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Economic Situation.

Thursday, 27 January 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 220 No. 3

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

That Dáil Éireann agrees generally [443] with the views and recommendations contained in the Report of the National Industrial Economic Council on the Economic Situation, 1965, which was laid before Dáil Éireann on the 24th November, 1965.

—(Minister for Finance.)

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin Taking one small aspect of the Government's record in relation to lower-paid workers employed by them and their failure over the years to make any real attempt to improve what they may now declare to be fringe benefits for the purposes of this debate, we find that fairly substantial fringe benefits have been enjoyed by the higher-paid members of Government staffs. This approach of the Government has been taken as a headline.

You will recollect that just before the recess there was the most embarrassing situation that employees of the Office of Public Works, whose ultimate boss is the Minister for Finance, had to resort to industrial action and Deputies attending Dáil Éireann had to do so on a number of occasions in certain conditions. I am not concerned with the problems of Deputies but with the approach of the Government, through the Minister for Finance, through the Parliamentary Secretary, an approach that has not been adopted by progressive employers up to this point in time.

It was hoped when the new Government came into office that there would be a change in the approach of the Office of Public Works to staff matters but the old position has prevailed that these matters go on the long finger. That is one small aspect which indicates how the Government approach the matters raised in this Report.

In the case of every report and recommendation made by the National Industrial Economic Council and the principles set down therein, eventually it will be a Government that must implement them. The record of the Government in these matters and their relationship with their own staffs and their views and their history in relation to workers generally must be taken into account when examining the situation.

[444] Deputy Lyons has repeated an incorrect statement which has been made on many occasions. I had hoped that by now his colleagues in the Fine Gael Party would have advised him as to the truth of the situation. The Deputy referred to 12 per cent given by the Government. What is the position? Towards the end of 1963, there was a clash between the Federated Union of Employers and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions as to the form in which agreement for a wage increase might be arrived at, having regard to the circumstances existing at that time, the increased cost of living, increased productivity, and the desirability of stability in regard to wages. A breakdown occurred. The Federated Union of Employers having resisted for a long time reached a point where they were prepared to think in terms of an adjustment of 10 per cent and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions considered that an adjustment in the neighbourhood of 14 per cent was necessary, taking into account the extent to which the cost of living had increased, the estimated increase which would occur in the cost of living following the decision of the Government to impose the 2½ per cent turnover tax and the assumption that in the nature of things there would be some further adjustment over a period. Both parties were asked to come together again to try to arrive at a settlement.

The Taoiseach must be given credit and is given credit for inviting both parties to get together again and see could they resolve the difficulty. The difficulty was resolved. Yet, ever since that time, for some reason or other—of course there is certain advantage taken of it in a political way at certain times—people talk in terms of the Government giving the workers 12 per cent. Deputy Lyons again today, in an area where people should know better, used the same terms.

We must examine the report on the economic situation and the motion before the House in relation to paragraph 50 of the Report, on page 38, which sets down what the Council considers an incomes policy to be. I quote:

By an incomes policy we mean a [445] policy which is concerned with the behaviour of all money incomes, i.e. wages and salaries, incomes of farmers and self-employed persons, professional earnings, rents, profits and realised capital gains—rather than a policy which focuses attention on particular components of the total such as wages or profits. Too often an incomes policy tends to be regarded as a wages policy. We repudiate, as inadequate and inequitable, any incomes policy which does not embrace all categories of money income.

We take it that the Minister for Finance, in moving the motion before the House, subscribes to the view expressed in that paragraph. One would not think so, however, if one were to judge by the contributions to this debate of the Minister and his Leader and other members of the Fianna Fáil Party. The tone of their speeches and of their argument is that wage and salary earners should be restricted with regard to claims for wage or salary increases and, further, that they should not negotiate fringe benefits, reduction in working hours, service pay, extension of sick pay or superannuation schemes. That would appear to be the reported views of both the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach.

Is that surprising? It need not be surprising to anyone in this House or to anyone outside who has observed over the years the attitude of Fianna Fáil in government. I emphasise “in government”, when they felt they were in a rather difficult financial position. They lost an election in 1947, on the very same grounds. At that stage they indicated clearly and definitely that they proposed interfering with the trade union movement and they intended, if they returned to power, to take over the job of looking after the workers' interests and the organisation of the workers, laying down rules and regulations which would be harmful to the trade union movement. They lost the election that time.

It is an extraordinary thing that every time a Fianna Fáil Government feel themselves faced with some, to them insoluble problem, the first thing they do is to strike at the very people [446] who have unfortunately supported them all down the years. Fianna Fáil is synonymous with wages standstill. There is nothing in this document about a wages standstill but the only interpretation to be taken from the Taoiseach's statements is that there will be a wages standstill. In November, 1965, the cost of living had increased by 10.5 as compared with November, 1963. What is the Government's approach to that? Three per cent is mentioned as a possible figure in relation to money incomes. I should like to know from the Minister, and so, I am sure, would everybody else, how he proposes to restrict the bankers, for instance, to three per cent. How does he propose to restrict the self-employed, the professional classes and the large farmers to three per cent? What steps has he in mind?

There is one thing the Government must do, that is, get their priorities right. At the moment many in the lower income bracket, agricultural workers and thousands of industrial workers, are earning around £10, or less, per week. The activities of the Government should be directed towards ensuring that something is given to these people. The Government have failed to do what is recommended in this document with regard to precautionary measures to be taken when there appears to be an unfavourable trend. This is something that has not arisen now for the first time. For many years, we, on these benches, have been insisting on the necessity to plan ahead, nationally and economically. For many years, our advocacy of such planning was laughed to scorn by the Taoiseach. I am afraid Deputy Dillon has now donned the mantle worn by the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach was always wedded to the profit motive; once that was secure, everything would be lovely in the garden; the carrot of profit was sufficient inducement; the land would flow with milk and honey. However, over the years the Taoiseach learned that a modern economy just does not operate in that way. He has learned that there is need to think in terms of the future. Deputy Dillon is, of course, the great individualist. I am afraid there are many [447] like him and many of them are in a position to exploit their fellow humans. I do not say that Deputy Dillon would knowingly exploit anybody, but his approach is that of an individualist— no necessity for economic or any other form of planning, no necessity for fiscal guidance. There are a great many who think like him. However, I think the day of laissez faire has gone.

It is pertinent to ask if the Government propose to think in terms of the future and of the view expressed here. We have a number of State-sponsored bodies, among them the Agricultural Institute. The responsible Minister is, of course, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. The Labour Court, a body set up by the Government to deal with industrial disputes, recommended that an agreement which had been made between the technician staff association and the Institute, an agreement which was about to be dishonoured, should be honoured and the operative date should be 1st October, 1965. The association sought 1st January, 1964, and the Institute sought 1st January, 1965. The interesting thing is that the day after the Institute formally acknowledged it was accepting the recommendation of the Labour Court in respect of the technician staff, it applied salary adjustments for its professional and administrative staff as from 1st April, 1964.

I am not one to criticise people in clerical or administrative grades for obtaining adequate salaries, but I understand that in relation to senior grades of staff in the Institute, not only did the Institute offer an earlier retrospective date but they offered a percentage increase on top of the 12 per cent, varying from 12 per cent to 22 per cent in the case of the professional staff and from nine per cent to 25 per cent in the case of the administrative staff. This decision must have been made by the council or perhaps by the Director-General of that organisation at the time when this Report was going to be discussed in Dáil Éireann. Whoever was concerned, possibly the Minister for Agriculture himself, was aware that this Report had been published in November, and [448] these proposals were made only within the past three weeks. Then the Taoiseach speaks here about a three per cent adjustment in wages.

It has become quite clear that the ordinary people of this country—by “ordinary people”, I mean those who have to work to earn their livelihood— are facing a conspiracy between this Government and the Federated Union of Employers. The Government say they do not intend to give their staffs any increase; they talk about a three per cent adjustment in the face of a 10.5 per cent increase in the cost of living. Let us remember that usually the spring is a period in which the cost of living increases more rapidly than at other times of the year. When the cost of living figure comes out for the period to mid-February, we may find that lower-paid workers are again subject to increasing hardship.

One knows that to apply compensation to wage and salary earners whose wages are around £10 a week—and there are many salary earners at that level—would require about ten per cent, but to apply an adjustment all round would require no more across the board, as far as wage and salary earners are concerned, than around seven per cent.

The Taoiseach is giving sustenance to the people who are responsible for the deepsea port of Dublin being closed today. Anyone who knows about the situation is aware that the dispute should be settled between the representatives of the workers and the representatives of the employers. They will not be let settle it, and I wonder, and lots of people are wondering if this direction is reinforced by the case made in the discussion on this incomes policy report by the Government spokesmen.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch Would the Deputy care to elaborate on that statement, that they will not be let settle the dispute?

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin I am expressing a thought aloud.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I thought it was a statement of fact the Deputy was making.

[449]Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin I am expressing a thought aloud. I have expressed statements of fact in relation to what the Government's attitude has been over the years in relation to wage adjustments at particular times. Some of the Fianna Fáil spokesmen were not over there but were on these benches when their stooges in every area were going around insisting that claims be put in for very substantial increases. I can state that from personal knowledge. I was present at many meetings around 1951 when claims without any relation to the facts were being pressed very strongly in every trade union and in every area by people who were known supporters of Fianna Fáil.

Mr. P. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan (South Tipperary): Fomented by them.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin They were not taking responsibility for government at that time. They were here. Maybe they will be here again, which might be good for lots of people. The Taoiseach goes further and talks about fringe benefits and reduction of working hours. He suggested we might interfere with the principle of collective bargaining. He is aware, and the Minister for Finance is aware, that there has been a particular attitude adopted by the Federated Union of Employers in the past few months. What control will the Government announce to this House that they have taken in regard to the fringe benefits of those who are not wage and salary earners? One of the problems in examining the question of an incomes policy is that of convincing workers on the shop floor, in the factory or in the office that an attempt is being made to control the managerial side of business, to control the incomes of directors and of other people who are more properly described than civil servants as faceless men.

Everybody would like to know whether the Government have any specific plans in regard to the control of such incomes. Anyone knows that above a certain level in industry, it is not announced what the salaries are, and nobody gives information as to how many directorships are held by individuals, what income they are getting and what free shares they are getting. Of course it is announced in [450] the newspapers when companies decide to issue bonus shares, a device they use for their own purposes. The people are insisting that the Government should start at the top in controlling incomes and that they should afford those in the lower grades the opportunity of getting an increase which will, to some extent, compensate for the rise in the cost of living.

In relation to the Government's lack of activity in this respect, we must examine their record over the years, during which the trade union movement and even some of the employers indicated it would be good for the economy to try to bring about stability of prices to stop the spiral of wages chasing prices. What was the attitude of Fianna Fáil spokesmen? It was that it could not be done, that it should not even be attempted. It has taken a long time to educate them in this respect. The principles enshrined in this Report may be agreed to by the trade union movement and generally, but the important thing is not to have just a set of principles but to take them and apply them. I doubt if any set of the principles set out here would be applied fairly and equitably, having regard to the record of the Government over the years in relation to wage adjustments.

Discussing labour costs here and in Britain in a previous debate, the Taoiseach used the term “lazy industrialists” or “lazy employers”. I wonder to what extent the labour figures as shown have been inflated by a number of such industrial undertakings. I believe a number of industrialists in this country have been sitting back and letting others do their work for them. We all know a certain section of industrialists have been inflating their administrative staffs with a consequential overburdening of overhead charges. There have been industrialists who have attempted to modernise, to re-equip themselves for the problems that lie ahead.

In such circumstances, one gets an unbalanced view when talking purely in terms of unit costs here as compared with those in Britain. Several matters have to be taken into consideration. In many cases unit costs are higher [451] here because of the fact that the industry concerned is smaller and less diversified than its counterpart in Britain or in Europe. All this brings us to the question of fringe benefits. Let us compare such benefits here with those in Britain and in Northern Ireland—longer holidays, shorter working hours. In Northern Ireland yesterday, bakery workers went on a five-day week, from Monday to Friday. In this part of the country, there was a dispute in that trade before Christmas and a five-day week was conceded but not from Monday to Friday to all engaged in the industry. When thinking of comparisons, does the Minister for Finance not realise that in any examination of unit costs here, the workers' side will always think in terms of such things as working hours of similar employees in Britain, Germany, France and other European countries, and of the holidays enjoyed by fellow-workers in those countries?

In this context there is also a comparison to be made in relation to the situation here vis-à-vis other countries where a worker happens to be unemployed. The Irish worker's lot is not at all a happy one by comparison with that of a worker in Northern Ireland, Britain, France, Germany, Holland and so on. We in the Labour Party submit there must be co-operative effort to deal with all these problems. This effort is called for because of the uneven approach of the Government to these problems over the years.

During the past two years, Deputies, particularly those who are members of local authorities, are aware that Ministers have been chasing county and city managers about building programmes which had been neglected during the years. Suddenly, in the past two years, Ministers decided to hurry things up, to expedite plans. Local authorities were suddenly asked to prepare plans for essential housing programmes. The local authorities did their utmost to churn out the plans and just when they had become geared to the task, there was a sudden falling off. How is it that the experts of the Department concerned or the Government were not able to [452] forecast the situation? In May, 1964, the Government could not get plans quickly enough for schools, for housing and other development. One local authority alone had plans for urgent development to the tune of over £1 million. Then, the Minister said: “No, we cannot do anything about it. We must look at the capital programme again.”

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The general election was over.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin One local authority had entered into commitments to the extent of £10 million in one phase of activity but there was no money left, and we now have the situation when building contractors who over the years established plant and organisation are dismantling them because they do not see any possibility of getting any contracts. If this Government had not been in power for so long, if they had come to office as recently as, say, 1962 and had not the knowledge or experience, there would be some excuse for them. This Government have been in power for a very long time. Before the general election in 1965, we had Ministers who had been there for a very long time. They were getting a bit old, grey and tired. After the election, we had the Taoiseach who is an expert in matters of industry and commerce and we had some Ministers who were new and keen. We thought we would have no problem there.

The Report of the NIEC has been used mainly, as far as I can see, as a deliberate device by the Government to introduce a wages policy. They have not said clearly, and I repeat this, what they propose to do with the people who do not come into a wage and salary bracket. They must propose to do something. Today we read that the price of wheat has been increased by 10/- a barrel. Does that mean that this is a restriction of three per cent on the growers of wheat? It does not appear to me that there is a restriction on the growers of wheat to three per cent. They have been given an increase of 10/- a barrel. I do not know what the value of it was. I understand the National Farmers Association made a representation for that amount.

[453]Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The price was 84/-a barrel and it is now 94/-.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin The Government have said to the civil servants that they do not propose giving them any increase because they do not think the time is opportune. Maybe the people in the middle income bracket, whether they are civil servants, clerical workers, farmers or somebody else can do with the three per cent at this particular time. The people who are relatively well off are naturally in a stronger position in any particular time of difficulty. Those who rely on their week's wages on their week's or fortnight's salary to provide them with the basic necessaries of life are the worst hit in time of difficulty.

We were told that the average earnings of an industrial worker are around £14 a week. This figure was referred to in the case of the earnings of industrial workers going in excess of the 12 per cent. I think this reference was made by the Taoiseach yesterday. That attitude, in my opinion, is not the correct one because the earnings for this purpose include the result of contributions to those workers to increase productivity. In recent years there has been an extension of incentive schemes to workers to increase productivity. Their earnings take in overtime earnings, earnings on Saturdays or Sundays. Surely, in this year of 1966, it should be realised that workers must be paid adequately for work on Saturday and Sunday and that this type of information should not be used. We know that it is making a statistical exercise of the same situation. This may have been all right in 1963, 1962 or 1961. We are concerned at the moment with the indication which the Government have given that they are opposed to any increase in excess of three per cent. It is not clear, at this stage, how they hope to maintain that situation, and whether they hope for collusion with the Federated Union of Employers and others to enable them to adopt that attitude.

There is a real threat in the Taoiseach's statement that the Government may be thinking of some form of wage restraint. It is imperative, in my [454] opinion, before the Government give any thought to such a line of approach, which would be resisted, that they should take steps to ensure that other sections of the community, whose incomes are not readily ascertainable at the moment and who do not conform to the income tax regulations with regard to their income, will also come under this restraint. I do not know how the Government can control increases in those sectors to three per cent.

I want to conclude on this note. I do not think anybody has seriously challenged the general views and the general principles set down in the NIEC Report. The statistics are there. There is a certain interpretation being given to some of them. The issue is not just this motion before us, in the name of the Minister for Finance, but how any proposed incomes policy, as adumbrated in this Report, will be applied, or can be applied, in the circumstances of our economy. There is one thing the members of this Party are completely opposed to, that is, any suggestion of the application of a wages policy in isolation, even supposing the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Taoiseach were all prepared to work out a scheme to bring the people who are not normally covered, that is, the self-employed and others, under their control.

There are problems even in the field of normal wages and salaries. At a particular point in time it may well be that the workers voluntarily will not press for an increase in excess of what they think would be a reasonable amount, but there are so many changes taking place in industry, in clerical and in technical employment, that there must be this freedom to negotiate, to have collective bargaining, collective negotiation, collective discussions, and to reach a collective agreement arising from these changes. If the industry of this country is to develop, these changes will continue, and possibly grow faster. If, in those circumstances, the workers have to be trained to undertake tasks with which they are not familiar, and trained to engage in operations which require greater skill, [455] their representatives must be free to negotiate adequate compensation for the added responsibility they will take on.

There can be problems even within a single industry where there may be a number of units. One unit may be efficient, and it may be successful in a selling campaign or in production. As a result it may become more profitable. Workers in that unit will naturally seek to share in the productivity to which they have contributed. Even in the one industry there may be different levels of take-home pay.

The Taoiseach referred to the fixing of conditions of work. There are a number of sections—the joint industrial councils, the joint labour committees—operating at present under the aegis of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to fix minimum conditions. For too many these seem to be also maximum conditions. The Taoiseach is not reported as fixing minimum conditions of work. He is not reported as saying he is thinking in terms of fixing minimum wages. The Taoiseach is reported as urging “fixing conditions of work”.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch A “code of fair employment” is the term he used.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin This is the Taoiseach's paper and if they put up a headline, “Taoiseach urges fixing of conditions of work”——

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch It is a headline.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully We will admit the Irish Press does not always get the drift of what is meant.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I do not know whether it does or not, but I was here and the term the Taoiseach used was “code of fair employment”.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin We know what is underneath it: “...under the auspices of the Labour Court, codes of fair employment for each occupation, which would cover all aspects of working conditions other than wages and would be subject to periodic reconsideration in the light of economic and technical changes”.

[456]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch That is the point I was making.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin There are 17 joint labour committees and they have already provided for minimum rates of wages, minimum hours of work, overtime payments, etc., and so forth. The weakness is that too many employers consider that the word “minimum” and the word “maximum” mean the same thing.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully “Minimum” means “standard”.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin Consequently, they delay in adjusting to the changes taking place in our economy. They are almost as bad as the Board of Works. There are joint industrial councils which operate under the aegis of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and they prescribe by agreement rates of wages, hours of work, holidays, etc.

I have said that it may well be that in one industry, although there are minimum requirements in some units, because of their operations, because of their advantages in having more efficient machinery, because of their organisation being better or their sales force being more expert, other units are able to achieve something beyond the minimum. In circumstances where the workers have contributed substantially to productivity, is the Taoiseach suggesting that they will not get their share? Why should they not? There is a difficulty in relation to this type of proposal when it is read against the background of the statements made by the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach, that in present circumstances three per cent is the maximum. I presume the Minister means three per cent for everyone, including the self-employed, the company directors, and the shareholders. Deputy Dillon and Deputy Cluskey dealt adequately with the bankers yesterday.

The Taoiseach referred to the question of fringe benefits. It appears to me that the only thing that can be read into this statement—and I am sure this particular paper would not print it unless it was satisfied it was adequately reporting the Taoiseach's views—is that we will have a levelling [457] and that the levelling shall be down. I concentrated my remarks not so much on the information contained in this very valuable Report, not so much on some of the general principles to which we can all subscribe, but on the difficulty of applying those recommendations. It would be difficult enough in circumstances in which the Government's approach to wages and salaries was clear-cut but it is more difficult in our existing situation.

The suggestion is that workers will not be entitled to seek or secure compensation for increase in the cost of living, not a little of which has resulted from the decisions of the Government, their actions and their failure to apply a brake at the correct time. In 1965, they brought in a Prices Bill but why did they not do something in February, 1964? It was anticipated then that portion of the 12 per cent increase would be to cover expected increases in the cost of living, possibly at about two per cent, and this was intended to give the workers a breathing space. However, the Government were satisfied purely to take the political credit for the negotiations between the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the FUE and other employers' organisations.

In the early part of 1964 they did not say: “We have reached the point at which there is some stability and we should do something about maintaining it.” In these circumstances, discussion on this Report is to some extent unreal because while we are discussing it in here, there are thousands and thousands of workers outside who require a cost of living adjustment without delay in their wages and salaries.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange We welcome the belated efforts of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance to inform the Dáil of the present state of our economy. The Taoiseach admitted that it was in a serious state. For the past few months, we have been asking that the Dáil be informed of the position but instead the Taoiseach and various Ministers attended dinners, lectured the people, and evaded their responsibility. It is only in the past few days that they have come here [458] and told the people what they claim to be the truth. I hope the people have been told the truth and that nothing has been kept from them. Personally, I have my doubts because I think this Government for many years have been trying to by-pass this House. No later than yesterday I asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries a question about tillage and he told me that he hoped to make an announcement on the matter almost immediately. I want to protest in the strongest possible manner against the attitude of the Minister in bypassing Parliament and refusing to give vital information to Deputies. In today's paper we read that yesterday the Minister spoke at an agricultural committee of Fianna Fáil. They do not say at what time, nor is it stated where the meeting was held, but the information I have is that the statement was made before he answered my question here in the House. I should like the Minister for Finance, or the Minister for Agriculture, to deny that statement but that is the information I have.

As far as this Government are concerned, politics is no longer the art of governing the people but an exercise in the avoidance of responsibility. For them, Parliament has become a place not where problems are faced or where questions are answered, but where they are circumvented. The present is no time for evasion because we are going through —the Taoiseach has at last informed us—a crisis and it is time for co-operation. The Government should stretch out their hands and ask for the help of all. There is a constructive Opposition whose Leader has pledged his support. It is a time when every body should be taken into the confidence of the Government and people should be told the truth. If we are to have happenings such as yesterday's happening in the case of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries it will be very difficult to get the full co-operation of the people on this side of the House.

England had her difficulties and Churchill brought the country through, with the promise of blood, sweat and tears. Yesterday the Taoiseach said that there might be 100,000 unemployed [459] here, despite the fact that in November he promised that there would not be 90,000 or 100,000 unemployed as there were at one time. There may be unemployment facing the people and there may be blood, sweat and tears, but it would be much better for the Government if the people were told the truth. There is no point in telling the county councils that money and grants are available when we all know that money and grants cannot be obtained for those unfortunate people who are planning to get married and build houses. There is no use in the Minister for Education telling us, as he did yesterday, that there is money to build schools, when I know, as a member of a committee in Mullingar, that we had prepared the contract for a school, the Minister had given sanction and it had been advertised and then the axe fell. There is no point in the Government promising pie in the sky; they must come down to hard reality. They should remember that there are reasonable people in the country, in the trade unions, in the FUE and in this House, and if they all come together, the difficulties facing us can be surmounted by joint effort. If the Government continue as at present, then the ship of State will go down with that famous slogan “Lemass Leads On”.

It is appropriate to ask what has produced this situation. There is only one answer: the deliberate inflationary policy which the Government have pursued for the past five or six years. It seems that the Government were determined to pursue an openly inflationary policy. The evils that would ensue from such a policy were pointed out from this side of the House by people such as Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy Dillon, Deputy T. F. O'Higgins and many others. The Government were warned on numerous occasions but they did not heed the warning. They continued on their merry way with their heads in the air and their feet off the ground. We see where that has brought us today. It might be no harm to quote the Irish Independent of 31st October, 1964, when Deputy Dillon [460] was Leader of the Fine Gael Party. He pointed out:

The present economic situation of this country is highly critical. As I pointed out to the Government in the Adjournment Debate in Dáil Éireann on July 1st, the inflationary trends in Great Britain could not long continue after their general election, and that the post-election period in Great Britain would create new and formidable problems for this country.

He continued:

Our Government have apparently been taken by surprise by these developments and they are entitled to a reasonable time to demonstrate what steps they propose to take to meet the new situation, but if, as I suspect, they have no plans to deal with what can only be described as the crisis which now confronts the country, it is high time for them to get out.

They were warned at that time but they heeded not the warning. It is the Government's duty to govern, control the economy and balance all factors, one against the other. They are the people who should know the facts. It is their duty to avoid a succession of booms and slumps. They have failed to do their duty. They took a gambler's chance on our gaining admission to the Common Market to cover up their faults and failures. They failed in that. They have made an Agreement which I believe is bad for the country. However, I will not discuss it now because we discussed it for a long period. They think if they have enough propaganda about that in the Irish Press and on Radio and Telefís Éireann, if they promise the people pie in the sky in future, they will keep their minds and thoughts off the pressing problems confronting them at present.

We know things are bad today. We are all agreed we must try to find a solution to the industrial disputes which, if allowed to continue, will strangle the economic life of the country. I believe a period of stability and harmony is needed if we are to survive this crisis and achieve our [461] targets, social and economic. We must all, if possible, try to work harder. The lead must come from the top, even from the people here in Leinster House, from Ministers and Deputies, from management and everybody else. It is true to say that in this country a large number of our managers in industry and those in other important positions do not pull their weight. Many of them are too fond of the coffee bars and the golf courses. I know from experience that people in high responsible positions are not to be found in their offices when they should be there; they are to be found in other places. If you go to Europe and inquire, you will be told the managers of factories are in at 7 o'clock in the morning. They open their correspondence and are ready to meet their workers and show an example. That is not happening in this country. Those people should pull up their socks and give an example. It is necessary for everybody to work harder to safeguard their own jobs and to produce a bigger national cake.

The bald truth today is that we are pricing ourselves out of the market. If this continues, our industrialists will not be able to hold their own even on the home market when tariffs are reduced. If it continues, it is definitely the road to economic disaster. It is time the people were told the truth. Let us all try to get together and save the nation. The Government should give the lead, but unfortunately, they are not doing so. The more we look at the sad history of this country for the past few years, the more we realise that the Government are responding rather to every wind that blows. They gave labour its head when labour was restive in the past. We remember—I do not want to go into it—the position with the ESB in 1961 before the general election. They took the employers' side when the employers were worried. They came to the succour of every sectional interest, including the £4 million status increase to the civil servants, and let the rest of the country go hang. The result we see all around us today.

There is an obligation on every political Party who seeks office to tell [462] the people the truth, not to mislead them and fool them. There is an obligation to tell the people how the Government are using the powers entrusted to them. The financial crisis with all its evil effects which is now upon us but which the Taoiseach, the former Minister for Finance, Dr. Ryan, and other members of the Government so falsely denied before the general election, is now revealed and accepted by all. We know the Government knew about it over a year ago. They were warned by Deputy Dillon over 15 months ago, but they took no action. We know that Britain has had her difficulties for the past year or so. But they were perhaps due to her huge commitments abroad. The majority of our difficulties here are of the Government's own making. These difficulties are taking place not at a time as in 1956 when cattle prices were £4 per cwt, but at a time when in 1964 cattle exports reached an all-time high record and in 1965 when cattle were selling at from £7 to £8 per cwt—double the price in 1956.

We must try to trace the reasons for the present mess. The roots of the economic distress and industrial unrest go back to February, 1963. In February, 1963 the Government issued the White Paper Closing the Gap. Its purpose was to underline the danger of living beyond our means. Our people were told they were spending too much. It was clear we could not maintain that level unless we earned more abroad. Accordingly, the White Paper urged. Departments, State-sponsored organisations, trade unions and others, to make no demands for higher wages until we increased production. The White Paper evoked a reasonable response from employers, workers, trade unions and all concerned.

Until the autumn of 1963, we had stability here. Wage demands were few and strikes were fewer still. Then the Government introduced their iniquitous turnover tax, a new tax imposed for the first time in the history of the country on bread, butter, tea, sugar, meat, fuel, clothes and all the necessaries of life. Fine Gael, including Deputy Dillon, Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy T. F. O'Higgins and others, [463] pointed out at that time the bad effect of this ill-conceived policy, how a tax on the necessaries of life was bound to increase the cost of living. They pointed out that this would again fan the flames of inflation with all its harmful effects and that it could do irreparable harm to the national economy. Unfortunately, all our forecasts have been proved right. There was a sudden jump in prices. The Government did nothing about it—they allowed prices to rise and rise without murmur or protest. The cost of living began to increase. While the Government were calling for restraint, the worker's pay packet was not going as far as before.

Fianna Fáil speakers argued at that time that the turnover tax would have only a minimal effect on prices, that it would mean only two and a half per cent or less. They even went so far as to say that, with increased competition, the majority of merchants would absorb it and that very few of them would pass it on. Were Fianna Fáil so innocent as to believe that a policy of restraint could be maintained in the new conditions of higher prices which Fianna Fáil themselves had created? It was a major tactical error from the start right up to the present chaos and the present economic crisis which confronts each and every one of us in this country.

Remember, the next move was a clever political move by the Government and by the Leader of the Government. This move was called “Closing the Gap”. The death of two Teachtaí Dála very suddenly closed the gap. The Taoiseach changed horses in midstream. He took out his pen and wrote a letter. The gap between spending and income had somehow suddenly and mysteriously been closed. He quoted figures to show how the gap had been closed so quickly. No Minister has quoted any figures since. Not even the Minister for Transport and Power, who is so fond of quoting figures throughout the length and breadth of this country, has told us. Neither has any member of the Fianna Fáil Party told us how that gap was closed. The Taoiseach simply wiped out the picture [464] he painted throughout the years and drew a a grand new one in Fianna Fáil optimistic colours. So we had the famous 12 per cent as a bribe to the electorate of Cork and Kildare in order to win two by-elections. A sum of £40 million was injected into the economy to win those two by-elections. The Government may now say that they were not responsible but I was in Kildare at that time, and I know that their canvassers went from place to place throughout the country saying, in effect: “The Government got this increase for you. If you vote against them, you may not get it. Keep them in office and you will get your increase of 12 per cent”—and they claimed credit, and unfortunately got credit, for it at the time.

Having won the two by-elections, the Taoiseach switched horses again and proceeded to sound dire warnings throughout the spring and summer of 1964. He said that the 12 per cent was more than they should have given. He was now back again, backing the employers' point of view. Even some Government Ministers said that eight or nine per cent was all the economy could bear. The Taoiseach said we had taken out a mortgage on the future, that productivity and exports would have to go up to cover it and that there must be no more wage demands. The argument may have been valid from statistics but it was not in accordance with what the Taoiseach and his Government had been saying before the Cork and Kildare by-elections. Once more the Taoiseach was contradicting himself, but what about it or what about the country: he had won the two by-elections and Fianna Fáil and their followers were still in the saddle. The circus continued. The people saw through the Government and their broken promises and Fianna Fáil lost Roscommon to Deputy Mrs. Burke and East Galway to Deputy Donnellan and mid-Cork to Deputy Mrs. Desmond.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch And won the general election.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange I shall deal with that in my own good way and in my own good time. Not only did Fianna Fáil keep the truth from the people at [465] that time but they knew a crisis was coming: they failed to tell the people the truth at that time. The economic crisis then began to get worse. The Fianna Fáil Party knew the full facts about the state of the economy and knew that an economic recession was about to come upon us. They knew that things would get worse. Fianna Fáil were the only people who had the facts. They knew the situation. Therefore, the Taoiseach, ably supported I presume, by each and every one of you, called a general election. Fianna Fáil did that because they knew that if they remained in office much longer, they would not be able to keep the truth from the people. Their idea was to have a general election, to be returned to office, and to try to straighten out things in the ensuing four or five years. The Fianna Fáil attitude was that if Fine Gael were returned to office, they would blame Fine Gael for the economic crisis which was about to break upon us and in that way they would try to ensure that the Party on this side of the House would never achieve office again. We should thank God we did not get into office last April. It is much better to leave Fianna Fáil to stew in their own juice and to wallow in their own mess, and to get out of it as quickly as they possibly can.

When the general election was called, of course the Fianna Fáil Party again changed horses. They again wiped out the picture they had been painting up to then and painted a completely different picture which shows that Fianna Fáil are prepared to stoop to anything to cling to power in this country. Let us bring our minds back to last January and February. Overnight, the country became more prosperous. Banks started to give out the money. The Agricultural Credit Corporation gave out money freely even to buy a Mercedes car. It was preached at the crossroads, on the radio and on television and in innumerable speeches by the Taoiseach and by the Government. It might be no harm for the House to hear what our Taoiseach said in a special message on the eve of the general election last April:

[466] Before you vote, look around you —look at what has happened or is happening in your city, town or county, and then decide. It is your own future, as well as the future of the country, which depends on your decisions.

The main task of the next five years is to maintain the momentum of the country's economic progress which has now been built up.

If it has been built up, then it must have been on shaky foundations. The message continues.

It is only by this means that the nation can get the additional resources it needs to fulfil its social purposes—in Social Welfare, Housing, Health, Education, and so on.

We know that the axe has fallen on Health and Education and Housing since those promises were made to the people. Let me continue to quote from the Taoiseach's message on that occasion:

Everything depends on the country's agricultural and industrial production continuously increasing as it now is. I urge you not to allow your attention to be diverted from this central and fundamental fact.

Our national production is going up now, as never before in our history.

He then referred to the situation that might arise on a change of Government. He suggested we might go back to a period in our economy such as that which prevailed in 1956. He said that that must not happen again and that he doubted if this country could pull itself out of such a situation a second time. We know we are now in a worse situation than the one in which we were in 1956.

The Taoiseach ended his message with these words:

Our country can now face a future that is steadily becoming brighter. All our national aims are now within our reach. This is not a time to stop or to falter, much less to turn back.

Who is stopping now? Who is faltering? Is it not the man who wrote that message to the Irish people? Under [467] Fianna Fáil, the country is stopping, faltering, turning back and, according to the Taoiseach's words, unless there is a change, we shall shortly have 100,000 people unemployed. He did not tell us that at the time but Fianna Fáil knew it and so did Ministers at that time—I am not saying the present Minister knew it because he might not have had the facts. They knew this crisis was upon us. They wanted a snap election and another four years during which time they hoped to be able to right things or to let the Opposition take over the reins of government and then accuse the Opposition of being responsible for the sorry situation.

He told us everything depended on the country's agricultural production continuously increasing. Since he made those statements, there has been even a further decline in tillage acreage. This from Fianna Fáil, and we were supposed to be the ranchers. This is what they brought. We know now that there has been a decline in the tillage acreage and it shows a wasting economy stricken with pernicious anaemia. But even the Golden Boy cannot make things hum in his own Department. There used to be a legendary king called Midas and everything he touched was supposed to turn to gold. Unfortunately, for the people of this country, it does not seem to be the case today, when everything the Golden Boy touches seems to turn sour.

The Minister for Finance said: “We won the election.” They won it because they knew there was a crisis on top of us and, by radio, television and newspapers, succeeded in getting their own propaganda across to the people throughout the length and breadth of this country. It might be no harm to quote from a full page advertisement on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party in the Sunday Press of 4th April, 1965. One read in huge type:

This is No Time for a Change!

But, what a change since Fianna Fáil returned to office! Reading on, one found this:

Does it make sense to exchange the [468] Fianna Fáil programme—which is working successfully now—for a leap into the past with Fine Gael, Labour or a Coalition?

Then came this:

Our recent prosperity is not yet strong enough to withstand the shock of a change of government.

Now, they and their people tell us it was not even strong enough to withstand another three or four months of Fianna Fáil Government because, in July, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance were warning us that we were heading towards an economic crisis. Then, in the same advertisement, we had those beautiful appropriate lines:

In this crucial general election you must ensure that Fianna Fáil is enabled to carry on with a working majority, so that the economy is given a chance to continue expanding without confusion, delay and indecision.

What has happened since? As I said, the Taoiseach knew the crisis was upon us then. They told us they wanted to continue on in Government so that the economy would be given a chance to continue expanding without confusion, delay and indecision. But what have we today in this country? We have confusion, we have delay and we have indecision. And how neat and nice to continue expanding that confusion, delay and indecision today with the extra 10,000 unemployed in the last month and the people in Mullingar, Athlone, Dublin, Cork, Waterford and throughout the length and breadth of this country who cannot get grants for houses to carry on with the work they should be doing.

But the last sentence of that Fianna Fáil pre-election full page advertisement in the Sunday Press of the 4th April, 1965 read:

The best is yet to come.

In fact, of course, it should have read:

“The worst has yet to come” because the Taoiseach, or the Minister, when they were putting in that advertisment at that time knew themselves that the worst had yet to come. But such is the regard for the sacredness of the [469] truth, such is the degree of the development of the art of calculated deception in the public life of this country today. It is all right for the Minister to say they won the election. That is why they won the election because at that time, with his 12 per cent in his pocket and when prices had still to catch up with him, the Fianna Fáil message, perhaps, did sound reasonable enough to the man in the street. With their vast propaganda machinery, with the hundreds of thousands they were able to get from people throughout the length and breadth of the country and the money poured into the election, Fianna Fáil were returned to power. They are now the big man's Party, industrialists subscribe generously to them, and all that helped to get them back into power.

The Taoiseach, then safely back in the saddle, changes horses again and wipes out the picture he had been drawing for the general election. He draws a brand new picture in pessimistic colours but, once more, the Taoiseach is contradicting himself. But what of it? He is back in power again and Fianna Fáil and their friends are still enjoying the fruits of office. In July he warns us that things are bad. The election is over now, and we have stringent price control, we have new restrictions on credit, with more to come this year, due to the bad government and economic policy pursued by Fianna Fáil over the last three or four years. We have a record adverse trade balance of £146 million in 1965. Record taxes of over £225 million to £230 million have been collected from the people of this country this year and, if what we hear and read in the newspapers is correct, that may be increased to £250 million in the year ahead. Millions extra are being taken from the people this year in rates. I think over £30 million has been taken in rates, and our national debt stands at an all-time high record of, I think, approximately £240 million at the present time. The cost of living, due to the economic policy of the Government, stands at an all-time high record of 181 points and emigration has been increasing since 1956.

According to the figures in this [470] Report, as have been quoted by Deputy Ryan, the emigration figures for 1964 are double those for 1961 or 1962. Remember—and I quote from the Irish Press of the 28th October, 1965— there are 158,100 fewer people in employment in 1964 than there were in 1951. That is what Fianna Fáil economic policy has got for us so far. I know there are, perhaps, a great many difficulties to be faced before we can arrive at a workable incomes policy. There is the attitude of both the unions and the employers but, in this country at the present time, the Government are very lucky in that regard because the representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, those nominated by the Federated Union of Employers, those nominated by the other employer organisations, those nominated by the State bodies and those nominated by the Federation of Irish Industries Ltd., who have endorsed this NIEC Report seem to be in favour of an incomes policy. I suppose there are more who will still object and claim that it is restricting their usual freedom of action, but, at the same time, I want to say that the system which has served us so well in the past may not still be the best system.

All these things are debatable. The system that has served us well in the past may not be the best system in present circumstances. It is true that perhaps without this system in the past workers would not have achieved a just wage or what they have at the present. That does not mean we should allow the system to remain without modification. In present circumstances its operation may be against the common good. Neither does it mean that modification of the system can be left to the parties concerned. If the general economic good is involved the Government have a right to interfere to bring all concerned together. They are all rational people, and nearly all Irish men and women. They have the future of the country at heart and if they get together there is no reason why they could not hammer out an incomes policy which would be fair and just to all. That is what we all want.

[471] I said earlier that there is a responsible Opposition in the country. The Government have not held out the hand of friendship nor have they asked for support and co-operation as they should have done. We remember the political capital Fianna Fáil made of the 1956 crisis which, unlike the present one, was not of our making but was due, first of all, to financial and economic upsets in Britain which had adverse repercussions on our economy. Secondly, it was due to the rise in the bank rate in England and the consequent difficulty experienced by the Government at that time in procuring capital. Thirdly, it was due to the dispute in the summer of that year concerning the taking over by Egypt of the Suez Canal. Fourthly, it was due to the dumping of Argentine cattle on the British market depressing the prices of Irish cattle which were reduced to £4 or £5 per cwt. Fifthly, it was due to dislocation of business and industry caused by the blockade in 1956 of the Suez Canal and military operations in Egypt which resulted in increased petrol prices and some garages had to lay off workers, thus increasing unemployment. There was also the threat of world war.

The actions which the Government of the day took were supported in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil—I want to say that—and the only criticism then was that the measures taken were inadequate and ineffective. The Taoiseach said that they were too little and too late. This criticism has now proved to be groundless. But while giving lip service in the Dáil to these measures which the national situation required, Fianna Fáil began to reap the political benefits from their operation. The Party were divided into two groups and their line was to agree in the Dáil that imports must be reduced and that expenditure must be decreased and severe measures put into operation. That group boasted that they had supported the Government in this national crisis but the other group was down the country keeping up a constant barrage of criticism of the Government for the inevitable consequences of the actions which the Fianna Fáil Party agreed [472] were necessary and had supported in the Dáil.

Later, at the hustings in 1957 the Taoiseach, who had himself been one of those who agreed in the unanimous approval of these measures in the Dáil, committed himself to this proposition: “I tell you, with all the responsibility of one who has been a Minister for 19 years, that there is no need for these restrictions.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Perhaps the Deputy would give the reference.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Unfortunately, I have not got it but I can get it. It was said in a speech in the general election of 1957.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch The Deputy has so many of them he could not possibly get this reference.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange I think I have the reference for every other quotation but not this particular one. In any case, the Taoiseach said it and it has been quoted umpteen times. I wonder would the Taoiseach now, after 28 years as a Minister, and an older and a wiser man, tell us there was no need for these restrictions then and that there is no need for them now. I doubt if he would. During the past three years the economic and financial fabric of the State has been subject to forces, stresses and strains which threaten, unless drastic, immediate steps are taken, to cause irreparable damage to the economy of the country. That has been pointed out by the members of this Party. The Government did not heed the warnings and that is why we are in the plight in which we are today.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): We have heard quite a lot of talk in the past two days about this Report. I wonder have we really got anything very constructive from the Opposition Benches? We are in a very difficult position but I hope we shall get the co-operation and help of every Member of the House to tide us over these temporary difficulties. This Party have always shown a clear policy and been honest with the people as regards [473] the best method of managing affairs. What constructive ideas have the Opposition Parties put forward to help industrialists, trade unionists, farmers and other sections of the community and to give them encouragement to carry on for this short period of difficulty that we are now experiencing?

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins On a point of order, would the Deputy excuse me? I understand the position to be that this debate must conclude at 5 o'clock?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne No, surely not.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Only three days were allowed for it and the motion must be taken before 5 o'clock.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I have not any information on that but I had hoped it would conclude today.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins I think that is the order of the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin That would be a matter for agreement between the Parties.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave I think it was agreed.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne My information from our Whip is that this debate goes on as long as Deputies want to speak in it. Whatever the Government may do about it is another matter. There is no agreement to finish today.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch It seems that it has been given enough time now.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It is the future of the country we are discussing.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch This is one day I could have used more profitably elsewhere, I can assure the House.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): I must entirely endorse the remarks of the Minister. We have spent three days discussing the motion which we could have spent much more usefully in helping the economy. Various Deputies have spoken for two and three hours. What the majority of them said I, as a new Deputy, could have said in five minutes.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The Deputy was not in the House.

[474]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): I was in the House long enough to know the type of material put forward in criticism of this document. In this city alone today there is industrial strife which will require the best guidance from trade unions and management to resolve. That is a matter on which we should occupy our time rather than in reviewing past history since 1922. We can all admire the past achievements of our predecessors. We never fail to appreciate their efforts. Today there is a problem facing us which is far more real for us than the history of the past 40 years. The question of labour-management relationship must play an important part in the formation of our economy. Deputies should interest themselves in that matter rather than in reminiscing, as Deputy L'Estrange did. He tried to quote facts that he was not sure about.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Either they are facts or they are not.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): He had no proper reference.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Only in regard to one statement and it is a fact.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): That occurred in the short time I was in the House. I do not know how many times it occurred before that.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The reference can be given for that.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): We should sincerely interest ourselves in the matter as to how best our economic problems can be solved and good labour-management relations established. It is on the basis of good labour-management relations that the economy must be founded. There has been a good deal of criticism expressed in the House of the Free Trade Agreement that was negotiated before Christmas. There need be no fear if good labour-management relations can be established.

In this city at the moment there is a strike which is causing untold hardship to many unfortunate people. It is not necessary for me to be specific. [475] We have had reports that various carassembly firms have dismissed 400 and 200 workers. We should explore every possibility of securing a settlement in this matter. In my constituency, Dublin South Central, there is untold hardship being created by this trade dispute. I hope the Congress of Trade Unions and the employers particularly concerned in this matter can find some basis for a peaceful settlement.

Unfortunately, the industrial unrest is not confined to this instance. It seems to be general. I do not know the reason for it. It is a highly complicated matter. For the sake of the country, so that the various economic and housing programmes which this Government have in mind can be implemented, every effort should be made to arrive at a peaceful solution to this matter.

It is difficult to understand the basis for the criticism expressed by various members of the Opposition of this programme. Having regard to the expansion of the economy in the past two or three years, it is a programme of which we can be justly proud. The Government have a record in regard to their policies for every sector of the community, the farming community and the industrial community, of which they can be justly proud. I am sure Deputy Dunne will agree that in Dublin there is evidence of economic expansion.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Particularly in the car-assembly industry.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): The industry of which Deputy Dunne speaks is suffering from a temporary recession due to the strike to which I have referred.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): I do not think the Taoiseach ever made that admission.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin South Central): I do not think the Taoiseach ever made that admission.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange He did, on television.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch He did not—nonsense. [476] Has the Deputy got a reference to the television programme, by any chance?

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Tape recorder.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling What about the chassis factory in Inchicore?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): As my friend Deputy Dowling reminds me, we on this side can remember the abolition by the inter-Party Government of the chassis factory in Inchicore. I will leave that as a monument to the bad policy adopted by the inter-Party Government, which created an unlimited amount of unemployment in the district of Inchicore at that time.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Ask Deputy Dowling about Spa Road and what goes on there?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy Fitzpatrick might be allowed to conclude. He has only a few minutes left.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Nobody wants to interrupt. He is being prompted by Deputy Dowling to invite interruptions.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange What about the time Fianna Fáil sold the land reclamation machinery?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): This is the type of criticism we have listened to in this House for the past few days and also during the debate on the Free Trade Agreement. I am comparatively new to this House. I was appalled when I first entered it but I suppose one gets used to anything.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne You might not have to.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Are your colleagues as bad as all that?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne There is an alternative.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling It is bad enough at times having to listen.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The remedy is quite simple: just resign.

[477]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch We have experience of the alternatives.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins There are such things as compulsory retirements.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): I would expect that Members of the House would play their part in this very important matter. We are not here for comedy or pantomime. This is a very serious business. This House has the same obligation as rests on the management of any business. There is delegated to it the authority to run the business of the country. We should act in a responsible manner and carry out that duty.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange What did the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Haughey, do yesterday?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy L'Estrange spoke at length and should allow Deputy Fitzpatrick to speak.

[478]Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange He would not answer a question in the House. Then he talks about responsibility.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): We should take our responsibilities seriously.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange He did not.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): Deputies should not waste valuable time reminiscing and reviewing matters that are of no significance in today's very complex problems.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It sounds like a very dull House, if we were not reminiscing and laughing now and again.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling You are doing it all day.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 5 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 1st February, 1966.

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