Committee on Finance. - Vote 47: Social Welfare (Supplementary Estimate).

Wednesday, 12 December 1973

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 269 No. 11

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Minister for Finance (Mr. R. Ryan): Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I move:

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £30,200,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Social Welfare, for certain services administered by that Office, for payments to the Social Insurance Fund, and for sundry grants.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I do not wish to reopen too many old wounds but I should like to say that the figure involved in this reveals very clearly that the Minister did have available to him the savings arising from our entry into EEC on agricultural subsidies. In fact, if one extracts those from the figure here one finds that the Minister is spending less additional money in this financial year on social welfare [1504] than we spent last year at a time when we not only imposed no new taxation but gave some relief to income tax payers, unlike the present Minister.

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy Colley is allowing his thoughts to be influenced by his wishes. The truth is that the money which the country hoped to have available for social service improvements this year had already been allocated by the previous Administration in order to keep last year's services running at the same level so that none of that money was available to finance social welfare improvements this year. It is interesting that the figure for which I now seek approval, £30,200,000, is about £3 million less than anticipated. This is because we have fewer people unemployed. The only saving we had was on the unemployment vote and this is as a consequence of the deliberate, expansionist programme of the present Government who have increased the number of jobs and have substantially improved the economy. We make no apology for having saved money in respect of unemployment although the rates of unemployment benefit and assistance paid were substantially improved. We have succeeded in having the necessary money to fund this vote reduced because the number of unemployed has fallen. That is most significant and is proof that the economy is doing extremely well.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I hope to deal with this matter on the Adjournment Debate but how can the Minister suggest any money arising out of EEC membership was expended by the previous Government when it did not accrue until he came into office?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I have said this again and again but I shall say it once more for the benefit of poor Deputy Colley in the hope that, through repetition, it will yet penetrate. The opening deficit, had it not been for the EEC money would have been £49 million but because they used £29 million out of the EEC money to conceal the size of their deficit the opening deficit was only £20 million. But you do not have [1505] £29 million to spend if you already have had to write it off in order to reduce the size of the deficit. If anybody can prove the contrary to me I would say he would be enunciating a mathematical theory that has yet escaped all mankind.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  But the Minister will agree that it did not accrue until he took office?

Mr. R. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  No. The deficit was there on the day I entered the office previously occupied by Deputy Colley.

Vote put and agreed to.

Estimates Nos. 1 to 7 inclusive, 9 to 33 inclusive, 36, 37 and 38, 40, 41 and 48 and Supplementary Estimates Nos. 26, 26 and 47 reported and agreed to.


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