Friday, 29 June 1984
Dáil Eireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £4,724,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1984, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain cultural and archival activities and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.
At a rather late stage I discovered the change in the arrangements. This was because I was away and because yesterday I was engaged with the Crown Prince of Jordan. The speech I had prepared  was rather longer than the one I now have time to deliver so any foreshortening involved is designed to streamline my speech. There is no significance in so far as any omission may be concerned.
The Taoiseach: In moving the Estimate, I propose to review the problems facing our country at the present time and to outline the action the Government are taking, and will be taking, to overcome these difficulties. First I shall outline the main points to which I wish to direct attention.
Inflation is now in single figures, less than half what it was two years ago, and likely to fall by the end of the year to 7-7.5 per cent with a prospect of moving down towards 5 per cent in 1985. A rate of inflation of the order of 5 per cent, if we could achieve it, would be the lowest rate since the late sixties.
Manufacturing output is beginning to grow on a broad front. In 1983 it was up by 7 per cent but in the first quarter of this year, as compared with the first quarter of 1983, it was up by 8.5 per cent and the great majority of sectors showed increases.
Exports of manufactures have continued to grow at a phenomenal rate. They were up by 13 per cent in 1983 and in the first four months of 1984 by almost 22 per cent, figures which have no  precedent or parallel anywhere else in the industrial world.
In the past year unemployment has significantly slowed to a rate less than half what it was in the first five months of 1983. In the three most recent months, there was in fact a reduction in the number on the live register, seasonally adjusted.
Foreign borrowing in 1983 was down by nearly one-third on the 1982 level. This is a remarkable improvement in the previous trend, one that had resulted in so much of our resources being transferred abroad in foreign debt service.
The current budget deficit, as a percentage of GNP, will be very much lower this year than last year — of the order of half what it would have been in 1982 had we not been returned to office in 1981 to tackle this problem.
While these are all encouraging developments, we are still faced with acute problems. Our unemployment rate is unacceptably high. Our rate of public expenditure is still too high, requiring recourse to excessive taxation and borrowing. Our competitiveness in the market place needs improvement by more moderate labour costs and greater enterprise in management and marketing.
Above all, we need a recognition by the community of the need for a concerted effort to place our economy again on a secure competitive basis that will generate the large number of jobs we require to reduce unemployment in the face of a rapidly-growing labour force. The Government will shortly place before the nation a national economic plan which will spell out, soberly and realistically, the clear choices and options our society has in order to bring back growth in the economy and in employment.
The Government are fully satisfied from what has already been achieved that our policies will succeed in restoring the economy to a structure and vigour that will enable us in the medium-term to resume a high level of economic growth and employment.
Proposals for local government reform are now being prepared, with a view to implementation next year. State enterprise, in the form of the State-sponsored bodies, is being given new opportunities to serve the people through better financing arrangements and more coherent policy directions. There is much to be done in many of these bodies to ensure the degree of service to the public to which they were accustomed in earlier decades. The arts and culture, and women's affairs, two important areas of Government, under Ministers of State in my Department, are both being advanced with a new vigour and commitment.
The report of the New Ireland Forum represents an historic achievement by the parties in this House and the SDLP and provides the agenda — including its openness to other views which may contribute to political development — for future discussion and negotiations on the problem which Northern Ireland and its divided communities present to all who  cherish democratic values in these islands.
Having summarised the main points I wish to make, I shall now develop some of them in more detail. The first step in tackling our problems is to face them realistically. The second stage is to analyse just how, within the limits of our own capacity in this island, we can, on the one hand, mitigate these problems and, on the other hand, prepare the way to take advantage of the economic recovery now occurring elsewhere in the world — however limited its scale and however brief its duration, in order to speed the process of recovery.
Besides the danger of pretending that we can solve these problems on our own regardless of what is happening in the world outside, there is a second and opposite danger, the danger of fatalism: the danger that, as we recognise the reality of our situation as a small cog in a huge world wheel that has become stationary for several years and is, even now, beginning to move again only slowly and with difficulty and without any assurance that it will remain long in motion, we might decide that it is a waste of time trying to help ourselves. Nothing could be more unwise, more damaging — and more untrue.
There is nothing in the nature of this country or its people that condemns us to impotence in the face of the challange we now face. On the contrary, we have shown that in the past dozen years, which have included two major oil crises, that while we certainly have the capacity to make a mess of our own affairs at the level of national economic management, as we did between 1977 and 1981, we also have the ability to achieve, in certain areas, a performance well ahead of that of our neighbours.
I will illustrate this with two simple figures. The first is the fact that during the past 12 years we have doubled our share of the world's markets in manufacturing — exporting today about twice as much and employing in the export trade twice as many people as would have been the case if we had done no more than keep pace with other countries in expanding  our manufacturing base. The second is a much more short-term statistic: last year when industrial production elsewhere and world trade were virtually stagnant, our manufacturing output rose by 7 per cent in volume and our exports of manufactures by 13 per cent; this year already manufacturing output in the first three months has risen by 8.5 per cent and is much better spread across the different sectors of industry than for a long time past, and the volume of exports of manufactures jumped by almost 22 per cent in the first four months.
These two sets of figures, the doubling of our share of the world market of manufactures over a period of years and the extraordinary growth in industrial output of exports achieved in the last 18 months at a time when nothing comparable was happening in any other industrialised country, show that we have a capacity to out-perform others when we set our minds to it. It it true that last years increases in output and exports of manufactures were based almost exclusively on two sectors which comprise a very small element in our economy; the chemicals industry and the electronics industry especially the production of computers, this year there are signs that the recovery is more broadly based. For example, while the office and data processing sub-sector continued to grow strongly, with output up in the first quarter by 54 per cent the textiles sector recorded a significant increase of 10.5 per cent in output in the first quarter as compared with a decline in the whole of 1983 of 6.4 per cent and only a minority of industries failed to show improvements in output.
Given these facts, it is clear that a favourable climate exists in this country for the expansion and development of manufacturing industry. Moreover this year's budget has offered further incentives for investment, in particular through the new venture capital arrangement in respect of non-quoted companies. At the same time, a new stimulus for individual enterprise has been provided through the enterprise allowance scheme which has met with such a heartening response from so many people at present registered as unemployed, who  have the will and the capacity but hitherto lacked only the means to set themselves up in business on their own. Over 2,100 are already benefiting from this scheme and the numbers are rising each week.
We cannot ignore, however, that in recent years the cost of our goods and services has become less competitive relative to those produced in other countries which are sold here on our own market or on other markets in which we compete. The fact is that over the past five years hourly earnings in this country have risen at an average annual rate of 16 per cent as against 7 per cent a year in the United States and 5 per cent in Germany. The figure for the United Kingdom for this period is a good deal higher — the average annual increase in earnings there over the five-year period was 13 per cent, but for the most recent two-year period the differential between ourselves and the UK has increased sharply, with wage rates here rising half as fast again as earnings have risen there.
Even if, during the course of this year the value of the dollar and sterling remains at its present level vis-à-vis the EMS currencies thus depriving us of potential benefits in terms of a lower imported rate of inflation, we are now nevertheless in sight of an inflation rate comparable with that of the other countries with which we mainly trade. Price increases in the 12 months ending November next are likely to be around 7 per cent to 7.5 per cent as compared with increases of over 20 per cent during much of 1981 and well into double figures in 1982.
We now have the prospect within our reach of an annual rate of inflation of 5 per cent as we move into 1985. We require only one more push to get our inflation rate, and our rate of pay increases down to those of the countries with which we compete, so as to bring to an end the long debilitating period during which we have been losing competitiveness vis-à-vis other countries in so far as labour costs are concerned.
I do not suggest for one moment, however, that increases in labour costs at a more rapid rate than elsewhere are the sole cause of our loss of competitiveness  in recent years. I have already outlined the role that management can play in making our goods and services competitive — a role that in some cases management has failed to play. Unless there is a rebirth of enterprise in both the private and public sectors, and there are signs of this, at the level of those responsible for managing and directing these firms, the alignment of our labour cost increase rates with those of other countries would be insufficient to achieve the planned expansion that we require to achieve the rapid increase in employment during the recovery that now appears to be underway outside our shores.
We must also appreciate the effect excessive pay increases in the public sector can have on the general capacity of the economy to compete in the market place in goods and services. The bill for Exchequer-financed pay and pensions in 1984 is 9 per cent up on the figure for 1983, due to the carry-over costs of general increases under the 1983 public service pay agreement and the continuing commitment to deferred implementation of certain other special pay claims. This 9 per cent increase represents the limit of what the Exchequer can afford in the present year and the Government have, therefore, made no provision for any general increases in Exchequer-financed pay under a 24th pay round in 1984.
I must stress in the strongest possible terms the incapacity of the Exchequer, by which I mean the taxpayer, to bear anything more than a few percentage points of an increase in the annual pay bill in 1985 and the immediately succeeding years, and increments and special pay awards now committed for payment in these years already pre-empt something like 3 per cent for the next couple of years. Restraint in the public sector pay bill over the period immediately ahead must be accepted by the public service — and seen by the entire community — as fundamental to achieving the nation's heartfelt desire to see again a solvent economy which can grow rapidly in activity and employment. During the next few years the Government simply will not be able to raise the funds from the economy to finance other than very small percentage  additions to the total pay bill — which amount to £2.5 billion for the Exchequer alone for 1984. The economy is already over-borrowed, over-taxed and subject to uncompetitive charges for public services. In these circumstances lack of restraint in public pay, by directly or indirectly adding to taxation or borrowing, or to charges, already far too high, for public services, would cripple our prospects for economic growth and increased employment. Increases in the public sector pay bill beyond the very limited amounts to which I have referred would now impose an extra burden on the economy such as to cause unemployment in other sectors less secure in employment than the public sector itself and which daily have to face severe and unremitting competition in the market place.
I am confident that the public service appreciates these considerations and that, in a period when inflation should be in low single figures, the low level of increase in the public service pay bill which the economy can afford will be accepted as realistic and fair.
There has been a welcome expansion in international economic activity during 1983 and into 1984. This upturn has been led by the US; other countries including Japan and the EEC countries are beginning to benefit. In line with this expansion, world trade is expected to grow in 1984 by up to 7 per cent. Of particular interest to Ireland is the expected rise in UK imports, of the order of 7 per cent for 1984.
However, there are uncertainties surrounding this recovery. There is the continued concern over the international debt problem and the international financial and monetary system is still under considerable strain. The recent increase in US interest rates will have an unsettling effect on confidence. Moreover, growth in the US may not be sustained. In that event, Europe would have to consider what steps it should take to maintain the limited recovery now under way. It will be one of the principal objectives of our Presidency of the Community to direct or partners' attention to this issue,  potentially crucial for them as well as for us.
At home, gross domestic product is estimated to have grown by a modest 0.5 per cent in 1983, and growth of about 2 per cent is expected in 1984, although I should not be surprised if the figure were somewhat higher. This growth, although modest, is soundly based. It is not the rapid mushroom-type growth induced by pumping money into persons' pockets in order to boost consumer spending 60 per cent of which goes abroad, anyway, and give a false and temporary sense of prosperity, such as we experienced, indeed, in the late seventies. It is based, instead, on fundamentally sound financial and economic policies which have reduced the level of inflation to single figures, with the prospect of further reductions in the coming months. The trend in our balance of international payments will continue to improve, although not at the rate we have seen over the past two years. As the economy begins to recover, increases in imports will start to offset some of the improvement in our export performance. Nevertheless, our balance of payments deficit should remain at a manageable level of less than 6 per cent of GDP. An especially encouraging development is that in the first four months of the year, allowing for seasonal variation, our merchandise trade was roughly in balance — a quite remarkable achievement for which I cannot readily recall any precedent since the years of the last war.
The increase in demand for our exports with a resultant increase in industrial output should soon begin to have an impact on investment and employment. Already there are signs that this may be starting to happen on the employment front. We have seen a reduction in the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures in the last three months, although it is much too soon to say whether this improvement can be sustained. What we can say, however, is that our official projections for unemployment in the current year will prove to have been notably pessimistic — as I told the Dáil some months ago was likely, in my personal opinion, to prove to be the case.
 I recall the Opposition arguing with me about that at the time. They seemed to feel that I should not express a personal opinion. The fact is that in matters of this kind we are, properly, guided by the advice given to us by our advisers. Any of us, between ourselves may have an opinion and may be unduly pessimistic, but we are not entitled to follow the practice of the previous Government of using personal opinions to change the figures in a way that would be more favourable to us. I am glad nonetheless, that my personal opinion which we did not seek to impose on the budget figures, looks like turning out to be correct in this instance.
One of the most striking features of Irish politics during this period of extreme difficulty for our people has been the consistency of their support for a Government which have sought without fear to expose our problems for public scrutiny and to point the way ahead, and the corresponding rejection of an Opposition whose single-minded devotion to seeking short-term advantage at the expense of the country's miseries has made it appear to the people at large a most unattractive second-best. This was most strikingly demonstrated in the recent European elections when the expected protest vote for Independents and minor parties came back to the Government parties rather than to the Opposition on the distribution of their preferences. So overwhelmingly was this the case in Dublin, for example, where well over two-thirds of the votes distributed to these parties came to the Government parties and less than one-third to Fianna Fáil. In the final stage of the count, 60 per cent of the votes came to rest with candidates of the Government parties and only 40 per cent with Fianna Fáil. An important minority of the electorate had been moved to protest against hardships arising from past Fianna Fáil mismanagement but, having protested, had remained quite determined to withhold any support for a return to a Fianna Fáil Government and did so by a most emphatic majority. The same thing happened on a lesser scale in Leinster, Munster and other parts of the country.
The Taoiseach: For my part, I am heartened and encouraged by the fact that despite the problems that we have inherited, despite the tough and often unpopular measures that we have had to take with a view to getting our financial and economic situation under control again and despite the hardships that people are enduring because of the length of the current world recession, nevertheless they have continued to sustain this Government with their support — a support, incidentally, confirmed again today in the poll in the papers — and to reject the alternatives proferred to them.
It is not, of course, for me to analyse the reasons for the failure of the Opposition to secure any increase in popular support at a time like the present, when so many of the actions that need to be taken by Government for the sake of our community as a whole necessarily have a negative impact upon different sections of the community and upon individuals within the community. That is an analysis  that must apparently not have been carried out by the Opposition party itself but must be carried out if and when they pluck up the courage to do so. I know there are those who see the problem in terms of personalities. There are other observers who account for this failure on the part of the Opposition by the almost totally negative character of their criticisms and by their failure to produce any coherent alternative to the policies which we are pursuing, and shall continue to pursue, with the courage which alone can bring us through the multiple crises which we now face.
I have already observed in this House that on the rare occasions when a constructive voice is heard from the other side of the House — as, for example, in the latter part of the speech that Deputy Reynolds made here on the Adjournment debate last December — it was dismissed with contumely by the Leader of the Opposition in a manner that must cast doubt on his understanding of the role of the Opposition, or his comprehension of the process by which Oppositions get themselves returned to Government.
It was very noticeable, on that occasion, when he attacked me so vigorously for having dared to comment favourably upon some constructive propositions put forward by his spokesman on industry, that the condemnatory language which he chose to use was so unusual by normal parliamentary standards. He chose to employ in my regard as a repeated expletive, the word “virtuous”.
The Taoiseach: He is well aware that no more than anyone else in the rough and tumble in politics, do I claim any special quality of virtue. I have sought simply to maintain the normal standards to which our people became accustomed in politicians since the early days of the State when Governments were headed by men of the stature of W. T. Cosgrave and de Valera, O'Higgins and McEntee, Costello and Lemass, Liam Cosgrave and  Jack Lynch. These men differed most deeply, and indeed at times most bitterly, on issues that they saw as vital to the good of the State, the good of the nation. But that they pursued the good of the State and the good of the nation as their sole aim cannot be doubted by any objective historian.
The Taoiseach: I was brought up to respect these men and what they stood for. I hope that the youngest men and women in this House, of whatever party, will throughout their particular careers, which will in some instances extend way beyond the centenary of the foundation of this State, constantly seek to live up to the standards that were so strikingly established in the decades immediately after the foundation of the State. And I hope that in so living and acting they neither claim virtue for themselves, nor are moved to use the word as a term as denigration of others.
In thus stressing the fundamental political quality of integrity, I am, I believe, echoing a deep chord amongst our people. Faced with tribulations and dangers of falling living standards, high unemployment and uncertainty about their future, with the threat of violence on our streets from subversives, drug-pushers, and other criminals, they yearn above all for a political system manned by political personnel whom they can trust. To the extent that any of us in politics acts in a manner that reduces that trust, all in politics are diminished, the political vocation itself is demeaned, and the security of our democracy is undermined.
The Taoiseach: All of us engaged in politics in the various constitutional parties which have served this State so well since its foundation must be aware — are  aware — of the threat to the system built up by our parents or grandparents. This threat derives from forces of right and left which, employing tactics of violence or subversion, seek to destroy confidence in the political system that we have inherited — a system that we in the three major parties have endeavoured to operate to the benefit of our people. Our common interest in maintaining confidence in our democratic system commands us all to a certain degree of restraint in the mutual recriminations which are natural to party politics——
It commands us to more than this. It commands the members of our parties to require of those of us in positions of leadership in these parties never to betray the trust imposed in us by putting ourselves before party or party before State.
There is another duty imposed on us more especially by the reality of the problems now facing us — the duty to face up to the reality of these problems and not to seek to diminish their significance or to suggest that they may be overcome more easily than is in reality the case.
I know that people want to be told good news: they want to be told that our problems can be resolved by our Government, acting on their own; they even want to be told that these problems can be resolved without further sacrifice on their part. They would not be human if they felt otherwise. If similar false promises, however, were made to them at this point, they would scarcely be human if, after so much disillusionment in general with so many false promises in the past, they did not, within a measurable space of time, turn in revulsion against the whole political system which thus sought persistently to mislead them about its capacity, alone among the countries of Western Europe, to create growth and employment on a scale sufficient in a  relatively brief period of years to resolve the unemployment problem unaided.
Let me turn back to the positive policies of the present Government, in the economic and in the social sphere. We have not, of course, produced Green Papers for Full Employment, or Way Forwards, their pages bespattered with such high-sounding words as `it is envisaged'; repeated paragraph after paragraph, in order to fill the gaps left by an unwillingness to take any actual decisions. We have not prognosticated imaginary growth rates, or recklessly promised specific time spans for reducing, eliminating even, the level of unemployment, unrelated either to external conditions or to domestic policies.
What we have done is to lay the foundations for future progress by halving as a percentage of GNP the current deficit that was threatened when we took over office for the first time nearly three years ago and by reducing by two-fifths the level of borrowing as a proportion of GNP that would have faced us — but would certainly not have been achieved — in 1982 had we not taken things in charge within three weeks of coming into Government in the middle of 1981. At the same time, we have not attempted to move too far, too fast, but rather have sought to judge the pace of progress towards our fiscal targets with a careful eye to the need to ensure, during the current year, favourable conditions for domestic growth, stimulated by external recovery.
Upon these foundations we will build in the months immediately ahead, by producing a plan for the economy taking into account the work of the independent National Planning Board, which we published in accordance with the principles of open Government that we have sought to adopt. The plan will also take account of the development strategies being identified by the Sectoral Development Committee and the expert consultative groups which it has established to stimulate growth and employment in the different industrial sectors. Already proposals are coming forward covering industrial sectors which account for two-thirds of industrial employment. These will be  taken into account and incorporated in the plan.
We intend, also, to reflect in the National Economic Plan the consultations we will have about economic and social policy with the social partners. We propose to improve the mechanism provided by the National Economic and Social Council for continuing consultations between Government and the social partners as a body, while at the same time retaining the capacity of the council to initiate and undertake the type of fundamental studies of economic and social issues they have undertaken and which have proved so valuable in illuminating many dark corners of our economic and social life.
The plan that will emerge from this process will bear little resemblance to such documents as those produced by the Opposition Party in 1978 and again in 1982; there will be no easy conjuring of 7 per cent growth rates out of the air; no facile assuming away of problems; no easy options designed to secure popularity rather than results. By contrast to what the Opposition produced in their recent periods in Government, our plan will be a sober document, facing real issues and making hard choices. We shall be content to be judged by its realism and by the results of the policies that will be built upon the foundations that it will lay.
This Government will be tackling other issues, also, utilising to the full the range of talent available to us. I do not believe in one-man Government. I do not believe in trying to impose on a Parliamentary Cabinet system a presidential veneer that seeks ineffectively to substitute the impress of a single individual upon the multifarious tasks of Government, which under our system are traditionally carried out by members of the Cabinet applying to the problems in their spheres of control, their individual talents, and by taking decisions collectively with their peers.
I mentioned at the outset some of the areas which my colleagues in Government are tackling with energy and dedication. I shall not attempt to develop these themes further here. To the extent that the time available in this limited  debate permits them to do so, the Ministers concerned will speak for themselves later today. I shall confine myself to the work of the Ministers of State in my Department who have specialised responsibilities; the House is itself well aware of the remarkable qualities of the Chief Government Whip, Deputy Seán Barrett, whose management of the affairs of the House in conjunction with his opposite number, Deputy Ahern, has evoked widespread admiration, and general satisfaction. I wish to pay tribute to the co-operation between the Whips and the manner in which the Opposition Chief Whip has co-operated with Deputy Barrett in ensuring the smooth operation of the business of the House.
I indicated when I appointed Deputy Ted Nealon as Minister of State with responsibility for arts and culture, the first such appointment since the foundation of the State, that I was concerned at the fragmented and unco-ordinated approach by the State in its policies towards the arts and culture.
It was against this general background that the Government decided that administrative responsibility for the main cultural institutions in receipt of State funding should be placed under the responsibility of the Minister of State for Arts and Culture. As a result, certain bodies have been transferred to my Department from the Departments of Education and Justice and the Estimates, as moved, contain provision for those transferred bodies.
The Minister for Arts and Culture is now responsible for the principal bodies in receipt of State aid which are concerned with the advancement of the arts and culture. These include the Arts Council, the premier body for promoting the arts and the National Concert Hall which, since its opening in 1981, has provided patrons of the performing arts with opportunities to see and hear artists of the highest international calibre.
They now include also, as a result of transferred responsibility, the National Museum and the National Gallery — the custodians of our cultural and artistic heritage respectively — as well as the specialist Chester Beatty Library, which  I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday with the Crown Prince of Jordan who, as one might expect, was enormously impressed with the collection of Islamic manuscripts there, and Marsh's Library. Finally, my Department now have had transferred to them, administrative responsibility for the Public Records Office and the Irish Manuscripts Commission, two bodies who have facilitated several generations of historians in their search for the objective facts of our history. The forthcoming National Archives Bill will put the entire body of our national archives on a new, more secure, and more accessible foundation.
I have every confidence that the revised administrative arrangements for all of these bodies will help to open up a new creative dialogue between them, as well as bring their needs and potential into sharper focus before Government.
The Estimates as moved also contain provision for developmental activities related to the Office of the Minister of State for Women's Affairs. The appointment of Deputy Nuala Fennell as Minister of State for Women's Affairs at my Department is a practical illustration of this Government's determination to bring about the complete integration of women into the economic, social and political life of the nation. Deputy Fennell, as Minister of State for Women's Affairs, as well as in her capacity as Minister of State for Family Law Reform at the Department of Justice, is engaged in a systematic identification of the action required to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination against women and to promote positive opportunities to enable them to participate more fully in the life of the community.
In addition, through the developmental activities she has undertaken, she has done much — as indeed she has done also before she entered political life — to help women to see more clearly and positively how they can develop their talents and bring them into action to improve our economic, social and political growth as a people.
This is the first opportunity I have had in this House, since the publication of the Report of the New Ireland Forum, to  refer to the work of that body composed of elected representatives of the nationalist tradition in Ireland, North and South. The work of the Forum, leading to an agreed report, represented and historic achievement for constitutional democratic politics in this country. Following a process which was itself unprecedented, with immense value in educating opinion and in stimulating discussion throughout Ireland, the Forum produced a generous, realistic and imaginative report which brought firmly back to centre stage the question of how to achieve lasting peace and stability throughout this country.
The members of the SDLP delegation made a vital and distinctive contribution to the work of the Forum. I am happy to pay special tribute to them. I know, however, that our SDLP colleagues would be the first to agree with me when I say, as we reach the end of the present session, that this House and Seanad Éireann can take pride in the role played by members of both Houses in the historic achievement of the Forum. Deputies and Senators from the three main parties composed the majority of the Forum's membership. In their dedication to its work, including that of delegations and sub-groups, in their openness to consider the varying points of view put to us, in the constructive interaction in the discussions in plenary sessions, they upheld the highest Irish parliamentary traditions.
As I said in my address at the closing session of the Forum, it would be idle to pretend that all the differences of approach to the problem of Northern Ireland which the participating parties brought to the work of the Forum were eliminated during the course of its work. We were, nevertheless, able to reach agreement on a report which will, I believe, stand the test of time as a document encompassing for the first time an agreed analysis of the problem and 11 specific proposals for the framework of a solution, reflecting the views of parties representing almost three-quarters of the inhabitants of Ireland and over 90 per cent of those who share the majority nationalist tradition in this country.
For our part, the Government, having decided that the findings and conclusions  of the report were in line with its policy, have brought the report in all its aspects to the attention of the British Government. We have also informed the Governments of the other member states of the European Community, the US Government and the Governments of other countries with which Ireland has diplomatic relations of the report. In a major information exercise, we ensured that the report itself was very widely distributed to Ministers, legislators and influential opinion-makers particularly, of course, in the North and in Britain, but also in the other countries just mentioned and indeed further afield. I will come back in a moment to the reaction of the British Government and political parties. Let me first say that I have been very heartened by the wider international response to the report. The positive character of this response is perhaps best exemplified in the comments of President Reagan and in the joint resolution passed by both Houses of the United States Congress.
On a personal note, I had the opportunity of seeing how widespread its impact was when I attended an international conference in Stockholm a fortnight after the report was published, without exception, every person who spoke to me knew about the report and raised the matter with me. They wanted to know how we hoped progress could be made on that basis. That was an international gathering drawn from the industrialised countries, comprising businessmen, trade unionists, politicians, academics and journalists. It was clear the report had penetrated through their media and that they all saw it in the most positive light.
The Government have indicated that we are anxious, in line with what is said in the Forum Report, to discuss the views outlined in it and any other views which may contribute to political development with all others involved in the problem of Northern Ireland who oppose the use of violence. The meetings in London on Wednesday last to which I have referred in my statement earlier this morning and  the earlier discussions between the Tánaiste and the leader of the British Labour Party represent a follow-up on this expression of our attitude, and I hope we can look forward to discussions with other interested parties. Naturally, the primary interest of Deputies will be in the reaction of the British Government.
The Forum identified 11 major realities in its analysis and proposed ten requirements as necessary elements of a framework within which a new Ireland could emerge. The Forum called on the British Government to join in a process that will recognise those realities and give effect to those requirements and thus promote reconciliation between the two major traditions in Ireland. In a statement issued on 17 May, the Government here indicated that they will play their part in such a process and will work to ensure that the objectives of the Forum are, as far as possible, realised.
The House will be aware that while the very preliminary reaction of the British Government on the day the Forum Report was published took issue with some aspects of the historical analysis in the report, that Government's preliminary statement also contained positive elements, both in recognition of the alienation of the minority in Northern Ireland and in recognition of the correctness of our analysis of the problem as being one of coping with, catering for and reconciling the two separate identities in Northern Ireland. This positive approach was again reflected in the reply on behalf of the British Government to a debate on the Forum Report which took place in the House of Lords on 20 June.
We expect that a more considered British reaction will begin to emerge in the debate on the Forum Report which is to take place in the House of Commons next week. I have referred earlier today to my meetings on Tuesday last with Mrs. Thatcher and with the leaders of other British parties. I recall that the Prime Minister and I agreed to hold a formal bilateral meeting later this year.
It would be quite unrealistic for me at this point to ignore the decision taken by the Fianna Fáil Party the day before yesterday to reject a proposal that the party  endorse the New Ireland Forum Report in its entirety and express their support for any discussions with the United Kingdom Government which may contribute to political development and to substitute for that an amendment. I have to confess that I find it impossible to reconcile the rejection of this motion with the report itself, which at the time of its publication secured the support of all the Fianna Fáil Forum representatives and upon which, if my recollection is correct, in relation to which the Leader of the Opposition insisted upon the importance of taking the report as a whole in its entirety. The U-turn involved here is, quite frankly, incomprehensible to me.
The Taoiseach: While I regret this rejection both of the report in its entirety and of support for discussions with the United Kingdom Government which may contribute to political development, the Government cannot and will not be inhibited from carrying our the duties imposed on them both by our decision to discuss the report in all its aspects with the British Government and by the grave and potentially dangerous political/security situation that exists in our island.
I should like before concluding to refer to the results of the recent European Parliament election in Northern Ireland and to congratulate John Hume on his election to that body and on the most impressive vote he secured. I have no doubt that his outstanding record in regard to advancing Northern Ireland's interests in the Community and in drawing the attention of the European Parliament and of the other Community institutions to the political problem in the North were significant factors in his success.
That said, the result of the election also gives striking testimony to the support for constitutional, democratic politics among the nationalist community in the North. In the wake of this, however, nobody should be so short-sighted or misled as to adopt a complacent view of the situation. Within the nationalist community in the North, alienation has bitten  deeply. The analysis in the Forum Report remains fully valid, with its emphasis on the urgent need to tackle the fundamental causes of the problem, and on the need for new structures in which both the nationalist and unionist identities can have an equally satisfactory secure and durable expression and protection on the political, administrative and symbolic planes.
For this purpose, the Forum Report provides an agenda, an agenda which can be extended in line with the statement in the report itself that the parties in the Forum remain open to discuss other views which may contribute to political development. Before the House reassembles, a great deal of work will have to be done in preparation for the meeting with the British Prime Minister. The Government will undertake that work and approach that meeting in the spirit of openness and generosity that animated the Forum report, but firm in the conviction that only an approach that tackles in a comprehensive way and on a fundamental level the basic conflict of identities and that respects the requirements proposed by the Forum will be adequate to halt the deterioration in the situation and to open the way towards lasting peace and stability for the people of this island.
I should like to say, in conclusion, that I am determined that when the time comes to render account of our stewardship the Irish people will find a good reason to return us to office as they will have seen that over the whole range of public activities the Government have taken their responsibilities, have acted in the public interest, and have fulfilled the programme that they put before the people.
Mr. Haughey: The applause following the Taoiseach's statement could, I think, be described as ragged but we will accept the fact that many of our colleagues are on the golf course today. If they were here today the applause might well be thunderous, although I doubt it.
 The questions that have to be asked are whether they are an effective administration, whether they are facing up to the vital issues and whether they are taking the necessary key decisions and implementing coherent policies.
The urgent and vital decisions affecting the future of this country are simply not being taken. The Taoiseach, according to all accounts, presides over interminable Cabinet meetings, from which decisions rarely emerge. The Government of this country are now locked into neutral gear, incapable of moving forward in any area of significance.
There are proposals, task forces, working groups, planning boards, draft White Papers, announcements, promises of legislation, but no action, no clear policy decisions, no specific programmes being undertaken.
A new type of approach to Government has emerged. It is a kind of Government by announcement. What happens now is that we find some evening an announcer on television or radio proclaiming that some particular Minister intends to embark on some particular course of action to introduce some new legislation and that he or she will put proposals to Government. This is not a legitimate way of conducting Government business. The proper way to do things is for the Minister to put proposals to Government, the Government to take the necessary decisions, the legislation to be prepared and then and only then should a positive announcement be made to the Oireachtas and the public. The current practice of announcements being made, ahead of any positive decisions and the matter left up in the air indefinitely leads to confusion and uncertainty.
On that score, I should draw the attention of the House to the statement just made by the Taoiseach, particularly where he sets out the genesis of his case for the Government. On an occasion like this the Taoiseach can never resist attacking me personally, Fianna Fáil and everything in sight except his own performance. He had a lot to say about The Way  Forward, the economic plan which we brought out. He spoke about it containing phrases like “It is envisaged”——
Mr. Haughey: Let us look at the statement which the Taoiseach has just made. He said that a sound beginning has been made in reforming our taxation system and that the White Paper on industrial policy to be published shortly will contain proposals. He also said that a new course has been set for a more accessible and relevant educational system. He mentioned that the public service is being reformed — it may be but we have not see any great evidence of it yet. He said that our national resources are to be developed to the fullest extent and with regard to the public interest. Is anybody suggesting that they are going to deliberately set out to develop them without regard to the public interest?
The Taoiseach also said that the Garda Síochána are being protected against political interference affecting their independence and integrity. That is a nice, vague statement but I do not think any serving members of the Garda Síochána would fully accept that statement. On that point, the Taoiseach must address himself to the Moyna affair, as it cannot be left in mid-air. It is neglect by the Taoiseach of his responsibilities and duties not to have that matter fully and finally investigated and the facts clearly ascertained because it has now been almost categorically established that some elements of the Garda were involved in the installation of the electronic device in that house.
Mr. Haughey: I submit that there has been an affidavit made to that effect by a reasonably respectable citizen and, if the Taoiseach wants to argue with me, he is perfectly entitled to do so, but I say solemnly that there is a lot yet to be  investigated and established and I invite the Taoiseach, rather than having this angry exchange across the House, to establish some means, by a commission or other body, to investigate the matter finally and conclusively and let us have the facts. I believe there is categoric evidence that the Garda were involved although the Taoiseach contradicts that. Let us have it established, once and for all, by some independent means of inquiry.
The Taoiseach said that our objectives for greater social justice are being greatly advanced by the family income supplement scheme to come into force in November. The scheme is not coming into force in November, and can anybody really claim that a mini scheme of that nature can be described as an advance towards greater social justice?
Mr. Haughey: He also said that the Oireachtas has been radically reformed by the new expanded system of committees. That is a rather brave and sweeping claim for the new system of committees. They are working, and the Taoiseach might have been gracious enough to acknowledge our full co-operation in their establishment and work. He said that proposals for local government reform are now being prepared. This is the Taoiseach who attacked The Way Forward because, in his view, it was not specific enough. I wonder how he can reconcile that high-minded principle of local government reform with his base, politically motivated decision to postpone the local government elections.
He said that State enterprise, in the form of State-sponsored bodies, is being given new opportunities to serve the people through better financing arrangements and more coherent policy directions. That is just waffle and is in no way related to the facts as far as the State sector is concerned. He said that arts and culture and women's affairs, two important areas of Government under Ministers of State in his Department, are both being advanced with a new vigour and commitment. The only thing I can say  about that is that all my friends in the artistic world tell me that the situation there is chaotic, particularly because of the activities of the Revenue Commissioners. Any progress that had been made in the past few years has been completely negatived. It ill becomes the Taoiseach who put two pages of waffle like that before the House as the accomplishment of the Government, to attack the last major economic report and plan brought forward in this House —The Way Forward— which gave specifics for every area and quantified and gave definite targets, percentages and figures. Whatever else The Way Forward was, it was not a vague and imprecise document.
The Joint Programme for Government, which was the basis on which the Coalition came into office, has no longer any validity. It is now nothing more than a discredited list of broken promises. There has been no tax reform. There is no longer any policy of fiscal rectitude. There has been no action of any kind to deal with unemployment, or to provide extra money for the construction industry, no reduction in the budget deficit.
The truth is that in the last months, the very serious economic and social problems which we face in this country have been worsened to a major extent by the lack of effective government. Can anyone in this House point to one single achievement they are entitled to claim credit for? Is there any evidence that they have even tried to come to grips with our problems, let alone solve them? The situation has steadily deteriorated, factory after factory closes down, dole queues lengthen, hardship and deprivation have spread right across the community. More and more of our people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. There is a spirit of apathy and hopelessness about again, and the emigrant ship once more re-appearing in Irish life.
There is, unfortunately, increasing evidence that some of the power which should rightly reside in the Taoiseach's office has by default slipped out into other hands — persons with no official or elected status, favourites, handlers and place-seekers. This usurpation of power and authority is causing worry and resentment.  There is also an uneasy feeling about the origins of some of the more important political decisions, appointments and announcements.
In my view, the failure of this Government has been significantly contributed to by the invasion of the corridors of Government by a coterie of professional economists, preaching defeatist, monetarist, doctrines and peddling unrealistic and unacceptable policies.
Mr. Haughey: There is one area in which the advice emanating from these professional economist circles can have very serious and detrimental repercussions. Until the arrival of this Government many of us believed that the spectre of emigration had been banished for all time from Irish life. This Government is now apparently being advised that emigration can be part of the solution to unemployment.
Professor Brendan Walsh, a member of the National Planning Board, stated a few weeks ago that the British labour market is so large that even getting a little niche in it could take a lot of people out of Ireland. The Taoiseach's special economic adviser Dr. Honohan has predicted in the last quarterly review of the ESRI that unemployment will be reduced by increased emigration to Britain. Deputies of this House and the general public should be aware that this is the sort of talk that is going on in the Taoiseach's Department and these are the sort of pernicious ideas that are circulating there. I have already drawn the attention of the House to the sort of policies we can expect from a Government advised by an economist who thought it was good news to discover that the balance of payments was £500 million worse than had been thought.
The manner in which the Government  Information Service operates at present constitutes a gross misuse of public funds. I want to remind the Taoiseach that the £181,600 which will be spent this year on the Government Information Service is public money. It is voted and should be used to provide factual, truthful information to the general public. This is not what is happening. Instead under this Taoiseach and this Government the Government Information Service has been turned into a marketing and public relations organisation whose sole function is to promote a favourable image of the Taoiseach, the Government and to sell their policies. In my view, the whole matter has developed to the point of being a national scandal. There is a deliberate policy of news management. The news is deliberately slanted: false and misleading and often malicious stories about the Government's opponents are unscrupulously circulated.
Let us for instance look at what happened when it was discovered that the Minister for Finance's Estimate of the balance of payments deficit for 1983 was underestimated by £500 million. This was a matter of major public importance. The public should have been fully informed about the actual situation and the implications it had for economic and financial policy. Instead there was a massive audacious propaganda exercise undertaken by the Government Information Service to gloss it over, to pretend that it was not really serious or have any detrimental implications. Special articles appeared in the media all designed to create this particular impression. In the Irish Independent on 30 May 1984 the following gem appeared in the form of a statement from the Taoiseach's special economic adviser who said: “There is a lot to be cheerful about in the new figures.” The Government Press Secretary makes no attempt to disguise his real role. Ministers, Deputies and indeed the Taoiseach are regarded by him as nothing more than products to be marketed. It is one great big fraudulent operation.
Mr. Haughey: I do not know if it has been circulated to the Press Gallery but I will check it out and I will get something to the House. I will begin again in case the Deputies have lost my train of thought.
Mr. Haughey: The Government press secretary makes no attempt to disguise his real role. Ministers, Deputies and indeed the Taoiseach are regarded by him as nothing more than products to be marketed. It is one great big fraudulent operation. It has nothing to do with informing the public truthfully about Government policy and activity. This use of a State agency, which is financed by the taxpayer, to ruthlessly and blatantly pursue party political purposes is both an abuse of power and a misuse of public funds. If the Taoiseach has any regard for the principles which should govern public expenditure he should stop it now.
I believe this Government are unaware of the damage that very high levels of taxation are doing to the economy. It is damaging employment and it has destroyed the climate for enterprise and investment. The high level of taxation is placing an intolerable strain on most families. In the Sunday Press last Sunday figures produced by the consultants DKM showed that since 1980 the value  of the average industrial wage both for a single person and for a married person with three children had dropped by about 20 per cent in real terms. In other words there has been a drop for many people of about one-fifth in their average earnings in the last four years. But those who reasonably and naturally complain about this situation are accused of selfishness by the Taoiseach. How remote from reality is the Taoiseach? Many of the lower income group now find themselves in the higher tax bands. In 1980-1981, 12 per cent of taxpayers were paying the higher rates. Now in 1983-1984, 40 per cent of taxpayers are in these higher brackets, a 28 per cent increase, and there is every prospect that in the current financial year the proportion will be even higher.
In the case of those on middle to higher incomes the tax situation has deteriorated even more sharply. We have one of the heaviest rates of personal taxation in Europe. Government Ministers talk about competitiveness but our tax system is clearly contributing to a lack of competitiveness. A single person at present is positively crucified by taxation reaching an effective marginal tax rate of 67 per cent on an income of £12,500. The prospect facing a married couple is very similar. Total taxation will have increased from 34½ per cent of GNP in 1980 to 42 per cent in 1984. I hope Deputies on all sides of the House remember that Fine Gael, under the present Taoiseach, in the June 1981 election promised to reduce the standard rate to 25 per cent, to give £9.60 to every woman in the home and to introduce a tax credit system, and now he has the audacity to come here today and lecture us about integrity in political life.
The current budget deficit will be in four figures for the first time this year and it is now accepted that there is no hope of eliminating the deficit by 1987 as promised. This key objective of the Government's policy of fiscal rectitude has been abandoned and the entire policy is now totally discredited.
High taxes cannot be divorced from the unemployment situation. They depress consumer spending power. They also destroy the will to work, initiative  and enterprise. Unfortunately, many of the ideas that pass for tax reform would only have the effect of making the tax system still more onerous. The National Planning Board, which has been foisted on the taxpayer, propose for example the taxation of all social welfare benefits, redundancy payments and retirement benefits; in other words, taxing those who were unfortunate enough to lose their employment.
Fianna Fáil are convinced that some reduction in tax levels is essential to the economic well-being of the nation, essential to any hope of restored economic prosperity and revived employment. It will be our objective to get back as far as possible to the situation that obtained back in 1980 when we had reasonable tax levels compared with today, and to dismantle as much as possible of the extra taxation that has been imposed by this Coalition Government and their predecessor.
I will remind the House of some of the extra taxes the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition have imposed since July 1981: 1 per cent income levy, 1 per cent employment levy, abolition of 25 per cent income tax band, imposition of new 65 per cent income tax band, residential property tax, 8 per cent VAT on clothing, increase in low VAT rate from 10 per cent to 23 per cent, new VAT rate of 5 per cent on domestic fuel, 25 per cent rate of VAT increased to 35 per cent, local authority charges of all kinds, increase in basic rate of employee's PRSI from 4.75 to 7.5 per cent. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but taken together the items contained in it represent an intimidating list of additional tax burdens.
The challenge for any Government is to find an economic balance at a significantly higher level of activity. This will involve strategically placed tax cuts, which will help to regenerate economic activity and confidence and which will contribute to the maintenance and creation of employment.
The Government's background Paper on Employment contained not a single reference to the construction industry, despite the fact that it has always been  one of our major sources of employment. Public investment has declined steeply under this Government. According to a firm of economic consultants quoted in The Irish Times of 9 May 1984 public capital spending was down 14½ per cent below the budgeted level in the first three months of this year. It can be anticipated that there will be another big shortfall in capital spending this year. Given that the capital requirements of some sectors are likely to decline, there would be a strong case for a major increase in road spending to bring our roads in a few years up to a comparable standard elsewhere. It is generally agreed that such investment represents productive investment, despite the lack of genuine direct monetary return. A survey has established that the Naas by-pass is giving a 22 per cent rate of return on the capital involved. Now would be the time to embark with EEC assistance on a serious motorway programme on the more congested parts of the main roads linking our cities, especially in the environs of Dublin. The building of a national gas grid should not be delayed any longer. As we have always maintained, an additional £200 million should be immediately put into the construction industry.
The Government to date have made no real effort to formulate an employment policy nor have they had adequate regard to the employment effect of their budgetary decisions. Fianna Fáil are the employment party. Between 1977 and 1980 we were able to create 80,000 new jobs, an achievement unmatched before or since. The OECD are now predicting that our unemployment rate will rise to 18 per cent or somewhere in the region of 240,000 in 1985. This is, of course, assuming that the figures are not reduced by emigration. There is still absolutely no sign of the “firm and decisive action” to deal with unemployment promised by this Government when they took office.
Foreign investment is no longer coming into Ireland. The level of IDA job approvals dropped from 26,000 in 1982 to only 14,000 in 1983, compared with a 1980 peak of 35,000. Attracting investment is a question of adopting the right  approach, and clearly this Government have not the right approach.
Progress in reducing inflation has also been disappointingly slow. Since mid-November 1982, which saw a dramatic fall from nearly 20 per cent at the beginning of that year to 12.3 per cent, inflation has only declined by 2.6 per cent. The mid-May figure for 1984 is even 1.2 per cent higher than the corresponding figure for last year. Real interest rates also remain discouragingly high.
There is little to be added concerning the public finances to what has already been said by me and by others on different occasions. The Government's policy target of a four-year elimination of the current budget deficit, as I have said, has been cynically abandoned. There should be no illusions that our foreign debt situation has improved. The foreign debt increased from 44 per cent of GNP in 1982 to 52½ per cent of GNP in 1983, and even on the most optimistic assumptions will rise a further 2 per cent or 3 per cent this year. The cost of servicing the foreign debt will have risen from 4 per cent of export earnings in 1980 to 15 per cent this year. While in 1982 the foreign debt was 95 per cent of one year's export earnings, in 1983 it had crept up to 102 per cent. It remains to be seen whether this proportion will increase or decline this year.
The amount of foreign borrowing that this Government have engaged in since 1981 makes their attacks on Fianna Fáil meaningless and hypocritical. Indeed, it was ironic to hear the Minister for Finance a few weeks ago say “Foreign borrowing in the first quarter of this year represents proper, prudent management”. The figures showed that he had already borrowed £670 million or 85 per cent of the year's target in the first three months of this year. We shall see whether he will keep to this overall target in the remaining nine months of the year.
The present position is, therefore, that the economic problems which an incoming Government will have to face are far worse than those which obtained in December 1982. Indeed, the reality is that our general economic situation has deteriorated sharply since that time. The Coalition have failed disastrously on the  economic front. When Fianna Fáil were in power we protected the economy and the people from the worst effects of the recession. Today, the challenge facing the Government is to bring Ireland out of the recession and back onto a sustained rate of economic growth leading to more jobs.
This Government are clearly incapable of meeting that challenge. As the results of the European elections and of three by-elections have decisively demonstrated, the people have no confidence whatever in this weak and divided Coalition of Fine Gael and Labour, now totally discredited and which they want out at the earliest opportunity.
The end of this Coalition is in sight. The partnership, if there ever really was one, has burst up. My advice to them is to go now because the longer they stay the worse it will be both for them and for the country.
In the course of his speech the Taoiseach referred to recent discussions with the British Prime Minister on the Report of the New Ireland Forum. I do not want to say too much about that report or the events that followed the publication of that report because at this stage it is probably wise to await the outcome of the forthcoming debate in the British House of Commons. After that debate has taken place we will know a great deal more about the realities of the situation. However, I want to correct the record in so far as our party are concerned, in view of something the Taoiseach in his usual tendentious way, said in his speech here today.
On two separate occasions our party unanimously endorsed the report of the New Ireland Forum in its entirety. Let there be no doubt about that. Our party are crystal clear in that regard and our party are only reflecting the feelings of our organisation throughout the country. We have accepted and endorsed the Report of the New Ireland Forum in every line, and in particular we have endorsed the conclusion, in our view the principal conclusion, of the report, the wish to see established a unitary state. I hope the Taoiseach has not been misled in any way in regard to our position.
Mr. Haughey: The motions that come before our party are published but we do not hear much about the motions that come before the Fine Gael Party. The motion before our party was rejected because in our view it sought to approve of any political discussions with the British Government. The Taoiseach knows perfectly well my position in that regard. He knows the position of our party in that regard. We wish the approach to the British Government to be on the basis of the Forum report and the principal conclusion of that report, namely, the wish to have a unitary state established embracing the whole island of Ireland. In particular, we wish to see the British Government approached with a view to calling an all-round constitutional conference as set out in the Forum report.
Mr. Haughey: I do not think the Taoiseach is doing the cause of Irish nationalism and Irish unity any good by this sort of attempt to stir up inter-party disputations. He knows that since the report was published I have sought to keep the whole discussion on a very mature and responsible basis. I intend to continue to do that. The Taoiseach knows from the many discussions we had during the 11  months that we would not wish him, as the Leader of the Irish Government, to approach the British Government and have political discussions about certain matters that we think would be dangerous and counter-productive.
The Taoiseach should be honourable enough to accept our bona fides in that regard. We are quite clear and specific on where we stand. We have refrained from attempting to muddy the water in any way. I do not wish to say too much about the Forum report or the British Government's reaction to it until the debate in the House of Commons has taken place. However, I am not very encouraged by some of the things that are emanating from different quarters. First of all, the attitude expressed by the Northern Secretary of State is entirely negative, and I hope it does not represent the considered view of the British Government even before the House of Commons debate has taken place.
I am conscious of the fact that the statement made by the Taoiseach after his meeting with the British Prime Minister in Paris was very succinct and, indeed, quite negative; but I accept that on occasions like that it is not the practice to disclose the content of the discussions that take place. Nevertheless, the description of the meeting was far from optimistic or encouraging. In particular I notice that the British Prime Minister in the House of Commons recently when talking about the forthcoming meeting between herself and the Taoiseach described it as “one of our customary bilateral meetings”. It seems to me that that was clearly underplaying the significance and importance of this forthcoming meeting. I hope these indications are not borne out in fact but the outlook, as I always feared it would be, in that regard is not at this stage very optimistic or encouraging.
This debate should be about the essentials of our economic situation. The two factors that are of central and crucial importance to our whole economic future are (1) unemployment and (2) the levels of taxation. I accuse the Government of not making any real attempt to come to grips with either of those two central  problems. We have as yet no action or policy in regard to unemployment. The Government have been in office for a reasonable period but even today we are only told about proposals for industrial policy and proposals for a national economic plan. I notice that the Taoiseach in his statement when dealing with the national economic plan talked about choices and options. We have already had from the National Planning Board proposals for a plan. First of all the Taoiseach told us that that National Planning Board would bring forth a plan but in the event it brought forth proposals for a plan. We were then told that following the publication of these proposals the Government would go to work and produce a plan. Time goes on, the economic situation deteriorates and the unemployment queues lengthen but we are still not quite clear on what will be brought forward. The Taoiseach today talked about a plan that will show hard choices and set out options. Does that mean we still have not a specific concrete plan of action? If that is so the outlook is very depressing indeed.
On the second front — they are inter-related — there is the crushing burden of taxation and, in particular, the burden of personal taxation. Increasingly as I talk to my constituents and people generally it is borne in on me that until something is done about the level of personal taxation we will not make any significant breakthrough towards an economic recovery. The levels of taxation on the individual are increasingly turning our people into a state of apathy where they do not feel like making any great effort. As far as business is concerned more and more business people are saying that all the various taxes, charges and levies they have to bear are making life almost impossible for them.
I was particularly struck by an incident I became aware of in the last few days. Indeed, it is mentioned in our newspapers this morning. That incident may not be of any great national significance or impinge on the consciences of the economic advisers that surround the Taoiseach. I should like to mention the news announced in this morning's newspapers  about the Dingle Boatyard, a little private enterprise that I know a great deal about. It had a very energetic and enterprising management who went outside the country and got orders for their products and seemed to be doing very well. It does not employ many people, 15 or 20, but the news this morning is that it is going to go to the wall. Are we really serious when talking about industrial policy and White Papers when we cannot save one single local enterprise of that type that gives good employment to 15 or 20 people in a town and an area where employment is desperately needed? I should like to ask the Taoiseach, and his Minister for Industry, to look at that as a test case. Are we really going to devise any sort of sane and sensible industrial policy when we let small local enterprises of that kind which have a very natural base of existence serving the fishing industry go to the wall? I only mentioned that case because I happen to know about it and because it was brought to public attention this morning but it is typical of hundreds, and even thousands, of similar incidents around the country. Whatever White Papers are brought out or whatever major new approaches we may have to industrial policy somebody somewhere should be making a major effort to save countless small local industries and enterprises of that type around the country which are finding it impossible to carry on.
I believe that the end of the Coalition is in sight in spite of the brave whistling past the graveyard words the Taoiseach used this morning in the course of the introduction of his Estimate. The reality is, and we all know it, that the Coalition is drawing to a close. The partnership, if there ever really was a partnership, has clearly been shattered. My advice to the Taoiseach, and to his Ministers, is to go now. The Taoiseach seems buoyed with percentages and statistics arising out of the European elections despite the fact that we won an overall majority of the seats. If he is so enthusiastic about support for his party at present I suggest that he go to the country now. The longer the Government stay in office led by this Taoiseach the worse things are going to  become for the Government, and more importantly, for the country as a whole. My advice to the Taoiseach is that if he really believes the sort of rubbishy statistics and percentages he was dishing out this morning he should put them to the test and go to the country now.
An Ceann Comhairle: No. I have been considering the position, and the Order of Business as read out today seems to give the Chair no option, although I admit it does violence going from Government to Opposition and to Opposition.
An Ceann Comhairle: I accept that it does violence going from the Government side to the Opposition and then to the Opposition again. The Order of Business states: “Also by agreement, the following arrangements shall apply:—the speech of the Taoiseach and the first speaker for each of the Opposition parties shall not exceed 45 minutes.” The next part says: “.... the speech of each subsequent speaker shall not exceed 30 minutes.” I must interpret that as imposing an obligation on me to call Deputy Mac Giolla now.
Mr. Mac Giolla: I will not take the full time allowed to me. As the House is aware. I am usually fairly brief on these matters because what has to be said can be said in a short time. All are agreed that this has been a bad year for the country in general and for the Government. There are no new initiatives or ideas in the economic or any other field. There were many expectations during the year of changes in direction, White Papers on the economic area, taxation changes in the budget, which were promised the year before, a new development corporation and much else. None of these things came about.
The surprising thing is that most people expected that this Government would be pretty bad in the economic field because they were going to concentrate purely on the Thatcherite cutback policies which have been established for the past 18 months, but people thought that in order to make up for this we would see some changes in the social area, perhaps some new legislation in regard to the availability of contraceptives, changes in the family law area and the possibility of Government support for an amendment to change the constitutional position on divorce. It was expected that the new women's affairs Minister would come forward with many new ideas. We were told there would be spectacular progress in the area of social reform which would not cost any extra money. There would be cutbacks in the economic area but there would be progress on social issues. This has not happened. There has been no movement forward. All we got in the past year was the constitutional amendment which was a backward step, not a progressive step. There has been no new move since then from the Government. This is one of the very disappointing features of a Government who promised liberal reforms on numerous social issues.
At the same time the economic stringencies have been even more severe than expected and people have become more and more affected by cutbacks in relation  to employment, pay, public expenditure, assistance to semi-State bodies, assistance to companies in trouble and particularly the cutbacks in areas such as education, health and the social services. The Government are still looking very closely at these areas and making cutbacks.
The whole future of this country is being affected by education cutbacks because they are having an effect on the development of the capacities and skills of young people. It is very dangerous to impose cutbacks in this area because it increases the possibility of a slow-down in economic growth in the future, leaving us in a worse position to take advantage of any general upturn. The Minister for Education keeps putting out documents and plans about new structures in education and giving the impression of great activity. At the same time she is imposing very serious cutbacks in all sectors of education, to the detriment of both pupils and teachers. They have suffered so seriously that the teachers' unions, the VECs and all those involved are emphasising the total erosion of the educational system, the difficulty of administering it and giving a decent education to children. Families are having to pay more and more for what is supposed to be a free education system. There are extra charges in all areas.
The cutbacks in the health services, which are purely for book-keeping purposes, are of a very serious nature. There were some specific cutbacks last year in the number of items available on the medical card, but this year the Minister has simply cut back the money available to individual health boards and left it to them to decide how best to operate within the confines of their budget. Each health board budget has been cut back by several million pounds and they have been told to manage as best they can. Restrictions in health services will then be blamed on the health boards, not on the Minister since he can deny giving any specific directives. The health boards are imposing restrictions but only because the necessary money is not being made available to them.
These various cutbacks in small areas  can have very serious effects on the health of people, such as that mentioned last week, the danger of cutbacks in services for the transportation of patients for dialysis treatment in Jervis Street. There is also the lack of facilities for people awaiting open heart surgery, something which is of vital concern to such people. But approximately 25 per cent only of those who need such surgery can get it each year and, instead of those facilities being increased, they are becoming fewer. These cutbacks really endanger the health and lives of people. If the Minister for Health wishes to indulge in flowery phrases such as “shroud waving” in attacking people who are saying these things, then I might turn the phrase round on him by saying that he is the person who is bringing about the increasing use of shrouds by these very serious cutbacks in the health area. I suppose such restrictions are being imposed on him at Government level. Probably he is being told: yours is one of the big spending areas, so just cut down on the moneys being spent; never mind what effect it will have on people; you will receive so much money and that is that. That is the type of attitude in the bookkeeping area and public expenditure watchfulness of the Government that is really turning people off.
When people advance these arguments the Taoiseach, the Government or Ministers reply; well, where is the money to come from; nothing is free; it has to be raised through taxes. People are taxed too highly already. Deputy Haughey referred to a long list of these taxes which are already too high. But what is the answer? The answer our party have been putting forward consistently on each occasion on which these issues have been raised is very clear and simple — from taxes to be raised in other areas. In fact more money should be raised in taxes, less from the PAYE workers, but more in the area of capital taxation. The OECD recently — and nobody can contend that they are a radical or left-wing organisation; they are the most conservative economic or financial advisors in the whole world — said that Ireland's tax base is very narrow by international  standards, that there is scope for an increase in the share of taxation on property, companies and the farming sector, because it is lower than that obtaining in any other country in the world in those areas. Their report says that in Ireland the corporate share of taxes is relatively low and has fallen appreciably since 1970. I have pointed out on a number of occasions in this House, at budget times in particular, that our share of corporate taxation has been falling consistently since 1974 and is now one-third only of what it was ten years ago. The OECD say also that the share of property taxes has decreased, again since 1978. They point out that the level of tax on agricultural incomes is very low and has never accounted for more than 1 per cent of total tax levied on incomes and on wealth. In 1982, they say, it was as low as 0.3 per cent, the lowest in the OECD countries anyway. They pointed out also that there is in operation a very broad range of allowances against tax, particularly on interest payments. That OECD report is indicative of what has been happening in this country over a decade, a consistent reduction in taxes on capital, property, corporate taxes on the self-employed, professional and farming sectors. The level of taxation on them has decreased constantly while it has increased consistently on PAYE workers whose incomes are known, where deduction is simple and who never actually receive the money to which they are entitled.
This raises another question being discussed increasingly in trade union and worker circles at present, which is: is the PAYE system constitutional? Everybody else has had resort to the law courts, to justices. For example, landlords were able to have the Rent Restrictions Act found to be unconstitutional after a period of 30 years. This means that landlords can now charge tenants what they like, and are charging what they like, in rents to people who have tenanted property for the last 30, 40 or 50 years. Again, if such rents are too high for some people to pay, the landlords do not lose, it is the taxpayer who loses because the taxpayer  pays to the landlord a sum of money to compensate for elderly people who are unable to meet these high rents. And one might well ask: what taxpayer pays it? It is the PAYE worker who pays the money over to the landlords because the landlords succeeded in having this Rent Restrictions Act found to be unconstitutional in the court.
That was followed by the farmers who took the question of the valuation system of rates on agricultural land to the courts. Rates on agricultural land had been paid over a long number of years since the State was founded. This had never been challenged. However, the farmers challenged it and the judges said: oh, yes, that is unconstitutional; rates cannot be raised on the valuation system. What happened? The difference had to be made up by somebody. Local authorities now receive no income from rates on agricultural land. In fact not all farmers were paying these rates, a considerable number of them already being in receipt of relief on rates on agricultural land but those who could well afford it were being asked to pay. Those who could not afford it were getting relief. Therefore there was no question of farmers being penalised by rates. Only those who could afford it were asked to pay but they found that to be unconstitutional. As the landlords had done before them, the IFA won and the big farmers were told they would not have to pay any rates on agricultural land any more.
How is that discrepancy made up? This Government, and the present Minister for Energy in particular, as Minister for the Environment, introduced legislation enabling local authorities to raise moneys to make up for the agricultural rates they were losing from farmers. To compensate they could now charge for local services they provided. Who are they charging mostly? Of course it is the same people, the urban workers paying PAYE, PRSI contributions, the 1 per cent income levy and the youth employment levy. These are the same people who are now being asked to pay local charges for water, refuse collection and, in some local authority areas, even for the fire brigade; for example, if one rings the brigade to  put out a fire in one's chimney one may be asked for £50. A whole series of charges for local authority services have to be paid by urban workers to compensate for the loss of moneys or taxes farmers are not paying.
In the last budget everybody, including the farming organisations themselves, expected that the loss of revenue from rates on agricultural land would be made up by some new form of tax on farmers. It was generally expected that a land tax would be introduced last January to yield sufficient revenue to compensate for the amount of money farmers are not now paying in rates and which they had been paying for the last 50 or 60 years. This is totally separate from income taxation, about which there have been many arguments to the effect that farmers are not being charged sufficient and so on. The only farming taxation system left was that of rates on agricultural land which were abolished. Everybody had expected that the last budget would have initiated a new land tax to make up for that shortage. But there was no reference whatever in the Minister's budgetary statement to any taxation of farmers, no reference whatever to any new land tax and no change has been wrought in that position since then. Local authorities are consistently pursuing householders for their charges of £30, £40, in some cases even £50 or £60 for water, for refuse collection, sewerage and so on in their areas. This has been pursued consistently. We are now looking for two years' payment from many people and the vast majority of tenants and residents in these areas see through this double taxation and are refusing to pay. The Government must now look into the question of the abolition of these local authority charges and make up for them in the way that was expected by those who abolished the rates having to pay some new form of taxation.
Taxation is one of the most vital areas that the Government must tackle. They must begin to realise why the people are so opposed to Government policies and things which take place in this House, and what has been happening consistently. Huge numbers of people are  dependent on social welfare benefits as a result of the dramatic increase in numbers out of work. In the past year another 30,000 people lost their jobs, and the numbers out of work are still increasing rapidly. About a year-and-a-half ago we heard great talk in this House about people who were unemployed being paid more than people who were employed, this was a national scandal, etc. We do not hear any of that now. Why? Because it does not happen. A year-and-a-half ago people who had paid for their insurance stamps down the years were getting unemployment benefit and on top of that pay-related benefit for which again they had contributed. This was bringing their income up. We pointed out at the time that that would be for a very short period. That period has ended now. Of the total number unemployed, one-half are now on unemployment assistance. They have lost all benefits. They are on the edge of the poverty line. The numbers on assistance are increasing week by week, and soon the majority of those unemployed will be on assistance. Nobody now is saying that people out of work are getting more than people in work because it just is not happening. The standard of living of those people goes down continuously. It is not a question of being out of a job and then having a steady income after that through unemployment benefit. After 18 months they are on unemployment assistance and the standard of living for those families drops considerably. Unemployed people are tremendously disillusioned when they see their standard of living dropping, that they are living on the edge of poverty, their children unable to assist the family by getting jobs in future.
The area of job creation has not been dealt with at all by this Government. The Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Deputy Bruton, who is here now, has told us that now that we are going into recess we are to get the White Paper on industrial policy that has been so eagerly awaited. We will be able to chew and chaw over it for three or four months before we come back here in the autumn and really talk about it. He said that the Government saw the National  Development Corporation, which we have been hearing about for 18 months
Mr. Mac Giolla: It is in today's The Irish Times 29 June 1984. It does not say who gave the report but it is a report of a comment by the Minister, Deputy Bruton. At least I suppose that will keep the people in the National Enterprise Agency happy, because they will continue on in the same job under a different name. They were becoming very worried in recent weeks wondering if they were to be wound up or what was going to happen. They know now that they will continue on but they will be the NDC instead of the NEA. We have a drastic change in policy there. If the Labour Party let them get away with this they can forget about their influence in coalition government. That was one of the big factors in the Joint Programme for Government with the Labour Party and Fine Gael nearly two years ago which has not happened yet, and when it happens it will not be what they expected. If the Government do not tackle the areas of jobs and taxation they will be in a very serious position because of the growing alienation and the feeling that the bunch in here are just watching themselves, fixing themselves up but not worrying about what is happening to the country. When the people see 19 per cent increases for Dáil Deputies, Ministers and judges being handed out here when people are unable to buy food for the table, meat, butter or dairy products because of the huge increase in prices and unable to feed and clothe their children properly, with another 8 per cent VAT on clothing making it even more difficult, they say to themselves, “That is what it is all about,  look after yourselves and forget about everybody else outside”.
Referring again to the quotation in The Irish Times the Minister Deputy Bruton, does not seem to intend to make any drastic change in the Government's industrial policy. He says that the industrial policy will show the Government's response to the Telesis and NESC reports on industrial policy published in 1982. Further on, though, he says:
If that is his response to the Telesis and NESC reports it is simply a rejection of them. Although he does not say so, that is the impression he gives. He is responding, but the way he is responding to them is to reject them, because these reports indicated the need for a drastic change in industrial strategy by basing industrial strategy on the existing natural resources. Whether promoting an Irish industry or bringing in a foreign industry they would be based on existing natural resources of the country. I suppose Medite in Clonmel for our forestry is an example of what they have in mind.
The Minister does not seem to indicate that it is part of his policy to develop industry based on our natural resources. We should be expanding our wealth in that way rather than merely bringing in industries which, while giving employment, are not creating wealth for the economy. The jobs provided by these industries are based on imported raw materials which are used in making products that are exported while the profit, too, is sent out of the country. That is not the kind of industry and policy that will assist us in any way in overcoming our tremendous national debt. Unless we have an industrial policy that is based on our natural resources we will not be able to pay off those debts. We all know of the £500 million that was not accounted for last year. That is an example of what these foreign companies are sending back to their own countries. However, these industries provide good jobs and we are all happy about that.  They provided those jobs at a time when there were huge numbers of job losses in other areas. Nobody is saying we do not want the jobs but that sort of industrial strategy will not result in the development of the wealth of the country. I hope the White Paper will indicate drastic changes in the whole area of job creation and in the use of natural resources as well as in the forestry and food-processing areas and so on.
The Dáil has spent a good deal of time in the past year discussing the Criminal Justice Bill. All Deputies appreciate the need for taking some steps to reduce the level of crime and vandalism in many areas but especially in urban areas and in areas of high unemployment and poverty. Most people should realise by now that these problems must be tackled in not one, but in two or three ways. We must tackle the areas of job creation, of education and of the provision of leisure centres as well as the very important area of community co-operation with the Garda. But the Criminal Justice Bill does not tackle any of these areas. It is regrettable therefore that the Bill was introduced before these other areas have been developed. The Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism were sitting but were not heeded by those who drafted the Bill. The committee issued a report which was not taken into consideration in so far as the Bill was concerned.
The efforts of local communities in the past six months or so in trying, by co-operating with the Garda, to defeat drug pushers, have been frustrated because while there is talk of community policing it is obvious that neither the higher officials in the Department of Justice nor the higher members of the Garda, the Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioners and so on, believe in community policing. They were offered a great opportunity in recent months for the development of direct co-operation between the Garda and local communities to keep out the drug pusher and generally to follow up on the same co-operation in the elimination of the vandalism and general criminal activity that takes place in many housing estates and groups of flats as well as in rural areas. Communities are willing  to co-operate with the Garda in every way possible but there must be the understanding that the community, too, will be listened to whereas the Garda would seem to regard the public as being eyes, ears and spies for the force. That is not the function of these local communities. They expect the Garda to be part of their communities and that the whole system of junior liaison officers and so on would be used in co-operation with the local communities in preventing the development whereby some gangs operate to oppose the criminal gangs, something that can lead to a chaotic situation.
The past year has been notable particularly for the achievement of the New Ireland Forum in producing a joint report but that has been the extent of the forum's achievement. They did a very good job in the production of reports on the financial and economic effects of the division of our country in terms of the cost of security and so on. The forum dealt very well, too, with many other aspects of the Northern Ireland problem. The work of the forum was well researched and analysed but when they got down to the brass tacks of what political decisions ought to be made as a result of the report, that is where the break-up came as was evidenced immediately after the issuing of the report. In other words, the disagreement hinged on the question of where we go from here. That argument will continue for another year or for two or three years just as has been the case of many other arguments but all the time the bombings, the killings, the sectarian divisions and the segregation of people into separate ghettoes in Northern Ireland will continue. That whole horrible development that has taken place mainly as a result of the ruthless attacks of the Provisionals in the past ten years will continue. The lack of political action will continue to manifest itself also if the forum report simply ends up in argument as to how we should proceed. It would be very helpful if there could be agreement among parties that at least for an interim period there must be some political development in Northern Ireland. They must be given a chance to sort themselves out in the short term before we  come up with long-term solutions. It would be a great help if we could get agreement in the south.
The civil rights campaign had nothing to do with the Provos and those who subsequently became the Provos were totally opposed to it at the time. The civil rights campaign was ruined by the Provos. We will recall that all they were looking for was equality of citizenship with the UK. The question of civil rights has never been looked at in any of the White Papers issued by the British Government. We can see the results of that in the judicial system and the RUC. The complaints of 15 years ago were never looked at. It developed into a terrorist ghetto and resulted in sectarian attacks which are continuing.
We hope that any discussion on the Forum report will be looked at, like it or not, in conjunction with other reports such as that of the Official Unionist Party. Their report is called The Way Forward. I am sure Deputy Lenihan will be interested to note that they may have taken the name from the Fianna Fáil document issued two years ago. The DUP have also issued a report and there was an EEC report. These should all be taken into consideration so that people will have some idea of where they can go in order to get political progress.
Minister for Industry, Commerce, Trade and Tourism (Mr. J. Bruton): : In the course of his speech Deputy Haughey challenged the Goverment to mention a single achievement they had in their term of office. I should like to list 25 separate achievements the Government have to their name. It is important to put these on record because Deputy Haughey seems to need some advice in this area. We have had major achievements in the industrial area. In 1983 we recorded the fastest rate of growth in manufacturing output of all the EEC countries.
Mr. J. Bruton: The ESRI have predicted that there will be an upturn in manufacturing employment in the next  12 months which will be a reversal of the trend since 1979. From my discussions in Government and elsewhere I know that there is an increase in the number of projects coming from the IDA for approval. Last year there were 800 investment projects approved with a planned capital investment of £500 million. The indications this year are that the performance will be considerably up on last year.
Secondly, we have taken action to provide incentives for people who were unemployed to set up their own business. We introduced an enterprise allowance scheme. We provided that pay-related benefit which previously could only be paid on a weekly basis can now be paid in a lump sum. A person can receive anticipated pay-related benefit and put it into the business he is setting up. They can add it to the enterprise allowance which they can also receive in a lump sum and so have a block of money to invest in a business which they are starting.
Thirdly, we introduced a new scheme to encourage private venture capital into industry through concessions in the recent budget. People who have significant income with money to spare can avoid paying any tax on it if it is invested in a manufacturing business. This hopefully will lead to greater equity in businesses and less reliance on borrowing which, in many cases, has been a source of constraint on manufacturing expansion. There has been an undue reliance on bank borrowing and insufficient equity in businesses.
Fourthly, we have established a national softwear centre. This is designed to provide a source of excellence and advice in Ireland in what will be the greatest employment area in the future — the development of softwear for the electronics industry. We are already quite well established in the provision of hardwear, in other words actual computers. The messages that go into the computer are called softwear.
Fifthly, we have provided a special tax concession to encourage computer service exports from Ireland by extending the existing 10 per cent corporate manufacturing profits tax which was hitherto  confined to computer service firms, in other words, firms selling Irish intelligence abroad — not necessarily Irish goods but Irish data assembly systems. Much of this is done through the telecommunications network. With modern telecommunications, firms can be located anywhere in the world. We are at no disadvantage vis-à-vis someone who is in the place where the information is being used because of instantaneous telecommunications. As a result of this year's Finance Bill, these services can now get the same 10 per cent manufacturing tax which was available to other manufacturers. That is a major step forward.
Sixthly, we provided tax concessions in two successive budgets for the development of profit-sharing and worker shareholding in industry. One of the problems in industrial relations has been that workers felt no sense of identity with the places where they worked. They felt that if their firm made large profits they did not share in them. They felt their wages were unrelated to the performance of the firm or their own performance. A sense of alienation developed in industry between management and workers. I am sure Deputy Mac Giolla will be familiar with this — it is a typical example of class war in industry. We must get away from a “them and us” attitude which has been the cause of so much waste of talent, loss of production, friction and strike. Hopefully, it will become more common for workers to own a share in the industry in which they work so they will not feel a sense of alienation or divergence of interest with management and those with whom they work. We have introduced major concessions in the Finance Bill which hopefully will lead to an increase in worker shareholding. I have invited the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federated Union of Employers to discuss this concept. Both have circulated their membership on this subject so that they can make considered submissions to me.
As regards the social area of our policy, we devised proposals which we will implement later this year for a family income supplement. This will enable payments to be made in cash to low income  families who are at work. Undoubtedly, low income families at work, in isolated situations, can be worse off than those not at work.
I concede fully what Deputy Mac Giolla said about those on unemployment assistance. There are very few ways in which on that basis they would be better off than at work. Taking large families where the dependency allowance is larger on social welfare benefit than in the child tax situation of a person at work, those on low incomes are getting a particularly bad deal under our entire welfare and taxation system. The family income supplement will be a major innovation in our tax and welfare code. These families will be able to receive a direct cash benefit in recognition of the family responsibilities which they have to bear, particularly in respect of children. This would be, I admit, a tentative step to redressing one of the fundamental injustices in our tax system — the treatment of children in their families.
If one compares the cash value here of the combined child allowances, both tax and social welfare, as a percentage of the value of the tax allowance in respect of a spouse with other OECD countries, the relative treatment of children is least generous in Ireland vis-à-vis all other OECD countries. The family supplementary income will do something to redress that. The cash value of child allowances as a percentage of the cash value of the spouse allowance, taking both tax and social welfare allowances, is as follows: Ireland, 34 per cent of the average in OECD, compared with 149 per cent in Belgium, 62 per cent in Canada, 87 per cent in Denmark, 378 per cent in France, 131 per cent in Germany, 100 per cent in Japan, 151 per cent in the Netherlands, 167 per cent in Sweden, 157 per cent in Switzerland, 99 per cent in the UK and 48 per cent in the USA. All those countries are more generous than we in that respect. This injustice will obviously take a considerable time to redress but I am glad to say that this family income supplement and the increase in the children's allowances will begin to redress the situation.
The seventh point refers to the extension  of additional free travel facilities by this Government to categories who previously did not benefit — blind pensioners, social welfare invalidity pensioners, and recipients of UK invalidity pensions.
Eighth, we have introduced a major improvement in the incapacitated tax allowance. It is clear that it is bad socially and from a fiscal point of view that those who are old and infirm should be driven into institutions because the family cannot afford to look after them. The incapacitated tax allowance which the Minister for Finance increased from the previous figure of £700 to £2,000 will provide a direct financial incentive to employ somebody to look after an aged relative in the home rather than in an institution where it would both cost the taxpayer more and would more than likely result in the relative being far less content and happy in his or her old age than in the context of the family.
Moving on to the ninth area — and I had promised Deputy Lenihan and Deputy Haughey to give 25 achievements of the Government — this is the negotiation of the arrangements whereby we can supply Kinsale gas to Northern Ireland. I regard this as a major achievement.
Mr. J. Bruton: The arrangement was made, similarly, to supply natural gas to people in Dublin. When I took up office as Minister for Energy no such arrangement had been finalised, and I am glad that I succeeded in finalising not only the supply of natural gas to Northern Ireland but also to our own capital city, so that Irish resources can be used to heat Irish homes rather than imported oil. I regard  those two as major achievements under the present Government.
The twelfth point is the appointment of an Ombudsman, which will provide an alternative to those who want redress from administrative injustice. In future, they will not have to go to the TD with cap in hand, but will have the opportunity of taking their cases direct to the Ombudsman. In Britain, on the other hand, one must approach an MP to get access to the Ombudsman. Our system will get rid, in part, of the clientism which had dogged Irish politics.
We have provided a new system for the appointment of top level civil servants whereby merit will become the deciding factor rather than seniority and the best people can be found from the entire civil service to fit any given post, rather than selecting from a narrow group within the Department in which the vacancy occurs. We also negotiated a public service pay agreement last year which succeeded in contributing not only to industrial peace in the public service but also to a considerable saving in public funds relative to what would have been paid out if the normal previous public sector pay agreement created by other Governments had been adhered to.
We have a remarkable achievement to our name in the area of agriculture, in the negotiation of an almost 5 per cent increase in the Irish quota for milk when every other country in Europe was having its quota for milk production cut. This success was due to the efforts of the Minister for Agriculture, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance. That is a very significant achievement for this Government and this country.
We also have extended for a further year the concession whereby stamp duty is not levied on transfers of land to young farmers under the age of 35. This has been a very successful scheme in encouraging the transfer of land to younger farming members of the family. I understand that approximately 100 farms each month are transferred to young, trained farmers under this scheme. That is the direct result of a tax concession introduced by this Government. Land that under a previous dispensation probably  would have lain fallow in the hands of the older farmers because of the fear of the cost of stamp duty on transfer may now be transferred to the younger farmers. As a result land is being better used, everybody is better off and agricultural production is improved.
On a similar note, we have legislation before the House to provide for long-term leasing of agricultural land, again with a view to getting away from land lying fallow in the hands of people unable to work it but not wanting to sell it for sentimental or family reasons. These people held on to it at low stocking rates because they did not have an appropriate means of providing an opportunity for somebody else to work it. Because of these long-term leasing measures, farmers will be able to still retain ownership of the land but have a better income from it by enabling someone else to work it.
Likewise, we moved swiftly to deal with the problems of motorists in the PMPA. These measures were welcomed at the time by the entire insurance industry and saved people from a very worrying scenario if that company had not been saved by the speedy action of the Government.
In the housing area, we succeeded last year in having built, both in the local authority sector and the private sector, a total of 26,138 houses. Of these, 6,190 were local authority houses. This is the highest number of such houses in any year since 1979. We have established a new rents tribunal to deal with disputes between landlords and tenants in formerly rent controlled dwellings.
We have provided an increase in the income limits for the Housing Finance Agency which was established by the Government to provide a new source of funds for families wishing to house themselves. I am glad to say that over 7,000 loans have been approved by the Housing Finance Agency so far, to a total value of £136 million, a major success of this initiative by the Government in the housing area.
Furthermore, we have succeeded in introducing and having enacted new legislation to provide separate boards for Bord Telecom Éireann and An Post to  introduce a more commercial and self-confident atmosphere into the provision of postal and telephone services. I am confident that these boards will prove to be a great success.
We moved swiftly to eliminate political interference in the Garda Síochána, something which had seemingly become endemic under the previous Government. That has restored a great deal of confidence on the part of people in the Garda Síochána. They are confident that public representatives cannot interfere with the course of justice in the Garda Síochána. We also introduced a major Bill, the Criminal Justice Bill, which is now proceeding to Report Stage, and which will reform the criminal law and provide greater safeguards for law-abiding citizens. This is the result of very tenacious efforts by the Minister for Justice.
We have introduced legislation to counter the misuse of drugs. There are approximately 25 major areas of action by the Government, but not by any means a comprehensive list. It clearly indicates that we are a Government of activity and reform. We have taken major steps forward.
I should like to deal now with another aspect of activity for which the Government can take a good deal of credit. The Opposition can also claim their share of the credit. I refer to the area of the reform of this House. We will probably be going into recess in the next week or two as a plenary session of the House, but work in Leinster House will continue right through the summer through the successful committee system of the House. The Committee on Public Expenditure have agreed to meet throughout the month of July and will also be meeting weekly in September doing their work in the whole area of public expenditure.
The Committee on Small Businesses will meet twice in July and will also meet regularly in September. The Committee on EC Secondary Legislation expect to  meet twice in July and to meet in September. The legislation committee will be undertaking a large amount of work in July and September with the Committee Stage of the Bankruptcy Bill, a review of intoxicating liquor legislation, a review of delegated legislation and public hearings on postal voting. All this work will be done by the House in committee during the recess of the plenary session.
Most of the other committees have also made arrangements to meet during the recess including the Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies, the Committee on Women's Rights, the Committee on Building Land, The Committee on Joint Services, the Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism and the Committee on Developing Countries. They will be continuing the work of this House. That is a development which could not have occurred in any previous recess of the House. At any stage of our history as a Legislature for 60 or more years, whenever the House went into recess that was it. Everyone went on holiday and all work stopped. As a result of the committee system that is no longer the case. A great deal of valuable work will be done during the recess. I am confident that these committees will prove to be more effective during the recess than during sessions of the Dáil, because Members will be able to concentrate their attention more fully on committee work.
I should like to say a few words about the Northern Ireland problem which was referred to by the three previous speakers in this debate. I do not want to get involved in a detailed discussion on the various reports which have been published on this subject, and the various discussions the Government are undertaking. I should like to make a few fundamental remarks about this issue.
We should see the Northern Ireland problem as essentially a problem of human relationships. The same considerations which apply in improving human relationships in a family, or in a community locally, apply in improving human relationships within Northern Ireland and between people in Northern Ireland and those on the rest of this  island. The first prerequisite for good human relationships is the ability to put oneself in the other person's shoes. A great deal of the problems in this country and a great deal of the problems on the part of Irish nationalists in failing to achieve their objectives and failing to understand what the implications of their objectives were, stem from an inability to put themselves in the shoes of the people to whom all the blandishments were being addressed, namely, the Unionists in Northern Ireland.
There has been and to some extent still is an assumption that one could wish away the views of these people and that in some sense these people were not as courageous and did not have the same sense of self-identity, did not have the same stubborn streak that we have in this part of the island in regard to our traditions, an assumption that, while no one could ever impose any solution on us and we would never submit to anyone in imposing a solution on us, it was possible to think in terms of imposing solutions on other people in this island.
If we are ever to find a solution to our problems we have to realise that, although the people in Northern Ireland with whom we disagree have very different views about the type of future they want from the type of future we would like them to want, they are just as courageous, sincere and antipathetic to being pushed around as we are. Until we have that basic degree of respect for those with whom we are entering into dialogue, the dialogue will not move very far.
It is extremely important in moving forward in any area that one should start with one's own attitudes. In any area of human relationships it is very easy to say what is wrong with the other person. If you get into an argument, whether in the home or in politics or in any other place, it is all too easy to see what is wrong with the other person and to point out all the things he has done wrong. It is much less easy to see what is wrong with your own situation and where there are contradictions in your own point of view.
The good thing about the recent Forum Report was that it attempted to analyse for ourselves where we stood, what we  really believed and where, perhaps, there were contradictions in our own positions in the Republic. That was a wholly good thing, but that process cannot stop just because we published the report. We must continue to work, not only to understand the contradictions in our own position and how they can be removed, but also to understand the feelings of other people who do not agree with us at the moment. We have to accept that their views are as sincere as ours and that it is a question of persuasion. Persuasion will be achieved through dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and not on any other basis. That is a fundamental consideration which should inform all our discussions on all sides of the House in regard to that problem. We should not try to use this problem as a means of scoring an advantage by one party over another. I am glad to say that has not been a very serious feature in recent times. It should not become such because, if it does, we will not make progress.
Mr. Lenihan: I agree with the last remarks made by the Minister about the Forum and the general approach to it. I want to emphasise what Deputy Haughey said this morning. Fianna Fáil played a very prominant part in the meetings and deliberations of the Forum. We fully endorse the Forum and support its findings. The report is permeated by the type of language which is on stream with what the Minister has just stated, that is, a spirit of generosity in regard to whatever discussions and negotiations can hopefully flow from consideration of the report by the people most concerned who are, of course, the British Government.
No amount of gloss on the part of the Taoiseach or the Leader of the House can get over the fact that we are going through a crisis of political leadership. It flows from a very direct internal conflict within the Government between the philosophy of Fine Gael and that of the Labour Party. Any intelligent observer of the political scene can see this epitomised in the contrary remarks in recent days in regard to interpretation of Government policy by the Tánaiste and by the Leader  of the House who has just left. Represented in the Tánaiste, as Leader of the Labour Party, and in Deputy Bruton, probably one of the more conservative members of Fine Gael, is a practical representation of the different poles of thought that exist within the Government and that is finding public expression in our press.
It is not possible to run a Government on that basis if there is a tug-of-war between two Ministers who are obviously diametrically opposed in the ideological sense and who take entirely different attitudes. That kind of approach when transmitted into the Cabinet room must lead to a state of paralysis in relation to making decisions. Fundamentally, government is about making decisions at the end of the day and any ideological or personality factor within a Government that impedes decision-making is bad for political leadership. While preparing White Papers and setting up boards may be valuable in their own way, they are peripheral to the main area of decision-making. Talk about planning boards, task forces. White Papers on industrial policy and so on is no substitute for effective government and decision-making.
I say this advisedly, because in the Taoiseach's speech and in that of Deputy Bruton there is much loose language regarding reforms and White Papers but with no commitment to a decision on those matters. The Taoiseach appears to consider talk about planning boards and task forces as a substitute for government. In talking about the main document, which I take it is the national economic plan, the Taoiseach said:
The Government will shortly place before the nation a National Economic Plan which will spell out, soberly and realistically, the clear choices and options our society has to bring back growth in the economy and in employment.
We do not want another plan to prepare a plan. The Government have got themselves into a mire of double-think and double-talk, where plans are produced, task forces established and White Papers announced. The whole impression is to  create a miasma of activity when nothing is happening. A plan is a plan but all we are told about are choices and options. It appears we will have another debate on the plan, about the choices and the options, but the real choices and the real options should be discussed and agreed upon within the Cabinet between the members of the Government. There is no point in having a plan containing choices and options upon which members of the Government themselves cannot agree. That is the basic weakness in the present Government structure and the reason why real progress is not made. It is the reason the Minister for Finance made what was, in my view, the unfortunate remark about his “neutral” budget. The budget is the only serious document the Government have produced in the past 12 months. In giving that budget his imprimatur, the Minister for Finance called it a neutral budget. It had to be neutral between the two parties in Government, but, in fact, the bubget should be a positive instrument for economic growth. There was little talk of economic growth in the Minister's statement on the budget——
Mr. Lenihan: The Minister did not deal with unemployment and he made a grave error in his assessment of our balance of payments. I studied economics many years ago and I learned that one of the basic indicators and parameters in assessing the economic situation in any country was the balance of payments, that there one found the net position as to where a country really stood. On the admission of the Minister for Finance it is clear that he was £500 million out in his assessment of the balance of payments position when he brought in his budget this year. That is not good enough, and it must be seen in the context of a rise in our national debt and in the rate of foreign borrowing.
I take it that all the talk about financial rectitude and putting our finances in order over four years is no longer on. I suggest to the Minister for Finance that  he come clean on this matter. He should admit that the whole thing has been a ghastly blunder, that the Government are incapable of fulfilling their targets in relation to the economy. The realities of this country are different from the strait-jacket into which the Minister sought to put the country. He should give us an up-to-date reassessment of the real position and he should tell us what the Government can do in relation to job creation, foreign borrowing, capital investment and current budgeting.
This Government are incapable of facing the realities of ordinary economic life in the country. One of the realities is that certain industries can be stimulated quite easily by some form of selective tax incentive geared particularly towards them in an effort to generate employment quickly. I have in mind two obvious industries to which no thought has been given in connection with this matter, namely, the building and construction industry and the hotel industry. They are high-employment industries where activity could be generated very quickly and where there would be a minimum effect on the balance of payments.
We were responsible for the establishment of many industries and the electronics, computer and chemical area depend on imported raw materials, skills and research and development and tend to repatriate whatever profits are made. I am not taking from the strategy of the IDA in that respect because it was an area of industrial investment which we needed to expand and stimulate. However, it does not have the same immediate effect on stimulating employment as the two indigenous industries to which I referred, which are locally based and largely use home raw materials and can give employment fairly quickly. I include all tourism in that, not just the hotel industry; I also include the building and construction industry.
They are the logical industries to stimulate and, having done that, you can go to the Revenue Commissioners and ask them to devise a strategic tax system that will stimulate employment in these two industries. Far from doing that, the Minister, in his otherwise welcome proposal  for the attraction of equity capital into manufacturing industry in the Finance Act, has particularly excluded services of this kind. Major service industries are specifically excluded from that section. I should like the Minister to comment on this because very real progress can be made in those two sectors.
It is an attitude of mind on the part of the Government which prevents them from looking at reality. I refer to the success in regard to the electronics and chemical industry to which the Taoiseach referred. Successive Fianna Fáil Ministers for Industry encouraged the IDA to bring high technology industries here and we have taken a lead in Europe in this respect. We have here some of the best American and Japanese operations in that area and although they are important they can only be a segment of the economic situation in the Irish context. The Taoiseach talked about the improvement in figures, saying that we have doubled our share of the world market over the past 12 years in these industries largely due to the chemicals and electronics industry but he did not say that this was all due to the IDA drive initiated by Fianna Fáil in the late seventies. These industries relate directly to that period. It is a success story but it is confined to that segment of industry. As the Minister is aware, that segment also contributed to his recent problem in regard to the vanishing money which was supposed to be a plus in the balance of payments but emerged as a minus.
Mr. Lenihan: I am in no way denigrating the development of these industries because it is important that we have industrial employment. However, it is only part of the overall economic story. We must concentrate on the service industries which I have mentioned and the two obvious industries are not receiving proper attention in the way of incentive and stimulus whether by way of grants, cheap loans or tax incentives. Employment could be generated very  quickly in those two areas if they were given the right incentives.
Other aspects were raised in the course of the Taoiseach's speech which I should like to mention. They were also mentioned by Deputy John Bruton in a reference to the national economic plan. The Taoiseach made no reference to the National Development Corporation and the Minister did not refer to it either. It is incredible that this major proposed development which brought the Labour Party into Coalition with Fine Gael is not mentioned in very long speeches by the Taoiseach and the Minister. This is obviously an area of ideological cleavage between the Labour Party and Fine Gael. I do not see the point in establishing such an apparatus and merely changing the name of the National Employment Agency to the National Development Corporation and setting up yet another structure of bureaucracy on top of existing ones. With the resources we have I would have preferred to see the Minister and the Government devising a scheme of specialised, strategic and selective taxes to stimulate industry in our economy. If that sort of thinking, plus investment in infrastructure which is the role of the Government, could be developed there would be a proper marriage between the State and private enterprise.
The public capital programme in relation to infrastructure was not fully used last year and is not being fully used this year either. The proper roads, bridges, water and sewerage developments which are essential to infrastructure on which industries can be based has been completely ignored to the extent that there is a reduction this year in the Public Capital Programme like last year. Yet in the other area of capital expenditure which is not included directly in the public capital programme, money is disappearing into Irish Steel and other enterprises of that kind——
Mr. Lenihan: I am not in the Minister's seat and he will have his turn to speak. I have heard him using these tactics before and, candidly, I do not like them. The Minister is not spending the capital moneys which have been allocated to him in the budget on the infrastructural requirements which he is obliged to develop and maintain. That is having a serious effect on industrial development and is the logical area for State expenditure which would help to develop economic activity in the general building and construction area on the private side. That would mean a proper side by side development of public and private investment in the building and construction area, which is being ignored not just by the public side but also, because of lack of confidence, by the private side.
With regard to the general conduct of political affairs, I should like to mention one matter which was raised by the Taoiseach this morning. He launched a personalised subjective, malicious attack on Deputy Haughey——
Mr. Lenihan: It was worse than malicious. It was a vindictive personalised attack which he made this morning on Deputy Haughey and in the process he talked about the lowering of standards. Here this morning the Taoiseach was lowering the standards of this House when he made a personalised attack on Deputy Haughey.
I have been in this House longer than any Deputy present in the Chamber now, but until December 1979 on the appointment of Deputy Haughey as Taoiseach I never heard that type of venomous comment about an incoming Taoiseach as long as I was in this House. That set off a pattern of political debate inside and  outside this House which was taken up by the handlers who orchestrated that kind of venomous underhand politics which was never part of the Irish scene and which is alien to our character. We had this type of politics again this morning from the Taoiseach. During the European elections I had this type of attack from ex-Deputy Keating. He is an afficionado of that type of politics.
If the Taoiseach wants to give a lead in Irish politics and encourage respect for politicians and politics he had better stop making that kind of remark. We can indulge in hard hitting comments and disagreements on economic, social and political matters, but we do not want character assassinations. That is not for us. We reject this type of politics and we hope the people will realise the mentality of the person who indulges in this type of venomous attack.
In his speech the Taoiseach said the public service was being reformed to bring about a better service to the public and to ensure that the highest posts are filled by the most able people. That is a lovely objective to which we all subscribe, but the only people in Government I have seen ever to break that principle are the present Government. They have taken in a very large number of people such as consultants, managers, handlers and so on and these people are a nuisance as far as the legitimate public servants are concerned and they are bringing this Government and the administration of the State into disrepute.
Nearly £200,000 per annum is spent on the Government Information Service and the press secretary. That service is a charge on the public purse and during my time in Government it operated strictly as an arm of the civil service, and not as a propaganda machine for the personal advancement of particular Ministers and the Taoiseach. At present a massive public relations campaign is being carried out at the expense of the public purse by these people who have been brought into not just the Government Information Service, but into other Departments as well. The Minister for Finance should be very concerned about this.
Mr. Lenihan: The Minister for Finance far from making unctuous statements — ensuring that within the public service the highest posts are filled with the most able people — should carry out a thorough examination of the appointments system under which outside people are taken into the civil service as advisers. We have part-time and whole time economists giving advice and so on, and all are paid out of the public purse. It was brought to my attention recently that a solicitor is employed in the Land Commission. Nobody in the Land Commission knows how he got there. His name is James Winston, a young solicitor working in a quasijudicial body and is on record — even in today's Irish Times— as being a person to whom one sends particulars. There was no advertisement or interview for that position. Yet this young man has been appointed to an important professional position dealing with land, property and so on. Up to now these appointments were made after the position had been advertised and the applicants were interviewed. This type of thing is happening day in and day out under what is probably the most corrupt Government since the formation of the State.
The Taoiseach said that the Garda Síochána will be protected against political interference affecting their independence and integrity. The only Minister ever involved in that type of thing is a Minister of the present Government when he was Minister for Justice. The first thing this Government did when they came into office was, by underhand methods, to ensure that the commissioner and the assistant commissioner of the Garda Síochána left the force. That was political interference of a very high order. Yet we have this unctuous remark set out as one of the Government's major achievements — that the Garda Síochána are being protected against political interference by this virtuous Government.
This Government are a nice lot of humbugs  but they will not last very long; the Labour Party will see to that. It is time reality was brought back into Irish politics because this unreal approach has disillusioned people. This cosmetic attitude to politics is epitomised by the press secretary to the Government, but that is not what politics is about. Politics is going into the Cabinet room and reaching decisions in the national interest. No amount of Quangos, like the National Development Corporation, no amount of committees, reports or White Papers, is a substitute for a disciplined Government. What is required here is a Government that will govern.
What we are witnessing now is the slow progress of disintegration of this Government. The Government are having Cabinet meetings but they are not making decisions. I have information that this Government is suffering from total paralysis and an inability to make decisions, they are a Government completely divided. Under that type of Government the Minister for Finance cannot bring in next year the type of Finance Bill he may want to in the national interest.
Minister for Finance (Mr. Dukes): Today, Deputy Lenihan has given another bravura performance of the kind he is so good at. It looks marvellous, but to hear Deputy Lenihan criticising what he calls cosmetic politics is more than a little amusing. Even when he is in full flight, as he was towards the end of his speech, I always see a twinkle in the back of his eye which seems to indicate that he does not take himself very seriously——
Mr. Dukes: ——and that he is more concerned with the effect of what he is saying than with the substance of it. Deputy Lenihan is rightly concerned with the business of making decisions, because that is the function of government. I find a certain inconsistency between what Deputy Lenihan has said now and what he has been saying since December 1982 about the different policies and actions taken by this Government, some of which  he has found possible to support — and I recognise that — and others he has chosen to oppose, as have members of his party. But I honestly cannot accept that there is any reality in his accusation of paralysis or lack of decision-making when so often the Opposition Deputies criticise the Government for what they are doing, the actions we take, and the measures we bring before this House to deal with the various problems facing us. To spend as much time as Deputies opposite do criticising what is actually being done will not wash.
The Minister, Deputy John Bruton, listed the 25 points with which none of the Deputies opposite could disagree. They are all real. They deal with things that have been done. Even Deputy Bruton would agree that all he could do was to give a selective representation because it would have taken far longer than the time available to him to go through the full list.
Deputy Lenihan returned to the old Opposition theme in relation to economic policy in general and fiscal policy in particular. He was back with the old cry of the Opposition about selective tax cuts, though he did not use these words — he spoke about strategic tax cuts. I was tempted to ask him — perhaps Deputy O'Kennedy will tell us — why in heaven's name, if this is such a great idea, the gentlemen opposite never tried it? Why particularly did they not try it in 1982 when it became clear in the middle of the year that there was a revenue collapse? If the Opposition are so convinced about the value of selective tax cuts why did they not try it at the time when we most needed the kind of effect which they claim this kind of measure would have? I am not about to embark on a course of that kind, a course of sheer desperation as far as I can see. It does the Opposition no honour to preach this doctrine when in Opposition but never to carry it out when in Government. Perhaps they do not take it seriously.
In introducing the budget in this House in January last, I set out the main considerations behind the decisions embodied in it. I pointed out that the  measures taken in 1983 had begun to produce results but that further progress had to be made towards rectifying the serious imbalance in the public finances if the economy was to be set once again on a path of sustainable growth in output and employment.
At the same time, however, it was clear that the adoption of an inflexible approach to the implementation of Government policy in regard to the budgetary aggregates could damage our ability to respond to the international recovery which was then gathering pace. A balance had to be struck, therefore, between consolidating the real improvement in the public finances that had been achieved in 1983 and permitting the economy the room for manoeuvre it required to benefit from the international upturn. There was clearly no room for a fiscal stimulus. This would only have added to the problems we are attempting to resolve and it would have reversed the gains we made in 1983.
The Government opted for a pace of adjustment in the public finances in 1984 that is slower than a purely financial approach would suggest. In doing this we were aware that a risk was being taken. I said in the budget speech that events might require the adoption of more restrictive policies in 1985 and later years. This is, obviously, still a possibility but the signs so far are encouraging. The indications available suggest that the Government's expectations for the economy in 1984 will be borne out within the budgetary targets set in January.
That is the framework of this year's budget. It is what is properly described as a neutral budget. Deputies opposite have seized on that word with glee — they have found a new toy, a new word that they hope they can use to bamboozle the House and the public. They know perfectly well what a neutral budget means. They know that this year's budget strategy, designed not to put a fiscal obstacle in the way of the expansion that we could bring about as a result of what is happening on the international market was the right course of action, but for their own short-term purposes they have  seized on the word “neutral” and made something of it which they know it is not.
When preparing the budget, we expected that overall output in the economy could grow by about 2 per cent this year with a continued moderation in the rate of inflation. For unemployment, it was expected that, although continuing to rise, a slow down in the rate of increase would be evident. The data available to date give us no reason to take a more pessimistic view of things.
As I said, the budgetary strategy this year was designed to take advantage of the upturn in the international economy and I am glad to say that the international economic recovery is continuing and being further consolidated. World trade is expected to grow by some 7 per cent this year and economic activity in the OECD area is expected to increase by 4 per cent. Inflation in the OECD area will remain relatively low this year with a mild acceleration in some of the countries where the recovery is well under way being offset by continuing small declines elsewhere, resulting in an average inflation rate for the OECD area of 5½ per cent, the same as in 1983. I picked the OECD because it is in that area that we do most of our trade and whose economic development has the greatest external influence on our ability to increase output and employment.
The more modest economic recovery in the European Community is expected to continue in 1984 with GDP increasing by about 2¼ per cent on average. An encouraging feature of the outlook for 1984 is the expectation that investment will grow by almost 3½ per cent after having fallen or remaining stable for three years running. The inflation rate, reflecting continuing wage moderation, is expected to decelerate further to 5 per cent in 1984, but unemployment is expected to average over 11 per cent of the labour force in 1984 compared with 10½ per cent in 1983.
Despite the very high level of unemployment, the economic environment in the industrialised world is more favourable than it has been for some time. Nevertheless, the prospects for strong and sustained economic growth internationally  are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. These relate to the future prospects for the US economy and the associated question of the trend in the US interest rates and the exchange rate of the dollar. There is also continued concern over the international debt problem and the international financial and monetary system is still under considerable strain. Protectionist tendencies remain strong through the world. These uncertainties are not helping the growth of investment, on which long-term economic growth is crucially dependent.
Despite the overall improvement in growth prospects for the international economy, economic policy remains generally restrictive even in those countries where satisfactory progress has been made in the correction of economic imbalances and the appropriateness of this stance will have to be monitored in the light of developments.
I would remind the House that this morning the Taoiseach made the point that there is a case for examining a different approach to the co-ordination of economic policies within the EEC and if possible on a wider basis, in the OECD in particular. The Taoiseach and I will be pursuing this during the course of our EEC Presidency.
Many people here and elsewhere will agree that the European Community is not making the impact on the world economic scene which its weight and economic size would indicate it can. We are very anxious that we have a new approach to the co-ordination of economic policies within the Community, not for the sake of the policies themselves but to ensure that the mix of policies between the member states of the Community is one that will give us, collectively as a Community and individually as member states, the best results for the resources we can bring to bear to meet our problems. I am far from convinced that the Community is getting full value from the resources it can bring to bear on the problems. We will be working during the next six months to find ways of improving the value and response we get from the operation both of national and Community policies in this area.
 Trends in the international economy so far this year bear out our expectations when the budgetary strategy was adopted, but the uncertainties surrounding future developments reinforce the case for improving the competitiveness of the home economy to take full advantage of the present upturn and to guard against the adverse effect of any slackening off in the recovery.
Our manufacturing sector is benefiting from the world economic upturn: it performed very well in 1983 and has continued to do so in 1984. Following three years of sluggish growth, output expanded in 1983 by 7.1 per cent.
The impetus to growth in 1983 came from the high-technology sectors, chemicals and the electronics, office and data processing equipment sectors. In the second half of 1983 there was evidence that the recovery was working its way through to some of the more traditional sectors. The textiles, clothing, footwear and leather, non-metallic minerals and food sectors, which together account for about 40 per cent of manufacturing employment, all began to pick up during 1983.
The latest available data for 1984 suggest that the recovery is gathering pace. The increase in volume of manufacturing output in the first quarter on a year-on-year basis is 8.4 per cent. The index for industrial production in March 1984 is the highest on record. The improvement is again concentrated in the high technology sectors but the revival of the traditional sectors which began in 1983 has continued. Output in the textiles and clothing sector, for example, increased during the first quarter by almost 11 per cent.
The latest surveys of opinion in the manufacturing sector carried out jointly on a monthly basis by the CII and ESRI suggest that output growth continued strongly through the second quarter of this year and will continue to do so in the second half. There was a particularly encouraging rise in capacity utilisation by industry in April. This could foreshadow a pick up in the employment outlook for industry.
Agricultural output also increased in  1983. Turning to the available indicators for 1984, the signs are encouraging for continued expansion. In the first five months of the year milk intake at creameries was up by 7 per cent compared with the corresponding period of 1983. It is also encouraging that in the first two months of the EEC milk super-levy year, which runs from the beginning of April to the end of March, milk intake at creameries rose by 7.1 per cent on the equivalent period of 1983. This clearly demonstrates the importance of the special position which the Government secured for our dairy sector in the recent super-levy negotiations. The deal hammered out in Brussels allows our dairy farmers an increase of 4½ per cent over their 1983 level of production. This is equivalent to a 22 per cent increase on the 1981 level of production to which the dairy industry in the rest of the Community must refer as a base-year. This provision is a major achievement, which will do much to safeguard our crucially important dairying sector.
Cattle output seems set to rise in 1984. Slaughterings at meat export premises were up by 12 per cent in the first five months of the year with the result that, although live cattle shipments fell by 10 per cent in the same period, total cattle throughput was up by over 3 per cent. The buoyant performance of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors has led to a significant improvement in the trade deficit. The trade returns for the first four months of the year suggest that the final outturn may be rather better than we envisaged at the beginning of the year.
In the period January-April the volume of merchandise exports was an estimated 17 per cent higher than in the equivalent period of last year. This would indicate that we are likely to do even better than in 1983, which was a very good year for exports. The growth of industrial exports, which in the first four months were up by about 21 per cent in volume on a year ago, is very encouraging and is, of course, the counterpart of the increase which we have seen in industrial output. Although the newer high-technology sectors continue to be the main impetus to expansion several of our more  traditional industries have, in fact, made significant contributions to the growth in exports this year. Agricultural exports too are continuing to grow, following last year's recovery from the doldrums of the previous two years. This strong export performance is of vital importance for continued growth in output and for our attack on unemployment.
The demand for imports has also strengthened in recent months. This we had expected, as the recovery in industrial output increases the import requirements of Irish industry. In fact, virtually the whole of the volume increase of 8-9 per cent in imports in the period January-April is accounted for by increases in imports of raw materials and semi-finished goods to be processed further here and, in many cases, to be exported with their value enhanced. This growth in imports is not a cause of concern since it is outstripped by the growth in exports, but rather an encouraging sign of future growth in output.
The bottom line in assessing our external trading achievements is, of course, the trade balance. The trade deficit for January-April 1984 was some £100 million less than in the same period of last year and, when allowance is made for seasonal influences, our merchandise trade account was almost in balance in this period. To put this in perspective, I would recall that as recently as 1981 the trade imbalance amounted to 15½ per cent of GDP and in 1979 had almost reached 18 per cent. There is now every reason to be confident that the further reduction in the trade deficit which we predicted for this year will be realised and that despite the legacy of debt interest commitments some further progress can be made towards reducing the overall deficit and so towards reducing our dependence on foreign credit.
Far from being undermined by the revisions to the balance of payments statistics, our economic and budgetary strategy instead is further justified. The main implication of the revisions is that we have to travel further along the road of correcting our external accounts and this gives added urgency to the task of restoring order to the public finances. The  revisions also underline the need to make the economy sufficiently competitive to induce a higher level of investment, involving re-investment by foreign companies, a continuing inflow of new capital and an increase in value added in Irish industry and so to create the basis of increased employment and higher living standards in the future.
On the issue of the revision of the balance of payments statistics, I can only regard the performance of the Opposition on this as absolutely appalling. It was based either on total ignorance of what the revision was all about or on a cynical decision that this was exploited — it did produce a few buzz words — for purely political ends. If it was based on ignorance, which I think it may be to a large extent, then it is quite a serious indictment of the level of thinking in the Opposition party on economic matters, but it shows something else. In fact, the question of the revision of the statistics is one that has been under review since 1981.
There are two possibilities, either the Deputies now in Opposition knew about that process during their recent brief period in Government or they did not. If they knew about it, all they said on the matter since it was raised earlier this year was a sham. If they did not know about it, that is something I would regard as culpable ignorance. Either way their performance on the matter does not do them any credit and the interpretations they have put on the whole affair can at best be described as misleading and at worst as a cynical exercise in political point scoring which has done nothing to clarify the basic issues or to indicate any capacity on the part of the Opposition to examine the real priorities for economic policy.
The 1984 budget set targets of £1,089 million for the current budget deficit and £1,874 million for the Exchequer borrowing requirement, equivalent to 7.5 per cent and 13 per cent of GNP respectively. The Exchequer returns for the first six months of the year are due to be published on Monday. The situation will then be made very clear for Deputy Lenihan, who seems to be a little agitated about his own uncertainty as to what the position  is. The Opposition seem to have a great capacity for getting excited and worried about what the situation is and ignoring the evidence in front of them. That is their problem.
This Government have achieved substantial progress in arresting the growth in public expenditure. Between 1979 and 1983 total public authorities current expenditure increased by over 12 percentage points of GNP. This year the increase is only 1 per cent of GNP. That is a major achievement when it is considered that unemployment, the continuing growth in population and increased debt service charges all operate to increase current expenditure, without any impact from the development of new policies.
Furthermore we have adopted now control measures which will effectively ensure that budgeted allocations for expenditure are adhered to. Last year the budget targets for expenditure were not exceeded and I am confident that this year's targets will also be met.
We have made considerable progress in bringing down the rate of inflation. The annual rate was over 20 per cent in 1981 and about 17 per cent in 1982. Last year it fell to less than 10½ per cent. Further progress has been made in reducing inflation in the first half of this year and this progress would have been even greater had it not been for adverse exchange rate movements and exceptional increases in vegetable prices. In the 12 months to May last, the inflation rate was into single figures for only the second time in the last five years; out of the actual increase of 9.7 per cent about 1.3 per cent was due to higher potato prices and about 1 per cent was the result of budgetary increases in indirect taxes. This, I might add, was the smallest budgetary impact on inflation for about five years.
The rate of inflation should continue to decline during the second half of this year. The Economic and Social Research Institute have recently forecast that before the end of the year inflation should be down to around 7 per cent. Assuming moderate pay settlements in the current round and relatively stable exchange  rates, Ireland's rate of inflation going into 1985 could be about 5 per cent or broadly in line with that in our major trading partners.
In recent years we have found ourselves in increasing competition in both the domestic and foreign markets with goods and services provided by workers whose pay was rising considerably less rapidly than in this country. A few figures will illustrate this. In the last five years hourly earnings in manufacturing in Ireland have risen by 16 per cent per year compared with an average increase of about 10 per cent per year for our main trading partners. The increases in some of the industrial countries with which we have to compete in the markets of the world were of course even lower than this average, for example 7 per cent per year in the United States and 5 per cent per year in Germany.
Inevitably, this deterioration in competitiveness has had an adverse impact on employment, particularly in more labour intensive industries, as employers have had to reduce their staff or have been unable to expand employment because of the need to contain the rise in their wage bill.
The lesson for the future is clear. In the long-run we cannot hope to sell our goods and services in foreign markets, or indeed even in our own domestic market, if others can produce the same goods less expensively.
I now refer briefly to taxation. The third report of the Commission on Taxation dealing with indirect taxation has just been published. This is a very valuable report. I may be forgiven for saying that I find it particularly valuable because it supports in general a line of argument and policy to which I would attach considerable importance. The central recommendation of this report is that we should move to a single rate of VAT which would be around 14.4 per cent. There is a great deal of merit in that recommendation. It would enormously simplify the system and take away many of the complexities and anomalies which plague the system and, more importantly, plague business. It would be worthwhile almost for that reason alone  and would certainly make the administration of our tax system easier. We could streamline a number of things to great advantage. The report also points out that if we were to adopt this recommendation it would mean accepting that we would have to bring products which are now zero rated into the system. Quite a number of products would move from a zero rate or a fairly low rate up to 14.4 per cent.
I understand that during interviews following the publication of the report the chairperson of the commission, who has put a great deal of effort and thought into these reports, indicated that a more operational recommendation might be to go for a system which would have not one rate but two rates. It is very interesting that this observation should be made, because it reflects further consideration by the commission or the chairperson of the objective difficulties there would be in going for what is technically and economically the far more desirable system of a single rate. It confirms the feeling I have had for some time, that the practical option which faces us is probably not a single rate VAT system brought into operation overnight but rather a reduction in the number of rates and the inclusion in the system of a number of items which are now zero rated in order to provide the basis for moving towards a more restricted number of rates. It is appropriate to say a word about this important report, and it is a pity we do not have more time. The commission have done an excellent job in producing this report, and I know that we will have occasion to debate these matters further in the future.
Mr. O'Kennedy: I welcome the Minister's indication that we will have an opportunity of debating this Report of the Commission on Taxation, which forms part of a series of reports. I hope we shall have that opportunity very early in the new Dáil term. I welcome that opportunity for a number of reasons. First of all I can be forgiven for having a certain sense of personal satisfaction in that it was I who set up this Commission on  Taxation almost four years ago now. I set it up then because I recognised — and I will give figures later to illustrate this point — that the level of taxation that applied even then carried the risk of being a disincentive to our economic development. I recognised even then that public expenditure had to be controlled to ensure that one did not impose a level of taxation which, as events have proved, would act as a disincentive. Their terms of reference specifically charged them to take account, in their recommendations, of the need to promote national economic development.
We have had three reports from the Commission on Taxation. There is a certain irony in the fact that the Minister for Finance, in making a short passing reference to the latest report at the end of his speech, welcomed their recommendation on VAT levels which, he says, contains a recommendation for one rate of tax only, that coming from a Minister who has done the very opposite in the course of his short term in office and in a situation in which there are now six different rates of value-added tax. Therefore a passing commendation from the Minister will be seen for what it is, just a passing commendation which is entirely at odds with what he has done. That does not apply to indirect taxation only. It applies quite significantly also to the levels of direct taxation he has imposed in his short term in office.
The Commission on Taxation have said also in their latest report — and the Minister did not note this in the short time he devoted to it at the end of his remarks — that they still regard the level of direct taxation as being the priority to be tackled; indeed it is because of the clear effect it is having on incentive, on the investment climate, or lack of it at present. Belatedly the Taoiseach has been made aware of that fact in the course of recent election campaigns. It is his response to that reality, which has been staring all of us in the face for some time, to accuse those who make the case of selfishness. If ever there was an example of a Taoiseach, or Government, who have closed their eyes to reality, then this is it.
 I very much look forward to the occasion when we shall have an opportunity of debating the recommendations of the Commission on Taxation in full, and particularly to examining in a very detailed and comprehensive way the effect that our tax levels and impositions are having.
I might make one other point in relation to their recommendations, that from their very earliest report they pleaded with the Government, whoever that Government might be, not to impose new forms of taxation. Whatever about increasing the levels of existing taxation, they significantly signposted the avoidance of new forms of taxation which would render the system even more cumbersome than it was in 1980 when I established that commission. What have this Government done in response to that recommendation about the avoidance of new forms of taxation? We have had a plethora of them, whether by way of income levies, house property taxes, all kinds of new forms of taxation running exactly contrary to what the commission recommended even in their first report. Then we have these passing words of commendation of a commission who have certainly done an excellent job and who have presented the basis, for whichever one of us will have the responsibility, for a thorough examination of our whole system of taxation and its reform. I acknowledge that that cannot be achieved without looking also at the growth of public expenditure which inevitably increases the level of taxation; I have always acknowledged that. In fact I have publicly apologised to the Commission on Taxation that, since their establishment, the task I gave them has been rendered next to impossible by the growth in public expenditure in the meantime, because no tax system could possibly cope with that growth. I shall have some further comments to make on these things, on the current side particularly, that have emerged since 1980.
In that connection, I might revert to two statements made in the House this morning. The first was an extraordinary one by the Taoiseach when he, pointing  to the very first in the order of areas of reform on which Ministers have been engaged — it appears first on his list — said that a sound beginning has been made in reforming our taxation system. Was there ever a statement so much at odds with the reality than that one by the Taoiseach this morning? Where is there any evidence of any beginning of any reform under this Government? Is all the evidence not quite the other way, that, far from there being any evidence of reform, our tax levels have increased, directly, indirectly and new forms have been developed? If that is the Taoiseach's notion of a sound beginning having been made in reforming our taxation system, if we are to judge him on statements like that, then his credibility is being undermined by the reality we all know, the reality people outside brought to his attention and which apparently surprised him greatly at the time.
That is fact number one. The second is the Taoiseach's statement that we must prepare to take advantage of the economic activity now taking place elsewhere in the world. The Government find themselves for the first time in recent years in a situation in which the international economic environment is not only benign but favourable, when there is economic recovery under way, when the role of our Government must be to plan for our economic development to take advantage of that economic recovery which has been taking place outside the country for the past one and a half years. Apparently for the first time this morning the Government seem to be aware of it and we are now being told that we must be prepared to take advantage of it. It is surprising, to say the least, that a Government should suddenly become aware of the fact that that is their fundamental obligation, and was from day one in office, to prepare in order to  take advantage of the economic climate that has been almost coincidental with their assuming office, an international economic improvement. Instead we have been awaiting a development plan, a plan that may come shortly, we are told, two years after the Government assumed office.
Those are the two main points I want to develop. A third would be to present in outline, or perhaps in somewhat more detail, our approach by contrast with that lack of approach on the part of the Government. I suppose it is interesting that a Government who have had no plan, no general direction, mind you, managed to conceal that fact by circulating through their public relations — on which they have certainly achieved considerable success — the notion that the Opposition should have their plan out now, that the Opposition should present a plan. Is it not quite extraordinary that a Government who have no plan can manage to divert attention to an Opposition who, unfortunately, do not have the role of Government, that they should present a plan as if they were now in Government? I will deal with the outlines of our plan which can be reflected in much that we have said over the last 12 months and will be reflected even more in what we will be doing until we have a chance to implement it in Government.
I want to dissociate myself from any statements which have been made which attribute Thatcherism or Reaganomics to this Government. In fairness to Thatcherism and Reaganomics, neither of those two Governments have pursued their fiscal correction programme by increasing taxation at the level and in the manner of this Government. We would do an injustice to Thatcherism or Reaganomics to suggest that what is being pursued here is that kind of policy. Quite the opposite, the levels of taxation operating during the last 12 months in this country are penally high by comparision with what apply under Mrs. Thatcher. If she has found ways of controlling and reducing the budget deficit it has not been by adopting what this Government have contemplated as the only answer, namely, increasing levels of direct and  indirect taxation. Whatever other views we might have about her general economic policy, we must at least exonerate her from what sometimes has been attributed to her here as being a form of Thatcherism when it is quite the opposite. Reaganomics is really telling people to get Government off their backs and create a climate for investment and activity. Surely this Government are acting contrary to that. They are creating a climate for disincentive. Let me illustrate. I have just mentioned indirect taxes. For months we have argued with the Government that we are losing revenue, and the evidence is that we are. We are losing investment.
Worst of all, unfortunately, we are also losing people. Yes, we are told that unemployment growth is not as great as it was. If one talks in percentage terms, as the Taoiseach loves to, one must admit that 20,000 is only 10 per cent of 200,000, whereas on 80,000 it would be 25 per cent. In those terms if we are talking about a reduction in unemployment we are fooling ourselves. If we want to claim a reduction in unemployment, let us face reality. Unfortunately, it is being achieved by a considerable increase in emigration. Anyone who has any notion of what is happening now in Britain, America, and elsewhere, in various consular offices can tell our Government and our people that our young people are queuing up to leave. Why? Because of the disincentive element that applies here to either promoters or workers because of the tax levels.
We were in Government in 1980 when the commission were launched. I was a Minister then. The following examples will demonstrate the effect of the tax levels. Taking the base in 1974 at £100, in 1980 the take-home pay on average for the industrial worker was £108.7, an increase. In 1984 that take-home pay has reduced to £89.91. In 1980 the average take-home pay for a married man with three children was £110.14, an increase of 10.14 per cent over 1974. Now it is £92.25. Is it not clear that the levels of taxation are really biting into the well-being of the people, their normal take-home pay and the incentive to work,  which is of vital importance? I will give one other example. They talk of Thatcherism. In Britain a single person comes to the top rate of 60 per cent surtax at about £44,000. The Irish equivalent gets into the 65 per cent tax rate at £12,500. Do those figures alone not demonstrate that, far from “a sound beginning having been made in reforming our tax system”, this Government have done the very opposite?
Let us look at some other achievements of the Government. You must reduce current public expenditure to control levels of taxation, nonetheless it rose in 1983 by 13 per cent and it will rise a further 8 per cent in 1984. In real terms, taking into account inflation, it is higher now that when the Government came to office. What about fiscal rectitude? What about controlling public expenditure? Those are not just statements that I have dreamed up. They are facts that are measured, and any economist can bear that out. Public sector borrowing is up £210 million this year. The gross public sector debt, which of course is feeding the burden of the taxpayer because of interest repayments, was up by £2,000 million in 1983. Our total unemployment has increased by 30,000 and the numbers out of work now are higher than those employed. Unfortunately, the number would be even higher were it not for the emigration trend, which I insist is a major factor in what is called an improvement in our unemployment figures. When the Government eventually organise the central statistics in the way they claim they want to, they will find that what they claim is an improvement is achieved at the cost of what we all thought we had killed long ago, the dread drain of emigration. We are back to the fifties in which the Minister now in the House and I, who were then of the younger generation, remember the vanishing Irish, the hopelessness, the helplessness, emigration. I do not know if the Minister left the country then. I left in the fifties but I was privileged, a university student. Fortunately, I came back in the late fifties and found a change. I hope that events  will be similar for the young people who are now leaving.
Marginal tax rates are for the average married industrial worker 43.5 per cent of his income and for the single person 63.5 per cent. That fact demonstrates to us that we will not create the climate, the incentive, the investment until we face the reality that deficits cannot be bridged simply by imposing more tax, direct or indirect, wherever and however possible.
Many of us have found much to agree with in what the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism has said; yet yesterday he acknowledged that manufacturing employment is now at its lowest level for years and job losses now exceed new jobs created. For the last year and a half I have pleaded with the Government to realise that manufacturing industry alone cannot generate the jobs. The service sector, be it construction, tourism or the other services, as has been demonstrated throughout the US and Japan, is the area on which we must concentrate for growth. Nonetheless the Government could not see that. That is one of the things that we on this side would wish to do.
I ask the Government not to confine the incentive for investment scheme to manufacturing industry but to extend it into the whole service sector. However, they barely made a most marginal adjustment, and the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism now must acknowledge that it has not, unfortunately, proved attractive to investors. I regret to say that two months ago I told the Minister for Finance that it would not be attractive to investors because of the complexity, the restrictions and the lack of incentive. There is more concern with ensuring that it would not be used for tax avoidance than there is with promoting investment. That was his priority, but it has not succeeded. The role of the Opposition is to test Government if Government have a plan and to ensure that the conduct of the economy which is the job of the Government will be to the betterment of the people. The Taoiseach tells us we may have such a plan soon but in the meantime we have to carry on in the absence of any such plan.
 This morning the Minister treated by way of snide remarks our references to indirect levels of taxation. Our approach on that matter is based on simple factual analysis of fall-off in levels of consumption which mean a fall in employment in certain sectors and also a fall in tax revenue. To give some examples, in the past two years there has been a 20 per cent fall-off in the level of beer consumption. The same level of fall-off has been experienced both in respect of petrol and of electrical goods. The fall-off in the motor industry is obvious to all. We in Government would reduce immediately the levels of taxation which apply in those areas because the present levels are resulting not only in the loss of revenue but in the loss of jobs. Daily I receive representations from the people involved in those industries. I have files on all of them, on the motor trade, on the wine and spirits business and from both wholesalers and distributors. Those levels of taxation must be reduced if we are interested in revenue collection. Such reduction would bring more revenue into the Exchequer because of the increased consumption that would follow. One would not mind too much if the revenue were going to the benefit of our people in the six Counties but it is going into the coffers of Her Majesty's Government.
The Government have introduced direct taxation levies for no purpose. We would abolish levies that result in taking from those who generate activity and lead to the creation of public sector empires. The role of Government is to create a climate in which those who are workers, who are prepared to go ahead, are encouraged. But that environment will not be created by imposing 2 per cent levies and so on on such people.
We should consider the various agencies and groups who have been set up by the Government and who are spending increasing amounts of public money. We were told that a national development corporation would be set up. That must have been the price paid for the coming together of the Coalition parties. We would not go ahead with that corporation. When we think of development we think of encouraging those who are prepared  to do and to go. We are prepared to help the man who started with a forge and who built a foundry or the man who built up machinery works and created employment. These are the development corporations of Ireland.
Our tax incentive schemes would be based on talent development and on marketing. I have asked the Minister many times to allow tax incentives which would cost little or nothing in terms of national revenue for marketing promotion. We cannot get people to stay in the market place because of the penal tax rates applied to them. Tax incentives are the key element in exploring and developing market potential. We would concentrate particularly on developing added-value employment in the technical areas. We must guarantee that market research and development in the areas of technology and pharmaceuticals are based here. We must not allow oursleves to be in the Lego business of simply assembling what are called technological parts but must invest in research development projects and marketing projects.
We expect to hear later from the Minister responsible for industry that we are to have product development that is based on a tax system but the Minister for Finance will take a different view. We must have a tax system that is geared to encouraging product development instead of paying grants for factories that are lying idle. We must redirect the allocations in that way. We would pay particular attention, as we have always done, to investment in a priority programme for education. We did this in the past when we set up the institutes and the technical colleges. We are talking about investment for long-term employment. The outlines of our plan in this regard have been drawn up.
Training and education in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, forestry and so on will be our clear priority. Research and development in marketing in all of these areas are vital. In particular marketing is vital in the agri-food business.
There are people holding pension funds and other safe haven investments who are anxious, willing and ready to invest in the development of our fisheries  and forestry and even in agriculture but the Government have neither the imagination nor the readiness to encourage that kind of investment. They prefer to think in terms of tax control and regulations instead of encouraging the investment of moneys that would relieve the burden on the Exchequer.
We will promote means of stimulating investment, as we have always done, in the private as distinct from the public sector. We are talking about a public sector that has grown from 30 per cent of GNP 13 years ago to almost 50 per cent of GNP today. The setting up of further agencies makes no sense.
We are looking, too, at the whole structure of Government in terms of national and local government. Our programme of decentralisation was not based merely on the decentralisation of offices. It was based on decentralising the role of Government. It is essential that we prune our Government services and guarantee that they will be decentralised. The local government service where there are so many people who are technical ought not to be merely administrative but developmental and linked into local development programmes. They should be able to apply to those programmes their own schemes of development aids, assistance and promotion. They must not ignore immediate needs.
The Committee on Public Expenditure, of which I am privileged to be Vice-Chairman, have identified three areas where there is wasteful public expenditure and where the Government will not act. As regards the cost of recruitment to the public service, the Government have allowed examinations, interviews and so on to be held, and for what? To fill seven vacancies. We pinpointed that and said: “stop that waste”. The committee have pinpointed wasteful expenditure on Government offices but yet it goes on and on. The other area is where the functions of state agencies overlap particularly in relation to registration, placement and training. We identified those areas in the committee and yet somebody said we were not prepared  to point out areas where public expenditure could be controlled.
Mr. O'Kennedy: I did not realise that. The Government should promote a climate for investment rather than sucking more money into the public service by setting up agencies, corporations and so on. Perhaps there may be something in the review being signalled by the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism. We know that is being contested all along the line by the Minister for Finance and this Minister. I hope we will be able to create a new climate and a new hope. Even from Opposition we would be glad to do that. If we are to see control of public expenditure, will the Government set an example? The greatest growth in public expenditure on the current side has been in the area of consultancy services.
Mr. O'Kennedy: There has been a 477 per cent increase in the allocation for consultancy services. Information and public relations services have been increased by 130 per cent and the National Planning Board has been increased by 75 per cent. If that is the Government's priority it is no wonder we are not achieving the objectives set by the Government.
Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. B. Desmond): I wish to deal with the health and social welfare side, having responsibility for the best part of 40 per cent of the total budget. In relation to social welfare, we set up a commission because our social services have been established for a long number of years. For a variety of reasons it was  opportune to have a major review of the whole code.
The Commission on Social Welfare was established in August 1983, the first time in 30 years that the system was subjected to a detailed overall review. I expect to have their report by the second half of next year. That report will indicate the financial implications and the priorities. Its work will be of fundamental importance to the future of our social welfare system just as the report of the Commission on Taxation is of fundamental importance. One of their reports issued today.
I established the interim board for the Combat Poverty organisation. That board was set up in March. The preparatory work in connection with the permanent organisation can be commenced immediately. I expect a report from that board by the end of July. It will make recommendations with regard to the structure of a permanent Combat Poverty organisation. The interim board will advise me on the Irish input into the forthcoming EEC poverty programme, proposals for which are at a reasonably advanced stage. This work is going ahead quite rapidly.
There has been a constant attack by the Opposition that the Government have established a large number of commissions and boards. This was necessary because nothing of any consequence was in existence when we came to office. There was very little that I could find in the Department of Health or the Department of Social Welfare. My predecessor seemed to have spent about 90 per cent of his time doing public relations and chasing around from one opening to another. No fundamental work has been done in any shape or form. That is why we have to set up such bodies immediately. Now, after 18 months, we have the data and rational options open to us. They are being developed.
As regards the national pension plan, I had to start from scratch in that area. It is part of the Government programme to implement a national income related pension scheme, and a White Paper is on the agenda for the Government and will be considered during the summer. It will  deal with major issues such as the future role of the State in private occupational pensions schemes, the question of self-insurance for self-employed persons and the setting up of a pension board to advise on and monitor the standards of occupational pension schemes.
The family income supplement will be introduced shortly when we come back in the Autumn, possibly in November. It will provide a cash support for workers with families who are in receipt of a low income and those marginally outside the social welfare payment area. Legislation to provide equality of treatment between men and women in matters of social security in accordance with the provisions of the EEC directive will be introduced later this year. Final details have not yet been decided on by the Government but we will introduce the necessary measures in December this year.
The major pressure on social welfare support comes from the exceptionally high number of unemployed persons and their dependence on unemployment payments to have an ordinary standard of living. Very often it is a low standard of living. The current high number of unemployed — it is 30,000 more than in 1983 — has posed enormous budgetary problems for the Government. It is a matter of great relief and considerable satisfaction that there will be a drop in the unemployment rate. Every drop of 1,000 people in the number unemployed represents a saving of £2 million in taxpayers' money. The prediction is that, at the end of the year, I will have to find far less money for unemployment payments than I would have thought at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately unemployment has reached into every sector and into a great many homes, bringing with it almost complete dependence on social welfare for most of the households involved. I am naturally aware of the hardship associated with long term unemployment. It is well documented. There are 70,000 families on long-term unemployment and a great deal of social welfare expenditure goes on that area.
As Minister for Health and Social Welfare, I have been a prime target in terms of Opposition reaction. Since I took up  office 18 months ago the rates of payment for the long-term unemployed have been increased by 25 per cent which, by the standards in any European country, is an exceptional increase. I make no apologies for that. It is very necessary that we maintain, as far as possible, the living standards of those who suffer unemployment.
We have introduced the Enterprise Allowance Scheme and a lump sum payment of pay related benefit for those unemployed who want to start their own businesses. The latest figure is that at week ending 22 June 1984, 2,201 had availed of that one scheme, which is interesting. The number availing of the scheme is growing. We have introduced a scheme whereby people out of work on unemployment benefit who want to work in helping the sick or do voluntary work helping the elderly or the handicapped, community groups or residents' associations, can still draw unemployment benefit. This scheme was introduced to encourage people receiving unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance to do voluntary work. That is of considerable benefit.
I made arrangements, as is only proper, that where claimants want this year, for the first time ever, to have a holiday within the State — and goodness knows, it would be a very sparse holiday — they on their return will be in a position to sign on retrospectively and will receive payment for the period of their holiday, provided they notify the employment exchange first. That is only fair and proper.
A great deal of nonsense is talked about using social welfare moneys for public work. Much of this went on at the Oireachtas Committee on Public Expenditure. People said if only they had the social welfare money and could allocate it to county councils and local authorities the unemployment problem would be solved. That is the greatest load of hog wash there ever was. It is not as simple as that. The net cost of creating a job in the public sector, taking it that one is spending £100 on a single man with no dependants, would be another £100  additional cost to the Exchequer. In the case of a married man on unemployment benefit with two children, the net cost of providing £100 would be £118, compared with unemployment benefit of around £60 or £62. Some very glib solutions are floating around, and I would urge the greatest caution in that regard.
Equally, it is suggested that I have been unduly harsh to unemployed people participating in educational courses. That is not true. I am anxious that persons who are unemployed should be given every possible encouragement to use their time, particularly for educational purposes. An interesting case was decided recently. An unemployed person in Bray doing a Leaving Certificate examination was allowed by the deciding officer to continue to receive unemployment benefit. The only reason for the adverse publicity in that instance was that the claimant failed to notify the employment exchange that he was doing that examination. When he told the manager of the employment exchange that he would not be reporting for signing on, that was the first the exchange had heard about it. They had to make investigations and held up his claim pending those investigations. His claim was subsequently allowed but, as happens in all cases of that nature, when the position was clarified it got virtually no publicity, in contrast with all the fuss beforehand. I am afraid that this is indicative of a general reaction to these issues.
There will, later on this year, be the question of double pay at Christmas. As is customary, no provision has been made in this year's budget. The same applied last year and when the Opposition were in Government. I would point out that the cost this year, which money has yet to be found, would be £20 million and would affect 530 more persons, the total comprising 400,000 recipients and 130,000 dependents.
I would like to mention the old age pension committees which are being abolished. It is about time these were abolished because, while I was a member of one for many years, they only delayed the decision process for non-contributory pension claims and in some respects the  claimants had their personal affairs laid open to the scrutiny of local councillors. On that basis, the pensions committee served no useful purpose, but I should like to put on record my thanks to them for the outstanding work done over the years, despite the fact that their function is long outdated.
Other changes have taken place, but at this stage I shall conclude my observations on the social welfare side with some general references. First, I will point out to all those so busily stirring up feeling about pay related social insurance and payments of social welfare benefit that there has been no increase whatsoever in the past two years in the general levels of contributions for pay related social insurance, apart from the very minor increase of 0.1 per cent payable by employers in respect of occupational injuries. There has been no change at all in the past two years in the earnings ceiling established by the former Government, and that is remarkable. We are the only country in Europe not to raise that ceiling. The current limit is £13,000. The rate of contributions has remained the same, yet nobody adverts to this. One would have to employ some international public relations outfit to convince the Opposition and, indeed, many people, that the ceiling limits and the insurance contributions limits have not been changed.
Equally, I want to comment on some facts of life about social welfare. I cannot stress too strenuously that our society is still very unequal. At one end of the scale are individuals who make substantial incomes from tax evasion and avoidance, from an accumulation of personal property by one means or another, from speculation in the black economy. These people accumulate a great deal of money. On the other end, people are trying to manage on a lousy supplementary welfare benefit of £28 a week. That is the reality of Irish life for many. There are very many elderly people in our community, living alone, many unemployed who are on long-term payments, who are disabled and handicapped, one parent families, some small farmers, people rearing large families. There are, in short, about 25 out of every 100 people  on the poverty line or below it. I am sick and tired, quite frankly, of people saying that social welfare should be cut and also the health services. What we need is a redistribution of income, not a cutting back of social services and health services.
On the one hand, we see people going to court because their holiday abroad was not as successful as they wished and that they did not get true value for the £1,000 which they spent. On the other, the vast majority of the 200,000 people out of work have no chance of any holiday at all anywhere. We have that double standard reaction within our community. There is widespread superficial ignorance and hostility, among a powerful, influential minority, of antipathy towards any social welfare system which might provide any kind of decent standard of living. Some politicians — on all sides of the House, I must stress — talk about social welfare payments as being a disincentive to work. They are not a disincentive to work. I would love to see them trying to live on £58 or £60 a week for themselves their wife and two children. They would spend it in one night buying a drink for a local cumann in a local pub after a political meeting and they would not miss the money. For people on unemployment it means the difference between starvation or having their electricity cut off once again.
I feel strongly about these issues. I make no apology to people who whinge about social welfare, about having to pay their income tax and about PRSI. Those of us in jobs should be down on our knees thanking God and thanking our country, and we should be willing to pay for those who are less well off in the community. A family of five will have £76.50 a week to live on when the rates change in July.
I am one of the larger employers in the public sector. There are 63,000 people employed in the health services and the best part of 4,000 people employed in social welfare. They are delivering services to the people. I am sick and tired of the ill-founded and ill-informed criticisms made about the role of public sector workers. The public sector is not a collection of faceless, anonymous, uncaring  individuals who require television advertisements to prove that they exist. The public sector includes the men and women who teach our children, who nurse our sick citizens, and who look after our health needs throughout the whole of our health services. It includes our Garda and our Army who provide community care and security. It includes those who provide local services, public transport services, electricity and water supply. Many people resent having to pay for public services, but my answer is that they have to pay for them and they will get a quality of service related to the amount of money they are prepared to pay. The public sector provides essential services for all our people.
There is a great deal of superficial thinking about the reform and restructuring of the public service, and about the role of civil servants. In particular the Labour Party believe that there should be a continuing programme of reform and restructuring of the public service but I reject unwarranted attacks on those involved in providing essential community services. If people want proof of this they can come around with me. Now that the Dáil is going into recess, I will have an opportunity to go around the employment exchanges and meet the staffs who provide the services.
I believe in the elimination of waste and inefficiency in the public service. For the most part we have a well-managed, committed and fairly paid public service. I want to put that on record because I get rather sick of the superficial criticisms which abound.
I want to refer to the health services. I have been rigorous in endeavouring to conserve scarce national resources spent on weekend working and overtime. I have controlled the issue of medical cards to students over the past 12 months and made economies in catering, transport, housekeeping, energy usage, purchasing procedures, hospital admission procedures, and the use of laboratory services. Some vested interests have reacted unfavourably to my efforts to conserve taxpayers' money and make better use of it. By and large we are succeeding. During  the remainder of this year I intend to maintain that pressure.
Despite that work which is all-consuming in may respects and requires a great deal of effort, I have been able to do a good deal of work in other areas. The Government have received the report of the task force on travelling people. The Government will be taking action in the weeks ahead. I will be setting up the national social service board formally within the next week or two. I expect to see the report of the committee on social work service during the summer recess. I have published the Green Paper on services for the disabled people and I will be holding conferences on it before the Dáil resumes.
All stages of the Misuse of Drugs Bill will go through before the summer recess in the Dáil and I hope in the Seanad. The Criminal Justice Bill will have an impact on serious crime involving drug offences. I have been working with the boards of St. James' Hospital and Jervis Street on the question of treatment facilities. The diploma graduates from Trinity College who have been studying addictions will be available shortly. That work is ongoing and will be completed before the Dáil resumes.
The Medico-Social Research Board are doing a considerable amount of work. I do not know what my predecessors were doing, but the Poisons Council has been re-established and is contributing effectively. The situation in regard to health contributions by those who never paid health contributions, and particularly self-employed people, has been clarified. The Nurses Bill is before the Dáil at the moment. I hope to have it enacted before the end of the year. The Health Services Export Co-ordinating Committee which is designed to co-ordinate and advise on the orderly development of the export of health services is working satisfactorily. I expect to have legislative proposals before the Government in the next week or two regarding the registration of hospitals and homes. I am concerned about the need to register nursing homes effectively.
Arising out of the task force's report on child care services, I hope to have the  first Children Bill before the Government within a matter of weeks. I will be issuing the Adoption Review Committee's Report within a few weeks. I have improved the position in regard to residential care for children in terms of the financing of these homes. On the health capital programme side, I have made additional moneys available for the psychiatric services and the mental handicapped services.
As regards the general hospital programme in Cavan General Hospital, Castlebar General Hospital, St. James' Hospital, Ardkeen General Hospital, Sligo General Hospital, Mullingar General Hospital, Kilkenny General Hospital and Wexford General Hospital considerable work has been done in the past 18 months. A great deal of money has been spent on the acute hospital capital programme, about £30 million in all. We now have Tralee Hospital open and running well.
I have received the report by the working party on the general medical services. It has been signed in the past week and it will be published in the near future. I will bring it to the Government within a matter of a week or two. It should provide the basis for negotiations with the medical profession. The Dentists Bill has gone through all Stages in Seanad Eireann. Considerable work has been done in the area of health and social welfare.
I spoke earlier about poverty and social welfare. Any country, some of whose citizens can afford to spend £12 million each day on drink, can afford to eliminate poverty. Any country that can afford to spend millions of pounds each day on cigarettes can afford the resources to eliminate lung cancer and the appalling illnesses arising out of the abuse of tobacco. Any country whose citizens can spend something like £4 million on a few days horse racing in Galway can afford to house more travelling people who are on  the side of the road. Any country where the financial institutions make considerable profits in a period of recession can afford to provide additional moneys for industrial and public investment programmes.
I am convinced we can manage the economy effectively and I am convinced our Government are doing their utmost in that regard. I do not believe that we should necessarily have to attack the social Departments, whether they be the Department of Education, the Department of Health or the Department of Social Welfare. In the area of agriculture and in some other sectors tax concessions are given to people who could afford to do without them. It is my conviction that we can develop our country and emerge out of the recession with our economy intact and unemployment substantially reduced. I am convinced we can do that but, equally, I am also convinced that the Opposition are incapable of doing it. Throughout the country we had a litany of promises made by the Leader of the Opposition before the European elections. I do not want to see a reversion to the appalling state of affairs which we inherited some 18 months ago when we came to office.
Mr. J. Leonard: I will say a few words with regard to promises about hospitals later in my speech. Yesterday I endeavoured to raise a question in the House with regard to the re-opening of Border roads as outlined in an SDLP press release by their leader, John Hume, on 27 May but the Ceann Comhairle moved in very quickly. During a point of order the Taoiseach complained about allegations being made and he used that word four times. I did not make any allegations: I asked him a question and I asked for a statement.
One of the roads in question was that at Lackey bridge, two miles north of Clones. It is the principal route from the Fermanagh area to Clones for doctors, veterinary surgeons, businessmen and farmers who have land on each side of the Border. Strong representations were made to have the road opened, especially in view of the depressed state of the  economy in the town of Clones which has a population of 2,500. In February 1984 questions were asked in this House following the cratering and the closure of three roads in the Roslea area. There have been strong representations about the matter from all sections of the community and I have been in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs. I had discussions with Mr. Conor Maguire of the EEC office and I accompanied members of the Social and Economic Committee of the EEC to the area. That committee stated it was more in need of rehabilitation than any other area on the 300-mile Border. During the course of a supplementary question on 16 May 1984 I made the following comment to the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs:
... Normal diplomatic relations between the Minister's Department and the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs seem to be useless. It has come to the stage where the Minister for Defence and the army authorities in the North will have to get together and discuss the closure of this bridge with consequent disruption to traffic in the area.
That is as far as it went. Following the statement which was announced on the radio at 10 o'clock on 27 May, on the following morning I contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs at 9.35 a.m. and asked about the position. They told me the same story that they had told me week after week, namely, that no action was taken on it. Here we had the leader of the SDLP, a very busy politican who had just engaged in a strenuous election campaign, who had taken the time to apply himself to this matter but yet the Department of Foreign Affairs, with all their back-up facilities and services, say no action was taken. It indicated there is  no commitment to that area and the problems that exist there. It is obvious that the cratering of roads and the blowing up of bridges is not an effective weapon against violence but is a cause of frustration. I ask the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs to be a little quicker on the ball and ensure that future representations are followed up. At the very least they should know what is happening in such instances.
There are many other areas where the Government have been less than forthcoming and have been less than effective. Yesterday in the Dáil I asked the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism the amount of grant aid provided for craft production in each of the eight IDA regions. In the Cavan-Monaghan-Louth areas a sum of £3.3 million was made available under the Border fund for craft production. However, the amount of money provided in 1983 through the IDA was £15,000 and in 1984 it was £4,300. Let us compare that with the money available for the eastern region which is £76,000, for the south-west region which is £65,000 and Donegal where the amount is £37,000. If the necessary backing were given to the fund that is available in our area there could be tremendous benefits. We have often spoken here on the need to co-ordinate the various activities that could be generated in the region. Various Government Departments and agencies seem to be doing very little. Another county in Ulster, to which I have not referred earlier, are going to appoint an official and there is funding available for this.
The excise duty which was imposed in the 1983 budget has caused untold damage to the economy of the north eastern region. The Fianna Fáil Party have examined the matter very closely and are in the process of producing figures which will clearly indicate the damage done to the Border region. They will also be able to prove that there is loss of revenue. Trade has completely collapsed in petrol filling stations and electrical stores and have caused their closure and the withdrawal of family incomes in many cases. Despite all the pressure we tried to exert  on various Departments and no matter how we tried to explain it in the House, we do not seem to have made any advance in that respect. Last year was unique because of the meeting of the Forum and it would have been an ideal time to make an all-out effort as far as cross-Border co-operation is concerned. However, there was far less activity in economic development last year than at any other time. I am not in a position to say whether the working party of civil servants who were meeting from the mid-seventies onwards and who were very effective then and in the early eighties are still having consultations but it has been a bleak year. Various Departments have not made the effort to ensure that the benefit which could accrue from the available funding was used to the best advantage.
I am sorry that the Minister for Health has left because there is a point I should like to raise with him and the Taoiseach. This concerns the retention of maternity services in Monaghan General Hospital. I should like the Taoiseach to explain why he interfered and meddled in this matter which was the subject of a protracted debate in the area which I represent and which we could have solved amicably if we did not have that kind of interference. This interference was all the more unwelcome when it came from someone who is supposed to be an advocate of open government. It was a presidential, dictatorial type of interference. In the North Eastern Health Board region we had discussed the matter with the Minister at great length but the Taoiseach then exerted the full pressure of his high office to make the Minister change his decision on an issue which was of prime concern to a very large area. He caused division and dissension in the constituency and he did it against the wishes of the North Eastern Health Board of which I am a member. He completely disregarded the needs of that area and I wonder if he was in a better position than the health board to insist on changes in the Minister's plan.
The sequence of events was as follows. On 9 June 1983 an assistant secretary in the Department of Health signed a letter  in which he said he was directed by the Minister for Health to outline his proposals for hospitalisation in Cavan and Monaghan. He asked to be informed of the board's plans for disposal of properties and said that a hospital would be built. I have reservations with regard to assistant secretaries and I am afraid that they may dictate policy in health, agriculture or any other area. I hope a Minister would be his own man and that he would not have his letters signed by anyone else.
On 16 June, five Oireachtas Members, two Fianna Fáil Deputies, two Fine Gael Deputies and a Senator met the Minister and told him of their opposition to his plan. On 17 June the health board received a further letter from the Minister and on 20 June the health board rejected the Minister's plan. On 7 July we were invited to Dublin at the Minister's request to discuss the position with him. On 18 July we had another board meeting and we decided that the hospital in Cavan would proceed and that the hospital in Monaghan would also be retained. In 1975 Brendan Corish tried to change the hospital structure in that region but without success. Fianna Fáil were committed to the retention of the hospitals and have given assurances in that regard.
On 25 July we had a letter from the Minister seeking a further meeting because of the views of the health board expressed at the previous meeting. We met the Minister on 4 August. At that stage there was a problem because the North Eastern Health Board had discussed how the maternity service would be retained in Monaghan hospital and how other services could be brought into the Cavan complex to ensure its continuance. In early September there were meetings with the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach, a TD and a Senator. Following that, the Taoiseach seemingly made representations to the Minister for Health and when we met him on 5 September we were told of the changed plans.
I take a very serious view of any person, especially a Taoiseach, directing a Minister to do something. This is meddling.  This matter should have been resolved at that time. The maternity service in this hospital is availed of by 700 women each year and the second gynaecologist should have been appointed, because it is estimated that within the next five or six years there will be 1,000 or 1,200 births per annum in this area. I am glad to have this opportunity to bring this regrettable position to the attention of the Dáil.
The biggest problem facing this country at present is unemployment. The percentage of unemployed in Ireland is higher than that in other EEC countries and the United States. We need 23,000 jobs a year to the end of this decade if we are to maintain the present position. It is doubtful if agriculture can create many additional jobs but there are great opportunities for job development and job creation in the food processing and hotel and tourist industries. There are not many jobs available for school leavers and, as was said earlier, there needs to be a reappraisal of the activities of AnCO and the other training centres.
Recently I put down a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs asking if special funding had been made available to voluntary bodies and groups engaged in promoting understanding and reconciliation between all creeds and classes, particularly young people in both parts of this island. I put down this question because a youth group and their leaders visited Derry and I contacted the Department about funding for this visit, which was granted. In his reply the Minister told me that £20,000 had been made available to the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation. My group went to Derry for four or five days and now a group from Derry will be staying with families in Smithboro. All these people are of different religious persuasions. We should encourage cross-Border contact between the youth.
Mr. J. Leonard: In the last few days I tried, unsuccessfully, to raise on the Adjournment the fact that the Federation of Health Boards have been examining the possibility of a reduction in the importation of drugs and how this problem could be tackled. We got letters from a number of drug companies and pharmaceutical societies inviting us to visit their factories. We visited one factory in an industrial estate in Waterford. They manufacture sterilising tablets which could be used to sterilise babies bottles. They have a fine well run plant. During the week the federation got a letter from a British manufacturing firm saying:
They said they would allow an increase of 10 per cent to 15 per cent on last year's supply. How can an Irish manufacturing company compete with multinationals if they give a 12 month supply free to close the doors of the home manufacturing industries? This is food for thought for people intent on ensuring that we produce as much of our needs as possible.
The most depressing booklet I have ever read was the June 1984 issue of Farm & Food Research issued by an Foras Talúntais. There is an article in this booklet dealing with the many marginal farmers who live in poverty. Some of the statistics in this article show that there will have to be a very serious examination  of the facilities in these farm houses, the funding and income of the family and so on. They say that data were collected by means of a survey questionnaire which was completed by 261 respondents and that almost 25 per cent of the full time farming category were below the poverty line.
The report suggests that Irish agriculture has been divided into two sectors, one dynamic and one stagnant. That is why it was so regrettable the Government saw fit to stop grant-aid from the more deserving farmers, those living in disadvantaged areas whose acreage or farm income do not qualify them to move into development status. The Department of Agriculture have fallen down in two vital matters, aid for farm modernisation and development in the west and western drainage. From October 1981 not a single application for drainage aid was processed or approved for the 12 western counties. The Department need to reconsider this entire matter. Many of the people deprived in the western counties have moved from milk to dry stock, with resultant low returns. According to the report of An Foras Talúntais, 60 per cent of those farmers have no running water or bathrooms and 50 per cent have not got indoor toilets.
Minister for Education (Mrs. Hussey): Before I go into the main part of my speech I assure Deputy Leonard that the Department of Education are extremely anxious to encourage and assist student and teacher interchanges between North and South. The Department have given positive encouragement by giving grants to students attending Northern Ireland colleges. Matters were taken a step further when I met recently the Northern Secretary for Education, Nicholas Scott, with whom I hope to have further discussions in Dublin before long.
I am anxious to avail of the opportunity afforded by today's debate to put on the record of the House details of the progress that has been made in Education since the Action Programme for Education 1984-1987 was published last January.
The Programme for Action is what is  says it is. It is not, as some would have it, a litany of pious aspirations. It is a practical, no-nonsense document of what the Government intend to achieve at all levels of education. It is an indication of the commitment of this Government that it should sponsor the publication of an action programme in education at a time of unprecedented stringency in public finance. The Government, however, recognise the vital importance of a sound educational system to the economic and cultural life of the whole community.
We are fortunate that the educational infrastructure we possess is, by and large, in a healthy condition, with an innate capacity to respond to the many demands upon it. Our stock of schools and colleges is appreciable and well founded: our teachers at all levels are highly qualified and dedicated. We are well situated to make progress.
What we need to ensure is that the progress we make will be so fashioned as to cater adequately for the needs and aspirations of our young people in the classrooms and our not-so-young people whose formal education, such as it was, no longer meets their requirements for a fuller life. Time was when education was synonymous with the tranquility of scholarship. The surging tide of change has rapidly put an end to that concept.
Much has been said and written about the technological revolution that is upon us, so much indeed that I do not intend to elaborate on it here. It is a fact of modern life that we must not only accept but break in and harness in our service. To do that effectively, what goes on in our schools and colleges must be made relevant to what goes on outside their doors, and that relevance must be made perceptible to the entire community.
Our educational system has seen haphazard growth. Its component parts were not put together in the light or concept of a coherent whole. They grew up in accordance with varying perspectives of differing times. Indeed it is something of an achievement, whether conscious or fortuitous, that they work together in relative harmony. What must now be achieved, and this cannot be fortuitous, is that they continue to work together  harmoniously in a modern ambience which must stretch their capacity for flexibility to the limit.
It is my job as Minister to supply and nurture that capacity for adaptation and innovation. This may be for some a painful process, for tradition dies hard. However, I am supported in my task by the knowledge that the community at large and the educational community in particular are sensible of the need for change.
I have already stated that the Programme for Action is no litany of pious aspirations. Let me now reinforce this statement by referring to action already taken or in progress in the wake of its publication.
The Curriculum and Examinations Board set up by me on an ad hoc basis last January are fully engaged in a fundamental review of the education system and the changes needed to meet the demands of today and tomorrow. Their eventual establishment on a statutory basis will ensure the permanent existence of a monitoring and evaluatory agency, an expert interface between our schools and the world of work. The board will shortly produce their first report. This will set out issues for debate and set some directions for future activity. In the meantime, I have directed that the rules concerning alternative curricula at second level should be applied flexibly so as to encourage initiatives of practical inovation in the supplying of particular needs.
Another area of change to which I am dedicated is the elimination of sexism and sex-stereotyping from the educational scene. The ingrained attitudes of many years may not be easy to eradicate but I owe it to myself and to the dignity of womanhood in general to pursue this cleansing exercise with all the vigour at my command.
I have already agreed guidelines on sexism and sex-stereotyping and the publishers of school texts and have arranged to change in examination numbering which disguises the sex of candidates. I have had a series of regional seminars on sexism set up the first of which has successfully taken place. I am very encouraged  by the favourable and balanced responses I have been getting in this area. I am determined that girl students get equality of opportunity at all stages of education.
I have written to the patrons of national schools in the matter of ensuring that women are represented on all selection boards for the appointment of principal teachers. These initiatives, and many others, will be pursued by me with the greatest possible energy.
The discussion paper “The Ages for Learning” promised in the action programme has been issued this week. It sets out not proposals but options in the sensitive areas of school entry, age of transfer and length of school courses. It will, I am sure, generate a rethink and an appraisal of these very fundamental issues. The reception of the document by the public has demonstrated the deep general interest of the community and I am confident of a constructive response from all interested parties. I am most anxious that the paper will be read widely and that groups or individuals will make their views known by 31 October next. Following consideration of those views I will bring proposals to Government for decision.
I have on many occasions referred to my concern for the educationally disadvantaged and have this year given practical effect to this concern by allocating a sum of £0.5 million to special initiatives in this field. This has enabled me to honour the action programme's commitment to bring the grants payable to special classes for the handicapped in ordinary national schools into line with those payable in special schools, thereby rectifying an unacceptable anomaly which has existed up to now. It has also put me in a position to provide ex-gratia relief to debt-ridden schools in disadvantaged areas and to conduct some experiments in the pre-school area for children of travellers.
Perhaps most important of all I have initiated a project in certain schools in greater Dublin, Cork and Limerick which seeks to bridge the gap of disadvantage and provide encouragement and support to the teachers, pupils and parents of the  schools concerned. It is my hope that the experience gained and the lessons learned from this exercise will prove capable of wider dissemination in disadvantaged areas generally in the years ahead.
The action programme was published before the advent of the Report of the Commission on Adult Education. Nevertheless, I indicated my desire to respond positively to the recommendations of the commission particularly in the areas of literacy and community education in disadvantaged areas. I have made good my word in this matter. I have allocated a grant-in-aid of £10,000 to the National Adult Literacy Agency, whose valiant efforts in the area of literacy I gladly acknowledge.
I have also agreed to the commission's recommendations relating to the establishment of representative adult education boards at local VEC level and the provision of separate budgets for adult education in the context of the Estimates for 1985. I am confident that the implementation of these decisions will usher in a long-awaited spring in adult education, an area that has for too long been the Cinderella of the educational scene.
I have also commissioned a survey from within my Department on adult literacy and community education in disadvantaged areas which when available should be of considerable assistance to the workers in the field. Work on this survey is already in train.
In the area of primary education generally, I have succeeded in increasing the capitation grant this year by a sizeable £4. There has also been an increase in the funding of classes for children of the travelling people.
At second level, as from September 1984 single per capita grants will be payable to secondary schools instead of the separate capitation grants and grants-in-lieu of fees. These together with the teaching quota will be calculated on enrolment numbers rather than on attendances, thus enabling school authorities to cut down significantly on their paperwork and provide them with a more rational basis for staffing.
A circular will issue shortly to secondary  schools granting them authority to appoint part-time teachers within the quota, thus increasing the flexibility available to them to provide more balanced programmes of education.
In recognition of the age we live in I am extending to the junior cycle of post-primary schools the computer studies option and I have issued a circular concerning the supply of micro-computers to those second level schools which have not already benefited in this connection. I am also seeking the views of the interested organisations in relation to computer studies with a view to making further progress in developing this important discipline throughout the school system.
I am also actively concerned about the subject of sex-education in schools at second level. This is a sensitive issue with serious implications and requires to be approached with the utmost delicacy and with due regard to parental attitudes and sensibilities. Indeed I cannot see a successful initiative in this area without the active cooperation of parents. I have seconded a teacher full-time to the Health Education Bureau to enable an appropriate programme to be drawn up. When this is available I shall be in consultation with all the interested parties.
On a broader front, the whole area of health education generally is looming larger on the educational scene in view of the many perils to which our young people are exposed. I have asked the Curriculum and Examinations Board to examine the needs in this area.
I should like to mention some of the initiatives that are already underway as a response to the Government's Task Force on Drug Abuse which reported last September. New video materials have been prepared by the Health Education Bureau and my Department, a drugs education package has been prepared with the co-operation of my Department and the Health Education Bureau, special training seminars have been held for teachers, teacher training in teacher  centres numbering 400 teachers has been undertaken by the Health Education Bureau and a diploma course in addiction studies has been established at Trinity College, Dublin. They are some of the very practical responses to the report of the Government Task Force on Drug Abuse. I expect that many parents who have been so concerned about drug abuse greeted those initiatives with an immense sense of relief. They feel that now there will be experts in the school who will be able to help their children.
I should like now to deal with the subject of modern languages. Contrary to an impression given in a leading article in The Irish Times, and dramatically reported in “What It Says In The Papers” much and quite dramatic progress is being made in the area of modern language teaching after many years of inaction. Arrangements are well in hand for the full implementation of new syllabuses and examination formats. Teachers and students are already working with new communication oriented syllabi and there is a new dynamism in the field already. An aural examination — a listening comprehension test — will form part of the leaving certificate examination in 1985. An oral-interview test will be introduced in 1986 as promised in the action programme. New syllabuses and examinations are also being introduced at intermediate certificate level.
Our approach to modern language teaching is thus wholly in line with current thinking of developing communicative skills. Our examinations will be among the most advanced in Europe. This development is not before time and I know that language teachers generally welcome these new approaches. Special emphasis is being given to providing inservice courses to prepare teachers for the changes, including opportunities being given for more teachers to attend special language courses in continental countries.
I recognise the need to increase the competence of young people in continental languages. This is particularly important if we are to play our full part in the European Community and also to help in  the very necessary task of marketing Irish products abroad.
It is important to spend some time on the very necessary role of parents in the education system. Significant progress has taken place following a series of meetings with the various organisation of parents at primary and post-primary levels regarding the setting up of ad hoc national parents councils. It is my hope that early in the new school year 1984-85 I will be in a position to announce details for the establishment of such a body for each sector — primary and post primary. I am most grateful to the various parental organisations for the extent of the advice and co-operation received from them in the course of the detailed discussions they have had with my Department.
The House will recall that in my statement when debating the Programme for Action in Education on 6 March, I spoke of the need for rationalisation at post-primary level. Rationalisation is a most sensitive issue and I asked for co-operation and understanding from all in whatever difficult decisions may have to be taken. My Department have already met the national managerial and teaching organisations to discuss in an exploratory way the issue of rationalisation. I am glad to say that each organisation accepts the principle of and the need for rationalisation. Where the problem arises is in the application on the ground of the principle. Ongoing discussions are being held, but because of the sensitivity of the issue it is one where instant results cannot be expected. We must all be patient but we must all approach the problem with goodwill and a keen desire to achieve a consensus.
The building unit of my Department has now completed a study which will permit of good quality temporary accommodation being provided in addition to a permanent structure for new schools in expanding urban areas to cater for the peaking of enrolments and subsequent decline.
Chapter 6 of the programme for action sets out clearly the broad pattern of development at third level to the end of the decade. It points out the economic difficulties likely to arise in catering for  increased numbers and makes recommendations aimed at improving cost effectiveness and productivity in order that the increasing numbers of students can be catered for in the most economic way possible.
In order to cater for increased student numbers and making due allowance for a realistic capital investment programme, it will be necessary to introduce rationalisation measures in the interests of efficiency and productivity. This points up the need for a study of unit costs in third level institutions which will be accorded priority.
A review will also be undertaken of the extent to which the regional technical colleges have succeeded in achieving the goals originally set out for them. These investigations will proceed following consultations with the relevant bodies, the HEA, the IVEA and the TUI, consultations which are already in train. I would hope to issue a discussion document on the options available.
From the foregoing, I am sure that Deputies will agree that the Programme for Action is being vigorously pursued by myself and my Department in co-operation with the other agencies involved and that those decisions which can be taken immediately are being taken and implemented with alacrity. There are other areas of educational endeavour which by their nature and complexity require a more planned and studied approach. Nevertheless, these too are at an active planning stage in the Department. They include:
There is an expression in Irish, “Ní glór a dhearbhaíonn, ach gníomh grod” which, loosely translated, means that it is the taking of incisive action that is the proof of intention. In all modesty I submit to the House that the Programme for Action in Education initiated by me barely four months ago is well and truly under way in its implementation with a verve and thrust which give the lie to those who sought to denigrate its purpose and deny its potential for constructive change.
I am greatly elated by the progress made so far and by the generous and supportive attitudes displayed by the vast majority of people and agencies engaged in the work of education. I take this opportunity to tender to them my warmest thanks and to pledge them my utter and continuing determination to see the programme through.
Positions of pessimism I leave to the pessimists; I prefer the approach of practical and pragmatic optimism, with a clear eye on the desired goal — the provision of a relevant and caring educational service which meets adequately the needs of our times. This we owe to ourselves and to those who come after us.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: I wish to respond to  some of the points made by the Minister for Education and to refer to the current economic climate, which leaves a lot to be desired. There are people involved in industry who are constantly being discouraged by the inaction of the Government and statements emanating from the Taoiseach's office to the effect that the unemployment problem will have to wait until the Government work out other measures on paper. This is very depressing for industry. The public have recently given a very clear message to the Taoiseach and his party, as well as the other party in coalition, that the situation which has been allowed to pertain will not be tolerated any longer. No incentive of any significance has been given to people who are literally on their knees.
One example concerning the Department of Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism illustrates the refusal of the Government to give information to the House. On Tuesday last I raised on the Order of Business the announcement made on 18 June by the administrator of the PMPA that he intended to make 285 people redundant. I subsequently attempted to raise the matter by way of Private Notice Question and also asked permission to raise it on the Adjournment. I failed on each occasion. I had previously put down a question to the Minister during the course of my research into the affairs of this company and the PMPS. The Minister informed me in his reply that the information I sought was confidential. I felt it should be made available to the public. I accept that there are things which need to be confidential in the best interests of any business or company but I cannot accept that it was necessary in this case. A number of my constituents who happen to be employees of this company have given me some information. The administrator saw fit on 18 June, the first working day after the European elections, to call in the managers and some representatives of the unions and make this announcement.
In May 1983 there were nearly 2,500 people employed by this company. I accept that the company had tremendous  difficulties and that those difficulties needed to be rectified through extraordinary courses of action. I am not saying I accept that the courses of action adopted will succeed in healing the wounds. On the contrary, I feel that the wrong medicine is being administered. The workforce has been reduced from about 2,500 to 1,118 and it is now proposed, on the basis of the anouncement immediately after the European elections, that 285 more people should be let go. Naturally there is considerable apprehension and concern among the employees as to where this is leading. Little or no information is available to them. They see the administrator as taking to himself the authority to tell them nothing and to give them no definite indication of his intentions with regard to the future of the company. This uncertainty and lack of information is of extreme concern to these people. I hope the Minister will have the opportunity this evening to answer my question regarding the delay in making the announcement until after the European elections.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: Might I suggest to you, a Cheann Comhairle, that since it was the Minister's predecessor who brought the legislation before the House to appoint an administrator there must be accountability.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: I would accept that, but I would still feel that since this company have come under the public eye in recent times it must be one in which the Minister is particularly interested and that he is willing to investigate the operations of its administrator if so requested. I would have to submit that it is very disconcerting to find that statements have been made that choppings are in hand within this company without due concern being given to expertise. I am told that one particular family — I am not saying whether they made a good or bad contribution — are set for the chop as a result of a decision by the administrator. I do not know this family at all — I have nothing to do with them and I never met or spoke to any of them — but that kind of statement is very disconcerting. If it is true then certainly it is something with which I would disagree.
Every individual within the company should be looked upon on the basis of his or her ability to perform and to make a valid and constructive contribution to the future of the company. I hope that the practice will be followed, that the final outcome will not in any way reflect what has been increasingly referred to as a chopping campaign. I hope that that is not true. I hope also that the Minister would assure that House at the earliest possible opportunity that the administrator was not appointed on the basis of any political allegiance he might have and that it can be proved that that was the case. Much concern is being voiced by many employees who live in my area that that is the case and they feel very vulnerable and concerned.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: I am merely giving the Minister an opportunity to clear the air on this because there is a lot of concern about it. I am giving him an opportunity  of clearing the air at the earliest possible date by a public statement unequivocally made on the few issues I have raised. I am unable to clear the air for these people. It is my duty to seek ways and means of having the air cleared if they are concerned and that concern seems to be genuinely held.
I want to refer now to some aspects of the statement of the Minister for Education. I shall be brief as I believe my colleague, Deputy O'Rourke, may wish to speak. One of the points made by the Minister for Education has been responded to by our spokesperson already, that is the question of the school entry age. I merely want to take up one or two points in relation to this. Points have been made in the document entitled I think, The Ages for Learning that would suggest, by implication if not by direct statement, that it is the Minister's intention to look very closely and seriously at the question of raising the age of entry to primary schools. We have made our position unequivocally clear — and I want to reassert it here now — that in no way will we accept that there is a valid need to raise the age of entry to primary schools. We are unequivocal and immutable on that point — that whilst there are differences in the rate of maturity of young boys and girls, when it comes to the age of four, there are some boys and girls who are sufficiently mature, who have acquainted themselves sufficiently with the social skills to enable them to enter learning in primary schools. While we accept also that the degree of formality at that stage of primary school needs to be examined carefully we do not accept that the right of choice should be taken from parents and given to the Department of Education. We find that totally unacceptable and unnecessary except on the basis of financial considerations. There is no sound, educational argument to justify that position. If called on, on the basis of any intention or move by the Minister for Education, we will make that position very clear. We are prepared to take it up at any point if it is necessary to do so.
It is only fair to say that everybody would agree that the age of transition  from primary to secondary level is the difficult one and needs to be looked at very clearly. All the members of our committee have expressed views on it. We are aware that in many cases students who leave the primary sector are ill-equipped, not on the basis of lack of training, but ill-equipped because of the type and nature of training received at primary level which is to a great extent different from the type and nature of training they immediately flow into at second level. Therefore, we accept that there is a difficulty here that needs to be teased out and considered very carefully and that action needs to be initiated.
There are a number of ways in which that action can be initiated. Solutions can be found without resorting to the very obvious big stick of the Department of Finance. One of the ways — and this is being carried out on an ad hoc basis in a number of schools throughout the Dublin region at present — is by greater liaison between senior, primary and junior cycle secondary teachers. This is a very important step that needs to be initiated. It is essential that the Minister look at this area, in order to ascertain whether she and her Department can organise some kind of formal arrangement. Perhaps there will be difficulties in having this accepted as official departmental policy, but the Minister should initiate action immediately with a view to determining if it is possible to have this type of arrangement organised on a formal, official basis.
It is essential that primary school teachers, at the senior end of the cycle, be fully aware of the difficulties their pupils will face when they pass on to second level. I regret to say that the situation has been so bad in the past — I am prepared to admit it — that during my eight years as a sixth class teacher in an inner city school the only time I had contact with secondary school teachers or principals — I am not suggesting they were remiss in any way in their duties because there were responsibilities on both sides; perhaps we were both remiss in not having initiated some action — was when they came to canvass my students.  That is not good enough, it is not adequate. I contend that primary and secondary school teachers should be approached by the Department with a view to formalising arrangements if there are no great difficulties in that area.
I want to refer now to a matter to which the Minister referred earlier in the year when dealing with her programme for action, that is the question of sport. I was very heartened by her “Sport for All' concept, which is dear to my heart and which I commend. It is essential that we, as legislators, and the Minister and her Department should at all times be promotive of sport and “sport for all”, noncompetitive sport. It is a very healthy concept, one that needs encouragement and promotion by everybody. However, I was very disappointed to note the omission of any mention of competitive sport. I took that omission to mean that the Minister did not put much store in competitive sport. If my inference is correct I would have to dispute that point with her because I fell there should be more emphasis on competitive sport in line with the concept “Sport for All”.
All too often in the past, and I suppose in the present, teachers, trainers, managers have tried to inculcate a healthy competitive sporting spirit among our young people, but the resources available have not always been adequate to enable them to realise the great objectives and ideals that they held in that area. I have seen young people anxious to participate in sport on a competitive basis, and recently I put down a question to the Minister for Finance asking him to withdraw VAT from hurleys to enable young people in deprived areas to take up that sport without being inhibited by the prohibitive cost. Anybody who knows anything about the game of hurling — my first love — is aware that hurleys break easily and need to be replaced very often. Therefore, if one is promotive of this sport — as everybody should be — it is imperative to urge that the cost should not be prohibitive. I urge the Minister to look at that again. I am convinced from my years of experience as a teacher and a parent that those children who have been imbued with the competitive spirit  on the hurling field, the Gaelic football field, or indeed the soccer field or any other competitive sport indoor or outdoor, have derived great values that have helped them to go through life. Many of them who have passed from the age of competitive sport to more serious indulgences and practices find their experience in competitive sport a tremendous asset to them. I would not like to think that the importance and significance of this sport would be in any way diminished.
I refer now to the Minister's decision and policies in relation to the maintenance of schools. I find her refusal to replace maintenance men in national schools, an area with which I am well aquainted, difficult to understand. Her attitude in March was difficult to accept. Most people who have any acquaintance with or knowledge of schools on an ongoing basis will know that the maintenance man is very likely to do the ordinary, practical, day-to-day things such as repairing door handles, keeping windows fitted properly etc. Most maintenance men can cope with those difficulties and in so doing they help to keep up the standard of the structure. An effort to initiate a programme on an on-off basis to keep maintenance at a reasonably high level is not realistic if you take away the maintenace men. They are the people on the spot who know the problems and who can follow them up immediately and therefore can keep the structure in reasonably satisfactory condition. I would hate to think that in two to three years' time whoever will be Minister for Education would be faced with an enormous burden of schools in an atrocious condition because of the lack of maintenance people. This would place an unfair burden on the shoulders of the present Minister's successor. Therefore, I urge her to reappraise the position. I accept that she is under financial constraint, but I do not accept that she should come before this Dáil and tell us that she does not perceive it as her duty as Minister for Education to go in and lobby her colleagues in Cabinet for more money for education. On the contrary, her bounden duty as Minister for Education is to lobby as strongly as possible because of the inequities and  inadequacies which she herself has acknowledged to exist. She must go in and lobby as much as possible in an attempt to equalise opportunities in education. She cannot exempt or exonerate herself from that responsibility.
The question of careers guidance teachers is of concern to me and everybody on this side of the House and I find it difficult to accept the Minister's statement — I hope I am not misquoting her —“Where appropriate, career guidance teachers would be kept on in schools”. I find that expression very difficult to grapple with. If we are serious about promoting and providing an educational structure and content that will gear our children to maturity and the world of work we need the expertise of specialists to follow on, to coach and guide them, to prepare them to set their sights right. I would not put the percentage very high, but too often students have graduated from second level education and found themselves in a world they were not able to cope with. That is sad and most unsatisfactory. In line with modern thinking in relation to education it is essential that we maintain the highest possible standards of career guidance for our students to help them along every step of the way so that not alone will they get academic and practical instruction that will enable them to acquire the skills necessary for academic or other pursuits, but we will give them the social skills and training necessary to enable them to focus themselves on what for them is meaningful occupation and also enable them to prepare themselves to avail of the world of leisure. This will be increasingly important in the future. Therefore, I emphasise again my disappointment at the stand the Minister has taken on this.
Much play was made today and in March last by the Minister on the question of disadvantage. She has outlined for us her awareness of the existence of disadvantage in the educational system. She has highlighted a number of areas where this disadvantage manifests itself. Naturally, we concur with her views to the extent that we understand she is defining disadvantage, but we contend that it would seem to be far more widespread  than she has encapsulated in her concept of it. We are convinced that the essential first step in tackling disadvantage and the equalising of opportunity throughout our educational system is consideration of the pupil-teacher ratio. If this is not addressed seriously by the Minister every other step she proposes to take or, as she claimed today, has initiated is mere window-dressing and does not address the fundamental problem in this area. If she chooses to take on the Department of Finance and perhaps some of her colleagues in Government who are not too warmed up to this area she will have the full support of this side of the House.
We recognise that there are many schemes which are desirable and worth while but they do not make the fundamental contribution that is necessary and, indeed, urgent in this area. The Minister mentioned £0.05 million. I am not going to go into that because Deputy O'Rourke has dealt very adequately with the question of the £0.05 million. She dealt adequately also with the question of £2 million which the Minister very nearly pulled over on us earlier this year. Again, that was spotted in time and the Minister had to eat humble pie in relation to it. The whole question of disadvantage is treated reasonably thoroughly by the Minister but the action proposed is a deferred one. The items the Minister has mentioned today are very insignificant in terms of the overall problem. While acknowledging the financial restraints on her, we hope that she will proceed in a more fundamental way to tackle this area.
Mr. Briscoe: In the short time at my disposal I shall concentrate on one point I wish to stress in relation to the Department of Justice. I am very concerned  about a development in regard to concerned parents committees whereby attempts are being made by subversive organisations, notably Sinn Féin, to take over these committees. These organisations tell the parents that they should not co-operate in any way with the Garda. This is very serious.
Anyone who wishes to check the record of this House will find that as far back as 1977 I was speaking here for stronger laws for the purpose of creating more order. I warned then that if the State did not protect citizens on the streets from the manner in which they were being attacked, subversive organisations would eventually offer support to the citizens, that support being conditional on support for the organisations at election times. I am not the only one who is aware that this is happening now and I am putting the matter on the record again by way of a progress report of what is happening in our society.
The Government have an enormous task facing them. The Department of Justice must work very closely with the Commissioner of the Garda in stamping out attempts by subversives to take over the concerned parents' activities. There are a number of people who wished to work with these concerned parents but refused to bow to this kind of intimidation, blackmail and denigration of democracy. I hope the Minister and the entire Government will take a very serious view of this development and will realise that in telling people not to co-operate with the Garda, these subversive organisations are advocating that people take the law into their own hands.
There are many other points I wish to make but that is not possible now because of the short time at my disposal. There is one pressing matter which I consider needs to be considered by the Minister for Health. This relates to withdrawing medical cards from people without first consulting either with them or with their doctors. Recently the case was brought to my attention of a quadriplegic person whose medical card had been withdrawn without any prior consultation either with his doctor or with his parents. The Minister might issue a letter to the health  boards informing them that this should not happen without people first being notified fully. This is an everyday issue that is affecting people's lives.
The 1984 allocation to my Office under Subhead H of this Vote is £135,000, representing an increase of almost 23 per cent on last year's allocation. At a time when the Government have been obliged to curtail expenditure in some priority areas, both in the economic and social field, this allocation is some indication of the commitment to the objective of promoting the role of women in Irish society.
My appointment as Minister of State with responsibility for Women's Affairs was a signal of the Government's commitment to end barriers to women's full participation in the economic, social and political life of the community. It was also indicative of the fact that, even at a time when most legal barriers to women playing their full and rightful part in society have been removed, many obstacles remain. Examples of such obstacles include the segregation of women in the workforce in low-level skills, the lack of an adequate range of subject choice in many girls' schools, the absence of adequate child-care provision, and the high cost of the child-care facilities that are available. It is my conviction that these obstacles are a hindrance to the utilisation of the resources of our nation, both material and human, and as such prevent us from fully exploiting the opportunities for increased economic and social development on which our future depends.
It is 12 years since the publication of the Report of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission made 66 recommendations and suggestions, most of which have by now been either wholly or partially implemented — the most recent being the long overdue and very welcome appointment of a woman to the Labour Court. Other recommendations which are at present in train include the question of joint ownership  of the family home and measures to combat sexism in our educational system.
My main task is to make women aware that the struggle to attain legal equality was only the first stage of the battle. The second stage, that of convincing Irish women themselves of their own potential and of taking action to remove remaining overt inequalities and to encourage women to take up actively the new range of opportunities open to them, is likely to prove just as difficult. Indeed, it may prove even more so, given that the degree and incidence of discrimination is not as obvious, particularly as so much of it is bound up in our traditional Irish lifestyle. I see one of my key functions as endeavouring, in time, to influence a change in the deep-seated and too-often negative attitudes and even prejudices which our society continues to tolerate vis-à-vis the role of the Irish woman.
Deputies need only read the daily newspapers to realise that the question of attitudes continues to be a major determinant of the role women play in our society. We see, for instance, incidences of private sporting clubs denying women full membership status. I have, on a number of occasions, encouraged women's groups throughout the country to question restrictions on their overall welfare, such as when they experience difficulty in obtaining credit from financial institutions. It was a source of particular disappointment to me to learn of the recent decision of one of our leading banking institutions who declined to appoint women to their parent board, on what I would regard as the extremely spurious grounds that intitial experience on a subsidiary board was almost a necessary prerequisite to their effective contribution on the parent body, and I have so written to the bank in question.
Mrs. Fennell: I find the arguments put forward in defence of such a position to be weak and archaic in the extreme; if brought to their logical extreme, in so far as the advancement of either women or men is concerned, our society would provide no recognition, or at the most only  qualified recognition, of initiative and obvious ability and would simply stagnate. I find the source of these arguments particularly ironic, therefore, given that the very lifeblood of the banking system is economic and social progress.
The £135,000 in funds which have been placed at my disposal this year will be used to finance support and developmental activities in the area of women's affairs. I have allocated a major proportion of these funds, £72,000, as a grant to the Council for the Status of Women in their role as an umbrella structure for women's organisations throughout the country. The council carry out work in the area of educational activity through the running of seminars and other courses and through their role in the informational-publicity field, and here I would like to place on the record of the House the importance of the independent status of the council. A similar type of publicly-funded women's council is not, apparently, a feature of the women's movement in other countries. I am pleased to inform Deputies that I was able to facilitate the council to move to attractive and more extensive office facilities within the past few weeks. These new facilities will enable the council to enhance and develop their activities and contacts with women's organisations generally and I am particularly pleased to report here that the council have agreed to place some of the facilities at the disposal of AIM, an organisation which offers a valuable support, information and legal referral service, mainly in the area of marriage breakdown. The cost of fitting out the council's new premises was in the region of £10,000 and this was met also from my allocation and was in addition to the grant of £72,000 which I have made available to the council for this year.
From the remaining resources at my disposal, I will be continuing to direct some funds towards various voluntary organisations for whom even a small allocation can act as a lifeline to continue their important work in providing a worthwhile local service for women. Requests from these bodies are judged on their relative merits. I am pleased to  say that, last year, 30 such groups received assistance from my office. These groups were involved in a host of very relevant and worthwhile activities, ranging from playgroups, consciousness-raising, self-help, adult-education, support for unmarried mothers and their children and support of organisations helping rape victims.
Already this year, I have so far been able to assist 22 such groups. It is my conviction that these voluntary groups are of enormous service in helping women in both urban and rural areas to cope with the increasing pressures of modern living and the major changes being wrought in our society by the process of economic and social development. I am glad to give recognition to the fact that, were these groups not in existence, the strain on the State's health and social services would be even more severe than is the case at the present time. It has been my particular pleasure as Minister of State for Women's Affairs to meet with many such groups throughout the country. I have been struck by their almost universal sense of commitment to their communities, and it is my intention to continue to assist such groups to the maximum degree possible, within the limits of my annual allocation, for the future.
In addition to the funds I will be allocating to the Council for the Status of Women and voluntary groups, it is also my intention this year to fund a research project which I have arranged to have undertaken by the Centre for Community and Adult Education in Maynooth College on the connection between labour force participation and domestic arrangements among women in Ireland. The total cost of this project is £9,000.
I will continue my policy to organise seminars on key issues affecting women as part of my function to bring about a change of attitudes. So far this year I have been able to organise three such seminars — one on childcare in Dublin in April, another on women and health, women and the law and women and cooperatives in Claremorris in May, and the most recent seminar, which was funded by the Department of Justice, on the subject of the conciliation services for  family law matters in Dublin last Saturday. I am also happy to report to the House my intention to organise jointly with the EEC Commission a major EEC-wide seminar next November in Dublin — on the subject of women in agricultural employment and the self-employed — as one activity during Ireland's Presidency of the European Community.
I have mainly concentrated my remarks so far on the various areas of expenditure which I envisage under my allocation for 1984. However, the most important task that I am undertaking as Minister of State is my chairmanship of an inter-departmental committee on women's affairs and family law reform. This committee, which was set up at the direction of the Taoiseach, is at present examining in some considerable detail the disadvantages and inadequacies in our social and legal systems which militate against women. Such an examination has never been undertaken at Government level in the administrative history of our State and, for this reason, I envisage that its findings will represent a major addition to our knowledge and understanding of this whole area. More than this, however, it is my earnest intention that the committee's report, which is at an advanced stage of preparation, will identify areas still requiring action, will consider the best administrative structure for implementing a programme of reform and will identify measures to promote positive opportunities and provide the necessary facilities to enable women to participate more fully in the life of the community.
I should like, at this juncture, to refer to the particular needs of women in the home. Although the number of married women in the labour force is increasing, the great majority of married women continue to make their contribution to the economic and social life of the community as housewives. In 1981, the estimated number of married women in the economically-active age groups outside the labour force was 478,000, as compared with 111,000 in the labour force, a ratio of 4.3 to 1. However, the economic contribution of non-gainfully employed  married women is not included when national income is being measured. If an imputed value were given to it equivalent to the average female weekly earning in manufacturing industry in 1983, that is £96.86 for less than a 37 hour week, the total value would be over £2,400 million or the equivalent of about 18 per cent of the estimated gross domestic product in 1983. This albeit crude calculation illustrates the importance for the community of the work of these women. Increasingly our economic and social policies must have regard to the needs and well-being of the housewife, the widow and the unmarried mother, and particularly those with low incomes, large families, handicapped children and those looking after elderly relatives. It is my wish that I will be able to influence such policies for this category of women in our society, and in this I expect that the report of the inter-departmental committee, to which I have already referred, will be of particular assistance.
My desire to influence such policies stems from the fact that I am less than happy with some of the most fundamental services available to women at the present time. For example, in what I regard as the important area of cervical smear testing of pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix, it appears that not all our health centres provide a regular service for women. While these tests are being carried out by general practitioners, experience has shown that women prefer to make use of the health centres, and I would, therefore, like to see an improvement in this service as a matter of priority. Another shortcoming of the existing service is the long delay in obtaining the results of tests. I have been in contact with the Cervical Cytology Service at St. Luke's Hospital here in Dublin about these delays, which can be as much as two months and which understandably serve to discourage women from undergoing the tests at all. I have also approached the Minister for Health on this matter, and I trust these delays can be minimised and, indeed, eliminated altogether.
I am also less than happy with the continued lack of an effective family  planning service, particularly in the rural areas of the country. Experience has shown that where clinics are offering a comprehensive family planning service there is a strong demand for such services from women. I am aware that the Minister for Health is at present addressing himself to this matter and I am hopeful that it will be rectified before the end of this year.
One other area to which I would like to refer in this debate is the whole area of dissemination of information and its particular relevance to the needs of women. With the continuing process of economic and social development — a process somewhat retarded by the recent world-wide recession — our society is becoming ever more complex and the range of support and developmental services which are being provided by the State are becoming more extensive. I have recently arranged for the publication of three information leaflets which are the first of a series and will be circulated to women and women's organisations. As I identify particular areas where a lack of information poses problems for women, for example, widows or in the areas of career choice and taxation, I will attempt to ensure that these information gaps are closed.
I need hardly mention here the important role which our national television and radio stations can play in the dissemination of the type of information to which I refer. Indeed, I commend RTE for their achievements in this area to date with some excellent series of programmes for women on both television and radio. I would, however, like to see this type of service extended in the future, and I would particularly like to see RTE developing more afternoon programmes of an educational nature for women. This is a point which women have made to me and I have passed on their representations to RTE. I hope that, as the station's resources permit over time, RTE will give priority to the provision of such programmes.
I should like to make reference to the area of family law reform. That is the area I have responsibility for in the  Department of Justice. It might have been useful if I had planned to have an action programme for law reform. This was done by other Ministers. It was felt in the area where I have responsibility that if personnel were deployed to prepare such a programme the time needed to prepare heads of Bills on which the Government had already taken a decision would be reduced.
Work is in progress on two major areas about which many questions have been asked. Work is in progress on legislation dealing with illegitimacy and joint ownership of the matrimonial home. Further, following on the publication earlier this year of the Law Reform Commission reports on domicile and restitution of conjugal rights, work is being done also in the Department of Justice to bring forward the necessary proposals for Government consideration.
Another area which could be termed equality legislation on which work is being done is to provide equality of treatment of naturalisation for the alien spouses of Irish citizens. If progress appears slow it is due to the fact, I am afraid, that little or nothing was done in reviewing our laws and proposing changes in social and equality legislation between 1977 and 1981. This Government have had virtually to start from scratch with the help of the recently published Law Reform Commission reports. It is something of which we should take note, because it left a great vacuum in this area. I am hopeful, with the bringing forward of the report of the All-Party Committee on Marital Breakdown which we expect to have in December and the report which will be coming out in my Department on family law reform, that this vacuum will not happen again, that we will not leave family law reform or law reform generally in abeyance, with no proposals, no monitoring and no recommendations coming forward. It is easy to be frustrated and to become impatient but, as Deputy Shatter pointed out in this House yesterday in the debate on the extension of the date of production of the report of the All-Party Committee on Marital Breakdown, in other countries with similar law systems to ours, deliberations  and preparations for law reform can take five to ten years. It is not going to take us five to ten years to complete our deliberations. I am as impatient as anyone inside or outside this House about bringing forward the necessary law reforms, and I give a commitment that it is being treated with every possible urgency in the Department of Justice. I look forward to support on all sides of this House when legislation does come through.
I have endeavoured to outline here the broad areas of responsibility of my office and the particular emphasis which I have identified in the general area of support and developmental activities in the area of women's affairs. I might mention here in passing that, while much has yet to be done to redress the imbalances which continue to prevent women from playing a full and equal role in our society, those of us who are committed to this goal can take heart from the significant progress which has, nevertheless, been achieved in the last decade. As proposals come before this House over time aimed at redressing the imbalances to which I have referred, I look forward to the support of Deputies from all sides so that the progress of the past can be developed and improved.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Nealon): The Taoiseach has already touched in a general way on the financial provisions for the Arts Council and the National Concert Hall. I should like to take this opportunity to remind the House that the arts will benefit financially and in a very substantial fashion, considering the economic stringencies which the country faces at the moment, during the course of this year as a result of this Government's positive measures additional to what took place in the Estimates.
The recent budget, you will recall, reduced the rate of value added tax levied on theatre and live performances from 23 per cent to 5 per cent. This, it is accepted, will reduce the overall annual tax liability of the performing arts by £1 million, with the theatre and other representatives of the performing arts benefitting in equal  measure. This is an extremely important measure which came at an extremely important time, a time of relative crisis for the theatre, and was very widely acclaimed. In fact, I had the rather unusual experience, for a Minister of State, of getting a curtain call when I called to the theatre some time shortly after its introduction.
A parallel, but I think potentially even greater, impetus to the development of the arts has been provided under section 32 of the Finance Act 1984. I should like to draw attention to that because sufficient public attention has not yet been drawn to it. This broadens considerably the scope for tax relief both for individuals and companies making financial contributions towards the arts. The range of contributions eligible for relief is from £100 to £10,000. I am confident that institutions concerned with the arts eligible to benefit under Section 32, will be able to devote some of their creative energies and abilities into devising and sustaining imaginative schemes to attract this type of funding for their activities. I am equally confident that this measure will appeal to the very many people in a private capacity, as well as companies, who care about the arts. Many companies and individuals will, I feel, be glad to use the opportunity provided under Section 32 to further the development of the arts, by making contributions to approved bodies concerned with music, theatre, art and design, film and other branches of the arts. I believe that this enlightened provision will have a liberating effect on the arts generally and will open up new possibilities for institutions, for artistes and for audiences. In this period of economic difficulty we must look more and more towards sponsorship, and I am sure that Deputy O'Rourke will help me in publicising this and it will have a very beneficial effect when gifts of £100 to £10,000 can, under very liberal conditions, qualify for tax exemption.
The Dáil recently approved the terms of the Funds of Suitors Bill, 1984, part of which has a bearing on funding for the arts. In addition to providing assistance of up to £300,000 for Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann which, may I point out, as  has been pointed out on a number of occasions on this side of the House, compared with the £200,000 originally envisaged in the earlier Bill, a further £500,000 is being provided for a number of important capital projects in the arts. The disbursement of these funds will be made by the Arts Council and will relate to projects included in the capital programme for the arts formulated by the council. This additional funding will help to create new or improved facilities and accommodation for arts activities in different parts of the country. It will provide better working conditions for many artistes, as well as creating greater access to and enjoyment of the arts for many people. Five hundred thousand pounds is not enough by any means to meet the capital needs of the arts as envisaged by the Arts Council but is still a start — and a welcome start, I hope. I hope that we shall be in a position to announce the details of it in the near future and that it will be disbursed pretty widely throughout the country.
Finally, £100,000 is being granted to the Royal Irish Academy of Music for structural work on their Westland Row premises. There are also a number of important measures relating to the arts to which, while not having major new financial implications in this year, I should allude.
I would like to advert, in particular, to the pending introduction of a National Archives Bill. This is something which has long been sought by persons concerned with safeguarding our historical heritage, and will provide a proper statutory basis to meet that objective. It will be a primary concern of the Taoiseach and myself to introduce it to the House early in the next session. This will be uncontroversial and will be widely welcomed. It is, indeed, long overdue.
The recent establishment of the Curriculum Review and Development Board has been widely welcomed in this House and by concerned parents and teachers alike. I share in the general welcome for it and I shall be urging this new board to take positive steps to improve the position of the arts in our educational system,  which is so influential not only in the formation of professional artistes later on in life but also when we consider the creation of audiences for the arts, now and in the future. The Arts Council have taken an initiative on this issue and their report on the Arts in Education provides a valuable basis for action in this area. I believe that the Arts Council's input to the curriculum board will be of major significance.
The massive repair and renovation scheme at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham is due for completion later this year. The builders will very shortly be pulling out of there. It was a major work in restoring this ancient and historic building. Considering the historical and architectural inportance of that building, and its cultural potential, the Taoiseach asked me to chair an interdepartmental committee to report on possible uses of the restored building. The work of that committee is now nearing completion and will facilitate the Government in making decisions as to the best possible uses of that building. I can assure the House that the renewed Royal Hospital will be a national showpiece in which every citizen can take very justifiable pride.
On the wider front, the last two incumbents of the EEC Presidency, namely Greece and France, have each held Ministerial-level councils aimed at providing greater support for the arts and artistes, encouraging greater participation in and access to the arts, and enlarging the scope for intra-community exchange in the artistic and cultural spheres. These meetings were inaugurated by the Greek Minister, Melina Mercouri, with an informal meeting in Athens in November last, followed up under the French Presidency by the French Minister, Jacques Laing, only recently in Luxembourg.
While progress has been slow and while there is a certain amount of resentment against expanding the activities of the Economic Community into this area I believe a beginning has been made on which we will be building. I am arranging a conference of EEC Ministers with responsibility for culture during the next six months, that is, the period of Ireland's Presidency. I hope to use the framework  and the funding potential of the European Community to achieve positive advances for the arts in Ireland and for Irish artistes. I believe that the possibilities offered by this European forum are considerable and I am determined to explore them fully.
I should like to refer briefly to the financial provisions which have been made and, in particular, the provision made under section 32 of the Finance Act, 1984, broadening very considerably the tax relief available to private individuals and also to companies who wish to make a donation to the arts under very liberal conditions. The amount covered in this is £100 to £10,000 and various tax reliefs can be obtained. This will be a major impetus for sponsorship and contributions by individuals to help the art form in which they are most interested.
I hope to publicise it over the summer period. I know it is greatly welcomed by quite a number of institutions who are fund-raising at the moment. It has already been found to be of significant benefit in attracting funds. I commend it. I have no doubt that all parties in the House will be exceedingly pleased with it. It was very well received when it was going through the House, and it will bring major funding from sponsorship of the arts by commercial companies. The same terms apply as for sponsorship for sport or any other area. They can attract major tax reliefs. This is an area which is not fully understood. I hope I will be of some benefit in bringing it to the attention of the public generally.
This has been a year in which the Government have shown their commitment to the arts generally. They showed it by the legislation they introduced, and they also showed it in a practical manner by providing £600 extra in the Funds of Suitors Bill and the £1 million given in the relaxation of tax. Already the benefits have been seen in the performing arts and in a number of theatres.
Mr. Leyden: I am delighted to have an opportunity to take part in this debate on the Taoiseach's Estimate. The debate is a bit unreal with over 215,000 people unemployed. The Taoiseach made a  statement today in which there was no attempt to give leadership to the many young people who are unemployed. The Dáil is going into recess. Since 1982 there has been a massive increase in unemployment. The Government took office on a commitment to create jobs and reduce the unemployment level which was at an all time high in 1982. The figure was 165,000 unemployed and everybody felt it could not go any higher. The Government who promised so much have delivered so little.
I should like to ask the Minister of State, Deputy Nealon, the specific position in regard to the independent local radio Bill. On 22 March the Taoiseach promised that the Government would introduce that Bill before the summer recess. As reported at column 166, Volume 349 of the Official Report the Taoiseach said the Bill was with the parliamentary draftsman and would be before the House before the summer recess. He said:
Now, after 12 months of Government indecision, they are not in a position to introduce a Bill to legalise independent local radio. The Minister and the Minister of State are both reputed to be working in this area. The Minister for Communications indicated that a Minister of State would be appointed with sole responsibility for communications and to ensure that this legislation would be brought before the House. The Government should indicate why the Bill was not introduced before the summer recess. We introduced a Bill in 1983 which was defeated by the Government, who said they were preparing a Bill themselves.
I appreciate that there is a major division within both parties in the Government on local community radio. There is confusion between the Minister and his Minister of State about the number of stations they would recommend to be established. There is confusion in the  Labour Party, who produced their own policy document on community radio and the involvement of the existing broadcasting organisations. The Tánaiste is on record as expressing concern about this whole question.
There is a clear division within the Government, and this has resulted in the postponement of the necessary legislation which is so badly needed. With the proper legislation and the proper framework for the creation of independent local radio, the Government have an opportunity to create in the region of 1,000 jobs. With over 215,000 people unemployed, surely that area should have been given the priority it deserves.
The Government should be ashamed of their performance and of the fact that they are in a position to introduce a Bill. I understand the Minister is setting up an interim committee, or board, or authority, to consider applications for licences. Surely a board without the authority of the Dáil, and without a Bill to support it, cannot operate responsibly. I ask the Government and the Minister to bring a Bill before the House by next Thursday when we will be meeting again.
Never before in the history of this State have so few imposed so much hardship on so many. I refer specifically to the performance of the Government. In 1982, they defeated our Government by taking advantage of unfortunate bereavements in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party and the illness of one member. They put forward a programme which they have not adhered to since 1982. They were regarded as a reforming administration, but no reforms have been introduced.
With the crisis we are now facing, the Government should declare a state of emergency in relation to unemployment. This would focus attention on the main area of the crisis. We have the greatest number unemployed in the history of the State. This is the greatest challenge we have to face in the years ahead. Let us recognise the crisis for what it is. Let us face up to the challenge. The challenge will face not only this Government, but  also successive Governments in the future.
The Government should appoint forthwith a Minister for Employment with direct responsibility for job creation and maintenance. That Minister need not necessarily be elected to this House but could come to the Cabinet table via the Seanad, if necessary. A person with ability and the capacity to bring forward the necessary programmes and legislation to create jobs should be selected. Action must be taken to deal with the level of job losses. A specialist unemployment team should be set up in every county, representative of State and local authority organisations and also including Members of the Dáil and Seanad. The activities of the existing agencies such as local development teams, the IDA and other agencies should be co-ordinated at local level to spearhead a campaign for job creation and job maintenance in the areas. By close monitoring of the situation early warning could be given regarding any difficulties that might arise.
In my own constituency there have been major difficulties with regard to job losses in the past six months. There have been closures of firms in Roscommon town, in Castlerea and elsewhere. In the past few days there has been a major industrial dispute in Hanleys of Roosky which I hope will shortly come to a satisfactory conclusion. However, there has been little activity by the Minister who is not prepared to intervene in the dispute.
At the earliest opportunity we should consider seriously a proposal regarding voluntary early retirement. Many young people are seeking jobs and an incentive should be given to people in the public service and in the private sector to consider voluntary early retirement to make way for those who have never experienced the pleasure of being employed. Many young people who have been unemployed for a number of years have never had the opportunity to work for pay for one day in their lives. We have an obligation to provide some leadership and opportunities to allow young people to obtain employment.
All legislation that is a barrier to job  creation should be reviewed forthwith. Much of the legislation in the past few years has proved to be such a barrier. The high level of pay-related social insurance is a disincentive to employment. The approach by the Revenue Commissioners to employers is scandalous and the harassment they get from semi-State agencies is no incentive to anyone to create employment. There is so much red tape associated with employment that the person who is prepared to give work is most courageous.
I regard the planning charges imposed by this Government as a disincentive to development. When a plan is being prepared to provide an industry or an extension to existing facilities, to impose charges is a disincentive to development because there is no guarantee that the programmes will go ahead. The charges should be reviewed because of the need to provide jobs. I appeal to local authorities and planning offices to give priority, where possible, to planning applications that have a job-creation potential. Much development work is being restricted because of red tape and the slowness of decision-making at local level. Local authorities should provide extra employment in the planning area to expedite the planning process. Planning applications that are held up deprive many people of permanent employment.
The Government should even consider the establishment of a peace corps, in conjunction with our Army, to provide jobs on a voluntary basis for young people. This was very successful some years ago in America. There are many elderly and handicapped people who require assistance and they should be helped. The peace corps could assist in our country and also they could assist abroad in times of crisis.
People are calling for radical solutions to solve the problem of unemployment. The old solutions will not do that. This is a major challenge for this Government, as it will be for future Governments. The old policies will not work when it comes to job creation and job retention. This Government have been inconsistent in their policies. We have heard much about fiscal rectitude and management. The  programmes we launched have been the subject of much criticism. I refer specifically to the briquette factory planned for Derryfadda near Ballyforan in County Roscommon. That project would have cost about £25 million and it would have created 110 permanent jobs in a deprived area but the Government are not prepared to provide the funds there. Yesterday in the Dáil the Government were prepared to give approximately £89 million for other State agencies but projects such as the briquette factory at Ballyforan and the Connacht Regional Airport are questioned. In those cases the principle of fiscal rectitude is invoked. Fiscal rectitude is fine as long as it does not affect the areas that support Fine Gael. The Howth-Bray line is costing millions of pounds; it will cost in the region of £20 million per annum to run and it will be a loss-making venture. That is all right but when it comes to projects that create jobs in western areas the so-called fiscal rectitude comes into operation. There is a full review of every project before anything is done. More than £5 million has been spent on site development at the briquette factory in Ballyforan. That money will be wasted unless the project goes ahead. The factory will produce briquettes from our natural resources and it should be proceeded with. I appeal to the Minister to approve the project so that work may proceed as quickly as possible.
It is quite unacceptable that 215,000 people are unemployed. No country can survive in the long-term with that level of unemployment. Much remains to be done here. We have the best educated young people and we should give them the opportunity to work at home and not abroad. At the moment people are preparing to emigrate because there is no hope or future here. It is an indictment of this Government that emigration is increasing. I know of many people who are preparing to go to America, Britain and elsewhere even though Britain also has high unemployment. The American quota is being considered again and many people are looking to that country with a view to obtaining jobs. The opportunities exist here but what is needed is  strong and forceful leadership to take the hard decisions that must be taken in order to create employment. The people are calling out for action and they must be given it but this Government have not shown any leadership in that area. The time is right for a general election. Let the people decide who should lead for the next few years. Whatever happens we must get a clearcut, one-party majority Government. That is the only hope for the country.
Mr. Leyden: I will not get into a debate with Deputy Kelly, because he has an opportunity of putting forward policies and he will have to admit that the Government have failed dismally to create jobs. The two parties in Government are in total disagreement. They both have indifferent policies and philosophies and are going nowhere.
Mr. Leyden: There is a clear indication of the lack of decision making when it comes to job creation in relation to local radio. The Government should introduce legislation for local radio which would be an opportunity to create jobs. They do not seem to want to help in that regard because they will not pressurise Ministers to bring forward policies in this House. We will have the usual Deputy Kelly jargon in a few minutes and we all recall his suckling sow speech which was never made but which was circulated in County Mayo. He also made a speech in relation to preparing young people for emigration. What type of policies are they?
Mr. Leyden: Why did Deputy Kelly not advocate job creation or put forward suggestions to the Government? He was a Minister in a former Coalition Government and there was very little activity then also. His only suggestion then was to form soup kitchens along the Border to help people in the North. Perhaps he could also elaborate on the great policy decision to encourage pensioners to take a trip down here on a subsidised basis. Ministers are more concerned with their political survival than with the state of the nation. The Minister for Health and Social Welfare, who is responsible for upholding the law, was prepared to break the law in his constituency by opening an illegal family planning service there. The Taoiseach did not reprimand him for taking that action but, in any other democracy, it would call for resignation or dismissal if resignation was not forthcoming. Ministers must uphold the Constitution and the law. In opening the family planning service, the Minister was only concerned to ensure his political survival in the constituency of Dún Laoghaire.
The same situation exists in the majority of Departments where Ministers are running around their constituencies and writing letters to people who have not contacted them. They are imparting confidential information to Deputies of their own party, and I can give an example in this regard in relation to the Minister for Education. Deputy Hussey was prepared to inform Deputies about temporary appointments in the Department of Education in Athlone. What kind of standard is that in high places? It is low standards from people who expound high standards. Will the Minister for Education deny that she gave information to Deputies about appointments in the Department of Education in Athlone? In fact, a Fianna Fáil family received a letter from a Fine Gael Deputy about a confidential appointment in the Department of Education in Athlone although that family had never approached a Fine Gael Deputy. For political expediency and survival  of the Government the Minister was prepared to communicate confidential information at that level. That is an example of the self preservation philosophy of the Government.
I can quote many examples of that kind of interference. The Minister for Communications was prepared to rearrange the list of candidates for the position of cleaners in Sheriff Street in 1983 before An Post and Bord Telecom Éireann were set up——
Mr. Leyden: If the Minister is prepared to carry on this interference in either of the two companies, I warn him that I will be watching the situation very closely, because those companies were set up to prevent political interference taking place in the selection of people for jobs in those organisations. The Government's role is to create jobs——
Mr. Leyden: Just because Deputy Gay Mitchell will not be Lord Mayor of Dublin there is no reason for him to be interrupting the House. I appreciate the breakdown in the Coalition in Dublin Corporation and I want to congratulate the wise Labour councillors in Dublin city and county for forming a decent and honourable connection with our councillors, because Fianna Fáil have been deprived of the position of Lord Mayor for the last 15 or 16 years.
Mr. Leyden: Deputy Mitchell will not be getting it this year or next year. In relation to the Department of Communications, I view with concern the low number of telephone installations. In the Dublin area from 1 January 1984 to the end of May 1984 only 10,315 telephones have been installed and in the provincial districts only 14,918 telephones have been installed, a total of 25,233 telephones. We should try to increase the  number of installations and make telephones available on demand. The waiting list, especially in Dublin, is unacceptable. Over 3,716 faults were outstanding on 7 June 1984. In the Cork district 679 faults were outstanding. In the Drogheda district there were 664, Galway had 391 and Limerick had 292. The level of faults is totally unacceptable particularly as Fianna Fáil made such a massive investment in the provision of telephone services and telecommunications. The Minister should explain the reason for the massive number of outstanding faults on 7 June 1984. The billings system should also be reviewed because of the damaging effect it has on the consumer. Many bills are now being challenged and questioned, and the Minister should make public the Swedish report to the telephone accounts system. There is a great opportunity now to make that report available to the public, and I see no reason why a report which was commissioned by the Department of Communications should have been suppressed for the past six months. At least the report should be available in the Library so that interested Members can read it. If the information was made available it would allay the fears of the general public.
Deputy Kelly stated the position regarding policies in relation to job creation. We put forward policy statements; this morning our Leader put forward a very detailed statement on the economy and he did likewise at our Ard Fheis. We put forward many ideas but only Fianna Fáil can implement our policies. The Government have an opportunity to go to the country to let the people decide who should lead for the next four or five years.
In the European elections it was made clear that the Government no longer have the support of the people. The Labour Party have been decimated and it is likely that many Labour Deputies, unfortunately, will lose their seats at the next general election because of the present economic situation. This Government have been in power since 1982. Since then the unemployment levels have soared and yet we have heard no policy  statements. I hope Deputy Kelly will put forward policies today and give some hope to our young people, because it is not coming from the Government.
We in Fianna Fáil are preparing detailed policy statements. We will be ready when the call comes. We will answer that call and get the support of the people, because at this stage the country needs leadership and we are going to give it.
Mr. Kelly: This Government's work was predictably very hard and uphill. It could have been said before they took office that any government which took over at the end of 1982 would have a very difficult time. The Government have had a very difficult time; but they are entitled to claim credit for the successes — which may seem modest measured against an election programme such as Fianna Fáil put out — which the Taoiseach detailed here this morning. They are entitled to claim credit for the decline in the current budget deficit. This may sound like economist's clap-trap but it means a better prospect for jobs. The Government have caused a lot of grumbling among the people by the economies in public expenditure which are necessarily involved in reducing the current budget deficit; but we cannot have it both ways. That is a simple truth which we all learn at our mother's knee; though, if Deputy Leyden is representative of County Roscommon, which I refuse to believe, then one is driven to the most unflattering conclusion which I do not accept, that they did not learn that lesson at their mother's knee, and that they want to have it both ways. The rest of us know you cannot have it both ways and that if there is to be sound housekeeping and if the family debts are to get lesser instead of greater, the family will have to reduce their demands. That is something this Government have succeeded in doing.
As part of the same process the Government are entitled to claim credit for having brought down dramatically the inflation rate over the past 18 months. Since both these items impact immediately on industrial processes, the  Government are entitled to claim a substantial part of the credit for the boom in industrial production and exports. I do not suppose Deputy Leyden will regard me as being very pacific if I say this, but the Government are entitled to credit which is not very often given because we are very cranky about Governments and not willing to give them even the little credit they are entitled to, for having led this country's affairs for 18 months with no “strokes” and no scandals. That is a nice change. I would like Deputy Leyden to tell us when that happened before. We were in power in 1981-82, and although I am afraid I could not claim that that period was free of strokes, it certainly was free of scandals. These may seem very small things when measured against the very bright promises in a document thought up by an advertising agent with a fluttering tricolour on the cover ——
Mr. Kelly: Those are very solid achievements and the Government are entitled to claim credit for them. Over and above those achievements on the economic plane, they are entitled to credit for having devoted enormous amounts of time, despite the exhaustion, the fatigue, the dejection and the pressure which accompanies every group of human beings in Government——
Mr. Kelly: The Government are entitled to huge credit for the enormous amounts of time they spent on Northern Ireland in which opinion polls show to  have a very low priority with the public in terms of their perception of what is important. That means that a cheap, second-rate, reach-me-down politician would calculate that it was the best of his play not to bother his head about the North of Ireland. Because this Government do not consist of such people, they devoted huge and painful quantities of time to this intractable and not very vote-generating problem.
Most of that time was devoted to the efforts of the New Ireland Forum; and most of the efforts on our side were delivered by the Taoiseach personally. His own personal efforts and dedication made up a large part of that input. In my opinion he did not get what those efforts deserved in terms of a result for the enormous dedication and sacrifice of his time which is limited, and his energy which is also limited, although he has the energy of three ordinary men. It did not pay off as it ought to have done if results were proportioned to effort.
I was a member of the Fine Gael team and it seemed to me that a question mark hung over the enterprise from the opening speech of the Leader of the Opposition in Dublin Castle about a year ago. It appeared to me that, unless he was playing his cards very close to his chest, and unless he was going to be as mercurial and devious and as surprising as Mr. de Valera had been before him, we could not make any serious progress. As the days wore on my misgivings about the likelihood that the Forum would produce anything useful deepened, not because of any suspicions or misgivings about the dedication, the effort and the sacrificial will of the Taoiseach or anyone on my side, in the Labour Party or the SDLP, but because it seemed that in the Fianna Fáil Party there was rooted and over-represented in their team a dimension of the Irish character which is with us and always has been with us, but which is deeply unhelpful and deeply negative in matters of this kind.
It started very early on. An economist gave a perfectly impartial academic account of how he viewed the chances that removal of the Border would generate the thousands of jobs we sometimes  hear talked about. He said the removal of the Border would undoubtedly mean a certain number of marginal economies. Undoubtedly there would be economies of a scale which would be possible, undoubtedly joint operation which would be possible which previously led to duplication. It would be possible to save some money so that there would be some resources left over for investment and some potential for extra employment and so on. He said it in a most measured and impartial way; but he said those possibilities should not be exaggerated; the extra jobs would be very limited in number.
While he and his two colleagues were in St. Patrick's Hall not one of them was cross examined by the party on the opposite side — not one representative on the opposite side challenged Professor Carter. Not one of them said: “Surely to God you are wrong in saying that this or that function would not produce hundreds of thousands of jobs?” Professor Carter was never once challenged. It was never put to him that he was talking through his hat, or that he was crooked, or that he was not being impartial.
But as soon as his back was turned they came out like snails putting their heads out of their shells after a thunderstorm, no sooner was his back turned and he was safely into a taxi in the Castle Yard than our domestic Mussolini stood up and said, “Ah, Professor Carter is the representative of a dismal science, a dismal hopeless science. Politics is the profession of hope”.
Mr. Kelly: He said politics is the profession of hope. That was worthy of Joxer or some inhabitant of the back of the Abbey Theatre 60 years ago, designed for some of the people who were then being satirised, designed for the consumption of people who were then being lampooned by Seán O'Casey, and only for them. Whatever was said by Professor Carter, they had not the guts to question him to his face, but when his back was turned they grabbed the cheap  headlines —“Politics, the profession of hope”. Naturally, there was an implied sneer at the Taoiseach there —“The dismal science”.
The days wore on — that was before Christmas. We had visitors from the North of Ireland, not many from the Unionist persuasion — we sometimes like to think they do not exist, although perhaps the European elections may have taught us differently. Five or six or seven Unionists thought enough of us and thought themselves Irish enough to make the trip to Dublin and give their evidence to the Forum. What they said, as far as the Fianna Fáil Party were concerned——
An Ceann Comhairle: I do not think that the evidence given at the New Ireland Forum has been gone into in detail in this House, and the Chair does not think it can do more than ask the Deputy to consider whether he should proceed on these lines.
Mr. Kelly: Very well, I will lump all the Unionists together. When we are not worried about their opinions they do not bother us, but when we are worried about their opinions they are contemptible. The Unionists all said one thing spontaneously. Mind you, they were not backwoodsmen. They were not the people who would be at the barricades with their shotguns. They were the reasonable ones, the civilised ones, who made the trip to Dublin to talk to Nationalists. They said that the Unionist population would rather eat grass than be forced into an all-Ireland state. In a most interesting observation, one or two of them said that everything was up for grabs once we agreed to accord them their rights: once we accepted their rights, once we accepted that they had a point of view that was legitimate, once we called off our claims to run them without their consent, then there was no limit to what might be possible. But when we held the gun to their heads they would eat grass rather than be run by us.
That is exactly what my feelings would be if the British presumed to take this  country over again in the name of their form of nationalism, and every Deputy on both sides would have exactly the same reaction. I would eat grass, too. I would put up with the potholes in our roads, or the bloody awful telephone system, everything else in the country that does not work, that annoys me and exasperates me and makes some people wish they had gone to Australia 30 years ago, rather than have that imposed on me. We would put up with these things sooner than be bullied into a situation not of our choosing and that was against our will.
I honour the Unionists for that. I am not a Unionist and I deplore the history which produced such a thing as Unionism in this island. But in talking like that those Unionists proved themselves to be men. In talking like we do, whingeing off to the British, hoping we could get them to twist the Unionists' arms, we are not behaving like men. We are just storing up humiliation for ourselves, as though we have not had enough already.
Mr. Kelly: ——and I have never pretended to be anything but a critic — I have never scratched his back or sucked up to him in any shape or form, I am not intimidated by him or impressed by him — I always thought that at least he had all his cups in the cupboard, I always thought until that television appearance that he was the full shilling, but when I heard that primitive and bumptious performance——
Mr. Kelly: I am sorry if I have gone too far. I withdraw it. His performance on that occasion was primitive and bumptious. Though I have been in politics for  more than 15 years in this building I can honestly say that I felt a sense of shock when I saw him on television tearing up the delicate web of consensus which the Taoiseach — I am not sure that I applaud his judgment in having made the attempt — had struggled and sweated to stitch together. When I saw that primitive and bumptious tearing up of that consensus the minute the report was presented, I had to ask myself whether the presumptions, and there are not very many, which I had made in Deputy Haughey's favour were well founded.
Not long afterwards we had a visit from the President of the United States, and the Leader of the Opposition, in pursuance of his attitude towards the Forum report in regard to which he had said that nothing was to be added or subtracted from — he said that several times — but from that day he has never ceased to make it the subject of division between the party representatives of this House and the SDLP——
Mr. Kelly: Who would sign a report which would enable him to say that John Kelly and others would support something which he put such a gloss on that I would be ashamed to produce it anywhere north of the Boyne?
Mr. Kelly: He went into the Reagan episode in the following way. He said it would be “unacceptable if we got only well-meaning platitudes from the President of America”. That would be unacceptable to the Duce. He said he would be highly displeased if President Reagan did not opt for the unitary state and if he did not twist the arms of the British into producing it. President Reagan, naturally, did not oblige him. All of us except The Workers' Party saw him here at the beginning of this month——
Mr. Kelly: I have been abused by all types of names in the House, and the thing I will not forget about Deputy Haughey is that he has still left on the record his description of Deputy Cooney as a fascist. The day Deputy Haughey withdraws that publicly in the House I will recant a good deal of the things I have said about him.
Mr. Kelly: I am only giving a description which a former Senator gave of him. However, I do not wish to waste my few minutes and I will leave that be. I would imagine that a leader of dignity having been rebuffed after his public attempt to pre-empt the speech of President Reagan would have given him the cold shoulder, would have turned instead to the Irish people from whom he was supposed to be deriving his support and let the President fly off to wherever he wanted to and leave Ireland to its own devices. But no, he galloped out to the airport with a hijacked Garda escort to be seen shaking hands with the departing guest who had humbled him in the dust. That was something which intensified my doubts about the former minimal presumptions I was inclined to make in his favour of the kind which the Chair obliged me to withdraw a while ago.
Mr. Kelly: Where is the consistency there? I know that this is something  which has probably drawn from me expressions which half an hour hence I may regret. There is no use in my apologising for that because I am always doing it and I am just as bad the next time. We all do it, including, with great respect, the Chair. However, it is not Deputy Haughey in particular, because I quite understand and realise — I did not believe this once — after 15 years experience of Irish politics at the hub has persuaded me that roughly 10 per cent of the Irish people are blood brothers, politically speaking, of the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party. Roughly 10 per cent of them, give or take a point or two, are people who really have no great interest in the North of Ireland or in anything in particular but who love something which enables them to raise a truculent roar at closing-time. If one were to try to depict them graphically, visually as a painter might do, one would see them as personified by a big man with an unsightly stomach and whiskers, bawling truculent muck into a microphone about the bayonet's flash, rifle's crash and the thunder of the Thompson gun.
Mr. Kelly: It is not about Deputy Haughey in particular but the section of the Irish people which he speaks for, and that is why I believe I am entitled to fault the judgment of the Taoiseach in setting out to try to achieve a consensus with the  Forum exercise. It is perhaps an impertinence for one of his followers to speak about the Taoiseach dispassionately, but he has got the weakness that he is an incurable optimist. He has an anxiety to expect the best, believe the best and hope that everybody else is turning over a new leaf, that even though all experience should have warned him to the contrary, future experience will prove different. That is a saintly dimension to his character, and I say that in no sense of levity. I admire it and respect it; but I believe the Taoiseach will now realise that Deputy Haughey, and the faction in his party — I do not believe it is anything like the total party minus eight or minus 14 — who really believe in him cannot be part of the solution to the Irish question, because they are part of the problem.
That means that so far as Northern Ireland is concerned it is left to this party and, let me say it in unfeigned, genuine and sincere honour to them, the Labour Party who, perhaps, have a better record in regard to this question than either of the two big parties, and to the very big element — I hope I am not convicted of excessive optimism in saying this — and dominant element, numerically speaking, once they get a chance to show their heads in the Fianna Fáil Party, to shoulder the responsibilities of trying to achieve a reconciliation on this island, in the North of Ireland and between the North of Ireland and ourselves. The Taoiseach is entitled, even though on this occasion I feel his good heart and his good intentions affected his judgment in that instance, to our support for spirit which he and the Government showed in conducting that enterprise against all the odds, which seemed to me, perhaps alone, to be so heavily stacked against the good result of unanimity or the good result of anything which could bear the name of consensus. That effort on his part and on the part of the Government which supported him throughout that effort is entitled to the high praise of this House. I have tried to outline to the House by way of hinting why I felt I had to stand aside from it, but I must say, unstintingly and sincerely, that the Taoiseach in everything he has ever done on  the North of Ireland is entitled to the solid support, admiration and affection of the Irish people, because nobody has ever put more thought, more of himself and his life into it.
The Taoiseach: A Cheann Comhairle, numerous points have been raised in the debate. In the limited time allowed I can only reply to a few of them, and I hope Deputies will forgive me for not responding to particular points they may have raised. I will start with a reference by Deputy Haughey. He referred to the fact that I had said the Garda Síochána are being now protected against political interference. He said he did not think any serving members of the Garda Síochána would fully accept that statement. He that said: “On that point I must address myself” to what he called “the Moyna affair”. The House will note the suggestion in that linkage, that there is some kind of link between the facts and circumstances of the Moyna bugging and political interference with the Garda Síochána. This is a clear attempt by innuendo to suggest that the Government, or some members of the Government, were in some way involved in the placing of listening devices in the Moyna house. It is not the first time such a suggestion has come from the other side of the House. I simply place that fact on record. Comment, I believe, is superfluous.
Deputy Haughey went on to say that it has now been “almost categorically established that some elements of the Garda were involved in the installation of the electronic devices in that house”. Later he went on to say: “I believe that there is categoric evidence that the gardaí were involved”. As far as the alleged involvement of a particular garda, or particular gardaí, is concerned the Deputy is perfectly aware that in a written reply two days ago the Minister for Justice stated that even before this affidavit was produced the Garda authorities had already conducted an inquiry into what amounted to a similar allegation affecting the member concerned and three others but, on receipt of the affidavit, they re-examined the matter and collected additional information. The  result was to confirm their earlier findings. They are satisfied beyond doubt that the member could not have been the person seen at the house because they have proof that he was elsewhere at the relevant time.
If Deputy Haughey is suggesting that the evidence which the Garda authorities say they find conclusive is not to be accepted, he should say so bluntly rather than by innuendo and we will all know where we stand, and where he stands vis-à-vis the Garda Síochána. He is, no doubt, fully aware of the fact that the identification made in the affidavit, even if there were no evidence to contradict it, is evidence which would have only a very limited amount of probative value, as anybody with experience of court proceedings will confirm. When there is an accumulation of evidence from eye witnesses that the man concerned was elsewhere at the relevant time, the suggestion that there is categoric or almost categoric evidence of Garda involvement is one which I suggest Deputy Haughey owes it to this House to justify. That particular point was raised and I felt I must address myself to it.
Other points were raised in the debate. Deputy J. Leonard raised a point in relation to Lackey Bridge. The position there is that we have an assurance from the British Government that we will be consulted in relation to any further proposals for closing Border roads. In relation to Lackey Bridge, the Minister has an undertaking from Mr. Prior that the closure of this bridge is being re-examined. We have no results of this re-examination, whatever press reports there may be. We continue to press the British on it and other closures which in our view do not contribute to any improvement in the security situation. I am hopeful that we may secure some result from these representations.
Deputy Leonard also raised other questions about Border funds, and we all have to admire the tenacious and constructive way in which he has pursued this question. As he will be aware from previous discussions, the level of take-up of the funds has become much more satisfactory arising from steps taken by the  Minister for Finance, and no problems are foreseen in taking up the full amount of the EEC funding available under the present programme.
The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the fall in foreign investment was related to this Government's economic policies. The fact is that last year the number of industrial projects grant-aided by the IDA was at a record level, however disappointing the Leader of the Opposition may find it. The latest OECD economic outlook for July 1984 states that the substantial export growth in 1983 largely reflected increased foreign direct investment in Ireland. Our export growth was of extraordinary magnitude, beyond that of any other industrialised country.
The Taoiseach: This clearly recognises continuing achievements in this respect and is a heartening indication of confidence in the way this Government are managing the economy. The level of industrial project inquiries and negotiations which the IDA are handling so far this year has increased and points to the continued attractions this country has for overseas investors. Deputy Haughey's attempt to talk down our achievements here and suggest that we are not making progress in this area, particularly in foreign investment, will not do serious damage, because the facts speak for themselves.
The Leader of the Opposition made one of his customary attacks on economists, which was, however, somewhat weakened by the fact that later on in his speech he proceeded to quote from the DKM economic group. He would need to decide whether he thinks economists are a good or a bad thing. If they are a bad thing——
The Taoiseach: ——then quoting from one does not make very much sense. The Leader of the Opposition's tendency to denigrate economists, from which I take no personal offence, does perhaps  explain the total absence of any ideas on economic policy from the other side of the House. It is for the Leader of the Opposition to decide what advice and assistance he wants.
He expressed doubts about whether the family income supplement would come into operation in November, and was inclined to dismiss the scheme as irrelevant. It will come into operation in November as announced. Its purpose is to provide income support for families with low take-home earnings from work, families whose earnings are not high enough to benefit from tax relief. It is estimated that the scheme will benefit some 35,000 families. These are all families who have been consistently neglected hitherto in a system where if their incomes are so low that they are not in the tax net no tax reliefs are any good to them and where, if they are at work, they get no social benefits. They have been neglected absolutely by the Fianna Fáil Party who have never made any proposal to assist them, and our decision to do so has received no support from the other side of the House but only denigration. This failure of social conscience on the part of Fianna Fáil is something of which many members of that party must be ashamed. This scheme will provide a payment of up to £8 per week for a one-child family, increasing by £1.75 per week for each additional child up to the fifth child.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy does himself no service in attempting to obscure the fact that this scheme is being introduced. Those who benefit from it will certainly have little gratitude for a party  who have always neglected the low-paid worker.
The Taoiseach: What steps has the Deputy ever taken in any Government of which he has been a member to do anything about low-paid workers who were outside the tax system? What benefit did they ever receive until this was introduced? None whatever.
The Taoiseach: They get children's allowances as everybody else does, but there is no extra allowance. If they are low-paid workers then as far as Fianna Fáil are concerned it is a case of “live horse and get grass” but they will get no grass from Fianna Fáil.
The Taoiseach: Deputy Mac Giolla raised a point about the large numbers on social assistance. He is perfectly correct. The proportion on unemployment assistance is growing, and that is why the Government in October 1983 increased the benefits by a special 5 per cent and gave a bigger increase in unemployment payments for the long-term unemployed this year than in respect of other payments of this kind.
Deputy O'Kennedy had some curious points to make about particular provisions in my Vote. He said that the provision for consultancy services was up 477 per cent. I congratulate him on the precision of his calculations, but percentages sometimes hide reality. The figure provided under this heading was £70,000 under Fianna Fáil in 1980. They came back again in 1982 and spent £103,000. We cut that to £6,000 in 1983 and this year the provision is £33,700. We have not yet got up to one-third of the figure spent by Deputy Haughey's Government in 1982. To talk about an increase of 477 per cent is not very convincing, and Deputy O'Kennedy would have done  better to look at the actual figures before he made a fool of himself in that respect. He then went on to say that the percentage for information and public relations services in this area was up by 130 per cent. The facts are that the total spending under the headings of information and public relations services and travelling and incidental expenses has risen from £124,500 to £129,000, but a reclassification in order to identify more clearly and publicly the amount actually spent on information and public relations has meant a transfer from one heading to the other. The total amount is increased by £4,500 or 3 per cent. The reclassification is designed to clarify what had been somewhat obscure before, when the subsuming under the previous Government of information and PR figures under travelling and incidental expenses left people a little in the dark, for reasons best known to the Government. Deputy O'Kennedy would have done better to look a little closer at the figures before walking into that particular bit of nonsense.
On the point made by Deputy Haughey about increased taxation under the present Government, let me put to the House the facts of what happened under Fianna Fáil in government. Between 1977 and 1981, up to and including the provisions of the January 1981 budget, the share of our national output absorbed by public spending went up from 36 to 47 per cent, an increase of 11 percentage points. That was the measure of the appalling extravagance of that period. How was this financed? Largely from borrowing. It was met by increasing the amount of current revenue, through tax increases, by 5 per cent of GNP and the other 6 per cent was left for borrowing, to the point where when we came into office this State was at the point of financial insolvency. That was the heritage left behind. The tax increases since then have been necessitated by the need to fill that gap left by Fianna Fáil which had us at the point of insolvency. They increased expenditure in real terms by 40 per cent as a share of GNP in four years, paying for less than half of it by taxation and leaving the bill to be paid by the Irish people under this Government. That is  the miserable record of the people opposite, and that is why nobody is prepared to put them back into office. That is why the protest vote would not go to them and came back to us. That is why in 1987 nobody will be foolish enough to put them back into office again. Those are the basic, crucial figures and realities.
The Taoiseach: Knowing them, the people will not be misled at any stage into bringing that Government back into  office until there has been a radical change in their personnel and in their attitudes.
Birmingham, George Martin.
Conlon, John F.
Cooney, Patrick Mark.
Cosgrave, Liam T.
Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
Deasy, Martin Austin.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Enright, Thomas W.
Farrelly, John V.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East)
Sheehan, Patrick Joseph.
Burke, Raphael P.
Coughlan, Cathal Seán.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Gallagher, Pat Cope.
Haughey, Charles J.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West)
Wilson, John P.
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