Thursday, 12 December 1968
Seanad Eireann Debate
Mr. McQuillan: When the House adjourned last night I was dealing with the so-called go-ahead business methods referred to by the Minister for Transport and Power, Deputy Childers, in his press conference recently. I mentioned Stillorgan as an example of the go-ahead outlook of the Department. It is hard to estimate at this stage the amount of business and the amount of money which has been lost to the Post Office and the Exchequer through the failure of the Post Office to establish itself in Stillorgan on an equal footing at least with the commercial banks.
I should like to give another example of the go-ahead business methods of the Department in Ballymun. Here we have another, shall I say, huge housing estate, a new town, established on the outskirts of Dublin. As far as the people in Ballymun are concerned they are forgotten completely by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Were it not for the fact that the people who planned this new town made the preliminary  arrangements, with the necessary engineering construction work, I do not think that the Post Office would have given even the slightest consideration to meeting the essential requirements of the residents in that area. This is a typical example of the lack of drive in this Department and, consequently, a lack of funds or new business which could be available to the Exchequer.
It would be an interesting exercise to estimate the total amount of money lost to the community in both of these areas through the inefficiency of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. When I mention the inefficiency of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs maybe I should reach back further behind this Department and ask would it be possible that it is the dead hand of the Department of Finance that has prevented the Department of Posts and Telegraphs from being a bouncing, energetic Department. Would it be right to say that the Exchequer controls absolutely any attempt at initiative by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs? If that is true, then there is call for an immediate break, or severance, of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs from the Department of Finance.
I do not want to blame the Department of Finance too much for this. If the Minister in charge of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs displayed the same fighting spirit in his Department as other Ministers do in other Departments, the Department of Finance would not be in complete control. The Minister and his officials should stand up to the Department of Finance and say: “We will not accept any further restriction on the initiative we should like to show in seeking new business and giving service to the community.”
There is another example which I should like to give the House of the go-ahead methods of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and their regard for buying Irish goods. We all heard the pre-Christmas exhortation of Senator O'Kennedy last night to buy Irish as much as possible and support home industry. Members of the House are familiar with the telephone directory  and most of you are familiar with the classfied list. The Department of Posts and Telegraphs have now made a decision to hand over the publication of a classified list to an American company known as the ITT Group. I am informed that this new arrangement supersedes the present one, and now the classified list, or pink pages, in the directory will be handed over to this American company while the directory itself will be published under the auspices of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. The classified list, known as The Golden Pages, will be published by an American company.
This, to my mind, is an extraordinary decision. First of all, it casts reflection, if we want to go outside the Post Office, on other Irish printing groups and contractors in the printing field. It shows little confidence on the part of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in Irish industry in that they will allow an American company the franchise, not this year or next year but for the next five years, given to this company. It is no reflection on the American company. However, they must be attracted very much to this contract from which they hope to make good profits. That is what business is. It is extraordinary that, so far, a number of Post Office employees have resigned and taken up employment with this American company because the standard of salaries and wages are far in excess of those available to them in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. In some instances the remuneration is more than double, and nearly treble, that which these people would get in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. In spite of that this American company expects to make substantial profits.
Where is the go-ahead mentality of Posts and Telegraphs? If an American company can afford to double and treble salaries and still make a profit, surely there is something wrong when the Post Office cannot do something about it? I have mentioned this to show the inaccuracies in the statement of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs when he tried to justify the recent Post Office increases. The Minister  has stated that it would be impossible to make up the sum of £3 million on new business, on economies or on improvements. I have already suggested to the Minister hidden subsidisation by other Departments in Posts and Telegraphs. I have referred already to the fact that only three-quarter per cent on the total turnover of £74 million is allowed to Posts and Telegraphs for administering that savings service on behalf of the Exchequer. I would imagine that, if we applied ordinary business rules to such transactions, a minimum of 2½ to three per cent would be a reasonable figure. If that criterion were applied, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs instead of getting £500,000 to £600,000 as an agent would be entitled to a figure of £2.5 million to £3 million. That would immediately wipe out the necessity for putting this budgetary tax on the users of the Posts Office. If it were necessary to raise that sum it should be raised directly and not through taxation on the general public and on the users of the Post Office. That is why I criticise the Department of Posts and Telegraphs for not insisting on a proper return and on proper remuneration for the work they do for the various Departments.
In Britain it is an interesting fact, and one on which I should like to quote here from a statement on the British Post Office from a file I had in 1967, that in the course of preparations being made in Britain to get away from the dead hand of Finance, it was stated that “at present the Post Office provides agency services to the Government at cost. In future the prices charged for such services should make a financial contribution to the Post Office”. Is that not only reasonable? It means that if that is done the Post Office charges can be more reasonable and at a cheaper rate and then there is no question about it but it will bring more business in turn. That is the position, as I have quoted it, as it was in the British Post Office which was under the dead hand of the Treasury. The position is the same here. It would appear that there is to be no change in it.
Before I go on to deal with one of the more important services in the Post  Office, the telephone service, I want to comment on Senator FitzGerald's statement here last night with regard to the salaries paid in the Post Office. The Post Office employees are the worst paid section of the public services. They are the Cinderellas of the service. They are the most highly skilled workers in it and the ones who carry the burden of the public criticism. Under the present system, if they apply for an increase in remuneration in their salaries for the work they do they are told “if you get it, the entire service must get it”. All the higher echelons in the Civil Service insist that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs are at the bottom rung of the ladder. What has happened? The workers in the Post Office insisted on nine per cent. In my opinion it should be far higher. Immediately the higher echelons of the service insisted on their nine per cent. This is, in my opinion, where the Government failed. They should have put their foot down and said that the Post Office is entitled to this increase but it does not follow that all the higher ranks must automatically get nine per cent. The Government tamely allowed nine per cent to the higher ranks up to the Secretary of the Department and now we have to face this mini-Budget.
Unfortunately, whenever the lowerpaid sections of our community get what they are entitled to, those on top insist on their pound of flesh. I have listened to the Minister for Labour exhorting trade unions to see that because they were very strong they should not use their weight too much to improve conditions of their own members but should cast an eye on the conditions of less well-organised workers. Here we have a position in the service itself where the worker sections demand a justifiable increase and the Government itself then allows the higher echelons to get the same increase. Is there a trace of an incomes policy there? Is there any justification for that? What I am hoping to hear is whether statements made from the Department are accurate when they deal with this mini-Budget. They were not accurate when dealing with the Post Office.
 We have the official supplement to Iris an Phoist, published by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Many people believe what is printed in that pamphlet is as accurate as the Gospel. They take it for gospel. I think it is only fair that we should shatter their illusion on the accuracy of the supplement to Iris an Phoist.
In that regard I want to deal with the telephone service. In my opinion it should be and is a necessity for industrial, economic and social purposes. It is a “must”. Judging by the efforts of the present Minister to deal with telephone communications it would appear that he wants to put it in the category of a luxury at the present time. It is the most important method of communication which is available to business today. Everything that can be done should be done to keep costs in this field down so that more business can be done. Instead of that we have this weak, pathetic Minister for Posts and Telegraphs bowing to the moneyed lords in the Treasury and accepting their grasping control over the communications system. At his press conference which was held at the direction of the Taoiseach, Deputy Childers said he was pleased to announce a reduction in some trunk call telephone charges.
That was the only ray of hope in it. He said it was hoped that this would encourage users to make more use of that service. Is there not a glimmer of commonsense there? He reduced some trunk call charges and hoped by so reducing them people would use the service more. Is it not a pity that he did not apply that commonsense to the rest of the telephone service instead of jacking-up the costs in some instances by no less than 50 per cent? There is a lesson, if he only realised it, to be learned in his statement that by reducing the cost more business would come about. He goes on then to say that “the telephone increases proposed are intended to produce a return of 9 per cent approximately on net assets. This is a reasonable return”.
Here we have a Minister of State expecting in the telephone service a return of 9 per cent on net assets. I wonder does the rest of the Government  accept that approach in a matter of such vital importance to the community? We have commercial banking concerns today who think they are doing very well if they give 9 per cent for money turned over very quickly. It is regarded as a terribly high rate of interest. The extraordinary thing so far as the Post Office is concerned is that when dealing with savings it has taken three years to squeeze another half per cent return to the borrowers who are now getting 4 per cent for their savings. The Department is not satisfied with 5 or 6 per cent return on net assets. They want a commercial return of 9 per cent. That is outrageous. It is another step in helping to kill a public service. I hope there are other people who will agree with me on that, because I think it is not too late to press for a change to this disastrous programme planned for telephonic communication. These increases are not due until the New Year and I believe that it is not too late to allow commonsense to prevail.
In the course of planning to achieve this 9 per cent profit on net assets returned, a number of hidden charges are made on Post Office users. I should like to refer to a few of those. I have already dealt with the 50 per cent increase in the charges for local calls— calls that are now fourpence and which, at times, are almost impossible to get here in the city. The cost will be sixpence in the New Year. Is this 50 per cent increase to the man in the street justified? It creates the impression that nothing but contempt is felt for him because he can do nothing about it.
Let us look at some of the hidden charges in so far as the Post Office is concerned. All the installations and equipment in the Post Office are on the basis of rentals and, in so far as major installations are concerned, this is as it should be. If major equipment is placed in business premises or in houses, there is a rent, as we all know, but there are plenty of items that are considered as subsidiary apparatus that are let on a rental basis too, and I cannot understand the necessity for this. For instance, if a person wants to put in an extra plug or socket in his  house for a telephone—if the plug or socket is required for any other purpose, such as the ESB, it can be purchased, but if it is required for the telephone it must be rented from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs —the charge will be 15/- a quarter. That charge is now going up by 33? per cent which will bring it up to £1. The plug or socket will never be owned by the person who rents, though it may last for a very long time. Is this not a hidden charge?
Take another simple item. When the telephone is being installed the standard length of cable supplied with the telephone is, as far as I know, eight feet, but if it is necessary for anybody to have a longer cable he must pay rent for the flex for every foot after eight feet, starting at 2/3d, and they will pay that charge for as long as they continue to use the cable. Surely that is another hidden charge—one which Deputy Childers, the Minister for Transport and Power, does not disclose to the public.
Regarding management in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, I am sure Deputies and Senators get their telephone accounts regularly but I wonder if Members of this House are aware that in many parts of the country the bills for the July period have not yet been received by telephone users? In many cases there are delays up to 12 months before some people get their telephone bills.
We will take as an example the temporary renting of a telephone for some occasion, say, a carnival—I might have said for some political purpose but I do not know as much about that as other people who are Whips and so on. Very often, three, six or nine months can elapse before a bill is made available by the Department. I know of cases where the people concerned have applied for the bill but it has not yet been made available to them and they have applied so that they could wind up their accounts and present them at their committee. It will be appreciated that these bills could be very high if calls might have been made to America and such places. Is this an example of the efficiency of  the management of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs?
Let us look now at the service itself. Apart from what the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has to say on this, I should like to say that the service is very bad in many instances. That is not to say there have not been improvements because there have been certain improvements, but it would be more honourable for the Minister and for his colleague, Deputy Lalor, to admit to the public the serious weakness of the telephone service. It would be much better if they would face the facts rather than to be utilising their positions to bluff and hoodwink the public.
On 29th October of this year, a question was raised in Dáil Éireann by Deputy Richie Ryan, asking Deputy Lalor to account for the delays to users of the telephone service here in Dublin. The answer given by Deputy Lalor would appear to have been directed to giving the impression that the delays were only minor and that the service, on the whole, was excellent.
I wish to give two concrete examples of what is happening in that particular field. I am glad the Taoiseach is here because the facts I am giving now are accurate and can be stood over. First, I will give the figures for a provincial telephone exchange and these figures have been taken from the diary of the exchange. Members will have to bear with me with regard to this provincial exchange if I do not not name it and the reason I do not name it is because, by the time I would have finished my speech, one of the bullyboys from the Department would be at that exchange and it would be God help the staff. They would have to undergo investigation and interrogation comparable to that of Nazi Germany because these are the tactics that are adopted by these bullyboys in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.
I refer to a night after 6 o'clock in the month of August in an area where tourism was of prime importance and where hoteliers had been suffering from apoplexy trying to assure their guests that they would get them through as soon as possible.
 Many of those tourist areas have visitors who want to ring up their families in England and elsewhere and it could be a very fruitful source of income to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs if the service were given. On a night in August, this is the report which was given. The following are extracts from the diary for Friday, 18th August:
It will be seen from an extract in the exchange diary that conditions in the exchange on that particular night were difficult and because of the shortage of staff there was great  delay in answering. From 10 to 11 p.m. there was a shortage of nine operators.
That is a provincial exchange. We had the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lalor, dealing with the position here in the city. He sought to suggest that the number of operators employed after 6 p.m. varies from hour to hour and from day to day and the average number on duty during a peak period each evening after 6 p.m. during a certain period last year was 180.
Let us take the actual position in the Dublin exchange in the month of August. The figures I have available here are again taken from the diary of attendance. Those are the figures which should count. This is the actual record of the position in the Dublin exchange for two separate weeks in August. The first week is from the 4th to 10th August and the second week from 11th to 17th August. I am dealing with the list of attendance of telephone attendants who were on after 6 p.m. It cannot be denied from the start that during the summer months here in Dublin it oftens takes eight and nine minutes before there is an answer from the exchange. If an unfortunate person wants to make a telephone call that person must wait up to nine minutes before the exchange even answers. That cannot be denied and I want to tell the reason.
During the first week I mentioned in August the part-time telephonists attended at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and went on until midnight or a little later. The majority were on from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. In the month of August this was the list:
|4th August—||180 part-time attendants,that is night telephonists, were listed for duty, 81 attended.|
|5th August—||180 listed, 77 attended.|
|6th August—||177 listed, 85 attended.|
|7th August—||175 listed, 97 attended.|
|8th August—||179 listed, 87 attended.|
|9th August—||185 listed, 89 attended.|
|10th August—||179 listed, 87 attended.|
|11th August—||181 listed, 72 attended.|
|12th August—||180 listed, 103 attended—the number went up slightly|
|13th August—||175 listed, 104 attended.|
|14th August—||176 listed, 111 attended.|
|15th August—||178 listed, 96 attended.|
|16th August—||176 listed, 91 attended.|
|17th August—||179 listed, 79 attended.|
It will be seen that during the second week I mentioned the figures of attendance from 11th to 17th August were up somewhat on the previous week. I want to bring home to the House the fact that this rise, small though it was, was significant, because during that second week there was a break in the weather and it began to rain. As soon as the weather disimproved the attendance for part-time attendants, or night telephonists, went up. It can be traced exactly like a graph according to the weather conditions.
You may ask why that is? I do not think Members of this House know that the attendance of part-time night telephonists is purely optional, they need not come in at all. Most of those people of that 180 employed during the day are teachers, trade unionists and all sorts of people. They take on night telephone duties from 7 p.m. until 12 p.m. approximately and if they feel like going to a dance they go to it. If the weather is fine they will go for a swim. If it is raining they will go in and do a couple of hours duty. Attendance is optional. There can be no denying this fact. That is the reason why there is such an outrageous disregard for the people here in Dublin during the summer months when the City is packed with tourists.
When the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lalor, was queried about the number of calls made in a recent period, not during the months to which I referred, he said the number of effective trunk calls dealt with each evening during a certain period averaged 5,040 trunk calls. I have given the figures here where the attendance was approximately 50 per cent of the men listed. On the basis of pressure and delays of nine minutes for calls the number of trunk calls could be doubled each evening from 5,040 to over 10,000 trunk calls. Would anybody here estimate  for me the loss of revenue to the Department and the Exchequer involved in this disregard for public services?
It is a well-known fact, and I am sure Members of this House will agree with me, that 50 per cent of the people who ring up and find there is a delay, that they cannot get through, forget about the call altogether, so we have no true indication of the exact loss of business involved at all. Many of those people are visitors who go away from this country disgusted with that particular aspect of our services. I want to tell the House why it is the Department of Posts and Telegraphs are dependent on part-time operators for night services at the Telephone Exchange.
About three years ago what we call the full-time night telephonists who depend on night telephone work for their living sought better conditions in the Department. They sought to establish their own union. They were hounded and kicked and some of them were even described as commies. They were put up in Mountjoy by the Minister. Even young telephonists who sought to support them were sent to Mountjoy. From that day to this the Department's vendetta became clear, they were to get rid of the full-time permanent night telephonists and replace them by temporary night telephonists. In so far as the full-time permanent night telephonists were concerned, the Department embarked on a vendetta to reduce their numbers and replace them by night telephonists. That is wrong. We would have a far better service if the people employed in it were full-time and dependent on it. If we hear charges of discourtesy and laziness it is against the part-timers that these charges can be levelled, not the full-time operators. Instead of carrying on this vendetta and having a so-called cheap service it is essential to reorganise the service and to give proper conditions in it.
 I am talking about the part-timers who now outnumber the full-timers and the aim is to increase the number of part-timers. I have given the figures for August and the position for the month of July when the traffic was still heavier was worse. I am not in a position to do anything about that. As far as I am concerned I have no personal axe to grind but I want the facts exposed and the Department shown up for what it is. It is terrible to have Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries making statements deaying what are the facts. This position is brought about because there is a complete collapse in the Planning Section of the Department as far as the telephone service is concerned.
The Taoiseach and others have asked how sufficient funds could be got to make it unnecessary for the imposition of heavy taxation. I have made several suggestions as far as the Post Office is concerned but will they be listened to? I have only dealt with the postal and telephone services and I have shown how they could bring a great inflow of money to the Exchequer. Now I want to deal with what is to me a major item. This is the Post Office Giro system.
Mr. McQuillan: The Senator thinks that the word “Giro” means going around and around the way he has been going for the last 20 years. That is the height of his knowledge. Two years ago, in December, 1966, I spoke at length in this House on the Giro system. I pointed out what was happening in Britain and on the Continent and exposed to the best of my ability the slackness shown by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the Department of Finance in making arrangements to introduce the Post Office Giro system here. Last night a Senator paid a tribute to the Sub-postmasters Association for the interest they have shown in adopting this system. I would also like to pay tribute to them for their attitude on this matter but it is significant that no other union in the country is on record  publicly as advocating the introduction of the Giro system.
When I spoke here last night I criticised the failure of the Trade Union Congress, with the great research facilities at its control, to educate the political Parties to the necessity for the introduction of Post Office Giro. The records of Dáil Éireann show little attention to this most important service which is at present available in more than 44 countries. All the European countries with the exception of Iceland, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Portugal, have got it. All the others have had it for years. It is a must in the Common Market and in the majority of the EFTA countries. Britain has been tinkering with the idea of adopting it and it would be fruitful for people to read some of the House of Commons reports showing the opposition to it by the banking interest and the lobbying elements working on behalf of the commercial banks. These banks succeeded in postponing the introduction of PO Giro. They put in their own form of wishy-washy Giro but, despite their opposition, the Labour Party made a decision that when returned to office they would insist on its introduction and the first PO Giro bank opened in Britain last month.
About two years ago there was much discussion on it generally and I wrote about it to the Director of Giro in London. He replied hoping that he would have an opportunity in due course to discuss with his colleagues in the Irish Post Office the manner in which Giro could be used between the two countries. He said that this discussion might have to wait for some time but that they were anxious to have the discussions as soon as could be. That letter was written on the 15th November, 1966 and he is still waiting discussion as far as this country is concerned. We know that Giro is beginning to enter into the minds of the public generally because television is full of colourful advertisements about it.
I feel that the commercial banks in the background have been responsible for preventing the introduction of Post Office Giro here. I am glad the Minister  for Social Welfare is in the House because I have here a Dáil Question put to him on 25th October, 1967, when he was Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. He was asked by Deputy Richie Ryan, who is certainly a live-wire, whether the Post Office would soon provide a Giro system. The Minister replied that the matter was under consideration but that the introduction of the service would be expensive and complex. It might attract business to the Post Office but it might subtract it from other commercial concerns already operating it successfully.
Mr. McQuillan: Who else? A cat was let out of the bag in 1966 by Deputy J. Brennan, as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. I often wonder has he slept peacefully since he made that statement as spokesman for the commercial banks when he was Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. It bears repetition—it might subtract from commercial concerns already operating it successfully. That was in 1966, mark you. This is the only country in Europe, with the exception of Iceland, Turkey, Greece and Spain, that believes the Giro system could not be adopted in the Post Office. The aim seems to be to leave it to the commercial banks. What have the Government done? We will probably be told in the next few days that a committee are sitting on it. That committee have been sitting for a long time. I do not know what is wrong with them, whether it is constipation or indigestion or whatever it is. The fact is they have been allowed to deliberate for a long time.
Mr. McQuillan: If you give a head start to one group it is hard to catch up. The commercial banks are in first and it will be hard for the Post Office to catch up. People might ask what difference does it make—are the banks not giving a Giro service?
Mr. McQuillan: I will explain not alone what the Post Office would get but what the community would get. It is beyond denial that the economic, commercial and sociological implications of a Post Office Giro have a distinct effect in every country where it is in operation. The effect is such that the State has responsibility and a right to see that the Giro system is operating primarily for the benefit of the community and not for profit motives.
Mr. McQuillan: The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Deputy Childers, at his press conference referred specifically to Sweden and made a comparison of conditions in Sweden with those in Ireland. He bemoaned the fact that Ireland was such a sparsely populated country, that it was the worst in Europe as far as density of population was concerned and, consequently, the position was much more difficult in so far as Post Office services were concerned. He said that Sweden alone among European countries shared the problem with Ireland of serving its widespread and isolated population. I accept that we have the same problems as Sweden. I accept that conditions in Northern Sweden are far worse than they are in the West of Ireland. In fact, we could say that Belmullet is much closer to major population centres than parts of Northern Sweden. There are variations in climate involved and the sparseness of population makes it difficult in Sweden to have an efficient service. It is, however, beyond denial that the most efficient Giro service to the community in the world is provided in Sweden.
Mr. McQuillan: The Senator is already going round in circles and I have no intention of helping him. I hope that people outside will understand and appreciate  the interest of Members in this House in the Giro system as shown by Senator O'Reilly and his colleagues. However, I do not wish to expose his ignorance too much.
Mr. McQuillan: ——where the most efficient Giro system in the world operates. Deputy Childers has already referred to the position in Sweden. If it is found necessary to facilitate the public in sparsely populated areas by the introduction of a Post Office Giro, as in Sweden, surely it is only logical that we should demand a similar service in the sparsely populated areas as well as in the built-up areas. We now have the argument put forward that the commercial banks are providing the service. But nobody can suggest that even if the banks were providing a proper Giro service they could provide it in the areas to which I have referred. We have already in these areas a network of post offices and sub-post offices where the staff and postmasters are willing to operate the Giro service for the benefit of the community. There should be no excuse at this stage for allowing more time to elapse and giving more opportunities to the commercial banks to entrench themselves still further in the areas where there are rich pickings.
Mr. McQuillan: I have at my disposal the recommendations of experts in this field and all I can do is make a judgment on the basis of what is done in other countries. I am offering my views to the House and if Senator O'Reilly does not like them perhaps he would allow me to finish my speech without interruption. The case has been put forward that as far as the Post Office are concerned they cannot see a way of making money other than the way of this Budget. If the Giro were adopted there would be funds available, as they are in every other country where it is adopted, and at the disposal of the Government and the community.
Mr. McQuillan: The funds now being taken into the commercial banks will be used by the banks for their own commercial purpose to expand commercial banking. The same funds could be available through the Post Office Giro to the Exchequer. As it is, we know that the savings of the public go to the Exchequer. There is an interest to the depositor and the Government get the benefits. I am suggesting that the amount of the transactions through the Post Office under the Post Office Giro system would be far in excess of what are now going into the commercial banks if the businessmen and the general public were enticed to use the Post Office Giro.
I want to make it clear to the House that the evidence is there. For instance, in Sweden last year they lent millions of pounds to various local authorities from the Giro profits. I want to make it clear to the House that so far as the levy that the Government will have to raise some way is concerned—this £2 million—to pay British importers to take Irish goods, instead of the banks offering that money to the Government at a high interest rate at which it will be made available, it could be  made available from the Giro at a reasonable interest rate and we would not be increasing the national debt. I am suggesting here that this would help to reduce the burden of national debt. It would make funds available to the Government for housing or other capital development works at reasonable rates of interest.
Look at what the banks are doing. They are offering this service to private concerns and to business at no charge. Why is that? It is because so many funds come in in the course of business transactions that the banks have at their disposal huge sums of money on which to earn interest rates and to enable them to make the service free. That should be available in the Post Office Giro. So far, we have allowed the first run to the banks. Senator O'Reilly asked whether I had any figures on this. So far as the amount of money made available through the Post Office Giro in any country is concerned, I can give him the figure for Sweden. In 1962 the actual returns were—and the position has improved each year since—that a figure of £91 million was made available by the Post Office Giro in loans which embraced long-term building credits and mortgage loans to local authorities. This is one figure for Sweden. The population of Sweden is seven and a half million. We would not do as well as Sweden for many years. No matter how expensive it may be to set up the Giro we have no alternative but to set it up in the Post Office in the present circumstances.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): Are we not all agreed that the Post Office is understaffed and that they have not the organisation for it? I am not against it. You are trying to misrepresent this because I made a simple suggestion. When anybody says something to you, you want to hit back. I had no intention of annoying you but you think I am trying to do that.
Mr. McQuillan: There is not much point in going into further detail on the question of the introduction of the Post Office Giro. It would appear there is antagonism shown by quite a number of people in this House and elsewhere to the idea of Post Office Giro. It would take somebody more skilled than myself to convince them on insisting in introducing this without delay. I repeat my conviction that the real reason for not introducing it is that the commercial banks exercise such a strong influence on the Government. There is no question about it but that with such an influence exercised by commercial banks the outlook of the country is not too good. The commercial banks are motivated purely and simply by the profit motive. If they are able to put a stranglehold on the Government it does not matter what Government is in power. The strings will be pulled by the commercial banks. We are fast reaching a stage where incompetence in Government is allowing the banks this. It is significant when I see the Taoiseach thanking Mr. Don Carroll and his colleagues for rushing to the assistance of the Government. Is it not going to suit them well to assist the Government and put the Government further in debt? How do we know what goes on at the cocktail parties behind the scenes? Give us instead 12 months on the Giro system. The deals are arranged and the pound of flesh is demanded by the commercial banks for whatever they do for the Government. The general public are going to suffer. If the banks are so keen to get the Giro and be in first on it, is not that proof of how valuable and profitable it can be? Why should we be the isolated country in Western Europe that can afford not to introduce Post Office Giro?
In conclusion, I would like to refer to one or two other points. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in his press release and in his press conference  had this to say: “It is only reasonable that the users of Post Office services and not the general taxpayer should meet the cost of providing these services”. Who are the major users of the Post Office services? I have mentioned the various major Government Departments. They pay very little to the Post Office. Is it not only reasonable that they should be asked to pay? Why are they not asked to pay? Why should the ordinary man in the street and the business community be asked to pay a hidden subsidy for State Departments as is the position at the present time? The sooner the Minister translates into action his words there the better and makes other Departments pay their fair share. Then the Post Office can offer reasonable services at a reasonable cost and perhaps we would get sufficient courage to introduce the Post Office Giro.
I do not intend to deal with the Department's attitude on the question of personnel and staff relations. I have hopes that we will get a special debate on that in the near future and I propose, therefore, to reserve my remarks in that respect.
I urge the Government to make more time available in this House, in view of the agreement that has been made regarding the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill, so that more time could be devoted to discussion of the motions that are on the Order Paper for the past 12 months. Senator Sheehy Skeffington and I have two motions down that are of great importance. One of them deals with the conduct of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in the field of staff relations and I hope that time will soon be given to this motion so that the conduct in this field of staff relations will be exposed just as I have exposed their conduct in the field of trade and their attitude towards the public in the field of communications.
Mr. McDonald: The greatest problem, in my view, besetting our nation today is the depression of our agricultural industry. The prospects for this industry during the last few years would appear to be rather uncertain and it is clear that we need new and dynamic  policies which will have a stabilising effect on the industry as a whole.
It appears now that Irish farmers have overproduced in every field of production. We have too much wheat, too much barley and it would appear that we have too much beet, and I am sure the economists in the Government would make those in the beef store cattle trade feel quite unnecessary. Coupled with this, we have the State-owned B & I Shipping Company jacking up their freight prices thereby eating away further into the small profit margin that the store cattle producers enjoy at the present time. It is a significant fact that it was not British Railways who introduced the new 25/-a head increase in the freight charges: this increase was introduced by the B & I Company. On top of that, they have announced they cannot guarantee regular sailings, and Irish farmers in the store cattle trade are faced with uncertainties as far as the shipping of their cattle to the United Kingdom is concerned.
It seems extraordinary that these new situations have been created by a semi-State company who, as far as I know, were showing a profit up to the time they became a semi-State company but who have shown a loss since they started operating under the cloak of the Government a couple of years ago.
I was rather disappointed last night when Senator O'Kennedy equated the organised and peaceful demonstrations by the farmers to the tactics of the Nazis of the 1930's. This was totally unnecessary and I was tempted to suggest to him—but I do not particularly like interrupting—that, perhaps, the Taoiseach might take a leaf from Captain O'Neill's book and introduce some rationalisation into the Department of Agriculture.
It is true that the present Government are spending more money on agriculture than ever before and yet, when one takes a close look at the industry, there is evidence that farmers are not as well off now as they were ten years ago. We not only need changes in the Government's agricultural policy but we also need some changes in the planning section of the Government and we  should try to get away from those economists who appear to be guiding our national destiny at the present time.
During the past two seasons, our wheat farmers have enjoyed two bountiful harvests but if we look at statistics it can be ascertained that we do not get very many years like those in succession. For that reason, and having regard to the new prices which have been announced for next year's wheat crop by the Minister for Agriculture—I do not wish to appear as a prophet of gloom—I will not be surprised if our Irish farmers will get up to 15/- per barrel less for their wheat in coming years. We must remember that part of the price structure is based on the amount of native grown wheat to be included in the grists. This has been 270,000 tons, and this year we produced almost 340,000 tons. The excess will have to be sold back, presumably by An Bord Gráin, at feeding prices. I believe the time has come when the Department of Agriculture must shake themselves and announce some type of policy or programme to benefit this important sector of the community. Instead of just playing around they should take some action. The present situation regarding barley, vis-á-vis feeding barley and malting barley, is not the ideal.
I have formed the opinion that, for at least a trial period, the Department of Agriculture should, after consultations with the NFA and other farming organisations, explore the possibility and desirability of introducing wheat growing on a contract system. There are many forms of this that could be devised. I think that if we had a system whereby each individual farmer would have the same acreage contract for wheat, barley and beet, it would improve husbandry from the point of view that we would at least have a minimum of a three-year rotation system. One of the main difficulties regarding wheat is that when it is good we have people—speculators, if you like—growing large acreages; but it is the small farmers, who are in the majority in this country, who get the raw deal because they have not got their own machinery to harvest at the  opportune time and they are dependent on hired machinery.
I should like to see at least an attempt being made to solve this problem which must mean new policies. I should even like to see at this stage the introduction next year of a contract system, whether the Department and the Minister decide to have wheat on contract for the milling industry only and leave feeding barley and feed wheat, that farmers can grow as much as they like at a certain price. However, when farmers commence to plough in the spring they must have some idea of what their income for the year will be. The only way we can do that is by a system of guaranteed minimum prices and some type of contract system. Again, I feel one of the main reasons why farmers go into tillage—there has been a tendency during the past few years for farmers to move dramatically from one type of produce to another—is lack of capital.
Many farmers who have not got the capital to stock their holdings adequately are forced to plough and sow cereals. They cannot sow beet. Beet requires a rather large amount of labour and this is not available in many parts of the country. As well as that, the beet crop demands a lot of hard work. In places where there is labour available they will do precisely anything bar the manual work that is associated with, and necessary for, the beet crop. I do not blame people for that attitude because the wages of agricultural labourers are the lowest in the country. It is at a disgracefully low level and the economics of Irish agriculture does not allow farmers to pay even a decent living wage.
I have seen on many farms, where a few years ago there were two and three men employed, that as the cost of production goes up many of those people who have been working on the land have had to be let go. Consequently, we have in many areas large hedges growing wild and places taking on a derelict appearance. I do not think the Government are at all at grips with the problems of Irish agriculture.  This is not really an extraordinary thing when we remember that the Minister is not on talking terms with the organised farmers. The people who know what is needed in Irish agriculture are in those organisations. Then we realise the situation is even worse. One day we find the Minister wants to meet them and the next day the Government and the Minister do not want to meet them. The whole thing is a mix up. We must have some sort of dialogue if farmers are to survive.
We have the ever-increasing problem of the rates. Despite the fact that quite a large number of farmers pay no rates on their land, people with 100 or 120 acres—that is not a large farm by any means under present standards—find that their rates are going up by £20, £30 and £40 a year. I am glad to see there is a commission sitting somewhere on the rating system. I should dearly like to see them speeding up their activities. The system is clearly outmoded and does not take into account the ability of the people to pay them.
I recall some months ago, when we were dealing with the university scholarships under the new free educational system, it was distressing to find that a widow who had a farm of some 120 acres was ruled out because of her valuation. Her income from this farm was very small. Had she been allowed to apply for the scholarships under the income system she would easily have qualified but under the valuation system she was out.
I feel every Department of State in this country have taken on an antirural bias. There is one village near me, Vicarstown, County Laois, in which the Department of Transport and Power closed down the canal, which gave a little employment there. Then, last year the Department of Posts and Telegraphs closed down the post office. This year the Department of Education closed down the national school. This means that even though there are sufficient children there for two teachers, children of 4½ and 5 years of age are collected in the morning at 10 minutes after 8 and taken on a wide tour in a bus and they are not  returned home until 5 o'clock. They are landed at school one hour before it opens and they do not arrrive home until an hour after the school has closed.
Here we have in a very small country a clear indication of the machine-type attitude in many of our Departments, where there is no flexibility and where the Departments are obviously not prepared to meet special circumstances in the few cases where they crop up. We are altogether too rule-conscious in this country or at least the Government and the Departments are. There should be more flexibility.
I do not accept for a moment that people who object to their lives being run by Departments of State are antisocial, anti-Irish or anti-national. If the majority of the people, as happens in so many of the cases where national schools are closed, are actually against it, they should be listened to. The people in Vicarstown are paying at their own expense for a teacher in the school so this school is the property of the people. It is unfair for the Department to carry on as they are. They should at least allow the small infants to be left—there are sufficient of them there for one teacher—and take on the second and third classes to the larger schools. People have a genuine grievance in this case and the Department do not seem to care.
I should like to get back to agriculture and to ask that as soon as possible a comprehensive scheme of minimum prices for agricultural produce be introduced. This year in the tillage counties potatoes are at an all-time low price. It is difficult to give them away. When one is asked for 1/6d for a spoonful of potatoes, as we pay here in Leinster House or 1/- for a small bag of chips, and when one considers that the price of potatoes is as low as 8/- a cwt there must be something radically wrong. Food prices in this country are going up all the time but, as far as potatoes are concerned, the price the producer gets for them takes serious nosedives from time to time. This is something the Department must stop. Last year I sold potatoes for £18 per ton, this year they are £8 per ton, but the prices in the shops  have remained constant and I know that in Donegal and Monaghan and other potato producing counties a lot of them were not cleared last year. When it comes to seed potatoes we in the Midlands have to pay £30 per ton for them and I feel that the Department of Agriculture has been lacking in regard to this matter. We need new minds in that Department, new minds which will give more consideration to the people who are producing foods. We are lucky to be getting anything at all for our potatoes now.
There must be more co-ordination between the State agencies which are assisting agriculture. I dealt with this matter earlier in the year but I would like to see closer ties between the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Institute or, at least, that they should be on the same wavelength. Sometimes one wonders if the civil servants in the Department of Agriculture read the annual report or the monthly journals issued by the Institute describing their experiments. Even in the matter of grants you have extraordinary voids in communication between the two organisations. When one visits the Institute farm one finds that the head of a particular department is Dr. X and one is often surprised that this Dr. X is a very young man but a young man with great experience, a young man who has qualified and graduated in Ireland but who, in all cases, has wide experience in other countries.
These people are doing wonderful work in their particular experiments and yet when the results of these experiments are presented nobody takes any notice of them. Even a body such as the Agricultural Credit Corporation refuse to accept figures supplied by the Institute and even if they recommend a particular type of farm buildings the Department of Agriculture may refuse a recommendation or otherwise they may have to be forced to pay a grant for it. If we are to spend a large amount annually on this Institute we should stop codding ourselves and the Department of Agriculture should decide once and for all whether the money being spent on the Institute is money well spent. If the money is being well spent the Department  should accept the figures, experiments, advice and guidance given to them and if it is being illspent they should get to hell out of it. Irish agriculture cannot afford the continuance of the present system in which it would appear that the love of red tape in this archaic Department is so great that money means nothing to them. The people who continue to suffer are the unfortunate Irish farmers.
There is also the difficulty that county committees of agriculture are experiencing in the filling of vacancies. These vacancies are with the Appointments Commission for from 12 to 18 months and a lot of time of the agricultural instructors is spent in travelling to and from Dublin for interviews. I do not know how the system originated but I do know that an instructor can be appointed to a particular county and need not notify his acceptance for three months. After that time he may turn down the post and the whole operation has to start all over again. In the meantime the committee is left without an instructor to carry on the work. It is necessary, during the present scarcity of instructors in agriculture, to empower the local committees to make permanent appointments provided that the applicants are fully qualified and have the requisite experience. We all know the length of time an instructor needs to know his people and to gain their confidence. Some of them are very conservative but, as soon as an instructor gets to know his people, we find that his duty to himself and his family compels him to seek another post and the committee is again left without an instructor.
If the local committees were empowered to make appointments until the thing has been worked out with the Appointments Commission it would be a great help to agriculture. With the small farm incentive bonus scheme putting so much extra work on the instructors it is not unusual to find two or three instructors interchanging from time to time. In the vocational education field, where you have teachers constantly on the go from one county to another, the position is even worse but  I do not propose to go into that matter at this time.
I sincerely hope that the fact that the Government and the banks had to provide the money for the United Kingdom deposits will not mean curtailment of credit to Irish agriculture. I hope that loans for capital purposes will continue to be available to the Irish farmers at as cheap a rate as possible. Unless that policy is carried out we will continue to have drastic changes in the various forms of production here. Finally on agriculture, if we cannot have a new Minister for Agriculture in the immediate future I would appeal to the Government to give us a new agricultural policy in the hope that with goodwill in the New Year we may get Irish agriculture flowing on perhaps a better line.
Now that the Minister for Social Welfare is in the House I should like to mention one or two points which I have often mentioned before, in so far as his Department are concerned. With regard to the present difficulties which county councils are experiencing in having to wait for the decisions on the White Paper on Health, regarding hospitalisation and the extension and development of hospitals and various homes, the Department of Social Welfare should take a more lenient view in helping to keep geriatric patients in their own homes. It has happened in the past, and it it regrettable, that daughters of pensioners who come home to look after those old people do so on their own responsibility and they are not given any help to do this work which is very necessary. These old people would be much happier in their own homes if they had somebody to look after them. I hope the Department of Social Welfare will see their way in these times of rising prices to take a more lenient view of the applicants for non-contributory old age pensions.
The system which is used in the Department in assessing means is too rigid. I refer to the valuation basis, and so on. One often comes across a case where there is visible poverty, and we may find that people living in poor circumstances have property which is dormant or not producing income. In  such cases the social welfare officer should be able to take a more charitable and sympathetic view in assessing means. Many people are not able to continue at an advanced age to save for the rainy day and many people are denied pensions when they certainly are in need of them.
I urge the Minister to introduce as soon as possible a new, comprehensive health service. A scheme based on voluntary health contributions, seeing that the Voluntary Health Insurance has been so successful during the few years, would be of great benefit. An extension of the Voluntary Health Scheme to cover practically everyone in the country is desirable.
I should also like to see the speedy implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Mental Health Services. In that respect I should like to compliment the Minister for Health on at least his thoughts in so far as mentally retarded children are concerned. It would be gratifying if he could put his words into action so as to ensure that as many as possible of these mentally retarded children are given an opportunity of attending day schools. There should be established in each county a day school properly equipped to accommodate mentally retarded children. This is one charity, if we might call it such, that has awakened in the public a great spirit of co-operation and has aroused to a great extent the social conscience. Rather than hand this section to the bureaucratic machine I would urge on the Minister to assist the voluntary bodies in an efficent and quick way in establishing these schools on their own, thereby developing the social conscience that has at least awakened in so far as this matter is concerned. There are so many children in those schools now that they have not a proper service. Some of them get help from small voluntary organisations with voluntary teachers coming in one or two days a week perhaps. This is not enough. If we had a better network of schools we would relieve the institutions who are doing wonderful work in the more severe cases.
We have heard a lot this morning about the Department of Posts and  Telegraphs. I should like to ask the Minister has there been a change in the policy of this Department. Have this Department gone completely commercial or do they think they have gone commercial? Do they not consider that it is their duty to continue to supply and maintain a public service? The Department are relying too much in rural Ireland on the traditional way of the public in approaching their neighbours for a service which the Department should give them.
With regard to telephone kiosks, if you travel in Northern Ireland you will meet one in every three miles and at every crossroads. Between Dublin and Portlaoise, and between most small towns, one does not see a telephone kiosk on the public roads. We should have one at the odd junction. Many motorists have a breakdown and, especially at night time, it would be convenient to have more kiosks. The Department should at least be able to afford one in each village and the public would be able to use this service without having to ask a neighbour for a favour. If a kiosk operated outside the post office at least people using the service would know they were having a private telephone conversation. At places such as creameries where each morning you have large numbers of people doing business there should be a telephone service. It should be the policy of the Department to provide a service for such people. They will pay through the nose for it and such a service should show a profit. It is unfair at every turn to take a service from the people of rural Ireland for which they are paying. The least the Department could do is to put a kiosk outside a creamery in each village which people could use without having to ask a favour of the manager or anybody else.
Finally, I would like to ask about the housing programme in the country in general. I still see each morning when coming to town the unsightly caravans at Newlands Cross. A little further on I see them just the far side of Red Cow. If one comes in through Kimmage Road you will find an encampment of itinerants there. One is almost afraid to pass that roadway as there is glass, bottles, debris and scrap of all descriptions dumped beside the  road and on the road. Surely the Department of Local Government could spare some time and money to providing in or near the vicinity of our capital city a fully-serviced site for these homeless people or people who prefer to live in caravans. I do not for a moment wish to bunch all these people together but some sites for itinerants and for the people who choose to live in caravans should be arranged. They should not be left on the main approaches to our capital city. The Corporation or Dublin County Council should provide a properly serviced site which would have sewerage facilities and water laid on. They should be charged some small rent. Many of these caravans and trailers cost up to £2,000. These people are entitled to something better than being pulled in and parked on the side of the road. One sees small children and it is hard to know how they escape danger. That is not my problem, but the only thing which annoys me is that they are there so long and obviously nothing is being done for them.
We have not met in this House for four months. Although I come to Dublin often I was amazed this week to see that every busy street is torn up. I would like to ask has something blown up here in the city. Why all the digging at every important junction? At the corner of O'Connell Bridge the carriageway is broken up. On the quays one side of the roadway is affected as well and practically every road is torn up. I have tried going different ways home. One half of the North Circular Road is up. All this is going on in the middle of the Christmas rush. Why have all these jobs going on now? Why have busy stretches of the roadway torn up in the busy season?
I object to Radio Éireann each morning talking to people who wish to come to Dublin from rural Ireland and directing them to park in various outlying districts of the city. It would behold the authorities better to tackle the problem of off-street parking in a more dynamic way. It is not right to try to get the people who come to Dublin for the day's Christmas shopping and who possibly would have  difficulties with the one-way street, never mind the roads up, to expect them to park away out and be left at the mercies of the congested public transport service at 5 or 6 p.m. The people at Radio Éireann forget that if someone from rural Ireland, from some town, village or farm, wants to come for a day's shopping he must arise between 5 and 6 a.m. in the morning depending on the county he comes from. To suggest, as RTE is prepared to suggest, that they must park away out and to force the ladies to carry their shopping right across the city is wrong. Instead of shipping the rural people like cattle I think it would be better if proper facilities were provided for them on the odd occasion that they visit the capital city.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: A Leas-Chathaoirleach, on 12th July this year in this House the Minister for Finance told us in talking about the first finance Bill—and I quote from volume 65, No. 13, column 1376:
Looking back on that speech I do not see from him as recently as July that the impetus was not going to be maintained or that there was any trouble around the corner or any likelihood of a second Budget. When I compare the items taxed in this first Budget with those in the second Budget I find a strange similarity. In the first Budget we have the item “beer”. In the second Budget we have the item “beer”. In the first Budget we have the item “spirits” and in the second Budget we have the item “spirits”. In the first Budget we have the item “tobacco” and in the second Budget we have the item “tobacco”. In the first Budget we have the item “tobacco—excise duty on certain stocks” and in the second Budget we had the item “tobacco—excise duty on certain stocks”. It would seem to me that there is significantly little variety between the first and second Budget, although the emphasis is not so strong now on maintaining impetus of economic expansion.
In 1953, the Fianna Fáil Government, of which I was a member, took a decision that taxation in this country had reached the danger limit We announced that we had made up our minds on that fact and that, so far as we were concerned, there would be no increase in tax rates above the 1953 level. We made it clear that, if any Budget difficulties arose, that difficulty would be met by a reduction of expenditure and not by increasing the burdens on the taxpayer.
There is not a Deputy sitting opposite who does not owe his seat in this House to repeated pledges to his constituents that he would be able to reduce the cost of Government and reduce taxation. What a pack of “phoneys” you have proven yourselves to be!
This was Deputy Lemass, and I quoted from columns 45 and 49 of volume 157 of the Official Report of the Dáil for 8th May, 1956. It is not without a certain amount of melancholy that I review this statement. I have had sufficient experience since 1954 in this House of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael changing places and swopping speeches. I shall come a little later on to the question as to whether the Cabinet will play musical chairs and allow Fine Gael another period in office and I believe that a good deal of the “opposition” speaking such as I have just quoted merely represents a game for the purpose of getting back into power and implementing precisely the same policies which in opposition they condemned.
I have not forgotten, of course, that it was mentioned the other day in the Dáil that the 1968 £ sterling in Ireland is worth only 13/5d of the 1956 £.  This means that it is only worth a shade less than two-thirds of the £ in 1956. Therefore, if anybody speaks in terms of the actual money given to old age pensioners or to unemployment beneficiaries and if he will talk only about the sum of money involved, I would ask him not to forget that, since 1956, which is not so very long ago, the Irish £ has lost one-third of its value.
I wish now to take advantage of this opportunity which allows us to speak on the Appropriation Bill before it actually comes before us, and I shall take the opportunity of referring to points of detail which are only indirectly related to the Finance Bill. The first point I wish to make is in regard to education. I have already spoken many times and at not inconsiderable length, as I am sure Senator Ó Donnabháin will agree, on the question of education. I do not intend to speak on it for very long now but I wish to say, and I have said it before, that if the amount of money available is limited, as it must be, then I believe that the prime demand and the prime call should be, first of all, on behalf of primary education. I realise that university, secondary, vocational and technical education all require further help, but let us not forget that the horse which we must really put before the cart is primary education. In the primary schools we have overcrowding, under-staffing and the underpayment of staff, and these matters must be regarded as top priorities in education.
I should like to say that credit is due to the Government and to the Minister for taking quite definite forward steps in relation to the whole field of education, though I do not think that the steps taken have yet been sufficient. However, credit must be given where credit is due, and I would differ from those who tend to criticise the amalgamation of the non-viable primary schools. In certain individual cases there may be legitimate objections, and the Minister has shown a willingness to receive deputations which some of his colleagues might, with benefit, follow. I recognise that further discussion may be necessary in relation to certain schools, but the  Minister is justified in the main lines of his policy towards primary education, that is to say with regard to pooling teaching resources and buildings. These measures will be to the benefit of the pupils involved.
The provision of free transport represents an enormous step forward, and is I think something which should have the approval of this House. The decision to increase the grants to secondary school children to enable them to get to the university must be given great credit. Great credit in this regard is due to the Minister, to the Government and to the Minister's predecessor, the late Deputy Donogh O'Malley, who made the point that nobody should, for financial reasons, be kept out of a level of education, whether it be secondary or university, from which he was capable of deriving benefit.
A great effort is being made to make grants and scholarships available to meet this situation, and while I do not think the grants are numerous enough they are certainly far ahead of what used to be the case when county council scholarships numbered about 250. About a thousand grants are now to be given, which means that four times as many young people are getting a chance. However, while this is a very valuable steps forward, we must not blind ourselves to the fact that the average Irish boy or girl of 17 or 18 years of age still does not get a chance of a university education. This arises from our failure to tackle the social and economic problems of the country. All too often, the mainstream of Irish national life for our young boys and girls leads to Birmingham, Nottingham or Camden Town.
The Government have not shown sufficient imagination in—I shall not use the term “supplying” jobs—but in tackling the jobs that are crying out to be done and of harnessing the skills of hand and brain to the resources that we have available. I agree with Senators McQuillan and McDonald that too much emphasis is placed merely on what this will mean as regards profit to private enterprise.
I understand that there is a threat  of a secondary school teachers' strike, arising out of the proposed new unified teachers' salary scales. I would feel that the error, and I think there has been an error, in relation to this scale has not lain with the Minister's desire for a single scale but rather with the amounts of both salaries and differentials on that scale. There are quite a number of secondary teachers who, under the present regulations, will lose money by being put on the Government scale. The Minister, who is a reasonable man, might modify this without changing the scale, and might arrange a different level of differentials as between the various grades within this scale. There is a problem here of course, because many secondary school teachers with university degrees feel that not enough financial recognition has been attached to these qualifications on the new scales.
It is also held, of course, that the actual training at a university is longer than the training given to the national school teacher, but the national school teacher might well reply that his initial qualifications, in very many cases, as was shown recently by Senator Brosnahan, have often been far and away ahead of the minimum qualifications required for entry to the university.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I propose that we continue to sit during the remainder of the afternoon. As the Taoiseach explained there are certain difficulties in relation to this Bill and we are anxious to conclude it this evening. I understand there are some long speeches to be expected from the other side of the House and I do not see much prospect if we adjourn for lunch of getting through in the time we hope to get through. Therefore, I propose that we continue to sit until the matter is brought to a conclusion.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I have no  objection, though I shall, of course, be speaking to an audience that is getting hungrier and hungrier, unless they have got resources which I have not got, as I am in the middle of my speech. They have got a solution, however, in that they can get up and go away.
The point I was making is that I feel that the new salary scales proposed are open to objection not by reason of their uniformity and the bringing together of all the teachers but by the size and the differentials within that scale. I noticed that the Minister the other day was quoted as saying he denied the accusation made by the Catholic Secondary School Managers that he was going to suppress and amalgamate certain secondary schools.
The Minister said: “This is absolutely untrue. There will be no suppression and no amalgamation of secondary schools.” There will be no amalgamation, no merger apparently at that level to bring together two schools. This obviously is regarded by the Minister as absolutely beyond the bounds of possibility and certainly not anything he or his Department would contemplate doing. The implications of this are interesting in relation to other levels of education.
I want now, very briefly in contradistinction to previous occasions, to say something about the Minister's attitude on corporal punishment. We have debated this many times in this House. The Minister is now the first Minister since Mr. Derrig in 1947 to introduce what I would call progressive regulations in regard to corporal punishment. I do not think one could include in our progressive regulations the change in the regulations made very rapidly by General Mulcahy when he was Minister for Education, when he permitted the strap for 10 days and then cancelled its use. The cancellation of his own order was progressive, but I do not think he could get credit on that account.
The present Minister has decided, for the first time in the history of primary education in this country, that infants will not be subjected to corporal punishment in our schools. This is an immense step forward, to be compared perhaps with the splendid forward  achievement by Queen Victoria in 1900 in raising the school leaving age from 13 to 14 years. We have not yet reached the point where we can change that particular rule from the level prescribed under the rule of Queen Victoria, but the present Minister has gone a little ahead on the other point, in seeing that Irish infants shall no longer be subjected to corporal punishment. I believe I am right in saying that it protects from corporal punishment children under the age of seven years.
It seems fantastic that we have been tolerating that children, four, five, six or seven years of age could till now be beaten in our schools with an instrument by an adult two or three times their weight. It would not be tolerated in the boxing ring, but it was tolerated in primary schools. I would make the further point that as much damage is done to young children watching this spectacle as by having it inflicted on themselves. I welcome this step consequently on the part of the Minister, and I look forward to seeing the Minister going further ahead. I draw the attention of the House to a very excellent letter in the Irish Times a couple of days ago by Dr. Cyril Daly in which he argued very strongly against corporal punishment altogether in the schools. There is just one point which he might have added and that is that the witnessing of corporal punishment, witnessing an adult striking a child with an implement, can be as harmful to the child spectators as the reception of the beating itself.
In this connection, and I think it is genuinely connected with it, I welcome the spread of interest and enthusiasm for parent/teacher groups in connection with our schools. I notice that the enthusiasm seems to be greater in relation to secondary schools than in relation to primary schools, but it is quite obvious that the plan generally is seen as a good one. We debated this in this House before, and we asked the then Minister that active steps be taken in fostering groups in primary schools. Those favouring this view represented a good cross section of this House, though we were not in a majority, but I am glad to see this view too is gaining strength in the country. I am confident  it has at least the support of the Minister, although he has not yet actually taken steps to foster the development of such groups in relation to primary schools, as he could and should.
The point that has preoccupied us at the university level a great deal lately is the projected merger. I would say the merger is now dead, and Fianna Fáil regret they ever touched the idea, or at any rate in the terms in which it was introduced, that is to say: “We have decided you should merge. We leave the details to you. What has been decided has been decided.” I feel that the merger in general in that form will certainly not go through.
I am not without recognising that the proposals and many of the underlying motives have had a fruitful effect. They have had effects in the Irish Federation of University Teachers in which there has been a long series of meetings and valuable co-operation, which in my opinion, in the context of the four Irish universities, which is the future as I see it at that level, will have very beneficial effects. If there is genuine co-operation, it will be for the good of the country.
I must say here that my own objections to the merger, which I have stated in this House some time ago, arise partly from the numbers that a colossus in Dublin University would cater for and which would not be for the benefit of the country, the city, the students or the staff. I believe with a very large student body there is an impersonal atmosphere, there grows up an administrative bureaucracy out of touch with the academic world and the student. There is harmful alienation resulting from this. There is a loss of contact between the students, and between the students and the staff. If, as I hold the optimum number is between 5,000 and 8,000 students, then if UCD and TCD are amalgamated together the whole university set-up in Ireland would become seriously lopsided.
The figures which have been quoted often in recent years show that something like 47 per cent of the university students in the Republic have been attending University College, Dublin— 47 per cent, nearly half. Another 22 per  cent are attending the second biggest university, Trinity College, so that if the two are joined together 69 per cent of our students would be attending one university in Dublin. With that you will have a separation of the other two universities at present united in the National University of Ireland, each having to share between them the remaining 30 per cent of the students. Under such a system, a merger in Dublin would produce a colossus, a supermarket university in Dublin, a very large university with colossal numbers in Dublin, and two much smaller universities in Cork and Galway. This will produce a university system which will be not only ungainly and unwidely, but lopsided as well.
The vital difficulty in Dublin would not be a matter of money. It is simply not possible to have a genuine, organic cohesion between a university situated in College Green and another in Stillorgan, with three and a half miles of traffic between them. In such circumstances genuine organic cohesion is not possible; and this is the view, as has been shown, of the big majority of the academic staffs of both universities. The opinion was expressed by a very distinguished University College Professor in my hearing at the 7th July Seminar in Maynooth, that if we were forcibly merged in a joint university, numbers within ten years would be so great that we would then be seeking a way of separating the two universities again. I believe this to be true.
It was said the other day that the main aim of the merger is to get rid of the ecclesiastical ban on Trinity College which means that a number of Catholics are debarred from attending there. The Minister for Education said in Trinity College on 5th December that “within the framework of the new Dublin University there will be a situation in which no need for the ban will arise.” I am quoting his words. How does he know? On what authority does he state this? I feel bound in that connection to quote an authoritative view as to what at present constitutes the basis for this “need” for the ban. I am quoting from a note by the Most Reverend Dr. Philbin. He is  a member of the Catholic Hierarchy, and was a member of the Commission on Higher Education. At paragraph 16.29 on page 444 of their Report he has stated the reasons for the ban. He says:
Representatives of the College [Trinity College] when questioned, indicated that no ideological standpoint, not even that of Marxist Communism (which is generally regarded as committed to the propagation of its ideas) could be regarded as an obstacle to a teaching being the only criterion that could be applied. The evidence of witnesses from the College conveyed merely that they felt unable in principle to take account of consideration of this kind, and it is accepted that this is the case.
In order that no circumstances should arise in which the ban would be necessary in the new Dublin University, the merged University, this present attitude of Trinity College, that academic qualifications should be the only criterion for making appointments, would, under the enforced merger, have to be dropped. This is something that I find very disturbing. I find also that the Minister was a little disingenuous when he asserted at that meeting that in the new Dublin University the situation could not arise in which there need be a ban. How does he know this? On what authority does he say it? He cannot speak for the Catholic Hierarchy and it is the Catholic Hierarchy which has instituted the ban. Does he mean that he intends to alter what I regard as a fundamental university principle, the principle that academic appointments are made on the criterion of academic fitness and not on religious, political or ideological grounds? Does he intend to alter that principle which I contend ought to be the principle of all universities worthy of the name?
I turn to a point not unconnected with basic education. Senator McDonald spoke about the itinerants and he made the appeal, which I wish to support, that we should make available for itinerants serviced sites in various counties and on the outskirts of towns  so that these people can go from site to site and get facilities for sanitation and washing and so on. There are ratepayers who will ask why should these people, who are not in regular employment and who do not pay rates, be given these facilities? The answer is for reasons of ordinary human charity and decent behaviour. These demand that we must give decent conditions to these people and, above all, to their children, and part of the “servicing” of these sites therefore would be the provision of schools for their children.
I am aware that the problem is not easy to solve and that it is easy for us who live in towns and cities to talk about it, but I am fully convinced that the problem can be solved by providing decent living conditions for these people in the hope that their children will be able to live a better life when they grow up.
The question of the difference between the Ministers, I might say the Government, and the farmers is another matter which I wish to mention. It is obvious to the ordinary public that the Government made an enormous blunder in allowing the farmers' deputation to stand, sit and sleep in the gutter for three weeks before meeting them. This kind of behaviour is the sort of thing that has bedevilled all community relations. The Government would now like to wipe the slate clean and meet the farmers but there remains one piece of vicious activity, and that is the ceasing of Government advertising in the Farmers' Journal. This is dirt on the slate, and it is up to those who put that dirt on the slate to wipe it off.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: That is exactly the attitude which gets you precisely nowhere and gets Fianna Fáil out into the gutter where the farmers were. If you say “we will wipe the slate clean but only when you have wiped it clean” you are making no gesture at all.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: What the Government can do is to wipe that piece of Government manufactured mud off the slate. If the farmers do not respond then the Senator and others are entitled to attack the farmers on that ground. It is no use saying “let us wipe the slate, but you begin it,” which is what Senator Ó Maoláin says the Government are entitled to do.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I find it hard to hear what both Senators are saying at once. I am sure both are equally worth hearing, and I mean no offence to either in saying that. If this situation has changed in the last day or two I am delighted. I heard the Taoiseach being challenged in the Dáil a couple of weeks ago and his response, in my opinion, was not only unsatisfactory but unworthy of the man. If you talk about wiping the slate clean you have to wipe off first what you put on it. If the others fail to respond that is their fault. Until you have done that you have no right to talk about the dirty campaign.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: The suggestion is that the only slate the Taoiseach had in mind was the other fellow's slate. This is unworthy both of the man and the Government. I think I have made my point sufficiently and the fact that I get interruption is a tribute to the fact that it has gone under even some of the thickest skins.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: The point I am making is quite obviously a legitimate one. If you repeat, as the Taoiseach did weeks ago, let us clean the slate, it is up to him to clean his own slate. There is no question about that and no interruptions can wipe out that particular fact.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I feel that this is an interesting form of debate. I do not want, however, to be accused by the interrupters, Senators Ó Donnabháin, Ó Maoláin and Yeats of making a long speech. A lot of time must be allowed for what I would call injury time; that is to say, occupied by two or three or more interrupters.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I never invite interruption, but I can take it on the chin when I get it. When I get interruption, provided I can hear it, and it is not a tirade of interruptions, I like to answer and give the courtesy to the interrupters who I am quite sure interrupt in good faith, but this does occupy time. In other words, not all the time of my speech is occupied by me.
Deputy Seán Dunne in the Dáil made neat and witty reference to a Fianna Fáil bus, and its fares going up. One of the things that seem to me extraordinary is the way in which this State company, CIE, is allowed not only to put up the fares in Dublin in a way quite unjustified by the amount of profit that is being made in Dublin, but also failing to do what the old Tramway Company used to do, to post up the fares in the buses. This practice has long since disappeared. If you want to know the fare now you have to ask the conductor, or ask an inspector, or write to CIE, or get the booklet from the horrible kiosk opposite the GPO. CIE for several years have been so ashamed of the rate of the fares they have been charging that they are scared to put them up in the buses in the way they used to appear in the older buses and in the tramways long ago.
Speaking of this “kiosk” in central Dublin, I am tempted to say something in support of what Senator O'Kennedy said about the unsightly character of much of Dublin today. I think he is justified in saying so, broadly perhaps but specifically he was talking about architects. All of us have a measure of blame for the lack of taste in the  appearance of our city from advertisements, kiosks and telephone booths. These booths are an eyesore, badly designed and ugly. I do not suggest that they should be abolished but I do suggest that they should be designed in better taste. We are talking about the necessity of preserving 18th century buildings, but I would ask Senators to ask themselves could they name offhand any 20th century building that they think worthy of preserving? Can they imagine their descendants in 100 years time saying we must preserve Building A or Building B?
I do not want to hurt anybody's feelings by mentioning a particular building, but I would say that nine-tenths of the buildings being put up in the 20th century are not worth preserving. We in Dublin show a lamentable lack of taste in the kind of things we allow, such as the ghastly map of the city near O'Connell Bridge which is not only surrounded by the most garish and vulgar advertisements but which will actually shout at you if you press buttons. This kind of thing is tolerated in Dublin, and it reaches new depths of vulgarity, in my opinion.
I should like now to switch subjects entirely and mention something which I have spoken about previously and which I should like to raise again. It is the question of penal reform. One of my earliest memories, 1912 it was, when I was 3½ years old. I was being brought by my father to visit my mother in Mountjoy Jail. I have recollection of being brought into the reception room with its blue walls, and I have a recollection of surprise at finding that the wardresses were kindly people and not witches as I expected them to turn out to be, because they were keeping my mother from me. In 1912 she was there as a suffragette. She was in jail four or five times subsequently as a Sinn Féiner. She was in jail in Armagh in 1932 because she took the dangerous step of going up to Northern Ireland, from which she was prohibited, to make a speech. So she did six weeks in Armagh Jail. She had experience of a lot of jails; and one of the things she said is, and I think she was right, that it is a scandal in modern Ireland that a country which has grown  up from its first elements of freedom under Governments almost every member of which had had personal experience of jail conditions: it is a scandal that we have not gone away ahead of Britain on prison reform, instead of lagging behind. Many of these senior politicians, to their credit, know what the inside of a jail is like, know what conditions are, know what it is like to be in solitary confinement. Yet, our penal system is away behind the British one today. This is a scandal and is something to which attention should be drawn.
I was visiting a poor chap in Mountjoy Jail not so long ago. I saw him several times and I discovered what I ought to have known which was that you cannot bring in gifts. I brought him some apples and pears which I bought in a shop just opposite the jail. They were taken from me at the gate. One is not allowed to give gifts to the prisoner. You are not able to bring in apples, pears or cigarettes. The gifts are taken from you. I raised the matter with the Governor and he was good enough to waive the rule on this occasion. It was unlikely that there would be dangerous materials concealed in the fruit. This kind of stupid rule should be wiped out long ago. I would like to see the Minister for Justice and the Government turning their attention to the necessity for altering radically the whole prison system and having a look at Mountjoy. Look at it and hang your heads in shame that we put people in there. This boy whom I was visiting was a young apprentice electrician and he wanted to get a chance to learn more about his trade. He tried, and the Governor tried on his behalf, to get access to the required textbooks, but he had finished his sentence before anything could be done. The only thing was that he was given some help by one of the warders who was a technician himself. The provision of opportunities for training, for reading and for learning a craft is absolutely minimal in these jails. This should not be so. This is certainly true of young prisoners and it is true also of all prisoners that they should be given a chance to learn something and to become more skilled in trade. There  should be an opportunity to earn money. One of the things that most easily gives back self-respect to the prisoner is the capacity to earn real money. It might not be left in his hands, but it could be put aside as compensation for his victim, if there was a victim, or for his wife and family, if he had a wife and family, or for himself when he emerges from jail. A real return of wages for prisoners earning and a real opportunity for training and for developing skills would be an admirable addition to the prisoner system.
Seán Ó Donnabháin: I would like to tell the Senator that I visit Mountjoy every month and I consider his complaint is a bit exaggerated. The prisoners do get an allowance of money for the work they do.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: This is an attitude I would expect. Nevertheless, the Senator really ought to do better. I despair of him. Yet I feel there is promising material lurking behind the somewhat rugged features of Mr. Ó Maoláin but he will not give it a chance.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Society punishes the inmates in the jails. Children are treated badly in schools. I was talking to one who ran away from school because he was beaten, and he broke into houses because he was on the run from school. He was sent to a reformatory which he learned to hate. He did a long term in prison after that. There is no good saying that he should  be beaten and then that we will have less prisoners. Senator Ó Maoláin knows that is nonsense.
I was going to make another point before I was interrupted by Senator O'Donovan and it was on the system of parole which is in operation in Mountjoy. It is an excellent system. It applies to the long-term prisoner who is getting near the end of his sentence. He is encouraged to earn and allowed to go out and earn his living by day in his trade and to come back at night and here he has a full job and is earning trade union wages. This is the final point I wanted to make on that: this is certainly an excellent system. The only thing is that it is not as widespread as I would like to see it.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: The regulations are solid and indestructible too. I now want to refer to a case which arose in Daingean Reformatory. This case was reported in the Midland Tribune on the 14th and on the 28th September. It was a case of three boys who tried to burn the reformatory to the ground. Two of the boys were 18 years of age and the other one was 15 years of age. It emerged that the 15 year old boy, who has now been sent to Mountjoy, had been for a year from 1965 in Letterfrack and that Letterfrack had not reformed him. He was then sent to Daingean. It emerged in court in September of this year that in 1965 a strong recommendation had been made by the court that this boy should get psychiatric treatment. It emerged also in court that it was stated by Father McGonigle, whose local  reputation is universally high as a man, as a person and as an administrator, in evidence in court that this was the first time he had heard about this need for psychiatric treatment.
In 1968 a man heading a reformatory at Daingean and who had a boy under his care since 1966 heard for the first time the 1965 court recommendation that the boy should get psychiatric treatment! I think this is a scandal and the Department of Justice should be arraigned for not giving precise information to the head of the reformatory about the people in his charge. Father McGonigle also said in evidence that he would not be willing to take this boy back to Daingean because he had no “facilities for isolation”. Therefore, he reluctantly allowed him to go to Mountjoy.
After his being two years in Mountjoy he would still have the balance of his six year sentence to serve and Father McGonigle was asked would he take him back. He said he would, because it would not do for him not to serve the full sentence; the implication might otherwise be that if you tried to burn a place you could get away without serving the full sentence. The boy said in court about the statement that was taken from him that he had been beaten by the Gardaí while making the statement. The judge asked him how this could be true, and asked was not Father McGonigle present while he was making the statement. The boy said: “Yes, but he went out several times and each time he went out I got beaten.” That is all the paper said. That is what the papers say. No reference to further questioning. I should like to ask if the Minister for Justice would investigate and discover whether justice was done in the cases of these three young persons, and if he would concern himself with this and find out what kind of treatment a boy of 15 would get in these circumstances and whether this boy is even now getting the psychiatric treatment in 1968 that was recommended for him in 1965.
I think I am correct in saying that there was not any mention of this case in any of the Dublin papers. Possibly, Senator Yeats has seen it in some paper that he reads but which I do not  always read, but I did not see any reference to this case other than that published at length in the Midland Tribune of the 14th to 28th September. Yet the matter ought to disturb us all.
I wish to deal now with another question and to support what Senator Garret FitzGerald said about our attitude towards Biafra and Vietnam. This policy of saying nothing for fear of offending Great Britain or America in contemptible, and is non-Irish. We are not cowards. It certainly is time that we gave an official view on Biafra. We have been prevented in this House from debating this matter by the Leader of the House, Senator Ó Maoláin, who has blocked any attempt to have this motion brought up during the past months with the flimsy excuse that the Minister for External Affairs was “not available”. Up to this, we have debated motions in the presence of other Ministers, but this is regarded as “awkward”, and we are waiting until the war is over before making our sentiments known.
I believe that we have people, both lay and clerical, who have a deep knowledge of Biafra. A friend of my own, who was a respected Member of this House, Mr. R.M. Burke, has spent many years working in agriculture in Eastern Nigeria. He knows a great deal about the situation and he could be used as an expert adviser on the situation as could many other Irish people, both lay and clerical. I believe that the Minister who, generally, is not afraid of anything, did not show courage on this occasion.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I believe that the Irish voice can have some  effect, and I quote Herman Spencer when he said: “What I must realise is now infinitesimal is the importance of anything that I can do, and how infinitely important it is that I should do it.”
I now turn briefly to our relations with the United Kingdom. It has been said that history repeats itself, once as tragedy and then as force. Any time we get into trouble in the Republic we rush off to Britain to explain the position to the Prime Minister and to the British Government, and we ask them not to be too hard on us, and to treat us as far as possible as if we were back in the United Kingdom. A North of Ireland Minister, Mr. Craig, on the other hand, insists on the right of Northern Ireland to total Home Rule! He is telling the British to go home, but, here, we are happy to regard ourselves, financially and economically, as part of the United Kingdom.
I think something should be mentioned here regarding what the Taoiseach said when he suggested that Partition was the basis of all the trouble. The question is not one of Partition, but is one of the conditions of life on both sides of the Border. In Britain, in 1946, Mr. Attlee's Government abolished the ratepayers' vote, but the whole concept of the ratepayers' vote has lingered on in Northern Ireland. The trouble, in my opinion, is not Partition, but human conditions on both sides. If everyone on both sides of the Border gets an equal chance to fulfil all his potentialities and develop all his resources and abilities, then, I believe, the Border will not matter, or it will wither away.
Another matter with which I want to deal now is the question of the necessity for the Government of instituting measures of parity for civil service pensioners. I have seen the same result from all Governments on this— Fine Gael are no better on it than Fianna Fáil—but surely if it becomes necessary to raise the salaries of civil servants, it is also necessary to raise the pensions of civil servants, at least to the same extent. No Government in Ireland have been prepared to recognise this.
I am glad to see the present Minister  for Finance, whose recent accident we all regret and which has prevented him from being present today, has stated that he will introduce a scheme for widows pensions. We shall be dealing with that in due course here. I do not think it goes far enough but I welcome very much this particular step.
I would suggest that a pension is in fact a deferred salary and something to which the person has a right. Salary, itself, is intended to support the man, his wife and family; and pension is intended for the man and his wife, and if and when the man dies, surely it is just that at least half the pension should be given to his widow.
The Minister for Finance will ask where he is going to get the money for these things but I would like to point out that the Budget for Defence and pensions now stands at £15 million for the coming year. In 1962-63, the Budget for Defence and pensions was £10 million; in 1963-64 it was £10½ million; in 1964-65, it was £13½ million and the same figure again in 1965-66; in 1966-67 it was £12½ million, and in 1967-68 it was £14½ million. Now it is £15 million. I have great respect for our army, and that respect increased considerably when I noted what the army did in places like Katanga, the Congo and Cyprus, and the manner in which it was done. There is no question but that this added greatly to the respect in which the Irish army is held in the world. There is no question but that they added greatly to the respect in which Ireland is held in the world by means of the dignity, humanity and understanding with which they carried out their very difficult tasks in many parts of the world. They lost quite a number of men in the African operation. I recognise this peace-keeping as a useful function, but I query whether £15 million is at this juncture necessary for maintaining our army. I believe we require cuts in the army expenditure, and I believe that this is one place although maybe there is only a small amount involved, in which some saving can be made. Furthermore, if we are looking for further money I would have a look at land speculation. Everybody here knows that land speculation is rife in this country—some people are in on it and others are not. What happens  is that owing to a community effort and a community decision a certain portion of land near a piece that is going to be developed gains an enhanced value through no effort at all of the owner or possibly even of the very recent purchaser “in the know”. This enhanced value represents for him, if and when he sells it, a totally unearned income which is not taxable. I would like the whole question of land speculation tackled radically by land municipalisation or nationalisation, so that the community as a whole gets the benefits of the communally enhanced value of the land.
Even if the Government are afraid to face it, as they would have faced it in 1927, now that we have become very docile, and are reluctant to control the money resources in the country, I would appeal to them to tax severely such things as capital gains derived not only from land speculation but from all speculation. It may well be necessary to institute a capital levy. The Labour Party are not afraid of that, and I believe there was a day when Fianna Fáil would not have been afraid of it either. I am afraid they have now gone over pretty exclusively to what I would call the money grubbers' Republic. What counts here today is whether you can make a profit for yourself out of any dealing. If you make 17½ per cent you are regarded as a more valuable citizen than if you make 15 per cent. In fact, businessmen are usually regarded as not “minding their own business” if they say anything at all unconnected with the process of raking in the money.
In my opinion Fianna Fáil are on the way out. Some people may shed tears over this and others may not. They have had a fair run for our money, and it is about time there was a change, but the question comes into my mind as to whether Fine Gael would be any better? I noticed in the Dáil the other day a question was raised about a business transaction between Aer Lingus and Ryan's Hotels. My own impression, and I am not an expert, was that the transaction was quite unimpeachable. It was both necessary and good. But, leaving that aside, I deplore the way in which this was tackled by a leading Fine Gael spokesman  who attacked Mr. Dermot Ryan not just on this issue, but for not minding his own business when he saw people being battered by the police in Chicago, under the authority of a man under another Irish name, Daly.
Since then a report has come out largely justifying the very courageous and public-spirited statements by Mr. Ryan when he witnessed what he regarded as brutal treatment of American citizens. Yet he was told by the Fine Gael spokesman that he should have minded his own business. It seems to be the case that if you are a businessman you should mind your own business and not interfere, but “pass on the other”.
This is the spirit of which I accuse the money grubbers in our Republic, and I see them in Fine Gael just as much as I see them in Fianna Fáil, and in particular in the old guard in Fine Gael. I throw out this warning, as to whether, if we have a Fine Gael Government or a Coalition Government as the next Government, we may not have the same attitude in a very short time as we have now. It seems to me that in the situation we have now Fianna Fáil will lose the next election and you will have Fine Gael constituting the next Government and introducing perhaps not the next Budget but the one after that, and I would like to say this: I am an unrepentent “reformist” and I would like to see an agreement beforehand on the basic six- or eight-point programme between Fine Gael and Labour.
I would like to see Labour saying: “We will not sit in your Cabinet, but we will back you on this limited policy. When it is implemented we will go back to the country.” I believe power corrupts, and I believe the Labour Party would best retain their self respect by backing an agreed if limited progressive policy, but without taking any of the sweets of office.
I would like to appeal to the Opposition Party to beware of falling into precisely the same attitude as now besets Fianna Fáil, after eleven years of power, at the beginning of which Deputy Lemass solemnly promised that there would be no increase on the 1953 level of taxation!
Mr. Yeats: The debate which has been taking place during the past few weeks on the present Budget or mini-Budget has taken a rather curious line, not merely here but also in the Dáil and in the country as a whole. When this Budget was first brought in there was a howl of execrations from the Opposition and from journalists shouting down and attacking its proposals. It is fair to say that more and more as the weeks have gone by there has come about general agreement that, no matter how unpalatable the proposals may be, they are needed in the general interest. Indeed, during the course of this debate in the Seanad there have been very few opposers of the proposals. While it would be too much to expect them to congratulate the Government for bringing in this mini-Budget, at the same time they have expressed themselves as being in general agreement, first of all, that the proposals were necessary and, secondly, that they were framed on the right lines by the Minister for Finance.
They are necessary for some obvious reasons because there are a number of items where additional and unforeseeable expenditure came to be met but that is perhaps not the main single reason why this Finance Bill is before us today. It has happened from time to time that unforeseen expenditure came up during the course of the financial year but in most cases it was possible to carry on until the next Budget fell due at the ordinary appointed time and we had a deficit at the time and made up the leeway by whatever taxation was necessary.
That has not been done in this case because the international situation and our balance of payments situation are such that we cannot allow a large and growing deficit in the current Budget to take place. It has been necessary to take action to deal with the international trading situation. Here Senators generally, included Senator FitzGerald, were in agreement that the action taken has been on the right lines. The main  object of the Government, apart from raising the necessary taxes to meet increasing expenditure, has been to deal with the balance of payments situation, and the way the taxation has been framed, has been designed to reduce consumption in the public sector without cutting Government expenditure and State investments in order that the economic and material growth taking place at the moment should not be circumscribed.
In spite of the general agreement that those are the proper proposals we have had a long and somewhat tendentious speech from Senator Garret FitzGerald. I think he was doffing his economic cloak and doing a little advance electioneering because he had a lot of rather strange statements to make. He thought that the Government ought not to have given the 9 per cent increase in salaries to the civil servants. I think he thought that was too much but he does not appear to understand that these salaries are not handed out at the decree of a benevolent Minister for Finance or Government. They are arrived at by a process of haggling or negotiation through the arbitration procedure. Does Senator FitzGerald think that the Government should have ignored the arbitration award and instead given 8 per cent or 7 per cent or any figure that Senator FitzGerald thinks reasonable?
Not so many years ago, when the Fianna Fáil Government accepted the Civil Service arbitration award in full with the exception that they could not afford to pay it retrospectively, Fine Gael speakers stumped the country from end to end and attacked the Government for refusing to accept the arbitration award in full. Now we have Senator FitzGerald making what I can only think to be an appeal to the Government to disregard the arbitration award and to cut the arbitration award to the Civil Service this year.
Senator FitzGerald also repeated at considerable length the familiar statements made by Fine Gael speakers in their less coherent moments that there never has been any Fianna Fáil policy, that all the good things have been done by the civil servants and that all the bad things have been the fault of  the Government. This is an old line of argument but it is not one which can stand up to any reasonable examination. Senator FitzGerald might well have considered in the course of his remarks how it came about if this is true that the previous Coalition Government which had the same civil servants available to it was such a catastrophic failure and why, since the change of Government and the return of Fianna Fáil, we have had a considerable growth of economic progress in this country.
Senator FitzGerald went on about the economic programmes of the Government. What is the truth of all this? In the past ten years there has been a period of quite unexampled progress. Never before in Irish history has there been such a period of progress in almost every sphere of the country's life. This has come about largely as a result of the changes in Government policy and national policy made under the two Programmes for Economic Expansion. In connection with this development of planning on the part of Fianna Fáil it might be no harm to quote what Senator FitzGerald wrote when he was writing, not as a politician but in his other guise as an economist.
(7) moreover, at a technical level, it has led to a marked improvement in the statistical material for policy decisions and has alerted many in the public and private sectors to the value of qualified data of this kind for policy making purposes.
Here we have Senator FitzGerald, who yesterday told us about the lack of progress and the failure of the Government, stating in black and white the type of revolutionary changes that have been made in the whole area of Government planning in this country in the past few years.
As a result of the Programmes for Economic Expansion, we have had economic, social and material progress to such an extent that even Senator Murphy was forced to concede that things are much better than they had been. Last year we had a growth rate of 4½ per cent and this year it is estimated to be from 4½ to 5 per cent. The total increase in real incomes since 1958 has been about 45 per cent. In last year at every point the ordinary man who earned £1 ten years ago now earns almost 30s. People are almost half as well off again as they were in 1958. In terms of jobs 70,000 new jobs were created outside agriculture since 1958, almost 10,000 a year. Every Senator will realise that this is a substantial step on the road to improvement.
Mr. Yeats: The Senator was a little peeved not so long ago about being interrupted. In this instance he might wait until I am finished and if he feels I have not dealt with anything in particular he can then do so.
Mr. Yeats: I did not ask Senator Sheehy Skeffington questions. I said he was making a complaint about something that did not exist. He was making a big issue about something that was not there at all. Emigration at the moment is running at approximately one-third the figure it was in 1957. It is now approximately 22,000 a year. I will concede this is 22,000 too many but I do not know if we will ever reach the point when there will be no emigration. A great many of this 22,000 would prefer to stay in Ireland, marry here and raise a family and to that extent the 22,000 level at present is too great. We have, however, reduced the figure to 22,000 from the 60,000 mark in 1957 and that is a great achievement.
It is not a final success but it is a great achievement and one we are entitled to have credited to us. As a result of the decline in emigration there has come, of course, an increase in population. In the past 5-6 years the population has risen by well over 60,000. That again is not a big figure but to find the population—and year after year in the past seven years there has been an increase—tradition over a century being reversed in this way is an encouraging state of affairs. It stems entirely from the economic progress which has been made in the past few years.
With this we have the statistical fact that the marriage rate, while still extremely low, by normal world standards is at least increasing. While it is extremely low, it is higher now than it has been in this century. We have not reached the situation we would like. The position is not ideal or satisfactory but it is progress. People who formerly would have left the country and settled down in other countries are enabled to stay in Ireland and marry here and raise a family. That is a substantial improvement over previous years.
This progress is founded mainly on exports. Our home market is so small with a three million population that any increase in output from agriculture or industry must be based on selling abroad. The value of our total exports in 1956, before the Fianna Fáil Government  came into office, was some £108 million per year. This year the figure looks like passing the £300 million mark. This is a substantial increase. There is three times as much income from exports now as there was ten years ago. The rate of progress has accelerated in the past few years. Industrial exports have doubled over the past five years. That is a remarkable achievement, as not so long ago Irish industry was sheltering behind high tariff barriers and was not in a position at all to compete abroad with the produce of larger countries. It is an astonishing situation that in five years our industrial exports have doubled. In the agricultural industry where the market has been bad we have been able to push up our agricultural exports by 50 per cent.
We have had from Senator Garret FitzGerald an odd set of statistics about social welfare. He says that social welfare has been downgraded by the Fianna Fáil Government. It strikes me that the statistics given by Senator Garret FitzGerald are totally irrelevant and meaningless. Indeed, it is rather childish to bring out figures that have no meaning at all. How do the rates of benefit under the various schemes compare now with those paid in 1957? I know the Senator is entitled to make the point, if it were true, that a lesser proportion of gross national product is now being spent on social welfare than in 1957.
I asked Senator Garret FitzGerald for the figures but he said he had not got them. The only figures he had were totally irrelevant ones. In fact, the total proportion devoted to social welfare has doubled since 1957. Fianna Fáil have always taken the line that the aim of material and social progress is that if State revenue goes up a proportion of this will be ploughed back into the social welfare schemes so that those who are not able to benefit directly will get benefit in this way. Since 1957 Fianna Fáil Governments have gone far beyond this and increases in social welfare benefits have gone far beyond anything that is justified in a strict statistical interpretation. If they did not insist on giving a strict 4 per cent each year they have gone far beyond that actually.
 I should like to give some figures because this is important. Senator Garret FitzGerald was at pains to say that social welfare has been downgraded by this Government and that we have done nothing about it. He admitted that there have been successive increases in different branches of social welfare. He was so good as to say that they kept apace with increases in the cost of living. That is not how one can describe it. Since 1957 prices have risen by 6 per cent. The total cost of social welfare has gone up by 140 per cent which is a substantial increase beyond price increases. The position is not at all as Senator Garret FitzGerald sought to suggest, that social welfare schemes are a little bit ahead of the cost of living. All social welfare recipients are in fact better off. Unless Senator Sheehy Skeffington should wish to ask me by way of interruption I will tell him in advance that I am not satisfied, and I do not think that anyone in the Fianna Fáil Party is satisfied, that these are enough.
However, one has to have regard to what the taxpayer can pay. It is an interesting point with regard to Senator FitzGerald—I am sorry that he is not here—that he has complained during the years, not merely in the Seanad but also in his writings and in newspapers, about what he describes as excessive amounts being taken from the taxpayer by the Fianna Fáil Government. He has maintained that the increase from 18 per cent of the total national income in taxation to 26 per cent is excessive and that the Government should not be taking so much money. At the same time he says that social welfare benefits should be higher. Fianna Fáil have in fact felt that the taxpayer would wish to provide more money by way of taxation not merely for social welfare, but also for health and education, in order to help those less well-off. We are not satisfied that the present rates of social welfare benefits are adequate. I think it is safe to say that it will continue to be Fianna Fáil policy in the years to come to increase these as far as possible from year to year, as far as the economy and the taxpayer can stand it. One can see that these benefits are  better than they were in 1957. In 1957 the old age pension was left by the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition at the figure of 24/- per week. It is now, for non-contributory pensioners——
Mr. Yeats: All right. Unemployment is up to 1,000 more than last year. The old age pension rose from 24/- in 1957. Even if it had been 30/-I would not regard that as very generous but it was 24/- and it is now 65/-for the non-contributory pensioner. Senator McDonald said the cost of living is not the same. The cost of living has gone up by 36 per cent. The 24/-in the present day terms would be about 32/-. It has been more than doubled, even allowing for the rise in prices. I can only go by the cost of living index. Allowing for the cost of living index it has gone up 2½ times. When Deputy Corish was Minister in charge of social welfare there was no contributory pension. Fianna Fáil have brought one in. A contributory old age pensioner gets 72/6d. If he has a dependent wife, the contributory old age pensioner gets £6 15s. In the last year or so, also he gets free electricity and free transport which I think are of considerable benefit, particularly to old age pensioners who need to visit relatives at some distance from their homes.
That means, therefore, that a contributory  old age pensioner with his wife, who is dependent on his pension, gets £6 15s per week. That is some improvement on the 24/- that they had in 1957. This is what Senator FitzGerald described as keeping that little bit ahead of the rise in the cost of living.
To come now to widows, we find that this is what, perhaps, Senator Sheehy Skeffington is thinking of. In 1957 a contributory widow got a pension of 30/-. They now get 65/-. If a widow had young children, as in the case of a young wife widow with a young family of four, the figure for 1957 was 44/6. I do not think this was a particularly generous amount. She now gets £6. A non-contributory widow's pension in 1957 was 22/6d and she now gets 63/6d per week. With four children she would have got 36/6d but now she gets £5 3s 6d. All along the line there are similar figures. Unemployment assistance and disability benefits have improved. An unemployed man would have 30/- per week in 1957. He now gets 65/- per week. With a wife and four children, which is the kind of case we should be looking at particularly, he got £3 1s in 1957 and he now gets £8 2s. Referring to unemployment assistance, here I will only give urban rates. Rural rates are 7/- or 8/- further down than in the urban area. The figure was 19/- in 1957 and it is 51/6d today. With a wife and four children the entire family would have had to exist on 38/- in Mr. Corish's day. Now they get £6 8s.
I want to stress again that no one in Fianna Fáil looks on these as satisfactory figures in the sense that they are not as much as we should like to give, but in a ten-year period there has been considerable improvement. Senator FitzGerald comes in here and has the brazen neck to say that social welfare has been downgraded by the Fianna Fáil Government, and that they have no interest in it. It is just childish to speak like that. The fact is that never before has there been even one-quarter of the rate of progress in the social welfare sphere that there has been under Fianna Fáil in the past ten years.
Senator FitzGerald's line with regard to expenditure on social welfare was in  effect that more was being spent on other things and that this was downgrading social welfare. The expenditure on agriculture has gone up from £8 million to £53 million. On health the expenditure has been three times greater than it was and there has been a vast increase in the expenditure on housing over the past few years. These are the kind of increases in State activity which have come about because of the improvement in the country's economy which have made them possible. I do not want to go into details on education, but I think it is only fair to point out that on secondary education alone the expenditure was less than £2 million a year in 1957. It is now £15 million.
Similarly, the expenditure on vocational education has gone up from about £1 million to nearly £6 million and the expenditure on university education has gone up from £¾ million to £6 million. These are remarkable increases and they are attributable to the activities of this Fianna Fáil Government.
Mr. Yeats: The relish was there anyway. I should like to assure Dr. Sheehy Skeffington that the departure of Fianna Fáil and the coming of Fine Gael is not likely to take place for at least some time to come, perhaps some years to come.
Mr. Yeats: I do not know when the next election will be. It may be in a  year or 15 months time but I am quite sure that it will be Fianna Fáil who will be in power afterwards. People realise that the progress made under Fianna Fáil has been such as never was seen before in this country.
It would appear that Fine Gael, and especially Senator Garret FitzGerald, think that general elections can be won by producing paper policies. Senator FitzGerald suggested yesterday that money can be spent on education or in any other field without making provision for it through taxation, but I am sure that the people at the next general election will look at the facts of the situation and not at paper policies of the Opposition. They will realise that Fianna Fáil is an efficient Government that have been seen to work. The people know when they are well off and they know when they have a Government that have a coherent and sensible policy—a policy that has brought results.
Mr. Yeats: Six of the last seven by-elections have been won by Fianna Fáil and we all know that the trend usually is to go against the Government in by-elections. It is easy in a by-election to kick the Government in the teeth without going too far. People tend to vote against the Government in by-elections as a form of protest against whatever grievances they may have but in spite of this well-known trend, six of the last seven by-elections were won by Fianna Fáil and that is something that did not happen before in this country. Indeed, during the last Coalition Government's period of office, they had seven by-elections but only won two. It is significant that Fianna Fáil have won six out of their seven by-elections and I think if Senator Sheehy Skeffington and others wish to rely on the result of the Referendum as a guide to the next general election, they would be very unwise because anyone who looks at the matter with an unbiased point of view—and I am not suggesting that I have an unbiased point of view —will realise that people voted on the Referendum issue for a variety of reasons which were not on normal Party lines.
Mr. Yeats: I was driven into this because of the remarks made about the by-elections. I regret the irrelevancies. There has been a good deal of talk about elections but I will conclude on that point and simply say that because of the success of Government policy, it is obvious that the Government in power after the next general election will be a Fianna Fáil Government and perhaps the same goes for the election after that again.
Dónall Ó Conalláin: The fact that matters relevant to the Appropriations Bill are to be discussed under the Finance Bill makes it necessary for me to raise certain matters at this stage that might more appropriately come under the Appropriations Bill. I propose to concern myself mainly with education.
The Estimate for the Department of Education has, as indicated by Senator Yeats, leaped in the past few years to such proportions that even on a quantitative basis it must be worthy of very close examination. One of the difficulties in judging the merits or otherwise of investment in education is that no short-term results are discernible. Everyone agrees that investment in education is not only desirable but is absolutely necessary and that it offers us the one chance we have of developing our human potential. We have an obligation to provide the best possible educational facilities for our citizens but we must wait for almost a whole generation before the results of such investment are assessable. It is only natural that in a democratic society the method of investment should be queried and that there should be differences of opinion as to where the priorities lie.
It is natural that different interests in education should be concerned as to how impending changes will affect themselves, and for that reason this is a field in which the highest measure  of consultation is necessary. Unfortunately, and in spite of the statements made by the Minister recently in the Dáil, this consultation has not been as good as it might have been in recent times. However, I will admit that there have been improvements during the past few years but decisions have, at times, been conveyed by Ministerial orders and by Departmental memoranda without prior consultations with the interests involved.
Claims have been made and, perhaps, rightly made of the tremendous progress in the field of education, but I wish to submit that any claim to real progress cannot be substantiated until a final result comes to hand. What has been done up to this and all that could be done up to this is to lay the foundation of progress and we are all very appreciative of the financial help that the Government has given towards that end.
At the same time, we must be careful to ensure that there are no flaws in this foundation—flaws that would eventually vitiate and perhaps destroy the whole structure. One such flaw I suggest might be to pitch the salaries of teachers at such a level that they would attract inferior material into the teaching profession and leave the existing teachers labouring under frustration and discontent.
Looking back over the past few years I can discern four major aspects in educational policy. First, there is the revision and updating of the school curricula at all levels. Secondly, there is the socialisation of the educational services in the post-primary sector, and to a lesser extent, in the university sector. Thirdly, there is a complete overhaul of the third level of education consequent on the Report of the Commission on Higher Education. Fourthly, there is the introduction of measures designed to stabilise salaries of teachers.
Each of these four themes could be the subject of a major speech but I am aware that the time consumed in Seanad Éireann on a subject like this is costly to the country, and because this is a matter on which I am highly conscientious, I am content to comment briefly on it.
 As regards updating the curricula, this is one line of action which has been pointed to by the survey undertaken in Investment in Education. A revision of the syllabuses at various levels has been going on for the past few years. I am happy to say that both teachers and the managerial interests have been well represented on the committee, and apart from some dissension between the syllabus committees dealing with the vernaculars, English and Irish, and the major committee, the whole operation went smoothly. I think that whatever dissension existed was due to the breakdown or lack of communication between the major and subcommittees.
While the operation went smoothly and results were achieved, that is not to say that its findings have been universally acclaimed. The idea, for example, of subject groupings in the leaving certificate is one that has been frigidly received in certain quarters and, even among people who accepted the idea of subject groupings, the proposed groupings have not met with overall approval. I mentioned groupings as one of the results of this revision of the scheme because it impinges very much on the socialisation scheme, and the implementation of any decision to adopt groupings in the leaving certificate is bound to have very serious repercussions in the sphere of rationalisation and socialisation of secondary level education. In fact, a grouping system can work effectively only where there are adequate numbers to support it; and there must be sufficient numbers, for example, to ensure that at least four of the five groupings can be operated in a single school. It is well-known that the vast majority of our secondary schools have not anything like adequate enough numbers to provide so many groupings: in fact most of them could not reach beyond two.
From the Department's point of view the obvious corollary is to concentrate the senior cycle education in a few relatively large centres. By senior cycle education I mean the final two years in secondary school to leaving certificate. The figure of 93 such centres for the whole country has been bandied about recently—it has been asserted,  denied and re-asserted. We do not know the exact figures but it seems this is a fairly likely figure. It would work out at about three major centres per county, excluding Dublin city and other cities, which could easily account for the rest of them. Three per county would give us 75 for 25 counties and the balance of the 93 could be absorbed in the city areas.
I fully accept the logic of the Minister's attitude in all this: in other words, his attitude is that if maximum educational opportunities are to be provided for all, then pupils must be accommodated in centres which provide the maximum facilities. If a small school can offer only two subject groupings the pupil whose aptitude lies in one of the other groupings, is, to some extent, wasting his or her time. This is the cold logic of the situation but there are very many other cogent factors involved.
There is the right of parents to choose the school to which they will send their children, and in this case a choice may eventually lie between a school that is publicly owned and one that is privately owned. There is a danger here of invading the rights of parents, and I think the Minister should be very careful to leave some form of choice to people as to what school they will select for their children.
Secondly, there is the question of the increased transport that will be involved. If there are going to be only two, three or four centres in a county this means that pupils will have to be transported for very much longer distances than they are at present. It may mean that children will be confined to a bus for three or four hours per day. This certainly would be a retrograde step. The scheme, as it is operated in other countries and in England, would suit all right in the more populous countries but here, where our population is so thinly spread, the distances to be covered are too great to make it practicable.
Another point I wish to raise is that of the downgrading and possibly the lingering death of schools that are fully operational at the moment but whose numbers would not warrant the senior  cycle. Again we have to consider the contribution that a lot of these schools have made and the traditions they have established in the area in which they are situated and the fact that there will be some injustice done if a scheme is brought into operation which does not recognise the contributions they have made and which does not adequately compensate them for this diminution of status. There could also arise the question of the displacement of teachers and the redundancy of teachers but that could be got over fairly easily. However, nearly all teachers would resent the idea of being transferred from one employer to another to suit the whim of the Minister for Education.
The whole proposal smacks of totalitarianism and I hope the Minister and the Government will give due consideration to the points I have raised before proceeding to impose such a scheme. They will have to be careful to recognise the rights of all the denominations and when I use that word I do not want to confine it to the religious denominations. We have language denominations as well and the pupil who has got his education through Irish up to the stage of the Intermediate Certificate has an undeniable right to proceed to the Leaving Certificate through the same medium. All this goes to show that the whole scheme is bristling with difficulties and therefore I would advise extreme caution.
I approach with some diffidence the question of the overhaul of third level education. I include in this not only university education but also the teacher training institutions, higher technological colleges and other professional training centres. Since the issue of the Report of the Commission on Higher Education this has become an area of major controversy. Since I am not personally involved I can take a dispassionate view but I can see that there is a certain inconsistency in accepting defederalisation of the National University of Ireland and at the same time insisting on the federalisation of the two Dublin institutions. The Commission were at least consistent in their Report in that  they recommended individual autonomy all round. I was opposed to defederalisation because in a country such as this where the areas are not vast and the population is not great I should have thought that one properly constituted authority would be capable of ministering to the needs of all third level education in this country.
If I were to sponsor an idea like that at this stage I would probably be a voice crying in the wilderness and “wilderness” is the operative word here because nothing could better describe the position that has been reached now in the effort to find an amicable method of making a marriage between University College, Dublin, and Trinity College. I am afraid that the basic requirements of love and goodwill that are necessary for a happy marriage are sadly lacking in this case. We are as far away as ever from a settlement as we were when the proposal was first mooted. It is most unedifying to see the highest intellectual strata in the country wrangling in public and failing to solve their own differences.
My fourth point is the question of teachers' salaries and other questions of principle arising out of the Report of the Ryan Tribunal. The purpose of the Tribunal was to devise a common scale of salaries for the three groups of teachers with appropriate additions for extra qualifications, level of work, et cetera. I want to make it clear that the Association of Secondary Teachers, in common with the other groups, accepted the principle of a common scale although recently certain speculations in newspapers suggest the contrary. If they did not they could not and would not have participated in the Tribunal at all.
All the facts relating to the current salaries of the various groups were placed before the Tribunal and there was a prior guarantee on the part of the Government that no teacher or group of teachers would suffer financial loss as a result of the Tribunal. In spite of this the Tribunal produced a finding the effect of which would, if accepted, be to reduce the take-home pay of the great majority of secondary teachers. I myself was invited by that  finding to accept a reduction in salary of between £60 and £70 a year and in the case of other teachers the amount was much more. In these circumstances, who can blame the secondary teachers if they rejected these proposals out of hand?
The case was made by the officials of the Department that the guarantee of no loss to existing secondary teachers was an adequate safeguard for them. This on the other hand, implies that while existing teachers would not lose, future entrants to the profession would reach a lower maximum salary than their senior colleagues, the already existing teachers. This situation was utterly repugnant to the Association of Secondary Teachers. Indeed if I can interpret recent statements of managerial bodies correctly it is repugnant to them also. No reputable professional organisation, no trade union, would tolerate for a moment the idea of selling out on its future entrants and secondary teachers are fully determined to reject any proposal which involves a provision of this kind. I can state that categorically. Sometime after the production of the report an effort was made to apply the 11th round to teachers salaries and at the same time the Minister introduced some minor modifications into the Ryan Report. This exercise did not make it one whit more acceptable to secondary teachers. In the event, they alone of all public officials, I might say, were offered less than nine per cent of their existing earnings.
You all know that the amended proposals were rejected by the secondary teachers on ballot by a truly massive majority. If you are interested to know why the answer is simple. It is simply that apart from the fact that the amended proposal still contains the repugnant provision to which I have already referred the common scale is inadequate and the allowances for qualifications are virtually insulting. The figure of £50 is the allowance for a primary degree and £25 for a higher diploma in education. Here we are in these Houses of the Oireachtas voting millions of pounds for university education and providing university grants  for our best entrants to the university, and at the other end we are ensuring that as graduates they will have to go abroad. Is it that we are seeking to maintain a quota of graduate exports or are we classifying our graduates with butter and bacon which we subsidise heavily at home so that they may be acceptable abroad?
What is the thinking behind this sort of thing? To my mind it is the acme of fatuity. We listen to pious aspirations about attracting the best graduate material into post primary teaching and what are we doing about it? We are offering £50 for a degree and £25 for a post graduate professional qualification. Unlike the entrants to the primary sector the graduate is not committed to teaching. He has many other fields open to him. If this salary policy is continued teaching will eventually become the refuge of the leftovers, the indolent and the uninspired. A very revealing statistic was brought to my notice the other day. It was this. In Trinity College in 1961, 68 per cent of the higher diploma class were honours graduates. In 1966 the percentage was 13. Only a few days ago I spoke to the headmaster of a protestant school down the country who has staffing troubles and he assured me that in the past few years he has found no young graduate that he could conscientiously keep beyond the probation year.
This is the state of affairs that the Department and the Government must face up to and this is the built-in flaw in the foundation of education that is likely to wreck the whole structure in the end. There are many other aspects of this matter I should like to discuss but I must have consideration for other Senators who wish to speak. I should like to say, for example, with regard to the salary structure that the idea of trying to plug the holes and the cracks in the scheme as a whole by means of posts of special responsibility is again unacceptable to secondary teachers.
Let us talk about salary scales first and special responsibility later. The idea of inadequate salary scales on the basis of prospects or the hope of getting a special post will just not work. It is too airy fairy and if there is a special post or responsibility to be filled let it  be remunerated separately without reference to the salary scale.
I should also like to use this opportunity to remind the Minister for Finance who is a partner with the Minister for Education in salary negotiations that there is in existence a scheme of conciliation and arbitration for secondary teachers and nothing that has happened in recent times can be taken as having cancelled that scheme. The refusal by the official side or at least their obvious reluctance to operate that scheme is doing much to exacerbate the present difficulty. I hope I have made it abundantly clear that recent exercises in salary measures are calculated to lead to a grave deterioration in the relations between secondary teachers and the Department and that, in the interest of maintaining good relations and particularly in the interests of maintaining and retaining proper standards at all levels of education, the settlement of existing differences is one of extreme urgency.
There is only one other matter which I should like to mention and that is to emphasise again the plea made by Senator Sheehy Skeffington and perhaps by others to whom I was not listening. That is the case of the pensions of retired public servants. Their case for parity of treatment with currently retiring public servants has been well put and well documented and there is not need for me to repeat the case. They have tried unsuccessfully to have their case accepted. In short, it is this. If you have three Executive Officers retiring at three different stages, say one in 1960 having given the same service as the other two, one in 1964 and one in 1968, all with equal service and equal responsibility, the person who retired in 1960 gets less than the person who retired in 1964 and the person who retired in 1964 gets less than the person who retired in 1968 by way of pension and by way of gratuity.
I want to pose this question: what would be thought of a Government who brought in a scheme of old age pensions on the basis that a person of 70 years of age got 50/- per week while a person who is 75 years of  age got 40/- a week and a person who is 80 years of age got 30/- a week. This is exactly what is being done with public servants on pension. The older they are the less they get. I just leave the question to the Minister for Finance.
Mr. Brosnahan: A Leas-Chathaoirleach: Senator Ó Conalláin has mentioned that the Government must be praised for the steps it has taken in the development of education in this country. I am in complete agreement with him. I have over many years called for a better system of education. When speaking in this House on many occasions I said that secondary education was sufferring from financial malnutrition. We are glad that the late Deputy O'Malley saw fit to give grants to children to help them to avail themselves of post-primary education. This was a tremendous step forward. It came rather late. This happened in Northern Ireland and in Britain in 1944. We would like also to say that the Government must be praised for the university grants. Inadequate though they may be, they indicate a new form of thinking and a new step forward towards the democratisation of education. These grants will help more of our people to reach their maximum potential. They will therefore be able to advance themselves as individuals and promote the welfare of the community as a whole.
Senator Ó Conalláin also mentioned the salary crux which has arisen following the recommendations of the Ryan Tribunal on teachers' salaries. I will not argue about points which have arisen here. I myself believe in the unity of the teaching profession. I believe there is only one art of teaching no matter at what level one teaches. Experience has taught me that one really has to be a teacher when teaching the lower age level where children are incapable of self-help or of acts of the will, and the teacher must get them to pay attention to help them to learn. The teacher must be a real teacher at the infant level. I am a graduate myself —and I often heard a prominent professor in UCD saying that much of the lecturing that goes on in college is the transfer of one set of notes from one  copy to another without any intellectual or educational exercise being involved. I would like to introduce a note of reality into the question of the level of teaching. There is only one art of teaching. It is a question of its adaptation to each age level being taught.
I will not engage in criticism of what my colleague Mr. Ó Conalláin has said here. That matter will be the subject of public controversy later on because the Department of Education will have to take on the points raised by the ASTI. I presume that the truth will emerge, whether on the side of the ASTI or on the Department of Education. I represent another teachers' group which has for its own particular reasons accepted the salary proposals. I would like to emphasise they were not influenced by the levels offered. On the Monday following the teachers congress I was invited, as were ASTI and the Vocational Teachers Association, to Professor Louden Ryan's room in Trinity College where we were shown a copy of his report. He said that this was a confidential document but we could have a look at it, in courtesy, before it was published. I had a look at it and I made mental notes about the salary levels.
I wrote a letter to him and said I was displeased at the levels of salary offered. There were in the all-over situation which this report produced points which were attractive to the INTO, particularly the establishment of the principle of one basic scale of salary. Here was a recognition of the fact that there is only one art of teaching and there should be only one teaching profession. The report had certain other features which, we felt, if rejected by all three groups at this stage, we would never be able to avail ourselves of the opportunity of getting them again. It was our intention, having accepted the principles underlying the recommendations, to move on from there. We would have liked to have had our secondary colleagues at our side. We had reached a milestone and we would like to record that and move on.
We wish our colleagues in the secondary sector all the best in their campaign. But I would like to put  on record a statement made by the President of the INTO on the 30th November at Wexford that under no circumstances will INTO as an organisation engage in negotiations on the remuneration payable to teachers other than on the basis of a common basic scale of salaries and within the framework of a common scheme of conciliation and arbitration which was also a recommendation of the Tribunal. We accepted the common scheme because we can see readily that one cannot have the continuance of a common basic scale of salaries within the context of three different arbitration schemes. It would not last because one arbitrator would contradict another, as happened in the past. We were on a salary merry-go-round and the exercise had no reality as far as the totality of the teaching profession was concerned. The ASTI and ourselves can advance together if we arrive at an agreement in principle. We in the INTO and ASTI negotiated with the Department of Education and the Department of Finance a widows' pension scheme. It followed certain lines laid down by the working party which negotiated on behalf of the Civil Service generally. I would like to pay tribute to the civil servants who did negotiate the scheme on behalf of the widows of civil servants. We came in later speaking on behalf of teachers but I would like to put on record a tribute to the civil servants who negotiated the original scheme. Ours had to be adapted to meet our situation because the conditions of service of civil servants are different from the conditions for teachers. The INTO with the ASTI did succeed in arriving at a general scheme on behalf of widows. I would like to pay tribute to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, who is not here at the moment, due to injury. He had a generous attitude and approach towards this scheme of widows' pensions and he helped considerably. I would like to join with others in sending a message of good wishes to Deputy Haughey.
There was one aspect of the widows' scheme to which I would like to draw attention. It arises from the precedent that agreements of this kind are effective from the date of the  signing of the agreement by the various parties. The officials of the Department of Finance and the representative of the teachers' organisation did not get the teachers' scheme signed until 26th November. We kept out of the way in deference to the Civil Service working party. If too many people, like too many cooks, are working on a project things tend to get confused. We stayed out of the way of the Civil Service group. Our scheme operates from the 26th November. The Civil Service scheme operates from the 23rd July. We have signed the report on the condition that the question of a base line date for all these schemes would be referred to the Government. Schemes should all operate from one base line date which should be the 23rd July. It is logical to argue that. We have often seen the jungle of instruments and regulations introduced here affecting the pensions of public servants. In order to avoid confusion we suggest there should be a common date for the widows' schemes and we would appeal to the Government to accept our suggestion.
With regard to the matter which I raised here on 9th February, 1967, when I raised an ultimatum that after 1st November, 1967, where a complaint was made about substandard schools it would be investigated and if substantiated the teachers would be withdrawn, I want to say this has happened particularly last winter during the severe months of January and February. The Department did issue a circular giving the managers authority to proceed with works of improvement without going through the slow machinery existing between the Board of Works and the building section of the Department of Education. Many managers have availed themselves of this concession. I am glad to record that out of 700 schools referred to in my speech of February, 1967, 450 have now been improved and works of improvement are going on in many more. I would like to issue a further warning. We are now coming to the post-Christmas period of January and February again. We are not going to tolerate a situation where children are  going to be educated in dirty, ratinfested schools. This is a crime against children. They should be educated in bright, happy, comfortable surroundings and the environment in which they spend so many hours of the day should be one which would be helpful in forming aesthetic standards which they will bring into their own homes later on. We cannot allow children to be taught in the circumstances in which they have been taught for some years. We cannot allow teachers to teach under such conditions. Unless action is taken in respect of the remaining number of substandard schools, I would like to say that teachers will be withdrawn from schools again in January and February.
With regard to the point raised by Senator Ó Conalláin and Senator Sheehy Skeffington, I also should like to refer to parity of pensions. I have in the past spoken on this matter in the House. Once I tabled a motion for the purpose of getting opinions from all sides of the House on this very just claim for parity of pensions. We think, if salaries have to be increased to meet rising living costs and money depreciation, it is equally logical to argue that pensions should be increased. The pensioners do not live in a different society and their pensions should also be increased. Those on pension should be automatically protected against rising living costs by automatic adjustment in pensions.
In many countries this has already taken place. There is automatic adjustment in many countries. We would like to say that the people for whom we speak here are people who have given very fine service to the community and to the country as a whole. Their service cannot be put aside as if it were merchandise or a mere chattel. They have given of their initiative, their skill and their brains to the community and they deserve better consideration. We think they should be treated fairly and justly. We are prepared for the sake of justice and fair play for ourselves to take strike action. It would be selfish of us to neglect those who went before us and developed the services in which we now serve. I would  appeal to the Minister for Finance to have the principle of parity of pensions introduced.
Professor Quinlan: The present Bill, open as it has been left to include the Appropriation Bill, provides an almost bewildering scope for adverting to some of the problems that affect the country. To begin with we can look at the mini-Budget that has been produced. It is indeed the greatest mini that was ever produced, imposing an increase of taxation higher than had ever to be imposed in any previous major Budget. It seems rather strange that this extraordinary amount of taxation must be imposed to cover what at present is a £4.2 million deficit. It would seem that this anticipation of the effects in the year ahead is not a very desirable practice no more than is the oscillation from a mild spring Budget to a harsh autumn Budget. No industrial concern or management group that tried to keep its industry going by such gyrations could survive very long. Examining the Budget before us, we note the old reliables that have again been taxed. One may say that a fair measure of it falls on the luxury, or non-essential, trade, but then the greatest single luxury item is still going relatively untaxed. I refer to these mammoth dancehalls and showbands that are now the scourge of the country. Surely it is wrong that dances carry only 10 per cent tax, or a mere 7d or 9d per ticket.
It is high time for the Government to see to it that the dance-crazed section of the community made its proper contribution to taxation. Also it is imperative that the tax scales on the showbands should be designed to protect the small local halls and the local endeavour. A penalty should be put on this frightful commercialisation which is threatening the very essence of life in rural Ireland today. I know of small halls and local endeavour where they try to get a dance together as in the past to raise needed local funds and to bring the local people together. If such a venture promises to be anything of a success you will find a showband placed, on that same opening night, in a hall within a short  distance to kill the local initiative at its very start.
So, the small group will be out of business, and then in future have to meet the exorbitant demands of the show band clique. Generally, the split is around 60/40. There is 60 per cent for the show band and 40 per cent for the local endeavour on behalf of charity or local organisation. When it comes out to paying after the dance the local group find that all other expenses are being charged against their 40 per cent and they are lucky if they get a few pounds out of the endeavour. Such sharp practices should be dealt with drastically at national level and should be penalised and discouraged by the Government.
The President of Macra na Feirme, Mr. Joe Rea, who has contributed a great deal to our national life during the years, has come out against this again and again. I now call on the Minister to see that the activities of those groups are severely dealt with. They are striking at our whole national culture.
The burden of additional taxation would be more readily acceptable if some of the higher tax brackets were made to pay their proper share. I refer to the question of surtax and I join with my colleagues in saying that we are still looking for a capital gains tax. It is about time that this source of revenue was tapped for what it could and should yield to our National Budget.
Again, the Budget coming after the wage increases or at least in the middle of them will aggravate the inflation spiral. Inflation may be inevitable in modern crazy finance but that is poor comfort to those on fixed incomes, whether they are self-employed or whether they are living on pensions, who find it very hard to get elementary justice from the Government in ensuring that they at least are not made to carry the whole burden of inflation. Indeed the farmers have sad knowledge of this with the miserable pittance they were given last month. One would have expected that the small farmers at least would have participated in the 9 per cent increase.
 We all share the same feeling that Britain has not been very fair in regard to the Free Trade Agreement, but then from past experience we realise that that is unfortunately what we have got to expect from Britain or indeed from any other country whose economy gets into difficulty, and, of course, reverts to a Sinn Féin policy.
Some four years ago we had introduced with a great flourish a Bill which is now an Act into this House which said we were really going to get tough in our trade relations especially in trade with the communist countries. We were to get tough with the countries from whom we were buying goods and who were not buying a corresponding amount from us. In other words, we were about to behave as businessmen on a national level should, and backed by the full power of the Government we were to maintain a proper balance of trade with each individual country.
It is then saddening to see the revelations which were given in the Dáil regarding trading with countries in Eastern Europe where the imbalance was just fantastic. We bought over £3 million worth of goods from Poland and she bought, if my memory is correct, £¼ million from us. It is the same sorry picture in dealing with all the others. Surely it is high time that the provisions of that Act passed four years ago were put into operation and that we insisted that any country, whether it is in Eastern Europe, Western Europe or anywhere else, would not receive orders from us unless they were prepared to reciprocate. It is as simple as that and it is the only approach we can use that will rid us of complete dependence on any particular market.
We have got to thank God for the British market. It is by far our most important market. Indeed we are in far better balance with them than anywhere else but surely it is not right to expect that trade with Britain would have to make up for all the unnecessary deficiencies in our imbalance of trading with so many other countries.
We heard a lot, although there has not been much talk about it recently,  about our expectations of being in the Common Market by 1970. I think that it has now become the 1970s. In point of fact the quicker we lay that myth, forget about the Common Market, withdraw our application and thank God we have not been accepted, the better it will be for all in this country. We ought get back to standing on our own feet in this regard and perhaps a return to a moderate Sinn Féin policy of self-reliance with a proud dependence on ourselves might be timely at this present juncture especially when we read within the past four days of the plans for the extermination of the European small farmers that have been prepared by Doctor Mansholt of the EEC. We should thank God we are not in that complex. Is it not a frightening revelation of the selfish and materialistic response of Christian Europe to the clarion call from Pope Paul, backed repeatedly by U Thant, for the affluent nations to join together in a massive campaign and crusade to feed the hungry. The EEC seem to want millions of acres to be put on fallow because they are finding the increased food production somewhat of an embarrassment, a food embarrassment in a world of hunger. Where is bureaucratic planning or where is Europe heading?
Our foreign policy could have been helped a great deal if we took a major part in the United Nations in sponsoring the crusade to feed the hungry, in leading the crusade to ask that the wealthy nations give a certain amount of their surplus wealth every year to finance an international fund to distribute necessary food to the hungry nations.
If that were done it would be a wonderful Christian act of charity, a wonderful example of brotherhood linking the wealthy and the poor nations together. At the same time it would be good business for us as it would enable us, at a modest profit, to develop fully our agricultural industry. I would be much more impressed to see Western Europe going along those lines rather than following the scorched earth policy that the bureaucrats in Brussels now advocate.
The more time goes on the more  disillusioned I become with the Common Market and the more I see the idealism of the Christian democratic movement, that sponsored that great movement of Western European unity of the 50s, being submerged by the prevalent crude pragmatism that measures everything by its economic returns. Is that the kind of organisation that we in Ireland in the 1970s wish to tie ourselves up to?—for tied, hand and foot, we will be if ever we are admitted to the Common Market.
I agree with Senator O'Kennedy when he says that we have many advantages here. Perhaps the trouble is that we have not availed ourselves sufficiently of these advantages and given thanks for what we have got. I know that we are impatient to rectify some of the grievances we see around us and to better some facets of our national life but, in taking the countries of the world as a whole, I doubt if there is any other country where a man of average education is afforded the same facilities for living a decent Christian life and of raising his family in reasonable surroundings as in the Ireland of today. That should be our strong position when looking coldly at the question of joining the EEC. We should ask our Government and Opposition Parties to let us know whether they still stand by this myth of the Common Market. Or are we prepared to stand on our own and face the fact that a small country, just as a person on a modest income level, cannot but afford to do its own washing? Our “washing” means that we should produce as much as we can at home of our own requirements.
I have been disturbed and distressed at seeing the great increase in foreign produced goods in our stores in the last two years and I have been very much disturbed to see the complete lack of differentiation between these and our own goods so that the average shopper is not now aware whether the goods he is buying are Irish- or English-produced. He does not realise that in buying these goods he is sending much needed money out of the country and reducing employment at home. The answer to many of our  present difficulties at present is a reactivation of the Buy Irish Campaign and a new effort to bring its importance home to our own people. When a shopper looks at an article produced in Ireland he should immediately associate that article with creating a job in Ireland, perhaps a job upon which one of his children will be dependent. Unless we establish a psychological connection between the home produced article and home employment the Buy Irish Campaign will never be effective. It is not effective at present. No matter how completely the Government allow English goods in here to compete on equal terms with Irish products there is no law, international or otherwise, which can prevent a national effort to encourage people to buy the home products. I appeal for a new thinking along these lines in the Buy Irish Campaign.
Having stated our advantages we cannot close our eyes to some new and dangerous tendencies that have come increasingly to the fore over the last couple of years. Foremost among those I would list the widespread contempt for politicians, for organised Government and for political Parties, shown in the prevailing cynicism and almost organised belittlement of political endeavour. This is fostered to a great extent by the armchair critics we find in RTE. There is not nearly enough balance being maintained in RTE to give the ordinary Members of both Houses, and here I include the Independents, an opportunity of putting across their point of view. The Government are greatly to blame for this because of the fiasco of a referendum which they imposed on the country. Nothing did more to undermine the standing of politicians than that campaign.
The claims made by the Government spokesmen in the referendum campaign were so false that the referendum must be seen as a rejection by the people of the technique of the big lie. So many such claims were made, which all closely connected with political life knew were false, and thank God the ordinary people saw through these false claims and emphatically rejected them. Informed observers know that what we have here in Leinster House is a 19th  century institution and that the great need of Ireland in facing the 70s in the modernisation of our parliamentary system. As Leinster House is today, will any Senator tell me the difference between what happens now and what happened in Parnell's time? If Parnell came back from the grave he would be completely at home in the atmosphere of Leinster House today and he would feel that he was back in the same type of L and H futile debating society that existed in his time.
Another thing that did immense damage to our national life was the recent precipitous salary increase to Members of the Oireachtas, not that the increases would not be fully justified if the system was modernised with a modern contemporary approach to Parliament. I doubt if the salaries would even be sufficient if that was done.
Unfortunately, salary increases of upwards of 50 per cent were put through as a crude increase at a most inopportune time in the economic cycle and not one word was mentioned about increased productivity, nor was any effort made to in any way modernise parliamentary procedure to give the people a better return by more efficient and effective use of Parliament and its Members. The Oireachtas increases were responsible first for the great increase in cynicism, and, secondly, was a major factor in initiating the inflationary spiral in which we now find ourselves.
It is high time the Government decided whether Seanad Éireann should be abolished or reformed. Carrying on as it is Seanad Éireann makes no contribution to the national life, being just a pale replica of the other House and at present it is serving no useful national purpose. I would be slow to see it abolished because I believe it could become the spearhead of a modern and dynamic committee system, the type of committee system that works so well today in Holland and in other small democracies. The Labour Party made some interesting statements on that and I would like to see a fuller elaboration of what Deputy Corish said on the committee system.
 The Labour Party is to be encouraged in this work and I hope it will go the whole way to producing a modern committee system. We are waiting for Fine Gael to make a pronouncement on it. Certain individuals in that Party have sympathy and have expressed strong support for a committee system but not the Party as a whole. I would like to see the situation develop where as in Holland we would have our Committee on Education, our Committee on Agriculture, our Committee on Local Government and many others on which we would spend long hours flanked by experts and having the corresponding civil servants across the table, all engaged together in a committee endeavouring to argue in proper democratic fashion to the best solution to the problem.
I have discussed the committee system with many civil servants who have professed interest in it, but who say that the political Parties would never accept it. The reason put to me is that the Parties, who all aspire to get into Government some day, are so jealous of party claims, that when they are in Government they want to be able to claim every new initiative as theirs rather than it comes from a committee. I hope that is wrong, yet it has been put to me by some very senior civil servants who would like the committee system but who feel the main obstacle is in the political Parties themselves.
Professor Quinlan: I hope there will be a solid plank in the Fine Gael programme for the next election on the committee system. The third major dangerous tendency we see being adopted at the moment is the frightening increase in the dictatorial approach by the Civil Service. We are very conscious of this. Before I develop this theme might I say that we have in our Civil Service a great advantage to begin with, compared with other countries. By and large, owing to scarcity of comparable opportunities, we have been able to recruit a higher class personnel into our Civil Service than elsewhere, but we have not yet learned how best to use that valuable personnel.
 Whether through default or otherwise civil servants in many Departments have come to regard themselves as the sole custodians of what you might call advanced thinking. There is general disappointment, in fact worse than disappointment, a sense of complete frustration at present consultation procedures used by civil servants.
Among the main offenders I list first of all the Department of Justice. It seems that every two years they present us with a brain child that has been conceived without consultation with the Law Society or any other responsible group that outrages public opinion. It then takes a tremendous force of public opinion to stop this. Public opinion has succeeded in one Bill, the Succession Bill, and I have every confidence that it will succeed in the appalling Criminal Justice Bill that is now being foisted on us.
No civilised country that prides itself in being a democratic country would tolerate present procedures in the Department of Agriculture and its relations with the main farming organisation in the country, the NFA. This is something that can be held as a principle. A Minister is expected to accept responsibility to the group he is expected to represent in the national picture. If after a reasonable time, say a year, or a year and a half, he has failed to achieve that position then it is high time, like Mr. Craig, that he, unceremoniously, be shifted. It is not the first time I have called for the removal of the present Minister for Agriculture.
In dealing with agricultural problems we have the rather facile approach that all too many take by saying that there are too many organisations in agriculture, especially the two groups contending, the National Farmers Association and Irish Creamery Suppliers Association. This ignores the fact that in every walk of life, whether it is the postmen or the teachers or any other group, we generally have a few different viewpoints and organisations and groups. Any organisation, whether they are from the trade unions, or the university or from agriculture must, before we accord them the right of being taken seriously, fulfil the criteria of a proper  and adequate organisation. Perhaps one of the easiest ways of finding this out is to look at other countries and see what type of facilities are required by similar organisations in those countries: the extent of their office premises, staffing, and provision for dealing with the problems of the day. involving access to the necessary technical staff. Equally important is an examination of the democratic foundation on which the organisation is based.
If an organisation purports to represent a group then it must be democratic and it must show quite clearly the election procedure by which it is elected and we should study how these procedures have operated over the years and judge to what extent they have been truly democratic. I invite our national newspapers to let us have a factual survey under those headings of the two contending agricultural organisations in this country, the NFA and the ICMSA, so that the information will be put before the public, who can then judge the standing of each of those groups.
As regards the National Farmers Association, it can be said without doubt that their approach is as modern and efficient as the approach of the Belgian farmers, the Dutch farmers or any others. They are doing a good job and they are on efficient lines and their premises, though modest, are adequate. As far as democracy within the organisation goes one has only to look at the personalities in the organisation during the period of 12 years of its existence and find the healthy democratic fact that these personalities are constantly changing. They had Dr. Juan Greene as President in 1956 followed by Mr. Rickard Deasy and now Mr. T.J. Maher. The fact that these changes have been made in their presidency in a truly democratic manner is a healthy sign.
It is ridiculous for the Government to persist in their policy of trying to deny the NFA their rightful role in consultation and in advice on the formulation of agricultural policy. The NAC comes to mind. This has not been heard of now for the past two or three months and we hope that Irish agriculture has finished with that fiasco.  There is now a new effort for 1969 called “Move”, something concerned with promoting industrial efficiency and this is a highly laudable effort, but is it reasonable that the agricultural organisations and the co-operative movement should be denied representation and that agriculture is represented solely by one Fianna Fáil defeated Dáil candidate from Wexford? Surely that is not helping in any way to wipe the slate clean and to make a fresh approach as the Taoiseach recently promised. I think that the members of “Move” should show their displeasure with this politicking by inviting the NFA and the Co-operative movement to appoint representations to this body.
It is easy for the Taoiseach to talk of a fresh approach but we need some evidence of goodwill on the part of the Government and one effective way in which the Government could show this would be by the restoration of Government advertising in the Farmers' Journal. Advertising is being withheld from a paper because it “dares” to criticise Government policy. What is the difference in the issues that are being fought for regarding civil rights in Northern Ireland and the situation here? Where is the bigness, or indeed the sincerity, of the Taoiseach in wiping the slate clean if his first action is not to restore agricultural advertising in the Farmers' Journal and to do away with Government reprisals against that journal because it dares to criticise Government policy? What price the freedom of the press when such Government discrimination is practised? Surely this is elementary democracy.
I wish to refer to the development of the co-operative movement. This year the Government have given no increase whatsoever to the IAOS in the Estimate despite the fact that there is now an urgent need for rationalising the production of dairy products and that the co-operative movement is the only answer to the efficient and economic survival of our small farms.
The co-operative organisation of small farms, on the one hand, would meet the psychological needs of the local small farmer in that he would  still make all the decisions on the utilisation of his farm, and, on the other hand, would enable him to carry work more efficiently, as a member of a co-operative group. Work in groups is obviously more acceptable than working alone and a co-operative group would have the service of modern machinery and could provide the necessary relief help so that the small farmer of the future would no longer be a slave to his job. If he wished to take a week's holidays, or if he needed an evening off, he could make arrangements with the co-operative relief unit to have the milking done. This is the type of development that is required to save our small farms. It means that the owner of the small farm would spend a good deal of his time working in the co-operative group. There would then be a balance between payment for his services and charges made for services rendered on his own farm, and this balance would most likely be in favour of the small farmer.
This would also provide a measure as to whether there is unused time and unused labour on small farms and, if that were found to be so, efforts would be made to remedy it by part-time industries in the local co-operative centre. Whether we are preparing to go into Europe or not, the co-operative movement is the only way for us to approach the years ahead. It is either co-operation or extermination.
We note that the amount in the Estimate for the farm apprenticeship scheme is £11,500 and when great sums of money are being spent on other forms of apprenticeship, we must ask ourselves if it is reasonable to think that training for our major industry, and the recruitment of its skilled personnel, merits only a sum of £11,500. I am saddened when I think of the intense voluntary effort and time that many of us in the 1950s put into discussion on the farm apprenticeship scheme and to see the mini-scheme that has emerged from all our efforts.
 On the question of local government I must ask why the recommendation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Tribunal on engineers' salaries has not been implemented. This was a very modest award and I believe that it was accepted by most of the bodies concerned yet the order has not yet been made. Why is this so? We must realise the great contribution that the engineering profession has made to this country and we must realise, also, that most of our engineers are working here for a considerably lower salary than they could command in England or elsewhere.
With regard to education, I must join with the Senators who spoke previously in congratulating the Government and the Minister on the steps that have been taken, even if they are small ones, on the democratisation of education in opening up additional opportunities for the less fortunate. However in this regard not nearly enough credit is given to the devoted teachers, and to the parents who struggled against all forms of difficulties, and who were jointly responsible for the education of so many generations. Like myself most of us would not have got our education were it not for the good will and the devoted teaching of the Christian Brothers. However, there is a difference between democratisation of education and democracy in education. Many people have called for industrial democracy and I think that is long overdue but I do not intend dwelling on this here. Surely, however, educational democracy is at least as important as industrial democracy. Industrial democracy means, by and large, that the workers concerned are recognised and that their contributions are recognised and that they have their proper say in management. The same is required in education. Teachers and all those associated with schools should be recognised as people who have had long experience in the field of education and, therefore, that they have a valid and indispensable  contribution to make to the shaping of education in the future, just as they have done in the past.
Looking at our university situation it is easy, as previous speakers have said, to say that there is a deplorable division in university education. I do not think that is so. There is an understandable conflict of opinion and naturally there are many conflicting ideas that are gradually being sifted but that is not something for which to apologise. But what any reasonable person should rightly deplore is the fact that the opinion held by more than 75 per cent of the teaching staff in UCD and TCD is dismissed by the Minister and his advisers as mere self-interest. Evidently in the modern age the only puresouled spirits in the academic world are the Minister, his Civil Service advisers—who never taught in a university—and the handful of academics, who see eye to eye with them.
It is appalling to think of a Minister for Education in this country flying off to New York for the sole purpose of denigrating the overwhelming majority of the staff of our Irish universities, as mere self-seekers, as Mr. Lenihan did in his recent address to the NUI graduates in New York. That is something that should not be tolerated and I asert that the staff concerned are no more self-seeking than any other group in the country, least of all the Minister and his power hungry bureaucrats.
I should, of course, pay tribute to the merger in so far as it has had a tremendous impact on the university scene and has caused some real rethinking on university affairs. These can never be the same again. Even though I disagree very strongly with the tactics used by Mr. O'Malley in introducing the merger without any semblance of consultation I think it has now brought the various faculties, colleges and universities together in a spirit that is really stimulating and beneficial and offers excellent prospects for future co-operation and rationalisation.
Professor Quinlan: I do not think that the members of any university are against rationalisation. All are interested in doing the job they have been trained to do for the betterment of this country. I would recommend the members of this House to study the document produced by the Irish Federation of University Teachers which was published extensively in the papers. It is an excellent document, very closely reasoned, and it came out decisively in favour of four co-operating universities. Of course, that is what we want. It is not a question of whether Dublin is too small for two universities. It is rather a question of whether the country is too small for three universities; one in Dublin, one in Cork and one in Galway, not to mention Limerick, whatever today's enigmatic announcement really means.
Many hold that the country is too small for three universities and what is required is that the university resources of the country shall be organised, based on four independent universities, cooperating together under a Higher Educational Authority entrusted with much the same power and duties exercised at present by the university grants committee in England in their highly successful work in rationalising their complex university system.
There is scarcely one single subject, at post-graduate level, which is covered adequately in the country as a whole between all university centres, much less is it covered adequately at any one of these centres. We all know we have been gravely deficient in resources in the past in every centre, and consequently the post-graduate work in any subject has had to be restricted to one or two facets of the subject. It so happens that most of those facets are fortunately complementary and can be co-ordinated and expanded into providing an adequate subject coverage between all institutions.
For instance, on taking the situation in the subject I know best, applied mathematics, which is quite a wide ranging subject, UCD is mainly on quantum mechanics and relativity, TCD specialises in elemenary particles and statistics, while in Cork the emphasis has been on computer based applied mathematics with applications  to Engineering and Physics, and UCG could easily develop into the Fluid Mechanics centre for the country. It would consequently be easy on the above foundation for the four centres to be developed to continue to be complementary to one another so that between the four centres they would cover, not all the fields of applied mathematics, but probably enough for the country for the next 10 to 15 years. If it became obvious at any time that some other field needed to be developed, either the HEA, or more probably some existing school would see the necessity for it and would seek the necessary resources required to carry out a major faculty development. This would entail consulting the Higher Education Authority on the necessary financial resources, and thereby cause the projected major developments to be discussed, evaluated, and modified in the light of national requirements, since unless funds were given for it it would not be possible to proceed.
Every other subject, as far as I can see, would be more or less the same. At present there are civil engineering faculties in all four places, TCD, UCD, Cork and Galway. But this is only superficial duplication, because graduate and national demands in civil engineering comprise the very separate specialities of: environmental engineering, traffic engineering, structural engineering and hydraulic engineering. And in fact, by and large, the existing centres already show the nuclei of these specialisations, and it would be relatively easy to arrange that our four civil engineering faculties developed these specialities in a co-ordinated manner, to provide an adequate coverage for the country. Then, having got this rationalisation, one may ask: “Would it continue and would it not infringe on the autonomy of the university?”
In the case of any of our universities if a chair of physics falls vacant, the university does not simply advertise a professorship of the university, it advertises a chair of physics. They would be more specific in English and American universities, as they would describe exactly the branch of the subject required. That then is what we need in the future. If we agree on  sharing our resources on a national basis then we obviously can and must ensure that this is not negatived by any subsequent unilateral action by any university. Having determined, say, the siting of a particular branch of applied mathematics in a certain university we would have to agree that it could not be drastically altered without the approval of the Council of Irish Universities or through the Higher Education Authority. This would mean that students in their final year, at any centre, if they displayed a very strong bent for a division of the subject which was not catered for, as a speciality, at that centre, could take their grants and go to the corresponding speciality centre, and graduate there.
I cannot understand what all the fuss is about in doing what is a relatively simple rationalising job. When it comes to rationalisation the country must be considered as a whole, not just Dublin alone. It is ludicrous to see the Minister appearing on television talking about the fact that we cannot afford two schools of engineering here in Dublin, and presenting the choice before us as either one first-class school or two third- or fourth-rate institutions. The following day he rushes down to Galway and tells them what wonderful fellows they are and promises them first-class faculties, including their Engineering School, of course. And the fact is that the UCG School of Engineering, without the slightest disrespect to it, is less viable at the moment than either of the schools in UCD or TCD.
The same applies to the all faculties whether in Cork or Galway. Unless we co-ordinate and develop our resources at national level, it means that Cork and Galway are living in a fool's paradise if they take ministerial assurances seriously that they will get the resources to develop their existing professional schools and keep them viable. We can develop first-class facets of existing professional schools, if properly co-ordinated into the national framework; otherwise our professional schools will be like the former branch lines of CIE, living in suspended animation, until the time is politically opportune for their closure. We look to the universities having broadly  similar constitutions where the academic representatives constitute the majority of the board...
Professor Quinlan: When it comes to that I think we will no longer have the deplorable situation where the board wants one policy and the majority of the academic staff wants another and the board insist on its policy. Such an insistence by the board seems to me to be in conflict with the acceptance that academic representatives should constitute the majority of the board. I would also like to appeal to many of our academic colleagues who constituted a small minority in favour of the present merger. They have had a good opportunity of putting forward their point of view, they have done it very excellently, but I appeal to them now to accept the voice of the majority and go along with them.
Professor Quinlan: I am not speaking of the constitutions of the moment but of the future constitutions. Our academics will be in the majority on the future governing bodies and surely they will have the ruling voice in the future, and consequently should now carry greater weight than any outdated board.
Professor Quinlan: There is also the  question of our five medical faculties. I suggest that if we find we have more places in the medical faculties than we reasonably need we should make those places available to foreign students at an economic fee. If we do that we will be developing an education industry which is a type of industry to which we are particularly suited in this country. I would welcome up to 25 per cent of foreign students in our medical faculties if places were available for them, if they paid an economic fee.
Professor Quinlan: Yes, and they deserve to be congratulated on it and they have received little encouragement from the Government for doing it. If every foreign student brings in at least £1,000 per annum in fees and in living expenses, he is as valuable as a worker in a high-class industry that would require capital at about £5,000 per worker. If someone suggested an industry to provide employment for 500 people the Government would rush to give grants to such an industry. Why not look at the education industry—and in particular the medical industry— in the same way and at the same time do a worthwhile service to the outside world, and a profitable business for the nation.
The only really authoritative body that sat on university affairs in recent years was the Commission on Higher Education which took six years at its deliberations. The Report of that Commission is an excellent document, very well presented and the names of the signatories are of course appended for all to see. There are the names of Professor Carter, Professor Hutchinson and others, men of international standing who looked at our situation and recommended a solution of four universities co-ordinated by the various councils they proposed. We will find in the future that they were not far wrong in their recommendations. It is my opinion that the merger discussions have created a climate where these recommendations can be more profitably implemented so that we will have not  lost anything if the Government now accept the Commission solution. I would like to see that this Commission be given the recognition that it deserves.
Then we have the question of students' grants which we debated here some months ago. While we might have liked the Government to be more liberal these grants have contributed somewhat to the number of entrants in the current year. This year the number is about 1,100 as compared with 275 last year, an increase of roughly 800. Probably 400 of that 800 would have come anyway, so that we might estimate that the actual number coming in because of these students' grants is about 400.
However, I am worried about our piecemeal approach to these matters. The Government rightly introduced grants for university students to help bright students to go to the university but appears to have forgotten that these students were the main recruitment source for the Civil Service, the ESB, the banks and the semi-State organisations. What is now the official Government recruitment policy for those bodies? Where now is the main recruitment to the Civil Service to begin? It is high time that we had a drastic change which would establish main recruitment to the Civil Service at past degree level to replace the former recruitment at the honours leaving certificate level. The new entrant to the Civil Service would benefit greatly by having spent three or four years in the university and so would be able to make an improved contribution to the Service. We need a policy on that as a matter of urgency.
We also need a Civil Service recruitment policy which will involve our honours graduates and university staffs more intimately with the workings of the Civil Service and the other semi-State bodies. We need an imaginative programme of short-term secondment to those bodies. Up to this there have been just a few cases of secondment but it is not nearly enough. I would like to feel that in most planning and development units within the Civil Service at least 25 per cent of the personnel would be on loan from outside institutions and thereby they would be able to bring the freshness of  an outside point of view to bear on deliberations. Likewise, I would like to urge as I have done in the past that senior civil servants be given time to think. They should be given sabbatical leave to get away from their desk for six months or a year every five or six years to an English, American, or Irish university, or into a business, or other institution so that they could study in a changed environment and have time to reflect on what they are doing. If this imaginative scheme were introduced it would develop out Civil Service manpower in a flexible, efficient and modern way.
I have mentioned the lack of consultation in various bodies. This has come to a head in the development branch of the Department of Education and we need to look critically at that branch before it gets completely out of control. The branch arose out of the recommendation in the Report on Investment in Education, and it has emerged it has largely aborted all that was hoped for in that Report. I quote from page 153 of the Report where it says:
In our opinion there should be created in the Department of Education a new post of Assistant Secretary, the occupant of which would be directly responsible to the Secretary of the Department for long-term planning work, for considering policy matters in general and, in particular, to be responsible for directing the findings of the professional staff of the development unit into the administrative system of the Department.
The officer should, of course, have considerable experience in educational matters and a capacity for administration at a high level. But, equally necessarily, he would require special qualities for the new challenging task of being responsible for an educational development unit staffed by professional personnel. He  should have an independent, enquiring, critical, creative mind, a thorough acquaintance with educational theory and practice, and an appreciation of the need for a quantitative approach where this is applicable. He should have the virtue of detachment of a very high degree and a lack of commitment to the status quo.
If any Senator has read the recent issue of Studies he will realise how far the development unit has deviated from these high hopes. First of all, it has become just another section of the Department. The recruitment was not carried out as suggested in this; the primary emphasis in selecting the chief officer should have been on education, requiring a thorough acquaintance with education in theory and practice. This would require having spent long periods in the actual practice of education and probably having degrees in education. These are the standards that are required in Northern Ireland, in England and in North America and in Holland for similar posts. If there is any place in which skill, experience, and involvement in educational practice and theory is required it is surely within the development branch.
I would recommend to Members of the House to read and study Mr. O'Connor's paper in the autumn issue of Studies and the comments made by various people on it. It is frightening in many of its implications. It shows that the unit is completely on the wrong track and needs to be controlled, redirected and reorganised. Mr. O'Connor makes the claim that Mr. B. Lenihan has recently announced “an agreed” proposal for a revised structure of the Leaving Certificate programme. This needs to be understood carefully because it is the kernel of the problem. It involves the pseudo consultation which takes place between this unit and practical educationalists. So, the proposals are given to us as “agreed proposals” according to Mr. O'Connor.
I have had a good deal of practical experience in this and I know how false this claim is but better perhaps to quote from Professor Denis  O'Donoghue on this. He was a distinguished member of the Syllabus Committee. On page 287 of Studies of autumn, 1968, he says:
As the Senate representative on the English Syllabus Committee I was appointed to help in revising the Leaving Certificate syllabuses and examinations for that subject. Our terms of reference were acceptable; we were to submit detailed proposals for two syllabuses, an Ordinary Course and a Higher Course, the names euphemistically changed from the present Pass and Honours, which are deemed to be democratically offensive. These terms of reference guided our work in the Committee for about a year. On 4 April, 1968, however, a decision was taken by the Department which deleted the arrangement for Ordinary and Higher Courses. This decision was conveyed to the members of the Syllabus Committee on the 17th of May. We were now to start again, and to prepare a single syllabus which would serve the diverse purposes of a Common Paper and, for those students who might choose to take it, an Additional Paper. This arrangement was denounced by every member of the Syllabus Committee; we considered it a retrograde decision, calculated to reduce the amount of literature taught in the schools and to depress the standard of teaching in English. A similar arrangement for Irish was rejected by the Irish Syllabus Committee: in that case, every member of the Committee resigned. I shall not rehearse the dreary experience of the English Committee. It is enough to say that in the end the Department won; not by convincing the teachers, but by refusing to entertain any argument against the proposals. As an example of dialogue, communication, reasoned discussion, the episode was grotesque. At that stage, I resigned. I was quite certain that I could exert no influence whatever upon a Department so enamoured of its folly.
Professor Quinlan: So apparently we are using different words altogether when we deal with Government Departments on what constitutes consultation and what constitutes an agreement. Unless we can rectify that, can we still claim to be a democratic society? What is a democracy? It is certainly not a state ruled by the Civil Service without any reference to the people concerned. It seems to me that while the people of the North are demanding their civil rights we here have equally pressing need to demand our vocational rights. I am weary of hearing vocational groups pilloried as being self-seeking and almost anti-national because they have the courage to stand up for their views against official “know-all”. Evidently the faceless experts know all about every subject. That is not democracy. That is not the way we should go into the 70's. We need at this stage a complete development of the committee system, as such reprehensible pseudo consultation tactics could not be got away with if we had an adequate committee system. It could not happen if we had an Oireachtas Education Committee. We would then have Civil Service officials across the table and would also be able to question and hear experts who had experience in and whose names are known for their commitment to education. We could decide between them and steer our educational policy accordingly.
In other words it makes a devastating criticism of the existing syllabus in both primary and secondary schools.  But then who has been responsible for keeping that syllabus there? Is it not the handiwork of the Department of Education itself? The whole tone of the article is that the reformers of the Department of Education have now taken over, and that all these defects in syllabi and elsewhere are due by innuendo to the religious in these schools, to the manager, and to secondary teachers but not, of course, to the Department of Education, whereas anyone with any knowledge of trying to make a change in any syllabus knows how impossible it was to persuade the Department to do this at any time. The examinations have always been set by the Department's inspectors. If there are faults in the curriculum these faults have been largely due to the fact that the Department of Education has not listened to the progressive ideas that came up from the ordinary rank and file of teachers down through the years. Let us have change by all means but let the Department be the first to say “Mea culpa” for the deficiencies of the system and its absurdly underfinanced condition.
Like this derision by Mr. O'Connor for examinations is not well founded. Having had experience over 30 years of examinations, as man and boy, I can see it brings out the best in a student provided the examination is set intelligently. It makes the student gather his material and present it in the proper way. It is a necessary part of student development. I deplore very much the passing of the Primary School Certificate. It could have been altered and improved but getting rid of it was a retrograde step. I speak from personal experience of two daughters, one of whom sat at the end of her Sixth Class in the primary school for the last Primary Certificate and the other the following year did not have to do public examination. I see the comparison in their application to study; one felt there was an examination to be done, she studied and applied herself while the other had no public examination to face and did not make the same effort and had no need to accumulate here facts or engage in extensive revision. We should be very slow to copy too slavishly the American  system. Yet it seems to be the motivating force behind the present changes.
Professor Quinlan: Practically all educational authorities have rejected the new grouping system introduced into the Leaving Certificate, and see it as an effort to water down the Leaving Certificate so that any student will get through. It might reach the ludicrous stage where we might have to pass an Act of Parliament to ensure that every Irish child is born with his Leaving Certificate attached to him and having got that wonderful equipment we might then proceed to have some real educational objectives in our secondary schools. But the present position in regard to university autonomy is very disturbing, especially as Mr. O'Connor's idea is apparently to try to force the university to accept as matriculation subjects, all the subjects of the leaving certificate.
Professor Quinlan: Mr. O'Connor in his article states, concerning entrance examinations, that the National University accepts for matriculation only those subjects in which courses are offered in the university. That is a surprising statement from a man in Mr. O'Connor's position. The university accepts subjects for matriculation that involve courses of study that are comparable to other accepted matriculation subjects and are designed to benefit students coming into the university. For instance, we accept students for matriculation in many of the languages for which we do not have courses like  Dutch, Hebrew, Japanese, etc. As university teachers, we must claim that we are concerned with the examinations of incoming students, that we have a right to express opinions on these, and have them respected.
I wish to refer to the position of education statistics because it unfortunately is the case that statistics can be taken and used in an attempt to bolster any case. Therefore, it is highly desirable that our educational statistics should come from a central independent body. Like all statistics, these should come from the Central Statistics Office. If the development unit wants to have a statistician for the purpose of interpreting those figures, that is their business. In fact, it is probably useful to have a statistician on it but I call for the return of the compilation of educational statistics to the Central Statistics Office.
In conclusion, I wish to say that the greatest work that has emerged from the development unit has been that the pressurised tactics that have been applied to school managers and to school teachers have united these in a way that is remarkable. If we have the managers and the teachers fully co-operating, I believe that there is great hope for the future and I would suggest that they continue as rapidly as possible with the formation of parent/teacher groups, or local community groups attached to the schools because these are the people who know what is involved in education. Undoubtedly all will co-operate with the Department of Education but let them insist, loud and clear, that they will not be serfs of the development unit of the Department. We commend our secondary teachers and managers and we assure them that we are aware of the contribution they are making to education and assure them of our support and understanding. We call for an investigation by the Government into the activities of the development unit and we ask them to let us have democracy not only in industry but also in education.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Without referring to the froth of the past two  and a half hours, we shall get down to serious matters and there are a few comments I should like to make arising out of the discussions that have taken place on this Bill, with particular reference to the statements of Senator Garret FitzGerald on one or two items.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: By the way, may I take this opportunity to congratulate Senator Garret FitzGerald on the fact that we can now refer to him as Doctor FitzGerald and to say that I am very glad indeed to be able to do so.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: However, in spite of this distinction, I find myself compelled to admonish him. Both he and Senator Sheehy Skeffington were desperately frustrated by reason of the fact that the motion which they had down on Biafra was not discussed. I thought that the Senators might have passed me a vote of thanks instead of criticising me for the fact that the motion had not been discussed, in view of the developments that have taken place in Biafra and about which light is now beginning to appear through the clouds of press distortion that have befogged the issue during the past two years.
Senator FitzGerald is very anxious about this matter and thinks it is of vital importance that the war be brought to a conclusion. No doubt we all find ourselves in agreement with that, but anything that we could do here to bring the war to a conclusion is unknown to anybody but Senator Garret FitzGerald.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I am talking about the civil war that occurred in Spain when a policy of non-intervention was adopted by the Government; but, despite that, large sections of the people disagreed, and the result was that on the one hand, contingents of young Irishmen joined the forces of Republican Spain while, on the other, contingents led by General O'Duffy joined the Insurgents who were led by Franco. There followed the unhappy position in which Irishmen were on different sides of the line at the battle on the Guadalquiver river.
Many Irishmen were killed in that battle and it was, indeed, a sad experience. This country gained nothing from it. But the lesson to be learned from that and from various other wars that have occured since then is that we, as a small nation, should keep our noses clean and keep out of the quarrels which arise in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa, because in Africa since the end of the Second World War there have emerged 24 or 25 independent African states. Those African States have banded themselves in a league of African nations called the Organisation of African States presided over by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. It is their business to see to it that peace and contentment reign on the African continent. They have accepted that as one of their responsibilities without any great success but nevertheless they are the people directly concerned in the maintenance of peace.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: That is a completely different situation. If the Senator wants a debate on Vietnam we can have it. I am trying to make a statement. I did not interrupt the Senator until very late in his contribution when he asked questions. I do not like this business of question and  answer. It reminds me too much of a pub. We are not in a pub here. However, it is the business of the Organisation of African States to look after the peace and happiness of those African nations and they would do a good job if the meddlers kept out of it, but the meddlers will not keep out of it. I am not referring to meddlers in this country but to meddlers in other countries. If those meddlers kept out, the people on that continent would ultimately solve their own problems.
Unfortunately, the Organisation of African States have not met with any great success. A recent attempt by Emperor Haile Selassie at a peace conference, at which both sides in the Nigerian civil war were present, did not succeed because of the undoubted intransigent attitude of the Biafran delegation. Since then, the veil of secrecy, a veil which constituted a curtain against news, has lifted slightly and we now find a totally different picture to the one presented by the energetic letter writers in the evening papers in Dublin and Cork and some of the religious journals circulating here. We find that the Nigerian hierarchy have decided objections to some of the things emanating from this country and some of the statements made here. We find that an international committee which inquired into the allegations of genocide on the part of the Nigerian Federal Forces, and which included Communists, Catholics and Presbyterians as well as people of no faith at all, found there was no truth whatever in the allegation that the Ibos were going to be massacred by the Federal troops when they had conquered Biafran territory.
We find also that the efforts to bring in food, in which the Irish people have been generous and in which the Irish Red Cross have played no small part, have been hampered not alone by the war situation on the Nigerian battlefront but also by the Biafran authorities. There is no use in anybody trying to paint a picture of one side being all sin and the other one angelic.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: It is time we put  an end to the nonsense that has been circulated during the last year about our intervention in the Nigerian war. If we leave them alone they will fix their own business. That is good policy. We should leave them alone.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: That question, I am afraid, is part of the propaganda which has been issued by interested agencies. It is not based entirely on facts. If the Senator reads, as I am sure he does, some of the international papers, he will find statements there which completely contradict the bias he has in regard to this matter.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Another thing also which has emerged, and which is of distinct importance in this connection and in connection with the Nigerian affairs, is the statement issued by all religious houses who have missionary fathers and religious in Nigeria and Biafra insisting that no political statements were made committing their orders to do anything in relation to one side or the other and urging the people to be very careful in what they said about the situation in that country, which is regarded as missionary territory. I would therefore think we should cast our eyes around our country here and not be worried too much about Nigeria.
Senator FitzGerald wanted us to satisfy our own people that we are doing something to cope with the situation. We are doing something. We are sending as much food as we possibly can, and as much practical help as we can give. I think that is the best contribution we could make to the situation there.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I think it was  Senator Murphy or Senator Garret FitzGerald who suggested the Minister for External Affairs should get advisers on the Nigerian war. The former Senator Burke would be very useful in that context. He would, with his wonderful knowledge of the country, be a useful man. They want us to do something. My suggestion is to do nothing more than we are doing, supplying food and clothing, which is something we are allowed to do.
Senators Murphy and FitzGerald shared the same view that there is no crisis. For once they agreed with the Taoiseach on that matter. Senator Murphy admitted in his speech on jobs and employment that the Government had made some progress in providing employment but he complained that it was too slow and that it does not meet with the situation. There is no doubt in the world about it it is not easy to provide suitable employment. The aim undoubtedly should be full employment but it is not easy to do that even under the socialist form of Government they have in Great Britain. It has not been found easy to do so.
There is one thing we can do — this is something I spoke about before— and this is something in which Senator Murphy and the members of his movement are the key figures. It is to maintain the jobs of those who already have jobs and who are working in our factories and machine shops throughout the country, by insisting that every possible way in which they can assist in the distribution and purchase of quality Irish goods will be availed of to do so.
Unfortunately, trade unionists in many trade unions seem to be under the impression that it is their duty, by their I mean somebody else's duty, to find everything for them. It does not seem to them to be their duty to do anything to help the country except to maintain their unions in such a position of strength that they operate lightning strikes to the detriment of the country and their fellow workers. They can do something concrete and the fact that they can do so can be gleaned from their complete lack of interest and esprit de corps with regard to other workers. It is necessary  now to propound this and to give a scandalous case which came before a trades council in this country only recently and which shows a complete lack of interest of the organised workers in a particular industry and their union to the responsibilities and duties they have to their fellow workers to help them to maintain their jobs.
In Drogheda a couple of weeks ago the cement workers there refused to accept Irish manufactures boots and demanded through their shop stewards that English-made boots be provided for them, 5,000 pairs of them, while at the same time workers in the Drogheda boot factories were on short time. If that is not a scandalous situation and if it does not show a complete lack of appreciation of their duty to their fellow workers I do not know what does. I suggest that this has happened in other parts of the country, but it has not got publicity mainly because the local newspapers do not attend these trades council meetings.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: What I wish to emphasise is that the organised workers of this country under the control of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions number half a million and if they were given a direction, I do not say a suggestion, by the Congress and by their union heads to buy Irish manufactured goods which are of as good quality as anything imported, there is no doubt that thousands of extra jobs would be created and maintained in this country and no boot factories would be on short time in Drogheda or anywhere else in this country.
Senator Murphy assured me that they were doing something about this. I have been around somewhat since the last occasion I brought this matter before the House and I have seen all over the place, but particularly in Dublin and its suburbs, vast displays of English made and foreign goods while there are Irish goods just as good and just as cheap available. I blame the distributing trades and the merchants for  the displays given to these goods but I also blame the Distributive Workers' Union for the manner in which their members employed in these shops pick out and offer foreign-made articles to the detriment of the home produced materials. Anyone who has conducted the experiment of asking for goods will know that I am telling the truth and this extends not alone to clothes but even to beer.
Anybody who takes a drink will realise that not only in the luxury lounge bars in hotels do you find this but you also find it in the ordinary pubs. If you ask for lager and do not specify the lager you want you will not be given Harp or even Carling, which is made in Cork and Belfast. You will be given an imported lager and charged accordingly. In many cases in the luxury bars if you do specify Harp you will be told that they only had a few on ice in the fridge and that they now have none left but that they have a very nice ZHB or other lager. In my opinion the barmen's union which is looking for better conditions for its members owe a duty to the people who are going to make is possible for them to have these better conditions by buying what they have to sell. There is no doubt that the ordinary barmen could do something about this whether or not the boss is in the shop. These are points which occur to me as a result of Senator Murphy's reference to the question of employment in jobs.
He spoke also of the need for fishery protection and said that we were not doing anything about it. That is nonsense. We have three corvettes. It is all right to sneer at these corvettes as some of the newspaper columnists and pundits do but they have done tremendous work and a very satisfactory job in dealing with foreign trawlers and poaching. If the Senator has in mind that they are not enough to cover all our coastal waters he is probably right, but the cost of adding to the naval service is so prohibitive that one wonders how something could be done. The cost of repairing and keeping these corvettes in action is no small matter but when the Senator's Government, as a Coalition, was in charge of this part of Ireland from 1954 to 1957 they had to face the  question of these corvettes being laid up. But they did not buy new ones. They did the same as this Government has done, they had them refitted. At that time new corvettes could be got at a reasonable price, at a price at which they cannot be got now. I would like to hear some of the speeches if the Minister for Defence came into the Dáil looking for £6 million or £7 million to buy new corvettes adequately to protect the fishing industry around our coast. I think they would be the butt of every newspaper columnist in the country, apart from TDs. It is a question of priorities, as to what must come first.
Senators and Deputies would not agree that the protection of the fishery industry should take precedence over other things they have at heart. There is a much more serious problem, as I see it. From researches I have made, and the knowledge I have of the sea and of people who go down to it, it is quite obvious that voluntary recruitment of naval personnel is a complete failure. No matter if we had ten ships, the most modern ships afloat, we will not get by voluntary recruitment the officers and men to man our ships.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I put it to the House that even by paying them sufficiently here they can earn more on one transatlantic trip in the Mercantile Marine, on one of these long distance trips, than they could in six months here, no matter what pay you give them in the Naval Service. I do not see how you could do it.
There is one other point that emerged and on which I feel I must comment. Senator Murphy and Senator McQuillan referred to it. It was in regard to  exports. We were told that we should not send all our goods to the British market. We should get further markets, as if that was something new, a new doctrine. We have been trying, and every Government of this country in the past have been trying their best, to get other markets on the understanding that putting all your eggs into one basket is nonsense and dangerous. We have been trying it. The Coalition Government tried it and the Free State Government before them tried it. There are at the moment brighter prospects in some of the foreign markets which are being investigated. To think that all you have to do is send a trade delegation out or appoint a public relations officer at an embassy and give a dinner and then you will get trade is moonshine.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Somebody did. You have to go and get trade. No country owes us a living and no country has much time for us unless we can give them something profitable which they will find will be of assistance to their own economy. It is not so easy. We have been hearing about this new salvation east of the Iron Curtain— and reference was also made by Senator McQuillan to the Bamboo Curtain. There is no such thing. Trade figures with Japan have shown an encouraging increase and since the Taoiseach's trip there and the negotiations for a proper Trade Agreement there is every possibility that we may do good business with Japan and equalise to a great extent our balance of payments there.
Looking at our trade figures with other countries they are not satisfactory. We are doing our best. I do not see how a miracle will happen. Beyond that there are combinations of nations which are now establishing common markets among themselves. Senator Garret FitzGerald told us that the Anglo Irish Trade Agreement was not worth signing. If he examines it again, in the cold light of day and away from the shroud of political propaganda, he will see we are getting something satisfactory under the Anglo Irish Trade Agreement. If he reads the export figures, in spite of the mass of  figures he juggled this morning, he will find we did a lot better than the £4 million a year he claimed we got in the Anglo Irish Free Trade Agreement.
Senator McQuillan also boasted that nobody had mentioned the question of diplomatic relations with the east European countries until he suddenly discovered it. Might I recall to him that, three years ago in the Seanad, I advocated the formation of a diplomatic mission to Warsaw in Poland and that that mission would be the focal point for trade relations with the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria? The response to that around the country was satisfactory. There was no objection. There are great markets there. I do not see why we should not get them. I had no ideological objection against our going east of the Iron Curtain. Being inquisitive I began investigations as to why all Governments did not go for this open market that was waiting. There were 100 million people east of the Iron Curtain waiting to buy our products. Then I discovered that Irish delegations which went to Warsaw and Prague since found that there is nothing easy at all in negotiating trade agreements there. You negotiate with trade export boards and, with all due deference to Senator Murphy and his nationalist effort, I must tell him that these boards are held on a tight rein by their Governments. It is not the same sort of thing as negotiating with an employer on whom you can walk out if you feel that you do not like his terms. While we should do everything we can to get these foreign markets, let nobody be under the illusion that they are rich plums waiting to be plucked off the trees. They are not. They are difficult to get. All we can hope is that, with the passage of time and with developments in political events abroad, these countries will find it useful to trade with us rather than some of the others with whom they are trading now. The Seanad would be well advised in that case, as in the case of Biafra and Vietnam, to keep their feet on the ground.
Mr. Rooney: In this debate we are dealing mainly with problems that have  arisen from the national mismanagement of our economy, particularly, with regard to the Budget of last April. Before I come to this point I should like to follow the line on which Senator Ó Maoláin concluded. That relates to our imports. The case has been made that the volume and the value of imports to this country for some time past has disrupted our balance of trade. The point I want to make is that we have been sending trade delegations abroad and we have valuable organisations here, such as Córas Tráchtála, finding export markets for our commodities.
A group of people who have contributed to the imbalance now under discussion are our importers. They import various commodities into this country and distribute them here. Of course, the Irish consumer purchases and uses those imported goods. I feel we have reached a stage when we should say to those importers that, if they wish to carry on business and make profits from this exercise, it is up to them to do their part in making some gesture towards balancing those imports against exports. They should be told, in relation to the volume of whatever commodity it is that they are importing, that it is up to them to go to the source of those imports, and find a market there for Irish goods which can be exported by that particular importer in order to balance out with imports.
Our importers are the people who are contributing very effectively to the imbalance we are discussing now. They should be made realise that. They should be asked to balance the imports for which they are responsible by seeking exports, pound for pound, ton for ton, unit for unit. At the moment those importers sit back and say that that is a matter for the Government, for CTT, for the various Government organisations and for the Department of Finance, whose job it is to try and balance trade between this country and other countries. We can no longer leave these busy importers sitting back looking for somebody else to keep the finances of this country in order. Every importer will have to be asked by the Government and these other organisations what he proposes to do in the  matter of securing Irish export markets to balance our imports. It is a suggestion which may not be useful or which has, perhaps, been tried. I feel importers have a responsibility to the nation to make some effort towards creating a balance between imports and exports.
I will come to another point which I think is a useful one to make in this House and that is to impress on the farmers of this country the importance of being associated with an effective meat marketing board. They have a golden opportunity now of doing so. It may not have been impressed upon them properly, but it is important for them to make a substantial contribution towards the efforts of Cork Marts to acquire the meat processing plant which is now for sale. I suggest that because it brings the farmers closer to the consumers, which is a very important thing these days. If they succeed in acquiring this concern, it will mean that the farmers can now follow the calf right through the period of growing and finishing, of slaughtering and eventually canning. But when it has got that far, further handling has to be done. It has to be loaded, shipped, distributed and handed across the counter until it gets to the consumer's table. But if the farmers can follow it as far as the meat packing process, they are getting much closer to the consumer than at present.
At present a farmer brings a finished, or half-finished, beast to the market or fair and his part is ended. Other problems arise when the beast is sold. The farmers who have been campaigning for a long time for the establishment of a meat marketing board would be well advised now to contribute substantially towards the fund which will enable them to acquire this ready-made meat processing establishment in association with the Cork Marts, who are apparently the sponsors of this project. I think it will be a very worthwhile step for the farmers to take. I have mentioned this in case there are farmers who do not realise the importance of a meat marketing board or a meat marketing project because the trend is in that direction. The day is approaching when it will not be sufficient  for a farmer to walk his livestock off the land, say “good-bye” to them and accept the cheque in return. It will be important for him to go more of the way towards the consumer. This he can do by becoming involved in this new meat marketing project.
I read the Taoiseach's speech in relation to our economic situation. I certainly took a very poor view of the trend shown. First of all, it appears that at present our expenditure is running at the rate of £7½ million above the Budget Estimates. I feel certain that there was a trick here on the part of the Government. I cannot believe for one moment that the Department experts were not in a position to warn the Minister for Finance last April about the various liabilities we would have to meet in the 12 months from the day on which that Budget was introduced last April. It could have been forecast. Reading the speeches that were made at that time in the Dáil, one speech after another pointed out that the Minister's Budget was not adequate to meet what the programme was during the coming financial year but the Minister tried to put them off by saying that the Budget was prepared on the best arithmetical basis on which the Department could prepare it.
He said that it was prepared with a view to achieving a balance. Imagine presenting a Budget and saying that it has been prepared with a view to achieving a balance when we find in this month of December that there is a mistake of nearly £15 million. I have no doubt that the Minister knew very well that this situation would be brought to bear and that is why he made a passing reference to the possibility that circumstances might cause a further Budget to be introduced— that Budget is the one we are discussing now—but the point I am making is that it is very bad to be tricking with our economy just for election purposes.
Obviously, at that time, the referendum was in mind—in fact, people thought that a general election must have been in mind when the Government could envisage the kind of gap there would be at the end of the financial year, having regard to the terms  of that Budget. At the present time, the taxpayers of this small country are contributing almost £1 million a day in taxes and with that, almost £1 million a week is being paid in interest on the national debt that has accumulated during the years.
The fact that a small population such as ours has a national debt that incurs an interest charge of £1 million a week and this, in addition to the £1 million a day that it is costing to run this little country, requires us to take a serious look at the present situation, particularly in relation to the volume and value of our exports.
As I said earlier, I took a poor view of the Taoiseach's remarks when he was offering his excuses for this Budget. He took statistics and figures for 1956 and he spoke about the volumes and values in 1956 compared with volumes and values at the present time but when he was presenting this case, he did not say that £2 in 1956 was equal to £3 in 1968 in so far as purchasing power is concerned. That would cut down very much the figures and volumes that he used to bolster up his case and the excuses he was offering for the present situation and for the need to bring in this extra taxation.
There is a trick in it still, apparently, and that is that he has decided to escalate the volume of taxation at this stage so that, when the Budget of next year is presented, he will be then able to take credit for the revenue that he expects to get from these levels of taxation during the coming 12 months in order to distribute various favours and benefits thereby creating a situation that will cause the people to believe that there is affluence and prosperity all around. In those conditions then, he will call a general election. We can assume that the general election will take place in May or June of next year when the Budget debate has been completed and when, as I say, the population in general will have been impressed by the case the Government will have made.
We must also take cognisance of the fact that, while the Government were elected with a mandate in 1965, they were put to the test very recently in the referendum when they were defeated  by more than a quarter of a million votes and that many of the people who voted against them on that occasion were people who voted for them in 1965.
Mr. Rooney: Well, as I say, there are plenty of other things to talk about. I should like to say that we have been given a very clear message from the youth of this country because a large number of those are people who have been put on the register since 1959. The Taoiseach has already said he has got the message.
Mr. Rooney: The other matter to which I would like to refer is the general impression of wealth and well being that the Government are trying to create when, at the same time, we realise that old age pensioners, retired pensioners, disabled persons, unemployed persons and all persons on subsistence allowances, are not getting sufficient to make ends meet, particularly, when one takes into consideration the fact that £3 today is only equal to what £2 was worth in 1956 and when one remembers too, that 30 per cent of the population is keeping 70 per cent.
Mr. Rooney: Yes, I shall comment on that, too, because it is very true and it is a very important matter. However, what I am getting at is that old age pensioners are getting less for a week's subsistence than what some of the Fianna Fáil front benchers would spend on their lunch on a Monday.
Mr. Rooney: If the old age pensioners spent that amount of money on a Monday, they would not have anything for the remainder of the week. The proposals in relation to turnover tax will increase the cost of housing and the cost of furnishing houses and this, in turn, will make it more difficult for those people who are trying to set up homes. That is just one example of the wholesale tax. It will hit people in a very effective manner. There were 80,000 fewer working in 1968 than there were in 1956.
Mr. Rooney: In that case I propose to finish within five minutes. I was saying that there were 80,000 fewer people earning wages in 1968 than there were in 1956, the year held up so frequently by Fianna Fáil and the Taoiseach to bolster up whatever case they have to make. In addition there are almost 60,000 registered unemployed persons which gives a difference of a total of 140,000. In that time 250,000 people emigrated and if they had not the unemployment situation would be still worse than what it is.
The final point I want to make is in regard to Standard European Time. It is time that a decision was reached in regard to this matter. We should be grateful to the Sunday Independent for the opinion poll which they carried out in relation to this change of time. The result was a clear message from those who replied to the question asked by the newspaper and it was that European Standard Time is not acceptable to a very large majority of people.  I mention this because the opinion poll conducted by the Sunday Independent in relation to the referendum also resulted in a very clear message being given and if the message in regard to European Time is as clear as the other message it is time for the Government to realise that the change is not acceptable to the vast majority of people. I myself am in favour of the change, I think it is better, but in view of this message which we have received it should be decided as soon as possible to revert next year to the old arrangement. I am sure those who replied to the question took into consideration the possibility that school opening hours could be advanced by one hour. The Minister for Education mentioned this already. However it was not only parents who answered the question; the people in general have intimated that they want the new time abandoned in favour of the old time. It will, of course involve certain adjustments in relation to flight timetables and in relation to various activities across the water. I will conclude on that note.
Mr. Nash: I had not intended to intervene in this debate but if remarks of the type that have just been made are let go unchallenged it would not be in the public interest. You, Sir, have stopped references being made to the referenda but notwithstanding that they have been made. Therefore I feel entitled to say that the people have made their decision and that will be the law. They were entitled to make that decision just as any man in his private life is entitled to do what he wishes, be it for his own good or ill. May I also say with the utmost sincerity and the conviction of my heart and conscience that I believe one day the people will bitterly resent that decision.
Mr. Nash: We have heard other nonsense spoken by the Senator who has just used the word. He spoke about the national debt as he called it as if it were something due by the people. Obviously he has not the least idea  of what is meant by the national debt. If capital assets are to be created, be they factories, buildings, roads, machinery or goods, the money for them in the ordinary way is generated out of the people's savings who in the case of ordinary companies buy debentures, shares, stocks——
Mr. Nash: ——buildings or airlines, various moneys advanced to or by housing authorities, or by local authorities, the various moneys advanced by the State by way of grants to hotels or industry or to our farmers—that is the capital of this country or portion of it. A further portion of the capital consists of the moneys people put on deposit in the post office or into saving certificates. These are the items which comprise the national debt.
Mr. Nash: If the dividends paid by the ordinary manufacturing company are to be considered a liability so too the interest paid by the Government on national loans should be considered a liability. One therefore has to be very short of arguments when statements like that are made. Short of anything else to say, motives were introduced. The Budget as introduced last April met the anticipated requirements of the country as they then were.
Mr. Nash: In the ordinary course of events, the demand for increases by the Civil Service follow, not anticipate, the increases demanded by the unions. In this case those demands anticipated the demands made by the unions. No sensible Government would, in these circumstances, have made provision for these increases by way of estimate or otherwise because to do so would be to pre-judge the settlement which would later be made.
Those increases involved an increase of £9 million in the cost of running this country. I do not say whether the increases were too large or too small. They were increases that were introduced in the ordinary way by the negotiating machinery that is in existence. I do say that possibly increases on a percentage basis are not the most desirable type of increases, because a man who gets £3,000 and is given an increase of 10 per cent receives £300; the man who gets £500 a year and is given a 10 per cent increase, receives only £50. Unfortunately in this country and in England trade unions and all sorts of organisations are so taken up with the bribes of various sections of the community that these differentials are introduced in this manner, and as a result the lower paid workers, relatively to the larger paid workers, are being underpaid. If future increases were not given on a percentage basis these differentials could be reduced. That accounts for £9 million of this extra £15 million in the Budget.
The remaining £6 million concerns extra subsidies to our farming community. The Senator who has just spoken is a member of that community. Does he feel that these extra subsidies should not be given? If so, it would be much more honest to say so.
Mr. Nash: We hear much today of demands by the farming community. I personally feel that it is time our farmers realised that, like many other sections of the community, they are entrepreneurs. They are not a social service. They are there with capital assets to be used to the best advantage as the man in the small shop, the man who runs a forge, the carpenter in his own workshop, has to use the capital assets he has to the best advantage.
I was shocked today to hear Senator McDonald say the farmers are worse off than they were 10 years ago. Farmers are no fools. The cost of capital assets can be measured by the income that comes from them, and any person with common sense today knows that the price of any farm is at least twice or two-and-a-half times the price it would have been 10 years ago and people will not buy something at that price if the income has not gone up.
I was rather shocked when I heard the Senator say that while last year he got £18 per ton for potatoes, this year he was able to get only £8. In fact, I was so shocked that I put through a phone call to the country, and I would now tell him if he is selling his potatoes in County Laois at £8 a ton he can take them up to Mayo and sell them at £18 or he can take them down to Kerry and sell them at £14. Why must we have this constant whining and complaining which is undermining the pride of our farmers? As one of the most noble sections of our community they deserve better leadership than they are getting from people who make comments and remarks of this kind.
We have also been told that it is the fault of the Irish Government that the pound sterling has been devalued. How could we boost up the pound sterling any more than we could boost up the French franc? We must realise that Ireland, being a small nation, is greatly dependent on the economic strength or the economic weakness of  England. At one time England was the workshop of the world. She imported raw materials, manufactured them and sold them all over the world, thereby paying for those materials. She was able to buy capital assets abroad; and, further, she was able to make loans to foreign governments.
England today is tied to the iron frame and because it has to import what is tantamount to one-fifth of its national product in raw materials, it is no longer the wealthy empire that it was. For England to endeavour to live at the standard and at the rate at which she had been living may be a brave Churchillian gesture of defiance, but it is a gesture of defiance in the teeth of the hard economic facts of life. England is living above her means, and wages and other rates of pay have outrun her income. This depreciation has hit not only England but most countries of Europe with the exception of West Germany. At the moment the French franc is struggling for survival. As long as the pound sterling is under pressure, and as long as there is no confidence in it, the pound sterling will depreciate progressively. It was an irreparable mistake on the part of England and there was no option on our part. It was merely putting a cloth over an ulcer to hide it. For a few months, it boosted exports but England then found, because of prices of raw materials and demands for increased wages which were not matched by parallel increases in productivity, that she was unable to export at those prices.
In all those circumstances, our little country, which is so likely to get economic pneumonia if England gets an economic sneeze, has done very well. We have done very well because —perhaps in contrast to the Labour Government of England that has tried to soothe all sections by no policy or by lack of policy—our Government at no stage has refrained from stating the bald facts of economic life. Let me say, too, in this regard that if the sectional interests of our community would pay a little more consideration to the sectional interests of other parts of our community, we might be able to get nearer to that happy state of affairs which does not at present exist while  the non-organised—the old age pensioners, the itinerants on the roadside and some other sections—are so neglected. But we have sections—and all their various cries and disputes are supported from the opposite side of the House—who are pushing, petulant, presumptuous, selfish and who have no interest in any other sections of the community so long as they get what they want.
Mr. Nash: That is the sort of situation which, on occasion, when the euphoria disappears, shows up the economy in its true perspective. Personally, I feel that, in the hard world of economics today, where so many strong currencies are fighting for survival, we, for our part—though perhaps, if one could be as wise in foresight as by hindsight, we might possibly be more, but, taking that into account, —have done exceptionally well and our Government is to be congratulated.
Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. J. Brennan): I want to apologise for the inability of the acting Minister for Finance to remain here and to reply to the debate. One of the reasons concerns the difficulty of keeping both Houses of the Oireachtas going. The Minister for Finance proper will be back after Christmas, please God. On his behalf, we want to thank those who have sent messages of goodwill and hopes for his recovery. I can assure the House that he is very well and that he will be back with us very soon. In saying that, I apologise for the inability of the Taoiseach, who is acting Minister for Finance, to be here this evening and to sit in and listen to what was indeed the very wide scope of this debate which ranged over everything from post office boxes and vending machines to higher academics in third level education, through agriculture, through high finance—the lot. I hope Senators do not expect me to reply in any detail to all the matters that were raised——
Mr. J. Brennan: ——if they expect  to get home for Christmas. The debate was, of course, essentially on the second Finance Bill. The Appropriation Bill was thrown in for good measure. It gave Senators sufficient ground, I suppose, for a good wide scope of debate, I do not think many Senators seriously challenged the real fundamentals of what is popularly known as the “mini-Budget”. Some questioned its timing. Some attributed improper motives to what the Government did. However, I do not think anybody seriously challenged the wisdom of doing what we did and the corrective measures that were taken and their extent. Possibly some criticism was made for propaganda reasons—that we knew all along that this course was necessary but staved it off until after the Referendum and then took the necessary action.
Anybody with any experience of Government must agree that no Government at any time looks upon the introduction of a Supplementary Budget as a popular exercise. Our experience of other Governments is that the tendency is to postpone the evil day until the position becomes so serious that a crisis looms up and then the necessary corrective action creates a serious recession with subsequent gloom and despondency and leaves many scars on the economy before we emerge from the ordeal. I trust the House will accept my sincere belief that the only motive which prompted the Government to take action of this type at this time was that of the national interest. We could have done a number of things. We could have ignored the position. On the other hand, we could have taken more drastic measures or we could have taken less drastic measures.
The Government acted carefully, on the best advice available, taking into account all the economic indicators. Actually, the measures taken were designed to be the least hurtful possible and were taken at this time in the hope that they would put us right if a crisis should come. If we had not taken these steps, we should be faced with an even more serious situation next year. I think we are all agreed that that is the position and, being so agreed, we must also agree that the action was both timely and correct.
 I do not think the Government can, with justice, be accused of deriving pleasure from the bringing in of a Supplementary Budget. Indeed, we could argue that the steps we took in respect of relief to farmers also were taken only after the referendum. In 1958 our GNP was £601 million. Last year it was £1,148 million. The percentage of our gross national product for social welfare payments was 5.5 and last year it was 6.31. That is a considerable increase. To get down to more basic figures—and this includes contributory and non-contributory social welfare payments—in 1958 the social welfare figure was £33.4 million. This year it will be £81.5 million. Those are figures which no one can repudiate or denigrate. No one can say that is not a decent advance in the field of social welfare.
Senator Garret FitzGerald said it represented an increase in rate only and not in expansion of the service. That is completely wrong. I do not want to go into the whole field of social welfare but it is one I am interested in very deeply. Remember it was in 1961 only that we brought in contributory pensions. Remember it was only last year that the Occupational Injuries Act came into effect. Remember that the Minister for Labour—and this is a very important social welfare payment—brought in the redundancy payments. Apart from that, every single facet of the social welfare scheme has been improved. On the contributory side the requirements for qualification have been eased. We have extended the six months period for disability and unemployment benefit to 12 months, and it is also possible for a recipient to qualify for a further six months in the meantime.
We have also introduced the free electricity scheme and the free travel scheme for old age pensioners. I wrote into the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act—and it was not provided for in the Budget—a scheme making a beginning towards paying extra to the recipient of an old age pension when it is necessary for a daughter to abandon insurable employment to take care of one of the parents. I admit it does not go very  far but it is a good beginning. If a person has to abandon insurable employment and cannot get benefit because she is not available for work, the father or mother or both get an extra £2 5s a week. I have not asked the civil servants to work on that for me as Senator Garret FitzGerald suggested. I am operating my own scheme with the approval of the Government.
In preparing a blueprint for the progressive expansion of social welfare it is not advisable to publish it in the form of a White Paper because it would immediately create a demand for its implementation. Those are some of the things which we have before the Government for approval and which we propose to do. I will have to introduce the required legislation and I would hope in the near future to introduce legislation for the further extension of our social welfare code. It is hardly necessary for me or any member of the Government to defend this Budget on the grounds of what we are doing for social welfare because we have only to ask people to look back on our record and see for themselves. If we make as much progress in the next ten years as we did in the past ten years our social welfare payments will compare favourably with those in any other country. That is the greatest guarantee of our future in that respect. Last year if we had been guided by the increase in consumer price index we would have been giving 2/- instead of 7/6d. In 1965 we gave 10/- and every year we hope that tendency will improve.
Mr. J. Brennan: It is not possible to start giving increases in a mini-Budget because most of them require legislation, an alteration of the stamps, the printing of new stamps and the publication of new forms. Every time we give an increase we have to print a new set of forms and prepare books and so forth. I should really like to give a good increase every two years and not have to have those difficulties. The contributory class will get an increase on 3rd January when the new  stamps will be available. It cannot be done at the time the Budget is introduced. We have to wait until the following January but the fact remains that we have more than made up for any increase that has taken place.
Someone suggested that there would be a tremendous increase in the price of houses because of the high percent increase in the wholesale tax. It was suggested that the price of a house would go up by £200, £300 or £400. I do not think five per cent on the wholesale tax will increase the price of houses as much as that when you consider that the labour content of housing is 60 per cent and the raw materials are 40 per cent. Most of the raw materials are exempt from the wholesale tax so I cannot see how it should have a serious effect on the price of houses. It would not be a fraction of the £300 or £400 which someone suggested.
Mr. J. Brennan: I do not anticipate any such thing. There is not much competition in building because it is going well. There is not one unemployed skilled man in Ireland today. Thanks be to God it is that way. There was a time when there was emigration but today this increase should not have a serious effect on housing.
I do not think we should set out merely for the purpose of propaganda to frighten people about what this is going to mean in every field. There was a lot of criticism of our Trade Agreement with Britain. We cannot win so far as this Opposition are concerned. Whenever the British market is not going right we are told we are not giving enough attention to it and when it is going well we are told we should be looking for alternative markets because Britain would throw us in the ditch. We have no illusion about markets. No economist has come up with the perfect answer about markets for anything we export. You can plan your economy to the best of your ability.
You can estimate, plan, prepare, set certains targets, but you cannot plan the other fellow's economy. You cannot  plan the economy of the fellow to whom you are going to sell your goods and we sell two-thirds of what we export to Britain, As I said to somebody here to-day if a weaver in Donegal is selling his tweed at 24/- a yard in Britain and if the Government try to compel him to sell it in Japan at 11/-a yard he will not be too happy. In a free economy people sell in the market where they get the best price and those who say: “Why depend on the British market so much? Why not find alternative markets?” must surely know that the people who are producing goods sell them where they get the best price.
The Trade Agreement with Britain must not have been the dismal failure some people would like it to be shown as and it must have been well worth our while to come to the aid of our exporters when you consider that our exports to Britain have risen from £158.3 million to £215.9 million last year. This is a colossal figure and herein lies the greatest hope for our future expansion. All the economists, elementary or otherwise, will tell you we export or die and we are exporting, continually increasing the volume and value of our exports, even with competition becoming keener and keener. This is the greatest possible hope.
I thought the way Senator Garret FitzGerald slipped over that in his propaganda speech was beautiful. He said the Civil Service was running the country and the Government were not even pushing them and the Government were bereft of ideas and imagination. Of course we had an overwhelming increase in our economic growth this year but that was an accident, that just happened. Whenever anything good takes place it is an accident and whenever anything bad happens it is due to bad management by the Government. I suppose that sort of thing went down when we first got native Government 40 or 50 years ago but the people and the legislator have come a long way since and I think that old argument has worn thin. I also think the claim that other things could be done at no extra cost does not count any more and the people who go on making those statements are not enhancing their own chances for the future one bit.
Mr. J. Brennan: He is in favour of this sort of thing and everybody is to an extent. I did not say he marched but he has that sort of social outlook with regard to aggressive elements who want to protest about everything.
Mr. J. Brennan: Yes, this is becoming the modern thing all over the world. Indeed our people are only copying what they saw in Tokyo or somewhere else. However, I was at a debate in Jury's Hotel the other night. The different parties were represented there and the Professional Services Association. Senator O'Quigley was there and he made a very nice speech but virtually entirely propaganda. What he said was—and this is playing up to those people absolutely—Government of the people for the people and by the people is not something that takes place on one day and one day only. He meant election day. He said: “When we get into power this will be every day”. In other words they would be guided, and I think he spelt it out absolutely, that they would be guided by all the pressure sections who come along the pavement or knocking on the gates of the Dáil with particular reference to the farmers of course. Neil Blaney, the cruel Minister for Agriculture, is tramping on the farmers and not permitting them to have any dialogue. This was the sort of statement he made which does nothing but generate ill-feeling that does not really exist. I do not care who is the Government of this country in years to come——
Mr. J. Brennan: ——if they have regard for the preservation of democracy as we know it. I am Joe Brennan  but the Minister for Social Welfare is another thing and his job must be carried on in the best traditions of a decent democracy. I hope that no Minister at any time would abrogate his authority to anybody in the street. I think when the people go out in a democracy at election time and return a Government—and God knows there are short enough spells between elections—that Government should be the Government until the next election and not be swung from day to day by pressure groups. Who knows anyhow whether the 15 people who walk up to knock on your door or demonstrate on the street, decently or otherwise, are representative of the vast majority of the people? The best a government can do is take notice and use their own judgment as to where the case is just. It may only be a sectional case. Perhaps if you accede to it you will trample on other people in the country. A government has overall collective responsibility for all the community and for anybody to assert that they should be guided entirely by all these pressure groups, good, bad or indifferent, is merely playing up to every little weak spot in order to try to get support and don't we know that you can go too far with that sort of thing when you are merely trying to get to government.
Mr. J. Brennan: I have been in the Dáil for 18 or 19 years and during that time there were seven or eight elections. Each time an election was due across the House you could hear: “Go to the country” and we went to the country and we came back.
Mr. J. Brennan: If the people want to vote for you they will vote for you and if they do not they will not.  It is as simple as that. The people will make up their own minds. This thing of shouting “Go to the country” every time is no good. Stop talking about elections now and again and get down to business and go out and win an election for a change. Then we will know where we stand.
Mr. J. Brennan: I think I have covered some of the points. I did not attempt to cover all of them but I did want to have a bit of a whack at this propaganda racket. We are all human. I said I did not care who is the next government and somebody disagreed with me. I do care. We will do everything possible to ensure that we are the government again but if we are not we will not cry on the opposite benches. I sat on the Opposition benches before and I watched a sorrowful government sweltering for a few years.
Mr. J. Brennan: It did us no harm at all. In fact it only created a criterion by which we can compare what we did afterwards with what was done before. Out of 46 years, Fine Gael and Cumann na nGaedheal before them, were 16 years in power. We have not been all the time in government. There  were nice intermittent breaks to give the people a chance to see here and there the alternative.
Mr. J. Brennan: One thing I do not think anybody referred to and I thought it was unique. The mini-Budget and the motion of no confidence were debated, virtually, together. Simultaneously the Government announced the National Loan and it was oversubscribed. That was unique. I do not think a National Loan was ever announced in the Dáil during a no confidence motion or simultaneously with a supplementary Budget debate. In the midst of that, we announced a National Loan.
Mr. Brennan: That was something unique. I thought it was a demonstration, if demonstration were needed, that the man-in-the-street and the small investor as well as the large investor had absolute confidence in what we had just been doing and in the economy generally. There could not be any greater demonstration of faith in the action we took on the subject immediately under discussion. If the statements and gloomy forecasts made by the Senators here had any semblance in fact, that loan would not have been filled.
Mr. J. Brennan: We had not to take nearly as much as we hoped to get for public investment. We took less than we announced we were taking in order to ensure that the private investor would get his full share.
Mr. J. Brennan: By comparison with any loan ever raised it was an absolute success. As the Senator says, his Party supported the loan, as they always do but I think they were quite disappointed that it was successful.
Mr. J. Brennan: He was provoking me to a very important statement. I am here only as a representative of the Minister for Finance. I hope the House tolerated what I have said so far. I was certainly interested in listening to Senators giving their views. They certainly went over the whole spectrum of national policy and far beyond the things that I thought might have been mentioned. One might say I learned a lot. I also might say, without being derogatory—I learned nothing. I had hoped that I would see some things shown in a new light. There was merely a repetition of the debate we had in the Dáil, perhaps ranging over a wider field. A very eminent Churchman in this country recently said something about the absence of sincerity in public statements. Until we get to the stage where we can say exactly and sincerely what we believe to be true, I do not think the public will take the cognisance that they should of what we say. That applies particularly to the people who are struggling to become the alternative Government. Thank you.
Cole, John C.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Flanagan, Thomas P.
Honan, Dermot P.
Martin, James J.
Nash, John Joseph.
|Ó Conalláin, Dónall.
Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
Ryan, Patrick W.
Teehan, Patrick J.
Davidson, Mary F.
Murphy, Dominick F.
|O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Quinlan, Patrick M.
Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
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