday, June 5th, it is stated:

Severe criticism of the Budget for its failure to adequately combat inflation or provide incentives for business growth, is voiced by the Confederation of Irish Industry in its quarterly economic review, published today.

Sustained growth, it points out, can come only from increased investment and production, but the Budget did not create the climate for this.

There was no reduction in either company or personal taxation, while business was faced with increased postage, telephone and transport costs. The danger was that Irish products were being made less competitive on both export and home markets, while Ireland was becoming a less attractive place to work in.

A Deputy:  Is repetition in order?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  He was asked to repeat it.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Because of the burden placed on them by the budget, this group who are interested in industrial development, severely criticised the budget—not I, but some of the people in the stock-broking belt I spoke about earlier on. They now find how deceived they are as a result of the budget. During the course of the debate the [2259] Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach indicated by way of interruption that no promise was given that the Government would build 25,000 houses a year.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  Are they backing out of that one now?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Yes. Apparently the Minister for Finance must not be keeping in touch with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach because he said in his statement that for the achievement of the Government's programme they would provide 25,000 houses annually. This is a very serious matter from the point of view of the workers in the building trade. We should like to know whether the Minister for Finance speaks for the National Coalition, or whether the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach does. The Parliamentary Secretary was probably taken aside and given a little corrective training since his last television appearance. He should be brought up to date with the affairs of the State.

It was rather disturbing to hear him say that no such promise was given. This has disturbed the minds of a large volume of people just as the increased VAT on motor cars has caused some concern to motor assembly firms. There is a headline in a newspaper: “Assembly jobs vanishing: 3,500 on the brink of redundancy.” Black Monday for the motor men. There was a black Wednesday for them as well when the Minister indicated that he was increasing VAT on cars by the substantial amount of 21.44 per cent. In the case of any industry which is already struggling one would have thought that the workers would be protected.

I am sure we can look forward to a repetition of a situation which occurred under the first Coalition and that in the building trade, in Aer Lingus, in CIE and the motor assembly this cut back must mean a reduction in jobs. There is nothing surer than that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach was sent in to interrupt on that occasion in order to create a certain climate [2260] amongst people outside. He did that, but it has rebounded because the building workers who form a very large part of our city workers see no future for them. The fact that the Minister refused to increase CIE fares gave rise to some concern among CIE workers that substantial redundancies will take place in that company, and that many more jobs will be lost as well as the 3,500 jobs that are likely to vanish.

This situation has not been helped by the increase in VAT by 30 per cent at manufacturing level and 6.75 per cent at retail level, an increase on the previous VAT of 21.44 per cent. The housewife is to be conditioned to a smaller loaf and higher prices. The sick and the disabled, those in need of medicines, medical attention and medical appliances, and even the deaf, can look forward to a very bleak future indeed. There is one ray of hope coming through the clouds. The 11.11 per cent on dancing was not changed. They can dance to the Coalition's tune in future.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the Deputy in favour of an increase in the tax on dancing?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  One wonders why there was no increase in the tax on dancing. They increased VAT on clothing, footwear, medical appliances, cinemas, building materials, soft drinks, but there is no increase on the tax on dancing. The increase affects furniture and fittings, cleaning materials, haberdashery, electrical goods, kitchen equipment, hardware, motor cars and motor cycles.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  And literature.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  The Coalition's last tango.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Deputy seems to be against dances and against people enjoying themselves.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I have clearly indicated my views on the budget and on the Government. I have called the Government all sorts of names and, when I get outside the House, I shall call them more names and no one will pull [2261] me up. I was naturally disappointed at being obstructed on a number of occasions from expressing clearly my point of view when I wanted to quote from fashionable papers, papers which have been printing the truth in the news. I have clearly indicated that the workers must now look forward to a vicious increase in prices, a substantial increase in the cost of living, large sale redundancy in CIE, in the motor assembly industry, in Aer Lingus and in the building trades. The price of sausages will, according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, go up. The price was increased by 4p on the last occasion. Savage increases have been applied to medical appliances. There has been a reduction in the Health Estimate, which must be a source of acute disappointment to the weaker sections of the community. The lie was told on television and, when the Minister is replying, I hope he will apologise to the people for the statement he made following on the budget; he accused the former Government of using the £30 million saved on agricultural subsidies as a result of EEC membership to pay its swollen bills.

He must not have read the Estimates for Public Services. I will send him a copy so that he will clearly see that the money is there. There is a reduction of £225,000 in the Local Government Estimate which means a reduction in community developments, recreational facilities, old people's amenities, football pitches and so forth. People can look forward to a very bleak period. But not all people. Those in the stock-broker-banker-financier belt got pre-budget information which, I am quite certain, assisted them in lining their pockets and they also got generous tax reliefs, to assist them in reinforcing the lining.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It is often said that the electorate deserve to get the kind of public representative they are foolish enough to elect. Deputy Dowling is a classic example.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Deputy Dowling's [2262] contribution this afternoon is a serious reflection on parliamentary democracy. The House was treated to repetitive nonsense. Now most speakers tend to repeat themselves, and I am no exception, but Deputy Dowling transgressed any normal repetition that one might expect in a budget debate. One thought which struck me forcibly during his contribution was that he has found his natural home in Opposition, in negative posturing about national monetary affairs, and I have no doubt that he will be able to indulge this odd propensity of his periodically in the years ahead on every budget debate.

I listened to the principal Opposition speakers—the former Taoiseach, the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley, and his predecessor in Finance, Deputy Haughey, and the only conclusion I could come to is that they are as bankrupt in opposition as they were in government. None of the proposals made on the Opposition side in relation to current and capital budgets has the slightest indication of any constructive direction in which the Government might operate. That group includes the best economic brain on the Opposition side—Deputy Haughey himself. Deputy Haughey said that the basic economic strategy of this Government was wrong. He said that it carried with it a real danger of adding fuel to the fires of inflation. He said also that it lacked what he called directional support, a rather new concept of budgetary strategy. Having read the Deputy's contribution closely, I see no indication of a strategy markedly different from the so-called strategy of social concern which Deputy Haughey brought forward in the speech which he did not deliver on 27th April, 1970. I certainly do not see any tremendous element or directional support of budgetary strategy in that speech, the last budget contribution of Deputy Haughey in this House.

I would remind Deputy Haughey that when he was Minister for Finance in 1970 he increased social welfare benefits by £5.8 million. Deputy Colley tried to do better, bearing in mind inflation, and last years improved the figure to £8.9 million. This year the figure is close [2263] on £40 million. There is a real difference. It is a real difference in relation to social strategy and social concern. When we analyse the budgets from 1964 to 1974—it was only in 1964 that real economic growth began in this country largely due to the farsightedness of the late Deputy Seán Lemass and with nothing very much to do with Fianna Fáil—it will be clearly recorded that this budget is one which has given real, measurable and massive support to social concern and welfare.

Within the lifetime of this Dáil, I am quite confident that the new and special responsibility which devolves on the two political parties in Coalition will result in the restructuring of our social system and the continuation of the restructuring of our social benefits standard. The new Government will develop further the social services of the State itself. We have the capacity to do that. I am quite perturbed that there is some air of concern in some areas of government that, perhaps, the budget was not as good as it might have been in regard to social benefits. If there is anything on which I would fault the Minister for Finance it is on the presentation of the budget. The budget was better than it was presented. It contained a good deal more than appeared from a very lengthy draft of the Minister's speech and from the Civil Service turgidity which inevitably gets into a speech when a Minister has only a short time in which to prepare a budget and come to grips with the problems facing him when allocating approximately £40 million in social benefits.

That is, perhaps, the fault of the budget. It is rather a minor fault. It contrasts very favourably with the shrill stridency of Deputy Colley, the man who cannot make a speech without indulging in the overkill. Some day someone will tell him in this House that even when he is on good ground—and I do not deny that the Deputy has made some good points in his time in relation to his contributions in budget debates—his speech deteriorates at times, with all due respect to him, into a kind of comic [2264] speechifying, burlesque in the political sense. Deputy Colley's overkill on this occasion has made no contribution to the budget debate. I would remind Deputy Colley in particular in his criticism of the increases in tobacco, petrol, beer and spirits that these increases which are in this budget were the stock increases of himself and his party between 1960 and 1970.

I have read an interesting speech of Deputy Colley, delivered in November, 1970 in Cork. It was very interesting to note how Deputy Colley talked about the sources of revenue. Deputy Colley's speech on that occasion was about the financing of Government expenditure. He said that the main financing problem which a Minister for Finance was normally presented with how on current account the extra taxation would be raised to close the budgetary gap, and how on capital account the residual accounts necessary to balance the books would be found. The Deputy spoke of increases on the “old reliables”, such as tobacco, petrol, beer and spirits on several occasions as a means of bringing in part of the additional revenue needed. The Deputy said then that since January, 1960, the main rate of duty on tobacco had been raised on 12 occasions and that the duty on petrol was raised on six occasions and the duty on beer was increased on eight occasions over the previous decade. Yet Deputy Colley comes in here berating the new Minister for Finance as having suddenly discovered sources of revenue which had been the stock sources of revenue of the Fianna Fáil Party during the 1960s and during 1971 and 1972, the years following his speech in Cork.

There is no great originality in Deputy Colley's approach. There is very little originality in the means by which he has devised extra revenue for the State in meeting, particularly, the current budgetary requirements. One of the major difficulties facing the Government on taking over responsibility was the very substantial increases which many of us do not seem to be fully aware of, in a number of key Departments. In 1972-73 the Department [2265] of Education absorbed £107 million. In the Book of Estimates for 1973-74 this figure appears as £126 million, an increase of 18 per cent in the requirements for education. In the Department of Transport and Power the amount required last year was £24 million. This has been increased to £30 million this year, an increase of 27 per cent. The Department of Health required £66 million. This has risen to £92 million, an increase of 40 per cent.

These are largely areas of social requirement and I am highly amused by Fianna Fáil berating the present Government for having a very substantially increased current account, a major increase of £56 million in the capital account, and not one suggestion on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party or any Deputy in it as to where the reductions might be brought in or where the alternative sources of taxation might be found. No effort whatever has been made by the Opposition in this regard. If the Opposition want to be constructive, if they want to be helpful in parliamentary life, if they do not want to be regarded purely as a negative Opposition, they should say where we could reduce the current Book of Estimates, where we could find alternative sources of taxation. These alternatives have not been put forward by Deputies in this debate.

I am rather surprised by the way in which some Members of the Opposition tend to throw around millions of pounds. Indeed, some of my colleagues in Government tend to be a little bit loose with some of the millions at times. It is important to appreciate what precisely we have saved in relation to membership of the EEC. A reply which I received on 10th May indicated that the amount of additional resources which would become available as a result of membership of the EEC would be of the order of £26 million to £28 million. I remember Deputy Colley blandly assuring us at one stage last year that it would be in the region of £35 million. Then he got a dose of concern and he reduced it to £30 million. As we know, it is not £30 million. It is certainly between £26 million and £28 million. It may be a [2266] relatively small amount in the context of total expenditure but there is a need for a degree of accuracy when we talk about millions of pounds.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  On a point of clarification, with reference to accuracy, if the Deputy will refer to the Minister's speech he will find at page 9 that he quotes the figure of £29 million as the net saving.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The information I got on 10th May was that it was of the order of £26 million to £28 million.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  We have the Minister's speech here and I think it is a fair guideline for the Deputy, who is saying that we should not be finding or dropping millions of pounds.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I shall check it carefully before I conclude. The way in which this additional saving has been bandied around should give rise to greater circumspection on the part of Deputies on both sides of the House.

I should like to pass now to a point made by one of the commentators in The Irish Times of 17th May in relation to the budget. I have always had a good deal of regard for Professor Martin O'Donoghue's viewpoints. He has had experience as economic adviser to the Taoiseach's Department over the past few years. He has had a wealth of experience in commenting on and making available to the Government his views on economic and budgetary strategy but I do think, with respect to Martin O'Donoghue——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair would prefer that no reference be made to a person outside the House who has no opportunity of defending himself, especially a public official as such.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I would suggest that the arguments that the impact of the budget on inflation would be excessive, are over emphasised. I would accept that the increase in tax in alcohol, tobacco and motor vehicles and the higher Post Office charges will mean an increase in prices of 2 per cent. Most budget increases of that nature do [2267] give rise to inevitable price increases, and these will be reflected in due course in the cost of living figures; but that is the price of expansion, that is the price of transfer payments in our community.

I do not see any way out of the increases proposed in the budget and the redistributive manner of the expenditure of the higher revenue is something we can stand over. I would remind those people who have been critical of the budget on the question of inflation that the general approach favoured by the OECD team was an increase in Government capital expenditure, and if it is maintained there should be a growth in employment. It seems to me that in the past six months there has been some growth, continued growth, in employment. I do not lay much store by the unemployment data issued by the CSO, because in some respects it is quite unreal—the figures of 63,000, 66,000 and 70,000. That weekly analysis should be substantially revised, at least in format, giving a more real figure of unemployment.

The general advice given by the OECD team that we should have a substantial increase in Government capital expenditure was well heeded on this occasion and it will have an expansionary effect on the economy. In many parts of the country the general economic infrastructure is quite weak and in other social areas of the country the structure is weaker still. The Minister stressed, quite rightly, that £76 million was allocated in the capital budget for housing and ancillary services, an increase of £21 million over last year. This is social expenditure which we on the Government side can stand over. I challange the Fianna Fáil Party to say that they wish to see a reduction in that £76 million. There is also a proposal in the capital budget for an expenditure of £19 million for educational buildings. I challenge the Fianna Fáil Party to say that they wish to see a reduction in this sum.

There is a good deal of moaning about the lack of special incentives in the budget for the farming community. This is rather selective and unfounded because in the capital [2268] budget there is provision for an increase of £11 million for credit expansion on the farming side of the national economy. Those Fianna Fáil critics who suggest that the budget will have an inflationary effect must be asked whether they have any suggestions to make regarding any reduction in any area of the capital programme for 1973-74 as outlined. Perhaps we have been unduly apologetic regarding this budget. I welcome in particular the extra £21 million for housing, the £3,500,000 for educational buildings and the extra £11 million for the Agricultural Credit Corporation.

With due respects to Mr. Maher he should take account of the massive increase of £11 million towards farming. Both capital and current allocations must be taken into account when speaking in terms of overall strategy on the part of the Government. Some of the reactions to the budget were of an ultra-conservative, backlash variety. This is a wrong approach.

I was surprised by the reaction expressed in some of the newsletters of the Confederation of Irish Industries. By and large, during the past half decade these newsletters have been most helpful and constructive and not very conservative. On some occasions they have been quite radical, but in their newsletter of 22nd May last there is the statement that the budget will expand the public capital programme, that this is a traditional tactic for expansion which has become a standby of the Ministers' advisers, that it is unimaginative, can be inflationary and that it directly and indirectly increases investment in the economy but not necessarily in the most productive and effective way. It stated that, during the past ten years in particular, budgets have placed, by substantial direct influence on the economy, both the private and public sectors in the hands of the State. The article went on to say that this is neither desirable philosophically nor is it any longer necessary.

It is a rather peculiar approach on the part of the captains of Irish industry that they should be objecting to the growth of State investment, a substantial slice of which is ploughed [2269] back into Irish industry. I would ask the CII if they are suggesting, for example, that the increase of £9 million in the capital budget for industrial development should have not been allocated on this occasion on the philosophical grounds that it is increasing State involvement in the community. That is a spurious argument.

There is an increase also in the capital budget of £7 million for the development of electricity. I do not think that any Irish industrialist would cavel unduly with the suggestion that we need expansion urgently in our electricity capacity to meet the future needs of Irish industry. If this means further involvement by the State in national economic development, it will be welcomed by those of us on the Government side and I have yet to hear of any major criticism by any Member of Fianna Fáil of this idea. Such involvement is desirable both on social and economic grounds.

The Minister has my sympathy regarding the problem of inflation because he has inherited the serious inflational trend of the economy of recent years. We know that prices have risen much faster in this country than in other countries—although not as fast as in Britain, for example. During the past three years alone retail prices here have increased by 27 per cent compared with about 24 per cent in Britain. The record both for Ireland and Britain has been one of the worst in Europe.

It is ironic that Deputy Lalor, as Minister, authorised the publication of the NPC reports and who implemented their recommendations, is now expressing shock and horror that price increases should be published in the daily newspapers. It is time that the people appreciated some of the harsh facts of inflation and some of the very real but not very pleasant alternatives open to us. The NPC put the matter very well in one of their reports when they stated that it was quite clear that increases in money incomes, unmatched by improvements in efficiency, are the main causes of price increases: that it is not possible to get a quart from a pint pot and that when the quart is nevertheless sought, that price increase is the mechanism that [2270] forces people to make do with the pint that is the limit of the pot's capacity.

There is sufficient evidence to indicate that the harsh facts of inflation are not appreciated by many sections of the community. Neither are they appreciated by the Deputy Joe Dowlings of this life. Unless we come to grips with the problem of inflation, the benefits of the budget will be reduced to nought and the inflation from which we are now suffering will result in the rich becoming relatively richer and the poor becoming relatively poorer. The fight against inflation must have the high priority of the Government as well as of the trade union movement and the employers. In this regard I would hope for the cooperation of the Opposition. So fas as the speculators are concerned, we will take care of them. Deputy Dowling might get a sudden shock in that regard in relation to auctioneers' fees.

We can take care of inflation provided the Government, trade unions and employers can get together and formulate a proper and effective prices and incomes policy on a voluntary basis, and I am sure that, with goodwill on both sides, that can be done. Otherwise the men of property, both in money and land, will gain all along the line in an inflationary situation, and the less well off sections of the community, the 70,000 social welfare recipients who have benefited from this budget, will be left at the bottom of the pile. Worse than that, there is the danger that if the inflationary race continues, and if price increases are sanctioned, as they must be following wage increases, we could have very substantial redundancy in industrial employment as our exports become threatened, as a very high proportion in Irish manufacturing industry, something in the region of 40 per cent, is geared to exports. If the inflationary trends continue at the rate at which they are going, the export potential and the competitiveness of industry will be markedly affected and in time jobs will be threatened and people put out of work.

I would raise a particular problem here in relation to inflation. It has been said that the Minister for Industry and [2271] Commerce should, under no circumstances, sanction price increases. This naïve, simplistic approach has been suggested. The Minister can do that and within two or three months that company will go into voluntary liquidation. These are the alternatives in regard to inflation. Either there is a massive restraint within industry at all levels or a massive increase in productivity within the industry at all levels, or there is redundancy. The lessons are there to be learned, but the potential dangers of the current situation have not been fully appreciated.

I want to make one or two suggestions as briefly as possible. I think the only way that the worst effects of inflation can be mitigated is through a planned development of increases. This has become a very fashionable phrase dating back to Harold Wilson in the halycon days of the prices and incomes policy in Britain. There is a special responsibility on the trade union movement and on the National Employer-Labour Conference to try to implement in the coming year not just a national wage agreement but a planned development of income. This would be a plan for increases in real money terms. Notwithstanding the shortcomings that were evident in the national wage agreement, it did contain within it the basis for a positive move in this direction. The national wage agreement was not perfect nor could it be regarded as a last word in wage agreements as such. I would join with the Minister in the hope he expressed in his budget speech that the increases given in social welfare benefits will help in that direction. The Minister also stated that the Government were committed to the principle that voluntarily negotiated national pay agreements which met the social and economic objectives of the community were the best basis for economic development, for stability and growth in jobs.

There is much concern in the trade union movement regarding the prospect for a future national pay agreement. I suppose it would be expecting a good deal that there should be three such agreements one after another. However, the alternatives are pretty [2272] stark. If we have a free-for-all in our economy in the next 12 months the lower income groups will suffer even more than they are suffering under present inflationary trends. Furthermore, there are grave anomalies within the wage structure in our community, particularly between the upper income groups and the lower income groups. The last Government did sweet damn all about it, notwithstanding the famous “year of the low paid worker”. I gather that was 1969. I remember attending a conference in the Department of Finance with Deputy Haughey. Indeed, he was very good on that occasion and I think he meant what he said, that he hoped to see that year being the year of the low paid worker. Unfortunately, April, 1970, gave him a lot of other things to think about and that went to the bottom of the pile of priorities. However, in any future policy of the Government, which I hope will be supported by the Opposition—because this will require a national effort—there will be need for further preferential treatment for wage earners in the lower income groups. This is one of the major priorities.

There is also need for a policy to harmonise the non-wage fringe benefits enjoyed by certain occupational groups. It is scandalous that there should be wide disparities in, for example, pensions for different workers. One has workers retiring from industry at £3 or £4 a week while others retire on pensions of £10, £15 or £20 a week. The elimination of such disparity in pensions should be a top priority of the Government. There are also major anomalies in relation to sick payments for different groups of workers, in relation to annual leave, and in relation to hours of work. You will find some people enjoying a 37½-hour working week while others are working for 41 or 42 hours a week. One does not have to have a massive growth in inflation to eliminate these particular anomalies. These are running sores among Irish wage and salary earners in our community and any future wages policy should try to level out the conditions of employment for workers so that all workers will benefit from these improvements. The lower income group [2273] are deserving of preferential treatment and then we should have the levelling out of anomalies between the different groups of workers.

I should like to point out vehemently to the House that the average weekly earnings of men employed in manufacturing industries as of last December was £32.40 and £15.59 for a woman. To these can be added a further £2.50 as of mid-1973.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I must protest about the way in which the Deputy who called a quorum left the House immediately after doing so. Deputy Crowley called a quorum and then left. This is an abuse of the procedure of this House.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  I do not recognise that Deputy, he must not attend in the House very often. Would someone point this Deputy out to me.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I regard this as a gross abuse. Deputy Crowley, who has not been in the House for the past hour, left immediately after he had called for a quorum.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Whatever the justification for that, the Deputy knows well that this is a tradition well established by his own party when in Opposition.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  However Deputies may feel aggrieved, and I can understand their justification of it by what they consider this undue calling for quorums, there is nothing the Chair can do about it here and we must get on with the business. If the attention of the Chair is drawn to the matter the Chair has no option but to ensure that a quorum is present.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Is it not a matter for the Chair to determine if there is a quorum here or not?

An Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It is. It is the right of any member to draw the attention of the Chair to the matter.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Deputy Desmond has [2274] also the right to call the attention of the Chair to the lack of sincerity of the member who called the quorum.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  As Deputy O'Connell acknowledges, the Deputy concerned would have seen much more of this in the last Dáil.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I was referring to the future prospects of a national wage agreement in this country and I was making the point that in any future negotiations a special effort should be made to ensure three particular matters. First, the negotiators should ensure some continued preferential treatment for the wage earners in the lower income groups. There is still a serious situation in this country whereby many of the lower paid workers have not closed the gaps between themselves and other income groups in a fair and just manner.

The second reform that I would advocate is that there should be some levelling up, some harmonisation, of the non-wage fringe benefits between different groups of workers.

Mr. Callanan: Information on John Callanan  Zoom on John Callanan  Percentage increases were the cause of that low levelling up. I fought for this all my life and I got very little support from the trade unions.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am genuinely delighted to hear the Deputy's views on the matter. The third condition which I felt should be strongly pressed by the Government in any negotiations is the actual implementation of equal pay for work of equal value for women. I do not think that many Deputies in this House appreciate the difference in the average earnings of men and women in the manufacturing industries. That differential is not to the credit of the country. Now that we are in the Common Market there is no reason why the gap between the earnings of women and men in industry which has been closing, should not close faster and I strongly urge trade union and employer organisations to ensure that equal pay for work of equal value for men and women be introduced as a matter of urgency.

I do not think the Government can [2275] force another national wage agreement on anybody. The employers cannot force it; it must be reached voluntarily around the conference table. It is difficult to see a third agreement emerging but the alternatives are grim. These are that the rich become richer, the lower paid sections and the poorer sections will become poorer and the disparities and inequalities in social benefits will become even more marked. We should realise that no easy decision can be taken in this regard. I have in mind the statement issued in September, 1970, by the then Minister for Finance and which was circulated to every Deputy, in which he said he had decided to take “decisive measures to safeguard the economic and social wellbeing of the country which is seriously threatened by the inflationary situation.” The then Minister proposed a limit of 6 per cent for wage and salary increases, a limit of 7 per cent on price increases and went on to mention that professional fees, insurance and banking charges would also be controlled. Dividends and directors' fees were to be restricted to the rate paid in the preceding year. Rents of houses, offices, flats and factories were to be restricted to the amounts payable as at that time except in the case of differential rents. He brought in a massive series of controls all of which were dropped a few weeks later when a national wage agreement came about. The trade unions and employer organisations told the Minister that these controls were not really workable in a free society.

The alternative is a voluntary national agreement. I want to thank the members and staff, particularly the departmental staff of the Department of Industry and Commerce for the tremendous work done by the National Prices Commission in trying to bring sense into the prices situation. Since the commission were set up they have done great work and while it might yet be too soon to evaluate fully this work the reports we have had to date have been generally helpful in monitoring prices and at least making the public fully aware of what is happening in regard to prices and [2276] giving the Minister for Industry and Commerce a reasonable opportunity to intervene.

One of the criticisms made in regard to the budget was that it did not include the proposal of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to introduce a system of income taxation for the farming community. I hope that as in regard to the national wage agreement and any restructuring of income taxation for farmers Fianna Fáil will not resort to exploiting that situation. I feel quite a few Fianna Fáil Deputies, notably simplistic Deputies such as Deputy Dowling, as judged by his contribution here today, would like to see the country having no further national wage agreements.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  Could we have a quorum in the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy but a quorum has been called for.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Could the Chair identify the Deputy who has asked for the quorum? I do not recognise the gentleman. He is a stranger here.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  If the Deputy reads the record he will see that I have been present in the House. I shall not attempt to match the record of Deputies opposite for calling for a quorum.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I wish to refer particularly to comments made in the urban areas on the question of some farmers paying income tax. While it may be a forlorn hope, I hope that in relation to this issue, which is one of budgetary strategy and social justice, Fianna Fáil will not play politics. I have every expectation, noting particularly what the leader of the Opposition said in his budget contribution, that when the reform of the income tax system includes certain elements of some farmers' incomes, the leader of the opposition to this move will be the former Taoiseach who will yell “blue murder,” ably supported by Deputy Colley and every Fianna Fáil backbencher. They will try to make great political capital out of it. I have no [2277] idea when the change will come but I am convinced that it must and will come in time. I would emphasise to the Opposition that Deputy Colley was well aware, as a former Minister for Finance, and the former Taoiseach Deputy Lynch is also aware, that they had been studying at Cabinet level— and they had plenty of information from senior staff in the Department of Finance—an equitable system of taxation for farmers who should be paying income tax but it is typical of the hypocrisy of Fianna Fáil that they had not the nerve to do it. If Fianna Fáil had been returned to power I think they would have done this because that was the intention of Deputy Lynch and Deputy Colley. Needless to remark, now that they are in Opposition they will never own up to having such intentions.

I was amused at the crocodile tears shed by Deputy Lynch regarding this matter. At column 1414 of the Official Report dated 17th May, 1973, he stated:

Children's allowances have been increased for everybody, rich and poor alike. The cost of this scheme is £20 million in a full year, whereas our proposals would have limited increases in children's allowances to those who most needed them, for example, those earning £32 per week with four or less children in family and to those earning £40 per week in the case of six-children families, and with similar arrangements for farmers.

I like the phrase “with similar arrangements for farmers”. There is the rub because certainly the former Taoiseach had every intention of operating a clawback in relation to children's allowances.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The former Taoiseach never suggested that. The similar arrangements for farmers relate to the valuation provisions.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The logical corollary is that there should be a form of income tax for farmers. I am not going to argue whether it should have been done on the £50 PLV basis or on any other basis. I am convinced there is a good deal of information on the matter in the Department of Finance. In case [2278] I may be accused of having inside information from the Department, I shall quote from the Dairy News of 4 May, 1973, where it is stated:

Senior civil servants in the Department of Finance have been pressing for the introduction of a farmers' taxation system for some time, with the idea of replacing the present rating system for farmers by a straight income tax system.

I am not competent to deal with the question of income tax for farmers either on a rating or a children's allowance basis because I do not have the data but I know that a section of the farming community should be paying their fair share of tax. I do not know how one might devise this tax but they should be paying their fair share on farm profits.

There must be equity between the different sections of the community in relation to taxation. All wage and salary earners are liable for income tax. I suggest that a substantial section of farmers—perhaps 15 or 20 per cent— are in excess of the current tax limits of £8.60 weekly for a single person, £14.30 for a married person and £17.30 for a married person with one child. I challenge Fianna Fáil to state if they are prepared to support proposals for the introduction of a fair and reasonable system of income tax. I appreciate there are serious anomalies in the PLV system, that county by county the structure could be regarded as chaotic, but many of the anomalies could be ironed out by the Revenue Commissioners in an equitable system of assessment.

We have heard loud pleas from certain quarters, particularly from some IFA spokesman, that farmers are crucified by rates but, as a ratepayer in an urban area, the son of a small farmer from north Cork, I have not any anti-farmer bias. However, 77 per cent of the land in this country is derated and I do not think the argument made by certain people holds up. The total amount of rates paid by the farming community—and urban workers paying income tax also pay rates—is about £12 million or £13 million per year out of a total farm income which this year has been [2279] estimated by the Economic and Social Research Institute at £310 million. Farm income for last year increased by 35 per cent. All these facts are inescapable.

In any future re-assessment of budgetary strategy we will have to take these facts into account. I am not expert enough to suggest it should be on a £50 PLV basis. I am simply saying there should be equity in the system because clearly it is unjust that a farm worker should have to pay income tax on every £1 in excess of £8.60 for a single person while his employer does not pay income tax.

It will be said that farmers have to pay other kinds of direct and indirect taxation by way of VAT. The simple answer is that everyone has to pay it and special pleading by the farmers on this point does not wash. As a salary earner in Dublin I do not begrudge the farmers the tremendous increase in their incomes in the last two or three years. Good luck to them and let us hope their incomes will increase further, but I suggest to the leaders of farming organisations that their reaction to this proposal shows a lack of concern for those who have to pay the full burden of income tax. Indeed, I would make the point, as somebody who pays income tax, that last year wage and salary earners paid £120 million in income tax. They also paid rates on the houses in which they lived.

The point must be made in relation to the farming community—the fact that it is made from the Government benches gives no licence to Fianna Fáil to go careering around the country talking at chapel gates because there are now a lot of people at chapel gates who are not particularly susceptible to that sort of propaganda —as Deputy FitzGerald said, that in 1972 there was an increase of 35 per cent in farmers' incomes and that it is likely that in 1973 there will be an increase of between 20 and 25 per cent; quite a substantial increase of something like 50 per cent in two years. This is quite phenomenal in Ireland. Anybody who seeks this data can have it readily from the Economic and Social Research Institute. [2280] The increases farmers have got are not begrudged by any politician. They were badly needed. This Government decided to give an extra £11 million in farmers' credits this year—we have increased the resources available to the ACC by that amount. These increases should be borne in mind by the farming community in coming years.

Earlier I thought that if I had any fault to find with the Minister for Finance's budget it was that he presented a good budget badly. The presentation of it was not the greatest. There was, perhaps, a rush into the budget—only a couple of months to get all the strings pulled together. It was quite a good budget with £40 million for social welfare.

Again, an area in which the budget presentation was not the greatest was in regard to benefits for the middle income group. To judge by the whine from the Fianna Fáil benches one would imagine that every person in the middle income group was being crucified by the budget. This is simply not so. I gave a figure earlier that the average weekly earnings of industrial workers in this country amount to £34. Let us be quite blunt about it that everybody earning up to £3,000 gross on average keeps his children's allowances. There are a hell of a number of people whom one might call lower middle income group people who earn between £34 a week and £3,000 a year. They retain their children's allowances.

Perhaps the use of the word “net” by the Minister for Finance in the budget is now becoming clear—that it is net after the normal allowances given by the Revenue Commissioners have been taken into account. Unfortunately from the point of view of those who draft the budget there would have been considerable difficulty in using a gross figure. Quite rightly the Minister pointed out that a person may earn considerably more than £2,500 a year and still enjoy the full benefit of existing income tax allowances, and the increased children's allowance benefits. For instance, there can be added to the £2,500, allowable medical expenses subject to a £50 limit, repayments on [2281] contracts, medical insurance premiums and social welfare contributions. These all amount to a substantial sum.

For example, I as a Dáil Deputy living precariously on £2,500 a year get my allowances in respect of my three children. I get an extra £4.50 or £4.75 a month which brings up my children's allowances to £8.75 a month. My wife collects this at the local post office in Kilmacud. She regards it as her money. As a Dáil Deputy I do not pay any tax. One thousand pounds of my £2,500 is tax free which makes me liable for £1,500. I do not regard myself as being lower income group, as a low paid worker, relatively speaking. With the allowances I have for my £3,000 mortgage on which I get income tax relief on repayments, I have a bank overdraft as a result of successive general elections and I get income tax relief on it as a middle income group person. I am a voluntary contributor to social insurance and I get income tax relief on that, and I am pleased to inform the House that I do not pay any income tax.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  Will the Deputy tell us about his investments?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I thank the Minister for Finance profusely for giving me an extra £4.50 a month, roughly £1 a week, in children's allowances.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  We were not talking about badly paid people like the Deputy. We were talking about well paid people who get children's allowances.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Some of the nonsense talked about the children's allowances and the £2,500 deserves to be knocked on the head. Not only do people by and large retain their children's allowance but middle income group people benefit from estate duty concessions. The exemption limit for the purposes of estate duty has been increased from £7,500 to £10,000. Who benefits from this? It is not the lower income group in society. The widow's abatement has been raised from £2,000 to £4,000 and the dependant child [2282] abatement has been raised to £2,000 from £1,000. These are quite substantial.

Therefore, some of the arguments made are not correct and I should like to emphasise this in regard to the Fianna Fáil attack on the budget. There is another point in relation to the alleged poverty being imposed on the middle income group by the budget. Who benefits most from the rates remission? It is the middle income group. The differential rents system is so mad that the average local authority tenants do not benefit so much. They certainly get benefits from it but not in proportion to the benefits available to the middle income group.

Therefore, the arguments put forward by Fianna Fáil in relation to children's allowances, rates and estate duty to the effect that the middle income group are being crucified is a lot of hogwash which should not in any circumstances be accepted by the community. Another point I would make in relation to Fianna Fáil's attack on the budget is rather important and I would conclude on this note. Fianna Fáil seem to be under the impression that one of the promises made by the Coalition Government was that we would support the idea of the transmission of property without any taxation whatever.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  That is a nice term.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The handing over of property without taxation.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  That is what they promised.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Wait until he explains it for you. On death.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  As a socialist and as a person who is concerned about the gross mal-distribution of wealth, whereby 70 per cent of the wealth is owned by 5 per cent of the community, I think there should be no objection and that that tax should be reduced substantially on the passing of property to members of one's immediate family. I see no great objection to that as a socialist. The incidence of taxation in this area should be reduced.

I have an absolute objection to the [2283] passing of property from any one individual to another individual, with no taxation involved, where it is outside the family circle. There was no commitment whatsoever on the part of the National Coalition Government —nor should there be ever any commitment on the part of any Government—to the transmission of property without any taxation when the property goes outside the immediate family. If we were to set a national policy of that kind in train, we would be setting up a tax-free haven for international speculators who could regard Ireland as a tax-free personal wealth accumulation area. That would be dreadful.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  On a point of clarification, the commitment was a simple one—the abolition of death duties.

Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins:  To direct heirs.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am dealing with the broad issue of taxation.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I am dealing with the precise promise the Deputy does not seem to remember.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The truly benighted or bewigged member of—is it the Inner Bar or the Outer Bar?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  There should be no personal remarks.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am not being personal. I congratulate the Deputy. I gather he will be able to charge a higher fee. I know very little about this area.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We should not enter into things which are personal.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I congratulate him. There is nothing like security of employment. We must have an adequate property capital tax structure. If we had we would prevent the accumulation of property in far too few hands. The Government have an obligation to do this.

[2284] I would contrast this very sharply with the views of Deputy Haughey, the man who invented the year of the low-paid workers in 1969, the man who in 1970, before he fell off his horse wrote this:

A genuine and widespread feeling of social concern is the hallmark of a humane and civilised society. It obliges us to see that the poor, the sick, the unemployed and the aged get as big an income increase as can be afforded.

Deputy Haughey marched into Leinster House this week and said:

I do not think a capital gains tax is in any way appropriate to our situation for reasons which I have given from time to time. I look with great distrust on the suggestions about a wealth tax.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Would the Deputy give the source of the quotation?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Column 1660 of the Official Report of 22nd May. Are we now to have a total rejection of a capital gains tax from the Fianna Fáil Party by the only decent economic brain they have?

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  It is one more than you have.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Deputy Haughey is violently opposed to a capital gains tax and completely opposed to a wealth tax and yet, the party of the middle ground in Irish politics, the party who happen to have the happy knack of being all things to all men at all times, are opposed to what I would regard as the wealth tax which will come in the White Paper which the Minister for Finance has promised and which the Government are working on in this post-budget period.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I hope it is not like the February promises.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It is coming. I suggest that the wealth tax which should be introduced, and which will be introduced, will get rid of the notorious devices which are open to the wealthy to avoid payment of [2285] estate duty. Deputy Fitzgerald made a cryptic comment in reply to Deputy Haughey when he stated his objections and pointed out the well-known statistic, which, ironically, is fully supported by Professor Paddy Lyons, a member of the Fianna Fáil Party in Trinity College and who did a study of this quite recently, that 72 per cent of the wealth of the country is owned by 5 per cent of the community.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Did Deputy Crowley not inform you where the bulk of it is now?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Deputy Haughey does not want a wealth tax under any circumstances.

Mr. R.P. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Deputy Crowley answered you.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I suggest to the Minister for Finance—and I am no expert on this—that estate duty should be replaced by a wealth tax or a capital receipt tax. That tax together with the capital gains tax would make a real contribution towards the elimination of the extremes of wealth which manifest themselves. With due respect to Deputy Burke, it is utter hypocrisy for Deputy Dowling, an erstwhile trade unionist, an erstwhile CIE Inchicore worker, to come in here bleeding his heart out for the workers of CIE, while he drives a Mercedes around the city and does very well, thank you very much, because the kind of income taxation changes which should be made do not apply to Deputies who mouth from the Fianna Fáil benches on behalf of lower-paid workers but who are quite prepared to use the system so long as it is there for them to use it to accumulate their own wealth in their own way. What is sauce for the Fianna Fáil goose is sauce for the Government gander and let us have it on both sides.

Deputy Haughey with his amazing capacity, his tremendous capacity, for picking the right word found the strategy of the budget rather bizarre and, as he said lacking in directional supports, whatever that means. At the same time he made no suggestion about where we might have adopted an alternative [2286] policy in any area of taxation. Deputy Haughey is getting rather conservative in his old age. He is opposed to a wealth tax. He is opposed to a capital gains tax. For the man who brought in turnover tax that is a very considerable change in reaction. He went on to say:

It would be very foolish and unwise to make any radical alterations in our system of company taxation at this point in time when we might have to change it again in a couple of years' time because of EEC directives and regulations.

Anybody who knows anything about EEC draft directives and draft regulations, and who knows the current confused state of the draft regulations relating to company taxation, must know that we are talking in the context of 1983 and not 1973 before Ireland would begin to harmonise in that direction.

With respect, I suggest to Deputy Haughey that he wants no change until such time as Deputy Jack Lynch appoints him shadow spokesman on Finance, and he might once again in the distant future become Minister for Finance. I believe that privilege will be denied to him. That is not to deny the immense capacity and the immense competence of Deputy Haughey in that area.

There have been slightly disturbing reactions in this House and elsewhere to certain budgetary provisions in regard to social welfare. It is what the Yanks describe as the “anti-poverty backlash”. If one hands out £40 million one always finds those who scream blue murder because they get nothing out of it. Fianna Fáil exploit this. There are those who have reservations about money going to deserted wives. I have met people in my constituency who have reservations about the provision for unmarried mothers. One always meets these people. They are not necessarily lacking in charity, but there is a certain moral righteousness; because they have never been unemployed, sick, deprived or victimised they find it hard to understand why they should contribute so that the Government may give those who are victims £40 million. Not only will we [2287] have to change people's attitudes towards taxation but we will also have to change their social attitudes. Having heard some of the reactions to the social welfare allocations, I am not altogether convinced that our community is as Christian as it is alleged to be.

For 16 solid years nothing was done to help unmarried mothers. Under the Fianna Fáil Government the unmarried mother who kept her child got the princely sum of 12p per week to help her look after her child. Officially there are—I have reservations about the particular statistic—2,000 illegitimate children born each year. It is true the unmarried mother could, if she went on her knees to the home assistance officer, get from him £5 per week, but all she had as of right until the advent of this budget was 12p per week or 50p per month under the system of children's allowances. We can congratulate the Minister on having remedied that shocking situation. The mother of an illegitimate child will now get £8 per week. This is some measure of the change that has occurred. The unmarried mother is in a minority. Unmarried mothers probably do not even bother to vote; they are too busy looking after their children. They are not a power bloc. The provision made for these in this budget is due not just to the Government but to an awakening to some extent of the national conscience.

I would remind Deputy Colley that the social welfare increases in this budget have been phenomenal. In 1970-71 there was an increase of £12.1 million. In 1971-72 it increased to £83 million and in 1973-74 it has gone up by £7.5 million to £91 million and, in 1974-75, it will be something in the region of £145 million, an increase of over £53 million in social welfare. This increase is welcomed by all. With all due respect to Deputy Haughey, the improvement in social welfare in his 1970 budget was a mere £5.3 million—for the care of the aged £250,000 and £100,000 for conservation. This Government are spending the moneys available as a result of the savings on agricultural subsidies very wisely indeed; it has [2288] added another £11 million for social welfare and introduced several major improvements. There are those who may talk about “tricks of the loop” but I think we will have to do the trick again next year and go on making major improvements. We must constantly remind the electorate of the special obligation to the mentally ill, the handicapped, the retarded, the sick, the unemployed and deprived children. I hope all these will be the particular concern of this Government in the years ahead.

The Fianna Fáil Government neglected one very vital area of our economy and I am glad to note that the Minister for Finance intends to take a fresh look at this particular area. I refer to our natural resources of oil, of gas and of minerals. These resources have so far been a foreign interest. I would like to delve deeply into the arrangements between respective Ministers in Fianna Fáil and these foreign based companies.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Deputy might be amazed at what he would find out about present Ministers.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I shall be fearless.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Do not just express a wish: go ahead and do it.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  There is need for a through examination of the position. Several years ago the British Government saw fit to commission— they did it again in 1972—a good deal of work into the area of oil and gas exploration off the coast and in the North Sea. This is an area of economic development which should have the special attention of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce and, in the sense of conservation, of the Minister for Local Government.

The scale of operations now proceeding on the Irish Continental Shelf is quite immense. It is far outside the experience of anything that this country has witnessed in economic development. I make that point strongly to this House in the context of royalties and of agreements reached [2289] between companies, and in the context of the budget policy of the Government itself. The output in the North Sea at the moment is already roughly equivalent to the whole production of Canada. It is suggested by current estimates that production within the next five or six years will be two to three million barrels a day from the North Sea alone.

We must not fail to exploit this major resource. In Scotland there have been tremendous developments. I wish to bring this to the attention of the Minister for the Gaeltacht, who is in the House at the moment. The advent of off-shore oil and gas exploration off Scotland, a country similar in many respects to this country, has brought 5,000 new jobs to that country. By 1976 Scotland expects to have 12,000 persons engaged in ancillary industries off her shores.

There is a tremendous amount of secondary employment available from such industry. The current target of the IDA is something in the region of 12,000 jobs. Scotland hopes to be able to get 12,000 jobs by 1976. The Government should take action in this area. We are in a particularly valnerable position because as yet we have taken no decisions of any wide character in this matter. We will be subject to pressures from the EEC. I will quote the statement of M. Spaak, of the European Energy Commission, speaking at a seminar on North Sea oil and gas in 1972, who said:

It is believed that it would be in the interest of the Community and perhaps consistent with the rules of the Common Market that if preemptive rights were to exist they should be in favour of the Community rather than in favour of the national State.

Fianna Fáil have much to answer for if this comes about. We can see the implications here. If this policy were initiated, bearing in mind that two of the most powerful states in Europe —Germany and France—have very small areas of oil and gas exploration, Ireland within the EEC could be crucified if we have not got our own national policy and national legislation in operation as quickly as [2290] possible. If we have not, we will finish up as hostages to the EEC with the other nations of The Nine demanding entry rights off the Irish Continental Shelf. Quite frankly, I do not think that much interest is being taken in this at national level at the moment. There is a vast area open to exploitation on the Continental Shelf of this country, particularly off the Cork coast. Towns like Ballycotton, Cobh, and towns represented by Deputy G. Fitzgerald could become boom areas if we develop and exploit our potential in that area as we should. This is urgently necessary.

I will finish up on an entirely personal note—looking for my Dáil salary increase. Having spoken for one and three quarter hours, I am entitled to make at least one observation in this regard. The first thing one can do about the proposed Oireachtas increases is to welcome them, at least from 1st July next. For small mercies, at least we should be grateful. I am speaking here personally, but I share the criticism of those Deputies who reacted unfavourably towards the decision of the Minister that the increases should be paid from 1st July.

I have not received any justifiable reason for the setting aside of the clear-cut recommendations of the Devlin Review Body and for the setting aside of the recommendations of the National Employer Labour Conference.

On 3rd February, 1971, the Fianna Fáil Party referred the pay levels of certain civil servants, local authority members, members of health boards, the Judiciary, the Government and Deputies, to the Devlin Review Body. This had to be done because all the groups referred to are outside the scope of the national conciliation and arbitration schemes. Incidentally, the salaries of the chief executives of State-sponsored bodies were also sent to this body. I gave evidence before that body on behalf of the Labour Party. I recall clearly a recommendation for a salary and Dáil allowance of £3,400 per annum, including a national salary element of about [2291] £2,440. That body also recommended that, because Deputies had not received any increase since 9th July, 1968, the increases should apply from 11th July, 1972. Following the publication of the report in September, 1972, the Fianna Fáil Party decided to refer the whole lot again to the National Employer Labour Conference.

Deputy Colley's decision was wise. One could have taken the bull by the horns and implemented the Devlin report, but I think the Deputy was correct in sending the recommendations off to the National Employer/Labour Conference. I saw the wisdom in this, because that body is composed of an equal number of employers and trade union representatives. They said to the Government that if the 12th round had been fully applied and if the first half of the 13th round had been fully applied the Dáil salary would have been about £3,029 from January, 1972, with a further increase from the middle of 1972, and in 1973 another 4 per cent increase and also 60p per week as a cost of living escalator increase. This gives a gross figure of £3,400 and an increase of approximately £900 per annum. It was all very clear-cut. The National Employer/Labour Conference were not called upon to decide whether the current salaries were fair and reasonable. All the National Employer/ Labour Conference were asked to decide was whether or not the proposed increase were in accordance with the national agreement and they ruled that they were. Therefore, technically one could argue that from January, 1972 —but certainly from July, 1972—one was entitled to a proporation of the increase. It is quite indefensible that July, 1973, should have been decided upon. I say this with due respect to my collangues in Government. I know there is an element of chagrin in the Fianna Fáil Party. It is difficult to work up any sympathy with Deputy Colley who shilly-shallied about it and got a terrible kick up the transom, finding himself out of office having failed to bring about the increase in time. However, I find it hard to stomach the fact that members of the judiciary, of the public service, of local authorities, [2292] health boards, et cetera, get the appropriate retrospective dates while I, as a Dáil Deputy, for some reason or other am denied this. I make the point strongly to the Government that what was sauce for the public service ganders should also be sauce for the geese in Dáil Éireann. This should have been applied. As a former trade union official I would regard myself, if I had to make a case before the Labour Court, extremely confident for once of defeating the Minister for Finance under the anomalies clause of the national wage agreement. The Bill is not yet published and perhaps the Government may decide in their wisdom, to have a second look at it.

I can fully understand the reason why the Fianna Fáil Government would not implement the Devlin Report but I do not understand the reason for failing to implement the Employer/Labour Conference recommendations. May I make a plea to the current occupant of the front bench to put in a good word for us? I shall leave it at that, having, at least for one evening, attempted to earn my money as shop steward for Deputies in Leinster House.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  I hope the Deputy's representations are successful.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Deputy Desmond has made a determined attempt to earn his money this afternoon. Both he and Deputy Dowling have engaged in marathon contributions. I do not expect to imitate their performance. I think Deputy Desmond, not just in his final remarks, raised some important questions.

The first thing I should like to say derives from a statement in the Minister's budget speech. He said quite clearly and precisely:

Every citizen will benefit from this budget.

This is where this budget has failed. It has set out to convey the impression that there is something in it for everybody. Deputy Desmond is a little disappointed by the reaction of the public that we are all called upon to pay—he has interpreted the public reaction in this way—particularly the [2293] middle income group. It is reasonable enough that they should have reacted in that way because of the clear statement in, and the whole trend and tone of, the Minister's speech and the impression which he tried to create. The Minister's speech on many occasions confirmed that this budget represented the fulfilment of the National Coalition Government's commitments. This reference returns again and again in the budget speech.

It is important to recognise that a budget should not necessarily be looked upon as the fulfilment of any party's commitments but when a party or parties take it upon themselves to make commitments beyond their reach, indeed, beyond the reach of any nation, one can understand that when they present a budget of this type there will be disappointment. It is all very well for Deputy Desmond to say that it is a good budget but that it was badly presented. I do not mean he was referring to the actual presentation by the Minister, through there seemed to be some implication of that type there too, but he meant that the “goodies” are there but for the same reason the Minister did not present the “goodies” to the public. That is all very well but in fact a budget is not just about “goodies” and this is where this Coalition have made a mistake. They have assumed that the public are looking for “goodies” and in their endeavour to provide those “goodies” to every citizen they have fallen between all the stools. The consequence is that they have not satisfied any section of the community.

Deputy Dowling pointed out many sections of the community who were dissatisfied. The significant thing is that they are so widely representative of diverse groups within our community. There was the Confederation of Irish Industry saying that a major opportunity was lost. There was the president of the Irish Farmers Association expressing strong disapproval of what he termed a broken promise. There were the trade union representatives wondering where the benefits were. Every section of the community have been looking at this budget and saying: “Where is there in this [2294] budget what all of us had been led to expect would be in it?” When you try to please all the people you succeed in pleasing nobody. It is impossible and I on the Opposition side say now what we would say and have said in Government, to provide “goodies” for all the public on the basis on which the Coalition attempted to imply that they would. It is wrong morally, socially and economically to give the impression that a budget will be something entirely new, entirely different, something that will create a great new element of social awareness which hitherto has not existed.

Here I should like to point to another aspect in this budget. Apparently the Minister and the Government were absolutely obsessed with the nation—and this has been a characteristic of this Government since they have come in—of conveying the impression that what was being done here was, in their own words, a total transformation, that they were leaving behind the bad years, years of lack of social awareness, years of, shall we say, Fianna Fáil concern for the rich and lack of concern for the poor? The last sentence of the Minister's speech reads, and I quote:

In sum, I feel that the proposals in today's budget will contribute to the transformation of our country into a progressive society based on social justice.

Those are strong words and their implications are very clear. According to the Minister's statement our country needed a total transformation; it was anything but a progressive society and was not based on social justice. When a Minister sets out to achieve that overnight in any budget he is being untrue to the past and he is creating an impossible target for himself in the present. Towards the end of his speech the Minister said also and I quote from column 1285 of the Dáil Debates for the 16th May:

In the social welfare field, it provides the impressive improvements I have described which represent a major move towards creating the socially-just State which the National Coalition Government is determined to build.

[2295] Was there no such thing as any awareness of a socially-just State before the coming into office of the National Coalition Government? Had Fianna Fáil no such concern? Had we to wait for this budget to effect the transformation that will bring about this new era of social justice and reform? Is it not surprising that the level of public disappointment has been so great when a Minister endeavours to convey that this budget is such a strikingly effective and single agency of a total change in our society and when he has misled so many people—I am not saying he misled them internationally—by this implication? Of course, he has failed to live up to his own expectations.

To borrow a phrase from Deputy Desmond, the budget is supposed to have set out to have “some sauce for every goose”. From the reactions that have been expressed, not by the Fianna Fáil, but by the representative organisations, it seems that the budget has not provided sauce for any goose. It is futile for the Government to say now that it is unreasonable of these various representative groups to have such reaction to a budget that benefits every one of them. It is significant particularly that the Minister for Education should have said that the result of the Presidential Election was a stunning blow in that it seemed to represent an unwillingness on the part of the public to have social reform implemented. I question the right of any Minister to imply that before the introduction of this budget there was no awareness of social reform and, secondly, I consider the Minister's remark to have been a rather peevish reaction to the people's decision in the Presidential Election.

The Minister seemed to imply that the Government, an enlightened social Government who wish to implement many social reforms, have been told that maybe the people are a little too conservative for the time being and that the Government should not be so socially conscious. The decision of the people in the Presidential Election represented no such view on their part. Indeed, the people have a strong sense of social awareness and not one that was discovered during the week that [2296] the budget was introduced nor, indeed, that was discovered at the time of the introduction of any budget in the past.

It is wrong for a member of the Government to suggest that because of a decision taken by the people at an election that awareness is not in existence. What is plain is that the people were rejecting the Coalition proposals in the manner in which they were put to them but, of course, at the same time the people were acknowledging the worth of the man whom they elected. They were being asked by the Coalition Government to effect the culmination of the Coalition success by electing their candidate to the Presidency. In the people's view the proposals presented to them in the budget attempted to benefit those who did not require benefit while others were being asked to pay, perhaps, a little too much.

I would have thought that a budget speech should not be concerned with political propaganda. Each of us is as vulnerable as the other in this regard but no Government should have to justify themselves in their budget speech. No Minister for Finance should have to say that this is the Fine Gael plus Labour policy which is now defined clearly in one speech. That is not the function of a budget because policy is determined over a number of years and is not something that emerges only at the time of the introduction of any budget. When financial analysts both here and elsewhere consider this budget I wonder what will be their reaction to it. What will be their reaction when, for instance, they read that in accordance with the National Coalition's announced intentions, substantial increase are being provided in this budget as a first step towards implementing their comprehensive programme. I wonder what will be their reaction when they read, as reported at column 1253 of the Dáil Debates of the 16th May, that:

The pre-election statements of the National Coalition Government made it clear that financial provision would be made in this budget for improving and extending the [2297] social welfare and health services. I am happy to say that the steps which we are taking in fulfilment of this commitment exceed anything ever before done in this field in a single budget.

Nobody would dispute the statement that what is being provided by way of increases in social welfare allowances is in excess of anything given in any previous budget but is this a matter over which the Government are to gloat? Are the Coalition to say, because of the extra money available as a result of our membership of the EEC, that these increases are an indication of a social awareness which did not exist in Fianna Fáil policy? If that is so, the Government underestimate the intelligence of the people. All of us know, and perhaps the Labour Party will admit reluctantly, that the money was there from the beginning of this year in so far as there was a saving in our marketing aids, particularly to agriculture. The money was not there before and could only become available after membership because it was not necessary to apply marketing aids in EEC conditions. Page 104 of the Estimates, with particular reference to subheads E. 1 to E. 7, indicates clearly that that sum which, in one part of his speech, the Minister acknowledges as having been saved, is saved to the present Government. That is a sum in excess of £30 million. It is clear, too, from this publication of the Minister's that the sum did not arise until we were members of the EEC. That being so how could the money have been spent by Fianna Fáil before the 1st January, or did we spent it in a mad rush, apparently, between the 1st January and the date of the announcement of the general election? That sort of announcement has done little service to the Minister and shows a lack of awareness by the Government of the intelligence of the people.

Some of his quasi-partners from the Labour Party, in a fit of enthusiasm during the Presidential Election campaign, went further and said we had spent the money. It was not there anyway; we spent it last year, in the view of some of them. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said that what [2298] was achieved in the budget in relation to social welfare was something that if nothing else was done in his lifetime would give him satisfaction as a Deputy, that he was a member of the Government that introduced this vast increase. Are we not listening to the greatest prattling of all time when a Minister of a government would say that when all of us know that, despite the best efforts of the Labour Party, that money was committed, probably over-committed, by all parties before the last election. We all knew that money was there to be spent, and it was just a question of how we would spend it. The great difference is what Fianna Fáil would have done with that money if in government and what the Coalition Government have done. This is the only issue between us. Let us not hear from any other Government speaker, Minister or Deputy, any plaudits for themselves for spending money that some of them worked so hard to ensure would not be there.

To come back to the point I am making, it is not right to look to a budget for too much. The business of the Government goes on, the education policy, the provision of buildings for education. The semi-State bodies will continue to operate irrespective of who is in government. Much of the money provided for in this budget and in the Estimates is committed in any event. The vast proportion of it will require to be found irrespective of who is in government, irrespective of what budget is introduced. Therefore, when Deputy B. Desmond, for instance, says he is glad a certain amount is being provided for buildings and education, for pensions in CIE and so on, what, in fact, he is saying is that he is glad to know the business of government is continueing in this country. Otherwise we would stop every year at budget time and say: “Now we are going to review our total policy on education. We may not build any buildings. We may not provide any salaries. We may not do anything. We will have a good look at this budget and start all over again”. Of course, it is not like that.

Therefore, when we look at the budget for indications of the Government's thinking on social welfare, we [2299] are looking at the additional taxation and the additional benefits required. We are not looking at the bulk of the expenditure or benefits, and it is a credit neither to the Government nor to the Opposition when they were in government that certain moneys were being provided for any particular development in excess of anything provided previously. In most cases these moneys have to be provided.

However, it is in the areas of change that one can clearly see what a budget is achieving or is failing to achieve. There is a definite difference between what the Minister for Finance has done in this budget and what would have been done if a Fianna Fáil Minister had been presenting the budget. In the first instance, the Coalition Government committed themselves to certain changes which they presented after fairly rushed meetings together here in this House when the general election had been announced. It was then it was decided, irrespective of what the consequences would be, to offer to the Irish people the carrot of VAT off food. It was then it was decided to provide the rates relief in the form in which it is provided, as distinct from what Fianna Fáil would have done. It was then, incidentally, it was decided to abolish death duties. Here let me remind Deputy B. Desmond, who is now absent, that there is a great difference between abolishing death duties and abolishing the stamp duty payable on the transfer of a holding from one person to another.

It was then these things were decided for a particular purpose. That was fair enough, but it seems even clearer now than it did then that the effect of what was being decided was not considered. I am not blaming the Coalition parties that they did not have the benefit of much research in this matter. What I am blaming them for is, first, that they made these extravagant promises; secondly, that now they are endeavouring to introduce a budget which has a little of everything and nothing of significance. As a result, a pattern has been set in the budget which will not be of benefit to the community and will [2300] not benefit the country economically or socially.

Take the proposal to remove VAT off food. When that was first suggested we were told it would be replaced on luxury items. In the course of a general election campaign it will not do to say: “We will take it off food and put it on cloths.” You have to say you will take it off food and put it on luxury items. You talk in terms of introducing a wealth tax, because that means you tax the people who are very wealthy—and we all agree with that—and you do not tax the rest of us. Therefore, talking in terms of a wealth tax is trying to appeal to everybody without having the courage to tell anybody: “You may be included, too, to some extent.” When the VAT proposal was put forward the people were not told except by the present Opposition, that the tax would have to be put on something else, and it has been proved now that it must be put on the something else. I shall come back to that again.

What has not been proved to the Government yet is that by taking VAT off food they may allow to escape from the tax net some of the people that the Government, and the Opposition, are concerned should pay their full share, some of the big shopkeepers, the supermarket people, those who, with VAT on food, have no way of evading paying their just share of their income tax, and there are many such around the country. With VAT gone off food, I wonder how the Revenue Commissioners will get the same clear, precise information of what the income of these gentlemen is. They can always go back to 1972-73 when they had information and assess these shopkeepers on that basis. I am not saying that supermarket owners or shopkeepers are any different from the rest of us, but many of the people who rushed to the Revenue Commissioners—and the Minister's advisers can confirm this—to settle their claims over the past few years as a result of the fact that they were found out in this last year, will not be rushing this year or the year after, and maybe what is being lost in removing VAT from food will only [2301] be part of the total loss to the Exchequer.

The buoyancy which the Minister hopes for in 1973-74 may, to some extent, be affected by the fact that a number of these fish will not now have to swim because there is no net there for them. I hope the Minister has some way of ensuring that they, like the rest of us, will have the opportunity of paying their just share of income tax which was guaranteed under a VAT system. When this system was removed from food there was no such guarantee.

Deputy Desmond asked in relation to children's allowance, what Fianna Fáil would have done in this regard. I would have thought that it has been said so often that it was not necessary to repeat it. We would have left VAT on food and not transferred it to other items thereby making a considerable saving. We would not have applied children's allowance as it has been applied. We announced before how we would have applied it. We would not have applied it right across the board. With regard to rates relief we would have applied this in a different way.

I would have thought that our proposals were clearly stated in this House, and prior to the election, and are known to the Minister for Finance and the members of the present Government. When one talks in terms of taxation and the application of benefits one is talking only in terms of certain elements of the budget. It is the policy of a Government throughout the year that determines basically what the expenditure in that budget will be, what the sums required in the Estimates will be. I can give one example of where a Government can themselves create an impetus towards inflation by referring to the Estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs which was introduced in this House recently. The Minister for Foregin Affairs, in the course of his speech, went into some detail to indicate that he thought it was appropriate that we should open up new embassies in various areas. Apparently, as I understood him, this was to be done for political reasons, [2302] though it would be no harm if trade benefits were to be derived also.

That is all very fine, but when one looks at the cost to this nation of maintaining these embassies and providing salaries for those we already have in the foreign service, one sees immediately that it is grandiose nations such as that which create the pressure on a Government which in turn creates the inflation by which we are all so imprisoned. The total cost of our representatives abroad, for salaries, wages and allowances alone, is something short of £2 million. This means that, before any Government comes to a decision to open up a new embassy in a country, they should have a long, cold look at it. Once they open it they cannot close it because it is taken as a diplomatic affront. The Government should look to see what expenditure is involved before deciding upon any new embassies.

Wages and salaries in our embassy in London—I am not saying but that this money was well earned, well spent and well applied was almost £125,000. The European Communities in Brussels cost between £256,000 and £257,000. In Paris, the cost was £63,500. In this regard a Government must be consistent. We cannot have the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the one hand, saying that we should consider opening up relations with various countries with whom we have not had political association without recognising, at the same time, that it is going to mean more money in the Book of Estimates, more taxes to be levied and, possibly, another spur to the rapid inflation we have in this country.

Government policy in every area— in education, agriculture and social services—is what determines the bulk of what happens in the budget. The budget proposals deal with the tip of the iceberg only, the peripheral matters that we regard as being characteristic of the annual budget. The Minister for Education—and we have not heard very much from him in this area—has not produced any overall policy in regard to education. We have heard a lot of brave new [2303] ventures in regard to the reopening of Dún Chaoin and his reaction to popular suggestions but nothing of the Government's overall policy in regard to education. Somebody will have to make decisions from time to time.

I should like to know, for instance, where we stand in relation to community schools. If this policy is not to be implemented what will the alternative cost? Have the Government informed the Irish people that, if their policy in relation to education is to cost more, the people will have to pay more for it in the next budget? These are the things about which we will have to hear from the Government and which will be the test of the Government's policies.

Apart from being a regulator on the direction of our economy and a control on spending and on the trends of our economy, the budget has become in recent years an indication of the social awareness and the imagination of the Government in office. This is as it should be because in providing certain types of services the Government can give an indication as to how it is developing—I do not say transforming—the social services that all of us recognise to be so important. Because of the pattern established in the past five years one looks for new ideas and a realistic human awareness in a budget of this sort. Budgets in recent years introduced new ideas which did not cost all that much but which created an awareness in the Irish community of the need to provide certain services and also activated a sense of social awareness.

There was a change some years ago from the pattern of simply increasing pensions to introducing free services. This was a marked change in our approach to social welfare benefits. Free electricity was granted to certain people and this provided a basic domestic social comfort for many people who might not otherwise have it. Free travel, which was laughed at at the time, has also benefited the old people and enabled them to move about from their own sheltered environment. Pensioners who were catered for [2304] by prescribed relatives were also granted an increase. This was something simple but effective in that it encouraged daughters or other relatives to return home to look after old age pensioners. The granting of free television licences to old age pensioners, although some might consider that it was of little significance, proved to be of great help to this section of the community.

All these little things stirred the imagination of the public when those budgets were introduced by the Fianna Fáil Government. In this budget there are a number of similar ideas but I think the Government Party will have to recognise that they have not stirred the imagination of the public to say “Here is something new; here is something imaginative”.

We all tend to become a little hidebound by what has happened in previous budgets and so what is introduced in one budget is often an improvement on what was in the previous budget. We talk particularly —and rightly so—of widows, orphans and old age pensioners. We have a proper concern for widows. There are widows aged 55 or 60 living on their own but we also have—and this is sometimes forgotten because there was not the tragedy of a death involved— spinsters aged 55 or 60 living alone whose social condition is precisely the same in many ways as that of widows whose husbands died 25 or 30 years before. Do we, therefore, conclude that before you qualify for special benefit you must be able to point to some tragedy, that your husband died ten, 20 or 30 years ago, before we can assist you at the age of 55? I know we have not looked on it in this way but that is how it is if one is to be completely logical about it. I have been struck since the budget was introduced—possibly again an indication of my own lack of awareness— by the fact that some very practical women have said to me: “Why is it that nobody ever thinks of spinsters?” They mentioned names and suddenly I realised that these people aged 55 or 60 were not really capable of working and were as much entitled to concern from the State as widows who are also [2305] rightly entitled to consideration and who might be some years younger.

I merely give this as an example: there are many other areas in which, if the Government had time to sit back and look at the social welfare improvements which have now become a characteristic of every budget, they might, and indeed would have come up with proposals which, taking my example, would have aroused the awareness of us all to the fact that there are old ladies living alone who have had no husbands, perhaps some in the middle-age group and that perhaps we should think of their loneliness and their particular problems. Many of them smoke rather heavily and some drink a little or perhaps more. If they do, they have got very little joy from this budget despite the Minister's clear statement that the budget benefits every citizen. These little things require much consideration. I do not mind who introduces it or where it comes from, but perhaps next year this sort of extension of our services could be implemented. This would not only benefit those who need it but would also create an active social awareness in all of us.

In the area of taxation I want to tell Deputy Desmond, in case there is any doubt about it, that his speculation is not well-founded. He engaged in a certain amount of speculation. He had the Fianna Fáil Party already at the chapel gates saying things which they have never said. He assumed that the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Lynch, and Deputy Colley would react in a certain way to certain taxation proposals and painted a very vivid picture of how we would use to our political advantage the introduction of taxation for new groups such as the farmers. For a moment, while I was engaged in conversation, I thought he was talking of something that had actually happened but I was not aware of any such speech being made by anybody. Then I realised that he was indulging in fantasy and perhaps hoping that this would be the Fianna Fáil reaction.

As a Member of Fianna Fáil and of these Houses since 1965 I can say that we have always taken the view that taxation should be levied on those best [2306] able to pay it. As far back as 1965 in the Seanad—and this is on the record: I have not troubled to check it—I said what I now repeat, that it is unfair and unjust and requires amendment that young boys or girls working in the Civil Service in this city—the pay was much worse then than now—are providing for their food and accommodation, transport and clothes and at the end of the week have little if anything to spend on themselves but are paying a fair amount of tax because their salaries are immediately known to the Revenue Commissioners while other people— businessmen, doctors, lawyers and farmers also—who are living in a higher standard of comfort and, in some cases, luxury, are not paying their appropriate share of tax. Obviously, this is something that anybody in public life cannot be happy or proud about. Therefore, Deputy Desmond may be sure that Fianna Fáil or, indeed any other party, would wish to ensure a fair distribution of taxation.

Again, I come back to saying that one of the consequences of lifting VAT from food will mean that one big bunch of fish will get away. Apart from that —to prove my point—we introduced a change in the taxation system some years ago, and despite strong opposition in this House, began a trend towards indirect taxation which would catch people as they spend—wholesale tax and turnover tax. We must all recognise that money must be found somewhere and we introduced this idea, pressed it to a vote in this House and encountered a good deal of opposition outside. We were apparently seeking more money, asking people to pay more tax. The fact is that, if that had not been done, the money would have to be got from direct taxation and many of those already paying too much would be paying even more. The advantage of indirect taxation is that you pay as you spend and according to your spending. That element in taxation policy was introduced by Fianna Fáil when in Government; and I shall not say we are proud of it but we are particularly satisfied about it. At least it corrects a trend. This Government should continue in that direction and go further at this time.

It is a fact that our Government were [2307] looking at the taxation structure. Deputy Desmond seemed to think that he disclosed a State secret this afternoon. It is no secret that the Fianna Fáil Government were examining the taxation structure and we would not have been shy in introducing new proposals for taxation. The sooner we see such new proposals from the Government the better we would like it. I do not know what the proposals will be but we all wish to ensure that the tax burden is fairly spread, particularly in a country where new opportunities arise for some, whether on the farm or in the factory while others, because of certain developments, may not be doing as well as ten years ago. I can, therefore, disillusion anybody who would suggest that we will take up an attitude of placing some people in a special class. We shall treat all the people as they deserve to be treated, all paying a fair share under a fair system which must be devised. All are entitled to the same return of benefits when in need.

We also introduced VAT but we do not get any particular satisfaction from that because it was a requirement of our membership of EEC. In many ways it was an extension of the wholesale and turnover taxes. I must then ask—I have already asked and got no reply: Why, then, did the Taoiseach on three occasions in the Dáil on 16th May say that it was Fianna Fáil who introduced VAT? We never suggested we did not. We were obliged to do so under EEC regulations but there seems to be an implication in what the Taoiseach has said that we should have ignored the EEC regulations on this matter, that we should have told the Community we would join with them on our conditions and not on theirs but, of course, we could not have done this. The alternative is that the Taoiseach did not know that VAT was required under EEC conditions and this is a frightening thought. In the heat of the moment none of us reacted to this comment by the Taoiseach. He seemed to imply that because we introduced VAT we cannot talk about it now——

[2308]Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Fianna Fáil were not obliged to put VAT on food.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The Taoiseach did not say on food. The Parliamentary Secretary can check the record for himself.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  That was what was in question and the Deputy knows it. I could not extract from his colleague, Deputy Dowling, a statement that if Fianna Fáil were back in office by September—as he was prophesying— they would put VAT back on food.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I would ask that the Deputy be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The Parliamentary Secretary knows that Fianna Fáil or any other group are not going to engage in government by reaction. When we get back into Government we will decide what taxes are necessary at that time; whether it means putting VAT on food I do not know, but we will not engage in government by reaction.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  What is the point——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have asked that the Deputy be allowed to make his speech without interruption. The Chair must be obeyed in this matter.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The Parliamentary Secretary has endeavoured to clarify something that was not clear, namely, the Taoiseach's attitude on who was responsible for introducing VAT.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  It is hardly fair of the Deputy to exploit the Chair calling me to order in order to pass a further comment on what I have said——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputies will have an opportunity of making their own speeches on this Estimate.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I would remind the Parliamentary Secretary that I sat here for two hours and I do not think I could be said to have interrupted Deputy Desmond, apart from clarifying one or two matters or making a general commendation for some of his remarks. [2309] I certainly did not interrupt him during the two hours of his speech.

To quote the Minister's own words, the “old reliables”—cigarettes and drink—have been severely dealt with. People in the hotel and licensing trade will tell you that as far as a certain element of the public is concerned, two or three weeks after the budget they will be drinking as hard as ever. I want to make it clear that I am referring only to a certain proportion of the public. In the week following the budget they will ask questions but after that it does not seem to matter. This is evident when one sees the bars and hotel lounges in this city and throughout the country.

The money these people are spending on drink must be found somewhere. It goes back to the Government in taxes but the pressure is applied in the home or elsewhere to find more money. The significant increases in the price of cigarettes and drink is an added factor in the inflationary spiral. It is all very well to say that if a man spends a considerable amount on drink he is well able to afford it, but there may be a wife at home who has very little choice in the matter. If a man has five or six gins and tonics a few times a week—and there are many who do— it means less money in the domestic budget and more money must be obtained to pay for necessary items in the home.

This must be borne in mind when the “old reliables” are being considered. Taxation will be obtained and I think this year we will find they have again come up trumps but at what cost? I am not going to go into detail regarding problems at home where wives watch their husbands go out drinking regularly——

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The increased allowances in most families will be going into the housewife's pocket. I am referring to children's allowances.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  These allowances will be given in many cases to people who do not need them. When we are apportioning out this element of our social fund we should have regard to the area of greatest need and this is a [2310] factor a Government should consider.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The logic of what the Deputy is saying is that if the tax on drink were reduced the husband would give his wife more money and would not spend it on drink for himself——

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  It appears the Parliamentary Secretary wants to take over the entire proceedings.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has already asked that Deputy O'Kennedy be allowed to proceed without interruption. The Chair has sought to ensure the best of order.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  It is difficult to do so in the face of the lectures of the Parliamentary Secretary. People who go on holiday are conscious of the price of cigarettes and drink in particular. When a person books a holiday abroad he obtains an all-in quotation for accomodation and travel and his only expenditure will be on drink and cigarettes. This is true of Irish people who holiday in France, Germany, Spain or Italy. It is even more true of the German, the Frenchman, and particularly the Englishman, who comes to this country on holiday. The extra expenditure he will incur as a result of these increases will be significant and he will be very much aware that the pint and the glass of whiskey are dearer here and that cigarettes are not the bargain they used be——

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Deputy Ahern put more English visitors off than a pound on the bottle of stout.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I tolerate a fair bit from the Parliamentary Secretary but not when it is not in any way relevant to what I have been saying. We are talking about the budget.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  If the Deputy introduces the tourist trade he should look at it in the large perspective and not the small one. The large perspective is that the English tourist trade which the Deputy is concerned about has dropped off for a variety of reasons, of which prices is only one.

[2311]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Could I have an opportunity of making my speech, having shown the patience that every Member of this House should show while Deputy Desmond spoke for two hours? I should like to have the same courtesy from the Parliamentary Secretary.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair is endeavouring to ensure that this shall be so. Deputies will be afforded an opportunity of speaking on the budget. Then they can make any comments appropriate to it.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I will not be happy if this is one of the consequences that will arise from this increase. We have enough trouble in the tourist trade already without adding to it by increases in tourist spending areas. Those of us who choose to ignore that are overlooking the reality of what holidays are about. I hope we will not frighten off tourists, from England in particular, by these increases. I have grave fears that this is precisely what we are doing. The Irish social drinker will not be deterred because he has nowhere else to go, but the English visitor has a choice of whether to come here or go elsewhere. I hope that choice will not be influenced by this increase which is so significant and so heavy.

I will come to another area, an incidental character in this as in every budget. One of the areas highlighted in a budget introduced by the Miniset for Finance three years ago was that of recreation. Although the figure involved was minimal, £100,000, the effect it had on the community, the community reaction to our concern for recreational and sporting programmes, was quite significant, to such an extent that we can say with some justification that in the last two or three years the community have developed an awareness of the benefits from sport and recreation. It is also fair to say that the former Government, although they did not provide very much money, showed by the manner in which they set about promoting that awareness in conjunction with the various voluntary bodies [2312] that they wished to promote this very important element in Irish society.

What has happened in this particular area in this budget? As I have said, the money is not the important thing—only a comparatively small amount was provided by the previous Government. We find that the grants for community centres which in last year's budget amounted to £465,000 —in my experience as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education these grants were greatly availed of by sporting organisations—have been cut by almost half to £240,000. I know that when I left the Department of Education many community organisations throughout the country were clamouring for a share of that money and asking how they could avail of it and to what amounts. In this budget the amount has been cut by half. I should like to know from the Minister concerned, the Minister for Local Government, how he allowed that to happen and why it happened. What effect will it have on the development of community centres throughout the country?

Development of such community recreational centres in many ways charted a new activity, a new development, in community life throughout the country. This is a most retrograde step in this budget and so far we have had no explanation for it. Over and above that, among the luxuries which were touched by the transfer of VAT from food were all sports goods and equipment, to the tune of more than 3 per cent. We are talking in terms of encouraging young people, of whichever background, no matter how much their parents earn—the less they earn the more we want to encourage them—to engage in healthy recreational activities. Here they are being told that if they do so they will pay nearly one-fifth, 19.5 per cent, VAT on the equipment they will have to use.

There has hardly been any increase in direct grants applicable to sports and recreational associations. It is something of the order of 23 per cent of associations' programmes. Last year it was more than 45 per cent. Here it has been cut back to 23 [2313] per cent. I do not know what the physical capacity of the members of the present Government is. I do not know whether, apart from the well-known sailor, the Minister for Defence, or the well-known huntsman, the Taoiseach, we have many sportsmen in the front bench of the Government. It seems from this budget that they are people who spend most of their spare time indoors, if not all of it, with little regard for the healthy outdoors. They should change their priorities a little and ensure that the pattern established in previous budgets and which was pursued in the policy of the previous Government, should be taken up again. We should ensure that the whole area of sport and recreation and community involvement through community centres will be seen to be a priority consideration of this Government. I do not mind saying that up to three years ago we as a Government were not very much concerned about it. Now, however, when this awareness has been created there is no excuse for the present Government to have adopted the attitude they did in this budget. I do not wish to emulate Deputy Desmond by saying “finally, in conclusion” at least five times, with me on my toes waiting to be called on to speak.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  He did not speak for as long as Deputy Dowling.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  He spoke for two hours.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Deputy Dowling spoke for two hours today and he had been speaking for two hours on the previous occasion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  What I am about to say in the final stages of my speech relates to the Department of Transport and Power, particularly to the provision for Bord Fáilte, and to CIE. The provision for Board Fáilte has been increased this year to £4,750,000 from £4,250,000 a net increase of 10 per cent. The increase in 1972-73 on the moneys provided in the previous year represented 26.8 per cent, and going back over the years, with some exceptions, [2314] the pattern was of increases of the order of 20 per cent to 25 per cent. Appreciating that Bord Fáilte and the tourist industry are going through a very difficult time, I believe that the very limited increase applied to Bord Fáilte will not in any way involve a cutback in their general activities. In fact, in real terms, it probably represents, if anything, a decrease in the amount allocated in the year 1972-73. It is only when the going is toughest that one needs to put in the greatest effort. I shall say no more because what I have to say will really be more appropriate on the debate on the Estimate for the Department of Transport and Power; we shall then have an opportunity of going into the whole matter in greater detail. I hope, however, that this very slight percentage increase, which is not at all in line with the increase in the previous year, will not mean that very necessary promotion and development works or amenity works, from sign-posting to resort development, will be neglected in this year. If it is it will be at our peril and we may find that money applied elsewhere could have been more effectively applied there.

One reference to CIE—here, again, I may help possibly to take the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Transport and Power off the hook—occurs under subhead D.3: it will be seen there that the annual grant under subhead D.1 to Córas Iompair Éireann is £2,650,000; under subhead D.3 you have an additional grant to cover the amount by which it is estimated that the annual statutory grant payable to CIE, being £2,650,000 will be inadequate to meet the board's deficit. Last year the amount was £6,232,000. This year it is estimated it will be £9,600,000, an increase of £3,400,000 approximately. If the increases sanctioned by the Prices Commission in respect of CIE fares are not sanctioned by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce did what would appear to be the popular thing in refusing to sanction the increases, will that mean, as I presume it must, that that figure of £9,600,000 will become something much bigger? If it does, then we will [2315] have to look for a significant amount of extra money for CIE and, if we have to look for that significant amount of extra money, then let the Minister tell us now, if he refuses to sanction the increases CIE have apparently been allowed by the Prices Commission, that that will simply mean that, instead of the traveller paying—I am not offering a view on it—the taxpayer will have to pay more. It is as simple as that. Maybe I can help the Minister from this side of the House. We know the money must come from somewhere and the longer the increases in fares are delayed the greater will be the amount required, whether by way of taxation or by way of compensatory increases in fares. When the Minister, in advance of the Presidential Election, took that decision, it should now be recognised, and it is important that it should be recognised, that the money will have to be found somewhere. We, on this side of the House, are quite prepared to tell the people they must face up to their responsibilities.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Would the Deputy tell the people where the money is to come from then?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I have said it: taxation, if necessary.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy said it must come from somewhere. Earlier today we had Deputy Dowling criticising the Government and saying that we were only putting off the evil day when fares would be increased. Is the Deputy against or for increasing fares? Let us hear what the Fianna Fáil view is on this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is desirous of concluding and it was hoped he would be allowed to conclude without interruption.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  When the Minister refused to accept the decision of the Prices Commission he should have clearly told the public at the time what the alternative to his not accepting the decision would be.

[2316]Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The public know well what it is. The Deputy has said what it is, but which of the alternatives does the Deputy and his party want?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  It is the Minister's job to tell the public. It is not mine.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  We are supposed to have a responsible Opposition. Which of the alternatives is the Deputy's party in favour of?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  If we had an Opposition as irresponsible as the Government——

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  We cannot get the answer to the question about VAT on food either. The Opposition want to have it both ways.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order. Deputy O'Kennedy should be afforded the opportunity of making his concluding remarks, and it is his desire to conclude, without interruption and without interrogation of any kind.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  The Parliamentary Secretary can stick to his own jargon, as he sees fit. I do not want to be involved in trick-of-the-loop tactics. I do not think any one of us has a monopoly of virtue or vice but, from my limited knowledge of the Parliamentary Secretary's views, and the manner in which he has expressed them since he came into this House, I would say——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputies should not indulge in personalities at all.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Every suggestion from that side of the House is clouded in virtue while everything on this side of the House is clouded somehow in some kind of conspiracy and lack of public concern. The Parliamentary Secretary may learn a little more as he spends more time in this House. I certainly accept that there is no concentration of virtue on either side of this House.

This budget, in its concluding sentences, says that it will contribute to the transformation of our country into a progressive society based on social [2317] justice. That statement is less than honest. This country had a society based on social justice. Improvements were needed. No transformation was needed and it is precisely because the Minister attempted to convey the impression that he was transforming, in this budget, the face of Irish society that the budget dissappointed so many expectations and now Coalition spokesmen have to explain away why it is that the impression people have about this budget is all wrong and the budget is, in fact, much better than it appears to be.

Mr. White: Information on James White  Zoom on James White  I listened attentively to Deputy O'Kennedy. He was very fair in some of the things he said and he talked a great deal of sense, more sense than I have heard from many other people to whom I have listened over the last few weeks. Indeed, I have never heard so many people talk so long and say so little. For that reason it was refreshing tonight to hear Deputy O'Kennedy talking sense.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank our Minister for Finance, Deputy Richie Ryan, on the introduction of this social budget. Never before in this country—I think even the Opposition side admit it now —has £40 million been spent on social services. We have helped the weaker sections of the community. We are fulfilling the promises made prior to the general election. We have done something about the rates. We have taken VAT off food. We have done something about estate duty. We have done something about compulsion in Irish and we have done something—I think a great deal—about the social services or, should I say, the lack of social services. I remember, over ten years ago, marching through the streets of Dublin when the Fianna Fáil Government of the day introduced the 2½ per cent turnover tax on food. I remember the grocers up in arms and I remember the housewives up in arms. I said then, as I say now, it is fair enough to put turnover tax on but keep it off food and I am very proud tonight to be on this side of the House and know that we [2318] have taken VAT off food. The British Government and the Northern Ireland Government did not impose VAT on food and those who live along the Border, as I do, know the differences in food prices because of this 5 per cent imposition. I am not naïve enough to think that prices are not still rising. Of course prices are still rising. Neither am I naïve enough to think that trading stamps do not increase food prices. Of course they do. They increase prices by 2½ per cent. I would like to see trading stamps taken off the price of food.

Not alone did Fianna Fáil introduce the 2½ per cent and 5 per cent turnover tax but they also introduced the 5 per cent wholesale tax. As members of the EEC we must have value-added tax. I am glad that value-added tax has been removed from food. There is no reason why it should not be imposed on luxuries.

I was glad to hear the Minister say that something will have to be done about our income tax system. Most people will agree that we need a simpler system. The forms are far too complicated. A simple system and a simple form will have to be introduced. I think that £8.50 is a very meagre tax free allowance for a single person. I am glad the Minister introduced the £30 earned income relief in the case of those women who go out to work. However, something a little over £100 is not a sufficient incentive to entice women back to work. I hope the Minister will change the whole structure of our income tax system. The change is long overdue.

Who will argue that an increase of £1 per week to an old age pensioner is a very small increase? I think £1 per week is the minimum we could offer the old age pensioner today. I am glad the age has been reduced from 70 to 69. Even more important is the increase in means from nil to £4. Has anyone worked this out? What it means is that some one with £3,000 in the bank can still get the full pension. If a person works for 50 years and saves a few thousand pounds surely he or she is then entitled to sit back and spend a wee bit to cushion [2319] his or her old age. The disability allowance has been increased. There is one aspect here that needs attention. I know an 18-year-old boy in my constituency and because his father and mother and two brothers are working he gets no disability allowance. That boy is not able to go past the kitchen. I am very glad the Minister has introduced an amelioration of the scheme. It is high time something was done for the mentally handicapped children. It is only fair that those living at home should get an allowance. The increase of £1 a week in unemployment assistance is welcome.

Where unemployment assistance is concerned, I think farmers should be given incentives to improve their farms rather than allow them to collect £6.50 per week unemployment assistance. If it were increased to £8 per week as an incentive to their improving their farms and their agricultural productivity that would be a better way of spending the money because it would be an investment for the future. We carried out a survey in Donegal of 20 different families and, as a result of that survey, we found that the average person in Donegal stands to gain £2.20 per week. There should be pilot areas established to help these farmers. There should be agricultural instructors available to advise them. This is what is needed.

We are proving that we are the Government of the young: we have increased children's allowances. We are the Government of the old: we have done something about the means test and we have done something about increasing pensions and reducing the age. We are the Government of the disabled because we have done something that was never done before for the disabled. We are the Government of the housewife because we have taken 5.26 per cent off food. It has been proved that the less affluent sections of our community spend more on food than do the affluent sections. We are the Government of the ratepayer because we have done something about the rates.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  This is my first time speaking in a budget debate. [2320] Having listened to the marathon speeches already delivered in this House today I feel I could never speak for quite the same length of time, but in those speeches many ideas were put forward, ideas to which I listened with interest. I listened with particular interest to the speakers from the Government benches and my sympathy went out to Deputy Desmond. From the beginning it was obvious that he, like all the rest of us who are aware of the situation throughout the country, was utterly unhappy about and dissatisfied with this budget. He spoke around it. He went off at tangents. He referred to a possible tax on farmers and went on to tell the Fianna Fáil Party what tactics they should adopt if and when such a tax was introduced. He mentioned the national wage agreement. I shall come back to that later. It was obvious he was disappointed with this budget. He had very little to say about the actual budget itself.

This is the first time I have listened to a Minister introducing a budget in the House. I admire the way in which the Minister presented the budget. Some speaker earlier said that he did not agree with this. I admire the manner of the Minister's presentation. His gestures and pauses were dramatic. It reminds me of an adjudicator at a drama festival complimenting the actors for the contribution made but criticising the script because it was inadequate. That would be my summing up of the budget. While the Minister presented the budget in a dignified fashion worthy of a Minister, the budget itself was a big disappointment. A budget represents the moment of truth for any new Government. Probably on this occasion that moment of truth was more important and more significant than that of any budget of any new Government. Promises had been liberally made during February. This was the first budget following our entry into the EEC. All of us were entitled to expect that this would be a budget which we would be able to praise highly. It is disappointing for us to note that this has been one of the most hard-hitting budgets of recent times, except for the social welfare [2321] benefits. The social welfare benefits were very welcome. We had all looked forward to them. They would have come whatever Government had been in power. If Fianna Fáil had been in power they were committed to introducing such increases.

At this stage I should like to comment on the way the £30 million was bandied around on platforms over the last few weeks. Words which he never said were put into the Minister's mouth by certain speakers. It was said openly by some speakers that the £30 million was spent by the Fianna Fáil Party before they left office. The Minister never said that. The Minister may have insinuated that the money had been dissipated by inflationary trends. This may have been deliberately intended to mislead people into believing that the money was already spent. This was totally untrue.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  The Deputy should tell Deputy Dowling that.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am sure Deputy Dowling is aware that it was untrue. As I already said, the social welfare benefits were pleasing but they were just adequate. The Minister, in his address, mentioned a record figure. I certainly would be disappointed, in this year particularly, if the Minister for Finance should claim a record for what were but adequate increases. Anything less would have been an insult to the community.

From here on our problems start. As other speakers have done, I should like to criticise the unfair application of the means test or qualification test for children's allowances. The Minister has referred to a taxable income of £2,500. Surely he must realise, as most of his Government comrades do, that this is an unfair method of assessment. How many people are there in the country whose earnings for various reasons are far in excess of £2,500, but whose taxable income is, in fact, less than that sum? We have farmers whose taxable income is nil. There are small businessmen who have equipment and who are making sizable profit, but because of their capital allowances their taxable income would be reduced to less than [2322] £2,500. The Minister for Finance has introduced an unfair basis for deciding when one qualifies for children's allowances.

Deputy White mentioned that the present Government were the Government of the old and the young. I will take him up on this point and ask him does he or anybody else seriously think that this is the Government of the young? The Deputy can see that this budget had an adverse effect on young people. It was fairly obvious from recent events that these young people, despite what speakers had said during February about being deprived of votes, were very much on the side of the present Opposition. The claim was made that they had been deprived of votes. I do not agree with that claim. In this budget the young people were deprived of far more than votes. They were deprived of more concrete things, particularly finance.

I am still young enough to be associated with the young and to know how they feel. Their disappointment was evident at what had been looked forward to as a budget introduced by people of “superior intelligence” and by a “team of all talents”. When the “team of all talents” moved to the Government benches, the weaknesses were quickly seen and the talents began to disappear. The “superior intelligence” was seen as something on the surface that was easy to display in Opposition but not so easily to demonstrate in Government. The build-up had been good. We had the “headline a day” approach and the fanfares for this and that event. We had the trick-of-the-loop tactics. I am not quite clear on the tactics referred to earlier today, but we had all the big build-up before the budget. We were all sadly disappointed. The budget must have been regarded as the greatest anti-climax of recent political history.

I referred earlier to income tax. Deputy White claimed credit for the tax relief for married working women. The relief is very small. It is an embarrassment that a Minister for Finance should deem it satisfactory to give a relief so small to an increasing section of people in our society. I am sure that the Government [2323] ment are aware, as well as I am, of the shortage of female workers. Female workers are brought long distances to work by bus or coach. In some areas they are hard to find. It is good that married women can work and supplement the family income. It is an insult to them that such a pittance by way of income tax concession should be given to them when so much more was expected.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Begley): Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  What about the last 16 years?

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I shall come to that in a moment. This is my first time to contribute to a budget debate and my first time in the House to listen to one. I shall say some things now that I would say irrespective of what Minister was here to hear them. I have felt strongly about these things for a considerable time. I have been associated with workers all my life. I was associated with them at the time PAYE was introduced. I am disappointed that the Minister for Finance did not see his way to look at the earned income allowance. We expected so much, so many changes, a different approach, something new, which of course has not materialised. The utopia or E1 Dorado that was promised has not materialised and we have taken a very, very short cock step towards realising it. The earned allowance is unchanged at about the same level for many years now. The unmarried man or girl has that unchanged allowance for many years now despite the decrease in the value of money. If this Government were, as the previous Deputy said, the Government of the young they would look at this and take some steps with regard to it. We expected so much from the Minister and we are very disappointed that he did not look at the earned income allowance.

There is another aspect of income tax that is cruel. This relates to a manual worker's overtime. A manual worker supplements his wage by overtime, if that is available to him. This applies particularly to a married man. [2324] He works extra hours and he works hard at whatever his task is whether it is driving or manual work with the shovel. He works hard to supplement his income to support his wife and family. This overtime is so heavily taxed that there is no incentive to work overtime. There is even less incentive for the single man. I am disappointed that not only the present Minister but other Ministers have not looked at this. If this nation is to grow industrially there should be some incentive offered to the manual worker to work overtime. This would fulfil two purposes. It would give him a little more money in his pocket and it would be a help towards greater production in the factory or in any other type of employment. The young boy and girl are affected by this budget, the young married man in many ways, the married man with a family. In fact, all working people, whether manual or white collar, are seriously affected by this budget. It certainly was a disappointment.

The Minister for Defence, speaking in this House on 17th May, said he thought the next budget would have to look in detail at the business and farming communities. I take it he was doing two things there. He was defending the present budget and was displaying his own personal disappointment with it. He was also holding out a little cherry, maybe with some subsequent events in view, telling these people they will be thought of in the next budget. I want to know from the Minister for Defence where the working man comes in the queue. From what budget can he expect some help or some concession? He has not got it in this one.

Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Ryan): Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  He has. He got it on VAT.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I will come to that in a moment, but be sensible.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  It was the first time in ten years that food was not taxed.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am sorry the Minister has interrupted.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I did not. The Deputy asked me a question and I gave an answer. If he does not like it——

[2325]Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I beg the Minister's pardon. That is not correct. I will continue. I take it the Minister will be replying to the debate. As I was saying before the interruption, the Minister for Defence was promising that something would be done for the business and farming communities this year. I want to know when— that was the question I asked, the reply I got was different—can the working people of Ireland, manual or white collar, expect a budget that will give them some worthwhile concession.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Most of them have children. Of course they get children's allowances.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am sorry the Minister was not in earlier. He missed part of it. I would ask him not to continue interrupting. A Minister of State should have manners and I would not expect him to interrupt somebody who is speaking. He will have his opportunity.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I will be most courteous. The Deputy knows that.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  The Minister seemed to have forgotten his manners on Saturday week. He insulted one of the finest Irishmen this country has ever known.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Fitzgerald on the budget.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The people probably answered that on Wednesday last.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Which side is the Deputy on? Are you on the side of Deputy James Tunney, who believes——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Fitzgerald.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  With your permission, Sir, I will continue. Usually we expect a guideline from our Ministers. We people are entitled to go off the course occasionally but we would expect that the Minister for Finance would not behave as we have read in the newspapers some of the other Ministers behave. I would ask the Minister to allow me to continue. [2326] We have had VAT taken off vital foodstuffs.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  Not yet.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  We will have, I understand, in September. What I would like everybody's wife to do is to buy a basket of foodstuffs this week or next week and buy that same basket of foodstuffs in September and measure one price against the other. If present trends continue can we have any doubt as to which basket will be the dearer, the one on which VAT has been paid or the one from which VAT has been removed?

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Hear, hear.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  When we were being told during the general election campaign that the Coalition would remove VAT from foodstuffs, we were not told that this tax would be increased on essential items such as footwear, clothing and household utensils. Earlier in this debate one speaker raised the question of VAT as it applies to First Communion and Confirmation suits and suggested that it be removed from these items. These and many other essential items are being increased in price because of increased VAT. Are we all to wear our clothes and our shoes for a month longer than usual? Is the increased VAT to effect industrial output? Will this situation lead to unemployment? I hope not but in any case the removal of VAT from foodstuffs and its increased imposition on items that are essential in every household in all income groups will result in considerable extra cost to the housewife. One speaker this evening said that the lower income group are the people who eat most. I would not have thought that statistics show this to be so but I am prepared to accept what the Deputy said. However, I would remind him that every child must be provided with clothing and footwear.

I wish to comment also on VAT in the context of sporting goods but I hope the Minister will not regard this as being in any way flippant on my part. Deputy O'Kennedy covered this field earlier but I wish to go a little deeper [2327] into the various aspects of it. I have a particular involvement in the GAA and this association, during the past two or three years, have been encouraging social developments within both their rural and urban clubs. Other associations have been doing this also for some time past. Regardless of what game a club may concentrate on it is playing a very important part in the lives of its members. Therefore, I am disappointed that sporting goods and equipment are being increased in price because of the imposition of extra VAT.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  There is an increase on these goods of 1.5 per cent as against 5.24 per cent which was put on previously by Fianna Fáil.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Minister will be entitled to reply and I promise not to interrupt him.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I am inviting the Deputy to justify his argument that it was wrong to impose a 1.5 per cent rate when the people whom he claims to support imposed a rate of 5.24 per cent.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  Little Sport.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Am I not entitled to develop my argument without being interrupted?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  I suggest that the Deputy be allowed make his contribution without interruption.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  We will teach the Minister manners eventually.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I am trying to help the Deputy.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am trying to help the Minister also. I would love to make a good Minister of him but I am afraid his start has not been a good one.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Deputy has more fire in his belly since he crossed to the other side of the House than he ever exhibited while on this side.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I was not here long enough then.

[2328]Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Let us not forget the famous mid-Cork by-election.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Let us keep to the budget.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Before the interruption I was developing the argument that sporting goods should not have to bear VAT. I had hoped that this new Minister would have made the bold move of derating the premises of sporting organisations which are doing so much to keep our young people occupied and out of harm. It is said that the devil finds mischief for idle hands. I appeal to the Minister to consider derating these premises and in that way to give positive support to the associations concerned.

I turn now to the question of motorists as they are affected by the budget. A car can no longer be regarded as a luxury in our society. It is good to see so many people owning their own cars but why must we be so harsh on them? Why must we increase the cost of every aspect of motoring from the moment a car is purchased until it is put on the road, with VAT, road tax, petrol tax and all the other extras.

The car is very essential to the working man and particularly to the farmer. There are certain people whose place of employment varies from day to day or from week to week and to whom a car is essential in their daily lives. I would have thought that the Minister for Finance, instead of imposing all those increases, would have considered a tax allowance for these people who need a car to take them to their place of employment. A car is also essential to the ordinary man for his social life and for the enjoyment of his family on a Sunday afternoon.

There is also the burden imposed on the young married man and the married man with a family in the manual and white collar groups. Reverting to Deputy White's point about the Government [2329] of the young, this would not appear to be a measure taken by a Government of the young. As I said in relation to footwear and clothing, there will be a tendency for the car owner to keep his car a week or a month longer in order to get the extra mileage from it. This again could have an adverse effect on industry and employment, although I hope this will not happen. Again, all these things build up to create a serious situation.

Now we come to the so-called luxuries, but if they are luxuries they are the luxuries of ordinary people like ourselves, cigarettes, beer and spirits. One of the great disappointments is that we had expected that a new Government with so many new ideas would be presenting us with a budget which would be a change from all the budgets we have had in the past, but instead it was the old reliables which were taxed again, and very heavily so, the ordinary man's pleasures. Some speaker in the debate said he could drink three pints instead of four. I do not think that is very fair. If the man was in the habit of drinking four, goodness knows he is entitled to them after his day's work. I did not see a recent presentation on television, but I understood the Leader of the Government to say that the people who drank brandy were Fianna Fáil people.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  The Taca men.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I do not know whether the Deputy drinks brandy or not but I certainly have never had it in my life. It has never been in my house, but I am surprised at the Leader of any Government making a statement like that through the media because in my short term in the House I know that to be untrue and to any Deputy who cares to come with me I can prove it to be untrue. How many old age pensioners like a small drop of whiskey now and again? It might be only a half glass or a glass a week. Are these people not to be considered? I submit that cigarettes, beer and spirits, if they are luxuries, are luxuries of the common man.

I have already commented on how motoring costs affect the individual, [2330] and I bracket these costs with Post Office charges. They both play an important part in industry. These increases will affect every essential commodity that is manufactured or delivered in this country. They will continue the price spiral we heard so much about during the month of February. We were told that when the National Coalition Government took office after 28th February there would be no more price increases. The speakers on the platforms were good but the price increases continued and are continuing, as we saw in last Friday's newspapers. It is significant that these increases did not appear on Tuesday or Wednesday. Perhaps the timing was deliberately intended so that the announcement would not coincide with a certain event of magnitude that took place in the middle of last week. I am not sure. I am only assuming that. Maybe it is my twisted mind.

I sympathise with the Minister's concern about price increases, but what I am concerned about is that matters should have been treated so lightly last February. There was no problem. Once the National Coalition Government was elected the price increases would stop. I am sure everyone realises the seriousness of the situation now. Every time the housewife goes to the grocery store the commodities she buys are dearer than they were the previous week. This is a problem that is not made any easier for the Government by the statements made by their spokesmen during the month of February. This has set a very high target for the Government which, in my opinion, they will find difficult in living up to.

On the question of death duties, described by Deputy Desmond as the “transmission of property”, it should be remembered that during the election campaign National Coalition candidates told the people that they would be abolished. With one wave of their magic wand death duties were to be a thing of the past. Deputy White has referred to VAT being removed from food, the concessions on death duties and rates and how the Government were honouring their [2331] promises. No mention has been made of the fact that the remission on rates benefits industry, office blocks and supermarkets more than the ordinary ratepayer.

The concession on estate duties was another scratching of the surface. The people were told that these duties would be abolished because they were “a penal tax”. One of the first moves of the new Government was to be the abolition of these duties but, again, the “superior intelligence” failed. The “team of all talents” found that it was not quite so easy to abolish death duties as it seemed when they were on this side of the House. The Irish people are a thinking people. Promises made and not kept will react against those who made them.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  Look at your own history.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I should like to remind the Deputy, who is temporarily occupying a seat on the Government side representing a constituency in the Midlands that he, and his supporters, promised to abolish death duties overnight.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  We abolished the Deputy's party overnight and that was enough.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Remember last Wednesday.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  A booby prize.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy should be allowed to continue without interruption.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Fervent promises were made to abolish death duties overnight. The National Coalition had even congratulated themselves on being able to win the farming vote by this move. It was a good angle and one worth trying. But what happened was that we only had a scratching of the surface. I should like the Minister, when he is replying, to inform the House how many farms are affected by the change in the artificial valuation policy. More than half a page of script on page 32 of the Minister's speech has been [2332] devoted to this artificial valuation. In my belief this is mere padding.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  At least we did something about the problem of death duties.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The promise of the National Coalition was to abolish death duties overnight but that promise was not kept.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  Quote the promises.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Fitzgerald should be allowed to continue.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  “Replace them” were the words used.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The people were told that they would be abolished. I can produce speeches made by the Minister, and his colleagues, in which they stated that the National Coalition intended to abolish death duties.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  Produce the speeches.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am in a position to produce them.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  We said we would replace them.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Mr. Maher, in a newspaper report at the weekend, referred to the promises made in this regard and that they had not been honoured. The half page in the Minister's speech devoted to artificial valuation could have been dealt with in one sentence. It is dressing a situation to give the people the impression that goodies are there when in actual fact they are not. The moment of truth with this first budget has passed.

I should like the Minister to examine the question of allowing a young married man who purchases a mobile home income tax relief on the interest paid on the sum borrowed for this purpose.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  I thought it was a caravan the Deputy was referring to.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  No, a mobile home. As I understand the position, a young married man who is courageous [2333] enough to buy such a dwelling is not given any relief in income tax on the interest he pays to the hire purchase company or the concern from which he borrows this money. A man who buys his house through the local authority or a building society is given this concession. The Minister should see to it that this type of person gets a fair crack of the whip. More mobile homes are being used now than heretofore.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  Because the Fianna Fáil housing programme failed. The Deputy's party did not build houses for the people.

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion  Zoom on Brendan Crinion  We did a lot more than the Deputy's party did in the fifties.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Deputy should have manners. He is entitled to speak later if he wishes.

Mr. Reynolds: Information on Patrick J. Reynolds  Zoom on Patrick J. Reynolds  I am only telling the Deputy where his party's policy failed.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  For the information of the Deputy, who does not appreciate initiative—and this budget certainly lacks initiative—a young man who buys a mobile home receives no income tax allowance on the interest he pays. It is unfair that he should be on a different basis to the man buying a house from a local authority or building society.

I should like to refer to the elimination of the commercial banks, as I read it, from the £70 interest free of tax concession. This concession is available in the trustee savings banks or in the Post Offices. The trustee savings banks are difficult to get at for the ordinary rural dweller. They are few——

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  There is the Post Office.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I shall come to that. I appreciate the Minister's prompting but he should realise that I also have the ability to develop a point. When God distributed brains he gave each of us some, perhaps some more than others but at least we have some. [2334] The Minister should give me an opportunity of developing my point. Certainly the Post Office is still available, but for some reason there are people in rural areas who may not like to go to the local post office. Country people are shy and are sometimes reluctant to deal in financial matters with people well known to them: they like to keep their business to themselves. In many post offices the staff are locals and connected with the area and would know all their clients' business, what money they had, and so on. I thought that the banks, particularly the travelling banks which are operating in west Cork, in Deputy Murphy's constituency to a great extent, were very suitable. They are used extensively in the small villages by small depositors. They are a welcome innovation in banking services in remote areas and I am disappointed at the removal of this concession of £70 interest free of tax where money is deposited in such banks.

I have dealt with price increases and the continuing spiral despite the promises made and the sympathy I have for the Minister's implementing controls. Deputy Desmond today referred to the national wage agreement. I understood him to say that the implementation of a national wage agreement for the third time in succession would be difficult. I would be disappointed to think that. The unions and employer organisations deserve to be congratulated on the success of the last two national wage agreements. Undoubtedly, these agreements can be looked upon with pride and, as a Fianna Fáil Member, I am proud to claim that our Government helped considerably to have these agreements implemented. Both agreements achieved a great deal and I should like to feel sure now, when we are facing a third agreement, that the view expressed by Deputy Desmond need not worry us. I agree wholeheartedly with him that the new agreement should be reached voluntarily by discussion between the parties concerned and so keep our country which has been growing industrially and economically on the same even keel.

Food prices are a very difficult area. The promises and the magic wand did [2335] not work and could not work, and everybody knew that. Prices are still rising and will continue to do so. They will have to be handled as sensibly as possible by the Ministers concerned, and their task is made more difficult as a result of the promises made by themselves, their colleagues and supporters. I think the National Prices Commission have done, and are endeavouring to do, a very difficult job well. It must be a very difficult task to do the job fairly for the firm seeking the increase, and fairly for us who are so critical and to get a balance that will be to everybody's advantage. I hope they will continue to control prices in a reasonable way and that we shall not see the sort of occurence we had last week when the announcement of the list of price increases occured after the event of magnitude.

All the problems are still with us: the budget has made no difference and the promised Utopia to which we had looked forward has become the Ryanland of reality. The Minister in his speech referred to the friendly societies. I commend him on endeavouring to close this gap. He says the indications are—I think he knows as well as I do that he should have gone a little further—that tax evasion is involved. It certainly points in that direction, but I should like an undertaking from the Minister, in his reply to the debate, that he will effectively close the loophole here and avoid exploitation of this means of handling certain transactions to the advantage of the people concerned.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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